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How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 25

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Published on The Doomstead Diner October 22, 2017

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I have complaints from quite a few Diners about "abandoning" the "How I Survived Collapse" novel, which I didn't really do.  It's just that there has been so much else going on in the Global World of Doom along with my own personal life that squeezing in time to write more chapters has been difficult and put on the back burner.  However, this week we have a BREAK from the non-stop Hurricane Train and Strafing Run of Mother Nature (at least until Super Typhoon Lan makes landfall in Tokyo on Monday morning), and Spain hasn't yet broken out into complete Civil War.  So this is a pretty good slow week in collapse to get up a new chapter of HISC.  In this one, Kenny & Karen go for a picnic. 🙂

 

It was a beautiful spring morning as Kenny and Karen began their ride on the two powerful American Quarterhorses Quickdraw and Mr. Ed, with the big Siberian Husky Huckleberry leading the way.  Damp branches squished under the hooves of the horses, and there was the fresh smell of new Pine Needles growing in the air.

The trail along the creek bed was fairly wide, with enough room for the horses to travel side by side, so Kenny and Karen had a nice chance to share their lives and experiences, and gain a deeper sense of bonding.  Occassionally at locations where the river bank became steep the horses would have to go single file with Mr. Ed and Karen leading the way as they negotiated wading through the more shallow parts of the stream bed, which occassionally was fairly rapidly moving in some narrow sections.  Overall though, it was not a major river even during this high water period and the horses had no problem negotiating the stream, moving gingerly along the edge of the creek an gaining good footing with each step.  It was pretty slow going all the way though, so it took well over an hour for them to make it to the spot Karen had picked out for the Picnic.

The conversation along the trail quickly centered around prepping and the future of Industrial Civilization.

"I have to say Kenny, you have made some choices and decisions I really could not have imagined making before I went to college.  I really had no idea about any of this stuff at the time, although mom did always say Karl was a kind of eccentric Doomer.  I didn't know he was my dad then though, and I didn't pay much attention to it.", Karen recalled.

"It was sort of accidental, my Karma I guess." Kenny mused.  "I just got hooked on surfing the internet, and then I ran into the Doomstead Diner.  Then I kept linking to more and more sites and I realized there was no way that this civilization could continue onward the way it was going.  So instead of focusing on going to college, I decided to focus on preparing for the world to come."

"Well, you certainly saved a lot of money that way!" Karen joked.  "I'll be paying my college loans out of my Tips at Quinn's until the Sun Goes Red Giant!"

Kenny laughed.  "Probably not that long.  The monetary system will crash and nobody will be paying off any of those loans at all.  No working money to do it with.  Of course, that will be a major clusterfuck all around, so you can't really look forward to this outcome that much, even if it does get you out from under the debt."

"How did you decide to do the Stealth Van living thing as an option?  You seem to have enough money from your landscaping business to afford a regular apartment?"

"It made CFS, or 'Common Fucking Sense' as RE likes to call it.  I really don't need an apartment, it's a waste of what money I do earn.  Why should I pay money to some Rentier who profits off me just because he has a title to a property?  I should pay some scumbag landlord part of my daily wages just because he "owns" a piece of land and a building on it?  It's also flexible and let's me set up shop just about anywhere, at least as long as I can get gas for it anyhow.  I considered the idea of fixing up an old sailboat and doing the Seasteading thing instead, but of course here in Montana there's not a big shoreline around. lol.  Besides, I already had my Landscaping business going, so I didn't think making a move closer to the ocean was a great choice.  You have to play the cards you are dealt, and this seemed like the best choice for me at the end of High School."

Karen nodded her head.  "Yea, I guess it does make 'CFS'.  Still, don't you find living in a Van rather cramped?"

"Not at all.  I only do 3 things inside the van.  Drive it, sleep in it and work at the computer on my desk.  I would have to drive anyway for work, when I'm asleep I am unaware of how big it is and when I am on the computer it's just me, the keyboard and the screen.  All the rest of the time I am outside doing something, or maybe in a public space like the library or the gym or the mall.  The only minor hassle is toilet and shower facilities, but there are plenty of public ones available.  For what I need for living space, I just can't see spending $1000/mo on rent.", Kenny replied.

"Doesn't it get cold in the winter?", Karen asked.

"Hell no! It's a small space, easy to heat.  A couple of kerosene lanterns burning is usually quite enough as long as temperatures are above freezing, if it gets really cold I have a 23,500 BTU Kero Heat Indoor Safe heater that will cook you even if the outside temps are 30 below.  I only had to use it a couple of times last winter, and only for short periods of time.  It has its own carbon monoxide detector and auto-shutoff, and I have a separate one besides to monitor while working at the computer.  I never have it on while I am sleeping.  If it is really cold, besides my Western Tamarak Mountain Sleeping Bag good to 30 below, I have a 12V DC electric heating pad to stuff inside the bag.  This also will cook you if you set it too high.  It doesn't burn that much juice, my two 120 Amp Hour VMax Deep Cycle Marine batteries easily can handle to load for several nights without a recharge.  I only had to use that system once last winter too."

"What about all the rules and laws against living in a vehicle around here?  Don't the police give you hassles?", Karen inquired.

Kenny laughed.  "Yea, that part can be tricky, especially in town.  Outside of town around here, not a real problem at least as long as you don't stay in a location more than a couple of nights.  In town, you definitely need to change locations every night, but that isn't hard to do.  I scope out new locations all the time, and I have a dozen really good ones, and another dozen for variety which are not so good because they lack amenities like a 24/7 bathroom.  I can always use the truckstops though, both the TA and the Flying J love getting your bizness for the night.  Of course, the showers in those places cost you $6 and the Buffets aren't that great, but they don't give you any grief for parking overnight.  That's how Truckers live.  Anyhow, I'm just about never at the same location twice in a month, and so far I stayed under the Gestapo Radar for over a year."

The two horses plodded along the trail a bit further, and then the creek opened up with a large pool of water held back by a beaver dam.

"OK!  We're here!" Karen declared.

"Wow, this is a really nice spot Karen!  I bet we could improve on the beaver dam also and set up a water wheel for doing mechanical tasks too!", Kenny said enthusiatically, his Prepper brain always at work.

Karen laughed. "I figured you would say something like that.  I thought of it myself actually.  Dam engineering was my main interest in my Civil Engineering studies.  I actually have design already for one to drop in here at this location, I have it in 3D done in Sketchup on my Lenovo 8" tablet if you would like to see it.  I pulled the terrain features off of Google Earth, so it's pretty realistic looking.  Maybe you have some suggestions for improvement?  I never considered doing mechanical power transmission, just electric.", Karen offered as they unpacked the lunch from the saddlebags on Mr. Ed and Quick Draw, along with a big red & white checked tablecloth to set the feast out onto and hopefully keep the ants at bay for the duration of the meal.

"Sure, I'd love to have a look at it!" Kenny enthused, as he got the Southwest Black Bean Progresso Soup for a starter course on the Jet Boil butane camping stove.  Karen pulled out her tablet from the saddlebag and the two Kollapsniks spread out the big 10' X16' Camo Tarp Karen had packed as a picnic blanket, along with a couple of aluminum mess kits and Hobo Knives to eat with.  Cutting up a head of Romaine Lettuce and another of Raddichio and several Roma Tomatoes, she added some crumbled Feta Cheese and Kalamatta Olives imported from Greece, then sprinkling with a Greek Salad dressing picked up off the shelves at Whole Foods for a delicious and crisp Greek Salad.  She had already prepared the sandwiches the night before, smoked chicken and bacon from Karl's smoker and hen house and Swiss Cheese imported from France, along with a thin slice of Red Onion and fresh slices of Avocado along with a light slathering of homemade Mayonaisse on the crusty loaf of French Bread, split into two halves.

As they dipped their spoons into the Black Bean Soup, Kenny looked closely at Karen's schematics for a more substantial dam on the river to support a nicro-hydro electric generating system.  It was quite robust, but they would have to haul in quite a bit of Portland Cement, Sand and Rebar, along with diverting the river to get the foundation in.  It was a MAJOR project, and if they were to do it before SHTF Day, they would need a lot of permits, and also Kenny wasn't sure Karl owned the land this far from his Doomstead.

"This is a HUGE project Karen!", Kenny exclaimed.  "Does Karl own this land on both sides of the creek?  No way we could do this unless he owns all of it, and we would still need to get permits for it I am pretty sure.  It also would draw attention to us as Doomsteaders.  Everybody in the planning office for the county would know about it, not to mention the equipment rental people and additional help we would need for building it.  You're going to need a pretty serious size work crew to construct this thing, 4 or 5 people will not be able to get it done."

"I think Dad owns the whole valley, except for the cabins he sold off nearby.  I didn't consider the problem of all the people who would find out about the Doomstead if we did it though…", Karen replied as she forked up a Kalamatta Olive, Roma tomato slice and some Feta Cheese.  "I also didn't really think about all the Heavy Equipment and additional manpower we would need for building it here.  These are problems we didn't consider in Civil Engineering school!" she said with a laugh.

"That's one of the problems with being immersed in techno-industrial civilization, you take for granted everything you need for building something will be available, the only constraint is how much money you have available.  In our circumstances, we don't have much money constraint because Karl has so much of the toilet paper, but we have other constraints we have to consider with any project we undertake.  I think we will need to redesign this one from scratch on a smaller scale, and move the location a little upstream where I think we can get a better drop on the water, although there will be less of it and not so much pressure.  That spot up there looks like it might work." Kenny said, pointing to a spot about 100 yards upstream from the bank of the creek they were picnicing on.

"That's not going to put out much power Kenny", Karen mused.

"I't doesn't need to put out all that much Karen.", Kenny replied.  I just wanna see if I can gear it up to do some simple tasks like trun a saw blade to do some rip cutting or a lathe or turn a sewing machine.or small loom for weaving.  I figure to use some scrap Marine Propellers for the turbines."

"Well, that could work…", Karen replied quickly.  "Power transmission would be pretty difficult to the shore though where you would run the machines. It's a pretty long stretch to the shore where you could set up your machines.", she said, her engineer brain beginning to hum.

Kenny pondered on that, it would be a long way to run a drive shaft to the shore.  "Well, maybe we could build out a platform to closer to where the turbines are."  Kenny suggested.

"Yea, that's possible." Karen agreed.  "However, damn good chance the platform gets washed downstream during the spring runoff and flooding, she advised.

Kenny refused to be defeated in the idea.  "We'll just have to make it temporary then, like with the funicular railway and cable car system.  Set it up when we need it, take it down when we're not using it.", Kenny said firmly.

Karen laughed. "You don't quit easily Kenny!" she exclaimed.  "This would be a lot bigger set-up/take-down job though.  That would take a LOT of wood to build that platform."

Kenny and Karen continued batting ideas back and forth as they finished the bottle of Château Rayas 1995 she had pulled from Karl's Wine Cellar, getting a nice buzz on.  Kenny pulled out a spliff from the stash he had picked up from Kareem for a little taste of weed before heading back to Karl's place on Quick Draw and Mr. Ed.

"We're not going to have time to go on a float down the Clark's Fork River now Kenny, we spent way too much time going over plans for the dam.", Karen remarked as the horses and Huckleberry negotiated a slow walk back to Karl's Doomstead.  "We could drive out to the launch site though and camp overnight, and take off early in the morning for a real nice run.  The water isn't running that fast right now, but it still should be pretty good.", she offered.

Kenny had no plans made for Sunday, and there was no fast excuse he could come up with to beg off on overnighting with Karen at a camping spot by the Clark's Fork River.  Besides, he didn't WANT to beg off!  Even though he currently had a new relationship going with Kirsten and was still having the occasional tryst with the housewives he cut lawns for, at the ripe old age of 20 years old his mind was RULED by the sausage hiding behind his zipper.  Karen was a HOT TICKET!

"Sure!  That sounds great Karen!", Kenny replied.

 

 

Collapse Step by Step, Part 7: More on Political Realities, Continued

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Published on The Easiest Person to Fool October 13, 2017

Lake Huron Surf, A Sunny Day in October

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This post is just a continuation of Part 6 of this series. If you haven't read Part 6 it would make a lot of sense to do so now.

In Part 6, I addressed some of the comments a reader (BK) had made on Parts 4 and 5, explaining my thoughts on a slow and uneven collapse. And how while modern politics is trapped in a growth at all costs paradigm and cannot acknowledge the limits of growth, there are still varieties of politics that will do a better or worse job of navigating collapse in the age of scarcity.

(BK and I have quite a conversation going in the comments. Now that the initial misunderstandings have been cleared up, I think some real communication has happened.)

If you are new here, following the discussion below would be facilitated by going back and having a look at the last few posts in my Collapse Step by Step series.

In Collapse Step by Step, Part 3, I introduced the idea of laying out a spectrum of opinions about a particular aspect of politics, with the two ends representing opposing extremes, and most peoples' positions falling somewhere in between.

An example of something like this is the Political Compass, a website that takes two such spectrums (economic and authouritarian) and defines a plane on which there will be a point that defines your political position. For me that point is somewhere in the lower left, making me a "anarcho-communist" of some sort.

In order to gain an more nuanced understanding of politics, I have suggested using not just two, but six different spectrums to give a sufficiently nuanced view of that field.

In Collapse Step by Step, Part 4 I considered each of those six spectrums and identified what I believe to be the position on each of them best suited to coping with the challenges that face us over the next few decades.

In Collapse Step by Step, Part 5, after looking at today's political realities (growth must continue), I took a close look at how two different types of politics may fare during collapse. One of these might be called Right Wing Capitalism— an extreme version of the United States under a Republican government. The other I called Social Democracy—an idealized version of the northern European democracies when a left wing government is in power. And as you may be able to guess, I think the Social Democracies have a much better chance in the age of scarcity.

After reading that post, BK responded with, "you are stuck on the viewpoint that socialism will solve our ills. But what is the point of a viewpoint if adopting it requires jettisoning reason and deliberation at the first sign or trouble?" So, thinking positively about socialism requires jettisoning reason and deliberation? I really think not. But, in any case, a closer look at what I was saying shows I wasn't actually talking about socialism. The point I was making about Social Democracy versus Right Wing Capitalism wasn't to any great extent based on their positions on the Communist<—>Capitalist economic spectrum.

Communism (or socialism, same thing really), at the left end of this spectrum, has never actually been tried in the modern world, and probably wouldn't work on the large scale of most modern countries, or at least we currently have no idea of how to make it work. The so called communist regimes of the twentieth century ended up being just dictatorships practicing state capitalism. The people who started them (Lenin, Mao, etc.) were incredibly inept. Perhaps better men could have achieved more, or perhaps the challenge was just too great.

Social democracies occupy the space somewhat to the left of center on this spectrum, practicing a well regulated form of capitalism, with much of their vital infrastructure state owned for the sake of efficiency.

Countries which practiced ideal free market capitalism would be over at the very right end of the spectrum, but of course there really aren't any of them either. Some regulation is necessary to make a country work at all. Beyond that, capitalists don't like real competition and large capitalist concerns have power enough to avoid it. Even small businesses often voluntarily avoid getting into the kind of price wars that a free market can lead to. So Right Wing Capitalism occupies the space somewhat to the right of center on this spectrum.

What I am really doing here is comparing two political positions that both practice capitalism, just somewhat different types of it. The policies that really distinguish them are on a couple of other political spectrums altogether: Inclusive<—>Exclusive, and Fiscal Liberal<—>Fiscal Conservative. The Communist<—>Capitalist spectrum is a factor but the least important of the three.

OK, so how do these three aspects of politics work together to determine how a country manages during the age of scarcity? First let's consider the early stages of this period when there is still enough economic activity to support the operation of national and state (provincial) governments.

BK comments, "Northern European democracies lucked out in the historical roulette, with a combination of low population, resources and cheap energy/labour subsidising their particular version of overconsumption." The same could be said of many areas in the "new world" including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US. And I would agree that this was true in the age of abundance, when all these countries prospered through relentless growth fueled by cheap fossil fuels, regardless of whether their politics was a little to the left or right of center. But that's not the time period we're considering here.

The age of scarcity began for the US in the 1970s, when oil production in the continental states peaked and the economy began a long, bumpy slow down. And really, from then until the present day has been a troubled time for economic growth throughout much of the developed world. Recessions, bubbles, crashes, and growing debt have become commonplace.

OK, how does extreme right wing capitalism cope with these conditions? Its political position is "exclusivist", so its strategies are intended to benefit the rich and powerful—maintaining growth and funneling wealth to them, with little concern for the rest of the population. In the age of abundance this worked reasonably well for everyone, since workers were needed in large numbers and it wasn't too hard to get a job. This is no longer the case. When growth can't be maintained, the fall back is to ensure the rich receive a larger share of whatever surplus there is, with the rest of us left to get by on the ever shrinking leavings.

This political position is also fiscally conservative, so its main strategy has been to lower taxes on the rich and large corporations and to cut social programs and infrastructure spending. This has been justified by claiming that lowering taxes create jobs for the working man, who will then need less help. It's not true, of course. The only thing that makes a business hire more workers is increasing demand for their product, and to increase demand you have to get money into the hands of consumers. Leaving money in the hands of the rich essentially takes it out of circulation, since most of it will be invested in financial instruments that are not part of the "main street" economy where jobs are created.

Because of those tax reductions, funding for government is reduced, rendering it less effective at the work it needs to do. As is always the case for fiscal conservatives, tax reduction is much easier than cost cutting, so budget deficits increase and interest costs for carrying the accumulated deficit increase along with them, using up more of what little revue the government has.

All this results in many dissatisfied people, looking for someone to blame, and creates an opportunity for populist politicians. They claim to be on the side of the common man in order to get votes, while pursing many policies that actually hurt working class people. Dissatisfaction with the state of the country is blamed on immigrants, and religious and racial minorities, focusing attention away from the rich and powerful.

The right wing version of capitalism not as well regulated as those further left, and regulations are frequently relaxed even further with the excuse that it will stimulate growth.

The result of all this over the last several decades in the US has been increases in poverty, inequality, homelessness, self destructive drug use by demoralized people, distrust of the elite and social unrest. Educational, health care and infrastructure systems have been allowed to deteriorate due to lack of funds. In many ways, the US is now little better than a third world country. Unfortunately there is more to come, as economic contraction and climate change continue to pound away.

As the economy contracts still further and even the rich begin to feel the squeeze, governments in these societies will become more forthright about their attitude toward the lower classes, which is best characterized by the term "exterminism" (root word: exterminate). People who are not actively needed are simply cast aside, with no concern as to what their fate might be, as long as they stay out of the way. In the US, this works so well because many Americans, who are not in fact rich, feel they that are just temporarily embarrassed millionaires, and are distrustful of the other poor people around them, rather than feeling any solidarity with them.

BK says, "You accused me of believing that poverty is the fault of the poor, yet that isn't true. You also claim that this idea is leading America in a bad direction, yet the majority of Americans – including the elites, both liberal and conservative – don't seem to share it. All of them say they want to help the poor; they just differ on the method/s." Well yes, they do say that. But actions speak louder than words, and reducing taxes on the rich while cutting social programs leads me to believe the underlying intention is definitely not to help the poor. And just to be clear, that is aimed not at BK (who isn't an American), but at the Republican Party and the current President of the US.

Eventually, the government will have no choice but to abandon the worst affected areas. Parts of New Orleans have still not been built after hurricane Katrina, and a reasonable argument can be made that it would be a bad idea to do so, given the likelihood of further increases in sea level. It will be interesting to see how things go in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria this fall. Of course, that "abandonment" will not be official, but simply a matter of quiet neglect, due to a lack of resources to support and rebuild or even enforce the rule of law. This will start with just a few isolated areas that have suffered natural disaster or extreme infrastructure decay, and grow until the remaining governed areas become isolated enclaves in the abandoned expanses.

As the economy contracts, unemployment will grow. With cutbacks on social programs, unemployment will lead quickly to homelessness for a great many people. In the capitalist system there is no commons—no way for the poor to be self sufficient, no way for them to get away from a system that wants them to go away. The homeless will seek refuge in the abandoned areas, but with very limited resources and skills, they will have a hard time of it. Their general distrustfulness of each other will make things even worse.

My prediction is that, because of the waste inherent in funneling wealth to the rich (along with many other self destructive policies), rich wing capitalist societies will decline more quickly than Social Democracies. When they reach the point where nothing is left but small local communities, people will be left with very limited resources and will be unprepared for working together to the extent that will be required. Many won't even believe it is a good idea, much less a necessity.

So, how do Social Democracies measure up against the Right Wing Capitalists in the age of scarcity? To my way of thinking, quite well.

Social Democracies are inclusive, so their policies look out for the welfare of all their citizens. They are fiscally liberal, so they don't hesitate to tax progressively to finance their social programs, and are able to resource government at a level that allows it to do its job effectively.

There is less poverty, inequality, homelessness, drug abuse, distrust of the elite and social unrest. Those who are well off are happy to pay their taxes because of this.

Social Democracies are somewhat left of center on the communist<—>capitalist economic spectrum, so under these governments capitalism is better regulated, preventing its more unpleasant excesses. Much of the infrastructure is government run, eliminating duplication of effort, and waste in the form of unnecessary competition and profits.

Because economic surpluses are redistributed to where they are needed the most and will do the most good, economic contraction will proceed more slowly than in the Right Wing Capitalist countries, and its effects will be mitigated by the social safety net. It appears to me that surplus energy will be used more effectively and these societies can probably continue to function at a lower average EROEI than the Right Wing Capitalists.

Make no mistake, energy decline and economic contraction will still continue to happen in the Social Democracies and eventually reach the point where centralized government is no longer able to function and nothing is left but small local communities. But the fabric of society at that level will be in better shape and more resources and skills will be available. People, not having been taught that the poor are the enemy, will find it be much easier to work together effectively when they find themselves reduced to poverty.

I think there is also a good chance that as this point gets nearer, social democracies will admit what is going on and set up programs to help people prepare and adapt, where Right Wing Capitalists will struggle to support growth with their dying breath.

We can look at Social Democracy<—>Right Wing Capitalism as another political spectrum with the extreme versions I've just described out at the every ends. Of course, real countries are located somewhere along the spectrum, not at the extreme ends, and their positions will vary over time as left or right wing governments come into power. There is a tendency, as times grow harder, for politics to move "right", toward the Right Wing Capitalist end of this spectrum. From my viewpoint, this is sad, because it runs counter to the best interests of the very people who are casting their votes in that direction.

Indeed, one might say that that has been the purpose of this post—to make it clear why I think that in the immediate future we should not give up on the political process. Rather, we should be striving to oppose the movement to the right and elect governments who are closer to being Social Democracies. And, if in the process, we could get them interested in emergency preparation and collapse mitigation, it would be even better.

There are some hopeful signs. In Britain the Labour party has swung away from Tony Blair's neo-liberalism to a more traditional Labour stance and they did much better in the last election. Not a win, unfortunately. Here in Canada, in the last federal election, we voted out Harper's extremely conservative Conservatives and put the Liberal Party back in power. Their politics, on the Communist<—>Capitalist spectrum, are only slightly left of the Conservatives, but they are much more inclusive and fiscally liberal. They are also more liberal socially and they are not climate change deniers….

But enough for now about party politics. The subject of my next post will be some of the specific events that will likely drive collapse forward in discrete steps and how we'll cope with them, as centralized governments wither away and local communities become the focus of survival.

And once again, BK, be patient with me, more of the points you've raised will be addressed in that post, and probably the one after it….

Making Nazis Afraid Again


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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on October 17, 2017

“There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part…  And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! ”

 ― Mario Savio, 1964  

 


They say that history runs in cycles. If so, it's fascism's turn at the top of the wheel after an 80-year absence. And in the same way that fascism in the 1930s elicited a counter-reaction, it elicits one today in the form of antifa.

In reports of the recent Catelan bid for independence, one hears echoes of an 80 year old conflict. Catalonia was once a key anarchist/republican hub during the Spanish Civil War, and a locus of anti-Franco sentiment. (For an analysis of the current state of things in Catalonia, see Pepe Escobar here.)

Images of the Catelan election, of bully cops assaulting women, then firefighters protecting voters, remind how Franco pressed fascism on Spain 80 years ago. With nationalism and nativism at high tide, we watch citronella Nazis march with tiki torches in Charlottesville, and remember Father Coughlin and the "America Firsters" of the 1930s. The New Fascism is emboldened by the most baldly authoritarian "president" ever, bolstered by a cabinet full of white supremacists and Goldman Sachs vampires.

No one should be surprised: it's been decades in coming.  Whether it's wealth transfer via  regressive ("trickle-down") economic policies, or via a tireless insistence on empire,  or bottomless spending on "defense," authoritarianism has marched into American life. All endorsed by fully a third of our fellow citizens. Never forget that even as Richard Fucking Nixon boarded the helicopter to eternal disgrace, he still had the backing of 24 per cent of the public.

