Monthly Post

A Conversation with the World

Over the last three and a half months, I’ve spent most of my writing time on this blog tracing a series of trajectories that all spiral in toward a common center. Each of those explorations started with some feature of contemporary culture and followed it back to its roots in a very odd set of assumptions about the universe. It’s the same set of assumptions in every case, too, and they can be summed up neatly in the claim, made famous by the New Age movement back in its glory days, that you create your own reality.

Though it’s far from the only place where that notion is on display these days, politics allows it to be seen with brutal clarity. Consider the angry insistence on the part of so many people these days that the people who voted for Brexit and Donald Trump could only have been motivated by racism. As a matter of simple fact, that’s not even remotely true, and anyone who takes the time to listen to the voters in question knows this. Yet every effort to point this out to the people who make the claim is met by angry bluster and another repetition of the same insistence. You don’t behave that way if you recognize that the world is what it is, irrespective of your opinions about it. You behave that way if you think the world has to be whatever you tell it to be.

It’s worthwhile to compare this to the more traditional attitude with which the privileged dismiss the needs and concerns of those beneath them. That used to show itself in the mainstream media and the conversations of the chattering classes in such utterances as “they’re voting against their own best interests.” The implication, of course, is that the speaker understands the best interests of the people being discussed better than they do. Patronizing?  Sure, and also dubiously honest, since what evokes this comment is inevitably that the deplorables du jour are voting for their own interests and against those of their soi-disant betters. Even so, this is considerably less detached from reality than the sort of thing we’re hearing now. It’s one thing to insist that the people you disagree with are mistaken in their beliefs and misguided in their motives, and quite another to insist that they have only the beliefs and motives you choose to attribute to them.

That latter sort of weird paralogic can be found all through the thinking of the well-to-do and their tame intellectuals these days. One example that’s been on my mind of late is the way that a good many climate change activists insist that it’s climate denialism to ask whether renewable energy sources can produce a sufficiently reliable supply of concentrated energy to replace fossil fuels. Naomi Oreskes’ widely cited 2015 op-ed making that claim is particularly fascinating, because Oreskes herself wrote a superb study of the way that geologists spent half a century ignoring the evidence for continental drift because that evidence conflicted with their theories—and there she was, not that many years later, insisting that another batch of evidence should be ignored because it conflicts with her theories. It’s almost as though she was taking notes.

It should be obvious that the question of whether renewable energy sources can replace fossil fuels needs to be settled by a close examination of the underlying science. In fact, such an examination has been done many times already, and when it’s been done honestly, the results show that a society powered by renewable energy is going to have a lot less energy—and above all a lot less reliably available, highly concentrated energy—than we use so blithely today. That doesn’t mean, by the way, that we should just keep on using fossil fuels; fossil fuels are, ahem, nonrenewable and depleting fast, another point that somehow gets next to no discussion in the climate change scene. It means that the sooner we get to work using renewable energy more efficiently, with a focus on conservation and local production of low- and medium-intensity energy forms for such uses as hot water and space heating, the less traumatic the inevitable transition is going to be.

Yet this sort of straightforward common sense gets little traction in the climate change scene. Instead, the pervasive attitude is that renewables will power our current wildly extravagant energy-wasting habits just fine.  Why?  Because they say it will, that’s why.  Mere physical reality isn’t offered the chance to get a word in edgewise. Again, that’s not something you do if you realize that the world has its own independent existence. It’s what you do if you’ve convinced yourself that the world is entirely the product of the inside of your own head.

All this puts me in a situation that is frankly rather odd. After all, I’m an occultist—you know, a student and practitioner of traditions of rejected knowledge that claim that under certain circumstances, the mind can do things with its surroundings that the rationalist materialism of our society insists can’t happen. The people I’m critiquing here are respectable mainstream intellectuals, politicians, and businesspeople—you know, people who are supposed to be realistic, pragmatic, and thus not prone to the extravagant flights of fancy to which occultists are allegedly subject. And yet here I am, trying to point out that the world is what it is and has to be taken into account, while they act as though the world is whatever they want it to be!

It’s almost as though José Arguelles and the other New Age promoters who made the fictitious prophecy concerning December 21, 2012 into one of the most profitable cash cows in the history of alternative spirituality turned out to be right, in a certain ironic way. One of the many competing narratives in the years leading up to that particular nonevent was that on the date in question, the world would enter a new era of spiritual enlightenment in which everyone would joyously embrace New Age philosophy. Well, a significant number of people do seem to have done so, consciously or not; the only difficulty is that the New Age philosophy they’ve embraced doesn’t happen to work so well in practice, and so their attempts to create their own reality have apparently resulted instead in the creation of Donald Trump.

No, I don’t actually think this is literally what’s going on. The New Age movement was as successful as it was because the attitudes at its core are what you get when you take the basic assumptions of modern industrial society and go just a little further in that same direction. If you happen to belong to one of the comfortable classes in an industrial nation, after all, you already create much more of the reality you experience than most other human beings have ever been able to do; you can screen out a great many of the unwelcome features of existence, and fill your mind and your senses with lifelike images of any number of wholly imaginary realities, courtesy of television, the internet, and the movies. Thus it became very easy for people to convince themselves that they could change the world the way they change a channel.

They had plenty of help in reaching that conclusion, though.  All through the second half of the 20th century, an entire industry of self-help books, videos, speakers, and organizations beavered away at the lucrative task of convincing the well-to-do that they really did deserve whatever they thought they wanted. The New Age movement was only the tip of a very large iceberg where such ideas are concerned. Plenty of “inspirational” and “motivational” teachers who wouldn’t be able to tell a channeled entity from a cheese Danish spent their careers insisting “you can if you believe you can,” “anything you can conceive, you can achieve,” and a boatload of similar half- or less than half-truths. (Anyone who believes these slogans, it seems to me, is obliged to display a working perpetual motion machine to the rest of us.)

The sheer immensity of the cultural impact of these attitudes has not, I think, really been grasped. Go into a dollar store in the working class East Coast neighborhood where I live, for example, and walk down the cramped little housewares aisle, and you’ll find wooden plaques meant to hang on apartment walls with cheery little affirmations—“Live, Laugh, Love,” and the like. A century ago, students of New Thought schools were taught to pin up notecards with such sayings on them to remind them to take charge of their thoughts; now it’s just part of the decor.  In the name of self-esteem and a flurry of similarly vacuous labels, such habits have found their way all through American public education and popular culture.

It’s worth taking a closer look at the cheery little affirmation cited above, by the way, as it offers a clear glimpse of the problems with the whole genre. Can you imagine putting a plaque saying “Hate, Mourn, Die” in some corner of your home?  “Live, Laugh, Love,” is equally unhealthy, because equally unbalanced; it’s just unbalanced in the other direction. Since emotional life follows the rule that New Thought teacher William Walker Atkinson called the Principle of Rhythm—a swing of the pendulum one way is always followed by a swing the other way—I doubt it’s accidental that there’s so much seething hatred and bitter mourning just now among those social strata that were so enthusiastic about positive thinking a few years ago.  I’m not at all sure I want to know just how high the death toll from suicide and other causes is going to be among that same demographic, as the present tragedy runs to its end.

It so happens, you see, that some of the technical methods the New Age movement borrowed from its predecessor, the New Thought movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, can do a fair job of producing the illusion that you create our own reality. A fair amount of what happens to you in the course of your life is shaped in part by the way you approach things. This is especially true of that part of the world around you that consists of other people, since the verbal and nonverbal signals you give them help shape the way they perceive you, and thus the way they treat you. Even the purely material side of existence, though, responds differently to different approaches. If you’ve ever gotten good at using a tool, you already know that there are productive and counterproductive ways to relate to physical matter, and your attitude and unthinking habits play quite a substantial role in determining which of these is typical of you.

The methods of New Thought work, in other words, because each of us is always engaged in a conversation with the rest of the world, and what we contribute to that conversation helps shape what the world says to us in response. The best of the New Thought teachings back in the day grasped that, and taught students to listen to the world’s side of the conversation; that’s one of the things that meditation does, and it’s also one the things you can get from studying your dreams, or from work with random-symbol generators such as tarot and runes. Yes, this is a part (though only a part) of what occultists like me do, and it’s also something that can be done in a less ornate way, the way the better grade of New Thought schools used to teach.

Turn the conversation into a monologue, and you can still get results, at least at first, because you’re still changing the way you relate to the world. There’s a trap hidden in this approach, though, and it’s called the intermittent-reinforcement effect. Psychologists found a long time ago that if you want to train rats to push a button, say, you have to give them some kind of reward for doing so, but you don’t get the best results if you give them the reward every single time. No, the most effective way is to give and withhold the reward randomly: this push of the button dispenses a bit of food, but the next two don’t, and then one does, and then three don’t, and so on. The rat ends up obsessing over the button, pushing it frantically over and over again. What’s more, you can stop giving the rat any reward at all, and it will keep on pushing the button for a good long time on the off chance that maybe, just maybe the thing will work once more.

Practicing New Thought methods under the conviction that you create your own reality, and don’t have to listen when the world says something else to you, is a very effective way to use the intemittent-reinforcement effect on yourself, and trap yourself in a way of doing things that doesn’t work so well. Those methods will get you some results, especially at first, when you figure out how to pluck the low-hanging fruit by stopping this or that self-defeating habit, or what have you. Those successes, like the early luck you get in a poker game rigged by competent card sharps, lure you in and convince you to keep playing—and in the same way, the longer you play and the more heavily you bet, the more certain you are of getting fleeced.

That, I’ve come to believe, is what’s happened to our well-to-do classes here in America, and not here alone. (If you want a fine example of the attitudes we’re discussing in full-blown meltdown mode, for example, visit the Independent—the main voice of privileged progressivism in British society these days—and take in its writers’ foam-flecked rants about the stunning rise of Nigel Farage’s newly minted Brexit Party.)  Raised in environments saturated with secondhand New Age ideas, taught in a hundred subtle and not so subtle ways that the world is whatever they think they want it to be, encouraged by the media and their own class privilege to avoid noticing a great many unwelcome realities, they’ve ended up blindly accepting the notion that they get to decide what’s real and what isn’t.  Now that that’s not working so well, they’re like the rat with the button, hammering frantically on it and hoping that they’ll get the treat.

I suspect some of them will stay locked into that self-defeating infinite loop until the nice men in white coats come to take them to their very own padded cells. I suspect many others are headed toward nervous breakdowns of various degrees of gaudiness, and many more will get out of the trap by veering suddenly into some sharply different belief system—the way that so many of the hippies turned into Jesus People in the early 1970s, and then morphed into ordinary middle-of-the-road Christians, has occurred to me more than once as a likely model.

While we’re waiting for the sudden loud crunch that will announce the end of the absurdist social comedy we’ve been discussing, though, I’d like to talk about some of the implications. The first thing to keep in mind is that the opposite of one bad idea is quite reliably another bad idea. The belief that you create your own reality is dysfunctional, but so is the belief that your reality just happens to you and you have nothing to do with the way it turns out.  You and the world create or, to use an old bit of occult jargon, co-create your reality jointly; both of you contribute to the project, though the world is the senior partner—it was here before you arrived, remember, and it will be here when you are gone.  In the same way, too much self-esteem is just as toxic as too little, so bouncing from one end of the spectrum to the other is a lot less useful than finding a healthy point of balance somewhere in between.

The second thing to keep in mind is that treating life as a conversation with the world, rather than a monologue in either direction, has certain benefits. The first, obviously, is that you have the chance to avoid certain kinds of embarrassing mistakes. If you pay attention to what happens in the world when you do this or that, you can learn the difference between the things you can change by altering your thinking, and the things that aren’t amenable to that approach. If you pay attention to what happens in you when the world does this or that, furthermore, you can learn the difference between those reactions of yours that are reasonable and proportional to the event, and those that have been inflated out of proportion by unresolved emotional conflicts or what have you. In either case, you learn, and get better at the art and craft of living.

There’s more to it than that, though. We live in a time when the most important things going on around us right now are things that the well-to-do and their tame intellectuals don’t want to talk about and the media won’t touch with a ten-foot pole. The officially approved voices of our society insist at the top of their lungs, for example, that progress is unstoppable and always makes things better for everyone, but many people have begun to realize that the only kind of “progress” that’s still on track these days is the sort that makes things measurably worse for most of us. Inevitably, the affirmation “but we’re still progressing!”—uttered in tones ranging from the belligerent to the desperate—is becoming an increasingly common catchphrase just now.

The global hegemony that gave the United States its late twentieth standard of living is coming apart, and all of us in the US will be quite a bit poorer in the years to come as a result; that’s another thing nobody wants to talk about. The temporary reprieve from the consequences of peak oil that was provided by shale oil production, and propped up by a really impressive array of financial shenanigans, is winding to its inevitable end as well, and we can expect another round of price spikes and panic in a few years; that’s yet another. There are more. None of these things can be made to go away by refusing to acknowledge them, or by fixating on some contrary belief and clinging to it in the teeth of contrary evidence.

We really do need to listen to what the world is saying to us, and like any good conversationalist, take that into account while deciding what we’re going to say next. The alternative is that the world will raise its voice even further than it has so far. The Brexit referendum and the Trump presidency are two of the things it’s said in a raised tone in the political sphere. Do you really want to know, dear reader, what it will say if it has to shout?


  1. ” If you happen to belong to one of the comfortable classes in an industrial nation, after all, you already create much more of the reality you experience than most other human beings have ever been able to do; you can screen out a great many of the unwelcome features of existence, and fill your mind and your senses with lifelike images of any number of wholly imaginary realities, courtesy of television, the internet, and the movies. Thus it became very easy for people to convince themselves that they could change the world the way they change a channel.”

    The way so many people are frankly neurotic about TV makes sense now: they use it so much it distorts their thinking: it is, after all, super easy to change a channel, and thus find a new reality if they don’t like the one they’re on; also, Baby Einstein and similar such is designed to get babies watching TV, which seems like a very bad idea to me; and then there’s a TVTropes article called Reality is Unrealistic*; and so TV becomes the only thing that makes sense for them. They watch TV so much because the real world has stopped making sense to them, and so they spend so many of their waking hours in the dream world because it makes sense to them, and so the real world makes less sense. It’s a vicious cycle, one which will likely end for a lot of them only when they lose the TV.

    They also feel the idea that other people won’t join them in the dream world is a threat, on at least two levels: first, anyone who’s not watching TV is going to be able to do things beyond the TV watchers capacities, which makes them into a threat; and two, it’s a subtle but no less damaging reminder that the world they spend as much time as possible in isn’t real.

    The comment a lot of people make about “living in a dream world” is accurate from their point of view: a “dream world” is a world that doesn’t follow the rules of reality. Well, if the real world doesn’t follow the rules of their “reality”, then of course it must be a “dream world”.


  2. John–

    A few initial thoughts.

    “Slow down.” This is one of the things I believe we are being told. “Reassess your values,” is another. Last night, after a wonderful-yet-simple home-cooked meal by my culinarily-gifted wife, I was hand-washing the dishes (laundry and dishes are my share of the housework, and happen to be tasks I rather enjoy and she does not) and relishing the sensation of the warm, soapy water, the texture of my crocheted washcloth, and sheer physicality of the dishes themselves. And as I did so, I recalled a conversation I had at work with one of my colleagues one time when we were discussing home energy use and I happened to give our (absurdly low) usage, mentioning that among other things we had no TV and we had no automatic dishwasher. (We chose specifically not to put one in when we redid the kitchen from its vintage 1950’s lime-green and put in new counters.) He asked, “but what about the value of your time?” I commented that 1) I rather enjoyed doing the dishes, and 2) what am I going to do with that time, sit on my [hind-end] and scroll through Facebook? The idea that labor is inherently undesirable has overstayed its welcome and needs to be re-evaluated.

    “They vote against their best interests” is a refrain I continue to see voiced in the political sphere with regards to the working classes generally. One would think, after years of seeing people “vote against their own interests” that the holders of that opinion might begin the think their assessment of the situation might be erroneous…

    And, course, the Ecomodernist Manifesto brought up in last week’s thread is chock-full of the errors you discuss here.

  3. Great article JMG. I’ve been a long-tine lurker on your blog and greatly enjoyed your erudite posts and the thoughtful and informative posts from your readers. I’ve purchased a few of your books over the years but this is my first comment. Many thanks Brendan

  4. This is helpful, thank you. Recently I’ve been reading William James’ _Varieties of Religious Experience_ and in one of the earlier lectures he goes into New Thought rather enthusiastically. Of course he was writing in the years before the Great War which, to my melancholy mind, gives his delightful, brainy exuberance a retroactively somber tone.

    New Thought seems to me structurally similar to Chaos magic, but a bit more twee. That is, the Gods are taken out of the conversation. When there is the presence of living gods, spirits or ancestors the other side of the conversation really does make itself heard. When there is simply Oneself and The Universe, well that’s another story.

    Something I found interesting about James’ historical analysis is the historical current linking Lutherism to New Thought. That is, New Thought is essentially Protestant, hence the much higher emphasis on a strict Monotheist arrangement, so instead of God there are a bunch of abstractions. He mentions how Christian Science, which innovated many New Thought techniques, considered the very concept of sin to be a *lie*! And so New Thought seems to me very much the historical development of the sort of Christianity that has no place for the Saints, The Blessed Virgin Mary, or The Devil.

    My thought has been that the Universe really doesn’t and can’t care about me, indeed it can’t care about me anymore than I can sincerely care about it. It is beyond my comprehension and I am below its, if it even has a consciousness that I can in any way understand as analogous as my own. That said, while I cannot carry on a conversation with the Universe, I can certainly talk with my Guardian Genius, spirits, ancestors, and gods who wish to work with me. And these beings are emphatically *not* a blank screen that I can project all over, as they make their desires, thoughts, needs, and limits known through omens, divinations, synchronicity, dreams and the small still voice.

  5. “Do you really want to know, dear reader, what it will say if it has to shout?”
    I suspect that shout is best summarized in Shakespeare: “Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war!”

  6. Most of this essay had me rolling on the floor, laughing. Have been reading your writings since early ADR days. I was then a military officer (now ret). Some of us, especially enlisted, stared reality in the face every day, no matter the happy talk further up the ranks. A prof I once worked for in South Carolina mused that a people who has, in its history, lost a war (as had the South, and in my case Germany) is a lot more careful about reality. What I find perplexing is that the US has lost quite a few battles/wars. But this has not sunk in!!

  7. Just shared a link to this monthly post, I think that most of my friends will be worried at my sanity. Disbelieving progress ? Unthinkable.

  8. I’m a big fan or Euripides, and so when you write: “I’m not at all sure I want to know just how high the death toll from suicide and other causes is going to be among that same demographic, as the present tragedy runs to its end.” I can’t help but think rather literally that this is a tragic arrangement in the classical sense. What ultimately destroyed Hippolytus was his belief that he could ignore and disrespect a part of the universe with impunity. What ultimately destroyed Pentheus was his belief that the contents of his mind were more real than the irrational facts of existence. Jason lost his children, his lover and his wife because he thought he could pull a fast one on Medea without consequence.

    Point being, when one ignores the irrational facts of existence they don’t simply go away, they drive one mad and then utterly destroy said person. Part of the problem of the New Age movement at its most Protestant is that it ignores and disrespects nearly *all* of the gods, and so it gets to have converging tragedy that is somewhat unique. What deities does New Thought honor? Who *is* the Universe? I mean these as a serious questions, too.

    From my perspective, for whatever it’s worth, New Thought worships Tyche above all others, and of course, Tyche was often pictured with Nemesis. From “Nemesis (Fair Distribution) was cautiously regarded as the downside of Tykhe, one who provided a check on extravagant favours conferred by fortune.”

    And so, I sadly agree with your assessment that the New Age movement will likely end in the tragic sequence and is indeed likely doing so now. The bizarrerie of Mr. Hughes and his magical resistance make much more sense from this perspective, as does the ongoing melt down.

  9. I am continuing to find that environmentalism and concern over the environment keeps getting hijacked by groups determined to use it as a vector for their own created realities. As a group, those who start to genuinely ask how we can change our behaviours and to what degree we need to modify our infrastructure are continually shouted down by either those who are in complete denial that it is happening or those who think the problem can be solved without any overall changes. Not to mention the bits of it that routinely get taken over by whatever elite-class purity cult happens to be in vogue. As you said, discussions about actual facts are curtailed as soon as those facts disagree with the speakers preferred reality.

    Personally, I struggle with the “total despair, nothing I can do” end of the spectrum. And I do fall into that abyss occasionally, especially as that seems to be the direction our elites are going when nobody is paying attention (there are several great articles out there about the bunkers the rich are building). But retreating into the cloud cuckoo land inside your skull is not the only way to get back some hope and agency.

  10. Will, that seems entirely plausible to me. I noticed a long time ago that very few people these days can imagine a problem that can’t be solved in half an hour, with time left over for commercial breaks.

    David, the whole “value of your time” thing deserves close attention, so many thanks for bringing it up. Exactly; what exactly are you going to do with the time you free up by having this or that allegedly labor-saving device? And is it of any greater value, in any sense of that word?

    Change Focus, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Violet, okay, “New Thought seems to me structurally similar to Chaos magic, but a bit more twee” very nearly got tea all over my keyboard. Thank you. The interesting thing to me is that James’ Varieties of Religious Experience was much used as a textbook in the later phases of New Thought; it was one of the books I was asked to study as part of my training in the gallimaufry of orders connected to the AODA, all of which were influenced by New Thought to a significant degree — and yes, there was a Protestant tinge to the lot of them (specifically a Universalist tinge, but that’s a story for another time.)

    Dfr1973, that’s one of the possibilities I dread.

    Petra, our problem in the US is that outside of the South, we’ve never actually been defeated; we’ve lost in the sense of not achieving our goals, not in the sense of having to accept terms dictated by a triumphant victor. That’s something I wove into my soon-to-be-reprinted political-military thriller Twilight’s Last Gleaming: the US too often behaves in a uniquely stupid fashion in the world because its leaders have never absorbed the possibility that we could someday be defeated.

  11. “[T]he pervasive attitude is that renewables will power our current wildly extravagant energy-wasting habits just fine. Why? Because they say it will, that’s why.” I’d propose two other answers, one cynical and the other more desperate. The cynical one is that the people proposing it think that the American people in particular won’t be interested in any solution that gives up those extravagant habits, so they propose that renewables will allow them to keep them. The second feeds into the first; they’ve been eating their own dog food long enough that they believe this, so it has to be true, regardless of reality.

    The assumption behind the first can at least be tested. Perhaps if the residents of the developed world can be convinced that their overconsumption and pollution will cause up to one million species to go extinct, they might cut down on their wasteful habits. Conversely, the elite might be convinced that producing less waste is fashionable and become better examples, although the way they’ll do it will probably be off-putting.

    Finally, the habit of thought you described as being a result of New Age thinking showed up in academia as Post-Modernism, where there is no objective reality and everything is socially constructed. As a scientist, I always found that intellectual movement irritating. Someone one said of it, ‘the Post-Modernist Godfather will make you an offer you can’t understand.”

  12. The New Age Movement was a pretty major influence on me as a young man, and even though I pretty much agree with you now about its flaws and downsides, I still think it helped me more than it hurt me. Though this may have a great deal to do with the severe paucity of good influences on young people searching for a new philosophy of life offered by American society in the late industrial age!

  13. I sort of don’t want to know, but I’m afraid I have little say in this matter. The way things are, the world’s scream will be ear piercing.

    I am actively avoiding news for more than one year, because I have little to gain from it. I overdosed on doom, and I’m still recovering. Instead of following the chronicle of death, I’m concentrating into putting some order in my life, specially solving financial issues. First this, then, I will see what to do.

  14. Still waiting for the reality wars of the Renaissance, but New Thought is part of the way!

  15. “Do you really want to know, dear reader, what it will say if it has to shout?”
    Emphatically no!
    Here in England we still wait to see if the tectonic plates have really shifted. Unreality is very tenacious but I think ‘reality’ might have actually caught us with no particular place to go. Working class Scotland chose differently. Any leftover from Empire days in our Parliament, civil-service or media – even the Spitfire nostalgics, (& yes,forget the minority middle-class Guardian) – will have to make up a new story. There is no ‘next big thing’ and no obvious ‘bandwagon’ and no America to give a lead. I have no idea how the random generator will spin.Our FT Index spins merrily on. Smile.
    Phil H

  16. My daughter had to write a paper for her Current Global Issues class this week. The subject was “US: superpower or not? And will that continue?” She said, and I quote, “I am arguing that we are and will continue to be, not because I believe it, but because that’s the argument for which I can find sources to cite.”

  17. There is one last, vast, easily taped energy resource left. But there are some very strict limits on its usefulness. It is typically overlooked because it is not an energy source, it is an energy sink.

    Just a quick review of some physics, in order to do work you must have both an energy source and an energy sink. The bigger the difference between the energy source and energy sink the more work you can do.

    So what is this energy sink and what could we do with it?

    In the oceans at the tropics the surface is warm (the energy source) and deep below the surface the water is icy cold (the energy sink). If you pump the icy cold water to the surface you can easily provide refrigeration, air conditioning, and fresh water extraction during air conditioning. And then the nutrient rich water can be released near the surface and have the possibility to help create viable marine ecosystems.

    So when I channel my inner Faust (who looks just like Capitan Nemo) I the mega project mankind needs, is to build giant floating aqua-opoli in the topics and move the most of the human population there. The floating aqua-opoli acts like a keystone species bringing needed nutrients to surface and some of the carbon that is in the air will get turned into living organisms. If we embrase the living world we might be able to initiate a Gaia Stream and Enliven the dead carbon we have released.

  18. A current article at Mere Orthodoxy by a Paul Miller seems relevant to this discussion. Miller attempts to link a change in the way we find validation/fulfillment, the fragmentation and conversion of the humanities into diversity studies and the strident conflicts of identity politics. Since we seek validation (from the world and others) of our identity, and identity necessarily falls back on some group characteristic, we petition the state to provide official sanction based on our group identity. The majority becomes threatened by all these new claims. The reaction, nationalism, is simply the identity politics of the majority group. Without abandoning the lessons of white, male, western bias that was the focus of diversity studies, he argues we need to recover the original purpose of the humanities: to study on the common experience of being human and learning the tools to constructively engage with our fellow citizens. As a Christian, writing for Christians, Miller’s recommendation on individual fulfillment is found in Jesus’ paradoxical teaching of giving up one’s life to gain it. His treatment is more nuanced than my summary. It’s a bit comforting to see people from different traditions noticing, commenting and making suggestions.

  19. Naomi Oreskes is scheduled to be a speaker at the Midwest renewable Energy Fail next month in Custer, WI. I discovered the fair two years ago and have attended for the workshops (the functional ones–like composting and canning–not the activist ones, which I find tedious).

    I have generally not gone to the speaking events, but I might do so this year, just to observe. The first year I went, there was an chief-something-or-other officer from Tesla who spoke one evening and that was all people were talking about at the coffee-bus at the campground the next morning, like it was some religious revival or something. I kinda wished I’d have gone, just to take notes.

    For any who are interested:

    I’m doing my workshop again on local resilience initiatives (talking about very unsexy things like zoning, bike trails, urban chicken ordinances, and reducing barriers for local business start-ups), Friday at 2 PM in the Maroon tent.

  20. This may look off topic, but it looks like Notre Dame is going to be rebuilt very differently from before.

    What makes it on topic is that I’ve tried asking people if this will fit with the rest of Paris. I think it’s a bad idea for more reasons than just that, but that’s one I thought would fit a materialist worldview. I’ve been told in very condescending tones that it doesn’t matter, since most of Paris is old and can be replaced. If the building we want does not fit the city, we’ll just replace the city!

  21. Whispers, quite possibly — but I wouldn’t be too surprised if one or two of them contact you privately to say, “You know, there may be something to that.”

    Violet, Euripides came as the Greek Age of Reason was coming unraveled, and he had a good ringside seat. Unsurprisingly, his insights have a lot of relevance to our parallel time.

    Andrew, no question, it’s a challenge. Many people find that changing their own lives, even in small ways, is a good answer to the feeling of despair. Nor is that useless, far from it — it’s by making such changes and learning to downscale our energy needs that we move the world in the right direction.

    Donald, you’re most welcome.

    Vince, talking about species going extinct isn’t going to cut it. The environmental movement, back in the days when it actually accomplished things, did that by grasping and then communicating that it’s our lives on the line, too — not in an apocalyptic “We’re all gonna dieeeeeeeee!” sense, but by pointing out the health effects of pollution and other ways that environmental degradation affects all of us right now. Now that the Sierra Club et al. are shills for big corporations, they don’t talk about such things, and so the sense of human entitlement balloons unchecked. As for postmodernism, yep — between the fashionable Derridadaisme of the universities and the lumpen-spirituality of New Age profiteers, there’s not a penny’s worth of real difference.

    Other Dave, thanks for this!

    Mister N, the thing is, there’s a lot of worthwhile material in the New Age scene, just as there was in the New Thought scene before it. Both were very mixed bags, and if you kept your head screwed on straight and didn’t fall for certain common fallacies, you could learn a lot of valuable things from either one. It’s just that some of the core ideas got taken out of context and stretched far beyond their reasonable limits by pop culture, and have ended up having disastrous consequences.

    Packshaud, that sounds like a good plan.

    Matthias, duly noted.

    Phil H, I continue to watch the British political news with undiminished fascination. It makes Monty Python’s Flying Circus look serious, reasonable, and rational.

    Michelle, that sounds about right!

    Skyrider, yes, I figured it was about time for people to start popping up with energy vaporware. Have you taken the time to figure out what this would cost, what kind of resource needs would be involved in doing it, and where the energy to pump the water would come from? Or thought through the long-term effects of changing the temperature of the deep oceans, potentially messing up one of the major drivers of global climate? No, I didn’t think so.

    Daniel, thanks for this. I’ll take a look at it as time permits.

    David BTL, I hope it goes well for you. I’ll look forward to your report!

  22. Great stuff JMG.

    Nice to see your comments on renewables not being enough. This goes contrary to the ideology behind the so-called ‘Green New Deal’ / ‘Extinction Rebellion’ and the Greta Thunberg fanclub. I’ve been reading many of the posts on this left site,, a very depressing litany of the big business connections behind this current wave of ‘environmentalism’.

    The picture you describe here, people wanting to plug renewables into BAU without making any meaningful reduction in lifestyle sounds very similar to their criticism. Given that you’re on the Burkean end of the spectrum, it’s nice to see a similar analysis. When I see a PR phenom like a 16 year old girl getting more press than all the previous activists combined (!!!) I get very suspicious. When she gets speaking time at Davos and the like, any thinking person should be extremely skeptical.

    I remember you saying some time ago that the next bubble would be renewables. Puzzled me, but I made a mental note to watch out for signs. According to wkog, and they quote some sources on their site, there are up to 100 TRILLION dollars locked up in pension funds. This 100T will need to be ‘liberated’ into a renewables bubble to keep capitalism floating for another 20 or 30 years.

  23. Excellent analysis of….reality. I was just writing to some friends that MOST of the people in our circle of zen center or Tibetan Buddhist friends were white and not needy. Seems the hegemony provided them with the spot on the top of Maslow’s pyramid, seeking enlightenment, or more accurately escape from the pain of living. Guess there will be no escape when the world starts shouting. Thanks for the continued wake up calls.


  24. @ All

    “Midwest Renewable Energy Fail”

    Oh for crying out loud…a Freudian (Jungian?) typo if there ever was one! 😉

  25. Hi Mr. Greer,

    I’ve been avidly following your blog for the past few months, and reading your books a little longer than that. This is my first time commenting here, and I wanted first and foremost to thank you for all of the work you do. So much of it has been an excellent resource for me; I’ve learned so much and am all the better for it.

    The following may be redundant, but : prior to being introduced to New Thought through your writing, I’d known of this philosophy solely via sources like The Secret and The Law of Attraction. Reading this entry (and others that touch on similar subjects), I’m tickled, because I was just talking about this with my husband; while I’ve always felt that there is a kernel of truth (perhaps more) at the heart of these popular movements, I’ve also always been irked by the shameless hijacking of it by the “salary class.” Listening to presentation recordings, hoping to get some insight from the speaker, and having to hear banal question after banal question from the audience (who each paid upwards of $200 for the privilege) certainly wears on one’s mind after a while.

  26. One fascinating thing about the state of current ‘liberalism’ is how they can cavalierly dismiss 52% of the UK population and close to 50% of the US population as racists. Where then does the 18th / 19th century liberal ideal of Progress, Reason and the improvement of humanity get any legitimacy? On the one hand liberals cheer Progress and the primacy of Reason, but on the other they dismiss half of the West’s population as hopeless racists!

    I’d suggest that you can’t have one AND have the other. If, after 300 years of ‘Enlightenment’, Over 50% of your people are racist / fascist / stupid / evillll, then it’s time to call it quits on Progress, and all that voting and suffrage stuff, and have rule by elites. But having cake and eating it doesn’t seem to be a problem for Liberals. We’ll think two mutually contradictory things at the same time, just don’t ask us to look at our class privilege, or to examine our first world lifestyles…….


    I’ve been following UK politics since the early 80s, as a young teen in Ireland when the Hunger Strikes were in full swing. What is happening there now is like nothing I’ve seen; the early 80s pale. Even the SDP / Labour split, which was dramatic, didn’t put the system under this kind of stress. Something’s got to give.

    Regarding the and the equally risible Guardian – they never miss a chance to push the approved narrative of polite bourgeois society, the truth be damned. You’ll see more pearl-clutching articles in the Guardian about gender/POC representation in ‘Game of Thrones’ than you will about the war in Yemen. For the Guardian and Indo, their Identity politics “provide air cover for Empire” in the words of Gordon White from If their press coverage is a guide, they are more concerned about the lives and deaths of fictional women and POC in GOT than they are about LIVING PEOPLE in Yemen or Gaza.

    During the recent local elections the Remain LibDems gained 500 seats while the tories lost 1300 and Labour about 100. Guardian spun this as a huge wave for Remain. But turns out that when non-liars and non-idiots looked at the stats, the libdem gains were the result of Tory and Labour voters staying at home. Turnout was 30%, but a GE would be over 60%. This was not a surge for remain, and any qualified or objective journalist should have realised it.

    While this vote was being spun as a remain victory, Farage’s BREXIT Party was even then hitting mid to high teens% in the polls! They weren’t running in locals, else the result would have been very different. As you may have seen, in some GE polls they’ve even pushed the Tories into third place.

    The UK’s FPTP system is very cruel to 3rd 4th and 5th parties, and to parties whose vote is spread across the country evenly (at 6% the Greens would only win 1 seat out of 650), but I wonder at what point one or both of the two major parties will break into pieces. A Farage premiership is unlikely, but not impossible given the current direction. UKIP did him a huge favour by soaking up all the 4% bona-fide racists and head-the-balls (the likes of Tommy Robinson and Carl Benjamin), allowing Farage to clean house and reboot with a somewhat crisper image.

    GE’s have a funny habit of pulling people back to their electoral center of mass, but this can only go on for so long.

  27. Another great and timely essay JMG. I despair with people. I will give you a flavour of some of the things I see on Faceplant. Talk about ‘The world is whatever I want it to be’, apropos Brexit and the ‘ever closer union’ the EU wants:

    “One day in the future, there will be one world currency, one primary language, one set of international laws for international issues (trade, internet, aviation, terrorism, corporations, space exploration, pollution, climate change), no borders, free movement to live, love, study and work anywhere, unified taxation and a centralised defence force. When humans colonise space, nationalism will be confined to sport and friendly rivalry like supporting a football club or styles of cuisine. There will always be local laws in local jurisdictions, cultural differences, regional languages and different religions. For this ‘ever closer union’ to happen, there will have to be far less division between rich and poor countries – so it is a long way off. This prospect is terrifying to those who fear that helping lift other humans means losing their privileged position.”

    Where to start with that one, but this is the dream that so many (usually well off) people have. ‘When humans colonise space’ – why, because I say so! Also, I mentioned peak oil to an ex Sunday Times journalist. She informed me that oil was like air and it couldn’t possibly run out! Another one piped up with, ‘Oil reproduces itself’ and of course the first poster agreed! Then I got unfriended. I also think that the reason there is so much deplatforming going on with anyone favourable to Trump is because not only do the elite not want to think about these issues, they don’t want to hear them either so it becomes “hate speech”.

    In other news, I am working as a Poll Clerk for the European elections in the UK next week. This is nearly 3 years after I worked the same job during the Brexit referendum which was supposed to make such things redundant. An example of politicians refusing to recognise the new reality…

  28. I think that one reason Progressives are so dead-set on handwaving the limitations of renewable energy is because the only alternative they are capable of seeing (ye olde dualism at work) is the opposite extreme of the pendulum—where the world has all the say and we have none. This is rather crushing, although also strangely freeing, in that it allows one to abdicate responsibility and just party on the way down; I think this is where some of the near-term human extinction types have ended up.

    Progressives currently seem to be having their cake and eating it, too—they’ve shoved all the responsibility for our collective ills and “backwardness” off onto governments and corporations and elites and deplorables (anyone but them!), without actually admitting that humanity is not all-powerful and that there is no ever-improving arc of history that would be made manifest if not for all those other people. But this means that neither the unending orgy of Progress they had hoped for nor the fatalistic after-party of the doomer (not to mention the constructive moderation of the appropriate technology aficionado or permaculturist or Retrotopian) is available to them, and the strain of that must be wearing on their mental health.

    On a related note, I have the sometimes dubious privilege of cultivating the acquaintance of more fringe types than “average Americans” at this point, and I have noticed an increasing tendency among my prepper friends to set elaborate and unattainable goals designed to save them when everything goes straight to the underworld, and, being unable to accomplish those goals, to declare that all efforts are pointless. This distinctly reminds me of my environmentalist friends who have spent years shrieking about how governments and corporations must do something drastic about global warming NOW but they never, so there is no point in giving up our personal air travel or what-have-you.

    I was talking to a prepper friend recently about water. He is broke but wants to install a catchment system and some cisterns on his property with a total capacity of around 50,000 gallons to start with and is having a breakdown because he thinks stuff is going to hit the fan before he can get his water security under wraps. I mentioned that my two six-gallon jerry cans in my truck easily last me a week for drinking, cooking, bathing, dishes, and laundry, all of which I of course do by hand. He started ranting about what if the power went off and never came back, etc. and I can’t refill my jerry cans. I mentioned that much of my water does not come from powered sources, that I also have a gravity fed filter as well as a couple of backpacking filters and the means to boil water, plus probably a year’s supply of iodine for that matter, as well as a tarp for catching water, and I can usually manage to find at least a gallon of water in a pond or stream or puddle somewhere without too much trouble if worse comes to worst. In the desert, I have a lovely bit of medical tubing that can snake down into cracks and get at water, as well, since I do a lot of desert backpacking; I have also made my share of stills. I said all of this to him. I said that if he was worried, my way might be a good start until he could afford the tens of thousands of dollars for his potential system, and that I derived a pleasant feeling of self-sufficiency, security, and general lightness of being from realizing how minimal my needs really are and how inexpensively and easily I can meet them, even without electricity or major infrastructure. I looked into his eyes and saw the needle skipping, and then he repeated angrily, “But WHAT if the power never comes back ON?” Sigh.

  29. What do you think of how climate change is being talked about now? It feels like a scolding, demanding tone and it comes across as “if you don’t agree with me, you’re just stupid”….which makes me want to take an opposing view even though I’ve believed for over a decade in climate change.

  30. @JMG

    To take this slightly sideways, do you know where the phrase “you create your own reality” comes from? I’m familiar with it from Seth (Jane Roberts), but I suspect it might have an earlier source.

    There are a number of problems with Seth, at least from my point of view, none of which are relevant here. The overarching issue, though, is that Seth is talking from an Astral or Causal viewpoint, not the viewpoint of someone who is living a lifetime on the physical plane. It makes perfect sense from Seth’s viewpoint, and is perfectly inapplicable from ours.

    This is why I prefer Michael. More of it is actually useful to align yourself, to use your terminology, with your Destiny rather than your Fate.

    John Roth

  31. Well JMG you sent the bowling ball right down my lane. Over the past few days I’ve been reading and pondering on how much of my reality is in my own head and you’ve very nicely furthered the issue. I suppose the world is speaking to me and I need to listen! In my days as a Christian I might have said that God was trying to get through to me.
    Reason being is I’ve had a very tough 12 months, and based on Saturnian cycles (mine and those of my family) I am guessing that this challenging time will continue for another 18-24 months. My wife and I have been running into so many brick walls in life, and I’ve been searching hardily for why. I am beginning to find out that the best strategy is proving to be listening and acceptance… paying close attention to my failures and not continuing to go in those directions… no grand adventures (travel has proven unusually problematic)… accepting where I am at and just plugging away daily. Doing so leaves me and my family in a very tight box and the feeling is like that of being in jail. But I know it won’t last forever, and I can sit tight for now, and work on myself, and take care of my family, and help others.
    To borrow from the bible, now is the time to sit quietly, and listen to the “still, small voice”. I just now starting to really do this in earnest in that last day or so. I guess I needed to be boxed in a bit to be encouraged to listen. Today I felt arms around me and a sense things will be okay. I’m being looked out for somehow. I suppose listening to the world doesn’t just mean heeding a teacher, it can also mean enjoying a friend.

  32. JMG,

    I used to hear the “not voting in their own interests” line fairly often c. 2012. I hadn’t really noticed its absence, though, until you mentioned it. When I heard it, it was usually about the prevalence of hard-hat wearing wage class people in the GOP, and the argument basically went, “We’re offering a bunch of free money and programs for working class people, why aren’t they voting for us?” To which the obvious answer to a third party would be that you’re not offering as good a deal as you think you are. Maybe the scraps of some well-intentioned welfare program aren’t worth the fraying of working class mores and the loss of their jobs.

    But that’s all been covered extensively on these grounds.

    I’m more interested by the recoil effect on religiosity you meantioned, and the analogy to late 60s hippies becoming Jesus people, then average Christians/Yuppies which you have often described as a formative experience for you, but I hadn’t thought about it much in relation to our current hypermaterialist secularism. Would it bother you to suddenly see a radical, but short lived and faddish, return to traditional religious forms, like Paganism or Traditional Catholicism?

    Admittedly, us Catholics are rather up a creek, having forgotten that our paddle is not a rudder.

  33. JMG,

    Several times in your past blogs you’ve mentioned that we here in the USA recently averted a revolution, that the danger of that occurring is now past or at least not as near keen as it had been. I trust you were referring to the election of the game-changing D Trump?

    I’ve read that prior to the ‘32 presidential election, there were serious, organized bands of potential revolutionaries, prepared to violently seize control of the government in the event of Hoover’s re-election. A certain Hollywood film director had a stash of work clothes always at the ready should he suddenly need to melt away into the crowd, etc. It seems that the potential for revolution was a lot more in the forefront back in those days, maybe due to the fact that journalists and novelists were writing about it, and Huey Long was doing his thing in Louisiana.

    We don’t or didn’t have that kind of pre-revolutionary PR now, which is not to underestimate the anger and frustration of the wage-earning class. I suppose this would be due to the expression of the wage-earner’s anger and frustration being pretty much squelched by today’s Ruling Class-bound journalists and artists?

  34. Your discussion about people “making their own reality” reminded me of the things that are going on with our foreign policy. John Bolton seems to think that if he just tries the same threatening tactics they will keep the empire afloat. But a lot of other people, particularly outside this society, see that the empire is falling apart. But somehow these people seem to reappear in the circles of power, and do the same things over and over–never held to account for the failures and the destruction they cause. I feel really helpless right now.

  35. In the interest of Fair and Balanced: Both the poor and rich are drugged with TV/unreality/etc. Which means the elite are often or even usually right when they claim that the poor vote against their own interests. Note that the poor can use the same argument! The Elite will certainly not vote for their actual best interests. Like, downsize now, avoid the rush…

  36. John, as far as energy vapor ware goes pumping cold water is a pretty modest technical challenge.
    And the claims I am making about what you can do with it are also pretty modest: some limited temperature control, fresh water and a potential nutrient source. You are not going to fly an airplane on cold water or launch a rocket or anything like that.

    As far as how you power the pumps, I would use photovoltaics or wind. You only need to overcome the density difference between cold and warm water to pump the cold water to the surface.

