Overshoot

Issues related to overpopulation.

Navigating 21st Century Hopelessness

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Published on The Doomstead Diner July 16, 2017

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Is our techno-industrial way of life fundamentally benevolent?  Is it advisable to continue perpetuating a civilization that is predicated by non-renewable fossil energy sources as well as unsustainable rates of renewable resource extraction?  Our civilization requires an ever growing GDP to be considered healthy.  This is a measure of production in terms of consumption.  Our literal benchmark for the health of our society is based on how much we can consume in a year as a nation.  The reason for this is to create monetary profit for the individuals of this society whom have shares in the corporations controlling this production.  The actual physical wealth of the world is subjugated to the tune of dollars and cents.  To make this pathway possible it requires a proletariat class willing to sell their lives for an hourly rate.  This hourly rate is the lowest possible rate so as to not reduce the profit that’s stolen from the resources of the Earth and the energies of its peoples.  This hourly rate is about making money and not about stewardship of any kind.  It does not have to be like this, but that is a delusory sentiment based on idealism. 

The road to ruin for our species began with agriculture.  Before agriculture emerged there was no need for money, and so it did not exist.  Agriculture allows for civilization which requires money to function.  With the creation of money we stratify into economic classes of people.  Once money is created life becomes about servicing this need for monetary acquisition.  Before money life is about engaging with nature to acquire food, fuel, fiber, medicine and shelter.  In aggregate these actions create a healthy human culture.  Agriculture allows for money and removes the limiting factors for our numbers.  Before agriculture the limiting factor is the amount of food that can be sustainably hunted and gathered.  The hunter/gatherer life is mostly nomadic as we follow the animals and plants through the seasons which define their lifecycles.  Our lives are imbued with rich somatic meaning as we engage with the body of nature.  We are from this Earth, and we inhabit it as a corporeal being made of the elements.  We evolved both physically and spiritually within the framework of our physical Earth.  Our health depends on engaging with nature to create life and its meaning.  The fall from paradise began with domestication which is nothing less than the taming of wild nature.  Domestication is tandem to agriculture and literally creates civilization.  What is being civilized if not the opposite of wild?  The two are anathema to one another. 

Agriculture means that we stop moving around.  It means that we domesticate ourselves as well as the wild beasts of nature.  It sets up the conditions that allows for a great competition between us and nature.  All of a sudden our culture becomes one of domination and control rather than harmony.  Being rooted in one place we begin building monuments to hubris.  We get bored and invent competition.  We stockpile food and create war and plague.  We set up the conditions for disease and famine and warfare (although nomadic people still do occasionally fight with opposing tribes).  We argue and debate and create inequality amongst our people.  Life becomes a struggle to create meaning and avoid boredom.  Eventually, as we move further and further from our natural origin, habitat, and culture the enchantment of being evaporates. We are left with a driving urge to consume to fill this void of meaning that emerges due to our domestication.  Time continues forward and our habits create technologies to service convenience.  We become lazy and our bodies grow fat with our sedentary nature which arises from our domesticated captivity.  No longer do we need our bodies for anything more than acquiring money.  We then want pleasure to fend off boredom and meaninglessness.  Life is no longer about dancing in the wild where we are from and where we return to.  Civilization is nothing more than something to do in the great illusion that we create for ourselves.  This is the way that it is.  The Matrix was born with the first surplus of cereal grain. 

Is there anything that can be done about this?  It seems to me that we are at the end of this failed experiment in hubris.  There is no harmony in domination and control and consumption.  There is only waste, disease, and poison by way of ecocide and genocide.  Our quest for the production of unlimited energy against the gradient of entropy has created cancer.    In the end we cannot dominate nature.  Aside from money the quest for domination  is the great fallacy of civilization.  We cannot think our way out of the limiting factors of ecology.  Our modern techno-industrial civilization will run out of the fossil blood that sustains it.  We will lose the capacity to safely maintain the nuclear power plants that liter the surface of the Earth.  They will spew out DNA damaging clouds of radioactivity as they have already begun doing.  The rain will become poisonous to life.  As we fight to continue this failing technotriumphalism we will continue increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere which will continue heating the human supporting biosphere.  Natural disasters will continue increasing in number and severity.  Our hubris has metastasized into a cancer that will shrink our settlements as the habitable regions atrophy.  Nothing is going to stop this process now.  All that remains is answering the question of what to do about this inevitability.  We have entered into the age of doom. 

There is no escaping this destiny that we have perpetuated.  The most unfortunate aspect about this hopelessness is that man cannot live without hope.  Hope makes life worth living.  Is hope itself a delusion?  What are we to hope for?  The nature of existence is a destiny with death.   The time we have between birth and death needs to be animated by meaning.  Meaning is derived from a harmony with all life.  Our civilization is marked by domination and control.  There is no harmony in control.  The great struggle is finally about the nature of life because life wants to live.  We must maintain ourselves within the boundary of our skin while we are here walking the Earth.  The overwhelming desire is to do this devoid of pain and misery.  The tragedy of man is to think that he can avoid his own nature by the creation of a technological utopia.  Life cannot be about domination and control, but that is what man forces it to be.  We are teetering in a suspended animation just before the moment of expiration.  We are flailing about in denial of this process of resolution.  Maturation as a species must culminate in an acceptance of suffering and death.  We must accept our temporary nature, stop struggling, and lie down in the great current of life.  We swim against this entropic process everyday as we participate in this civilization.  We collectively attempt to keep the center from flying apart under the pressures of our own technologically created centrifuge.  We struggle in vain against the pressures of physical dissolution.  We create illusions to fight against the natural process of becoming to fall apart. 

The first act was rife with physical struggle within the framework of existing in harmony with nature.  Hubris arose and we thought we could become gods using the power of physical manipulation.  We thought we could master the universe with our cleverness.  We are collectively a breaking wave, and nothing will stop the pull of gravity as we are recycled back into the void which we originally manifested from.    Idealism is nothing more than the ravings of a mental lunatic.  Idealism is a delusion that is born from the struggle to acquire more than we need.  Fighting against entropy is finally not worth it.  Yet this fight is what it means to inhabit a physical body. 

In the final analysis life must be about observing beauty.  Without beauty it is not worth living.  We have made a mess of this beautiful blue/green orb that’s floating about the universe.  We have partied our way to desolation.  Yet the Earth keeps spinning around in outer space in its dance with the sun that sustains us.  Every morning the sun reemerges to give us another day of life.  Our great challenge is to honor this life by creating beauty and not it’s opposite.  We have created a lot of ugliness.  Maybe the secret to this 21st century hopelessness is to learn how to make beauty out of malevolence.  Or maybe we should just stop struggling and accept the final act of misery which we have written for ourselves?  Or maybe we can simply embrace our collective ugliness with grace?  Without love and beauty this great struggle that is life is not worth it.  The greatest challenge that we face is learning to love and observe beauty even as love and beauty vanish under the oppression of our own collective delusions. 

The nature of a body is to act.  How are we to act?  We should act to minimize suffering for all sentient beings while honoring our bodily nature.  Every day is a new day to make the right decisions.   Yet every day requires a certain amount of money.  This is why my conclusion is that a lifestyle that requires no money is the only truly benevolent lifestyle.  That lifestyle is a fiction in this world we have created.  This world is quite literally hell on Earth.  Therefore we must learn to love and find whatever beauty we can while in hell.  We must not resist as we realize our ultimate destiny of assimilation with the machine we have created.  I’ve tried finding work arounds to the truth that life is suffering, but the only way to win is to let go, stop resisting, and accept the nature of this great delusion.  Manifestation is transience in action, and our resistance arises within that transience only to dissolve back into the void that is death.  All that is created within that resistance is more suffering.  Yet still we must act in the world, and how should we act when our actions only serve to create more suffering?  The heart of our civilization is the creation of suffering, and to participate only adds to this toll.  Not participating in this civilization can be our only spiritual redemption.  For the life of me, and my children, I cannot figure out how to not participate. 

Real Life is Not Spin Art

From the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler
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Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation October 13, 2014

The authorities keep emphasizing that the nurse who caught ebola from Thomas Eric Duncan was sealed in her haz-mat suit the whole time she cared for the poor fellow and blah blah nobody knows how she could possibly catch the darn thing…. But the newspapers and cable news networks are not asking: What about all the people, ordinary civilians, that this nurse was consorting with off-work, after she took off her haz-mat suit and, let’s say, at some point stopped by the Kroger Store’s fabulous steam table display of take-out goodies behind the helpful and reassuring sneeze-guard on her way back home? It sounds like a new Netflix drama –The Fatal Mac and Cheese.

If one more person in that chain of circumstance falls ill, Rick Perry will have to ring-fence Dallas faster than you can say Guadalupe Hidalgo and then we’ll be off to the quarantine races in America. It will be interesting to see who’s shorting the airline stocks a few hours from now. I’ve got to pass through Dulles airport tomorrow myself, and then two more foreign hubs after that, and return to freakin’ Newark International at the end of the week when a fullblown ebola panic may be underway.

For the moment, I’m in Washington for a conference on population and immigration. Believe it or not there are some people who want to have an honest national conversation about these issues amid all the disingenuous chatter about “dreamers” emanating from the Oval Office in this miserable era of politics-as-spin-art. And along comes the galvanizing event of a really serious disease to finally force the issue. Nothing concentrates a nation’s attention like the specter of the people next door bleeding out through their ears and noses.

Welcome to the diminishing returns of the global economy. They’ve been there all along, but none previously were sufficiently vivid or horrifying as ebola. The Chinese FoxConn workers throwing themselves out the factory windows in despair just seemed like some kind of fraternity prank in comparison. Now something has got loose from the Heart of Darkness like the hissing beastie that burst out of John Hurt’s ribcage in Alien and water-skied out of the sick bay into the bowels of the cargo ship Nostromo. Sometimes a metaphor is just a figure of speech and sometimes it’s liable to set your hair on fire.

The ebola melodrama has all the mojo to set the global economy’s hair on fire. And it comes along at a very strange time: just as central bank hoodoo approaches the brink of its own epic fail – as in, accounting fraud, check-kiting, and public relations can only work as a place-holder for authentic economic relations for so long before the ominous shadow of reality sweeps in on black swan wings. The markets were already well into the puking stage of their own hemorrhagic contagion last week. Maybe the S & P starts bleeding from its eyes and ears this week.

There’s certainly blood all over the overburdened back roads of the Bakken play all of a sudden, where $88-a-barrel shale oil doesn’t even allow you to pretend that you’ve got a profitable venture going. The shale oil fairy tale has been at the center of a matrix of lies America has been telling itself about its economic meth buzz. Saudi America and all that malarkey, all in the service of America’s master wish of all wishes: please Lord, let us keep driving to Wal Mart forever.

Speaking of dreams and dreamers, that was a pretty shabby one. But here we are now up against one of the master facts of the day: our world faces epic, desperate demographic shifts as regions of it are proving to be very unfriendly to human habitation. How long do we pretend that all the refugees are welcome to come here, bleeding from their eyes and noses, as their dreams of laying sod for $6-an-hour or slaughtering chickens for the greater glory of Colonel Sanders collide with the diminishing returns of yet another Elon Musk sales pitch for the blessed denizens of Palo Alto aspiring to Godhood. I, for one, doubt that there’s enough room for all of us in that much dreamed-of for-profit spacecraft soon to carry us to worlds where the black swan’s wings have never cast a shadow.

 

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James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

Peak Food. It’s Here.

Off the Keyboard of Tom Lewis

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What has long been just a walk in the park for most Americans — food shopping — is about to become considerably more grueling. (Photo by Wonderlane/Flickr)

What has long been just a walk in the park for most Americans — food shopping — is about to become considerably more grueling. (Photo by Wonderlane/Flickr)

First published at The Daily Impact April 30, 2014

[Editor’s Note: It is a pleasure to welcome Thomas Lewis of The Daily Impact to the Doomstead Diner blog. Tom is a nationally recognized author of six books, journalist and professor who currently edits the website, The Daily Impact. He is a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. We are pleased to have him with us. –Surly1]

 

High food prices — which have been destabilizing (and in some cases, vaporizing) governments around the world — are coming belatedly to America. The prices of beef, pork, shrimp, eggs, dairy products and produce are all reaching record highs right now. Overall food prices are up almost 20% this year. The reasons appear at first glance to be varied, but in almost every case the root cause turns out to be either climate change or the practices of industrial agriculture. Indications are that there is no relief in sight. In fact the days of cheap and plentiful food, like the days of cheap and plentiful oil, may well be over for good.

Where’s the Beef? Ground beef prices hit $3.55 a pound in February, marking a 56% increase in four years and a 20-year record. Chalk it up to supply and demand; there are fewer cattle at home on the range in the United States than at any time in the past 63 years. Why? Because of extended, severe drought in most of the places where cattle are raised and their food is grown. [See Dead Town Waking] Why? Because of climate change.

When Pigs Die.  Since June of last year, about seven million pigs — about ten per cent of the American herd — have been wiped out by a new virus that was unknown before May of last year. It is not the cause of the record high pork prices now in effect, but the disease virtually guarantees no relief for the foreseeable future. The disease, similar to one that has been ravaging China’s pigs, may have something to do with feeding pig-blood products to pigs. You know, like feeding cow’s brains to cows had something to do with Mad Cow Disease.

Crustacean Deflation. Shrimp prices last month jumped more than 60 per cent above last year’s, to a 14-year high, because of a new bacterial disease ravaging the shrimp farms of Southeast Asia.

Hedge Your Vegetable Bets. The region that produces most of America’s produce (the virtual desert in the middle of California) is experiencing the worst drought in history. Its farmers are leaving idle a half a million acres of cropland this year because there’s no water for irrigation. We’re already paying more for our lettuce.

Wake Up and Smell the Absence of Coffee. It was already expected that world coffee production this season would be about five million bags short of a full cup. Then an historic drought struck the coffee belt of Brazil, source of most of the world’s coffee, decimating this year’s crop. Although the price tsunami has not yet rolled into our supermarkets, it has launched wholesale and futures prices into the stratosphere.

With the average American family spending only 10 percent of  its income on food, it’s not surprising that there is a widespread lack of empathy for the millions around the world who are clinging to the edge of extinction as incomes shrink and food prices spike. With the ongoing devastation of the US middle class and the imminent increases in US food prices, Americans are about to get a lot more empathetic.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has observed that when its global food-price index hits 210, governments in the Third World begin to fall like tenpins. You have to wonder; what’s the magic number for America?

 

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Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editorof The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

 

That Was The Week That Was In Doom June 30, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 30, 2013

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Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

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Reality is for people who can’t face drugs.~ Laurence Peter

“Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions that make them terribly unhappy then gives them the drugs to take away their unhappiness. . .  In effect antidepressants are a means of modifying an individual’s internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate social conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable.”  ― Theodore Kaczynski

With every news cycle we  move into times more absurd and cruel then we could possibly imagine. The daily headlines have outstripped the creativity of satirists and humorists. The mainstream media lies, and reminiscent of the Soviet Union of bygone days, only comedians are able to tell the truth.  Brain-eating amoebas! Plot to execute Occupy leaders abetted by FBI!  This week we learned that an activist faces 13 years in prison for wielding sidewalk chalk, banksters caught dead to rights colluding in fraud face nothing,  we connect the dots on species extinction, and we are shocked… shocked to learn that the last people that the NSA wants to surveil are terrorists.  The president of Ecuador tweaks the New World Order,  Phyllis Schafly rises from her crypt, and Fukushima continues to tick away, glowing in the dark with malevolent certainty. There is a reason the proverb has it, “many a truth is told in jest.”  So, barkeep, for my friends here antidepressants all around with a Prestone chaser. Belly up to the Diner bar for yet another round.

 

 

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California Man Faces 13 Years In Prison For Offending Bank of America With Kiddie Chalk

Yes friends, in the wake of last week’s whistleblower story about Bank of America comes this story about the wheels of justice. And no, we are not making this up. Daily Kos reports:

Jeff Olson, the 40-year-old man who is being prosecuted for scrawling anti-megabank messages on sidewalks in water-soluble chalk last year now faces a 13-year jail sentence. A judge has barred his attorney from mentioning freedom of speech during trial.According to the San Diego Reader, which reported on Tuesday that a judge had opted to prevent Olson’s attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial,” Olson must now stand trial for on 13 counts of vandalism.

In addition to possibly spending years in jail, Olson will also be held liable for fines of up to $13,000 over the anti-big-bank slogans that were left using washable children’s chalk on a sidewalk outside of three San Diego, California branches of Bank of America, the massive conglomerate that received $45 billion in interest-free loans from the US government in 2008-2009 in a bid to keep it solvent after bad bets went south.

The Reader reports that Olson’s hearing had gone as poorly as his attorney might have expected, with Judge Howard Shore, who is presiding over the case, granting Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard’s motion to prohibit attorney Tom Tosdal from mentioning the United States’ fundamental First Amendment rights.

You read that correctly. By order of the judge,  the defendant’s attorney may not mention that pesky free-speech-first-amendment thingy during the trial. Seriously. Can you say, “mistrial?”

The backstory was thus: apparently, Darell Freeman, Bank of America’s Vice President for Global Corporate Security, confronted Olsen and a friend as they were protesting in front of a B of A branch.

A former police officer, Freeman accused Olson and Daniels of “running a business outside of the bank,” evidently in reference to the National Bank Transfer Day activities, which was a consumer activism initiative that sought to promote Americans to switch from commercial banks, like Bank of America, to not-for-profit credit unions.

At the time, Bank of America’s debit card fees were among one of the triggers that led Occupy Wall Street members to promote the transfer day.

“It was just an empty threat,” says Olson of Freeman’s accusations. “He was trying to scare me away. To be honest, it did at first.”

Former cop Freeman repeatedly pressured the San Diego police to attack Olson’s chalk-based activism with the same legal force used to prosecute violent gang members. And, this being the America we no longer recognize from our youth, he got want he wanted.

More experiments in the laboratory of democracy.

 

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Bankers Caught On Tape, Joking About Bailout, And How They’d Never Pay It Back

Earlier this week, a story moved that went to prove everything you thought about the behavior of bankers but were unable to produce a smoking gun.

The Irish Independent, a Dublin-based newspaper, has uncovered tapes of an internal phone conversation from September 2008 between two executives at Anglo Irish Bank during its bailout deal and they sound pretty scandalous.  The Irish Independent points out that the recordings show they misled the Central Bank.

The executives from the recording have been identified as John Bowe (head of the bank’s capital markets) and Peter Fitzgerald (director of retail banking).

However, Bowe “categorically denied” that he misled the Central Bank and Fitzgerald, who wasn’t involved in discussions with regulators, said he was unaware of any intention to mislead, the report said.

In this regard, we are reminded of Bill Clinton’s repeated denials about his serial infidelities and one notorious intern. But there’s more.

Bowe tells Fitzgerald that they met with the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (IFSRA) the previous day about getting €7 billion.  They laugh how they will never be able to pay it back. 

Bowe:  “So we went down … and we basically said. In Central, yeah. And I mean, to cut a long story short we sort of said. ‘Look, what we need is seven billion euros…and we’re going to give you and we’re going to give you, what we’re going to give you is our loan collateral so we’re not giving you ECB, we’re giving you the loan clause. 

“We gave him a term sheet and we put a pro not facility together and we said that’s what we need. And that kind of sobered up everybody pretty quickly, you know.” 

Fitzgerald: “Yeah.”

Fitzgerald: “And is that €7 billion a term?”

Bowe: “This is €7 billion bridging.” 

Fitzgerald: “Yeah.”

Bowe: “So … so it is bridged until we can pay you back … which is never.” (Both laugh)

And we know you’re laughing, too.  even though these fiduciaries are intent on committing a fraud, one would assume that they had at least done the math to compute the amount of their losses that the resulting fraud with sponge up, correct? Uhhh …

Fitzgerald asks Bowe how he came up with the 7 billion figure.  Bowe responds that like then-CEO David Drumm, he picked it out of his “arse.”

Fitzgerald: “Ah we are, yeah, yeah and, em, what, how did you arrive at the seven? 

Bowe: “Just, as Drummer would say, ‘picked it out of my arse’, you know. Em … I mean, look, what we did was we basically said: ‘What is the amount we can securitize over the next six months?’ And basically say to them: ‘Look our problem is time, it’s not our ability to create the liquidity, the enemy is time here.'” 

Fitzgerald: “Yeah.” 

Bowe: “So we can rebuild, in other words, we can rebuild the liquidity off our loan book, but what we can’t do, we can’t do it now and the balance sheet’s leaking now.” 

So we will essentially torture Bradley Manning and subject him to a political show trial, and hunt Edward Snowden to the ends of the earth. We will prosecute those who reports wrongdoing though official channels to demonstrate the futility of using those channels, and to send a message to other potential whistleblowers. We will foment wars all over the earth in order to enrich a handful of arms manufacturers. And if American boys need to die in pursuit of that particular pocket of profit, so be it. But this scum, and their ilk on this side of the water, walk free, and proud knowing they’re doing “God’s work.”

As noted above, the Independent also has a media-filled story about how these two deceived the Irish government and cost Ireland sovereignty.

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Humans ARE directly to blame for a rise in the number of endangered species

Researchers from Ohio State University discovered that as human numbers rise, the number of animals and species in the same region decrease with the study predicting that 11% of animals will be endangered by 2050. Increasing numbers of animals are moving from endangered to extinct lists, like the Western Black Rhino of Africa, pictured

It might seem to be CFS, or “common fucking sense,” as re: would’ve her, to find a direct link between increase in population size and the number of life forms on planet Earth threatened with extinction. Yet in every gathering of sub-literates, whether it be the corner bar or Congress, there are those will argue otherwise. No more.  Research findings just in from Ohio State University demonstrate that there is a direct link between human activity and the extinction and endangerment of certain animals.

Researchers from Ohio State University discovered that as human numbers rise, the number of animals and species in the same region decrease with the study predicting that 11% of animals will be endangered by 2050.

Previous studies have suspected that the number of threatened species could be linked to the size, density and growth of the human population yet research from Ohio State University is the first to have confirmed the theory.

. . .

They found that changes in human population density had ‘measurable consequences’ on changes in the number of threatened species by nation.

The average nation with a growing population can expect a 3.3 per cent increase in the number of threatened mammals and birds over the 10 years and a 10.8 per cent increase by 2050, based on human population growth alone.

Another animal edging up the endangered species list towards extinction is the Philippine Tarsier. The Tarsier feeds on tiny insects and is believed to be the world’s smallest primate

The implications of the study are quite clear:  human population density is at the very heart of extinction threats to both mammals and birds. The report does not directly suggest conservation efforts, but the future conservation efforts and certainly consider the impact of human population.

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Surveillance not for terrorists

surveillanceA Bloomberg article  thankfully reminded us of the real issue at the heart of the NSA surveillance/Edward Snowden drama.  As some of us have seen, to our horror, ordinary Americans seem to not mind the government’s digital monitoring of their communications as long as it seems to be genuinely targeted terrorists. That’s really not the case. The government’s monitoring of our communications and days of our digital privacy is really targeted at ordinary, law-abiding citizens.

The infrastructure set up by the National Security Agency, however, may only be good for gathering information on the stupidest, lowest-ranking of terrorists. The Prism surveillance program focuses on access to the servers of America’s largest Internet companies, which support such popular services as Skype, Gmail and iCloud. These are not the services that truly dangerous elements typically use.

In a January 2012 report titled “Jihadism on the Web: A Breeding Ground for Jihad in the Modern Age,” the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service drew a convincing picture of an Islamist Web underground centered around “core forums.” These websites are part of the Deep Web, or Undernet, the multitude of online resources not indexed by commonly used search engines.

The Netherlands’ security service, which couldn’t find recent data on the size of the Undernet, cited a 2003 study from the University of California at Berkeley as the “latest available scientific assessment.” The study found that just 0.2 percent of the Internet could be searched. The rest remained inscrutable and has probably grown since. In 2010, Google Inc. said it had indexed just 0.004 percent of the information on the Internet.

Websites aimed at attracting traffic do their best to get noticed, paying to tailor their content to the real or perceived requirements of search engines such as Google. Terrorists have no such ambitions. They prefer to lurk in the dark recesses of the Undernet.

 Undernet?  Really? I’m not sure most Americans, including this writer, could find the undernet if provided a map and a Chilton’s Guide.  Given the fact that no self-respecting terrorist would use the open Internet for communications of any sort, one is left to consider the implications of just why the government is hoovering up all manner of personal communications of law-abiding citizens. Perhaps it’s to create the “surveillance effect” of demoralizing an already cowed populace now used to serial fingering and probing by uniformed TSA goons?

…Monitoring phone calls is hardly the way to catch terrorists. They’re generally not dumb enough to use Verizon. Granted, Russia’s special services managed to kill Chechen separatist leader Dzhokhar Dudayev with a missile that homed in on his satellite-phone signal. That was in 1996. Modern-day terrorists are generally more aware of the available technology.

At best, the recent revelations concerning Prism and telephone surveillance might deter potential recruits to terrorist causes from using the most visible parts of the Internet. Beyond that, the government’s efforts are much more dangerous to civil liberties than they are to al-Qaeda and other organizations like it.

Surveillance societies exist to disrupt and prevent change to the status quo. Here’s a theory: having successfully prosecuted a 35 year class war to extract the  accumulated wealth of the American middle class, the elites now have a militarized police force and a state surveillance apparatus  in place to prevent social movements that will lead to change. Especially political movements, like Occupy. All the better for the 1% to keep their ill–accumulated gains off the table and  safely in their Cayman Islands accounts.

A related story:

None Dare Call it FASCISM: How the NSA has (already) privatized tyranny

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Add Michael Hastings

HuffPo moved an article last Monday about Michael Hastings’ last communications. Speculation continues about the circumstances of his death.

Hours before dying in a fiery car crash, award-winning journalist Michael Hastings sent an email to his colleagues, warning that federal authorities were interviewing his friends and that he needed to go “off the rada[r]” for a bit.

The email was sent around 1 p.m. on Monday, June 17. At 4:20 a.m. the following morning, Hastings died when his Mercedes, traveling at high speeds, smashed into a tree and caught on fire. He was 33.

Hastings sent the email to staff at BuzzFeed, where he was employed, but also blind-copied a friend, Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs, on the message. Biggs, who Hastings met in 2008 when he was embedded in his unit in Afghanistan, forwarded the email to KTLA, who posted it online on Saturday.

Here’s the email, with the recipients’ names redacted.

Subject: FBI Investigation, re: NSA

Hey (redacted names) — the Feds are interviewing my “close friends and associates.” Perhaps if the authorities arrive “BuzzFeed GQ,” er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.

Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the rada[r] for a bit.

All the best, and hope to see you all soon.

Michael

Rumors that the FBI was investigating Hastings began the day after his death, with a couple of mysterious WikiLeaks tweets.

In a rare move, the FBI issued a statement denying that Hastings was under investigation. The Los Angeles Police Department also said it had found no evidence of any foul play in his death.

Hastings, an accomplished war correspondent and sharp political reporter, was best known for writing a critical Rolling Stone profile of General Stanley McChrystal that led to his resignation.

It’s unclear what “big story” Hastings was working on prior to his death, but it might have to do with yet another military bigwig, this time retired general David Petraeus.

The LA Times reported that Hastings was researching a story about a privacy lawsuit brought by Jill Kelley, the Florida socialite who took center stage in the Petraeus cheating scandal, against the Department of Defense and the FBI. According to a person close to Kelley, the paper said, Hastings had plans to meet a representative of hers to discuss the case next week.

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Ecuador offers U.S. rights aid, waives trade benefits

 

For those of us following the Edward Snowden/NSA story with the avidity of a drama, the statements made this week by Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa certainly compelled our attention.  Correa rejected trade benefits and courted the risk of sanctions, plus tolerated threats from a number of American politicians  as a result of considering asylum for Edward Snowden.

(Reuters) – Ecuador’s leftist government thumbed its nose at Washington on Thursday by renouncing U.S. trade benefits and offering to pay for human rights training in America in response to pressure over asylum for former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

The angry response threatens a showdown between the two nations over Snowden, and may burnish President Rafael Correa’s credentials to be the continent’s principal challenger of U.S. power after the death of Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

“Ecuador will not accept pressures or threats from anyone, and it does not traffic in its values or allow them to be subjugated to mercantile interests,” government spokesman Fernando Alvarado said at a news conference.

In a cheeky jab at the U.S. spying program that Snowden unveiled through leaks to the media, the South American nation offered $23 million per year to finance human rights training.

The funding would be destined to help “avoid violations of privacy, torture and other actions that are denigrating to humanity,” Alvarado said. He said the amount was the equivalent of what Ecuador gained each year from the trade benefits.