The self-described "alt-right" is old swill sold in a new bottle. This dark streak of conservatism has been part of the American psyche ever since Nathaniel Bacon's uprising drove Governor Berkeley and his hangers-on to the swamps of Virginia's Eastern Shore. The current flavor pulls together neonazis, republiconfederates, evangelicals, skinheads, white separatists, nationalists, sovereign citizens, klansmen, culture warriors, Christian Identity fuckwits, anti-LGBTs, anti-immigrants, holocaust deniers and haters of all stripes into a fetid hellbroth. They are rebranded and hip, sporting Macklemore "Hitler Youth" fade haircuts, white polos, beige Dockers, and  carefully-crafted language, the better to shun the Nazi tag while hewing to the ideology.

When these people announce their gatherings, opponents gather themselves. Enter antifa. Antifa (short for antifascist or Anti-Fascist Action) can be defined as the confrontational response to fascist groups, rooted in militant left-wing and anarchist politics. I first become aware of antifa on Inauguration Day, when a masked activist punched white-supremacist leader Richard Spencer in the face, an act which spawned many memes and remixes. 

 

You don't sign up for Antifa at the local strip mall. The movement’s secrecy makes tracking its activities difficult, but antifa’s power is growing, as evidenced by social media posts from pearl-clutching right wingers whining and complaining about them. The young people who make up antifa remind me of the brave souls who comprised the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, who saw the threat of fascism early on and tried to stop it in the Spanish Civil War.   

Disclaimer: I have no personal experience with Antifa as a member or participant. At this point, I am sufficiently gimpy as to not be able to take part in any street action, and felt fortunate to limp along with Occupy. Many of the tactics of Antifa seem to have sprung from the anarchist or "black bloc" members of Occupy, who were among some of its most committed members.

Antifa traces its roots to the 1920s and ’30s, when militant leftists battled fascists in the streets of Germany, Italy, and Spain. In 1936, nationalist rebels under General Francisco Franco staged an uprising designed to topple the Spanish government.  The Spanish army split, some supporting the Republican (government side), but most supporting Franco.  Soon Spain was plunged into an open civil war, one that would rage for three years and ultimately lead to a Nationalist dictatorship under Franco.

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade were Americans who volunteered to fight the fascists in Spain. In an interview with James Fernandez, professor at New York University and member of the the board of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archive, Jeremy Scahill has some light on this little remembered episode of history still relevant today:

Fernandez: The horrors of World War II have totally eclipsed our memory of Spain. But in 1936, ’37, ’38, Spain was Syria, Spain was the place on the map where it looked like the future of the planet was being played out. And all thinking people were talking and thinking and worrying about Spain, in their literature and newsreels and radio broadcasts.

And there were vast communities of intensely mobilized folks that started mainly as pacifists they were, they were, “Against War and Fascism” was the organization and slogan of a lot of these folks up until ’36, let’s say, but once things evolved some more, they realized that the only way to put down fascism was to, in this case, they kind of put brackets around being against war, and actually taking the war to the fascists in Spain.

The volunteers that went is almost 3,000, we think 2,800 is our best guess now. And like I said, they came mostly from intensely mobilized communities all over the United States. A lot of them were immigrants or children of immigrants, most of them were from large cities, they were trade unionists, a lot of them were members of the Communist Party, the socialists, anarchists, but generally leftist folk who saw the menace of fascism and took the incredible step of trying to do something about it.

And they did. Many remember this period today through the lens of Ernest Hemingway's writing. For Whom the Bell Tolls is Hem's opus, set in 1937 with the Spanish Civil War in full swing. Robert Graves, a lantern-jawed Anglo Saxon, was not representative of the thousands who answered the call. Most were immigrants, active leftists, organized. A far cry from Hemingway's hero.

The Lincoln Brigade made up a small part of the International Brigades which included about 45,000 volunteers. Relatively speaking, the Americans were a drop in the bucket. Of the 2800 or so that served in Spain, almost 1/3 lost their lives.  Included were dozens of black Americans, many of whom saw in Spanish Nationalism a reflection of the Jim Crow racism they themselves had experienced in the US.  At a time of legal segregation in the US as a result of the Plessy decision forty years earlier, these black Americans found acceptance as comrades in arms in Spain.  

They engaged the fascists for several years, but the numbers (and war materiel from Germany) proved too difficult to resist. When the war ended with a Franco victory in 1939, Americans who had served in Spain were seen as radicals and troublemakers. The post WWII anti-communist sentiment led to a narrative erasure of these men and their sacrifice.So when elements of "antifa" erupt in response to fascist demonstrations, I take heart. Antifa gives me faith that the upcoming generation has grabbed the baton, and that the will to resist remains strong.

For those who want to read more about antifa, I recommend Natasha Lennard's magnificent article in The Nation here. It inspired the title of the article.

…the history of anti-fascism (antifa) is not one of presuming the good faith of state power. It is not one of asking. It is a history of direct and confrontational intervention—the sort of which is itself often not protected by a rights framework.

We are, to take some liberties with the words of Inglourious Basterds’ inimitable Lt. Aldo Raine, in the fightin’-Nazis business. Antifa is a promise to neo-Nazis and their bedfellows that we will confront them in the streets; we will expose them online and inform their place of employ. We are not asking venues to deny space to far-right events; we are vowing that all far-right events will be bombarded and besieged.

When I read that "Antifa is planning civil war on Nov.4, or "Antifa is planning to kill Christians," I smile, secure in the knowledge that what bullies fear most is the brave soul willing to stand up and call their bluff. Our next generation seems ready and willing. As I remain secure that the great arc of history bends towards justice.

Resist!


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 in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary, and is working to be featured on an enemies list compiled by the administration of Dolt 45.

Ranting Collapse 2017

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Published on The Doomstead Diner October 15, 2017

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The Frostbite Falls Daily Rant is BACK!  At least for today, anyhow.

A few weeks ago we received a very large DONATION to the SUN Foundation for developing Sustainable Communities, which is the 501c3 Non-Profit arm of the Doomstead Diner.  Said donor is a fan of my audio rants, so in gratitude for his generosity I promised him I would do a new Rant.   I haven't done any audio rants in over a year, mainly because they are a SHIT LOAD of work! LOL.  OK, other reasons too, I got going on other projects and venues like Utoob and writing the How I Survived Collapse novel, but the main deal was the workload for the rants.  Still, Diners do like them, so I will try to do them again periodically.

In case I don't get a whole lot of new ones up, in conjunction with another project I am currently undertaking I am Archiving many of the Diner files on the FREE cloud on Google Drive.  This week I got 66 Audio mp3s up in a new Doomstead Diner folder which is open to the Public for FREE downloads of numerous interviews and rants.  You can also access many of these and more on Diner Soundcloud, but Google Drive is better because you can download the entire folder, plus it will stay up even after I croak and stop paying for the Soundcloud Channel.

Since it has been so long between Rants, I made this one a Catch-Up Rant, covering Collapse Bullshit that has been occuring over the last couple of years, although of course with a focus toward the recent Doom we have been experiencing by the Truckload.  This of course made it fairly long at around 17 minutes, so it might take you through half the time it takes to weed your garden or feed the pigs to listen to it.  Here's are a couple of Snippets from the Rant:

It's pretty tough to determine what or where the greatest havoc is in the world right now with the Hurricane Train having decimated pretty much the whole Carribean, Florida and Houston and 120K people evacuating Bali as Mt Agung threatens to Go Ballistic on the other side of the planet.  10,000 Cows are still stuck there though, so assuming it does erupt there will be a lot of Well Done steaks on Bali, if you can dig them out from under the lava after it cools down.  This is stuff happening right now, which tends to pull your attention in that direction, but this is supposed to be a Recap Rant, so I have to get in Mr. Peabody's WAYBAC Machine and travel back in time to about when I took the extended Vacation from Ranting, which I estimate was around the time the POTUS primaries were getting underway.  I estimate that was when I switched off the microphone because I can't find any rants I did during the period, and I surely was doing plenty of ranting in text blogs.  So we'll start there in catchup.

The campaign for POTUS was so full of Tragedy & Comedy I don't think even Shakespeare would know where to begin with it.  I'll randomly select the THEFT of the Demodope Nomination by The Clinton Gang in the Showdown at the DNC Corral.  Dirty Tricks to Voter Fraud, it all was evident but of course as usual nobody gets even indicted, much less prosecuted or convicted.

Meanwhile, Donalditry Trumpovetsky over on the Repugnant side confounded all the Pundits and rounded up enough votes from "Deplorables" to win the nomination over there.  The Repugnant establishment was fit to be tied, and a mad scramble ensued to find SOME kind of coalition they could work with and Goobern the FSoA if they happened to get elected.  Which they did after even more egregious hanky panky than during the Primaries, trying to manipulate the election than went on regardless of the bullshit.  Emails were leaked, collusion with the Ruskies to hack the election was alleged, but again of course no indictments to be seen anywhere.  Various agencies are still "investigating" the bullshit, and will come back eventually with more bullshit but no indictments.

…and to FINISH

What you have here is a catastrophe that exceeds even the vast capabilities of the FSoA Military to cope with.  It's the result of decades if not centuries of poor planning, colonialism, capitalist rape, racism and environmental destruction.  It was an accident waiting to happen, and now it has.  The Puerto Ricans are the victims of this.

As bad as that is, it's still NOTHING compared to the kind of dislocation we will face when SHTF Day makes it into the core countries.  Now you are not talking a few paltry MILLION people left twisting in the wind, the FSoA by itself has 350M.  Then of course there are all those Billions oc Chinese and Indians, and when the FSoA and it's monetary system go down, they go down too.  They most certainly won't be stepping in with helicopters and hospital ships when SHTF Day comes to the continental FSoA.  Everybody will have their own problems, and there will be nobody out there to ride to the rescue.

What Puerto Rico hopefully does is WAKE PEOPLE UP to the fact the FAST COLLAPSE scenario is very real, and in general more likely than the Long Emergency of James Howard Kunstler or the Slow Catabolic Collapse of John Michael Greer.  Industrial Civilization has a very few lynchpin systems that it depends on to function, and when they go away for whatever the reasons, climate, war, economics or politics, the essence of the way we live is stripped away virtually instantaneously.  It's not likely to happen at the same time everywhere unless we get Global Thermonuclear War, but town by town and region by region more places will fall off the cliff the way Venezuela and Ukraine and now Puerto Rico have.  For these people, Collapse is not some theory about something that might happen sometime in the distant future.  It is THERE. NOW.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You.

I'll have a full transcript of the Rant available for Diners who request it, just contact me Inside the Diner.  The full transcript will likely also be published on Global Economic Intersection later this week.  It's just not the same without the Audio inflections though, you really miss out if you just read these things.  My Pirate Radio friends know what I am talking about here.

Anyhoooo…without further ado, here's the last 1+ Years in Doom, Rant Style from RE.  Hope you enjoy.

Requiem for an Automobile

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Published on The Doomstead Diner October 14, 2017

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So I am working as my friend Brian's "Property Manager" for the apartments he rents up here, which basically amounts to showing the place to prospective tenants.  Only two of them fortunately in a McHovel he converted to a an upstais/downstairs set of apartments.  Rented out the top one a few months ago, the bottom one has been vacant a few months.  I have shown it to half a dozen prospective tenants, so far no takers.  Brian hasn't kept up on the maintenance and it needs a fair amount of work.

Anyhow, I had an appointment to show it today at 1PM, and I head out to my cars around 12:45.  The place is only around 2 miles away.  I decide I will give the Mazda a little workout to freshen up the battery since I hardly ever drive it.  As usual, she fires up just fine, an amazingly dependable vehicle the entire decade I have owned her.  I am not halfway out of the parking spot when I hear POW! and the car lists to the right.  I figure SHIT, I got a blowout!  So I back the car back into the spot and get out to have a look.  No, it's not a blowout, the tire is fine.  THE FUCKING STRUT GAVE OUT!

It's the Finger of God this happened when & where it did.  If this happened while I was driving at any speed at all, if I could keep control of the vehicle to avoid an accident that also would be Finger of God material.  As it was, it was only a minor inconvenience, after re-parking the car I went over to my Ford Explorer and took that over to the rental apartments to show them.  I wasn't even late for the appointment.  Havng spare carz around comes in handy at times like these.  Usually though, 3 carz is a bit of overkill, 2 is enough.

Now, I can't say I wasn't warned about this.  The last time I brought her in for an oil change (over a year ago), the Mechanic Jockey told me the struts were about rusted through and driving on them was dicey and I should replace them.  However, price tag on that was over $1000 and I only paid $900 for the car to begin with 10 years ago!  So I took a pass on getting the job done, kind of thinking maybe the Mechanic Jockey was just trying to get me to fork over for a big repair job.  Turns out of course here he was telling the truth.

So I get back home after the McHovel showing, and have another look and take the above pics.  It's DECISION time on the Mazda.  Do I have her towed to the Repair Shop or to the Junkyard?

I know it makes CFS to send the Mazda to the Land of Away for many reasons.  First off, the car is a 1989 with plenty of rust on it, I bought it for $900 10 years ago and even fully working I probably could not get more than $500 for it today.  Second, I currently have 3 vehicles in the parking lot, and according to community rules the max you are supposed to have is 2 per unit.  Third, keeping 3 vehicles all battery charged and working through the winter if you don't drive them every day is almost a daily maintenance task once it gets really cold.  Fourth, I only have one spot with a carport, which means when it snows I have to clear the snow off 2 carz to drive them.  This is a pain in the ass even if you are not crippled.

Unfortunately though, I am Emo about the Mazda.  I think of her kind of like the Racehorse John Henry.  He didn't win the Kentucky Derby, but he raced a LONG time and he won a LOT.

His final race record stood at 83 starts, 39 wins, 15 seconds, and 9 thirds with $6,591,860 in earnings. He was twice voted the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year in 1981 and 1984, of which his 1981 election is notable in that it was the first in which the victor received all votes cast for that award. That feat has since been matched only by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015.[4]

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The Mazda also raced along the roads of the Eisenhower Interstate a long time, almost 30 years through the Age of Oil, 10 of them with me as the Car Jockey.  She was amazingly dependable through all the Alaskan Winters, the 4WD was necessary on many occasions.  No repairs necessary EVAH except to get new battery and tires.  Still runs great to this day, except of course now she has a Broken Leg. When a horse has a broken leg, the best and most humane thing to do is to put her down, aka KILL her.  But Putting Down the Mazda is hard.  The car gave me 10 excellent years of service up here on the Last Great Frontier. I know how the owners of John Henry must have felt when they had to put him down.

John Henry was euthanized at 7:05 pm EDT (2305 UTC) on October 8, 2007, at the age of 32. He had developed serious kidney problems in August 2007, while Central Kentucky was experiencing a heat wave. On October 6, he stopped responding to veterinary treatment, and the decision was made to put him down. Many who worked with him had the chance to say their goodbyes, including McCarron, who was notified of the decision to euthanize at 4:30 pm, arrived at the park at 5:30, and stayed with him until shortly before the veterinarian arrived.[5]

For now, the Mazda sits in her spot in the parking lot while I empty out more of the flotsam and jetsam of my own life that resides inside her.  I will get the shit out of her the rest of today and tomorrow, assuming we have a break from the constant rain we have been getting up here for the last few weeks.  Monday I will go over to my Mechanic Jockey and see what he will give me for the hulk.  The tires are practically brand new, I bought them 2 years ago but hardly drive the car at all.  The Battery also quite new.  Engine and tranny, both good.  Also has a full tank of gas, I recently filled it.  I at least hope to recoup the towing costs in selling it for junk.

Dust in the Wind.  All we are is Dust in the Wind.  Carz too.

Collapse Step by Step, Part 6: More on Political Realities

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Published on The Easiest Person to Fool October 9, 2017

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When I wrote the last couple of episodes in this series of posts, I was well aware that I was expressing opinions that are quite controversial, in some circles at any rate. So I expected to get some push back from people whose political leanings are different from mine.

As it turns out, only one reader (who I'll refer to as BK for the sake of brevity) responded with such a comment, and he was reasonably polite and clear in what he had to say. Now, as it happens, I do believe there is such a thing as objective reality, and if you can show me that an opinion I hold runs counter to that reality, I'll willingly change it. I actually have done this at various point in the past, but in this instance that wasn't what happened. Just the opposite, in fact—what BK has done is give me a clearer understanding of my own politics and in the process strengthened my convictions. Overall, that's probably a good thing.

On both sides of our discussion, though, I think there may be a good bit of misunderstanding. It is very tempting now to go ahead with a rant about people replying seemingly without having read what I've actually been saying, and who address themselves to strawmen instead my actual points. But I suspect that the guy on the other side of the discussion may feel that I am doing the same thing to him. One of the most important skills to have in the hard times to come will be the ability to talk to and work with people who have different viewpoints, and that is a skill I am trying to cultivate.

One of the down sides of social media is that the connection we have out here in cyberspace is very tenuous. When talking face to face with friends there is real incentive to work at making communication happen. On the internet it's so easy to just give in to temptation and turn the discussion into an argument or maybe a flame war. But that's not why I am here, and I am certainly trying not to give in to the temptation.

When you get into politics, there is a great deal of ideology involved and people have a tendency to accept the party line and not bother checking it against reality. BK claims that in the last couple of posts I haven't even made any attempt to prove what I am saying. Pretty odd, since that was exactly what I had set out to do and quite a number of people have said that they think I did a pretty good job of it. But let's have a closer look at the details, and in the process perhaps I can do a better job of expressing my thoughts.

First of all, why would it be appropriate to talk about politics in a series of posts about the details of collapse?

As BK says, "In order for politics to determine how badly or dangerously collapse happens (if/when it does), there must be a dichotomy in political views regarding the causes of the type of collapse which provides the context of these articles. However, there is no such dichotomy. The dichotomy exists in precisely the opposite context, i.e., what would be a fair way to distribute the benefits of perpetual growth."

Modern politics, for the last couple of centuries anyway, has indeed been mainly about how to distribute the benefits of growth. That is certainly not the discussion we need to be having. Forty five years ago, while we were still not quite in overshoot, (right after the publication of The Limits to Growth) we needed to have a discussion about whether growth could go on forever or whether we should begin adapting to the limits of our finite planet. Serious consideration would have led to acceptance of those limits, and political discussion since then would have focused on the details of living within those limits.

However, it didn't happen that way—those who support BAU (business as usual) made sure that The Limits to Growth was never given serious consideration. We continued on, as usual, and are now in overshoot by about 150%—a very serious situation.

To be fair, it is hard to see how it could have happened otherwise. Because of the way our financial and business systems are set up, they rely on continuous growth. We really have no idea of how to stop economic growth without causing a catastrophic collapse. Politicians know this, so they are stuck trying to fix the system by treating the symptoms while still maintaining growth—the root cause of the problem. So instead, nature will take its course. There will be a dieoff and when things finally settle out, there will be a lot fewer people and they will be a lot poorer.

But even though I agree that politics is asking the wrong questions, and applying the wrong fixes, I still think that it is going to be an important influence on the course of collapse for a few decades yet. To make sense of this, I should explain where I think collapse is taking us.

Among collapse "enthusiasts" there are many who expect that someday soon there will be a fast collapse. This will take place essentially overnight, in a matter of days or perhaps weeks, but certainly not years or decades. The great majority of people would not be prepared for such an event. The ability to work together, solving problems for our mutual benefit that has been the key to much of mankind's success, would be very difficult to bring to bear on our problems during such a collapse. It seems likely that only a tiny and improbably lucky fraction of our species would survive. And I will grant that politics is not likely to have much influence over the outcome of this sort of collapse.

But I am another variety of "kollapsnik" altogether. I've taken to calling myself a "kollapsnik" lately to differentiate myself from "doomers", who think that mankind is facing imminent doom. They range from those who talk about near term extinction (by 2030) to those to expect a fast and hard collapse in the near future, with only a very few survivors left, who will fall back into a new stone age.

Instead, I talk about a slow collapse, which has already been going on for decades in many areas and will continue for much of the twenty-first century. I take this one step further and assert that collapse does not take place uniformly. It's progress is geographically uneven, chronologically unsteady and socially unequal. I do expect that this collapse will be a population bottleneck, but not an extinction event—I wouldn't be surprised if quite a few hundred million people make it through.

To borrow a the term from John Michael Greer, I call the first stage of this long period of collapse the "age of scarcity". During the last couple of centuries some parts of the world experienced an "age of abundance" due to the windfall of cheap energy from fossil fuels, and became industrially and economically developed. In the process, supplies of industrially important natural resources (particularly fossil fuels) were depleted and sinks for industrial by products (pollution) have started to fill up, with unpleasant results such as economic contraction, climate change, ocean acidification and so forth.

Many parts of the developed world have been in the age of scarcity for some decades now and their governments have struggled to keep up appearances (and growth) under less than ideal conditions. A few have been so successful that you still meet people who think these are the best of times and that we should expect things to get even better. But such an opinion can only be held by those who are very careful about where not to look.

During the rest of the age of scarcity our industrial society will gradually weaken until eventually it will be "down for the count". We will then transition into the age of salvage, making use of the materials left behind, which we will no longer have the wherewithal to make from scratch for ourselves. Of course, this transition will occur at different times in various places around the world. And while it will certainly be a big step down from current conditions in the developed nations, it will be a long way from the stone age. There will be a lot of salvage left to work with and we now know a great deal that we did not know even a few centuries ago.

Because I am expecting a slow collapse, I believe there is a lengthy period ahead of us when governments will still be in charge and have some resources available to pursue their policy objectives. What those objectives are will have a large influence on how collapse progresses, and to what extent it can be mitigated. If we are not going to just stoically accept what comes, we will need to choose between the various sorts of actually, realistically achievable politics, searching for the ones that can do the least worst job for us.

Yes, there will eventually come a day when federal, state (provincial) and, in the case of large cities, even local governments are so resource starved that they are no longer effective (or exist at all, perhaps) and local communities are left to their own devices. But it seems to me that even then the sort of politics that has been popular in a society will have a lingering effect on the workings of those communities.

Since it is now clear that it going to take two, if not three, posts to cover everything I want to talk about on this subject, I think I'll bring this post to an end. Next time we'll look in detail at how two of those political positions will differ in their approach to life in the age of scarcity.

And BK, please be patient. In your comments you made several other points that deserve a thoughtful response, which I hope to be making in my next post, or maybe the one after that….

Requiem for a Pirate

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Published on The Doomstead Diner October 8, 2017

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I got the news this week that an old friend, Randy Ripley had died last month, at the age of 63.  Pretty much the oldest friend I had, since we knew each other from childhood in Brasil.  I wrote about Randi a few years ago in my article Pump Up the Volume.  It was an article about the Pirate Radio years of the 1970s when I was a small part of that scene.  Randy ran a small Pirate out of his parent's basement in Flushing, Queens where we both ended up living after spending the 1960s in Brasil.  We were friends from about the time I was 6 years old and Randy was 9 and stayed friends until about the time I left NY Shity to go out OTR as a Trucker.  At that time, I lost contact with just about everyone I had been friends with. I was in my middle 30s at the time.

Even before that though, Randy and I drifted apart, as our lives took different paths quite early on.  I was a top student through Junior High when we spent the most time together and I went on to one of the NY Shity specialized high schools for Science & Math, Stuyvesant.  Randy couldn't manage HS for any number of reasons, and he dropped out in his Junior year.  When he did, he went full on into Pirate Radio, and built his WQLB Radio Station basically from scratch from Radio Shack parts and Army surplus equipment.  It was housed in the basement of his parent's house in Flushing.  During this time, I would usually only see Randy once a week or so, when I would come over to play some chess, watch some TV and then we would go On the Air late at night on WQLB, reaching out a few miles in northern Queens and into a bit of Long Island. My On Air handle in those years was Stony Stevenson (taken from the Kurt Vonnegut novel Between Time & Timbuktu). He didn't have much of an antenna then, later though he got a tower and the reach was further.  We could make Manhattan if it was pointed the right way.

The reasons Randy couldn't hack high school were many.  First off, he was Legally Blind.  He could read, just he had to have a book right up on his nose to be able to do it.  Same when we watched TV together, he would sit up very close to the TV screen to be able to make out what was going on.  What was truly amazing about him though on this level was his ability to do fine work with electronics and audio tape of the era.  He was very meticulous and would work up close to do all the soldering and splicing of tape to make his audio productions, which is what kept him bizzy after dropping out of HS.  If it was just his blindness, Randy could have made it through HS, and probably gone on to an engineering degree with no problem.  But that wasn't his only issue.

Besides being legally blind, Randy was also a homosexual and a hippie and he had no friends in the Queens HS where he ended up, Bayside HS.  He was very anti-establishment and wasn't interested at all in the material they were dishing out there for him to learn.  So he dropped out and retreated to his parent's basement, much to their consternation.  In those years, before Pirate Radio really became his thing and he got WQLB running, I was pretty much his only friend AFAIK.