    What I am proposing is a simpler version of the OTEC system (use the cold water directly rather than trying to turn the small temperature difference into electricity.)

    As far as warming up the ocean, there are approximately 1.2 billion cubic kilometers of ocean water between 0 and 3 degrees C, plenty of cold water to do what I am proposing.

    My biggest worries if we actually tried to do something like this is what are the ecological impacts of bringing the nutrient rich waters to the surface and can we actually build floating cities that people would want to live in.

    Is this energy vapor ware? you bet, but I was hoping that this idea was both more plausible and more interesting than fusion, thorium reactors or solar powered satellites.

  37. JMG, thanks for this essay. I think I needed it just now as a pause to think and assess my circumstances as well as how I’m approaching certain issues in my life. I need to account more for that conversation and open myself up more to the responses. More balance. Definitely need more balance so I can reach my goals in a way that makes sense. I’m trying to apply this in my efforts at moving fully into the creative work of publishing and writing books. I love what I do and am happy to partner with another creative like you as well as the other writers that have found a home with my company.

    I put out the call for assistance via the Patreon as a call to expand the community and conversation with those who read the books and buy the books. I am proud to provide a place for your work. I want to share that with others.

    Friends, right now, there are rewards for supporting Founders House (which is largely a solo operation at the moment). If you haven’t had the chance to look it over, I have included things like the chance to get ARCs (advance reader copies) in PDF of upcoming titles, autographed books by authors like JMG, and discounts on books as well. Please consider supporting this work.

    JMG, thanks again for allowing me in this space.

    Shaun Kilgore

  38. Dear JMG,

    You’re so welcome and thank you for your responses! It’s certainly interesting that New Thought used to study James, and then to see the rather more giddy territory that New Age began to move into. As for Euripides, yeah, he has proved really helpful in understanding the winding down of this Age of Reason. Relevant to your post, I find the Ancient Greek ideal of sophrosyne (σωφροσύνη) to be extremely helpful for finding a balanced point between extremes, and better still, rooted within personal wholeness. Perhaps it could be said that in the psychic space between “Live, Laugh, Love” and “Hate, Mourn, Die” is σωφροσύνη.

    Perhaps this is one of the great gifts of History or, perhaps rather, Κλειώ, the Muse of History. By looking to the past we can figure out what worked, what didn’t, and the patterns at hand. Indeed, perhaps then History could be said how humans engage with and learn from the World As It Is through time. This study then can provide a very helpful balanced point between the two toxic ideas of “You Create Your Reality,” and “You are a Passive Victim to Circumstances.” Historical understand, the collective memory of mankind, then allows for the psychic ground for a balanced, temperate approach to life rooted in living wholeness.

  39. John–

    As a case in point with respect to telling the world what it means rather than listening to what it says it means, the comment thread of this post appears to be illustrative:

    There are one or two voices pointing out that Rustbelt workers don’t care about what the economists say about the benefits of global trade, all they care about is that they lost their jobs to overseas facilities, and that Biden’s support for NAFTA could very well be an issue. The vast majority of the commenters, on the other hand, appear to simply assert that those workers are wrong, selfish, and dumb, for one thing, and trade isn’t an important wedge issue for this election, for another.

  40. If I had one wish, I would wish for people to understand how much happier they would be in a low-energy-consumption lifestyle. And the only way to get my wish to come true is to model it and be happy in it. Which, you know, I am. I got a refrigerator AND a gas oven. These are delightful luxuries, not minimalist lifestyle choices. My whole house smells like lilies and banana bread muffins right now.

    Back to the wishing – I want to learn how to communicate better to people that it’s not suffering or deprivation to go without, as David By The Lake mentions, a dishwasher, microwave, or TV. In fact, I’m proud that my home doesn’t have those things. I really have taken to heart the choose your own technology suite idea and since you can’t have an icebox without an ice man (he don’t cometh lol) I choose refrigerator and stove.

    Oh! And in the style of Retrotopia, I wrote my own utopia sketch for California. It’s here –

    I’m going to re-write it to take the grid completely out – California I think is on track to be the first state to go off grid…

    Thanks as always for your thoughts JMG and commentariat!

  41. JMG, I thoroughly enjoyed Twilight’s Last Gleaming, though with an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, I hope we do not see the plot play out in real life.

    I was thinking the other day that I would rather like to live in the Lakeland Republic, to mention another of your works. I would miss my computer, admittedly, but I would gladly give up most other energy-intensive technologies. If I can cook my food and keep my home warm, I should be content with that.

    On the issue of time, I have lately experienced a greater desire to spend more time outside working in my yard. As an admitted video game nerd and bookish sort, this is a welcome change (though I am still very much a video game nerd and bookish sort). Time spent outside working with my hands is like time spent with my children; it is never wasted.

    Thank you for the posts.

  42. “they’re voting against their own best interests.” – Can’t comment on US but in regard to the European and especially German situation, all I can say it is at least partly true in a wicked way. The German equivalent to Trump and the Brexit-movement is, most will agree, the party AfD (“Alternative für Deutschland”). It started as an anti-Euro party years ago and remained well below the 5% hurdle that you need to pass to enter into parliament. The only reason it became so popular as it is today is its stance against migration and Islam, which many are ranking “far-right” and beyond. I took the time to re-read the AfDs policy statements while writing this post. The interesting thing is, that there is an apparent large overlap with the policies of the party “Die LINKE”, which is a merger of the GDR remnant “PDS” and a large faction of the west-German social democrats which was torn apart because of the neo-liberal policies of the Gerhard Schroeder-government. By most, it’s considered the “left-most” German party above the 5% hurdle.

    “Die LINKE” received as much flak as you can imagine from literally all directions possible – despite (hah hah) it proposed policies which were quite sensible and I believe would have been appreciated by many writing or reading here. It’s a wonder that the party’s still alive (although it’s lost almost all its former flagships like Gysi, Lafontaine and lately Sarah Wagenknecht – the retreat of the latter really is especially bitter, since you’ll hardly find anybody like her in the German political landscape and beyond).

    And now comes the AfD, which gets all the attention for its screaming and shouting anti migration, anti EU and anti climatechange. There’s a lot of anti in it, though. We could have had better, since “Die LINKE” had – to my mind – a very balanced, differentiated approach towards those topics. It wasn’t uncritical at all, but the focus was, at least as I interpret it, on how to change a bad situation to the better instead of throwing everything that sucks at the moment uncritically over board without hesitation. Most important, I think is, while being critical towards established science “Die LINKE” wasn’t unscientific at all. But again, “Die LINKE” receives flak for the overlap with the AfDs policies (the “left” is the new right, you know…).

    “… to ask whether renewable energy sources can produce a sufficiently reliable supply of concentrated energy to replace fossil fuels. ”

    Yeah… I keep asking this whenever I can. This usually leads to a blank expression in the face for a few seconds and then they continue talking about something else. If I get the chance, I do such calculations with my students… How much windmills do you need to replace a nearby power plant? How much forest would a household of four people need to generate all its energy (incl. mobility) more or less sustainably? (more than 7 ha by the way – and this is “just” energy). Such things. THEY get it usually, but I feel most get absorbed by societies “common sense” soon after. But we’ll see 😉


  43. “All this puts me in a situation that is frankly rather odd. After all, I’m an occultist—you know, a student and practitioner of traditions of rejected knowledge that claim that under certain circumstances, the mind can do things with its surroundings that the rationalist materialism of our society insists can’t happen. The people I’m critiquing here are respectable mainstream intellectuals, politicians, and businesspeople—you know, people who are supposed to be realistic, pragmatic, and thus not prone to the extravagant flights of fancy to which occultists are allegedly subject. And yet here I am, trying to point out that the world is what it is and has to be taken into account, while they act as though the world is whatever they want it to be!”

    This reminded me of Clay Shirky’s landmark essay, “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable,” which was published, dear me, 10 years ago now:

    “Revolutions create a curious inversion of perception. In ordinary times, people who do no more than describe the world around them are seen as pragmatists, while those who imagine fabulous alternative futures are viewed as radicals. The last couple of decades haven’t been ordinary, however. Inside the papers, the pragmatists were the ones simply looking out the window and noticing that the real world increasingly resembled the unthinkable scenario. These people were treated as if they were barking mad. Meanwhile the people spinning visions of popular walled gardens and enthusiastic micropayment adoption, visions unsupported by reality, were regarded not as charlatans but saviors.

    “When reality is labeled unthinkable, it creates a kind of sickness in an industry. Leadership becomes faith-based, while employees who have the temerity to suggest that what seems to be happening is in fact happening are herded into Innovation Departments, where they can be ignored en bloc. This shunting aside of the realists in favor of the fabulists has different effects on different industries at different times. One of the effects on the newspapers is that many of their most passionate defenders are unable, even now, to plan for a world in which the industry they knew is visibly going away.”

  44. I like that your story of New Age thinking shows that almost all of us have religious beliefs, even if we think we are rationalist that don’t believe that stuff. We almost all have magical thinking, and we need to examine our patterns of thought.

    What ‘s worse than variable intermittent reinforcement is when experimenters make reward unrelated to actions, causing what the experimenters call “superstitious behavior.” A rat might spin three times, then press the bar with his tail, because that worked last time. That’s magical thinking but not magickal thinking.

  45. John–

    Re buffering oneself from unwelcome realities so that you can pretend the world is what you want it to be rather than what it is

    Apparently, like Warren (but unlike Sanders, to whom I must give credit), Harris is also declining a Fox News town hall. Most commenters (though not all) see this is an “of course” move.

    I mean, “those people” aren’t worth talking to anyway… (Sigh)

  46. The intermittent-reinforcing effect is interesting, because so many aspects of life in modern industrial society are determined by it, and so people get drawn into unhealthy way of relating to the world. Self-help books are relevant here, because, at least in my experience with self-help books about flirting and dating, they don’t really work as intended by the buyer or reader. The cultural situation is now such that it is becoming more and more important to keep one’s distance from mainstream culture. An example are the newspapers and news sites: they have become more and more detached from reality and reports about events are either strongly biased or non-existent. For some reason, journalism and the journalist ethic seem to be an early victim of the decline and fall of Western civilization.

  47. JMG: In1972 I heard of the Club of Rome’s great heresy and promptly ordered a copy. It made perfect sense. Fast forward through many experimental windmills, solar collectors (thermal), and steam engines, (some of which almost worked).
    The college I recently retired from, used to have what was then the best Renewable Energy program in existence, for its time. I taught some of the courses and took some. We made it quite clear that RE was NOT!!! going to replace the current exponential madness that passed for our manifest destiny. At one time we had a four year waiting list. Then a change in administration occurred and the entire program was (ex)Terminated With Extreme Prejudice. It was a bitter blow. Forward into our Glorious Future!

  48. Re your mentioning people preoccupied with TV: I give you Game of Thrones! Go check news sites: every single one will have at least one Game of Thrones article. On news sites.

    I like Game of Thrones just fine, have read the books, but a society in which the fictional doings of fictional people are considered “news” is in big trouble.

  49. JMG –

    I was meditating yesterday on a question that relates to the theme addressed in this post: “Why are so many people hostile to the idea that God (or the gods) might exist?”

    The answer came to me almost immediately as I thought it, even before I had finished mentally articulating it: “Because if God exists, then He’s in control, and that means they aren’t.”

    In other words, if deities exist, they would almost by definition have greater and more senior control over those aspects of the universe under their purview than humanity does. Meaning, among other things, that they might evaluate us on the basis of their standards, which brook no interest in petty human political games, and they might alter certain aspects of reality in a way we don’t like, without appeal, feedback, or consent.

    I’m also reminded of certain ideas in semi-mainstream sci-fi regarding what aliens would or would not do. It’s quite common in those circles for an argument to go along the lines of “aliens wouldn’t invade Earth for resources because it would be easier to get them from the outlying asteroids, and besides, such an ‘advanced’ civilization wouldn’t need human slaves because robots blah blah Technological Singularity.” Which makes sense starting from Faustian assumptions of economics, morality, and even logic, but when you’re dealing with aliens, all bets except for the laws of physics themselves are off. From an energy-budget perspective, which would be universal, mining the asteroid belt makes more sense than mining the gravity well of a foreign planet… but humans, especially in Faustian cultures, hardly do anything from an energy-budget perspective; why, necessarily, would aliens?

  50. On a personal level I’m glad you touched on this today because as someone currently studying one of the New Thought movement systems my attention inevitably drifts over to Hillary’s disaster of a campaign and trying to figure out where the happy medium exists between delusion and dissolution. Thinking about divination as a version of reality testing seems counterintuitive at first, but even from a skeptical perspective it’s a good reminder that there are other much larger forces at play and it is always good policy to keep a watchful eye on one’s six.

    On a macro level: After hearing so much hatred directed at Russians I was inspired to start reading some of their great authors starting with Dostoyevsky and was surprised to find thinly veiled warnings about the seedlings of communism in Crime and Punishment. In my opinion we still are making the grave mistake of viewing “man” and “society” as abstractions, which seems to be the foundation on which the greatest lies are built.

  51. JMG – Thank you for this thought provoking essay.

    Some random musings:

    Years ago i lived in Santa Fe (Santa Fake) which was constipated with New Age thought that characterized many of the new-comers (mainly californicating invaders) who wanted to remake everything, even though they came to the area for its unique history and culture. Living there became unaffordable to most commoners.

    A friend of mine once observed that ‘the media don’t as much tell us how to think as they tell us what to think about’. Which is precious little. The continous re-hashing and recycling of the same old ‘news’ stories, both superficial and limited in scope serve to put media consumers in a trance – a dangerous state to be in, filling empty minds with fear and loathing, alternating with happy, sappy fixes in commercial breaks.

    “You deserve _________ ” – this is my biggest peeve (and there are so many) in ads for lawyers, cosmetics, food (or food-like substances), well, almost anything. Note: hubby likes his television (Watch ME!), i wouldn’t have one, ever, but domestic bliss (blah, blah, blah); so i can’t help but noticing sometimes, especially in our studio apartment; the sharp nail experiment helped a bit, and i could throw out the dang idiot box but that would just create more problems and anyway he’d just buy another one, maybe even bigger.

  52. You spoke about the new age movement being wrong about the world ending in December of 2012. You’ve missed the cult of people loudly stating at the the top of their lungs that the world did in fact end on Dec.21, 2012, past tense.

    Some of the best of these say that we jumped to an alternate reality after the world ended and we carried on in that one, or that if you’ve ever seen the movie ‘Jacob’s ladder’ that everyone is still in denial that the world ended, and we are simply going through the motions of denial in the process of letting go.

    I know you don’t like watching videos, but I know know that you also have a penchant for end of the world proclamations. Here are a couple by people who claim that the world has already ended:

  53. My front yard told me today that it would rather be full of wildflowers than the Japanese garden I planned two years ago when we moved in. Studying Druidry has intensified messages like today’s from my yard, though of course the messages were always there. The difference is that nowadays I am a better listener.

  54. “All this puts me in a situation that is frankly rather odd. After all, I’m an occultist—you know, a student and practitioner of traditions of rejected knowledge that claim that under certain circumstances, the mind can do things with its surroundings that the rationalist materialism of our society insists can’t happen. The people I’m critiquing here are respectable mainstream intellectuals, politicians, and businesspeople—you know, people who are supposed to be realistic, pragmatic, and thus not prone to the extravagant flights of fancy to which occultists are allegedly subject. And yet here I am, trying to point out that the world is what it is and has to be taken into account, while they act as though the world is whatever they want it to be!”

    O, the sweet, delectable irony!

    I hadn’t considered to what extent New Age dogma became décor! Or how pervasive it was (is): this explains a ton of stuff. Once pointed out, by those who can see, it seems…bleedingly obvious. This whole country feels more and more like a petri dish on the edge of the table. The urge to “build a wall” (of course) has its roots in subconscious knowledge of just how precarious our situation is, so by extension, those who don’t want it, are even more out of touch with the rumblings in the wind, since they are blithely anticipating a bright and shiny future. Conservatives have been talking for a long time about unchanging human nature, and although they made their points poorly, were I think trying to articulate something along these lines: that there are actually limits, contours, and patterns. The Christian Tradition would call it “Logos”. What continually amazes is the evidence for how long America has been on this trajectory: since Civil War Times and even before – Herman Melville and Mark Twain sized up the confidence trickster element in our psyche, and cast it against the mighty Mississippi backdrop, for irony. Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat. Sane and powerful empires certainly don’t behave this way, nor do healthy, sustainable cultures. All the historical parallels are ominous, without exception.

  55. There’s another example of the dismissal of reality that I’ve seen a lot of lately: there’s an insistence that people who liberals don’t like said whatever their SNL parody version has said, and lately whatever their alter ego on Our Cartoon President said. This is defended in a variety of ways, but all of them boil down to “I want them to have said that, because otherwise they don’t look as dangerous/stupid!”

  56. Another very thoughtful post. The denial of reality and consumption of materials and energy reminds me of a Richard Dawkins quote from “River out of Eden”:

    “During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying from starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.”

    America, and to some extent “The West”, has had close to a few hundred years of plenty – first driven by colonialism and then hegemonic, debt-fueled consumerism. Perhaps it is inevitable with unregulated capitalism. Now it’s time to pay the piper. Hopefully the price won’t be species extinction.

  57. In my opinion, this is huge. For me, it is the number one issue. If he does this – it will be by far the most real and useful thing a president has done in decades. And JMG, you can throw a towel over the screen and just listen like a podcast. It’s about 15 minutes.–4To_S5XL8

    So today I brought it up to one of the Trump haters. I said he was at last trying to do something about the out of control medical costs, by mandating price transparency and also allowing pharmaceuticals to be bought wherever in the world had the best price.

    He couldn’t take it in, which mostly manifested as constant changing of topic, and denying that the secretive pricing of medical procedures is a big problem. He would say things like, don’t you support a public option? I said yes, but it won’t help if we don’t reign in costs. He went all over the place trying to escape and each time I would say, but you are changing the topic.This is really an important reason that the American people are being taken advantage of. At one point, I asked what would Trump have to do for you to say he did something good? He said, Stop all the lying about everything! I said, Hillary and Obama were just as big of liars, and Obama never lifted even a pinkie finger to support the public option we were promised. He remained silent and uninvolved! Obama said while campaigning in ’08 (crickets in 12) that if the medical costs weren’t controlled it would bankrupt the nation. He did nothing but increase them.

  58. The New Age prosperity doctrine and You create your reality are alive and well. I have signed up for various inspirational workshops to listen free on line. Yesterday’s batch was all about gaining wealth. But I am also reading a book called You Are The Placebo and while I am only a few chapters in, it does seem very good, with an emphasis on healing. Our minds are quite powerful.

    I talked with an old friend and managed to let her know I don’t believe in climate change and I was so glad she said she would be open to hearing an argument. But I talked about how our lifestyles had not changed among the believers. She actually looked completely surprised and wondered what I meant. I said, well, all the soccer moms driving SUVs to take their kids to soccar practice and such. She said she thought that was unusual. She has a toyota. We didn’t get too far because we lacked time and she would have needed an incredible amount of educating. So I asked her then what needs to happen? She said corporations! They are the big users! I didn’t even know where to go with that.

    Many of my local friends, hippie implants to Appalachia are probably wealthy if not rich. Very poor and hard working in their youth, they are now retiring salary class with very large 401Ks. I don’t know how much but I’m guessing half a mil and more. A typical vacation: You fly to an exotic place like Peru or the Balkans and rent a motorcycle and relive your youth in some kind of tour. But very, very strong believers in climate change. Several of them have gone solar. Spending 30 grand on a system is nothing for them. But let me tell you, they recycle religiously!

    As for me, I have a quite low carbon footprint and I happen to believe that oil is a precious, precious resource.

    Recently I went to frackbook. I hope it is the last time. It was so traumatizing. I have demoted it from faceplant for that reason. I almost missed a potluck party at my neighbor because she apparently invited everyone via frackbook. A place I have visited about every 3 or 4 months or so. The level of anger and ignorant biased comments was downright upsetting emotionally, and the one that did me in was Steven King, with his big face showing, who said that Trump was worse than the worst things he writes in his novels. Well, his novels are about every kind of deep and horrible evil that the imagination can conjure up. Saying this was so absurd, so divisive, so hate-filled and irresponsible! It is irresponsible to lie so extravagantly and rile people up. For what??

    Where are the camps? Who is being lined up and shot? Where are the torture chambers? And his books are even more evil than that.

  59. Hi JMG,

    Another very interesting essay. The bit that caught my attention the most was “Can you imagine putting a plaque saying “Hate, Mourn, Die” in some corner of your home?”. It reminds me of a friend I had who was always talking about how much he hated “Welcome” mats, and what he really wanted was a mat under his door that said “Go Away!”.

    To find the balanced perspective, one has to confront the shadow, which is I believe how Jung put it, right? But how is this accomplished? Life is really easy these days. There is food in the fridge. The utilities are unbelievably reliable, at least for now. Travel is safe. There is a huge variety of entertainment options.

    Is there a reliable path for coming to terms with the negative aspect of ourselves in a voluntary way? I have been working on this myself, but I can tell you for me at least it is not easy. My observation is that even in religious traditions that discuss this point explicitly, it mostly gets ignored.

  60. I was sorry to see Stephen King come down with TDS. It just ruined his books. He strangled his muse just so he could have fun hating an ephemeral politician.

    “Believing in” climate change always seems to me like such an odd way to put it. Any fool can stick his head out the door and see the climate’s changing. The debate is over what’s causing it and, if it’s us, what those in power can or should do about it.

  61. @Violet:
    “Varieties of religious experience” sounds like a valuable book to read! I am looking forward to the historical narrative. One thing I didn’t realize until many years after I had first entered a Lutheran church is that the images of the saints, celebration of saints’ days (including the Virgin Mary) and even the minister’s white and colored clothes were not abolished in the 16th century, but in the 18th or even 19th century (I wonder if some American Lutherans have kept them till today). There are in fact Lutheran monasteries to the present day, though they call them by a different name. So this is just to say that the historical change to a “purer” or more sterile monotheism (depending on the point of view) that you allude to was a long drawn out process. I suppose James knew all of this. Charles Taylor in “A secular age” has a lot to say about this process, especially its beginnings in the 12th and 13th centuries.

    Thanks for the discussion of Euripides, too! I will look at the tragedies.

  62. Dermot, thanks for this. I’ll definitely check out that site, as we’re just a few years away at this point from the next round of price spikes in petroleum, and thus from a rehash of all the same handwaving we got to hear in the early days of The Archdruid Report. And, yeah, the manufacture of Greta Thunberg as a media phenomenon is quite the canned spectacle — in the Situationist sense of that word…

    Mac, got it in one. My wife and I were out on a date this afternoon — she has serious food allergies, and there’s one place in town where she can get dairy- and gluten-free ice cream — and walked past a place marketing, ahem, “Modern Buddhism.” Up in the window was a big poster about classes on gaining self-confidence. Er, one of the basic teachings of the Buddha is that there is no self, so what is it that you’re trying to make confident? The answer, of course, is that a lot of what passes for Buddhism in today’s America is a source of nonchemical tranquilizers for the well-to-do.

    Brittany, you’re welcome and thank you! You’re quite right that there are some ideas of value in the teachings that Rhonda Byrne cashed in on so shamelessly, but they have to be extracted from a lot of less helpful notions, not to mention a whale of a lot of hype.

    Dermot, hah! You’re quite right, of course — there’s only so long that the privileged can demand “real democracy,” while insisting that the majority is all wrong, before the absurdity of the situation becomes too obvious. As for UK politics, agreed, a general election tends to bring voters back to their political center of gravity; what’s worth noting in the present case is that both the major parties have departed from that center of gravity, opening up a gap that Farage can exploit. I don’t think he’ll end up in #10 Downing Street either, but that’s because unless his Brexit Party starts losing ground in a hurry, one or both of the major parties will shift its position to try to appeal to his voters — and that means a real Brexit.

    Brigid, I get to see the same sort of vapid nonsense over here, of course. A great many people live in a world that doesn’t exist — a world where the word “progress” means something besides a temporary condition brought about by wasting a lot of fossil fuels in a hurry. I wonder if reality will ever be able to get a word in…

    Jen, I get to hear from such people quite often. I tend to think that there’s not that much difference between the preppers who fixate on unattainable preparations and the progressives who fixate on unattainable political changes; in both cases, it’s a way to embrace a social pose without having to do anything about it in the real world.

    Denys, I’m pretty sure they want to fail. You don’t turn a political cause into an opportunity for bullying and virtue signaling unless you’ve given up any intention of succeeding.

    John, I don’t happen to know where it comes from, though the Seth material is a likely source. As for keeping track of the differences between transcendent and immanent perspectives, though, yes, that’s crucial; in a mystic sense, all things are one, but that doesn’t mean that you can replace a quarter cup of sugar with a quarter cup of salt and have the recipe still come out…

  63. Celebrate the publication of the Weird of Hali – Red Hook … in Red Hook!

    There will be a get together of all fans of the WoH and Ecosophia on Sunday, August 18th from 2 to 5 PM at Sunny’s Bar, 253 Conover St, Brooklyn, NY 11231, which is next to the waterfront of Red Hook itself. A demonstration of the “Weird of Hali: The Roleplaying Game” is being planned. Further plans for the event are currently in progress, and fitting the ways of the Great Old Ones these shall be revealed later. To RSVP and/or help please email doctorwestchester42 at google mail.

  64. The popular “witch” I call Mister BadMagic (spoken of in Magic Monday) is the poster boy for “I create my own reality.” And what a nightmarish reality it is! BTW, Jean Lamb in Klamath Falls, after dissecting his “working” in ethical terms, added “He’s cruisin’ for a bruisin’.”

  65. Dear Matthias Gralle,

    That is fascinating! Thank you for historical perspective. From what you’ve shared on this forum I think that William James might be an excellent match for your interests. As for Euripides, he was one of the great playwrights in recorded history and his plays make excellent reading or viewing today. His work also helps to elaborate the tone of Greek Religion, especially during the Rationalist era, and make great themes for thinking on all aspects of tragedy.

  66. Jen – there actually was a long-running series of novels by Steve Stirling based on “…but what if the power never comes on?” His characters ended up with a wide variety of ecotechnic societies with muscle-wind-water-powered 16th-19th century technology. Manual typewriters still work, as so manual adding machines. Horse-drawn trains worked very well on existing rails – and on “strap” rails. Etc. Apart from all his characters being lucky, bright, and tough etc….characteristic of “the smartest guys in the room” … he also sees the old Gods coming back as Mother Nature has her say once again… they’re a rattling good set of tales except for the last book, which was wound up in haste a la Game of Thrones Season 8.

  67. The physics faculty at my university apparently acknowledge the inadequacy of renewables and are now pushing nuclear power as something that, while non-renewable, is extremely concentrated and relatively abundant compared to fossil fuels. Dmitry Orlov is also talking about this.

    Does anyone here have thoughts on the ability of nuclear to replace current fossil fuel use?

    I personally dread the idea–radioactive waste aside, the last thing we need is vast reserves of energy to plug into our present cultural logic! But it would be good to know if it’s true that nuclear power is abundant enough to keep fueling industrial society for a while. Then I might have to start advocating for wasting resources on wind farms and electric cars, in the hopes that we will miss the boat to go nuclear…

  68. ‘An early version of the phrase Whom the gods would destroy… appears in verses 620–23 of Sophocles’ play Antigone: “τὸ κακὸν δοκεῖν ποτ᾽ ἐσθλὸν τῷδ᾽ ἔμμεν’ ὅτῳ φρένας θεὸς ἄγει πρὸς ἄταν” to mean that “evil appears as good in the minds of those whom god leads to destruction”.’ Wikipedia

    I was inspired to look this up given the mention, “quos deus vult perdere, prius dementat”. Seeing the Greek quotation above put me in mind of Violet’s contributions. It all seems appropriate, if not foreboding.

    Wikipedia has a nonsensical paragraph later on: “A prior Latin version is “Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat” (Life of Samuel Johnson, 1791) but this involves God, (presumably the Christian God) not ‘the gods’.”

    Yes, but if the Wikipedia contributor had read and understood the Greek, they would have seen “θεὸς”.

  69. “A fair amount of what happens to you in the course of your life is shaped in part by the way you approach things… Even the purely material side of existence, though, responds differently to different approaches.”

    If I may provide an example: I play the saxophone, and I’ve recently started having breakthrough after breakthrough, after quite a while of struggling with it. The difference isn’t practice, or anything which “should” work, but rather a difference of approach. Rather than trying to make music by playing the saxophone, I’m now trying to make music with the saxophone. The result is that I’m much more accepting of the instrument, and her quirks. It also means that I’m much more aware of the feel of the instrument, and subtle hints that I need to change things that earlier I wouldn’t notice. It seems like a small difference, but it’s huge, and approaching it as a partner in creating music works way better than looking at it as just a tool.

  70. Video games are a good example of the dichotomy between “you create your own reality” and the perfect, pathological passivity that I’ve seen so often in myself and others.

    When I played them, I was immersed in an illusion of power. I felt like I could crush my enemies, raise and destroy civilizations, win sports championships, and adventure through time and space. If one illusory reality got boring, I’d just swap it out for another

    But step back a little, and I was sitting on my duff, wiggling my thumbs around, the rest of the cosmos both within me and around me set off to the side and neglected.

    I wonder how prevalent this is in Woke circles, as well. All the children of privilege get furious at Trump and the unfairness of it all, and they’re going to storm out and change the world, just you see…. and then they go on Twitter rants, and start checking the latest memes on Facebook, and their Instagram, and so on and so on.

  71. I think this fits in regarding what happens when you approach things without balance. Inspired by a comment from Magic Monday, I tried an experiment today where I attempted to at least think “May you be blessed” at all the living things that I encountered. It felt pretty impersonal for part of the time, but I felt more connected to the thought as time passed. However, I also noticed I was getting rather judgements and grumpy a few hours later. So of course not a conclusive experiment, but I think in order to continue with that type of intention, I’ll need to find something to balance it, or my temperament seems to find its own way to balance it. (LOL)

  72. Have you considered that maybe the problem isn’t with the people, but with the political system? If you take it as a given that people are rational actors who will pursue their own enlightened self-interest in an informed and logical way, then it can be concluded that economic conditions will reach a natural equilibrium on their own, without any need for top-down intervention. Modern neoliberal economics is essentially built around this idea! All we really need is to allow people the freedom to make their own choices and pursue their rational self-interest without interference. For instance, if two companies are making a similar product, people will buy whichever one is better. This will drive the other company to lower their prices to increase sales, thus allowing for a cheaper and more affordable option. It’s a simple example but it illustrates the point well. The problem is the government regulating everything, which creates perverse incentives that lead to corruption, stagnation, and poverty. It’s not the people who are irrational, since we evolved to be rational creatures! It’s the system that’s irrational and thus leads to irrational behavior and outcomes.

  73. Ever-erudite and esteemed Archdruid, I happened to see an article recently that has a jarring note resonating with where you stated “…the pervasive attitude is that renewables will power our current wildly extravagant energy-wasting habits just fine.”

    A link to the short article:
    The headline there, innocuous and appealing enough, is: “Breakthrough in new material to harness solar power.” And it’s in Science Daily, a reasonably-respectable source. The “breakthrough” is a development to come up with solar cells which are slightly more efficient (23% rather than the present 18-20%) than solar cells presently marketed. Lower cost is also mentioned, though the testing is nowhere near to being able to validate that. The cells are a two-junction perovskite composition, which for techno-weenies there is extensive discussion on Wikipedia about, and lots of discussion on the technical challenges, including that such cells have a substantial stability problem (they permanently become far less efficient) when exposed to either humidity or (I’m not kidding) certain wavelengths of light.

    The bottom line: these cells, rather than using silicon as their substrate, use: tin and lead. The final paragraph in the article says, quoting the developer, a Professor Yan: “Also, lead is considered a toxic substance,” Yan said. “I am determined to work with the solar industry to ensure solar panels made of this material can be recycled so they don’t cause harm to the environment.”

    Lead is CONSIDERED toxic? Oh Great Gods in Heaven, that’s an understatement!

    If Professor Yan and his backers got their wish, the world’s rooftops and fields would be covered in millions upon millions of solar panels MADE WITH LEAD as their primary component. If the present crop of renewables was anywhere close to good enough, we’d have no time or research funds for something as shudderingly scary as this.

  74. DT, excellent. Yes, exactly — the world can be your friend; it will certainly sit you down as a good friend should and tell you things you need to hear but don’t want to hear, but that’s not the whole of it by any means.

    John Beasley, pop-culture Paganism is fading rapidly; that tide has turned and is flowing back out to sea. That won’t hurt older and more serious traditions such as the Druidry I practice — we’ve been through quite a few of these cycles before, and know how to weather them — but I don’t expect any significant number of people to turn to Druidry or, say, Asatru (the worship of the Norse gods and goddesses — another older and very solidly established tradition) as they bail out of New Age-influenced pop culture. Here in the US, I’d expect to see them to head for Protestant Christianity — first into the various “woke” denominations, which will fill the temporary transitional role of the Jesus People, and then into churches that still remember that the point of the thing is to worship God rather than to advance some hip social agenda.

    Catholicism may get a few, but until the Catholic church actually does something about the culture of abuse of power that pervades its clergy and religious, that won’t get far. As a sometime leader of an alternative religious organization, I got to hear a lot of people tell me why they left the religion they grew up in. In every other case, there were many different reasons, but in the case of the Catholic church, every single person who talked to me about that said that they’d left the church because of one or more serious abuses of power on the part of Catholic clergy and religious, which were condoned and facilitated by the hierarchy. Every. Single. One. Please pass this on to your Catholic friends and, if they’ll listen, to the clergy and the hierarchy; from what I’ve seen, a lot of people inside your church don’t realize what the view from outside looks like.

    Will M, exactly. The media and the chattering classes don’t talk about it, and apparently did their best not to notice it, but the US was in a prerevolutionary state in the run-up to the 2016 election. Living in flyover country at the time, and listening to the people I met at laundromats and bars and lodge rooms, it was clear to me that all it would take was a spark and there would be risings: heavily armed, with plenty of participants who were military vets and so knew what to do and how to do it, and whether the National Guard and the Army would have followed government orders in such a situation was an open question. We dodged that bullet when Trump won. If, as I suspect, he wins again in 2020, we may have dodged the bullet for good. I certainly hope so.

    Katherine, Bolton’s a poster child for the pseudoconservative end of the same set of attitudes, and I hope to shout he doesn’t succeed in talking Trump into getting us into another useless and unwinnable war. As for feeling helpless, though, remember that that’s what the news is there to make you feel — people who feel helpless buy more products. Watch less news and make more changes in your own life; that’s an effective cure for such feelings.

    Ol’ Bab, I tend to think that all sides understand, and vote for, their own short term interests, it’s just that they usually lie about what those are. Long term interests, sure, but how many people have the foresight to pay attention to those at all?

    Skyrider, that is to say, you have no idea what it would cost, what resources might be needed, and what even small changes might do to the delicate balance of oceanic deep water currents. I’m going to suggest that you go away, work out the cost of one such city, including all construction costs, and then come back. Until you’ve done that, this is just a brain fart. Chattering about vaporware is easy, and it makes a good way to distract attention from the issues, but it’s not useful until and unless you’re willing to do the math.

    [response to irrelevant off-topic post deleted here]

    Shaun, you’re welcome and thank you. I plan on giving a shout-out to your Patreon project in the intro to next week’s open post, for what it’s worth.

    Violet, bingo. In the next substantive post in this sequence, I plan on bringing this whole thing back around to the Stoics, the fact/value distinction, and some similar points, as a way to point out the route up out of the mire…

    David BTL, that’s a classic. Trade is in fact a crucial issue in the upcoming election; here in bright blue Rhode Island, I’ve started to hear people in shops talking about how they don’t like a lot of what Trump’s said and done, but he’s right about China. If that sort of talk is spreading more generally, the Dems are in far deeper trouble than they realize.

    Aron, I get that. People assume that because I don’t have a TV, a car, a microwave, and a range of other energy-wasting trinkets, my life must be awful, when my life by most measures is considerably happier than theirs. It’s because I didn’t have these expensive toys dragging me down that I could follow my dream and become a full-time writer; it’s because I don’t have timewasting trinkets such as TV that I have time to write books, take long walks, play music, put hours at a time into my spiritual life, etc., etc; to my mind, it’s the poor goobers who waste their lives on a gizmocentric lifestyle who are to be pitied — but I’ve found no way to get through the programming.

    Christopher, delighted to hear it. I’m also hoping that Twilight’s Last Gleaming stays fictional!

    Nachtgurke, the great trap into which democracies fall is that if the establishment refuses to deal with an unpleasant reality, and that reality comes to dominate the lives of too many of the voters, the voters will find a party that will deal with the reality even if they have to go to the extremists to get one. The obvious example, of course, is Germany in 1933, when the issue that the mainstream wouldn’t deal with was the need to discard a failed economic orthodoxy in the face of the Great Depression; the NSDAP was the only party that was willing to consider something parallel to the New Deal policies of Roosevelt, and we know what happened. Mass immigration, with its drastic effects on economy and society, is the current issue, and it could end up catapulting another demagogue into the Chancellor’s office…

    Athena, thank you for this! I’ll definitely put that onto the read-this list.

    Tomriverwriter, exactly. Human beings are religious by nature; if they think they have no religion, that just means that they’ve given their religion a different label, and are insufficiently self-aware to realize what they’re doing. As for random reinforcement, that’s a good point; I don’t think we’ve gotten to that stage yet, but we’ll see…

    David BTL, I consider it an “of course” move, but in a different sense. Of course she thinks that all she has to do is preach to the choir — after all, that succeeded so well for Hillary Clinton! 😉

    Booklover, I ain’t arguing. That’s one of the reasons I read a lot of books by dead people.

    Michael, I wish I could say I was surprised. Is there any way you can gather up the best work done by the program and get it into print, or otherwise available? That could accomplish a lot.

    Pogonip, I’ve heard people locally discussing it in exactly the same way they discuss football games. It’s confirmed me in my decision never to read the books.

    Barrigan, got it in one. If gods exist, our idiocies are being watched with raised eyebrows by beings who are smarter than we are. That’s a very sharp pin applied to the bubble of human vanity.

    Aloysius, good. New Thought has a lot to offer but it has to be balanced by a clear sense of the reality and goodness of limits.

    PatriciaT, yes, the whole “you deserve (whatever)” business is also a pet peeve of mine. Absurdly overdeveloped sense of entitlement, anyone?

    Workdove, you’re right, I’ve missed them. I’m not at all surprised; the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists were both founded by groups of Christians who bought into a false prophecy of the Second Coming, and found ways to weasel around the fact that it didn’t happen. For that matter, the sociological classic When Prophecy Fails discusses that same process in mordant detail.

    Kimberly (under another label), delighted to hear it.

    Arkansas, oh, I think the refusal to build a wall has a more straightforward explanation: the people who set the agenda for the chattering classes want plenty of cheap labor for nannies, housekeepers, gardeners, and other service providers to prop up their upper middle class lifestyles, and unlimited illegal immigration gives them an ample supply of employees they can underpay, exploit, and abuse with impunity. Interests normally outweigh ideals — and nowadays, especially, when people chatter about their ideals to cover their pursuit of their own interests, cui bono? is always the first question to ask.

    That said, you’re right, of course, about the American trajectory; the same airy notions combined with the same frantic pursuit of grubby interests form a basic element of our national character. “Whom the gods destroy…”

    Will J, too funny.

    Docshibby, life in what Druids call Abred — the realm of material embodiment — has its harsh side. That said, the food chain is, all in all, remarkably generous. We all get to eat so many times, and we each only have to be eaten once!

    Onething, would it have been a lot of work for you to find something written on a website about that same issue? I’m familiar with the Trump administration’s move to force medical costs to be made public, so I didn’t have to go to the site, glance at the comments, figure out what it was about, and then use a search engine to find an article — but that’s what I would have done. I don’t do videos — even with a towel over the screen. It’s a slow and clumsy way for me to absorb information.

    It’s an important issue, of course, and if he can actually make it stick, that in itself could win him the 2020 election. As for the powers of the mind, you won’t find old-fashioned occultists like me who disagree with that! It’s simply that “powerful” does not mean “omnipotent.”

    Samurai_47, in occult schools it was usually done starting early on, by asking each student to make a private inventory of his good and bad points, strengths and weaknesses, virtues and vices; it was considered very important to do both,. This was then regularly revisited, updated, and pondered, and of course regular meditation was used to improve the capacity for self-knowledge. Foolproof? Not at all, but neither are the other options.

    Pogonip, agreed about “believing in” climate change. That’s a sloppy and, I suspect, a deliberately sloppy way of talking about the issues.

    John, I’m looking forward to it.

    Patricia M, I’ll have to go looking for that analysis. You’re right, of course, that he’s stuck in the delusion that reality is whatever he wants it to be. Do you recall when we had that debate on Dreamwidth and I pointed out that his rituals were really basic, bunny-slope workings? He insisted, no, they were really powerful workings. Why? Because he said so. He really did seem to believe that calling them powerful made them powerful.

    Bewilderness, the problem with nuclear power is very simple: it can’t pay for itself. No nation anywhere has ever had a nuclear power industry without huge government subsidies to prop it up. A nuclear reactor is basically an absurdly complicated way to boil water, and it isn’t economically viable. That’s why so few nuclear plants are being built these days; they aren’t affordable. Mention this to nuclear power advocates and watch how fast they change the subject…

    Aporia, par for the course for Wikipedia. It’s embarrassingly inaccurate a lot of the time.

  75. Will, that’s an excellent example. Thank you.

    Cliff, an excellent point.

    Candace, good! That’s one of the lessons of that practice. If you approach it consciously, and learn to control and direct the grumpiness rather than letting it push you around, you can learn a great deal about your own emotional life, and about the uses of emotional energy.

    Libertine, you’re making the same mistake as the Marxists, who also insist that people will behave according to some arbitrary notion of reason so long as they have the right political system. “If you take it as a given that people are rational actors who will pursue their own enlightened self-interest in an informed and logical way,” to quote your words, you’re living in a dream world, not the world we actually inhabit. People are not rational actors; very few of them have anything approximating enlightened self-interest, and fight back like cornered weasels if you try to give it to them; they do very little, if anything, in an informed and logical way, and if you try to get them to do so, again, good luck. Given these realities, the kind of system you’ve indicated you prefer promptly falls to bits.

    Bryan, oh, they’re back to metallic substrates now? Round and round we go… 😉 You’re quite right, of course, about the serious toxicity issues.

  76. Aporia/JMG,

    One thing to keep in mind is a lot of Wikipedia articles are written by people who don’t know what the frack they’re talking about, because the people who do are banned from editing it. I took a look at the astrology article, saw the canned talking point about precision of the equinox proving astrologers are idiots. I decided to add some links to astrology sites and fix the mistake. The result was that I got myself banned from editing Wikipedia.

    Made me chuckle, anyway.

  77. Vapourware and techno-fixes: Reading Skyrider I can’t help but mention that there is already a mechanism for bringing nutrient rich water from the depths of the ocean to the surface. They are called ‘whales’. The energy produced in this way feeds the whole ocean food web. This is certainly an excellent direct use of power. Moreover the system is self sustaining and very effectively sequesters carbon. All we have to do is stay out of the way and let the whale populations recover.

  78. Dear Will J, Following your link about the proposed swimming pool, horrors, I found this interesting article:

    If I were a young man or woman now, I might be trying to learn French and seeing if I couldn’t get into one of their apprenticeships for roofing, stonework or similar.

    About transparency of medical costs, sounds like, I cynically say, someone is losing market share, and my guess is that the current initiative will prove to be too little too late. Alternative and herbal remedies have just about become mainstream lately. Even Wallyworld is selling them.

    I saw a headline today which said that the USA, that would be my govt., has ordered airlines to not fly to Venezuela. So, if reality won’t conform to our wishes, we can just bludgeon it into submission?

  79. “Value of time” just resonated with.
    It reminded me of a book I read in the 80’s and which was very popular then in Germany. It is called “Momo” by Michael Ende. For me then best book so far about the value of time. Too many “Grey Men” as pictured in the book are stealing our time nowadays …

  80. “The belief that you create your own reality is dysfunctional, but so is the belief that your reality just happens to you and you have nothing to do with the way it turns out.”

