Open Post

April 2020 Open Post

This week’s Ecosophian offering is the monthly (well, more or less!) open post to field questions and encourage discussion among my readers. All the standard rules apply — no profanity, no sales pitches, no trolling, no rudeness, no long screeds proclaiming the infallible truth of fill in the blank — but since there’s no topic, nothing is off topic. (I think we’re far enough into the current coronavirus outbreak that most of my readers are as bored with the subject as I am, so that’s not a banned topic at this point…though if I’m wrong and this turns into another coronafest, I may rescind that.)

With that said, have at it!


  1. Here’s hoping most of us that post at Ecosophia are mostly virused out; I know I am. But I notice that a two-day old Open Post over at Moon of Alabama has reached over 500 (539 at this point) posts, almost all about the virus.

    Antoinetta III

  2. Hi JMG,

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on the oil price activity this week. I never thought I would see futures go negative. We live in interesting times! While depletion never sleeps, at least temporarily we are awash in cheap oil.

    While we have domestic producers up to their eyeballs in iffy debt, at the same time we have the federal government ready to subsidize them indefinitely. If these prices persist, I would expect it to cripple the economies of petrostates such as Russia and Saudi Arabia.

    I had been thinking we were setting up for a tremendous upswing in prices in the mid 2020s given that investment in exploration and production has been trending down for many years now. Now that looks wrong, at least to me. With this much inventory on hand, it is hard to imagine a tight supply in less than 10 years.

  3. Okay, here are my real questions.

    1) Any news on the RPG? Release date?
    2) Can you tell us titles and release dates of your Lovecraftian fiction that are upcoming?
    3) Have you considered opening up your Lovecraft setting to short story writers ala Retrotopia?
    4) Can I assume that Merlin’s Wheel was the working title for The Mysteries of Merlin?
    5) With some trepidation i ask, do you get threats from people/organizations that don’t like what you write?


  4. I was just diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. My wife and I are working through some stuff in therapy. Through that process we learned that I am on the spectrum. I was wondering what advice everyone has for basic information about asperger’s, what it is, how it works, things to cope with it, etc. It seems my case is not strong but very real. I seem to be able to read people’s faces for example.
    I would like to thank everyone here and especially JMG for their candid talk about asperger’s. Lots of times when it came up I thought that sounds vaguely familiar but really I am just an introvert. Without reading about the condition here I just would have never learned this about myself. Thank you all so much.

  5. Everyone–

    Your semi-regular energy news tidbits:

    Because selling off publicly-owned not-for-profit facilities to for-profit private business is a good idea /s

    Never a fun thing to report

    Power prices impacted by That Which Shall Not Be Named
    (we’re seeing this in the MISO markets, too)

    India’s nuclear future

    There’s money in it for someone, I guess

    Because owners of a natural monopoly with captive ratepayers somehow need to be paid incentive money despite the fact that they bear little actual risk on their investment

    Finally, on a non-energy but related issue, the EPA and Corps of Engineers released a final rule revising the Waters of the US (wOTUS) rule. Back in 2015 (IIRC), the Obama admnistration had proposed a very expansive definition, which would have greatly increased federal jurisdiction over waterways. Under the Trump administration, unsurprisingly, something very different has been implemented.

    The proposed definition becomes effective June 22nd. As the trade group forwarding this announcement noted: “There will be many legal challenges to the rule. Environmental groups and states have signaled they intend to sue asserting the scope of protections are too narrow. A conservative group has stated it may challenge that the rule does not go far enough. “

  6. Thanks for these open posts! Two questions: Do you think the Saudis miscalculated by increasing oil production to try and wipe out the US shale oil industry? Looks like they are taking a hit economically due to the sharp drop in oil prices. Just wondering how you see that playing out. Also: do you know when the 2nd volume of the Dolmen Arch is coming out for pre-order?

  7. Not directly related to Covid, but have you noticed how most people are incapable of changing their minds?
    It could be an artifact of the online communities (the crazies are the loudest) but it seems to me that nothing can dislodge people from their mindlessly repeating ideologies.

    For example, this crisis proved beyond any doubt that Trump is far to the left of the mainstream democrats (see medicare for all covid patients, direct mailed checks etc all opposed by democrats including the beloved Bernie). But nothing has changed in terms of how people talk – “Orange man bad” is still the most common refrain online.

    By the same token, workaholics (people that get their identity from their jobs) don’t take a moment to stop and think “what if” – I break my leg, or get fired etc.

    Is this a sign of the inability of the elites to adapt to the changing conditions? Or is it simply that we are not at the breaking point yet?

    Now I know that at some point, the culture might just “flip” to a different state. That doesn’t mean things will be better (think Russian or French revolution) but do you think we are close to a state change?

  8. Hi JMG, I hope you’re well. I appreciate your opinion on religious and spiritual matters and am wondering if you’ve read the book “The World’s Religions” by Huston Smith? If you have read it, do you think it provides a balanced overview? My wife enjoyed it and I’m in the process of reading it. I’m ashamed to admit how little I know about religions outside my Christian Reformed upbringing.

  9. Hi JMG. I am curious if recent events have prompted any updates to your assessment last month of the subject that shall not be named? I will umderstand if you pass. Getting ready to put in the green beans and cucumbers.

    Hope you are well, Thanks,


  10. Has anyone else noticed the class divides in who’s still working? The elite are still working, and most of the stores still open (such as grocery stores) are staffed by the lower end of the working class, but nearly everyone in between isn’t. I wonder if this is part of the world class meltdowns: the self declared “People who matter” are finding out that they are utterly irrelevant, while it’s the people they hate who actually keep society running….

  11. Dear JMG,

    I’m curious what your thoughts are about the so-called Planetary deities — Luna/Selene, Mercury/Hermes, Venus/Aphrodite, Sol/Helios, Mars/Ares, Jupiter/Zeus, Saturn/Cronus — in your practical experience. Do you think that they are the same beings as the Planetary Intelligences, the Planetary Archangels, or do think that they are likely different beings altogether? Since you’ve done a good deal of planetary magic, Cabalistic magic, and in your Geomancy book mention the Orphic Hymns to these beings I imagine you may be able to recognize these them as distinct or not, and so am very curious to know your opinion on the matter!

  12. Oh, also, I’m reading and interested in the current series of posts, but I don’t have much to say on them. In the case of the Cosmic Doctrine I’m about ten chapters behind, and have no expectation of catching up; while in the case of the occult history of America, I don’t know nearly enough to feel able to comment intelligently on them.

  13. What, if anything, do you think, will be different, after the pandemic more or less has run its course? Where I live, lockdowns have been eased, and you can already see the many young, fashion-obsessed girls glued to their smartphones running about.

    Another weird thing is the negative oil price, which came about to an unprecedented collapse in oil demand.

  14. I was curious what your reaction was when oil went to *negative* $40 per barrel and then bounced back up to zero. Over here my stomach churned….

  15. In your search for esoteric knowledge, have you ever come across a book by W. Bramley called The God’s of Eden? I came across a discussion of it in the Brotherhood of the Serpent podcast and wanted to hear your take on their thesis on the origin of various mystery cults.

  16. Hi John

    What are your thoughts on the stock market and the collapse in oil prices? In particular what would you say “fair value” is in the S&P 500 and would you agree that the market is likely to see an approximately 50 per cent fall from its peak as a consequence of the Great Lockdown?

  17. I was just reading about the epistolary novel and came across this Alien fanfiction, this thing of beauty –

    It reminded me how much I love that style of writing. I can’t remember any of your novels that I’ve read using it, or at least not much. Is it a style you’ve used or would consider?

  18. JMG,

    First time poster, long-time reader. What are your thoughts on sports in the Long Descent?

    Clearly sports go back to tribal times as a display of fitness of the young men and women in the tribe. (Gottschall’s: “Professor In The Cage: Why Men Fight And We Like To Watch” is a fun read on this topic) But our “Youth Sports Industrial Complex” (Good read here: seems unlikely to continue and covid may be the pin that pops the bubble down a step on the staircase of decline.

    I was fortunate enough to be involved in a sport at the Olympic level. And I’ve made a nice living traveling the world, teaching some of the tricks of the trade. Not making the 7-figure salary that I might if basketball or soccer or tennis was my sport, but the comfortable living that being involved at an elite level in the next tier down of sports can provide. (I think people might be shocked at how much money the swimming or softball coach at a big state university makes)

    For much of the professional class, sports are a huge status symbol for their children, and good coaches (or at least, those who are good at convincing the parents they are a good coach, because much of the youth sports system is set up to make every parent feel like their kid is just on the verge of being elite) seem to me to play the role that a dancing or fencing instructor might have played to minor Renaissance nobility.

    I wouldn’t mind continuing to make that minor nobility money, but also recognize that we might not have the collective wealth to support it for much longer. That’s okay, I’m preparing for that personally.

    But, there’s also lots of value to sports competition. Skills like teamwork, leadership (and how to be a follower as well) and critical thinking aren’t taught as much in school as rote memorization is emphasized. For this generation of kids, even basic communication skills are a struggle. For some of them, discussing and executing a strategy on the playing field (and debriefing why it went wrong) are some of the only times when they are forced to solve problems with peers, rather than just obey an adult. (Although, unfortunately, many youth sports coaches emphasize obeying the coach’s orders rather than solve problems yourself.)

    I am wondering how I can keep serving my community (whether that’s the world, country, or just my local town) as a teacher of this particular game, in an era when fewer resources can be devoted to upholding status symbols such as sports proficiency?


  19. Hi JMG

    why did you drop out of college the first time around? Would you ever consider doing a Masters or Phd? Or accepting an honorary degree?

  20. Greetings JMG,

    Your exploration of The Cosmic doctrine led me to a deep dive into astrology, many thanks! In the course of trying to understand my natal chart it occurred to me that possibly a significant number of people would have exactly the same chart. I would argue that they are all different people on pretty much any level, conscious, unconscious, spirit, etc.

    My thinking here is that the sun spends approximately 30 days in a sign, the moon about two days, and your ascendant traverses a sign in about two hours, if my understanding of this stuff is correct, everyone born within that two hour window would have the same sun sign, planets and ascendant. That looks like two time zones bounded by some latitude, but I have no idea the likely number of people born in that window.

    In light of the above, what can a natal chart really tell you about yourself? I find the Hellenistic astrologers to be too deterministic, while most of the “Modern” astrologers claim we have unlimited free will and can ignore our chart if we don’t like it.

    So far, C G Jung seems to have the most useful insights into the astrology of personality, but I haven’t yet managed to extract much in the way of practical application from it.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

  21. I agree that dwelling on the details of our current predicament is boring and mostly unhelpful, but I do find that thinking about the possible future effects of “The Rona” (sounds like a term from “Stars Reach”) on society and the economy is interesting. I believe it is something of an “Alice Through the Looking Glass” moment with many things to be turned inside out and backward. I think we may never return to an economy built on yoga studios, tattoo parlors and Disney vacations and instead find the practicality of family farms that can be operated by immediate relatives.

  22. How about some discussion on how incompetent the Federal and many of the state governments have been shown to be?

    It is not even a question of ideology, intelligence, or education, but just very, very basic common sense. Money for testing, for small businesses, and for the tens of million unemployed is delayed, minimized, or just botched. Heck, politicians want to reopen the country months before it should be, which will bring us right back where we are today.

    Seeing that many people seemingly want to bring about social collapse, do you think that is true? I do not honestly think so, but one has to wonder sometimes, or are some just completely disconnected from reality? Is this kind of incompetence or stupidity the cause of some of the various catastrophes of the 20th century or the collapse of some societies in the past, and possibly ours in the future?

  23. Hi JMG – it’s still early to determine the longer term impact of the Bug and the resulting Sudden Stop of the economy, but does this alter your timeline of decline at all? My rough guess is that with the impact on travel/tourism, small businesses, food production, the auto sector, health care, education, etc., that for at least some aspects of our lives what looked like a 2024/2025 inflection point is NOW. Perhaps still a gradual decline overall, but with a bigger stair step down here in 2020.

  24. After the most recent CosDoc discussion I came across the following in Book 4 of the Picatrix which reminded me of the assigned reading:

    “It is therefore clear that the first form is more noble and in every way more subtle than perception, as perception is more noble and subtle than spirit, and spirit than nature, and nature than the elements. Each of the aforesaid He put one above another according to their proper measure of distance, as though to say that the first is absolute, pure in itself, and free from all grossness; while the second has in it a little more grossness or materiality than the first, and less than the third, and so by degrees descending to the elements and elementary things. This is because that prime essence shines more brightly in itself, while other things lacking its purity, down to the necessary endpoint, return to it as they create species, that is, as subordinate genera, they return to the most general genera, as each receives nobility from its superiors and distributes its power to its inferiors.” (Emphasis added.)

    I was struck by the similarity of the italicized portion to “the nadir of the arc where involution ends and evolution begins” from your introduction to that discussion. Is there in fact a real similarity to be detected here?

  25. With regard to the Great Pause, I see a fair amount of discussion about awareness of the expected push to resume Business As Usual once the disruption has been properly subdued by Man, Conqueror Of Nature and a consequent effort to resist said forces. For myself, though we already live a very modest lifestyle, I have been made even more aware of the multitude of things that I do not need (trinkets, restaurant food) and have been made aware of things which I need much more than I considered (e.g. human interaction).

    To my mind, there are three primary groups of people: those who fervently wish to remain unchanged by the experience and who will intentionally resume status-quo-ante behavior, those who will have learned something but who will either forget over time or else will succumb to the marketing efforts sure to come and who will gradually revert to status quo ante behavior or something close to it, and finally a group who will to a greater or lesser extent make permanent changes to their perspectives and/or lifestyles as a result of having gone through this thing.

    I’m also seeing a lot of “listen to the experts” talk, which I generally keep silent about considering our on-going discussion of the erosion of the trust-factor with regard to the cult of expertise. Even to the extent that some are well-intentioned (and I’m sure many are), far too many bridges have been burned. I’m certain this will not be getting better as time rolls on.

    Finally, just some data on differing perspectives from differing generations. My daughter (who is somehow twenty-one, still trying to figure out how *that* happened) went through about a month of unemployment at the outset of this crisis, not too many months after moving into her own apartment. She was far less concerned about the situation than I was, but she’s always been a saver and had plenty of padding in her funds to ride through. In any event, she started a new job a week and a half ago as a scale-house manager at a local quarry. She’s not doing the four-year college thing, but instead carving her own path. (Long-term plans include getting trained/certified in mortuary science and becoming a funeral director. Her spiritual path inclines toward death deities and she wants to incorporate that into her life’s work, helping both the living and the dead through the Great Transition.) She’s far more put-together than I ever was at her age (undoubtedly her mother’s influence) and it is truly an amazing thing to watch.

  26. Hello JMG,

    1. Do you have any idea on how religion might be thought of and practiced as the post-Pisces, post-Axial era unfolds around us? Might religion become something akin to a constellation of different “guilds” for an individual to choose from, and that individual choices on this become more and more respected by the average person as opposed to religion being something compulsory and one-size-fits-all in nature? Here in contemporary America do you think the widespread existence of various subcultures and fandoms might be a prelude to a future like that or do you think that’s merely an outcome of techno-consumerism? Might the “re-guild-ification” of everything be the wave of the future?

    2. I believe you mentioned a few weeks ago on MM that there are ancient connections between the old Celtic and Egyptian religions. Could you elaborate more on this? Would this mean there was/is some degree of interchangeability between those pantheons? I always thought that the Celtic and Roman religions had some degree of compatibility, for example with the solar goddess Sul being expressed in Roman terms as Sulis Minerva, and Tutatis as a form of Mercury/Hermes.

    3. Is is possible that Iolo Morganwg and some of the people who built upon his work were able to reconstruct their re-imagination of the ancient British pantheon using inner plane contacts? Since we know these names connect to real gods via ritual work, there has to be something to this rediscovery.

  27. John–

    Any comments or observations about those of the upper crust who have bolted to their bug-out facilities? I’ve seen a handful of articles about the complexes in New Zealand being occupied now and that sort of thing. That sort of reaction to events does rather show one’s cards to everyone, doesn’t it?

  28. I am historically uninformed regarding economics. I have read you for several years and appreciate your larger view of economic theories and their outcomes. What would you like to see happen economically in the U.S. and globally? Are there policies that are being enacted place right now that you would change or avoid? I admittedly read way too much about our situation and would love to hear an opinion from your point of view. (I tried to post this just a couple of seconds ago, and it gave me an error message. Excuse this if it is a duplicate)

  29. Good Afternoon, Mr. Greer:

    I was wondering if you had created a timeline or map for your Retrotopia scenario.

    Otherwise, I was wondering if I could ask about individual components of the Retrotopia universe.

  30. I recently made a Facebook post directly targeted at leftists who are trying to shame protestors around the world who are calling for everyone to go back to work. Here’s the meat of it:

    “Not all people can shelter in place for three to six months at a time. I’ve noticed the loudest and most strident voices of shame tend to be individuals who have never had to stretch a paycheck to pay the bills. When you’ve never been in a bad enough place to consider a predatory loan and never had to scratch a meal together from a dribble of ketchup, some dried beans, and a wrinkly potato, it’s ugly to shout “DANGER” at people who are poorer than you who would rather risk pneumonia than losing a steady paycheck. The whole “let’s make fun of them for their ‘Murica’ aesthetic” is plain old bigotry. Process that.

    Please consider some empathy for those who are in long food pantry lines right now. The protests aren’t just about wanting to get back to the hair salon. They’re about wanting to feel SAFE, just as you feel that walling yourself into your house to avoid a virus gives you that feeling, people of a lower economic status than you can only feel SAFE if they know they’ll have adequate money for food, gas, and emergencies coming in soon. And for the lower classes, that means working.”

    I was pleasantly surprised by the comments, which are almost in the hundreds at this point. I expected massive trollery. Instead, I had only one delete/block from a looney Trump Derangement dude, two leftist women who couldn’t take the heat and bowed out, and one leftist friend who made an ad hominem attack (which I promptly called out) and came back to the table with an actual perspective. I think the winds are changing. There’s a collective feeling of “if you cannot talk things out like an adult, you will be confined to the little kid’s table” that seems promising.

  31. I just watched the newly released documentary “Planet of the Humans”. It’s a pretty devastating expose of the false promise of green technology and takes a hard look at the various alternative energies (wind, solar, etc.), long touted as “solutions” to climate change (they’re not). I was pretty shocked to learn about all the huge corporations and various billionaires like Michael Bloomberg who are investing heavily in these technologies and all the big environmental groups that are working with them. It spends a lot of time critiquing biomass, a horribly destructive technology, and I was shocked again to learn that biomass was endorsed by the Sierra club and none other than Bill McKibben! (both have reversed their stance since the film was released.) I was already convinced that “green” technology wasn’t going to save us- only a severe ratcheting down of our wasteful lifestyles is going to do that- but this film lays it all out. I highly recommend it. It can be viewed for free on youtube.

  32. Hello JMG

    There seems to be a certain amount of China-blaming for the worldwide lockdown, how far do you think this will go? Will China become the next Iraq’s WMDs?


  33. You have mentioned the writings of Vine Deloria Jr. a few times over the years. If you ever feel like putting your thoughts about his work in an essay, especially his book “God is Red,” I would be thrilled. I am particularly interested in what you think about his presentation of a religion’s connection to the land. I am not Native American, but some of his ideas resonate with me more than any other spiritual system I’ve encountered.

  34. Antoinetta, what can I say? Clearly I attract a better commentariat. 😉

    Samurai, it’s been wild to watch! I expect to see a lot of price volatility once economies get started again, and I’m fairly sure that this pushes the timeline for the next oil price spike (which I was expecting toward the middle of this decade) at least a little further out. But we’ll see.

    AV, (1) I’ll have to check with the publisher; it was originally scheduled for release at the end of May, but the games convention where it was going to be launched has iirc been indefinitely postponed. It should be out sometime this year, though. (2) The last two of my tentacle fantasies are A Voyage to Hyperborea, which is in press, and The Seal of Yueh Lao, which is being read by my beta reader right now and will be heading to the publisher after it gets some serious editing. I don’t have specific release dates for them but the first should appear in a matter of weeks and the second will probably see print this summer. (3) Yes, and in fact I discussed that in a Dreamwidth entry of mine late last year. If there’s sufficient interest for an anthology, we can discuss that (My most recent attempt to do an After Oil anthology didn’t get enough stories to fill a volume, though, so I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes too high.) (4) Yes, it’s one of Llewellyn’s little quirks that they’ll never settle for a good title when they can think of a boring one instead. (5) I’ve received a grand total of one death threat in all the years I’ve been blogging, and it wasn’t even on my blog — it was on, in response to the Archdruid Report post I made years back suggesting that the future history of Israel was going to parallel the history of the Crusader states. Other than that, my trolls have settled for denouncing me in shrill, repetitive, and usually very dull language.

  35. JMG,

    Here’s a comment I couldn’t post most places without being ripped to shreds. I have noticed that some of my friends/coworkers/former coworkers etc, seem to be thoroughly enjoying their lockdowns in potentially life changing ways. One of my all time favorite ADR posts was the one where you discussed making raspberry jam, and the extent to which the world would probably be better off if one person from every couple left the work force and contributed full time to the home economy. You stressed that this wouldn’t necessarily need to be a woman.

    It happens that most of the people I have in mind who seem happier than I’ve ever seen them are women. It also happens that in my particular marriage, if one of us had to quit a job, it would certainly be me and my wife would continue to work. She makes more money, enjoys her job more, and enjoys staying home with the kids less. I also have two daughters, and the older one has CEO written all over her. So I’m not pressing for a return to the oppression of women here. I’m just noting that a lot of people (even driven, ambitious, career-minded people) seem to be enjoying the time at home. Maybe one result of this mess will be a return to more 1 income households with raspberry jam being made in the kitchen.

  36. This past week, i wrapped up ten years’ service on my city’s planning/zoning commission and three years’ service as a member of city council. It has been an excellent experience–by far the most effective civics lesson ever–and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in such things and a passion for public service. The ending is somewhat bittersweet. As with all things, however, there is a season and it is time for me to put my energy into other endeavors.

  37. Hi JMG,

    I’ve recently started reading The Druidry Handbook, and between that and your last post and probably a handful of other posts, I wonder if “transformation” as a concept, topic, and practice is a very important thing to you? Or maybe “adaptation” if that seems different enough? Or “flexibility”? I suppose what I’m trying to grasp is a continuous message of ways we have or can, or should or shouldn’t adjust to a present environment. Whether that environment is our own thoughts and how we see and react to others and ourselves, or whether it’s our practice that no longer serves new generations in word choice, symbolism, or message. There’s an appreciation in your messages for things that work and things that don’t. An understanding of how we arrive at the present and the choices we have to make (or can make) faced with what’s in front of us. When we understand what’s come before (your fascination with history), when we can anticipate possible outcomes and prepare for them (your thoughts on predictions and the inevitable crises of our time), and see what did and didn’t work, or how might this new environment be different as it’s bound to be, then we can learn to adapt and transform our lives into something with a positive outcome and reach our potential.

