Christmas

Merry Collapse Christmas 2016

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on December 25, 2016

dd-analytics-12-4-2016

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http://upload.smileyswelove.com/uploads/775/smiley-7488.jpgMERRY COLLAPSE CHRISTMAS DINERS!  http://upload.smileyswelove.com/uploads/775/smiley-7488.jpg

Here on the Doomstead Diner, we've been tracking Collapse Issues since February of 2012.  A few of us were members of the Reverse Engineering Yahoo Group which I ran from around 2009 to 2012.  I myself began participating on Collapse oriented forums in late 2007.  There are many others with a much longer history than this, going back to the 1960s even with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/5f/a3/6d/5fa36da2a07877aa8ad5165626158056.jpg The Environmental movement had its heyday back in the 1970s, with the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.  This also coincided with the "Back to the Land" Movement, spearheaded by Hippies like Albert Bates, one of the founding members of The Farm, and scientists like Ugo Bardi, one of the researchers of the "Club of Rome" which produced the first "Limits to Growth" Study in 1972.  Both Albert and Ugo are still active as Environmentalists, and I cross post their work regularly on the Diner.

Sadly of course, all those years of environmental activism and scientific research that demonstrates the mess we have been making of the planet has not done a whole lot to stop it, at least globally.  In given locations it was occassionally successful, but generally speaking the problem just moved somewhere else where the local Goobermint was amenable to having the local environment destroyed in the name of PROFIT.  So industry which once polluted places like Love Canal in Amerika moved offshore to places like Guanzou Province in China, polluting the water there instead.

I personally was not a huge Environmentalist in my 60 years walking the earth in terms of any activism.  I was always disgusted by the rape of the earth through the period, but I never really did anything to stop it, and in fact contributed to my share of the destruction by buying all that gas I burned in my motorcyclez and my carz along the way.  I also rode plenty of Subway Trainz in the years before I could afford a car or motorcycle, and they also burned plenty of fossil fuels and fissioned Uranium in Nuke plants to keep electricity flowing along the third rail so the trains would run, and there were many days I forgot to turn off the lights in my room when I went out to play, needlessly burning still MORE juice and putting more carbon into the atmosphere.

Baby_LambThen I also ate lots of Animals, mainly Chickens and Cows and Baby Lambs, who all farted and put methane up in the atmosphere on the way to my dinner table.  After eating them, I also farted putting still more methane up into the atmosphere.  I cannot calculate what my particular contribution was over these last 60 years to total atmospheric carbon or climate change, but I am sure it is greater than most of the people currently living on earth.  These days, I try to reduce it some but since I still live in a 1st world culture and need to get around on Buses, Trains, Planes & Automobiles and I still need to EAT, I continue to be a big ass Carbon Emitter into the atmosphere of the planet.

I came into the World of Collapse not because of Climate Concerns, but because of observations on how the economics of the world were breaking down in the aftermath of first Bear Stearns and then Lehman Brothers during the 2008 financial crisis.  This led me to investigating many things related to that, like Peak Oil and Climate Change and Ecological problems, and as each year has passed since that time, all of those problems have grown larger.  The Climate issue appears to be growing much more rapidly than predicted even back only so far as 2008, and this problem now gets more attention overall than economic issues do, at least on websites besides the Diner that I frequent like r/collapse.  Climate problems are considered an existential problem core to our very EXISTENCE on the planet, whereas Economic issues are considered temporal and mainly a math problem and distribution problem overall.  Long as the planet itself is capable of supporting life, economics seems secondary to people who are climate concerned as a priority.

Finite_Resources_smI do not tend to hold this view, I think climate issues are survivable for at least a portion of the population currently walking the earth, though probably not all that many.  The TIMELINE to a final extinction of the species Homo Sap remains an open question, and is highly disputed, although it is sure to come at some point.  It goes from as short as less than a decade according to Guy McPherson of the Nature Bats Last blog to as long as 300M years when the SUN puts out too much radiation for Eukaryotic organisms to survive on the surface of the Earth.  Well, even longer if you believe that we can migrate off the planet to other star systems with the techno- folks like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, but IMHO that is not gonna happen. We are planted on Planet Earth, this is where we were born and this is where we will die, at some point in the timeline.  Our real near term issues come in how we organize the society and distribute out the resources we still can access economically.  Then we gotta figure out how much we can produce each year and how much that production can support in terms of total population size.  We are time-limited as all living things are including planets.  We just need to figure out how to live just as long as we can in the timespan alloted to us.  Figuring out that question best I can is what I do on my blog here, the Doomstead Diner, and it keeps me very bizzy. LOL.

My opinions on this are not all that popular, I have people from the cornucopian side of things who despise me because I say we have limited resources and too large a human population that needs reduction; and then on the other side I have Extinction Afficionados who think everything is HOPELESS, and NOBODY can survive for even 10 more fucking years! I am too HOPIUM FILLED for these people, and deluded. You can't strike any kind of middle ground with either of these types of ideologues.

goldfallingThere are numerous other issues that are more temporal that cause conflict, like the issues about who our political leaders will be, whether they can make some difference in the collapse trajectory, whether using Gold as Money would make any difference, etc, etc, etc.  If you take a particular stand on some of these issues, it gets you as a Blogger a constituency that supports you.  For me though, I tend to bounce through these issues and have positions that one consitutency or the other does not support, so I NEVER make everyone happy.  "You can make some of the people happy all the time, all of the people happy some of the time, but you can NEVER make all the people happy all the time."  I live that cliche just about every day on the Diner, my home as a blogger and analyst of collapse.  I am also not a real compromising sort of guy, and get in arguments all the time, both with commenters on my blog as well as with other bloggers who treat the subjects of collapse with their own spin on it on other blogs.  I take no prisoners in an argument, I hold grudges a long time, I FIRE BACK in the Chicago Way and I make enemies because of that. So it goes.

Which now brings me to the point of this whole diatribe, which is to look at where the Doomstead Diner is AT after nearly 5 years of operation chronicling the World of Collapse?  We have seen our ups and downs over the years here, and it's always tough to figure out just how well you are doing.  Google Analytics as of 12/4/2016 is up as the Header Graphic for this article, the Daily Users Chart.

Based on records of hits inside the Diner Forum, the Peak of the Diner Popularity came around 2014.  This period was also when the Alexa Ranking for the Diner was at its Peak, we hit around 75,000 Globally at that point.  BUT, Alexa changed their algorithm AND the numbers of hits on the forum are always pretty suspect, because MOST of them are BOTS.  You can get millions of hits (we did), but only a tiny fraction of them are real Human Eyeballs.

Yearly Summary New Topics New Posts New Members Most Online Page views
+ 2016 1814 24042 111 225 6501924
+ 2015 1223 30473 514 166 6725102
+ 2014 704 22376 122 182 9137030
+ 2013 757 25870 486 260 4100268
+ 2012 1075 13992 567 325 1734447
+ 2011 1 1 1 1 0

Diner Forum History

Over time though, you do get a decent idea of how many REAL DOOMERS are out there reading your website.  We have had some up and downs over these years, our Video & Audio material brought in some folks and that was likely responsible for the peak period in 2014 for page hits.

http://www.pastorburnout.com/images/burnout-90345_640.jpg In the last year we suffered a decline in total hits, I attribute that mostly to a lot of Burnout in the Collapse Crowd.  It basically plateaued out at around 320 Users/Day, according to Google Analytics on the Diner Blog anyhow.  But then we have Facepalm users, Twitter Users, YouTube Users, Soundcloud Users and Reddit Users also to try to account for.  Tons of crossover involved here, so tough to determine what the total individual and independent readership is for the Diner.

My BEST GUESS on this is around 1000 Global Diners who hit one of our sites once a week or so.  Maybe 300 who drop on the Diner daily to see what is cooking in Collapse.  Given a Global Population of over 7B people, this is NOT making a huge impact!  LOL.