    There is a slightly different way in which the belief that you create your own reality is dysfunctional, which I am increasingly encountering in the clinic quite a lot, and I cannot help noticing the real cruelty inherent in the belief – when it instills nothing but a PERSONAL sense of guilt and failure in the disenfranchised, ill, and weak.

    Because it has this corollary. IF you do not like the “reality” that YOU created, there must be something profoundly wrong and twisted deep inside you which is nothing but YOU working against yourself.

    In politics, the paths of the disenfranchised and oppressed are so often described SOLELY in terms of “poor choices”. These are also people who have never ceased to be agents of their own lives, however, what remains deliberately unrecognised by the powerful is the extent to which THEIR being in charge has reduced the the sphere within the agency of someone who is homeless, or sick, or in prison can be operative.

    Example from my clinic as recently as yesterday.

    Patient – who is depressed and weepy – “You know I do X* and Y* and Z* and I don’t do A** and B** and C** and still THIS*** happens…”

    And sometimes, the first, most refreshing thing that person in that situation needs to hear is a crisp – “well, you know, sometimes shale happens!”

    I followed up with a version of the Parable of the Long Spoons**** (which when I first learned it was a Parable of the Long Chopsticks), to emphasise the way that an individual can LIVE and experience and act towards the exact same circumstances in completely different ways.

    However, that person, many more just like them, are carrying within themselves a terrible burden – guilt for having the twistedness somewhere deep inside them to have created THIS (awful) reality.

    PS – Yes, the two-way co-conversation has to eventually emerge, for good recovery, but first you have to be freed to set down your burden of guilt.

    *Thing that everyone knows makes you healthy
    ** Thing that everyone knows makes you unhealthy
    *** This lack of health and source of true misery that I am consulting you about.

  81. PS – As the Parable of the Long Spoons (linked in my last comment) attests – the “self help” book can only lead to hell. To experience heaven would require you to grapple with the concept of “one another help” – a genre sadly lacking on our shelves.

  82. Perhaps you’re right and, as Immanuel Kant said, “of the crooked timbre of man, no straight thing can ever be made.” But we’ve never actually tried to have a truly open, free, libertarian society. The system we have now could best be described as crony capitalism, not a genuine free market. The government isn’t accountable to the public, because the politicians are more beholden to their corporate backers than to the actual voters. The corporations aren’t accountable to the public, because they can use their government connections to regulate smaller rivals out of business, so there’s no real competition and workers/consumers don’t have any real options. That’s not what real capitalism is supposed to be about at all!

    The problems with the Marxists is that their ideas have been tried, and they’ve been proven to fail, every time. Saying that Soviet Russia or Maoist China or Cuba or Venezuela weren’t really communist countries is just a No True Scotsman fallacy. True free-market capitalism has never been tried, and sure, maybe it won’t work, but why not give it a shot? It’s a better idea than anything the socialists on the far left or the cultural conservatives on the far right are offering!

    Of course, if you have an alternative system that you think would work better, by all means, I’d like to hear it. I just tend to be skeptical of utopian ideals. That’s one of the reasons I’m drawn toward libertarianism, it’s not really an ideology so much as a lack of ideology. It’s built on fundamental axioms about human nature, there are no ideological assumptions and buy-ins required.

  83. JMG, outstanding post. For many years I didn’t grasp the concept of having a conversation with the world. Your blogs and books have altered that for me by quite a bit. But as I’ve grown older and expanded my horizons a bit beyond the cockiness of youth, I’m finding another obstacle to the conversation.

    Have you ever been talking with someone in a room as it begins to fill up with people for a larger meeting? As the volume of the background noise increases from other chatter, there is an inflection point at which the conversation that you were engaged is no longer possible.

    There’s too many people in the room, and I ain’t happy about it.

  84. Maybe is a farfetched comment but the faith in ‘our own reality’ in the privileged countries (specially US and EU) has also an economic self-interest to keep the party going. As the value of dollars and euros is theoretically proportional to our production of good and services, which is in reality in decadence thanks to the offshoring of industries, we need to keep the faith in our own importance in the world to sustain our high levels of debt and overvalued currencies (versus third world countries at which we buy cheap resources and sell expensive finished products). I am not totally sure about this faith-dimension of money but if you find it interesting could be an topic for a future post…

  85. Hi JMG,
    Something about the willed neglect of reality brought a really interesting incident to my mind that happened a few years ago.

    You see, I had been allocated University of Toronto for exchange from my university in Australia, which luckily for me was my second preference. Through some social media forum I got in contact with some other girl, who I’d never met, who wanted to find other people from my university going to Canada. When she asked what university I got, her reaction to my answer was a full-blown meltdown.

    Putting aside the fact that I would consider having a (textual) outburst at a complete stranger to be very awkward, her reasoning was that “I always wanted to go, since I was a little girl”, “I want to go more than anyone else” and “I didn’t get this because the GPA ranking is unfair”.

    Now, allocation of these things has at least some meritocracy to it. Surely if she wanted to go so much she could have worked hard, got a GPA as high as me, and put forward a case on the merits of her representing her university? But in her world, her simply *wanting* something meant that she was entitled to it, plain and simple, and any due process that came to a decision against her desired reality was unfair. I was almost afraid of her extremely uncontrolled emotive reaction – it had all the hallmarks of anti-Trumper behaviour.

    Having a quick browse through her social media, I inferred that she was a most typical upper-middle-class pseudo-Marxist humanities student. So you know, while she spent 3 nights a week getting blind drunk and the days watching TV shows (this wasn’t a prejudiced judgement, she herself boasted about it), I was working my rear off writing 6000 word lab reports and writing Chinese essays across 4 courses at once. Fair to say I think I earned it, and even if I hadn’t, I would take the failure gracefully and not take my anger out on some random stranger and hurl insults at them.

    In the end I felt pity – in general her and the anti-Trump crowd (who behave similarly) have never had their reality challenged so violently. Some of these people (not all, of course) have had their entire lives sheltered from the consequences of their actions and never had to accept defeat with grace. So denying the reality around and convincing themselves that if they do it long enough it’ll go away is the only coping strategy they’ve ever learnt. Personally, I’ve never had that luxury.


  86. JMG, great analysis…there’s a ring of Martin Buber to it though. I wonder, since in your philosophy we are all in conversation with the world, there aren’t really no “It”s, right? Everything is an “I” conscious to some degree?

  87. Barrigan, I have always suspected that atheists don’t like competition. I suspect that when we die we will all feel pretty silly about the way we lived.

  88. Fitting to the subject of the attitudes of the chattering classes, I have recently read that Bill Nye explained climate change before an audience, using the f-word profligately, and applying a blowtorch to a model of the Earth. At the same time, Bill Nye propagates spaceflight, which is even more resource-intensive than flying around on Earth.

    And as for political news from Europa, I have just read that the identitary movement (“Identitäre”) gains more of a foothold, especially in France and, less so, in Germany. Although the AfD has itself distanced from them, they are nevertheless close to each other.

  89. Re: The Sophocles quote, and “Quos Deus Vult…” in general:

    The most fundamental operating procedure of the privileged middle class progressivist mind seems to be that, in order to sustain The Narrative™, everything it comes into contact with must be relentlessly redefined into its own opposite. Stupidity is intelligence. Weakness is strength. Matter is spirit. War is peace. Artificial is natural. Defeat is victory. Crime is justice. Lies are truth. Death is life. No wonder they perceive deplorables to vote against their own interests. Deprivation and poverty has of course been redefined into wealth and opportunity. Furthermore, when you create your own reality, nothing causes more intense feelings of hatred and loathing than the existence of people who have the audacity to experience real reality, particularly when this real reality is severe, and to a large extent forced upon them through the consequences of the failure of the set of beliefs you desperately want to impose. In the end, these people’s very sentience is now perceived as a deliberate act of malevolent spite.

    Nietzsche included the reversal of all values in his critique of the bourgeoise morals of his day, but that was a somewhat modest assessment. It is not just values, but everything else as well. Everything the mind can to some extend conceptualize, must be made into its opposite. This process of reversal and negation as an act of creativity now seems to be so deeply internalized by most people of sufficient middleclass-ness that it is hardly possible to talk to them about anything that is true and real. And the absurd levels of “ressentiment” they generate through this process is turning quite pathological.

    I was sad to hear about Stephen King whigging out, given that horror stories involving clowns seem to define our world just now…

  90. Dear JMG, in your posts you many times exposed the hypocritical behavior of environmental activists, who enjoy careless and greedy lifestyle while at the same time prophecizing about impending environmental collapse. Apart from some people being genuine hypocrites, I think that this problem stems from the people being unaware of the environmental impact that they make in the course of everyday life. It is general knowledge that flying and driving an SUV is bad for the environment, but it’s unclear exactly how bad, and what are safe options. For example, is it worse to fly 1000 miles than to drive 3000 miles? How a positive effect of substituting an SUV by a compact car for a year compares to one transatlantic flight? What is the difference between buying local food and food from overseas? Do one really have to move to the medieval era to reduce environmental impact twice, or it is sufficient to make a handful of easy tweaks in lifestyle?

    Without a robust reference frame, it becomes difficult to make day-to-day decisions on how to preserve our world – the changes in behavior may look drastic, and there is no way to see the progress (which is so dear to the heart of modern people). I’ve got an idea to help tackle this problem and would very much like to hear your opinion about it.

    The idea is to legally require retailers to print information about the carbon footprint on every bill one receives after purchase. This might work just like specifying VAT on fiscal documents or kcal contents on a meal package. The rule extends to manufacturers, who have to collect the information on carbon footprint required to make a product, summarize it and incorporate into the total carbon footprint of a product. Domestically, the system can be based on the same accounting framework as VAT, and with modern IT technologies, it could be implemented without problems. To provide a carbon footprint for foreign products, a retailer could rely on an external committee, which evaluates a carbon footprint for broad classes of products and publishes this information on a website.

    When this becomes implemented, the buyer can use carbon footprint to evaluate the products. With some extension (like automatically accumulating the total carbon footprint of each transaction made by credit card), one can compare the total environmental effect of 1 year’s life, find most environmentally costly purchases, and track changes over multiple years. On the retailer side, it becomes possible to market products directly to environmentally-aware consumers.

  91. At the risk of being slammed as a BigotedSexistRedneck(TM) I’m going to suggest that the buyers of “Live, Laugh, Love” plaques are much more likely to be women than men.

    And by “much more” I’m guesstimating at least 80 percent women (and more than 90% wouldn’t surprise me). And further, that the relatively small percentage of men who buy such plaques are probably planning to either give them as a gift to a woman, or display them in their own living space for the purpose of impressing a woman — or women.

    If such is the case, and of course it’s debatable, is this something we’re allowed to talk about, or is it a strictly taboo topic? What might this lopsided situation be saying about modern life? Are we allowed to discuss such societal things?

  92. John–

    Re trade as an issue and insisting that the values of other people are what you say they are

    That reminds me of a conversation I had, probably close to three years ago now as it was in the run-up to the general election, that I had on PoliticalWire with one of my regular discussion partners. I had made some point about trade and my positions thereon, in particular TPP and neoliberal economics generally, and was told, in no uncertain terms, that those things were “minor differences” with the Democratic candidate and that I ought not quibble about such things in the face of the threat Trump represented. My assessment of the issue, of course, was not relevant. My values are supposed to be what the Democratic establishment wants them to be, apparently.

    I am hopeful that trade does manifest as a significant issue in 2020, as focusing on alternatives to the mantra of “there is no alternative” would be most helpful!

  93. I love that theater is making inroads in this highly relevant conversation. I’d like to throw in a couple of other writers to consider. The first is Anton Chekhov, whose “Uncle Vanya” is actually a pretty stark assessment of life amongst the Russian aristocracy before the Bolshevik Revolution. I might have mentioned this before, but one of the characters does a late 19th century version of a Powerpoint about forest death in the Crimea. I saw a production at Barrington (Mass.) Stage of a recent translation that was written in a way that held relevance for the audience of today. Chekhov was always asking the question “how will life be 100 years in the future?” and he did have some rather startling notions that arose from his perception of human nature. He died at a young age–42 from TB. His other plays “The Seagull,” “The Cherry Orchard” and “Three Sisters” are all compelling documents of a dying class, and thus highly relevant.

    The filmmaker R.W. Fassbinder started out writing plays, and he was very much one of the “stick my finger in the eye” kind of theater popular in the 70s. He felt that theater was too much of a cramp on his style with its various limitations, and went on to a brilliant filmmaking career. But his plays “Pre-Paradise Sorry Now” and “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” still resonate in odd ways. I am a fan of all of his plays, especially the one that got him accused of Anti-Semitism: “Garbage, the City and Death.” Just the title–relevant for our times, eh? Ironically, the most compassionate character in the script has the unfortunate moniker “The Rich Jew.” But he understands the plight of the protagonist Roma, who seeks respite in the only way possible–the 3rd part of the eponymous trio.

    Because I’m a theater nerd, the talk of the classics has me nowthinking about period transfers to present day excursions into Euripides’ work. I am also wondering about the interesting and deep bond the playwright had with his affectionate rival Sophocles. When news of Euripides’ death (he was set upon by rabid dogs) reached the author of “Oedipus Rex,” the man donned the togs of mourning and grieved deeply for him. It would be interesting to see a modern day dress version of THE BACCHAE or even his ELECTRA, which is actually unintentionally funny.

    And I did want to throw in that I had a refreshing retake on HAMLET due to a wonderful lit crit named Curtis White who pointed out it was the most subversive play ever written. He wrote it in context of an analysis of several movies, including OFFICE SPACE (faux-subversive) and BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (subversive for an entirely different reason). I can see Hamlet as a guy or gal in a white t-shirt and jeans, and the rest of the cast is dressed to the 9s (dressed to Kill, as it were). I have a screwball idea to auction of the part of Hamlet to interested theatergoers, but that they would be sort of tag team, with a few ringers for the sword fight scenes. I think it would be interesting to see an audience member read “to be or not to be” from a set of sides and then sit back into the audience while another audience member got up to take the next scene.

    I like to write scripts that are sparked by other writers, and I have a strange little performance piece called “Orange Pentheus,” about a man crucified to an NFL style goalpost, fantasizing different encounters with a ballet dancer in pas de deux with a football, a tortured priest, and Death in the form of the linebacker from high school he (I) had a crush on. LOL, I could probably change the title to Brown and Gold Pentheus, and have it performed here in Laramie! (It was Orange in honor of the Broncos.)

    By the way, my reading of my play went off all right, though it was sparsely attended. My audiences are in Laramie and Fort Collins, and Cheyenne proved to be too much of a drive for people, I guess. Still, I am looking forward to the next draft (heard quite a bit of repetition, which as to do with the serial way I wrote the play). Also look forward to writing Part II, which I’m thinking of calling “Thanos Was Right” in honor of the discussion of the Avengers movies I read on this page. LOL

  94. @JMG – the analysis wasn’t in public media, it was a private email to me. She was looking first at his utter ignorance of the three-fold law, or the Christian equivalent of reaping what you sow, and then the backlash this inevitably brings.

  95. JMG – your mention of rats frantically hitting buttons brought a wry smile to my face, especially considering yesterday’s news here in the UK that Theresa May is planning to put her thrice-rejected Brexit non-deal to Parliament again next month in the hope that something different might happen this time … perhaps she expects a big piece of cheese to fall from the sky or something.

    A few other commenters mentioned Frackbook, and how it seems to be filled with anger, delusion and piffle. Yes, that may be true, but it also has its uses. For me, personally, it’s an invaluable resource. Having blocked or otherwise hung a towel over all annoying contacts, I only ever get to see the useful stuff. For instance, there are many great conversations going on in the Peak Oil group there, and my feed is almost entirely composed of useful tips, recipes, music, art and non-MSM news. I’ve made invaluable contacts through it in the real world. So, my point is, if you ruthlessly customise it, it can be an invaluable technological tool … as long as its benefits can be made to outweigh the drawbacks.

    Anyway, the wild garlic is up here in west Cornwall, and I shall be going out this evening to pick some of it to make a nice pesto for dinner – such are the joys of spring.

  96. JMG, My impression that what Buddha was saying about the self is not exactly that it doesn’t exist, but something more subtle —- that it does not exist as a separate discrete entity.

    He used the analogy of a chariot (the modern equivalent would be a car). He asked was the right wheel the chariot? Was the axle? etc. The point I believe he was making is that the self is not a unitary entity, but rather a composite composed of parts.

    Parts such as: each organ of the body, each sensory system, each perception, each mental process, each emotion, each action, each choice, each value, each craving and aversion, each motivation, each memory, each value, each intention, each memory etc.

    It is the cooperation and competition between all of these that constitute what we erroneously think of as a ‘unitary’ self. But examination shows that no unitary self exists as a solitary atom. The self is an interacting collective.

    There is no single central self entity in charge, rather it a dynamic ever changing collective of temporarily salient processes. It is as if consciousness is a parliament in which various speakers can stand up and have their say until another speaker takes the floor.

    I think a good way of thinking about it would be imagine that consciousness (awareness) is a stage. On this stage various actors (thoughts, perceptions, sensations, memories, actions, emotions, etc.) come and go.

    Attention and background awareness are key (consider the distinction between figure and ground). Attention is like a movable spotlight that illuminates parts of the stage and the actors on it. When conditions are one way a certain process is automatically spotlighted, when they are another way a different set of processes will be spotlighted. Buddha called this the the process of ‘dependent origination’ —- a phenomenon manifests because conditions for its manifestation arise. When conditions change something else takes center stage. There is no single self IN CHARGE. Rather, the self is (to use modern terminology) an ’emergent phenomenon’ — a ‘happening’.

  97. John
    I really don’t want to be argumentative but sense you asked for some math on the issue I thought I would reply.

    It takes 800 kilowatt hours to pump ~385,000 cubic meters of icy cold water to the surface of the ocean through 1,000 meter long, 9.3 meter wide pipe. Every cubic meter of water can absorb ~ 23 kilowatt hours of energy (a 20 degree C temperature movement). That comes out to be 8,855,000 kilowatt hours. Or in other words you can a use the cold water to absorb 11,000 times more energy than it takes to bring the cold water to the surface.

    11,000 times more is a pretty impressive energy ratio, but of course there very strict limits on what you can do with this type of low temperature energy sink— refrigeration, air conditioning and fresh water extraction from humid air.

    Icy cold sea water will not power our current civilization (or really any civilization) but could provide some useful energy services if people lived in the right place.

    (oh and playing around with ideas like this has not stopped me form reducing my fossil fuel use by about 75% over the last 5 years, or putting your LESS strategy (less energy, less stuff, less stimulation) into place in my life. As a matter of fact, I began exploring this idea because you have been urging people to write some stories where neither Star Trek nor Apocalypse happens. I really did not intend to annoy you the way I apparently have.)

  98. To John, Will J and Mac:
    ” If you happen to belong to one of the comfortable classes in an industrial nation, after all, you already create much more of the reality you experience than most other human beings have ever been able to do; you can screen out a great many of the unwelcome features of existence, and fill your mind and your senses with lifelike images of any number of wholly imaginary realities, courtesy of television, the internet, and the movies. Thus it became very easy for people to convince themselves that they could change the world the way they change a channel.”

    ” The way so many people are frankly neurotic about TV makes sense now: they use it so much it distorts their thinking: it is, after all, super easy to change a channel, and thus find a new reality if they don’t like the one they’re on; also, Baby Einstein and similar such is designed to get babies watching TV, which seems like a very bad idea to me; and then there’s a TVTropes article called Reality is Unrealistic*; and so TV becomes the only thing that makes sense for them. They watch TV so much because the real world has stopped making sense to them, and so they spend so many of their waking hours in the dream world because it makes sense to them, and so the real world makes less sense. It’s a vicious cycle, one which will likely end for a lot of them only when they lose the TV.”

    I don’t disagree but see a slightly different take on this. To me TV, internet are just some of the ways that people temporarily get relief from the stress of a reality that is profoundly disconnected from fundamental human nature. Other ways include video games, spectator sports, travel, shopping, gambling, even books and hobbies, religious/spiritual practices, fitness, personal sports, and of course food, alcohol and drugs. Mostly this is done unconsciously, for most people, most of the time. These things may not be unhealthy in themselves but if they are used mainly to escape stress and the escape is short term and doesn’t address the real disconnect, then they are extremely addictive.

    These things dull the pain from not belonging to a real community, lacking a sense of spiritual growth, feeling threatened in their work, career, or their family’s financial security, seeing climate change and mass extinction as existential threats, seeing their country and the world going down the tubes, maybe feeling guilty about their own relative affluence/hypocrisy or being mad at others about inequality, and so on. And they feel totally impotent to improve these things or bewildered about how to try. So they naturally take refuge in these kinds of activities, to redirect their attention from what pains them.

    That to me is why these addictive escapes are so prevalent, why and how people disconnect from inner and outer reality. Because the modern day reality that people wake up to every day, for most people, actually does pretty much suck, even for the privileged. And this is a big part of how people of all kinds deal with that. It’s better than living with constant stress. The problem of course is that these escapes drain away the attention and energy that might otherwise be used to understand and do something real and positive about the admittedly big problems.

    What do you think of this take?

    – Thomas

  99. I’m hearing this conversation! -and delighted to be a part of it-

    An interesting article here by Douglas Rushkoff on the religion of Silicon Valley: how the progressive techies out there were influenced by the Russian Cosmists.

    “There is a prophetic belief system embedded in the technologies and business plans coming out of Google, Uber, Facebook, and Amazon, among others. It is a techno-utopian and deeply anti-human sensibility, born out of a little-known confluence of American and Soviet New Age philosophers, scientists, and spiritualists who met up in the 1980s hoping to prevent nuclear war — but who ended up hatching a worldview that’s arguably as dangerous to the human future as any atom bomb.

    I tell the story in my new book, Team Human, because it’s one I have yet to see documented anywhere else. I pieced it together through interviews with some of the people involved in the Esalen “track two diplomacy” program. The idea was to forge new lines of communication between the Cold War powers by bringing some of the USSR’s leading scientists and spiritualists to the Esalen Institute to mix with their counterparts in the United States. Maybe we all have common goals?

    They set up a series of events at Esalen’s Big Sur campus, where everyone could hear about each other’s work and dreams at meetings during the day and hot tub sessions into the night. That’s how some of the folks from Stanford Research Institute and Silicon Valley, who would one day be responsible for funding and building our biggest technology firms, met up with Russia’s “cosmists.” They were espousing a form of science fiction gnosticism that grew out of the Russian Orthodox tradition’s emphasis on immortality. The cosmists were a big hit, and their promise of life extension technologies quickly overtook geopolitics as the primary goal of the conferences.”

  100. @Violet, re: Protestantism–
    Good points, and they look worse from the inside; IMHO, Protestantism can be looked at as more related to the ‘Enlightenment’ than the broad picture of Christianity. During my involvement in (mostly Presbyterian) churches over several decades, I was always organizing small groups that met in peoples’ homes for dinner, worship and fellowship–and ran into cognitive dissonances that now seem to me to be related to conflicts with the spirit of the enlightenment; For example, the small groups were initially supported by the pastorate, but then more and more discouraged when the pastors heard that we were doing rituals like foot washing, passover, etc. After a while we were discouraged and road-blocked from sponsoring even potluck dinners for the larger church.

    It was explained to me that, when you let laypeople meet on their own, they get into doctrinal error and are no longer under the control and ‘covering’ of the pastor. Big picture that eventually developed for me was that it was OK to pray to God so long as you did not actually get answers back; That spiritual development was encouraged as long as you did not actually develop, and could have your personal failure reinforced and forgiven each Sunday; And finally, that the offering and building programs were the most important function of the congregation.

    There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance there, and in the process of developing, (IMHO, of course) the Protestants have lost the ability to listen to God, let alone pay attention to other spiritual beings closer to our level that may want to be helpful. Not all of them, many individually do have a two-way spiritual life–But the culture does not favor it.

  101. @Bewilderness Re: nuclear power – PA has three nuclear plants in the eastern half of the state to supply power to the big cities of the east coast. PA state legislature just denied Exelon Corp $500 million in support to keep their PA nuclear plants open. They threatened to close Three Mile Island – yes, that one that melted down in the 1980’s and dispersed radioactive steam from the middle of PA eastward to Philadelphia – and literally no one in PA cared.

    Exelon tried to get PA to give them money in 2017 also – this is from a Bloomberg article in 2017. Nothing has changed in the last two years, and they did announce last week they are shutting down Three Mile Island beginning in September.
    “Exelon announced the plan to close Three Mile Island in June. The plant, which has lost more than $1 million a week over the past five years, has a federal license to operate until 2034. BNEF estimates the plant can operate profitably at $34.60 a megawatt-hour, about 30 percent above the current market price of $26.90.”

    When they build Limerick Nuclear Plant in the 1980’s, PECO promised it would bring an era of cheap abundant energy. PECO customers pay some of the highest rates in the entire country to support that nuclear plant, which also just got an extension to operate until the 2030’s. It was only suppose to operate for 30 years total, but it will be more like 60.

    They estimate it will cost them a billion dollars and take 20 years to close down Three Mile Island. A billion fracken dollars and two decades, after losing a million dollars a week in generating electricity. Nuclear advocates never talk about the money and time, just the fantasy of it.

  102. @ Other Dave, May 15, 2019 at 12:43 pm , JMG
    in the middle of the 1980ies I was involded with the then relatively young Green Party in Germany. At the time there were two groups within the party: There were those who said that we need a lot of behaviourial change, that our way of doing things needs to be restructured, that we will have to consume less and yes, alternative energy will have to play a role in that process, but it will have to be small-scale, low-buget and as low-tech and simple as possible. Then there were those who said that society needs to become energy efficient, that recycling is the way to go to minimize waste, that large-scale renewables are the solution that will keep modern society going forward and that green growth is possible. (That might be a bit simplistic, but I think all in all that was the gist of it .)
    Those two groups were then quickly dubbed ´´Realos´´ (as in realistic people) and ´´Fundis´´ (as in fundamentalistic people) by the mainstream media. Care to guess which name was chosen for which group, and which group went on to become the leading cadre of the party and was at least partly responsible for the ´´Energiewende´´?
    Not very difficult, especially after reading today´s essay… seems like trying to make up your own reality was already starting then, but then a lot of bad habits started in the 80ies.

  103. This is today’s LinkedIn offering:

    “Our Hearts Are Like the Hogwarts Room of Requirement—They Magically Open Up a New Room Just When We Need It.”

    Looking For A Long-Term Career? Here’s Why Clean Energy’s A Good Place To Start

    A critical step to reduce climate change
    Bill Gates on LinkedIn
    Wind and solar power generation is expanding around the globe at record rates, allowing more people to get their electricity from…

    Can AI Really Make Healthcare More Human—and not creepy?

    The Revolution Will Be Televised: How Branded Storytelling Is Changing the World. You should see the graphics for this one!

    Surely makes one think. You nailed it.

  104. I hope I am not the only one who reads this title and hears in my mind, “A conversation with the man-old.”


    It’s been my go-to text on revolution for each of the past ten years. It may be centered on a temporal concern but it cuts to the heart of what a revolution really is so crisply. Still relevant today is the part about the chaos in Europe during the wrenching transition to print, when, again, people quite literally don’t know what to think.

    To tie this back to revolution and avoidance thereof and the USA, and also astrology, DT’s chart makes it clear he is the energy of revolution. He has sun conjunct Uranus conjunct the North Node. To astrologers, the meaning is immediately clear. To everyone else, Sun is the power of the Sun; Uranus is the power of sudden, unexpected, and electrifying changes in course; and an eclipse releases an immense amount of power upon the world with a thunderclap. Conjunction means these three energies are fused together, and in a birth chart, a person carries that energy with them throughout their lives.

    So yes, by electing Donald Trump, the United States voted a revolution into office. Not a revolutionary, mind you, but the energy of a revolution itself. And yes, I do believe that the United States as a whole ultimately avoided worse as a result. Especially given the years of squares between Uranus and Pluto that stretched pretty much from their faint early stirrings in 2007 to a week or two ago, when the two planets finally fell out of distant orb with one another. One day I awoke feeling that frictious energy just plain gone after it defining life for better than a decade; once it was gone, I further tied this back to your prediction at the time of the Aries Ingress that people were going to lose interest in the ongoing reality show of pro-anti Trumpists.

    When were the last set of Uranus-Pluto squares? Oh, that would have been the early 1930s. The time that Will M mentioned when organized revolutionaries were ready to take over should Hoover be reelected. Yes, we avoided something, both times.

    Trump will be reelected in a landslide in 2020, but I’ll save the particular details of that for the next Ingress thread.


    I have used the following guides on shadow work to great effect:

    If you learn how to cast your birth chart and take a look at the aspects between planets, it can do a lot to reveal to you things in your shadow you didn’t know were there. Once aware of them, you can integrate them, and they’re no longer part of your shadow, leaping out when you least expect it.

    The shadow work process has been painful and at times shocking, but richly rewarding.

  105. Another disturbing trend of the past ten years is the fixation on dogs and cats as pets. Actually they aren’t to be called pets, but companions, according to the followers. People dressed them as small children and treat them better than they treat other humans. And the recent obsession of taking these pooping, shedding creatures into every store and form of transport – so gross. The term “fur babies” makes me want to puke every time I hear it out of the mouth of white-collar working woman who is capable of producing human children. After this essay I realize they are doing it because they can do anything to a dog and cat, and human children aren’t so accommodating.

    And @Patricia I’m with you on the term “deserve”. I won’t let me say to myself about anything in my internal monologue. Women especially use it all the time to rationalize a lot of behaviors, and I noticed every time I told myself I deserved something, I regretted it.

  106. Hi JMG, it’s been a while since I’ve commented, but given your latest post I thought you might be interested in several independent lines of evidence that suggest the USA (& the West, more generally) probably isn’t going to avoid degeneration into violence in the coming years.

    Firstly, Professor Peter Turchin’s research into what he calls ‘cliodynamics’ shows cycles of violence in the USA with a ~50 year period. The onset is already appearing and is expected to peak in the 2020s:

    Next, Professor Steve Keen has examined the effects of private debt stocks and flows on financial crises. Philanthropist Richard Vague has also funded parallel lines of inquiry into this phenomenon. Their combined research has revealed that there were large private debt bubbles and/or major private debt deleveraging events in France prior to the French Revolution & WW1, and in the USA prior to the American Civil War & WW2.

    Here’s a graph showing Richard Vague’s research:

    And here’s Professor Steve Keen’s research into the USA:

    (The red line is the stock of private Debt as a percentage of GDP, while the blue line is the flow of Credit [== the year-over-year change in Debt] as a percentage of GDP.

    (When Credit is negative, borrowers are deleveraging en masse, which has only occurred with any significant depth and duration three times in the history of the USA: leading up to the Am. Civil War, in the Great Depression leading up to WW2, and most recently during the Great Recession of 2008.

    (It’s also worth pointing out that it took ten years from the start of the GD to the start of WW2, & twenty four years from the Panic of 1837 to the start of the Am.CW. Meanwhile, we had the ten year anniversary of 2008 just last year, so the pressure cooker seems to be heating up right on schedule…)

    Finally, America’s global economic & military hegemony is being challenged by a new major competitor: China.

    Professor Graham Allison of the Harvard Kennedy School has popularized the phrase “Thucydides’ trap,” to explain the likelihood of conflict between a rising power and a currently dominant one. This is based on the famous quote from Thucydides: “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this inspired in Sparta that made war inevitable.”

    President Xi has said that he wants to avoid conflict with the West, but he also said that he wants to end unipolar American hegemony, with China equalling or surpassing the US economically by 2035, and militarily by 2050:

    At this point, I think it’s pretty much a certainty that the US will degenerate into violence in the next decade or so (& Trump, through Steve Bannon’s counsel, knows about this and may even still be planning for it – Bannon definitely wanted to). However, it’s still an open question for me whether it will be internally or externally focused, but either way, I don’t think it will be avoided at this point, even if Trump gets reelected (& maybe especially if he is).

    Anyway, I thought you might find all this interesting. I certainly do!

    Take care 🙂

  107. “[T]he food chain is, all in all, remarkably generous. We all get to eat so many times, and we each only have to be eaten once!” Ha!

    JMG, I think you’ve found a very balanced positive affirmation between “Live, Love, Laugh” and “Hate, Mourn, Die”. Every meal is now just a little more special and even the act of ultimately being eaten is a return to the circle of life. Now to get it on plaques in the Dollar Store.

    Thank you for the thought provoking essay.

  108. I notice that in one of those ADR posts you mention being sure that a new date for the end of the world would spring up once 2012 turned out to be a dud. However, I don’t think I’ve heard any “specific date” apocalyptic talk at all since 2012. What do you make of that?

  109. @ skyrider

    Oh My, what you try to explain is to build an inverse chimney in the middle of the sea; I think it is very bad idea….
    Firstly you have not made the right calculations

    If you can put a 1000m long chimney in the sea, you have an inverse natural draft whith a value = height x g (gravitational constant) x dif in density. So to sumarize DP = Ddens x H x g, for example if we use water at 7 ºC in the bottom and 27ºC in the surface (we are in the tropics) and then 20ºC differences, as you explained, you have 3,37 Kg/m3 of difference in density of the water, and if you calculate the draft, you will have nothing less than 33.060 Pa or 0,33 bar or 3,37 meters of water column, seems low, but you want to pump 385.000 m3/h = 106,94 m3/s, so if you have an efficiency of 100% you need = dens x flow x g x h = 997 x 106,94 x 9,81 x 3,37 = 3.535.551 W = 3535 KW = 3,53 MW, and it is very rare to have more than a 80% efficiency in this kind of axial pumps, so you can expect 4,4 MW of power

    But you are not considering the friction inside the pipe, and you will have for sure a lot of organisms living and growing in your brand new chimney of 9,3 m wide, with and extremly nice flow of nutrients from the bottom with a flow of 1,57 m/s of nutrient enriched water, the dream of a good bunch of molluscs, corals, etc…. So, the first day you can expect a Fanning friction factor of around 0,005 if you have polish the surface of your pipe, but when the life start to stick inside your wonderful nutrient pumping pipe, you will see an increase by 4, then by 10, then by 20 of the initial friction factor, and suddenly you will have twice the pressure drop you estimated and spend the double of the energy you thought, and also your pump will start to work in a much less efficient part of its characteristics’ curve; so you can expect to double the power in some months, but the process will continue until the pipe be almost fully choked, end of the game, unless you clean the pipe…with energy of course (or powerful poisons)

    Of course, to build a thick (need to be thick to sustain the currents) pipe of 1 kilometer, 9,3 diameter in plastic or concrete (because only rare and expensive metallic alloys withstand see water) is a very energy consuming process, and maintain this pipe in the same place, not turning, not tumbling, stright, in the tropics in the middle of storms and hurricans it seem not an easy task, and also the “pipe” must be far from the coast, because you need around 1 kilometer depth in the sea, so you need some transport to go there….

    I don think I have to continue demolishing this (bad) idea


  110. Skyrider, great idea! Suppose we build all that, a few billion, get some pumping going, works for 1, 2, 5 years

    …And then a hurricane comes along, smashes it all to shreds and throws it to the bottom of the ocean, having repaid only $500M of your $5,000 Million investment. I say that because the way the ocean rips everything else apart, via salt water corrosion isn’t impressive enough, although it’s happening constantly and is just as expensive and deadly.

    If this worked, we’d have done it in the 19th century, because we had the technology, but we don’t have ocean platforms or cities even now. At all. Anywhere but very tiny, extremely expensive oil rigs, which themselves end up scrapped at the bottom of the ocean, despite operating costs of $1M a day.
    Certainly would be an awful lot easier to shut off that computer and light, and walk to work like we used to.

    …Just like the hundred barrels of oil we use to melt glass and smelt metals for each solar panel. The PV panel is just a btu-sink that has a payback on the oil input, with an option for a little additional power if somehow it doesn’t break in 15 years of hard use in hailstorms and hurricanes.

    “Rustbelt workers don’t care about what the economists say about the benefits of global trade,”

    Just what John was saying in politics about who gets the mine, and who gets the shaft. It wouldn’t even matter if “the nation” was richer, if all the increase went to Bezos and Zuck, which is what’s been happening. Politics is about cost-benefit. All costs to flyover, all benefits to Brooklyn. Now why don’t they likes us no more?

  111. Dear E. Goldstein,

    Ouch — I’m so sorry to hear that! I have the utmost respect for Christ and have no doubt that he is extremely vital to many people’s paths. Interestingly he came to me unbidden somewhat recently to offer protection from the egregore of Christianity, no strings attached! I found this touching and convinced me that Christ’s love is a real thing, even though I do not worship him and, indeed, he expressed support for my very different path. It’s very sad that Christianity discourages spiritual growth as you describe and discourages people from having a relationship with a powerful and beautiful god.

    From my polytheistic perspective a two-fold path as you describe seems like it could work well for a lot of people. What I think the larger issue, as implied, is the egregore of much of Christianity, and perhaps as you opine, as an issue of the Enlightenment. Perhaps I’m being a bit fuzzy in my thinking, but my understanding is that prior to the Enlightenment folks still worshipped the spirits of place in Europe, and intellectuals such as Cornelius Agrippa, for all intents and purposes, worshipped Celestial spirits from a Christian framework as well. And so, extrapolating, we know that historical European Christianity has tended towards a vital, rich and varied syncretism that has worked for many, many people, and I imagine that this sort of arrangement could still work today.

  112. Living in England I am watching a battle of two Titans, Reality and Unreality. It is reality that the masses voted for Brexit and are flocking to the Brexit Party. It is also reality that despite a commitment in their election manifesto, the Government has failed to delivered a departure from the EU and continue to push the same treaty arrangements which have been voted down three times.

    A British political party called the Liberal Democrats want to block this democratic referendum decision. Another party called Change UK advocates remaining in the EU. Insofar as I understand the Labour Party position they want to leave but with remain credentials.

    The cognitive dissonance here is deafening.

    However, you may be correct that the two main parties will realign themselves. I thought so too until recently. But I feel they may have passed the point of no return on this issue. The events may look like a circus from across the Pond, from this side it looks like a fight for who governs – and the people are fighting for their lives.

  113. Re: NSDAP and New Deal

    JMG, could you give me any sources for New Deal-style suggestions of the NSDAP before 1933? I don’t doubt they were there, it’s just that I haven’t seen them. I do know of certain elements of the NSDAP programme that would fit into your argument just as well: to help German farmers by importing less foreign agricultural products, and to defend small business owners (in rather unspecified ways, apart from evicting Jews) against nation-wide or international chains. It is hard to tell, for each NSDAP voter, how much these arguments counted and how much a sense of general despair coupled to pre-existing prejudices and amplifed by mass psychology did.

  114. I feel very bad for young people because there is such a high degree of pessimism loose in the world these days. Not that much of it isn’t warranted, but websites like yours that advocate approaching the current situation from a different point of view are not better known in general. That’s a shame because there are things that can be done, or rather, not done that could be most beneficial and could begin immediately.

    I’m quite sure you must be familiar with the philosophy of degrowth since the benefits of simple living and post-consumerism have been the guiding principles of your work for many years. Degrowth is far better and far more realistic a doctrine than the green new deal which seems to advocate keeping everything the same but using renewables rather than fossil fuels.

    The good news, if there could be said to be any, is that many more people seem to understand the dangers facing not just us as a species but the entire biosphere now than was the case in the 60s and 70s. I see myself as a cautiously pessimistic witness who likes the idea of ‘dialectical utopias’ – contradictory and incomplete images that express desires about the future, that challenge and make us reflect, that generate conflict with prevalent visions and open up new combinations.

    Thanks again for all your work. I hope springtime in New England treats you both well (and our son who lives on the east side).

  115. Medical cost example: two years ago my oldest had her wisdom teeth extracted and I was told I needed to pay $290 on day of surgery to cover costs my insurance would cover. They then sent me a check four weeks later for $210, so the insurance covered all but $80.

    Tomorrow I take my youngest for the same procedure with the same oral surgeon, and the same insurance, and I was told I need to pay $2,490 (!!) to cover the costs insurance won’t cover. I found this out four weeks ago after we had scheduled the surgery and called six other oral surgeons plus my insurance company. It’s the same cost everywhere and the same vague “we don’t know what the insurance will actually cover” from every provider. How can they not know for such a common procedure the cost and insurance coverage?

    I called my insurance company and the rep I spoke with actually looked up how much they’ve paid this provider in the past month for wisdom teeth extractions, and it’s 90% of what they bill, so I should get a refund check again for most of it. So I don’t know if people are signing up for insurance, getting the procedure and then cancelling their insurance before it the doctor can be paid, or it’s just straight up blackmail, since the kids need the wisdom teeth out and there is nowhere I can go that doesn’t do this up front charge.

    What a racket.

  116. Nastarana:

    The building of the 13th century castle in France was the subject of a series of excellent television programs, “Secrets of the Castle” produced in England. It’s part of an outstanding collection of historical series in which historians and archaeologists (Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn, Alex Langlands with a changing cast of others) live in the time period for a year wearing appropriate clothing, raising and eating what would have been on the menu at the time in that location and using only the technology available at the time. As much as I’d generally prefer to read than watch, there are some things, especially old technology at work, that are best understood by seeing. Watching the craftsmen build the castle was incredibly fascinating – and humbling, too, at what people with only hand tools along with human and animal power accomplished. I think all of the videos are available on YouTube for anyone who’s interested.

    Will J:

    I read about some of the proposed plans for rebuilding Notre Dame and was appalled. Whether or not you’re a Christian, when you’re in one of these magnificent cathedrals you know you’ve entered a sacred place, but our modern developed world has little patience for the genuinely sacred. I also read that some members of the chattering classes consider the restoration of Notre Dame to its former state racist, because it is a Christian church and as such doesn’t honor people of other faiths. I wonder if they’d be of that opinion if it had been a mosque that burned.


    You’ve accurately described the state of racism™ in the US for sure. What’s curiously inconsistent are the shrieks of indignation and predictions of imminent Theocracy whenever a glimmer of traditional Christian belief dares poke its toe into the public square, but when a minority religion (nowadays usually Islam) espouses many/most/all of the same ideas, well, we’ve got to figure out a way to accommodate these fine people who are really woke liberals in hijabs. Or something.

  117. @ Denys, @ Bewilderness

    Re PA, nuclear power, TMI, and energy production

    Not to wander too far afield from this week’s theme, but an extract from one of my weekly news-feeds:

    On May 8, Exelon announced that the company would shut down its Three Mile Island Unit 1 nuclear facility in central Pennsylvania by September 30, 2019. In February 2019, the Three Mile Island facility provided 980 megawatts (MW), or 1.9%, of Pennsylvania’s nameplate capacity. In addition to Three Mile Island Unit 1, EIA’s electric generator inventory data indicate that two coal plants with a combined nameplate capacity of 1,845 MW have retired so far in 2019 in Pennsylvania. As retirements of coal and nuclear plants continue, natural gas-fired generation will continue to have a leading role in Pennsylvania’s electric generation mix.

    Although 2,825 MW of coal-fired and nuclear generation capacity will be retired in 2019, Pennsylvania is adding new natural gas-fired generation capacity. From 2019–2022, in Pennsylviania, 17 new natural gas-fired plants will be in various stages of development, bringing 8,460 MW of nameplate capacity online by 2022.

    The source is from the EIA, which tends to be rather optimistic re future trends, particularly over longer time-frames, but can be relevant in the shorter term.

  118. Will, ah, I see you ran up against Wikipedia’s scientific-materialist bias. On any subject that relates to occultism or the like, it might as well be named Wikipropaganda.

    Elaine, an excellent point! “Let Nature do her job” is for some reason never something that the proponents of gizmocentric pseudofixes seem to think of…

    B3rnhard, hah! Yes, I remember the story; Ende’s The Neverending Story was his most popular work on this side of the pond, but Momo also saw print here.