    I know there are many ways to accomplish that last bit and you talk of many.

    So my last two questions are –

    Is the Holy Grail an unasked question?

    Is our task to always work toward harmony?

    (I apologize for length and some possible rambling).

    Thank you,

  38. Kimberly, the reaction of the American left about the protests is commensurable with my own findings when reading Naked Capitalism: mostly, there is only apocalyptic thinking, complaining about the ideas of the Left going nowhere in the United States ans sometimes insults against people who theoretically are the benefactors of left-wing politics. It is a rather recent shift in Naked Capitalism, which once was more about critical thinking than now. This isn’t merely an American thing: in Germany, too, the Left isn’t much relevant anymore.

  39. Can you point me to any resources on the sort of democratic syndicalism you’ve written about on this blog? The Wikipedia entry only describes the radical left-wing forms of syndicalism.

  40. Any comments on the vagaries of the supply system?

    Here in Hershey, apparently every last person bakes! Flour has turned out to be just as scarce and difficult to locate as toilet paper. I check twice a week. Things appear, things disappear and then come back for a week and then vanish again. Produce is fine. Meats are good. I can buy milk again (but half & half is hit or miss and this in a dairy industry state).

    But not flour or pancake mix (which I don’t use since I use flour). They stay gone. I used up my stash down to the last bag and then we got mice and no more flour.

    It’s weird. Am I seeing the warehouses empty while the boats from China are empty?
    Yet flour doesn’t come from China!

    Sorry for the rant, but I just returned again from the local supermarket and no flour.

  41. Dear JMG,

    In many places and contexts we see people talking about getting into the right frequency or positive frequency, not to mention positive thinking. Now, I think I know that positive thinking does not solve problems caused by arrogance, laziness, and so much more. However, is there anything to this talk of vibrating in the right frequency in order to attract positive things and outcomes?

    It sounds silly to me, but it is so widespread, that I am wondering if there is something distantly related which actually makes sense. For example, keeping a calm disposition and a clear mind. I am guessing a type of quiet confidence/humility balance can’t be bad for anyone. Is this what we should strive for, or should I be trying to vibrate in C sharp or something?



  42. +Nomadic Beer — “… have you noticed how most people are incapable of changing their minds?”

    Incapable is a bit overstated; the other evening I was struck how difficult it is to change individuals minds, and how easily many minds change, or perhaps mass consensus or hive mind has on occasion changed in my lifetime. Compare the JFK assassination, to the destruction of the 3 buildings in NYC in 2001. In the first case, a message was sent, it surprised many people, and so few people replied, “Oh, OK, I got it”. But their minds changed on a sub-conscious level. No one claimed to be the author of the message, it was not delivered to any individual, and so rarely questioned in public. Over many years, the message was repeated. Each time, more people want to know who sends these messages, each time it becomes clearer who sent it, and why, but “plausible deny-ability” is maintained to allow as many as possible to pretend that it is not even a message, no one is sending it, America still exists as America always did and will, so let’s keep on partying!

    In the second case, lots of people added two and one and got three. Still a minority — and not a complete accounting, but progress.

    I’ve also been trying to recall how in “Retrotopia” …. wasn’t the event that kicked off the revolution something to do with health?

    Would it be a better world for the “One Percent” if about ninety percent disappeared?

    They are acting like that is what they think, are they not?

    Another possible interpretation of events, is the one percent is not in control of events, they experience blowback from every win they score (as the normal course of events for them is to loose eight times out of ten, but win really big twice with no downside to the wins). You know because complexity.

    What I’m finding is how fast my own thinking is changing, and I’m re-reading books from the eighties, the last time I was able to find many “patterns that connect”, just to reference my own decline to my auto-didactic prime.

    And to think it all began in 1979 when I decided to sell my car, buy woodworking hand tools, drop out of college, and not try to contribute anything to western society that was out of balance and spinning up to self destruct. I never expected to live to see 2020, but here I am, sitting here in my rocking chair, thinking, ” well, I told you so”

    Well, I did have some hope of contributing some small beauty to the world back then; but I had no idea how completely my effort would be of no value, except within a very small circle.

    I do have some small hope for “.. this busy monster, man-un-kind .. ” because, while there may not be ” …. a hell of a great universe, next-door ….. ” there is alway the possibility of acting as if there were — and there is some power in doing so.

  43. “(My most recent attempt to do an After Oil anthology didn’t get enough stories to fill a volume, though, so I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes too high.)”

    I’m sorry to hear that. I was wondering what was going on with that project.

    Do you have any suggestions for where else to submit story entries (mine was “Exposure”), now that Into The Ruins is folding its tent?

  44. Huzzah, fellow ecosophians, it’s April! In the US it’s otherwise known (in very small circles) as National Poetry Month!

    I would love to bolster my list of learned-by-heart poems and to that end ask you to name three (or so) that you’re partial to, providing title, author, and a line or two of you desire.

    I’ll be back later with mine, and can’t wait to see what’s been recited — it doesn’t matter if you can’t recite it now, just that at some point you could!

  45. Oh good, an open post so my silly question won’t be off topic. I just finished WoH Red Hook, and I have to ask: is Ruth Frankweiler (of Farmington) any relative of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (also of Farmington)? That was one if my most favorite books when I was in elementary school!

  46. I have been watching the food production situation in Canada and abroad with fascination and worry. Several thoughts:

    1)This virus has sure showed up the problems with just in time supply chains, as well as how dependent Canadian, British, and Spanish agriculture is on migrant workers, who are now arriving late and in much smaller numbers. If they all don’t manage to grow and harvest as many crops as normal, then prices will rise.

    Meat packing plants seem to be really vulnerable to virus outbreaks and end up getting shut down temporarily, causing choke points in food supply as well as the outbreaks.

    2) How affected do you think the USA will be by migrant labor shortages? I know that a substantial amount of US fruit and veg. is picked by people from Mexico who are there legally or illegally, but if they are there already and not coming and going every season maybe the USA is less affected by this?

    3) Garden centers and online seed sources for veggies are out in my region. It is sort of spectacular, and I’m thrilled to see all these people wanting to grow food, though I’ll admit it’s annoying when I run out of carrot seeds and can’t buy more. Oh well, I can plant parsnips instead. And I did.

    4) The World Food Program recently pointed out that there are a lot of people on the edge of famine right now, and they want lots of money to fix this. Given what a mess the usual donor countries are at the moment, I can’t see the WFP getting anywhere near what they’re asking. What are the chances of a substantial famine occurring this year?
    I know that epidemic diseases and hunger have often come together historically.

  47. Hi John Michael, the Fed has been printing condiderable amounts of money since last August to address the repo crisis. I have spent time trying to understand this and I still don’t . Can you shed some light on what the repo crisis means ? How serious is this for the economy ?

  48. To Anonymous @ April 22, 2020 at 2:41 pm:

    I would think eBay would have what you want. I checked and they have all kinds of them.

  49. re: oil and futures shenanigans

    From a very high level perspective, the markets are broken. Or a more charitable way to put it, is they weren’t really ever meant to operate in this kind of environment. There is a deep distrust in how markets work right now, is what I see. I guess you could say something about Orlov’s “faith in the markets collapses”. You are here.

    From a high level perspective – before the tsunami hits, the water often goes out to sea first. You see a lot of counterintuitive moves when it comes to markets. Or out of phase moves.

    And a low level perspective – the futures market is cynically described as “selling something you don’t have to someone who doesn’t want it anyway”. Most people are familiar with what happens when you sell something you don’t have and then need to actually supply it. “He who sells what isn’t his’n” as the old saying goes. Few have ever seen what happens when you buy something you didn’t actually want and need to get rid of it. Or what happens when you need to get out of the obligation to buy. It is a contract after all.

    I did mention something about how the economy is structured so that it either is turning or it throws a rod? You’re looking at a hole in the side of the engine block. This isn’t the end of it either, this will have knockon effects as whoever made those bad bets get wiped out.

  50. JMG,

    Since the classical planets number six (including Luna), how have astrologers determined the role of those discovered later? I know it’s named for a Roman goddess of the grain, but that’s not quite the vibe I’m feeling from Ceres, the twilight planet that marks the boundary between the inner and outer system…

  51. One bug-tangential thing I’ve noticed is how much the lockdown has improved the environment. I’m hearing about double-digit declines (ooh, alliteration!) in greenhouse gases, LA having clear air (and Venice clear water) for the first time in decades, and animals having more freedom to wander and reproduce than before. There’s a town in North Wales that’s been taken over by wild goats. This is true even when people are using less public transit and staying in their individual cars–just being more thoughtful about what trips they take and where.

    I hope that this a) makes some of my fellow lefties reconsider their “nothing I individually do can make an environmental difference” stance, b) makes corporations in general reconsider their butts-in-seats office policies regarding work that involves basically a computer, not to mention “necessary” business conferences.

    Otherwise, I’m delighted to report that the spinach seeds Violet sent me are starting to sprout in the old hot tub! The nettles are taking a little longer, and I fear the lettuce may be lost to either groundhogs or the sudden plunge back into freezing, but I have high hopes for more crops once we warm up here.

    And also, two cocktails Dad and I have come up with:

    * “To Your Health”–ginger ale and lemon-flavored rum, or lemoncello. “A Tu Salud” if you use tequila instead.
    * “Southern Baptist”–a takeoff of the “Presbyterian,” that uses bourbon instead of Scotch.

    Both are ginger ale combos–we’ve been turning to booze-and-soda more, as the local stores are out of all wine that isn’t interestingly flavored, which I like but Dad’s a snob about. 😛

  52. Ever-industrious Archdruid, the pace and volume of your output continues to amaze me. I certainly have too many projects/hobbies already, but I was suggested a book title/theme in meditation recently, and wondered what your thoughts are of it (and whether you already have something in process on the subject, I’m hoping.) 🙂 The title was/is: “Keep Your Distance: Why Boundaries Are Good and Globalism Was Doomed To Fail.”

    Another thing that came out of that meditation: Gee, I wonder if the trillions of dollars spent worldwide on The Great Pause is of a rough order of magnitude to the sum we “saved” by exporting major portions of our manufacturing to places like China?

    As always, highest regards!

  53. Anonymous,
    Slide rules often appear for sale on eBay and suchlike. Consider what you want to do with it. Will a basic slide rule do it, or do you want the Cadillac version? Also, ask about condition before you buy, unless it is for wall decoration. I warped my first slide rule by failing to carry it around nicely in the case.
    You may also want a copy of the CRC math tables. Slide rules only have 2 and a half digits of accuracy, making them unsuitable for replacing finite element design programs. The CRC math tables take the log and trig functions out to five places.


  54. @JMG,

    I am curious what you think about the reliability of the country-by-country petroleum reserve statistics put out by the CIA, OPEC, and similar authorities. The question interests me because, if they’re accurate, then there’s enough (known) oil to last the world about 50 years at current consumption rates [i]and current prices.[/i] Then when I try to take into account new oil discoveries and previously uneconomical fields coming online as the price goes up, I’m left suspecting that global peak oil won’t come until the second half of the twenty-first century. (It’s fuzzy math, I know, but fuzzy math seems to be all we really have to work with).

    Now, even if peak oil itself is still far away, the system of military intimidation and economic gimmickry that lets the US consume such an outsized share of the world’s oil is going to collapse quite a bit sooner, which is why the decline of the American empire a la Twilight’s Last Gleaming dominates my thoughts about the near-term future.

    Obviously, this is all off if the CIA, OPEC, etc. are pushing inflated numbers, which I wouldn’t put beyond them. So what say you?

  55. >In particular what would you say “fair value” is in the S&P 500

    It’s whatever the next guy wants to pay for it. Although that next guy tends to be the government and has a printing press. So to find out what the fair value is, you’re going to need political connections, comrade. So you can know what Party policy is going to be.

    I would say that the P/E of the SP500 is probably going back to 7 or so, which is where the cycle tends to bottom out at. What that pencils out to in price? Who knows? Printing presses are magic. Look at Venezuela or Zimbabwe’s stock indices sometime. Up up and away.

  56. Hello JMG,

    Which books would you recommend for studying the myths about lost civilizations, cataclysms and their relation to occultism? I know that Theosophical literature is rich in these topics, but I’m uncomfortable with their “root race” theories.


  57. I found out about Clark Ashton Smith from you or someone else here quite some time ago, can you recommend other fiction in the same vein?

  58. As Kurt has mentioned it here, the ‘Planet of the humans’ documentary can be seen/linked to via its website –

    Some green tech is amazing stuff, water wheels are brilliant, wind turbines and solar panels – not so much.

    For those here who followed JMG’s books on the de-industrial future, most of it will not come as a big surprise.

    The most fascinating part has been seeing life long green tech advocates suddenly get a bitter dose of reality. The interview with the director/producers as well is neat to hear. That they consider technology to be the closest thing to religion nowadays… it starts to sound very familiar to the ‘Great god of progress’. I do wonder if they are aware of JMG’s writings, they have at least mentioned the book ‘Green illusions’

  59. Note to Anonymous:
    You can find slide rules on eBay (4000+ listings), I got most of my collection that way, though I also found a couple gems in estate sales (I’ll never forget there was this one box of stuff I compulsively returned to 4 or 5 times before I noticed it… they’re so easy to overlook in their pouches). BTW, if you have a potential need to extract arbitrary roots or powers, make sure you get a log-log slide rule; they are super cool, and are the most fascinating, wonderful AND useful inanimate objects I can think of. There are others that are specialized, such as for electrical engineering calculations, or actuarial, but they are rare, and VERY expensive. Even log-logs are not cheap anymore. Your best bets for desk size rules would be a Picket 500, or Post 1460, and for pocket rules, a Picket 600 or Post 1461. Faber-Castels are wonderful, but pricey. K&E’s have a non-durable plastic piece on the cursor that may need repair/replacement.

    I’ve got a back-burner project to make and sell them (in fact I just mentioned this in the March Open post, and JMG had a conditionally optimistic take on the idea)…Lordie, I just have to get off my duff…

  60. Temporaryreality–Fire and Ice, Robert Frost –“Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice. I think I know enough of hate, to say that for destruction, ice, is also great and would suffice.”[punctuation may be off, and I remembered it as ‘and some in ice’ before checking the text and correcting.]

    Jabberwocky — Lewis Carroll –“Twas brllig and the mimsy wabes . . . ”

    Two Corbies -anon –“As I was walking all alane, i heard twa corbies making mane . . . ”

    I used to know “How delightful to know Mr. Lear” but alas it has slipped away.

    JMG –a followup on someones question re the Greek/Roman gods and the terms used to refer to the planets in planetary magic–the material I have cautions against invoking the spirit of the planet and directs one to always work with the intelligence of the planet. Would you identify the traditional deity names with the intelligences?

  61. Dear Temporaryreality,

    If I may, since I read you comment as saying you are asking ecosophians in general as well:

    A poem that I’m quite fond of and have memorized once and should rememorize is Shakespeare’s 18th Sonnet:

    Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
    Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
    Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
    And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
    Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
    And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
    And every fair from fair sometime declines,
    By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
    But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
    Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
    Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
    When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
    So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

    Also I really like Pablo Neruda’s love poems, his 6th poem out of his twenty love poems sticks out opening with:

    Te recuerdo como eras en el último otoño.
    Eras la boina gris y el corazón en calma.
    En tus ojos peleaban las llamas del crepúsculo.
    Y las hojas caían en el agua de tu alma.

    That also seems like a lovely poem to memorize!

  62. Will O, welcome to the “Oh, that’s what it is” experience. I found it very useful to read up on Aspergers syndrome, partly to get an idea of how broad a range of things can be affected by it and partly to get a sense of how my specific case differs from the average. (No two people with AS have exactly the same blend of deficits and heightened abilities.) Also, if you’re comfortable doing this, let people know. It really does help interpersonal interactions if people know that you’re not just ignoring all the “obvious” hints and cues.

    David BTL, many thanks for this.

    Anonymous, yes, at least to me it looks like the Saudis weren’t expecting things to go the way they have, and they could wind up in serious trouble. As for the second volume of The Dolmen Arch, I don’t have a firm date yet — I’ll make an announcement as soon as I do.

    NomadicBeer, I think we’re definitely close to a major shift. People online may still be repeating the same mindless slogans, but watch what they’re doing. I’m more than half convinced that the reason so many people are insisting the economy has to stay shut down is that so many of them are finally getting enough rest and enough perspective to realize that their lives really, truly suck — and I know that the distance learning arrangements being made by the public schools have revealed to a great many parents just now wretchedly bad an education their children are getting. Changes will ensue.

    Ryan, I haven’t read it, but Smith has a decent reputation. I’d say read it, and then find a different book on the same subject by a different author and compare the two.

    Mac, nope. Now that tests are becoming more widely available, evidence is coming in that the virus spread much more widely than anyone thought and the actual death rate, counting all the cases that didn’t get into the hospitals, is down around that of a bad flu.

    Will J, yep. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

    Violet, I’ve never worked with those deities directly. The planetary archangels, intelligences, and spirits, sure, and those are definitely distinct beings.

    Will, fair enough. As long as you’re still entertained! 😉

    Booklover, it depends very much on local conditions. You’re in Germany, right? I don’t imagine much will change there. Here in the US, I expect to see some significant political and cultural shifts, now that it’s beginning to sink in that we’re not immune from serious trouble. Exactly how that will play out, though, I’m not sure I can predict.

    Denys, I chuckled. What’s happened is that there’s a shortage of places to store petroleum and so producers are frantically trying to avoid having to shut wells in.

    Raymond, no, I don’t think I’ve read that one. My local library system doesn’t have it, either. I’ll keep an eye out for it, though.

    Forecasting, I think we’re seeing a very good opportunity for stock prices to revert to levels much closer to their actual value. Where that will turn out to be, though, isn’t something I’m prepared to speculate about — I haven’t been following the market much of late, as it’s turned into an exercise in buying and selling hallucinations.

    Naomi, thank you. That gave me a fine belly laugh. It doesn’t surprise me a bit that Moore had never bothered to think through little issues like where the electricity to power electric cars comes from, or what kind of environmental footprint their manufacture has — most of the people who insist that we can maintain petroleum lifestyles on a solar energy income have never given two seconds of thought to such things.

    Yorkshire, do you mean an epistolary story — a story told through letters, messages, diary entries, and the like? I’ve considered it several times but never gone ahead with any of those projects. I’ll see if anything I want to do uses that format, though.

    GlobalLocal, it depends very much on the sport. Combat sports such as boxing, martial arts, and marksmanship are of course not going away — as the Long Descent continues, I expect to see them become a normal part of most people’s education. Other sports that can be maintained effectively on the local level will doubtless do well — many of our current sports, or their ancestors, were being played in the Middle Ages, as you probably know. But professional sports require large urban centers and a great deal of excess wealth to remain viable, and so I’d expect to see most of those fold messily as we proceed. When? Depends on local issues and specific details of the downward path that can’t yet be predicted.

    Bridge, my first pass through college, 1980-1983, I went through five majors in three years and still had no clue what I wanted to do, so rather than waste another year of my dad’s money, I left college and enrolled in that venerable institution, the school of hard knocks. By 1991 I knew exactly what I wanted to do, so went back to finish my BA in two years and graduated magna cum laude. I wasn’t interested in grad school at the time — you have to do a huge amount of self-censorship in the academic field and that didn’t appeal to me — and these days, most American universities are insanely political and do not provide anything like an education of adequate value for the fantastically inflated cost. I’ve considered from time to time Philosophical University, the higher-ed branch of Manly P. Hall’s Philosophical Research Institute, which has some MA programs that appeal to me. That said, there are times in life when it’s good to take in lots of new information and times when it’s better to work with what you know and put it to use, and right now I’m in one of the latter phases. As for honorary degrees, it would depend on the school; there are some from whom I’d accept such a thing gladly, some from whom I’d politely refuse it, and some from whom I’d accept it, and then get somebody to film me blowing my nose on the thing. (I’d consider the cruder equivalent, but I’m not especially interested in having my bare buttocks visible on the internet, and besides, I’d worry about clogging the drain.)

    Erik, as usual, the opposite of one bad idea is another bad idea, and the conflict you’ve sketched out between Hellenistic astrologers and modern astrologers is a great demonstration of that. Have you cast and analyzed your horoscope, and seen what it tells you about yourself? That, rather than abstract considerations about whas a natal chart might or might not reveal, is the way to decide such questions for yourself. As for me, I find natal charts useful; they’re not the whole picture — you need to consider heredity and circumstances as well as astrological conditions, of course — but they do seem to give accurate information to a much greater degree than chance would permit.

    Clay, we never had an economy built on yoga studios, tattoo parlors and Disney vacations. We just had a media monoculture that pretended that those were much more important than they actually were. It’s quite possible that that’s one of the things that’s going to change coming out of this.

    JBird, let’s whisper the secret that explains why rationalist ideologies never work: human beings just aren’t that bright. Seriously, we’re more intelligent than most other animals but not by that much, and our reasoning capacities mislead us as often as they help. I would suggest that most of the catastrophes that overwhelmed civilizations in the past, and will overwhelm ours in due time, could have been avoided or at least ameliorated easily by a more intelligent species, but H.P. Lovecraft was quite correct in his wry assignment of our species, in “The Shadow out of Time,” to the low-IQ end of Earth’s intelligent species. (In one of my forthcoming novels, that’s clarified a bit — humans, shoggoths, and two species of the far future whose ancestors today are freshwater clams are down at the bottom; this is why humans and shoggoths get along so well.)

    Drhooves, this could indeed turn out to be a significant step down, and if so, we’re unusually lucky — the current outbreak is much less lethal and disruptive than most of the other possible crises that could have hit us. Still, we’ll have to see what happens once it’s over.

    Someone, yes, there’s a real similarity, and for good reason. The traditions on which the Picatrix are based, and which it helped pass on to the west, are the traditions that Fortune inherited all those centuries later. There is a lineage of ideas that runs straight from Pythagoras and the Orphic Mysteries on to today’s occultism, and Fortune and the author of the Picatrix were both part of it.

    David BTL, that’s roughly what I’m seeing, too. Here in Rhode Island there’s quite a bit of genial skepticism about what the talking heads are saying, but then it’s an irreverent sort of state.