Battles with his parents were endless, besides being unhappy with him dropping out of skule, they were Christian Fundys and he was totally anti-religion.  He also was running an illegal Radio Station, which certainly would have got them in trouble if he was ever caught (which he never was in those years, the FCC was quite incompetent).  His sexual orientation which at the time he identified as Gay also gave them fits.  After a few years he decided he wasn't actually Gay, but in fact Transgender.  This is well before all this stuff became fashionable, it was not Mainstream at all.  He wanted THE OPERATION to become a She.  In the end, Randi won this battle with them, and I believe they ended up footing the bill for the surgery.

When I went on to college, my visits with Randy became much more sporadic, maybe once a month I would drop in to visit with him at the new place his parents moved to, also in Flushing.  Main reason for the move was he & they couldn't get along in the same living space but they couldn't make a complete break at that time, he wasn't self-sufficient enough.  So they moved into a townhouse type home with 3 apartments, and he had the top floor.  A short time after they moved in there he got the operation and He became a She, now spelled Randi instead of Randy.  She had upscaled her Pirate Station quite a bit, and the apartment also sported a nice living room with a big couch and big color TV (for the era).  It had a kick ass stereo system in the living room with the speakers wired into his Studio, which was one of the two bedrooms of the apartment.  He also generally had on hand a good size stash of Ganja to smoke, and at the time I was a Weed Smoker.  So when I visited with my mom in our Flushing house every so often, riding the #7 Flushing train from Times Square at one end of the line to Main Street at the other end after taking the #1 train down from Columbia, I would buy a 6-Pack of Heineken (my Beer of choice in those years) and walk on over to his house, about 4 blocks away.  Sometimes we would do a Radio Show, other times just watch TV and smoke dope.  On my shows, Randi would do all the engineering and I would just talk.  I never really learned to do all the engineering tasks for running a good radio show by myself.  That's where my Ranting in Audio here on the Diner was born though.  I was in my early teens when I started doing that.

Randi is in the Center, 3rd from the right

After college, our lives drifted further apart and Randi got ever deeper into the world of Pirate Radio as he hooked up with the Yonkers crowd and Allan Weiner, another self-taught genius.  Allan bought a bought a big rusting hulk of a vessel moored in Boston Harbor he named the Sarah, fixed up the diesel engines to make it seaworthy again and fitted it out with a transmitter and studio to broadcast from offshore.  The crew of Pirates all went out on that boat and broadcast as RNI, Radio New York International toward the coast of Long Island.  They lasted about a week as I recall before they were shut down and arrested by the FCC.  I had the opportunity to go on that adventure, but I didn't take it.  I am sorry for that to this day.

I completely lost touch with Randi over 20 years ago, although I got periodic reports from my mother who was friends with his mother, so I knew she kept on with the Pirate Radio and moved from Flushing to Woodstock.  What I only learned in the last week with the news of her death is that many of this crew of Pirates remained in touch with each other for all these years in between, and continued with careers in radio of one sort or another, both legal and illegal.  I find that amazing because I have no friends going back that far in my life.

Randi's life was an odd one, and she certainly did not fit into the society she was born into.  She did have one legit job that I know of, she worked as a producer on the Alex Bennett show on WPLJ early on when I was still in my teens.  I went into Manhattan a few times with her to sit in the control room, and met Phil Ochs not long before he commited suicide.  There was another person who didn't fit well into our society.

Otherwise though, Randi mostly lived off SSI Benefits she got as a result of being Legally Blind, and then after her parents died I am sure she inherited a tidy sum of money from her father, who had a successful career as a drector in the fisheries department of the UN, but was almost certainly really CIA.  So if she did hold any paying Radio gigs later on it wasn't because she had to work, just because she wanted to do Radio.

Pirate Radio holds a lot of meaning in terms of freedom, and the efforts made back in the 70s by the hippies and the malcontents around at the time were worthy efforts, but of course in the end doomed to failure.  Like folks in the Environmental Movement, they got to open the door a crack, but then it got shut in their faces and for the next 40 years since they have been just spinning their wheels in the frustrating attempt to get something besides Corporate Propaganda up On the Air.  For the last few years we have seen the door open a crack again with the advent of the Internet, Blogs, Podcasts and YouTube channels.  That also will shut soon enough, either through Goobermint repression or through economic collapse, it's a race to see which one kills it first.  In the longer term, it's also too energy intensive and complex a medium to continue onward in the post-collapse world.  For a while once the Internet Goes Dark after SHTF Day, Radio may make a Comeback as a communication medium, over the Shortwave transmitters of HAM operators.  Just have to see how that one goes.

Randi never participated much on the Internet, her eyesight precluded that in the early years of mainly text and I suspect she never became comfortable with the medium to switch into Podcasting.  So at 63 years old, she finished her life the way she lived it, as a Pirate Radio freak.  63 is not that old, but not that young either, so she had more or less an average lifespan, a little on the low side these days if you go in to the medical industry grind, which she chose not to do.  Nothing wrong at all with that choice.  I myself am immersed in it, and it positively sucks.

Did Randi have much Happiness through her life?  Not really I don't think but she did find something she had a passion for and pursued it for her life walking the earth, and there is a lot to be said for that also.  I am sure now that she has crossed the Eternal Divide into the Great Beyond, she is setting up a new Pirate Station to broadcast from there.  Tune in at 91.9 on your FM Dial after midnite and perhaps you will catch her show.

You can listen more about the life of Randall Ripley in this Podcast from another old friend of his/hers:

You can read more memories HERE from another friend.

 

 

God the Absent Father

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Published on The Doomstead Diner October 4, 2017

 

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   What an unfortunate mess the world has become!  Is it possible that it's always been a mess?  What is humanity doing?  I'll admit that I'm becoming more nihilistic by the day.  At this point the only thing keeping me from being a nihilist is the desire to not be a nihilist.  That's hardly a defense against nihilism though, and I'm completely aware of that fact.  I think this is what a midlife crisis looks like, but then I can't sort through that because the outer world is such a cesspit that it makes my issues opaque by comparison.  Love, compassion, altruism, wholesomeness, personal integrity, and then there is this monstrous reality to inhabit and engage with.  Here I am, willingly driving a semi truck, for money, and no other reason. 
   
      When I started my career with EMS it was for several reasons.  The most important reason was that I saw nothing about it that was morally repugnant.  It was something that I viewed was necessary for society.  It was an invaluable job that must be performed to keep society functioning.  Corporate greed, federal government meddling, and micromanaged oversight, and the nature of people once tossed off of the Merikan dream, and it all coalesced into a brew of disgust I could no longer manage.  Patients became customers and people abused the very fallible system. 
   
  http://stevespak.com/spak/ems/pin1.jpg    I was also curious about death and human tragedy.  The writer in me wanted a deeper glimpse into the human condition.  I wanted the ability to study my fellow man under the most intense of circumstances.  High tragedy strips us of our superficial characteristics and leaves us honest and naked.  Death is the great equalizer.  It didn't matter how wealthy or poor a person was when they were staring death in the face.  It was more then that for me though.  I wanted to see death in all of its forms.  I wanted to see body decomposition, decapitation, dead babies, and wailing loved ones.  I wanted to tell people that their loved one was dead so that I could see them in their pure state.  In so doing, I hoped that I would somehow get a glimpse into truth.  I called to death and offered him my friendship, and I asked for his approval.  He gave me his approval, and he assured me that I too would die one day. 
   
     After bombing Afghanistan I was also looking for redemption.  Aside from my macabre curiosity about our condition, I felt that I had a karmic debt to repay.  I felt that helping people in their lowest place might somehow add some positive karmic credit to my account.  I was motivated by the need for redemption, something interesting to write about, and final truth about what it means to be human.  I was on a quest for God.  In the end I was disgusted by humanity, and then by my own lack of it, and then by God.  To survive the job I had to shred off a lot of humanity.  I laughed at the human tragedy, and finally I became afraid and ashamed for who I had become.  I'd go home to fill my lungs with smoke and my belly with liquor…to forget what I had just witnessed.  Finally, I wanted to rot with the dead bodies I befriended on a daily basis.  And what of the people?  Where did their consciousness go?  I would stare into the eyes of the dead, and they would star back with their blankness…and then I would write a report about it for the corporation. 
   
     I left the war machine to witness the daily death of humanity.  I left the death of humanity seeking yet more redemption.  I took refuge in nature.  My religion became permaculture, and I called it Druidry.   For a while I believed in what I was doing.  I believed that I had finally arrived at an answer to this struggle that is humanity.  To live we must eat.  Nature provides the materials we need to live.  This should be managed responsibly and sustainably.  We owe life more then consumer trash heap mountains and single serving convenience.  We owe life more then cheapening it as a matter of societal protocol.  We owe ourselves more then mental masturbation projected onto a digital screen of failure. 
   
     Is there a God?  Are there many gods…goddesses…are we just fooling ourselves with this consciousness?  Was this all created?  Is it just a big bang that has no meaning?  Is it all just chemical reactions determined by the laws of physics set in motion by a cosmic quark…an accident?  I remain in an in-between.  I remain in a spiritual purgatory.  I remain in the truth.  I'm an agnostic atheistic polytheist, a contradiction, and yet I believe in life beyond the meat suit…and not a digital one either.  Fuck the singularity…talk about mental masturbation and gargantuan narcissism!  I don't know if there is a point beyond life.  We are here observing.  Why?  Are we being observed?  If we are, then what of it?  If we're created and being observed then we're nothing more then a cosmic netflix, and for no reason other then entertainment.  We strive to be comfortably entertained and pleasured.  We strive to possess things, to be happy, and for no reason.  Meanwhile, as a society we die, and rot, and shit all over natural beauty.
   
      I'll hook up to a 48 foot flat bed trailer and pull it around the country for money.  I'll deliver loads of building supplies.  This will keep our society functioning dysfunctionally, and I'll do it for money so that I can provide my family with what they need.  I'll literally live in a machine.  It will be my house, my livelihood, and a lifeline for my children to breath smoke in this industrial dystopia.  I'll burn hundreds of gallons of diesel every week to deliver these loads that will continue building Merika into the death machine that it's always been.  I'll live in the heart of our death machine…literally.  I'm doing it for money, and yet maybe there is a deeper meaning to this? 
   
     My first day driving a tractor trailer was synchronistic.  The radio was on, and barely audible, as I took the driver seat on the range at this truck driving school.  I started driving, learning to double clutch, learning how much space this massive machine needs to function safely on the road.  U2's Pride came on the radio, and that was a supremely synchronistic moment.  U2 is tatooed on my chest, just above my heart.  Why?  When I was a child, I longed for my father, and he was away driving a tractor trailer all around North Merika.  My mother and father divorced when I was 4, and I only saw him on rare occasions, maybe once a year, for a week at a time.  My childhood was spent longing to be with my father, and on the rare occasions that I saw him it was to go over the road in his tractor.  I have a very lucid memory of that first trip with him.  I got into the truck and U2 was blaring on the radio.  The Unforgettable Fire  was blasting from the speakers of his semi truck, the album that Pride is on.  Now, 30 years later, I'm driving a tractor trailer for the first time and U2 comes on the radio.  I'm instantly transported to 30 years ago.  I'm driving this tractor for my sons, and I'm away from them, and they are longing to see me.  What does this strange twist of fate mean?  Does it mean anything?  Is it just random in it's apparent meaning?  Is all of life a complicated paradox? 
   
      Before I came out here to train to be a truck driver I called my father.  It had been a few years since we went no contact.  I had to call him several times before he finally picked up.  I talked, and he was mostly not interested.  I was drunk and looking for validation.  The next day I felt cheap for having called him.  I felt the most masochistic I have ever felt.  It was pointless to reach out to him for validation.  Yet there is that part of me that has been looking for his approval, and that part of me is a part of all of us.  That part of me is why God was created by man…not the other way around.  We created God and then we killed him. 
   
      Our way of life is collapsing even as it lives.  We grow up and continue declaring business as usual for money.  We can change, but we won't.  We will continue burning nature down for convenience.  We will continue delivering ourselves to death for money and soft convenience.  We don't give ourselves the choice to heal.  It can be different, idealism is a real phenomenon, and it's also a waste of time.  Idealism is a waste of the vital energy we need to make money to pay the bills.  Idealism doesn't pay the bills, and it lives in a bong filtered through water and absorbed by the lungs.  If God is real then idealism is his sense of humor, but he's not real, and idealism is just a cruel joke designed by happenstance and ultimately a phantasm. 
   
     My final defense against nihilism is love, and at this point love is my religion.  Love is what is motivating me to drive a semi for money.  What a God joke this is.  My father drove a semi, and now I drive one.  I am not an atheist, I am not agnostic, I am not a Druid, I am not Buddhist, I am nothing but a husband and a father.  I am the truth, and spare me the judgmental finger pointing.  I am nothing, and so are you.  In a blink of time we all die.  I would like to be wrong in my assessment of this truth.  As depressing as this all sounds, I am not depressed.  I am relieved at the simplicity that my life has become.  I do not care about possessions.  I do not care about identity.  My life has been reduced down into a simple operating objective.  I am a provider, and I must provide within the parameters of this horrible mess we continue maintaining.  I want to reduce suffering for all sentient beings.  That starts with myself and goes to my wife and children.  My meditation is to watch this train wreck of a civilization happen.  I will tell my children the truth, and I will love them, and they will know my love, and I will provide them with manna.  In the name of love…I drive a truck…just as my father did.  What a tragic comedy this life is.  And somehow, even amidst the decay and rot of flesh, love can flourish.  Somehow there is meaning to the suffering.  In the name of love I drive a truck!  What irony.  Still, even fighting off nihilism on a daily basis, I am awe struck by this mysterious meaning.  Maybe the point of existence is just to create meaning via love? 

"Pride (In The Name Of Love)"
One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come, he to justify
One man to overthrow

 

 

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach.
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

(nobody like you…)

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love…

Puerto Rico: Canary in the Coal Mine of Collapse

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Published on The Doomstead Diner October 1, 2017

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Maria is another one of those Collapse Gifts that keeps on giving.  Although the impact of the storm itself was quite horrific, the aftermath has been far worse.  Puerto Rico has now become the Poster Child for what FAST COLLAPSE looks like.  For those of us who observe and chronicle collapse as it progresses around the world, Puerto Rico is the Canary in the Coal Mine.  It's a window into what life will look like for many as our energy supplies dwindle.

Although it took a Hurricane like Maria to wipe out the infrastructure of Puerto Rico in one fell swoop, the island was already well on its way toward this before Maria came a-calling.  They are officially bankrupt, the power company also bankrupt, the infrastructure aging and in disrepair, and on top of all of that over the last decade there has been mass migration out of Puerto Rico by anyone young with skills who could get out.  So not only does the power company have a money shortage, they have a manpower shortage too.  They don't just have to re-string wires in this one, first they gotta GET to the wires rebuilding and clearing roads, then they gotta put in a whole lot of new poles, which have to be shipped in because they don't have any trees left there to make them out of.  Quotes of a "few months" to get a full grid operational there again are laughable.  They might get San Juan lit up again in that time period, but not the whole island.

The instantaneous removal of all grid power in Puerto Rico demonstrates clearly how dependent all industrialized countries are on a functioning electrical grid.  Particularly true in hot climates, where without A/C now many buildings are simply uninhabitable.  Office buildings are often build without windows that open, turning them  into ovens when the A/C goes out.  Similarly, many modern McMansions are not built with the kind of shaded porches, ceiling fans and ventilation that older southern climate homes were built with.  No A/C in these dwelling, and you will sweat to death in no time.  It's no help on that front either that there is little Potable Water circulating anywhere to keep yourself well hydrated.

http://media.nj.com/ledgerupdates_impact/photo/2012/10/refrigerator-power-outage-hurricane-sandy-spoiledjpg-c33741974447a50d.jpgFollowing after the A/C on the high power consumption items we all rely on is the Food Refrigeration issue.  By now, all the food stored in everyone's home refrigerator and freezer has gone bad if it wasn't eaten already.  Some larger stores and warehouses might have generator backup, but most of the Bodegas the typical Puerto Rican buys food at do not.  Even if they do have generators, gas is running scarce and driving to get it or have it delivered is blocked by debris and still flooded roads in some places.  For all intents and purposes, any perishable foods on the island are no longer consumable.

Is a massive relief effort underway to get new food to the people of Puerto Rico?  If you call 7 air cargo C-130 transports and a couple of Navy ships a massive relief effort and give this "high marks" in the words of Donalditry Tumpovetsky, you are a few cans short of a six-pack.  Again, this might bring enough food in to keep the folks in and around San Juan from starving, but it's not enough capacity to feed an island with 3.4M Human Souls living on it.

In fact what needs to be done here is a FULL MOBILIZATION of the FSoA Coast Guard, and FSoA flagged Container Ships need to be commandeered to bring in massive food aid and building materials to various ports all around the island.  It's also just nonsense that they haven't been able to reach remote villages because of impassable roads.  They have HELICOPTERS!  They might not have enough choppers to get aid out to all these remote places, but they can certainly go there, survey damage, talk to the Mayor and give him a Sat Phone, etc.

Besides the nonsense on not knowing the status of these places is the nonsense in terms of the Death Count.  Do you really believe on an island with 3.4M people, most of whom live in poverty in ramshackle "non-traditional" housing, only 12 people died?  With raging floods all over the island and wind speeds topping 145 MPH?  Debris flying everywhere and power lines down all over the place?  Besides that, quite obviously with no power in many hospitals and nursing homes and no A/C old folks and sick folks are going to be dropping like flies here, starting about now.  They have medicines that need refrigeration that go bad just like food does.  We'll never get an accurate number on how many people die as a result of this catastrophe, Da Goobermint would never admit to it.  Big Death numbers only happen to 3rd World Nations like Bangladesh, not to FSoA Citizens!

A/C and Refrigeration are proximal problems immediately hitting individuals, but there are of course many other dependencies on electricity any industrialized neighborhood has to deal with.  Anywhere there are high-rise apartments, you need elevators (Lifts for the Brits) to be transporting you up and down from the upper stories.  While it is possible if you are in good shape to walk 12 flights of stairs in the morning to go to work and when you get home at night, it's pretty darn hard to do this 2 or 3 times a day when you send the kids out to play or you need to go grocery shopping, etc.  Besides that, in most locations there simply is not enough gravity fed water pressure to push water up more than about 6 stories.  So in order to have flushing toilets and running water on the upper stories, you need pumps which are of course electric powered.

http://www.mastec.com/user_area/content_media/DaniaBeachStorageTank.jpgYou don't only need the pumps in the tall buildings though, they are all over the place through the water delivery system, both on the way in and the way out.  On the individual level in more rural locations, people use individual electric driven pumps to bring well water up from below ground, in some places where the aquifer has been depeleted from quite deep underground.  You can't jack that deep water up with a hand operated pump.  On the grander scale, towns and cities use big ass pumps to move water all through their systems on the way in, and on the way out it has to be pumped to sewage treatment plants, themselves also dependent on electricity to operate.

Somewhat less threatening in the Basic Needs department but in many respects also quite threatening to life in Industrial Culture is the failure of the Communications Infrastructure.  Pretty much all the Cell Phone Towers are down in Puerto Rico, so they are CUT OFF from communications not just within the island, but across the pond to their relatives living here in the continental FSoA.  One has to remember that more Puerto Ricans live on the continent than live on the island.  they had a Diaspora in the 1950s & 1960s that sent many impoverished Puerto Ricans to live in the Slums of NY Shity, where I lived though not in the slums.  I lived in the lower middle class neighborhood at that time.  This is known as the "Great Migration", and occured in the aftermath of the Great Depression and WWII.  A Hollywood dramatization and Musical of this period became an Academy Award Winner for Best Picture, "West Side Story".

Like the Blacks in NY Shity, the Puerto Ricans lived in Ghettos and were the Underclass, and were referred to as "Spics".  As in, "I don't Spic English".  Puerto Rico itself was mostly left to languish as a colonial protectorate, they never got Statehood like Hawaii did.  Much of that due to prejudice against the Spanish speaking population.  Hawaii was largely White, and became an important Military base during WWII in the Battle of the Pacific against the Japanese.  It remains an important military base to this day, now in the battle for hegemony over the Pacific with the Chinese.  Of course, in a full on War with the Chinese, Hawaii would be OBLITERATED by a man-made Hurrican courtesy of Chinese cruise missiles.  They wouldn't even need to use Nukes to do it, the current generation of conventional Blockbuster warheads would do the trick just fine.  Hawaii is not a big place.

https://www.metro.us/sites/default/files/styles/mystyle/public/main/articles/2017/09/26/LYNXNPED8P1BV_7.jpgBack to the current problem of Puerto Rico though, I think we have established what the SCALE of this problem is, it is truly HUGE.  So what is the response of Trumpsky to this.  He is sending ONE Hospital ship and maybe about another dozen naval vessels of various kinds.  This for an island of 3500 square miles with 3.4M FSoA Citizens living on it!  It's just Window Dressing for Photo Ops of the Coast Guard and National Guard making Heroic Rescues.  90% of them will come in and around San Juan, so the TV camera crews can get there.

Beyond the inadequacy of the rescue mission is the complete lack of a PLAN to get that infrastructure back up and running, in some fashion.  PREPA, the Puerto Rican national power company like Puerto Rico itself is DEAD BROKE, $9B in their own debt aside from the $70B in debt the Puerto Rican Goobermint has.  Even before Maria, the scuttlebutt was that PR would "Privatize" the electric grid and sell off what assets they had for pennies on the dollar.  However, let me ask you, what IDIOT would buy the electric grid of Puerto Rico and try to fix it up to make a PROFIT off of it?  The capital investment here is enormous, the entire grid has to be essentially replaced.  Then you are going to sell electricity to an impoverished population with no money to buy it?  Does this sound like a good bizness plan to you?  Not to mention anyone currently on that island with the means to get off will do so long before you finish constructing a new electric grid.  The only people who will be hanging out and sweating while you do the repairs are the poor people.

Now, while Puerto Rico is certainly in the worst shape here of those islands that are getting some media attention (Cuba and the Dominican Republic are barely mentioned in the MSM, and both took quite large hits, Cuba from Irma and the DR from Maria), it's not the only place that has had its lifestyle and economy decimated by the STRAFING RUN OF MOTHER NATURE.  The Tourista Traps of the FSoA and Brit Virgin Islands were also smacked down hard.  As a Recovery issue, these islands present a *somewhat* more tractable problem than Puerto Rico does, because they are physically smaller and the populations are much less.  However, even in these places it is hard to see how they will get their Tourista based economies running again given the level of destruction of the infrastructure.

https://media4.s-nbcnews.com/j/newscms/2017_37/2150076/170911-saint-martin-mc958_9e7e073e7d23fa3c0544ac64e2bb4271.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.jpgFirst off, they need to dispose of all the TRASH left behind by Maria and Irma, and that is easier said than done on tiny islands that don''t have a lot of space for Landfill. There's a lotta fiberglass that needs to go to the Great Beyond.   In this case, they have full island's worth of garbage to dispose of.  Somehow, if they are to recover, it will have to be shipped off island to…somewhere in the Land of Away where all the flotsam and jetsam of Industrial Civilization eventually ends up.  But who will pay for the shipping and who will take all the garbage?

Then they also have to source the people and the equipment to do the cleanup.  You can be sure the rich fucks with retirement homes and mansions on these islands won't be doing the cleanup themselves of course.  They will pay for locals to fix up their own properties, which provides an interim substitute for the Tourista Economy they mostly lived on during the Good Old Days before the STRAFING RUN.  However, this isn't a job that can be done with a few chainsaws and some human labor.  You're going to need heavy equipment, lots of it.  Caterpillar Front End Loaders, Daiwoo Back Hoes, Hitachi Dump Trucks, the WORKS!  You need operators for those things who are trained, not your average local who was a bartender before Maria arrived.  Who pays to import all the equipment and trained personnel?

Before any Tourista bizness can get rolling, the airport needs to be fixed up and the ports and marinas repaired.  No self respecting Amerikan Tourista is going to fly into an airport with no Air Conditioning!  The Cruise Ships need ports they can dock at, and the Yachties need Marinas they can moor at.  Only once all these things are in place can you BEGIN to hope to reopen restaraunts and bars, but of course you have to rebuild those too, and who pays for that?  Owner Operators of most of the smaller places didn't make a whole lot of money in the good times.  You expect many of them have spare cash around now to rebuild?  Not likely, so they will have to take out loans from…somebody.  It is like the Puerto Rican Electric Grid though, what IDIOT would loan money into this disaster?  It's never going to get paid back.  Without the loans though, this economy can't get restarted.  There's just no money circulating at the moment.

https://s3-media4.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/AX0mtdafv_lJQKX69Yr6vg/348s.jpgMany of the photos from Ground Zero of the few biznesses now open show signs for "CASH ONLY".  This because since communications are down they can't process any credit or debit card transactions.  The thing is, few people use cash anymore, so there isn't enough of it circulating around the economy to do all cash transactions.  Not that there is a whole lot left to buy at this point.  One thing I definitely did not see were signs saying "Gold or Silver" only.  not a good sign for the Gold Bugs.