    Scotlyn, that’s a crucial point — and ironically it’s one that was addressed in the Book of Job a good many centuries ago. It simply is not true that everything bad that happens to you is your own fault — yet that’s what the whole business about creating your own reality necessarily implies. Along similar lines, I wonder how many people who believe they create their own reality are willing to accept that, by that token, they created Donald Trump…

    Libertine, your assumptions about human nature are themselves ideological postulates, and your insistence that “we’ve never had a true free market capitalist society” is exactly the same sort of “No True Scotsman” fallacy for which you (quite correctly, of course) criticize the Marxists. The Soviet Union is the reality you actually get when you try to apply the principles of Marxism in the real world; similarly, the US from the Gilded Age to the coming of the Great Depression is the reality you actually get when you try to apply the principles of free market capitalism to the real world. The reason was set out in detail by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations: it is more profitable for sellers of products to interfere with the functioning of a free market than to allow it to work unfettered, and since the basic rule of capitalism is that each participant should seek to maximize his own profit, every free market becomes an unfree market just as quickly as the sellers can figure out how to fix prices, shut out competitors, and bribe the government — a process that rarely takes long.

    When intellectuals come up with some kind of political economy based on abstract criteria, the result is always a failure in the real world, because the real world is more complex than the human brain is capable of understanding. (Your brain is six inches long; the universe is trillions of light years across; the first of these things cannot contain the second!) That’s why I’m a Burkean conservative; like Edmund Burke, I recognize that systems of political economy that work evolve over historical time in the real world, and the best way to remedy the faults in such systems is to change them a little at a time, trying this reform here, that reform there, so that injustices can be ameliorated and improvements made without making the whole thing grind to a halt. Sure, it’s not as shiny as the imaginary worlds of Libertarians, Marxists, and other purveyors of utopian fantasies, but it actually works — which cannot be said of the fantasies just described.

  119. @Scotlyn,

    Being left-handed, I have a lot of experience making the best of frustratingly mis-designed equipment. So I’m now imagining myself in your parable’s version of hell, telling everyone, “Hey look, folks, it’s no problem; you can hold a spoon in the middle!” And all the others, even as they’re starving, are scowling and muttering at my abominable etiquette. Which makes it a slightly different parable, but perhaps still valid. We don’t create our own reality, but we can grasp the reality we have in a way that works for us.

    (With chopsticks it would be a little harder to accomplish the same maneuver, but not much harder than picking things up in the first place if the chopsticks were longer than your arms.)

  120. @David BTL.
    I too found Midwest Renewable Energy Fail hilarious…in Last Stand, WI no less!

  121. Wiki’s bias is shocking even when it comes to history of science. They’re very much in the Draper-White 19th century conflict thesis school. Their post on Galileo vs Grassi (and their feud on comets) made it sound like Grassi was wrong and their materialist hero Galileo was right. I tried to add the detail that Galileo believed comets to be sub-lunar and Grassi the Jesuit believed them to be above the moons orbit (and not atmospheric).

    That post got canned quickly enough by the Wiki STEMlords. Idiots.

    Read the current page on the disputation, which though awful isn’t as awful as it was 2 years ago – it’s dry as dust – and you’d be hard pressed to make sense of the narrative. They simply cannot bring themselves to admit that Galileo was factually wrong and downright Brutish in his treatment of Grassi.

    These are the same materialist jackals who crow about the Church’s inability to admit error on heliocentrism for centuries, and here they are barely able to admit that comets aren’t sublunar! Or that Galileo was wrong about them. Hagiographers.


  122. @JMG, Thanks so much for this essay; I saw this today and felt it was relevant to listening to what we’re being told by the world around us. Lays out energy issues well but……

    To know more contact

    More vaporware? An interesting read anyway; at least acknowledges we’re in a predicament rather facing a problem. Even a mention of our host (always uplifting to come across your name in unexpected places) in the comment section with a reference to :

    Technological Superstitions by JMG:

    “…establish the feasibility of rapidly building alternative, sustainable, energy supply chains at lower costs than legacies and so-called “renewables”, without “blue sky”, i.e. using only the “Lego set” of existing, well known, proven technology components, albeit integrated in novel ways so as to generate a new paradigm.”

    I did take a quick look at and got the feeling that “all the parts are there we just need to put one together and see if it will work”

    Yep, sounds good alrighty; I’d buy the first one I see at Wacomart

  123. Great stuff as usual, JMG. I used to wonder a lot at the new vogue for “self-esteem” – what happened to self-respect? Now, though, I get it. Self-respect has a tiresome whiff of objective standards about it. Self-esteem, though, “creates one’s own reality”. Until it’s punctured, that is.

    Plus, sometimes, a sense of outside reality can co-exist with the denial of it – I suspect that the Japanese who launched their war in December 1941 knew, deep down, that they couldn’t possibly win against the USA, but on another level they were determined to opt for a different set of facts.

  124. I don’t normally watch Television but my son works as a video editor for the Nightly News Program on HBO so we pay for the online steaming service so we can watch some of the episodes he has worked on as dutiful parents. Recently the dramatized miniseries on Chernobyl caught my eye and I watched the first 2 episodes. I can’t vouch for the accuracy but the fascinating thing is that the core of the narrative revolves around various levels of officials denying that there is a problem after the reactor has blown up while confronted by various ground level workers and scientists insisting that there is a huge problem. This culminates in a showdown between a high level party official and a female nuclear scientist in a city some distance from the reactor. She insists that the fallout data is 100 percent conclusive that a reactor breach has occured and he insists that his underlings have assured him everything is fine. The exchange ends with the party official proclaiming ” I prefer my reality to yours”, to which she replies, ” I am a trained as a nuclear physicist while before you got this job you worked in a shoe factory,” This pretty much sums up where we are today with the denial of those in power to our situation.

  125. John, et alia–

    Re a further example cognitive dissonance and forcing of the world into a fixed framework

    At the risk of opening a volatile can of worms (or a can of volatile worms, whichever sparks one’s imagination), I offer this discussion thread re the recent AL abortion legislation:

    First, for the record, I disagree with this extreme legislation, but I am also not a supporter of abortion-without-restrictions. Per the discussion on this blog many moons ago (a respectful discussion for which I once again express my appreciation to all those who were involved), I argue from my civil libertarian perspective that there is a period of time (e.g. first trimester) where elective abortion should be permitted, another period (e.g. second trimester) where medical reasons ought to be required, and a final period (e.g. third trimester) where the unborn child is granted full personhood and treated accordingly.

    All that said, I find it interesting that the comments in this thread (and indeed, the quote with which the post is concerned) speak of “women” as if this were a monolithic, undifferentiated entity and not a disparate group with equally disparate opinions on this matter. It is also interesting that when some commenters point out that the governor who signed the bill into law is a woman and a pro-life supporter, those comments were met with responses regarding how the governor’s “lady bits were all dried up” and she “hadn’t been laid since the Stone Age.” Those are quotes, by the way. Such is the vaunted “party of women” that is the Democratic Party.

    What I see being said is: Women should get involved in politics, except for women who have opinions different than we think they should have, but those women aren’t real women anyway,so their opinions don’t matter and we certainly shouldn’t listen to anything they have to say.

    So, the specific issue involved here (i.e. abortion) aside, this sort of (non)reasoning is a example of what the post this week is discussing.

  126. JMG & all –

    >> … ironically it’s one that was addressed in the Book of Job a good many centuries ago. It simply is not true that everything bad that happens to you is your own fault …. <<

    One thing re: Job that really jumps out at me: God lifts the curse on Job only when Job finally admits that he doesn’t really have a clue as to what God is. Hitherto, Job regarded God as something of a Great Father In The Sky vending machine – you put your good-doer deeds coins in and out roll the prosperity blessings. Not quite, says God, appearing to Job as, among other things, a cosmic crocodile, which must have been a startling vision. I’m not sure, but Job’s former insistence that he did understand and know God could be viewed as Job’s last vestige of human pride, and to that extent, it might be said that was responsible for his travails.

    Of course, Job wasn’t selected entirely at random by God for punishment and afflictions. Job was selected as a spiritual exemplar because in fact, Job was a particularly righteous guy … and as a particularly righteous guy, would it be amiss to say that he was due a particularly harsh Dark Night and a final testing, so to speak? Once we’re in the upper realms of spiritual development, new forms of responsibility do confront us, no?

    Speaking of faultless bad things that happen – I read that EST’s Werner Erhard made his employees declare responsibility for *everything* that went amiss. Say a delivery truck full of office supplies destined for Erhard’s facility broke down on the freeway – the employee who organized the supply delivery would have to take responsibility for the truck’s breakdown. Seriously.

  127. If “Live, Love, Laugh” turned up in a dollar store, the salary class is worse off than I thought! 3L is marketed to salary-class women. Although come to think of it, I’ve seen it in Avon catalogues, and I don’t think the salary class bothers with Avon any more, so maybe 3L dropped a class while I wasn’t looking. I’ll try to remember to see if Target has 3L stuff next time I’m in there.

    I think “pet parents” are also seeping into the wage class, although it’s taking longer as most of these women are raising real kids on their own and don’t have much time, energy, or money to dote on “furbabies.”

    In the land of disposables, I agree part of the appeal of “furbabies” is you can haul them off to the vet and have them killed whenever they get to be too much trouble, whereas you can’t (yet) do that with real children, but a lot of “furbaby” owners are genuinely devoted to their pets. Most “pet parents” are salary class women who put off children. One day, at 30 or 35 or even 40, she decides she’s ready but finds all the men she knows who she thinks are good father material got snapped up long ago. But that maternal instinct is powerful. Thus, “furbabies.” You also see “pet parents,” from all classes, who seem to have stronger-than-usual maternal instincts, whose children are grown and gone. 30 years ago such a woman would laugh and cheerfully admit she needed a substitute baby now that hers were all grown and gone, so she went to the pound and got one, and for the most part cared for it like the animal it was. Now we’re all expected to take “pet parents” literally and oh, so seriously.

    I am not bothered by feline furbabies—not too many human eccentricities seem to bother cats—but whenever I see a canine one I feel sorry for both dog and owner. The poor dog always looks so anxious. “Help! My owner thinks I’m a human!”

    I am also bothered by “pet parents” infesting humane societies. Getting a pet from the pound can be quite a problem if you don’t meet the salary-class standards of these women. I remember some years ago, even Ellen DeGeneris wasn’t good enough for one of those pet rescues. She got a dog, found it loved the maid’s children and they loved the dog, so she gave it to the maid. Well! The salary-class ladies took great umbrage that Ellen would give one of their dogs to one of Those wage-class People so they took it back, literally dragging it away from the crying children. Ellen offered to buy the dog from them. No dice. I mean, you can’t take the risk that the dog might be exposed to frozen pizza or Fox News. Ellen ended up buying the kids another dog (from someplace else!).

  128. JMG & Scotlyn Violet re dis-ease, virtue, guilt. Euripides
    Not only in the book of Job. Yes, both of our traditions must try to face the contradictions of tragedy. They have found it difficult. .From A MacIntyre’s After Virtue: “Plato is deeply committed to the view … that within the person virtue cannot be in conflict with virtue … Yet it s just what Plato takes to be impossible which makes tragic drama possible”.
    Regarding health & recovery … for decades I have been involved with persons recovering, or not, from the results of heart & vascular disease. Yep, ‘shale happens’ even if by hindsight it was possibly ‘avoidable shale’. Terms like ‘mistake’ or ‘moral error’ or even ’cause’ are not always useful terms.
    ‘Why me?’ almost inevitably sets the sufferer on the wrong path right at the start.

    Funny old traditions we most of us live with, though I am not dismissive of Plato or the Bible! Smile
    Phil H

  129. Drhooves, yep. That’s why periods of solitude are so necessary to the development of any kind of self worth having, and why developing the kind of inner solitude that can shut out the yammering of one level of existence (say, the human level) so you can pay attention to other levels of existence is just as important (though it usually comes later).

    Esteban, hmm! That’s quite plausible. What you’re suggesting, if I understand correctly, is that the privileged classes in Western industrial countries are inflating their sense of self-esteem to try to keep from noticing that the economic basis of their privilege has been offshored to other countries, and it’s the privileged classes of these other countries — for example, China — that actually have the power our well-to-do classes claim. Is that more or less it?

    YCS, I’ve seen the same thing in many other contexts, so yeah, I think you called that correctly.

    Bruno, everything is an I and everything is an it. The difference is in how you, personally, relate to each of them. Tolerably often it’s necessary for practical purposes to go into I-it mode, but a lot of people forget to shift back into I-you mode when they’re done!

    Booklover, yes, I heard about Nye’s stunt. It’s the same problem we’ve been discussing. Too many scientists are unwilling to listen to the responses they’re getting from the lay community — responses that very often raise hard questions about the way that science has been turned into a PR scheme for corporate and political interests, and the resulting loss of faith in pronouncements by scientists — and instead redefine the situation as “these people have to be bullied into doing what we tell them. Doesn’t work, but it makes it easy for scientists to retain a self-image they find congenial and avoid dealing with the rising tide of fraud and corruption in the scientific community.

    Sven, hmm! Yes, that does seem to sum it up very well.

    Oleg, a good first step toward that would be for people like you to begin the work of calculating carbon footprints of common activities. What’s more, that could start having an effect right away, as it would give people who are interested in such things a basic resource to use for understanding their own carbon impact. You might consider doing something of the kind.

    Doodily, yes, we can certainly talk about it, and I’d like to hear from both genders on the subject. Ladies and gents, what’s your experience? Are warm fuzzy thoughtstopping affirmations of the “Live, Laugh, Love” variety mostly popular among women, or are men into them too?

    DavidBTL, I don’t think there’s any risk of trade not being an issue, since Trump’s made bringing offshored jobs back to the US a major theme of his policies (and with some success). You’re right that the Democratic establishment likes to insist that it decides what values are important…and that was one of the things that doomed Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions, of course.

    Richard, I’m glad to hear the reading went well! All the arts have a lot of potential in a situation like the present; it’s just that so much of the arts community these days has been co-opted by the status quo, so that writers, poets, playwrights, et al. are all busy being daring and transgressive and innovative by all rehashing exactly the same fixed stock of themes and gimmicks. (Yawn.) I have to admit, though, that I’d pay good money to be allowed to stay home and not watch a production of Hamlet done the way you’ve outlined, with people from the audience lurching through roles and so on. That sort of thing was done in the 1960s and 1970s, you know, and it always struck me as dreary and rather self-indulgent — playing arch games with the structure of theater rather than using that structure as it’s meant to be used, as a vehicle for artistic experience.

    Patricia M., gotcha, I get the impression that he’s heard from a lot of people about that, as he’s gotten very defensive in print on the subject.

    Jason, if Faceplant works for you, by all means; from everything I’ve been able to gather, it would be a waste of time for me.

    Walter, fair enough. I’ve had the doctrine of anatta explained to me in about three dozen different ways by as many Buddhists, so clearly it’s something about which different people have their own ideas. From your perspective, does it make sense for a Buddhist school to teach classes on self-confidence?

    Skyrider, the reason I get annoyed is that this sort of thing is pretty consistently deployed as a distraction, to keep people from talking about uncomfortable realities — for example, the issues of privilege and ideology central to this week’s post. You still haven’t addressed the issues of financial and resource costs, which are central to any project of this kind — and which I’ve brought up more than once. Those are the reasons why nuclear power isn’t going anywhere — it’s technically feasible but not economically feasible, and the latter means that the former does not matter.

    If you’re not trying to divert the discussion, fair enough; I’d encourage you to turn this idea of yours into part of a story — Into the Ruins would be a good venue to publish that, and if there’s any merit to your idea, that’s one way to get it into circulation. In the meantime, though, I’d like to get back to talking about the subject of this post.

    Thomas, I think that’s also an important part of the picture, so thank you for bringing it up.

    Justin, fascinating. That would explain a great deal.

    Carlinsplayground, a fine sample. Thank you.

    Athena, thanks for this. I’ll look forward to your analysis of the 2020 election when we get to the relevant ingress charts!

    Denys, oh dear gods, yes. “Fur babies” — well, you know, last I checked, bestiality is still illegal in the US…

    Adrynian, welcome back! Interesting; I’ll take a look at these as time permits.

    Ryan, you’re welcome and thank you! One of these days I want to write an extended discussion on ecological spirituality, and that’s a sample of what I plan on saying.

    Alex, for a while 2030 was being splashed around as the date by which we were all gonna diieeeee. You’re right, though, that things have quieted down along those lines. I think with Trump in office, a lot of apocalypse mongers seem to have found some other target for their fixations.

    DFC and Alex, thanks for this.

    Autolycus, when I spoke of a clown show in Britain I meant entirely the farcical nonsense going on in the House of Commons. I’m well aware that outside it, people are fighting for their lives and their futures.

    Matthias, let me see what I can find. My understanding, though, is that the NSDAP pushed military rearmament and the abrogation of the Versailles treaty as much as job-creation mechanisms as anything else, and said as much at the time.

    Susan, you’ll hear no argument from me — and yes, I’m quite familiar with degrowth, and have had essays published in translation in French “Decroissance” publications. Getting the word out is hard, but all we can do is keep trying.

    Denys, yep. That’s one of the reasons that Trump’s push to make medical costs public is likely to earn him a lot of votes in 2020.

    Dermot, fascinating. Not surprising, mind you, but fascinating.

    JeffinWA, I think I read an identical article in about 2002, in the runup to the last oil price spike. The airy confidence with which the author proposes so stunningly difficult a project as a fourfold improvement in thermodynamic efficiency does not lend his article any credibility…

    Robert, true enough. Self-respect also implies that you have to behave in ways that call for respect, at least from yourself; self-esteem means that no matter how vile your behavior might be, you can always insist that it was fine because you’re perfect.

    Clay, indeed it does!

  130. The mere suggestion that Galileo could be wrong is an heresy in our time, Galileo and Newton were the prophets of progress, the prometheans heroes that “save” Humanity from superstition, obscurantism, ignorance, savagery and terror. But Galileo was a man, and as all of them, he also failed more than once.

    Besides the “Comets’ Diatribe” with Grassi, there was another distribe of the jesuit Riccioli that made the same experiments in the Pisa Tower that Galileo said he did, but the results of Riccioli’s set of experiments were not at all in accordance with what Galileo said in his 1638’s “Dialogues Concerning Two Sciences”, now more and more people know that Galileo simply lied and/or he did not do this experiment.

    If you read carefully the “dialogues” of Galileo, you can understand that he did not have the theory, methods, experiments, proofs and concepts to talk at all in the terms he did. In my opinion Galileo was more a kind of revolutionary who met some very interesting technicians (magisters) in the Venetian Arsenal that transmitted to him some intiutive ideas about the “mechanical movements”, namely some primitive concepts of “inertia” and the relationship between acceleration and force/resistance they perceive/learn as they builid and travel in ships and shoot bombs from cannons, This ideas were the flesh and bones of the “dialogues”, not any kind of successful experiments


  131. A friend of mine who is trying mightily to live without plastics, especially single use plastics, was until recently patronizing a little business where they sold everything in bulk, including shampoo, soap, detergent and staple foods stuffs. There are no plastic containers or bags used in this store. Just recently this store moved to an “under-served” neighborhood (from the already under-served neighborhood it was in) and I decided to locate this “gem” in it’s new location. I drove past it and discovered that the only under served people it is serving must be the occupants of the luxury apartments that the store is both housed in and that are springing up around it faster then mushrooms after the rain. My friend also told me that the owner of this store was getting a rent subside and was basically working rent free, but they are so far away from her now and that the prices of these bulk items are beyond her means that she isn’t shopping there anymore.

    There is a perfectly good Mexican grocery just a few blocks from this little bulk, plastic free store where they sell many bulk foods and there is no reason what so every that would prevent a customer from bringing in their own cloth bags to fill with bulk foods. Or for that matter, buy a paper wrapped bar of soap to wash their hair. Is there any good idea that the upper classes can’t pervert in their quest to not be “poor” or shop where working classes shop?

  132. @ Oleg S. You say: “The idea is to legally require retailers to print information about the carbon footprint on every bill one receives after purchase.”

    Oleg, the course of action you are proposing will create (if they can be afforded by retailers, who will have to include the extra cost into the price of their goods, thus squeezing the margins available to actual producers by yet one more slice) many jobs for inspectors and auditors, compliance officers, and other such professional managerial types who add zero value but much cost to every product bought and sold.

    I doubt it will otherwise solve any actual problems. Because a printed carbon footprint on a label will have approximately the same accuracy and reliability as the legally required calorie or nutrient count on your food label now has. None. ie – pull a number out of someone’s posterior and print it on your label. That’s as good as a label gets, and it’s quicker and cheaper than hiring the vast army you’d need to carry out precise actual calculations for every item.

    I speak as a person employed part time as a compliance officer tasked to detect which of the gazillions of unfulfillable bureaucratic regulations might actually land a blow on the small family company I work for, and fend them off with appropriate paperwork before they can hurt. I add no value and much cost to our product, but it is ideas such as yours that render my, in other circa, useless, employment necessary. In the course of being uselessly necessary in this way, you could say that I have become somewhat jaded and cynical.

  133. Doodily & JMG:

    Certainly I think the “Live, Laugh, Love” signs are 90+% bought by (or maybe as gifts for) women. I’m sure there’s a guy out there who’s bought one for himself, but I have a hard time imagining him. If he is shopping for cheap knickknacks for his wall, which is less likely, it will probably be some stupid joke about fishing.

    I do see men using mantras and affirmations, but they tend to be more of the lifestyle design sort, or to do with performance, fitness, or mental toughness or something like that (by crossfit types, military/first responders, etc). And they might pin them on their wall, but not as decorative plaques. I also see women using these type of affirmations, too, but I don’t see men using the girlier mantras and sayings.

    My family has adopted “Follow your dolphin” as our tongue-in-cheek motivational saying, which I made up while tipsy and not-too-maliciously mocking my middle-aged housewife Faceplant friends and their love of posting rainbow-backgrounded inspirational memes.

  134. David – re the Alabama abortion law, I’ve noticed something else far more to the point of this week’s post, a prize example of “creating our own reality.” I have been bombarded, by everyone from the ACLU to every Democrat and SJW cause on the planet, with screaming emails about the horrors of the Alabama law and the need to Do Something! Which is, tell Alabama how wicked and wrong they are and demand that they cease and desist. But I was just reminded, via a reread of American Nations, that the one thing which will unite The South – the Deep South, the more sophisticated and genteel Tidewater, and oligarchy-hating Appalachia – is Yankees telling them how wicked and wrong they are and how much like Yankees they need to become. The only stronger unifier would be an actual invasion by Yankees. And their battle cry would be “They hate our way of life, our religion, our beliefs!” Which is soooo true. This I say while finding the law itself, in my guts, to be abominable. Folks, your campaign will SO backlash!

    Pogonip, your comment “… I agree part of the appeal of “furbabies” is you can haul them off to the vet and have them killed whenever they get to be too much trouble, whereas you can’t (yet) do that with real children…” hurts because when faced with hauling an old, sick cat to a Florida apartment, away form everything he’s ever known, and not even sure he’ll survive the trip, that devil’s been whispering in my ear as well. Which really obscures the real question, “What’s good for the cat?” And Carolyn Baker’s question…. “if there was no way to keep him alive, could you put him out of his misery?” Right now he’s running out his lifespan in prolonged hospice care. Feed him, make him comfortable, and let Nature do the rest. But then, my first and only moral lesson on the subject came by way of Antone st. Exupery via Robert Heinlein. If you take a living being into your care, you are responsible for it till death do you part.

    And unlike those fools who dress up their pets in costumes and treat them like toys, I know he has his own agenda and respect that.

  135. @JMG re “Self-respect also implies that you have to behave in ways that call for respect, at least from yourself; self-esteem means that no matter how vile your behavior might be, you can always insist that it was fine because you’re perfect. ”

    I offer this from my quote book: “Reputation is what others think of you. Honor is what you know about yourself. Guard your honor and let your reputation fall where it may.’ Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign, a prominent man who has known both sides of that coin, to his son.

  136. @Libertine
    Re: Economics

    Oh, if you let everyone do their thing, the market will indeed find an equilibrium. It may not be the one you want it to find, though.

    @Will M., JMG
    Re: Internal revolution

    For what it’s worth, Michael absolutely agrees, at least for 2016. They say that, in the parallels where Hillary won, there was a gathering resistance from immediately after the election. They consider the Trump parallel (this one) to be the best of a bad lot.

    They don’t agree about 2020, but that’s outside of what I’m comfortable talking about here.

    John Roth

  137. David by the lake re abortion. You state that you favor “a final period (e.g. third trimester) where the unborn child is granted full personhood and treated accordingly.” I think any law would would have to be clear on how it would operate in cases in which the life of the mother is at risk or in which the fetus is discovered to be either non-viable or suffering from such a severe defect that life would be short and miserable. I am thinking of such things as defects that mean the baby will be unable to breathe effectively and will slowly choke to death, or major organs outside the body cavity or missing. These instances are, fortunately, very rare, but an intelligently crafted law must make provisions for them. A woman died in Ireland because doctors were afraid that even the removal of an already deceased fetus would be interpreted as an illegal abortion and subject them to legal penalties.

    While I do regard the governor of Alabama as a traitor to her sex, personal sneers about her age or sex life are out of place. The only anti-abortion people I had any respect for were the hippies at Steve Gaskin’s Farm commune–they offered free room and board to pregnant women, delivered the baby and would allow the woman to reclaim it if she changed her mind. Of course that is no help to a woman who can’t or won’t uproot her entire life for nine months.

    Pogonip–pet rescues–some of those people are crazy. My daughter had a greyhound that her grandfather had given her, a retired racing dog. When that dog died she wanted another greyhound, but two different rescues turned her down. One said her yard was too big. Too big for a large dog that likes to run? Another thought her household, with two boys, was too chaotic. I can see not adopting out a teacup poodle or other tiny fragile breed to a family with young rambunctious children, but a greyhound is a sturdy dog. They act as though they are handing out fragile china statues of greyhounds, not the real thing.

    re apocalypse date–I have been hearing “we only have ten more years” but I’m not clear what it means. Ten more years to DO SOMETHING or ten more years before the planet becomes uninhabitable. But that would match the 2030 you mention.

  138. HI Patricia Mathews,

    Sorry to hear about your cat. It’s very hard to lose a good pet.

    Plastic packaging causes me to use words that are not allowed on this site. Blister packaging seems to be the only modern product left that is not easily broken.

  139. David BTL, it’s been my repeated experience that of the people I know who have the strongest anti-abortion sentiments, the majority are women. Quite a few conservative Christian women feel passionately that abortion at any point during pregnancy is murder, full stop, end of sentence. Listening to pro-abortion people try to edit them out of existence is rather dizzying — but it’s the same logic by which pundits in 2016 insisted “women won’t vote for Trump.” Of course quite a few of them did…

    Will M, yes, and that’s an excellent point. As for EST et al, I recall hearing that many years ago and seeing the exact parallel with the logic of Stalin’s show trials.

    Pogonip, a lot of things start with the privileged classes and slide down step by step to dollar store shoppers, and I figure this is one of them.

    Phil, that’s been my experience as well. Accepting the fact that shale just happens sometimes is an immense source of serenity!

    DFC, that’s fascinating; I was unaware of the evidence that Galileo faked his experiments. Certain trends in science clearly go back a very long way…

    Kay, an excellent example of the toxic nature of class bigotry! Thank you.

    Jen, fair enough. I love “Follow your dolphin”!

    Patricia, thanks for this! I really do need to get around to reading Bujold one of these days.

    Fkarian, my hubris meter just went off the scale. I forget who it was, though, who pointed out that hubris is the past tense of nemesis…

    John, fair enough.

  140. JMG asked “Walter, fair enough. I’ve had the doctrine of anatta explained to me in about three dozen different ways by as many Buddhists, so clearly it’s something about which different people have their own ideas. From your perspective, does it make sense for a Buddhist school to teach classes on self-confidence”?

    I am not endorsing much of Westernized pop-Buddhism, but if lack ‘self confidence’ is examined carefully it could be a fruitful meditation.

    Many ‘cases’ of lack of ‘self-confidence’ seem to boil down to obsessive self doubt – an internalized critical voice which once may have been useful, but now that one is older and conditions have changed, has become an impediment to living gently, simply, and easily.

    A mindfulness maneuver which can be helpful is recognizing that an obsessive thought is ‘just another mental formation’ (no big deal) and then making space for it to come, stay for a while, and then be replaced in the ever-changing field of consciousness by another thought, perception, emotion, bodily sensation etc.

    As some meditation teachers say “let it come, let it stay, and let it go”‘ without getting caught up in fighting it, or buying into it. Just make mental space for it to be and then watch it drift into consciousness and then pass out of it as if you are watching clouds drift across the sky.

    Of course in some cases self doubt IS justified. Unjustified over-confidence can be harmful to oneself and others.So one should at least carefully examine what the self-critical thought is saying, and what triggered it, before disengaging from it and simply observing it. At least briefly ask it what is is telling you, and why, before letting it drift off.

    But don’t get captured by it, and don’t try to suppress it (trying to suppress it is like punching the proverbial ‘tar baby’ — it will trap you)

    Let it come, greet it politely, ask what it’s telling you, give it some consideration, then disengage from it non-judgmentally, and just keep watcing the ever changing field of consciousness.

  141. @JMG: You’re right about the Gilded Age and the Great Depression, but I would argue that the robber barons of the day weren’t really following their own long-term rational interest. In the short term, gaming the system to create an unfair market is certainly profitable. But in the long term, it has two huge drawbacks for rationally self-interested capitalists: First, you’re leaving open the possibility that an even larger and more corrupt business will do the same thing to you (which is what we’re seeing now, as crony capitalism results in wealth being centralized in the hands of increasingly fewer and increasingly larger corporations). Second, by preventing the masses from having a fair chance at social mobility, you’re giving them an incentive to rise up and violently overthrow the capitalist system altogether (which is what we saw in the early 20th century, with the rise of communist and fascist dictatorships). Marx, for all his flaws, predicted both of these outcomes, which is why he was so sure that capitalism would inevitably collapse. So if you’re taking the long term into consideration and not just focusing on immediate short term gains, it’s in the best interest of wealthy shareholders to play fair and ensure that the market remains free.

    The problem now is that we’re caught in a feedback loop where companies can’t play fair, because if they do, they’ll just end up being outcompeted by the ones that don’t. Elon Musk claims that he’d prefer a world where no corporations received government subsidies and bailouts, and he may be telling the truth, but since his competitors are getting those perks, he’d be putting himself at a massive and likely fatal disadvantage if he refused to do the same. It’s a prisoner’s dilemma, which is why it’s so important to prevent corruption from taking hold in the first place. I’m not entirely sure how to do that, but hopefully someone smarter than me can figure it out.

  142. Dear Doodily Doo, the live, love, laugh plaques are deliberately marketed to women, just as flag decals for your pickup are deliberately marketed to men. Both are a form of virtue signaling, a practice which is by no means restricted to progressive snobs. The plaques are I am a nice person virtue signaling and are purchased as such.

    I believe there is a backlash in progress right now, and we will likely see more restrictions on abortion. However, I think that will not lead to increased numbers of marriages with fellows looking for a meal ticket and a place to stay.

  143. Thony Christie calls Galileo “The bringer of pain”, because of the depth of the myths built up around him. A brilliant man, but profoundly flawed, and when he was wrong – yikes.
    Thony is the go-to for myth-busting on GG. He is so sick of the GG nonsense, and with good reason.

    Galileo’s works on impetus and rolling on inclines rely heavily (ahem ahem) on the Byzantine John Philopponus (5th century) and the Oxford / Merton calculatores Bradwardine, Swinehead, etc.

    The books of David Lindberg, Edward Grant and Ronald Numbers (all first division historians) are great sources.

    I think it was Edward Grant in ‘Science and Religion’ who quoted one of Galileo’s contemporaries as saying with justification “the man thinks that he is the only person who knows how things move”. But as a saint of scientism, this is what moderns believe. That everyone but GG was an idiot.

    GG wasn’t even right on heliocentrism. The Copernican system he espoused was full of epicycles and flaws; the many who HAD solved the problem was Kepler, and GG regarded him as a magical crank. That, and GG’s ineptitude in dealing with the Church (the pope was his friend) if anything set back the acceptance of heliocentrism by some years. The notion that his telescope have ‘proven’ Copernicanism is also bunk, as the Tychonian model fit his observations and was more parsimonious in a contest between the two, given what was known at the time.

    But Scientism as a civil religion needs martyrs. Queue the awful GG.

  144. @JMG: Also, I respect the fact that you’re a conservative in the literal sense of the word, but I don’t think that really matches what modern political conservatism is about. I’m opposed to conservatism because it seems to be an authoritarian far-right ideology that supports corporate cronyism and military imperialism, seeks to control people through draconian top-down regulations on personal behavior, and only concerns itself with liberty when it’s convenient for winning political points against the opposition. I don’t think modern conservatism is really about conserving much of anything, and I’d wager that your brand of conservatism doesn’t have much place among the neoconservatives and the religious fundamentalists of the modern Republican Party.

  145. HI JMG,

    To the chattering class, “female” = “feminist.” Thus Sarah Palin did not qualify as “female.” Nor did Phyllis Schlafley, though she did everything feminists claim to admire: lawyer, huge political impact, while raising 6 kids.

  146. JMG & all –

    >> …. writers, poets, playwrights, et al. are all busy being daring and transgressive and innovative by all rehashing exactly the same fixed stock of themes and gimmicks. (Yawn.) <<

    Painting, too, of course. The artists’ manifestos – which could be applied to the “transgressive” literary works – almost always include a phrase to the effect that “this is a work that will make you question what art really is.” Seriously, I have seen this again and again ….

    I go out of my way to avoid “transgressive” art, though I might be interested if someone staged an all-parrot Hamlet.

  147. On the topic of anti-abortion women, near where I live there was a March for Life recently, and a counter-march, and I noticed the March for Life was mostly women. An awful lot of them were young women, who are supposedly all strongly anti-abortion. I noticed this, and then had to fight the urge to die of laughter when I saw the counter march: it was nearly all men.

    This is anecdotal, but apparently the March for Life people have noticed it too…

  148. This may just be me, but if I found out my children/grandchildren would be immortal, my feelings would not be envy. They would be pity. Being the same for all eternity sounds breathtakingly boring….

  149. Archdruid,

    You know it’s rather difficult to create a common place, if so many people are insistent that the common place be as far away from reality as possible.

    One thing that did strike me about the whole new age fantasy is how closely it matches the cosmic doctrine (which I am still keeping up with, just not posting). It’s like these people are trying to be the central stars of their own solar systems, and demand that we all come swirling around them. The idea that they might be part of someone else’s reality is not something they care to deal with. The gods of course, and the atma itself, have a far greater influence on our motions. While these people may be able to draw us into orbit temporarily, the moment we hit the turbulence of one of the rays their influence is torn apart.


    My girlfriend stopped calling our cats fur babies when I fixed my best death glare on her. We still have cutesy names for them, she still bought me a “cat dad” mug for my birthday, and my mom still wishes us a happy father/mothers day because we have the cats. I just think of them as my buddies and love them very much. As far as I’m concerned they are totally part of the family, and they have independent personalities so I treat them as cat…persons.



  150. @ Rita R

    Re abortion and personhood

    With respect to the situation you describe, I do not disagree. In that third period, we are dealing with two people and there very well could be situations that arise wherein it may be necessary to kill one to save the other. In that case, yes, I would agree that the mother should be saved. But my assertion here is that the unborn child becomes a person at some point prior to birth and problem pregnancies ought to be identified well before that period is reached. Elective abortion is a right, but a limited one.

    The AL goes too far, in my opinion, but so does a complete denial of personhood prior to the moment of birth. As I mentioned in that previous discussion those months ago, I witnessed my daughter’s entry into this world two decades prior and no one, ever, will be able to convince me that she was not-a-person in the minutes, hours, and days before that moment. We are dealing here with an inherent conflict of rights—bodily sovereignty on one hand and life on the other—and some form of compromise solution is necessary.

    @ Patricia M

    Re the South

    As one who grew up more south of the Mason-Dixon Line than north of it, I can tell you that you ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie 😉

  151. @ JMG – another Bujold quote I cherish: From Paladin of Souls, from a high-ranking middle-aged woman finding herself in command for the first time, considering her responsibility to the boys she’s now leading, “Loyalty must go both ways, or it becomes betrayal in the egg.”

  152. Last week I was reading Borges and came across a reference to a fictitious “Journal for the Suppression of Reality.” It stuck me as hilarious at the time, and I’ve had no one to share said humor with. It must have been a foreboding of this week’s post…

  153. After reading the Ecomodernist Manifesto, I went looking around for information on deuterium-tritium fusion (which the authors mention as one of the likely sources of energy to power their complete decoupling from nature).

    There’s a lot of fluff being thrown around about the ITER facility in France, so I went looking for criticism of it. I found what seems to be a cogent criticism of fusion power in general:

    To begin with, D-T fusion requires tritium, which is only produced in fission reactors at this point, it’s rather radioactive with a half-life of 12 years, there’s maybe 25 kilograms of it on Earth right now, and once you introduce it into a system as complex as the ITER, there’s no way of controlling where it goes.

    So between tritium contamination and neutron bombardment, you end up with a huge mass of low-level radioactive material that you have to deal with. That’s an extremely far cry from fusion’s reputation as a clean power source.

    That’s one of the technical problems. The author goes into economic problems as well, and argues that fusion would be more expensive than fission. So if fission plants are not economically feasible, fusion will end up being dead in the water.

    The ITER is expected to start producing energy (in the form of neutron flows, which we don’t know how to translate into electric current) by the late 2030s. If there’s not some major delay or budget overrun by then, I’ll eat my hat.

  154. Forgive me for paraphrasing, but you’re talking about how to have a conversation with Reality, a virtuous feedback loop that can allow one to produce seemingly “magical” outcomes if one is in tune with Nature. You contrast that with harmful virtual realities and false narratives that allow (in this case progressives, infused with second hand and misunderstood New Age concepts) to deal with say, Trump’s victory, meaningless office jobs, resource depletion and other uncomfortable facts.

    A bit off topic: what kind of art is appropriate for this time in history? When people are so disconnected from the Earth, their community, their own emotions… How does one create art that connects people to nature (in the broadest sense) instead of this extreme escapism? Is it content and/or context? Is the medium still the message?

    I think you’ve answered the question for yourself with your deindustrial fiction; I wonder what the visual arts equivalent would be? I imagine it wouldn’t involve VR goggles, superhero explosions and the like, but I’d be curious as to your opinion.

  155. I’m going to leave this one as Anonymous, though JMG can probably tell who it is from the IP address. From my corner, the all-time worst entitlement “the world needs to conform to what I believe it should be” case I ever suffered through was my ex-friend. I met her during an era of her life when everything was going according to her schedule. She was 25, a college graduate, married to a man she admitted she had never been passionately in love with but was perfectly acceptable, good-looking, sweet, and enterprising enough to start his own business. They peppered their cookie cutter marriage with the expected suburban accoutrements: frequent vacations by car and by plane, a townhouse that was at the top end of what they could afford. Her life was fairly peachy until it was discovered that he was shooting blanks. She went to each of her friends asking if she should leave him. She had plentiful fantasies about different men at her work. For once in my life, I gave decent advice. I told her to weigh the pros and cons and to also go with her gut feeling because only she could make that decision. Four years later, he went through a grueling treatment for hepatitis in hopes of saving his fertility. Between this and various indebted attempts to spoil her with luxury champagne-taste-on-a-beer-budget vacations, it became quite clear he loved her more than she loved him. One of our last and most exhausting conversations was her grilling me about being adopted, what it was like, and telling me all the reasons she was terrified of adopting, a good three-quarters of which were legitimate. She revealed her terror and disgust at the idea of adopting a kid with any problems such as a handicap or a learning disability. I couldn’t seem to get through to her that those challenges happen to normal children who are born the usual way of their own biological parents.

    The last time I talked to her, she told me how she had become a devout Christian after attending a few services at a neighborhood big box church. She was raised atheist in her European homeland. She seemed convinced that Jesus, unlike her husband, would grant her the white, perfect, well-formed baby she deserved. Like many middle-class women, she and her husband had gone down a river of debt so she could have brutal IVF… because if nature tells you there is no biological baby for you, the modern approach is to force the gods to grant you a child via technology. You could almost hear the snap of our friendship breaking when I asked, “What if Jesus doesn’t intend for you to have a baby?” Not a year after our final episode, she divorced her husband. Within a year she married one of the guys from her job. As far as I know, there is still no baby, and she’s now in her mid-thirties.

    In defense of barren crazy cat ladies everywhere, I think it’s far better to drink excessive amounts of wine and dress your cat in a sundress/sailor suit (one thing leads to another, cha cha cha) than to carry on like an insufferable, bitter wretch because you didn’t get to have a perfect child. All things considered, my ex-friend will be one seriously messed-up mom if she gets the opportunity. I don’t expect miracles from my cat no matter how much devotion I slather upon her.

  156. “Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) sponsored the bill and introduced it about six weeks ago. She said that the goal was to pass the bill in a form that would be able to challenge the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling in the strongest way. …

    “According to, Collins said that if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, states could then later decide what exceptions to allow. Collins said that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, she would support a rape and incest exception.

    “I’ve answered many emails from people who have poured out their hearts with real stories that were true,” Collins told “My goal with this bill is not to hurt them in any way. My goal with this bill, and I think all of our goals, is to have Roe vs. Wade turned over, and that decision be sent back to the states so that we can come up with our laws that address and include amendments and things that address those issues.”

    This casts it as a states rights issue. Create a bill that will overturn Roe vs. Wade, then let the states come up with their own laws to compensate. I’m not saying where I stand on this, or what I think about the logic behind it. I’m only saying that here may be a case where what would appear to be the facts (deliberate legal[istic] maneuvering with an intent that is not simply about abortion, but rather with who gets to say what to whom about what) may be being ignored in favor of something more abstract. I think this is in keeping with the tenor of this week’s subject (i.e., reality bites).

  157. Walter, interesting. Thanks for this!

    Libertine, that is to say, until someone comes up with a way to stop human beings from acting like human beings, your system doesn’t work. Human beings routinely put their short term interests ahead of what someone else thinks their long term interest ought to be; what’s more, corruption is normal human behavior — in fact, it’s the natural extension of the free market to politics, since politicians and bureaucrats can pursue their personal advantage in the bes capitalist fashion by accepting bribes, doing favors for the well-to-do, and so on. Those aren’t minor glitches that can be solved by some gimmick or other; they’re core flaws in the libertarian system, just as the existence of the normal human desire for power is the core flaws in Marxism.

    Dermot, thanks for this. I admit I’ve always had trouble taking seriously a guy whose name sounds like a Swiss yodel. 😉

    Libertine, I couldn’t care less what is or isn’t fashionable in modern pseudoconservatism. One advantage of having a widely read blog is that I can make a case for classical Burkean conservatism and get its ideas out there, despite the neoconservative idiocy that dominates so much of the Republican party (and about half the Democrats, though they don’t admit it as much). If we’re to find our way back to political sanity, someone has to start the ball rolling, and I’m perfectly willing to be the guy who does that.

    Pogonip, oh, I know. It’s just bizarre. I tend to think that the word “female” has something to do with genetics and reproductive biology, rather than a statement of ideology, but a society that insists that the universe is whatever the privileged want it to be probably is going to have a hard time with that.

    Will M, I’ve seen the same thing way too often. My response is always, “No, it simply shows that this isn’t art.”

    Will J, fascinating. I’ll toss that one out to the readership; have the rest of you seen anything like this?

    Beekeeper, thanks for this. I also grew up with Aspergers and ADD, and you know, I’m very glad my parents didn’t pander to my condition the way Thunberg’s clearly did. They forced me to learn to function in the world as it is, rather than expecting the world to bend over backwards to deal with my neurological problems. But then my parents were first-generation bottom end of the salary class, from wage class backgrounds — no opera singers among them — and didn’t have the freedom to spoil their children.

    Will J, granted. And of course “immortal” begs the question; how do you know that the treatment really will keep working indefinitely?

    Varun, that works!

    Patricia M, and thank you for that one also.

    Berserker, hah! Thank you. Which story was that in?

    Cliff, yep. Realistic estimates suggest that even if a working fusion reactor is possible — and I have my doubts — it’ll cost ten times as much as a fission reactor and produce about the same amount of electricity. So instead of losing $1 million a week, it’ll lose $10 million a week — what a marvelous bargain! I’m sure I can sell these folks a bridge to Mars…

  158. HI Anonymous,

    As long as they get fed regularly and the litter box isn’t too disgusting, cats are pretty tolerant as long as they don’t have to go to the V-E-T or your sister is bringing the B-A-B-Y over. What bothers me about the pet parents is not that Furmommy herself takes it seriously, but that way too many orher people seem to. It’s another symptom of the cloud of unreality over the U. S. that gets thicker every day.