    Wiz, (1) I think that especially in North America, the religious future will see the emergence of a galaxy of divergent religious subcultures, with a lot of straightforward individual religion as well; the current proliferation of subcultures may indeed be a harbinger of that. (2) It’s been a teaching in Druid Revival circles for a long time that the old Druids and some of the Egyptian temple priesthoods had contacts, perhaps facilitated by the Cornish tin trade. It would be an interesting project to try to correlate the pantheons. Certainly the Romans gave it a good try, but then they were used to that sort of interpretation. (3) Yes, it’s quite possible, and indeed would explain a lot.

    David BTL, of course. It’ll be interesting to see what changes as a result of that.

    Anonymous, here’s one good source.

    Kaye Oh, the crucial thing that has to happen right now in terms of economics is relocalization, and the Trump administration’s tariffs and trade barriers are helping that happen. We need more of that, and also more focus on regional relocalization — more crops grown locally rather than in a handful of states, more small chains and independent businesses instead of national big box chains, and so on. This is partly to increase economic resilience and partly because small businesses are much more efficient job creators than big ones, and increasing opportunities for employment is an essential step in getting local and regional economies thriving again.

  63. @ Temporaryreality

    Re poetry and poetry months

    “Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot

    I should have been a a pair of ragged claws
    Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

    “Miniver Cheevy” by Edwin Arlington Robinson

    Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
    and thought about it.

  64. I am currently feeling that all of us are up for a spiritual test. Clearly I am seeing organized religion failing. If it does not stand the test, let it fall. Something new is coming, but what will it be?
    Still pondering that, but I feel the cyclical creed is coming back strongly, birth and re-birth…
    Thanks to you for playing an important part in that spiritual journey.

  65. @John W. Riley: Agreed! If a household, especially one with kids, can have at least one member devote themselves full-time to things like childrearing, cooking, cleaning, etc, I think everyone benefits. (The one change I’d make is expanding it beyond couples– not just with polyamory but also with extended family or friendship situations. If both parents have careers they really enjoy* but Grandma or Uncle Phil wants to be in charge of the house day-to-day, that’s great as well!)


    “Ulysses,” Tennyson

    “Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;”

    “Ballad of the White Horse,” Chesterton

    “‘The thing on the blind side of the heart,
    On the wrong side of the door;
    The green plant groweth, menacing
    Almighty lovers in the spring;
    There is always a forgotten thing,
    And love is not secure.”

    “For the Fallen,” Binyon

    “As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
    Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
    As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
    To the end, to the end, they remain.”

    * Some careers really are vocations, and that’s cool. I don’t think most of the corporate/middle-management/etc stuff ever is, or should be.

  66. Jbird asked, “Seeing that many people seemingly want to bring about social collapse, do you think that is true? I do not honestly think so, but one has to wonder sometimes, or are some just completely disconnected from reality?”

    I think there are some who see this as their “Atlas Shrugged” moment. Here there are similarities and differences; for one thing, the lying, incompetent gov’t in Washington in the Ayn Rand novel was a left-leaning gov’t. That’s one difference. Maybe there are also some people who anticipate the “rapture.”

  67. Will Oberton – what worked for me was reading autobiographies of people on the spectrum and finding one – quite by accident – that “OMG! She’s ME! To the life!” And of course, fiction. [I still say that Dion Fortune’s fictional character Diana (Tales of Dr. Taverner, “Pan’s Children”) is, whatever else she is (a victim of near-lethal emotional abuse, an untrained psychic, a wild animal at heart) she is decidedly on the spectrum as well. As is the man she marries. But she’s not too bright. However, parts of her liberation had me cheering. Burning the fashionable clothes her mother tried to stuff her into as her first assertive act, and insisting on tights, tunic, and soft shoes from a costume bin. And a Robin Hood hat.. Discovering, quite by accident, when her caretaker hands her a pencil and pad because she’s seriously nonverbal, that she draws what she sees with stunning, detailed precision – and her drawings of her fellow residents are wickedly perceptive and accurate. That’s “You GO, girl!” stuff!]

    Sorry. TMI. Oververbalisation is decidedly one way it can take a gal.

  68. JMG, numerous times you’ve mentioned Arnold Toynbee and Oswald Spengler as influences in your understanding of history. Are there any other historians, or approaches to the study of history (e.g. the annales schools, the world-systems theory people) that you’ve found especially insightful?

    And to stay on the topic of books (I have an inkling you won’t mind): it’s going on 11 years since you came out with your Deindustrial Reading List*. As you’re fond of saying, depletion never sleeps, and I’m sure that some people in the know aside from you must have made book-length contributions to the understanding of the Long Descent that are worthy of a mention. So, is there anything you’ve read since then that you would add to the list, if you could?

    for those that aren’t reading anything good right now, or are looking for something to read in the future, you’re likely to do worse than visiting and getting to work on this!

  69. Hi everyone,

    Can anyone recommend some literature about everyday life in the European Middle Ages? I seem to remember JMG saying that peasants used to work less hours than we do now. It would be nice to read about this as I often get into discussions where the other person writes off life before, say, 1800 as not worth living, and I am a bit skeptical about this.

  70. I know it is probably too late to run this by you, but if you are by any chance still developing your role playing game I thought I would recommend you take a look at Ironsworn (you can download it for free at In particular, the game tries to model the mechanics of seeing an oracle that I feel would be really helpful in your attempt to build a Lovecraft centered world.

    But anyway, onto my question. I know you often quote Dion Fortune and say that magic is the art and science of transforming consciousness in accordance with will. As I understand you, you’re saying that magic changes our metal states, as opposed to creating physical changes the way it does in a Harry Potter novel/movie. With that said, changing a mental state can have a direct impact on the physical world. You once said in a podcast (I can’t for the life of me remember which one) that you used magic to become invisible in the sense that others around you looked away from you and failed to notice you as you walked by. I have heard of missionaries doing the same thing after intense prayer to escape dangerous situations. I also know Fortune rallied the magical troops when Britain was on the verge of collapse in WWII and obviously they did not go the same way France did.

    Do you know of other similar experiences? For example, have you ever come across a believable faith healing? Telepathy? Prophetic dream? Or that sort of thing? If so, has anyone produced a chronicle of these experiences that you trust? Are there any anthologies that outline this sort of thing you think are credible? My main interaction with this material comes from reading Vine Deloria Jr.’s God is Red and The World We Used to Live In, but I am interested in others who have tested the barriers of what changes in consciousness can do to matter.

  71. A Nomadic Beer – I’d be interested to see what JMG thinks about is this the trigger for a state change, but I’ve thought so ever since it hit and I started seeing how people are reacting. We -whether the town, county, state, nation, or world – won’t come out of it the same. Any more than we did Pearl Harbor. Or Gettysburg. Or Valley Forge.

  72. @Temporaryreality

    13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, Wallace Stevens

    I do not know which to prefer,
    The beauty of inflections
    Or the beauty of innuendoes,
    The blackbird whistling,
    Or just after.

  73. Aidan, there’s a map in the print edition of the book, and the timeline’s spelled out fairly clearly in the text. Have you read it? Either way, yes, you can ask questions, but keep in mind that if it isn’t in the book I may not have gotten around to figuring it out.

    Kimberly, I’m delighted to hear this.

    Kurt, fascinating. It’ll be interesting to see if that has any kind of long-term effect.

    SMJ, it won’t go as far as war, because China has a nuclear arsenal. I could well see a great deal of anti-Chinese trade policy and political gamesmanship, though.

    Jasmine, I suspect this will be true of a lot of countries, and a lot of people. One of the advantages of spending time alone and not having much to do is that you can rest, take stock, and notice things — like the fact that many of the standard lifestyles in a modern industrial society really, truly suck.

    Kaye Oh, I’ll consider it. Equally, though, you might consider reading the book several times and journaling about your own thoughts concerning it.

    Nemo, I’ll pass, thanks.

    John, I’ve been a househusband, and it worked very well. I’m hoping that more people realize that if a person of either gender who’s in a stable relationship wants to make that choice, it’s a valid choice.

    David BTL, thank you for your public service!

    RMS, (1) not “transformation” but “coadaptation” — the mutual adaptation of an organism to its environment and the environment to the organism. It’s rarely a good idea to only change one of those. (2) No,the Grail is much, much more than a question. (3) No. That’s one task that some people have some of the time. There ain’t no such thing as One True Way For All.

    James, it’s been a long time since I last read up on that. Wikipedia generally is a lousy information source — biased and heavily fad-driven — but I notice that generally the internet is full of anarcho-syndicalism and has very little to say about democratic syndicalism. You might have better luck using more focused labels such as “cooperative movement.”

    Teresa, one of the odd things going on is that a lot of people are cooking for themselves, and not just heating up premade junk food, so the demand for staples such as flour is much higher than usual.

    Musical, as far as I know the people who are talking about “vibrating on the right frequency” are either using a metaphor or talking about brain waves, not working with musical tones. If you wanted to choose a note to vibrate to, though, a girlfriend of mine back during my first stint in college used to wear a button that had a bit of musical staff on it with one note, B, and the natural mark before it — that is, “be natural.” 😉

    Walt, I’m not at all sure just now, since MYTHIC seems to be stalled too. Anyone else have a suggestion?

    Temporaryreality, among the poems I have by heart are Shelley’s “Ozymandias” —

    “I met a traveler in an antique land
    Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone…”

    Edward Arlington Robinson’s “The Master,” which is about Abraham Lincoln, by one of the many people who suffered from Lincoln Derangement Syndrome and then recovered from it. I can’t resist posting the first stanza:

    “A flying word from here and there
    Had sown the name at which we sneered;
    But soon the name was everywhere
    To be reviled, and then revered,
    A presence to be loved and feared,
    We cannot hide it, or deny
    That we, the gentlemen who jeered,
    May be forgotten by and by.”

    And Bilbo’s poem about Earendil, from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring:

    “Earendil was a mariner
    Who tarried in Arvernien…”

    Opossum, I wondered if anyone would catch that. Yes, Ruth Frankweiler of Farmington, CT, who has the most remarkable things in her files, is an homage to what was also one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I stuck a lot of things like that in The Weird of Hali.

    Pygmycory, I expect some degree of famine and also just a lot of less serious but still significant shortages. Expect prices to go up as farmers can’t hire illegal immigrants at starvation wages and have to pay a living wage to get legal residents to do the work!

    Tony, there are several huge sectors of the notional economy that consist entirely of vast amounts of paper wealth propped up by hallucinations of value. The repo market is one of those. Vast sums of notional wealth are packed into repo instruments and used as counters in intricate financial games. As with most such gimmicks, the problem with the repo market is that enough big players have enough money stashed in them that if the repo market were to collapse, it would lead to fire sales of other investments as players struggle to raise cash, and among other things it would get in the way of the limitless issuance of government paper. So it’s become yet another sector of the economy that’s being propped up by government manipulation.

    Owen, yep. The thing to keep in mind is that markets go through this kind of chaos at intervals; most major international crises cause havoc in at least one market, and generally more than one. After the rubble stops bouncing and the bodies are hauled away, trading begins again.

    Nerwen, the same way you’re doing things right now. They start observing what happens in their lives and the lives of other people when a newly discovered planet goes from sign to sign or makes an aspect with another planet, and draw their conclusions from that. Astrology really is an evidence-based science!

    Isabel, interesting — and I hope those lessons get learned! You’re doing something more interesting with booze than most; the one thing that I’d seen so far is the Quarantini, which consists — well, here’s the image:

    Bryan, write that puppy! If you write and publish it (self- or otherwise) I’ll post something promoting it on my Dreamwidth account. As for your point #2, yes, I suspect the numbers are close, but the point of offshoring wasn’t to “save money” — it was to increase profits to the already absurdly rich, at the expense of everyone else.

    Wesley, on the one hand, there have been strong arguments made suggesting that the numbers are inflated; on the other hand, how much oil there is matters a lot less than how fast you can pump it out, and that’s limited by geology — the more you pump out, the lower the production rate thereafter. Thus we don’t have to run out of oil — we just have to get to the point that we can’t extract it as fast as we want to use it.

    Minervaphilos, you might want to start with Lewis Spence’s books on Atlantis, then. As for the “root race” business, it’s a useful practice to occasionally read books that contain things you really dislike, and see if you can get something useful from them anyway.

    Jbucks, Smith was very much one of a kind, but other weird tales authors you might like include (of course) his good friends Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft, but also Algernon Blackwood, Fritz Leiber, C.L. Moore, M.R. James, and Lord Dunsany.

    Michael, interesting. I wonder how that’s going to play out.

    Rita, I’d probably just evoke the intelligences and call it good, since I have had good results doing so. Clearly it’s a workable practice to invoke the planetary gods, though.

  74. Will-

    I too am on the spectrum, fairly mild, I can read body language better than some, but JMG’s advice would be mine as well: “if you’re comfortable doing this, let people know. It really does help interpersonal interactions if people know that you’re not just ignoring all the “obvious” hints and cues.”

    You don’t have to go trumpeting it to everyone you meet, but I have found that letting the people closest too you know helps those relationships tremendously, both in terms of how they react to you and by opening the door for them to say hey, you’re not reading me correctly or what have you. At least in my case that’s been very helpful. Though to be honest it took me almost five years from the time I figured out what was going on in counseling/therapy to when I told anyone, so don’t feel bad if you don’t think you’re up to that right away.

  75. Poetry for Temporaryreality: First a short one… Frost’s Fire and Ice:

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    And then a long uneven one; uneven, but containing some real nuggets, James Thomson’s (BV) “City of Dreadful Night”

    This from Canto XIII:

    Of all things human which are strange and wild
    This is perchance the wildest and most strange,
    And showeth man most utterly beguiled,
    To those who haunt that sunless City’s range;
    That he bemoans himself for aye, repeating 5
    How Time is deadly swift, how life is fleeting,
    How naught is constant on the earth but change.

    The hours are heavy on him and the days;
    The burden of the months he scarce can bear;
    And often in his secret soul he prays 10
    To sleep through barren periods unaware,
    Arousing at some longed-for date of pleasure;
    Which having passed and yielded him small treasure,
    He would outsleep another term of care.

    Yet in his marvellous fancy he must make 15
    Quick wings for Time, and see it fly from us;
    This Time which crawleth like a monstrous snake,
    Wounded and slow and very venomous;
    Which creeps blindwormlike round the earth and ocean,
    Distilling poison at each painful motion, 20
    And seems condemned to circle ever thus.

    And since he cannot spend and use aright
    The little time here given him in trust,
    But wasteth it in weary undelight
    Of foolish toil and trouble, strife and lust, 25
    He naturally claimeth to inherit
    The everlasting Future, that his merit
    May have full scope; as surely is most just.

  76. @GlobalLocal, @JMG re: sports in the Long Descent

    I’m reminded immediately of basketball and how it gained particular popularity among the urban (largely African-American) poor. Unlike football or baseball, basketball requires a much smaller amount of space and very little equipment to play effectively (a hard surface allowing for some bounce, a ball, a pole, and a hoop – the “basket” part is optional). Soccer is just as good in terms of low equipment requirements – you need a larger, open space, but there would be no shortage of those in Long Descent America. Baseball and football will probably stick around, though in altered forms (probably touch football more than tackle) – and more casual play, less professional leagues.

    Combat sports, of course, require nothing more than the competitors, and their weapons if it’s something like fencing, archery, or kendo… and they have a very obvious practical purpose.


    I am wondering if science, at least as it’s currently practiced, actually belongs to the Earth triplicity rather than the Air one (as it is usually assigned – to, of course, that venerably misrepresented Aquarius). Because science is focused on getting practical, repeatable results and has such a focus on the material plane (many of its practitioners dismissing the existence of other planes entirely), it seems to exude a strong Virgo vibe more than anything else.

    As for the unmentionable, the thing that concerns me the most about the aftermath is that people will seem to be even more dependent on technology than they already were before this whole event started. How do you get regional relocalization of businesses when Amazon is still around to prey on them?

    For what it’s worth, I predicted, based on the lunations, that restrictions would start to lift in the U.S. around April 22, which seems to be right on target (for good or worse), and am expecting to see a lot more of them lift the week of May 11-15, when the outer planets go retrograde and Mars is no longer disposited traditionally by and in the same sign as Saturn. (Note that I look at Pluto, Ceres, and Eris as well as the luminaries and true planets). But we’ll see.

    This has in many ways been a TSW event for me as astrology goes, though.

  77. I need to pick the brain of someone better versed than I am in the last century’s science fiction literature.

    C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra is one of my favorite novels. Being the second of a trilogy, it warrants comparison to the first and third. I found the first worthwhile inasmuch as it set up the second, but I found the third quite tedious. I was warned that I might feel this way, because it is a very different story. However, I think there is something deeper to my distaste. The plot of the third novel is driven by the heroes working to foil the machinations of an evil technocratic cabal, the kind of which has been done to death in fiction. However, I do wonder if this was a more original plot when the book was published in 1945.

    So, my questions: how long has the Evil Technocratic Cabal™ been a trope in science fiction, and at what point did it become done to death?

  78. Decades ago, I took the trouble to memorize this sonnet by Michael Drayton.

    Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part.
    Nay, I have done, you get no more of me;
    And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart,
    That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
    Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
    And when we meet at any time again,
    Be it not seen in either of our brows
    That we one jot of former love retain.
    Now at the last gasp of Love’s latest breath,
    When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies;
    When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
    And Innocence is closing up his eyes—
    Now, if thou wouldst, when all have given him over,
    From death to life thou might’st him yet recover!

    The turn from the eight line to the six that complete the poem is very neat and
    psychologically true; if you have ever been in an unhappy love affair, you will
    recognize it.

    From the same period, I also mostly memorized “They flee from me”.
    The attitude of this poem is such a close match to Mick Jagger’s early
    putting-down-chicks lyrics that I imagine a skinny, handsome young man
    (or woman) drawling it with a background of electric guitar, bass and drums.

    i also like John Donne’s boastful but world-weary “I can love both fair and brown”
    which has a neat turn in the final verse when Venus Herself comments on the situation.
    it’s a longish poem so I can’t get all the way through it without an occasional
    glance at the text.

  79. That’s pretty close to what I’m guessing is most likely. I’m expecting price rises and sporadic shortages for Canada, plus increased hunger and food insecurity. Worldwide, true famine in at least one location round the globe, plus a lot of hunger and outright starvation that doesn’t meet the technical cutoffs for famine.

    On a sillier note: Robin Hood flour isn’t out of flour, but they have run out of their yellow bags. So their flour will now be appearing in stores in white or brown bags until they can get more yellow ones.

  80. @Teresa

    The main problem with food supply chains seems to be that production and distribution is not flexible enough to reroute all of the food from closed restaurants and schools to grocery stores. As a possible solution, one of our local bakeries has decided to become a mini grocery store based on their unused supply chain. They are selling flour in 5# bags and yeast in 1# blocks, and a number of other items, much to the delight of our community. I wonder if that could help elsewhere in the country?

    Interesting times indeed. I am reflecting on “The Living” – historical fiction by Annie Dillard set around modern-day Bellingham, WA. It seems that one message that we could learn from our ancestors is that it is possible to choose to live fully while surrounded by death, and that as the lockdowns drag on we may need to consider making some sort of peace with this new death-bringer in order to return our focus to living (as opposed to not dying).

  81. We just watched Michael Moore’s new movie. I wonder if he has a death wish. ..he has completely skewered the “Green Movement,” in front of god and everybody.

  82. To Mac – glad you’re getting cukes and beans in! I’m still in ‘spinach, lettuce, beets, and peas are barely germinating’ weather here.

    To Violet – the elecampane is up!

    To everyone – hug such loved ones as you are able to hug. I learned this evening that a very dear beloved friend of long standing died of the Crud after 2 weeks on a ventilator. I am gutted.

  83. Samurai wrote: “With this much [oil] inventory on hand, it is hard to imagine a tight supply in less than 10 years.”

    – well, gotta do the math. The amount of oil in storage, high as it is relative to “normal”, is only about TWO DAYS worth of global consumption. And that’s at the current level of consumption, which is 30% lower than the old normal. So things can change in a hurry. They sure did in one direction. The oil supply and demand are both “inelastic”, the economists would say. And the current market crash is causing an abrupt stop in the investments needed for future oil: exploration and drilling. And especially “fracking”, which never was profitable anyway. Since fracked wells lose most of their flow in 2-3 years, there will be a rapid decline of output.

    And regarding the brief bout of “negative price” of oil, that’s not the price of actual oil, it was the price of futures contracts that were expiring right about now. (Each contract expires on a certain month, around this time of the month.) If you hold such a contract and don’t sell it before it expires, a very large tanker truck stops by your door and starts pumping it at you! Not literally of course, but it means you own the physical oil at that point, and have to pay the storage fees for wherever it is sitting. At a time of declining prices for physical oil (due to more supply than demand and running out of storage space) that’s not a good situation for the owner of the contract. So most sold the contracts well in advance. A few waited until the last couple of days, and whether they sold for a positive or negative price they lost money. If you want to play that game you have to accept that will happen some times. For the rest of us, no, they won’t be paying us to fill-er-up at the local gas station.

  84. JMG,

    1. What would you say is your best example of coadaptation?

    2. I realized my error here. I’ll keep reading.

    3. Fair enough, I can agree with that.


  85. Thanks JMG,

    I did cast my chart using the online software at, using both the Placidus and whole sign houses. Some things seemed glaringly obvious, such as my sun square saturn revealing my lifelong antagonism towards authority figures in general and my father in particular. Some of the other aspects are harder to figure out, like my moon, mercury and venus square mars in taurus.

    I do have the benefit of 63 years of life for data points of experience to compare to the chart, and yes, as you stated, there is a whole lot more than chance going on here. I had the opportunity back in 2001 to take the “real” Meyers-Briggs MBTI and other tests, and they were frighteningly accurate to my life experiences. I remember remarking to myself at the time “wow, that’s some Real Astrology” I didn’t know at the time that there was a lot of astrology behind the MBTI LOL!

    I guess that I was hoping the chart might shed some light on the hidden, unconscious “real me” but perhaps the best the chart can do is indicate “temperament” and give suggestions about things to pay attention to. I think I will go back to your Paths of Wisdom and similar books on ritual magic for clues.


  86. JMG it seems to me that the biggest threat we face from the current crisis is that when it becomes apparent that viruses are much more feared than nuclear weapons and can shut down the western economies quickly and are much cheaper and easier to make we become open to a whole new set of terrorists threats. If I am understanding the current technical capability to manipulate genes we could be open to some really crazy people doing strange things. Do you see this as a real threat?