Besides the credit cards being down, so is the airline reservations system, so they are having to do all their booking (and rebooking, and re-rebooking…) by hand with pen and paper.  They're also down to about 1/10th their normal flight schedule, so there are people there who have been sleeping in the airport for a week now.  With NO air conditioning!

As bad as the situation is in Puerto Rico, this is still better than it will be after SHTF day moves into the core countries, because at least PR can look to the FSoA for SOME help, even if Donalditry isn't doing a very good job with it.  When the FSoA goes into crash mode, there's no Big Brother or Cavalry to come running to the rescue.  What could cause a collapse on such a massive scale across the whole continent?

Far as weather, probably nothing could do the whole continent at once.  However, more storms more often could provide the "Death by a Thousand Cuts".  They don't have to all be Cat 5 hurricanes either.  More tornadoes, more snowstorms and ice stormms in the winter.  They all perpetually damage infrastructure that has to be rebuilt if the neighborhood is going to continue living the Industrial lifestyle.  More and more meighborhoods wil drop off this map, and the lifestyle will inexorably shrink down.  How long this will take is anybody's guess since it depends on so many factors, not the least of which is the weather which is pretty unpredictable.  Simultaneously you have the economic  consequences of each one, and the political ones as demonstrated with Puerto Rico.  Notice nobody is talking about the Fedral Budget these days or how any of this rebuilding work is going to get paid for?  The numbers they are pitching out are laughers too, $40B won't even TOUCH a rebuild of Puerto Rico, not to mention St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.

In terms of an instantaneous, Global Wide SHTF day, there are really only a few possibilities for that, I can only think of 4 that might pull it off all at once.  On the Geological level, a Supervolcano blowing off and covering the globe in ashfall would do it pretty well.  A collision witha Planet Killer Asteroid would bring the End of Times down to less than a day, you wouldn't have to worry about living in a post-collapse world in that scenario.  On the man-made level, Global Thermonuclear war could destroy industrial civilization globally inside a few days.  The only other one that could bring about a full Global Collapse on such a short timeline would be a complete collase of the Monetary System with all trade coming to a halt, including Oil and Food.  That would still probably take a few months to play out, and I am sure Emergency Measures would be put in place.  However, much like the emergency measures for Puerto Rico, they won't be able to meet the needs of Billions of people all at the same time.

https://straction.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/stephensonsrocket.jpgHowever, this doesn't need to be Global in scope and all-at-once to qualify as "Fast Collapse".  It's ALREADY fast collapse measured against how long it took to climb up the Industrial Ladder, which you can peg as starting in around 1750 or so with the invention of the Steam Engine.  It's kind of arbitrary when you peg Collapse as beginning here, there were signs of it as early as the 1960's & 70s, but it really hit an acceleration phase in 2008 with the Financial Crisis, so I will use that as the "Start Date" for Collapse.  So it took from 1750 to 2008 to climb UP the ladder for 258 years, and to slide DOWN to where we are now, only about 9 years so far.  In that 9 years, NUMEROUS countries have gone off the cliff one way or the other, including but not limited to Greece, Venezuela, Ukraine, Syria and Myanmar.  Halfway off the cliff are places like Brazil, Argentina & Mexico.  Now they are joined by Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and probably the Dominican Republic & Cuba too, but not much Newz is coming out from those places.

Here in the FSoA, both Florida and Houston got hit hard but it is being spun as though they are both back up to BAU here already in a month, which simply can't be true.  Definitely not true in the Florida Keys and I suspect not much of Western Florida either where Irma made landfall again after the Keys.  There is no follow-up on how many of the Oil rigs and Refineries are back up and running down in that neighborhood either.  ALL of these places lost a HUGE portion of their rolling stock of Carz, estimates in Houston are that 500,000 Carz were TOTALLED.  You HAVE to have a Car to get around anywhere in TX, Public Transportation simply doesn't EXIST for the most part.  It's not like most of these folks can just go to the bank and yank out even just a downpayment on a car, most of the population has less than amonth in savings, they live paycheck-to-paycheck.  So BAU is highly unlikely to be operating as usual in Houston as of right now.  Collapse has arrived there for many.

For Collapse-Deniers, no disaster in any given location will convince them that Collapse is in progress as we speak.  They will always come back with the retort "there have always been Hurricanes, there have always been Tornadoes, there have always been Snowstorms, there have always been Wildfires", and so forth.  That's all true, but the issue is how hard and how often they are hitting along with the steadily decreasing ability to rebuild after they move through the neighborhood.  It's almost impossible to quantify this in any real fashion, but it's pretty obvious to me at least that we are reaching the point where things are breaking down faster than they are getting fixed up.

http://www.weatherwizkids.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/wildfire12.jpgIt's not likely to get much better as we move forward through Collapse, and where you are located makes a BIG difference as to whether your neighborhood gets impacted sooner or later in this ongoing calamity.  Living on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico is NOT a particularly good choice of locations.  Neither is living in the numerous Flood Zones sprinkled around the continent near rivers and tributaries.  Forested areas in the Mountains might not be a good choice if they are suffering Drought and Wildfires may be imminent.  Earthquake prone regions might not be such a good choice either these days either.  Certainly the Mexicans aren't to happy with their location at the moment.

Which of course means the "Safe" areas to ride out collapse are pretty few and far between, in fact such a place may not exist at all, as in truly 100% Safe.  So if you do have the ability and means to make a move, you have to weigh the risks in any given neighborhood.  Based on what occured with Harvey, Irma & Maria, Island paradises and lviing on a small Yacht as a Sea Gypsy don't seem like great choices on the risk scale.  Large cities don't seem too good either.

Personally, I think the best methodology is to stick with a good Bugout Plan, and Options of places to go when TSHTF.  As demonstrated in Puerto Rico, there ARE no good Bugout Plans for most people, only a few who have boats and GTFO of Dodge before the Behemoth arrives.  You don't want to be stuck on a baking island in an airport oven sweating your nuts off for a week waiting for a flight out.  Assuming you have the MONEY to buy one.

By NO MEANS is the Puerto Rico story over.  Little Newz has come out from outside of San Juan.  With the heat there, there is no way more people have not succumbed to heat stress as the days pass.  Of course, finding the stories in the MSM will likely be difficult.  That is why we run the Doomstead Diner.  Look for contiuing coverage here as it drifts off the pages of the MSM and the people of Puerto Rico are left to Twist in the Wind.

Agnostic Druid Buddhist Trucker Musings

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 27, 2017

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While playing shakuhachi flute in my third story hotel room in Gary Indiana, I look outside the window to see what could easily be a confusing dream.  Mostly what I see is broken down industrial situations.  Industrial yards with tires stacked to the sky, 53' van trailers parked en mass, a polluted river, and a patch of some type of tall, bamboo looking, perennial grass that's in seed and blowing with the wind tucked into the middle of it all somehow.  Amidst the industrial ugliness, the weedy grass catches all of my attention.  It's beautiful blowing in the wind.  It's wild and natural.  It represents the unending ability of life to heal what we have done to the land and our environment.  It is patient, virile, and unceasing.  I blow into my bamboo flute, a flute made of grass, and I watch the weeds blow to the tune of natures unending endurance.  I'm inside of a literal box constructed by my civilization, and I'm here by my own supposed free will.  Once again I'm in compliance and willingly submitting to the assimilation that has us all marching to a likely dystopian destruction.  I'm reminded of the time, days after 9/11, when I was staring out at the Arabian Sea from the U.S.S. Carl Vinson on a smoke break.  I was living in a prison due to my own willing participation.  It was a prison that makes this way of life a possibility.  It was the beginning of the war in Afghanistan.  It was Merika's first response to the terrorism that took down the twin towers in New York city.  It was dark outside, as I stared at the ocean, as we steamed around in the middle of the Arabian sea dropping bombs and firing missiles at a nomadic peoples who mostly had no idea why.


   Now, 16 years later, I'm half way through a 4 week truck driving school.  25% of my days are spent either backing the truck and trailer on the range, or driving on the road.  The other 75% is spent waiting for my turn to back on the range or drive the truck on the road.  I've got another week and some change before I test for the CDL.  At this point I'm pretty confident that I could pass the remaining skills test and acquire the CDL, but the remaining practice will help me be even more confident come test day.  After I get the CDL I'll have a few days of load securement training.  This training is required because I will be pulling a flatbed trailer.  After that it will be approximately three weeks over the road with a trainer, a driving test at headquarters, and then I get assigned to a truck and hit the road to make the big bucks, and once again I'm supporting this Merikan way of life.


http://www.rosedaletech.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/cdl_students.jpg   The big bucks being approximately 40-50k for the first year depending on my performance and freight availability.  In the worst case I will make more money than I have ever made before.  In my final year with EMS, after eight years on an ambulance working as an EMT, I made 29k.  That is also about what I made while in the Navy working as a nuclear engineer on an aircraft carrier.  The best I could do on my own, running a landscaping business, was 28k.  Have I made the right decision coming here to Indiana to acquire a CDL and drive a truck for a living?  Clearly, if my financial life is to be the yard stick by which the decision is measured, I have made the right decision (do people even use yard sticks any longer?).  Worst case I make 10k more next year then I've ever made in a year. In the best case I make 20k more.  Of course this worst/best case scenario depends on BAU's continuance.  Are finances finally what life in our modern civilization is all about?  Unfortunately, depending on how you look at this situation, I may end up much worse off by trying to get more money…for my family of course.  I could care less about money or acquiring things.  I'm doing this to provide for my wife and two sons because that is what a husband and father must first do in our modern society.


   To demonstrate how completely insane my choices are, I'm going to break my previous financial situation down.  My previous financial situation was the product of a strategy I was employing in an attempt to leave the Matrix behind.  I'll quickly recap that strategy and some of the events and insights which lead up to it, and then I'll explain what went wrong and how I came to abandon that strategy to end up here in Gary Indiana training to end up as an Agnostic Druid Buddhist Trucker.  Much like the civilization I'm a product of, I am the unadulterated embodiment of paradox.


   In 2011 I came to the end of my EMT rope.  I burned out dealing with body decomposition, dead babies, bodily fluids, communicable diseases, psychotics, crack heads, psychotic crack heads, federal government meddling, and big wealth care corporate bullshit.  I endured all of that so that I couldn't afford my meager home owner lifestyle.  I had just become a father the year before, and my wife's business had gone down the crapper in the aftermath of 2008.  Due to new government standards which pertained to EMT certification, I was going to be getting demoted from EMT Intermediate to EMT basic, and that meant I'd be loosing the ability to perform skills I had mastered to help save an occasional life.


https://photos.smugmug.com/1009196674_mTwCW-M.jpg   I had been collapse aware for about 4 years.  In the aftermath of the 2008 fiasco, it looked as though our society was living on borrowed time.  It looked to me like BAU's days were rapidly coming to an end.  I had been gardening organically since 2007, and I was ready to take it up a notch with respect to preparing for the collapse of industrial civilization.  Permaculture had pinged on my radar as the best possible solution, and there was nothing I knew of which seemed more important with respect to the future.  I had tried a fukitol regimen in an attempt to keep my job and sanity in tact, and it had failed.  I was dizzy with the centripetal force brought on by societal expectations within the BAU cage  on the one hand, and the cognitive dissonance that attempting to push against that force was causing on the other.  I was literally within days of self destructing in a violent outburst directed towards the corporate BAU normality trap I was in.  What was the point in continuing to fight for a place in a civilization that was doomed?  I had day visions of destroying my ambulance in a fit of rage.  My time as an EMT had come to an end, but I had a wife and a baby and a mortgage.


   Just before my likely self destruction, another option was presented to me.  My wife's aunt offered us a home.  We could live with her rent free, and I would be free to pursue permaculture training.  I would have 1.6 acres of land at my disposal, with the possibility of 8 more acres to create a permaculture haven on.  The timing could not have been better.  This was a viable escape from the Matrix…I thought.  I had met my wife's aunt once or twice in the past years during the holidays, but I new nothing of her.  I won't go into the specifics of the following five years.  For those who are reading this and do not know that story, it's documented at my blog Epiphany Now under the title of the Whoville Chronicles.  The idea was to “collapse now and avoid the rush.”  It was a way to get out from beneath the crushing weight of a mortgage and the litany of BAU responsibilities.  Living with family seemed to me to be the wave of the future.  As BAU continued on it's downward trajectory, and as my personal economics continued on it's steep decline, I gathered that evading the responsibilities that come with a home and all that's entailed in maintaining one could possibly be a good idea.  As it turns out it was not a good idea.  I was escaping one trap to jump right into another one.  There is no escape from BAU for a family man.  For those who know my story, you know the wild ride I got onto with my “escape from the Matrix.”  I woke up from one nightmare to fall back asleep into another one.


http://img-aws.ehowcdn.com/638x318/photos.demandstudios.com/getty/article/165/28/78631175_XS.jpg   Ironically, while I was working as a medic,  I learned that in most cases it's family that one needs to worry about most.  Family will mess you up faster than strangers will.  Family is not a choice we make because we are born into it, and in this country there's a very good chance that your family will be dysfunctional due to the insane arrangement society has proffered to us.  We have made an unnatural world that comes complete with unnatural stresses.  A healthy psyche buckles under the weight, and psychological abuse abounds from generation to generation.  We have inherited a cycle of abuse and depression that is perpetuated from generation to generation.  Escaping the resultant psychotic normality can become next to impossible, and the majority become assimilated.  The majority fight off this unnatural state of affairs with cheap beer, fukitol, cigarettes, television, illegal drugs, and fast genetically modified convenience “food.”  Each year our personal and collective cancers grow bigger.


    Practicing permaculture on land that belongs to someone else sounds like a good choice, but it's mostly not.  Permaculture is anti-BAU.  Permaculture is about sustainability and relationships.  It's about providing for our own needs by engaging with nature via sustainable pathways that result in food, fuel, fiber, and medicine.  It's about being good stewards to the land that sustains us.  It's about creating a culture that will work when petroleum energy is no longer available.  Many concessions must be met in the interim from now to that future.  It requires community, but we are all too busy working to pay bills to have time for community.  Rent, utilities, car payments, car and medical insurance, food, clothing, gas, entertainment to dull the pain, and our money and time is all spent.


http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/05/08/article-2321263-19ADBEF7000005DC-423_634x352.jpg   I've looked for a way out of this conundrum that's brought on and required by the system.  We have a “home owner society” as W put it!  We have to put a roof over our children's heads, and we have to provide them with medical insurance, food, clothing, and money for extra curricular activities.  We want the best for our children, and so we must play the game to get that.  There are no wild lands left to escape to.  There is no longer a manifest destiny awaiting us to the west.  The only freedom left is a virtual one, and so we pay for the internet and the fictions therein.  The majority kid themselves waiting on the singularity, and in the meantime they accept new electronic gizmos that interact with the cloud the same as the gizmo before.  We're all waiting for Godot to show up and take us to the promised virtual heaven, and this while we no longer believe in the soul or a non-digital afterlife.


   Meanwhile the apocalypse manages to stay just around the corner.  Year after year, prophecy after prophecy, and somehow it never manages to arrive.  This fact doesn't stop the new prophets declaring the end of times tomorrow.  Then there are the techno-prophets continually promising some digital singularity that will give us all a techno-immortality.  In the meantime we will have artificial intelligence that will make any kind of work for mankind unnecessary.  Robots will do all of the work while we busy ourselves watching flatscreens in our flatland littered with ticky tacky boxes.  They never quite get around to explaining how all 8 billion, and counting, of us will do this without money.  While we wait for this tecno-promised land we have bills and taxes to pay.  While we wait the robots make more and more jobs obsolete.  While we wait we become economic non-persons.  And during this waiting period our children get closer to their own adulthood, and we die with our techno utopian promises having never arrived.

 
 http://cdn.historycollection.co/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/new-jfk-assassination-nypost.jpg  Most people spend all of their time pretending that they know what is going on.  Most people invest all of their energy in fooling themselves, and they are so busy fooling themselves that they never notice that everyone else is doing the same thing.  Honesty, integrity, and self-respect are only around long enough to hit the hot bitumen of our failed way of life only to evaporate into nothingness.  Our circus president clowns around on national television.  He's the master fool fooling us all with his own foolery.  We get all distracted  with civil issues that JFK tried to settle for us over 50 years ago, before the system put a public bullet in his head, and his brothers head, and MLK's head.  Racial equality, gay rights, world peace…and on and on the circus goes.  Meanwhile we have no choice but to assimilate to the tomfoolery.


   Is our way of life doomed due to resource and energy constraints?  Are we destroying our planet with consumerism and the resultant pollution?  Is there a solution to an infinite growth paradigm on a finite planet?  Will the robots make all of our jobs obsolete?  Can Permaculture save us?  Will BAU ever change and give way to sanity, compassion, and economic equality?  Is climate change anthropogenic?  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Mostly the path of least resistance will be taken, and that path is the track that the juggernaut of BAU is on.  BAU has so much mass that only an atomic bomb could possibly create a new course.  That may well be the case.  An atomic bomb, an atomic hurricane, an atomic tsunami, an atomic earth quake, an atomic volcano, or maybe just BAU's normal atomic psychotic continuance.

 
   In the meantime, while we are all waiting and wondering what to do next, this strange reality continues.  While that reality continues our loved ones need things to continue living.  Those needs are mostly only met with money, and money is completely within the domain of BAU.  All of the solutions to BAU are rejected and castigated as utter nonsense, and the foolishness of a nation continues marching on into ridiculousness, and it's influence continues attempting to fold the rest of the world into it.  I think it's possible that the TEOTWAWKI has already happened and nobody noticed it.  It was likely a spiritual apocalypse, and we were all too busy fooling ourselves to notice.  What's left?  Bills are left, and they must be paid…with money.  The new reality is the same as the old.  We have to afford to be the change we want to see in this godless world.  That's why an Agnostic Druid Buddhist Trucker exists.  That's why I'm 700 miles away from my family, playing a shakuhachi flute, and starring at a small patch of perennial weeds that are surrounded by failed industrial promises.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/9f/41/70/9f4170e1f71258c03ce3a63c81dfb3f3.jpg

Equifax: Eye of the Financial Hurricane

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 24, 2017

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I'm taking a break from the Hurricane articles at last, despite the fact over the course of the week Maria did a Strafing Run through the SAME islands that Irma took out a couple of weeks ago, and in addition made a direct hit on Puerto Rico this time as a Cat 4, basically wiping out San Juan.  Not that it was ever possible, but there is NO WAY PR will ever be able to pay off the debt they have now.  To rebuild, they'll need NEW debt!  Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans are going to be heading for the shores of the continental FSoA by the boatload.  The population there was already shrinking precipitously.  There's not going to be anyone left there to Tax!

Anyhow, for This Week in Doom Sunday Brunch article I'm going to talk about another type of Storm, the Financial Storm that has emerged from the Equifax Data Breach.

For those of you who don't know, Equifax is one of 3 Credit firms which collect data to pass on to banks, insurance companies, landlords, jobs etc with your Credit Score, which determines whether you will get that Car Loan, or Mortgage, Apartment or Job, etc.  Essentially, they control your life under our current monetary system.  If you don't get the Thumbs Up from the Credit Bureaus, you can't buy in to the industrial economy in any real way.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but for most people who aspire to a McMansion, a Car and a good paying job, if your credit is rat-fucked it's a very distressing problem.

It's bad enough when you rat-fuck your credit yourself by going in too deep on the Credit Cards, or buying Carz and Trux and McMansions on loans you can't afford, but it's orders of magnitude WORSE if you didn't even make the charges yourself, which is what can happen when some Hacker gets hold of all the information that Equifax stores in their database.  This includes not just your SS#, bank account numers, credit card numbers and payment histories on everything.  It's your financial life history, in a digital nutshell.

The data breach of Equifax took out 143M Amerikan Konsumers Financial Information and put it in the hands of whoever it was that pulled off this hack.  When you consider the fact that there are only around 350M Amerikans all totalled up and lots of them are kids or illegal aliens without SS#s, that's basically everyone in the FSoA who has a Bank Account of some type.  The breach isn't just a transient thing either, it is for LIFE.  Unless you are on top of it all the time watching for unauthorized Credit applications under your Identity, any time for the rest of your life somebody could use this information to set up an account which YOU would be held responsible for.  Defending yourself against such attacks is quite difficult, expensive and time consuming.  Not to mention how it can fuck up your life, preventing you from getting that covetted high-paying, hi-tech job you paid big bucks training for in some Kollege somewhere.

Various "solutions" to this problem have been put forward on the net by various financial websites, the main one being to FREEZE your credit reports, thus not allowing anyone to check the credit, which of course means you can't get any more credit, even yourself!  It wouldn't be a bad thing if EVERYONE froze their credit in the grand scheme of things, that would surely bring the Monetary System to its knees in short order.  This however is unlikely to happen, particularly since Equifax, Experian & Transunion (the other two corporations in this bizness) make it as hard as they can for you to do this.

The lawsuits are already beginning to roll in.  This was pretty clearly a case of negligence and incompetence in the upper management of Equifax.  From Wolf Richter:

Carson Block, the infamous short-seller who among other things peeled back some of the layers covering up Valeant’s murky business schemes and crushed its shares and made a ton of money in the process, missed out on the Equifax disaster. Not having divined what would happen, his firm Muddy Waters failed short Equifax shares before they collapsed 35% in six trading days.

But he didn’t miss out on the hack: He was one of the 143 million Americans whose data, including Social Security numbers, got stolen in the Equifax hack. And on Friday, he sued Equifax.

The lawsuit, reported by the Financial Times on Sunday, accuses Equifax of negligence in its failure to protect his personal identifying information from criminals, and of not disclosing the hack in a timely manner. He is seeking damages of at least $500,000 for the “stress, nuisance and annoyance” of having to deal with the consequences of the hack.

The suit notes that Equifax’s business revolves around being a “secure storehouse” for data and providing a clear financial profile of consumers that lenders and other businesses can rely on.

At a minimum, Equifax should have but didn’t patch a vulnerability in Apache Struts, an open-source framework for developing web applications in Java. The Apache Foundation disseminated a patch on March 6 but Equifax didn’t implement the update. ArsTechnica explains the omission:

Three days later, the bug was already under mass attack by hackers who were exploiting the flaw to install rogue applications on Web servers. Five days after that, the exploits showed few signs of letting up.

The hack occurred after mid-May. On Friday, Equifax said that it had finally patched the vulnerability on July 30, nearly five months after the update had become available, and a day after it had figured out that it had been hacked. This must have been one of the most glorious oh-shit moments in corporate history.

Block’s lawsuit names 11 senior executives at Equifax, including CEO Richard Smith. Two of the named people, chief information security officer Susan Mauldin and chief information officer David Webb, were sacked on Friday “effective immediately.”

Particularly imcompetent here seems to be the CIS, aka "Chief Security Officer" Susan Mauldin.  Her degree is in Music.  WTF does Music have to do with Security for a Financial firm with a huge computer database?  I would think you would want to hire an experienced Hacker for this spot.  Somebody with a track record of being able to find flaws in a system and exploit them.  But no, they hire a fucking flute player for this position!

Where the Negligence comes in here is they actually KNEW about this flaw months before the hack, and did nothing to patch the hole.  I confess to being somewhat negligent on my own computers with not patching holes and not keeping my anti-virus software updated, but all I have on my computer is my own shit.  I am not storing the personal financial records of 143M people!

So anyhow, the fact of the matter is that at this point you have to figure your credit information has been compromised and dispersed to various nefarious people who will attempt to use this information to get some FREE MONEY from the banks.  Free for them, you get the bills later.  But with 143M people to choose from, who will these crooks pick as victims?  They're going to pick the people with High Credit Scores and High Assets they could use as collateral for big loans.  They're NOT going to pick people with Low Credit Scores and Low Assets.  If you are a stickup artist and there are 2 potential Marks on the street at 2AM, one a homeless person sleeping in a refrigerator box and the other a wasted Wall Street trader in an Armani suit and Italian Leather shoes leaving one of the Watering Holes in SoHo, which one are you gonna hit?  You're not gonna get much from the Homeless Guy, but you could strike the JACKPOT with the shit-faced Wall Street Trader!  Maybe he has a few Ben Franklins left in the wallet after the night of debauchery!  Maybe he has a Diamond Ring and a Rolex!  The Italian Leather Shoes might even fit you!