  159. Dante, that’s quite a decent paraphrase. As for art, that above all is one of the places where dissensus rules; in art as in spirituality, there ain’t no such thing as one true way. If I were a visual artist, though, I’d be using traditional media (watercolor, oils, sculpture) and representational imagery, and paying a lot of attention to technical skill. The medium stopped being the message a long time ago, if it ever was, and the pursuit of ugliness for its own sake (or, rather, for the sake of pretentious pseudosophistication) was a waste of time from the beginning. What’s desperately needed now is the kind of visual art that welcomes the untrained eye, teaches it to see, and rewards it with the delight that comes from the contemplation of visual beauty.

    Anonymous, I know the type rather well, from unpleasant personal experience.

    Aporia, politically speaking, that makes sense — but I wonder whether those exceptions to save the mother’s life, etc., will actually get put in if Roe vs. Wade goes down.

  160. It occurs to me that the belief that one creates one own reality is in its most primal content a belief that one has successfully conquered nature. After all, we all have heard that the ruling conqueror’s will is law.

  161. @JMG: Fair enough. I’m aware of the flaws with doctrinaire libertarianism and I’ve had a lot of the same doubts myself. I try to maintain as objective a viewpoint as possible, but recognizing and overcoming biases is difficult.

    I’m inclined toward a more moderate and centrist form of libertarianism, and I’d agree that incremental change is generally wiser than trying to implement sweeping reforms overnight. For example, I don’t agree with the common libertarian position that any reduction in taxes or spending must be a good thing. Giving tax breaks to specific corporations is just an indirect form of corporate welfare, and getting rid of welfare programs while keeping the rest of the crony capitalist system in place would be stupid and cruel.

    I’m just frustrated with the outright socialists on the left and the authoritarian cultural conservatives on the right, while also being frustrated with the type of pro-establishment centrism that the Democratic Party loves to endorse. It seems like none of those groups have much concern for individual liberty at all. It really feels like this country has been on the wrong path since the end of World War II, and particularly since 9/11.

    Best of luck getting your views out there. I can’t say I’m completely in agreement with them, but it’s good for people to have alternatives.

  162. @ Rita Riptoe

    “A woman died in Ireland because doctors were afraid that even the removal of an already deceased fetus would be interpreted as an illegal abortion and subject them to legal penalties.”

    If you are referring to Savita Halapannavar, the events were more nuanced. The case involved an extended miscarriage that was already irreversible by the time she reached hospital, but in which the foetal heartbeat continued to be detectable for another 36 to 48 hours, during which the sepsis which killed her a few days later also set in irreversibly. As soon as the heartbeat could no longer be heard she received a d&c, however, this turned out to be too late to save her.

    However, in terms of David by the Lake’s expressed wishes, I would ask you to consider the law that passed in Ireland after we overturned the constitutional foetal personhood amendment which had interfered with the hospital’s ability to safeguard Savita’s life during her miscarriage.

    It is actually (in my opinion) an excellent law, although it will take a few years to be tested and work itself out. It takes account of the fact that apart from extreme views held by a small minority at either end of the spectrum, most people do see pregnancy as an evolving condition, in which the relation between mother and foetus changes. The trimesters are a convenient way to mark those changes.

    In Ireland, abortions in the first trimester can now be legally accessed without giving anyone a reason (ie – unlike in the UK, there is no “panel” that needs to consider your case, or grant “permission”). You simply attend a doctor who is enrolled as a provider, and if you are under 9 wks this will likely be a medical abortion which can take place under medical supervision, but in your own home.

    In the second trimester, there must be “reasons” and these must be for the preservation of the life or the health of the mother. The inclusion of health became absolutely politically necessary, because in Savita’s case, the already existing constitutional provision that made her LIFE equal to that of her foetus, did not allow her HEALTH to be considered so long as her foetus still had life – ie a heartbeat – and at the moment when it became clear that her LIFE was actually threatened was already too late.

    In the third trimester, a mother’s life and health may be protected by premature induction of labour or surgically, by caesarian, but no foeticidal methods may be used, and the foetus who is delivered as a premature newborn must be given every possible life support so long as it lives.

    There is, as you suggest, special provision in relation to Fatal Foetal Anomalies, as one of the very strongly organised groups during last year’s campaigning on this issue, was carried out by families who had experienced this exact situation, and who shared their stories very eloquently.

    I expect our politics to continue to push at this law around its edges, but I actually hope it continues to forge this three-trimester approach, which I believe most people, when they sit down and think about it, can live with.

    It also allows the provision of proper healthcare in maternity, which for a very long time was compromised throughout the Irish healthcare system, by the existence of a foetal personhood constitutional amendment.

  163. Since B3rnhard has mentioned Michael Ende, I would like to add that he was an unusual author of children books, because he acknowledged the role imagination plays for humans in a way that runs counter to the rational mindset of contemporary culture. He has also published a book with essays about his views of the world and of literatue.

    Besides, it occurred to me, that self-help books work somewhat like a curse, because their advice sets up self-defeating patterns of behavior, which makes things more complicated than they should be.

  164. JMG,

    Would you care to share with us your own normative position on abortion? What role should/will it have in the general post-industrial future you envision?

    David by-the-Lake,

    If you grant the status of full-personhood to the third-trimester fetus, then by what scientifically validatable criteria exactly do you deny it the same status at earlier stages of development?

  165. Re abortion and the current debate over the AL legislation

    To bring the conversation back around to the theme of this week’s post, which is about having a conversation, I think it is useful to note the rather common dynamic we see at play in the abortion debate generally. We have a complex issue with deep emotional impacts (on all sides) and earnestly-held fundamental beliefs (again, on all sides). It is far easier to stake out an extreme position on one end by denying all agency to the other side whatsoever (e.g. “a woman loses bodily sovereignty at the moment of conception” or “the unborn child is never a person”) than it is to have those difficult conversations, admit that the other side has some legitimacy, and to hash out some form of compromise that meets some of the aims of all participants, but grants no one everything they wish. (Again, the best definition of a compromise I’ve found: a solution with which all parties are equally dissatisfied.) Of course, you won’t see protesters chanting in favor of compromise or politicians running for office with such platforms, which is one of many reasons we have the perpetual state of conflict we have.

  166. Hi John Michael,

    Yup, renewable energy is good, it is just not good enough. As you know I have an off grid / stand-alone solar power system and have used that for electricity in the house for the past decade. I tell people that the sun doesn’t shine at night, or when the solar photovoltaic panels are covered in snow, they don’t produce any power at all. These things should be self-evident and unavoidable facts, but they’re treated as a mere irrelevance. And when heavy cloud hangs over head for days on end, you can be lucky to produce 15% of the photovoltaic panels output.

    But I have had people tell me in all seriousness that: they have this here model that suggests that my system (which has to live in the real world as distinct from the guts of a computer) is somehow faulty because it should be generating blah, blah, blah. It would be funny if serious people weren’t spruiking this technology as a way to power an industrial civilisation (which it can’t). It just doesn’t scale and was only ever intended to power small scale installations.

    And if it ever were implanted on a truly large scale, I doubt that it would generate enough energy in order to be able to replace itself.

    The problem with living consciously (well as much as is possible for an individual) is that a person might look at the world and accept some serious limitations on their own life and behaviour. Because it is impossible for a person or society to address a problem if it is their behaviour causing the problem and that is considered the only alternative. I tend to remind people who tell me such fanciful flights of thought, that failure is always an option.

    Cheers and thanks for the fine writing!


  167. Andrew,
    For my part I think one of the toughest facets of this great transition is the ability to find comfort and satisfaction in your efforts even if nobody else is watching. Or appreciating.

    Still, over the last decade I have developed a sound working list of guiding principles regarding energy and resource use that I follow at all times. Appreciated by others or not. I believe these principles make a real difference, and I relish the recognition in myself alone that they matter.

    1) Avoid the thick power cords, the Big 4 domestic electricity hogs – HVAC, batch water heater, oven, clothes dryer.

    2) Try to avoid any appliances, with the slimmer 120V power cords, that resist the flow of electricity to produce heat. That would be toasters, hair dryers, space heaters, and the like. Refrigerators too, though they are tough to live without…(we use a chest freezer-icebox system with frozen milk jugs.)

    3) Drive less. Always less. Move if you have to. That’s been our latest effort in this direction.

    4) Limit your indulgence in entertainment. That means TV, movies, trinkets, random milkshakes, professional sporting events, alcohol, drugs, whatever. (Practicing magic intentionally helps a lot with this one!)

    5) And finally, always ask yourself if the activity in question really needs to be done in the first place.

    Living on solar power as we have acquainted us with the need for guiding principles like these in a hurry. And in no uncertain terms. But the underlying logic can be used to your benefit in any power supply situation. Solar isn’t inherently “better” than coal-fired grid power, any more than cob is inherently “better” than wood for building a house. It just usually forces one to use less. And that’s the important bit. You can use less power from the grid just as easily.

    Adopt something like this as your own and rest peacefully in the knowledge that, as the industrial way of life comes unglued, your guiding principles will give you a working advantage over the deniers and showoffs.

    Who probably didn’t appreciate what you were doing all along but will now be struggling to keep up. 😁

  168. @JMG–you do have a point about the dreariness of having audience members who aren’t trained “be” the morose Dane. Sometimes ideas need to be verbalized and then truly examined with the light of day. My idea was more about having his tragedy being that he’s really just a guy amidst the rabble of the elegant gangsters running things. Might be interesting if Fortinbras at the end of the play looks like he could be Claudius’s son. Just musing out loud.

  169. John–

    OT and not directly relevant to this week’s post, but I saw this tidbit come through buried in some industry news. I’m not sure what to make of it or how it might fit into the broader picture, but I thought it would be something of interest to you:

    New OMB Guidance- On April 11, 2019, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Russell Vought announced a policy for review of federal agency rules and guidance that represents a significant change of process for issuance of informal guidance materials and can be expected to decrease informal agency guidance. The directive, in the form of a memorandum to all heads of executive departments and agencies, requires agencies to submit to OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a summary of any proposed guidance document or rule and, in most cases, a detailed analysis of the expected impact of the proposed guidance or rule. Following OIRA’s review, Congress will have the option to review, pursuant to the Congressional Review Act. While Congress typically does not exercise the option, it may invalidate any rule through a joint resolution of disapproval, which is subject to presidential veto.

    Currently, many federal agencies often disseminate their interpretations of statutory and regulatory requirements via informal guidance that is not presented to OIRA or Congress. For example, EPA uses guidance documents to address a wide range of topics, including to announce policy changes, for instance its recent reversal of the “Once In, Always In” policy that precluded a facility once classified as a “major source” under the CAA from subsequently altering that classification. Some independent agencies also utilize informal guidance.

    The Vought memorandum explicitly recognizes an expansive definition of “rule” that encompasses all agency guidance materials, including independent agencies, and requires them to be presented to OIRA at least 30 days prior to publication (unless designated by OIRA as not “major”) and then to Congress as prescribed by the Congressional Review Act. This will be a substantial departure from current practice where most agency guidance is not presented to OIRA (and thus also not to Congress).

    In addition, the memorandum establishes a default presumption that any rule, including guidance materials, is subject to a rigorous process for determination of whether it constitutes a “major rule.” The presumption applies without regard to the statutory definition of “major rule” (viz., a rule that will cause an annual effect on the economy of $100,000 or more, a major cost or price increase, or significant adverse effects on employment or other economic indicators). The memorandum states that OIRA “anticipates” identifying certain categories of rules as “presumptively not major” but leaves that identification to OIRA’s discretion and provides no specifics on how it will be made, other than that OIRA will “work with senior agency officials.”

    The memorandum took effect on May 11, 2019.

    A link to the policy:

  170. re: living on the water & @Skyrider

    I’ve always been inspired by the example of the Floating Neutrino’s, a group of sailors and boats people who made a raft out of recycled junk and sailed it across the Atlantic ocean. This area is ripe for some sea adventure / deindustrial fiction.

    Members of the Floating Neutrino collective also participated in the Miss Rockaway Armada project, whom built a barge out of junk and took it from Minneapolis to New Orleans on the Mississippi, stopping to paint murals and do vaudeville variety shows along the way. They did this in the summers of 2006/2007 stopping to overwinter.

    I think extrapolating from these kinds of projects is more in line to the kind of “living on the water” we might get in the future.

  171. @ Will J

    Re the March for Life and counter-march genders

    I had to laugh when I read your comment. It occurred to me how easily one could flip the gender roles of the debate: men arguing for the ability to avoid the burden of unwanted or unproductive children and women fighting (in their natural role as mothers) for the protection of all children regardless of their usefulness to society.

  172. @ Rita R

    Re the governor of AL

    I don’t think it is any more valid to argue that a woman is a traitor to her sex for holding pro-life views than it is for one to consider a person a traitor to his/her race for marrying someone of a different culture/ethnicity or to call me, for example, a traitor to my class for not voting for HRC (which, as an upper middle class technical professional, certainly was in my best short-term interests to do). We are all individuals with disparate opinions and values. While it is useful to correlate certain characteristics to certain beliefs for navigating the terrain of the this world, one must remember that any mapping involves simplification of complexities and that the map is not the territory. It is the generalization that is inaccurate (e.g. “women are pro-choice”), not the deviations from that generalization which are wrong.

  173. The manufactured reality seems to be cracking. Warning, the link below is to a site known for being very unsafe for work, the infamous 4chan:

    Anyone else have recurring dreams of visiting a giant Mall World?

    The second link is for when the thread is closed; if I remember, I will save an extra copy on the Internet Archive when it closes, which will be accessible in

    A thread in another forum is mentioned at the opening post (you need tick the two boxes and click continue, if you agree with the terms; registration is not required):
    This thread cannot be archived, it is excluded from Wayback Machine.

    The 4chan thread (and the other one, which I didn’t read yet) is about people dreaming they are inside giant, endless malls. The interesting part is that many posters tell of decaying stores, being trapped inside them without no way to exit, and the outside world being in a post-apocalyptic state. A rare good thread; Jungian concepts are being mentioned.

  174. So funny to see Buddhism mentioned in this comment section, because the essay initially reminded me of two books I am presently reading: Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram and Joanna Macy’s Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory: The Dharma of Natural Systems. While the first is rooted in western phenomenology and ecology, rather than Buddhist philosophy, both echo what JMG is saying about the co-arising of the self and the rest of the world (with the rest of the world as the senior partner) and they also expand on Walter’s excellent comment about the subtlety of Buddha’s idea of anatman/anatta. I had a brief flicker of it, I think, while walking my dog this morning and silently chanting mantras, as I encountered birds singing “inside” of my mind rather than “outside,” like I and the birds were both threads in some living tapestry. It was nifty, and then I got to pick up some dog poop and continue the walk.

    All that said, I’ve got to agree with JMG & Mac about the privileged background of most (convert) Buddhists, who were often the affluent hippies who didn’t become Jesus People. (The everyday Asian-American folks who grew up practicing Buddhism are only now having their experiences of the faith recognized and validated by the “Modern Buddhists.”) Luckily, I write with irony, this privilege is now manifesting by making “Modern Buddhism” synonymous with social justice and wokeness. One contemporary magazine, Lion’s Roar, is now full-on “campus left” with a veneer of religiosity. All is suffering indeed. 🙂

  175. JMG,

    I did not really find a good article on the Trump medical cause, perhaps because it really is breaking news. It apparently happened at the White House. I found a couple of write-ups, but didn’t find them very good. At any rate, if this takes off, we will all hear more about it.

    If I indulged in the annoying practice of urging you to watch (listen) this video, it was because this is probably my most passionate issue.

  176. There’s another issue with the immortality drug: what are the long term consequences?

    David BTL,

    That thought had also occurred to me as well….

  177. Violet,

    You ask what do people mean when they pray to the universe. I recall praying to the universe perhaps more than 25 years ago when I considered myself Christian, and for the life of me I cannot recall where such an idea came from.

    But I still do. I pray to God, the universe, my guardian angels, and sometimes my son. What it means to me is a very open ended way to pray to the undefined divine. Not the Tao which can be named but the Tao which cannot be named.

    I tend to be strongly monotheistic and regard Hinduism as the one religion that understands and takes monotheism to its logical conclusion. Funny that they are criticized as having thousands of gods. Obviously, they also have a fully integrated polytheism along with the complete monotheism. Yes, I regard Hinduism as more monotheistic than Judaism or Islam because of advaita. As to Christianity, they are a step further back due to the three persons of the trinity, although my interpretation of the trinity keeps one god.

    My interpretation is that you have one ineffable Source of existence which I call Mother, but then to accomplish a manifest universe you need the Mind of God which I equate with Logos, and for the Holy Spirit, this is the aspect of God which permeates and fills all things and is an energetic bridge to the godhead. The universe itself is the body of

    If we extrapolate from what we see in the world (as above so below) we can easily conclude that there exists innumerable entities of all sorts of types and levels, and I have no objection to them being real and contactable. But for me, I have a reluctance because I feel vulnerable as the other planes of existence are very opaque to us and we are quite out of our element there. Meanwhile, I have an intense curiosity about the nature of God, and the fact that I cannot know or understand it only increases my fascination. A quest that goes far beyond this life.

    I seem to be so constituted that my interest and dedication are toward the universal divine. I would say that prayers to the universe are less personal and when addressed to God is more personal, for me. I do see the need for a relationship with a closer being. I have used my guardian angel for that but he is very mental and abstract, which has satisfied me until recently, when I feel the need for a little more personal healing and communication.

  178. @Pogonip The story of the dog, the maid’s children and Ellen is really something. I’d state it was made up fiction, but obviously it’s not.

    And I love that phrase “cloud of unreality” in regards to this furbaby thing. I’ve seen children carry around stuffed animals for comfort, and everyone plays along with that because its a child who doesn’t have a fully developed reasoning brain. Adults pretending animals are their children just crosses a line for me.

    @Varun I giggled at the death glare. I don’t even know what you look like and I could picture the whole scene in my head. We have 4 cats, dogs and chickens, and they all have their personalities and many honorific names. They are their own beings and we enjoy each other’s company. We don’t treat them as infant babies and put them in matching outfits or take them for professional pet photos or buy them Halloween costumes. There’s a line there somewhere between pet and fur baby.

  179. @Will M “EST’s Werner Erhard made his employees declare responsibility for *everything* that went amiss.”

    It wasn’t just the employees, it was everyone in attendance at the workshops. It’s central to the work of EST and Landmark.

    I participated with Landmark for years and I can tell you that nothing is funnier (although I couldn’t laugh out loud) as when new people come and think they can fight this idea of 100% responsibility. Every time there was a break people would come back late with some reason they were late. People are so used to having “good reasons” for their behavior and other people just accepting it. They would argue that the time wasn’t important, or they were dealing with something important, or it was just an unreasonable request. The facilitator would never put up with it and we’d spend up to an hour with a person or group in the hot seat until they finally got that they were late because they did not take the actions necessary to be on time. Then they would have to state what they would do to be on time from now on.

    The point of 100% responsibility isn’t about blame, it’s about what actions do you need to put in place to have something successfully happen? So yeah, if chairs didn’t arrive because a truck broke down, what is your plan for that? What about if some of the chairs break? What about if the truck gets lost? The elevator breaks? And on and on.

    There is empowerment there, not a burden or guilt, if someone really takes it on like a game.

  180. I have another one: “Everyone in the world wants a middle class lifestyle, and anyone who says otherwise is misinformed or delusional. Anyone who lacks such a lifestyle and claims to be happy is lying, either to us or to themselves.”

  181. Question about “conversation with the world”…..everywhere I go, people will just start talking to me about (seemingly?) random topics. Yesterday when I was returning my cart at the grocery store, a man started a conversation on gas taxes, bridge reconstruction, and driving. Last week a woman told me about her upcoming surgery and her worries. It’s been going on for a few years and my family has learned if we are out somewhere, a conversation could start up and waylay us a bit. I think I just have a super generic face or expression or something, because I’m not starting it other than to just smile or say hello. So why is this happening?

  182. @jasonheppenstall

    good to hear from you again. Let me know if you want any pepper plants! It looks like the ones I tried overwintering seem to be in permament dormancy, but I sowed plenty more this spring.

  183. Your tone, consistently, is that of the hopeless. “It just is.” How sad. Is it that unhealthy to look to the future with joy and optimism, like Pollyanna?

    The esoteric philosophers teach us that there is such a thing as evolution and that humanity is just one entity in a chain that is evolving, forward, yet in cycles like a spiral, after to the perpetual movement of the Soul through the cosmos. I think of Annie Besant and the Theosophist. You state in your writings that the very idea of progress is akin to a kind of myth-thinking; how do you reconcile occult traditions of evolution with your theory of progress as mythical (perhaps even magical) orientation? You might have covered this on the blog already but I may have missed.

  184. @Packshaud

    Your mention of the dreams of malls is interesting. It dovetailed with a thought I was having in regards to the conversation with @skyrider:

    Two genres of music have proliferated on the internets: vaporwave & a subset of that called: mallsoft. I was thinking of vaporwave music, and it’s pseudo-popularity among some Millenials (I’m a tail-end gen Xer myself: [William Strauss’s book on generations is fascinating]). Aesthetically the sound of mallsoft is a mix of ambient, muzak, easy listening.

    I’m sure some commenters or JMG are familiar with the genre. If not I thought this 2016 Esquire article was a good take:

    Here is my take on mallsoft…

    Mallsoft is the muzak of the twitter generation. Seeking to escape into a past they never knew, idolizing the idolatrous eighties, knowing in their emoji heart of hearts that the shopping mall of this mythic time has vaped itself away. The suburban middle class has become expendable, as was once their income. Shuttered, scattered & fractured by the Amazonians and internet outlets this music is a nostalgic reflection of a consumerist utopia that never was, a yearning for a 1990s future that has already slipped into kudzu covered oblivion, and now only exists for $5.99 on bandcamp platform in some alternate history of the multiverse. It is a place where lost souls go to buy.

    (Get a taste for it here… )

    —so vaporwave is the sound of vaporware as it dies. Mallsoft is the sound of the dream of endless consumerism as it lives out its last gasps— the opposite of vaporwave is steam punk. 😉

    I explored all this in a radio show episode I did last year called “The Ballad of Mohawk Moxie” available to listen to here:

  185. @David by-the-lake Thanks for the numbers on energy generation of Three Mile Island vs. the natural gas plants. I didn’t see that in the newspaper articles last week. It makes nuclear look even worse. So glad the legislature didn’t bail out the nuclear plants for $500 million.

  186. Ray, good heavens. That hadn’t occurred to me — but of course you’re dead right. Thank you.

    Libertine, thank you; at this point we’re talking the same language. My take on Burkean conservatism is that society is healthier when there are constant experiments being made in different directions — the libertarian direction among them — in order to see what works. For that matter, the ongoing growth in job creation at the lower end of the skilled-unskilled spectrum shows that the libertarians were dead right in saying that the economy was overregulated; Trump’s efforts to decrease the total regulatory burden on businesses, and especially on small businesses, are paying off in a big way. For what it’s worth, I share your dismay at the prevalence of authoritarian movements in American public life — the socialists and social-justice crusaders on the left, the Christian jihadis on the right, and the pseudocentrists in the middle, with their dogma that big government, big business, and Big Brother generally are your friends and criticism of them is not permitted — gah. Let’s get some alternative ideas in circulation!

  187. @ JMG

    I fully agree with you that in recent times the denialism about reality is increasing, but I am also a reader of A.J. Toynbee and then I think this could be, in a good part, explained in the rise of the four “heresies” he said afflicts the collapsing civilizations = Futurism, Archaism, Detachment and Transcendence; ultimately all of them are the consequence of fear, discontent and pain the society is causing to its people

    For example, in the middle of our nested crises, there are “Futurism” hype all around, with news about “breakthrough” in all the scientific and technological fields = AI, “sustainable” fusion and fission nuclear plants, genetics, synthetic life, cancer cure, space planes, taxi drone flying cars, new magical batteries, etc…
    The more people commit sucide and get hooked on opioids , the more the people talk about eternal youth, singularity, mars colonies, etc…Some of this is cynicism of snake oil sellers à la Elon Musk, but I think a lot of people in fact “need” believe in those “Deus Ex Machina” to save them in a sinking world

    Equally as Toynbee said New Age = “Transcendence” heresy grow up in the decline of civilizations, and we are in a impressive decline slope. In part some people in the far left use it as a “hidden” political agenda, but at the end this kind of process is guided also for a life full of distress in a very dysfunctional society

    We could talk also about the toynbean “Archaism”, and this is the heresy that bring strong leaders that will lead the society to an idealized past, a “Golden Age”, where the society was united around some beloved ideals: Patriotism, Tradition, Community, Glory…. They are “the saviors by the sword” in the moral and economic declining phase of civilization, that “Make X Great Again”; MAGA is a quite soft version of it, we could expect a much more strong expressions in the future when the crises bite harder and some charismatic leader from the lower class strata (probably a young army vet) really take the flag

    Detachment heresy is also developing, but I think in this phase of the decline is too early to see many people taking this way; but, as in Rome, it will be the “wave of the future”

    I am not exactly a fan of Steven Spielberg, but in the movie “Ready Player One” strangely he made a quite deep critique of where we are heading in the future; a future that reminds me the last centuries of Rome with a kind of modern roman plebs (or spenglerian fellahs) living miserably in 20 feet containers stacked on top of each other, nobody seems to work (UBI?), and everyone passing almos all the time in a kind of “pan et circenses” of a massive virtual reality game. It is an strange film that has, of course, a happy end (hey!, it is Hollywood!), but you feel the end, in fact, cannot be too happy in this kind of world; or may be “happiness” has lost their sense in it.
    I think what Spielberg try to say is that our civilization is, in fact, living inside a virtual reality game when the world is crumbling around it.


  188. I had two immediate thoughts about making your own reality.

    We had a wonderful border collie named Fido. He didn’t like thunder storms. He worked out, all by himself, that if he barked long enough and hard enough, while running in mad circles in the yard during the storm, that he could bark the storm away!

    It worked every single time, too. My dog made his own reality or at least he thought he did.

    The other thought was remembering Garrison Keillor’s ‘Hymn to Winter’.
    Here’s the section that matters (although the entire song is well worth singing):

    In summer you get the illusion
    That life must be gentle and warm,
    But wisdom comes to us in winter
    When we have to stay home in the storm.
    When the blizzard comes out of the northwest,
    You cannot do as you would do.
    So winter is when nature teaches
    That the world is not here to please you.

    The world is not here to please you
    The world is not here to please you
    So winter is when nature teaches
    The world is not here to please you.

    In both cases, (Fido and the people Garrison Keillor is singing about) reality is something more than what they see.

    Thanks again for a terrific, thought-provoking essay.

    Teresa from Hershey

  189. @JMG – I am SO glad I grew up in a time when people like you and me were described as “gifted but spoiled…” or “needs to work more…” because the reality I was living in had no intentions of conforming to me! OTH, some things – bookishness, daydreaming, awkwardness, was “just Pat.” Who, as long as I did my chores, did my homework, kept my grades up, etc, was fine. Rough spots were to be expected. No being set apart, given special programs, stigmatized …. but none of today’s calling the cops on a misbehaving child! And today’s snowflakes would freak at my father’s instant cure for juvenile meltdowns. A couple of good hard swats in the rear. Adolescent ones? The sharp edge of his tongue, and he was an eloquent man.

    Though I am also glad I got an explanation (via a book) for the ongoing problems no amount of work would conquer … in late middle age, what in my parents’ day would have been old age. And had the intellectual arrogance (hey, when you have nothing else going for you….) knocked out of me good and proper by, dare I call it, Real Life?

    There was a lot wrong with Midcentury culture, but today’s? Like comparing porridge without salt or cinnamon then, to sriracha mayonnaise martinis now.

  190. David by the lake–I don’t consider the governor of Alabama a traitor to women for holding anti-abortion views. My opinion has always been–If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one. But as a governor she is supposed to act on behalf of all citizens of her state. Signing a law that is detrimental to the freedom of women specifically does, IMO, makes her a traitor to the women upon whom she is eager to impose her opinions. As for Roe v. Wade, I think that the court was mistaken in spinning the 5th amendment into a right to privacy that they extended to abortion. I think the decision should have been based on the 1st amendment injunction against establishment of religion. The question of when the fetus becomes a person is a religious question, not a factual one. For example, by Jewish law it is not until the first breath and, contrary to the Catholic position, the life of the mother must be put before that of the potential child. Therefore a law based on the conservative Christian view is an unconstitutional establishment of religion. Back in the 80s the head of the Libertarian Women’s Caucus asserted that the woman had a right to abort right up to the beginning of normal labor. She had a weird justification for this that I can’t recall and won’t try to recreate–but I thought at the time that it was wacky. You are correct that extremism begets backlash, but ironically all of this is coming at a time when abortions in the US are at an all time low. And I am skeptical of the sincerity of anti-abortion activists because they so consistently lie about the details of the laws they oppose.

    JMG–re comments on the protesting child and her parents. It is certainly not doing a child a favor to lead them to think that the world will change to fit them. Demanding ordinary care and courtesy for persons with problems is one thing and even reasonable accommodations, such as a quiet room to study or being excused from certain activities. Or even seemingly inconsequential things like letting one child take off her shoes in reading group and letting another leave his jacket on without comment. I was the kid who was always slipping my feet out of my shoes; my son was one with a jacket on even in August. But totally sheltering a child from the consequences of their actions is quite another. A person who shouts obscenities is, in a country phrase “Cruisin’ for a bruisin’.” and outside of the shelter of the family will sooner or later get that bruising, either psychological or physical. As I read the article I could hear myself saying, “we’re either walking down the street like normal people or you won’t have your lesson today, are we clear on that?” OTH I would take both children to a competent homeopath to see if that would help.

    On a lighter note, the behavior of the rich and famous in cases like this reminds me of an old joke. A passerby observes a young man being carefully carried to a waiting limousine. He turns to the older woman who is obviously the mother and says, “How unfortunate that your son can’t walk.” The women draws herself up, haughtily and exclaims, “Of course he can walk, but thank God with our money he doesn’t have to.”

    I must admit that all this talk of planetary limits has ruined _Game of Thrones_ for me. Actually, I have only seen one episode, two weeks ago. But my reaction to the battle scene with the ships was, “never mind the dragons, the really unbelievable thing in a medieval level culture is the giant cross bows. No way they could produce and forge that amount of metal” For those who haven’t watched, both the ships of the fleet and the castle walls were equipped with crossbows about 12 feet across. There were at least a dozen on the ships and 8-10 on the castle, so a lot of investment for a pre-industrial society. I don’t doubt the statement that the modern prop actually worked–but that was produced with modern tools and technology and materials. Sorry folks, just not buying it.

    A major problem with libertarian economics is: what is your starting point? Does everyone get to keep what they already have, but enjoy increased economic freedom in the future? If so, how is this fair to the people who are poor because they were robbed of their land, underpaid for their labor or even enslaved? It is like starting a race with some of the horses already at the clubhouse turn while others are still entering the starting gate. OTH if you plan to dismantle the existing fortunes that were based on outright theft or unfair business practices how will that be accomplished without either a revolution or government action. The rich aren’t going to hand over their lands, their mines, their fortunes. So, there is no way to advance that does not involve either gross injustice or violence, or both.

  191. JMG, Jen, and Nastarana: The “Live, Laugh, Love” plaques are certainly marketed (every Home Décor store is packed with them, along with “Shop Local!” signs made in China) but WHY do women fall for them, and not men? Is it because females are evolution’s main gift recipient (of nuptial presents from males), and it’s tough to buck millions of years of evolution?

    And is that why women are by far the #1 shopper and general consumer of manufactured goods? Can you imagine the equivalent of Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby”, Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, and Madonna’s “Material Girl” being sung by men?

    And why is it overwhelming women who, as Jen notes, post “rainbow-background inspirational memes” to social media? It’s ubiquitous, and nauseatingly repetitious: the same armies of women post the same sickeningly sweet slop day after day after day, and never tire of “Liking” and “Loving” each other’s visual diarrhea. Is it just virtue signalling? Or does it have some other social/societal benefit?

  192. @ Nestorian

    Re late-term unborn personhood

    I’m not basing it on any scientifically verifiable criteria. I’m offering that schema as a compromise between two conflicting and irreconcilable absolutist positions. I see it as unreasonable to assert that a woman loses legal control over her body from the moment of fertilization. I also see it as unreasonable to assert that an unborn child has no rights whatsoever and is a nonperson. So I suggest the three periods, of what length would have to be negotiated but the trimesters seem a reasonable default, where elective abortion becomes restricted by medical requirements becomes restricted to situations of direct and immanent threat to the life of the mother. We are fitting a continuum of reality and a wide range of beliefs and values to human law which operates in discrete blocks, so compromise is necessary and no one is going to be entirely happy with the end result.

  193. Denys – I get the value of EST’s emphasis on taking responsibility for such things as chronic lateness and so forth – chronic behaviors tend to be unconscious, and confronting such behaviors boost self-awareness, always a good thing. However, the impression I got from W Erhard’s insistence that his employees, at least, take responsibility for a truck breaking down is for me a zen bridge too far. Erhard didn’t emphasize what the employee should do after the truck broke down., ie., make the necessary phone calls, etc., he just declared in effect that the employee was out of touch with the universe and has to own it because otherwise why would have the truck broken down on the employee’s watch? As JMG says, not everything bad thing that happens to us is necessarily our fault …..

    Will J – re immortality drug. Bad consequences? To use an old, possibly outmoded descriptive term, it would be horrifyingly “unnatural”, a disruption of the natural cycles of life and death. It would be like a drug that kept you from the “hinderance” of ever having to sleep. In both cases, the opportunity to process and learn from a day’s or a lifetime’s experience would be lost. I can’t see anything but the development of monstrosities as a result.

    There are those who have developed such a solid etheric sheath that they can avoid, for a time at least, the necessary entrance into the purgatorial post-mortem states, which in a sense is akin to physical immortality – these people are generally known as “vampires” who for sustenance drain the living of life-force. I would expect something of the same re anyone who achieved physical immortality via a drug.

  194. “1) Avoid the thick power cords, the Big 4 domestic electricity hogs – HVAC, batch water heater, oven, clothes dryer.”

    Alas that one is thoroughly impractical. Heat pumps are going to have heavy cables. Electric ovens do not require gas or propane, but do require heavy cables. Batch water heaters can get by on a 200 amp service whereas tankless requires 400 amp service (or 480 V) or you live with a trickle of warm water. the clothes dryer only gets used in the winter, or if it’s raining. I would like to do laundry between November and March inclusive.

  195. Denys, that used to happen to me too, until everyone started staring at cell phones.

  196. Denys, the original Ellen-and-the-dog-rescue story appeared in Salon, of all places, but I don’t remember the title. I do remember pages and pages of mail which was running about 10-1 against the dog moms.

    To be fair, their side of it was Ellen signed a contract saying she’d never give the dog away. However, this occurred in America, where the custom is that the more powerful side of the contract can change or void it at will, so to my mind that’s a pretty weak argument. I’m sure the dog moms would have had no hesitation in violating the contract had the maid herself obtained the dog from them.

  197. JMG

    Funny, I routinely hear “but we’re still moving forward!” but rarely hear “but we’re still progressing!”
    It might be a function of regional dialect (North East U.S.) but maybe there is another reason entirely.

    I have noticed an increased emphasis on the “we’re” in the phrase. Have you noticed the same?

  198. You know, I’ve never had a mall dream, but the terrifying house I once dreamed of was quite large, a mansion, so maybe it fits in the category. I’ll go read that a bit closer.

    I’d heard of 4chan but now that I’ve actually looked at it I don’t understand why all the best people disapprove of it. Looked like any other bulletin board to me.

  199. P.S. My all-time favorite quote – both for truth and for the down-to-earth and hilariously funny imagery – is from Martin Luther. “Mankind is like a drunken peasant trying to ride a horse. First he falls off on one side. Then he falls off on the other side.”

  200. @Justin:

    The mallsoft sound is just a form of smooth jazz. The malls of the 80s and 90s, when they weren’t playing pop, would have been playing mass produced knock off smooth jazz which would have been ubiquitous. Thus the mallsoft sound.
    Do the people who like mallsoft just miss smooth jazz? Or maybe miss a society that could relax enough to play smooth jazz in public places? Perhaps. I am not convinced there is some desire for an old consumerism here…

  201. @Ray Wharton:
    You may not be able in all cases to create reality but certainly in some cases you can. JMG talked about a balance here. I’ve thought of it like this… I dance with the world, sometimes I lead, sometimes I follow. Wisdom is to know when.

  202. @Justin Patrick Moore:
    Thanks for the article you linked in your post, it was interesting. My English unfortunately is not good enough to listen to podcasts.

    I’m not American, so… I don’t know, when I listened to Pall Mall it evoked on me the Blade Runner dystopian movie. No nostalgia for me there.

  203. Onething,

    From where I’m sitting, that looks like a very common but confused view of Advaita Vedanta. Sure, “Advaita” means “non-dual,” but the core teaching of Advaita Vedanta is “ultimately, everything is Brahman”, NOT simply “ultimately, all the Gods are Brahman.” That is, all the Gods are non-different from Brahman and from each other, but only in very the same way that you, I, my coffee cup, and the oak tree outside my window are non-different from Brahman, the Gods, and each other.

    In any conventional frame of reference in which it makes sense to distinguish Gods from humans or trees, then the only correct position for the Advaitin is that there are many Gods, just as there are many humans, and many trees: in just the way that you are said to be different from me, and Shiva is said to be different from Durga, so “god” is said to be different from “human.” It is only when we give up talking about the categories of Gods (and of humans, and of trees) altogether that we can make the move to ultimate non-duality. The very same move which erases the distinction between Shiva, Vishnu, and Durga also simultaneously erases the distinction between god, human, and tree. And thus the very principle which allows the Advaitin to say “mono” forbids her from saying “god (theos)” and “theism.” To the extent that the Vedantin is a theist at all (i.e., someone who distinguishes Gods from other beings like humans, trees, and coffee cups), then she is a polytheist.

  204. @JMG: “Now that the Sierra Club et al. are shills for big corporations” — I can see that with the Environmental AKA the Media Association (EMA), whose award shows for movies and TV shows have been are still are sponsored by Toyota. If they want to sell Priuses to more people in the entertainment business, it’s a smart marketing move, even if it makes me wonder about the EMA’s commitment to its principles.

  205. @packshaud: I had a dream fitting that description almost exactly, back in my twenties. I was never able to see the outside world in that dream, though, it was more like the apocalypse was inside the abandoned mall with me, resulting in a crushing claustrophobia.

  206. Today I was thinking about C.S. Lewis’ The Discarded Image, and the claim of science popularizers that science dethroned the geocentric and anthropocentric universe of religion, all in relation to your essay.

    Lewis paints a picture of a theocentric universe, a sort of cosmic well with God sitting at the top and the center. Mankind is infinitely far below him, but our task of climbing up to meet him is of primary importance, in this worldview.

    I wonder if it could be said that the scientific worldview replaced God with the abyss, as the ultimate truth and end of the universe. Mankind’s task is then to ascend above the abyss, and because everything derives from the abyss, it’s free of inherent worth. So everything becomes ancillary to our efforts to escape and ascend, which is of primary importance.

    But you have a profound paradox in this scheme. On the one hand, you have the desperate urge to remake reality, because that’s how you defeat the abyss. But on the other, if the abyss is the final truth, then there is no escape from it – you’re only ever marking time.

    So you get caught up in this pitiless binary, which makes me think of Thaumiel, the two contending forces.

    I don’t know that anyone actually thinks in this way, but perhaps this scheme helps highlight some of our society’s madness. It certainly points out the widespread manic-depressive swings we seem to suffer from.

  207. I fear our Archdruid is soaking his fingers in Epsom salts: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday were pretty lively!

    I was on a rush-rush work project that involved a lot of tab-tab-tab-tab. That was 10 years ago and the resultant tennis elbow never completely went away.

  208. Doodily,

    I suppose that some women fall for those signs for the same reason men some fall for ludicrous automotive toys or sports merchandise or collectible action figures, but not vice versa—because it’s marketed to them in ways that play into their gender role, and they have drunk the consumerist koolaid. I don’t think it’s a big mystery—why do more women than men buy cute kitchen wares and craft supplies and more men than women buy lawn care products and fancy shop tools they will never get around to using?

    I’m not at all sure that women do consume a greater amount of manufactured goods than men. I think shopping has traditionally been more of a recreation for women, probably because they were less likely to work outside the home, and it was an excuse to get out and do something with their friends. My feeling is that women do most of the household shopping usually, but that discretionary purchases of manufactured goods are probably about equal in quantity between the genders, but largely different in type.

    Regarding materialistic songs, I hear a lot of male rappers and hip hop artists singing a great deal about how rich they are and all the toys thet have. The aesthetic is different, but the content is the same.

    Regarding sweet slop, I think it’s mostly virtue signaling and personal validation. Same reason the middle aged guys I see on Facebook post self-congratulatory macho memes about guns and trucks with American flags and eagles in the background. It’s all trite posturing, but women tend to congratulate each other on how nice and positive they are, while men tend to congratulate each other on how tough and red-blooded they are.

  209. Dirk, hmm! Very sensible. Thank you.

    Booklover, very interesting about Ende’s essays. I may have to find that. As for self-help books, I think you’re definitely on to something.

    Nestorian, by “normative position” do you mean a position I think should be imposed as a norm on others? There’s no such animal. As a Burkean conservative in a constitutional representative democracy I hold that laws concerning abortion, like laws on other subjects, should be worked out using the normal processes of lawmaking, knowing that the best that can be hoped for is a situation in which everyone is about equally dissatisfied. Since, as you know, I hold that human beings do not have access to objective moral truths, even if such things exist, and I think we can both agree that moral perfection is not something human beings can achieve, the best we can do is hash out a compromise that offends all sides equally.

    My personal take, based on the spiritual teachings I follow and also on my own experiences, is that the soul enters the unborn body at the time of quickening, 15-20 weeks into the pregnancy. (That’s when the mother begins to feel the first voluntary movements from her child.) Back in the day, laws concerning abortion began to apply at that point — for example, in English common law until modern times, quickening was the point at which the infant was considered to be alive. I would consider abortion before this point to be a matter of personal choice; after it, it should be sharply restricted, and mostly available only to save the life or health of the mother. Since I live in (and believe in the value of) a democratic society, however, I’m aware that this is simply one voter’s opinion, not something that should be rammed down the throats of everyone.

    Chris, exactly. In the post-fossil fuels future we will be getting by with a lot less energy, and especially a lot less concentrated, reliable energy, than we’re used to. Listening to people trying to wiggle out from under that inevitable reality does not make me impressed with the intelligence of our species.

    Richard, and a production that worked with that using the tools of theater could be fun. Still, won’t that need a backstory? How did the son of the king of Denmark end up an ordinary guy? Or am I just thinking too much like a novelist? 😉

    David, it’s entirely relevant to the subject of this post, because one of the primary driving forces of the out-of-control regulatory state is the supposed need to force society to do the Right Thing by imposing regulation after regulation after regulation on it, until the economy grinds to a halt under the weight of the regulatory burden. One of the most helpful things the Trump administration is doing right now is cutting down that burden — and I don’t think it’s accidental that, for example, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania both just reported their lowest unemployment figures on record.

    Justin, no doubt!

    Packshaud, fascinating. Shared dreams like that can be a sign of major shifts in archetypal forces on the horizon. I’ll definitely look further into it.

    Monster, thanks for this. I’ll want to check out Macy’s book at some point — I recall her work from some years ago, and was impressed by it. (I also read Abrams, and found it less interesting, but that may just be me.)

    Onething, fair enough. I’ll keep an eye out for it, because — aside from its obvious implications — its political impact is likely to be considerable.

    Will J, well, there’s that. All kinds of fun SF stories could be written along those lines. And the bit of hubris you quote is, well, stunning. I can tell you for a fact, for example, that I wouldn’t take a middle class American lifestyle if it was offered to me — and I can tell you this for a fact because it was, repeatedly, and I just as repeatedly turned it down and walked away to my present, pleasant, downwardly mobile lifestyle.