Ironies abound.  Yet the fact that the president of a small, Latin American country can give voice to the many of us still inside the FSA who reject the Washington consensus  is a thing of beauty.  The wholly-owned corporate media simply gives no play to domestic critics of the new world order or any of its instrumentalities.

“They’ve managed to focus attention on Snowden and on the ‘wicked’ countries that ‘support’ him, making us forget the terrible things against the U.S. people and the whole world that he denounced. The world order isn’t only unjust, it’s immoral,” Correa continued, taking an aggressive new rhetorical tack on the case.

A sentiment now forgotten in most quarters within the FSA.

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Deregulation Makes Things Blow Up

Charlie Pierce of Esquire made note of the fact that, when there is no oversight and regulation, owners won’t spend any money on safety or their people in pursuit of maximum profit.

 

Meanwhile, Congress seems to be getting interested in what happened in Geismar. Today, the Senate Committee On The Environment And Public Works held a hearing into what happened in both Texas and Louisiana. The committee’s chair, Barbara Boxer of California, said that, “This should be a wakeup call for all of us, and we must take steps to ensure that such a disaster never happens again. Here’s the good news: under existing law, EPA can strengthen safety at facilities that handle dangerous chemicals.”

If only the EPA had, you know, a director right now.

Meanwhile, Kim Nibarger, an environmental specialist for the United Steelworkers minced no words about what’s really going on here. Decades of deregulation and removing the dead hand of government from American corporations have turned far too many American factories and storage facilities into mini-Bhopals in waiting.

This is Rick Perry, Governor Of Texas, including the city of West,on the EPA and environmental regulations:

“… tell the EPA that we don’t don’t need you monkeyin’ around and fiddlin’ around and gettin’ in our business on every kind of regulation that you can dream up. You’re doin’ nothin’ more than killin’ jobs. It is a cemetery for jobs at the EPA.”

This is “Bobby” Jindal, governor of Louisiana, including the city of Geismar, on government regulations:

“We believe in planting the seeds of growth in the fertile soil of your economy, where you live, where you work, invest, and dream, not in the barren concrete of Washington. If it’s worth doing, block grant it to the states.”

This is Mike Pence, governor of Indiana, including the city of Union Mills, on the same topic:

“Over several decades the proliferation of administrative rules and regulations at all levels of government has increased the complexity and expense of economic life. Reducing this regulatory burden will promote citizens’ freedom to engage in individual, family and business pursuits.”    

Yeah, that’ll work.

Self-reporting is a joke. Leaving it to the states is an open invitation to the wild kingdom, Right now, the occasional death of a worker or three is cheaper than installing sprinklers or something. When your state’s governor starts spouting off about creating a “business-friendly environment” in your state, this is what he’s talking about.

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 Schlafly: Latino voters “don’t understand” the Bill of Rights “at all”

The blogging gods are good this week…

Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly is still telling anyone who will listen that the Republican party should only pay attention to white voters (something that it is already pretty good at doing, according to recent data).

This is a popular refrain for Schlafy, even though, as Jordan Fabian at ABC News notes, this is precisely the strategy that lost Republicans the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, to say nothing of how offensive it is to suggest the GOP disregard entire segments of the voting population based on race and ethnicity.

Schlafly was a guest on a conservative California radio show when she fired off her latest proclamation about the future of the GOP, announcing that courting Latino voters is a waste of the grand ol’ party’s time because they “don’t have any Republican inclinations at all,” and are “running an illegitimacy rate that’s just about the same as the blacks are.”

As Hunter S. Thompson would undoubtedly observed, Res ipsa loquitor.

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Radiation Levels Skyrocket at Fukushima

The Accident Is NOT Contained

What better way to execute a “Great Culling” than to poison groundwater?  Washington’s Blog moved this story. Record high levels of radioactive tritium have been observed in the harbor at Fukushima.

Japan Times notes:

The density of radioactive tritium in samples of seawater from near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant doubled over 10 days to hit a record 1,100 becquerels per liter, possibly indicating contaminated groundwater is seeping into the Pacific, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

***

Tepco said late Monday it was still analyzing the water for strontium-90, which would pose a greater danger than tritium to human health if absorbed via the food chain. The level of cesium did not show any significant change between the two sample dates, according to the embattled utility.

On June 19, Tepco revealed that a groundwater sample taken from a nearby monitoring well was contaminated with both tritium and strontium-90.

***

During a news conference Monday in Tokyo, Masayuki Ono, a Tepco executive and spokesman, this time did not deny the possibility of leakage into the sea, while he said Tepco is still trying to determine the cause of the spike.

Kyoto reports:

A sample collected Friday contained around 1,100 becquerels of tritium per liter, the highest level detected in seawater since the nuclear crisis at the plant started in March 2011, the utility said Monday.

***

The latest announcement was made after Tepco detected high levels of radioactive tritium and strontium in groundwater from an observation well at the plant.

Indeed, the amount of radioactive strontium has skyrocketed over the last couple of months at Fukushima.

The New York Times writes:

Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the stricken nuclear power plant at Fukushima, said Wednesday that it had detected high levels of radioactive strontium in groundwater at the plant, raising concerns that its storage tanks are leaking contaminated water, possibly into the ocean.

***

The company has struggled to store growing amounts of contaminated runoff at the plant, but had previously denied that the site’s groundwater was highly toxic….

Xinhua reports:

Very high radioactivity levels were detected in groundwater from an observation well at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) Wednesday.

***

The observation well was set up on the Pacific side of the plant’s No. 2 reactor turbine building last December to find out the reasons why radioactivity levels in seawater near the plant remained high. The company said the sampled water could be from the contaminated water that seeped into the ground.

Just a reminder that weather patterns move West to East.

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Brain-eating amoebas thrive in US lakes as global warming heats waterways

 

These deadly invaders from the deep are showing up in surprising locations

For some people, a fatal infection without any obvious treatment strikes the sufferer down. After a swim on a hot summers day, the swimmer inadvertently inhales and me big organism which travels through the nasal passage into the brain where it multiplies devours cerebral fluid and gray matter and causes death.

And if you live in the North, it’s coming to a theater near you.

These “brain-eating amoebas” — known to doctors and scientists as Naegleria fowleri, or N. fowleri — aren’t believed to kill often. In the US, researchers estimate that between three and eight people die from N. fowleri disease, commonly referred to as PAM (primary amebic meningoencephalitis) each year. But that might not be the case for long. In recent years, N. fowleri has popped up in unexpected locations, which some experts suggest is a sign that warmer waters — caused by brutal summer heat waves and rising temperatures across the country — are catalyzing their spread.

 “The climate is changing, and let me tell you, so is this,” says Travis Heggie, an associate professor at Bowling Green State University who’s tracked the amoebas for several years. “If warm weather keeps up, I think we’ll see N. fowleri popping up farther and farther north.”

That speculation seems to be reinforced by recent cases of PAM, once a health woe confined to fresh water in southern states like Texas and Arizona. In Minnesota, public health officials were stunned to see two fatalities caused by N. fowleri — both young children — in 2010 and 2012. 

 

 

And this from an earlier article:

Here’s a ghastly thing that has been making headlines lately: Naegleria fowleri, a.k.a. brain-eating amoebas. So far this summer, this microscopic mind-muncher has claimed the lives of three people in three different states: Virginia, Florida and Louisiana. According to MSNBC:

“Naegleria fowleri moves into the body through the nose and destroys brain tissue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bug causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a nearly always fatal disease of the central nervous system, the CDC reported. … Naegleria fowleri is usually found warm, stagnant water in freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers. It can also be found in wells.”

The good news is that brain-eating amoeba infections are very rare, and there’s no sign of any sort of outbreak at this time. Nevertheless, the Naegleria fowleri is one of nature’s many ghoulish, nightmarish creepy-crawlies, ranking alongside flesh-eating bacteria, which destroys skin and muscle tissue by releasing toxins, and the human bot fly, and insect that implants its larvae into human skin. Parasite rex, indeed.

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FBI Document—“[DELETED]” Plots to Kill Occupy Leaders “If Deemed Necessary”

In a story that would strain credulity even in these credulity-straining times when the daily headlines outstrip The Onion for absurdity, comes this piece of journalism from Dave Lindorff.

 

 

 

 

 

“Would you be shocked to learn that the FBI apparently knew that some organization, perhaps even a law enforcement agency or private security outfit, had contingency plans to assassinate peaceful protestors in a major American city — and did nothing to intervene?

“Would you be surprised to learn that this intelligence comes not from a shadowy whistle-blower but from the FBI itself – specifically, from a document obtained from Houston FBI office last December, as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Washington, DC-based Partnership for Civil Justice Fund?

“To repeat: this comes from the FBI itself. The question, then, is: What did the FBI do about it?”

Many will recall that the Occupy movement swept the US beginning in mid-September 2011, taking root in a number of urban areas. It was rare for a city of any note not to have a couple of bedraggled activists in residence, many of whom had visited the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park to see how Occupy was done. In October of that year the movement came to Houston. Given the prevailing, uh, local political temperature, the local powers-that-be, including law enforcement, banking and oil execs reacted even more strongly than in some other places.

The push-back took the form of violent assaults by police on Occupy activists, federal and local surveillance of people seen as organizers, infiltration by police provocateurs—and, as crazy as it sounds, some kind of plot to assassinate the “leaders” of this non-violent and leaderless movement.

Here’s what the document obtained from the Houston FBI, said:

An identified [DELETED] as of October planned to engage in sniper attacks against protestors (sic) in Houston, Texas if deemed necessary. An identified [DELETED] had received intelligence that indicated the protesters in New York and Seattle planned similar protests in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas. [DELETED] planned to gather intelligence against the leaders of the protest groups and obtain photographs, then formulate a plan to kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles. (Note: protests continued throughout the weekend with approximately 6000 persons in NYC. ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests have spread to about half of all states in the US, over a dozen European and Asian cities, including protests in Cleveland (10/6-8/11) at Willard Park which was initially attended by hundreds of protesters.)

Occupiers Astounded—But Not Entirely

Paul Kennedy, the National Lawyers Guild attorney in Houston who represented a number of Occupy Houston activists arrested during the protests, had not heard of the sniper plot, but said, “I find it hard to believe that such information would have been known to the FBI and that we would not have been told about it.”  He then added darkly, “If it had been some right-wing group plotting such an action, something would have been done. But if it is something law enforcement was planning, then nothing would have been done. It might seem hard to believe that a law enforcement agency would do such a thing, but I wouldn’t put it past them.”

Seeking confirmation, the reporters and asked the FBI about this document—which, despite its stunning revelation and despite  press releases, was, per usual, generally ignored by mainstream and “alternative” press alike.

The FBI confirmed the authenticity of the document and that it originated in the Houston FBI office. (The plot is also referenced in a second document obtained in PCJF’s FOIA response, in this case from the FBI’s Gainesville, Fla., office, which cites the Houston FBI as the source.)  That second document actually suggests that the assassination plot, which never was activated, might still be operative should Occupy decisively re-emerge in the area. It states:

On 13 October 20111, writer sent via email an excerpt from the daily [DELETED] regarding FBI Houston’s [DELETED] to all IAs, SSRAs and SSA [DELETED] This [DELETED] identified the exploitation of the Occupy Movement by [LENGTHY DELETION] interested in developing a long-term plan to kill local Occupy leaders via sniper fire.

Remington Alessi, an Occupy Houston activist, was one of the seven defendants whose felony charge was dropped because of police entrapment. He speculates that the plot could have been the work of a police or a private security group.

Alessi, who hails from a law-enforcement family and who ran last year for sheriff of Houston’s Harris County on the Texas Green Party ticket, garnering 22,000 votes, agrees with attorney Kennedy that the plotters were not from some right-wing organization. “If it had been that, the FBI would have acted on it,” he agrees. “I believe the sniper attack was one strategy being discussed for dealing with the occupation.” He adds:

I assume I would have been one of the targets, because I led a few of the protest actions, and I hosted an Occupy show on KPFT.  I wish I could say I’m surprised that this was seriously discussed, but remember, this is the same federal government that murdered (Black Panther Party leader) Fred Hampton. We have a government that traditionally murders people who are threats. I guess being a target is sort of an honor.

This simply cannot go on.

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Quick hits

This is a number of odd bits collected throughout the week. Some of these stories received national play, and need no attention here. As for the others, after you get past 5000 words, you simply need to quit.

New hero in Texas
http://site.pfaw.org/site/MessageViewer?dlv_id=52542&em_id=38761.0

Texas Abortion Bill Filibustered By State Senator Wendy Davis Is Dead
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/texas-abortion-bill_n_3501005.html

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Who they are.

Yeah____________________________________________________________________________

Renewables projected to overtake natural gas as world’s second-largest power source

http://www.theverge.com/2013/6/28/4473694/iea-says-renewable-energy-overtakes-natural-gas-nuclear-by-2016
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Mixed week for SCROTUS

http://mariopiperni.com/conservative-media/scotus-rules-jesus-weeps.php

Zombie Snake’n a Box

Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams

Published on Epiphany Now on June 26, 2013

ninja fox

Discuss this article at the Zombie Rehab Table inside the Diner

One of the main questions that came up in the discussion about Zombies, over at the Doomstead Diner, is whether killing them is advisable or not. The main concern is that the title “Zombie” is a demonizing title that places blame for the American Hologram in the wrong place. Rather than blaming the rich, sociopathic, Corporatocracy Masters that have the good fortune of being on top of the pyramid, we are blaming the “Zombies” who are too worthless to live. Apparently the Libertarians have co-opted the word to describe retired government workers with pensions. Cause, you know, the retired government workers with pensions are the main reason why we can’t get the budget balanced? Never mind the hundreds of billions a year just keeping the military machine kickin’ ass and takin’ brown people’s gas, or the billions in government subsidized CEO bonuses, or the trillions of printed dollars given to the same sociopathic assholes running the too big to fail banks, it’s the government pensioners that are the Zombies suckin’ the balance out of the budget. Fuck politics…and that concludes my response to the libertarians and their co-opting of the word “Zombie.” I’ve gone to great lengths to outline, describe, and define what I consider Zombies to be, and I will not be doing so again. I want to talk about the possibility of killing zombies in a post-collapse scenario to protect and defend your post-petroleum tribe’s resources.
Naturally the discussion about killing zombies ended up in the realm of religion. “Man does not live by bread alone,” inevitably came up. True, man doesn’t live by bread alone, but he can’t live without it either. He will die without the bread, and the zombies want his bread, so what’s man to do? Especially a man with children and a wife to keep alive. Recently I’ve had cause to reflect on the action of killing due to participating in some killin’ myself. Basically, best I can tell, life requires death. This is true all the way to the level of virus (which aren’t technically considered living organisms). In order for the virus to replicate cells must die. Seems the only life forms that don’t directly require death are plants and autotrophs. The rest of us need shit to die in order for us to live. To illustrate my point, I’m going to use an anecdote from my recent life.
I have 3 Rhode Island Red hens, 11 Deleware Hens, and a Rhode Island Red rooster named Archimedes all living in a chicken shack that I’ve created via Scavenge Engineering named “Eggmahal.” It’s been dubbed Eggmahal cause that’s where my hens poop out the nutritious back yard chicken eggs that I feed to my family and sell. I sell the eggs for 3 dollars a dozen in an attempt to cover my costs for keeping said chickens. This allows me to have a steady supply of better quality chicken eggs then I can buy, as well as fertilizer and stored meat to feed my family (no better way to store meat than on the hoof…or in this case, on chicken feet). Keeping chickens requires you be willing to kill to keep them. If you aren’t willing to kill the occasional chicken, or chicken egg, predator, than you might as well not bother keeping them. I’m the only thing that’s going to kill any of my chickens or take any of their eggs.
So a couple of days ago I went into my coop to do the daily routine of feeding and watering the chickens as well as collecting the eggs. I walked over to the nesting boxes to collect the eggs and there was Mr. King snake with an egg half way in his mouth. He had found him a wonderful all you can eat king snake buffet equipped with a comfy new home to live in. He couldn’t ask for a better set up. All he had to do was lay in the nice cozy nest box with a bed of hay, and whenever he got hungry he’d just reach on over to one of the other boxes and snatch an egg. Hell, he didn’t even have to move more than a foot. He had quite literally found himself a snake paradise. Not on my watch Jack. My identifying him set off a chain reaction of immediate snake dispatching. I went straight into the Gypsy House, got my Earth Scalpel (a flat tipped short shovel) and a trashcan. I went back into the coop and jabbed the shovel into the snakes neck trapping him in the nest box. I then began, with my upper body, pushing as hard as I could. My shovel has not been sharpened so I simply broke his neck. This made him a bit more docile, and I was able to get him into the trashcan where I then took him out of the coop, dumped him out on the grass, and finished the job with my machete (which is one I found backpacking a few years back and never got around to sharpening…sooo it was a little messy).
Now, I don’t want to kill anything. I really don’t. I derive no pleasure from killing, but I also eat meat. Do you eat meat? Cause if you do then you kill every time you eat it. It’s not violent for you, you just go to the store and get your sterilized meat that comes from the grocery store refrigerator. Or you go to a restaurant where all you have to do is shovel said dead meat into your meat hole. Eating meat, in the reality outside of the Matrix, requires you to violently kill, gut, skin, quarter, and butcher whatever meat you want to cook. We have lost touch with this reality.
Unfortunately the very next day, I went into Eggmahal to take care of the chickens, and there was King Snake number two…he was an upgraded version of Mr King Snake #1. I noticed that the nest box just to the right of the one the other snake was in, had a new snake in it. He was twice as large as the first as well. I went and got the Earth Scalpel and attempted the same method I used the day before. However his neck was much larger in diameter and so all it did was piss him off. He tried to make his escape by going to the coop floor to rather hurriedly slither off. I jabbed with my shovel and separated his head from his body like Disney’s Hercules did to the Hydra of Lerna. It took him about 30 minutes to figure this out for himself. I apologized to him while he was laying there watching his headless body slither around oblivious to it’s new headless status. I thought about having the common courtesy to at least remove his head from the situation…so he at least didn’t have to watch…but failed to do so.
Now I didn’t want to kill either of those snakes. In fact, after slaying the first snake, I went into the Gypsy House and announced to all of the snakes in ear shot that they could eat all of the rodents they wanted to, but that if they touched my chickens, chicken eggs, children, or family, that they would end up like captain headless over there watching his headless body aimlessly coil around. It’s nothing personal I said, just…you can’t have my damn eggs. I’m not starving. I don’t have to have those chickens or those eggs to feed my family right now. I may, in the near future, require them to feed my family, but right now just in time truckin’ is truckin’ along just fine (well it’s not fine, actually it’s anything but fine…but it doesn’t know that…and neither do the zombies). So I didn’t have to kill either of those snakes (nor the two I killed last year) for my survival. I killed those snakes because their presence makes a mockery of my chicken keeping. The bottom line is that I’m not keeping chickens to feed the local fauna. I’m keeping chickens to feed my family nutritious food, and to provide them with some food security. You see, when JIT truckin’ stops truckin’ just in time…I’ll have a source of food to keep my family fed.
Only there is a problem with keeping those chickens to keep my family fed in that post-collpase world I see potentially around any corner anytime now. That problem is that I’m not the only one who wants to eat those eggs and chicken asses. In a post collapse world there will be zombies who will want to eat my chicken asses. I’m not doing the work of keeping those chickens to feed zombies. Yet if I were not willing to use force to keep zombies from eating my chicken asses, then they WILL eat my chicken asses, and then what was the point in having said chicken asses to begin with? I don’t want to kill anybody, or anything, but I want to ensure my family is fed more than I don’t want to kill. My killing the snakes isn’t exactly a product of that, since I admit I don’t need those chickens right now, but it’s still something I must do to make my chicken keeping efforts not pointless.
Now, killing snakes in times of relative peace just on account of my chicken egg count is something entirely different from killing a zombie (or zombies rather) in a post collapse world. I’m not comparing the value of the life of that snake to that of a hypothetical zombie. What I’m saying is that I didn’t want to kill either of those snakes. When I identified that there was a “snake in the box”… it ruined my day instantly because I knew that my day now required me to kill something violently (I mean…how else does one kill anything really?) and with extreme prejudice. The matter is further complicated by the type of snake. King snakes are a great snake to have around because they eat other snakes (hence the “king” in the title). They are thought to be immune to the venom of poisonous snakes. Also, which annoys me in this case, they are of no threat to humans. This is a good snake to have around if you’re going to have snakes around. I feel bad for killing both of them. But they can’t have my eggs. There is no way I know of to get them to understand that they can live if they just leave my eggs alone. So they must die. I’m not going to want to kill any zombies either, but I am going to want to feed my family
Man doesn’t live on bread alone. I believe that. I really do. There is more to life than this life. There is consciousness beyond my brains. I believe that as well. However I’m a father, and that’s in this life. I can’t make sure my children are fed if I’m dead, and I won’t watch my children starve in this life either. I’ll do whatever I need to do to make sure they are well fed. There are grave dangers in labeling the majority of people zombies. They become infected and less then human. It becomes alright ethically to kill something that is already dead. This is damaging to the human psyche. It’s really the same process that goes on in the mind of a soldier who’s convinced himself that these people are somehow less then people. Or as the Nazi’s labeled the Jews, “Lebensunwertes Leben” or “life not worthy of life.” When is it ever justifiable to kill people? I would answer that by saying it is justifiable to kill a person whom is trying to kill you, or yours for that matter. So it’s justifiable to kill in order to stay alive. We do that every time we eat meat. Granted we aren’t killing humans.
In just about every case of a society collapsing there has been cannibalism documented. We are at a point in the history of our species where we are talking about near term human extinction due to run away anthropomorphic global temperature rise. It seems WW111 is lookin’ to start up over in Syria, and we have nuclear power plants that are spoogin’ radioactivity into the acidifying ocean environment faster than you can say “death by cancer.” Our world is in a terrible way just now. Everything we take for granted as normal in relation to our quality of life is built on a network of non-renewable resources that are becoming scarcer by the second. Every day there are less species on our planet than there is today, and that as well can be placed at the feet of humanity. The fact that zombies are real is a sad and depressing fact. But it is a fact. Like those snakes attempting to take up residence at Eggmahal, and therefore forcing me to kill them. I can imagine zombies doing the same in the near future as a reality I will live to see. I can guarantee my sons will see it…if I don’t. Those zombies will force me to kill them if my son’s starvin’ belly is on the line. It will be their decision. I will do everything I can to not kill them. I will give warnings and wait till the last minute. But in the end, when it comes to my children being fed or me killing a zombie…I’m sorry to say the zombie will have to go. Just like those snakes.

The best we can do is attempt to curtail that eventuality by fostering community. Get the zombies involved and try to wake them up. But that’s a waste of time. They can’t be made to have the Epiphany Now. I’ve tried. The only zombies that wake up are those that decide they want to wake up. The hard cold bitch of a fact is that our world is FUBAR and getting worse by the day. Life requires death and nature doesn’t select organisms whom readily die. The fact of the matter is that we are headed into times that could easily feature such things as cannabalism…just like the last complex societies that collapsed and began eating one another. I’d rather be a zombie slayin’ professional than a person eater. Guess what zombies are good at? They’re good at turning you into a cannibal cause they ate all of your chicken asses and taters. So maybe I’m an ass hole for talking about such things. Maybe I’m delusional and our society is not doomed to the reality of zombies. What I know is that I’m a survivor. Before I’m eating other people I’m gonna be the meanest, toughest, most calloused, bad ass professional zombie dispatching agent you’ve ever met. Cause fuck eatin’ another human. That’s not my idea of a world I wanna be in…or that I want for my sons. Here’s to the hope that renewable energy will curtail World War Z. But so far…and this is the most important fact, it seems just now that Zombie Whispering is working just fine. Zombies aren’t really that dangerous until the shit hits the fan.

Here’s a video I made after killing the second snake.  Warning…the video features a snake that has been decapitated…although you can’t see any blood and it looks like it hasn’t been aside from the shovel that’s separating the head from the body.

That Was The Week That Was in Doom June 23, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 23, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

This edition caps a week full of nonsense, proving nothing so much as that rust never sleeps. We were shocked… shocked to learn that Bank of America issued performance bonus for employees managing to force homeowners into foreclosure.  Negotiators firmly set upon enacting a treason against the American people continued busily negotiating the Trans-Pacfic Partnership under circumstances so secret they may well as be hermetically sealed,  lest the proles get wind of the scale of the planned sellout. In other surprises, Congress’ poll rating is the lowest EVAH, Klansmen attempted to build a radiation weapon to use on Muslims, Louie Gohmert sees king crab legs in the shopping carts of SNAP card recipients, reporter Michael Hastings perished in a vehicle fire in a vehicle that, being among the safest on the planet, should never have caught fire, and an entrepreneur is planning a megadoomstead in underground limestone caves, in a facility formerly used for government storage. I know there is meaning in these entrails, so grab a stick and let’s start rooting around for signs, shall we?

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Bank of America Lied to Homeowners and Rewarded Foreclosures, Former Employees Say

As an Occupier, special opprobrium was reserved for the Bank of America. Located close enough to the Occupy Norfolk encampment to cast a shadow in late afternoon, B of A seemed to embody the very incarnation of everything wrong with banking.

The popular “Move Your Money” campaign shifted around a few millions, and quoted bank execs shrugged it off, but one sensed they were at least a bit concerned.

Then we find out this, courtesy of ProPublica:

Bank of America employees regularly lied to homeowners seeking loan modifications, denied their applications for made-up reasons, and were rewarded for sending homeowners to foreclosure, according to sworn statements by former bank employees.

The employee statements were filed late last week in federal court in Boston as part of a multi-state class action suit brought on behalf of homeowners who sought to avoid foreclosure through the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) but say they had their cases botched by Bank of America.

In a statement, a Bank of America spokesman said that each of the former employees’ statements is “rife with factual inaccuracies” and that the bank will respond more fully in court next month. He said that Bank of America had modified more loans than any other bank and continues to “demonstrate our commitment to assisting customers who are at risk of foreclosure.”

Six of the former employees worked for the bank, while one worked for a contractor. They range from former managers to front-line employees, and all dealt with homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure through the government’s program.

And Paul Kiel’s reporting even gets better. The Squid itself is involved, through a subsidiary:

Sometimes, homeowners were simply denied en masse in a procedure called a “blitz,” said William Wilson, Jr., who worked as an underwriter and manager from 2010 until 2012. As part of the modification applications, homeowners were required to send in documents with their financial information. About twice a month, Wilson said, the bank ordered that all files with documentation 60 or more days old simply be denied. “During a blitz, a single team would decline between 600 and 1,500 modification files at a time,” he said in the sworn declaration. To justify the denials, employees produced fictitious reasons, for instance saying the homeowner had not sent in the required documents, when in actuality, they had.

Such mass denials may have occurred at other mortgage servicers. Chris Wyatt, a former employee of Goldman Sachs subsidiary Litton Loan Servicing, told ProPublica in 2012 that the company periodically conducted “denial sweeps” to reduce the backlog of homeowners. A spokesman for Goldman Sachs said at the time that the company disagreed with Wyatt’s account but offered no specifics.

Five of the former Bank of America employees stated that they were encouraged to mislead customers. “We were told to lie to customers and claim that Bank of America had not received documents it had requested,” said Simone Gordon, who worked at the bank from 2007 until early 2012 as a senior collector. “We were told that admitting that the Bank received documents ‘would open a can of worms,’” she said, since the bank was required to underwrite applications within 30 days of receiving documents and didn’t have adequate staff.

Your refinance dollars at work. The HAMP program was an apparent clusterfk for banks from inception, as they never had any intention of hiring sufficient staff in order to process the paperwork needed to fully implement it. ProPublica began detailing its failures  from its inception in 2009. HAMP turned out to be a perfect storm created by banks that refused to adequately fund their mortgage servicing operations and lax government oversight.

Bank of America was far slower to modify loans than other servicers, as other analyses ProPublica has cited have shown. A study last year found that about 800,000 homeowners would have qualified for HAMP had Bank of America, Wells and the other largest servicers  done an adequate job of handling applications and paperwork. And we’ll not event mention the outright fraud of robosigning. Yet.

Add B of A

This in, from firedoglake.

 

The latest story is courtesy of one of those much maligned whistle-blowers who saw something and said something. In this case the whistle-blower disclosed that the Too Big To Fail/Jail bank had a bonus system setup encouraging foreclosure on desperate homeowners.

Bank of America (BAC) rewarded staff with cash bonuses and gift cards for meeting quotas tied to sending distressed homeowners into foreclosure, former employees said in court documents.

Mortgage workers falsified records and were told to delay U.S. loan-assistance applications by requesting paperwork that the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank had already received, according to statements from ex-employees filed last week in federal court in Boston.