No different for the Digital Rip-Off Artists here, and even easier to pick out the best people to steal from, since you have ALL their financial information!

Which is why I am not in the least bit worried about Identity Theft here or my Credit Info being hacked from Equifax.  WTF is going to want to steal my identity?  My Credit Score is so low it is measured in the Negative Imaginary Numbers.  The reason it is so low is not because I don't pay my bills, it's because I buy nothing on Credit.  I haven't used a Credit Card in 25 years.  I buy only Used Carz for CASH.  I don't buy places to live, I rent them as I need them, where I need them.  Forget opening up a credit account you could steal from if you have my information, *I* can't open up a credit account with my own information! lol.  I don't think they would even give me a LIAR loan for a McMansion!  So for the most part, this whole Equifax scandal simply amuses me.  Other than assisting in collapsing the monetary system, there is little it will do to affect me personally.

All of which should teach you a lesson.  Your best protection from Theft is to not have anything worth stealing.  You know who complains the most about Taxation as Stealing?  RICH PEOPLE!  People who make $250K and more, who ALSO will be the priumary victims of Identity Theft.  I pay just about NOTHING in taxes, and even if they raised my tax rate and that of others like me with my Poverty Level Income to 100%, it wouldn't raise Jack Shit in money to pay off the National Debt.  To get that kind of scratch, you need to take it from the people who actually HAVE it. As Willie Sutton said when asked why he Robbed Banks, his response was:

http://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-i-rob-banks-because-that-s-where-the-money-is-willie-sutton-58-8-0875.jpg

So I am 100% IN FAVOR of Taxing the Living Shit out of the Rich in this spin down.  95% Tax rate on all income $200K and up.  No personal Assets worth over $10M, confiscation of all Private Jets and Big Ass Yachts. No ownership of multiple homes. Since there won't be a market for these items anymore, you won't be able to sell them off for CASH, but you could use the Yachts for Homeless Shelters.  You might think that Personal Asset number of $10M is pretty high (I do), but I figured it on a 1% ROI which would give an annual return in Retirement of $100K.  I figure with the max income of $200K, this should be plenty to live on in retirement.  I don't want rich fucks making $200K and up to have to suffer too much.  I am a compassionate guy. lol.

No matter how you look at it though or how you try to do the wealth redistribution, the whole deal is highly deflationary, it has to be because there is just going to be much less STUFF left to buy, for any kind of money at all.  The issue for the society at hand is to figure out how to most equitably distribute the resources that are left, and capitalism sure as hell won't do it.  It didn't do a good job of distributing resources when they were plentiful, WTF would you think it would do a better job when they are in deficit?

Unless you find a more equitable solution to the problem of diminishing resources and continue to see "reverse wealth redistribution" where money is stolen from the Poor and given to the Rich, you will eventually see full on Class Warfare here, and I'm not talking about the kind of warfare where money is simply pilfered from bank accounts, I'm talking about the kind that occurred during the French  & Bolshevik Revolutions, the kind where the Poor People finally get thoroughly pissed of enugh to bring on the Torches, Pitchforks and Nooses.

In Puerto Rico today, as we speak, we see a vivid demonstration of just how fast an industrial based economy can slide off the cliff, sending millions of people into poverty who were formerly at least "lower middle class".  All it really takes is for the electrical grid to go down, and that can occur for numerous reasons besides a Hurricane.  Even without Maria, this was destined to occur, Puerto Rico simply could not afford to maintain that infrastructure or pay for the energy it used.  This did speed up the process of FAST COLLAPSE by quite a bit though in that location.

For your own location, it is difficult to say how long it might be before SHTF Day comes to your Neighborhood.  If you are deep in the Heart of Darkness in New York Shity, if no major storms come on a STRAFING RUN to take out the infrastructure you depend on, BAU might lat another 10 or even 20 years.  But it won't last forever, and when it does collapse, it won't be slow.  It will be like Puerto Rico, and happen in an incredibly short period of time by all measures.  John Michael Greer is very wrong with his hypothesis of "Slow Catabolic Collapse".  That is not how Collapse works at all.  When the lynchpins that underpin the society are pulled out, it all goes down very fast.

If Collapse has not yet arrived at your doorstep, you still have time to PREP UP!  No, you can't make all provisions for all things that might occur to you, but you can at least not be an IDIOT!  Potable Water, Food, Shelter first.  If you don't actually have the preps before the event, you are SOL from the get go.  Don't be one of the IDIOTS trying to buy batteries and bottled water at Walmart the day before the Hurricane is due to arrive.  Equifax, Harvey, Maria… they are all just Canaries in the Coal Mine.  If you do not think this kind of FAST COLLAPSE can happen to you, I suggest you think again.

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/sites/default/files/Pictures/web/i/s/r/feature_2.jpg

The Strafing Run of Mother Nature 4: 2017 Autumn of the Apocalypse

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 21, 2017

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I was going to take a break from Hurrican Reporting and devote my next article to another form of storm, the Financial Storm surrounding the breach of the Equifax security of Credit Data and the sprinkling out of SS#s and all the rest of your personal data for nefarious people to use in Identity Theft, for the rest of your LIFE.  I actually got most of this article done already, but then Maria waltzed into town, with a direct bead on the FSoA Virgin Islands and after that Puerto Rico, with the Eyewall targeting the capital city of San Juan.  As if Puerto Rico didn't have enough problems being totally DEAD BROKE even before Maria came a-knocking.

So now, here I am once again sitting here safely in my digs on the Last Great Frontier of Alaska at 6PM my time while ALL HELL is breaking loose down in the Lower 48, the Carribean and Central America.

Maria has been on a Bee Line for St. Croix in the FSoA Virgin Islands and looks set for the Eyewall to make FIRST CONTACT in the next couple of hours.  It's a BULL'S EYE direct hit like Irma pulled on Barbuda.  St. Croix will be FLATTENED.

Puerto Rico and the Capital City of San Juan are also on the Navigational Chart of Maria on her journey across the High Seas for a STRAFING RUN there as well.  Puerto Rico has NEVER been hit by a Cat 5 in recorded history.  As I write this post, Maria's winds have kicked up to 175 MPH and the Barometric Pressure has fallen to 909 millibars.  This is lower pressure than Irma kicked out at her strongest.  The lower the pressure, the stronger the hurricane gets.  The only saving grace here is that Maria is not as big as Irma was, and the Eye she presents is not as wide covering so much territory.  It's a "pinhole" eye, very small only maybe 10 miles in diameter at this point.  However, for the folks in the path of that eyewall, this is BAD NEWZ.  Like a spinning Figure Skater who pulls her arms in to speed up a spin, the smaller the Eye in one of these behemoths, the faster the wind speeds are.  They may yet still increase further before landfall on Puerto Rico, but they are already at CATASTROPHIC level.

As if this was not enough, today Mexico got hit by a massive Earthquake which demolished buildings and already the official Death Toll there is at 248 and steadily rising.  Multi-story concrete buildings collapsed inside Mexico Shity, and that wasn't even the epicenter.  They just HAD an earthquake 2 weeks ago which killed 90 people.  In a gesture of Humanitarian aid, they offered to assist after Harvey hit Houston but then had to withdraw the offer after that one rolled in.  This latest one comes on PRECISELY the day in 1985 they got hit with a big one which killed in the 1000s..  They actually were staging Earthquake drills right before this one occured.  Whether this saved any lives, I don't know but one hopes it did.  It's still an amazing coincidence though and makes you wonder.

The pics so far coming out from Mexico are horrific in their destruction, although at least the whole city wasn't obliterated like Barbuda was after Irma.  The scenes aren't too much different though.

  https://media.boingboing.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/barbuda.jpg

http://i2.cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/170907120621-irma-damage-barbuda-exlarge-169.jpg

Barbuda after Irma

https://media3.s-nbcnews.com/j/newscms/2017_36/2148901/170909-world-mexico-quake-0746_11dc59e1f32566fb8ad2f53c0f302c6b.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.jpg

https://www.standard.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/story_large/public/thumbnails/image/2017/09/19/20/mexicoquake1909g.jpg

Mexico after the Quake

Of course, these are only THIS WEEK'S disaster Feature Stories.  Although the MSM has already left them behind, let's not forget…

http://a57.foxnews.com/images.foxnews.com/content/fox-news/us/2017/08/29/harvey-floodwaters-put-houston-reservoirs-in-uncharted-territory/_jcr_content/article-text/article-par-2/embed_image/image.img.jpg/612/344/1504028726465.jpg?ve=1&tl=1

http://a.abcnews.com/images/US/hurricane-harvey-houston-street-ap-ps-170828_4x3_992.jpg

Houston after Harvey

http://i2.cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/170912064755-01-irma-florida-0912-super-169.jpg

http://i2.cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/170912072024-10-irma-florida-0912-super-169.jpg

Florida after Irma

This is only the shit Mother Nature has been pitching for the last month.  We also have the "Rocket Man" Kim Long Dong over in North Korea pitching out the Missiles:

http://i2.cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/160622090923-n-korea-missile-exlarge-169.jpg

http://i2.cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/170515211523-north-korea-missile-test-0514-super-169.jpg

North Korean Missiles

Less visually arresting but possible more DANGEROUS than all of the above was the Data Breach at Equifax.  The Identity information for 143M "customers" of the Credit system was compromised, which basically is about every adult who has a Social Security Number.  That information is now out there in the ether for any nefarious criminal to use to impersonate your identity and set up credit lines which will be charged to YOUR credit record.

https://d.ibtimes.co.uk/en/full/1636224/massive-equifax-data-breach-hits-143-million-americans.jpg?w=1280&h=720&l=50&t=40

https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/images/equifax-breach-laptop-lg.png

That's not enough DOOM for you this month?  Catalonia in Spain wants to hold a Referendum to Secede from Spain, but Da Goobermint of Spain doesn't want to even ALLOW the people to vote on this!  This is "Democracy" at the End of the Age of Oil and the Collapse of Industrial Civilization.  From Reuters:

September 19, 2017 / 11:57 PM / Updated 2 hours ago

Spanish police raid Catalan government to halt banned referendum

http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2017/09/20/gettyimages-849994100_wide-995861366802f70acb5bc7cf63c972c35362386c-s900-c85.jpg

Did I happen to forget that Pennsylvania went BANKRUPT this month?  They can't pay their bills.  That didn't even happen in the Great Depression!  Filling the potholes is becoming a problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1253250.1359993184!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_750/sinkholes2n-4-web.jpg

Not to mention of course paying a few teacher salaries, sanitation worker salaries and of course those pesky PENSIONS they are on the hook for!

Do I want to review the problems with Da Federal Goobermint Budget and Deficit here at this point?  No, first off because we are already overloaded with DOOM, second because nobody even cares about that shit anymore and knows all they will do is hike the debt ceiling again, and third because there are no good Graphics to go with that story! lol.

I could of course go on and on with the many other facets of Collapse directly confronting us at the moment, but I think this is quite enough.  From Climate to Economics to Geopolitics, there are massive threats on every front, some of them being realized in real time as we speak, but about all on the edge of the precipice of a Tipping Point.  Something's gotta give here.  BAU cannot stand up under this kind of pressure indefinitely.

After each and every disaster of the last month, POTUS Donalditry Trumpovetsky has PROMISED every disaster area under the FSoA Umbrella the FULL help of Da Federal Goobermint in Disaster Relief.  Let us do a short conservative estimate of the damages JUST to territories under the FSoA Umbrella here.

Houston:  Gotta be $100B there at least.  You're not hearing jack shit from Houston these days, because that disaster was overrun in the MSM by the succeeding ones of Irma and Marie that followed it, but to be sure this place is no where near recovered. In the direct aftermath, Da Federal Goobermint "authorities" talked about a "years long" recovery project.  Does this sound like a Katrina "recovery" or what?

Florida:  That one dwarfs Houston, since it was spread out over such a large area.  Again being conservative, that is $200B

FSoA Virgin Islands:  This one is chump change compared to the first two, $20B would probably do an OK job for rebuilding them they are so tiny with such low resident populations.  They might actually get some decent money to rebuild, since they are such important Tourista destinations in the neighborhood.  Billionaires like Richard Branson have Private Islands down there and need services and working Airports for their Private Jets. (OK, I know his island is on the Brit side of the VI divide, but he probably uses the airport in St. Croix)

http://res.cloudinary.com/www-virgin-com/virgin-com-prod/sites/virgin.com/files/Articles/Richard%20Branson/necker/richard_necker_roof_full_width_1.jpg

Puerto Rico:  While I have been writing this article, Maria made her STRAFING RUN directly across the island as a high Cat 4, finishing off the trip by making a BULL'S EYE DIRECT HIT on San Juan.  Not a lot of information has yet come out of Puerto Rico, other than 100% of the power grid is down.  A few deaths have been reported so far, but a real death count will never be tallied up, or at least reported by the MSM.  No matter how bad the devastation is in Puerto Rico, the MSM will move on to the next disaster of the week arriving somewhere else in a World of Collapse.  I'm sure you can tack on another $230B to the $70B they currently owe and can't repay for a nice round figure of $300B there.

So all together here in the last month, the FSoA has racked up over $600B in liabilities on the balance sheet.  A $Billlion$ here, a $Billion$ there, pretty soon you are talking about real money.  WTF is the $MONEY$ to pay for all this shit supposed to come from?  This is PENTAGON territory money!  The FSoA NEEDS this money to fund the War Machine!  They can magically find this money every year to fund the military or pay off disasters in select locations but they CAN'T find $45B in Chump Change to get Pennsylvania out of the hole?  What is wrong with this picture?

The fact is of course, it is NOT Da Goobermint who is issuing out the money here, it is the International Banking Cartel, through the proxy of the Federal Reserve Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of the TBTF Banks.  The money is credit to buy the resources and products of the Age of Oil, and they will only issue it out to those who they can still maybe get some return on for it.  So Houston will get new credit, because without Houston you have no oil industry at all!  Florida will get credit, because you can't let a full state like that with retirees still paing taxes and tons of expensive real estate and golf courses go down the toilet either.  Puerto Rico on the other hand, you can probably let Twist in the Wind, like the Europeans have been letting Greece Twist in the Wind for close to the last decade.

Although most of the current models say that Maria will take a right hand turn after she does her STRAFING RUN along the north shore of the Dominican Republic over the next couple of days, there still remains a decent possibility she will track far enough west to do another STRAFING RUN along the East Coast.  That will cost a lot too, but if it targets lower Manhattan Island and Wall street, you can be sure all the credit necessary to rebuild Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase will flow out copiously to those neighborhoods.

Collapse is becoming positively BIBLICAL in scale these days, so how anyone can still be a denier absolutely boggles my mind.  It's all around you in the Newz, and it's all around you in the stores closing in your neighborhood, from Radio Shack to Sears.  This is FAST COLLAPSE.  It is ongoing as we speak.  "BEHOLD, the Mighty Hand of God!"

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--5dmQ_5UWdc/UyR-YFn8r1I/AAAAAAAAZq0/JYVk-kGBr_E/s1600/letmypeoplego.jpg

Mechanical Zombie Nomads

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 19, 2017

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"It's not just a career, it's a lifestyle change, you are going to become nomads."

–Trucking School Trainer

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/07/15/article-2173761-1410D609000005DC-871_964x604.jpg Gary Indiana, located a couple of miles outside of Chicago, has many signs declaring a collapsed landscape and economy.  There are weeds growing in almost every commercial lot, and boards in windows, and people who seem to be poisoned by the water, or the atmosphere, or maybe it's just that they were abandoned by the American Dream.  Whatever the case, there are a lot of people, and a lot of cars, and a lot of stupidity.  Of course, there is stupidity falling like rain in every state in this Idiocracy we're inhabiting.  Fukitol, alcohol, fried fast genetically modified gas station foods, corn sugar, CAFO meats…all in a consumer paradise.  Amidst the weeds growing in the concrete and asphalt of what used to be, there's still "opportunity."  You can get your commercial drivers license, and you can get paid to do so.  In fact, there are more jobs in the trucking industry than there are people willing to work. 

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/d4w9FvY1BJQ/maxresdefault.jpg Everything in this country relies on the Just In Time Trucking Paradigm (or JITTPA as I now like to call it).  Nothing happens without it first being transported on the trailer of a semi truck.  Everyone in the collapse blogosphere knows this, but a lot of them like to not think about it.  Especially the green minded among us.  Do you drive a car, do you buy groceries, do you amazon, do you google, do you have a computer, do you do anything short of living in somebodies else's woods while rewilding?  If you do any of those things then you rely on truckers and petroleum for your livelihood and your lifestyle.  Nothing happens in this country without first happening on the trailer of a semi truck. 

What has brought me to this point?  How does one go from a bamboo internship focused on permaculture ethics to driving a tractor trailer for a living?  Why does a Druid ride a lawn mower?  Why would a Druid be a Trucker?  Fake News?  Denial?  Fukitol (currently I'm fukitol free).  Technically I'm an Agnostic Druid Buddhist Trucker at this point.  What do any of these labels accomplish…and what choice do I have?  I've got a wife and two children to support in a world that's been collapsing for my entire life.  Our way of life has been on notice since before I was born and yet here we are, 37 years later with our world of BAU still functioning like a well oiled machine (I mean minus the supper storms, fires, droughts, flooding, melting glaciers, rising seas, unbreathable air, undrinkable water, radioactive rain water, and starving people).  I've been waiting for collapse since 2007, and ten years later I've still got bills to pay and a credit score to keep up (in spite of the Equifax clusterfuck). 

http://static.giantbomb.com/uploads/scale_small/1/17172/1195412-druid.jpg Again, why would an Agnostic Druid Buddhist be a trucker?  It's a valid question, and it's happening, and I'm proof.  BAU just keeps on truckin', and the trucks just keep on truckin', and our way of life slowly dissipates with no hope of changing less Gaia shaking us off like flees.  Why would one willingly atrophy before it's necessary?  To appease one's conscience?  So that one can sleep better at night?  Is having Medicaid, food stamps, and living with an elder relative better then succumbing to the Matrix that has us all imprisoned?  There is no escape from the inertia of our way of life.  Even the rewilders have to deal with radioactive rain, polluted land, water, and biocide drift.  There is no escaping the great American Dream, or nightmare, depending on your perspective. 

Idealism is not realistic, we have to afford to make any change in this world, and there is not one person or entity that has the authority to decide what is best for each individual adult person in this world.  There is no shortage of advice out there to subscribe to in the attempt to figure out what is best.  As the saying goes about opinions, so goes advice, everybody has got one and the end result is mostly shit.  That's not to say that wisdom is not real, or worth following.  But it is to say that everything is relative and opinions depend on perspective.   

At the end of the day, when the tirades and opinions expire, and reality is left standing, we must all answer the call.  If I were a lone soul on this Earth, I'd be in the woods rewilding, or perhaps in a ditch with a needle sticking out of my stiff blue arm.  Those are luxuries I can't afford.  I have two sons and a wife to part the waters for.  In this world that means making money, and in this world those options are withering away like a worm on the sidewalk after a deluge on a sunny day.  Trucking is the literal heart of our society…of our slowly collapsing civilization.  The day the trucks stop is the day our way of life stops.  I'm getting paid to get the license that will allow me to make a good living while BAU persists, and that BAU is only possible because of what I'm currently training to do.  I don't have to go into debt to get this opportunity to slave away for a good living wage of digibits.  I'm getting paid while I make this opportunity a reality.  I'm getting paid in a place that has more weeds growing in the concrete and asphalt of a failed, boarded up,  suburban sprawl arrangement than it has dumb ass people driving around in cars. 
 
Somehow the WASP (white anglo-saxson protestant) took over a continent of indigenous nomadic people.  The WASP took over and massacred the indigenous peoples and the natural resources that sustained them.   They committed genocide of both the people and the environment.  Indigenous nomads had no need of petroleum and civilization.  The Wasp replaced the buffalo with bitumen, and the horses with semi trucks.  They replaced the teepeecs with ticky tacky. They replaced true self reliance and independence with mechanical horses ridden by obese zombie nomads high on fukitol and corn syrup.  It's a god damned tragedy of American proportions, and there ain't one corner left on this blue-green orb that's immune.  I'm no martyr and I've got mouths to feed…mouths that reside in this nightmare that we call the land of freedom.  Reality is a cold hard bitch, and she does not care about the change we'd like to see in this world. 

That is why an Agnostic Druid Buddhist is becoming a truck driver. 

Let There be Light!

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 17, 2017

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The recent two major Hurricane events and the Power Outages which have followed led me to writing this Prep article on being prepared for such eventualities with good lighting gear.  On begining the article on Wednesday, there were still around 6.5M people without power in FL, and still 200K around Houston without power as well.  Hurricane Jose is now threatening to do a Strafing Run up the East Coast of the FSoA, although at the moment a landfall doesn't seem likely.

Until you are without it, you don't think much about the necessity of lighting in industrial civilization, but it is everywhere.  Many buildings have interior rooms with no windows.  After dark, city streets become unsafe without streetlights.  Cooking your dinner if you didn't get it done before Sunset requires lighting.

Fortunately these days, unlike A/C which requires GOBS of electric power to run, lighting only requires a tiny fraction of this and you can have enough power stored in batteries of various types to stay well lit for at least a few weeks without any power generating capacity at all.  If you have only a few portable solar panels to deploy, you can pretty much go indefinitely as far as lighting is concerned in a disaster zone.  Sadly of course, after a week or two, the lack of refrigeration, A/C, potable water and flushable toilets will probably become a bigger problem than a lack of lighting.  Nevertheless, lighting ranks very high up in the list of preps you need to make either for a localized disaster or even TEOTWAWKI.

Portable lighting has always been a passion of mine, since my youngest years living in Brazil in the 1960s, when we experienced Power Blackouts probably at least twice a month in those years.  They weren't even powering all that much really, even though we lived in an upscale Penthouse apartment right off Ipanema Beach we didn't have Air Conditioning, just ceiling fans and big windows that actually opened up.  All that was being powered were the Incandescent light bulbs, the B&W 18" TV and the Refrigerator inside the apartment and then the Elevator that got you up and down from the Penthouse to the Ground Floor where you walked outside and if you had to go somewhere the Driver picked you up to deliver your Rich Fuck Little Kid Ass to your friend's house to play Cowboys & Indians or something.  Which he did with a big smile all the time because he actually had a paying job and his girlfriend was the Cook and she scarfed up all the leftover food so they got fed for free too!  They all went back to the Favelas at night to sleep except for one live in maid we had a room for next to the pantry.  She was a teenage cousin of the cook as I recall.

http://ghk.h-cdn.co/assets/15/24/768x512/gallery-1433789009-power-outage-safety-2-de.jpg When the lights went out though, it was NASTY!  Not only was the TV off and you had to walk 12 flights of stairs to get in and out of your digs, there wasn't even any LIGHT to find your way from the bedroom to the bathroom to take a shit or to the kitchen to get something to eat out of the fridge before it went bad.  This was very stress inducing shit for a 7 year old boy brought up in industrial culture to have to endure!  It was at this point in my life Flashlights (Torches for you Brits out there) became what turned out to be a life long obsession.

Back in those days, neither the flashlights or the batteries were very good.  The flashlights were cheap plastic or real thin metal casings, the bulbs were incandescent and didn't put out much light and the batts weren't even Alkalines, they were crappy Ray-o-Vacs that gave you maybe 2-3 hours of juice before the light dimmed to imperceptible. Duracell Batts weren't even on the market in those years.  If you kept a spare set of Batts in the Kitchen Junk Drawer, after a couple of months you were lucky if they still worked.  There were no rechargeable batts or flashlights on the market at all in those years.

Returning back to the FSoA in the late 60s, at least at home having a good and working flashlight at the ready all the time became less necessary.  The grid in NY Shity was much more dependable than that in Rio de Janeiro, there were only a few occasions I recall where we experienced blackouts of any extended period.  The only one I remember was the Blackout of July 1977, when the juice went out for 2 days.  We had flashlights and we muddled through, although some food went bad.  We never lost water or sewage though, it wasn't a natural disaster; it was a power grid problem due to lightning (so they said).  Fortunately, I was not stuck in an elevator for that one.  That has to be a fucking nightmare.

Where Flashlights did become very important again was in my adventures at Summer Camp, both the primitive one and the plush one for rich kids.  In both cases, after dark set in if you didn't have a working flashlight you couldn't even walk the trails between the buildings in the plush camp to get from the Rec Hall where the dances were held back to your cabin, and you definitely could not go out on a 2 AM RAID on the Girls side of camp without a flashlight!