    Denys, good question. It may be a matter, if I may borrow the slang of a vanished era, of the vibe you put off. When I’m out walking, people constantly pull over to ask me directions — I have no idea why, they just do. My wife is at least as constantly being treated as kindly Aunt Sara by younger friends and acquaintances. You may just have an air about you that makes you look like someone who would be fun to talk to.

    Y. Chireau, that’s really fascinating, that you read what I’m saying as an exhortation to hopelessness. It’s not. Acceptance of reality isn’t a denial of hope, it’s a denial of delusion, so that hope can be grounded on possibilities that can actually be achieved. Too many people today confuse hope with an overblown sense of entitlement!

    As for occult teachings, I’m drawing on them quite specifically in saying what I do. This world, with all its disappointments and absurdities, is a stage of experience through which each soul in our current of evolution must pass, before going on to other things. To borrow a metaphor from academe, it’s like an English 101 class. The class doesn’t change, because it’s necessary for students to go through exercises that can be boring and frustrating and even painful in order to learn the skills they will need, so they can do more interesting things later. Hope in that context isn’t a matter of wanting the class to suddenly give everyone an A and stop teaching what it’s there to teach; hope is a matter of knowing that if you work hard, you can pass the exam, get a passing grade from the class, and go on to those other, more interesting things.

    DFC, I see your crystal ball is working today. I’m going to discuss those very themes out of Toynbee in an upcoming post.

    Teresa, thank you. That’s literally the first thing I’ve ever encountered from Garrison Keillor that I find interesting.

    Patricia M, no argument there. I see a lot of young people these days who have been messed over, big time, by incompetent parenting, and the bizarre combination of too much coddling and too much intrusive meddling is an important part of that.

    Rita, reasonable accommodation is good; I needed (and still need) a lot of solitude and quiet to keep my nervous system from freezing up too badly. As always, there’s a middle ground between too much and too little. As for the giant crossbows, good call — those actually existed (they were called ballistae by the Romans), but they used wood and twisted rope rather than metal, precisely because metal was expensive.

    Doodily, that’s a helluva good set of questions, for which I don’t happen to have any answers. The woman I know best, my wife, has even less of a tolerance for unicorns gagging on rainbows and other forms of glurge than I do.

    GlassHammer, I’ve mostly seen it online, so hadn’t noticed the emphasis. Fascinating!

    Vincelamb, yep. That’s only one of many markers of their servitude.

    Cliff, excellent! Yes, that makes a great deal of sense.

    Pogonip, fortunately not — I just had a very busy day. (My book The UFO Phenomenon has just gone out of print with its original publisher; it took me about a day and a half to place it with a new publisher, of course, but the new publisher wants a revised and updated edition, so that’s involving a lot of digging through files and looking up available local resources). As for bruised fingertips, I type for six or eight hours a day nonstop most days — I’d have to be way past that to be in any danger at this point!

  210. Barefootwisdom,

    But in my post I never defined advaita. You made an assumption. My understanding of advaita is that there is nothing which is not God, and of course then the word God is just a convenience since in that case it all just IS.

    As to your last bit, though, I do think that it makes sense to note differences of the qualities of different things. It is rather that despite the differences between trees and squirrels, all is God. Because there isn’t anything else nor could there be.

    It seems a weird pretense that I am supposed to not distinguish between coffee cups and human beings, and if I do I am a polytheist.

    I am a being with a mind, a soul, a spirit, and a body. Likewise, in this fractal universe, God has a spirit and a mind and the body of God is absolutely everything in the whole universe because, again, all things can only possibly arise from the one ineffable source of all being and all existence, everything arises from God.

    God is the only game in town. It is my somewhat humorous philosophy that it is a kindness of God that he has designed us such that we can be unconscious of that fact. It is a rather stark fact.

  211. Well, I just wrote a short story with a side effect from an immortality drug as a plot element, so I think you’re right there are lots of stories here! 😉

    The thing that gets me is that the most likely side effect is probably for people to become ape-like: since much of what distinguishes human beings from other apes is a high degree of neonaty, it follows that extending human lifespan could run the risk of creating a lifespan long enough to trigger a bunch of deactivated genes which usually trigger around puberty in other apes.

    Given the sense of humor the universe tends to have, I could see a case where all these people lining up to become immortal, and preening themselves on being the masters of creation find themselves slowly turning into “animals”*…

    As for middle class lifestyles, the hubris here is absolutely stunning. I’m getting hit with quotes like that because I’m shifting my life away from a middle class lifestyle**, and enjoying things much more the further I get with the project, but the push back is proving remarkable.

    I just wish I had a way to get through to people that living without a microwave/TV/prosthetic isn’t really that bad. I don’t want to convince other people to do it, but just to stop bugging me about how incomplete my life must be without it.

    That and get me things I don’t have because I don’t use/want them, and then get annoyed when I proceed to continue not use it. It’s really quite odd.

    *Quotes are because we are already animals, and it takes a frankly bizarre disregard for reality for so many people to convince themselves otherwise.

  212. Regarding abortion, while I do have sympathy with those who believe that a soul only gets one chance at life and that it is instilled at conception, that is a belief and that is all it is. Having read a few books by someone who did quite a few thousand hypnotic sessions into past lives and between lives, he (if he is to be believed) took great pains to not use leading questions and he found that consistently, souls explained that they had little to do with the baby until it was neurologically developed enough so that the process of melding the soul with the fetus’ brain and personality could begin. Before that there just wasn’t much point in hanging around.

    They also said things like, “We always know when a baby is going to make it or not.”

    I find it interesting that this is about the same time as quickening, 4th to 5th month. The fetus does make movements before this, but it is too tiny to be felt.

    Rather than strict trimesters, I would allow abortion for about 4 months, then have 3 months in which good reasons are needed, and the final two months is real viability and should be restricted to only extreme circumstances.

  213. Thanks JMG for your latest essay!
    Regarding dialogues with reality, my gardening is an ongoing conversation. The tree pruning (previously commented) was insufficient (I listened, but not closely enough) and more is required (my initial thought-too severe).
    Many times I wanted what I imagined to be true, mostly truth was different
    Comfortable class? Sure, for this instant in time. Walked among the lowest of the dead, been there.
    Regarding nuclear, look up Origen 40+ MWD, 30 to 50 yr decay. Spent nuclear fuel is a treasure trove of rare earths and platinoids. why do Russia and China fund USA antinukes, – wonder why? Our “elites” are bought, and they are Dollar Store cheap,
    living consciously – good luck!

  214. @JMG: Glad to see we’re mostly on the same page! Do you think systemic change for the better is possible, though? I know there’s no magic bullet solution that will fix everything, but is it too much to ask to hope that things can be improved, even if it’s a slow and steady process? When it comes to social change, you seem to draw a distinction between “evolution” and “progress,” with the former generally being positive and the latter generally being negative. I’m curious exactly what the difference between the two is, because it’s not immediately apparent to me.

    It seems like every time someone comes up with some new social formula that’s going to bring about the “end of history” and change humanity forever, it just ends up falling apart and causing a lot of suffering in the process. History always proves quite resistant to our attempts to end it, shattering whatever Platonic and Hegelian ideals we try to put in its way. The far-left Hegelianism of the communists, the far-right Hegelianism of the fascists, the centrist Hegelianism of neoliberals like Friedman and Fukuyama, they all come crashing down in the end. Should we simply accept that human nature is completely immutable and we’ll never have a better world than this, no matter what kind of system we implement? Or is the right answer out there somewhere, even if we haven’t found it yet? As an academic who studies these matters, I’ve spent a lot of time mulling over that particular dilemma, it’s what led me to this blog in the first place.

    You’re absolutely right that our brains are too small to understand the universe in its entirety, but it’s frustrating that we can’t even seem to understand ourselves in our entirety!

  215. Dermot: thanks for the link to the article on the Greta Thunberg phenomenon. It included a link to a book (free pdf) by the author of that article, Credo, that seems well worth reading.

  216. JMG: For your survey on the gender-specific attractiveness of “Live, Laugh, Love”, I’m female and for me the word “love” in particular makes me squirm in discomfort and suspicion.

  217. @ Doodily Do

    I wonder do you not see the contradiction between these two sentences?

    “Is it because females are evolution’s main gift recipient (of nuptial presents from males), and it’s tough to buck millions of years of evolution?

    And is that why women are by far the #1 shopper and general consumer of manufactured goods?”

    Or, why does “evolution’s gift recipient” NEED to go shopping?

  218. @Rita:
    A passerby observes a young man being carefully carried to a waiting limousine. He turns to the older woman who is obviously the mother and says, “How unfortunate that your son can’t walk.” The women draws herself up, haughtily and exclaims, “Of course he can walk, but thank God with our money he doesn’t have to.”

    Am I the only one noticing that toddlers these days get to ride in pushchairs / buggies etc. for much longer that they did when they were that age?

  219. Thanks for your thoughts on abortion, JMG. Would you apply the same Burkean principles to the regulation of the killing of those already born? I have in mind the development of societal consensus on such matters as the categories of born people who can be killed, the circumstances under which it is legitimate, etc.

  220. @Will M You are correct – The est idea of responsibility does go way further than what I described. And yes, in your example, the person in charge of the truck would have had more to do than just explain what he would have done differently. It would take me more than 1000 words to describe it and I still don’t think I would have communicated it.

    The problem with Werner’s teachings is they are impossible to type out to explain. Have you noticed there isn’t a good book or magazine article on est despite being taught for decades? I have a couple of them and they are really terrible. Werner does have a new book coming out so perhaps it will be better. I saw him speak a couple years ago and he is getting frail but mind was still sharp and he had power over the room like few I’ve seen.

    People have unloaded the est tapes he used to distribute up on Youtube. If you haven’t done “the work” as they call it, they sound like gobbledly gook and stupid simple phrases. Much like the Bible sounds like children’s stories to people who don’t follow Christ. One of my hypotheses with est is there is some hypnotism involved for those who attend, and my other hypotheses is there is a kind of magical practice going on in the room. I don’t think this was conscious on the part of the leaders in the front but it was modeled and they mimicked it.

    Words used at est are intentional and not interchangeable. Did you notice I said I participated for years? In what other contexts do people use ‘participated’ to explain their involvement in something? Certainly not church, work, volunteer things. People attend church, go to work, and help out at the food bank. Every single word has an intention at est and like I said its hard to describe in written words.

  221. @Rita Rippetoe:

    > The question of when the fetus becomes a person is a religious question, not a factual one. For example, by Jewish law it is not until the first breath and, contrary to the Catholic position, the life of the mother must be put before that of the potential child. Therefore a law based on the conservative Christian view is an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

    Any non-trivial moral question is a religious question with that sense (even if said religion is “positivism” or “utilitarianism” or some belief in the Constitution or what the Founding Father’s thought, as if it’s some sacred book). Why should murder be considered bad, or slavery, or pedophillia, etc for example? All of these are based on moral judgements, not laws of nature. Heck, there were societies who considered all of those fine in many cases.

    In the end, society makes a moral judgment. Whether that “restricts the freedom” of some group is not really an argument, since that’s exactly the purpose of all laws: to restrict the freedom for people to do as they wish, and constrain them from behavior that the majority (as long as law-passing is concerned) doesn’t think is ok.

    In other words, that it restricts “individual freedom” or the freedom of this or that minority, or even the majority to do X, is not an argument against a law forbidding X. The purpose of laws on any matter is exactly to restrict people from taking certain actions.

    The only valid arguments against a law would be that it’s morally bad (a religious argument itself in the general sense), that society doesn’t want it (a majority/plurality argument), or that it causes problems (another religious argument, as what’s problematic needs itself to be examined and accepted as such).

    > I must admit that all this talk of planetary limits has ruined _Game of Thrones_ for me. Actually, I have only seen one episode, two weeks ago. But my reaction to the battle scene with the ships was, “never mind the dragons, the really unbelievable thing in a medieval level culture is the giant cross bows. No way they could produce and forge that amount of metal” For those who haven’t watched, both the ships of the fleet and the castle walls were equipped with crossbows about 12 feet across. There were at least a dozen on the ships and 8-10 on the castle, so a lot of investment for a pre-industrial society.

    Not sure what idea you have of medieval societies, but such efforts would be really trivial for most. Heck, they could manage that already in the antiquity.

    (Besides the crossbows where wooden, just the arrows were metal: ).

    I’d say the general randomness and sudden lack of depth of the characters are more serious faults of the GoT last season(s) than technical faults (which can always be ignored).

  222. “I don’t think it’s accidental that, for example, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania both just reported their lowest unemployment figures on record.”

    But given the far-too-little-known fact that economic indicators such as unemployment are wantonly gamed and manipulated, how much is this fact really worth?

    You yourself have cited the Shadowstats website from time to time, and according to classical and much more reasonable methodologies of calculating unemployment, it is still running north of 20%, rather than the “headline” 3-4%. And even if the “headline” figure is lower than in the past, what does this really mean?

  223. @ Rita R

    Re abortion, classifications, and others’ opinions

    Understood. But recall that opponents of abortion do not frame their position as “anti-abortion,” but as “pro-life.” That is, they see themselves as protecting the lives of defenseless human beings. To say, “well, I won’t kill my baby but you can kill yours” doesn’t square with that worldview. In order to reach a compromise, everyone has to be able to see—at least a little bit—from the other side’s perspective. The pro-life people have to see how important control over one’s body is to some and the pro-choice people have to understand the importance of unborn life to others. And then each has to acknowledge that the other side has some legitimacy. Only then can we get anywhere.

    Consider the historical issue of slavery. To the slaveholder, the slave is property, bought and paid for in a legitimate transaction. To the abolitionist, slavery is an absolute moral wrong and cannot be condoned. (The parallel here is similar: the woman’s uterus and everything in it belongs to her, or the life growing therein is a free and separate human being.)

    So consider the slaveholder saying to the abolitionist: “You don’t like slavery? Okay, don’t keep any slaves. And anyone who has slaves who takes on your views is allowed to free them. But I’m keeping my property because I paid for it.”

    Now, compromise paths we could have taken historically (but didn’t) included ideas like compensated manumission, where slavery would have been ended (or ended over a period of time) but former slaveholders would have been compensated for their lost investment.

    So long as everyone is digging into their own positions and refusing to converse with the other side in a reasonable manner to actually seek a resolution, things will remain in the state they are in, with the two sides each pursuing absolute victory (like a total ban on abortion, or like those young women I witnessed on the UW Madison campus chanting “free abortion on demand!”) and settling for nothing less.

  224. John—

    Re that OMB memo

    It was one item buried in an industry newsfeed re EPA issues, but it leapt out at me as I glanced through the email. It felt important somehow.

    Those morning SoP/CoL rituals appear to be strengthening my voor connection 😉

  225. Doodliy Do brought up the “Live Laugh Love” meme with a question about gender. I’m not quite sure what he was asking, so I’m going to go off on a tangent. (He seems to be assuming that “male” behavior is “normal” and “female” behaivor is weird/deviant/nonsensical, which works as long as someone defines the terms, and controls the discussion to be only from the “male” point of view)

    Back in the ancient times of the 1970s, craft/fabric stores mostly seemed to carry materials to make things, tools, and instructions for how to make them. So, you could buy knitting needles, a book of knitting patterns and a bunch of yarn. Then, you take them home and you knit a hat, or a sweater, or whatever it is you wanted. Do you want a decorative knit apron for your bottle of dish soap? Sure, whatever.

    Now, in addition, there are many many shelves full of COMPLETED OBJECTS. I could buy paint, and wood, and directions for my “Live Laugh Love” plaque, or I could just buy the finished object, with a matching dish towel and candle holders, all with the stickers that include a non US country of origin.

    If the attention to the process of making a symbolic decorative object is a mild kind of magical working, would it ACTUALLY making the object would be more effective than just going to the store and buying it? (this is my actual question)

    I await suggestions from thoughtful commeters for what mottos would be more helpful than “Live Laugh Love”.

  226. Dear DFC, I happen to be involved in a small way with two of Toynbee’s heresies, archaism, in that I think there are aspects of the dying civilization worth preserving, and detachment, for which I make no apology because it is for me the only way I can remain more or less sane.

    Dear Doolily Do and Jen, I will add to Jen’s comments, that there is still in the USA a fairly large subset of women, mostly of the lower salary and upper wage class, for whom a reputation for “niceness” has definite advantages. Some of those advantages are access to unadvertised jobs–we need a part-timer in the office and we thought of you–, better treatment for one’s kids in school, and inclusion in exclusive clubs (reading groups which only take members by invitation). Also, the unofficial sorority of “nice ladies” functions as a kind of unofficial intelligence service. If you need to know what is happening in local govt. or the school board and administration, the nice ladies have the low down before anyone else.

    Furthermore, in households of the type which used to be called lower middle class, the wall decorations with various improving mottoes, Bible verses, and the like, function as a non-verbal way to remind family and guests that obstreperous behavior won’t be appreciated. When you are dealing with the sort of people, who can be either male or female, in about equal numbers, for whom any sort of admonition or even simple request is felt as a provocation to even louder behavior, the wall decorations are one thing you can fall back on.

    As for goo goo gaa gaa social media, I don’t use FB or similar, but I will venture to say that a lot of folks want and need a refuge from the prevailing cultural dreck, the screaming ads, the ubiquitous profanity, the constant barrage of insults, the soft core porn one encounters everywhere. I might not share the liking for cutesy chipmunks and rainbows but I do share the dismay and even horror at a mass media where testosterone addled teen male taste is the cultural norm. It is no longer socially acceptable to indulge a taste for high culture outside the wealthy circles where culture is a fashionable accessory; practice of hobbies is increasingly expensive and can provoke the hatred of upper salary class types who are increasingly hostile to any sort of DIYing, the puppies and rainbows do remain socially acceptable in a sort of harmless little me way.

  227. JMG,

    One other thing that might be worth noting is that I have never once heard the phrase “but we’re still progressing!” from blue collar folks. I have only heard it from the white collar crowd. I suspect the former finds spinning a tale about progress dull/distasteful while the later finds it compelling/necessary.

  228. JMG:

    I’ve often been in the odd position of being asked for directions in cities all over northern Europe. I realize that having northern European parentage and appropriate language skills make me look like I belong, but I would think that the backpack and camera might give me away as a non-local. I have even fielded questions by obvious natives. Nonetheless, I am asked for directions, bus schedules, places to eat, museum opening times – you name it. I can’t explain it.

  229. Dear Onething,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences! That makes a lot of sense, and I wish to say that I respect your spiritual path. Also, I used to pray to the universe as well, but personally felt while doing it, that the universe was just a word that meant “to the unknown numen,” and now find more specific prayers tend to work better for me. Of course different people have different spiritual needs! As JMG points out regularly there is no “one size fits all” to spirituality.

  230. Doodily Doo, I think the reason women post sickly sweet memes and put signs on their living room walls is a kind of virtue signaling. Women are under tremendous pressure, practically from the moment of our birth, to be “nice.” I don’t think most men have the slightest idea how intense this pressure to be nice is. I’ve known women who allowed themselves to be abused by men (not even men in their families, but near-strangers) because the woman couldn’t bring herself to be “mean” enough to put the man in his place.

    Some of us, by accident of upbringing or because of neurological differences, escaped some of this cultural programming. But then, if you’re a female and you’re not “nice” enough, you suffer the cultural consequences of exclusion. If you are a woman who is insufficiently “nice,” you are in danger of shunning by the “nice” women.

    In my experience, the “nicest” women are often terrible people who engage in all kinds of back-stabbing and gaslighting behavior in order to get what they want. This is because the direct, honest approach is not considered “nice.” Talk about crazy-making.

    Given all this pressure, it isn’t surprising at all that women feel the need to publicly or semi-publicly display their “niceness” at all times. You can think of it as a kind of protective coloration. As in, if I constantly display my niceness, then everyone will believe I am nice and treat me accordingly. Because, in many women’s minds, the alternative is to be shunned and shut out. And that is a fate worse than death.

  231. Our lack of being able to accept reality points to a lack of many other things, but especially our lacking education system, our lacking of a spirituality which helps ground people in reality, and a lacking of traditions. It is ironic, but all too common, that in order to be initiated in respecting reality, reality has to slap us in the face. The school of hard knocks has also been a great teacher, one which many like to claim to have attended. Reality says though that if a great many of those who claim to have attended had truthfully attended, they’d be a lot better at responding to situations, such as in politics, than what we have.

    It’s easy to see the benefits of traditional stories, say the original Brothers Grimm stories. It’s also easy to see that changes need to start with oneself. It’s easy to see that people need real experiences in life, not all the experiences that so many live through TV/Netflix/YouTube, and their other multimedia echo chambers. What are some other things one can do to educate themselves in the realities?

  232. JMG said: “My personal take, based on the spiritual teachings I follow and also on my own experiences, is that the soul enters the unborn body at the time of quickening, 15-20 weeks into the pregnancy. (That’s when the mother begins to feel the first voluntary movements from her child.) ”

    My own added note:

    Curiously, the above is in alignment with what 2 of the people I follow and consider as my teachers also say. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev says that when an ordinary person enters the fetus its around exactly the weeks you mentioned – most usually around the 20th week. He *also* said that’s why many Yogis, Yoginis (female Yogis), Magi and Rishis can tell when an Avatar – i.e. an especially “Blessed Being” (Sadhguru’s term, not mine) – is about to be born. The longer the time it takes for detecting the quickening of the fetus past the 20th week – the higher/more spiritually advanced the person to be born was/is going to be. This is how the ancient Magi knew Jesus was going to be something more than another average Joe (Joseph?) of their day. Ditto for the Buddha, Krishna, Mahavira, Rama, Mohammed, etc.

  233. Two comments on Game of Thrones, both relating to the current topic.

    An essay by Zeynep Tufekci offers an interesting observation about contrasting styles of story (“sociological,” depicting characters shaped by the world they live in as in the GRRM books, versus “psychological,” depicting character actions driven by their own personalities, natures, or even genetic destinies) and how that relates to the fan dissatisfaction with the final seasons, where the screenwriters defaulted to the currently commonplace latter mode.

    Tufekci writes: In sociological storytelling, the characters have personal stories and agency, of course, but those are also greatly shaped by institutions and events around them. The incentives for characters’ behavior come noticeably from these external forces, too, and even strongly influence their inner life.

    If Tufekci’s hypothesis has merit, it suggests that our mass-market storytelling has been lacking “conversation with the world” (even when the world is a fictional fantasy setting) and that Game of Thrones’s popularity stemmed in large part from (until more recently) being an exception to that lack.

    Tufekci writes: This is an important shift to dissect because whether we tell our stories primarily from a sociological or psychological point of view has great consequences for how we deal with our world and the problems we encounter.

    The popularity of a drama in which characters are strongly shaped by the world they live in, and the fans’ objections to the “in the end, her genes made her do it” turn of events, might actually be a positive sign. The essay’s worth a read, anyhow.

    That said (second comment), the unrealistic aspects of Westeros go way beyond batteries of huge metal ballistae (and e.g. whole war fleets) being built practically overnight. They even go beyond fire-breathing dragons. The problem is, surviving a ten year long winter (which is over twenty times longer than our temperate Earth winters), with the infrastructure and technology depicted, would be absurdly difficult. Even assuming, as one must for pretty much all epic-fantasy motion pictures, that there’s a whole lot of crops being grown just out of the frame somewhere. If it were possible at all, it would be achieved by regulating every aspect of society constantly toward survival. The bureaucracy that maintained and defended the enormous granaries would be meritocratic, ultra-conservative, and powerful. Whichever divine ruler it sanctioned to be on the throne would be quickly assassinated the moment he or she threatened to upset the apple cart by being too despotic (reducing the production) or too generous (increasing the population). If/when the bureaucracy itself became corrupt or ineffectual, there would be a winter of mass famine, revolt, and collapse, leaving a surviving remnant (or new colonists) to try to do better with the next dynasty.

    (More likely, there wouldn’t be any permanent population at all, and the whole continent would be run as colony plantations to be abandoned when winter approached. That could result in a lot of territorial warfare at the beginning of the long productive “season,” but the stakes would decrease as the next winter approached.)

    At first, reading the novels, I thought that perhaps that was going to be the author’s whole point: that the foolish aristocrats were just squabbling over proverbial Titanic deck chairs, leading to universal ruin unless they changed the game. That would have been interesting even if the story hadn’t done the math on details like how big the food stores would need to be or how long it would take to fill them. Martin can spin a horrific tale of entropy with the best of ’em. (“In the House of the Worm” is a fine example.)

    But as the series went on it became clear that all that was just being disregarded, like relativistic effects in a space opera or energy conservation in a superhero epic.

    So, Rita’s not the only one feeling the dissonance of too much JMG in their GRRM…

  234. Note to clarify:

    I meant to say “the longer the time it takes for a soul to *enter* a fetus past the 20th week the higher/more spiritually advanced that person to be born was (or will) be (according to Sadhguru). It’s not just about whether anyone can ‘be detected’ which my prior sentence makes it sound like.

  235. To Cliff, thank you for the profound meditation on the scientific rationalist’s abyss in the place of God. I need to think about your whole paragraph further, but the first word that came to mind was “space”. The atheist-rationalist wants to conquer the abyss of space and spacetime and will warp any pragmatic notion of how to get along on a finite planet in order to achieve that goal.

    Underneath it all is a spoiled yet intelligent brat who at his core is hoping for a sense of proportion, or in the crude sense, unconsciously begging for limits.

    When a Thunberg child forces her mother to goose-step on the way to an elective dance class for privileged children (and similar bratty behavior) it tells me the child is in the uncomfortable position of thinking she is the most intelligent creature in the world. Since mom and dad prove time and time again to be frivolous idiots who don’t automatically choose what the child instinctively feels is right, the child takes over the household and dictates the arbitrary rules that pop into her head. She becomes Atlas. Reinforcing bad behavior is all the weakling parents can manage, so the child escalates the game to involve grandiose virtue signaling after figuring out it’s a surefire attention-getter and ego-booster. The child, like the scientific rationalist, is actually terrified of gaping nothingness and suffers nervous breakdowns, eating disorders, and other various syndromes as a natural reaction to living in a state of abject terror. If your parents are too moronic and ineffectual to protect you, or in the atheist’s case, if gods fail to present themselves to you in a way you can understand, you are by default the top of the intelligence food chain. It’s a big job to prevent the worst from happening in your world. The hardships that your parents present as boogeymen also have no foundation in reality: for instance turning into one of those awful deplorables who have to serve food or clean toilets for a living, that’s a fate worse than death for an opera singer; unthinkable.

    Hope this makes sense.

  236. I have unfortunately noticed an increasing number of vehicles on the road sporting spiked rims. As I am sure we all know, the market for spiked rims is 90%+ male. I am confused and concerned about this indication of the gullibility and materialism of the male sex. Is it because men have traditionally controlled the vast majority of economic resources that they feel able to waste money on such incredible tackiness? Perhaps longer spikes are a representation of the length of their reproductive organs? Or perhaps the spikes are symbolic knives or swords, alerting the rest of the world that the owner is a dangerous man and not to be trifled with? If they believe, as this essay postulates, that they create their own realities, what does it say about men that they choose to decorate their rolling petroleum fortresses with symbols of sexual prowess and/or physical violence?

    (…Okay, I’m finished).

  237. @David, by the lake – you know that your negotiation approach to the legal regulation of pregnancy is also the one that I hold.

    But when you said this: “the woman’s uterus and everything in it belongs to her, or the life growing therein is a free and separate human being” I think you touch on the exact nub of the difficulty.

    There is a tendency to try to pretend that the pregnancy itself does not exist. That EITHER “the life growing therein is a free and separate human being” (it ISN’T or else the separation brought about by inducing a premature delivery would not extinguish its not-free and not-separate life) OR “the woman’s uterus and everyTHING in it belongs to her” – there comes a point in a pregnancy when you will encounter this new person growing inside you, growing from you, sourced by you, and that knowledge may occur at different times for different women, but it is a realisation from which flows everything else that you decide to do about your pregnancy, including when what you decide to do is to decline to be the dedicated life source for the making of any new person.

    The fact is that a pregnancy is unique. One body, one life source, one person who is actively lending their own life, their own blood, breath and bone, to the process by which another person gradually becomes. One body, two people. There IS no other situation like it. And one cannot fully engage in any conversation about pregnancy until one can willingly grasp that fact, and look it full in the face without editing anyone out of it.

    Those who wish to call an abortion murder, and talk about how permissiveness towards abortions will have a chilling effect on how people value the lives of others, can never show examples anywhere else in society, whereby a death occurred because one person declined to be the sole source of life for another person. There isn’t any other such situation.

    Those who who wish to call a foetus a “thing” that is part of a woman’s interior furniture, like a liver, throughout a pregnancy also do violence to the spirit of the potential and growing person who is being spun and formed from her life, blood, breath and bone. A person is not a thing.

    Nevertheless the creation of a new person within a person is not an undertaking to take lightly. And women never have. All societies have carried and shared knowledge on means and methods to end pregnancies, although sometimes these were held very secretly, by the very few. And this is because, as an undertaking, a pregnancy is risky and dangerous, and personally costly, and should be the domain, wherever possible, of the willing and able.

  238. @Dominique

    I actually own and have read Brian Davey’s Credo. I definitely recommend it if one can afford it. Or maybe your library can get it. Davey takes a sledgehammer to a lot of pet political economic theories that get around these days.

    As I was reading Credo I kept thinking how much Davey probably would’ve loved JMG’s books if only he’d known about him (I checked the extensive endnotes, index, bibliography- nada).

  239. @ onething

    Re abortion and the trimesters

    I don’t disagree with your schema. I offered the trimesters as a starting point for discussion, as it seemed a reasonable default. Personally, were I at the negotiating table when the legislation were being hashed out, I would have min/max acceptable ranges for the two bookends (twelve weeks minimum, perhaps sixteen or so weeks maximum, for elective abortion; eight weeks minimum, up to fourteen or so weeks maximum for full personhood) with the “medically supported” option taking up the slack in the middle.

    @ Nestorian (if I may)

    Re infanticide

    Certainly, exposure has been a practice historically. However, I would make the argument that early-term abortion and post-birth murder are fundamentally different in kind, rather than degree, as the child is no longer physically contained within the mother’s body and her bodily sovereignty is no longer a conflicting issue. That is the heart of the conflict with regards to abortion, you realize—the inherent opposition of the mother’s rights to her body and the child’s right to life.

    Secondly, and perhaps legalistically, once born, the child is a citizen and has the protection of the fifth amendment, among other things. Making a case for the slaying of “unfit persons” is, of course, a completely different category of argument, and certainly one less amenable to liberal democracy.

  240. @ MawKernewek:
    I’ve also been noticing the vast numbers of kids who should be walking being pushed around by their parents. A lot of babies who should be crawling around are cooped up, or set in bouncy chairs, or otherwise stopped from exercising themselves. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a lot of slightly older kids are fat.
    To the various comments on immortality: Anne Rice’s vampires often needed to go into the earth for a century or so in order to shed the lack of death, and the eldest of them all had spent centuries as an immobile statue.

  241. @Barefoot Wisdom
    Re: Non-dual

    I’ve been studying (or at least reading) a form of Medieval Tantra that’s explicitly non-dual. Buddhism’s idea of non-dual comes from the same roots, or so I’m told.

    The best definition I’ve heard came from one of my early teachers, Paul Solomon. Having been a Southern Baptist minister before becoming a New Age channel, he’d absorbed a million words on the nature of God while he was at seminary. So he decided to ask his Source about it.

    When he listened to the tape, the answer was: “A god is a being that knows good without reference to evil.” It took me a good long while to even start to ask the right questions about this one!

    Michael comments that duality is a fundamental property of the Physical and Astral planes, but does not exist on the Causal Plane or higher. Non-duality is something you can experience in flashes with enough meditation, but you’re awfully close to liberation if you can do it in the real world for any length of time. Otherwise it’s just words.

    Re: Unemployment rates

    Unemployment rates track the economy quite closely, and have done so as long as there has been statistics gathering. There is no necessity to invent any other explanation than that we’ve had the longest economic expansion in history.

    The length of the current expansion does require an explanation, though, and I’ve yet to hear one better than “the FED may just have learned something over the years.”

    @Beekeeper, JMG
    Re: Being asked for directions

    I suspect it’s a reincarnational thing; people recognize a function you’ve performed in numerous prior lives.

  242. Denys, have you ever seen Erhard’s natal chart? He’s got Virgo sun, nep, and venus conjunct in the 5th house. That’s a teacher with considerable charm and a touch of glamour, with a lot of show biz panache. Also there’s Jup and Mars in Scorpio in the 6th, the Virgo house. He’s got a touch of the mage about him. Plus he’s got saturn in the 10th, which could make him something of a micro-managing martinet. I don’t doubt he’s left his personal imprimatur on his creation, EST.

    I think I get the point Erhard is making about the truck driver/employee scenario and the responsibility therein, but I just disagree with him on this count – it goes a little too far in ascribing personal responsibility to something that is beyond the employee’s control. But overall, I get the value of EST. It’s not for everyone, what is? – but it clearly has helped many to achieve a greater state of self-awareness.

    If EST continues to exist without PR or books being written about it, well, that’s a testimony to its validity as essentially a spiritual organization. I gather from reading an Erhard bio, he based his philosophy on Zen Buddhism, then stated the essential principles of ZB in his own words and tailored it to an American business approach. You could spend 1000 words on trying to explain the principles of EST and you probably still wouldn’t make sense to most people, believe me, not any more than you could trying to explain Zen to them in a 1000 words.

  243. Pogonip, thank you! I’m excited by the change — a lot of information has come out supporting the thesis of The UFO Phenomenon since it was first published, and I’m pleased to be able to incorporate that in the new edition.

    Will J, hah! I like that. You live forever, but the longer you live, the more your neotenous mental flexibility goes away, and as you gain a heavy brow ridge and a thick pelt, you also stop being able to learn new things or change your mind about anything…

    Robert, gardening’s a great way to learn to have a conversation. So is any interaction with other living things, of course.

    Libertine, the difference between evolution and progress is simple. Progress presupposes a given direction of change, defined as “improvement;” evolution, correctly understood, doesn’t. That point is endlessly finessed in popular accounts of evolution that turn it into progress, but if you study actual biological evolution, it’s clear enough. Mammals weren’t “better” or “more advanced” or “more progressive” than dinosaurs — they just happened to be able to adapt to sudden catastrophic environmental changes that the big dinosaurs couldn’t. (Some of the smaller dinosaurs could; we call them “birds” now.) Evolution is the process of adapting to environmental change, and that’s all it is; it has no inherent direction or goal.

    As for systemic change for the better, the single most important obstacle that keeps it from happening these days is the tendency on the part of people who want change to build ornate theoretical castles in the air rather than choosing constructive incremental changes and making those happen. My best counterexample recently is the movement for same-sex marriage. The people who wanted same-sex marriage were told over and over again to sign on to the grand far-left agenda and put their energy into that, and they had the great good sense to ignore that and pursue the specific change they wanted. As a result, they got it; an injustice was righted, and a lot of couples who wanted nothing more than the chance to marry and settle down together did so — and you may have noticed that the activist left has gotten decidedly frosty toward gay men and lesbians since then. How dare they actually solve the problem they wanted to solve, rather than waiting patiently for the arrival of Utopia?

    But the movement for same-sex marriage shows the way forward toward systemic change for the better. Choose a specific reform you want to see happen, organize from the grassroots up, find allies, put pressure on the system, and change can take place; demand that the entire world change all at once into whatever your political fantasies happen to require (cough, cough, Green New Deal, cough, cough), and you go nowhere.

  244. @ Scotlyn

    I disagree with absolutely nothing you say. And what you describe (quite elegantly, I might add) is precisely why this debate is such a difficult one. The easy way out–and the path increasingly taken by both sides of the debate, it seems–is to stake out an absolutist stance and deny any legitimacy whatsoever to the other side’s perspective. I cannot agree with either of those positions. As I mentioned, it is untenable, in my view, to say that a woman loses control over her very body once fertilization occurs; likewise, my daughter was not not-a-person just prior to her birth. Yet, we have this conflict of fundamental rights (bodily sovereignty on one hand and life on the other) for the time period where the child is held within the womb. A compromise is the only resolution I can see as a reasonably viable outcome. And no one is going to be entirely happy with that. I can only hope that we have not lost our ability to understand that living within a diverse and varied society requires us to accept less than 100% of what we’d prefer.

  245. I think the increasing fury of the pro-abortion side is caused by good old cognitive dissonance. As the window of viability is pushed back and back, people cannot help but notice that the same baby—26 weeks, let us say—whose life was saved by neonatal intensive care could have been killed instead if his mother so desired.

    I myself think abortion should be legal for legitimate medical reasons, but not legal otherwise. Or else the Constitution should be amended to remove the words “right to life.”

  246. I hope you do write an extended discussion on ecological spirituality. I’m sure there is a lot of insightful material there.

    I had to laugh at the line that you only get eaten once because it reminded me of an early 90s movie called “Defending Your Life.” The movie is really a romantic comedy but is premised on the idea that you are reincarnated back on Earth until you’re developed enough to move on to a higher plane of existence. After death, you have to defend your life’s actions to show you are ready to move on.

    I don’t remember a lot of the movie, but one scene is very clear. While in the process of defending their lives, the two main characters visit the “Past Lives Pavilion” where they can watch scenes from their previous lives. As they’re sitting in booths next to each other, one character asks the other who were you, and she responds: “I was Gwenevere.” She asks who were you and you see a tribesman running and he says “I was lunch.” You’re only eaten once, per lifetime at least.

  247. I find that the people I know who are most likely to interact realistically with the world (or learn to do so) regarding big topics like our energy future are the ones with experience interacting with it in the smallest ways. For instance, anyone who troubleshoots and repairs physical devices knows that the device has the final say over whether or how it functions, regardless of how convinced you might be that it’s in perfect condition and “should” be working properly now. That’s become rather rare as more things get replaced instead of repaired, but it still happens.

    Also, there’s a phrase from decades past: “It works fine, as long as you…” You fill in the blank with something like “set some “adjustable” control in the only position that works,” “open and close the lid at the start of the cycle,” “tap on the rim,” or whatever. Renters, by necessity, still say this. Getting even the simplest systems to work is often a negotiation. (There used to be a New England band named “Jiggle the Handle.” Says it all.)

    Salary class people used to say it too, but now they consider “it works fine as long as you…” as equivalent to “it’s broken and needs to be replaced immediately.” They rarely even try to figure out where to twist or tap or re-set.

    Of course, the “…as long as you…” conditions for keeping an employee productive, an industry sustainable, a republic united, or a child well-adjusted are far more complex. Small wonder people are failing at those tasks left and right.

  248. JMG, the essay book of Michael Ende has the title “Michael Endes Zettelkasten”, ISBN 352271380X. It is in German; I don’t know if there is an English translation.

    About the subject of kitschy wall decoration, and the pressure of women to be nice, I’m under the impression that many women find more or less ornate evasions and hand-wavings about how for them, it is really, really not possible to do something else than to fulfill the expectations of society to the letter, instead doing their own things and having their own thoughts. I remember that a similar discussion unfolded quite a while ago, maybe on the Archdruid Report, about coloring books for grown-ups. When one wants women to have other possibilities of behavior than being cutesy, I don’t think that conformism is a suitable way to achive this. There’s a price to noncomformism, sometimes a quite high one, but I can’t see how to evade it.

  249. @JMG thank you for the response on the random conversation with strangers. I was pondering while working outside and laughed out loud that metaphorically you are the direction giver for the readers here too.

    I also realized I don’t need to ask for explanations of something occurring because understanding through explanation is the booby prize. Understanding through experience is different and I can just accept my experience for what it is. It doesn’t have to make sense.

  250. In regards to regulatory burden:

    Idaho’s legislature closed without reauthorizing the state regulations, which means they all expire on July 1. The governor can authorize regulations, which must be approved in January by the legislature. I’d say “Good Job, Idaho Legislature,” except that given the snit they were having over the governor’s recent popularly demanded veto of their ballot initiative restrictions I can’t believe they did this on purpose!

    As a means of clearing out dead wood, I dearly hope it works, and we’re going to have to be very loud-as loud as we were about the initiative restricting bill-to be sure the governor hears what the citizens want.

  251. Tweeted out from Joe Biden today from his rally in Philadelphia –

    “There’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

    “We’re at our best when we are One America.” (One was capitalize which feels foreboding)

    “We chose hope over fear, truth over lies, unity over division.”

    “I’m doing whatever it takes to make progress on what matters most.”

    “A future that fulfills our true potential as a country.”

    “Not you. Not me, But we.”

    These feel like the t-shirts and plaques for women we’ve been talking about here.

  252. @Will J:
    Sounds like an interesting story! I thought about Tithonos and Eos…

  253. JMG, thought you’d be interested in the latest Comres poll re:Brexit party and possible GE outcomes that might torque the British FPTP system. Granted, interesting polls are more likely to be wrong, but Crikey. The drift does seem to be one-way. Survation has BP on 13% as opposed to this Comres one, so caveats etc., but the lower figure seems to be the outlier, NOT this higher one.

    NOTE: this is a GE poll, not an EU poll, making it more remarkable. We’ll see if they can keep this up through the GE, assuming the Brexit isn’t resolved first (chances: slim). But likelihood of a snap GE is high now. Potential to shear the Tory party in two.

    Nigel Farage’s party increased its support by three points to 24% of the vote, leapfrogging the Tories and trailing Labour by just five points. The Conservatives claimed 22% of the vote, the same figure they recorded in last week’s poll.

    LAB 29
    BP 24
    CON 22
    LIBDEM 11

    Run through an online seat predictor:

    LAB 297 (29 short of majority)
    CON 171
    BP 83
    SNP 55
    LIB 22

    Were BP to poll just 1% more than this, BP would take 131 seats, Con only 123. All within the world of possible now, with the upcoming Tory leadership election throwing up a creature from Caligari’s cabinet of horrors.

    A minority Labour gov. on these numbers would need the SNP to get in. And the SNP is going to demand a second indyref., so no end to the instability in the ‘U’K. Possible END of the UK, as Scotland wants to be ‘indpendent’ but back in the EU, swapping one union for an ever bigger one.

    Given this degree of dysfunction following the 2008 phase of catabolic collapse, I can only wonder what another jolt will do to the political / social system. Sufficed to say I’m glad my 2004-12 peak oil phase mobilised me to get my life in order.

  254. “And is that why women are by far the #1 shopper and general consumer of manufactured goods?”

    Or, why does “evolution’s gift recipient” NEED to go shopping?”

    A lot of stuff makes sense when you recall that the gatherers are the women and the hunters are the men. Yes, men give gifts but bigger and more rarely to curry favor and to show prowess. But the day in and day out interest in getting stuff goes to the women. And, with gathering, the variety and the surprises are much greater because the variety of foodstuffs is great and seasonal variations year to year.

    Even more stuff makes sense when you consider that men IN GENERAL are more interested in the outer, the structural, the cardinal directions and women are more interested in the inner, the smaller, the subtler, the appearance.

  255. @John Roth:
    I don’t usually comment US politics, but I wonder what you mean by the words “longest economic expansion in history”. Are you referring to money quantities, or production of industrial goods, or something else? Because the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 have seen the only 3-year decline in US life expectancy that has ever been registered (2018 data are not yet in).

  256. Greetings JMG and all,

    I’ll share this fine bit of poetry and music, apologies if it’s off topic and feel free to delete if so-

    It’s from Folk by the Oak, who are the musical arm of the collaborators in The Lost Words project. Personally I think the gist of what they’re trying to communicate is that these vital Lost Words (an all senses of that) can only be recovered by listening to the World, conversing with the World, so it may be on-topic after all.

    It’s a You Tube video, but you don’t have to watch. Just turn the sound up and listen:


  257. That “female nice” business is rapidly being picked up by salary-class men. I think it’s used as a cover for increasing totalitarianism. You are ever so sweetly “asked” (told) to do This and don’t even think about pointing out that under the circumstances it’s inadvisable, or even impossible, to do This, or suggesting we try That.

    One of my pet peeves is the ubiquitous female “I need you to…”. The Lord did not put me on earth to satisfy your needs. If you’re my boss, TELL me what you want me to do, clearly. Emphasis on “clearly.” One job I had changed rules at least weekly.

    There are good female bosses, and I’ve noticed they tend to manage like men used to. “Go do This. When you finish, do That. Bob here will help you if you have any questions.” If you have a boss like that, treasure her, or him, because after she gets sent to a few management classes she’ll be added to the great Salary Class Pool Of Neediness and you’ll never get a clear instruction from her again.