  87. @Temporaryreality

    The curfew tolls the knell of parting day
    The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea
    The ploughman slowly plods his weary way
    And leaves the world to darkness, and to me…

    – Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, by Thomas Grey. A bit long for memorizing but worth it.

    anyone lived in a pretty how town
    (with up so floating many bells down)
    spring summer autumn winter
    he sang his didn’t he danced his did…

    – [anyone loved in a pretty how town] by e. e. cummings.

  88. From poetry on to politics.

    I’d like to reply to NomadicBeer, who wrote “For example, this crisis proved beyond any doubt that Trump is far to the left of the mainstream democrats (see medicare for all covid patients, direct mailed checks etc all opposed by democrats including the beloved Bernie). ”

    It’s news to me that mainstream Democrats have opposed direct mailed checks. Here’s what I think happened.

    1. Bernie is not a member of the Democratic Party. He is an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats and was permitted by the Democratic Party to run in its primaries. He is not widely beloved by mainstream Democrats. They don’t have a big problem with the policies he advocates. They have problems with some of his past behavior and that of some of his staff and supporters. Bernie ran for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President twice and lost twice, the first time in a two person race and the second time in a crowded field.

    2. The federal government was supposed to send the money by direct deposit to people who already receive some government payment that way, because that’s the fastest way to get the money to recipients. I would imagine that the Democrats put some pressure on the Feds to make sure that credit unions, not just big banks, were included in this. I don’t know this for a fact.

    3. Many people do not have direct deposit arrangements with the Feds, and some can’t afford checking accounts. The only way to get money to them is by mailing them a check that they can cash somewhere. That means they have to wait weeks longer to get the money than the people with direct deposit.
    My understanding is that Democrats did not oppose this, since there is no realistic alternative. Their gripe is that Donald Trump insisted that his name be printed on all the checks. There are several reasons not to like this:

    a. This will be the first time in history that a check issued by the Federal government to ordinary citizens will have the President’s name on it. Ordinarily, checks have the name of the person who is the head of the department issuing the check, or the name of the Secretary of the Treasury.
    b. Because this is not a normal practice, issuing the checks was held up for a couple of days to make whatever design and software changes were needed to put Trump’s name on the check. Trump’s demand slowed down the delivery of the money that Congress had appropriated.
    c. Trump wants his name on the check so people will be grateful to him and vote for him when he runs again. He has no business doing this. The money was appropriated by Congress. Trump did not request it. The only thing he contributed was his signature on the bill.

    Despite this, Democratic politicians (to the best of my knowledge) have done nothing but grumble about it. They are not holding it up. Democratic majority leadership in the House originated the bill that appropriated the funds (because the Constitution requires that the House of Representatives originate all bills), and the Democratic leadership in both houses of Congress want the money to get into the hands of the people who need it ASAP.

    If you have heard differently, please consider the source. Was it a news outlet that has an editorial policy of attacking Democrats and making (stuff up to make) the Democratic Party look bad, or did you get this from a relatively objective source, such as a reporter for the Associated Press?

  89. B3rnhard, I think you’re quite correct — and this is normal as decline sets in; those things that can’t endure the decline dissolve, and new adaptations take their places.

    Phutatorius, no doubt that’s also going on!

    Succwc, I can’t really think of any other historians or historical schools that have influenced me that powerfully; of course a lot of individual histories have done so, but that’s more a matter of information than of general worldview and approach to history. As for additions to the Deindustrial Reading List, no doubt there are some, but I haven’t done much reading in that field for a while.

    Russell, it’s been decades since I’ve read about that — anyone else?

    Stephen, the roleplaying game is in press right now, so yes, it’s probably a bit too late. 😉 Also, the publisher has a house system, the Mythras rpg system, so that’s what I used. As for the physical effects of mental action, I know there was at one point quite a bit of research into psychoneuroimmunology, the science of how mental states affect the immune system and bodily health through the nervous system, and that might be something worth looking up. I never concerned myself too greatly with other people’s experiences, though — my goal was always to have such experiences myself.

    Patricia M, too funny. Thanks for this!

    KW, thanks for this. Interesting to see a trickle of sanity getting in…

    Brendhelm, there used to be a difference between science and technology; science pursued understanding, while the technologists took scientific concepts and turned them into practical machinery. To the extent that most modern “science” is either product marketing in a white lab coat or engineering, yes, it would tend to be Earth rather than Air.

    Anthony, I didn’t realize that evil technocratic cabals had been done to death — I made one the villainous side in my fantasy series The Weird of Hali, you know! Most of the SF I’ve seen has been cheering on reason, logic, and machinery in its endless war against everything that won’t submit to human dominion…

    Pygmycory, that seems quite reasonable.

    Raymond, is it still in copyright? If it is, I won’t take a stolen PDF copy — I lose enough income as it is from online book thieves.

    Elizabeth, fascinating. I’d expect the whole faux-green movement to turn on him in 3, 2, 1…

    Michelle, condolences! That’s got to be really hard.

    RMS, pick up any decent book on evolution and you’ll be up to your eyeballs in good examples.

    Erik, I’d encourage you to pick up an old-fashioned book on natal astrology — not one of the modern works, but something like Llewellyn George’s original (not “New”) A-Z Horoscope Maker and Delineator — and go through your chart one placement at a time. George, Alan Leo, Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson, and other early 20th century astrologers were very close to the creative middle, the place that isn’t too rigid and isn’t too flaccid; that might help you in this context.

    Tomxyza, of course. The overreaction to the current epidemic is unwise for that reason among others.

  90. An indication of adjustment to this stage of collapse from an unexpected quarter:

    I regularly watch several prime time shows on the cable news network MSNBC. The anchors of these shows seem to be required to stay within the boundaries of the views of the Democratic Party, from mainstream to slightly left of center. Coverage of the pandemic on the three shows I watch has for a long time been hammering on the executive branch’s failures of leadership, saying that it delayed taking necessary actions, isn’t allowing experts to do their jobs, that the way the Obama administration handled the Ebola crisis was a better model, etc. They yearn for more Federal action in directions that they think would be constructive.

    I heard something different on the Rachel Maddow show tonight. She’s given up on the idea that the federal government is ever going to come to the rescue in one specific area that she cares about, the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes. Maddow said in so many words that she has lost hope that the federal government will take any action in time to provide nursing homes with extra doctors and nurses and other staff to help them provide care for their patients, or to increase the supply of personal protective equipment (masks, gown, gloves) for the staff so they will be in less danger of being infected.

    Maddow observed that some local communities, on their own initiative, are raising funds, collecting PPEs, and organizing volunteers to help the nursing homes in their vicinity. She appealed to her audience to expand on this, to adopt a local nursing home through whatever organizations they are connected with. Maddow rattled off a couple of dozen examples of organizations, which included churches and synagogues, Rotary Clubs, and the Knights of Columbus.

    This sort of charity was done during the early years of Great Depression, until the economic contraction outstripped what local resources could provide, and FDR got enough support to enact the New Deal. The New Deal, as JMG pointed out on one of his previous blogs (I think it was on The Well of Galabes), put the federal government in direct competition with the social insurance programs of fraternal organizations, and hastened their decline.

    But now the services that the federal government provides are not meeting the people’s needs, and whatever local community organizations survive are having to take up the slack. I think JMG would see this as a realistic development, and perhaps a hopeful one. It’s better than nothing for sure.

  91. Hello JMG —

    I have been reading your commentaries for many years — Thank you! — but I have never observed you to speak about the issue of our “visitors,” as Whitley Strieber calls them. What is your discernment about this subject as a whole, and more particularly, what do you think about Mr. Strieber’s latest book, A New World?

    Given your advocacy of a “Third Way” between the doctrines / ideologies of conventional science and religion, it would seem to me that your more inclusive approach toward understanding reality has much in common with what Whitley Strieber and Jacques Vallee have been suggesting about the nature of this phenomenon. But, as I say, I do not recall you ever discussing this subject, so I may be completely wrong in assuming this.

    What do you think about all of this?

  92. Hi John Michael, thanks for your reply about the repo market. The fed is printing big amounts of money and the debt on its balance sheet is increasing significantly. When they did that after 2008, it only inflated the prices of stocks, real estate , rent. It created just limited inflation for food and other goods. I am surprised how difficult it is to find good information by economists on this matter. What do you think is the impact going to be this time ? The US dollar is such a strong currency that it should be protected from devaluation unless they really exaggerate, shouldn’t it ?

  93. Hi John,

    IIRC, you had recommended Max Heindel’s Rosicrucian Cosmo Conception as an in depth look at Western esoteric cosmology. I am a little more than halfway through and while it is quite interesting, I do have a couple of reservations that are giving me some trouble.. The first is that the RCC looks to me like a straightforward spinoff of other occult texts I have come across, particularly The Secret Doctrine by Blavatsky. The other is that the author seems to be excessively wedded to the myth of progress and the idea that Christianity is The One True Religion. I have read quite a lot by Dion Fortune and Manly P Hall, and found that their writings resonated deeply eith me, but there are parts of the RCC that I have a much more negative reaction to.

    Am I taking an excessively juandiced view of the RCC? Any feedback you can give would be greatly appreciated.

  94. In Re: Slide-Rules:

    Anyone interested can look at and buy numerous slide-rules at:


    In other news, Gail the Actuary’s recent post over at Our Finite World is a surprisingly doomerish fast-crash set of predictions as to how the economic aspects of the virus will play out. She seems to be condensing what I would consider likely collapse to be in 200 years to a matter of a few months.


    Antoinetta III

  95. I was reading up a little on these night shifts i’m on lately. Nothing else to do really as i am screening hospital entrances instead of running my clinic and no one is coming through really. I find it funny that media tries to label us heros for sitting here all night…
    ‘And the brave hero stood up to the terrifying elderly person who wouldn’t wash their hands at the hospital entrance…’

    Anyway, I was reading a little on Irish people being sent into the Carribean as indentured servants to work in the sugar plantations of the British Empire. Found some interesting information on Obeah practitioners as well and how much power they weilded in the Caribbean and found a few examples of the practice over here in Canada in older newspaper articles. Seems as though Obeah has a bit of a bad rap for a revenge aspect in it’s practice… but that’s more then understandable considering the issues that needed to be dealt with on sugar plantations were likely never on the soft side of the spectrum. Got me wondering if anyone in the Caribbean, including Irish indentured servants, could seek out help or be bound to certain actions and oaths with Obeah practitioners. Then I read a little about immigration of Carribean people to Canada. There was a pick up of Carribean immigrants into Canada in the 70’s and 80’s from what I understand. Got me thinking of the hundreds of years of interactions of those two cultures in the Carribean and what kind of influences were brought to Canada during immigration. All kinds of apparently unresearched connections I guess. I’ll have to follow up and ask my friend whose mother was born there when social distancing is over.

  96. @ Temporaryreality–

    What a wonderful topic! I want to say, though, that I’m convinced that memorizing poems is, while always a worthwhile, not always an entirely safe activity.

    Many years ago when I lived in Pittsburgh I went for a walk in the park in the Fall. It was a beautiful day, and the woods were a riot of orange and red leaves with that distinctive smoky Autumn scent on the air. I decided to try to open up my mind, to see if I could speak to the spirit of the forest. I had no magical training of any kind, then, and did not expect anything to happen. But it did. I saw, in my mind’s eye, a great whirling mass of orange leaves come together into the figure of a man made of leaves with wild golden eyes. I was so startled that I let go of whatever I had done to open my mind up and the image disappeared.

    But shortly thereafter I was in an English class, and the professor showed us images of the Green Man taken from 12th century English churches. I immediately recognized the being I had seen in the woods. And then, sometime later, I encountered one of my favorite poems and the first one I want to share here, To Autumn, by John Keats. The poem reads as a prayer to the season of Autumn. And, indeed, I have used it for exactly that purpose, as an invocation to the Spirit of Autumn at the day of the Equinox. But whenever I read the following lines–

    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
    Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
    Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
    Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
    Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers

    …Whenever I read them, even to this day, the image of the man made of Autumn leaves comes into my mind, and I see him doing the work of the season described in the poem.

    And then there’s Ulysses, by Alfred Tennyson. This is my other favorite poem. You probably know it. If not, the subject of the poem is Ulysses, Odysseus, the hero of the Odyssey, in his later years. He has grown old, and he finds that, after all of those years of trying to get home to Ithaca, his heart cannot find any peace there. “I cannot rest from travel,” he says. “I am become a name for always roaming with a hungry heart.”

    The thing about Ulysses is that it’s long, and very dense, and it doesn’t rhyme. I made many attempts to memorize it over the course of many years. And then something odd happened. I found myself, in the Spring of 2018, in a position very similar to that of Ulysses in the poem. I had spent many years roaming, living a bohemian lifestyle, and had finally settled down. I had a job, and a relationship and an apartment, and I should have been satisfied.

    But I wasn’t. I kept feeling that there was something more that I needed to do. But what?

    One day, the lines that I had managed to memorize from Ulysses started running in my head. It’s a good poem, so I didn’t mind, but they kept going– all the time, when I walked around town or went to the gym or to work, I would hear them. “It little profits that, an idle king, by this still hearth, among these barren crags, matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole unequal laws unto a savage race that hoard and sleep and feed and know not me.” “Come my friends, ’tis not too late to seek a newer world.” “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” Over and over again, day after day. It felt like it wasn’t me, reading the poem; it was something else, reciting the poem to me.

    Another thing happened around the same time. Two other things, actually. I met a woman at my work, and we hit it off. But I was still in a relationship, so it couldn’t go anywhere. I was working on a magical initiation at the same time, but for some reason, I could never manage to finish the preliminary work.

    Finally, I decided to end the relationship I was stuck in, move out of the apartment I’d been living, and changed my life.

    Within a few weeks, I’d completed the initiation I was working on.

    Over the course of 3 days, I memorized the whole of Ulysses.

    I started dating the woman from work. On a particular night, we kissed for the first time. I noticed that I could see Jupiter very brightly over her shoulder. Looking back, I realized that she could see Venus over mine. The two planets felt like they were speaking to one another. I cast a chart for the moment of our first kiss, and I found that Venus and Jupiter were indeed perfectly trine to one another– and also to Neptune. All 3 planets were in Water signs; Venus in Cancer (my rising sign), Jupiter in Scorpio (her rising sign), Neptune in his own sign of Pisces. Jupiter, the god of kings, idle or otherwise; Venus, the goddess of love, and of poems; Neptune, God of the Sea, and of dreams and ideals, ruling over them all. I believed then and believe now that my soul heard the Grand Trine as it came into being and moved to completion, and expressed it in the words of Tennyson’s poem, which also stood for the total rearrangement of my life that the planets, immortal gods, would soon bring about.

  97. Brendhelm, today my Ogham divinations revealed May 11 as the best day to re-open my small business. I wanted to do it sooner and they gave me a hard “No”.

  98. As an American history buff I sometimes wonder what happened to the furore about “busing” to enforce racial integration? A seventies thing, I assume – or has it quietly continued? My guess is, it stopped out of exhaustion and a sense of futility, or a gradually increasing awareness that the whole idea was stupid when applied to communities where the only “segregation” was geographical, or that resources would be better spent trying directly to improve education, but I don’t really know.

    But if it did die down and get quietly dropped, the implications are huge. It means that the US Supreme Court is capable of causing huge disruption one decade, and admitting it hadn’t been an essential idea after all the next.

    Or maybe the penny dropped when someone pointed out that segregation in restaurants and toilets is unconstitutional too.

    “Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. Sorry to interrupt your meal, but it has been noticed that all the customers in this restaurant are [fill in ethnic group here]. We will stretch a point and allow you to finish eating what’s actually in your mouths, but after that you must get up and be bussed to a different restaurant in the next town…”

    “Excuse me sir/madam, you can’t use that toilet, because everyone else in these toilets is likewise [fill in here], and the Constitution compels us to balance the racial quotas. Just hold it in for half an hour or so while we bus you into the next town…”

  99. JMG, yes, I’m in Germany. I myself do think that at least small changes are possible. As for sports, I have observed for quite a while that the Olympic Games are costly for the hosting country, and they don’t get that money back from the spectators. So, the Olympics have become less popular with Western countries and more popular with authoritarian countries as a propaganda tool. So, the Olympic Games may become an early victim of the Long Descent.

    A further thought: Seen on the whole, the current pandemic might be the crisis which will be remembered in the future as the transition point to scarcity industrialism (resourcenationalism, relocalization, decline or end of free-trade arrangements and open borders, more inward-looking attitudes, end of globalisation).

  100. Teresa

    Re: Flour

    I’ve noticed the same thing here in California, as has my sister in Massachusetts. And not just grocery stores. On-line outlets are sold out too. But you can find it here and there, disappearing and reappearing, usually in 50 lb. bags. Yeast is in a similar situation.

    Now I’m known for tinfoil hattery, but I find it hard to believe that everybody in this fast food nation has suddenly taken up baking. There’s something going on, but I can’t put my finger on it.

    I read somewhere that prior to China disclosing the extent and nature of the Covid, they had agents throughout Europe buying up large quantities of protective gear. I don’t know if that’s true.

    But if it is, you don’t suppose…?

    Nah! Tinfoil hat!

  101. John,
    Recently you posted a comment about time, and how from the perspective of the otherworld, which is outwith time, is like a snail moving slowly across a table towards some obstacle. I may have got the analogy you used slightly wrong. My question. If you are seeking the help of your chosen deity towards overcoming a challenge, or seeking a particular outcome, from the perspective of the deity (outwith time) would there not be a blurry future of possibilities rather than just one path ahead? Or would the path ahead simply reflect your destiny post assistance from your deity, the outcome reflective of what your deity chose to do? If it’s the later, then presumably your deity is always aware of what decisions/involvement he/she intends to take at all times.

  102. John
    Not a question but an observation. During the current crisis, thousands of UK residents have responded to an appeal to help farmers. A significant proportion of those that have responded have been rejected for employment for various reasons with indications that the farmers prefer the more ‘flexible’ immigrants to do the work. Post Brexit this may no longer be an option to the employers. However, there does seem to be a reluctancy to show some flexibility towards UK workers, who are seeking better/more reasonable working conditions, which implies that part of the risk of poor harvests/spoilt crops in down to the intransigence of farmers to change their ways rather than an unwillingness of UK residents to do the job. Which is interesting, because the media has painted a picture of the problem entirely being down to the unwillingness or residents to take on the work. The crisis is therefore helping to expose this false narrative.

  103. I was glad to see your new occult system is going to involve pathworking. Looking back, that kind of use of imagination has always been my thing.

    When I was first getting interested in spirituality in my late teens or early twenties, I got the book Introducing Eastern Philosophy by Richard Osborne and Borin Van Loon. On page 36 there’s an illustration of a sculpted mountain top with paths going up it. On the way up there are various occult symbols, buildings and trees. It’s one of the clearest visual metaphors for the spiritual life I’ve ever seen. I spent a lot of time thinking what it would be like to walk those paths, meditate in the sacred grove, read the books in the library, and what I’d see if I ascended the tower with the glowing light above it.

    I did the same thing in other fields as well. The film Pi is about complexity theory and the introduction montage includes those complex 3D graphs that are used to visualise various concepts. And I found myself wondering what it would be like to explore that landscape and climb those peaks too. Thinking about it, those towers in the background of the Burning Ship fractal look pretty tempting too.

    So when I read The Magical Battle of Britain and Dion Fortune is describing the structure inside Glastonbury Tor, with the library, the ritual room and the tower, I loved it and was just thinking “I’ve been here before”. Obviously the pathworking in The Celtic Golden Dawn really appealed to me and I seriously considered taking up that system, but there were other things in it I couldn’t see myself doing. So I’ve got a lot of hope the new system will be the one for me.

    The imaginary worlds I can build have expanded over the years and now I have whole countries in my head. The dry subtropical island nation, whose culture centres around spirituality, have brought in consultants from the socialist continent on the edge of the antarctic. So far it’s going better than you’d expect… 😉

  104. Have you noticed that people have stopped that dreadful habit of emailing all hours of the night? My husbands office went 100% work-from-home. The first week, everyone kept up the continuous emailing at all hours. By week two, it was down to just a handful of people emailing after the dinner hour. By week three email stopped at night, and is down overall by 50%. How weird is that? When with people all day, people were emailing. Now that they are not, they don’t.

    He said people with children are so focused on getting productive work done, they have little time for anything else. So work email is just some sort of of performance for other people that immediately ends when the people aren’t physically around. Interesting.

  105. I wonder if I may invite any Irish readers of this blog who would be interested in organising a meet-up, or at least talking to one another, to introduce themselves to me by email at scotlyn DOT s AT gmail Dot com?

  106. Also, I wonder who has charge of collecting physical addresses for people interested in subscribing to posts by mail should the internet become unavailable (or unavailabe for accessing non-corporate websites, as it seemed to be last night). I don’t believe I signed up at the time, but I would like to. Also, there may be others who would like to. Perhaps a new round of invitations for same?

  107. @ Kimberly – I’m glad you made that post, but it is waters I’m not yet ready to wade in. “Selfishness” is the watchword of those who are doing the shaming, but I wonder that they do not realise that there are essentially competing selfishnesses at work – is it selfish to suffer no alterations to your daily lifestyle and potentially spread infection, without regard to the potential health of others? From one point of view it is. Is it selfish to ask everyone else to rearrange their daily lifestyle so that you and your loved ones can avoid infection? From another point of view, it is.

  108. Greetings JMG!

    I have just received a copy of your book “Monsters”. I know with some of your earlier books there are things you have noted differently.

    Is there anything you would change about this one?

    Thank you and be well.

  109. This morning I woke with a simple revelation at the top of my mind (I have no doubt that many others have already thought this, but it was a revelation for me) “actions have consequences, intentions do not”.

    That is to say, having “good intent” (or for that matter “bad intent”) unaccompanied by an action, has no effect in the world at all. Yet, evangelical Christians, who reared me, and, it seems, the liberals who have absorbed their habits and sensibility, are continually focussing on what a person intended, much less on what they did, and hardly at all on what came into the world as a result of what they did (intended or not).

    And, in the course of some discussions on what I might call “religious emotions” with members of my family, I realise that the same religious emotions that were palpable presences in my youth – guilt, and shame – and which I observed as having huge effects in the way the group “regulated” and “policed” everyone’s behaviour and attitudes, these are the same ones that are prominent in the flame wars over whatever issue is being discussed.

    This led to a line of thinking on the role of guilt. Because, of late, I have heard a number of people of different ages express guilt for various things – the state of the environment, racism, sexism, etc. And I think, why guilt? Will guilt do anybody any good? Because it is only action that produces consequences. And if current actions are producing current consequences, then clearly to change current consequences requires changing curent actions.