At the same time though, the Diner DOES do better in terms of daily readership than most other Collapse Blogs out there and stays out of that sub-1M category of personal blogs most of the time on Alexa. The total readership of ALL collape blogs at this point still remains pretty small, my estimate for that is around 50,000 people globally interested in the topics of collapse who regularly surf the web on such topics.  So I am OK with capturing 1000 or so of them each month for a read on the Diner.  I would like more of course, but it's a reasonable number of people to be reaching each month.

If you look at the Google Analytics chart I put up from last week at the top of the article, you'll see that the last 90 days we did see a significant upward bump in users, about a 25-30% increase.  This coincides with a few recent events on the Diner.

underground-home-kirknielsendotcomThe first main one is the beginning of the publication of the Serial Novel, "How I Survived Collapse".  I took myself off of doing Video discussions and Audio Rants to devote myself to this project instead, and apparently Kollapniks like fictional representations of collapse issues, these chapters get a LOT of page hits.  On the downside, the YouTube and Soundcloud Diner channels get fewer hits without steady new material going up.  However, you only have so much creative energy to expend in one day.  You can't just print up creativity every day like you can Fiat Money. lol.

The next reason I perceive as important are political events ongoing that the Diner has focused on, namely the Election of Trumpty-Dumpty and the ongoing protest at the Standing Rock reservation against the DAPL p‬ipeline.  In both cases, the MSM Newz on these events is very poorly covered, and/or full of bullshit.  So people are out there looking for other perspectives and information on these topics, and various Diners are contributing their analysis to the subjects, providing more original material on the Diner.

standing-rock-black-snakeFinally, a main reason for the now again increasing popularity of the Diner is that many of the other bloggers who treat collapse issues have tapered off in how much and how often they will write.  "Collapse Burnout" is a problem for many bloggers who have written on these topics for years, and even if they are producing new material it's mostly rehashing stuff that has been said a million times before and basically beaten to death, unless of course you are a Newbie to the World of Collapse.  If you're not a newbie though, writing and rewriting the concepts you focus on can be tiresome after a while.  I fight this battle against burnout by examining the newz and looking for new insights and changes in the dynamic, which are always occuring even if the underlying principles of collapse don't change all that much.

The fact fewer bloggers are writing now also means I don't Cross Post as much as I used to from other bloggers, but that turns out not to be such a bad thing.  Fact is, people who read the Diner also read the blogs of the other people I cross post.  I cross post to keep the blog fresh each day for newbies, but for long term Kollapsniks they don't come to the Diner to read those blogs, they read them when they originally were published on that blogger's website.  Cross Posting less means I post more Original Diner Material, which apparently is what the readers want.  Of course, producing enough original material up to the High Standards of the Diner for every day publication is somewhat difficult. lol.

All in all, it was a good year for the Diner moving through Collapse.  Hell, at least we are still up and running, right?  The NSA hasn't taken us down yet, and we STILL have not made the list of Fake Newz Websites. 🙁  1000 regular readers who drop by the Diner for a collapse meal a few times a month isn't too bad, although I would like to see more of those people contributing Inside the Diner on our Forum. Hashing out the issues with others is really the best way to get further insights, in fact for myself the reason it took me so long to start a blog was because I like dialogue and argument more than I like expository prose writing, although I can do that most certainly, at great length too! lol  I got more prose up on the web than Shakespeare and Tolstoy combined!  Argue the quality all you want, but in word count this is no contest at all! 🙂  Still, it is much more enlightening to exchange ideas with other people, even if periodically they piss you off a whole lot.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnother significant milestone for the Diner is we held our 2nd Convocation this year at the Inman Harvest Day Festival in South Carolina.  This was in conjunction with trying to get our SUN☼Project off the ground, and we got a great reception from the local movers & shakers there, but NO MONEY! lol.  So SUN☼ is still just an idea, it hasn't yet become a reality and maybe it never will, but that doesn't really matter all that much.  The most important thing is to get the MESSAGE out to people that this style of living we have grown up with just is not destined to last all that much longer.  In the longer term, SUN☼ type communities will evolve if Homo Sap is to survive on the planet a while longer, because we CANNOT survive with the way we are living now.  It would certainly be better if people got started on this shit NOW rather than waiting until after TSHTF, but if you can't get the locals to pony up some money for it, you are just SOL there.  Sadly, I am not a Billionaire who could finance the whole thing himself, I wish I was, but I ain't.  So if the people themselves who would benefit from a more resilient community will not pony up, you're stuck in neutral, which is where SUN☼ is right now.

Hosp_BedOn a personal level as regular Diners know I struggle with deteriorating health issues resulting from my spinal injury, and struggle as well with getting the Title to the Entitlements I was promised when I set out working for 40 years inside the Industrial Economy.  I won some of the battles so far, but the War goes on here on this still.  I didn't end up as a Homeless Cripple Freezing to Death on the Streets of Palmer, Alaska as was my fear for the first 7 months of this adventure in my life, at least not yet anyhow. On the upside to it, I did get some time in "Retirement", about a year and a half now so far, and I really like retirement.  I get up in the morning (or afternoon, or evening) when I feel like it,  I spend my day reading and writing on topics that interest me, and I got no Boss I need to keep happy so he writes my paycheck each week.  I got no tests to study for in school and no traffic or stinky subways to ride on to get to work or school.  I do have a crew of somewhat testy Members, Mods & Admins here on the Diner I don't always keep happy and which can be somewhat frustrating, but at least my living does not depend on keeping them happy.  It's also most certainly NOT a "cult", since most of the time nobody agrees with me! lol.

TrumpigAs of now, 2017 looks like it will be a watershed year in the World of Collapse.  The election of Trumpty-Dumpty and his installation of Billionaires, Corporatocracy CEOs and Military Generals as Cabinet members and his Advisory team speaks clearly to exactly what kind of "Populist" this jerk is.  It boggles my mind that people are so foolish as to buy any of the nonsense he spouted out through the campaign. It's a fucking GUARANTEE he will eviscerate civil liberties, curtail free speech & freedom of assembly and increase the power of the Police State, all the stuff Libertarians say they are against!  He's also obviously going to give away the store to fellow plutocrats and .01%ers, he's already stacked the whole fucking cabinet with them! Jamie Dimon and Carl Icahn are his economic advisors here for crying out loud! He's going to shrink the Military?  Are you fucking NUTS?  He's already appointed 3 Generals to his cabinet, one of whom worked for General Dynamics after leaving the military! He's up for a new Nuclear Arms Race!  He's got Jamie fucking Dimon & Carl leveraged buyout Icahn as his leading advisors on the Economy!  Can you get more status quo BAU Military-Industrial-Banking complex than this?  This is "draining the swamp"?  More like "swimming in the swamp".

Besides the mockery of His Trumpness as POTUS, we also have just all sorts of shit going on across the pond in Eurotrashland.  The Italian banks are teetering on collapse and as I write this article, the current plan is for the fucking BROKE Italian Goobermint to Nationalize and Bailout Banca Monte dei Peschi di Siena, because of course it is TBTF.  Precisely where and how the Itie Goobermint will get the money to do this bailout remains unclear at the moment.  Then after the Italian banks, you got the German ones like the Big Kahuna, Deutchbank, also not looking too good on the balance sheet.  However, you tend to suspect that the Goldman-Sachs cavalry will somehow ride in to the Rescue of these Zombies one more time.  Maybe.

http://www.dailystormer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/petry.jpg After that are all the "Populist" (aka Neo-Nazi Right Wing) reactionary parties that have cropped up in Eurotrashland and further elections are sure to result in Goobermints which cannot effectively Goobern anyone.  At least half the population totally despises Da Goobermint even before they actually take office!  It doesn't matter who it is or which side of the lefty-righty divide they come from, they just can't do anything to stop the collapse of their economies.  Various plutocrats from one side or another can be made happy, but this does not create more jobs for J6P and total tax revenues for all the states continues to be eroded.