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81G9WnPZ8sL._SX355_.jpg At the primitive skills camp, a flashlight was also a necessary item.  Sometimes we would not make good time and get caught out on the trail after dark and had to hike the last mile or two to the planned campsite in the dark.  Or we might JUST MAKE IT by dusk, but setting up the tents and cooking dinner all had to be done by flashlight.  Needless to say, every summer I burned through dozens of these disposable one-time use batteries from Ray-o-Vac and Eveready.  This was very distressing to me, since I had to buy the batts from the camp "canteen" out of money my mom deposited to my account for the summer which also had to go to buy Cokes and Almond Joy bars, which were my favorite candy snack of the era.  The more money I spent on Batts, the less I had for Cokes and Almond Joy Bars.  Fortunately when I ran out of money mom would usually replenish the account with another $20, but I usually had 2 or 3 days to wait before said money would appear in the account.

At about this time the first RECHARGEABLE flashlights came out, and I coveted one of these but never got one during the camping years.  They were rather large and clunky things at the time, and the batts were permanently installed, not replaceable.  There was no place to buy such batts in that era even if you could replace them when they wore out from too many cycles.  I think the technology on them was Ni-Cad, but not sure on that.

Flashlights gradually improved over the next 20 years or so and so did the Batts, but it was still Incandescent Light technology for the Torches, and still mainly disposable Alkaline Batts to power them although Ni-Cad rechargeables became more available in the AAA, AA, C & D sizes these lights take.  I started buying rechargeables and a charger for them at this point for my flashlights.

The real REVOLUTION in personal, portable lighting though came just in the last decade or so, combining two relatively new technologies, Diode Lights and Li-I rechargeable batts.  The current crop of lights now available is far more powerful than the old stuff, and they are being manufactured in far higher quality than the old El Cheapo Flashlights as well.  There is a big market for them amongst the Survivalist/Doomer/Prepper crowd, and some of them come in at some fantastically high prices also, you can spend over $200 for a Flashlight!  I recently spent that much for a pair of Sunglasses though, so I can't really be holier-than-thou with anyone who chooses to spend that much for a flashlight. I have managed to keep it down to under $35 for any flashlight so far in self-defense against charges of excessive spending on preps.

https://images.askmen.com/1080x540/2017/04/27-045527-best_tactical_flashlights.jpg What you get for your money here are extremely bright lights, measured in "lumens" these days.  In selling their lights, manufacturers used to boast about "candlepower" not "lumens", and you can't really do a direct conversion because they measure different things.  I have both a 1,000,000 Candle Power Spotlight and a 1000 Lumen Flashlight though, and eyeballing it the spotlight appears about twice as bright as the flashlight, although it is more of a focused beam so it is hard to tell.  Both are REALLY bright though! 🙂

The Spotlight was my first super bright light I purchased as I got into Doom and Prepping around a decade ago.  It's rechargeable and I have hardly used it but kept the charge on it by keeping it plugged in all the time, so it still works fine.  Not sure though how long it would work for if it wasn't being charged all the time.  This brings up an issue with all the rechargeable batts, is they really don't last forever and they degrade over time in their ability to hold a charge.

I have had numerous issues with devices other than flashlights as far as rechargeables are concerned, particularly those which are sealed inside devices and can't be replaced, at least by you the Konsumer.  It is another form of Planned Obsolescence.  The batts installed on many of these devices, from wireless headphones to cell phones usually wear out from charge cycles after around 2-4 years, depending on how much you use the device and how assiduous you are about keeping it charged up.  This really pissed me off with some Wireless Headphones/Mics I used for numerous of my Collapse Cafe Doomer Discussion forums you can find on the Diner You Tube Channel, including such Collapse Luminaries as Gail Tverberg, Ugo Bardi, Steve Ludlum, Tom Lewis, Paul Chefurka and others.  6 months after purchasing one of these to get rid of the wire hanging off my head in the videos, it stopped taking a charge.  No way to put a new rechargeable batt in it either!  I gambled and figured maybe I got a Lemon and bought another one.  Same thing happened to that one 6 months later too.  I got soured on devices with rechargeable batts because of this.  I still will buy them because some devices you just can't get in any other configuration, and on the sealed ones the manufacturers now have "licensed contractors" who you can bring your device to who will change the batt for you and "properly dispose" of the old one.  For a fee of course.

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/94/a6/57/94a6570acab098c91ae0adeffffb41e8--led-lantern-august-.jpg Current Flashlights however are not this way for the most part, although some older ones like my Black & Decker Spotlight have an embedded rechargeable batt you can't easily change.  Recent models have come out though which will take either 3 Typical AAA, C, or D Alkaline one-time use batts, or a similar Ni-Cad or Li-I Bat of the same dimensions.  The difference between using these different types of batts has blurred now as well, because the Alkalines have improved a LOT since my years in Summer Camp, and boast a shelf life of 10 years!  In use, they tend to last longer than the rechargeables do, so if you don't have a source of electricity to do a recharge (like say in the aftermath of a hurricane) they will do better than rechargeables, especially if you have a few spares.  You can buy them in large packs of 20 batts in some cases, and store them in a cool dry spot in the basement (don't leave them there if you expect flooding!).

So I have both Single Use Alkalines which in my 500 Lumen flashlight will supposedly give 5-6 hours of run time, as well as rechargeables which I know through testing give about 3 hours of run time.  That is leaving the light on all the time until the light starts noticeably dimming.  You're also kind of insane if you use more than 500 lumens for practically any situation you can dream up, I do have a 1000 Lumen one but you never need that much light!  There are 10,000 Lumen ones out there too if you want to buy one!  Some of the Survival Websites advertise super high lumen lights that will supposedly Blind a Bear and provide Bear Protection, I am not sure if I believe that shit or not.  Other than that though, WTF do you need such a bright light for?  You do not need to light up the whole neighborhood, just maybe the 50' in front of you!  500 Lumens does that EZ.

The thing besides this is, even in a disaster situation you don't leave the light on full time, you switch it on and off for a few seconds or most minutes at a time when you need some bright light.  I have other more low-tech sources of low light like Candles and Kerosene Lanterns that provide enough light to move around my digs quite well without needing to turn on a high power flashlight, and really these sources of light serve most of your needs in a disaster situation, except perhaps for the initial phases when you are getting set up or dangerous times like high winds outside when you don't want to have anything burning.  In the days (weeks?) following the disaster though, candles and kero lanterns will provide most of the light you need after dark.

"After Dark" is another important consideration, because for the most part the only thing you should be doing after dark is SLEEPING!  You don't need lights when you are asleep, in fact it's easier to do when it's dark.  Here in Alaska in the summertime, sleeping can be a tough thing for many people, requiring stuff like Blackout Shades on the windows and Sleep Masks.  I am usually OK just pulling the cover over my head, but it can be annoying.  Back in the Good Old Daze before we had any sort of electric lighting, people just went to sleep after dark, because even burning Candles was relatively expensive for them.  On the other hand of course in Alaska, in the Winter you will need to use some lighting method unless you completely hibernate and sleep 20 hours a day. lol.

http://www.nationinstitute.org/images/managed/stock-footage-young-man-in-front-of-computer-screen-dark-night-room.jpg Besides that, in the current Hi-Tech era, you have other sources of light that you run which put a glow on your digs.  As long as I have my computer monitor turned on keyboarding out the DOOM over the internet, it basically lights up the whole room, which is my main living space including the Kitchen area.  I can walk around without a Flashlight without tripping over anything quite easily, although fixing dinner by this amount of light isn't really possible except for simple things like microwaving a Potato Skin or boiling up some Ramen Noodles.  My computer is kept going in a disaster situation by a HUGE 120AH Deep Cycle Marine Batt which will drive it for quite a few days non-stop, but again I wouldn't run it non-stop during an emergency, only maybe an hour or two each evening to check up on how the repair work on the grid was going and to make some posts to the Diner to pass on my experiences during the disaster, whatever it was.

Besides the full computer screen being up and running for lighting, I also have my Smart Phone.  That usually rests next to my Pillow. and when I need to answer the Call of Nature in the middle of the night and take a trip from my bed to the Throne in the the bathroom, I just flick on the phone and that provides plenty of light to negotiate my way to the Porcelain God without tripping over anything or having to turn the lights on anywhere on the route.  Then once resting comfortably on the Throne I can surf the web with no other lights on, since the Smart Phone is providing its own light to the backlit screen. 🙂

So for me, the typical Flashlights are just a small part of the arsenal of tools of prepping that keep your lighting situation within reason, and the Flashlights themselves don't get used that much.  I turn them on and off a few seconds or minutes at a time to do specific tasks I need a lot of light for.  The way I use a flashlight, a typical alkaline battset, non-rechargeable would last several weeks, probably months without a recharge necessary.  This would not be true if you use a flashlight all the time to maneuver about something like a Cave of course.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81ZtQc-hqlL._SL1500_.jpg What is a bit more interesting to me these days in the department of Portable Lighting is not the luminosity or source of power, but rather the various configurations they now come in besides just your typical Handheld Flashlight.  You can get ones with Clamps that will clip onto things, Magnets that will stick them to Refrigerators, Tower Style with lots of Diodes to function as lanterns, etc.  My particular favorite though are the Headlamps.

I first became enthused on the prepper level with Headlamps when I ran into the posting of Ferfal, who chronicled the Collapse of the Argentinian Economy in 2001-2003 or so.  Headlamps provide the obvious advantage of leaving both your hands free to do other tasks, while at the same time the light from the headlamp is always directed at exactly where you are looking.

There are many El Cheapo versions of Diode Headlamps now available on the market in any Walmart Camping section, down as cheap as around $5, and I have experimented with a few of them.  They work OK for most tasks you would use a headlamp like this for, say fixing dinner or cleaning your Gun in preparation for the Invasion of the Zombies the following morning.  However, there are now better ones on the market than this, and I picked up one that has not one but THREE lights on it and claims 1000 lumens (I don't think quite that, it's a little dimmer than my 1000 lumen flashlight), has rechargeable batts which are REPLACEABLE by the Konsumer as well!  In terms of continuos run-time, I have tested this one as well, it gives 3 hours of continuous light from a full charge, but much like a handheld, I can see few circumstances I would run it continuously for so long.  In terms of price, it came in quite cheap at $25, which is comparable to the price I paid for my 1000 Lumen Aircraft Aluminum heavyweight light running on 3 D size batts, which actually came in a set of 3 for $50 including a smaller version at 500 Lumens running on C cells and a Pocket version running on 3 AAA cells as well.  All 3 are real solidly built and appear as though they will last quite a while.  The fail point on these lights is the On-Off switch, which if/when it fails is hard to replace or fix.  Over a long enough duration of time this WILL occur, so the light won't work forever, even if you can get batts for it.  All I hope for though is about 10 years of service.  I won't be above ground longer than that, if I make it that long it will be miraculous, not to mention an excruciatingly long time to die given my current condition.

Overall, Lighting is a SOLUBLE problem as we move forward in collapse, it doesn't take much JUICE to get a diode light glowing, and the diodes can still be produced quite cheaply.  A few now pretty cheap solar PV panels can keep them charged up, or if you have a generator and a little gas it won't take long to get them topped off and ready for another couple of days of service as you slog your way through the disaster of the day in your neighborhood.  Compared to the more major problems of the loss of A/C in hot climates, the loss of refrigeration of food, or the loss in sewage treatment and water pumping for the neighborhood as a whole, this one is soluble quite easily for you individually.  It is however a problem that the majority of the population ignores, evidenced easily by the fact that as soon as a disaster oncoming is announced by the MSM, all the dopey lemmings run out to buy Bottled Water and Batteries and empty the shelves of them.  This scene replays itself with every fucking hurricane, every fucking flood in advance and every fucking earthquake in the aftermath.  "OH! Shit!  I need batteries! What? Walmart is OUT?"  The deep level of stupidity in the population remains astounding to me.  You can't drop a few of these things in the closet BEFORE the MSM tells you it will arrive tomorrow?  WTF?

Don't be a complete idiot. You don't have to go completely over-the-top with prepping like me, but JEEZUS, at least have some working flashlights and extra batts around you don't have go shop for at the last minute!  It won't help you with the A/C problem in the hot climates, but at least you will be able to see where you are going as you bake to death!

The Strafing Run of Mother Nature 3: The Dimming Bulb Aftermath of Irma

 

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 12, 2017

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http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/NEusa_space_night.jpg A while back I wrote a series of articles called "The Dimming Bulb", discussing our decreasing ability to keep electric power moving through the copper wires of our electric grids to the end Konsumer as we slide down the Seneca Cliff on the far side of the Age of Oil.  This aspect of energy decline in availability and affordability is often overlooked in the face of all the problems that come from the transportation industry and lack of fuel for the Carz and Trux.  In fact though, it may well be that lack of ability to keep electricity moving through our metro areas with high populations and a voracious need for this power may be what brings TEOTWAWKI before lack of gas for Happy Motoring does.

Just about everything in our society depends on having electricity on demand.  To begin with, the residential konsumers of the JUICE in Florida are currently watching their freezers defrost and if they are not cooking or drying the meat they have stored, they are going to lose a lot of food to begin with.  All the large municipalities have sewage treatment plants that use gobs of electricity.  How well and how long these can be run on backup generators is an open question.

You definitely CANNOT run all the streetlights of a city like Miami or even fucking Naples on backup generators, so until you have general grid power restored those suckers are LIGHTS OUT.  Would you feel safe walking around the streets of Miami with no streetlights functioning?

A day after the Big Event everyone is breathing a "sigh of relief" here that they "dodged a bullet", but the real problems of recovering from such a broad swath of devastation remain ahead.  It remains an open question exactly how quickly Florida Power & Light can restore the grid statewide, and until they do BAU for people without power just isn't possible.  How many currently have potable water coming out of the taps?  No statistic on that is available AFAIK.  How many have had their carz ruined and can't get to work, if they still have a job to go to?  Somehow I doubt many people will be stopping at Starbucks tomorrow for a Frappucino on the way to work.  How are people who have little to no savings and live paycheck to paycheck going to pay their rent if they lose the next 2 weeks of work?

I woke up just in time this morning to see Irma make landfall in the Florida Keys here in the FSoA.  Not much in the way of Newz or Info coming out of the Keys since then.  I imagine Key West was pretty much flattened St. Maarten's style, although maybe not quite so bad since she hit in Key West at low Cat 4 wind speeds.  She picked up some translational speed from the crawl speed across the north Cuban coastline, scooting up to 14 MPH to make the rest of the trip across the straights to make a second landfall near Naples, FL on the West Coast.

This location for GROUND ZERO disappointed some Doomophiles who were hoping for a full on Eyewall decimation of the skycrapers and hotels in Miami, which did not occur.  The concept that we "dodged a bullet" here or that this event was a "dud" because Miami wasn't completely wiped out is only in the mind of the Kollapsnik who was looking forward to total devastation of that city.

What occurred instead was a much more widespread event, over the whole of the Florida Peninsula.  It could have been much worse of course, either a run up the east or west coast would have kept hurricane strength longer and brought more storm surge in.  Instead, after making landfall in Naples, Irma worked her way into the interior, more or less targeting Orlando and Disney World while the wind speeds dropped to Cat 1 and then to tropical force winds.  As I write this now, she is just south of Orlando, and points north of the former center and eye are still being hit with powerful rain bands, along with possible Tornadoes hitting along that route.

From here, she is scheduled to head north into Georgia still packing Tropical Force winds and a lot of rain is destined to fall around Atlanta with some decent remaining wind behind it, so you are going to get more flash flooding and more downed power lines in that neighborhood as well by the end of the week.  All of which speaks to the INFRASTRUCTURE problem, which is the real problem here, not the wind speeds Irma had on landfall in one particular location.  This is a behemoth which is affecting the entire Florida peninsula and beyond.

http://www.9news.com/img/resize/content.firstcoastnews.com/photo/2017/09/11/FLOutages_330AM_1505116561081_10790693_ver1.0.JPG?preset=534-401 The main issue already obvious tonight is that 7M Florida Power & Light Konsumers of Energy are currently without power.  This exceeds the record previously held by Wilma with about 3.5M customers without the JUICE, and that is a LOT of wire to restring over a very broad area.  Currently, Houston 2 weeks after Harvey STILL has about 200K Energy Konsumers without power, and they didn't lose near so many with Harvey, and distributed over a much smaller area.  Irma has basically taken out the electrical system of the entire state of Florida!

In any number of ways, you can say FL "dodged a bullet" here, in that it could have been much worse if Irma hadn't decided to do a Strafing Run on Cuba before heading for the FSoA.  Heading for the West Side of FL, Miami was spared the worst of a dead on hit from the eye wall, although they still lost 3 cranes, have plenty of flooding and the power is out to most of the county.  The West Coast track turned out less bad than expected also, as the Eye moved inland pretty early so Tampa/St.Pete was spared inundation from storm surge.

Less Bad than Expected was of course much less bad as what occured in St. Martens and Barbuda, and also apparently across the north Cuban coastline inclduing Havana, where stories are still sketchy from at this point but they are apparently still under a lot of water, with many of the new Tourists Hotels in bad shape.  I don't think anyone will be booking vacations in Cuba anytime in the near future.

Far as Florida is concerned, although no single location got the ULTIMATE in destruction (well, except maybe Key West which probably got flattened). 7M 12M customers without electric power is a LOT of wire to re-string!  According to the "authorities", they have 17,000 linemen including an undisclosed number from out of state ready to spring to the job on Monday Morning of getting the JUICE back to their Florida customers, who are currently sweltering in the Florida heat & humidity without HVAC while their Frozen TV Dinners go bad in the Freezer.  Considering after 2 weeks there are STILL around 200K people without power in Houston, one can figure it will take at least a month to get the full grid back online in FL, since the outages are spread over a much wider area.

Waking up Monday morning, we are in the post-coital phase of the intimate contact with Irma, and for the most part the pols are indeed crowing about how we "dodged a bullet".  Miami took some flooding, sure, but they flood all the time these days.  OK, we lost 3 cranes, but we have dozens of them!  OK, the power is still out, but no problem, the crews from Florida Power & Light will have the lights back on in a jiffy!  Back to BAU in Miami in no time! 🙂

The NEW UPDATE though is that it's not 7M without power, now it's up to 12M!  That's basically the whole fucking state of Florida, they only have a total population of 20M!  From WaPo:

That was the grateful mantra on the lips of many on Monday, even as an estimated 12 million Floridians prepared for a dark night without air conditioning in the muggy post-storm swelter. Though there was significant property damage in the Florida Keys and in some parts of southwest Florida, officials said it was remarkable that so far they are investigating just a small number of fatalities that came as the storm made landfall. It was unclear how many were directly related to the storm.

The lack of electricity across most of South Florida was the most pressing and crippling problem. Millions could remain in the dark for days or even weeks as utility companies struggle to navigate impassable roads and floodwaters to slowly restore power.

http://a.abcnews.go.com/images/US/irma-hurricane-damage-naples-florida-drone-ht-jc-170910.gif Things not so good over in Naples though, and even worse down in the Florida Keys, where the "authorities" won't be letting anyone back in until at least Tuesday while they asses the integrity of all the bridges connecting this string of low-lying islands built up as Tourista Resorts over the course of the Age of Oil.  This is the "Margaritaville" neighborhorhood Jimmy Buffet made famous.  When Jimmy first hit it big time as a rock star, the first thing he did was buy himself a yacht and park it in Margaritaville as a getaway if things ever went south for him.  After that he got into planes too.  As has become obvious here, Magaritaville and the Banana Republics may SEEM like bucolic safe havens in the good times, but they have their own set of risks and overall are not sustainable in the least in the way they are currently inhabited.

Doing still WORSE than the Florida Keys are the Tropical Paradises of St. Maartens and Barbuda, which actually did get hit full on by Irma while she was a Cat 5 packing 185 MPH wind speeds.  Both islands basically LEVELLED, and now descending into chaos while their various Colonial Owners the Brits, Frogs and Little Dutch Boys scramble to organize up food aid and police protection from roving gangs of Zombies.  All three countries are sending in additional Police/Military to try and restore "order" on these islands.  Ex-Pats are huddled in their McMansions in fear of the next Home Invasion, although they probably have nothing left to eat either, since anyone stupid enough to be living in a McMansion in one of these places probably did not have a large supply of Preps either.  These are the type of folks who go out the day before a hurricane is due to hit to buy batteries and bottled water.  That is prepping up to them.

Economically, it's hard to see how these islands will ever recover to be the Retirement Paradise they were for apparently about 75,000 Brits, not sure how many Frogs or Dutch Boys.  The cost to restore Barbuda was estimated in one article to be around $100M.  There were something like 1600 people living on Barbuda when Irma came knocking on the door for a short vacation there, so that comes to $62,500 per person, which includes the poor locals who serve as maids and cooks and drivers as well as the retirees who are mostly living on pensions.  You think any of them has $62,500 to pony up here to rebuild the infrastructure?  Hell no, the Brit Goobermint will have to do it, and they can't even maintain the infrastructure on their own island these days.

http://www.cruisemapper.com/images/ships/595-eff4f8c0e5d1.jpg Beyond this, MOST if not all of the Ex-Pats whose Mailbox Money incomes drove the economy will not stay in these places now, they are going to grab the first plane flight or boat ride out of there and never go back.  Carnival Cruise lines is already sending ships for them.  The infrastructure won't be rebuilt for a long time, if ever.  The Brits, Frogs and Dutch are not going to fork over the money necessary to rebuild these places, they are total money losers now and for the forseeable future.  The income generation capability they had as Tourista destinations is gone.  All they will do is try and get the current set of Ex-Pats out of the place and then let the locals Twist in the Wind.  Best they can hope for is that their citizenship as a Homo Sap born in one of these colonies will allow them to move to the Home Country, but they don't have much money to make that trip and probably no relatives or support structure to grab onto once they get there.  They have a bit higher status than the refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, but not much.

There probably will be consolidation of these people on the islands that did not take such a bad hit, which will of course only serve to strain their resources also.  The destitute Newbies will be despised by the locals and a drain on their own limited resources.

Electric power is only part of the problem of course, MOLD & MILDEW are a bigger problem long term.  One has to remember that many of the flooded "buildings" aren't buildings at all, they are trailer homes which if they were flooded, the owner simply waits for the water to recede then puts all his stuff out to dry in the hot Florida SUN.  Except by the time he does this a few days later, the MOLD has already taken hold, and it is almost impossible to get rid of when it does in a trailer.  McHovel owners can strip out drywall and MAYBE eradicate mold, but getting it out of a trailer when it takes a grip is about impossible.  You have to TOTAL it at this point and send it to the Land of Away in some junkyard or landfill, but the people who own them and live in them usually can't afford to replace them.  Add another Human Soul to the list of Homeless People.

https://cbsnews3.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2017/09/02/00644710-b6df-436e-9649-c1c6b6ac883d/thumbnail/1200x630/c78359b109a3e532127aed2188819f7b/cbsn-0901-harveycleanupmrv-1388178-640x360.jpg Because this wasn't the "Ultimate Disaster" it might have been, the MSM will likely quickly forget it as they have already forgotten about Harvey & Houston despite the fact more than 200,000 people remain without power and over 20,000 are still in shelters.  There will be a new and better disaster to focus on in short order.  It will likely take quite some time to get all the electric power restored, if they can even do that before the next one rolls ashore.  Meanwhile, these repair bills don't come free you know, Da Federal Goobermint doesn't just hand out free money to fix up your local grid. The money is loaned to the Municipal Goobermint, which then has to raise taxes in order to pay for this new Bond Issue.  Problem here would be that local Municipal Goobermints in FL (and everywhere else) ALREADY can't collect enough taxes for bills they ALREADY have!  You think cutting a few more Teachers of Sanitation Workers off the payroll will pay to restring all the wire in Florida?  Not too likely.  However, for BAU to continue forward, these loans MUST be issued out, and they will be backed by the Full Faith & Credit of Da Federal Goobermint, which of course itself is ALSO quite bankrupt.

This will keep working until it doesn't.

The Strafing Run of Mother Nature 2 – The Path of Total Destruction

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 10, 2017

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…or perhaps, the Eve of Destruction

 

https://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/9f2c77c49ee5c8c5597ec74afecf329ec1d3fc20/r=540/https/media.gannett-cdn.com/29906170001/29906170001_5562846439001_5562840325001-vs.jpg As I begin writing this article, it is 3PM Alaska Time on Thursday, September 7, 2017.  Cat 5 Hurricane Irma has already begun her Strafing Run to destroy Industrial Civilization even faster than it can do it by itself.  Irma follows closely on the heels of Harvey, which focused it's attention on the center of the Oil based economy, Houston, Texas and left it in ruins.  In "normal times", Houston and the cleanup would still be the focus of the MSM newz, since most of the area is still a complete disaster scene.  Even FEMA admits it is a cleanup which will take "years".  These are not "normal times" however, they are the "NEW Normal Times".