    Does guilt accomplish this? I don’t think so. Because in my long acquaintance with the operations of guilt in individual people, what I mostly see is people seeking to be relieved of the burden of carrying this guilt, (or else to share it widely by instilling shame and guilt in others) and the Christian message of redemption, not tied to “works”, seems to accomplish this within evangelican circles.

    I note that in liberal circles guilt has found its relief in the offerings of the corporate advertising sorcerers, who are able to confer redemption through purchases – buy the “green” this, the “fairtrade” that, and now, go in peace, your sins are washed clean.

    So, my current thought is that neither guilt or shame produce changed actions, or even more importantly, changed consequences in the world, and the sooner we exchange them for considered action and attention to consequences, the better.

  110. Unlimited slide rules on eBay, although there are also other traditions, as the slide rules on a dial, Russian “watches”. There is also the very old “slide rule” called a “Sector” which joins with dividers that create all things, such as you see in Blake’s copperplates These are the same dividers used in the Masonic symbols. The key behind them is to never, ever use a ruler, that is, a static, arbitrary measure. All building is based on math and proportions instead, such as Phi and Fibonacci. This allows you to see the math inherent in man, in nature, in plants, in force, weight, and momentum that modern numbers blind you to. Although slide rules are interesting and powerful, going back another whole level to the Middle Ages (or 18th c) can make you powerful in a new magic of personal discovery and insight.

    “alternative energies long touted as “solutions”

    They can be solutions, that’s the shame of it. But you’d have to give up centralization, control, and the profit rentiers to do it. It’s cheap and easy to create a passive solar anything, but that power cannot be shipped even 100 yards much less through a grid. This is why they will fail and have failed 50 years running. They cannot give up power, control, profit, and crippling oppression. However, who cares? You can go around them by building one at your own house for loose change. Tesla’s grid-walls will collapse with unlimited tax welfare for billionaires so yours will be the only one standing.

    For being Asperger’s: it’s otherwise known as being “human.” They have violently enforced such a toxically narrow existence in the West that what was normal variations only 20 years ago are now listed as abnormal maladjustments. Yeah, maladjustments to a sick society. Imagine instead living in bronze age Breton. That neurotype is then BETTER suited than the present one, while the present successful neurotype is one that would make you unhappy and get into pointless trouble all the time. So it’s not only you: it’s an interaction with the environment. A toxic one that maybe 90% thinks should be changed now, while 10% ride on top with their weirdo “always more” “always stimulus” brains. Why have the 10% mentally ill non-Aspergers run everything? It’s not working.

    Theresa, perhaps you should get a home mill and stock the wheat grains. They keep far longer, many decades. The bags are a too-sudden re-mix of the system. If you wanted 50# bags that restaurants and pizzerias used, I’m sure you could get them. The problem is 5# bagging machines. If open, you could try at a 50# supply place. Wholesale? Amish?

    “Migrant workers– then prices will rise.” Yes, if that stops, they will have to pay normal Canadians normal wages to do hard work. Prices will rise. To a living wage. Would that be bad? We’d shift tiny power from the cities, who want deadly low prices, to the farms who are dying of low prices. In a democracy, you know the majority will oppress the minority. Farmers are the smallest minority, even smaller than migrant workers. They want money to fix it, but “money” is what broke it. Money is worthless when what you need is time, supplies, seeds, rain, and packing/distribution. Money doesn’t solve that, people do.

    European Middle Ages? Magdalena and Balthasar, personal letters of a German married couple. Destroys all M.E. narratives and stereotypes which are dum dum dum. Like all other 2D history mangled by the education extractive complex and TV documentaries.

  111. A bit of an odd question maybe for JMG and our commentariat: what are your thoughts on whether or not there are still mountain lions in the Appalachians? Here in Pennsylvania, the last confirmed mountain lion (cougar, panther, puma, catamount, etc…there are some great common names for this species) is said to have been killed in 1871. Yet rural folks in some areas claim to see them fairly regularly. I’ve actually heard people at the grocery store complaining about them being too common. The scientific community generally dismisses these sightings as bobcats (a cat ten times smaller), when they deign to comment at all.

    So, any thoughts? What purpose would a large scale cover-up even serve? Are these just cases of misidentification? Or is it possible people are seeing some sort of spirit animal rather than the real thing? I’m certainly prepared to accept 99% of these stories as misidentification, but there are some hunters and foresters out there who are pretty savvy and I wouldn’t want to dismiss the whole concept out of hand.

  112. The virus commentary has been very either/or; if you suggest anything short of padlocks on everyone’s doors and the police tossing ration packs in to the households once a week, and if you criticise the government at all, well then you must of course want millions to die.

    What JMG a while ago said about climate change, so too with this virus: is quite possible for it to be a very serious problem and *at the same time* for governments to be using it to arrogate more power to themselves, and abuse it. For example, to run things for several months without parliament sitting, and to alter the justice system without taking the trouble to consult parliament, let alone the public.

  113. Hello JMG,

    I’ve watched today a short YT video with You commentating on the universal basic income. You said that UBI doesn’t work well in a real-life but You haven’t given examples for that. Can You give a historical example for UBI put into real-life test?
    For me, the UBI may be a next step for people to detach from reality. The first step was a notion that wealth comes from human work (not from nature transformed by a human work into a wealth). With the UBI people may think that wealth comes from… from where? From a government? From the sky? Was it kept in a secret that wealth was always there, waiting to be shared with the rest of us?

  114. @Deborah Bender

    “1. Bernie is not a member of the Democratic Party. He is an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats and was permitted by the Democratic Party to run in its primaries. He is not widely beloved by mainstream Democrats. They don’t have a big problem with the policies he advocates. They have problems with some of his past behavior and that of some of his staff and supporters. Bernie ran for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President twice and lost twice, the first time in a two person race and the second time in a crowded field.”

    Respectfully, mainstream Democrats do have a big problem with Bernies policies. The mainstream of the Democratic party believes in bloated budgets for the Pentagon, regime change in the ME, forever wars, austerity programs to balance the budget, and free trade agreements that have devastated blue collar workers. If it was just a personality issue then mainstream Dems could pass (at least in the House) all of Bernies policies w/o him. You might have noticed they don’t do that. The function of the Dem party is to maintain the bi-partisan consesus on the issues I just mentioned while engaging in identity politics just enough to be “different” than the Republicans. This is why we have Trump.

  115. Something has annoyed me for a very long time, so I thought I could attempt to get an answer here in the open post thread.

    Imagine I’m talking to a coworker about high school times, and to refer to my former classmates, I say “we”. However, this word does not exclude the person I’m talking with.

    Is there a way to transmit this concept of “exclusive we” in English, or perhaps a word in some language to do so?

  116. Hi JMG,
    Posted the below in the comments of the last CosDoc post but no reply there so thought I’d have another go – guessing Sunday evening on is quite busy on the magic channel round the other side – I’ll post before Sunday here if seeking a reply from now on. So many seekers! Thanks from this one anyway.
    (And more concerned being gainful in the right way after job going, which includes paying the rent, than being overly concerned on 4 over 3 – I’ve always been somewhat impatient to know – not my best trait.):
    “Hi JMG,
    Well I have literally just negotiated a settlement deal from my current (disintegrating) job, courtesy of a certain little virus and what I saw as mismanagement, so am looking across vistas new for a staff position. Is appearing that quite a few others may be too so plenty of opportunities for collaboration as well as some competition. Will be interesting no doubt – any general advice or observations you can offer for this next little period welcome (I’m in the UK). Also since I can remember I’ve had four as my ‘favourite’ number (aren’t these strange how they just pop up – I can’t explain where it came from?!). Anyway, I say that because it added something for me to the idea of 4 being the ultimate symbol. I looked up Tetragrammatonic and got some of the Hebrew link but not much clue of how it adds to the ‘power’ of the Trinitarian. Got any feeling on this?
    All fascinating, as ever.”

  117. John–

    Saw this discussion of the present crisis and US debt:

    Re the immediate future, I don’t know that the author is too far afield. However, in the longer term, I think considerable issues are being overlooked. In particular, this observation;

    Is it possible that the global appetite for dollars and U.S. Treasury bonds could subside over the next few years, forcing the U.S. to make some difficult choices about how to reduce its debt? It is. Even if government borrowing costs are low, rising interest rates could potentially slow private-sector investment or sharply increase the trade deficit.

    The good news about this scenario is that, if it comes to pass, it would mean that there was a worldwide economic recovery. Only then would savers be willing to forgo the safety of dollar-denominated assets.

    My first thought was that the author fails to consider the scenario where investors still desire safe havens but no longer consider the US dollar to be a viable option (i.e. the erosion of the dollar’s status as a key reserve currency).

    The most critical assumptions are those we don’t realize we are making…

  118. In the Retrotopia universe, are there any other nations that are as bioconservative (opposition to technological proliferation) as the Lakeland Republic? I believe you hinted at one point that Quebec and France are pretty close.

    Has a more agrarian lifestyle coupled with a religious revival in the Lakeland Republic boosted birthrates significantly (not necessarily to the level of the Amish but still)?

    Finally, what percentage of Lakeland citizens would you estimate still go to university? To high school?

  119. @Kimberley

    There appears to be a similar trend in my own experience. In one Skype call with my PhD student colleagues, they openly spoke warmly of Ontario’s Tory premier Doug Ford, usually disparaged as a yahoo and a tightwad. They expressed surpise at how “well” he was doing.

  120. I’ve got a question I keep meaning to ask – you’ve said on a number of occasions that it’s better to invest in skills than tools or tokens of exchange during the long descent. That seems like good advice in the abstract, but I can’t quite visualise the implementation. I can see how someone in your position could forgo paying activities to spend more time educating yourself, but how much time many of us spend on paying work is much less flexible. Could you elaborate a bit on how that advice might apply to those of us in a ‘fourty or zero paid hours per week’ situation?

  121. Hi JMG! Happy spring! It’s been on the cool side here in the Northeast, but I’m not complaining.

    Have you ever had, or would you ever consider having, a public conversation with Jordan Peterson? I think it would be fascinating to hear the two of you discuss topics such as the role of myths in society or your shared interest in Carl Jung’s insights on human nature. I expect I’m not the only one of your readers who would find such a conversation interesting. 

  122. In the Fall of 2008 I had Lymes, I quit my fancy Fortune 500 job and hopped in my girlfriend’s 1979 Volkswagen Dasher Diesel running on veggie oil, and drove out to the West Coast to gather berries and mushrooms and commune with the redwoods. Mostly oblivious about the market collapse, the next several years were a deep dive into economics, ecology and systems thinking.

    I think it was Feb 21, 2020, the first day the market went into free-fall, that I went out and bought a thousand dollars of non-perishables, propane and assorted material for living without. I have thoroughly enjoyed the time off from my business remodeling, to work on my house and the garden, all those projects I have been meaning to get to for the last decade.

    I do not want to go back to remodeling. I want to rebuild this society to be more local, producing more food and essential products locally. We went public with our nonprofit Food Forest, Farm and Restaurant April 14. I want to build a nonprofit, to try to convince a municipality to build an example of a thriving, dynamic economy taking care of people and the land and waters.

    I guess my question is to you, is now a good time to be thinking about the art of changing consciousness? Because it seems to me, crisis is the most fertile time for deliberate, intentional change, and there is so very much about this economy, and we as a society, that needs to change – and much about my life I would like to change.

    Thank you.

  123. Just an amusing anecdote on divination:

    I wrapped up my 1st run through the Fool’s Journey a month or so ago, and the whole way through it I found my Rider-Waite tarot deck perfectly amenable to helping me understand each element I had just meditated upon with a support card drawn immediately after.

    Then I started meditating on the geomantic figures and asked for the same support card from the same tarot deck to improve my understanding in the same way we did with the Fool’s Journey.

    Not havin’ it. My tarot deck clammed up on me. After Puer I drew the 9 of Wands, which I thought made some sense. Then I did Amissio and drew the 8 of Cups, which again I thought worked. Then I did Albus and drew the 9 of Wands again. Then I did Populus and drew the 8 of Cups again…

    Anybody who knows these particular cards might guess, as I did, that the tarot deck was kind of sulking, and didn’t want to play anymore if I was going to study THOSE figures.

    Needless to say, I stopped asking. My tarot deck seems perfectly willing to help answer queries when consulted solo, but cross-pollinate with geomancy…

  124. John–

    Popcorn futures for everyone. Someone’s talking their book, i’d guess.

    Love some of the language in here:

    But in terms of world dominance, it’s all about time, and 5G. It’s the “cesium standard” that allows us to measure time accurately. That means it’s the key to mobile networks, the internet, and GPS.

    This also means that without cesium, the global 5G war cannot be won.

    Again, the alternative course seems to be overlooked…but of course, such notions aren’t going to come from folks writing for the finance pages, in any event.

  125. Hi John. This virus has impacted in many ways. What do you think are the ones that require the most thought?

  126. @ Russell:

    A book which I enjoyed is The Structures of Everyday Life by Fernand Braudel. It details everyday life from the 15 to the 18th centuries, so the tail end of the medieval period through the beginning of the industrial age.

    A favorite poem for many years: In Blackwater Woods, by Mary Oliver

    Look, the trees
    are turning
    their own bodies
    into pillars

    of light,
    are giving off the rich
    fragrance of cinnamon
    and fulfillment,

    the long tapers
    of cattails
    are bursting and floating away over
    the blue shoulders

    of the ponds,
    and every pond,
    no matter what its
    name is, is

    nameless now.
    Every year
    I have ever learned

    in my lifetime
    leads back to this: the fires
    and the black river of loss
    whose other side

    is salvation,
    whose meaning
    none of us will ever know.
    To live in this world

    you must be able
    to do three things:
    to love what is mortal;
    to hold it

    against your bones knowing
    your own life depends on it;
    and, when the time comes to let it go,
    to let it go.

    The time has come to let it go.

  127. For Temporaryreality –

    High Flight by John Magee, Jr., read and forgotten in high school then reintroduced by an airline magazine on a long flight, and memorized by the end of the flight.

    “Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;”

    Song for Autumn, by Mary Oliver –

    In the deep fall
    don’t you imagine the leaves think how
    comfortable it will be to touch
    the earth instead of the
    nothingness of air and the endless
    freshets of wind? And don’t you think
    the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
    warm caves, begin to think

    of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
    inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
    the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
    the everlasting being crowned with the first
    tuffets of snow? The pond
    vanishes, and the white field over which
    the fox runs so quickly brings out
    its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
    bellows. And at evening especially,
    the piled firewood shifts a little,
    longing to be on its way.

    Also, thanks for this request! I now have so many poems to discover!


    I had recently stumbled across this series of blog posts from a writer I follow, and they reminded me a lot of your posts about how human psychology works with relation to politics. The writer, Tim Urban, is definitely on the techno-narcissistic side of things — he rallied behind Elon Musk, and seems to genuinely believe that human-level artificial intelligence and Ray Kurzweil’s prophecies are on their way — and the posts on democracy tend to glorify the US’s systems quite a bit compared to the rest of the world. However, he’s got some very interesting analyses of the, ahem, situation going on in the modern political world, how our brains work with relation to social life, and what people can do to attempt to be better thinkers. Do you think he’s worth listening to as well?

  129. John, when you get here: Just wanted to say, this remark made me LOL: “Astrology really is an evidence-based science!” Beautiful. I’ve never known enough about it to have a worthwhile opinion. But I was impressed years back with what Michel Gauquelin said. And more recently, I’ve estimated that if an impressive polymath like JMG defends it confidently, then pretty clearly there’s likely to be something substantial in it. Reading you describing it in these posts as a supremely derived-from-hard-observation discipline makes a lot of sense to me, especially with the rider: “We’ve no idea HOW it works; but it does!” Thanks! (No need to take time to answer this. Doesn’t really need it. Parch i chi, Derwydd da!)

  130. Not directly on current events, but on the necessary historical perspective.

    From what I’ve read about the 1968 flu, it was
    1) limited in extent – even in Hong Kong, where it first erupted, only about 15% of the population are supposed to have been infected, probably because of partial immunity given by previous flu strains
    2) limited in time – the American cases shot up in December 1968, and in January 1969 a vaccine was already available.

    Can JMG or anybody else who lived through that flu (preferably a bit older) tell me if I am wrong here?

    Otherwise, I would only like to point out that apparently few Ecosophia commenters live with underage children! Maybe those that do only read, but don’t find the time to comment.

  131. …the reason so many people are insisting the economy has to stay shut down is that so many of them are finally getting enough rest and enough perspective to realize that their lives really, truly suck.

    I was thinking about it earlier today, I don’t know if I would recognize what a good life would look like if met someone with one. Of course it’s a highly individual thing, but are there common qualities in what a life that doesn’t suck would have?

    Thanks for the author recommendations, by the way.

  132. I wonder how Saudi Arabia will look in a few months?

    Given that the vast majority of its budget comes from oil and it imports almost everything it eats, at a time when oil prices have collapsed and countries are stopping food exports for fear of shortages… how does a Saudi collapse change things? Might we see a second attempt at a caliphate, this time headquartered in Mecca?

  133. Hello JMG and commenters, I hope you are all faring well during this pause that refreshes. I note that my neighbors are all putting in gardens this year, which is not surprising. Many of the homes in my area have had “garden ruins” that date back to the last financial crisis – plots of hopeful size, with cedar posts and now tattered fences, that provide fine crops of artemisia and not much else. Good for dreamwork but not very nutritious. Hopefully this time we’ll see more garden staying power.

    I’ve also noticed in myself a sense of deja vu and nostalgia for late 70s/early 80s. I’m getting on for 60 now, so this could be nostalgia for lost youth as much as anything. But back then, when I was coming of age in the UK (I now live in Connecticut) there was quite a sense of crisis, my Dad lost work, there were widespread strikes, social unrest and all seemed a bit on the brink from the 1978 winter of discontent on for a few years. As this particular era seems to be beginning the transition to something new, perhaps I’m being reminded of a time when we had some other options and paths forward. I’m certainly reflecting on this theme, seeing some new possibilities. I have three children in their 20s who are just getting started in life. I’m both worried and hopeful.

    Anyone else feeling nostalgic for an earlier time?

  134. Regardless of its actual epidemiological significance, but due to its timing, the Covid-19 pandemic will most certainly pop a couple of the bubbles that have been propping up the economy that last decade. It will certainly deflate the higher education industrial complex for a whole host of reasons. I think it will also pop the sick care industrial complex as a public health crisis runs up against the totally unsuitable for-profit medical complex. It will take a while but eventually the absurdity of overworked staff and doctors in one building with laid-off doctors and staff in the building next door will hit home. I also think the great “snake eating its own tail” real estate industry will go in to a decades long decline to the benefit of much of the population. I think there are more but those are the big ones.

  135. @ Temporaryreality

    American names by Steven Vincent Benet

    I have fallen in love with American names
    The sharp names that never get fat…

    I shall not be there I shall rise and pass
    Bury my heart at wounded knee.

    Everyone else thank you for the ideas about Asperger’s

  136. A favorite poem:

    I Remember, I Remember
    by Philip Larkin

    Coming up England by a different line
    For once, early in the cold new year,
    We stopped, and, watching men with number plates
    Sprint down the platform to familiar gates,
    “Why, Coventry!” I exclaimed. “I was born here.”

    I leant far out, and squinnied for a sign
    That this was still the town that had been ‘mine’
    So long, but found I wasn’t even clear
    Which side was which. From where those cycle-crates
    Were standing, had we annually departed

    For all those family hols? . . . A whistle went:
    Things moved. I sat back, staring at my boots.
    ‘Was that,’ my friend smiled, ‘where you “have your roots”?’
    No, only where my childhood was unspent,
    I wanted to retort, just where I started:

    By now I’ve got the whole place clearly charted.
    Our garden, first: where I did not invent
    Blinding theologies of flowers and fruits,
    And wasn’t spoken to by an old hat.
    And here we have that splendid family

    I never ran to when I got depressed,
    The boys all biceps and the girls all chest,
    Their comic Ford, their farm where I could be
    ‘Really myself’. I’ll show you, come to that,
    The bracken where I never trembling sat,

    Determined to go through with it; where she
    Lay back, and ‘all became a burning mist’.
    And, in those offices, my doggerel
    Was not set up in blunt ten-point, nor read
    By a distinguished cousin of the mayor,

    Who didn’t call and tell my father There
    Before us, had we the gift to see ahead –
    ‘You look as though you wished the place in Hell,’
    My friend said, ‘judging from your face.’ ‘Oh well,
    I suppose it’s not the place’s fault,’ I said.

    ‘Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.’

  137. JMG – You mentioned (I think over on the other blog) a Hieronymus pipe for the vegetable garden. My googling has revealed a lot about what how they were developed, but no DIY instructions beyond having a PVC pipe that is at least two feet in the ground and at least six feet above ground. Can you point me to a resource for more detailed instructions on creating one? Thank you.

  138. Hi JMG,

    I’ve spent several months now associating a certain set of color correspondences with daily devotions to the planetary deities, to the point of sometimes reading special meaning into appearances of certain colors at certain times. I commenced the Dolmen Arch recently, and was almost immediately surprised to discover that I need to start taking on board a new set of color correspondences for the planets and days of the week. I completely understand what you right there, and have no problem with attempting to start addressing my “dogs” as my “chiens”, so to speak.

    But as I still have my daily devotional practice, which includes colors, and that practice seems to me to have a certain momentum to it. I will clarify, though, that I don’t use the colors to *do* anything in particular except prayer. So perhaps the easiest thing might be to simply start associating new colors through and through, including in my already ongoing devotional practice. The idea of that just feels a little bit funny to me for some reason, though.

    Do you have any advice for learning a new set of correspondences layered on top of an already existing one? Is it best to just try to forget the old set entirely for a while?

  139. Dear JMG, thank you for your response!

    Dear William, thank you!

    Dear Michelle, I’m so sorry to hear about your friend! Many thanks for letting me know about the elecampane — that makes my day!

  140. JBird and JMG,
    about your question on the incompetence of the government. While I agree with JMG that we humans are not that bright, there is more to it in the case of the US.

    Partly is the cognitive dissonance between individualism (very strong ideology in US) and the fact that you need community to survive. The governments of the last 50 years tried hard to destroy any sense of community in US and it shows.

    The other part is that US is a big top-down empire – very efficient in the short term but like all empires in the process of disintegration, it cannot respond to challenges.

    As support of my ideas look at Europe. Yes they are very top down but they still know how to provide basic necessities to people. People complain loud when they get fined for going outside but are very happy with the free medical care and government unemployment.