The affidavit details a litany of abuse including widespread fraud.

I witnessed employees and managers change and falsify information in the systems of record, and remove documents from homeowners’ files to make the account appear ineligible for a loan modification,” said Terrelonge, a loan servicing representative. This allowed managers to meet quotas for closed cases, she said.

Bank of America instructed employees to delay applications and mislead customers “as part of a deliberate practice of stringing homeowners along,” lawyers said in a June 7 filing.

Salon published a very fine article by David Dayen that included this morsel:

And they would have very specific targets: the ex-employees listed specific executives by name who authorized and directed the fraudulent process. “The delay and rejection programs were methodically carried out under the overall direction of Patrick Kerry, a Vice President who oversaw the entire eastern region’s loan modification process,” wrote William Wilson. Other executives mentioned by name include John Berens, Patricia Feltch and Rebecca Mairone (now at JPMorgan Chase, and already named in a separate financial fraud case). These are senior executives who, if this alleged conduct is true, should face criminal liability.

Bankers facing criminal liability. Here in the FSA. That’s pretty funny.

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More on the “Trans-Pacific Partnership”

Last week we kicked the tires of the Trans-Pacific partnership, a piece of secret legislation being secretly negotiated by the White House, with the help of more than 600 corporate advisers and representative from Pacific Rim nations. Described as a “trade agreement,” the US already has trade agreements covering 90 percent of the GDP of the countries involved in the talks. Instead, the TPP is a major power grab by large corporations, conducted under cover in much the same way that NAFTA was foisted upon the American middle class. The deal will reportedly give multinational corporations a favorable economic and legal status vis a vis sovereign nations, and the ability to challenge legislation in each nation unfavorable to the corporation’s interests.

Why so secretive?

As Margaret Flowers reports in an article, if people knew what was in the bill, the groundswell of opposition would be such as to make it impossible to sign.

The text of the TPP includes 29 chapters, only five of which are about trade. The remaining chapters are focused on changes that multinational corporations have not been able to pass in Congress such as restrictions on internet privacy, increased patent protections, greater access to litigation and further financial deregulation.

So far, all that is known about the contents of the TPP is from documents that have been leaked and reports from NGOs and industry meetings. Unlike other trade deals, the White House refuses to make the text available to the public. In fact, the negotiators refuse to publish the text until four years after it is signed into law. Why are they being so secretive? Former US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said he opposed making the text public because doing so would raise such opposition that it could make the deal impossible to sign.

From the information available, one thing is clear about the impacts of the TPP on health care: the intention of the TPP is to enhance and protect the profits of medical and pharmaceutical corporations without considering the harmful effects their policies will have on human health.

recession-2

No reader will be surprised to learn that the net impact of this pernicious bit of treason is to maximize corporate profits. The TPP agreement takes particular loving care of Big Pharma, and attempts to limit the capacities of state owned public health enterprises to care for its own citizenry.

Text from a section of the TPP called “Annex on Transparency and Procedural Fairness for Healthcare Technologies” was leaked in June 2011. It reveals this conflict between medical industries that have strictly commercial interests and public health systems that are concerned about the health of the population. Medical industries are pushing on all fronts to keep their prices high while public health systems must negotiate to keep prices affordable and maximise what they can cover within their budgets.

To the medical industries, such price negotiation is one of the “unfair advantages” of public health systems. When a public health system negotiates a lower price, it is said to be exerting its market power. On the flip side, when a government extends patent protections to medical industries to keep prices high, this is not considered to be an unfair advantage granted by the government.

Medical industries are pushing for other concessions within the TPP to “level the playing field”, also known as forcing public entities to operate as market-based entities, such as factoring the cost of not just research, development and production of drugs and medical devices, but also the cost of marketing them into what is considered to be a fair market price. And they only view prices negotiated without any government influence as fair.

As always, Mammon remains hungry.

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Americans’ Confidence in Congress Falls to Lowest on Record

Congress ranks last on list of 16 institutions; military earns top spot again

To the surprise of almost nobody, the results are in: virtually no one trusts the scripted mainstream media and even fewer trust Congress. We’ve known it for years, but a new Gallup poll shows that a whopping 77% of Americans distrust mainstream media television and nobody likes Congress who is willing to give their name to an interviewer. . .

Only a bit more ‘trustworthy’ than Congress, which scored in at a record low of 90% saying they do not trust the government body, the Gallup poll details that only 23% of viewers actually trust the mainstream media television news. A reality that has been clear as day in light of blatant mainstream media blackouts on key events like the outrageous DHS Fourth Amendment free zones that stretch up to 100 miles out from every single border of the US, to the blackout over eyewitness reports at the Boston Marathon.

Gallup sez:

Americans’ confidence in Congress is not only at its lowest point on record, but also is the worst Gallup has ever found for any institution it has measured since 1973. This low level of confidence is in line with Americans’ low job approval of Congress, which has also been stuck below 30% for years.

 

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Gohmert: Cutting food stamps not evil because poor people buy king crab legs

 

Going out on a limb here, but just perhaps– perhaps– the low approval rating of Congress stems in large measure from antics like these. Raw Story moved this item in the wake of the defeated Farm Bill this week, which illustrated a new level of political incompetence in Washington unseen in at least one observer’s lifetime.

Congressional comedian Louis Gohmert

complained that Democrats had portrayed Republicans as evil because they supported a measure to cut nearly 2 million low-income people off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which would mainly impact working families with children.

On the other hand, Gohmert said, poor people were using food stamps to buy food that other Americans could not afford. He claimed his “broken-hearted” constituents had repeatedly told him they had seen people use food stamps to buy king crab legs.

“Because he does pay income tax, he doesn’t get more back than he pays in, he is actually helping pay for king crab legs when he can’t pay for them for himself,” Gohmert explained.

“How can you begrudge somebody who feels that way,” he added. “How can you begrudge anyone who steps up on behalf of constituents who feel that way. We don’t want anyone to go hungry, and from the amount of obesity in this country by people who we’re told do not have enough to eat, it does seem like we could have a debate about this issue without allegations about wanting to slap down or starve children.”

The average monthly SNAP benefit for one person is $133.44.

Reports have circulated that the king crab leg purchaser was wearing purple wings and riding an ebony unicorn when sighted making the crab leg purchase.

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Klansman and accomplice charged for building radiation gun

The men allegedly intended for their “Hiroshima on a light switch” to be used on the Muslim community

We are all familiar with elements of the ignorant , violent nativist right in this country, which is much like the ignorant violent and nativist right in every country. But these folks have set a new by attempting to apply technology with a lethal, deadly twist.

 

Two men, one of them a member of the Ku Klux Klan, were arraigned today in Albany, N.Y., on federal charges of plotting to build a mobile radiation gun intended to kill Muslims – or “medical waste,” as the plotters called their intended targets.

Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, a Klan member from Galway, N.Y., and Eric J. Feight, 54, of Hudson, are both charged with conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism in the use of a weapon of mass destruction.

The case has been under investigation by a Joint Terrorism Task Force since at least April 2012, when Crawford allegedly reached out to Jewish organizations, asking if Israel would be interested in such a weapon to kill its enemies.

“The essence of Crawford’s scheme is the creation of a mobile, remotely operated, radiation emitting device capable of killing human targets silently and from a distance with lethal doses of radiation,” says a 67-page criminal complaint filed by the FBI.

It might sound far-fetched, but experts told investigators that the design would work, producing a “a lethal, and functioning, remotely controlled radiation-emitting device,” the complaint says

A “central feature of the weaponized radiation device is that the target(s) and those around them would not immediately be aware they had absorbed lethal doses of radiation and the harmful effects of that radiation would not become apparent until days after the exposure,” the complaint says.

At one point, Crawford described his planned device as “Hiroshima on a light switch,” the complaint says.

The case against this pair appears built around extensive recordings of their conversations and e-mails. Within six weeks of Crawford’s attempts to solicit financing from two Jewish organizations, the FBI was monitoring and recording much of his activity and had recruited an snitch In.

Last August, Crawford traveled by car from his home in Albany to North Carolina to meet and solicit funding from an unidentified  “ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan,” who cooperated when contacted by FBI agents. In early October, he traveled to Greensboro, N.C., to meet with a cooperating witness and two undercover FBI agents who posed as “Southern businessmen of means who were associated with the KKK.”

Reminds me of the descriptions we often hear about serial killers. “He was a nice boy. Quiet. Shy. He didn’t have much to say.”  Keep this in mind when you’re tricorn hat-wearing neighbor seems to be spending the too many late nights in his garage, tinkering on his neighborhood death ray.

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Michael Hastings, RIP.

As you know, reporter Michael Hastings died in a fiery car crash earlier this week. There’s a great deal loves that chelation about the causes of the crash, and especially the resultant fireball that supposedly consumed is vehicle. Reader Supported News moved an article earlier in the week, and I can do no better than to run it in toto:

The death of reporter Michael Hastings, best remembered for taking on General Stanley McChrystal and other powerful people, has been met with shock and grief in the journalistic community, especially from those fortunate enough to work alongside him. But one layer below the fond remembrances are a host of vague questions and inferences about the circumstances surrounding the 33-year-old BuzzFeed reporter’s fiery solo car crash early Tuesday in Los Angeles. Bringing those suspicions to the forefront last night was WikiLeaks, never reticent to insert itself into a story, which teased, “Michael Hastings death has a very serious non-public complication. We will have more details later.” And after three hours tweeted: “Michael Hastings contacted WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him.”

“Yeah,” BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith confirmed to Daily Intelligencer. “Before his death, Michael told a number of his friends and colleagues that he was concerned that he was under investigation.”

But other, less reputable sources have taken the speculation much further. “Vince Foster-like murder plot emerging in Los Angeles? Did the Obama administration knock off a star reporter?” asked one blog early on Wednesday, adding to existing conspiratorialTwitterchatter. Another wrote, “Admit it, Michael Hastings’ Death is Weird and Scary.” Hours before revelations about a potential FBI investigation, InfoWars, the Alex Jones website that serves as a catch-all conspiracy-theory clearing house, mentioned Hastings’s death with an editor’s note: “Journalists who mess with government and military power often die under mysterious circumstances.” None had more than conjecture.

The circumstances are these: “Police said a vehicle was southbound on Highland about 4:20 a.m. when it lost control south of Melrose and smashed into a tree,” the L.A. Times reported. Videopurports to show Hastings’s Mercedes-Benz running a red light at a high speed minutes before the crash. “It sounded like a bomb went off in the middle of the night,” a witness told the local news. “I couldn’t have written a scene like this for a movie, where the engine flies from the car.” Photos and video from the aftermath show extreme wreckage, and as of yesterday, the coroner had not officially identified the body because it was too badly burned.

But an automotive writer also fed the doubters:

I’m here to state that I’ve seen dozens of cars hit walls and stuff at high speeds and the number of them that I have observed to eject their powertrains and immediately catch massive fire is, um, ah, zero. Modern cars are very good at not catching fire in accidents. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which is an evolutionary design from a company known for sweating the safety details over and above the Euro NCAP requirements, should be leading the pack in the not-catching-on-fire category. Nor is the C-Class known for sudden veering out of control into trees and whatnot.The crash is under investigation and there will be an official accident report (a toxicology report could take weeks). Whatever its findings, they can likely coexist with Hastings’s mind-set at the time and a potential government investigation without representing something more sinister.

“He was incredibly tense and very worried and was concerned that the government was looking in on his material,” said Hastings’s friend and Current TV host Cenk Uygur. “I don’t know what his state of mind was at 4:30 in the morning, but I do know what his state of mind was in general, and it was a nervous wreck.” But Mother Jones editor Clara Jeffery put it plainly: “Ugh, the people posting Vince Foster style comments re Hastings death do a disservice to his no BS truth telling.” Let’s wait for the facts.

Update: The L.A. Times reports that Hastings, prior to his death, “was researching a story about a privacy lawsuit brought by the Florida socialite Jill Kelley against the Department of Defense and the FBI.” The paper also notes, “Since Hastings’s death early Tuesday, wild conspiracy theories have bloomed on the Internet implying that he was murdered by powerful forces wanting to silence him.”

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Limestone Doomstead

 We’ve entertained a lot of discussion about doomsteads on the Doomsday Diner, and discussed many of the preparations and planning that would be necessary to create such a place. It appears that one man is planning on an extinction level event, and is acquired a former government facility in which to plan a doomstead with a few of his friends.

After most of the world’s population is wiped off the map by a wayward meteorite or hail of nuclear missiles, the survival of the human race might just depend on a few thousand people huddled in recreational vehicles deep in the bowels of an eastern Kansas mine. 

That’s the vision of a California man who is creating what he calls the world’s largest private underground survivor shelter, using a complex of limestone caves dug more than 100 years ago beneath gently rolling hills overlooking the Missouri River.

‘I do believe I am on a mission and doing a spiritual thing,’ said Robert Vicino, who has purchased a large portion of the former U.S. Army storage facility on the southeast edge of Atchison, about 50 miles northwest of Kansas City. ‘We will certainly be part of the genesis.’



Before it comes time to ride out Armageddon or a deadly global pandemic, though, Vicino says the Vivos Survival Shelter and Resort will be a fun place for members to take vacations and learn assorted survival skills to prepare them for whatever world-changing catastrophe awaits.

Jacque Pregont, president of the Atchison Chamber of Commerce, said some people think the shelter plan sounds creepy or that Vicino has ‘lost his mind,’ while others are excited because they will finally get a chance to tour the property.

Atchison is known as the birthplace of Amelia Earhart and one of the most haunted towns in Kansas, Pregont said, so the survival shelter is likely to add to the town’s tourism draw.

Here is a scale model of the facility:
Apparently according to the current pricing structure, a person who plans to park a 30-foot vehicle in the shelter with four people inside will pay $30,000 for the space and $6,000 for food.  Actual sales won’t begin until a ‘critical mass’ of reservations are received and processed, Vicino said, which hasn’t happened yet at the Kansas shelter. Vivos also owns a shelter in Indiana with room for 80 people to live comfortably for up to a year.There, members pay $50,000 per adult and $35,000 per child, so a family with two adults and two children would have to come up with $170,000 to be part of the “new beginnings” generation. So it appears that the 1% will at least be safe in their year-round, 70°, temperature regulated chambers.
In closing, I am moved to wonder why the government sold this facility. Where have they moved whatever was stored here? Why did they sell it, and so cheaply?
Just wondering.
I’m sure the answer lies in the entrails of the next sheep.

“Coming To A Theatre Near You…”

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 19, 2013

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

In researching TWTWID, it is doom, doom, doom all the time. So for a break, let’s talk about movies about Doom.

It would be difficult to overstate just how oblivious I am to some aspects the world in which I live. While acutely aware of political developments on the local state and national scene, and while passionately devoted to a handful of vital causes,I am in fact one of the more popular-culture-ignorant people you could ever meet. There is an entire skein of knowledge about individuals and phenomena of which I am blissfully unaware. (Of course, any free time I have is devoted to reading the Diner Forum, a few other blogs, and eternal maintenance on my mouldering urban slum.)

With that admission in mind, consider this: on Fathers’ Day, my daughter took Contrary and I to the movies, which was a first, since I have been taking her since Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The movie we saw was just fine, but what really struck me were the coming attractions.

I found, in the trailers we saw in the cool darkness,  a remarkable reflection of the zeitgeist, and distinct echoes of topics and issues we have discussed in the recesses of the Forum. To that list I’ve added from a brief web search, so that you will have an idea when Doom is Coming To A Theatre Near You.

Now this is not a stretch, because we talk about EVERYTHING on the forum at one time or another. Yet I found the timing of the upcoming release of these films quite remarkable. Take a brief tour with me:

 

World War Z

Due for release  June 21
WWZ
The story revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop a pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself. The pandemic involves zombies. Given the rollicking “Zombie Rehab” thread inside the Diner Forum, this film is being released right on time.

Since Brad Pitt is starring, it is reasonable to expect boffo box office, as the Variety hacks might say.

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Assault on Wall St.

Was released on May 10, but I never heard of it, and its plot is such that it deserves a mention here. Especially given RE’s predilection for “Orkin Man” solutions.

Assault on Wall Street

 

A security guard for an armored truck, Jim (Dominic Purcell) is a blue-collar New Yorker who works hard to earn a living. His wages support himself and his wife Rosie (Erin Karpluk), who is on the upswing recovering from a near-fatal illness. Yet things start to fall apart after Rosie’s health insurance stops covering her treatment and Jim’s life savings are lost via a disastrous investment his stockbroker had advised him to make. As a row of professional and personal dominoes falls, Jim is confronted by the realization that, after being abused and exploited by financial institutions for far too long, he has only one choice: to strike back.

 

Simply based on the trailer and description, this film promises to rettrace some of the ground broken in Falling Down, a 1993 crime drama film starring Michael Douglas in the lead role of  a divorcé and unemployed former defense engineer who tears up LA in a violent rampage. This time, it’s the bankers’ turn. RE is already ordering the Blu-Ray version…

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The Purge

The Purge

 

This film has been released in some markets as of June 7; and is actually playing here. Starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headley, it touches upon themes of lawlessness, tight governocorporate supersision, and how much liberty people will trade for security. Newshawk Joe P. brought this film to our attention recently on his remarkable Newz page.

 

 

A thriller that follows one family over the course of a single night, four people will be tested to see how far they will go to protect themselves when the vicious outside world breaks into their home.

In an America wracked by crime and overcrowded prisons, the government has sanctioned an annual 12-hour period in which any and all criminal activity—including murder—becomes legal. The police can’t be called. Hospitals suspend help. It’s one night when the citizenry regulates itself without thought of punishment. On this night plagued by violence and an epidemic of crime, one family wrestles with the decision of who they will become when a stranger comes knocking.

When an intruder breaks into James Sandin’s (Ethan Hawke) gated community during the yearly lockdown, he begins a sequence of events that threatens to tear a family apart. Now, it is up to James, his wife, Mary (Lena Headley), and their kids to make it through the night without turning into the monsters from whom they hide.

Sounds like family fun, yes?

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Elysium

Elysium

Scheduled for release on August 9, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.

In the year 2159 two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), a hard line government official will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max (Matt Damon) is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that if successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.

 

Elysium 2

From the trailer, this film promises to revisit themes familiar to Diners,especially H.G. Wells’ story, The Time Machine, including the tension between the Elois, who in this incarnation are aloft in another realm, and the Morlocks left behind in the rubble of a ruined planet.

Or it could just be Jason Bourne in space.

Wells’ story has spawned  two feature films of the same name,  and, according to Wikipedia,

…two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction in many media. This story is generally credited with the popularisation of the concept of time travel using a vehicle that allows an operator to travel purposefully and selectively. The term “time machine”, coined by Wells, is now universally used to refer to such a vehicle. This work is an early example of the Dying Earth subgenre.

I am planning to remain oblivious. But I surely intend to catch a couple of these films, in the dark, cool comfort of a local theatre, here at the end of the Age of Oil.

The Anti-Empire Report

From the keyboard of William Blum

Published  in The Anti-Empire Report, June 4th, 2013

 

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

The Anti-Empire Report #117

What our presidents tell our young people

In this season of college graduations, let us pause to remember the stirring words of America’s beloved scholar, George W. Bush, speaking in Florida in 2007 at the commencement exercises of Miami Dade College: “In Havana and other Cuban cities, there are people just like you who are attending school, and dreaming of a better life. Unfortunately those dreams are stifled by a cruel dictatorship that denies all freedom in the name of a dark and discredited ideology.” 1

How I wish I had been in the audience. I would have stood up and shouted: “In Cuba all education is completely free. But most of the young people sitting here today will be chained to a large, crippling debt for much of the rest of their life!”

As the security guards came for me I’d yell: “And no one in Cuba is forced to join the military to qualify for college financial aid, like Bradley Manning was forced!”

As they grabbed me I’d manage to add: “And Congress has even passed a law prohibiting students from declaring bankruptcy to get rid of their debt!”

And as I was being dragged away, with an arm around my neck, I’d squeeze out my last words: “Do you know that $36 billion in student debt belongs to Americans who are 60 or older? … (choke, gasp) … and that students have committed suicide because of their debt?”

I don’t know if Professor Bush would have found any words within his intellect to respond with, but the last words I’d hear from the students, as the handcuffs were being tightened, would be: “If you don’t like it here, why dontya move to Cuba?”

Bad enough they have to pay highway-robbery tuition, but they wind up brainwashed anyhow.

Let us now turn to the current president. Here he is at the May 19 graduation ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Martin Luther King’s alma mater:

I know that when I am on my deathbed someday, I will not be thinking about any particular legislation I passed; I will not be thinking about a policy I promoted; I will not be thinking about the speech I gave, I will not be thinking the Nobel Prize I received. I will be thinking about that walk I took with my daughters. I’ll be thinking about a lazy afternoon with my wife. I’ll be thinking about sitting around the dinner table and seeing them happy and healthy and knowing that they were loved. And I’ll be thinking about whether I did right by all of them.

And I, like Woody Allen’s Zelig, would have shown up at this graduation as well, and I would have shouted out: “What about the family sitting happy and healthy around the dinner table in Pakistan or Afghanistan, and a missile – your missile – comes screaming through the roof, reducing the precious family to bones and blood and dust. What about the nice happy and healthy families in Yemen and Iraq and Somalia and Libya whom you’ve droned and missiled to death? Why haven’t you returned the Nobel Prize? In case you’ve forgotten, it was a PEACE prize!”

Oh, that taser does hurt! Please contribute to my bail fund.

Pipelineistan

I have written on more than one occasion about the value of preaching and repeating to the choir on a regular basis. One of my readers agreed with this, saying: “How else has Christianity survived 2,000 years except by weekly reinforcement?”

Well, dear choir, beloved parishioners, for this week’s sermon we once again turn to Afghanistan. As US officials often make statements giving the impression that the American military presence in that sad land is definitely winding down – soon to be all gone except for the standard few thousand American servicemen which almost every country in the world needs stationed on their territory – one regularly sees articles in the mainstream media and government releases trying to explain what it was all about. For what good reason did thousands of young Americans breathe their last breath in that backward country and why were tens of thousands of Afghans dispatched by the United States to go meet Allah (amidst widespread American torture and other violations of human rights)?

The Washington Post recently cited a Defense Department report that states: The United States “has wound up with a reasonable ‘Plan B’ for achieving its core objective of preventing Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for al-Qaeda and its affiliates.”

“Preventing a safe haven for terrorists” – that was the original reason given back in 2001 for the invasion of Afghanistan, a consistency in sharp contrast to the ever-changing explanations for Iraq. However, it appears that the best and the brightest in our government and media do not remember, if they ever knew, that Afghanistan was not really about 9-11 or fighting terrorists (except the many the US has created by its invasion and occupation), but was about pipelines.

President Obama declared in August 2009: “But we must never forget this is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans.” 2

Never mind that out of the tens of thousands of people the United States and its NATO front have killed in Afghanistan not one has been identified as having had anything to do with the events of September 11, 2001.

Never mind – even accepting the official version of 9/11 – that the “plotting to attack America” in 2001 was devised in Germany and Spain and the United States more than in Afghanistan. Why didn’t the United States bomb those countries?

Indeed, what actually was needed to plot to buy airline tickets and take flying lessons in the United States? A room with a table and some chairs? What does “an even larger safe haven” mean? A larger room with more chairs? Perhaps a blackboard? Terrorists intent upon attacking the United States can meet almost anywhere. At the present time there are anti-American terrorist types meeting in Libya, Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, London, Paris, and many other places. And the Taliban of Afghanistan would not be particularly anti-American if the United States had not invaded and occupied their country. The Taliban are a diverse grouping of Afghan insurgents whom the US military has come to label with a single name; they are not primarily international jihadists like al-Qaeda and in fact have had an up-and-down relationship with the latter.

The only “necessity” that drew the United States to Afghanistan was the desire to establish a military presence in this land that is next door to the Caspian Sea region of Central Asia – reportedly containing the second largest proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world – and build oil and gas pipelines from that region running through Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is well situated for such pipelines to serve much of South Asia and even parts of Europe, pipelines that – crucially – can bypass Washington’s bêtes noire, Iran and Russia. If only the Taliban would not attack the lines. Here’s Richard Boucher, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, in 2007: “One of our goals is to stabilize Afghanistan, so it can become a conduit and a hub between South and Central Asia so that energy can flow to the south.” 3

Since the 1980s all kinds of pipelines have been planned for the area, only to be delayed or canceled by one military, financial or political problem or another. For example, the so-called TAPI pipeline (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) had strong support from Washington, which was eager to block a competing pipeline that would bring gas to Pakistan and India from Iran. TAPI goes back to the late 1990s, when the Taliban government held talks with the California-based oil company Unocal Corporation. These talks were conducted with the full knowledge of the Clinton administration, and were undeterred by the extreme repression of Taliban society. Taliban officials even made trips to the United States for discussions. 4

Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on February 12, 1998, Unocal representative John Maresca discussed the importance of the pipeline project and the increasing difficulties in dealing with the Taliban:

The region’s total oil reserves may well reach more than 60 billion barrels of oil. Some estimates are as high as 200 billion barrels … From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of the pipeline we have proposed across Afghanistan could not begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, leaders, and our company.

When those talks with the Taliban stalled in 2001, the Bush administration reportedly threatened the Taliban with military reprisals if the Afghan government did not go along with American demands. On August 2 in Islamabad, US State Department negotiator Christine Rocca reiterated to the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef: “Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold [oil], or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.” 5 The talks finally broke down for good a month before 9-11.

The United States has been serious indeed about the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf oil and gas areas. Through one war or another beginning with the Gulf War of 1990-1, the US has managed to establish military bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

The war against the Taliban can’t be “won” short of killing everyone in Afghanistan. The United States may well try again to negotiate some form of pipeline security with the Taliban, then get out, and declare “victory”. Barack Obama can surely deliver an eloquent victory speech from his teleprompter. It might even include the words “freedom” and “democracy”, but certainly not “pipeline”.

“We are literally backing the same people in Syria that we are fighting in Afghanistan and that have just killed our ambassador in Libya! We must finally abandon the interventionist impulse before it is too late.” – Congressman Ron Paul, September 16, 2012 6

How it all began:

“To watch the courageous Afghan freedom fighters battle modern arsenals with simple hand-held weapons is an inspiration to those who love freedom. Their courage teaches us a great lesson – that there are things in this world worth defending. To the Afghan people, I say on behalf of all Americans that we admire your heroism, your devotion to freedom, and your relentless struggle against your oppressors.” – President Ronald Reagan, March 21, 1983

A Modest Proposal

Washington’s sanctions against Iran are a wonder to behold, seriously hampering Tehran’s ability to conduct international commerce, make payments, receive money, import, export, invest, travel … you name the hardship and the United States is trying to impose it on the government and the people of Iran. In early May a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress aimed at stopping Iran from gaining access to its billions of dollars in euros kept in overseas banks – money that represents up to a third of Tehran’s total hard-currency holdings. In addition, Congress is looking to crack down on a weakness in current sanctions law that allows Iran to replenish its hard-currency accounts by acquiring gold through overseas markets.

Washington has as well closed down Iran’s media operations in the United States, is putting great pressure on Pakistan to cancel their project to build a pipeline to import natural gas from Iran, and punished countless international companies for doing business with Iran.

After a plane crash in Iran in 2011, the Washington Post reported: “Plane crashes are common in Iran, which for decades has been prevented from buying spare parts for its aging fleet by sanctions imposed by the United States.” 7

There are many more examples of the sanctions of mass destruction.

All this to force Iran to abandon any program that might conceivably lead someday to a nuclear weapon, thus depriving Israel of being the only nuclear power in the Middle East. The United States doesn’t actually say this. It instead says, explicitly or implicitly, that a nuclear Iran would be a danger to attack the US or Israel, without giving any reason why Iran would act so suicidal; at the same time Washington ignores repeated statements from various Israeli and American officials that they have no such fear.

Now, a group of US lawmakers is proposing a more drastic remedy: cutting off Iran entirely from world oil markets. Oil sales provide Iran with the bulk of its foreign-currency earnings. The plan would require all countries to stop buying oil from Iran or risk losing access to the US banking system. 8

And Iran ignores it all, refusing to bend. Islamic fanatics they are.

I have a much simpler solution. Why not cut off all exports of food to Iran? Worldwide. And anything that goes into producing food – seed, fertilizer, farm equipment, etc. Let’s see how good they are at ignoring it when their children’s bellies start to balloon. And medicines and medical equipment as well! Let’s see how good they are at producing whatever they need themselves.

Officials at The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated that as many as 6,000 Iraqi children died each month in the early 1990s primarily due to the sanctions imposed by the US, the UK and others. As proof of the lasting effectiveness and goodness of that policy, today blessed peace reigns in Iraq among its citizens.