In the New Normal, there is a new and bigger disaster every week, which is great for a Collapse Observer and Writer, but not so great for the millions of people living in a given disaster zone.  Even while these climate related disasters get ever larger and more frequent though, you have a large cadre of Politicians (mostly Repugnants) who remain deniers of Climate Change or Ocean Heating.  Which is pretty amazing they can get away with since we have direct data from Da Goobermint's own agency of the NOAA that shows unequivocally that the Total Heat Content of the Oceans has risen over an order of magnitude since 1975.

https://c479107.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/20580/area14mp/gvzj8y37-1361767576.jpg

What happens when you put a pot of water over more heat?  Do you get more steam or less steam?  More, duh.  So in this case, the Ocean is putting more water vapor up into the atmosphere.  The Global Oceans are just a very big pot of water.  More water vapor in the atmosphere means more water available to come down in buckets once the system moves its way over a land mass.  It also means a lot more energy available to the storm, because on falling DOWN, all the energy stored in raising the water UP gets released.  Remember the Law of Conservation of Energy"Energy is neither Created nor Destroyed, only transformed from one form to another".  In this case, the heat energy used to crank the water UP into the atmosphere is mostly transformed on the way DOWN into mechanical energy reflected in the terrific wind speeds we are now getting with these behemoths.

 

Irma made her first landfall in the Antilles and Virgin Islands, to absolutely devastating results on some of the islands, which were basically levelled.  Some of the worst hit were St. Maartens and Barbuda, but few of them got away unscathed.  Death toll numbers coming in from those islands are currently in the low double digits (publicly), but communications have been out there for a couple of days and rescue teams can't make it to many areas on these islands either.  The Death Toll there will undoubtably rise over the coming days/weeks/months ahead, but for now everyone's eyes are turned toward each new destination on the Strafing Run of Irma.

As I pick up on writing this article on Friday, Irma finished her Strafing Run on the Carribean Islands, and made her way to the North Shore of Cuba.  As you can see above, what she left in her wake in the Virgin Islands was a wasteland.  The above satellite photograph is of the island of Barbuda Before & After.  Not only the McHovels of the Locals and the McMansions of the Ex-Pats were flattened, so was all the vegetation as well.  The island was basically stripped of every Palm Tree that grew there over the last 20 years at least.  Maybe they can put in Plastic ones with spring loaded breakaway bases that will lay flat in the next Cat 5, then spring right back up after it is over!  I'm sure the Touristas won't notice the difference!

Little Newz at all coming from Cuba, even though it's a few hours since Irma made First Contact there, but NOAA Sat imagery shows it has been raking the coastline which is scattered with numerous fishing villages all now undoubtable completely flattened.  Hopefully, the Cubans in those locations found some refuge, although given storm surge and the fact these folks do not have a whole lot of transport ability to do a Bugout, it's hard to see where they would shelter or how.  Will we ever get accurate casualty numbers out of Cuba on this?  Unlikely.

Tonight here from my perch in Alaska I just watch the Satellite Imagery from the NOAA website to see when Irma makes her turn Northward to Strafe Florida.  The track has moved progressively westward through the evening as Irma has lingered longer than expected by the computer models devasting the north coast of Cuba.  In the latest RGB image I opened, it looks like the turn may be beginning.  These things come agonizingly slow for the doom watcher.

On the latest & greatest Sat & Track forecasting from NOAA, It looks like First Contact comes from the Western/Gulf side, which might be good because it is slightly less populated than Miami-Dade, but on the other hand bad because it keeps Miami in the NE Quadrant of the Hurricane for the entire time it traverses the Florida Straights, where it is projected to further strengthen.  It's already back to Cat 5 status, and southern Florida is already feeling the effects from the Outer Bands, with 25,000 Energy Konsumers already without power and Irma hasn't even left the north shore of Cuba yet!  She has tracked far enough along that coastline now that Hurricane force winds are battering Havana, given the immense size of the storm.

As I awaken on Saturday morning here in my Perch on the Last Great Frontier, Irma still is pummeling the north coast of Cuba, and my mistake, the archipelago Keys along the north coast are no longer populated by mostly fishing villages.  This area has seen a lot of development since the FSoA and Cuba decided to "normalize" relations, which amounts to allowing Amerikan Touristas being allowed to Vacation in Cuba and Amerikan Banksters to further exploit Cuba.  Which also means those islands on the northern edge of Cuba have seen a lot of resort hotel development over the last couple of years.  They are TOAST.  The Insurance industry will take a nice hit from this Strafing Run also.

cone graphic Irma's jog westward in the forecasts has made some changes to the devastation to come here in the FSoA, depending on how well it holds up.  As of now, it looks like instead of skirting the East Coast of Florida, she will skirt the West Coast.  In both scenarios, the Florida Keys will be decimated.  There are old-timers down there who refuse to leave, they are goners.  But if you are 70 years old and on Social Security living in your Van because there is no affordable housing down there anymore for any but the 1%, WTF else would you go?  And just how far could you GTFO of Dodge at this point?  Maybe you could make it to Jacksonville…maybe depending if you could get gas along the way.  If you didn't make the decision to GTFO of Dodge 2 Days ago, you are SOL now.  You will stay where you lay, and you will either make it through the maelstrom or you won't.

Meanwhile on the Mainland of Florida, they are now in a complete state of PANIC.  The folks who did not get out early are now lined up in Traffic Jams and can't find available gas at the convenience stores to keep moving on their Bugout to the house of some relative in Atlanta.  The folks who could not Bugout at all because they don't have a car are now lined up outside "shelters" to hunker down for the duration of the storm.  These shelters are generally hastily organized from large facilicities with a lot of space available, Talladega Speedway in Alabama for instance is opening up the racetrack for Refugees from Irma, and inside the local Miami area pretty much every school gymnasium is being set up as a shelter, but the reality is there are far too many people living in this zone that you could possibly shelter them all in buildings that are sturdy enough to withstand the winds, and then if you get inundation from Storm Surge you are equally fucked in a concrete building as a stick built one, if the water rises above one story in height you will be flooded.  Beyond that over the course of a day or two is the Potable Water problem and the Sanitation problem in these shelters.  Toilets don't flush once the water rises past ground level.  Further down the line the problem is what do you do with the people living in the shelter after Irma blows through town and they no longer have homes, just piles of flooded rubble?  It's not like they can go back to the McHovel and take up BAU life again just because it stopped raining.

Before we get to the problem of how to get them OUT of the shelters once they are in them is the problem of getting them IN to the shelters before the storm arrives. Finally after days of dawdling on this, Da Goobernator of Florida Rick Scott ordered a "mandatory evacuation" for much of south Florida, although it really isn't mandatory for most people, just they are told nobody will come to rescue them if they get in trouble.  Homeless people though are forced into shelters under a law which says people who pose a danger to themselves can be forcibly removed.

The problem getting the people IN to the shelters is that there are TONS of people now looking for shelter as they read or watch more about the devastation in the Virgin Islands, and there just aren't that many good shelter locations available.  Basically every decent size school built from concrete has been turned into a "shelter" over the last 2 days, but that doesn't mean they have cots or water or food in supply there.  IF you manage to get in, you better have your own air mattress and sleeping bag at the very least, or you will have a real uncomfortable couple of days sleeping on a hard floor in the gym.

https://dsx.weather.com//util/image/v/floodedinside.jpg?v=at&w=485&h=273&api=7db9fe61-7414-47b5-9871-e17d87b8b6a0 There is also no guarantee many of these shelters won't suffer from many of the same problems the stick built McHovels will face as Irma rolls into town.  If the neighborhood is inundated by Storm Surge, school gymnasiums are no more water tight than a McMansion is, and the water will flood the ground floor of the building at least.  If there is a 2nd Story, refugees might move their sleeping bags up there, but most school gyms don't have a 2nd story.  They also don't usually have an emergency generator to keep the lights on either, so if/when they go out, the gym is plunged into darkness, with 1000 strangers surrounding you and a real racket coming from outside that sounds like you are standing behind the jet wash of the engines on a Boeing 747, or if you are right on the Eyewall maybe a Sonic Boom.  If you are not completely terrified by this time, you have more fortitude than me.  I would be shitting myself.

We're moving into the afternoon here, and Irma STILL has not made the right hand turn to Go North to Florida from Cuba.  Cuba has been hammered all day by hurricane force winds all along the north coast, and little in the way of newz has emerged from there to this point.  The Eyewall is close enough to Havana now they must be getting hurricane force winds and on-shore storm surge.  Forward speed of the storm has slowed to the crawl speed of 6 mph, which is making all of this interminably slow for the Collapse Observer, and orders of magnitude worse for anyone who happens to be on the Path of Total Destruction.  I can go faster than that in an electric Cripple Cart at Walmart!  The longer the hurricane force winds hang out in your neighborhood, the worse the destruction.  Hard to say whether suffering 1 hour at Cat 5 is worse than 2 hours at Cat 4.  Both are not good scenarios though.

Jeff Masters at WU and the NOAA all predict that Irma will take the hard right hand turn north to the West Coast of Florida sometime today.  I stay tuned to the NOAA website and their Satellite imagery to watch for this today here from my safe computer workstation on the Last Great Frontier.  I count myself lucky, because at one time I DID live in Melbourne, Florida, for a short year-long gig job coaching gymastics for a couple of women I absolutely despised for the way they ran their program.  But it was money I needed, and it was a job.  So far though, this turn has not occured, and the possibility does exist that Irma may drift into the GoM further, missing the Florida Coastline altogether.  That would spare Florida and a lot of people who did EVAC & BUGOUT will be mighty pissed off, but it wouldn't remove the danger that Irma poses, because once inside the GoM waters and roaming again, she would regather strength and finding a new place to go on a Strafing Run would be chosen by the Finger of God.  Maybe she would set her sights on NOLA, who knows there?

I do have fair confidence though that the NOAA models are correct here only one day out from Lower 48 landfall, and the West Coast of Florida looks highly probable at this point.  Biggest population center likely to take a big hit here would be Tampa, and Tampa Bay is perfectly set up for an enormous Storm Surge, probably close to 20' on the current projected track.

http://media2.kshb.com/photo/2014/11/01/WxCartoon_1414881038455_9409753_ver1.0_640_480.jpg If in fact both the NOAA and Weather Underground get this one WRONG though and Irma moves further West in trajectory and misses the Florida Peninsula entirely, the whole Weather industry of Meteorologists Weathermen will take an ENORMOUS hit it their credibility.  The costs even before the storm hits in terms of the evacuations and the lost bizness and wages to workers are enormous already, and all based on PREDICTIONS the Weathermen are making.  If this turns out to be a DUD for South Florida, first off you will have a lot of Finger Pointing and Blame Game being pitched around. and second it will make people less likely to GTFO of Dodge the next time one of these behemoths is targeting the neighborhood.  Even with the Supercomputers and the great Algos on the job these days, even just one day out, a variation of a couple of degrees in the track makes a big difference as to where the mother fucker will make landfall and when.  Strength at landfall also is a tossup right up until First Contact.  In this case, while also delaying the northward direction change, Irma has also slowed down substantially in translational movement, only plodding along now at 6 mph.  That means she will spend more time over the warm waters of the Florida Straights, which means more time to regain strength after her Strafing Run on Cuba.  She might even make it back up to a Cat 5 during this period, in which case she doesn't have to hit Miami dead on to wreak devastation, the wind field is so large it will cover all of southern Florida, and Miami would be in the worst position in the NE quadrant for that wind field and storm surge.

So even at this fairly late juncture, you can't really say for sure where Irma will hit in the Lower 48, or with how much strength or how much damage will be inflicted on Industrial Civilization in that neighborhood.  It does look likely though that the damage will be severe, even if Miami doesn't take a full on direct hit from the Eyewall.  The bigger picture as we know from both Harvey and Katrina is that in reality, the biggest costs come not from exactly how powerfully a hurricane arives at on the Saffir-Simpson scale, but how much water gets dropped down on a given neighborhood in a given period of time.  Houston suffered its greatest problems not from Wind Speeds, but from inundation of rainwater measured in FEET, not inches.  In this case, the most likely inundation comes from Storm Surge all the way up the West coast of FL if Irma stays offshore.  She will make landfall somewhere though, if not Tampa than maybe north of there towards Tallahassee.  Of course, to have real big media impact the landfall needs to be near a major Big Shity, So that would dampen the psychological impact and the MSM will say "we dodged a bullet".

OK. PUBLICATION TIME has arrived here on the Diner for the Sunday Brunch article.  As of now, all the Livestream Cameras that AZ (one of the Diners) put up Inside the Diner are now offline with NO SIGNAL.  I'll leave this installment of The Strafing Run of Mother Nature with the latest update of the NOAA Sat Animated GIFS in nice RGB colors.  Still moving at an intemrinably slow 6MPH, now moving NW and likely to make a close hit on Key West as First Contact.  Unless she takes a more NNW track though, she will miss the FL West Coast entirely and collide with the North American continent  somewhere around Pensacola, or even NOLA.  That would be a hoot.

If JM & BH at WU and all the Code Jockeys running the models at the NOAA are right though, tomorrow will see a few million Retired Floridians experiencing FAST COLLAPSE, with virtually the entire state destined to lose electric power.  It will be quite some time if ever if it is all restored.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You.

The Strafing Run of Mother Nature

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 8, 2017

 

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Here you have it in one animated gif from the NOAA.

The Virgin Islands are already TOAST from the hit from Irma, José is coming in for a 2nd Strafing Run in a few days.  Next up on the hit list tonight from Irma are the Bahamas.  A few of the islands may get a direct hit from the Eye of the Storm, but all of them are within range of the massive 160 mile diameter of Hurricane Force winds.  They will all also be TOAST by tomorrow morning.

Although generally speaking most of the Tourista Hotels on these islands are built from reinforced concrete and can stand up to anything but a full on hit from a Cat 5, you have to remember that most of the people who work in the service industry supporting that tourista bizness don't live in near such sturdy buildings, although the management is at least kind enough to open up their stairwells as shelter during the height of the storm to locals as well as Honeymooners in the Tropical Paradise.  Once the storm passes by though, the locals gotta leave the stairwell (if in fact that stood up to the storm and they are still alive) and figure out where they will get the MONEY to rebuild their homes, particularly considering the Tourista bizness they made a living from is pretty much gone in infrastructure.  Who is going to finance the rebuilding of this industry in these places?  Can the Insurance Companies even afford to pay off all the claims from all the Hotels that were wiped out all along the Strafing Run?

The costs haven't even BEGUN to mount up yet though, because Irma still hasn't even made it to Miami, where the Storm Surge alone is expected to put it under 10 feet of water, and that is without a direct hit, which looks probable at this point based on the fabulous graphics provided by Jeff Masters at Weather Underground.  If they do get a smack dab dead on hit in Miami, Irma will still be at least a Cat 4 and maybe even retain Cat 5 status at landfall.  In that case, all the hi-rise condos at the beachfront will at the very least lose all their glass, if they aren't knocked down completely.  Nobody Boards Up all the windows in a 20 story Hotel before a Hurricane.

GFS ensemble forecasts for Irma, 0Z 9/7/2017

The 160 mile wide swath of Hurricane Force Winds is large enough to swallow the whole Panhandle, all the way across to the Gulf Coast.  That means everybody who lives in a trailer home all the way across Florida even if they aren't on Beachfront or Golf Course adjacent property is going to be smacked by these winds, plus of course the rainfall which actuall gets worse in the outer bands, and more potential for Tornadoes to be spun off too.  There are going to be a lot of wrecked Trailer Parks in Florida that look something like this Marina in St. Maarten's for Yachties:

But, that's not all Doomfans!  Irma isn't going to JUST leave the Strafing Run after decimating Miami.  Oh no, she is taking a track straight up the coast of Florida and will likely maintain Hurricane Strength the whole way because the Eye looks like it will remain over the warm waters surrounding the Florida Beaches the whole way.  Not so far off the coast though that the massive winds won't be packing at least Cat 2 strength at the coastline.  Besides that, everybody along the way gets hit by DIRECT onshore wind as it approaches, due to the counter-clockwise circulation of a Hurricane in the Northern Hemisphere.  That jacks up the Storm Surge.  Depending on the time it arrives in a given location, if that matches the High Tide of the neighborhood, then you go under at least 5' and perhaps as much as 15' in some locations.

Due up after Miami are such places as Ft. Lauderdale and Jacksonville, to name only a few of the major population centers along the Atlantic Coast of Florida.  Not only are there enormous populations at  risk here, you ALSO have not one but TWO Nuke Puke plants in the direct path of Irma and her Storm Surge, Turkey Point and St. Lucie.  Both are great candidates to be the next Fukushima.

The Storm Surge these plants will be subject to is not that far of from the Tsunami that hit Fukushima, plus they have the added hazard of all the wind they will be subject to.  Of course, Nuke Puke plants are structures built from really thick rebar reinforced concrete and one would not expect them to be knocked down by even Cat 5 strength winds alone, but in combination with storm surge it is hard to predict.  Even without a full on knockdown though, cracks could develop allowing in water, and then pumps could fail with the failure of the electric grid and backup generators, which themselves may go under water.  In any of these scenarios, you get a repeat of the Fukushima Clusterfuck.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/articlePictures/fukushimafire.bmp Even in the less-than-worst case scenario, these plants will be offline for quite some time after Irma.  That is a LOT of JUICE currently serving to power all the HVAC units cooling all the homes and biznesses in Florida.  Even once they manage to retring all the wire knocked down, it's questionable how quick they can bring all the power plants back on line to feed the voracious maw of power consumption necessary to make life down in the Tropical Zone compatible with Industrial Civilization.  With luck, maybe they  can do it in a month if they throw enough funny money and resources at the problem, which POTUS Trumpovetsky has promised to do, along with promising to send Houston the $125B or so currently estimated (sure to be far more , of course) to fix their mess up.  None of this money is "given" away though, it's all issued out as, you guessed it, MORE LOANS!  Our friends the TBTF Banks will make an ENORMOUS profit off this!  Assuming of course the Monetary system holds up in the aftermath, which is no certain outcome at this point.  Meanwhile, the numbskulls who want to rebuild on this patch of the earth will have to go in more debt than they already are in, to start off with just to replace their damn carz!

Again, you need to look at the BIG PICTURE here, which is quite obviously first off this is not a one-off disaster.  In fact you have two major ones ongoing at the same time here in the FSoA, not counting the vast devastation through all the Carribean islands, which in the Insurance Industry language have been "totalled".  As in a total loss.  None of these economies were doing too good before Irma strafed them, definitely not Puerto Rico which currently has over $1M people without electric power and no hope of getting the lights back on anytime too soon.  POTUS in Residence Donalditry promises recovery money Houston, now to Miami too and eventually he will promise to send the FRNs to every last city and town sprinkled along the Strafing Run of Irma too!  EXCEPT, currently at the moment although it is overwhelmed by the ACTION ongoing in the Climate Realm of Collapse is that even before these disasters struck the Pols in charge of Da Goobermint were ALREADY unable to come to any kind of an agreement on how to resolve the budget problems they face, and a Goobermint Shutdown looms as a result.  Now they have to add in at LEAST $300B in disaster relief for all the communities that are going to be devastated by Irma, and that is a Lowball Estimate if it follows the track that Jeff Masters, Bob Henson and the rest of the Weather Junkies at Weather Underground are predicting, and they are pretty good as far as Weathermen are concerned.  OK, sorry, they are "Meteorologists" now.  I never could figure out that one, WTF does the Weather have to do with Meteors? ???  :icon_scratch: 

A much more realistic estimate is in the neighborhood of $1T if you were to really try to rebuild all these communities and the infrastructure that has been destroyed or severely damaged.  This is far more of course than could ever be paid off in any sense of the word, and every "loan" that is made here in this collapse scenario will end up as another "NPL", or "Non-Performing Loan", AKA defaulted on debt.  Can They, Will They issue out the debt to these levels to try to keep this failing system running? ???  :icon_scratch:  The Masters of the Universe will certainly TRY to do this, because unless they do the whole House of Cards the monetary system is constructed from will COLLAPSE.  If they do this though, it makes transparent to all that the "money" is ephemeral and can be conjured out of thin air whenever whoever is in control of it cares to do so.  If you can work up $100B to Bailout AIG or fund the Pentagon every year to the tune of $1T, WTF can't you conjure up the money to bailout Unemployed people and do a bit better than 6 months of UE Bennies IF you can even qualify for them before you are DESAPERECIDO off the counted members of the Unemployed and become one of the increasing number of people who are "out of the worforce"? ???  :icon_scratch:

What will happen of course in due time if they do make these enormous loans to rebuild is that at some point confidence in the monetary system will be lost not just by J6P (who really doesn't matter as far as TPTB are concerned), but also by various members of the Elite class who hold all the debt as Assets on their books.  They won't be getting paid back for these loans, which came from money they never had to begin with, it was just leveraged up on other assets they "owned", at 10:1 or more often enough and on multiple loans too!  See Donalditry Trumpovetsky for a good example of this shit.

Is this event the BIG ONE that will finally send the Industrial Economy and Civilization off the Cliff to the next plateau downward as we exit the Age of Oil?  I can't answer that question, but this one is a mighty big Fly in the Ointment.  I do know one thing though for sure.  In the time it has taken me to write this article, FAST COLLAPSE  has ARRIVED for the Residents and Touristas of the Turks & Cacos Islands.  They are now smack dab under fire from the Strafing Run of Mother Nature.

Irma will arrive with FAST COLLAPSE somewhere around Miami on the continental FSoA on Sunday.  About the same time, José looks set to take a second Strafing Run across the Virgin Islands and the rest of the Carribean.  No real good idea of where José goes after that.  Based on the progress of steering currents in the upper atmosphere I see from Weather Underground and the NOAA website, it seems to me José might go for Norfolk or NYC as a Cat 3.  If I get that one right, I am beating the best computer models around, because that is a good 2 weeks away and they only go 5 days out.  lol.  If I get it right, I am the Gary Kasparov of Weather Prediction.  I beat Deep Blue, at least once.

The strain on the monetary system from all of these disasters is ENORMOUS. It is quite difficult for me to see how the Masters of the Universe will pull another Rabbit out of the Hat to cover the costs of recovery for this.  It's just too BIG.  It makes Katrina look like a Sunday Picnic.

More coming on this for my Sunday Brunch article, which coincides in Publication Schedule to right about the time Irma should be hitting Miami Beach.  I'll keep it updated with the latest in Doom as this plays out over the next couple of days.

Campfires in Collapse 2

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 6, 2017

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Here in the second installment of the Campfires in Collapse series, we look at the issues ofr acquiring fuel for your fire on the cheap, as well as making a campfire suitable for cooking on, which really big bonfires generally are not too good for other than roasting marshmallows.  A big Bonfire makes tons of heat, but for cooking you need a controlled heat which is stable over typical cooking times, usually in the 1/2 hour to 1 hour range for most meals besides stuff you slow cook, which can be much longer and generally take other methods to accomplish out in the field where you don't have a working electric slow cooker that will deliver just the right amount of energy when you set the temperature so you don't have to go over and mind the fire every 5 minutes to make sure it's not burning too hot or too cold.

http://www.oinkety.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/DSCN45881.jpg Back in my main camping years which went from about the age of 11 until age 30 or so, I did most of my cooking at campsites over open fires, not using campstoves of either the old pump style pressure stoves or the more recent version of propane fired camp stoves.  In this period, I always made a separate cooking fire from the larger campsite bonfire we would sit around after dinner and before bedtime and swap Ghost Stories or sing Folk Songs and roast marshmallows.  lol.  Good cooking fires are made with much smaller diameter wood pieces, generally from downed branches no more than about an inch thick.  Once the fire is going, you feed these in a little at a time to keep the temperature fairly constant while you cook.  When settling down in our campsite for the evening, after getting the tents set up the next priority was to gather wood, both for the cooking fire and the bonfire.  Bonfire people got to find big downed trees (you weren't allowed to cut them down and besides green wood sucks for making a fire) cut them into manageable chunks and split the wool.  Cooking fire people got to collect lots of twigs and small branches and cut them into smaller chunks to fit the cooking fire surface.  The Bonfire job was the more physically demanding one because of all the chopping and splitting you had to do, but the cooking fire job took a lot more trips over a wider area so also had it's physical demands.  This was all particularly annoying after an exhaustng day hiking over Mt. Katahdin and just about the time you hit the campsite it starts to rain.  Setting up old fashion Pup Tents in the rain and getting your fires going in the rain is no fun at all, and neither is collecting and chopping up wood.