    One place where the cognitive dissonance shows up strongly is how the 2 parties in US have switched places – republicans are the socialists now while democrats are all about “let them eat cake”. The explanation is very simple – republicans are in power so they are trying to be pragmatic while democrats wouldn’t mind making things worse so they can swoop in.

  141. Dear Scotlyn,

    On a related note to what you wrote above, recently I’ve been thinking about what maintaining the sorts of conversations that this community engages in would look like without the internet. I think that it could happen with a monthly zine, mailed out, photocopied, with letters to the editor, essays, art and the like. It could be done rather cheaply too, with some printer paper, a photo machine and media rate mail. It would probably cost everyone who got the zine something like $10 per zine, if we were to include shipping costs.

    While I’m certainly skeptical that people will jump on that prior to the internet getting significantly worse than it is now, I’m willing to be surprised, and if there were enough demand, I’d be delighted to put together something. I already have a post office box and have made many zines.

  142. @Violet- Thanks so much for the Holy Basil (Tulsi) seeds. I started 2 plants under my indoor microgreen grow lights and they are now each over a foot tall! Going to start hardening them up soon for their eventually lives outside in pots.

  143. To Mark Grable,
    I am not sure I follow all your ideas but I maintain that people will not change just because of an economic disruption. Until you have a big social movement or a real pandemic I expect US to “stay the course” independent of presidents or the economic collapse.
    I know it’s trendy to compare US to USSR but I think a better comparison culturally is with Nazi Germany. Remember that german soldiers were still fighting in Berlin when the rest of the country was occupied and the “dear leader” was taking a cyanide pill. Wasn’t German considered for the US national language?

    To Patricia Mathews,
    We’ll see. As an outsider I miss some insights about US. As an example, did US Civil War changed the country? In some ways yes but in other ways not so much (see slavery after civil war:
    My conclusion is that change takes a long time unless the people’s spirit is broken – which is not always a bad thing.

    To Deborah Bender,
    I get my news from far left people like Jimmy Dore. Any honest leftist in US knows by now that the rep/dem left/right is a joke so they focus on the issues, not scoring political points. Bernie specifically said that he does not support Medicare because “this is not a good time”(yes during a pandemic).

    But any quick search online will reveal that Democrats opposed checks for a long time. It makes sense – the checks score points for Trump so of course Democrats would oppose it.
    That is not surprising. What is surprising to me is that you still think Democrats are thinking about the people or that Bernie is an independent and not a lightning rod to stop any chance of a third party.

    I mean at this point what does he have to do to prove he is a Clinton tool? He voted for the trillions for the banks, he supports Biden but not Medicare for All and he jumps whatever high the party wants.

  144. @Temporaryreality

    Two I was taught as a child, The Jabberwock, Lewis Caroll and widely known. Less well known:

    Behold the mighty dinosaur,
    Famous in prehistoric lore,
    Not only for his power and strength
    But for his intellectual length.
    etc. etc.

    and one I came to appreciate as an adult. The second coming by Yeats – it’s always felt like a prophecy.

    Also, if you have time and you can find it read in a proper accent ‘Under Milk Wood’, by Dylan Thomas.

  145. One weird thing – a couple of weeks or so ago, I made a cotton mask out of an old bedsheet following some instructions from an article in the New York Times. When I’d finished, I looked at it, and I just felt this strong sense of a) power, b) connection to my ancestors who lived through the first and 2nd world wars. Because this is so much like the sort of thing they were doing then. Partly it was just “I made a thing!” (my sewing skills are a work in-progress), but it was also that it was a useful thing made outside the system that was directly relevant to the pandemic.

    I suspect it’s existance and use has not done anything useful against coronavirus when I’ve worn it to the grocery store, since there haven’t been many cases on Vancouver Island, and it isn’t as good as a proper surgical mask let alone an N95… but it works quite well against the hayfever allergies that were driving me crazy while gardening, and I can wash it and the other two I made and reuse it.. So, a win, I think.

    I wonder if a lot of other people who are gardening or sewing or baking are rediscovering their sense of agency.

  146. On the shortage of baking supplies, I would posit that The Great British Bake Off lit the fuse, and it has now reached the powder keg. 🙂

  147. Need something to listen to while in lockdown? Here is a Trash Flow Radio episode for all of you who like the Retro Future. DJ Jugular Jones was in the studio’s at WAIF Cincinnati 88.3 for a three hour special showcasing the best music of the ’50’s and ’60’s you’ve never heard. You can download or stream the file here:

    If you’ve been aching for the simple radio pleasures of times gone past, than join Jugular Jones for a trip back in time to hear that “classic 50’s sound”. Thanks for listening to these forgotten hits & magnetic meories. Besides music, an collage of 50’s era radio spy thriller is interspersed with other clips of media from the time. So bust your grandma out of the nursing home, because of everything old is hot and young again.

    This set also featured an episode of DJ Frederick’s Radio Thrift Shop, Bargain Basement Bin edition, split into two 15 minute segment.

  148. @Booklover: Some of the people in charge in Boston were floating the idea of hosting one of the recent Olympics, but abandoned it because, in essence, the entire city objected. We’d observed the costs that you talk about, and the general disruption to the hosting community. Our transport system is awful *now*, and being on the World Stage and patriotism and yadda yadda yadda do not make up for messing with people’s commutes for months.*

    So, yeah: I see more and more people becoming aware that big staged events are generally not worth it.

    * We already have plenty of our own sportsball games to do that.

  149. JMG

    I’ve been reading your blogs for many years going back to the ArchDruid and “peak oil” days.
    Your knowledge of history is immense and your analysis is brilliant. You have one of the top intellects on the planet (IMHO).

    However, I have to say that I am a bit perplexed by your political views.

    From what I have gathered you support Donald Trump and have indicated that you believe his policies are the best for the country. I wanted to ask about this in the context of environmental issues. In my view, protection of habitat and biodiversity, endangered species, climate change, etc. are of major importance and are at the top of the list in terms of issues that need to be addressed for the well-being of the planet.. The Trump Administration has eviscerated environmental laws and regulations on an unprecedented scale, mostly in the name of promoting economic growth. In light of this, can you elaborate on why you support the Trump Administration despite its horrendous record on the environment.

    Thank You.

  150. Regarding sports, I agree with Brendhelm that basketball is well-positioned to last a long time, as long as we have paved empty spaces and children with some spare time. It’s excellently structured for pickup games as it easily accommodates teams of different sizes and having either one hoop or two to work with.

    If baseball is still around as we shift into a slower, more local world, I think it’ll reclaim its former dominance over football in American life. Baseball has been on the decline for years now as it’s not really well suited to the modern sports media world – it’s just a slow, slow, slow game. It’s boring to watch on TV as the action happens so rarely and in such sudden bursts. But it’s fantastic to watch live, if you can pack a picnic lunch and a couple beers and sit out on the bleachers with your friends for a few sunny June hours. It’s also good background noise on the radio while you build a bookcase or fix a tractor.

    I can easily imagine baseball making the transition back to a 1890s level, with travelling teams of poorly-paid barnstormers travelling the country, playing each other in pastures or challenging local towns to put their own teams together. Sure, the boys from the factory may have lost that game 19-2, but Sam will be talking about hitting that double for the rest of his life. In contrast, a “hometown team” trying to play American football against the equivalent “minor league” level of skill would just end up with half the town concussed or in casts.

  151. Re slide rules: Before ordering one from Ebay, you might want to check your local thrift shop. One around here is “essential “ because they give away bread. If you can get your slide rule at a thrift shop, you won’t have to wait for the Ebay seller to mail it to you. Good luck!

    My state is already talking about another lockdown in the fall.

    Here’s an oldie-but-goodie you can read while locked down: The Association by Bentley Little. My library shelved this with Horror but I’d call it black comedy. I saw it on that free-book site and thought “Oh, yeah, that was a good one!” PMC couple get a great buy on a McMansion that turns out to be under the jurisdiction of the Homeowners Association from Hell. I suspect real PMC’ers wouldn’t just nod when the realtor says “Oh, by the way, there’s a homeowner’s association,” they’d want to see the bylaws, but what the hell, it’s funny. The realtor does note that if you want to live in a McMansion, you can’t escape an HOA, which is true, and it’s creeping down the social scale, at least around here. I was thinking about selling the house and moving into a slightly bigger one, but we turned out to be the top of the heap for non-HOA neighborhoods. Everything slightly bigger was under a HOA.

  152. Do you see the prevailing responses to the coronavirus in most countries as a step toward more authoritarian government? Varying claims about its danger and virulence aside, I feel concerned about how easily most people seem to be going along with very stringent measures, with very little in the way of public discussion or dissent. Even if the measures are wise and very justified – which I’m hoping is at least partly true – I’m dismayed by the way that anyone who says otherwise seems to be labeled a “conspiracy theorist.”

    More broadly, do you see increased authoritarianism as a major trend in Western countries in the decades to come? Personally I have been hoping that catabolic collapse would open the way for more smaller-scale, convivial ways of communities making decisions together, but perhaps that is naive or overly optimistic. I suppose it can and will vary by region for a whole host of reasons.

    (Thanks, and I hope I’ve tied this into broader themes enough that it doesn’t feel like just hammering on a tired topic. Can’t help it if it’s still something I’m thinking a lot about these days!)

  153. Hi, JMG. I had no intention to post a question this week – and then an article suddenly popped up that kind-of freaked me out. It is entitled “The Mystical, Mind-Sharing Lives of Tulpamancers” ( and it has me wondering how far down a rabbit-hole people who create tulpas without knowing what they are doing will go. The article itself has a “gee-whiz” vibe to it, with only one mild acknowledgement of its potential dangers: “For Marz, tulpas are a double-edged sword that must be wielded intentionally and with care. The subconscious is a powerful place, and if it’s not plumbed properly it can run amok.” Interestingly enough, there is a prof at McGill University who is studying this phenomenon.

    I guess my concern is that if creating tuplas become a “fad” among the usual demographic, this will not be particularly healthy. (I am recalling Dion Fortune’s “Psychic Self-Defence” here.) Your reaction?

  154. Over on the other blog, I saw a comment that stated that the ‘subconscious mind thinks that every image it sees as real’ – that’s kind of alarming if it’s true. I’m curious whether you think it’s true or not? If so, that explains why TV works, and how one can be manipulated through it.

  155. @packshaud: I suspect the closest you’ll be able to come in English is “they and I”. Not a single word, but the phrase expresses the concept well enough.

  156. NomadicBeer, there might well be similarities between US patriotism and patriotism in Nazi Germany, but I don’t have an idea how far that comparison goes.

    But there is a marked similarity between the USA and the USSR regarding old, senile leaders who are overwhelmed by the problems of their respective countries.

    Pygmycory, sewing masks has become a pastime for quite a few women in Germany; my mother is engaged in it and a colleague of a friend.

  157. For TemporaryReality:

    The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

    Listen, my children, and you shall hear
    Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
    On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
    Hardly a man is now alive
    Who remembers that famous day and year.

    Prologue to Canterbury Tales
    (in Middle English – though I only memorized about the first 40 lines or so)

    Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
    The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
    And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
    Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

  158. Deborah, fascinating! If someone like Maddow is starting to talk about individual action rather than let-the-government-do-it, the wind is definitely changing.

    Milt, I haven’t kept track of Streiber’s work, but Vallee is quite another matter; if you’ve read his classic books Passport to Magonia and Messengers of Deception and John Keel’s equally classic The Mothman Prophecies, you have a fair idea of how I approach that end of the UFO phenomenon. My book on the subject, somewhat unoriginally titled The UFO Phenomenon, is currently out of print but will be reissued shortly in a revised and expanded version as The UFO Chronicles; it focuses on the other side of the phenomenon — the way that pop culture, the misuse of hypnosis, and deliberate disinformation spread by the US Air Force and other elements of the intelligence community buried the ordinary (but culturally unacceptable) shamanic and visionary experiences Streiber et al. wrote about under a vast fog of extraterrestial-themed fantasy.

    Tony, the challenge in trying to figure out what’s going to happen is that the global economy these days is one vast hallucination, in which most of the “wealth” being circulated has no intrinsic value at all. The strength of the dollar simply measures how many people are betting on one hallucination in contrast to some of the others. I don’t expect to see any serious devaluation of the dollar until the decline of its status as a global reserve currency becomes enough of an issue to really impact the willingness of overseas investors to keep on buying dollar-denominated hallucinations (“investment vehicles”). When will that happen? In the funhouse-mirror logic of the speculative economy, that’s impossible to say.

    Ace, excellent. Yes, there are aspects of Heindel’s cosmology that are annoying, and others that are problematic; his dependence on Blavatsky is a little more evident than that of, say, Fortune — though Fortune also took for granted the basic cosmology that Blavatsky set out; almost everyone in the early 20th century occult scene did. Go ahead and regard it with a jaundiced eye; that’ll make it easier for you to avoid uncritical acceptance and get a clear sense of how to use the underlying narrative. These things are tools, not truths!

    Antoinetta, thanks for the slide rule site! I’m not at all surprised that Gail’s still in the business of predicting sudden collapse; she’s been doing that as long as I’ve known her, and the mere fact that she’s always wrong when she does so — not just a little wrong, but massively, completely, embarrassingly wrong — somehow never seems to sink in. It’s a pity, really, because other than that she’s smart and has good things to say; it’s just that she’s got this one broken-record doombat routine stuck in her head and nothing seems to be able to shake it loose.

    Ian, fascinating! It wouldn’t surprise me at all if you turned up a banquet of hidden history.

    Robert, the Supreme Court ruled against it in 2007 on 14th amendment grounds, overturning the 1971 decision that gave it legal force. So it didn’t just fade out. You’re right, though, that the initial enthusiasm for it among liberals guttered out gradually as it proved to be anything but the panacea it was supposed to be.

    Booklover, I hope so! If we can make the shift to scarcity industrialism with the aid of so minor a crisis, it’ll spare us a much messier transition later on.

    Averagejoe, if the deity in question is outside of time — I’m not sure all of them are — she knows that you’re going to pray to him, and what action she takes in response to it, just as she sees the rest of the tabletop of time at a glance. That’s how I see it, at least. As for the farmers — yeah, that’s the other thing about imported laborers: they can be abused and exploited with impunity. Over here, that’s a big issue in agriculture, and it’s also a major factor in domestic employment — a lot of privileged Americans prefer to hire illegal immigrants as nannies, housekeepers, et al., because the privileged people can then abuse their domestic servants with complete impunity. If one of them gives any trouble, all you have to do is rat them out to the immigration authorities!

    Yorkshire, have you considered writing imaginative fiction for a living? That capacity to envision things vividly and in great detail is one of the basic skills of the fantasy author, for example. More generally, pathworking is a very versatile tool; in the system I’m developing, students are asked to start by using the Sacred Geometry Oracle as a set of themes for meditation and pathworking, but will be encouraged thereafter to use the same set of tools to pursue whatever other explorations appeal to them.

    Denys, fascinating. No, I hadn’t noticed that, but then I get email from all over the world and it’s always business hours somewhere. 😉

    Scotlyn, maybe it’s age setting in, but I don’t remember who was going to collect physical addresses. Would you like to volunteer?

    Matt, not really; just remember that some of it was written decidedly tongue in cheek!

    Scotlyn, can you please put those words on the business end of a branding iron and start applying it to the tender backsides of all those people who use feeling really, really bad about the environment as an excuse not to change their lives in any way that matters? Thank you.

    DaveOTN, I’m trying to figure out why officialdom is so freaky about ABCs — “anomalous big cats.” They’re constantly being spotted and even photographed, as you’ve noted, and yet the authorities always insist that they can’t be there. The Appalachians are prime cougar territory, and cougars are known to range over huge distances; it would have been tolerably easy for some to work their way east from known cougar territory, or for that matter for a relict population in some corner of the Appalachians to expand fairly rapidly once conditions made that an option.

    Michal, that I know of, it’s been tried only in a few very halfhearted forms, and quickly scrapped. The issue I raised, though, was a specific one. There are a lot of jobs that have to be done in order for our society to function; somebody has to collect garbage, do stoop labor in the fields, etc., and nobody likes doing those things. The most effective way to see to it that those chores get done is to have a system where you have to work to get paid, and those are among the jobs you can do. UBI would guarantee that nobody would have to do such jobs — but they would still need to be done. How do you propose to make people do them? Armed guards holding them at gunpoint?

  159. @ DaveOTN and mountain lions.

    Until ten years ago, my parents would visit Shenandoah National Park regularly to camp, hike, and so forth. It’s a big park, covering some very rough terrain. They talked to park rangers all the time and mountain lions came up.

    The rangers (IIRC) did not dismiss the notion of mountain lions. They didn’t find scat or paw prints, but too many of them saw silhouettes of cats at dusk with oddly long, thick tails.

    It’s hard to tell size when all you get is a silhouette at dusk but the tail was disconcerting to the park rangers. Ordinary house cats don’t have thick tails. Bobcats and lynxes have stubby tails. Only mountain lions have that long, thick, heavy tail.

    So maybe?

    As for flour; it’s been strange. I expected everyone to start doing more cooking and to see spot shortages. Sugar has reappeared. Cooking oils come and go. Produce looks the same as it ever did. Baking mixes have come and gone. But flour? Barely exists, outside of the weird highly specialized chickpea and almond and the like.

    Strange times.

  160. @Michael & JMG

    Regarding UBI and necessary jobs that no-one wants to do: why yes, there’s always Comrade Stalin’s way. Declare a certain segment of your population to be enemies of the people (TM), and force them to do those jobs in prison-like conditions (oh, and it helps to execute a certain percentage of the enemies, just to convince everyone else that you really mean it), while arguing that everyone who isn’t an enemy of the people is living in Utopia. And if anyone disputes that it’s indeed Utopia, then simply declare the person an enemy of the people. Problem solved! 🙂

    A slightly more appealing option may be to get foreigners on one temporary visa after another to do those jobs. That only works if your country is very rich, though, and while it may be convenient in the short term, it can become a huge liability as soon as crisis strikes (look at Germans scrambling to get those lowly Eastern Europeans to pick their, i.e. Germans’, beloved asparagus in the middle of a pandemic).

    Actually, aren’t some Arab countries (such as Saudi Arabia) effectively doing this? Giving very generous handouts to citizens (effectively UBI, though they don’t call it that), while letting Indonesians et al do all the unpleasant but necessary work. Somehow, I doubt that arrangement will last that much longer.

  161. Packshaud, there are quite a few languages which distinguish first person plural exclusive and first person plural inclusive. This is the case with many Australian Aboriginal languages, with Tok Pisin and with Austronesian languages, among others. In Australia, there are even languages which make the distinction of inclusive and exclusive in the first person dual (two persons). There are other regions in the world, where this distinction isn’t made in the local languages.

  162. The Saturn/Pluto conjunction last January 12 seems mighty potent to me. It’s a near perfect symbol for the novel corona virus and subsequent lockdown. The virus burst into international media just a few days prior to the exact conjunction. The Soleimani assassination also coincided very precisely. I know you disagree, but I sense Pluto is still very relevant and a primetime player.

    A Jupiter/Pluto synod has also occurred in the last several months and the Jupiter/Saturn grand mutation conjunction is coming right up as well. They’ve been transiting as a stellium in late Capricorn and could be described as a Synodic Swarm of great intensity, portending sweeping changes the world over. I’ve wondered a few times if your views about Pluto are a reflection of a weak/disconnected Pluto in your natal map. Obviously, we’ll have to wait a good long while before having a clearer picture. Any other Pluto contrarians out there?

  163. Favorite poems, memorized or semi-memorized: The Pasture Spring, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, and The Road Less Traveled, all by Robert Frost (mostly, I just like Frost), and The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry W. Longfellow.

    Things are looking rather dismal in the agriculture sector out here. Dairy cows are being sold to butcher to cover feed costs because of the milk dumping. If anyone is anywhere near Boise, Idaho, and wishes to add a milk cow to your life, I can put you in touch with a dairy farmer, a friend of a friend, who’d rather sell to you than the butcher.

  164. Scotlyn,
    A bit similar to your comments on guilt. I really love it when someone says – I accept full responsibility for… or I admit that I have…(done something bad). You can bet your bottom dollar that they have no intention of attempting to make things right.

  165. Quoting from an AP article: “People are also noticing animals in places and at times they don’t usually. Coyotes have meandered along downtown Chicago’s Michigan Avenue and near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. A puma roamed the streets of Santiago, Chile. Goats took over a town in Wales. In India, already daring wildlife has become bolder with hungry monkeys entering homes and opening refrigerators to look for food.”

  166. I second “Ip” post above on the Hieronymus pipe. I googled and found a lot of articles about them, nothing that clearly described how to make and set one up (properly).

  167. On anomalous big cats in New England:

    A good friend of ours is a very experienced backwoodsman from Maine. He was out hunting with another man of siomilar experience one time, and as they were returning to their truck, he spotted a big cat lying out along a tree branch that overhung the trail, waiting for prey that it could drop down on, kill and eat. He certainly knows bobcats, and this was much larger. I trust our friend’s experience and judgement completely, so some sort of big cat is definitely out there in New England.

    As for the authorities, they and people like our friend seem to me to be talking past one another. You say that you saw a big cat, and they reply that Eastern cougars are extinct. You say, but Western cougars occasionally go as far afield from their territory as New England. any kind of cougar, even a Western one? Where’s your sample of its fur, its scat, etc. etc.

    I see this sort of thing in academia over and over again: experts double down the very moment anyone outside their sanctified circle dares to offer evidence that might require them to modify any of their views even a little. It’s incredibly rare that anyone will actually take an outsider’s input seriously on even the most trivial point.

    After more than 50 years inside an Ivy League university, I have become incredibly jaded on the subject of so-called human “intelligence” — it seems to be a rarer phonemon than those anomalous big cats.

  168. Hello JMG. I know you said there is to be no discussion about That Which Shall Not Be Discussed. But there has already been a breach with Tomxyza’s comment about the corona-virus pandemic followed by your response about “overreacting”. That pushed a button for me; I know you might draw the line here, and this comment finds its way into the trash. With that…

    On what basis might one say our government is overreacting? Covid-19 is a new virus in a pandemic in exponential growth phase in a non-immune world population. It kills at non-negligible rates. At this early stage, what does it mean to overreact, if the nature of the threat is not well understood? While we know those who are old and/or have underlying conditions are at greatly increased mortality risk, we still do not know how safe relatively young and healthy people are. We recently seem to be seeing evidence that 1 in 1000-5000 or so of young, healthy people may be succumbing to coronavirus.