And if all else fails with Iran … Nuke the bastards! That may be the only way they’ll learn what a horrible weapon a nuclear bomb is, a weapon they shouldn’t be playing around with.

In recent times Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran have been the prime forces standing in the way of USraeli Middle East domination. Thus it was that Iraq was made into a psychotic basket case. Libya’s welfare state was wiped out and fundamentalists have imposed Islamic law on much of the country. The basketizing of Syria is currently in process. Iran’s basketizing has begun with draconian sanctions, the way the basketizing of Iraq began.

It’s worth noting that Iraq, Syria, and Libya were the leading secular states of the Middle East. History may not treat kindly the impoverishment and loss of freedoms that the US-NATO-European Union Triumvirate has brought down upon the heads of the people of these lands.

What are we going to do about our sociopathic corporations?

Scarcely a day goes by in the United States without a news story about serious ethical/criminal misbehavior by a bank or stock brokerage or credit-rating agency or insurance agency or derivatives firm or some other parasitic financial institution. Most of these firms produce no goods or services useful to human beings, but spend their days engaged in the manipulation of money, credit and markets, employing dozens of kinds of speculation.

Consider the jail time served for civil disobedience by environmental, justice and anti-war activists, in contrast to the lifestyle enjoyed by the wicked ones who crashed the financial system and continue to fund the wounding of our bleeding planet.

The federal and state governments threaten to sue the financial institutions. Sometimes they actually do sue them. And a penalty is paid. And then the next scandal pops up. And another penalty is paid. And so it goes.

Picture this: A fleet of police cars pulls up in front of Bank of America’s Corporate Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. A dozen police officers get out, enter the building, and take the elevator to the offices of the bank’s top executives. Minutes later the president and two vice-presidents – their arms tightly bound in handcuffs behind their back – are paraded through the building in full view of their employees who stare wide-eyed and open-mouthed. The sidewalk is of course fully occupied by the media as the police encircle the building with tape saying “No tresspassing. Crime scene.”.

But remember, just because America has been taken over by mendacious mass-murdering madmen doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time.

Notes

  1. Washington Post, April 29, 2007
  2. Talk given by the president at Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, August 17, 2009
  3. Talk at the Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies, Washington, DC, September 20, 2007
  4. See, for example, the December 17, 1997 article in the British newspaper, The Telegraph, “Oil barons court Taliban in Texas”.
  5. Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, September 12, 2012 (Information Clearing House)
  6. The Hill, daily congressional newspaper, Washington, DC
  7. Washington Post, January 10, 2011
  8. Washington Post, May 13, 2013

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

william_blum

William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others.

The Week That Was In Doom, May 26, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on May 26, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

It was a week in which we found ourselves awakened, much like Rip van Winkle after a 40 years sleep, to relive the worst excesses of the Nixon administration.  A week in which, 175 years ago Friday, the Trail of Tears began and the United States once again led world opinion in affirmation of human rights and the treatment of indigenous peoples. A week in which part of an interstate fell into the Skagit River, sex workers are having to call it quits for lack of customers with sufficient disposable income, A couple of senators from Oklahoma demand disaster funding for their state while insisting that the hardships of the people of Oklahoma be visited upon unnamed someones elsewhere,  and thousands of people in hundred cities marched against Monsanto.  Plus plenty of other goodies. So let’s go to the highlight reel.

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AOL2013

Truth be told, the biggest news in the world of doom this week is the Age of Limits Conference currently being held in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Pennsylvania. Our redoubtable correspondent haniel is there and is filing reports. He also promises to bring back audio, video and images, all of which he is having great difficulty uploading due to the lack of bandwidth in his rural location. But suffice it to say there is no other single activity this week in the world of doom that is as significant or as newsworthy as this ongoing conference.  Follow haniel’s reports here.

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bridge skagit

In one of the most remarkable and egregious examples of infrastructure collapse as a result of maintenance deferred, the I–5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington collapsed when struck by a truck.

The Interstate 5 bridge spanning the Skagit River in Washington state collapsed Thursday evening, dumping two cars into the water. Three people were injured.

Authorities initially weren’t sure how many people were involved or if there’d been any injuries or deaths. Shortly after the collapse, Washington State Trooper Mark Francis told CNN that he didn’t expect a high casualty rate, in part because the bridge is located in a rural area and is rarely crowded.

CBS is reporting that the collapse was caused by an oversized semi-trailer truck, which hit a beam across the top of the bridge.

Great was the mewling and puking over this affair, and may stood ready to extrapolate from the specific to the general. Rising Hegemon probably had it best:

Infrastructure, schminfranstructure

Good thing we can keep affording to give tax breaks to oil companies to avoid those nasty public safety measures that also provide actual jobs!

The Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River collapsed Thursday evening, dropping two vehicles into the water and injuring three people.

Both the northbound and southbound portions of the bridge collapsed into the river sometime before 7 p.m., according to Washington State Patrol trooper Mark Francis.

Xavier Grospe, 62, who lives near the river, said he could see three cars with what appeared to be one person per vehicle.

Obviously the only thing that can keep a bridge from collapsing is another bridge with a gun.

And Equire’s Charlie Pierce observed thusly:

First, the BridgeHunter people declared the bridge in question to be functionally obsolete three years ago. Second, the local inspectors declared it to be safe and sound back in 2008. America’s bridges heve been in sorry, dangerous shape for years, and practically everybody agrees with that. Time for some lifesaving Keynesian stimulus spending, no?

Of course, not.

I mean, does a bridge have to fall on their heads?

Forget I asked that.

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Slevery for everyone

 Robert Reich asks, “who needs Republicans when Wall Street has the Democrats?” In his blog, Reich details how congressional Democrats are helping Wall Street rollback the financial reforms enacted after the near meltdown. With Citigroup and chase writing legislation, eager Democrats are rolling as many logs they can to undo Dodd-Frank and otherwise carry water for the plutocrats.  Not to be outdone, members of the troglodyte party decided to raise student loan rates, plus approved a variable-rate that will really stick it to prospective students. Your democracy at work.  Meanwhile, in the small fishing village in the south of France, The US Department of Education “has generated nearly $120 billion in profit off student borrowers”, more profit than reported by Exxon and Apple. No word on whether that includes Apple’s Irish offshore accounts.

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Speaking of offshore accounts and other tax dodges,  this week AlterNet  filed a superb report on how corporations are stealing billions in tax breaks, why we confused and misdirected Muppets turn on one another, to their continued enjoyment and enrichment.  this again by Mr. Reich, who had a busy week.

 

 

… global corporations have no allegiance to any country; their only objective is to make as much money as possible — and play off one country against another to keep their taxes down and subsidies up, thereby shifting more of the tax burden to ordinary people whose wages are already shrinking because companies are playing workers off against each other.

. . . Meanwhile, At a time when you’d expect nations to band together to gain bargaining power against global capital, the opposite is occurring: Xenophobia is breaking out all over.

Here in Britain, the UK Independence Party — which wants to get out of the European Union — is rapidly gaining ground, becoming the third most popular party in the country, according to a new poll for The Independent on Sunday. Almost one in five people plan to vote for it in the next general election. Ukip’s overall ratings have risen four points to 19 per cent in the past month, despite Prime Minister David Cameron’s efforts to wrest back control of the crucial debate over Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

Right-wing nationalist parties are gaining ground elsewhere in Europe as well. In the U.S., not only are Republicans sounding more nationalistic of late (anti-immigrant, anti-trade), but they continue to push “states rights” — as states increasingly battle against one another to give global companies ever larger tax breaks and subsidies.

Nothing could strengthen the hand of global capital more than such breakups.

This sounds very much like a movie we’ve seen before. And none of us like the ending. Betting here we’re not going to like the ending of this one either.

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Artwork: Anthony Freda

 

And while were on the subject of money, anyone who actually has to buy anything in this economy realizes that the price of goods keeps creeping up at the same time that there seems to be less and less money in the economy. Small business owners are really hurting. We have friends, Nick and Vicky, who run a beauty shop and spa, who  had had to close the spa part of their business due to lack of traffic. Many women who used to be regular once a month visitors have vanished, and with it their income.  At the same time, the landlord raises the rent on their building, meaning they have to shrink the business to survive.  Thus is it in the real world.

 

Meanwhile, this on the widening gap between Wall Street and Main Street.

While asset prices are inflated by continued interventions of monetary policy from the Federal Reserve, boosting Wall Street profits and widening the wealth gap between the top 20% of Americans and the rest, “Main Street” continues to suffer a from a rising cost of living and falling wage growth.  Just recently Gallup released the following survey:

“The federal poverty threshold for a family of four is just under $24,000; however, Americans believe such a family unit living in their community needs more than double that — $58,000, on average — just to ‘get by.’ That estimate reflects 29% of Americans saying these families need up to $50,000 in annual income, 47% saying they need between $50,000 and $99,999, and 10% saying they need $100,000 or more.”

Gallup-Consumer-LivingNeeds-051713

And then, in a fking nutshell:

This is why the gap between corporate profits and the number of working employees is the highest level on record.  Fewer workers, higher productivity and longer hours for the same pay, or less, equals higher corporate profits.  This is great for executives, primarily the top 10% of wage of earners, who are compensated from rising share prices, bonuses and other performance related compensation.  However, for the “working stiff,” there is little reward for their labor.

At $58,000, Americans’ perceptions of the amount it takes just to get by in their community is substantially higher that the national median household income.  This level is also well out of reach for a bulk of the lower 30% of American households.

However, this gap between incomes and living standards goes a long way to explaining the “welfaring” of America.  As incomes have waned against a rising cost of living – it is not surprising to see more individuals receiving income supplements in the mail either from “food stamps”, social security benefits or disability claims.  All of which are currently at record levels.  The chart below shows the level of social security benefits as a percentage of disposable personal incomes which is currently near the highest level on record.

Social-Benefits-DPI-051713

 

“How long can the disconnect last between Wall Street and Main Street? “

There is no clear answer for that as consumers have shown a willingness to draw down savings rates to historically low levels while quickly returning to cheap credit forgetting the disaster that it caused them not so long ago.  However, in reality, when you have a family to feed, clothe and house – it really doesn’t matter what is logical, but what is necessary, regardless of the consequences down the road.  Of course, for many American’s today, the only real difference between now and the “bread lines” of the 30’s is that the “bread” is delivered in the mail rather than at the “soup kitchen” on the corner.

A splendid article that offers a precise description of what is happening. I mentioned above the effect of this “recovering economy” on my friends with the beauty shop and spot. Newshound Joe dug up this article earlier in the week that illustrates how even sex workers are feeling the pinch.

It is one of the oldest professions in the world.

Yet, just like many other businesses up and down the UK, even prostitution is now struggling with Britain’s struggling economy.

Many sex workers are now saying its almost impossible to make a full time living out of prostitution with rising rents and energy costs and a reduced demand for services.

They also complain of a saturated market in which students and those recently sacked turn to  prostitution to make money.

Like many other workers across Britain, sex workers even complain that immigrants are providing tough competition.

All of this has resulted in many massage parlours and private flats heavily reducing their prices or even closing.

Prostitutes also say men are increasingly unable to pay for sex, with pressures on household spending increasing.

30 years ago, Richard Pryor joked about pimps having to drive Volkswagens. And now this. Clearly,  yet another sign of the breaking of the Seventh Seal.

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And perhaps none of this makes any difference because we are all screwed in the fullness of time, As we seem to be unwilling or unable to manage our energy footprint, consumption, and behavior in a responsible manner that would benefit the great bulk of humanity. This is of course a subject which has been discussed many times in many different ways within the Diner Forum.

Climate change: human disaster looms, claims new research

A human shadow is seen on a dried out field after drought in Germany. Photograph: Patrick Pleul/EPA

 

Forecast global temperature rise of 4C a calamity for large swaths of planet even if predicted extremes are not reached the world is still likely to be in for a temperature rise of double that regarded as safe.

The researchers said warming was most likely to reach about 4C above pre-industrial levels if the past decade’s readings were taken into account.

That would still lead to catastrophe across large swaths of the Earth, causing droughts, storms, floods and heatwaves, and drastic effects on agricultural productivity leading to secondary effects such as mass migration.

Some climate change sceptics have suggested that because the highest global average temperature yet recorded was in 1998 climate change has stalled. The new study, which is published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows a much longer “pause” would be needed to suggest that the world was not warming rapidly.

Alexander Otto, at the University of Oxford, lead author of the research, told the Guardian that there was much that climate scientists could still not fully factor into their models. He said most of the recent warming had been absorbed by the oceans but this would change as the seas heat up. The thermal expansion of the oceans is one of the main factors behind current and projected sea level rises.

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Authorities never have “issues with authority.”

It’s simple. Authorities invented the idea that other people have issues with authority.

Psychiatrists rank right up there among the elitists setting the standards. They, for example, have concocted a little fictional doodad called Oppositional Defiance Disorder. And magically, they never accuse their professional colleagues of having it. No.

Why should they? They amuse themselves by deciding when civilians are overly defiant and need pacification (drugs).

 

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More from the Department of Your Tax Dollars at Work.

Got PTSD? No problem. Here: take this. At a time when government funding for veterans hospitals and healthcare is being diverted by the military and replaced with private donations comes this news of the Pentagon development of memory adjustment pills. Perhaps the combination of so-called “medication” coupled with the use of targets featuring children and pregnant mothers waving guns will usher in a new generation of conscience-free troops for the next round of “nation-building” and empire extension.

The Pentagon this week announced an $11 million grant for three research institutions, all of them long-time hubs for the military’s ongoing PTSD investigations. Experts at Emory University, the University of Southern California and New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center will study the effectiveness of D-Cycloserine (DCS). DCS is a pharmaceutical thought to help extinguish fearful memories. It’s usually taken right before exposure therapy, a process that involves recalling traumatic experiences in an effort to nullify the menacing associations that accompany them.

Your tax dollars at work. This is a clue that we will continue to be in a perpetual state of war.
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/12/fear-erasing-drugs

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photo by Jenna Pope

Everyone’s favorite fixer and leg breaker Rahm Emanuel has come a cropper in his plan to close 54 public schools in low income neighborhoods.Three days of  protests have been going on in Chicago to fight back against the biggest public school closing action in the history of the U.S.
Teachers, students, and parents marching through the West Side of Chicago today for the 3-day March for Education Justice. “The mayor and Board of Education want to destroy 54 school communities. This will be the largest destruction of schools in U.S. history. We need our neighborhood schools and we should all fight together to save them.”

 

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artwork by mario piperni

In the holy city of Washington DC, otherwise known as Jerusalem-on-the-Potomac, we were treated to the spectacle of two Oklahoma solons rightfully demanding disaster aid for their tornado-stricken state, but only at the cost of insuring that the suffering visited on the people of Oklahoma was transmitted by the miracle of the appropriations process up its on innocent and unsuspecting others located God knows where, but presumably not Oklahoma. “Budget offsets”so the Blessed Messrs. Cobern and Imhofe solemnly intone. In response, we need to visit with the Master, Charlie Pierce.

This is a guy who, one day after a devastating natural disaster killed his own constitutents, said he will not vote to allevate their suffering unless he can inflict some pain on someone somewhere else in the country. And his spokesman defends this as a matter of principle, and uses the worst act of domestic terrorism in the history of the United States as a salutary example. (And the link demonstrates that Coburn’s aversion to tossing money down various ratholes is not universal.)  Does Senator Coburn really believe you can budget for the unthinkable? That tornadoes are zero-sum events? That you can horse-trade on human suffering as though it were a line-item on a transportation rider? I no longer am willing to try to understand how people like this think. They are monsters and they operate on their own monstrous imperatives.

The attack on the natural instincts of a self-governing political commonwealth has been a long one, a powerful one, and (alas) a very effective one. It has made the politically unthinkable a viable alternative in the face of the literally unimaginable. It is a return to the days where people died alone on the prairies during blizzards, or they drowned in floods along the plains, or they were lost in hurricanes that struck without warning. It’s not a great distance removed from staving off severe weather by judging the flights of birds or reading the entrails of a disembowelled goat on a rock. The idea that there is even a “debate” worthy of mentioning over this money shows how far we’ve fallen.

By the way, here is the City Of Moore’s official FAQ page about storm shelters and the like. I may be wrong, but this fairly reeks of defensiveness. The explanation for the lack of storm shelters seems economically prissy and more than a tad lame—people won’t use them because they won’t leave their pets behind? So, therefore, we don’t build one? Really?—and the cruel irony of this tornado is that people were warned specifically not to “shelter in place” but, rather, to get in their cars and drive like hell. There is considerable real-time audio from local radio and TV to that effect. And this is a masterpiece of You’re On Your Own, Jack:

“What if I live in a mobile home?
This means that you have additional responsibility for your safety, and that begins much earlier! Mobile homes typically do not offer good shelter from thunderstorm winds, and that means you should find shelter elsewhere—perhaps the house of family or friends. You need to plan your actions long before thunderstorms arrive, and leave early…don’t wait until warnings are issued or the sirens are blowing to leave.”

Oh, OK.

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http://mariopiperni.com/

In a week where the Obama administration has managed to resuscitate the cadaver of the Nixon administration through various scandals, and right-wing pols are making hay out of Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi!!,  Comes this little noticed and curious aspect to the Benghazi story from one of my favorite cranks, Jon Rappaport.

Just a coincidence. Nothing to see. Move along.

Remember the Benghazi attacks? Remember how the White House rewrote their talking points to scrub out mention of a terrorist attack?

Well, here are some new talking points.

Point one: Star CBS investigative reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, has been discussing leaving CBS since April. She can’t get some of her Benghazi stories on the air. Attkisson was hot on the trail of figuring out who, at the White House, rewrote the Benghazi talking points.

Point two: One sure candidate at the White House? Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser and “mind-melding” speechwriter.

Point three: Who is Ben Rhodes’ brother? He is David Rhodes, who happens to be Sharyl Attkisson’s boss, the president of CBS News.

Point four: Read point three again.

Point five: Those White House Benghazi rewrites scrubbed prior mention of “terror attacks.”

Point six: Again, reporter Attkisson was hot on the trail of the White House fiction writers—which could have led to her boss’s brother.

Point seven: Again, Attkisson got into hot water at CBS for her Benghazi coverage.

Point eight: Again, the president of CBS News, her boss, is the brother of the man who helped organize the White House fiction writing on Benghazi.

The Daily Caller broke this story.

Point nine: Somebody has been fiddling with reporter Attkisson’s computers. Attkisson has been assembling evidence on the what and the who for several months.

As loath as I am to repeat anything uttered in the pages of The Daily Caller–even its very name makes me twitch–even a stopped clock is right twice a day,  Much in the same way that Crazy Uncle Liberty and his son, Sen. Aqua Buddha are often right twice a day. Remains interesting to watch to see if this aspect of the story goes anywhere. Politico’s Dylan Byers has a take on this. Little surprise that Attkisson has trouble getting anyone inside the Obama administration to talk to her since most of her stories have often been extremely critical of the administration and often seem to bespeak a partisan political agenda. No duh.

The only thing certain in this murky affair is that House Republicans will do everything possible to keep these flames alive well into the midterm election season. Meanwhile, in at least one poll I saw this morning, House Republicans are writing a 59% disapproval rating. Double down on crazy, boys.

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IMG_1261

 

Many protesters gathered in Virginia Beach yesterday as part of a March against Monsanto,  one of dozens of such marches organized across the globe in protest of CGI and months and tell and its genetically modified, potentially toxic food.

 

Organizers  were reported to have said the protests were held in 52 countries and 436 cities. Locally, the demonstrators were out in force by the hundreds on a clear, brisk day at the oceanfront that also heralded the beginning of the vacation season.

 

You have to love the creativity of the people who brought signs and banners. Enjoy the examples below. It was a pleasure to reconnect with local occupiers and many other activists, including many people who would not otherwise even dream of being part of a protester a demonstration, yet who are well enough informed to take a keen and abiding interest in real food. One woman held aloft a sign that said, “our children are not eating the same Cheerios we did.”

 

True dat.

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Many of the volunteers passed out information flyers explaining what GM owes are. Salient facts included  that most major US food companies managed to keep GM oh ingredients secret from the public. That agribusinesses have spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat Geo labeling laws. Products may contain genetically or all-natural modified foods and still be labeled natural. The most common genetically engineered crops are soy, corn, papaya, rice, cotton, tomatoes, dairy products, potatoes and peas.IMG_1255IMG_1257

 

And herewith a roundup of other news, the bones of which  I have not had the opportunity to chew, and some links that may reward the follower.

Murder is our national sport. We murder tens of thousands with our industrial killing machines in Afghanistan and Iraq. We murder thousands more from the skies over Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen with our pilotless drones. We murder each other with reckless abandon. And, as if we were not drenched in enough human blood, we murder prisoners—most of them poor people of color who have been locked up for more than a decade. The United States believes in regeneration through violence. We have carried out blood baths on foreign soil and on our own land for generations in the vain quest of a better world. And the worse it gets, the deeper our empire sinks under the weight of its own decay and depravity, the more we kill. 

–Chris Hedges.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34929.htm

Petrodollar collapse

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-20/guest-post-coming-collapse-petrodollar-system

Virginia Republicans take a Great Leap Backward:
Add I-5 bridge:
NC and renewables
h/t AG
See it yourself

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” – Frederic Bastiat

 
Add Detroit
Monsanto and stock rally

Birth of a Diner: Born to Rewild

Off the keyboard of RE

Published on the Doomstead Diner on May 19, 2013

Discuss this article at the Primitive Living Table inside the Diner

Here on the Diner this Sunday, the Population of the Diner Tribe increased by a New Member, Harper Tribann, or “HT” as he will be known in the future.  You won’t find HT in the Member List of Diners, as of yet he can’t Read, Keyboard, or Talk.  He can already Pitch Napalm though, Crying comes naturally straight outta da tunnel. LOL

HT is the Newborn Son of Diners Lucid Dreams and Gypsy Mama, and all the Diners are Celebrating his arrival, Cigars with Suspect Contents are being Smoked across the Diner World, which goes from Oz to Kiwiland to Jolly Old England to The Last Great Frontier through the Midwest of the FSofA in Cheeseland, down to the Border of Mejico and right back to Old Dixie in Virginia and South Carolina, where HT was just Born.  There are Diners all over the World now.

So now there is a new Diner, HT, and he is a Healthy Baby Boy who knows not yet the world he is destined to grow up in, but we Diners do, and so it is all our Collective Jobs to do what we can to Build a Better Tomorrow for HT, not let the Pessimism overwhelm us, and remain Optimistic that at least some solutions to so many intractable problems can be found somewhere.

starchildIt is often said it is “Always Darkest Before the Dawn”.  Here on the Diner we all know the consequences of Overshoot, but at the same time if the Great Experiment With Sentience begun so long ago with the Big Bang and the Genesis of the Earth and the Evolution of Sentient Life in the form of Homo Sapiens is to continue on a bit longer, we still do need new Diners on the Earth.  It is thus a good thing that HT was born this day, May 19, 2013.  While we do need new Diners though, we could do with a good deal fewer Pigmen on the Planet. LOL.

I cannot make any Carved in Stone predictions for what the World HT grows up in will be like as we move into the Future of the Collapse of Industrial Civilization we all have been a part of for our Lifetimes.  I am certain though that HT and his generation will need to learn how to live in a lower per capita energy footprint world for Homo Sapiens, and he is a fortunate boy to have Lucid Dreams and Gypsy Mama to guide him through the early years of dependency that we all start out with as children.  Like true Nature’s Children, they were both Born to be Wild.  Sadly of course for all of us Diners Born to be Wild, the world we live in today does not leave much Opportunity for that way of life, but it can be Reborn over time here, though it sure won’t be any Picnic on the way there.

For HT, he wasn’t Born to Be Wild.

Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

I like smoke and lightning
Heavy metal thunder
Racin’ with the wind
And the feelin’ that I’m under
Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Like a true nature’s child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die

Born to be wild
Born to be wild

He was BORN TO RE-WILD.

http://wfiles.brothersoft.com/2/2001_a_space_odyssey_59859-1920x1080.jpg

RE

The Week That Was in Doom May 19, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on May 19, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 In which we walk around the weekly cultural signifiers that indicate that we are, week by week, proudly and confidently approaching the zero point with the same cheery sense of self-assurance with which lemmings are said to approach a cliff.  The Week That Was In Doom, might otherwise be known “as things that make you want to guzzle antifreeze,” with apologies and a tip o’ the Surly Crown of Thorns to Charlie Pierce. Pass the Prestone, hold the ice. And see what the rest of the crew will have, will ya barkeep?

 “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” –H. “Rap” Brown

We started out the week by celebrating Mother’s Day in traditional American fashion, meaning blowing the shit out of a bunch of people with guns.

Nineteen people have been wounded in a shooting at a Mother’s Day parade in the US city of New Orleans, police say. The victims included two children who were grazed by bullets. Police say most injuries are not life-threatening. It is unclear what sparked the shooting in the city’s 7th Ward on Sunday afternoon. Police say three suspects were seen fleeing the area. The incident happened at about 14:00 (19:00 GMT) at the intersection of Frenchmen and Villere streets. “Shots were fired with different guns,” a police statement said. “Immediately after the shooting our officers saw three suspects running from the scene.” The statement said 10 men, seven women, a 10-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl were wounded by gunfire. FBI spokeswoman Mary Beth Romig said they had “no reason to believe it was an act of terror, just street violence”.

 

For my money, Rising Hegemon’s rising snark sums up the whole proceedings just fine.

What could be more American  

Than this headline?

It is unclear what sparked the shooting, which happened in the city’s 7th Ward on Sunday afternoon. Police say two or three suspects were seen fleeing the area. Police said that, as well as the 12 people with gunshot wounds, one person was injured in the ensuing panic.

It is all part of a typical week of gun incidents in this country, which the NRA would like to have you completely ignore. Cue Lee Greenwood.

By the end of the week, two brothers with gang ties and a history of drug offenses had been arrested for the deed, the narrative in place, the crime scene tape pulled up, so everything is hunky-dory again, right?

Two brothers with a history of drug arrests and suspected ties to a neighborhood gang each face 20 counts of attempted second-degree murder in a shooting spree that brought a sudden bloody end to a neighborhood Mother’s Day parade.

Right?

________________________________________________________________

 Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.    ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

How really depraved are we? Really? (h/t Joe P.) Earlier in the week I found myself arguing that the story could not possibly be true, but I discoved that the only problem here is my own paucity of imagination.

Rich Manhattan moms hire

handicapped tour guides so kids can

cut lines at Disney World

The “black-market Disney guides” run $130 an hour, or $1,040 for an eight-hour day. “My daughter waited one minute to get on ‘It’s a Small World’ — the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours,” crowed one mom, who hired a disabled guide through Dream Tours Florida.

“You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge,’’ she sniffed. “This is how the 1 percent does Disney.”

The woman said she hired a Dream Tours guide to escort her, her husband and their 1-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter through the park in a motorized scooter with a “handicapped” sign on it. The group was sent straight to an auxiliary entrance at the front of each attraction.

Someone on Facebook observed that at least this gave some occasional employment to the handicapped.  Sometimes we are left without words. And sometimes the news comes pre-loaded with its own layer of snark.

________________________________________________________________

 

Those paying attention to continued congressional treason and the incompetence and misfeasance of the Obama administration were treated to The Benghazi Dumb Show and Obama’s IRS shooting itself in the foot. Charlie Pierce’s take:

Obama’s IRS answer probably won’t satisfy Republicans demanding a public apology from the president and insisting the story indicates Obama’s White House is run like Nixon’s. But the president put himself on the same page with elected officials of all political stripes Monday who demanded to know more about what happened at the IRS and the firing of those responsible for any malfeasance. No. It won’t satisfy them. He could have climbed up on a cross and driven nails into his own palms and that wouldn’t have satisfied them. Why is that the point? The media has no affirmative obligation to decide that a “political circus” has broken out and that it has no job left except to write play-by-play on what the monkeys are doing. Obama’s White House is not like Nixon’s any more than it is like the court of Robert The Bruce. Because some Republicans are still carrying old Watergate grudges around like goiters in their consciences is no reason for smart people to play along with it. Nixon’s IRS did not call out its own mistakes. Nixon’s IRS did not apologize. Nixon did not call a press conference and denounce the IRS for what it did, and this was because Nixon ordered the IRS to do what it did, and not even Nixon was a rancid enough bag of old sins to do something like that. So what is the purpose of throwing his name in there at all? Because the Republicans used it? That’s not good enough. In 2004, the NAACP actually got audited in the wake of its having been critical of the then-reigning Avignon Presidency. Remember how that dominated the Sunday Showz for months and led to endless hearings in both houses of Congress?