Then you got my favorite Snake Oil Salesman Elon Musk who continues to sell the fucking stupid idea we are going to replace the entire fleet of ICE carz and truckz with EVs powered by Batts produced in his "Gigafactory", slated to be the largest building on Earth if/when it gets finished.  He's ALSO going to "Go Where No Man Has Gone Before" and set up a fucking colony on Mars!  NASA couldn't do this in the last 50 years, but Elon CAN!  He's a can-do entrepreneur!  What fucking idiot buys this crap?

Meanwhile here on Earth, you got cities from Sao Paolo to La Paz to Johannesburg running short on water and forest fires burning all the time and oil pipelines leaking, suicide and overdose epidemics, a new shoot-em up on a college campus or nightclub once a week, but HEY! don't worry, be HAPPY!  Take another Fukitol Pill, you'll feel better in a jiffy!

http://www.athensvoice.gr/sites/default/files/imagecache/image-477x305/article/52317-115682.jpg I do not have any expectation of having a shortage of collapse topics to write about as we move into 2017, nor do I expect to burnout writing about them either.  I have great stamina for this stuff, I'm going on near a decade now of writing about the topics and I feel like I am just getting my stride! lol.  Collapse is a MARATHON, not a SPRINT!  It may seem slow to you in human years, but in fact it is going quite rapidly not just in Geologic time but in Generational time also.  "Collapse" isn't coming "someday", it is here with us right now and we are all living it in one way or the other, to one extent of knowledge or denial of it or another.

The BIG QUESTION of course everyone always asks me as an Official Collapse Pundit is whether this will be the year THE Collapse occurs, as in the lights all going off, shelves all going empty, ATMs outta cash and Zombie Cannibals roaming the streets eating children for breakfast?  I'll go out on a limb here and say I do not think 2017 will be the year of the Zombie Apocalypse, at least not here in the FSoA.  One thing I have learned in my years writing on this topic is that the "system" or "matrix" (whatever you wish to call it) has a lot of inertia.  It's rolling down a hill, gathering speed, but it's not off the clif quite yet, the Wile E. Coyote Moment has not quite arrived.                                                                 

zombiesI do believe though at some not to distant point in the future of this timeline we will witness a discontinuity, I just hope I am alive long enough to witness that from this side of the Great Divide and write about it.  Not that I really want to see a lot of Death & Destruction before I die, but I do want to see "TEOTWAWKI", or "the end of the world as we know it".  The exercise we have put ourselves through as a species and this planet and other creatures who inhabit it through from the Age of Agriculture through the Age of Industrialization MUST come to an end, regardless of all the pain and suffering that will come along with that.  I believe that some Homo Sap will make it through the Zero Point to the Other Side, and those who are left standing will be better for it, a new species in fact.  I won't be there (at least in this broken down body anyhow, maybe my spirit reborn to a new one), but I will smile from my side of the Great Beyond as a Better Tomorrow emerges.

Anyhow, New Year's Eve approaches now, 2017 is arriving and at least unless Nibiru collides with the Earth in the next few days, we'll have another year in Collapse to observe and record here on the pages of the Doomstead Diner.  I would like to close here with a special note of thanks to my fellow Admins here on the Diner, who tolerate my idiosyncracies and who have proven to be good friends IRL as well as in cyberspace. To Surly, to Eddie, to Monsta, to Lucid Dreams & Gypsy Mama and to Palloy, Auld Lang Syne.  To all the rest of the Diners, I wish you also all the best in collapse in 2017.  Thanks to all for your participation and help in making the Doomstead Diner #1 for Doom on the Net!

Be sure to stop in at the Diner next Sunday for Surly's recap That Was the Year That Was in Doom, and drop in periodically for more Chapters of How I Survived Collapse!

T’was the Nightmare Before Christmas 2012

Off the Keyboard of RE

Published originally December 24, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas Diners!

CHRISTMAS IN OCTOBER – DESPERATE MEASURES

Off the Keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on October 25, 2014

Black Friday riot 1

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The desperation of retailers grows by the day. I head to Wal-Mart and Giant in Harleysville every Sunday morning at 7:00 am. to do my weekly grocery shopping. I go to Wal-Mart at opening to avoid the freaks we see weekly on the People of Wal-Mart post. The workers at Wal-Mart are only a small step above the customers. They can barely communicate, rarely look you in the eye, and generally act like they are prisoners in an asylum.

I’m in winter/bad times ahead prep mode. I had a load of fire wood delivered yesterday which I wheelbarrowed to the back yard and stacked with my already decent sized stack. Last week I took an empty propane canister back to Wal-Mart to replace it with a full canister. That would give me three full propane tanks. I left the empty tank outside next to the propane cage and went in to pay. The old lady cashier with the gravelly smoker voice told me she would call for someone to get me a new tank.

I went over the cage and patiently waited for a Wal-Mart drone to come out, unlock the propane cage and give me a full tank. Two minutes, five minutes, and eventually ten minutes go by with no one coming out to help me. The cashier pokes her head out the door and shrugs her shoulders and says no one is responding to her calls. What a well oiled machine they have at Wal-Mart. Eventually the old lady abandoned her cashier post and in a painstakingly slow manner proceeded to unlock one bin after another until she found a full tank. I’m sure a line of unhappy customers were piling up at the only register in the garden center while she spent ten minutes getting me my propane tank.

A transaction that should have taken five minutes from start to finish ended up taking closer to twenty five minutes, with another five or six customers also dissatisfied with their extra long wait. This is a perfect example of how not to do business. Maybe Wal-Mart’s problems are bigger than households having less to spend. They are attempting to maintain their profit margins by reducing staff hours, hiring low quality people, and paying them shit wages. In the short run it may keep profits higher, but in the long-run customers will go elsewhere. Except most of the elsewhere stores closed up years ago when Wal-Mart arrived and underpriced them into bankruptcy.

My shopping experience at Giant is generally pleasant. The staff are nice, competent, and have been there for years. They know what they are doing and serve you with a smile. But their store is part of a worldwide conglomerate, so things have changed for the worse over the last four months. They renovated the entire store, creating bigger aisles and moving stuff around. That’s annoying, but after a while you figure out where they moved the stuff you want. The real negative change was the dreaded “Everyday Low Pricing”. This weasel phrase means you will be paying more. This is what the Apple idiot CEO – Ron Johnson – did at JC Penney. It put them on a rapid path to bankruptcy.

The weekly sale items at Giant have virtually disappeared. This has coincided with the drastic increase in beef, pork and fresh produce prices. Since “Every Day Low Pricing” went into affect our weekly grocery bill has gone up 20%. And I am buying far less beef and more chicken. In the past I would stock up on sale items and put beef, pork and whatever was on sale in our storage area freezer. Now I am stuck buying what we need that week. No bargains, just fully priced food items. Be forewarned, whenever you see a store announce “Everyday Low Pricing” you are getting screwed.

The Boos Begin in August & Bells Start Jingling in October

The desperation of Wal-Mart and most of the other mega-retail chains is no more clearly evident than in their relentlessly ridiculous acceleration of holiday marketing displays. I was flabbergasted when I saw Halloween candy, decorations and costumes in row after row BEFORE Labor Day at my local Wal-Mart. Selling Halloween candy two months before Halloween is idiotic and a sure sign of desperation. Retailers have run out of merchandising ideas. I wouldn’t even consider buying Halloween candy until the week before Halloween. Do Wal-Mart freaks of the week actually buy Halloween merchandise in September?

Holidays used to be special occasions that lent a sense of sales urgency for retailers for a week or two, to pump up sales. Now Wal-Mart and the rest of the dying retailers have Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, and Halloween displays up for 80% of the year. There is no sense of urgency to buy. From September 1 though October 31 there are rows and rows of bags of corporate produced chemicals disguised as candy. I suppose the obese masses buy this crap in anticipation of Halloween, tell themselves they’ll only take one, and then shovel the entire bag down their gullets.