    There are many potentially dangerous unknowns. Are the mortality rates in Italy (~10%) versus Germany (less than 1%) truly different, and if so, why? There is the prospect of recurrent outbreaks: e.g. the second wave of Spanish flu in 1918-1919 had 5 times the death count of the first wave, the third wave twice. Also Covid-19 is a retro-virus, and like all retro-viruses has a very high mutation rate, indeed over 30 strains of Covid-19 are identified after only cursory sampling and sequencing. It is unknown to what extent lethality relates to these strains, or to what extent immunity to one strain might confer immunity to others. There has NEVER been a successful vaccine developed for ANY corona virus to date, and it isn’t for lack of trying, e.g. one difficulty with an experimental SARS vaccine was, in animal trials, development of a fatal cytokine storm in animals exposed to the virus after vaccination. It is thought that cytokine storms were behind the selectively high death rates of the young and healthy during the Spanish flu. Will we see this happen in the next wave?

    In the face of such unknowns, it is incumbent to go into risk-management mode, and that is what our country is doing, delayed and imperfect as it is. Risk management in such a matter must inherently enact measures reasonably expected to be effective, and “overreaction” cannot be recognized before the fact.

    Do look at what Nassim Taleb has been saying about all this on his Twitter:

    In particular, he (with others) just published a technical paper (a public domain pdf Taleb linked from his Twitter) analyzing the 2500 year historical record of pandemics, and clarifies why we need to take sufficient measures to mitigate risks from pandemics.

    It is technical, but from the abstract: “…we show that pandemics are extremely fat-tailed in terms of fatalities with a marked potentially existential risk for humanity”. And from the conclusion: “…Once again, the main message of this work [referring to their published body of prior work] remains unchanged: We are looking at a very fat-tailed phenomenon, with an extremely large tail risk and potentially destructive consequences, which should not be downplayed in any serious policy discussion.”

  169. Dear JMG,

    COVID19 vs Common Flu Virus Mortality Data

    Recent attempts to argue equivalence between the Coronavirus and the common flu are flawed in methodology. The argument is that as more and more testing is applied in diagnosing COVID19, the case fatality rate declines and approaches that of the common flu. This is NOT correct. The point here that is attempted is that far more people are carrying the COVID19 virus, and then that brings the calculus for case fatality rate down to being more in line with the flu. This is flawed reasoning on multiple grounds.

    Firsty, very unlike the common flu, COVID19 infection exhibits a protracted duration between infection and final outcome. We do not know at this point how many current infections will result in death because the final outcome for current infections still lies as far as three weeks into the future. Case fatality rate can only be determined for cases that progress to a term outcome.
    The methodology for calculating case fatality is to divide total cases in which an outcome has been determined with some reasonably high degree of certitude (NOT the same number as total known cases), by the total deaths. This data is available (and it is a data point on The case fatality rate for the current pandemic can vary widely, but is alarmingly high; currently 37% in the US (and 79% in Sweden!) as of 4/23/20, end of day. These numbers are far, far higher than the common flu. Indeed, these numbers are higher than the case fatality rate for the 1918/19 Spanish flu pandemic.

    Secondly, attempts to achieve widespread testing in order to determine total infections is unique to the COVID19 pandemic. How many people are “tested” in order to determine an influenza diagnosis? Invariably, a diagnosis for the flu is normally, simply a “seat of the pants” diagnosis made in a primary care physician’s office. Additionally, how many people contract the common flu, but never seek medical attention because of both mild symptoms and/or decisions to simply treat the disease at home? Obviously, over a typical flu season, very many more people carry the common flu infection than end up either very sick and making a trip into their doctor’s office, or dying as a consequence.
    In other words, here we have a double standard; a case of stringent testing being put forth as a required parameter for determining frequency of COVID19, but NO testing being required in order to determine the frequency of influenza infection within a population over the course of a flu season. It is an apples to oranges comparison.

    Thirdly, it is beginning to appear more and more likely that the COVID19 virus has mutated into several different strains. Very probably, at least one strain is exhibiting a likelihood of far more deadly outcomes than others. In other words, we are probably, for all practical matters, dealing with at least two different infections.

    Lastly, NO vaccine has ever been successfully created to immunize people against a coronavirus. This is a very different type of virus from the common flu. Coronaviruses are within the same family as the common cold. We have never come up with a cure for the common cold, nor a vaccine to protect against it!

  170. To NomadicBeer,

    You wrote, “What is surprising to me is that you still think Democrats are thinking about the people or that Bernie is an independent and not a lightning rod to stop any chance of a third party.”

    The idea that Bernie Sanders is a lightning rod to stop any chance of a third party is one that had not occurred to me. As an intentional arrangement it seems overly conspiratorial, but Sanders could certainly be performing that function, and be enabled to do so, without being fully aware that that is his role in the political ecosystem.

    As you probably know, political historians have divided the party arrangements of the USA from 1789 on into numbered eras. We are now in either the fifth or the sixth party system. The fifth system began with Franklin Roosevelt. In national terms, the Democratic Party of our era is center left, although it would occupy the center right in some European countries. In this I agree with you.

    During the entire run of the current party system, the Democrats have been dominated by what the New Left of the 1960s called corporate liberals. Their intent is to keep capitalism going, by preventing the rich from amassing such an oversized share of the nation’s wealth that the middle class becomes too small or too insecure to continue supporting business as usual (in all senses of that phrase). IMO a national democracy cannot function without a middle class that supports and buys into its political and social arrangements. Some groups that are a little less corporatist or business-friendly, such as parts of organized labor, remain in coalition with the mainstream of the party because in a two-party system, they have nowhere better to go. YMMV.

    If JMG wants to call this discussion to a halt, I’ve said my piece.

  171. Raphanus, Lunar Apprentice: Re: slide-rules. Check out the International Slide-Rule Museum’s “adoption” program. Prices start at $5 (plus S/H). There are some 20″ rules available, too, which are probably good for more digits of accuracy.

    But precision is often over-rated. There’s a progression in mechanical engineering that says “calculate as many digits as you want, then add 10-20% safety factor, mark the material with chalk, and cut it with an axe”. I was thinking about garden chemistry this afternoon, recommended pH levels in the soil, and realized (in a way that I had overlooked in college) that a single unit of pH is a factor of ten difference in ion concentrations. So, how much precision do I need in adding water to make the ions measurable? One significant figure seems adequate.

  172. JMG – How widespread COVID-19 infection actually has been is really anybody’s guess. I personally know someone who can plausibly claim to have been infected without a diagnosis, but the recent studies from California have serious statistical errors. (Chris Martenson’s YouTube channel has been all over the sloppy reporting on non-peer-reviewed studies.) For example, participants in a test for antibodies in the blood were recruited over Facebook. “Who wants to get tested?” People who wanted to know if their illness was COVID-19 probably flocked to the study; people who never had any symptoms shrugged it off. The confidence intervals should have been 0 to 5% (due to the false-positive rate), which has tremendous implications for extrapolating the rate of infection from the sample size to the general population.

  173. Finally the decline becomes obvious in Germany. No Summer holidays? Unthinkable, but let’s make the best of it. My wife plants a Victory Garden at her parents place. Just ordered grain and a grain mill.
    Feels we are back in the 80’s. It feels a bit different,but not bad at all. The kids need to accomodate.
    Just had a home brewed beer with my wife at a nesr-by river. Looks like student life is coming back.
    Somewhat a cool feeling ….

  174. @JMG: Oooh! That’s an…interesting?…one, there. 😛

    @Ip: Ha! I’ve got the first 40 of the Canterbury Tales memorized in ME, too–you didn’t go to Phillips Andover for high school, by any chance?

  175. TemporaryReality – Here’s a poem that I’ve memorized, but I don’t recall the author, and the title might be garbled:
    The Cat by the Fire

    This vigil is a solemn trust;
    I know so many things you don’t.
    I’m doing it because I must,
    and I know you won’t.
    I like it because it suggests that there’s a lot going on beneath the surface (beneaththesurface. ;-))

    Many of us have been maintaining a vigil over the long descent, haven’t we?


  176. @Nerwen re: Saudi Arabia –

    I didn’t think of that.

    It’s an interesting ingress chart for Riyadh. They have the Mars/Jupiter/Pluto/Saturn conjunction in the 10th house, which is highly suggestive of a fall of power. Aries is rising, so the chart is good for only three months… but the June ingress chart still has Jupiter/Pluto/Saturn in the 10th, with Aries again rising.

    Then in September, Pisces rises, and the Moon is at the midheaven… so there’s certainly the potential for significant changes in the area. Nothing about the charts seems to scream “famine” at me. But there is Ceres in Pisces in the 12th in the Cancer and Libra ingresses. I suspect Ceres is exalted in either Virgo or Taurus; if the former, she’s in fall in Pisces… which may suggest food issues, especially as she’s retrograde in the September chart.

    @Mark re: nostalgia –

    Among the Millennials this will probably trigger a wave of nostalgia for the 2010s (with emphasis on the first half of the decade).

    @DaveOTN re: baseball –

    I think this is likely what would happen. Baseball is more fun to watch in-person than on TV; football is more fun to watch on TV (with the line-of-scrimmage overlays, the replays so you can see exactly why a flag was called on that play, etc.). And baseball (or its variant softball) is certainly much easier to play for the average Joe than football; there’s a reason you have company softball teams and not company football teams.

    @JMG and @Michal re: UBI –

    The people most touting UBI probably are true Church of Progress devotees who simply assume that all those unpleasant jobs will soon be automated away. The problem they are facing is the risk that that “soon” ends up being “soon” indefinitely.

  177. It seems to me that the people discussed in the tulpa article are creating multiple personalities, in, so far, a non-destructive way. (For those too young to remember, the previous multiple personality fad involved a therapist persuading a rich girl that her parents, usually Dad, had raped her and so she formed an extra personality to remember the abuse. Expensive therapy would continue until Dad ran out of money.). Their tulpas do not sound at all like Alexandra David-Neel’s monk. If what they’re doing keeps them happy and harms no one, good on them, but if my understanding of tulpas is correct, they ‘re not making them. According to Alexandra D-N, the whole point of a tulpa was to cultivate it to independent existence. At that point it usually became a nuisance and you had to get rid of it.

  178. JMG – My impression of the drive to manufacture consumer goods offshore is not simply the manufacturer’s greed, but the inability of American consumers to select anything other than the lowest-price product on the shelf. If a US-made product won’t sell for the cost of fabrication (let alone profit), no amount of management nobility will keep the US workers busy.

    I would really like to buy a new pair of shoes for bicycling, but until I can find some that are made in North America, I’ll just keep wearing my Redwing work boots (made in Wisconsin). Every few months, I do an Internet search for the shoes I want. I’d happily spend 3x what the Chinese shoes are selling for in local shops, and wait a month for delivery, but I guess that’s just me.

  179. I have also wondered if there are several “covids” circulating. There are so many different symptoms and courses of illness. I will be interested to see what turns up as research continues.

    I had my doubts as to whether quarantining the healthy would work in a population as large as the U.S. it seemed to me like kicking the can down the road. Once you turn everyone loose, you’re right back to square one.

  180. Re: Critical Thinking. Those of you who can stand to watch YouTube videos might like to see the series that Chris Martenson has been doing almost daily on COVID-19. Yesterday’s video examined studies on hydroxychloroquine. It turns out that if your study assigns the medication to the sicker patients, doesn’t describe the dosages, and doesn’t describe the timing of its use (relative to the progression of the patient’s illness), then it’s hard to tell whether it’s helpful or not. Any anti-viral medication has to be taken before the virus does the damage, not when the patient’s struggling to breathe!

  181. I have two bobcats living in the woods behind my house, eastern CT. They are tagged and monitored by the state. Shy creatures, beautiful, determined and graceful hunters. Haven’t noticed them around lately, which is good because its the season for chicken roaming. They do love their chicken.

  182. Packshaud, English has some highly irritating features, and the lack of a distinction between exclusive and inclusive first person plurals is one of them. Sorry.

    Jay, I didn’t comment because (a) it wasn’t relevant to the Cos.Doc. and (b) I didn’t have anything particular to say about either point. I haven’t been in the job market for thirty years so I’m probably not the person to ask about getting hired! As for your second question, that strikes me as a great theme for meditation. 😉

    David BTL, got it in one. The most likely trajectory as I see it is that the US dollar becomes less and less important as a reserve currency, and eventually there’s a panic and dollar-denominated assets in foreign markets get dumped en masse for whatever they will bring. The US then defaults on its foreign debt, there’s a few years of economic chaos, and things settle down again under some new and probably less stable foreign-exchange regime. As for Thunberg, I wish the media would stop exploiting that very troubled child.

    Aidan, (1) no. (2) To a much more modest extent, and remember that the former US is still recovering from a civil war with a very high death toll and from a sharp drop in live births during the years leading up to the war. (3) To university, fewer than 10%; to high school, upwards of 80%.

    Greencoat, what do you do with the hours you don’t spend working? Some of that time can be put to use developing new skills.

    Blue Sun, I haven’t, and I’d be open to the possibility but I don’t recommend holding your breath. From what I know of Peterson, I don’t think he’d be interested in having a public conversation with an occultist.

    William, yes, very much so. A great many people have had their worldviews shaken good and hard, and so it’s a good time to introduce new ideas.

    Grover, ha! That’s a great story. Not utterly surprising, either — tarot can be kind of a prima donna.

    David BTL, that’s funny.

    Richard, I’m still sorting that out.

    Ethan, if you find him interesting, by all means.

    Rhisiart, diolch yn fawr!

    Matthias, 100,000 Americans died of the Hong Kong flu in 1968. So far we’re at about half that from the current coronavirus. That was the core of the comparison I was making.

    Jbucks, that’s an utterly personal thing — and of course that’s just the point. There is no one-size-fits-all rule for a life that doesn’t suck. You have to consider what you want out of life, what you enjoy doing, what kind of work would give you feelings of satisfaction apart from the income, and so on.

    Nerwen, the Saudis have immense investments set aside, so they can probably keep the lights on. What’s going to happen to other economies as they start liquidating chunks of their portfolio is another question…

    Mark, you’re not the only one who’s had a certain sense of deja vu. It’ll be interesting to see whether some of the other things that came boiling up into public consciousness in the 1970s get a second lease on life; appropriate tech, of course, is an example that comes to my mind.

    Clay, the first two seem very likely to me. The third? We’ll see.

    Ip, try here — there’s a dlagram about halfway down that shows how they’re constructed.

    Quin, different systems use different correspondences, and you don’t have to stick with just one. Use one set in your devotional practices and a different set in your magical work — a lot of people do.

    Pygmycory, I suspect a lot of people are going through a similar process just now.

    MZ, no question, the Trump administration’s environmental policies are dismal, but the Obama administration’s were no better. The Democrats love to talk about the environment but the steady rise in US CO2 emissions during Obama’s tenure, among countless other measures, shows just how little all that talk actually meant in practice. It’s part of the bait and switch gimmick the establishment has been playing on captive constituencies for decades now; you may think you’re voting for the environment, but all you’re doing is helping a senile kleptocracy maintain its grip on power.

    As for the Trump administration’s deregulatory push, most of the environmental regulations put in place since 1980 or so have done nothing to benefit the environment — again, look at actual measures of ecosystem health. People on the left used to be aware of the hard realities of “regulatory capture” — the way that government regulations reliably get twisted around to benefit huge corporations at the expense of everyone else. We’ve tried the metastatic regulatory-state approach to environmental protection, and it didn’t work; recognizing that and looking for other options is a better approach than letting yourself be talked into supporting a corrupt political establishment because you think that this time maybe they’ll actually keep some of their promises.

    David BTL, I hope so. I intended TLG to be a cautionary tale, not an instruction manual.

    Curtis, we’ll have to see. I notice some serious pushback already building here in the US, so it may actually push things the other way; pay attention to what happens to the political careers of some of the more activist state governors for a good measure of that.

    Ron, my reaction amounts to “oog.” This will not end well.

    Jbucks, that’s quite correct, and yes, it goes a long way to explain the delusional quality of life in today’s America.

  183. Irena, exactly. There are ways to do it other than the usual one, but none of them work well, or for long.

    Jim, we’ll see! If the theory I’m developing has any merit, Pluto should continue to have some effect through around 2036 — just as a newly discovered planet can be shown to have effects for about one Saturn cycle before the actual date of discovery, a downgraded or disproved planet seems to take about the same period to fade into the background. (The astrology of Vulcan, which was predicted in 1860 and disproved in 1915, is a useful test case, as is the rise and fall of Ceres.)

    Phutatorius, fascinating.

    AV, I linked to an article with a decent schematic and diagram above.

    Robert, interesting. So it’s just an example of the experts marking turf and insisting that nobody outside their field can know something they don’t? That would make sense.

    LunarApprentice, you’re twisting my words quite a ways out of context. I’m not saying that some preventive measures weren’t appropriate — obviously they were, and are. The original justification for those measures, that of flattening the curve so that hospitals weren’t overwhelmed, was sensible; it worked; the emergency hospitals that were set up in big cities have been shut down, in some cases without seeing a single patient. At this point the more extreme measures are clearly unnecessary and we need to start talking about how to get businesses open again in time to keep their employees earning enough money to stay fed and housed. I don’t expect a working coronavirus vaccine, or a cure — but we can’t simply all stay in isolation forever, you know.

  184. Re: Bussing

    What early on put paid to bussing was the Arab Oil Embargo. Over the five months of the Embargo, the price of diesel fuel quadrupled. Put a huge hole in school district budgets nationwide. Taxpayers were resistant to raising property taxes (property taxes are the vehicle that states use for funding the schools) to fill the hole.

    I expect that there were a lot of liberal homeowners that initially supported bussing that had second thoughts when faced with the fact that ..The Horror!..they might have to actually pay for this.


    I’ve noticed something similar. I still use a land-line as my primary phone outlet. An old flip-phone is used only when I am not at home. Anyway, for the past few years, I would be getting from 4-6 “robo-calls” a day. These are automated calls trying to sell some item or service. A real pain in the ass. Then, shortly after the virus hit, these vanished. I got one yesterday, and it was my first in about three weeks.

    I really don’t get it, because sending robo-calls doesn’t sound like the sort of activity that would be affected by the shut-downs we have experienced. In the old days, marketing calls were made by several dozen people in a room, each with a telephone and a list of numbers to call. If this were still the case, I could see restrictions on large amounts of people confined in a small area shutting this industry down, but since its all automated now, you don’t need several dozen people in a room any more as a computer program can be set up and operated remotely; nobody has to physically go anyplace.

    Anyway, after the disruptions caused by the virus subside, I hope that the return of robo-call marketing is NOT part of whatever “normalcy” makes a comeback.

    Antoinetta III

  185. @isabelcooper, no indeed! I went to small town, Rust Belt public high school. I just happened to have a very ambitious sophomore English teacher in her first year of teaching.

  186. Hello again JMG. This comment is intended for your eyes, though I don’t object to you putting it through. You said: “…you’re twisting my words quite a ways out of context” in reply to my last posting. Certainly your following remarks were reassuring. But given the sparseness of words defining the context of my original comment, I had no awareness, much less intent, of twisting your words. I do have Asperger’s myself, and not infrequently say things that others find inappropriate or off somehow. Usually I can discern the issue in retrospect, though in this instance, I can’t see where I went off the rails. I say all this to reassure you that my submissions reflect a good-faith effort to participate fairly in your blog.

    Respectfully your’s.

  187. Fred, statistically, that’s baloney. The 37% death rate you cite is notionally true only if you take deaths as a fraction of cases confirmed to be ended one way or another, and since the only cases that get such confirmation are the small fraction that end up in hospitals and other medical facilities, that figure is skewed upward drastically. Insisting “but we don’t know what will happen to the asymptomatic cases” is also baloney; at this point the lag time of the coronavirus is fairly well established, and it’s been in the population for quite some months now. There’s an immense amount of fearmongering going on, and that’s far from helpful in sorting out the proper balance between public health concerns and the need of working families to have an income again.

    Lathechuck, and yet the California figures are roughly comparable to results from other situations that didn’t have the same problems — you may have read of the homeless shelter in New Jersey or the prison in Indiana that turned out to have gargantuan rates of asymptomatic infection. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the lethality of the virus was greatly exaggerated due to incomplete data early on.

    B, glad to hear it. We could use a reset.

    Lathechuck, but you’re not alone — enough people are interested in buying sturdier, higher quality products that former niche companies like Duluth Trading are doing quite well. That’s why I don’t buy the claim that it was all the consumers’ doing. Au contraire, offshoring jobs was an effective way to boost shareholder value, and it was also fashionable — economics and business both are highly subject to fads — so that’s why we got so much offshoring, as I see it.

  188. Scotyn (and JMG)

    YESS! Forgive me for going on a rant here but I really does irritate and frustrate me so much that liberals (in particular) care more about the purity of peoples intentions rather than the outcome of their actions.

    Trump and Brexit are of course notorious examples. Whatever you think of either the impurity Trump must intentions overrides all other considerations. he has bad intentions he is committing thoughtcrime against liberals values. How dare he!

    only with the rights throughs of liberal equality and fairness etc can one be redeemed of their sins!

    thus also because who voted for brexit were motived by racism (I know they weren’t, I’m just stereotyping the liberal mind here) which means bad intention trumps everything!!!,

    phew thats better…

  189. @ Violet, a zine sounds nice, too, although I’ve no experience of that. I’ve started filling out my own address book (the pen and paper one) with addresses for folk I want to start writing letters too, and I’m not going to wait until I can’t communicate online.

    @ JMG – In terms of collecting addresses of those interested in receiving Ecosophian posts in the mail, I’d be delighted to volunteer. However, I do recall that this exercise was carried out a few years back, and if there is already someone sitting on a similar list, I would not like to duplicate the wheel, although I’d be very happy to help them with the project. Perhaps someone else remembers? Was it done via Green Wizards?

    *goes off to get bellows working at forge* 😉

  190. @Jim W: My friend Jean Lamb just emailed me this:”

    “Jupiter and Pluto in conjunction (2 degree orb) from March 19 – May 2. First wave of the pandemic? Right around 24/25/26 Capricorn if you have any planets there.

    “Jupiter and Pluto in conjunction again June 2 to June 19—another wave in the states that open up early? Both planets are retrograde here, sort of ‘were you not listening the last time?’ if you ask me. Oh, and both will be standing right on the spot where both are squaring my Neptune. Whee.

    “Third time’s the charm! Once again, in conjunction October 29th to November 25th. I’d have to look up exactly where they’re going to be, but I think we can guess, can’t you?).

    “Last time we had this sequence was in 1956…probably when the Suez Canal thing happened and the British Empire formally folded.

    Jean Lamb

    I, Pat, add “Pluto may be on the way out, but he’s not leaving quietly.”