  258. @JMG & Will J re: “Will J, hah! I like that. You live forever, but the longer you live, the more your neotenous mental flexibility goes away, and as you gain a heavy brow ridge and a thick pelt, you also stop being able to learn new things or change your mind about anything…”

    Larry Niven had an entire novel based on that premise. It was called Protector, and it was supposed to have been the mature stage of proto-humanity. Their entire life was centered around guarding the young.

  259. Dominique, so noted!

    Nestorian, why, we already do that. We execute people convicted of particularly heinous crimes, allow police officers to shoot to kill under some circumstances, draft young men in wartime and send them to die on battlefields, establish procedures governing when comatose persons on mechanical life support can be unhooked from the machines, and so on — all according to legal arrangements patched together clumsily by way of our system of representative democracy. Why should abortion be approached in any other way?

    As for unemployment figures, as absolute measures they’re inaccurate, but as relative measures they’re fairly good — that is to say, when unemployment numbers go up, more people tend to be unemployed in the real world, and when the numbers go down, more people are getting hired. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens if systemic unemployment ever drops below 18% or so — will they be reporting -1% unemployment, or will they un-jigger the calculations a little?

    David BTL, “the voor is strong in this one.” 😉

    Sylvia, yes, making it yourself is more effective magic. As for what to put on a plaque, the classic New Thought approach was to use note cards instead of any more permanent item; you could use “live, laugh, love” for a week if you needed help reminding yourself not to dwell on depressing topics, and then shift to some other saying to work on some other need. (“Breathe” was a common one — a lot of people go around taking shallow little breaths all the time, with negative consequences for their health; put up a notecard saying “breathe” and, whenever you see it, stop and take a really deep, slow, full breath. A week or so of that and it becomes habitual.)

    GlassHammer, okay, that makes perfect sense. Thank you.

    Berserker, thanks for this!

    Beekeeper, fascinating.

    Prizm, the two things I’ve found most useful are, first, to read lots of books by dead people, especially dead people who belong to cultures other than my own, and second, to learn a lot about nature, especially by way of personal observation. Other suggestions are welcome!

    Happypandatao, that doesn’t surprise me at all. Spiritual traditions and teachers don’t just pull things like this out of some inappropriate anatomical orifice; Western occultists and the mystics of the Indian subcontinent both engage in practices that open up unusual modes of perception, by which details like this can be settled by direct experience. It’s the same reason why both traditions talk at length about energy centers along the midline of the body…

    Walt, well, I haven’t read the books — I make it a habit never to start reading a series until the author actually gets around to finishing it — so all this went over my head.

    Kimberly, it makes a vast amount of sense to me!

    Jen, good. I want to see such questions asked, seriously, about both genders.

    Pogonip, er, that would be a little redundant. Here’s a link to the US Constitution. I’d be interested if you can find the words “right to life” anywhere in it.

    Ryan, funny. In Druid teaching we worked our way to the human condition by way of a great many lives as animals of various kinds, and most of those lives will have ended, as most animal lives end, by becoming something else’s lunch. As we see it, that’s just the way the world is.

    Pogonip, thanks for this.

    John, and likewise, thanks for this.

    Walt, an excellent point.

    Booklover, when I was young, I weighed the costs of nonconformism against the costs of conformism, and decided that the latter were far more onerous. So I pay the former, and what I get in exchange is worth it!

    Denys, funny. But you’re right, of course — the universe is under no obligation to make sense to humans.

    BoysMom, fascinating. I see Idaho politics have lost none of their bare-knuckle charm since I left the Pacific Northwest!

    Denys, it sounds word for word like a Hillary Clinton rally. That is to say, Biden is doomed.

    Dermot, yes, I saw that. Very clearly the entire structure of British politics is cracking apart. I read that four AMs in the Welsh assembly have defected to the Brexit Party; would it be possible for MPs in Westminster to do the same thing? If that’s possible, I could see some of the hardcore Tory Brexiteers doing it, and quite possibly forcing a general election if enough of them leave to cost May her majority.

  260. Bonnie, thanks for this!

    Pogonip, dear gods. I’m glad I’m nobody’s employee!

    Patricia M, now there’s a blast from the past! I read it a long time ago, and mostly remember the name of one of the main characters, Phssthpok the Pak.

  261. I need to explode text to read. Credo free .pdf is formatted so I had to go back and forth, side to side after expanding.

    Workaround for the visually impaired:

    In Firefox browser Select All or Ctrl A

    Copy or Ctrl C

    In Wordpad or other editor

    Paste or Ctrl V

    Select All or Ctrl A

    Change font size, 24 works for me on a 1280 x 960 screen

    There will be minor errors so you might want to keep the .pdf open.

  262. @ Denys, @ JMG

    Re Biden

    I’m but a single voice, but I can say quite affirmatively that this WI elector will not be voting for him, either in the primary or the general.

    We’ll see what happens. Last few elections, some fairly narrow margins decided key races. At this point, I suspect ’20 will be similar.

  263. Oops, sorry, JMG, that’s in the preamble. Mea culpa. And, one may note, thus arguably closer to the Constitution than some nebulous right to privacy that nobody noticed in the umbra of the penumbra for nearly 200 years. We might also note that the right to life is implicit in all the other rights—freedom from unreasonable search and seizure will be of little use to you if you’re dead.

    Not all employees are subjected to nice-white-lady management styles. It’s mainly pink-collar wage-class office employees. The bane of salary-class employees seems to be management by computer. My pharmacist, for example, cannot staff her pharmacy according to her needs. Staffing levels are calculated by a computer in India or somewhere. Which would be okay except the times the computer thinks the pharmacy is busy are not the times the pharmacy actually is busy. (She suspects the computer was programmed to average out all the busy times in all the chain’s U. S. stores.). So when they’re swamped and she needs 3 employees, she’s allowed 1. It worries her because people in a frantic rush make mistakes, and a pharmacy mistake could kill somebody.

    Now that I think of it, all but one of my good female bosses were black. Black Americans, God bless them, rarely go in for simpering pseudo-nice.

    I do not wish to be unduly critical of salary-class ladies, but I have noticed that under all that affected niceness is simmering rage. At what, I don’t know. Maybe they have good reasons to be mad at everything and everybody. And now the salary-class male, who used to go along in complacent superiority, not much help to the peasantry but rarely actively hostile, is starting to act that way too. Maybe they’re mad because they have to live with those chronically angry salary-class women. Whatever it is, if the salary class is not reined in, somebody, most likely the rest of us, will be in big trouble when the lid blows off. That will be an exciting time. I plan to be deceased.

  264. Another question about unemployment statistics. If I understand it correctly, the percentage of officially unemployed is a percentage of the ‘workforce” i.e. people of an age considered able to work–from late teens to retirement age? If I am correct in this I would suggest that the increased number of officially retired people who are still looking for work because they cannot live on their savings and social security and any private pension may be skewing the numbers. The local alternative paper “Sacramento News and Review” just published an article on the problem in an issue on the graying of California.

  265. JMG, well, of course I was being more snide than serious, but if you wish:

    My point, other than expressing a bit of annoyance, was that I think it’s making too much of things to take the tackiest, most frivolous purchases of a subset of either gender and extrapolate that into unflattering judgments about the gender as a whole.

    There may be deep and meaningful reasons why I see “Live, Laugh, Love” signs in frilly cursive on the walls of mostly women and “Due to the cost of ammunition, I do not fire warning shots” signs in aggressive block print on the walls of mostly men. The social pressure for women to be nice and positive and pretty and surrounded by pretty things has been mentioned along with some of the carrots and sticks applied toward this end. I think there is probably also a biological factor at play in women’s greater emphasis on social harmony and positive affect and men’s greater emphasis on aggressive posturing, although I’m inclined to think that too much is usually made of this, as well. And my discussions with male friends and relatives indicate that they feel similar pressure to be (seen as) strong, tough, financially and sexually successful, etc. These are gendered expectations and it isn’t surprising to me that purchases, especially of the sort you hang on your wall or display on your vehicle to make a statement about yourself, reflect this. Nor do I scratch my head in puzzlement over what gender is buying all the pseudo-military gear in the Cabela’s catalog or ponder deeply the incredibly low percentage of crystal flower vases bought by bachelors in department stores.

    Of course many things are not so disparate in terms of gendered marketing, and many people break ranks with the expected tastes of their gender.

    It is still the case that it is seen as more shameful for men to have feminine tastes or behaviors than for women to have masculine tastes or behaviors, although there are hints of change in this attitude.

    I also observe that stereotypical gender role performances tend to be more prevalent in the wage class. Probably religious conservatism, backlash against the “liberal” values of the salary class, and a desire to distance oneself from the dysfunctional gender relations of the welfare class (which have always been contrasted with respectable middle class gender roles) factor in, plus a desire to assert one’s value and success via gendered conspicuous consumption. It is incredibly common for wage class males here to have big ticket items such as boats, four wheelers, dirt bikes, motorcycles, or those insane zero-turn lawnmowers, not to mention an array of expensive hunting and fishing equipment. They are the symbols of leisure and successful blue collar manhood.

    Salary class men, as mentioned by another commenter, are moving more toward the “feminine” “value” of niceness. While salary class women strive to “lean in” and be more assertive. Gender roles are converging in the salary class.

    Many consumer goods marketed in a heavily gendered way to the wage classes can serve two somewhat contradictory purposes: 1) to get validation from one’s peers by embracing traditional gender roles and apple pie while 2) gaining at least symbolic or aspirational access to some of the (perceived) benefits and social markers of the salary class (positive thinking, leisure, respectability, success with women, etc).

    However, I do feel that spike rims are beyond reasonable sociological explanation and indicative of a pathological deficiency of taste, and most likely of character.

  266. I’ll add a point tangentially related to abortion. Blue collar media personality Mike Rowe has famously pointed out that workplace safety is job #2, because if safety really were the priority, whatever task was being undertaken would not be undertaken in the name of safety. It is not just the death penalty, police officers using lethal force and the sacrifice of soldiers in warfare that we sacrifice human lives to, it is basically everything.

    The car-based American transport infrastructure kills about the same number of Americans per year as did the Vietnam war, for example, and that is non-negotiable (even people who seriously oppose it generally do so on environmental or resource constraint grounds, rather than the death toll).

  267. ” Choose a specific reform you want to see happen, organize from the grassroots up, find allies, put pressure on the system, and change can take place; ”

    I hope this is what Trump is doing. He picked two specific issues – pricing transparency and being able to buy drugs abroad – and he is talking about how to fix them. They are not the only problems with the medical scam-care in America. But a concrete start.

  268. Pogonip,

    “I myself think abortion should be legal for legitimate medical reasons, but not legal otherwise. Or else the Constitution should be amended to remove the words “right to life.”

    I don’t find this very helpful, for it assumes that which is under debate, namely that a fetus is a person. Also, the quote is “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” So where is the liberty for the person whose body is to be used as a life support system for a nonviable “person”?

    I think Scotlyn made a very good point that pregnancy is unique and so there isn’t a yes or no answer about the personhood of the fetus. The constitution was written to address past injustices of various European governments; it was not about the fetus.

    There is a difference between extinguishing a life versus forcing someone else to breathe for you, eat for you, etc. when your own body is not formed enough to live.

    I used to be against abortion, but it was because I accepted Christian dogma and had not thought very deeply about it.

  269. re: .pdf reading workaround

    I spoke to soon. The copy only does a few pages at a time.

    I do find that my attention is on the subject instead of on the navigation so I will try other methods.

  270. re: .pdf reading workaround


    Opera and Chrome would copy the whole thing but insert spaces. I tried to launder out “line feeds” through Notepad wordwrap and it failed so it seems like spaces. Chopped up.

    Open Office didn’t help.

    To read the .pdf Opera seemed slightly better.

  271. David, Biden is pretty clearly the chosen candidate of the Democratic party elite, and thus a stalking horse for all the failed policies that made Trump inevitable. My guess is that he’ll get the nomination due to blatant cheating on the part of the DNC, and then lose badly in the election — and then, maybe, the cold stiff hands of the current party leadership will be pried loose and the Dems can get to work finding some issues that matter to the majority.

    Pogonip, actually, no, it’s in the Declaration of Independence, which has no legal force except as an announcement that we’re not subject to Queen Elizabeth II. (The word “life” nowhere appears in the preamble.) Thus it has exactly as much to do with the Constitution as the “right to privacy” which the Supreme Court extracted from the Constitution’s penumbra. When it comes to the Constitution, I’m something of a strict constructionist — if it’s not actually written there, to me, it’s not there.

    Rita, yes, that’s also an issue. Unemployment statistics in the US are a mess, since it’s politically unpalatable to admit how many people want work and can’t get it.

    Pogonip (offlist), no, cute kitten stories are waaaaay off topic, and not even the recent death of Miss Tardar Sauce aka Grumpycat will make me bend on that. Sorry.

    Jen, good. I consider twee plaques of the “Live, Laugh, Love” type as pathological as you consider spiked rims, so I think we’ve found a suitable balance.

    Justin, of course. Human life isn’t sacred in this or any other society, and a little less pretense along those lines might help communication about issues such as abortion.

    Onething, I think there’s a good chance that that’s what he’s doing. Trump is a pragmatist, and at this point he’s got to be looking for simple, concrete steps he can take to please as many voters as possible.

  272. @Kimberly: I’m thinking I don’t have as much experience with spoiled children as you do 😛

    But your comment makes me think of my dad – not that he was a spoiled brat, far from it. He grew up in a broken, abusive family, and was steeped in your basic rotgut American Protestantism. The sort of religion that views Jesus as a slot machine that lets you get into Heaven, and which excuses any kind of awful behavior as long as you mumble along in church.

    So Dad, understandably, got as far away from religion as he could. In his view, the whole thing is rotten from top to bottom, and best thrown in the dustbin of history. He’s a very pragmatic, competent person, but after sixty years of this, he has very few tools to help him deal with emotional and imaginal realities. (He’s better off than most adult men, who I believe have no tools whatsoever for the inner realms of existence.)

    And I think this is a microcosm of what’s happened in our society. The wars between the Catholics and Protestants were so vicious that they traumatized an entire continent, and spawned a rationalist culture obsessed with sterility, purity, order and control. (I’m taking this idea from Theodore Roszak.)

    In other words, the parents were weak, foolish addicts, and so the child had to do whatever it took to secure a stable life. But the behaviors that defend you from trauma as a child become pathological as an adult.

  273. I found an unorganized but very readable version of Credo on the website. I don’t know if it is complete. If you value your time and sanity get the book. I might do a comment with all the links in order but don’t hold your breath.

    In Google search go to


    Enter chapter title after a space

    site: How this book came about


    Go here for out of sequence and without chapter numbers.

    I apologize for the confusion.

  274. Kimberly Steele: “… or in the atheist’s case, if gods fail to present themselves to you in a way you can understand, you are by default the top of the intelligence food chain. … Hope this makes sense.” Not only does it make sense, it explains much of what is going on in the clearest way possible (and perhaps the first time I’ve seen it explained so clearly).

    Jen: “I have unfortunately noticed an increasing number of vehicles on the road sporting spiked rims.” If by that you mean 18-wheelers, I’ve noticed that as well. I’ve had two reactions to this. (1) Spiked rims or not, I’m not going anywhere near you: you’re bigger than I am. (2) I am reminded of that chariot scene in Ben Hur, and how no 18-wheeler is going to come anywhere close to that scenario, given my reaction in (1), and I suspect anyone else’s reaction as well. In other words, dream on, big 18-wheeler spikey guy.

    I’ve ridden a motorcycle from one end of the United States to the other, and across Canada as well, all in the same trip, and displaying my “masculinity” with weird spikey things was the last thing on my mind, let alone my bike. The biggest challenge I faced was surviving the wet and cold north of Lake Superior in the middle of August. (“Yes, I know they call this the great white north”, someone told me when I asked, “but even for us this cold is unusual this time of year.”) Realizing that in Quebec there are people who either don’t speak English or don’t want to speak it because they feel they don’t speak it well was an insight I gained on this trip. Speaking broken French to a fellow biker who spoke broken English was a highlight of this trip: he was enthusiastic to communicate, and we did so. The point here, for me, at any rate, is that it is the person to person communication that matters most “at the end of the day”, not the ideological kinds of communication that seems to matter most to so many people nowadays.

    Pogonip: One of my pet peeves is the ubiquitous female “I need you to…”. Yes, whether it is female or not, what every time I’ve heard this, and I’ve heard it often, is meant is, “I want you to.” The only reason I mention this here is because I thought it was only in my immediate “micro-circle” that this idiom seems to be current. Pet peeve: If you can’t teach a child what the difference between “need” and “want” is, how can I communicate to them, “I need you to dial 911” so that they know it’s not an option, but something I really need them to do, that it is driven by the necessity of the circumstances (“need”) and not simply my will (“want”)?

  275. How about if we photoshop “Live, Love, Laugh” somewhere into the adorable picture? 😈

    I’m in a good mood: my formal retirement papers came in the mail today AND my favorite game, Kitty Collector/Neko Atsume, added new cats. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor!

  276. JMG,

    No doubt the signs are creepy! I remember being mildly amused by the anti-motivational version in which smiling 1950s housewives were juxtaposed with captions such as “He took up so much more room on the couch!” while gazing into their new freezer full of meat or what-have-you. There was also a “subversive cross stitch” trend in which obscene or angry sayings were stitched into the typical flowers and kittens type of sampler, or if you looked closely “Home Sweet Home” was surrounded by tiny skulls. Knickknacks in general are not my style, and the snarky sort has become nearly as trite now as its more earnest predecessor, but I remember them being a welcome relief after the guardian angels and dramatic sunsets stuff I was used to seeing.

    Now I am curious whether the “Live, Laugh, Love” type signs are a uniquely American thing or if they have them everywhere.

  277. Right, the Declaration, which I swear was what I meant to type. I’ve been very excited today—my retirement papers arrived in the mail! It’s official!👏👏👏👏

  278. Those are both solid ways to help keep connected with reality. I was wondering if there was also a connection between initiation into human life and having a connection with reality. Too many people these days don’t take advantage of their abilities, instead acting in very primitive ways.

  279. When I was a union steward, many moons ago, we learned that the government counts babysitting for 1 hour a week as “employment.”

  280. Re: Spiked rims. I immediately thought of the chariot race in Ben Hur when I first saw them. Is that too dated to be an (ironic?) cultural allusion?

  281. Hi John Michael,

    Absolutely! People talking such rubbish, they don’t know nuffin anywhoo… Personally my money is on the rats.

    Exhibit 1 – I meant to use the word ‘implemented’ in my original comment to you, but instead typed out the word ‘implanted’, which frankly sounds more ominous but sort of works in an unintentional and rather strange fashion.

    Fills my mind that was raised on dodgy sci-fi pulp fiction (and you know what I’m talking about here) with images of humans happily living on other planets, but with western style gunfights at the OK-Alpha-Centauri-saloon. 😉



  282. On abortion and at what point in the pregnancy abortion should be disallowed: My daughter conceived twice and lost the babies at 20 weeks both times through premature labor. Both times the hospitals would do nothing to try and save the babies. They were BABIES who were born alive and were able to survive for about 30 minutes. My daughter held them in her arms until they died, both times. Autopsies were performed. There was nothing wrong with the babies except that they were born too soon. The point of sharing this devastating story is that even the medical industry will do nothing at 20 weeks. The baby is not viable outside the womb. So I will not call them fetuses — they are babies. But they can’t live on their own until about 24 weeks and everyone knows this. Sounds like a cutoff point to me…. Up until that point, it is the woman’s body, not the state’s, and she should be allowed to do whatever she feels is best for her body because she is viable and can live in the world and the baby can’t.

  283. Re: Greta Thunberg.

    JMG wrote: “the manufacture of Greta Thunberg as a media phenomenon is quite the canned spectacle — in the Situationist sense of that word”

    and also the link Beekeeper in Vermont linked to.

    So, hum. I’ve been really, really busy for the last couple of months, so I’ve only barely registered the Extinction Rebellion etc. Still, Thunberg seems to be fully in command of what she’s doing, and has seemingly inspired a lot of people, so good for her.

    As a media phenomenon, though, I suddenly found myself thinking, during my morning coffees… first Malala, now Greta… who next? Girl prophets delivering a message to mankind, both marked in some way (shot in the head, Asperger’s)… Is it just me, or is this like something from The Golden Bough? What is running through the subconscious of the Cult of Progress, and the Media? Are they sacrifices? Sin-eaters?

  284. JMG , I am sorry that this board has turned into an abortion debate. We just go around and around. Yet, it feels like a losing argument.

    @Onething said:
    So where is the liberty for the person whose body is to be used as a life support system for a nonviable “person”?

    There is no liberty for the pregnant woman. Ask any woman who has ever been pregnant. You are supporting a parasitical human being within your own body. The dangers, as I myself have experienced, are great. The risks of maternal mortality, physical pain, pregnancy related diseases and disorders. These have become increasingly common in the United States. After, postpartum depression, which in my situation, ultimately lead to suicidal thoughts. We don’t talk about the woman. We focus on a theoretical “baby” with “personhood.” What is lost in the abortion conversation are the increasing physical and mental risks to pregnant women.

    Understanding all of this beforehand why should any woman be *forced* to experience full term pregnancy if she does not have to?

  285. @Will M Thank you for sharing the astrology chart on Werner. I don’t practice it so I had no idea. In terms of the basis of the training, so far I figured out its Taoism, Wittgenstein, and Hegel. There are whole sections lifted from those philosophies. People say Scientology is involved but I don’t know enough about it to say. I also don’t know a whole lot about Buddhism to say what was lifted from that.

    The sad part about Landmark/est is the way people use what they learned to try to manipulate others into doing what they want to them to do. They use manipulative questioning and the concepts of the courses to make it so people will do their bidding while thinking it was their own idea. It’s gross. I’ve also watched one person undergo complete personality shifts over the course of a couple months, several times over. I wish I had videotaped that one because it was something to observe.

  286. The abortion debate actually provides a good example of people trying to force the world to be what they want it to be. I’m happy with the discussion here, since it looks like everyone is willing to accept there are two very important values here that are contradictory: the mother’s right to bodily autonomy, and the child’s right to life. Figuring out how to balance these is thus the essential core of the debate.

    Yet, what’s fascinating is watching how both sides try to redefine the debate so that the other principle does not exist. Thus, so many of the pro-choice people act like the only reason people oppose abortion is because they want to force women to have children; while many of the pro-lifers act as if the people advocating for abortion enjoy murdering children.

  287. JMG
    Mostly OT.
    A little pointer for your UFO update. Mostly pushing AI. I’m still looking for some good demos of NI (Natural Intelligence.)

    Loaned Retrotopia to a neighbor a couple of weeks ago. She returned it earlier this week. Said she enjoyed it. Said her main reaction was – Well of course, that’s common sense….
    Also said that her younger brother, a process engineer in CA’s Central Valley has taken to carrying a slide rule. Too much trouble trying to do the simple calculations on-line with poor wireless coverage. His partner had never seen one before.

    John – NJ0C

  288. Rita, in fact the Jewish view is that Jews should choose life wherever possible and so abortion in Judaism is permitted only if there is a direct threat to the life of the mother by carrying the fetus to term or through the act of childbirth. Islam is also opposed to abortion The Hindu religion is generally opposed to abortion except where it is necessary to save the mother’s life and Hindu texts are strongly opposed to abortion. Traditional Buddhism rejects abortion because it involves the deliberate destroying of a life. Obviously individual practitioners of these religions may have a slightly more muted approach depending on their own circumstances and culture – but the fact remains opposition to abortion is carried as a general principle by all main religions, not just Christianity. This is not just a Christian issue. I also have a pagan friend who is a yoga devotee and she is also in principle opposed to abortion because she recognizes the violence of the act and the fact that it is often carried out for selfish and materialistic reasons. You may oppose banning abortion, but the slurs and the general snipy references and unhanded allegations about some kind of Christian overreach from your side – enough already.

  289. Wow. My sons and I are driving cross country this week, FL to NV to WY to empty out our house, (sold) in a retirement downsizing effort. What a week to not be able to join in the discussions! I have not been able to read all of the comments so forgive me if I am reiterating something already said.

    I’m sitting in a Las Vegas hotel room now while my young adult monsters chow down on a free brekkie so I have a few minutes:

    On the abortion bills/push to overturn Roe V. Wade: I have not seen or heard anyone saying this but I specifically remember back in 1972 & 1973 that one of the most compelling arguments was simply that women were getting them anyway. Legal or not. Rich women flew off to France for a sudden “holiday”, poor women went to back-alley butchers with coat hangers and suffered often horrifying consequences of that. Why is there so little talk of that this time around? It’s not going to stop people who really want/need one!

    On those ghastly wall-plaques, As this is in my current well house as a furniture refurbisher/chalk-painter/crafter. Oh Sweet Baby Jesus, I do hope that fad ends soon. They are awful. Being a painter/crafter myself I always thought they were just a means of creative expression that required zero effort, talent or imagination. I think it’s a human trait – this need to create, to be creative, to ‘make stuff’. We love it. Everyone loves it to one degree or another. Now, making and reselling, I’ve seen there is a massive market, marketed to ME, to crafters. Like the old paint-by-numbers sets. It’s a pre-packaged kind of fake creativity for people who don’t think they have any creativity of their own. That ticks me off because 1) I’m cynical about certain marketing ploys and 2) I believe that most people are far more creative and capable than they give themselves credit for and these companies/advertisers are trying to convince them otherwise.

    Oh I have so much more to read and to say, but Gotta go. On the road again. Finally ‘home’ to Reno by tonight. I’ll write something about it on the open post. I LOOOOOOVE this Yuge crazy country!

  290. @Aporia:
    There are lots of people in Québec who avoid speaking English even though they speak it perfectly well! Something to do with history…
    But your point stands. Children are able to “talk” for hours without speaking a word of each other’s language.

  291. @Violet Thank you for your kind and interesting comments! Christ offering to protect you from the egregore of Christianity–Yep, that sounds like the Christ I know. 🙂 Christ has never been the problem in my experiences; I keep running afoul of the egregore of the enlightenment that seems to have riddled many parts of Christianity.

    The best ‘imagine your own reality’ image that I’ve found is the one of the ninja cat riding the fire-breathing unicorn. Here’s a link:

    I can’t speak for other guys, but the inspirational quote on my wall is a quote from Henri J. M. Nouwen– Here’s a part of it:


    “…Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice.

    I can choose to be grateful
    even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment.
    It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which
    I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint.

    I can choose to be grateful when I am criticized,
    even when my heart still responds in bitterness.
    I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty,
    even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse
    or something to call ugly.

    I can choose to listen to the voices of forgiveness
    and to look at the faces that smile,
    even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred.

    There is always the choice between resentment and gratitude
    because God has appeared in my darkness, urged me to come home,
    and declared in a voice filled with affection:
    “You are with me always, and all I have is yours.”

    (Henri J M Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming. 1994, Image Books, Doubleday.)

    Helps me out from time to time, and still rings true.

  292. Now I have to go find a shop that can make me some spiked rims with “Live Laugh Love” embossed on them in frilly script. Thanks a lot, comment thread!

  293. @ Will J

    If I may quote you in full, just to emphasize the points:

    The abortion debate actually provides a good example of people trying to force the world to be what they want it to be. I’m happy with the discussion here, since it looks like everyone is willing to accept there are two very important values here that are contradictory: the mother’s right to bodily autonomy, and the child’s right to life. Figuring out how to balance these is thus the essential core of the debate.

    Yet, what’s fascinating is watching how both sides try to redefine the debate so that the other principle does not exist. Thus, so many of the pro-choice people act like the only reason people oppose abortion is because they want to force women to have children; while many of the pro-lifers act as if the people advocating for abortion enjoy murdering children.

    Yes. Absolutely.

  294. JMG, thank you for continuing to host these amazing discussions.

    I thought I was done with the “motivational motto” plaque discussion, but I was reminded of a similar phenomenon from history.

    Back in the 1700s and 1800, girls were routinely taught needlework in school. The needlework sampler was sometimes created, with a embroidered alphabet, some decorative motifs, often the student’s name as well. Many of these included mottos, poetry, or Bible verses. Original examples are treasured by collecters and historians, and some modern stitchers create reproductions.

    Display of a school made needlework sampler would seem to allow the girl/woman/familiy to display her education, her (important!) needlework skills, and the quality of her moral and religious education. Yes, some of this is virtue signaling, but some of this is also a status symbol, and an actual display of skill in embroidery.

    I can imagine that over the past 200 years that displaying ones own needlework has become displaying grandma’s needlework, has become displaying decorative plaques with mottos. I supose the only way to go down from here is a smartphone ap that shows a random motivaional quote as a screen background.

    Perhaps if needlework becomes socially and economically important again, we will see a new generation of the school sampler, maybe with completely different mottos.

  295. On a completely different note…

    Sometimes one’s part in a conversation is simply to listen. I was sitting here in my living room just now, doing some of my spiritual reading for the day with some light music playing, when I realized there was another sound underneath. I looked up and realized that it had begun to rain. What I was hearing was the water against the window pane beside me. So I shut my music off, closed my book, and just sat here for a time, listening to the rain against the window, the cars splashing through the puddled pavement of the roadway, the water pouring down the rain gutter behind me at the corner of the house. Our society masks over these experiences, these sounds, with our TVs, computers, music from our devices, all imposed on our field of experience to blot out the world around us. How so very much we lose in that process. Many years ago, I hated the “quiet” and like most others would have background noise going. Now, I have some better understanding of the importance of these experiences.

  296. David BTL said:

    “I see it as unreasonable to assert that a woman loses legal control over her body from the moment of fertilization.”

    The fact is that a newborn is so radically dependent on her caregivers that said caregivers (usually parents) lose control over their lives typically for at least 6 months after birth. Yet, they are required by law to care for the child; neglect that leads to harm is criminally punishable. Is this unreasonable?

    If not, then the loss of control entailed by the state of being pregnant cannot be seen as unreasonable either, as the fact of dependency leading to loss of personal freedom is essentially the same in both cases. Or, if so, then couples who are overwhelmed by the requirements of caring for their newborn are just as within their rights to kill the infant as you would maintain pregnant women are to kill the fetus.

    Will J. said:
    “…while many of the pro-lifers act as if the people advocating for abortion enjoy murdering children.”

    No one said anything about pro-choicers enjoying murder. The question is whether abortion objectively is murder; whether the murder is engaged in joyfully or in desperate anguish of heart is irrelevant.

  297. Rita – Re: unemployment rate(s)

    Definitions are crucial to understanding statistics. The most commonly reported “unemployment” statistic (U3) counts people who are actively seeking a job (filing applications) and not doing ANY (reportable) work during the month. (I mention “reportable” because there’s no way of tracking the number of times that I (hypothetically) might mow a neighbor’s lawn for cash. So, there could be an overcount based on black-market employment.) Another figure is “U6”, which includes people of working age who are not working but are not actively seeking (perhaps having been told that “50” is too old for a new hire), underemployed (working less than 40-hour weeks but wanting more), or back to school for more credentials. U6 was (oddly enough) about 2x U3 in 2018.

    The ratio of “working + U3” / total population is the “labor force participation rate”, and that’s around 63% (down from 67% in 2000). You might be tempted to assume that if 63% of the population is “in the workforce”, that 37% are “unemployed”, but that 37% includes children, elderly, disabled, incarcerated, discouraged, stay-at-home (by choice) care-givers, black-market workers, and probably some others.

    I’m sure that each of these formulas for assessing the health of the labor market has its own particular uses, and biases. If we want to see the world “as it is”, rather than “as we want it to be”, we need to know which formula is relevant to our own purpose, and which is being broadcast.

  298. @ Nestorian

    Re the equating of infanticide and abortion

    I fundamentally disagree. As I pointed out, once the child is born, the core conflict at the heart of the abortion debate—the conflicting rights of bodily sovereignty and life—no longer exists. You cannot elide that change-in-kind away. Moreover, in our society, there are options for parents who cannot support a child (adoption, for example, and I do believe there are institutions who accept children given up with no questions asked). There is a categorical difference at the point of birth where the abortion issue is no longer relevant.

    And yes, I would argue it is unreasonable to convey upon a zygote the full rights and status of a human being, and thus deny a woman any say over her body from that point onward. Your argument is taking precisely the course Will and I noted above, which is to deny any legitimacy to the other issue in conflict and dismiss its validity. The entire point of my argument is that both sides of this debate have some measure of validity and therefore some manner of compromise is needed. And, necessarily, your side will have something to complain about with regards to any such outcome, and Rita’s side will likewise have something to complain about. To the extent each of your sides is equally unhappy, then I’d say the resulting compromise is a good one.

    There is a period of time, early in the pregnancy, where elective abortion is a reasonable act of bodily sovereignty. There is a period of time, late in the pregnancy, when that bodily sovereignty no longer exists and the unborn child is indeed a person and treated accordingly. In between, medical rationale can provide reasonable support for such a procedure. It is not a perfect system, but a better one for our society as a whole than either absolutist position, and far better than a constant state of war between these two factions who each insist on total victory.

  299. Pogonip, congrats on your retirement! No, photoshopping the slogan in question onto a cute kitten picture would cause diabetics to drop in their tracks — not enough insulin to deai with that much sticky sweetness — but I gotta draw the line somewhere.

    Jen, I was a great fan for a while of demotivational posters — parodies of those ghastly motivational posters that you see in offices, with colorful photos larded with feel-good thoughtstoppers. My favorite was the one that showed a salmon leaping up over rapids…straight toward the mouth of a hungry bear. The caption said:

    Sometimes the Journey of a Thousand Miles Ends Very, Very Badly

    I’d also be interested in knowing if thoughtstopping slogans on plaques and posters are purely an American thing, or if other countries have fallen into the same bad habit. Anyone?

    Prizm, interesting. That may also be an issue.

    Berserker, hmm! Good question.

    Chris, give the rats six-shooters (or, since it’s science fiction, six-blasters), and I bet they’d come out ahead in the gunfight, too. Any comments on your general election?

    Jean, fair enough. That’s a viewpoint that should be considered.

    Bogatyr, hmm! I wonder, though, whether Thunberg is in control of the situation, or if her handlers are busy making sure they project the image of her being in control of the situation.

    Y. Chireau, au contraire. What’s happening here — and I’m delighted to see it happening — is that people with sharply different positions on a hot-button topic are having a civil discussion on the subject; they’re not agreeing with each other, but I think a good many of them understand more about the other side’s viewpoints than they did. To my mind that’s a crucial step toward the kind of political compromise that all sides could grudgingly live with — which is the best that can be hoped for in such situations.

    David BTL, yep. It’s also a matter of vae victis, of course!

    Will J, and that’s one of the reasons that I’ve encouraged the discussion here.

    Janitor, thanks for this. I note that the article goes out of its way to avoid mentioning the obvious reason that the Pentagon is interested in UFOs, which is that it’s been carrying out secret aerospace tests since the late 1940s using “flying saucers” as a smokescreen to distract attention — exactly parallel to those inflatable tanks the Allies used to fake out the Germans about the location of the D-Day landings. It’s well documented that the Air Force did exactly this to cover for programs involving Skyhook balloons and the U-2 and SR-71 spyplanes, and anyone who thinks it’s accidental that UFOs started to look like black triangles right about the time the Air Force started testing stealth planes — well, let’s just say I’ve got a bridge to Zeta Reticuli I’d be happy to sell them. That’s not all that’s involved in the UFO business, but it’s a huge part — and if things follow the usual course, about fifteen years from now we’ll find out about whatever new aerospace project the Navy is testing, using “UFOs” as protective cover.

    Delighted to hear about the slide rule, and also the response to Retrotopia. It seems like plain common sense to me, too…

    Caryn, agreed — people are more creative than they let themselves realize, and a lot of industries exist to channel that creativity in not very helpful ways. I hope the move goes well!

    Sven, you should indeed!

    Sylvia, since a woman in those days could expect to play a large part in creating clothing for her family, demonstrating her needlework skills was far more than virtue signaling — it was important in proving to potential husbands that she would be able to carry her weight in the household economy. I’d be delighted to see such things come back into fashion.

    David BTL, that’s one of the reasons a lot of Druids have the habit of spending time outdoors, not thinking, not doing anything, just paying attention to nature, It teaches a lot.

  300. Berserker, re spiked wheels, I also thought Ben Hur …. and the Mad Max film series, from ancient history to post-apocalyptic chic.

    Here’s a half-baked theory – since tattooing used to be mostly a male province, among white American males anyway, and now that more women are tattooed than men, the aggressive-type male feels a need to step up his game, hence spiked wheels. Yep, half-baked and it’s a hot Sunday afternoon. My brains are applesauce.

  301. David, Lake

    “Our society masks over these experiences, these sounds, with our TVs, computers, music from our devices, all imposed on our field of experience to blot out the world around us. ”

    I recall back about 1998 when a hurricane took out all the power and I went out to walk my dog one evening. Normally, hazy night lights in the sky and nothing but the endless drone of hundreds of air conditioners, all windows shut tight.

    This evening, I saw the milky way, and heard the sound of conversation and wine glasses as people got together and used their barbecues to have dinner out on their patios.

  302. Nestorian Christian,

    I heard it at the March for Life. I’m happy no one here is saying anything like it, but I’ve heard it before. It does seem like the pro-life side of the debate is somewhat less likely to engage in this particular bad habit though.

  303. @JMG – per your question about slogans, and speaking from this wee corner of Donegal countryside, I mostly see motivational slogans on facebook posts, but never on people’s walls. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the “love, live, laugh” one anywhere, which is why I had nothing to say to that thread.

  304. I might have something personal in the abortion discussion.

    I was an unwanted child conceived in 1947.

    In the discredited irridology my cornea discoloration (from injury?) represents some of my brain problems, a weak memory and self. An affordable brain scan that didn’t require injections or EMFs would be interesting but I don’t believe there is such.

    My liver function was weak and that allowed toxics to accumulate until I have Toxic Encephalopathy (chemical sensitivities, EMF sensitivities, brain fog, etc.).

    The only events that I could imagine messed my body up would be attempted abortions. A knitting needle to the brain. A bath in Lysol.

    I was not in any accidents and toxic exposures were ordinary. There were a few days of serious illness in the early 1950’s. Surgery was the fashionable tonsilectomy.

    My genes seem OK. After cleansing since 1993 my detoxication functions are now working too well. (details deleted – too OT)

    From the dogma I know the spirit and the body get together about the time of birth. If the fetus had died I would not have been out anything at all.

    So I am pro legal abortion. It is much better to have the medical death of the unwanted rather than the failed attempted abortion and damaged child who seems kind of OK but fails at some things such as wage slavery and simple academics. Part smart describes me.

    Please note: I despise sympathy. Don’t go there.

    I could be wrong anyway.

  305. This is what I found in researching the “Live, Laugh, Love” plaques.

    I think that when any thing gets commercialized it becomes trite and meaningless. The originals impulse to use this as a measurement of success rather than “ he who dies with the most toys”.

    We can only hope that none of the companies pick up on “collapse now and avoid the rush”. Then Green Wizards would be seen as glurpy and trite too.


  306. Nestorian Christian said:
    “The question is whether abortion objectively is murder; whether the murder is engaged in joyfully or in desperate anguish of heart is irrelevant.”

    I see this as completely backwards. Whether abortion is murder or not, whether its target is a baby or a clump of cells, the one incontrovertible fact is that it exists as a being only (setting aside for the moment the matter of the gods or not) to the mother, whose existence is the sole one of which it can possibly be conscious, being the sum total of its reality. To any and all others, an unborn can be no more than a potential or hypothetical – which a *person* most definitely is not.

    So, in the unique circumscribed universe of the pregnant mother and her unborn child, the rest of us are simply not relevant. The question we pose of murder or not does not have any meaningful application, and the sole concern that can possibly matter is how the pregnant woman feels about herself, the one she is carrying, and what she does or has done. Those are the bounds of the universe that is that unique circumstance.

    As for me, I am not ashamed to admit that my beliefs are firmly on your side. I recognize, however, that my belief, my opinion – my very existence – is absolutely outside the question.

    To each his own, though. My conclusions are only real to me.

  307. David BTL,

    “Your argument is taking precisely the course Will and I noted above, which is to deny any legitimacy to the other issue in conflict and dismiss its validity…. There is a period of time, early in the pregnancy, where elective abortion is a reasonable act of bodily sovereignty.”

    We will have to agree to disagree on his one. I deny that “bodily sovereignty” entails any rights that are commensurable with the basic right to life. The latter right categorically overrides the former – especially in view of the fact that pregnancy is an entirely natural process whereby a human being comes into existence.

    I also deny that my position is “extremist.” It is merely principled – scientifically as well as morally. No pro-lifer need be ashamed to press a logically and morally consistent position on this issue in public debate, yet the tenor of many of the comments on this topic in this thread suggests otherwise. I repudiate the implication. We merely want the law to embody elementary morality in terms of providing consistent protection of the vulnerable.

    In this regard, incidentally, the Alabama legislation turns out to be riddled with a disgusting hypocrisy, in that it exempts zygotes generated in the course of in vitro fertilization from any of the strictures the legislation stipulates. Critics have pointed out that this seems to make the legislation aimed selectively at the poor, as well as cases of early human life that entail what you have termed a violation of the “bodily sovereignty” of the woman. Well-to-do women, including evangelical Christians seeking fertility treatments, turn out to be free to violate the moral principles the legislation is intended to uphold. I was very disheartened when I found out about this earlier today.

  308. Y Chireau–I did a little checking of statistics a while ago. Turns out that in the US giving birth is actually more dangerous than serving as a police officer. Yep, maternal death rate is higher per 100,000 (26.4) than death rate of police officers (11.1). Of course this is partly due to poor health care system in US. Maternal death rate is much lower in many nations.

    Sylvia–in 1998 I saw an exhibit of samplers in museum in Manchester, England. At one time (late 1700-mid 1800 I think) middle class parents would order a workbasket kit. The girl would embroider the decorative panels and they would be sent to a cabinet maker to be assembled into a workbasket that she would use as an adult. Some in the exhibit were amazing. There were samplers by 6 year olds that I would not try to duplicate. Of course, even if a woman was upper middle class she would need to supervise and evaluate the work of her maids in the making and repair of household linens and so forth.

    I am constantly amazed by intelligent friends who cannot seem to realize that other people have different points of view. Friends were discussing planned pro-reproductive rights rallies on this coming Tuesday, to be held in all state capitals. In California we have Democratic controlled legislature and aren’t worried for ourselves, but the opinion was expressed that rallies would influence legislators in other states. I objected that the people who passed and approved these severe anti-abortion bills are doing what they were elected to do. In many case they ran on a platform of forcing the overturn of Roe v. Wade–this is not some kind of stealth operation of politicians passing as pro-choice until elected, then throwing off the mask and revealing their true colors . Obviously the fact that they won an election on an anti-abortion platform means they have reason to believe that they are doing what the voters want. Legislators in Texas or Georgia do not give a horse’s patootie what voters in California think about their laws.

    OTH, if Roe v Wade is overturned these legislators will IMO find themselves in the position of the guy who is being held out of a fight with the big bully and his friends let go. They will run into the fact that, even in conservative states most people support rape and incest exceptions, and life of the mother exceptions. Most recent Gallup poll info I found showed only 18% support for complete criminalization of abortion; 29% support complete legalization and 50% support some regulation. Doing something only 18% support seems hazardous to political health.

    As for the idea that all moral questions are religious questions–I would depute this. Some religions have a great deal to say about ethics, some do not, Conversely, some ethical systems are based on opinions about what a particular deity requires of worshipers and others are not. For example neither the Epicureans nor the Stoics taught that the gods cared about human actions. Some parts of religious codes are not moral or ethical in any meaningful sense of the word. For example, the first four of the ten commandments are rules for relating to the god who dictated them, not rules for running a just or moral society. The elaborate taboo systems of Polynesian cultures would be another example of religious rules that do not deal with ethical questions–having one’s head higher than the chief’s head is forbidden, but does not seem unethical in any sense.

  309. JMG,

    1. “The global hegemony that gave the United States its late twentieth standard of living”
    I think you meant to say “twentieth century” here. My inner editor demands a correction.