So last week, still a full two weeks before Halloween, Wal-Mart had already converted their entire garden center into a Christmas wonderland of cheap mass produced Chinese cookie cutter Christmas decorations and lights that will blow out after three hours of use. They had also converted aisles at the front of the store to Christmas displays. Who the hell shops for Christmas crap in October? There is nothing like having cheap Chinese Christmas crap available for over two months to create a sense of urgency to buy. Wal-Mart and the rest of the mega-retailers have got nothin. They have no original merchandising ideas. They don’t even try anymore. They source low quality goods from China and compete solely on price. I can’t wait for the Easter candy to appear on Wal-Mart’s shelves in late December.

Black Thanksgiving

Black Friday is dead. Long live Black Thanksgiving. The riots and stampedes by the ignorant masses for toasters and HDTVs on Black Friday are now being replaced by retailers and malls across America opening at 6:00 pm on Thanksgiving. It actually seems fitting. How better to give thanks for our mass consumption, debt financed, materialistic, iGadget addicted society than to open stores on Thanksgiving. Spending time with family is overrated anyway. If you had to spend six hours with cousin Eddie and aunt Bethany, you’d be looking forward to an early opening at Macy’s.

The bullshit message from the mega-retailers is: “We’re not opening on Thanksgiving out of desperation or greed. We’re doing it simply to satisfy the demands of our customers”. It’s a racist national holiday anyway. We should be going to an Indian run casino on Thanksgiving to make up for our past sins. Opening stores and forcing workers to work on Thanksgiving is pathetic, disgusting and a truly desperate measure in this consumer empire in decline. The law of diminishing returns has been invoked upon the mega-retailers that dominate our suburban sprawl paradise.

These retailers can start holiday merchandising three months before the actual holiday. They can open their doors on Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas. It’s nothing more than shuffling the deck furniture on the Titanic. We’ve allowed bankers, politicians and corporate titans to financialize our economy, gutting the once thriving middle class, sending manufacturing jobs overseas, and convincing the clueless masses that consumer goods purchased with debt is equal to wealth. But, we’ve reached the point of no return. There are 248 million working age Americans and 102 million of them are not employed. Of the 146 million working Americans, 82 million of them make less than $30,000 per year.

While retailers have added billions of square feet since 1989, real median net worth is 5% lower over 24 years. Retailers are attempting to get blood from a stone. The stone is in debt, approaching retirement with no savings and dead broke.

We have one entity that deserves the most credit for destroying the American Dream. Real median household income is lower than it was in 1989. The 2008 collapse was caused by the easy money bubble machine at the Federal Reserve. We had the opportunity to hit the reset button, implement rational economic and monetary policies, take our lumps, and make the banking culprits pay for their crimes. Instead, the easily manipulated masses believed the Wall Street storyline and allowed the Federal Reserve and feckless politicians to save the banking cabal with extreme money printing and debt creation. This has pushed the middle class closer to the breaking point, while further enriching the oligarchs. The Federal Reserve saved their owners and lured the masses further into debt.

The Fed, Wall Street, and Washington DC have successfully driven consumer debt to an all-time high, blasting through the $3 trillion level. Declining real incomes and rising debt are a sure recipe for success.

Our entire economic paradigm is built upon desperate measures. Zero interest rates, $3 trillion of QE, systematic accounting fraud, fudged economic data, and doling out subprime loans to auto renters and University of Phoenix wannabes have failed to revive our moribund economy. Delusions don’t die easily. But they do die. We are reaching the limit of this delusionary dream built upon debt, denial, and deception. Make sure you wolf down that Thanksgiving feast before 5:00 pm. There are HDTV’s to fight for at 6:00 pm.

A Sea Gypsy Christmas

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on December 23, 2013

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It is Christmastime down here in the Banana Latitudes. Far to the north in the Frenzied Latitudes, the shoppers are body-slamming each other with vigor and venom. In a little Panamanian town square, I savor the sight of the Indio families in from the hills letting their children marvel at the lights and the decorations. Compared to El Norte, it is all so calm and unhurried and moderate. Surely gifts will be exchanged on the big day, but there is none of the fevered gluttony for stuff that soils the holidays in the First World.

As I leave the park to head back to AVENTURA, a faint, sweet music whispers from the little chapel across the street. I cross over and answer its call. It is a choir of children practicing Christmas carols. The beauty and innocence on their faces is enough to inspire a Leonardo to reach for his canvas and brushes. I am spellbound by the sound of these old English folk songs exquisitely rendered in Spanish. Their last song is a playful version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

It is still joyously cascading in my head when I step back aboard my lovely sailboat. Since eggnog is not available this close to the Equator, I improvise and combine some warm milk with some Bailey’s Irish Crème. It keeps my festive joy simmering; and I settle in to ponder what might “my true love give to me.”

 

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AVENTURA under wayI chuckle at the realization that I don’t have a “true love” to bequeath me twelve days of gifts – or even two days of gifts. What woman would wish to mate with an impoverished, sea gypsy philosopher who is already becalmed in his Middle Years? But as I scan AVENTURA’S small but handsome interior, I realize that my boat has been my truest true love. Through heart-stopping dangers and heart-soaring delights, she has been my companion and my enabler. She has allowed me to embrace a tough but extraordinary “path less traveled.”

When I begin to meditate upon this more deeply, I am pleased by how swiftly I can tally up twelve days worth of blessings that my sea gypsy life confers upon me. And so I enumerate them on my little Socratic clipboard. (Yes, I often write without a computer!) Then I explore each of them more thoroughly. None of these can be purchased or wrapped or packaged – but what fine life gifts they are!