***
Dept. of Now They Notice. Funny how AP notices what many of us have been bitching about for about for a fking decade, governmental investigative overreach and the metatastized surveillance state,  when it’s their titty caught in a wringer:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news. The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.
Now there is some debate as to whether or not the seizure was justified,  on grounds of the ever-useful “national security” reason. Meanwhile, we are treated to the spectacle of editors drawing themselves up to their full Lilliputian stature and solemnly intoning on how the seizure of AP phone records is an insult to an independent press. How quaint. Actually it is the current state of the press that is an insult to an independent press.  you’ll recall that nobody said a damn thing when Eric Holder’s Justice Department took numerous mulligans on investigating white-collar financial crime. In the so-called independent press had very little to say when “Homeland Security” (sic) and its federalized local thugs employed overwhelming force against unarmed Occupy protesters.  But then that was somebody else’s titty, wasn’t it?
Again, Charlie Pierce’s take:

This is what got people sent to jail in the mid-1970s. This is the Plumbers, all over again, except slightly more formal this time, and laundered, disgracefully, even more directly through the Department Of Justice. And of course, this is not nearly good enough. And even if you point out, as you should, that the AP is hyping this story a little — The government “secretly” obtained the records? Doesn’t that imply that nobody knew the records had been seized? Wasn’t there a subpoena? The phone companies knew. — the ignoble clumsiness of this more than obviates those particular quibbles.

No Charlie, no subpoena, thanks to the quick work of our friends at Verizon Wireless.

When the feds came knocking for AP journalists’ call records last year, Verizon apparently turned the data over with no questions asked. The New York Times, citing an AP employee,reported Tuesday that at least two of the reporters’ personal cellphone records “were provided to the government by Verizon Wireless without any attempt to obtain permission to tell them so the reporters could ask a court to quash the subpoena.”

Customers of Verizon Wireless, take comfort in the knowledge that your company passed AP reporters’ phone records to the feds. Remember, muppets, “It’s The Network™.”

________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

In other news, we learn that many of the troglodyte members of the House of Representatives, the mouth-breathing consensus who yearn so dearly for the opportunity to lay a dollop of tar on presumed 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with the Benghazi flap as the tar-laden cudgel, can’t even locate Benghazi on a map. Hilarity ensues.

 

________________________________________________________________

And  in less amusing news,  the results of the preliminary investigation into the explosion of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas came in. Or not.

Robert Champion, the ATF special agent in charge, said investigators have ruled out the possibility of an earlier fire, spontaneous ignition, smoking, weather or a 480 volt electrical system. He said investigators have not ruled foul play, or a problem with a 120 volt electrical system. The officials would not discuss the arrest of Bryce Reed, a volunteer paramedic and one of the first on the scene, who was arrested last week for possession of bomb making materials. The Insurance Council of Texas estimates the damage to surrounding homes and businesses will exceed $100 million.

Clearly, Texas investigators have also not ruled out attack by the Tsarniev Brothers, an alien energy death ray from a UFO, an attack by Al Qaeda, the Symbionese Liberation Army, or the work of a secret, “self-radicalizing” terrorist cabal led by Jimmy Hoffa and Judge Crater.  But never fear, the usual gaggle of self-righteous hypocrites are showing up for the cameras, squatting down and pinching off the expected pieties:

Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement Thursday evening expressing his appreciation to the investigators. “While the cause of the fire remains undetermined and the investigation continues, this tragedy has shown the world the definition of compassion, from volunteer firefighters across the state rushing to help their colleagues at the scene, to friends, neighbors and Texans stepping in to help those who lost so much in the blast,” he said. Texas U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz issued a joint statement thanking the investigators. “Our prayers remain with those struggling to recover and mourning the loss of loved ones. While the cause remains undetermined, it is our sincere hope that at the end of the investigation, the residents of West can find closure and begin to heal,” they said.

Thanks, investigolators, for the camera opportunity to flog a continued regime of deregulation. en, the Grey Lady herself took note  in the NY Times. Texas don’t need no stinking regulations:

Asked about the disaster, Mr. Perry responded that more government intervention and increased spending on safety inspections would not have prevented what has become one of the nation’s worst industrial accidents in decades.

“Through their elected officials,” he said, Texans “clearly send the message of their comfort with the amount of oversight.”

This antipathy toward regulations is shared by many residents here. Politicians and economists credit the stance with helping attract jobs and investment to Texas, which has one of the fastest-growing economies in the country, and with winning the state a year-after-year ranking as the nation’s most business friendly.

Raymond J. Snokhous, a retired lawyer in West who lost two cousins — brothers who were volunteer firefighters — in the explosion, said, “There has been nobody saying anything about more regulations.”

Texas has always prided itself on its free-market posture. It is the only state that does not require companies to contribute to workers’ compensation coverage. It boasts the largest city in the country, Houston, with no zoning laws. It does not have a state fire code, and it prohibits smaller counties from having such codes. Some Texas counties even cite the lack of local fire codes as a reason for companies to move there.

But Texas has also had the nation’s highest number of workplace fatalities — more than 400 annually — for much of the past decade. Fires and explosions at Texas’ more than 1,300 chemical and industrial plants have cost as much in property damage as those in all the other states combined for the five years ending in May 2012.

Have a good look at what deregulation looks like. The explosion in April of a fertilizer plant near West, Tex., was so powerful that it registered as a 2.1-magnitude earthquake. McLennan, the county that includes West, has no fire code. Res ipsa loquitor. Awaiting the results earlier in the week, Pierce had it thus:

Whatever the investigators announce, the explosion will be linked to four decades of conservative-inspired deregulation, four decades of conservative-inspired corporate triumphalism, the deregulatory enthusiasm of every damn possible contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, and Rick Perry’s entire political career are pretty damn long, I’m guessing. But give up the e-mails, Holder! Ten more people died here than died in Benghazi.

___________________________________________________________

Paluel-Nuclear-Power-Plant

In a development will be very satisfying to many readers of this page, particularly those who find room for cautious optimism in the growth of renewable energy and alternative fuels (thinking of you, AG), the nuclear industry had what by any measure has to be described is a pretty bad week.

Once touted as a successor, or at least a competitor, to carbon-based power, the nuclear sector has taken a beating as the momentum behind new projects stalls and enthusiasm for domestic fossil fuel production grows. Across the country, plans to build nuclear plants have hit roadblocks recently—a sharp turn for a sector that just a few years ago was looking forward to a renaissance. *** In recent weeks, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled against a proposed partnership between NRC Energy and Toshiba, citing a law that prohibits control of a U.S. plant by a foreign corporation. Elsewhere, Duke Energy scuttled plans to construct two nuclear reactors in North Carolina, while California officials warned that two damaged reactors could be shut down permanently if the NRC doesn’t take action to get the plants back online. The change in nuclear’s fortunes is staggering, given that the U.S. is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power …. “Starting about four years ago, the industry felt it was in the middle of a renaissance” with applications for many new plants pending with the NRC, said Peter Bradford, a law professor and a former member of the commission. “They’ve gone from that high-water mark to a point at which … we’re actually seeing the closing of a few operating plants,which was unthinkable even a few years ago.”

 San Onofre, Palisades, Hanford, and even Shearon Harris near New Hill in Wake County, NC.    And none of this even includes anything new from Fukushima, where last week TEPCO engineers wanted to dump radioactive water right into the ocean.  Aging designs, expensive maintenance, which often turns into maintenance deferred, which in itself causes additional problems as corrosion builds up and makes restarting an idle plant even more problematic. Nuke plants are gifts that will continue to keep on giving; of that you may be sure.  Consider the implications when more local municipalities and utilities catch the virus Detroit has, of not having enough of the tax base and revenue stream to support infrastructure, and consider moving if you live within 50 miles of a nuke.

________________________________________________________________

Of course none of this may make much difference if the sun has its way with us. We are told that a large solar flare may be a prelude to an entire year of heavy sunspot/solar storm activity.

The Sun erupted with a large solar flare in the direction of Earth early Friday morning, causing potential disruption to radio signals in the coming days and serving as a prelude to a period of heavy solar activity. The mid-level flare, classified as an M6.5 solar flare, “was associated with an Earth-direction coronal mass ejection (CME), a solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of solar particles into space and can reach our planet days later,”according to Science World Report. While X-class solar flares are 10 times more powerful than Friday’s eruption, the radiation burst was the largest on record in 2013 and “caused an R2 radio blackout that has since subsided,” the site reported. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration classifies radio blackouts caused by space weather on a scale from R1 to R5, with R5 being the strongest. Scientists expect more such solar flares this year, because the Sun’s 11-year activity cycle is approaching its peak, expected to arrive in the closing months of 2013, Science World Report noted.

And now were told that NASA is warning that solar storms are possible. The implications of such an event are difficult to fathom. Current sunspots are said to be the diameter of 6 Earths, and some sunspot activity can lead to significant eruptions of radiation.

The Sun is currently reaching the peak of its 11-year solar cycle. The Solar Dynamics Observatory was launched by NASA in 2010. The observatory spacecraft is just one of many alerting NASA to signs of solar flares, or coronal mass ejections. One of the biggest concerns surrounding solar flares is the ability the storms have to take down our antiquated power grid. If a massive solar flare is directed at Earth, the fiscal destruction could be legendary. Both NASA and NOAA experts estimate the potential damage of such a direct hit would be in the trillions. The last major solar flare to directly impact Earth was in 1859, the Carrington Event. Telegraph wires reportedly snapped in half and caused multiple blazes. The folks of the 1800s were far less impacted by the solar flare than we would be today. Due to the computerized equipment inside vehicles built after the 1950s, nearly anything on four wheels (or two) would come to a screeching halt.

Just let the implications of that one sink in for a moment. Imagine a Carrington-type of event on top of the current economic and social dislocations we have. The mind reels.  We could be facing “a world made by hand” sooner than even Kunstler imagines.

________________________________________________________________

According to Annalee Newitz,  We may be in for a disaster or set of disasters so profound they could kick off a series of mass extinctions. Of people this time,  in contrast to the mass extinctions that Homo sapiens has already caused for other species. Ms. new it’s has written a book, Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction,  that insists that human evolution has prepared us to survive future disasters.

Are we in the first act of a mass extinction that will end in the death of millions of plant and animal species across the planet, including us?

That’s what proponents of the “sixth extinction” theory believe. As the term suggests, our planet has been through five mass extinctions before. The dinosaur extinction was the most recent but hardly the most deadly: 65 million years ago, dinosaurs were among the 76 percent of all species on Earth that were extinguished after a series of natural disasters. But

185 million years before that, there was a mass extinction so devastating that paleontologists have nicknamed it the Great Dying. At that time, 95 percent of all species on the planet were wiped out over a span of roughly 100,000 years—most likely from megavolcanoes that erupted for centuries in Siberia, slowly turning the atmosphere to poison. And three more mass extinctions, some dating back over 400 million years, were caused by ice ages, invasive species, and radiation bombardment from space.

***

During the last million years of our evolution as a species, humans narrowly avoided extinction more than once. We lived through harsh conditions while another human group, the Neanderthals, did not. This isn’t just because we are lucky. It’s because as a species, we are extremely cunning when it comes to survival. If we want to survive for another million years, we should look to our history to find strategies that already worked. The title of this book, Scatter, Adapt, and Remember, is a distillation of these strategies. But it’s also a call to implement them in the future, by actively taking on the project of human survival as a social and scientific challenge.

So what promises to be another work of techno-optimism. Perhaps we will be smart enough, unselfish enough, and astute enough to employ strategies that will be necessary to save the bulk of humanity. Indeed, part of the mission statement of the Diner is to “Save as Many as you Can.” However my money is on the illuminati bunkering up and leaving a combination of disease, solar storms, acid rain and widespread dislocation to scour the Muppets from their earth.  Or so they think.

________________________________________________________________

And Just so you know, the truth about lemmings has nothing to do with them committing suicide en masse by leaping off cliffs. it turns out that a Disney film, “White Wilderness,” used selectively shot and staged scenes that showed lemmings leaping off a cliff into water, and from there swimming out to the ocean to their Doom. (The film is still available on YouTube, for the curious.)  Turns out that the demise of lemmings, a voracious little Arctic vole, has much more to do with stoats, fox, owls and other predators. Far more so than cliffs.

 And here, in all the news that doesn’t fit for this week are some other links gathered liking gleanings from the field, and for which I lack the time and attention to  comment. You may find it of interest.   One thing is reasonably sure: next week will bring even more.

Brandon Smith on  terror, circular logic and the debasement of language in the quest for power: http://www.alt-market.com/articles/1501-lions-and-tigers-and-terrorists-oh-my

GO’s article on vectors of human  extinction  

Personal extinction: Suicide rates in middle aged Americans- Mercola http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/05/16/suicide-rate.aspx?e_cid=20130516_DNL_ProdTest2_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20130516ProdTest2

America’s first climate refugees– with a tip o’ the Surly Crown o’Thorns to JoeP: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2013/may/13/newtok-alaska-climate-change-refugees

The Week in Doom May 5, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on May 5, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 

Given the various vectors of Doom for which we at the diner keep track, and the relative noise made in each one of those vectors, it occured to me to stand up a semi-regular summary called “This Week In Doom,” in which we survey the big breaking issues in the Wide World of Doom. Think of it as “The Wide World of Sports” for doom; certainly not all inclusive, and invested with a particularly Surly point of view.

First on the docket is Fukushima, the gift that keeps on giving. Even Charlie Pierce, Esquire’s redoubtable political  blogger, felt obliged to weigh in on the subject.

Gray and silver storage tanks filled with radioactive wastewater are sprawling over the grounds of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Remember Fukushima? That was our Environmental Tipping Point two years ago, when a tsunami caused a catastrophic event at a Japanese nuclear power plant, a triple meltdown that resulted in, among other things, all kinds of noxious debris continuing to wash up in Alaska, in Hawaii and, just the other day, in California, Perhaps to celebrate the arrival of this dubious flotsam to the continental 48, we discover that the Fukushima disaster is not yet done poisoning things.

Groundwater is pouring into the plant’s ravaged reactor buildings at a rate of almost 75 gallons a minute. It becomes highly contaminated there, before being pumped out to keep from swamping a critical cooling system. A small army of workers has struggled to contain the continuous flow of radioactive wastewater, relying on hulking gray and silver storage tanks sprawling over 42 acres of parking lots and lawns. The tanks hold the equivalent of 112 Olympic-size pools. But even they are not enough to handle the tons of strontium-laced water at the plant – a reflection of the scale of the 2011 disaster and, in critics’ view, ad hoc decision making by the company that runs the plant and the regulators who oversee it. In a sign of the sheer size of the problem, the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, plans to chop down a small forest on its southern edge to make room for hundreds more tanks, a task that became more urgent when underground pits built to handle the overflow sprang leaks in recent weeks.

Surely in the wake of such an accident, people the world over would clamor for a time out and a fundamental rethink of nuclear 60 year old reactor designs at the very least, let alone the viability of nuclear as a fuel source, yes? That Big Think that we were supposed to have  either hasn’t occurred, or has been sotto voce:

WASHINGTON — All 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Monday. Shutting them all down at once is not practical, he said, but he supports phasing them out rather than trying to extend their lives.

The position of the former chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, is not unusual in that various anti-nuclear groups take the same stance. But it is highly unusual for a former head of the nuclear commission to so bluntly criticize an industry whose safety he was previously in charge of ensuring.

Asked why he did not make these points when he was chairman, Dr. Jaczko said in an interview after his remarks, “I didn’t really come to it until recently.”

Perhaps that was after the checks quit clearing. Charlie Pierce brings the point home:

How anyone, even the most profit-hungry plutocrat on the planet, can look at what is still happening at Fukushima two years later and determine that financial concerns remain in any way relevant to the discussion of what has to be done about a steadily spiraling catastrophe — I mean, chopping down a forest to build more storage tanks is Plan A? Really? Where do they build the next hundred tanks? Downtown Osaka?

Deeply reassuring to know we have our best investigative minds on the subject.

///

Speaking of our best  minds, and closer to home,  those in charge of ferreting out answer to the Boston Bombing have extended their investigation to corral three more seriously judgment-impaired college students. Pierce again:

Three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are under arrest, suspected of removing items from his dorm room after the April 15 attack, sources said Wednesday. Two of the pals were detained April 20 on immigration charges and a third has now been taken into custody, sources said. They are expected to face obstruction of justice charges, the sources said.

Even by the standards of college buddies, this is remarkably stupid behavior, and my opinion of it will remain that until I see some evidence as to why we should now not expand our list of shorthand references to the people involved in this awful crime from Murderous Dipshits 1 and 2, to Murderous Dipshits 1 and 2 Plus Accessorial Dipshit 3 through 5.

NPR did a pretty spirited report read by Corey Flintoff that purports to investigate the Boston Bombing… in Southern Russia.

The search for the motivations of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers stretches from New England to Central Asia, but a lot of attention has been focused on Dagestan.

The mostly Muslim republic is located in the southernmost part of Russia, and it’s been the battleground in a low-level insurgency that takes lives nearly every day.

One of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, traveled to Dagestan twice in recent years, and investigators want to know whether that experience led him toward a radical and violent form of Islam.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s parents and other relatives lived in the republic’s capital, Makhachkala, a city of nearly 600,000 that sprawls along the Caspian Sea. The city backs up against the North Caucasus, the blue-green mountains that have made places like Dagestan and neighboring Chechnya havens for bandits and rebels for centuries…

Which you are free to read at your leisure. My response when listening was that, like CNN, Howard Kurtz, et al, NPR will dutifully keep “catapulting the propaganda” that there is an Islamic connection, the better to help fuel the next neocon cry for the next useless neocon war, as always fought with the blood of the children of the working class. They are working overtime to affix an Islamist motivation to this crime; wherein you probably have Dylan Klebold in a ballcap and without the long coat.

Also rapidly disappearing down the Tsarniev memory hole is the allegation that Tamerlan became sour on the US after the Golden Gloves Changed elegibility rules on him.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, right, lost at the Golden Gloves championships in 2009. A year later, a new citizenship rule blocked him from competing again for a title.

The cocksure fighter, a flamboyant dresser partial to white fur and snakeskin, had been looking forward to redeeming the loss he suffered the previous year in the first round, when the judges awarded his opponent the decision, drawing boos from spectators who considered Mr. Tsarnaev dominant.

From one year to the next, though, the tournament rules had changed, disqualifying legal permanent residents — not only Mr. Tsarnaev, who was Soviet-born of Chechen and Dagestani heritage, but several other New England contenders, too. His aspirations frustrated, he dropped out of boxing competition entirely, and his life veered in a completely different direction.

Mr. Tsarnaev portrayed his quitting as a reflection of the sport’s incompatibility with his growing devotion to Islam. But as dozens of interviews with friends, acquaintances and relatives from Cambridge, Mass., to Dagestan showed, that devotion, and the suspected radicalization that accompanied it, was a path he followed most avidly only after his more secular dreams were dashed in 2010 and he was left adrift.

///

As it happened, Golden Gloves of America was just then changing its policy. It used to permit legal immigrants to compete in its national tournament three out of every four years, barring them only during Olympic qualifying years, James Beasley, the executive director, said. But it decided in 2010 that the policy was confusing and moved to end all participation by noncitizens in the Tournament of Champions.

So Mr. Tsarnaev, New England heavyweight champion for the second year in a row, was stymied. The immigrant champions in three other weight classes in New England were blocked from advancing, too, Mr. Russo said.

Mr. Tsarnaev was devastated. He was not getting any younger. And he was more than a year away from being even eligible to apply for American citizenship.

Neighbors and some close to the brothers doubt that they were “radicalized” in Dagestan. It could be that Tamerlan, at least, was radicalized by that most American of institutions: a change in the rules of the game.

///

And closer to home—much closer, for me, we have some archaeological “proof” that Jamestown settlers turned to cannibalism during the difficult “Starving Time” endured by the first wave of Jamestown colonists.

"The evidence is absolutely consistent with dismemberment and de-fleshing of this body" - Doug Owsley, forensic anthropologist

Newly discovered human bones prove the first permanent English settlers in North America turned to cannibalism over the cruel winter of 1609-10, US researchers have said.

Scientists found unusual cuts consistent with butchering for meat on human bones dumped in a rubbish pit.

The four-century-old skull and tibia of a teenage girl in James Fort, Virginia, were excavated from the dump last year.

James Fort, founded in 1607, was the earliest part of the Jamestown colony.

 

Researchers fashioned a three-dimension replica of the girl's face.

 

The original colony survived, though starvation depleted its ranks to 60 people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Starving Time was one of the most horrific periods of early colonial history. The James Fort settlers were under siege from the indigenous Indian population and had insufficient food to last the winter.

First they ate their horses, then dogs, cats, rats, mice and snakes. Some, to satisfy their cruel hunger, ate the leather of their shoes.

Which goes to show nothing so much as what human beings will resort to do when sheer survival is at stake. It is reasonable to assume that the cultural prohibition against consuming human flesh was as strong among 17th century British colonist as it is among us today. Another cautionary tale for those of us who have watched and read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” and/or seen the film, when considering the near-term implications of what Full Doom might look like for those of us not ensconced in some Federally constructed and provisioned underground bunker.

///

In an article posted by JoeP in the forum and reposted on my news channel, biologist Paul Ehrlich

Believe(s) that we are on a straightforward course to a collapse of our civilization.” He cited signs, such as diminishing returns from natural resources, that he said were recognizable from studying the collapse of other civilizations throughout history.

 

Paul Ehrlich

Reasons for that are baked into our DNA, says Ehrlich:

We’re a small-group animal, both genetically and culturally. We have evolved to relate to groups of somewhere between 50 and 150 people,” he said. “And now suddenly we’re trying to live in a group not of 150 or 100 people, but of seven billion people, somewhat over seven billion people at the moment, and that is presenting us with a whole array of problems.”

Those problems include an inability to recognize gradual, large-scale changes in our environment as dangerous.

“Another thing that’s related to that, that’s presenting us with a whole array of problems, is that most of our evolution going on now is cultural evolution,” Ehrlich went on. “And the problem is cultural evolution has not gone on at the same rate in every area of human endeavor. Where has it gone on most rapidly? It’s gone on most rapidly in the area of technology.”

He cited signs, such as diminishing returns from natural resources, that he said were recognizable from studying the collapse of other civilizations throughout history.

It will come as no surprise to readers of the Diner Blog and forum that technology has outstripped our capacity for judgment and our moral dimension. As discussed elsewhere in the Forum, the nominal group size of a viable community is about 150.  Something to consider as we track the various vectors of doom.

///

Sources:

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/The_Ongoing__Fukushima_Disaster#ixzz2SFtnZDHs

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/world/asia/radioactive-water-imperils-fukushima-plant.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/09/us/ex-regulator-says-nuclear-reactors-in-united-states-are-flawed.html?_r=0#h

http://www.npr.org/2013/05/01/180108357/investigating-the-boston-bombing-in-southern-russia

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22362831

http://vtdigger.org/2013/05/01/biologist-paul-ehrlich-gives-dire-prediction-for-global-civilization/

 

 

Death: Part I

Off the keyboard of RE

Published on Reverse Engineering on January 22, 2011

Discuss this article at the Frosbite Falls Insider Table inside the Diner

Note from RE:  Another series of articles from the archives of Reverse Engineering.  In this series I look at DEATH as it has played out historically, and  how it might play itself out again in a Neo-Tribal post-collapse paradignm.  I take an unexpurgated  look at taboo subjects like Infanticide, Suicide and Postal Mass Murders.  IOW, not an article for the Squeamish. Part II will be posted on the Blog as well,  the rest will appear in the Frostbite Falls Insider members Only board inside the Diner, along with all discussion of this series.

Tonight’s subject is DEATH. I am not talking nice Peaceful Death quietly in your own bed at night from Old Age, nor even more wilful forms of hastening your own death through Suicide or just bad habits like Smoking, Drinking or doing Drugs. Nor even death that comes from the vicissitudes of Nature, such as an Earthquake bringing the roof of your hut down on your head or naturally occurring diseases that run around the environment and periodically take out large numbers of the population. No, the type of DEATH that I am going to address here is the WILLFULLY CAUSED DEATH of OTHERS. This includes Death caused by War directly, Death caused by Abortion directly, and Death caused indirectly by controlling and making scarce the resources other people need to live. All these subjects have been topics of heated debate here lately, so I thought I would bring them all together and put in my usual 3000 word opinion on the disk. It is sure to be a highly popular opinion. NOT! Actually, this one may make the Top 10 of All Time Most HATED RE Posts, which is saying a lot for me 😉 Or it could be one of the Top 10 All Time Most LOVED RE Posts among some readers. Either way I am pretty sure the reactions will be extreme to one side or the other.

For all these forms of Death creation mentioned above, they get nearly universal opprobrium. The Moral Group Think tends to be that War is Evil, Abortion is Evil and Starving People is Evil. In the situation where there really is enough resource to go round, all these Death Creation mechanisms ARE Evil, but once resources are thin for the Population as a whole, any one of them can be less Evil than the alternative.

The simple example would be the case of the Small Tribe barely ekeing out an existence. There is only enough resource for say 10 people to live. A woman in the tribe gets pregnant. What are your REAL choices? One choice would be to Abort the child. Then you will not have another mouth to feed. Another choice would be to allow the child to be born, and ask or have “volunteer” an Elderly person in the tribe to Walk into the Great Beyond. Take that last Kayak trip out to Sea, give himself up to the Bear, climb to the top of Denali and Freeze to Death, whatever the choice. Given a Healthy Infant, the better choice is probably for the elderly person to Die, but of course until Born and demonstrating healthy and robust traits, you just don’t know if that life is more worthwhile for the survival of the Tribe than the Elderly person, who might still have a few good years left to pass on some knowledge. In this kind of scenario, you have to consider Exposure as another alternative instead of Abortion. Allow the child to be born, see how robust that child is, and if not sufficiently robust expose it on a mountaintop and leave it for the wolves. These ARE the kinds of choices that had to be made in the past, and all of you come from people who made those choices. As I see it, these choices are coming again to Homo Sapiens. They won’t be taken on willingly or easily, but they WILL happen.

Moral questions which are paramount in times of Surplus do not have the same meaning as they do in times of Deprivation. When the PURE SURVIVAL of the Tribe is in question, life or death of the individual is subsidiary to the survival of the TRIBE, which is the smallest economic unit possible for Homo Sapiens. We are Pack Animals basically, like Wolves that run in small groups. The transition to Agriculture socially changed most of us more to Herd animals like Sheep, though Packs of Wolves still move about among the Sheeple in our society. It’s the juxtaposition of these two basic forms of living among mammals in one species that is at the root of our social dilemma.

As we move forward through the Collapse of our society these two basic forms of mammalian social behavior will assert themselves, and for the most part the Sheeple will be slaughtered by the Wolves. Difference from the rest of Nature is that at any point Sheeple can BECOME Wolves, we aren’t specifically determined by nature to be one or the other as REAL Sheep and Wolves are, it is socially inculcated behavior in our case. Homo Sapiens “sheeple” DO become “wolves” when the society devolves. Gangs form up of former Sheeple, and the deep nature of Homo Sapiens as a Pack Animal reasserts itself. A Failed State like Somalia turns into a bunch of Pack Animal Pirates; a Failed State like Mexico turns into a bunch of Pack Animal Drug Cartels, a bunch of Towel Head farmers in Afghanistan turn into Al-Quaeda Terrorists, etc. In none of these cases do these folks hold onto the same kinds of Moral Restrictions that Sheeple do. Nor of course do the top of the food chain Wolves of Banksters hold onto the same set of moral restrictions or laws that their prey among the Sheeple do.

As a Sheeple, at any point you can become a Wolf. Some are already becoming Lone Wolves. Joe Stack was a Lone Wolf, so was Jared. Lone Wolves don’t last long, but Pack Wolves do, as long as there are Sheeple around to prey on. You have 3 basic choices, which are to be one of the Sheeple, to be a Lone Wolf, or to be a part of a Pack of Wolves. Only one of those 3 choices will allow your survival.

Once you revert to Tribes of Pack Animals, the same type of moral dilemmas that are faced by Sheeple in War are not relevant. It no longer is a question of Wolves slaughtering Sheep, but of Wolves fighting with Wolves. This is the stage we are moving into here now. For a long time it has been Sheep being slaughtered, but now the Sheep are starting to Pack Up and become Wolves, at least in places like Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mexico.

Once you understand that your only REAL choice is whether to get slaughtered as Sheeple or become a Wolf yourself, if you want to LIVE then you become a Wolf. I am reminded here of that scene in Terminator II where Arnold reaches out his hand and says to Linda Hamilton “Come with me if you want to LIVE!”. You are in a fight for survival, and you have to Pack Up with some other wolves to have any chance at all. Once you do, you TAKE NO PRISONERS.