    2. “Hate, Mourn, Die”. I can totally see a teenager hanging something like that in their bedroom just to spite their parents. I love demotivational posters too. My favorite is titled “Achievement” and shows a picture of the pyramids in Egypt. The inscription says “you can do anything you put your mind to if you have vision, determination and an endless supply of expendable labor”. It seems to reflect the mindset of the ruling elites too.

    3. “Do you really want to know, dear reader, what it will say if it has to shout?”
    I suspect it would be something like “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen”

    4. “We dodged that bullet when Trump won.”
    I agree with you so much on that. We dodged it so hard it almost seems like a divine intervention. I pray for Trump’s victory in 2020, so we may avoid the worst.

  310. victoriachronicles, excellent point. In support of what you’re saying, psychologist Jordan Peterson has noted that women average about half a standard deviation more than men in Agreeableness (one of the “Big 5” Personality Traits) which is a large difference in a population.

    He hypothesizes that women’s greater Agreeableness comes from the mother-infant dyad: an infant is helpless and extremely demanding, so a mother must necessarily “agree” to meet all of an infant’s demands without question 24/7 (or else the infant could die). Over thousands of years of evolution this greater degree of Agreeableness has become “hard-wired” into women, so that it is now deliberately exploited in the business world by offering working women less pay, longer hours, less fulfilling jobs, crappier conditions & benefits, fewer vacations, etc. solely because women are less likely to object or fight back (due to their greater Agreeableness). It’s a sad and unfortunate state of affairs, but has a ring of truth to it.

  311. Hi John Michael,

    Six blasters! 🙂 Funny stuff.

    I wrote about the election results in my blog this week, but from the perspective of my usually overly subtle style of writing which eventually involves getting around to talking about something that probably needs talking about via way of a story, and maybe even more seriously raising the idea that something probably needs doing about the matter.

    A brief summary follows: The voting system is compulsory for all adults at risk of a fine, and additionally it is paper based and is scrupulously honest and has considerable integrity. The campaign this election went for five weeks.

    There are two main political parties down here. To cut a long story short, we’ve had a revolving door on Prime Ministers in recent years (Prime Ministers are elected by the political parties but are otherwise just members of the federal lower house of Parliament – The House of Representatives). Both parties have been guilty of such shenanigans and it is not for no reason that overseas citizens amusingly quip that we are known as 7-11 (seven Prime Ministers in 11 years). The population appears to have had a gut full of such goings on, and the pre-election government was guilty as charged. As a side note, both parties have put in place procedures and rules to stop this from reoccurring in the future.

    The opposition campaigned on a platform of removing some tax concessions (i.e. giveaways) that appear to prop up house prices and turn things that keep rain off people’s heads at night into what looks a lot like speculative investment vehicles. The government on the other hand announced support for the existing tax policies. And the population returned the government with a larger majority than it enjoyed previously. Talk of stopping new export coal mines in remote regional areas by the opposition spooked the people living there. To them mines equals well paid jobs.

    The government played a more cautious hand but did offer some money to address youth mental health issues as well as mental health issues in indigenous communities and that is commendable. The government has acknowledged that it probably has a bit of work on its hands in relation to water redistribution for rural areas and the recent serious drought under scored their poor performance in that matter. But the oppositions talk of stopping new coal mines in remote rural areas probably played a larger role in the governments continued support in those parts of the country.

    All up it is a complicated business and I note that a federal government has to gain support from the entire country, and that means people from all walks of life. I wrote a story a few weeks back about the kids striking from school and protesting about climate change. I support the kids efforts, but I’m unsure they realise what they are asking for, and that is an entirely different story. And incidentally, it is not lost on me that the kids accept benefits from coal mining in the form of electricity (and a lot of other stuff), but for some strange reason the kids allowed their protest to be co-opted by a narrowly focused “Stop the Adani mine” side protest. To people living up in the rural north of the country, they see the mine for what it is: jobs for them and their kids. And because they are at the coal face (excuse the pun) they see the protest as hypocrisy – which it is. It is an extraordinarily complicated thing to protest something that you are also getting benefits from.

    I have a hunch that whilst the government will gain a majority of seats in the lower house of parliament, they will not enjoy a majority in the upper house of parliament (the Senate) where a lot of independent (of no political party affiliation gain a seat). Bills have to pass both houses of Parliament before they go to the Governor General to gain Royal assent.

    As an interesting side note, the electoral system down here is not a basic first past the post voting system. It uses preferential voting (lower house) as well as proportional voting (upper house) systems to produce the most preferred candidate for an electorate. The constitution wasn’t enacted until about 1901 and so we had plenty of time to learn from the mistakes of other countries. But in a strange twist it is not generally known that the Queen still remains the head of the government and all bills that pass through Parliament have to gain Royal Assent. And when political disorder appeared to be the rule of the day in 1975, the Queen’s representative sacked the standing government. The political parties fear this limit on their power and every now and then they propose a referendum to change the country to a republic. The previous referendum on the matter failed to meet the ‘pub test’ for the population (again compulsory voting) and it failed.

    Hope that is a useful summary?



  312. Chris,

    Pedantic note: half the Australian Senate is elected every three years, while the House of Representatives is elected on an unpredictable schedule, elections being chosen by the government, or occurring if a budget fails the House of Representatives (or a vote the government declares a “confidence vote”, or after three years. If a budget fails the senate things get weird, as the conventions governing the matter are unclear.

  313. “Consider the angry insistence on the part of so many people these days that the people who voted for Brexit and Donald Trump could only have been motivated by racism. As a matter of simple fact, that’s not even remotely true, and anyone who takes the time to listen to the voters in question knows this. Yet every effort to point this out to the people who make the claim is met by angry bluster and another repetition of the same insistence.”

    Whenever I broach the notion, that Trump voters might have had other motivations beyond racism, and that not every last one was a “deplorable” racist, misogynist, bigoted, authoritarian, proto-fascist – most particularly on Facebook – typically will bring howls pf protest and denunciation from my Leftward flank and either reciprocal hate or dead silence from the Right. There seems to be a congenital deficit to being able to see the other side of the current political and cultural (and of course, class) divide as composed of fellow human beings and citizens, worthy of both compassion and respect.

    I sometimes try to point out that Demagoguery 101 suggests that lack of representation and economic misery and the relentless narrowing of opportunity are fertile ground to plant hate and fear of every possible kind. But a relevant quote comes to mind.

    “Anger is always fear in disguise”― Spider Robinson, Variable Star

  314. @siliconguy

    um, was that comment sarcasm? Because it came across as an excellent model of what JMG was talking about in the main post. I thought Tripp’s list was a good shorthand way of identifying the low hanging fruit in a collapse early and beat the rush strategy.

    If you were being sincere: certainly, your climate may make it hard to do laundry in your current way without a dryer five months of the year. Doesn’t that just make it more urgent to find practical alternatives for that and your other most serious energy hogs? What will you do when high energy costs/sudden loss of income means you have to choose between running the washing machine/dryer and winter heating/food? Or between heating and food?

    If you have working systems so you, personally, can get water, heat water, cook and wash with minimal fossil fuel based energy then you will have that much more money to fund your heating and food bill as net energy declines. I say ‘working’ systems, because theoretical solutions in reserve that you don’t use reasonably frequently may not serve well in a crunch.

    I’ve been reading books about what life was like for people in the Depression – middle/upper class people who lost their jobs/investment income were in a far worse position than the poor when subsisting in the exact same squalid boarding houses on the exact same minimal welfare payments. They squandered their remaining advantages and starved/died of cold/disease while the existing poor had the skills to muddle through. Thus, to me, collapsing early to learn/invent the practical skills of how to survive in my local area with few resources is worth the ‘impracticality’ of learning how to do without our fossil fuel based crutches.

  315. Dear All,

    commentary on the recent Australian general election (noting I live in an enclave of the middle class)

    -apparently the term ‘progressive’ or ‘progress’ is a mandatory buzzword for all candidates in all parties. Extra points for ‘progressive progress’!

    -the libertarian Liberal Democrats were the only party proposing a staged retreat towards less government – as a managed way of reducing Federal Government overhead many of their ideas seemed good. They are currently tiny but they seem pretty sane and may get more of a run when tax burdens really start to bite. Unfortunately they are also All Free Trade/Free Immigration All The Time as well – though given our weak geopolitical position in real terms maybe this is more of a realist’s position than the middle class ideology it is in the US.

    -the leaders of both of the major parties were typically uninspiring hacks. However, I think the Liberal Prime Minister (nominally a ‘conservative’) benefited from the sneering of some of the mainstream media. I don’t watch much TV but he comes across as a bit of a good natured doofus and they sneered at him rather than analysing his policies. Not that it has been anything like as polarised as Trump in the US, but people around me really lapped up the sneers and I think in less middle class areas it backfired.

    – the Liberal/Nationals (the ‘conservatives’) essentially promised business as usual and Labor promised massive tax changes + lots of big projects. Things need to change but we have an imploding housing market, savings have increased dramatically and sales are drastically down. In that context, the Labor Party’s policies didn’t come across well and I think people mostly voted to stay with the Liberals who have been seen as doing an ok job (ie no actual recession yet). Therefore, the Liberals have probably moved from minority to majority government.

  316. Re: “Hate, Mourn, Die”: an anecdote from 20th-century philosophy –

    ‘ In August 1922 Russell happened to be passing through Austria on his way to an Italian summer school of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and he arranged to meet up with Wittgenstein again. The encounter was not a success. Wittgenstein found Russell’s philosophical work silly and glib, and he ridiculed the very idea of a League for Peace and Freedom. “I suppose you would prefer a League for War and Slavery,” Russell retorted, and Wittgenstein replied “eher noch!” – “much rather, much rather!” ‘

    (source : )

  317. Amidst all the comments about abortion, where’s talk about contraception?

    It’s cheaper, safer, and less philosophically complicated to prevent a pregnancy than to terminate it.

    I’m not in favor of outlawing abortion but wow, it should be a lot less common than it is. Take control of your body before the child is conceived, not after!

    A useful guideline: If you aren’t comfortable having a practical conversation about pregnancy prevention, you don’t know him well enough to be “doing it”.

  318. JMG, also, answering your question, yes, motivational posters are a plague abroad, too. You see, lots of business people go to the US every year to get some new shiny credentials, and when they come back home they usually bring all sorts of American fads. Motivational posters are just one of them, and a quite popular one, too.

  319. Nestorian – If I have read correctly, you assert that personhood (with civil rights) begins at conception, rather than at any of the succeeding steps: implantation, movement, or birth. How can that not be seen as the “early extreme” pro-life position? I’m not saying that it’s unreasonable or unprincipled, but it is the logical extreme… unless perhaps you would assert that a man acquires the Right to Sire Children, as early and often as he wishes to attempt, at the point of signing of the marriage contract. (I intended that illustration as satire, but then realized that it may not be far from the truth in some societies.)

  320. Someone has mentioned the campaign of Joe Biden as a presidential candidat for the Democrats. The slogans of his platform remind me of the electins for the EU parliament, where the slogans are quite similarly consisting of vapid plastic words line “peace”, “unity”, “courageously resisting the right-wingers” and so on.

    In another vein, the subjects discussed in this and the last few blog posts, and my reading about Druidism, nature spirituality and occultism have awakened me to how large a chasm there is between the rationalist-reductionist mindset of modern industrial civilization on the one hand and the mindset of people who are active in spiritual and/or occult endeavors, not to mention the considerable heat with which spirituality, as long it isn’t protestant Christian, or Islamic, or Buddhism, is rejected.

  321. Just a feeling: Lot’s of negativity around here this week because of the abortion discussion.
    My 5 cents from outside would be:
    For me a society where families and children are not welcome is a dying society and so it will go that way. Good thing is that this is part of the natural selection process.
    Rome went down that path, so will the West until it finds a stable ground again.
    For me abortion never felt right and luckily I never had to take such a decision.
    So what shall I say, it is a personal decision….

  322. @ Nestorian

    We will have to agree to disagree generally, I think. But if I may:

    First, as a side note, the class issues you raised re the AL legislation are legitimate. For many reasons, including those, I find that legislation terribly flawed.

    I deny that “bodily sovereignty” entails any rights that are commensurable with the basic right to life. The latter right categorically overrides the former – especially in view of the fact that pregnancy is an entirely natural process whereby a human being comes into existence.

    This is precisely what I meant when I said you solve the conflict by denying there is a conflict and denying that the other side’s argument has any validity. The other side does exactly the same thing. I say you’re both wrong.

    I also deny that my position is “extremist.” It is merely principled – scientifically as well as morally.

    I believe I used the term “absolutist” rather than “extremist” — and your position is very much that. You assert that the right-to-life reigns absolutely. This is, technically, an extreme position in the sense that it occupies one bookend of the spectrum, the other bookend being the position that a fetus is a nonperson until the moment of birth. These arguments are equally absolutist (your mirror-image counterpart claiming, in symmetric fashion, that the woman’s right to control her body reigns absolutely). My argument is that both of these positions are incorrect in that neither principle is absolute and each must share space with the other.

    As to scientific and moral truths, I do not know of any scientific finding that shows the point at which the soul enters the body. With respect to moral truth, your argument may be valid for those who share your moral framework. I, as it happens, do not; nor do many others, it would appear.

    And to the extent moral arguments for civil legislation are made from religious tenets, then you and I stand on opposite sides of a line. One of the core principles of this republic, and one for which I will fight, is that civil law and religious law remain distinct and separate spheres. The former must not encode the latter, nor should the former restrict the latter. Inevitably, of course, there will be conflicts which have to be worked out and compromises which have to be made. (And because I hold these spheres are separate, I can simultaneously argue for the right to same-sex, even plural, marriage–as the civil institution of marriage is a contract between consenting adult–as well as the right of ecclesiastical bodies to refuse to celebrate or recognize such marriages in the context of their religious operations.)

    For good or for ill, I am something of a civil libertarian and I take my values from the Enlightenment. The three core Lockean rights of life, liberty, and property are held in very high regard. A worker owns his/her labor and a person owns his/her body. These are property. On the other hand, a not-quite born fetus is not not-a-person, so his/her life is also of value. Thus the woman’s right to control her body and the unborn child’s right to his/her life are conflicting rights of equal regard. This is why the schema I’ve suggested is structured the way that it is and why my proposal takes flack from both sides, as it were. Yet, I am not simply “averaging” the two extremes, either, but rather I am also arguing from certain principles.

    Here’s a point of discussion that illustrates this: I would make no exceptions for rape or incest.


    My argument being that the personhood of the child is not dependent on the circumstances of his/her conception. Once that third phase is reached, the fetus is a person. Period. The woman would have the time of that first phase to seek an elective abortion, but once that time has passed, her choice becomes constrained to medical rationale and then finally to only a direct and imminent threat to her life.

    We can seek a compromise or battle forever, see-sawing between opposite extremes as first one side then the other takes power. Perhaps, for some, the forever-wars are attractive. For the rest of us in the middle, who see both arguments as having some but not total merit, I think it is fair to say that we’d like to have some form of reasoned resolution.

  323. I’ll add to @Scotlyn’s answer about motivational sayings, at least here in Ireland. When I lived in Carlingford, on the border with NI, we had local craft store featuring local artists (my wife does ceramics). There was a woman who basically found driftwood and used a soldering gun to inscribe various simple sayings , like Live Live etc. She sold an amazing amount to the wonderment of the other artists who used a lot more skill. So it’s not just the USA, but probably “mostly” the USA.

  324. JMG: “I wonder, though, whether Thunberg is in control of the situation, or if her handlers are busy making sure they project the image of her being in control of the situation.”

    For her sake, I sincerely hope that she does have handlers who know what they’re doing. I’ve had minor dealings with the media in the past, and that was enough to convince me that a ‘normal’ person, lacking assistance, will be fed to the hyenas if they so decide. She’s challenging the Establishment, and that means she needs serious protection.

    I disagree with you, by the way, that she is an example of a Situationist-style Spectacle. On the contrary, she seems to me to be attempting to wake people up, out of the dream-state Spectacle that is Business As Usual.

  325. Two comments:

    First, i still remember James Stockdale’s response to the Abortion Issue in the 1992 Vice Presidential debate. It took him all of about 10 seconds to say everything that needs said, and the affirmative applause of the audience indicates to me that most agree with him. To summarize: It is a women’s body. It is her life. Enough said. Abortion is to be abhorred, but it is a privacy issue, not a political isue.

    Second, I have been living the life Peter Kalmus details in his Be the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution book since the mid 1990’s. Of course the Green New Deal doesn’t
    address what truly needs to be done to best deal with the predicament humans face, but at least it acknowledges we have a problem. Trump’s viewpoint, and that of far too many Republicans, denies that there is any problem at all. Both parties suck. Trump too.

  326. Coop janitor: I noticed you painted a crusty old male warrior, which of course Brown Jenkin was. Any interest in doing one of Amber for the delectation of W of H fans?

  327. Re my response to Nestorian, above, I obviously missed the ending italic tag at the end of the second quote.

    @ Ecodad

    It goes without saying, I suppose, that I disagree with the other absolutist stance as well. It is a political issue in that, at a certain point and one prior to birth, there is a second human life involved. And the mediation of conflicting rights is precisely what politics is for.

  328. Patricia,
    It’s not mine. $250 for the ‘Old Warrior’ seems steep. I thought the artist came close to my vision of a kyrmmi. Same guy has a Tsathoggua idol that is a fair representation.

  329. @ SamuraiArtGuy

    “I sometimes try to point out that Demagoguery 101 suggests that lack of representation and economic misery and the relentless narrowing of opportunity are fertile ground to plant hate and fear of every possible kind.”

    Exactly. The “shouting” will only get louder if these issues are not addressed equitably.

  330. @Varun, (et al…)

    “It’s like these people are trying to be the central stars of their own solar systems, and demand that we all come swirling around them. The idea that they might be part of someone else’s reality is not something they care to deal with. ”

    Yes, I suppose this mentality is probably pretty typical, perhaps a failing of the human condition. If, I may – a brief anecdote:

    About 6 years ago my husband lost his high-flying well paid expat job in Hong Kong and our family fortunes went from high-on-the-hog to struggling to statistically homeless. Then after 4 years, a new job, and new financial standard but nothing remotely as extravagant as our previous life. It has been really hard on him emotionally, a mixed blessing for me, but I think possibly the best thing that could have happened for our two sons. Not just ‘seeing’ as an outsider, but being one of the ‘lower classes’, going from a very privileged private International school to a struggling public one wherein some of their peers were homeless and food insecure, and we ourselves being statistically homeless, (couch-surfing with relatives so not truly homeless) opened their eyes and gave them the opportunity to develop their own grit, empathy and understanding for others and determination to develop their own lives. Their peers from back in HK are in their college years, still simply following the path their parents laid out, understandably, without much enthusiasm or commitment.

    I think in spite of myself, I believe that our journey through this life has purpose, usually one we can’t yet see, “What lesson am I supposed to learn from this?” – but in this episode, It has occurred to me most often that the lesson was not for me or even my husband – it was for my sons. It’s interesting and not unpleasant to think – I am a bit player in someone else’s story at times.

  331. Alright, here is a new pet peeve about modern tech and computerized medicine. Every single time I speak with a representative of any sort of company, they want me to tell them afterwards whether the person was nice, polite, answered all questions etc. But yesterday after seeing my GP doctor, I got an email asking about the visit, was it satisfactory and did they do this and that. This really frosts me! She is a professional and I am supposed to tattle on her and her staff? Of course, they say it is to improve service. Well, my dad once told us kids if we got into the habit of tattling on one another, he’d punish the one who tattled. This crap makes me uncomfortable, and in the rare case that I found a worker a bit surly, I don’t give feedback or I give good feedback. I don’t believe in being judgmental without knowledge. How do I know whether their boyfriend just texted them wanting to break up? What if they are a bit surly but did their job? I don’t like putting people under the gun with every customer contact to be relentlessly nicey-poo all the time. Crabby people need jobs too! But worse is that it is just an unpleasant way to live and work, going behind their backs after every interaction.

  332. @Doodily

    “He hypothesizes that women’s greater Agreeableness comes from the mother-infant dyad: an infant is helpless and extremely demanding, so a mother must necessarily “agree” to meet all of an infant’s demands without question 24/7 (or else the infant could die). Over thousands of years of evolution this greater degree of Agreeableness has become “hard-wired” into women, so that it is now deliberately exploited in the business world by offering working women less pay, longer hours, less fulfilling jobs, crappier conditions & benefits, fewer vacations, etc. solely because women are less likely to object or fight back (due to their greater Agreeableness). It’s a sad and unfortunate state of affairs, but has a ring of truth to it.”

    I wonder if the “ring of truth” to this seductive just-so story set in the never-never-land when “evolution” was busy “hard-wiring” us all, is as pleasant-sounding as it is, because it takes away all need for you to consider how people are reckoning up costs and benefits to different strategies in the here and now.

    If you take a trait like Agreeableness, there are costs for women (in the form of “less pay, longer hours, less fulfilling jobs, crappier conditions & benefits, fewer vacations, etc.” as you point out) in being too Agreeable. But there are also costs, which you don’t point out, and possibly have simply not noticed, in being too not-Agreeable – in the form of social shunning, reduced marriagability*, outright job losses and reduced hireability, direct and sudden losses of income, friends, reputation, position, etc. That is to say, Agreeability is a live tightrope, with pitfalls on all sides, that women must walk in the here and now, and deal with the consequences of loss of balance to far to either side, in the here and now.

    * Not a thing I ever thought I’d pay heed to myself, but it does happen to be a real concern for many people.

    Not a just-so story.

  333. Elisabeth – you say – (with one small amendment from me)
    “A useful guideline: If you aren’t comfortable having a practical conversation about pregnancy prevention, you don’t know HER well enough to be “doing it”.

    I’d love to get this whole conversation around to growing the awareness of men of the awesome powers their fertility has, the horrendous costs it can inadvertently levy upon a partner, and the relative ease with which the total prevention of unwanted pregnancy could be strengthened by them undertaking to be fully responsible for their own fertility.

    That is to say, we currently live in a society in which women do, in fact, pay, around 70% (maybe even closer to 90%) of the financial costs, and 100% of the physical costs of preventing unwanted pregnancy. Likewise, women do, in fact, pay at least 70% (possibly more) of the financial costs, and 100% of the physical costs of FAILING to prevent unwanted pregnancy (And yes, I’m saying this is another one of them tightrope thingies that are such a pay to win/pay to lose situation for women.)

    The strange thing is that, as I know from personal experience, there is such a thing as a man who has discovered that his fertility is capable of imposing the most horrendous of costs on partners who he is grateful to find will love him anyway, and, having so learned, can EFFECTIVELY, and with relatively little personal cost to himself, decide he will never again be the cause of an unwanted pregnancy in anyone else. A small amount of outlay in condoms, and a small amount of attention to their proper use, and even a woman who very much WANTS to become pregnant, will never become pregnant by HIM without a proper process of negotiation and agreement.

    That is to say, I know, from experience, how truly effective contraception becomes when the man is an active partner in the intention to avoid pregnancy. I KNOW that determination, together with a small amount of timely attention, on the part of men generally, could easily prevent almost every unwanted pregnancy, and by that same token, prevent almost every abortion that does not arise from a health problem in a wanted pregnancy.

    It honestly continues to bewilder me why MORE fellows, in simple gratitude for the loving they want and receive from the women in their lives, would weigh up the very high costs that their own fertility may inadvertently levy upon their partner, and set that against the truly small cost to themselves of shoring up her intention, and reducing those costs to her.

    I can guarantee this approach is an amazing way to free up both partners’ enjoyment of their mutual attraction.

  334. On what basis do you defend a woman’s right to choose once she has already chosen to conceive?
    (Setting aside rape or dangers to the mother’s health. I do not set aside birth control failure because everyone knows about the 1% chance.)

    I am generally pro-choice but this is the pro-life argument that makes the most sense.

  335. “Are the motivational saying only an American thing?”

    I can add that as an expat, seeing the homes of friends and acquaintances from every corner of the globe – no they’re not only an American thing. And every culture seems to have it’s own brand of tacky kitsch, be it plaques with sayings, prayers surrounded by rhinestones and roses or garden gnomes. The motivational word/sayings currently in vogue, (but on their way out) seems to be a part of the ‘farmhouse’ look in the USA though.

  336. Re Australian elections. The Left lost what was, according to all the polls, an unloseable election. In all the wailing and handwringing from the left that has followed I am seeing the identical kind of blame game going on that happened in the US after the last election. The Left is convinced it is on the side of the angels, and that only rednecks, racists, climate-deniers and self-interested capitalists would vote otherwise. There is much lamenting the stupidity of anyone who would vote against them. I vote Left myself, but I can see very clearly that the current attitude of the Left is not going to be winning any hearts and minds any time soon..

  337. If the context for having children was 50% would die before age 5, as was the case until about 80 years ago, I wonder what the argument for medical operative abortion would be then?

    Also, look at the words used –
    “having children”
    “control her body”
    Are children possessions to be acquired? Or is pregnancy some sort of invader?

    I’m not against abortion as a medical procedure, but those that are for it need to change their language if they want to win their argument to keep it available like it is now.

    The CDC reports that 91% of abortions occur before 13 weeks, and 1% occur after 20 weeks. Women are already doing what they feel is correct to do which matches much of what is being said here. Why are people fighting to have more abortions legal past 20 weeks freely available at clinics?

    What woman is going to go around in maternity clothes at 30 weeks – after having morning sickness, backaches, unable to tie her shoes, waddling – and then decide she wants to terminate her pregnancy? If the government wants this option legal is it for our own good as women? I don’t think so.

  338. But, JMG, don’t occultists and practitioners of magic make non-falsifiable claims about “manifesting” and “law of attraction” and such? How is that not substituting what one wants to believe for what really is?

  339. Dear Elizabeth, you posted

    Amidst all the comments about abortion, where’s talk about contraception?

    It’s cheaper, safer, and less philosophically complicated to prevent a pregnancy than to terminate it.

    Not to mention that there is one 100 percent effective method of birth control. It is called abstinence.

    Thank you for your very sensible comment. I absolutely reject the pernicious idea that adult, responsible behavior can’t be expected from adults, whether male or female.

    Dear Nestorian, for me the issue is not women “owning their bodies”, but women owning their own lives. In other words, there should be no forced marriages, for any reason whatsoever, ever. You do recall the 2012 election, in which then President Obama was vulnerable, and might have been defeated, but, among other mistakes, various Republican office holders and candidates started expressing idiocies like “legitimate rape”, and devout, pro life women voted for Obama? After the election Karen Hughes, former Chief of Staff to Bush the Younger, threatened publicly to “cut out the tongue” of any Republican politician who talked about sexual assault without also stating that it is a crime. I can tell you, as a Catholic woman who does accept the teachings of my church, that there is no way I will ever stand aside and allow a daughter or granddaughter of mine to be forced into a shotgun marriage with a violent criminal.

    Are you willing to agree that in cases of incest the victim should be removed from the family home and all parental rights of BOTH the abuser and the enabling spouse or partner be terminated. Are you willing to agree that in cases of rape, prosecuted and the rapist found guilty, the criminal AND his family should loose all parental rights to the victim’s child. If paternal grandparents want to take in the child, they can jump over the same hurdles as any other adoptive parents. Conservatives love to grouse about women becoming pregnant on purpose to obtain a welfare check; the elephant in the room which that same faction chooses to overlook is the practice of parents of young men, shall we say, not discouraging early sexual activity, in order to obtain extra income from both welfare check and earnings of a young daughter-in-law. Please don’t anyone try to tell me this does not happen, because I have seen it more than once.

    If a neighbor sprays roundup on one of my rare, cant-be-replaced-in-North-America-at-any-price, roses, do I get to tell the judge that I just couldn’t help myself, the baseball bat whacked the neighbor’s head before I even know what I was doing?

    Finally, I suggest that the pro-life faction needs to give up the post-Freudian fantasy that everyone needs or ought to be getting it on all the time. Nonsense! I am astonished at how many pro-traditional family, pro-life pontificators seem unable to accept or allow for the possibility of people choosing to be single and chaste.

  340. I have been reading Credo. It is on topic, very detailed.

    “Note, 3 July 2017: Credo was published in January 2015. It is out of print now and we don’t plan to have it reprinted. You’re welcome to download an electronic version for free here.”

    I will be trying to find a used copy but prices at are breath taking.

    Not in the Seattle library and they now need $5 for inter-library loans. King County lib also no.

    Partial but readable:


  341. Re contraception

    I agree that contraception makes sense. To me, it is a non-issue.

    The abortion debate deals with the state-of-affairs in the wake of conception, so the two are not really linked in any way. There is also no second human being involved with regard to contraception, only one’s particular moral code regarding the use and purpose of sexuality, which as a civil libertarian I would argue is not the business of the state in any way, shape, or form.

  342. Blueday Jo, from the histrionics I’ve seen from the Australian left, you would think that Fraser Anning had become King of Australia…

  343. Re contraception

    Just to clarify my comment above…

    We’ve been discussing legality with respect to the abortion debate, so that was the framework with which I was approaching the issue of contraception. I don’t know that anyone was arguing that contraception ought to be illegal, which is why I said it was a non-issue for me and that I didn’t see the linkage. Yes, contraception ought to be legal. One’s sexuality is one’s own and can be used or not used, exchanged, bartered, or gifted as one sees fit.

    To the extent others were thinking of contraception as a subsidized service, then that is a whole ‘other dimension of discussion, as we enter into economics and not simply questions of what is or is not legally permissible.

  344. Hi John

    Excellent article as always!

    Your comments on Brexit are certainly interesting. I agree with you that the most likely big impact of the rise of Farage’s Brexit Party is that it will force one of the main parties to embrace a hard Brexit.

    Given that Labour is predominately Remain and only a small minority of its remaining electorate voted Leave it strikes me as highly unlikely that Corbyn would pivot towards a hard Brexit. In fact, there is huge pressure on the Labour leadership from the MP’s, activists and part of their voters to move towards an explicitly Remain position.

    The Tories, on the other hand, are tearing themselves apart with rough 70% of their voters wanting a no-deal Brexit and the overwhelming majority of the party activists. It strikes me as quite likely that Boris Johnson will become the next Tory Prime Minister once May falls this summer.

    Like you say, there is a good chance that this could trigger a general election by the end of the year. I would be interested to know your thoughts on whether the Tories under Boris could compete against the two challenges of Farage and Corbyn.

    I’m also looking into astrology at the moment and its interesting to note that the vast majority of professional astrologists predicted a Clinton victory in 2016. There were a few who read the stars differently and called it for Trump. I wonder why so many got it wrong. I suspect that there was inherent bias which coloured their interpretation of the star signs – what do you think?

  345. @John Roth
    I have been wondering what other issues or problems you might have with Seth (or Jane Roberts), as you suggested in one of your comments above… Many thanks.

  346. Back when I was more of a teeth bearing liberal sort, I wrote the occasional missive (or rant) in The Daily Kos, but they have since grown too shrill and deranged for my Old-school Liberal tastes. But I did have this to say about Abortion, Contraception, and “Religious Freedom” relevant to @Elisabeth’s comments —

    “If you oppose abortion, don’t get pregnant, or have and love the child. If you oppose contraception, have children, or don’t have sex. If you oppose Sex Education… be willing to raise your grandchildren alongside your own children as they become teenage parents. But they’d probably be much better off actually HAVING some legitimate choices, and enough clear knowledge to make responsible informed ones about their sexual lives and health.

    It’s been pointed out to me that unwanted — pardon me — “accidental” children can be put up for adoption. But it still carries the flavor of an abdication of responsibility. One of the entire themes of Family Planning in the first place, is that every child be chosen and wanted. If you’re really opposed to abortion as primary birth control, then you should be ALL IN for contraception. Access to contraception and Sex Education is the hands-down proven best way to reduce and even eliminate abortion, AND as an extra bonus, contain the spread of STDs including HIV! Sex Ed? I would have to say that sexual responsibility is a lot easier to practice when you know what you’re doing. But the opponents of abortion, are surprisingly (or maybe not all that surprisingly) also opposed to contraception, and sex education.

    Stop me if you’ve ever heard the phrase, “barefoot and pregnant.”

    – About Religious “Freedom”… , The Daily Kos, 14 February 2012.

  347. @Scotlyn

    How about this for an edit?

    “A useful guideline: If you aren’t comfortable having a practical conversation about pregnancy prevention, you don’t know EACH OTHER well enough to be “doing it”.”

  348. @Onething The surveys post encounter with corporatized health care isn’t so you can tell the truth – it’s so they can better market to you as a consumer. Considering it flattering that you have a financial profile that makes you desirable.

    People can switch providers in an instant and the large health systems are competing for the customers that can afford to pay. My husband did marketing technology for awhile and at the conferences they would come and show off their ability to “listen” and “show how they care” based on data they collected.

  349. DT by “chosen to conceive” do you mean “chosen to have sex*?

    If so, might it not be said with equal accuracy that a man “choosing to have sex” is “choosing to sire”?

    Or, might it be that we all (male and female) experience our sexuality as being distinct from our fertility?

  350. Denys,

    Boy, you got that wrong. We were on medicaid till a year ago and now are slightly above that so have heavily subsidized health care. Besides, it is every single organization, the utilities and so on.

  351. Elizabeth, yes! That is absolutely how it needs to go! 🙂

    Of course, I am still often arrested hearing someone telling someone else, in what is still common parlance, “did you hear? So-and-so got herself pregnant!” And in a world that doubts virgin birth miracles, it turns out that the improbability of a girl single-handedly “getting herself” pregnant raises no eyebrows.

    So, yes, just for now, I’m throwing my weight on the other leg of the teeter totter, until I see some evidence that boys are being taught to give a similar weight to their own fertile powers, and the care and responsibilities that come with possession of those powers as girls are.

    But, ultimately, in an aspirational sense, I thoroughly concur with your final edit. ,

  352. Scotlyn, fair enough. Thanks for the data point!

    Candace, true!

    Coop, that’s not bad. I imagine kyrrmis as being a little more ratlike in body shape, all four paws roughly the same size, and the tail as long as the body and prehensile — oh, and the fur tends toward brown-to-gold, rather than gray. But it’s closer than a lot of other images!

    Aspirant, 1) Yes, it’s a typo. 3) Quite possibly!

    Chris, many thanks for this. I got the impression, after reading an assortment of online Aussie media, that the Labor Party tried to make the election “about” climate change, only to discover — like certain other political parties recently — that it’s the voters, not the self-proclaimed Good People™, who decide which issues matter.

    SamuraiArtGuy, the pushback against that obvious point is so shrill that I’m pretty sure the people who do it know perfectly well what the score is, and don’t want to deal with what their acts of privilege have done to wage class Americans.

    TamHob, many thanks for this also!

    Godescalc, hah! Thank you.

    Bruno, those are good examples of the species, yes. As for motivational posters, I’m sorry to hear that. Of all the things to export…

    Booklover, yep. It’s something all of us on the far side of that division have to get used to.

    Jaznights, oog. I’m sorry to hear that.

    Bogatyr, she was invited to speak at Davos. That demonstrates conclusively to me that she’s in no possible sense a threat to the status quo.

    Ecodad, first, by insisting that abortion is a privacy issue rather than a political issue, you’re begging the question, since that’s exactly the point under dispute. Second, while I certainly agree that both parties suck, a Green New Deal that “admits there’s a problem” but does nothing to solve it, and distracts attention from things that might actually do some good, is no better in practice than the simple denial that there’s a problem at all. Different verbiage, same effect.

    Onething, oh, granted — and of course what’s behind that is that they’re trying to gather data on how better to manipulate you, which to me is snot-flavored icing on a very unpleasant cake.

    Pip, I ain’t arguing…

    Caryn, oog. I’m sorry to hear that.

    Blueday Jo, dear gods. What has gotten into the Left these days, that it literally has no idea how it comes across to the rest of the world?

    MikeFromMI, the pop-culture slogans you’ve mentioned have about as much to do with actual occultism as the laboratory in Young Frankenstein has to do with actual science. If you want to critique something, it’s a good idea to learn at least a little bit about it first…

    Forecastingintelligence, unless something changes very drastically by the time of the next UK general election, the Tories may be facing the kind of electoral annihilation that ended the Liberal Party as a significant political force in 1922. One recent survey I saw indicated that if a general election was held today, Labour would win a narrow majority, the Brexit Party would be the opposition party with 11 fewer seats than Labour, and the Tories would have all of three seats in the House of Commons. If Farage does as he’s announced he’ll do, and unveil a detailed political platform for the Brexit Party once the EP elections are over, I expect to see continued shifts of pro-Leave voters in his favor; I would not be at all surprised if Brexiteer MPs begin to bail out of the Tory camp to join the Brexit Party; and if Corbyn continues to try to finesse the Brexit question, he may lose a lot of pro-Leave Labour voters in the midlands and the north.

    With regard to all those failed forecasts of a Clinton victory, one thing history teaches is that astrologers can make very bad predictions if they let their preferences get in the way of what the planets say. Do you recall the group of astrologers in Britain in early 1939 who insisted that the stars showed there would be no war that year? This was exactly the same thing. The forecast circulated by the American Federation of Astrologers, interestingly, predicted a Trump win.

  353. RE Farage & Brexit Party… this site by a Labour supporting sociologist has a lot of great posts. On BP (and the CHUK fiasco) he makes an interesting point that both are ‘cadre’ parties – throwbacks to a 200 year old structure in which the parties aren’t modern parties at all (not being open to public members). Chuk has failed miserably, but BP has succeeded wildly (milk shakes won’t be enough to stop this caravan).

    That such an old form should be theoretically capable (as BP now is) of becoming the op. party or even in pinch the Government really throws a spanner in the Whig Interpretation of History. Never mind people imagining a return to the 1930s, this would be a return to the 1830s!!!! One on the right, and one in the so-called progressive center, and nobody seems to find it remarkable…

    I see the UK establishment is throwing accusations of financial shenanigans at Farage now, for all the good it will do them.

  354. I struggled with this essay like I haven’t in years. It wasn’t just the essay, it was also having recently started The Order of Essene. So, this essay challenged me to examine my reasons, no, more than that. It’s hard to put into straightjacket words where my mind has been this week. Too many connections. Too many “unexpected kinds of sense” in words.

    It seems to me the New Thought of The Order says that the “odd set of assumptions” are reversing cause and effect, and after much meandering that brought me back around to, be the change you want to see in the world. And that is still a conversation.

    Perpetual motion? Does it count if my head is spinning? 🙂

  355. Dear jmg

    I’m a labor voter, and like a lot of Australians are shocked that the liberals have somehow, despite what they have done while in office, won another few years of power.

    One of the reasons that people think this has happened is because labor was planning to remove certain tax loopholes that “The upper classes” liked to exploit as well as introduce a carbon tax, and so the liberals ran a massive attack add campaign saying that labor was going to increase the amount of tax that families and the next generation was going to pay, even though pretty much every economics expert said that the amount that the carbon tax would cost was going to be so small as to be barely noticeable to society.

  356. Samurai Art Guy – as the Freudian slips mount up … teeth-bearing? So glad you’re not toothless. I do think this blog’s collective sub-conscious is informing everybody’s fingers!

    JMG – one of your predictions has come true with a vengeance. The salary class – clear up to the level that gets buyouts instead of pink slips…. is starting to be thrown under the bus. Ford Motors is cutting 7,000 jobs- *most of them white collar…. will save $600 million per year by eliminating bureaucracy…….through buyouts and layoffs.”

  357. @John Kincaid.
    Just want to say that, while personal experience (along with interests) is what largely shapes our political views, and I thank you for sharing yours – both the experience and the viewpoint.

    I invite you to consider that *you* in yourself, are not anyone’s argument. You are a person. No person is an argument for this or that view. No person is ammunition in anyone’s wars.
    Although, if you wish to join in either the war or the peace, feel free. And my very best wishes to you in the midst of all your troubles and cares.

    PS – I’ve only ever wanted to have my mortal remains composted and eaten as quickly as possible by a world which has nourished me well.

  358. @Y. Chirea,
    Some of the most miserable, vindictive people I know are self-described “optimists.” Meanwhile pessimists like me are pretty happy. If the absolute worst comes to pass, we were right!

  359. First off, I’d like to again express my appreciation for this community, our host, and my fellow Ecosophians who make this forum an oasis of reasoned conversation amidst the harsh landscape of the internet. And, in particular, with regard to those of us who engaged in an occasionally tense but still civil conversation about abortion, I’d say that while we by no means reached any form of agreement, we were able to exchange wildly divergent views based on equally divergent values in a reasoned and civil manner. This is a valuable thing and should not be taken casually.

    Finally, to end the week with something of a lighter note, an anecdote re altering-reality-by-wishful-thinking. Riding into work this morning, there was a radio spot for a department store Memorial Day Sale announcing “Summer Is Here!” I glanced up at the wet, grey sky and then at my dash, where the temperature read forty-six degrees (F). And I laughed.

  360. Siliconguy,

    I am definitely not telling you how to live your life. You gotta do what’s right for you. And my suggestions are almost certainly not practical for everyone. I was simply making a short list of approaches to resource use reduction that have emerged from my decade of attempting to do such things.

    All of them require behavioral changes to accomplish though, and the main thrust of my argument was that they could be done on ANY power supply system. No alt-energy source necessary.

    Take your hot water heater argument as an example. A GAS on-demand water heater requires nothing like a 400 Amp power supply. There are even models that don’t require any electricity at all. That represents a major reduction in both system complexity and grid load; using less energy to accomplish daily life is still up to you, but this is a way to severely cut the ghost load behind the tech. (And since I have 7 years of experience carrying and heating water on the stove, the failure of an automated water heating system scares me none at all.)

    As for using a dryer, we have a couple of folding clothes racks that fit neatly over heater vents if the furnace heat is running, and snuggle nicely around the woodstove otherwise, for cold or rainy days. But mostly we just do laundry on sunny days…

    And going to the laundry mat with wet clothes now and then isn’t a sin. It’s never an all or nothing thing. I think that’s the hardest part for most people: conservation requires persistence.

    At least we have a real clothes washer at home now! The little off-grid spinner washer we had at the farm was a royal pain in the arse…


  361. Following on my previous comment, David Holmgren had something useful to say about sustainability:

    (Paraphrasing here) We talk about sustainability as if it’s some sort of steady-state plateau where we’ve gotten the right tech in place and are now free to move on to something else, secure in the knowledge that we have that thing taken care of. In fact, sustainability is more like a roller coaster, always heading more or less in the direction of less energy and fewer resources per capita as we head into the future.

    (Back to me) Therefore, adaptation to energy descent is a regular and recurring analysis of how we’re doing in relation to what is and isn’t available to us right now, and how we’re preparing for what is likely to be in short supply soon. Every generation will have to come up with novel approaches because their energy reality will be different from the one before them.

    But my main point is, real conservation isn’t sleek and sexy. It’s a principled and dedicated participation with the understanding that we must use less. That’s it – use less. And the sooner we can do so the smoother this will be for everyone, and the greater your advantage for navigating the trials of energy descent.

    Making excuses for why you can’t use less is normal, but not very useful.

    Just my .02 though.

  362. @Scotlyn,

    Agree with the first, and that’s what I plan to teach my boys… you have sex with a woman, you need to be prepared to be a father. If you aren’t prepared to be a father, you probably shouldn’t have sex. You roll the dice every time.
    Now as to the second, yes, in our day, sexuality has been decoupled from responsibility, roles, and reproduction. In doing so we have devalued the family and thumbed our nose at the evolutionary imperative. This isn’t about religion, this is about the very mechanism that nature has used to, ahem, “select” throughout millions and millions of years. We’ve turned sex into merely “happy fun time” and completely disavowed the natural consequences, I don’t evolution is going to continue “selecting” us.
    I’m not against birth control… or even abortion in some cases, but I am against how those two are being used to promote the decoupling of sex from responsibility, roles, and reproduction. My wife and I have taken steps to prevent pregnancy after having two children but, we are always mindful it might fail, and if it does, well that’s +1 for us.
    I read something the other day that made the point that our society doesn’t think family and kids are important, and that is our undoing, and I agree.

  363. Scotlyn

    “I invite you to consider that *you* in yourself, are not anyone’s argument. You are a person. No person is an argument for this or that view. No person is ammunition in anyone’s wars.
    Although, if you wish to join in either the war or the peace, feel free.”

    I have no idea what it is you mean to convey.

Comments are closed.