  1. CONTENTMENT To be happy and healthy in the here and now of one’s daily Life, is the greatest gift that any true love could provide. And this condition is even more remarkable in our modern era, because it is so difficult to unshackle ourselves from the powerful Discontentment Machine. The relentless juggernaut of our materialistic culture does everything in its power to convince us that we are sadly inadequate, and can only be complete if we buy more stuff.
  2. IMMERSION IN NATURE My sailboat and I do not just visit Nature, we are immersed in it – both literally and symbolically. Suspend your reading for a moment, and ask yourself if you know what stage the moon will be in tonight. Or can you distinguish the call of an osprey from the sound of a laughing gull? Such things might seem inconsequential compared to the latest iPhone app, but there are many who believe that Nature Deficit Disorder leads to enormous problems in the modern world. Drop one of the few remaining hunter-gatherers into a sprawling, concrete city and observe his extreme distress. We delude ourselves by thinking that we are civilized and urbanized humans. But we are still hard-wired as hunter-gatherers and when we are almost totally separated from Nature, it causes significant psychological damage in both the individual and the society.
  3. FREEDOM I know of no other way of life as independent as that of the sea gypsy. And for me it is not just geographic emancipation, it is the joy that comes from not being a part of modes of living that profoundly disturb me. I can completely liberate myself from the Empire Machine, the War Machine, the Shopping Machine and the Rape of Mother Earth Machine.
  4. COMMUNITY The sense of togetherness is far more pronounced in the sailing fraternity. And I am not speaking in vague, ethereal terms, but in brass tacks reality. This morning most of the sailors gathered on the VHF radio for a daily communal network where we shared information and assisted the newcomers. Two of today’s topics were the Christmas Eve potluck that is being finalized and some questions about nearby low-cost medical care. The bonds of support and harmony are much stronger here in our water world than they are in terra world.
  5. SOLITUDE Although I cherish the wonderful sense of community amongst the sailors, I also relish the solitude that I can so easily find by simply hauling up my anchor and sailing a short distance away to an isolated, pristine cove. There I can reconnect with my other community – my animal friends who live in the sea and the sky. For a contemplative spirit, this seclusion is essential. Indeed, for a philosopher, tranquility is one’s friend and frenzy is one’s foe.
  6. FERAL-ICITY Most of humanity is totally disconnected from the wild, untamed aspects of our animal nature. The 80 or so remaining indigenous tribes scattered around our homogenized planet, view us as domesticated animals –as cows or sheep. On the other hand they view themselves as jaguars or eagles. They do not rely on a keeper – they fend for themselves. This sea gypsy life allows me to swim naked, howl at the rising moon, spear a fish for dinner, greet the sunrise with a blast from my conch shell and generally embrace my Inner Tarzan without worrying about neighbors on the cul-du-sac.
  7. SELF-RELIANCE For most people, the joy of repairing something has become a quaint relic from by-gone times – something only seen in Norman Rockwell paintings. But for the ocean sailor, it is not just a nostalgic memento, it is a life or death requirement. Smash into a floating container that has fallen off a big ship, and you will be in a race with Captain Grim Reaper. Being able to swiftly fix that hole with a patch and some underwater epoxy is a life-affirming rush if ever there was one. Relying on one’s tool kit, spare parts and skill is a wondrous experience.
  8. ELEGANT SIMPLICITY The ocean-going sailboat is probably humanity’s finest combination of form and function. At sea, AVENTURA is strong, fairly fast and she has a sea-kindly motion even in maximum miserable conditions. At anchor she is a perfect little bachelor writer’s pad. Small – but spacious enough – with a bright yet warm teak and mahogany interior accented with brass lamps and bronze portholes. All of her systems are as simple as possible. The pumps and plumbing are manual and the electrical equipment uses basic on/off toggle switches. The sun and the wind provide the power. Although I am often reclusive, I am not a monk eating grubs in a spidery cave. Mine is not an ascetic existence but a pleasant one – with a fine library, good music and even a stash of classic movies. It is the physical manifestation of one of the pillars of my personal philosophy. “Enough is good, but more than enough is BAD!”
  9. PAYING FORWARD As an unrepentant hippie, I still believe in the importance of trying in some tiny way to help make the world a better place. By adopting this sea gypsy life, which is so affordable and time rich, I am able to dedicate myself to what I call The Way of RATAWI. This is my acronym for “Reading and Thinking and Writing Inspirationally.” Fully aware that my little blog will probably never influence the wider world even minutely, it still feels meaningful to me – even if it is a fool’s errand.
  10. RAY JASONECO-FRIENDLY As a part-time Tarzan, who loves being cocooned in Nature, it is deeply comforting to me to have such a tiny carbon footprint. My water comes from the sky to the spigot with no electricity whatsoever. Almost all other electrical power for fans or lights come through my solar panels or wind generator. I use about 2 gallons of diesel fuel per MONTH! Each night AVENTURA and I can rest comfortably knowing that we are not harming Mother Earth or Mother Ocean.
  11. COLLAPSE CONSCIOUS Most deep-ocean sailors embrace this mantra: “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst!” I have also applied that motto to my carefully researched beliefs that Captain Catastrophe may be lurking just below the horizon. As I thoroughly described in the three “Sea Gypsy Tribe” essays that are easy to find here on my blog, I suspect that calamitous troubles might await us. AVENTURA continues to be a test-platform for how to survive if indeed there is a bad moon arising. I could literally sail away tomorrow and survive comfortably at sea for a few months with the food, water, supplies and tools that I have onboard as I complete this sentence.
  12. FUN My hippie brothers and sisters would likely characterize most of the essays here at my blog as being “heavy.” And indeed, I do traffic in serious subjects and attempt to speak powerfully and provocatively and poetically about them. But this does not mean that my sea gypsy life is also heavy. In fact, I know very few people who are as happy as I am on a daily basis. Now that I have sailed into my Middle Years, I understand that it is important to battle the Malignant Powers; but it is also important to embrace the joy and beauty that our Earth Ocean planet bequeaths us!

 

The Snapback

Off the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler

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Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation  October 21, 2013

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Well, at least the poobahs cleared a path to the annual orgy of Christmas, which, along with the S & P 500, have become proxies for the American economy. Lately, the Christmas season starts directly after Halloween, so, the whole fourth quarter of the year becomes a circus of ceremonial distractions. In the background, though, the nation grinds toward anguish, measured in soiled Justin Bieber dolls deposited in the landfills.

     Historians who look back on these strange years of suspended consequence will marvel at how this empire of grift kept its wheels turning after its engine died. Being on the downhill slope is often enough to keep anything going. One might think the young people of this land would be seething at the eclipse of their futures, but it seems they have been successfully lobotomized with cell phones — when the endorphin hits lag between text messages, they can watch sitcoms, or porn.

    You can be sure there will be a snapback from all this drift and anomie, and when it comes, the snap will be savage. Like the US economy, the Republican Party is dead but hasn’t gotten the news. It killed itself just as the Whigs did in the years before the Civil War, by splitting up into factions — one faction of “know-nothings” preoccupied with scape-goats opposed to a faction of sclerotic parasitical fat-cats too timid and greedy to engage in the emergencies of the day.

     The Tea Party faction should change its name to the Cracker Party because it represents the interests of white southerners who are too dumb to know what these emergencies amount to. They are really more comfortable with the supernatural, hence their fondness for religions based on snake-handling, visitations of the dead, and motor sports. Personally, I believe they will eventually contrive to form their own break-away Cracker Republic and attempt to re-enact the Civil War. They will fail, and starve, and find themselves back in an even worse long-term depression than Dixieland experienced from 1860 to 1960, in a de-suburbanized wasteland of bare subsistence farming. Their highest art will be soup-making.

     The non-Tea Party Republicans will just shrivel and vanish out of sheer irrelevance. This leaves the Democrats to become the focus of intense ire as they attempt to ‘splain why the nation’s affairs went to shit on their watch. A lot of them will end up being executed and plundered by the new kid on the block, the Savior Party, led by some charismatic character willing to ignore procedural protocols to clear away the debris left by his-or-her predecessors. Alas, the juice will not be there to permit the Savior to really control a territory as large as the continental USA. By juice, I mean money and oil. Thus, the nation enters its new dark age.

    Who knows when that will get underway in earnest, though I think the folks who say 2014 are onto something. If you believe in cycles, which I tend to, then it rhymes nicely with 1814 and 1914, two watersheds when one epoch ended and another truly began. 2014 would logically be the year that China tells America to go piss up a rope. The message would be sent on the back of the envelope containing $2.7 trillion in official American debt paper. As Ole Blue Eyes used to say, this could be the start of something big.

      Sentient observers of the current scene are clearly frustrated by the remarkable homeostasis that seems to rule the scene, these horse-latitudes of history where the air is still and nothing moves and the mind is exhausted by watchful waiting. Things will get lively, soon enough, so enjoy the holiday quarter of the year which is so soon upon us. Gorge on candy corn. When you recover from that, roast a turkey. Then make a nice figgy pudding. Then pop some bubbly and salute your loved ones. Then gird your loins for the new age of consequence.

 

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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.

Say Goodbye To The Good Life

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

Published on Economic Collapse on December 24, 2012

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

 

Say Goodbye To The Good Life - The U.S. Capitol With A Babylonian Holiday Tree In The ForegroundWill this be the last normal holiday season that Americans ever experience? To many Americans, such a notion would be absolutely inconceivable. After all, in the affluent areas of the country restaurants and malls are absolutely packed. Beautiful holiday decorations are seemingly everywhere this time of the year and children all over the United States are breathlessly awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus. Even though poverty is exploding to unprecedented levels, most families will still have mountains of presents under their Christmas trees. Of course a whole lot of those presents were purchased with credit cards, but people don’t like to talk about that. It kind of spoils the illusion. Sadly, the truth is that our entire economy is a giant illusion. The extreme prosperity that we have been enjoying has been fueled by debt, and any future prosperity that we will experience is completely dependent on our ability to go into even more debt. The total amount of debt in our economy is almost 10 times largerthan it was just 30 years ago, but we don’t like to think about that too much. Most Americans are way too busy living the good life to be bothered with “doom and gloom”. Well, get ready to say goodbye to normal. As history has shown us, no financial bubble lasts forever, and time is rapidly running out for us.

You know that the hour is late when even mainstream news sources start publishing articles with titles such as this: “Will 2013 Mark the Beginning of American Decline?