The Wars we are pursuing in Afghanistan and Iraq are a manifestation of this phenomenon on the aggregate level of the Nation State. As a Culture, it is Kill or Be Killed between our society and the one controlling the resource of Oil that we need as a culture to survive. Morality isn’t a question in this war, as long as it is perceived that we MUST have OIL to survive. ANYTHING goes. Killing civilian children is nothing more really than exposing them on a mountain top because your society needs the resources those children would use, just it is done on a mass scale as is the nature of war in the industrial era. From this point of view, its not morally wrong, and that would be the Bryzhinski/Kissinger/Cheney model of morality. It’s just a Geopolitical Chess Game.

Where the Moral Flaw really exists is in the inequity of power distribution between the Packs of Wolves. In fact it’s not so much a moral flaw or problem as it is one of homoeostasis. When there is relatively equal power distribution between packs of wolves, they tend to kill each other off in equal numbers when fighting over a given territory. When one group of wolves comes up with Industrialization, the whole power distribution setup goes out of whack and the Wars are not even in casualties. I remember those Numbers from Vietnam that used to be published each night on the Network TV Newz programs. 2000 Vietcong DEAD, 20 US Marines Dead. No Balance there, and so the whole shebang goes out of Homoeostasis.

This is why the pictures JimQ puts up of Dead and Mutilated Children are so disturbing, because people sense the inherent inequity here in the battle. A Big High Tech War Machine going in and Dropping Death from Above on a bunch of simple Villagers in Afghanistan is not a very fair fight. Same bizness in Vietnam. Who was not disturbed by the image in Platoon of the grunts torching the little Vietnamese Village, which of course was the cinematic version of the Me Lai Massacre? No matter how you feel about Commies or Towel Heads, your basic sense of fairness makes such slaughter seem quite immoral, which of course it is in this situation.

Its not the same moral dilemma when a couple of relatively evenly matched Tribes decide to Duke it Out over a Watering Hole. In this case one of them might sneak up in the middle of the night on the other one, and kill off everyone from the opposing tribe, women and children included, although more often just the men are killed and the women and children are taken as slaves. While this is a rather gruesome process, its not inherently unfair and doesn’t have the same kind of moral stink about it.

Abortion has similar inequities in the modern world, because it is inequitably distributed among the poor. Like Military Power, Economic power is inequitably distributed here, so MOST of the growing organisms being vacuumed up from mommy’s tummy are of course the potential progeny of poor people, likely to be poor themselves and in a social welfare state members of the dependent class, respectfully referred to on the pages of TBP as the Free Shit Army. LOL.

All sorts of Eugenics arguments have been put forth to justify this type of inequitable distribution of abortion, which basically comes from the faulty assumption that because people are poor, they also are Feeble Minded. This is much more likely to be the EFFECT of being poor rather than the CAUSE of it. Poor diet, poor educational opportunities and a poor nurturing environment is a more likely culprit than genetic differences for creating feeble minded people in this demographic. In any event, George Bush is living PROOF that rich people can be just as Feeble Minded as any Poor Person. LOL.

In our current Global society, in truth there is still quite a bit of surplus, and if a means could be found for equitable distribution of the remaining resources, neither Abortion nor War would be necessary. Unfortunately for a whole host of reasons setting up an economic system which can do such a job of equitable distribution is an exceedingly difficult problem, one which has never been solved for large societies at the Nation State level. It probably is an insoluble problem at this level, which means that both War and Abortion are inevitable, along with the slower form of death distribution of the powerful over the less powerful, which is resource starvation.

The main mitigating factor here is that due to the deterioration of complex systems, which I call the Conduits, power distribution is going to be levelled as these Conduits fail. As that happens, more of the Sheeple all over the world will morph into Wolves. Its going to become a fight of Pack Animals against each other with more or less the same tools for making that fight once the Oil resource drops below a critical mass. We are still a ways away from that though, so in the initial stages here of this spin down there will be a lot of very unfair fights and asymmetric types of warfare engaged in. Techno War simply breeds more Terrorists, because you cannot fight a Drone Aircraft with Guided Missiles with Homemade Bombs. So you have to carry the homemade bombs to hotels and buses and marketplaces where the people who are supporting the Techno Army are engaged in their daily toils, bringing the War to their shores and their lives. This type of asymmetric battle is in full flower in the Middle East already, and of course, its Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You also. It already has in small scale with events like Joe Stack and Jared, along with numerous College Campus Postals over the last couple of years.

In the great Moral Question here of whether any of this Death is necessary, the fault mainly lies in the fact that there is inequitable power and wealth distribution, and so those who support continuation of such inequity are most at fault, and so most morally corrupt. However, people immersed in a society dependent on the automobile and industrialization don’t see that as corruption, and they aren’t willing to give it up either. It “enhances” their lives. It will only be given up when it is no longer possible to run the War Machine which makes such an asymmetry possible. No individual can fight this, it’s a pointless and unwinnable battle. This is why the Back to the Land Hippy movement of the 1960s and 1970s failed to gain traction. Only when the Conduits truly FAIL will it be possible to fight and WIN this battle, and that day is coming, if not in this generation then almost certainly in the next one.

So, for the foreseeable future, for the rest of your natural life walking the earth, what you can expect to see are many more revoltingly immoral applications of Death by the Powerful on the Less Powerful, punctuated by instances of equally revolting Terrorist bombings of Malls, Train Stations and of course inevitably Elementary Schools or Day Care Centers by the Less Powerful on the Powerful. Besides the gruesome Abortion Mills, there will be more instances of newborns left in garbage bags in dumpsters. Neil Young wrote about this back as far as 1980 in “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World

For myself, I see what is coming down the pipe here, and I report what I see. I don’t like the immoral wars of the powerful on the less powerful when in truth there is still plenty to go round. I don’t like the many dead babies that poverty creates in a world where there is still plenty. To be sure, real deprivation is coming when the Oil resource can no longer keep the Industrial Ag model producing copious amounts of food, but that day is not here YET. Right NOW, the reason people are Starving in Tunisia is because of poor wealth distribution and financial speculation in the Commodities market by people seeking to make a Profit on the misery of others. This is immoral and unjust, but it is an effect of Capitalism, where resources are privatized and artificial scarcity is induced to sieve wealth from one group of people to another. This is why I am so vehemently anti-Capitalist and find the whole system to be unjust and immoral. As someone who believes in Justice, I support the idea of Punishment and Retribution, and I understand why Marie Antoinette’s head went rolling like a Bowling Ball out in front of the Bastille. She was GUILTY, and she deserved what she got, as all people do who live in luxury while others starve.

Nobody should be forced to give away EVERYTHING they ever worked for, but there is a limit to what any individual really needs to keep for himself for some safety and security In any society, having a couple of years worth of food is a prudent measure and not unreasonable for an individual. In our economics here in Amerika, I wouldn’t even begrudge someone who had $100K worth of Gold Coins in his basement safe that measure of security. More than this though here in Amerika? To me sequestering that much wealth is socially destabilizing, and besides that you are likely to lose most if not all of it anyhow when the fiat goes south and most paper assets like stocks and bonds lose their monetary value. Better to give it away and help some friends and family who are hurting while the money is still good for something. That is what I have done. Nobody, not even Bill Gates can Save them ALL. You are also free to choose exactly WHO you would like to Save here, and most of us will choose Friends and Family rather than Strangers. Only AFTER you have helped all your friends and family and your own life is reasonably secured if you STILL have surplus does Noblesse Oblige come into play. It behooves you then to help Strangers also, because doing so will stabilize the society as a whole. If all people lived by these principles, then the Wars and the Abortions could be postponed, and the necessary die off could be spread out over a generation or more. Not gonna happen of course, but because it IS in theory possible, it makes the other choice of hoarding the wealth to be immoral.

To be truly Just, a Society must be based on GIVING rather than TAKING. This is possible, though only demonstrated in much smaller societies than those we have developed at the Nation State level over the last 5000 years. This is why some folks will maintain “It has ALWAYS been like this, and it ALWAYS will be like this.” Not true. Potlatch WAS a viable system, and it will be again, though likely not at population levels and with social structures we currently have extant. That is a failure of the complex system model more than anything else, not a failure of inherent human corruption. It will take the utter and complete destruction of this complex system for the inherent traits of Generosity of Spirit and Giving and Cooperation to once again reassert themselves as the governing behaviors in human society. That this destruction will involve pain beyond all measure is without question. Those who do survive this though must remember what CAUSED it, and never permit this Evil to spread again amongst the race of Homo Sapiens. The Greedy must be Exterminated with Extreme Predjudice. Bring in the Orkin Man, Exterminate the Cockroaches. With a Clean Kitchen, we can cook up a Better Tomorrow.

RE

Forward on Climate, 2/17/2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published in Doomstead Diner

February 20, 2013

Discuss this article here in the Diner forum.

Contrary and I were proud to part of a large contingent of people form our area of Virginia to travel to the National Mall in DC for the Forward on Climate rally on Sunday. It was a long and extraordinary day.

 

The Forward on Climate rally, as it was billed by environmental groups Sierra Club and 350.org, called for President Obama to take immediate action on climate change, including blocking further construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dozens of buses discharged rallyers from all across the country. The assembly massed on the National Mall, where speakers and musicians addressed the crowd. As they gathered for the march, participants listed to a variety of talks from luminaries, including 350.org President Bill McKibben, who tweeted, “Today was one of the best days of my life, because I saw the movement come together finally, big and diverse and gorgeous.”

Bill McKibben speaks.

More "domestic terrorists" in action.

 

“I waited a quarter century since I wrote the first book about all this stuff to see if we were going to fight,” McKibben told the crowd. “And today, I know we are going to fight. The most fateful battle in human history is finally joined, and we will fight it together.”

 

We gathered under this banner. At first, the Virginia contingent was pretty easy to find. Later in the day, finding anyone became impossible.

Van Jones was also on the dais. He urged the crowd to put pressure on the President: “This President has the power to achieve the single biggest carbon reduction ever, by holding our biggest carbon polluters – dirty power plants – accountable for what they dump into the air, Cleaning up this pollution and using more clean energy will provide jobs to thousands of Americans, save families real money when it comes to electricity bills and, most important, will make a real difference in our health and the health of our children.”

 

Loved this man's sign. He said he FOUND it along the way!

Organizers distributed placards.

Wind power advocates brought visual aids.

Two of my favorite people: the lovely Contrary, and Jaded Prole, both local Occupiers.

Kathy and Jeff, also local Occupiers. They walk the walk.

 

 

Other speakers included:

  • The Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO
  • Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
  • Van Jones, NRDC Trustee and President Rebuild the Dream
  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Democratic Senator from Rhode Island
  • Rosario Dawson
  • Chief Jacqueline Thomas, native peoples chief and co-founder Yinka Dene Alliance

 

A chill and biting win gusted on the participants, who stood in the frozen mud of the Mall to brave the elements. Even huddling together like penguins didn’t make it any more bearable. Those in attendance later marched through the streets bearing placards, signs and musical instruments.

In an interesting turn, earlier that week Michael Bruce, President of the Sierra Club, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and others handcuffed themselves to the White House gates in an act of civil disobedience to bring attention to these interrelated issues. This marks the first time in the Sierra Club’s history that it has engaged in acts of civil disobedience.

 

During his turn at the microphone, Brune addressed the crowd: “Twenty years from now on President’s Day, people will want to know what the president did in the face of rising sea levels, record droughts and furious storms brought on by climate disruption . . .”  “President Obama holds in his hand a pen and the power to deliver on his promise of hope for our children.  Today, we are asking him to use that pen to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and ensure that this dirty, dangerous, export pipeline will never be built.”

      

Many in the crowd expressed by voice and sign that the pipeline would be stopped “by any means necessary.”

Capt. Ray Lewis gives an interview.

Ray Lewis, Occupier and hero.

There was also much opposition to fracking, and much support for clean, alternative fuels. Neither Charles nor David Koch was spotted in the crowd. It was also a pleasure to meet Captain Ray Lewis, a true Occupy hero. I was able to thank him for his work.

 

It remains to be seen what will come of this effort. Stay tuned.

 

   

Of all the signs seen on this day, this one spoke perhaps the most to the two of us. Because, as for most of us, this outing is not about us, but for the generations to come.

 

All images Surlyfoto.

Jetsons to Flintstones

Off the keyboard of RE

Published originally on The Burning Platform on Novemeber 17, 2010

Discuss this article at the Frostbite Falls Daily Rant inside the Diner

My father rode a camel, I drive a car, my son flys a jet plane, his son will
ride a camel. -Old Saudi Saying

A recent thread here brought up Richard Duncan’s Olduvai Theory, which basically states that with decreasing per capita energy availability, we are eventually destined to return to the Stone Age in terms of our technology, with a fairly precipitous decline which began sometime in the late 1970s, and should put us back in the 1930s era by 2030 or so. Whenever I bring up this possibility, I get the same Kneejerk Rections, that the possibility that Homo Sapiens is destined to be using Stone Knives and dressed in Bearskins is Science Fiction on a par with ET landing in Elliot’s Garage and Phoning Home. I’d like to try to examine the ideas for how valid they might or might not be, along with what the actual timeline might be for a technological retracement

.

First off, as far as my own knowledge of this theory, I only found out about it quite some time after I joined the Peak Oil message board writing my own take on how our civilization would be affected by the disappearance of easily accessible fossil fuels. My general conclusion was (and for the most part still remains) that we will eventually drop back down to about a 1750s era level of technology, utilizing Sail Power for shipping and animal and human labor for over land transportation and food production. However, I can see some justification for the hypothesis that over a really long term of a millennia or more that we could end up going all the way back to a Neolithic paradigm. This assuming of course we don’t end up going completely extinct either through natural causes like a Supervolcano, or through a Man Made self-extinction through Nuclear War and/or poisoning the planet through further ecological disasters like the Deepwater Horizon in the GOM.

What would the justification be for this? Well, if you assume steadily increasing population here for as long as there is some sort of fossil fuels to access, more people will continue to use up more resources ever faster, even while per capita usage drops. This is reflected in the idea that China with 1.3B people will put as many cars out on the road as we did for the last 50 years, so even if we conserved the fuel would get burned up anyhow. Then we go through the Coal and NG reserves, until in the end the only fuel left to burn is that which grows each year fed by Solar Energy. A Pay as you Go paradigm from that point forward.

Duncan is assuming a few things here which may or may not be true. First one would be that we don’t at least partially replace the lost fossil fuel energy source with Nuke and Renewables. Second and even more important is that he is assuming a pretty steady population increase to keep the fossil fuels consumption up, and thus drop us off the fairly steep curve he draws downward to 2030 or so.

While its not a very pleasant scenario to contemplate, if through War, Pestilence or Famine sometime between now and 2030 we cut World Population in Half, per Capita we could roughly double energy usage with the remaining resource, or raise it 50% while halving the decline rate. If at the same time we make a concerted effort at developing alternative energy resource, we could extend it out further than that. Over a fairly long period of time, the population might shrink down to 1/10th what it is now, or even 1/100th. As long as that shrinkage is not also accompanied by ever increasing energy usage by the smaller population, in theory you REALLY could extend out the timeline of a such a technological society, although no matter how long and with how small a population you work with, eventually you would reach the point where fossil fuels were completely unavailable to use. However, with such a long timeline and such a reduced population, you might be able to Pay as You Go turning Sedge Grass into liquid fuel using enzymatic processes, or some variant of this with Algae or some other rapidly growing organism. Making these assumptions, which are not all that unrealistic, Duncan’s Olduvai Theory doesn’t play out that well.


GIFSoupHowever, that decline of Population commensurate with maintaining current infrastructure and production levels falls apart when you consider the real results of what the competition for the remaining resource will be, which is ever increasing War. For as long as it is possible to get enough Oil to run a Mechanized Army, societies will build such a War Machine, with the specific purpose of taking control of the Oil fields necessary to run that machine. The FIGHT for the remaining Oil is what will use it up faster, along with destroying the infrastructure used to pump up what oil remains and then refine it. This brings about a crash in population and technology that is FASTER than our possible ability to replace it with alternative energy resource. Under this scenario, Duncan’s Olduvai Theory is more justifiable.

Fossil Fuels aren’t the ONLY thing necessary to stay above the Stone Age though, long before we accessed the thermodynamic energy of Oil to run the civilization of Homo Industrialis, we jumped up from Stone Tools to using Metal ones. To smelt and refine those metals though, entire Forests were burned down, along with also Coal being used, but in this projected future there wouldn’t be any Coal left to burn, so in terms of burning stuff to create the heat necessary to create all those metal tools, you would need another heat source. This of course could be provided by Nuke Energy, but again you have to remember that the Fight for the Oil resource probably would ALSO end up destroying any Nuke Reactors. Even if they all were not destroyed, just maintaining them and keeping them operational takes Oil, and they only have around a 50 year lifespan anyhow before they need to be decommissioned or all their internal parts replaced due to constant exposure to high energy radiation.

Taking all this into consideration, Duncan’s Olduvai Theory seems to me to be possible over a pretty long timeline, but its NOT a return to the Stone Age in a Century. In under a Century, at the very least you still have plenty of already mined up and refined metals to work with to create tools and build or rebuild with. In under that timeline, you still have a good deal of Coal left to run Forges with and reuse all that metal. Metal by itself forgetting the advantages we get from more complex machines was a HUGE step up the ladder from the Stone Age. Metal Knives, Farm Implements, Tools like Crosscut Saws hell just NAILS to bang together a housing structure or boat made of wood is a big advantage over just using a Stone Hand Axe to roughly hew out some wood and put it together with mortice and tenet joints and lashings. As big a Doomer as I am, I don’t see any scenario likely in even half a millennia where we wouldn’t have NAILS to use. If you backtrack in time 500 years to 1500 or so, they certainly were not living in the Stone Age. So if Duncan’s Olduvai Theory is correct, its going to take a pretty long time to Reverse Engineer our way back there, probably pretty close to the 5000 years or so it took to work our way OUT of the Neolithic lifestyle to begin with.

Most people aren’t too concerned about what the long term fate of Homo Sapiens is here, really they are about 60% concerned with how things are going to play out in their own lifetime, and the other 40% in what will happen to their Kids. If they have Grandkids already born, they have somewhat less concern over their own lives (mostly over already), and transfer that concern to the Grandkids, for something like maybe 30% your own life, 30% your kids lives and 40% your grandkids or something like that. So the max timeline anyone really cares to consider here usually is the next 50-100 years. What might that look like here under the most plausible scenario I can conjure up?

Well first off like MANY other Doomers on the net, I see a major War for Resources (Oil, Water and arable Land mainly) coming down the pipe here. It probably will have both a Civil (local) component as well as a Global component. Whenever the Global portion of this does really take off, I doubt it would take more than 5 years for all the good Military Hardware to be at the bottom of Davey Jones Locker and most of the Oil production infrastructure to be irretrievably destroyed. I don’t forsee Global Thermonuclear War of the Wargames Scenario with the WOPRs pitching out 100s of MIRVs and sending us into a Nuclear Winter. Rather I see Tactical Nukes being used on the battlefield, Dirty Bombs being used in some cases for Terrorism purposes, and certainly from all sides involved the effort to diminish the war making capability of the other side by destroying their Oil infrastructure of Refineries. The outcome of this is so Devastating and Incalculable that by itself its usually the point at which most folks stop considering how it will all play out. The Big Shitties all starved of Oil to run the water pumping stations and sewage treatment plants turns ALL of them into a virtual Mirror Image of what is going on in Port Au Prince in Haiti right now. No fancy Flu Virus concocted in an Illuminati Lab necessary, good old fashioned CHOLERA will bloom in all these Cesspools waiting to happen.

Once the Conduits begin to fail in earnest resulting from Global destruction of the Conduits, Local Populations everywhere will be left on their own to first off try to Protect and Defend their locales from an OCEAN of Refugees (aka Zombies), which has these areas mostly become Feudalized mini-states run by Warlords. Next, they will have to make themselves Sustainable in just what they produce within their borders. This will be a major challenge for most of these neighborhoods. Without any Oil Product to run any of the machines, without the ability to pump water up from aquifers to irrigate the land, without high energy fertilizers to increase yields, without pesticides to keep crop losses minimal, and at least at the beginning without a whole lotta Draft Animals to help do the physical work necessary, they will be producing a whole heck of a lot less off their local landscape than they do now, even if it IS good land for growing. Cross your fingers for each of these areas they have a local Permaculture Expert who will instruct them on how to get fabulous yields organically with Heirloom Seeds which will Breed True and conserve and save the seeds to grow another generation of crops the following season.

In effect here, due to extreme dislocation which results from WAR causing a very rapid removal of the Oil resource from the current population dependent on it, I just do not think it will take very long at ALL for a ST Matthews Island Deer depopulation to take place in many places. It’s a cascade failure of systems. 5-10 years from the time the Technological War of Mechanized Armies really gets going in the Resource War before it consumes the Resources necessary to feed such an army, 10-50 years after that for the remaining local populations to decrease in size themselves to a level sustainable on their local resources. In 50-100 years, you will have a MUCH reduced population size, but you STILL will not be Stone Age. There will still be TONS of copper wire to Scavenge, tons of Steel and even still mega Tons of coal available to mine up and use in your forges. The resultant Technological level at this time is nowhere near so low as Stone Age. Its 1750 all over again, the main difference being that what went down before did a seriously good job with depleting many good Ag areas of nutrients now washed out to sea and a fairly well poisoned Fisherie in most of the good fishing grounds along with much coral reef destruction that will prevent the fisherie from rapidly returning to its former levels of fecundity. All these factors will make scraping a living out of the ground a lot harder than it was on the way up the ladder, which leads to a still further undershoot of the Homo Sapiens population possible on the planet even on a pay as you go paradigm.

If you ran this one Logarithmically, factor down 10 fold in the initial loss resulting from Conduit Failure in the Big Shitties from the Techno War; factor down another 10 fold resulting from the inability of the surviving population to produce as much food from their local area as before TSHTF; and factor down another 10 fold from overall depletion and destruction of environmental resources that produce food, you get a 1000:1 population reduction over a timespan of about a Century. So an Initial Population prior to the Die Off of Homo Industrialis starts out TODAY at around 6.3B, in about a Century it drops down to 6.3M. This is MASSIVE Undershoot, because even in around 1500 there were 500M people living on Earth. So this might be an overestimate either in how fast the die off takes place or what percentage loss there is in any phase. Still, barring a miracle here, I can’t see how we will not drop down to a max of 1B people over the next century, so for most of your current progeny, best case scenario is they got a 50-50 shot at making it through the next 50 years. You can console yourself though with the knowledge that if they do in fact survive, they most probably will not be living in Duncan’s Neo-Stone Age, but rather on a Techno level something closer to 1750’s era technology.

We still have a few questions to answer though. Even if you assume all the above as plausible, does even a destruction of the current population on the planet down to 6M Human Souls, or even a FURTHER destruction below that down to just 10, 000 Human Souls as happened after the Toba Bottleneck mean that Homo Sapiens will NEVER be so technologically advanced as he is today? Hell no, in 75,000 years Homo Sapiens might well develop sustainable Pay as you Go methods of harvesting energy, just it is wholly unlikely we would ever again have such an enormous footprint on the planet in terms of numbers. I also do not think that even had we been the most careful stewards possible of our Energy Resources that we would ever get off the Planet to go populating the Stars in Interstellar Spacecraft. Sending some Rockets around the Solar System was about as much as we could manage, and the other planets aren’t suited for life as we know it. Creating and building spacecraft that could negotiate interstellar distances and having the energy resource necessary for such travel is about as far beyond our abilities as it is for an Ant to build and fly a Drone Aircraft to bomb Afghani Ants. We aren’t destined to populate the Stars, our corporeal existence is fixed to this Planet, and always will be for as long as Homo Sapiens avoids an Extinction event on the planet. If you accept that to be true, then why AT ALL is it necessary to aspire to ever higher levels of technological advancement in the first place?

This is REALLY where I diverge from Richard Duncan. The subtext of his argument is that our foolishness with wasting the one time gift we got of the Fossil Fuel resource “condemns” Humanity to a “primitive” life with Stone Age technology. As I perceive it, life was a whole lot BETTER when people lived with Stone Age technology than they do now. Yes I realize how parochial such a viewpoint is, since I don’t live that way and likely never would be able to the way I was brought up in the Age of Oil. Still, knowing what we know NOW, did acquiring Agriculture and then Metal Working and then Industrialization REALLY make life BETTER? Its OUTCOME was a thoroughly Polluted Ecosystem, huge unsustainable Big Shitties, endless Wars for Resources and Control, a horiffically stratified society of Haves and Have Nots which in the end can only succeed in consuming itself with its own GREED. How can anyone see this as a good result?

You do not need I-phones or Computers or Plasma TVs to lead an introspective life examining existence. Galileo and Copernicus and Newton were at least as good mathematicians as any Hedge Fund Manager today sitting at his Bloomberg Terminal. You do not need Space Ships to Explore the Universe. 1000 years ago with Stone Age Technology, Polynesian Navigators without a GPS and without even a magnetic compass used their observations of the Heavens and the rhythm of the Sea to successfully Navigate between Hawaii and the Society Islands. Thousands of years ago, great writers observed the Human Condition and told the Stories later written down to be collective Human Wisdom in the Bible. All of their lives were RICH in thought and exploration. There are NO LIMITS to the Human Mind, and in fact it is the dependence on the crutch of technology that most limits us today, and which looks to be the Achilles Heel of our Civilization. We have been CONSUMED by an obsession with the physical world, money over spirit. True GROWTH of the Human Mind is LIMITLESS in the world of the Spirit. Perhaps when all this is said and done with, whomsoever is left standing will grasp this, and a greater and better form of Homo Sapiens will emerge in the long distant future. Hopefully BEFORE Yellowstone throws 5000 cu km of Ejecta into the atmosphere and wipes the spark of sentience we have off the face of the Earth forever more.

Of course getting from here to there is going to be a BITCH, and it’s the short term stuff most folks are concerned with not the eventual fate of sentience on Earth. So we ground ourselves mostly in the day to day spin down of our economic system. Will it end in a new Stone Age? Unlikely in the near term. Will it result in a whole lot of Dead People. Quite a bit more likely. Meantime I will just try to avoid being one of those dead people too soon.

See You on the Other Side.

RE

HOW TWO GOOGLE CACHE RECORDS WITH PUBLISHED DATES PREDATING THE EVENTS AT SANDY HOOK SCHOOL CAME INTO BEING.

HOW TWO  GOOGLE CACHE RECORDS WITH PUBLISHED DATES PREDATING THE EVENTS AT SANDY HOOK SCHOOL CAME INTO BEING.

Peter Offermann

 

I will refer to 3 images in this document that show the anomalies in the Google cache records of The Arlington School’s News Items.

 

Document 1 is an image of a google cache record showing a published Date of Dec 10, 2012 which  states Google recorded it on Dec 18, 2012.

 

The url below used to access the page imaged below – it now returns a 404 page error. Anyone that has copies of the image please keep it safe.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.arlingtonlocalschools.com/news/2012/12/10/talking-with-your-child-about-the-sandy-hook-tragedy

it could also be accessed from

https://www.google.com/search?q=inurl:http://www.arlingtonlocalschools.com/news/2012/12/10/talking-with-your-child-about-the-sandy-hook-tragedy&as_qdr=y15

by selecting to view the page.

 

It now returns….

Your search – inurl:http://www.arlingtonlocalschools.com/news/2012/12/10/talking-with-your-child-about … – did not match any documents. Reset search tools

DOCUMENT 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOCUMENT 2 below is  an image of a google cache record showing a published Date of Dec 13, 2012 which states Google  recorded it on Jan 12, 2013.

As of this writing, January 25, 6:21pm PT it is still available at the url below.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.arlingtonlocalschools.com/news/2012/12/10/talking-with-your-child-about-the-sandy-hook-tragedy

 

 

 

DOCUMENT 3  is an image of a google search return to a document Published  Date of December 13, 2013 the same as in Document 2.

The link to this page has been disappeared by google as of today.

https://www.google.com/search?q=inurl:http://www.arlingtonlocalschools.com/news/2012/12/10/talking-with-your-child-about-the-sandy-hook-tragedy&as_qdr=y15

DOCUMENT 3

I am going to explain to you in this article how those document came to appear on the internet on the Published Dates shown, December 10, 2012 and December 13, 2012. I will also explain how the search return came into being.

In order to do this I am going to ask you to suspend disbelief so you can follow the timeline explaining the documents.

Events like 9/11 have demonstrated that news items about them appear almost instantly after such events. Many are complex documents that would be impossible to create in that short a period of time. If someone is preparing a false flag the most effective period to introduce your desired interpretation of the event is immediately after the event while people are still in shock. In order to meet a tight deadline there are many trusted people working in the background preparing documents and then sitting and waiting to pull the trigger and make them public the moment the event is planned to occur. These people are scattered all over and working off their own script with a time to make their information public.