So usually we would quit the hiking or canoeing around 4PM or so to get going on setting up camp for the night.  It usually took around 30 min to get the tents up and then another hour collecting wood for the night and for cooking the next morning.  I became Head Cookie (what a campsite chef is usually called) in my 2nd year at the Primitive Skills camp at the age of 12, very young for a Head Cookie at this camp, usually they were 14 or 15.  This because cooking became an interest of mine very young, and I practiced year around out on my porch over a small cast iron charcoal hibachi.  In fact I snubbed Propane as a cooking fuel for years because it just doesn't deliver the flavor that charcoal does.  However, I got lazy after around age 30 and went to mostly propane. lol.   Head Cookie was a great position to have, because once enough wood was collected to begin the fire, you didn't have to go out searching for it anymore, your job was to start the fire and make it ready for cooking, which takes some time and tending to, especially in the rain.  It usually takes around 30-45 minutes to get a wood fire ready for cooking, charcoal is a bit faster, especially if you are liberal with how much kero you will pour over it to get it going. lol.

Cooking over a Bonfire is something I only started working on in the later years, and takes a whole different set of techniques and equipment.  In the videos, I only discuss a few of them.  The main way I do discuss is simply to wait for the fire to burn itself down to coals until it is at the right temperature for cooking.  However, with a big fire you have to wait a while for that.  Dinner comes pretty late if you go with this method.  Another way is to raise up your cooking surface, a Camping Tripod is a good way to do that, I have one of those.  However, you are limited mainly to stews and soups and other stuff you can do in one big batch in a Dutch Oven.  You generally can't get close enough to the fire to do stuff like sauteing or even just flipping your burgers.  You can roast weenies on long forks though with this kind of fire.

The advantage to doing this is you get dual use out of the Bonfire, not only does it provide heat for the campsite (and it can get quite cold at night in NH, VT & ME even in the summer), but you get cooking heat out of the same fire, conserving both wood and human effort.  In recent years, I developed a 3rd use for the same heat, which is to heat thermal mass (rocks) to keep your temporary domicile warm overnight too.  If you follow the series here, you will find more information on those techniques.

The most important thing here to consider is that in all mobile living arrangements, fuel for heating and cooking is an important consideration, and often will cost you money.  You CANNOT do outdoor fires if you are Boondocking a Walmart parking lot!  If that is where you park for the night, my main advice is to eat cold food like cheese and maybe some hard boiled eggs and fruit, or just a Subway Hero that night.  That is no muss, no fuss.  If you insist on having something hot for dinner in this situation, use a kero or propane fired stove inside your Bugout Machine to heat a can of Chunky Soup.  Also no muss, no fuss.  For Gourmet Road Cooking, wait until you are in a location you can set up your full 9 yards of equipment.  If I put out all my portable cooking gear, I can cook up OTR any thing I ever did at Capsuto Freres, and in some cases better because I had no Smoker there at the time.  For myself though these days, I never do that.  I am happy if I can munch down 1/3rd of a Subway Spicy Italian for dinner now. Roll Eyes

Collapse Step by Step, Part 5: Political Realities

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Published on The Easiest Person to Fool August 6, 2017

 

 

 

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I've been promising to write about political realities for a while now. My last couple of posts were about ways of defining political positions (political compasses) and how well various positions are adapted to life in the age of scarcity (energy decline and economic contraction). Now the time has finally come to talk about those political realities and consider why modern politics is so maladapted to the challenges we face, now and in the coming decades.

There are many aspects to being a successful politician or political party, but surely the first is getting elected. If you don't have a reasonable chance of getting elected, then it's all just cheap talk (enjoyed by many of us, I will admit). In order to get elected you need two things: votes and money to run your campaign.

If you talk to voters you'll find that most of them aren't very happy with the way things are going and they'd like you to fix things. So you need a "platform", a story about why you are the candidate best suited to do that, to convince people to vote for you. To get the word out, you'll need publicity, and that costs money. Modern elections are such media circuses that it takes big money to win one and that means those who have big money have an inordinately large influence on who gets elected.

Unfortunately, the interests of voters and those who fund political campaigns don't always line up, and when they do, they line up in the wrong direction. A closer look at this will take us to the heart of what I want to discuss in this post. But first, let's take look at the real problems that governments should be addressing and aren't.

Since early in the history of this blog, I've been talking about three problems: resource depletion (Peak Oil), pollution (Climate Change) and economic contraction. But if you look closely you'll see that this all boils down into one thing—growth.

Our resource depletion problems arise from the exponential increase in our use of natural resources as both human population and standard of living have increased exponentially over the last few centuries. Climate change, and other sorts of pollution problems, arise from the way we are filling up the available sinks with our ever growing quantity of wastes.

Economic contraction arises from the declining surplus energy of our primary energy resources, fossil fuels—part of our resource depletion problem, again caused by growth. The more fuel we burn, the greater our gross domestic product. The faster we burn it, the higher our percentage growth. In the short run, this is conventionally accepted as a good thing. Copious quantities of high quality and easy to access fossil fuels have driven exponential growth, but those days are coming to an end. Our financial and political systems are addicted to growth and woefully unprepared for its end.

Yet it is ending. Energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) is the main concern here—a good measure of the quality of an energy source. The remaining fossil fuels (and there are lots of them) have an EROEI too low to support growth and none of the possible alternative sources of energy is any better. Somewhere around 15 seems to be the significant level of EROEI for operating a modern growth-based industrial society—and that's an average of all the energy sources used. As your average EROEI declines toward 15, growth slows and it becomes difficult to raise capital for new projects. Below 15 it becomes difficult to maintain existing infrastructure and things start to fall apart.

Many of those who acknowledge climate change today hold great hope for renewable energy sources that don't generate CO2. But those renewables, particularly when you include the storage technology needed to compensate for their intermittent nature, have such a low EROEIs that they won't support an industrial civilization, but require one to support them. In other words, if it is not already too late, we might be able use the remaining supplies of high EROEI fossil fuels to switch over to renewables, but if we rely on the energy supplied by them, we wouldn't be able to maintain them or replace them as they wear out.

Or, we can look at it another way. For most of our prehistory and history the burden we placed upon this planet grew very slowly and we were, at any rate, far below its carrying capacity. But in the last few decades our pursuit of growth has carried us into overshoot, currently by about 150% and increasing. This is possible because we are using up the planet's non-renewable reserves, but in the process we are actually reducing its carrying capacity. At some point soon our continued growth and that shrinking capacity will meet with catastrophic results.

As I've said before, our planet is a big place, so this will happen "unevenly, unsteadily and unequally". Indeed, it is already starting to do so. And in the long run, on a geological time scale, it's really no big deal. I think it is quite likely that a reduced number of human beings, with a more modest lifestyle will even manage to pull through.

But in the short run, the systems we rely on to supply us with the necessities of life are going to quit working. Yes, unevenly, unsteadily and unequally. But the ability and willingness of the developed nations to mount relief operations (even to help their own people) will dwindle. If you are at ground zero in an area where things are taking a big step downward, it will, at least for a while, seem like the end of the world. If you are rich and not too unlucky, you may manage to avoid the worst of what's going on around you, otherwise… not so much.

So, I'd like our governments to do the best job they can of arranging a graceful decline to a workable level of population and consumption. But my experience suggests that this isn't a reasonable expectation. In fact, they will probably do quite a bit to make things worse.

This is because our political systems are incapable of acknowledging that limits exist, that we are nearing them and that because of this, growth is no longer a good thing. Why this difficulty with acknowledging reality? It's pretty simple, really—we've built a system that only works when it is growing.

Modern businesses operate on credit and rely on the global financial system to supply that credit. Even money, which many of us think of as hard, cold cash, is actually just credit, loaned into existence out of thin air by the banks. And of course it must eventually be paid back to the banks, with interest.

As long as the economy is growing, that's no problem. The banks have confidence that, on average, businesses will grow, and be able to pay back their loans with interest, so they are willing to make loans. Businesses have the same confidence and are willing to go along with this because it allows them to operate, expand and improve. But in order for them to pay back their loans, with interest, the supply of money must increase. This is done by loaning out more money, creating more debt and continuing the cycle onwards and upwards.

This system was adopted because the previous system, based on precious metals, would not allow the money supply to grow quickly enough. And because growth, fueled by high EROEI fossil fuels, was so highly beneficial to both banks and businesses, a way had to be found to accommodate it.

It is ironic that the U.S. ended the "gold standard" in the early 1970s, with the result that the whole world converted to "fiat money", just as oil production was peaking in the continental U.S. and other areas, and just before the first oil shock, when OPEC proclaimed an embargo and forced the price of oil up from $3 to $12 per barrel. Our efforts to financially accommodate endless growth where instituted just as that growth first began to falter. Since then, our economic history has been a case of governments trying to maintain economic growth in the face of declining surplus energy, the very thing that actually supports that growth.

To my way of thinking, this is an example of an insoluble problem.

Dennis Meadows, one of the authors of The Limits To Growth, talks about easy and hard problems. With easy problems, things start getting better as soon as you start applying some effort to solving the problem and the public can see that it is worth the effort. With hard problems, things initially get worse, but eventually, if you keep working at it, they do get better. Our political system is very poor at solving hard problems. A government that tries to solve such a problem, and can't show that things are improving before the next election, won't get re-elected. Even if, with just a little more time, things would have turned around.

But our current situation is in another class of problem altogether. In order to solve our resource depletion, pollution and carrying capacity problems, growth has to stop and indeed we need to go through a significant amount of degrowth, both in population and consumption. But this will be an economic disaster, leaving us all considerably poorer, with no prospect of things getting better. If we try to maintain economic growth, we will make the other problems, and our final situation, even worse. At best, we can aim to make things somewhat "less worse" than they would otherwise get. This is why I say there is no solution, only the prospect of various degrees of success at adapting.

The political reality is that in order to finance their campaigns, politicians rely on donations, some from private individuals, but most from banks and businesses. Banks and businesses want many things, but it all boils down to continued growth, if not in the long run, at least in the short run. If they want campaigns funds, politicians must do what they can in an attempt to guarantee this. Voters, too, want growth because they can see that the end of growth would be pretty hard on them, as well. If you want to get elected, better be strong on growth.

As I said at the start, voters can tell that things aren't going well and want politicians to do something about it. But the real problem is growth itself and we are pretty much all in denial about that, so politicians are in a difficult spot and have to come up with various creative ways out.

Those who I would characterize as "bad" politicians, for lack of a better turn of phrase, are eager to maintain the position and privilege of their supporters, the rich and powerful. They care little or nothing for the bottom 80% of the population. They deny limits, especially climate change and peak oil, reassuring everyone that business as usual can continue for the foreseeable future. For the purposes of this discussion I'll call them "exclusionist, capitalist, fiscal conservatives", using the some of the terminology from my posts on political compasses and positions.

You might think that this approach would make it hard to get many votes, but with enough money to spend it is amazing what you can convince people of.

And of course many voters are eager to hear that business as usual is a viable proposition, that with the right policies we can return to the "good old days". Add in some "trickle down" economics, promise to reduce taxes and government waste, fight an endless succession of foreign wars, blame poverty on the poor, and unemployment and crime on immigrants and visible minorities and you can come up with a winning platform.

Unfortunately, there are some downsides to this approach.

It's easy to reduce taxes, but harder to reduce spending, so you end up going further into debt and your government itself is crippled due to reduced revenue. It's hard to hide your lack of concern for the bottom 80%—your programs keep the top 20% in pretty good shape, but as the economy contracts, the bottom 80% suffer more and more. The ranks of the unemployed swell and with social programs cut to the bone, people aren't unemployed long before they end up homeless.

In the U.S., encampments of homeless people have sprung up in and around many cities. Sadly, when the number of homeless people increases to the point where they become quite visible, the typical response is one of distrust and even hate. The rest of the community want the homeless to simply go away, going so far in many cases as to make homelessness (and efforts to charitably help the homeless) essentially illegal. The tent cities are bulldozed and their inhabitants rounded up and sent on their way.

In capitalism societies where all the means of production (and even subsistence) are privately owned and even government owned parks do not welcome those who might seek refuge in them, there is nowhere for the homeless to turn. Eventually this will lead to large scale confrontations and riots that will be suppressed ruthlessly, temporarily diverting those who survive to privately owned prisons that are little more than a form of legalized slavery. But this will not make the problem go away in the long run—as the economy continues to contract, even the private prison system will prove unprofitable.

As collapse continues, along with economic problems like unemployment and homelessness and the social unrest arising from them, there will be continuing deterioration of infrastructure and a variety of natural disasters. The government will have no choice but to abandon the worse affected areas. Not officially of course, but simply by neglecting them due to a lack of resources to support or rebuild them, or even enforce the rule of law. This will start with just a few isolated areas and grow until the remaining governed areas become isolated enclaves in the abandoned expanses.

Strangely, I see some hope in this, as there will be no way to prevent anyone from leaving the governed areas and setting up their own communities in the abandoned areas. And the changes needed to successfully address the challenges we face can best be made by those who have nothing invested in our current system.

So, this "exclusionist, capitalist, fiscal conservatives" approach is good only for the short term interests of the rich and powerful, and bad for the short term interests of the bottom 80%. In the long run, it's bad for everybody involved, and only after it has largely dwindled away is it possible to see much hope.

On the other side things we have those who I would characterize as the "less bad" politicians. For the purposes of this discussion I'll call them "inclusionist, socialist, fiscal liberals", though this kind of socialism involves a lot of capitalist activity. They generally accept the reality of climate change, but claim that they can address it without damage to the economy or jobs, and that renewable energy can replace fossil fuels with no significant changes in the way we live. They use the term "sustainable development", an oxymoron if ever there was one, and claim that we can decouple economic growth from resource depletion and pollution. Many people are fooled by this nonsense, but the political reality is that these politicians also have rich and powerful supporters, so business as usual must be allowed to carry on.

What makes these politicians less bad is not their lip service to addressing climate change but the fact that they do care about the welfare of everyone in their societies, not just the rich and powerful. They are willing to tax progressively to keep government running efficiently and provide support to those who have been failed by the economy. This results in a society with significantly less crime and social unrest, and a higher level of social justice. Which is why the rich are willing to be taxed heavily.

In order to reassure voters that they are doing something about the problems of the day, these politicians tend to address symptoms of the real problems, which they don't want to admit exist. While this doesn't result in any lasting fixes, it does often temporarily improve things.

The "inclusionist, socialist, fiscally liberal" approach prevents the waste that occurs when the rich are allowed to become continually richer, and allows those resources to be used for the benefit of the society as a whole. It results in less war, social unrest and human suffering and can probably continue to function at lower levels of average EROEI than the alternative.

Unfortunately, because this brand of politicians doesn't acknowledge declining surplus energy as the cause of economic contraction, they frequently try to jump start the economy with large injections of borrowed cash. These efforts become ever less successful as the surplus energy problem grows, and leads to government debt. But here the money is spent on maintaining and improving infrastructure, helping the populace with training and education and other things that do some good at least in the short run.

There is enough slack in modern lifestyles to allow a considerable belt tightening before anyone really gets hurt, especially if the rich and powerful are willing to tighten their belts somewhat as well, and there are social programs to help the poor. So it may be possible to manage a more graceful energy decline even without acknowledging what is actually happening.

So, this "inclusionist, socialist, fiscally liberal" approach is not as good for the short term interests of the rich and powerful (still adequate, though), and much better for the short term interest of the bottom 80%. In the long run, it is still less than ideal. Economic contraction will still eventually make centralization of government unfeasible and countries will break up into smaller units supplying fewer services. But there is some possibly that these sorts of society may muddle through in a way that is less destructive than the "exclusionist capitalist fiscal conservative" alternative.

To sum it all up, we face an insoluble problem in the requirement to reduce our population and consumption to take us out of the current overshoot situation. Insoluble because of the political realities—politicians need the financial support of the rich and powerful to get elected and votes from the rest of society, and neither group is willing to accept the reality that growth must come to an end. This is dealt with in various maladaptive way by politicians, ranging from utterly awful to just moderately bad. And there is very little prospect of turning things around, at least at the level of global, national or state (provincial here in Canada) politics.

Given all this, it is tempting for those of us in the bottom 80% to be pretty apathetic about politics. I think this is a bad idea. It is important to remember that real politicians, political parties and countries exist somewhere on a spectrum between the two endpoints I've been talking about in this post. Have an eye to where your government lies on that spectrum, be aware of the political realities involved, and take what opportunities are within your grasp to push for improvements. Politicians love to be at the head of somebody else's parade, and even the worst ones are influenced by public opinion if it is strongly enough expressed. We need to get that parade heading in a better direction. Or be willing to accept a significantly worse outcome.

At the same time, individuals, families and communities should prepare for continued economic contraction, social unrest, war, infrastructure failure and various natural disasters. With a clear realization that help from higher levels of government will not always be forthcoming.

The Path of Totality: The Repair Adventure

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on September 3, 2016

At last, customer service!

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Regular visitors know that on my way to experience the eclipse with RE my transmission decided to switch into 'limp home mode' where the top gear becomes second gear and 5000 rpm only gets you 40 mph in a car that can cruse all day at 100 mph.  This happened out of cell phone range at 3 AM eastbound on I-90 three miles into Montana.  But I did not limp home.  Instead I continued in 'limp to eclipse' mode figuring wrongly that there were as many Mercedes dealerships ahead of me as there were behind me.  The human brain is built to deceive.  RE and Brian who RE was traveling with, met me after I could get them on the phone when I once again came into phone range and could tell them I was in trouble. 

They were just a couple of hours ahead of me having spent the night in Drummond MT. My saviors RE and Brian met up with me in Anaconda Montana where Lee a tow truck driver from Butte, trucked my Mercedes away to his lot in Butte MT wearing one of our rare and precious Path of Totality Tshirts for his eclipse weekend enjoyment and we were on our way to Rexburg.

Lee promised to deliver my car to the Mercedes dealership in Missoula after the eclipse and he did exactly that on Tuesday just as he had promised to do. Unfortunately I foolishly assumed that the Mercedes dealership in Missoula would be able to fix my Mercedes. My mistake. How could I be so foolish? I was totally wrong and the only way my car was going to be fixed in less than a month was if I towed it to a real Mercedes Dealership which the Missoula outfit turned out to be in name only. Missoula has the big round Mercedes logo but only one mechanic and one salesman. Both claiming to be overworked. This so called dealership is part of a larger umbrella dealership that serves several other brands. The owner, DeMarois Buick GMC has an impressive website http://www.demarois.mercedesdealer.com/ but if you visit the actual brick and mortar or in this case glass and steel as I did, you find the 'dealership' is a double garage which passes for a showroom featuring just three cars, two small, and a desk next to several other identical double garages selling other brands. A cosmic joke which I had foolishly towed my car to. Had Missoula the time to even diagnose my problem and the time to work on my car, fixing it in Missoula would have made sense and the $350 plane ticket back to fetch it would have been a bargain. Sadly the Missoula Mercedes mechanic is backed up for weeks. If someone wants to be a Mercedes mechanic there is a job open for one in Missoula right nowMissoula might be a place to survive collapse a lot better than other places will. The Clark Fork River valley is beautiful and there could be doomstead possibilities in the area. After the eclipse and my visit to the Missoula 'dealership' I returned to Seattle and rented a car for the week.

Here it is getting gassed up for its return to Sea-Tac airport yesterday.

K-Dogs Rental

K-Dogs Rental

I rented the car and the salesman who sold me my Mercedes a year ago got me in touch with Olga who arranged to have my car moved to Seattle from Missoula. Things would have been great if Olga stayed in touch with me but once she had my info and told me my car would be picked up in Missoula on Saturday she disappeared and would not return emails or phone messages at all. The Russian mafia now had my car and they were not about to meet with me until I had cash in hand and I could exchange it for my car in a remote parking lot face to face meeting at a date a time of their choosing, Breaking Bad Style.

Without knowing this would be my horrorshow future I authorized my car be picked up by phone last Saturday in Missoula but by Wednesday I was calling back tracking it down from the Missoula end. The job had been contracted out to a Spokane trucking outfit and they had my car 20 miles out of Tacoma when I found out where it was and who had it. I also knew what Olga's cut was and figured I was paying her enough for the wheels not to stop moving on this delivery. I also figured that because of the payment issue, cash or money order only, she would not be giving me my car back before Friday as it would take Thursday to pass to her lot in Sumner from Tacoma so she could plan on which remote parking lot to deliver it to me for the face to face.

I jest, the agreement was to deliver it to the Seattle Mercedes dealership and the transaction took place in their parking lot. I met Olga's driver next to the Mercedes dealership in Seattle about noon on Friday. Here is my car on his truck. It has been on at least five trucks to get from Anaconda MT to Seattle WA. He rolled it off and I paid him. Then I drove my car a few hundred feet to the Mercedes service department.

My car about to roll off the last truck.

A work order was filled out and waiting. My experienced changed once the Seattle Dealership had my car. They had the problem diagnosed by the end of the day. They are very helpful. A transmission 'pressure plate' needs to be replaced and this will involve a full transmission service. A part has been ordered. Now that they have my car to fix, Mercedes of Seattle could give me a loaner so I was able to return my rental car without extending my rental contract. I naturally did not want to extend the contract and I was in fear of having to do exactly that after Olga disappeared.

I returned the car rental car yesterday, Saturday morning. So after the week long move of my car from Missoula at about $1.50 a mile I dropped off the rental car at the SeaTac rental car terminal.

 

Rental Car Terminal

Then I walked about a third of a mile to the International Boulevard Light rail station. Facing the opposite direction from the last photo you can see the light rail station. The hardest part of this trip was figuring out how to walk out of the rental car terminal. The normal way to get to the terminal is by car or bus and the normal way to get to the light rail would be to take a bus to the main Sea-Tac airport terminal where there is a builtin light rail station. That seemed foolish. A mile bus ride to get to Sea-tac Airport or a short walk to the next rail station down the line. I chose the walk. It was a beautiful day and not yet too hot. I had to ask how one gets out of the rental car terminal on foot.

International Boulevard – Seattle Light Rail Station

Experiencing the public in their various states of cluelessness caused me to lose some forward momentum yet I made steady progress and at last a train approached. My fare to the 'Stadium' terminal was $2.75

Waiting for the train.

The train is a nice link between the Airport and downtown Seattle. The line is still being built. It starts out on an elevated track for several miles from the Airport but drops down to ground level to pass through some south end neighborhoods. Stimulating the economics of these neighborhoods was part of the overall plan though there are only four stops in these neighborhoods since the route is primarily express oriented. I once lived a few blocks away from the route long before it was built. It rises again to be elevated before passing into a tunnel which seems about a mile long through a hill. In the middle of this hill is a station with elevators 100 feet up to the top of the hill where a main north south street passes by. The Beacon Hill neighborhood. Next the train passes through the SODO (south of downtown) area of Seattle where I got off and walked to the Mercedes dealership to get my service loaner. Through and north of downtown the train becomes a subway, the north end of the route is still being dug. It will eventually go many miles under the north end to a stop at the University of Washington and North Gate, an original old school north end shopping center.

The train.

On the train.

The 'SODO' stop would have worked out better but the Stadium stop is the one I used. It was about a five-teen minute walk to the Mercedes dealership.

At last, customer service!

Once there I showed my proof of insurance, my license, and a credit card as a deposit for damages and I was off and going in my free loaner car. My eclipse adventure is still not quite over but it is now only one car switch and a bill payent away!

Can it really go that fast?

The service loaner.

The observant among you will notice the 1990 300E in the upper left of the picture which we own. If that car were in running condition I would not have needed a rental car or the loaner. Mrs Dog's car is also parked to the left but you can't see what it is.  It is much like my car which is being repaired. Unfortunately we often work different hours so we cound not easily share it and the repair of the 300E is a job in itself.  Yet what do my personal woes have to do with collapse and the Diner other than being a part of the Path Of Totality tripI hope my experience entertains but the Path of Totality trip itself may seem like a contradiction to some. A bunch of people who worry about collapse all burning fossil fuels for apparently no good reason.

I'll jump to the answer. The snarky answer is "When in Rome burn like Rome" but seriously it is important that Diners meet. We can't have any community unless actual face to face meetings take place and physically re-positioning oneself for collapse will be important. This means travel. The irony is that this will require burning fossil fuels.  I also am way past the 'we have to change the world' reaction.  That is a newbie knee-jerk reaction, I had it, but as an experienced Diner I know THE WORLD DOES NOT WANT TO BE CHANGED.  All we can do is connect with like-minded people and figure out how to survive.  Like-minded people, experienced diners also learn, are hard to find and can live hundreds or even thousands of miles apart.  We have to all ironically learn to be mobile so that we can perhaps find a place together where being mobile becomes unecessary.

This trip stressed to me the importance of being prepared for collapse and let me clearly know I am not ready. RE's obsession with boondocking seems very well placed. It is a way to prepare or at least it is a means by which we can understand what preparing for collapse really means.

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In Finnish Lapland, reindeer herders’ activity is strongly dependent on the surrounding natural envi [...]

Urban air quality in most megacities has been found to be critical and Kolkata Metropolitan City is [...]

Nepal has an extreme altitudinal range from 60–8850 m with heterogeneous topography and distinct cli [...]

Indian summer monsoon (ISM) plays an important role in the weather and climate system over India. Th [...]