That article appeared on Bloomberg.com the other day, and it was written by Simon Johnson, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. He is convinced that a day of reckoning is coming for U.S. government finances, and he seems resigned to the fact that we will not be ready when that day arrives…

“Sooner or later, it will be America’s turn to fall out of favor with investors and to see its own interest rates rise. It is hard to know when that day will come, or precisely what pressures the country will face.

Let me only venture one forecast: We will not be ready.”

Other analysts are far more pessimistic. For example, the following is what Gerald Celente said about the “bond bubble” during a recent interview with King World News

Eric King: “Gerald, I wanted to take a look at this upcoming issue you have coming out. (In here it says,) ‘Bonds Away! The bond bomb is ready to explode … threatening to make the real estate and dot-com bubbles, and even the Great Recession, look like market corrections.’ Can you talk about that?”

Celente: “Yes. This piece is being penned by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, the former Assistant Treasury Secretary under Ronald Reagan. And he is convinced that the bond bubble is about to burst. This cannot continue to go on the way it is. Everyone knows that the whole game is rigged, and so is this….”

“The whole game is rigged. It’s ready to go down, and Dr. Paul Craig Roberts believes it’s ‘Bonds Away’ in 2013 as the bond bubble explodes and brings about a financial disaster even worse than the Great Depression.”

Eric King: “He’s saying here it’s a road to financial collapse that we are going to head down when this thing bursts.”

Celente: “It is. Because the whole world is being propped up by these phony bonds and it’s going to collapse. It has to happen. Interest rates are going to start going up, and when they do the bond bubble explodes. You cannot keep interest rates at zero for this amount of time and expect anything other than disaster to follow.”

For much more on all this, you can listen to another excellent interview with Gerald Celente right here.

Our politicians just assume that we will be able to borrow trillions upon trillions of dollars far into the future at super low interest rates, but that is a very dangerous assumption.

As I noted the other day, the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt was 2.534 percent at the end of November. If that number just rose to where it was about a decade earlier we would be in a massive amount of trouble.

Back in the year 2000, the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt was 6.638 percent. If we were at that level today, the U.S. government would be paying out more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

But our politicians just keep borrowing and spending as if we could do this forever.

From the time that George Washington was inaugurated (1789) to the time that George W. Bush was inaugurated (2001), the U.S. government accumulated about 5.7 trillion dollars of debt.

During the first four years of the Obama administration, the U.S. government accumulated about 5.7 trillion dollars of debt.

How can anyone support this kind of insanity?

You can see an excellent video demonstrating the vastness of our national debt right here. In the end, all of this debt will absolutely destroy the U.S. dollar, our economic system and the bright futures that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.

As if all of that was not enough to be concerned about, there is also the threat that Wall Street could implode at any time. Most Americans have no idea that Wall Street has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the world. The “too big to fail” banks are the ringleaders, and the derivatives bubble hangs over our financial system like a “sword of Damocles” that could fall at virtually any moment.

Everything will remain fine as long as the spiral of derivatives that our bankers have constructed remains perfectly balanced. But if something happens and it becomes unbalanced and starts to collapse, the consequences could be unlike anything we have ever seen before.

A recent Zero Hedge article entitled “1000x Systemic Leverage: $600 Trillion In Gross Derivatives ‘Backed’ By $600 Billion In Collateral” detailed how there is barely any collateral backing up the hundreds of trillions of dollars of derivatives that are out there…

But a bigger question is what is the actual collateral backing this gargantuan market which is about 10 times greater than the world’s combined GDP, because as the “derivative” name implies all this exposure is backed on some dedicated, real assets, somewhere. Luckily, the IMF recently released a discussion note titled “Shadow Banking: Economics and Policy” where quietly hidden in one of the appendices it answers precisely this critical question. The bottom line: $600 trillion in gross notional derivatives backed by a tiny $600 billion in real assets: a whopping 0.1% margin requirement! Surely nothing can possibly go wrong with this amount of unprecedented 1000x systemic leverage.

Our entire economy has become a giant pyramid of debt, risk and leverage. At some point there is going to be a giant crash. When that happens, people are going to become very desperate.

When people become very desperate, they often accept “solutions” that they were not willing to consider previously.

We need to learn some lessons from history. This is exactly the kind of thing that happened back in the 1930s.

For example, an elderly woman named Kitty Werthmann is telling audiences what life was like in Austria back in the late 1930s…

“In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25 percent inflation and 25 percent bank loan interest rates.”

“Farmers and business people were declaring bankruptcy daily. Young people were going from house to house begging for food. Not that they didn’t want to work; there simply weren’t any jobs.”

The Austrian people were really hurting and they were desperate for answers. When Hitler came to them with “solutions”, they were ready to embrace him with open arms…

“We looked to our neighbor on the north, Germany, where Hitler had been in power since 1933.” she recalls. “We had been told that they didn’t have unemployment or crime, and they had a high standard of living.”

“Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group – Jewish or otherwise. We were led to believe that everyone in Germany was happy. We wanted the same way of life in Austria. We were promised that a vote for Hitler would mean the end of unemployment and help for the family. Hitler also said that businesses would be assisted, and farmers would get their farms back.””Ninety-eight percent of the population voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler.”

“We were overjoyed,” remembers Kitty, “and for three days we danced in the streets and had candlelight parades. The new government opened up big field kitchens and everyone was fed.”

Sadly, America is already starting to go down the same path in many ways. If you doubt this, you can read the rest of her account right here.

Right now, things are still relatively good in America. Yes, there are a whole host of economic numbers that look really bad, but what we are experiencing right now is nothing compared to the horrific economic pain that is coming.

When our economy finally crashes, nobody is going to be able to press a button and restore things to how they were previously. We will be told that we have to “adjust” and consider “new solutions” to our “new challenges”. Someday we will look back on the good life that we were enjoying in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and wish that we could go back to those days.

So enjoy the relative peacefulness and prosperity of these times while you still can. A horrific economic collapse is on the way, and once it strikes none of our lives will ever be the same.

Meaningless Holidays

Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams

Published on Epiphany Now on December 28, 1012

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Have A Meaningless Holiday Cheap Plastic Shit On Me.

There was a time, not so long ago, where it seemed the only limiting factor for what you could accomplish was your own laziness. Maybe this idea has always been an illusion, but I don’t think so. A four year college degree doesn’t get you employment now. The only thing you can expect from a four year degree now is a monthly bill that has to be paid. My wife got a four year degree in communications and all it has done has been to generate a $117.63 bill every month which is comparatively low. That’s mostly because she worked and paid $800 a month towards college while she was attending. We have another 10 years to go before her student loan is paid in full. What are we to do now to better our financial situation? What kind of meaningful work is there in our meaningless society? If you were to argue that our civilization has meaning, what kind of meaning would you argue for?

 
Our lifestyle is dependent on a wealth pump with the intake end rooted by coercive trickery in the third world. It’s come down to a cheap plastic lifestyle assembled in China and imported to America. All of this cheap plastic shit is designed to make it’s way to a landfill where it will outlive the human race as cheap plastic shit. My house is awash in this holiday plastic shit that was generated through a perverse celebration which requires everybody to perpetuate this cheap plastic shit paradigm. The fact that it’s meant to be a celebration of the birth of our salvation is just too ironic for further comment. What does the Winter Solstice have anything to do with cheap plastic shit made in China and Jeebus? Apparently there is a link, or I wouldn’t be literally tripping over it now. To make matters worse half of these gifts just end up going straight back to Wally World where they are exchanged for store credit because trailer park America can’t even abide the cheapness. They’d rather have store credit to buy cheap American beer and cheese puffs so that they can anesthetize their minds from the onslaught of how cheap their lives have become.
 
I suppose it’s a good thing that all of this worthless crap is so cheap because minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. That’s $290.00 a week gross at 40 hours a week. That’s in the neighborhood of $230 a week take home which is $920 a month. Are they fucking serious with that shit? What the hell are you supposed to do with $920 a month? About the only thing you can do is buy some cheap American beer and cheese puffs at Wally World to go with your kid’s cheap plastic made in China gifts. It’s no wonder America stares at the teevee at night, after working for jack shit at a job that doesn’t matter. All so that we can live in a place that’s not worth caring about and is destined to rot as soon as climate control goes away. That cheap plastic shit is going to outlive our residences.
 