CMI (Crisis Management Inc) which had author permissions on The Arlington School Website as a contractor to upload Their material to the website as needed. They could upload, create links to their material, and publish news announcements all from their own offices without anyone from the School being involved.

The School shootings that took place in sandy Hook on December 14, 2012, were originally planned to happen on December 10, 2012.

If you check on a calendar you will see Dec 10 was a Monday and a school day so the event could have been planned for that date.

 

DECEMBER 10, 2012

Everyone involved with media media material had the material prepared referring to the Date Dec 10, 2012.

On December 10, 2012 someone at CMI was waiting to pull the trigger and publish the news item (Document 1) and related documents such as the pdf the news item announces.

For some reason the event was called off at the last moment.

Everyone planned to submit material was frantically called to NOT submit their material.

The message for some reason didn’t get through to CMI in time and they submitted the pdf, created the link to it, and published the news item shown in Document 1 .

The other anomalous documents predating Dec 14, 2012 that appeared all over the internet originated the same way.

Because of a technicality (RSS Feed) that is explained by the developer of the program that manages the Arlington Schools site a record of the document immediately left the site and was submitted to people hooked up to the feed as well as to google which published the item for availability in their search engine. (see document 3)

Google took the opportunity while going to the site to capture the thumbnail of the page seen on the right of document 2 to also put it into their cache database.

 

 

In the Technical Discuss Thread at http://fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/sandy-hook-phony-documents-open-thread/#comment-164225

Jeremy the developer of the software SpireCMS which the School uses to manage their website stated

 

JEREMY… When a news item is created in our system, it is pushed out via an RSS feed and, Google has it indexed usually under 24 hours.

 

The above means the article could be found on the google search engine on that date and also in their cache shown in Document 1.

The search record was scrubbed by google for this Dec 10, 2012 item, but events that took place on Dec 13, 2012 caused an identical entry to be made only with a published date of December 13th. I’m not sure why it wasn’t scrubbed by Google before today. It is shown in (document 3)

 

DECEMBER 13, 2012

The Sandy Hook Shooting event was rescheduled to this date and was again scrubbed. It Was a Thursday, also a viable date.

It was again scrubbed for some reason.

CMI  again did not get the word to not publish in time.

They published the news item again  but this time with a published Date of Dec 13, 2012 causing another RSS submission creating (document 3)  and also a second cache record (document 2)

Jeremy stated above “Google has it indexed usually under 24 hours” which means (document 1) would originally have shown either “as it appeared on 10 Dec 2012 or possibly 11 Dec 2012.”

The December 13, 2012 (document 2) would originally have shown either “as it appeared on 13 Dec 2012 or possibly 14 Dec 2012.”

No one in the loop realized there was an RSS feed on the news items at Arlington School and that the 2 pages (document 1 &2) where recorded in the google cache.

AFTER DECEMBER 14

Some bright internet users discovered the cache records predating the actual events and all hell broke loose.

The people behind the false flag frantically tried to cover up these incriminating cache records  and the search return.

For technical reasons too complex to explain here it was impossible to erase the records.

Publicly removing the cache document after they were found would also be suspicious.

As a temporary fix someone authorized by google edited the records as below.

(Document 1) which first read “as it appeared on 10 Dec 2012 or possibly 11 Dec 2012 was changed to read 18 Dec 2012.”, a date after the events of December 14th. This document was still suspicious but at least is showed it was recorded after the event it announced.

(Document 2) which first read “as it appeared on 13 Dec 2012 was changed to read “as it appeared on 12 Jan 2013.”, a date after the events of December 14th. This document was still suspicious but at least is showed it was recorded after the event it announced.

To make these changes at google would take no more than about two minutes. All that needed to be done is to select the records in the database and edit the field that holds the date google recorded the record.

JANUARY 25 2013

Today google decided that the evidence implicating them in these events very getting to dangerous to leave available and removed them from public view even though that looks very suspicious.

This happened because I stated publicly that it is impossible for a document published with an RSS feed request to google could take 30 days as shown in (Document 2) and 8 days as shown in (Document 1) after the developer publicly stated at  http://fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/sandy-hook-phony-documents-open-thread/#comment-164225

JEREMY… When a news item is created in our system, it is pushed out via an RSS feed and, Google has it indexed usually under 24 hours.

There is an enormous amount of corroborating evidence that I described before at Fellowship of the Minds.

If you find the information above compelling enough to look further, and if I survive to tell about it, this discussion will be continued.

That google is currently scrubbing the evidence does not bode well for those publicly explaining it. Although google can hide the incriminating evidence from the public, they cannot remove the internal traces from their servers. We who made screencaptures and didn’t clear our browser histories have evidence they existed to the last date we accessed it. Guard that information well.

I am going to stop here to let you consider what I said.

Peter

Is Sustainable Agriculture an Oxymoron?

Off the keyboard of Toby Hemenway

Published originally on Pattern Literacy

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

Jared Diamond calls it “the worst mistake in the history of the human race.”(1) Bill Mollison says that it can “destroy whole landscapes.”(2) Are they describing nuclear energy? Suburbia? Coal mining? No. They are talking about agriculture. The problem is not simply that farming in its current industrial manifestation is destroying topsoil and biodiversity. Agriculture in any form is inherently unsustainable. At its doorstep can also be laid the basis of our culture’s split between humans and nature, much disease and poor health, and the origins of dominator hierarchies and the police state. Those are big claims, so let’s explore them.

Permaculture, although it encompasses many disciplines, orbits most fundamentally around food. Anthropologists, too, agree that food defines culture more than our two other physical needs of shelter and reproduction. A single home-building stint provides a place to live for decades. A brief sexual encounter can result in children. But food must be gotten every day, usually several times a day. Until very recently, all human beings spent much of their time obtaining food, and the different ways of doing that drove cultures down very divergent paths.

Anthropologist Yehudi Cohen (3) and many subsequent scholars break human cultures into five categories based on how they get food. These five are foragers (or hunter-gatherers), horticulturists, agriculturists, pastoralists, and industrial cultures. Knowing which category a people falls into allows you to predict many attributes of that group. For example, foragers tend to be animist/pantheist, living in a world rich with spirit and in which all beings and many objects are ascribed a status equal to their own in value and meaning. Foragers live in small bands and tribes. Some foragers may be better than others at certain skills, like tool making or medicine, but almost none have exclusive specialties and everyone helps gather food. Though there may be chiefs and shamans, hierarchies are nearly flat and all members have access to the leaders. A skirmish causing two or three deaths is a major war. Most of a forager’s calories come from meat or fish, supplemented with fruit, nuts, and some wild grain and tubers.(4) It’s rare that a forager will overexploit his environment, as the linkage is so tight that destruction of a resource one season means starvation the next. Populations tend to peak at low numbers and stabilize.

The First Growth Economy

Agriculturists, in contrast, worship gods whose message usually is that humans are chosen beings holding dominion, or at least stewardship, over creation. This human/nature divide makes ecological degradation not only inevitable but a sign of progress.

While the forager mainstays of meat and wild food rot quickly, domesticated grain, a hallmark innovation of agriculture, allows storage, hoarding, and surplus. Food growing also evens out the seasonal shortages that keep forager populations low.

Having fields to tend and surpluses to store encouraged early farming peoples to stay in one place. Grain also needs processing, and as equipment for threshing and winnowing grew complex and large, the trend toward sedentism accelerated.(5)

Grains provide more calories, or energy, per weight than lean meat. Meat protein is easily transformed into body structure—one reason why foragers tend to be taller than farmers—but turning protein into energy exacts a high metabolic cost and is inefficient.(6) Starches and sugars, the main components of plants, are much more easily converted into calories than protein, and calories are the main limiting factor in reproduction. A shift from meat-based to carbohydrate-based calories means that given equal amounts of protein, a group getting its calories mostly from plants will reproduce much faster than one getting its calories from meat. It’s one reason farming cultures have higher birth rates than foragers.

Also, farming loosens the linkage between ecological damage and food supply. If foragers decimate the local antelope herd, it means starvation and a low birth rate for the hunters. If the hunters move or die off, the antelope herd will rebound quickly. But when a forest is cleared for crops, the loss of biodiversity translates into more food for people. Soil begins to deplete immediately but that won’t be noticed for many years. When the soil is finally ruined, which is the fate of nearly all agricultural soils, it will stunt ecological recovery for decades. But while the soil is steadily eroding, crops will support a growing village.

All these factors—storable food, surplus, calories from carbohydrates, and slow feedback from degrading ecosystems—lead inevitably to rising populations in farming cultures. It’s no coincidence, then, that farmers are also conquerors. A growing population needs more land. Depleted farmland forces a population to take over virgin soil. In comparison, forager cultures are usually very site specific: they know the habits of particular species and have a culture built around a certain place. They rarely conquer new lands, as new terrain and its different species would alter the culture’s knowledge, stories, and traditions. But expansion is built into agricultural societies. Wheat and other grains can grow almost anywhere, so farming, compared to foraging, requires less of a sense of place.

Even if we note these structural problems with agriculture, the shift from foraging at first glance seems worth it because—so we are taught—agriculture allows us the leisure to develop art, scholarship, and all the other luxuries of a sophisticated culture. This myth still persists even though for 40 years anthropologists have compiled clear evidence to the contrary. A skilled gatherer can amass enough wild maize in three and a half hours to feed herself for ten days. One hour of labor can yield a kilogram of wild einkorn wheat.(7) Foragers have plenty of leisure for non-survival pleasures. The art in the caves at Altamira and Lascaux, and other early examples are proof that agriculture is not necessary for a complex culture to develop. In fact, forager cultures are far more diverse in their arts, religions, and technologies than agrarian cultures, which tend to be fairly similar.(3) And as we know, industrial society allows the least diversity of all, not tolerating any but a single global culture.

A Life of Leisure

We’re also taught that foragers’ lives are “nasty, brutish, and short,” in Hobbes’s famous characterization. But burial sites at Dickson Mounds, an archaeological site in Illinois that spans a shift from foraging to maize farming, show that farmers there had 50% more tooth problems typical of malnutrition, four times the anemia, and an increase in spine degeneration indicative of a life of hard labor, compared to their forager forebears at the site.(8) Lifespan decreased from an average of 26 years at birth for foragers to 19 for farmers. In prehistoric Turkey and Greece, heights of foragers averaged 5′-9″ in men and 5′-5″ in women, and plummeted five inches after the shift to agriculture (1). The Turkish foragers’ stature is not yet equaled by their descendants. In virtually all known examples, foragers had better teeth and less disease than subsequent farming cultures at the same site. Thus the easy calories of agriculture were gained at the cost of good nutrition and health.

We think of hunter-gatherers as grimly weathering frequent famine, but agriculturists fare worse there, too. Foragers, with lower population densities, a much more diverse food supply, and greater mobility, can find some food in nearly any conditions. But even affluent farmers regularly experience famine. The great historian Fernand Braudel (9) shows that even comparatively wealthy and cultured France suffered country-wide famines 10 times in the tenth century, 26 in the eleventh, 2 in the twelfth, 4 in the fourteenth, 7 in the fifteenth, 13 in the sixteenth, 11 in the seventeenth, and 16 in the eighteenth century. This does not include the countless local famines that occurred in addition to the widespread ones. Agriculture did not become a reliable source of food until fossil fuels gave us the massive energy subsidies needed to avoid shortfalls. When farming can no longer be subsidized by petrochemicals, famine will once again be a regular visitor.

Agriculture needs more and more fuel to supply the population growth it causes. Foragers can reap as many as 40 calories of food energy for every calorie they expend in gathering. They don’t need to collect and spread fertilizer, irrigate, terrace, or drain fields, all of which count against the energy gotten from food. But ever since crops were domesticated, the amount of energy needed to grow food has steadily increased. A simple iron plow requires that millions of calories be burned for digging, moving, and smelting ore. Before oil, one plow’s forging meant that a dozen trees or more were cut, hauled, and converted to charcoal for the smithy. Though the leverage that a plow yields over its life may earn back those calories as human food, all that energy is robbed from the ecosystem and spent by humans.

Farming before oil also depended on animal labor, demanding additional acreage for feed and pasture and compounding the conversion of ecosystem into people. Agriculture’s caloric yield dipped into the negative centuries ago, and the return on energy has continued to degrade until we now use an average of 4 to 10 calories for each calorie of food energy.

So agriculture doesn’t just require cropland. It needs inputs from vast additional acreages for fertilizer, animal feed, fuel and ore for smelting tools, and so on. Farming must always drain energy and diversity from the land surrounding cultivation, degrading more and more wilderness.

Wilderness is a nuisance for agriculturists, a source of pest animals and insects, as well as land that’s just “going to waste.” It will constantly be destroyed. Combine this with farming’s surplus of calories and its need for large families for labor, and the birth rate will rise geometrically. Under this brutal calculus of population growth and land hunger, Earth’s ecosystems will increasingly and inexorably be converted into human food and food-producing tools.

Forager cultures have a built-in check on population, since the plants and animals they depend on cannot be over-harvested without immediate harm. But agriculture has no similar structural constraint on over-exploitation of resources. Quite the opposite is true. If one farmer leaves land fallow, the first neighbor to farm it gains an advantage. Agriculture leads to both a food race and population explosion. (I cannot help but wonder if eating high on the food chain via meat, since it will reduce population, is ultimately a more responsible act than eating low on the food chain with grains, which will promote larger populations. At some point humans need to get the message to slow their breeding.)

We can pass laws to stop some of the harm agriculture does, but these rules will reduce harvests. As soon as food gets tight, the laws will be repealed. There are no structural constraints on agriculture’s ecologically damaging tendencies.

All this means that agriculture is fundamentally unsustainable.

The damage done by agriculture is social and political as well. A surplus, rare and ephemeral for foragers, is a principal goal of agriculture. A surplus must be stored, which requires technology and materials to build storage, people to guard it, and a hierarchical organization to centralize the storage and decide how it will be distributed. It also offers a target for local power struggles and theft by neighboring groups, increasing the scale of wars. With agriculture, power thus begins its concentration into fewer and fewer hands. He who controls the surplus controls the group. Personal freedom erodes naturally under agriculture.

The endpoint of Cohen’s cultural continuum is industrial society. Industrialism is really a gloss on agriculture, since industry is dependent on farming to provide low-cost raw materials that can be “value-added,” a place to externalize pollution and other costs, and a source of cheap labor. Industrial cultures have enormous ecological footprints, low birth rates, and high labor costs, the result of lavishing huge quantities of resources—education, complex infrastructure, layers of government and legal structures, and so on—upon each person. This level of complexity cannot be maintained from within itself. The energy and resources for it must be siphoned from outlying agricultural regions. Out there lie the simpler cultures, high birth rates, and resulting low labor costs that must subsidize the complexity of industry.

An industrial culture must also externalize costs upon rural places via pollution and export of wastes. Cities ship their waste to rural areas. Industrial cultures subsidize and back tyrannical regimes to keep resource prices and labor costs low. These tendencies explain why, now that the US has shifted from an agrarian base to an industrial one, Americans can no longer afford to consume products made at home and must turn to agrarian countries, such as China and Mexico, or despotic regimes, such as Saudi Arabia’s, for low-cost inputs. The Third World is where the First World externalizes the overwhelming burden of maintaining the complexity of industrialism. But at some point there will be no place left to externalize to.

Horticulture to the Rescue

As I mentioned, Cohen locates another form of culture between foraging and agriculture. These are the horticulturists, who use simple methods to raise useful plants and animals. Horticulture in this sense is difficult to define precisely, because most foragers tend plants to some degree, most horticulturists gather wild food, and at some point between digging stick and plow a people must be called agriculturists. Many anthropologists agree that horticulture usually involves a fallow period, while agriculture overcomes this need through crop rotation, external fertilizers, or other techniques. Agriculture is also on a larger scale. Simply put, horticulturists are gardeners rather than farmers.

Horticulturists rarely organize above the tribe or small village level. Although they are sometimes influenced by the monotheism, sky gods, and messianic messages of their agricultural neighbors, horticulturists usually retain a belief in earth spirits and regard the Earth as a living being. Most horticultural societies are far more egalitarian than agriculturists, lacking despots, armies, and centralized control hierarchies.

Horticulture is the most efficient method known for obtaining food, measured by return on energy invested. Agriculture can be thought of as an intensification of horticulture, using more labor, land, capital, and technology. This means that agriculture, as noted, usually consumes more calories of work and resources than can be produced in food, and so is on the wrong side of the point of diminishing returns. That’s a good definition of unsustainability, while horticulture is probably on the positive side of the curve. Godesky (10) believes this is how horticulture can be distinguished from agriculture. It may take several millennia, as we are learning, but agriculture will eventually deplete planetary ecosystems, and horticulture might not.

Horticulturists use polycultures, tree crops, perennials, and limited tillage, and have an intimate relationship with diverse species of plants and animals. This sounds like permaculture, doesn’t it? Permaculture, in its promotion of horticultural ideals over those of agriculture, may offer a road back to sustainability. Horticulture has structural constraints against large population, hoarding of surplus, and centralized command and control structures. Agriculture inevitably leads to all of those.

A Steep Price

We gave up inherently good health as well as immense personal freedoms when we embraced agriculture. I once thought of achievements such as the Hammurabic Code, Magna Carta, and Bill of Rights as mileposts on humanity’s road to a just and free society. But I’m beginning to view them as ever larger and more desperate dams to hold back the swelling flood of abuses of human rights and the centralization of power that are inherent in agricultural and industrial societies. Agriculture results, always, in concentration of power by the elite. That is the inevitable result of the large storable surplus that is at the heart of agriculture.

It is no accident that permaculture’s third ethic wrestles with the problem of surplus. Many permaculturists have come to understand that Mollison’s simple injunction to share the surplus barely scratches the surface of the difficulty. This is why his early formulation has often been modified into a slightly less problematic “return the surplus” or “reinvest the surplus,” but the fact that these versions have not yet stabilized into a commonly held phrasing as have the other two ethics, “Care for the Earth” and “Care for People,” tells me that permaculturists have not truly come to grips with the problem of surplus.

The issue may not be to figure out how to deal with surplus. We may need to create a culture in which surplus, and the fear and greed that make it desirable, are no longer the structural results of our cultural practices. Jared Diamond may be right, and agriculture and the abuses it fosters may turn out to be a ten-millennium-long misstep on the path to a mature humanity. Permaculture may be more than just a tool for sustainability. The horticultural way of life that it embraces may offer the road to human freedom, health, and a just society.

Acknowledgement

I am deeply indebted to Jason Godesky and the Anthropik Tribe for first making me aware of the connection between permaculture and horticultural societies, and for formulating several of the other ideas expressed in this article.

References

  1. Diamond, Jared. The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race. Discover, May 1987.
  2. Mollison, Bill. (1988). Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual. Tagari.
  3. Cohen, Yehudi. (1971). Man in Adaptation: The Institutional Framework. De Gruyter.
  4. Lee, R. and I. Devore (eds.) 1968. Man the Hunter. Aldine.
  5. Harris, David R. An Evolutionary Continuum of People-Plant Interactions. In Foraging and Farming: The Evolution of Plant Exploitation. Harris, D. R. and G.C. Hillman (eds.) 1989.
  6. Milton, K. 1984. Protein and Carbohydrate Resources of the Maku Indians of Northwestern Amazonia. American Anthropologist86, 7-27.
  7. Harlan, Jack R. Wild-Grass Seed Harvesting in the Sahara and Sub-Sahara of Africa. In Foraging and Farming: The Evolution of Plant Exploitation. Harris, D. R. and G.C. Hillman (eds.) 1989.
  8. Goodman, Alan H., John Lallo, George J. Armelagos and Jerome C. Rose. (1984) Health Changes at Dickson Mounds (A.D. 950–1300). In Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture, M. Cohen and G. Armelagos, eds. Academic.
  9. Braudel, Fernand (1979). Civilization and Capitalism, 15th–18th Century: The Structures of Everyday Life. Harper and Row.
  10. Godesky, Jason (2005). Human Societies are Defined by Their Food. http://rewild.info/anthropik/2005/10/thesis-8-human-societies-are-defined-by-their-food/index.html

The Fifth Horseman

  

Violence is as American as cherry pie.” –H. Rap Brown

A personal reflection on yesterday’s events by Surly1.   Discuss this article here.

This past summer, my daughter came over for dinner one summer night and brought a friend to meet. She made it clear her guest was not “that” sort of friend, but a person of value nonetheless. “Nathan” (not his real name) was a slight young man,  with shoulder length hair and a bespectacled, quiet manner.

Nathan and I spent much of the evening in pleasant conversation, albeit I strained to hear much of his part of it. When he spoke, which wasn’t often, you had to listen intently: his words barely reverberated in a quiet room. He was a young man of unfinished dreams. He was interested in ideas. He was intensely curious. He spoke of going to St. John’s College in Annapolis, to pursue a curriculum based on the great books. He was the best man at a wedding that I photographed, for two other friends of my daughters’. Yet whether it was his own struggle with sexual ambiguity, or his relationship with his father, or a lack of the ability to dance to the music of the spheres, we will never know.

Before Thanksgiving of this year, Nathan took his own life.

Last weekend, the neighbor told me about the daughter of neighbors up the street (not known to me) who had likewise committed suicide.

Stories of the suicide of young people are all too frequent, and always deeply troubling. Every community, every news cycle, every day brings us a news about premature death stalks young people. And then, the news of December 14 in Newtown, Connecticut. We’re told that the shooter was intelligent, nerdy, a Goth, remote, autistic. We’re told he had Asberger’s. We’re told he might’ve suffered from a personality disorder. We’re told investigators seek the motives of this young man, who took his own life after shooting 28 people. We sit mesmerized by the blue light of evening talk programs and watch mental health professionals infer motives from the shooter’s reported actions, this in the absence of any other evidence. Sock puppet politicians gravely intone they are “shocked and saddened” by the days events, (a trope which should earn the next utterer a blow to the head with a seven-pound hammer.) We are told by that God did not protect the Connecticut shooting victims because prayer has been banned in schools. (This mouth breathing opportunist apparently went to the “never let a good crisis go to waste” school of public relations.) We are told that we have to have a big, principled discussion about gun control, as if that might actually be permitted to happen by Wayne LaPierre.

We are told repeatedly what to think. Never are we invited to ask questions. We never ask about the quality of life in the schools or in this rapidly declining country. We never discuss the future prospects of a generation. We never challenge our spending priorities. We never debate why we can spend billions overseas, most of it routed to the pockets of transnational corporations, but we can’t afford to build bridges or schools at home. And, most of all, we never discuss the irony of a Nobel Peace Prize winner dealing death from above via drones and a private kill list.

“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer.” — D.H. Lawrence

The unwelcome convergence of suicides close to home with yesterday’s news has led some of us who still retain a capacity for outrage to wonder aloud, “what the hell is going on here?”

 

And then you realize that none of this matters.

Screams over the intercom, 28 dead. Another violent rampage. Dozens of shattered families. This on the heels of another shooting earlier in the week in Oregon, and right before police in Bartlesville, Oklahoma arrested an 18-year-old high school student who was planning a school-shooting massacre plot.

A road man for the Lords of Karma might observe the bitter harvest of a culture steeped and marinated in violence. Others might cite our moral vacuity. Had we any sense of history, or  capacity to consider more than the next quarter’s earnings, we would behold a culture which, in the space of a generation, has embraced both torture and drone bombing of civilians as “business as usual.” (All justifiable in the name of the “war on terror”, citizen. Get used to it.) Others will, like clockwork, cite the absence the absence of God and the Bible. Others will cite the need for new gun laws. All will have a point.

None will examine the bloody, beating Heart of Darkness that is this rapacious, flesh eating capitalist monster that devours all in its path. Having taken homeowners’ houses, dreams and lives (Google the story of Norman Rousseau), we have now begun to devour our children. What better symbol for the end game of the financialization of all aspects of human endeavor, in which human beings are turned into “head count” and “human resources,” and hopes and dreams into profits and losses.

Can there be a more to-the-point indictment of the utter soullessness and moral bankruptcy of the American enterprise?

 

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” 

–William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 1 Scene 2

So much search for motive. We will not soon know the motives of this, or any shooter. What far shore of mind must a human being inhabit to take the life of another? And these incidences are happening more frequently. How many data plots do we need on our collective cognitive map  to understand that there is something very wrong here, that goes beyond one or two disturbed teens? The rate of people killed by guns in the US is 19.5 times higher than similar high-income countries in the world. In the last 30 years since 1982, America has mourned at least 61 mass murders. There have been 27 such events–27– since Columbine.

In Virginia, we survived the slaughter at Virginia Tech several years ago. The good citizens of the Commonwealth were left to try to puzzle out that latest act of wanton violence that led to 33 deaths and many more injuries. The ensuing conversations led to a conclusion of mental disturbance on the part of the shooter, a period of solemn mourning, and a good week a discussion of the proper role of guns in the society, after which the issue was shelved, per usual. There was some discussion about the shooter being a “collector of injustices,” an assessment which may have come closer to the truth then the FBI might have realized.

If mass murder and suicide is the symptom, perhaps the disease needs a name. Authors such as Paul Levy and Jack D. Forbes have explored a psychological disease observed by indigenous peoples informing self-destructive behavior on the part of European-based peoples. Some call it wetiko, others “malignant egophrenia.”

Indigenous people have been tracking the same “psychic”virus that I call malignant egophrenia for many centuries and calling it “wetiko,” a Cree term which refers to a diabolically wicked person or spirit who terrorizes others. Professor Forbes, who was one of the founders of the Native American movement during the early sixties, says, “Tragically, the history of the world for the past 2,000 years is, in great part, the story of the epidemiology of the wetiko disease.” Wetiko/malignant egophrenia is a “psychosis” in the true sense of the word as being a “sickness of the soul or spirit.” Though calling it by different names, Forbes and I are both pointing at the same illness of the psyche, soul and spirit that has been at the root of humanity’s inhumanity to itself.

Wetiko/malignant egophrenia is a disease of civilization, or lack thereof. To quote Forbes, “To a considerable degree, the development of the wetiko disease corresponds to the rise of what Europeans choose to call civilization. This is no mere coincidence.”[vi] The unsustainable nature of industrial civilization is based on, and increasingly requires violence to maintain itself. Genuine “civilization,” in essence, means not killing people. Referring to the lack of “civility” in modern society, Gandhi was asked what he thought of Western civilization and responded by saying, “I think it would be a good idea.” It makes sense that native people would know about malignant egophrenia, as they were both oppressed by, but weren’t, at least initially, under the “curse” of modern civilization. Being under the sway of modern civilization can feel like something foreign to our nature is being imposed upon us, as if we are living in an occupied land. Modern civilization suffers from the overly one-sided dominance of the rational, intellectual mind, a one-sidedness that seemingly dis-connects us from nature, from empathy, and from ourselves. Due to its disassociation from the whole, wetiko is a disturber of the peace of humanity and the natural world, a sickness which spawns aggression and is capable of inciting violence amongst living beings. The wetiko virus is the root cause of the inhumanity in human nature, or shall we say, our seemingly inhuman nature. This “psychic virus,” a “bug” in “the system,” in-forms and animates the madness of so-called civilization, which, in a self-perpetuating feedback loop feeds the madness within ourselves.

–Paul Levy

Whether new age or old, literature  informs us of the danger within. As we wage slaves scrape a living from the gears of the machine, in order to earn the privilege of additional consumption of things we don’t need, we often rub up against that within us that stops us from expressing our full potential and whatever creative genius might lie within. Is that “herd think,” that groupthink that enlists us in endless cooperation, and co-optation, and that leads us to a slaughter? It may be that these shooters are merely a physical manifestation of the psychic horrors that are embedded in our morally bankrupt culture.

“We have a companion for life…We have a predator that came from the depths of the cosmos and took over the rule of our lives. Human beings are its prisoners. The predator is our lord and master.” Don Juan, in Carlos Castaneda

  

 

   

There are echoes of this in the Bible as well. The Gospel of John refers to the devil as “the ruler of this world” (14:30; 16:11), and Paul speaks of Satan as “the god of this world” (Cor. 4:4). The Gnostic Gospel of Phillip, talking about the root of evil that lies within all of us, makes the similar point that unless this evil is recognized, “It masters us. We are its slaves. It takes us captive.” (II, 3, 83.5-30)

Many chafe at the lessons of biblical Christianity. Yes only the blind and deaf could possibly fail to see the existence and the works of capital E Evil in the world. If evil exists, good must logically exist as well. If the devil exists, and his existence can be inferred from his works, then God must exist.