The only thing the world cares about is money. Have you ever really let that sink in? I remember making the decision, right about the time I dropped out of college with a 4.0 gpa, that I wasn’t going to live my life being concerned about money. I didn’t want to make decisions that had to do with the acquisition of money because it felt so cheap and trivial a thing to be concerned with. I thought there were ideas and causes that needed my attention more than money. I was wrong. Those ideas and causes require money. It’s strange how if you have enough money, than you don’t have to worry about making money because the bankers just give you money. I wish I could live off of the interest from all of the money that I have. But when your bank account looks like it was made in China, all the bankers do is nickel and dime you $5 dollars a month for the privilege of keeping your money there. I had a negative balance in my savings account a couple of months ago from those charges growing more than my “savings.” This is just the way it is. It’s sad.
 
How is it that I’ve made it to 33 years old and I am just now figuring all of this out? I got married. Somehow that meant buying a house and being concerned with something called a “career.” I wasn’t very good at the career bit. I had one, it lasted about six years until I had to chose between being medicated with a career or not medicated with no career. I chose the later. Now I’m going back to college for the eighth time in my life. Hopefully with my new found knowledge about the way the world works, I’ll be able to actually acquire a degree and a career after said acquisition. It’s not a career that I want. I never once said “self, I think we should be a nurse.” It’s a practical decision that revolves around what the world requires from me. I’m doing it for the money. I’ve never done that before in my life. I’ve never done something so blatantly about money. When I’m studying medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, probability and statistics, and intro to computers this semester it’s all going to be motivated by the end goal of a job that will pay me well for my time. It has nothing to do with my ideals, or about the change I want to see in the world, or about helping people…just money. Just the root of all evil. That’s what I have to concern myself with at 33 years old. Why? Best I can tell it’s because I was so brazen as to want to reproduce and have a family. Apparently that means I have to be concerned first and foremost with money. Because without it…well that doesn’t make me a very responsible family man now does it.
 
Now here I am, studying to be a nurse. In this case I like the euphemism of RN. RN sounds less gender specific (or how about a murse), which is a quality I like since I don’t have tits that can feed a baby. Where else does the term “nurse” come from? If you think about it I will be nursing my family with money. So my tits will feed them money instead of milk. I wish I could nurse my family by building soil, keeping livestock, and growing food…or farming, but that’s not in the cards. Not for me at least. How foolish of me, all these years thinking that the unexamined life was not worth living. When you examine it, if your going to be honest, what other conclusion can you come to other than that your examination better come up with the rent and utilities. For 750,000 years paleolithic man didn’t have to worry about rent and utilities. Money wasn’t even a concept. Life was a somatic experience with meaning all around. Now the only thing that matters is money, and the only meaning is cheap plastic Chinese pointlessness that lies about waiting to be tripped over. I can hear it now, “yeah, but he had to worry about getting eaten by saber tooth tigers, killing Woolly mammoths, and not freezing to death.” Sounds like a meaningful existence to me. What do we have to worry about now? Taxes, terrorists and football? Inconsequential drivel and cheap plastic Chinese made crap.
 
I’ve got an announcement to make (you must be pretty bored if you’ve made it this far)…cheap plastic Chinese made crap (for good measure, and to help drive my point home). I managed to get diagnosed by a psychiatrists with Aspergers syndrome. That’s right, I’m officially an Aspie. Just barely mind you. It wasn’t an easy case, but at the end of the day I met all of the criteria as outlined by the DSM5- 299.80. Presence of: A2,3, 4. B 1 and C,and absence of: D, E and F. I was right. At least I’m justifiably different from the rest. I have a reason for this shittier than usual attitude. I have just enough Aspie to make me intolerably in the world, but not enough to make it a disability to get me off of the hook that’s attached to the rent. Finally I have a psychological reason for not liking my own species much. Still, I have to buckle down, and go out into the pointlessness to extract money so that I can have a family. The only way to extract that money is to participate in yet more pointlessness. When society is soulless can there ever be any hope of meaningful activity? How fucked is it that the last thing I want to do is to deal with people (here again explained by Aspergers) and yet just about any work I could get will require me to deal with people. Our society is a service one. All we do is make up a bunch of needs and then service them. I’ve been thinking that maybe I’ll try to get a job at a grocery store since at least eating is a need that has to be met. A nuclear engineer turned medic turned grocery store clerk. You don’t really have to deal with people. Just ring up their shit and say “have a nice day.” Maybe I could get a job stocking shelves. That would be even better. Talk about wasted talent. Yet I never found a job that was worth any talent. Eventually I’ll be nursing, which will occasionally provide me with the opportunity to do something worth while, granted only occasionally. At least I’ll be paid well for my effort. I’ll just have to learn to become impervious to the rude patients who view the hospital more like a hotel than a hospital. I was thinking I might like to be a hospice nurse. At least then people will be dying and less prone to acting like ass holes. It should help keep my life in perspective as well. Plus, being an Aspie, I don’t suffer much from empathy, which is a positive attribute when seen from this angle. I’m just trying to focus on my strengths.
 
That’s gonna be some time from now, given I reach that point in time. Our society isn’t exactly healthy. What do I have to bitch about really? I’ve got a roof over my head and food in my belly. So what if I have to go out and spend my priceless time on this Earth cultivating and fostering a lifestyle that’s not worth caring about. The least I could be is grateful for the opportunity to line the man’s pockets. After all, it’s not as if I’m entitled to anything other than taxes. I’m just bitter that my ideas about right living don’t matter at the end of the day. What matters is the acquisition of money. After that, if I’m left with any, I can use it to be the change. That’s the point. Without money, you can’t be the change…not if your me, and definitely not if you have kids depending on you to keep them safe and healthy.
 
This Monday I’ll be off to fill out applications for a job that will hopefully be more than minimum wage. Grocery stores and restaurants. I could go back to granny snatchin’ but it will only pay $11 an hour, and I’ll have to put up with the smell of lotion and doodoo that’s so ubiquitous in those geezer freezers where we stuff our elderly for big pharma to profit off of until they stop breathing. Granny snatchin’ is too depressing for me to go back to. I’d rather flip burgers at McDonalds where I’ll at least not have to deal with the public. I can just stand there and do a menial task over and over again while not dealing with what it is that I’m actually doing there. Besides, those burgers are no more poisonous than allopathic medicine is (and I won’t be tempted to eat them either). I’ll just go from poisoning people for minimum wage to poisoning people for 60 grand a year right out of school. I think I can deal with people for that amount of money. The most I’ve ever made in my life is $28,000 a year, so I’ll be more than doubling that. That’s 60 grand? $4000 a month take home thereabouts? I’ll be fuckin’ rich, and I get to wear scrubs as a work uniform. My wife will be able to stay home and raise our children, and I’m going to have a lot. If I’m gonna be out there participating in the meaninglessness of a society not worth caring about than I’m going to at least come home to meaning. I’ll have time, and money left over after the bills are paid. That will enable me to afford to be the change I want to see in the world. Great advice Ghandi, but some of us have kids to feed. Granted, I chose to have kids, but isn’t that a large part of the human experience? Aren’t you glad your parents had you? And if you have any siblings, aren’t you glad your parents had them?
 
So what is the meaning of life? It seems the answer to that question only matters if you can afford to ask it in the first place.

Slogging Through Christmas

Off the keyboard of John Ward

Published on The Slog on December 25 & 26, 2012

Discuss these articles at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

December 26, 2012 · 8:29 am

How Santa Claus saved us from an evening of utterly dire television

Chums Trina and John are great cooks, big drinkers, tremendously appreciative and staggeringly generous. Trina (known usually as Latrine) bought Jon the complete set of ’2012′* DVDs. Without this, we would’ve spent Christmas Day evening staring at the walls, reading books, talking about the meaning of life, and all the other useless things one did as a student.

The telly listings for Christmas evening 2012 were perhaps the best example so far in human history of how more TV channels inexorably mean less quality…or lower quality for the pedants, or good old fashioned plain crap for the reality-lovers among us. Whoever the sad f**ks were responsible for putting these ‘competitive’ schedules together, my God but they should hold their heads in something. As they have no shame, I would suggest boiling oil as the perfect medium. Read the ‘choice’ at this link, and weep with joy or chagrin depending on whether you do or don’t like Eastenders, Coronation Street, Downton Abbey, Alan Carr or Eddie Stobart. Eddie Stobart is, on the other hand, dead……..which made him perfect casting given the company he was in.

Would you want to spend a year with Military Wives (8.45 pm BBC2, a reprise), and hour with Paul O’Grady talking about dogs (6.00 pm ITV1) or even a minute watching Eddie Stobart delivering reindeer for a Christmas parade (7.00 pm Channel 5, another repeat)? Well if you wouldn’t, there was always QI (a repeat) Blackadder (a repeat) Greatest Christmas Moments (a repeat) and Rude Tube on Channel Four (unrepeatable) . As for the films on offer, none of us had the slightest desire to watch Lord of the Rings (5.40 pm Channel 4), which was a shame as it was by far the best movie to be seen – all things being relative: Shrek the Halls, Kung Fu Panda, Carry on Cruising, Carry on Cleo, Carry on Don’t lose your Head, Final Destination 3, and Grease.

Television labouring under the usual ROI, shareholder returns, maximum adspace for minimal expenditure model is a vicious cycle heading inexorably down towards a place where bland copycat lifestyle bollocks and fifth-rate soaps meet ancient B-movies and robotic news. It is the area in commerce above all others where the private sector fails miserably, because it has no interest at all in creative risk, real art, edgy reporting and great drama. Public service television – under pressure from the barbarians – feels forced to chase the same ratings that spell success…and the same formats that become a winning formula. But the trouble with this frenetic search for the instant winning formula is that it only ever leads to the formulaic.

Those who incessantly bash the BBC seem to have little or no foresight about what its destruction would mean, and no recall of just how good it was before half-baked, superficially educated morons went into politics and started bullying it. Over all seven of my decades, it has added immeasurably to my enjoyment and appreciation of worthwhile things. The last decent law passed by Parliament was the Clean Air Act in 1957: fifty-five years of waste, strategic muddle, short-termism, hypocrisy and content-free drivel later, those in Government feel able to criticise an institution that leaves them as intellectual pygmies in its wake. I wonder how they have the gall to do it, but politicians never let their inferiority give them a complex to match. And as long as Britain is full of knee-jerkers gagging to get rid of the Beeb, they will continue on their insouciant, vandalising progress towards the destruction of civilisation.

* ’2012′ was a BBC2 satire-cum-parody about the largely braindead marketing communications people preparing for the London Olympic Games. The people who were actually doing the preparation at the time frequently said the reality was far, far worse than the parody. Anyway, it was and remains wonderful television.

 
December 25, 2012 · 9:55 am

 

THE SANTA’S DAY ESSAY: There’ll be bluebirds over the snow-capped cliffs of Dover. Allegedly.

There’s only one Santa

santacrowd

Today is Christmas Day, when every interpretation of anything is possible:

‘Greece should write off part of the
53 billion euros ($70 billion) of outstanding taxes owed to it
as it will only be able to collect up to 20 percent of that
amount, a report by the European Union and International
Monetary Fund showed.’

Secret IMF/Bondholder Report

‘For our part, we see the conflict between different sections of the ruling class and their state apparatus as being part of the break-up of the capitalist order in the face of the developing world socialist revolution. We hope that the different bourgeois factions do the greatest possible damage to each other, and in doing so prepare the way for the successful British socialist revolution, that will completely smash up every part of the British capitalist state, to bring in socialism.’

British Workers Revolutionary Party

“We have identified most of the external details of his cerebral cortex. The complexity and pattern of convolutions on certain parts of Einstein’s cerebral cortex is striking and unusual in comparison to brains from normal individuals. This is especially noticeable in the prefrontal cortex, which is important for advanced cognition, the parietal lobes, which are important for spatial and arithmetic reasoning, and the visual cortex. The primary sensory and motor cortices are also extraordinarily expanded in certain parts.”

Guardian neuroscience blog

‘President Obama said he hoped the holiday would give lawmakers perspective. “Everybody can cool off, everybody can drink some eggnog, have some Christmas cookies, sing some Christmas carols, enjoy the company of loved ones,” Mr Obama said.

Financial Times on the fiscal cliff

‘The Health and Safety Executive says it is fed up with being cited as an excuse for preventing people from taking reasonable risks as they go about their lives. The organisation’s chairman Judith Hackett told BBC Breakfast it is time for people to stand up to ‘jobsworths’ who wrongly use the health and safety mantra as a barrier to common sense.’

BBCNews website

‘The standard rules of business behavior and management are precisely the opposite of what it takes to build an innovative company. We are told to hire people who will fit in; to train them extensively; and to work to instill a corporate culture in every employee. In fact, in order to foster creativity, we should hire misfits, goad them to fight, and pay them to defy convention and undermine the prevailing culture.’

John I. Dutton

‘Arguing that a belief in Santa Claus injects magic into childhood is, in my view, rather cynical. It tacitly implies that the world by itself is insufficient to inspire a child with awe and delight. That is simply untrue. A child can be astounded by the smallest brush-flick of nature – the spinning sycamore seed, the sea, snow – they don’t need to be lied to. Children are perfectly capable of being happy without their parents recoursing to Santa stories. I think this speaks more about the jadedness of modern adulthood than anything else.’

Daily Telegraph blogger

‘When, as a child, I first encountered the idea that Santa Claus might not be real, I balked. Once infected with doubts, however, they didn’t escape me, and I began to wonder how one soul could possibly stop off at every single house and deliver toys; besides, my house didn’t even have a chimney. With chagrin, I slowly resigned myself to the fact that there was no Santa Claus.’

Psychology Today

gravesantaWhen one surveys most people’s attitudes to politics, economics, money and investment in the West, you can see how easy it is to persuade children that Father Christmas is for real. With a little more effort, the neocon propagandists could persuade most adults today that Santa Claus married Mary Poppins, and they have six beautiful children called Geithner, Draghi, Merkel, Hunt, Balls and Monti.

So for your delectation this Christmas morn, here are a few of the more risible efforts at Father Christmas is Real from the year just gone:

 
‘Spain has made dramatic strides in cutting labour costs and reviving exports since the debt crisis erupted, turning the country into the new poster-child of Europe’s austerity regime’
‘The Chancellor has bagged a £35bn windfall that will reduce public borrowing by reclaiming the surplus cash sitting in the Bank of England’s £375bn quantitative easing programme’
‘House prices across the country will edge down 1pc during 2013 as the London market shows signs of cooling, according to property analysts…..More improvement in the U.S. housing market is what Global Investment Research expects in 2013.’
‘The EU economy is estimated to be currently in a mild recession. But a slow recovery is forecast from the second half of the year.’
‘Russian president Vladimir Putin predicts a 3.7% growth for the Russian economy in 2013….metals and mining 2013 outlook remains stable’.
‘The U.S. may be a “bright spot” for the global economy in 2013, with Europe and Japan “not optimistic,” said Juang Ghobo, the official who oversees day-to-day management of China’s $3.3 trillion foreign exchange reserves.’
 
Hark…what do I hear? Yes, it’s the Tooth Fairy clip-clopping into view on a Unicorn, narrowly avoiding Bigfoot driving his new Ford Edsel. I better pop out the back and check if the Loch Ness Monster is OK in the liquidity pool, wherein nothing could ever go wrong.
 
May your stockings be full of fillers, or raunchy Cuban women and Chippendales, as per your tastes.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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