 

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come and see!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

— Revelation 6:1-2˄ NIV

So we continue to search for answers. But that search will be in vain as long as we fail to acknowledge the reality and the consequences of this way of life, a dreamscape of horror inseparable from our ego and our own inner being. The wetiko “cannibal” culture is destroying us; as we militarize and financial lives, extract the last drop of oil, poison the aquifers and eat food manufactured by pesticide companies, the wave of suicides and shootings remind us of the culture of death that invests all of us. Our young people are being sacrificed to Mammon at an escalating rate: several dozen this week alone. Mammon is hungry. What we fail to realize is that we are offering our own children up for sacrifice. There is no difference between “theirs” and “mine.”

In Revelation, we are told that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are released after the Lamb of God opens the first four of the seven seals on the scroll in God’s right hand. This action summons forth four beings on white, red, black, and pale horses symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine, and Death, which visit a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment. Perhaps the shooters in these serial killings constitute a Fifth Horseman, a herald of sorts, announcing the coming of the promised Four, and the End of Days.

If wetiko is baked into our beings as a legacy, stemming from the “original sin” of agriculture and “dominion over all things,” then our challenge, and our work, will be to determine what it is that we do about it. Which is hte work of this website. It is quite clear that we are almost out of time.

 

References

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/12/14/1337221/a-timeline-of-mass-shootings-in-the-us-since-columbine/?mobile=nc

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/14/schoo-shooting-how-do-u-s-gun-homicides-compare-with-the-rest-of-the-world/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/why-are-mass-shootings-becoming-more-frequent/?wprss=rss_economy&tid=pp_widget

http://www.realitysandwich.com/lets_spread_word_wetiko

http://www.realitysandwich.com/greatest_epidemic

http://www.awakeninthedream.com/wordpress/

http://www.howardsmead.com/why_we_americans_are_so_violent.htm

Why Malthus got his Forecast Wrong

Off the Keyboard of Gail Tverberg

Published on December 12, 2012 on Our Finite World

Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner

Most of us have heard that Thomas Malthus made a forecast in 1798 that the world would run short of food, and that great famine would result. But most of us don’t understand why he was wrong. This issue is relevant today, as we grapple with the issues of world hunger and of oil consumption that is not growing as rapidly as consumers would like–certainly it is not keeping oil prices down to historic levels.

What Malthus Didn’t Anticipate

Malthus was writing immediately before fossil fuel use started to ramp up.

Figure 1. World Energy Consumption by Source, Based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects and together with BP Statistical Data on 1965 and subsequentFigure 1. World Energy Consumption by Source, Based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects and together with BP Statistical Data on 1965 and subsequent

The availability of coal allowed more and better metal products (such as metal plows, barbed wire fences, and trains for long distance transport). These and other inventions allowed the number of farmers to decrease at the same time the amount of food produced (per farmer and in total) rose. On a per capita basis, energy consumption rose (Figure 2) allowing farmers and others more efficient ways of growing crops and manufacturing goods.

Figure 2. Per capita world energy consumption, calculated by dividing world energy consumption (based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects together with BP Statistical Data for 1965 and subsequent) by population estimates, based on Angus Maddison data.Figure 2. Per capita world energy consumption, calculated by dividing world energy consumption (based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects together with BP Statistical Data for 1965 and subsequent) by population estimates, based on Angus Maddison data.

If it hadn’t been for the fossil fuel ramp up, starting first with coal, Malthus might in fact have been right. As it was, population was able to ramp up quickly after the addition of fossil fuels.

Figure 3. World Population, based on Angus Maddison estimates, interpolated where necessary.Figure 3. World Population, based on Angus Maddison estimates, interpolated where necessary.

A person can see that there was a particularly steep rise in population, right after World War II, in the 1950s and 1960s (Figure 3). This is when oil consumption mushroomed (Figure 2, above), and when oil enabled better transport of crops to market, use of tractors and other farm equipment, and medical advances such as antibiotics.

It is likely that increased consumer and business debt following World War II (Figure 4) also played a role in the post-World War II ramp up.

Figure 4. US Debt excluding Federal Debt as Ratio to GDP, based on Z1 Debt data of the Federal Reserve and GDP from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.Figure 4. US Debt excluding Federal Debt as Ratio to GDP, based on Z1 Debt data of the Federal Reserve and GDP from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The reason I say that debt likely played a role in this ramp is because at the end of World War II, people were, on average, pretty poor. The United States had recently been through the Depression. Many were soldiers coming back from war, without jobs. Without a ramp up in factory work and related employment, many would be unemployed. A ramp up in debt fixed several problems at once:

  • Allowed low-paid workers funds to buy new products, such as cars, that used oil
  • Allowed entrepreneurs funds to set up factories
  • Allowed pipelines to be built, and other support for ramped up oil extraction
  • Provided jobs for many coming home from the war effort

The debt ramp up, and the resulting increase in oil production, raised living standards. Figure 2 shows that the increase in per capita energy consumption was far greater in the 1950 to 1970 period when oil production was ramped up than in the coal ramp-up between 1840 and 1920. The long coal ramp-up period does not appear to have been accompanied by such a big ramp-up in debt.

Tentative Conclusion

A tentative conclusion might be that as long as we can keep ramping up availability of energy products and debt, Malthus’s views are not very relevant.

Of course, things aren’t looking as benign today. World oil production has been close to flat since about 2005 (Figure 5).

Figure 5. World crude oil production (including condensate) based primarily on US Energy Information Administration data, with trend lines fitted by the author.Figure 5. World crude oil production (including condensate) based primarily on US Energy Information Administration data, with trend lines fitted by the author.

The world has been able to increase production of other fuels to compensate so far. Unfortunately, the big increase is in coal (Figures 1 and 2). This mostly relates to growth in the economies of Asian countries, which are large users of coal.

The cost of oil has more than tripled in the last ten years. The higher cost of oil is a problem, because it leads to recession, unemployment, and governmental debt problems in oil-importing countries. See my posts High-Priced Fuel Syndrome, Understanding Our Oil-Related Fiscal Cliff, and The Close Tie Between Energy Consumption, Employment, and Recession.

Continued increase in debt now seems to be running into limits. Federal government debt is in the news every day, and non-government debt seems to be contracting relative to GDP, based on Figure 4.

Looking Ahead

I am not sure that we can conclude that we are headed for catastrophe the day after tomorrow, but the graphs give a person reason to pause to think about the situation.

The reason I write posts is to try to pull together the big picture. If we only look at the latest new item forecasting huge increases in tight oil production or talking about 200 years of natural gas, it is easy to reach the conclusion that all of our problems are past. If we look at the big picture, they clearly are not.

Debt problems are closely related to high oil prices in recent years. Debt problems are today’s issue, and they are not being considered in the huge oil and gas forecasts we see everywhere. The new tight oil and the new shale gas resources likely will need to be financed by increasing amounts of debt, so there is a direct connection with debt. There is also an indirect connection, through governmental debt problems, higher taxes, and the likely resulting recession (leading to lower oil prices, perhaps too low to sustain the high cost of extraction).

Also, it is interesting that the supposedly huge increases in US oil supply don’t really translate to any discernible bump in world oil supply in Figure 5.

We know that the world is finite, and that in some way, at some point in the future, easily extractable supplies of many types of resources will run short. We also know that pollution (at least the way humans define pollution) can be expected to become an increasing problem, as an increasing number of humans inhabit the earth, and as we pull increasingly “dilute” resources from the ground.

Based on earth’s long-term history, and on the experience of other finite systems, it is clear that at some point, perhaps hundreds or thousands of years from now, the earth will cycle to a new state–a new climate with different dominant species. It may turn out that these new species are plants, rather than animals. The new dominant species will likely ones that can benefit from our waste. Humans would of course like to push this possibility back as long as we can.

At this point, my goal is to pull together a view of the big picture, in a way that other analysts usually miss. The picture may not be pretty, but we at least need to understand what the issues are. Is the shift in the cycle very close at hand? If so, what should our response be?

The Burning of the Great Library of Alexandria

Off the keyboard of RE

Discuss this article at the Frostbite Falls Insider Table  inside the Diner

Recently Diner Phillip Farruggio put up an article Sins of the Empire here on the Diner expressing his dismay at the inexorable collapse of the Public Library system he grew up with, and came to love for the vast amount of information and knowledge it brought to him from his earliest years.  Pretty much since Homo Sapiens began the Civilization Journey, the collection of Knoweldge into Libraries has been of inestimable value in making it possible for those Civilizations to continue onward.  The fact that our Library system is now in terminal decay is probably as good a Canary in the Coal Mine as any to let the Collapse Watcher know that our Civilization also is now bound for the Dustbin of History.

The best known destruction of Knowledge gathered from Antiquity came with the Burning of the Great Library of Alexandria, which at its Peak of Knowledge Base probably contained near 1 Million Scrolls of inestimable length gathered throughout the Ancient World.  From Wikipedia:

The Royal Library of Alexandria, or Ancient Library of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt, was the largest and most significant library of the ancient world.[1] It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the 3rd century BC until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC. The library was conceived and opened either during the reign of Ptolemy I Soter (323–283 BC) or during the reign of his son Ptolemy II (283–246 BC).[2]

Plutarch (AD 46–120) wrote that during his visit to Alexandria in 48 BC Julius Caesar accidentally burned the library down when he set fire to his own ships to frustrate Achillas‘ attempt to limit his ability to communicate by sea.[3] After its destruction, scholars used a “daughter library” in a temple known as the Serapeum, located in another part of the city.

Intended both as a commemoration and an emulation of the original, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina was inaugurated in 2002 near the site of the old library.

In his seminal PBS Documentary and Book Cosmos, Carl Sagan expressed as his First Choice of places he would go visit if he had Mr. Peabody’s WAYBAC Machine would have been the Great Library at Alexandria before it got Torched.

In this segment of Cosmos, Carl points toward tantalizing evidence that Aristarchus of Samothrace developed a Heliocentric Theory of the Solar System long before Copernicus, just none of the Math involved in deducing this structure exists anymore.  How did he come up with that theory?  Far as we know, these Ancients had no Telescopes, nor did they have the Calculus either.  How did they make their Observations, how did they do their Calculations to come up with these results?

Diner William Hunter Duncan speculated in Phillip’s thread that perhaps in this great destruction of Collected Knowledge, the evidence of still earlier Civilizations such as Atlantis may have been destroyed as well.

Watching that video from Carl Sagan, I’m reminded that I’m pretty well certain there was an advanced sea-faring culture existing before the great flood, before the so-called rise of agriculture. I believe there were maps in that library that detailed the geography of Antarctica, before it was covered by ice. I think it was a culture that mastered Science and Magic, and what little evidence existed of it, the worshippers of OMOG wiped away, in their mandate to wipe away all non-OMOG sanctioned knowledge. It is something of a bitter irony then, that we would know nothing of the Classical era of Greece and Rome if not for the OMOG inspired mendicants, the transcribers of books among the Men of God.

If the trajectory plays out like it appears it will, ten thousand years from now, people will know as little about us as we do about “Atlantis.”

Did the Great Library at Alexandria contain evidence of the Lost Civilization of Atlantis?  Perhaps it did, but it is something we will never know.  All we do know for sure is that a VAST amount of collected knowledge was lost in the destruction of this Library, and it took Millenia for some of it to be rediscovered or reinvented.  Essentially with the loss of such vast amounts of collected knowledge, on an Intellectual level it marks the End of a Civilization.

It is worthwhile to note here that the primary dates involved in the destruction of this Great Library came RIGHT around the same time Jesus Christ hit the scene spreading His Gospel.  Clearly at this Period in Human History, there was tremendous Dislocation going on, much as there is today.  A part of that dislocation is the destruction of collected knowledge in Libraries, which can occur quite RAPIDLY.  Although it appears that the TOTAL DESTRUCTION of the Alexandria Library did not occur in a single Burning, given the great changes underway during the rule of Julius Caesar, it is fair to surmise that a great portion of this destruction of knowledge took place in 48BC, quite near to the date of the birth of Jesus Christ:

Ancient and modern sources identify four possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria: Julius Caesar‘s fire in the Alexandrian War, in 48 BC; the attack of Aurelian in 270 – 275 AD; the decree of Coptic Pope Theophilus in AD 391; and the Muslim conquest in 642 AD or thereafter

The fact that the Destruction of the Greatest Library of the Ancient World was DESTROYED at precisely the same Era in History that The Greatest Story Ever Told began its Journey is either a Coincidence of Epic Proportions, or else the two phenomenon are related, and I would say the latter case would appear to be the more likely one.

Without Mr. Peabody’s WAYBAC Machine it is impossible to know in absolute terms the level of Dislocation the Civilization ruled by Rome was undergoing in the Century from 50BC to 50AD, but the fact that you had this level of knowledge destruction AND the rise of a new Prophet at the same indicates to me that there was tremendous upheaval, of the sort we appear to be coming into now.  The fact said Prophet “arrived” on the scene shortly after the Library Burning can be seen as indicative of how such Collapses play themselves out on the psycho-social level.  When all you knew and held to be TRUE is destroyed, it opens the door for a new way of thinking and Charismatic Leaders of all sorts can arise in such times.

Is the destruction of the Great Lbrary at Alexandria the ONLY instance in Antiquity we have some knowledge of?  No, another one was recorded as well in the first years of Writing, the Collapse of the Tower of Babel.  In this one as Legend Goes, after the Tower Collapsed, the people dispersed,  many different languages arose and nobody could communicate with each other anymore.  Was the “Language” these stories were speaking of really Verbal or Written Words, or was it MATHEMATICS & MONEY?

In a thread I began way back in October of 2008 on Peak Oil, I discussed the ramifications of the destruction of  that other Ancient Historical Information plant, the Tower of Babel:

Collapse of an Economic Tower of Babel

Postby ReverseEngineer » Wed Oct 15, 2008 2:17 am

Reviewing as I have been Ancient History for parallels with what we see going on today, one Ancient Civilization collapse I always had trouble understanding and believing now is coming more clear to me as a parable. That would be the Fall Of Babylon and the destruction of the Tower of Babel.

From Wikepedia:

According to the biblical account, Babel was a city that united humanity, all speaking a single language and migrating from the east; it was the home city of the great king Nimrod, and the first city to be built after the Great Flood. The people decided their city should have a tower so immense that it would have “its top in the heavens.” However, the Tower of Babel was not built for the worship and praise of God, but was dedicated to the glory of man, with a motive of making a ‘name’ for the builders “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.'” – Genesis 11:4. God seeing what the people were doing, gave each person a different language to confuse them and scattered the people throughout the earth.

Now first off in my old analysis, just how could a Tower falling down instantly render people unable to communicate with each other? This seems impossible if you take it at face value as describing verbal language, but what if you take it to mean a Reserve Currency to which all things are linked in their value?

What happens when the Dollar loses its meaning entirely? Then ALL the traders can’t talk to each other anymore, it about instantly renders it impossible to communicate in the world of trade.

The first obvious parallel here would be the Crashing Down of the World Trade Center in NYC, a “tower so immense it would have its top in the Heavens”. However, the more important tower that is crashing down is the intricately connected system of world markets. Its rapidly becoming apparent that traders cannot talk to each other in a common language, and so international trade is grinding to a halt. Now each country has “a different language to confuse them and scattered the people throughout the earth.” We are of course all scatterred, and each individual locale now has to come up with its own monetary language to begin trading internally again. The Confusion here is clearly apparent as well.

Some very interesting tidbits in this story that have some relevance to today’s Tower of Babel collapse:

The building of the Tower was meant to bid defiance not only to God, but also to Abraham, who exhorted the builders to reverence. The passage mentions that the builders spoke sharp words against God, not cited in the Bible, saying that once every 1,656 years, heaven tottered so that the water poured down upon the earth, therefore they would support it by columns that there might not be another deluge.

If you Google up the collapse of the Roman Empire, it actually occured in 352 AD (2008-1656=352) when the Empire fractured between Constantinius II and Magnentius.

http://www.roman-empire.net/collapse/magnentius.html

Coincidence? Perhaps. However, that is one pretty big coincidence if you ask me. Interesting how the Geopolitics seem to replay themselves on the interval of every 1656 years.

The collapse of the Mesopotamian Civilization is SYMBOLIZED by the Collapse of the Tower of Babel, much as the Collapse of the Roman Republic  and it’s transformation to Empire is symbolized by the Burning of the Great Library of Alexandria.  Informational or Economic, essentially they represent the same things, CENTRALIZED SYSTEMS of Knowledge which essentially were no longer WORKING.  Lots of collected information, but its COMPLEXITY for the given time period was too much for that Civilization to support anymore.  It takes vast ENERGY to support Complexity, that is basic Thermodynamics and on a social level well documented by Joseph Tainter as well.

In the original discussion on this topic in the Collapse of an Economic Tower of Babel Thread on the Peak Oil Forum, we discussed how this played out on an Economic Level for Rome, as besides destroying their Cultural and Intellectual heritage, they also debased and destroyed their Monetary System as well:

Ayame wrote:Yes indeed. In the ‘Collapse of Complex Socities’ there is a detailed analysis of the collapse of the roman empire and the end was not pretty. When the empire first began expanding the roman citizen started out with not having to pay any taxes because of all the booty they were pillaging from conquered nations. However, at the end roman citizens were forced to sell their children in order to pay their taxes. The government was bankrupt through monetary debasement. Most romans openly welcomed the invading barbarians because of the liberation they would bring from the overwhelming taxes of the empire.

Assuming you take this model as applicable to what we see today, it brings up the question of the way the actual mechanics of currency debasement will function insofar as our military and social structures are concerned.

Mixing base metals with Silver in Roman coinage would be the equivalent of Ben firing up the digital printing press in our own civilzation. So at some point here if the analogy holds true, the currency won’t be sufficient to pay the army. My question to the members here would be just how long they think the military will hold up in unified form as the currency debasement works its way through the various levels of the economy?

In Roman times, I think this took quite some time to happen, certainly at least decades, possibly to a few hundred years depending on when you want to pin down the actual Fall of the Empire. However, the Romans did not have computers, the internet or the instantaneous transmission of digital wealth either.

How long before a Solider’s Paycheck in today’s Empire is no longer sufficient to feed the soldier’s family, and then no longer sufficient to feed the soldier himself? Clearly Iceland is going down VERY rapidly, I don’t think the Juggernaut that is the US goes down that fast, but neither do I think the system holds up decades or longer.
How long does it take for the military to cease to function as a unified force?

Reverse Engineer

I think you can see here how these two phenomenon, that of Information Destruction and that of Monetary System Collapse both work together in Synergy as a Civilization approaches its Collapse Phase, and BOTH indicators are apparent here and now, both in the progressive currency debasement being undertaken by the Central Banks in order to perpetuate a failing system, as well as the inexorable destruction of the Public Library system Phlllip Farrugio wrote about here on the Diner.

In many respects, you can make analogies between the Tower of Babel Collapse and the Collapse of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.  This represented the physical destruction of an edifice constructed specifically for the purpose of Centralizing and Directing World Trade, and in the aftermath of that destruction there has been progressive and inexorable unwinding of the Monetary System it was built to represent.  However, the collapse of those Towers did not result in an Instantaneous Monetary System Collapse, this is Ongoing.  Likely also true is that when the Original Tower of Babel collapsed, it took years if not Generations for all of its effects to reverberate through that Civilization.

Pops wrote:Sorry for crapping on your thread RE, now I owe you an actual reply.
I’ll take the military question, since the US outspends the rest of the world combined on it’s military and since the most basic function of a government is to protect the borders I think it will be a very long time before the military will cease to function.Not to say we will always be the predominate force, Portugal, Spain, Briton all had their time at the top and eventually overreached. We may be approaching or at our peak as well, as we run out of land to plunder – just as they did.
My guess our military will take either of two courses as the budget shrinks; either less technology (more boots and less bandwidth) or more (fewer boots and more UAVs and joysticks) depending on the mood of the public and the tactics of whoever the enemy.Who knows, soldiers may someday again be expected to cook their own food and clean their own latrines.

Apology accepted, no hard feelings.

Agreed, the US by far outspends the rest of the world on the military infrastructure, and I would certainly postulate at the moment has by far the best military out there in training and equipment. Same could be said of Rome of course.
Also, I would consider it likely that as the economy spins downward and we get further problems related to the society basically coming apart at the seams that still more of the scarce resources will be thrown at the military to try to keep it together.

The problem I see besides currency debasement is an absolute numbers problem. We have X number of Professional soldiers, a good part of that crew currently deployed in what have to be considered losing theatres of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Very high price to project out that much military force that far.

As TPTB perceive more and more local problems, they seek to ignore Posse Comitas and deploy soldiers here on the home turf, but unless they conscript up and train in a mighty big hurry, they are short numbers even to resolve potential rioting in a city like Atlanta, much less handle multiple problems in multiple cities.

Any newby soldiers they do conscript up and hand Rifles to are not the professionally Brainwashed soldiers they might need to fire willy nilly on a crowd of protesters. About guaranteed these units are not well logistically supplied also, if what happenned to the National Guard units around Houston after Ike hit is any indicator.

With tax receipts falling like a stone, with the Federal Government now placed in the position of not only bailing out private banks but also STATES that don’t have money for their budgets, for just how long can Ben just print up fiat money to pay for more soldiers to keep order here?

I fail to see how even the best trained and best equipped military to ever walk the face of the earth holds together once the results of the currency debasement really take hold. How long does that process TAKE?

Best case scenario, I think MAYBE 2-3 years? Just a guess though. I’m wondering if anyone could try an analysis of the military economics relative to the projected tax receipts and the effects of non-stop printing of fiat money? You would have to have access to more numbers than I know where to find on the net, if they are available at all. However some here seem to have a real fine ability to dig up these sort of numbers.

Reverse Engineer

BOY WAS I WRONG!  LOL.  At least on the Timeline level anyhow, the general prognosis remains correct.  This thread went down on Peak Oil in 2008 at the HEIGHT of the Crash at that time, in fact the very month that Hank the Skank Paulson was pitching DOOM at CONgress if they didn’t let him fire off the BAZOOKA.  4 years later, Da Military is still getting Paid with Da Dollars by Da Goobermint, and said Dollars are STILL buying Oil!

Can we now look at the progress here to make some better estimations on Timelines?  Is there a relationship between the Information Destruction and Monetary Collapse that can help us?

The Burning of the Great Library at Alexandria was essentially an OVERNIGHT event, at least the portion that was burned by Julius Caesar anyhow.  This apparently just preceeded the arrival of Jesus Christ on the scene, which would likely occur when the Civilization had reached its greatest stress point.  This is just interpreting the arrival of Christ as a Social Phenomena rather than a Trancendental one of the arrival of the Son of God on Earth.

Does the gradual defunding and Closure of our Paper Book Public Libraries signify an overnight event?  No, this is just a gradual deterioration of the system, and could go on for a long time.  The Main Branch of the NYC Public Library system remains Open, and so does the Library of Congress and so do the Stacks at Low Library on the Campus of Columbia University, my Alma Mater.  So you still do have these vast repositories of Knowledge bound up on Paper that remain in existence, and at least so far nobody has set the Torch to them.

However, are these Paper Book Libraries REALLY where the Store of Information is held that keeps this Civilization running now?  No, they are not.  The place where most of this stuff is stored now is in Virtual Space, in Digital form on Computers and Hard Drives all over the world, all connected up into a Network we know as the INTERNET, or the World Wide Web.

Unlike the Books now sprinkled around in many Libraries in many places which cannot be destroyed all at once in a Fire like in the Alexandria Library Fire, the Internet can go down as fast or even faster than that Library did.  In fact it can crash at the Speed of Light, or very close to it.

The vast quantity of knowledge now searchable with the Google Search engine all essentially DISAPPEARS as soon as Google goes offline, or just limits what you can search down, which in fact they already do.  The vast video library now available on You Tube (where I pulled the Cosmos  and Tainter videos from) becomes unavailable as soon as Bandwidth gets limited, which it will in the not too distant future because the costs both in monetary terms and energy terms for providing so much bandwidth to so many people are unaffordable, and of course have been financed up on irredeemable debt.

Bad as the loss of any of that is as far as free access to the Information running this Civilization goes though, it doesn’t have the rapid destructive effect that will occur when (not if) the Super Computers running the Trading Bourses all over the world like the NYSE and the Hang Sei and Nikkei lose their ability to communicate trades all over the Globe instantaneously.  If there is any Definable Moment at which you could say our Civilization will Collapse, it is the MOMENT the Internet Goes Dark for Financial trading.

Insofar as the VALUE of all this information is concerned, generally speaking most people believe that More Knowledge is Better.  My fellow Diner Admin and Author Surly wrote the following in the Coming Attractions to this article I posted in the Frosbite Falls Daily Rant here on the Diner:

IMO, this was one of the greatest tragedies in the history of humanity. The fire probably set the course of human development back 1000 years, at least.
God only knows what was lost.-Surly

Indeed this is true, the destruction of all that knowledge likely DID “set us back” a Millenia.  If it is true that Aristarchus had a well established theory of a Heliocentric Solar System, Copernicus, Galileo et all did not establish that again for in fact 1500 years later or so.

However, had we NOT been so “set back”, if the Mathemeticians of that era had come upon the Calculus, if the Scientists of that era had come upon the principles of Thermodynamics etc, the Industrial Revolution might have arrived  in 100AD, not 1750AD.  The world might have already been an Industrial Sewer by 400AD, not 2012AD.  In fact the Greeks DID have a form of “Steam Engine”, a metal globe filled with water and ports on it to allow the steam to escape, which made the Globe Spin.  It was invented by Heron of, yes,  Alexandria, who lived between 10AD and 70AD.  PRECISELY the time of Christ, PRECISELY the time the Civilization got stopped in its tracks from developing further along these lines.

The Greeks, Egyptians and Romans  just never applied this Steam Engine to do real Work, it was just a Toy.  In the descent into the Dark Ages, this stuff was Lost and not Found again until the late 1600s.  From Wiki:

The first practical steam-powered “engine” was a water pump, developed in 1698 by Thomas Savery. It used a vacuum to raise water from below, then used steam pressure to raise it higher. Small engines were effective though larger models were problematic. They proved only to have a limited lift height and were prone to boiler explosions. It received some use in mines and pumping stations.[8]

The first commercially successful engine was the atmospheric engine, invented by Thomas Newcomen around 1712.[9] It made use of technologies discovered by Savery and Papin. Newcomen’s engine was relatively inefficient, and in most cases was used for pumping water. It worked by creating a partial vacuum by condensing steam in a cylinder. It was employed for draining mine workings at depths hitherto impossible, and also for providing a reusable water supply for driving waterwheels at factories sited away from a suitable “head”. Water that had passed over the wheel was pumped back up into a storage reservoir above the wheel.

File:Watt steam pumping engine.JPG

The really BIG JUMP though with Steam Power came with James Watt, who built a steam engine practical for application to Factory Work around 1770 or so.  The rest of the Sad History of Industrialization proceeds from there of course, and took around 250 or so years to get us to the point we are today, in vast Overshoot of the Population and a seriously Depleted and Poisoned Environment unlikely to be able to support the current 7B Homo Sapiens walking the Earth right now much longer.  Not to mention a whole lot of other Higher Organisms currently taking the Trip to the Great Beyond right along with us, like the Coral in the Great Barrier Reef of Oz, now 50% destroyed in just the last 27 years.

Had the Great Library at Alexandria NOT been destroyed; had the Scientists like Aristarchus and Heron been able to continue their work and research, in principle there is no reason why exactly the same Trajectory Industrialization followed from 1750 to today would not have occurred 2000 years ago.  In which case in all likelihood most of us alive right now would never have been Born at all, and if we were Born we would be living in the same kind of Post-Apocalyptic SEWER that our surviving Grandchildren will likely inherit in the next Century or two.

Given this sequence of events, can you really say it is TRUE that “More Knowledge is Better” or that all our Libraries and all this Knowledge really served us all that well, or was very good for the Planet we live on?

Insofar as the Knowledge we have accumulated here over the Millenia currently stored as Digibits on the Internet, how much of that Knowledge is really WORTH saving?  Do we really want to preserve the Knowledge of how to Fission Uranium and create Atomic Bombs?  Do we really want to preserve knowledge of how to Genetically Modify food, and create Hybrid Crops that do not Breed True?  Has being so SMART really been very good for us or this Planet?

I do not wish to see the Internet Go Dark anymore than Phillip Farruggio wishes to see his Local Branch of the NYC Public Library closed.  I too value the Knowledge I have access to, and value the time I spent in more traditional Libraries as well as my time spent Googling the vast store of knowledge here on the internet.  Given where all this Knowledge has led our Civilization though, I am not so sure that it’s preservation and retention is something we should be striving for.

RE

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