  191. Wow, what a great response my memorable/memorizable-poetry request has received. There are many I’ve never heard of, some I’d heard of but never *heard* nor read, and a few I’d read at some point past (by W. B. Yeats, Mary Oliver, Pablo Neruda). Surprisingly (to me), I’ve only learned portions of two of the listed poems (“The Jabberwock” and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”) while the remainder will be approached as potential new friends. I’ve made a list of every reply so far and am excited to make the acquaintance of the many poems offered here.

    Steve T. thanks too for sharing your experience of the livingness of poetry. Wow, very potent stuff!

    My first-loved-by-heart poem was Dylan Thomas’s “Fern Hill” with its alliterative beauty and image of a living, embracing, world.

    Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
    About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
    The night above the dingle starry,
    Time let me hail and climb
    Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
    And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
    And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
    Trail with daisies and barley
    Down the rivers of the windfall light…

    I’ve also learned (and recommend) William Stafford’s “A Ritual to Read to Each Other,” Stanley Kunitz’s “End of Summer,” as well as “When I have fears that I may cease to be” by John Keats. For creative-folk, the quintessential Ray Bradbury exuberance in, “Go Panther-Pawed Where All the Mined Truths Sleep” is spot on.

  192. JMG,

    In a reply to Brendhelm, you mentioned “To the extent that most modern “science” is either product marketing in a white lab coat or engineering,…”

    I had a good laugh at that, as I know someone who fits that description. Soon after my pet T Rex broke the Pong game after I finally beat him*, I attended a year of physics graduate school. One of my classmates eventually got his PhD in some theoretical thingy I never understood. I’ve kept tabs on his career over the eons. His job is to write computer programs based on data analysis so that retailers can maximize their profits and eliminate products that aren’t moving off their shelves rapidly enough.

    So, absolutely yes, a PhD in physics 30 years ago allows you to be a marketer in a white lab coat.


    *Never beat your pet T Rex at anything, as they hate to lose and then they break things in the ensuing temper tantrum.

  193. Temporaryreality,

    Poems? I second Rita’s suggestion of the Twa Corbies.

    Also, “The Battle of Otterburn”, an old traditional “author unknown” ballad:
    It fell about the Lammas tide,
    When muirmen win their hay,
    That the doughty Earl of Douglas rade
    Into England to drive a prey.

    Then there’s always “Duello” by Robert Service:
    A Frenchman and an Englishman
    Resolved to fight a duel,
    And hit upon a savage plan
    Because their hate was cruel…


  194. Well, at least the Lakeland-ers got credential inflation under control. That is, in my opinion, the most important thing.

    Most of the contemporary neuroses of “developed” countries can be traced to the start of what Peter Turchin calls “elite overproduction” as embodied in the higher ed bubble started by the ’68er generation. When they reached “maturity” and significant positions of power in most countries, the “right” adopted the ideological prejudices of the nouveau riche ( and the “left” adopted those of the professional-managerial class (

    Yet, as Spengler would have foreseen, a society can become “over-civilized” and that includes over-education, which comes with a huge number of societal neuroses ( including excessive political extremism (

    Today’s elites may dream of what Michael Lind called a “workerless paradise” and this haunts me. A society without peasants loses an sense of intuitive satisfaction and desire for stewardship and stability.

  195. Packshaud wrote, “Is there a way to transmit this concept of “exclusive we” in English, or perhaps a word in some language to do so?”

    Bahasa Indonesia has two words that share translation of the English word we. “Kami” indicates “exclusive we” leaving the listener out of the pronoun, while “kita” indicates “inclusive we” bringing the listener into the pronoun’s meaning. I’m not sure how an indicator could be added to English’s “we” to express exclusivity without somehow distinguishing the concept of inclusivity in the naked “we”. The idea of an “exclusive we” arises at the same time as awareness of an “inclusive we”. Either we see them both, or we can’t see either.

    Until I moved to Java, I had never thought of that distinction as being important beyond awkwardly saying something like “we, but I don’t mean you” on occasion. In first learning to speak Indonesian, I found it hard to remember to pay attention to which “we” was being used. It was like hitting a speed bump that really didn’t need to be there slowing down communication — after all, English doesn’t have that particular speed bump, so how necessary could it be? Slowly the importance of the distinction to Indonesians began to sink in, and all sorts of cultural habits started making sense. Belonging vs. being excluded is an extraordinarily important concept in a shame-based rather than guilt-based culture.

    You’ve found one of the many overlooked priorities that every language has. Why do English and European languages in general not value knowing how broadly the first person plural pronouns should be understood? That’s a fascinating question. Perhaps the Southeast Asian and Polynesian languages that do utilize separate terms for inclusive and exclusive “we” found that distinction important because, as island dwellers, they could see a physical boundary cementing otherness in place between islands. I’ve never seen any explanation or even hypothesizing about why that distinction arose in so many languages in one part of the world.

  196. @Kimberly Steele – May 11 has some good things going for it. It’s the day Saturn stations retrograde, and it’s also the day Mercury enters Gemini, which it rules.

  197. @DaveOTN

    Living for 60+ years in northern New Hampshire I have yet to see a cougar though
    I did spot a bobcat crossing my lawn last fall much to my shock as I live on a street
    here in my town and not out in the boonies.

    That having been said, people in my neck of the woods have been regularly swearing on a stack of
    bibles that they have seen cougar for many years. While the eastern cougar has long been
    extinct except for a tiny population in Florida, I have no doubt that western
    cougars have begun taking up permanent residence here and there, accounting for
    the sightings. Being intelligent creatures they are no doubt keeping a very low profile
    and know how to avoid large clumsy noisy upright walking hominids tramping through the woods.
    Sooner or later one will get hit by a car or shot and then we will know for certain.

  198. The cult of shareholder value uber alles that we’ve seen in recent decades and the explosion of corporate stock buybacks was often a thinly disguised form of wholesale looting by well connected company insiders.

    In many corporations, most or all of the biggest stockholders are senior executives and board members, who typically receive a sizeable chunk of their compensation via stock options. In theory, the granting of stock options was supposed to provide an incentive for executives to do a good job, because their pay was tied to how well the company was doing. But we’ve seen in many cases company insiders using shenanigans like stock buybacks and pump-and-dump schemes to artificially inflate the stock prices of their companies in order channel more money into their own pockets.

    As an example, the biggest reason why Boeing got into trouble was because executives started focusing on shareholder value above all else while cutting costs and cutting corners wherever they could get away with it. The old corporate culture which was traditionally focused on engineering excellence and safety went right out the window. The 737 MAX debacle happened because of short-sighted cost cutting, allied with deliberate attempts to hide problems with the aircraft. It turns out that all of the top shareholders at Boeing are either current or former executives or board members. And the 737 MAX isn’t the only troubled program coming back to haunt Boeing. The company is facing renewed scrutiny from regulators of the previous generation of 737’s and the next generation version of the 777 as well.

    Before the 737 MAX scandal and the Coronavirus pandemic hit, Boeing stock was trading at $440 a share and some company insiders own hundreds of thousands of shares. Its worth noting that earlier this year, Boeing insisted on paying its annual dividend, even though the company was tens of billions of dollars in the red, was hemorrhaging cash, was facing the very real prospect of bankruptcy and had to take out a huge loan to do so. It’s also worth pointing out that one of the reasons why the Democrats were insisting on more stringent conditions for government bailouts in the current economic stimulus package is because too many corporations that got bailed out in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis turned around and used the money for stock buybacks instead of investing back it into the company. One of the worst offenders in that department was, you guessed it, Boeing. Incidentally, one of the few things Trump and the Democrats agreed on during the negotiations was that no money from the current round of bailouts should go towards stock buybacks.

  199. Moshe,

    Er, did you miss the part where I talked about futures going negative? I never said anything about negative retail prices.

    As for fracking wells drying up in 2-3 years and leading to a sudden price spike, that narrative has been out there since at least 2010, and probably earlier. While the geological aspect is correct, it isn’t really a helpful concept in making timely market predictions. Richard Heinberg’s fracking book, Snake Oil, was published back in 2013 and he went into a lot of detail about negative or low EROI fracking investments.

    Simplistic prediction models focused on fracking well depletion, or back-of-the-envelope calculations about inventory turnover have been dead wrong. The actual reality is just weirder than anyone could have imagined. Low prices can lead to more frantic production in some cases. Governments intervene. Markets are manipulated. All sorts of bankers and service companies make money even if a fracking operation loses.

    My impression is that most people either assume the Peak Oil Story was just plain wrong, or they have lost interest in the whole topic since the prices are low. I find it incredible that with peak (conventional) oil back in 2006 to have a price collapse now.

  200. Musical, as far as I know the people who are talking about “vibrating on the right frequency” are either using a metaphor or talking about brain waves, not working with musical tones.

    I don’t know about that. I started to see an energy healer last November when I had broken my clavicle because of the cancer and was feeling pretty low. She uses tuning forks. It did me an indescribable sort of good. It seemed to uplift me both physically and emotionally. So I bought a wonderful book about it called, “Tuning the Human Biofield.”

  201. I notice TDS is picking up again, but I see no signs of violence.

    Am I crazy or do almost all persons manifesting TDS have at least 2 cats? (I guess those are not mutually exclusive possibilities.). Every month or so I skim through two nutroots sites to get a rough view of whether persons with TDS are likely to become dangerous, so I see the same commenters over and over again, everyone else having long since been bored off the sites (3 1/2 years of all Trump, all the time is a bit much). The main thing they have in common, other than class, is cats. The class part is easy to understand, they’re making bank off the status quo, which Trump appears to threaten, but I can’t figure out the cat connection.

  202. Boysmom,

    Why in the world are they dumping milk when everyone goes to the grocery store as usual?

  203. Dear GP,

    Many thanks for your kind comment! Those tulsi seeds I gave you I saved for three generations from some plants that were cut and left on the ground at an herb farm I used to volunteer at. A few winters back I inadvertently gifted all of the tulsi seeds that I had and found I had none left to plant in my garden, and I felt chagrin at my own foolhardiness. Then, lo! About five tulsi plants volunteered and two managed to produce seeds before the killing frost and you bet I saved a bunch and I got a bunch of little tulsi plants growing underneath the grow lights, and there was even enough to gift amply, too!

  204. My theory about the flour and yeast shortages is that millions of bread machines from the 1990s have been dusted off, after being stuffed away for decades in the least accessible corners of all those enormous rarely-used suburban show kitchens. Bread hasn’t been at all difficult to come by, but people in hot spots don’t want to have to go to the market to buy it.

    Regarding big cats and other controversial wildlife (such as true wolves) in “impossible” regions: in my experience, locals in many places know who’s in their forests, but they don’t talk about it, except perhaps to confirm what you think you saw, IF they judge you to be like-minded about keeping quiet. If they tell others, the best case is if they’re simply not believed. It’s not worth the possible hassle, for them or for the animals.

    Okay, one comment about this public health issue: today, the number of new confirmed cases here in Massachusetts (with the 4th most cases per capita in the U.S.) was suddenly double what it’s been on previous recent days. Why? Because 2.5 times the previous number of tests per day were completed. It appears the biggest influence on how many cases you find is how many people you test. Since people with symptoms weren’t going untested here before, that’s more evidence that there’s a large number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases out there. (How many? Wish I knew.)

  205. A couple of poems for Temporaryreality…

    “I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
    dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
    Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding…”

    That is the first few lines of “The Windhover” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, an absolutely gorgeous sonnet about a kestrel. I never memorized it, but I did write an eight-page research paper about it for a college English class. Full text of the poem is here:

    Here’s another one I quite like, Anne Bradstreet’s “The Author to Her Book”…

    “Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
    Who after birth didst by my side remain,
    Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
    Who thee abroad, expos’d to publick view,
    Made thee in raggs, halting to th’ press to trudge,
    Where errors were not lessened (all may judg).
    At thy return my blushing was not small,
    My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
    I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
    Thy Visage was so irksome in my sight;…”

    Anne Bradstreet was, in fact, America’s first published author. The above excerpt is slightly less than half the poem.

  206. Lastly, NO vaccine has ever been successfully created to immunize people against a coronavirus.

    Thus destroying any argument for a lockdown beyond those most vulnerable. Sweden’s taken a different approach.

    Their intent is to keep capitalism going, by preventing the rich from amassing such an oversized share of the nation’s wealth

    Epic fail.

  207. Re: Guilt

    One thing I fail to understand is the extent of wallowing in collective guilt that much of what calls themselves the “Left” engages in. I’m talking about stuff that happened well before anyone alive to-day was born. What happened to the Indians, or slavery or European colonialism was horrible, but no one around to-day had anything to do with it. How can anyone be responsible for any piece of nastiness if one didn’t exist when it happened?

    The Holocaust is not yet completely beyond living memory, but the same type of self-flagellation goes on with this. Hardly a year passes without hearing of a new Holocaust museum or memorial being built somewhere. Since the Holocaust was primarily a German affair (there were some Polish and Ukrainian collaborators involved), why should people in say, Britain or the US take upon themselves a load of guilt. I have heard it claimed that “We should have ended it sooner”, but of course that wasn’t possible until Nazi Germany was destroyed, meaning that that there was no way do do this until before victory in World War II.

    Re: Pluto

    What does the fact that the lords of the astronomical community downgraded Pluto have to do with with its effects in the astrological world. Pluto is the same size now, the same distance in general from the Earth and Sun, has the same magnetic field, the same gravitational pull etc, as it was before it was downgraded. Why should the pronouncements of some eggheads in academia have any effect on Pluto?

    Antoinetta III

  208. JMG – I ran right over to the Duluth Trading Company web site, saw two styles of shoes that I liked, and then discovered that they’re both “imported”. I ran a Google search for “casual shoes made in USA”, and they came up near the top of the list. I guess “casual shoes sold in the USA” is a close-enough match for Google. Grrr.

  209. Will Oberton – not sure if others have recommended books about the Aspie topic, but a couple I’ve found to be useful:
    • “NeuroTribes” by Steve Silberman – goes quite a bit into the history of autism and Asperger’s, and explains how such characteristics have been around for a long time, have adaptive benefit in certain situations (and time periods), and how we are coming, albeit slowly, to be more aware that We Do Not All Think The Same Way.
    • “Be Different” by John Elder Robison – numerous stories about his experience growing up as an undiagnosed Aspie. Robison has written other books and articles about being an Aspergian, so if his style clicks with you there are other things he’s written you might like.

    Welcome to the Tribe!

  210. Your Kittenship, the coronavirus family tends to mutate very rapidly — that’s why we don’t get immune to coronavirus-caused colds — so it’s quite probable that there are variant strains doing the rounds.

    Mark, glad to hear it. Well, except for the risk to your chickens!

    LunarApprentice, thank you for this; I appreciate the clarification.

    BB, exactly. And of course the secret of fixating on intentions is that you can behave as nastily as you want — your overt intentions are good, so who cares how much misery you cause?

    Scotlyn, let’s see if anyone else remembers.

    TemporaryReality, “Fern Hill” is an astonishingly beautiful poem — thanks for the reminder. I’ll put it on the list, but I’ve got another project first. I decided, partly because of your comment and partly because of a chance-red passage in John Crowley’s brilliant novel Little, Big, that it’s high time that I do what every schoolboy did two hundred years ago and memorize some of Vergil’s Aeneid in the original Latin:

    “Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris
    Italiam fato profugus, Lavinaque venit…”

    Lovely stuff!

    DJSpo, I know a lot of people in the sciences and most of them are basically servants of corporate marketing in one mode or another.

    Aidan, if you have access to the full 12-volume set of Toynbee’s A Study of History look up sometime what he says about the rise and fall of intelligentsias in the later volumes. He thinks he’s talking about colonial societies, and never quite notices that he’s also talking about hired intellectuals such as himself. It applies very clearly to the present situation!

    Ace, nicely summarized. Yes, exactly; the word for all this is “kleptocracy,” and it’s one of the reasons Trump is now in the White House.

    Onething, fascinating! I’ll look into it.

    Your Kittenship, the question that comes to my mind is how many of these cat-owning Trump haters are single middle-class women of a certain age…

    Antoinetta, no, it’s the other way around. It’s not that astronomers did anything to Pluto; it’s that the heavens shape the decisions of astronomers as they do everything else on Earth. Just as a new planet is discovered when it’s time for a new influence to come into action here, a planet gets downgraded or disproved when an influence has done its work and is fading back into the stellar background.

    Lathechuck, my point wasn’t that Duluth Traders sells US-made goods; my point is that they sell goods of higher quality than the lowest common denominator, and they’re making a mint. I’m quite certain that if somebody were to launch a catalog company right now that sold good sturdy high-quality clothes and shoes made entirely in the USA, they’d make a mint.

  211. The actual reality is just weirder than anyone could have imagined.

    Who could’ve predicted that money would become so cheap as to make fracking even remotely feasible? Well, in real terms it never did. The frack’in bubble did manage to put off the peak until, well… about now. 😉

  212. @Patricia Mathews –

    The Saturn/Saturn opposition of Pluto’s demotion is approaching – it goes exact February 2022, but the effect seems to have a wide orb. The Saturn/Saturn opposition prior to Pluto’s discovery chart occurred in July 1915, near but still rather far away from the beginning of WWI.

    That said, I don’t think that just because the first pass of Jupiter/Pluto was coronavirus-related, the second and third passes must also. They’re passing over the same degree, but the other planets aren’t in the right places (Mars is in Aries then, not Capricorn, and while Saturn does retrograde back into Capricorn it doesn’t re-conjoin, and it’s still in Aquarius for the second Jupiter/Pluto pass). Of course, that could be the case, and the nature of a pandemic suggests that that could be the case, but we just don’t know.

    1955-56 would be a good year to look at for comparison – it’s the last time I could find that Jupiter/Pluto retrograded back over their conjunction. That was in Leo. I’ll have to take a closer look over the weekend.

  213. Hi Lathechuck,

    What kind of shoes are you looking for? Do you know of Danner based in Portland? They still make shoes in town, though they also have a significant number of styles made overseas. But if you check out this page and scroll down toward the bottom, you can get a list of their U.S. made shoes. Most of them are more substantial, so perhaps beyond the “casual” you are looking for, but there are at least a couple more traditional styles along the lines of a New Balance type look that are still U.S. made. Not repairable, which is my co-favorite aspect of most of their U.S. made shoes, but perhaps it aligns somewhat with what you’re looking for.

    I can attest to the quality of their wares–or at least, the Made in the USA repairable styles. (The non-repairable types may not hold up as well, though couldn’t say.) I have three pairs I have picked up over the years from their factory outlet store here in town and they are fantastic. I put a lot of wear on them and they hold up very well. When the tread wears down I just get them resoled at a local shop. I imagine you are aware of the pleasures of a good quality shoe, being the owner of Redwings.

  214. I live in Kansas City Missouri and flour is hard to find here, too. There were three 5lb bags left at the store we went to earlier this week and a sign saying one purchase per order. So I got one. The time before that, there was none.

  215. JMG, some thoughts I never would have had, and never would have put in this way had it not been for your influence. I posted this elsewhere but it has me thinking of you. I hope you are well, I think this world is a little bit brighter with you in it.


    I also like to point out that science is, in part, the art of observation.

    Where do you draw the line, at the thermometer which measures the temperature outside? The wind speed measurements at the weather station? The arrow on the compass? The position of the stars in the sky? The movements of the planets?

    Are Rossby waves real? What about the Tropical cell, the Hadley cell, the Polar cell?

    Seriously, where do you draw the line and cut off observation, and replace it with your intuition, and claim, “My Intuition is Supreme to these Observations”??

  216. Packshaud, others have answered, but I’ll chime in too — one language I know of that has that distinction is Ojibwe, an indigenous language of the Great Lakes region. The pronouns in question are niinawind for we-exclusive, and giinawind for we-inclusive (although those words aren’t actually seen too often since the “who” of sentences is usually conveyed all in conjugations).

    As for a way to say it in English, a guy I know teaches the language to kids, and the best he’s come up with is to stand up in front of the class with his friend and give two example sentences:

    — “Hey guys… we’re going to Dairy Queen!” (cheers from class)
    — “Hey guys… [gestures to friend] we’re going to Dairy Queen.” (looks of abject betrayal from class)

  217. -Temporaryreality William Carlos Williams: The Red Wheelbarrow (1st I memorized) Shakespeare: Silken Tent (for our wedding) EE Cummings: Pity this busy monster Man-un-kind, Not and four, Marianne Moore: In distrust of merits

    My Granma recited James Whitcomb Riley: Raggity Man, and When the frost is on the punkin

    The 2nd poem I memorized Robert Frost: Natures first green is gold

    also, Gary Synder: True Night

    Sheath of sleep in the black of the bed:
    From outside this dream womb
    Comes a clatter
    Comes a clatter
    And finally the mind rises up to a fact
    Like a fish to a hook
    A raccoon at the kitchen!
    A falling of metal bowls,
    the clashing of jars,
    the avalanche of plates
    I snap alive to the ritual
    Rise unsteady, find my feet,
    Grab the stick, dash in the dark –
    I’m a huge pounding demon
    That roars at raccoons –
    They whip around the corner,
    A scratching sound tells me
    they’ve gone up a tree.

    I stand at the base
    Two young ones that perch on
    Two dead stub limbs and
    Peer down from both sides of the trunk:

    Roar, roar, I roar
    you awful raccoons, you wake me
    up nights, you ravage
    our kitchen

    As I stay there then silent
    The chill of the air on my nakedness
    Starts off the skin
    I am all alive to the night.
    Bare foot shaping on gravel
    Stick in the hand, forever.

    Long streak of cloud giving way
    To a milky thin light
    Back of black pine bough,
    The moon is still full,
    Hillsides of Pine trees all
    Whispering; crickets still cricketting
    Faint in cold coves in the dark

    I turn and walk back slow
    Back the path to the beds
    With goosebumps and lose waving hair
    In the night of milk-moonlit thin cloud glow
    And black rustling pines
    I feel like a dandelion head
    Gone to seed
    About to be blown away
    Or a sea anemone open and waving in
    cool pearly water.

    Fifty years old.
    I still spend my time
    Screwing nuts down on bolts.

    At the shadow pool,
    Children are sleeping,
    And a lover I’ve lived with for years,
    True night.
    One cannot stay too long awake
    In this dark

    Dusty feet, hair tangling,
    I stoop and slip back to the
    Sheath, for the sleep I still need,
    For the waking that comes
    Every day

    With the dawn.

    Me, I’m 65, and still spend my time screwing nuts down on bolts. O:

  218. Re: Irish slaves in the Caribbean, that’s inspired me to re-read ‘Captain Blood’, by Rafael Sabatini. The hero is an English doctor transported into slavery for treating wounded rebels during Monmouth’s rebellion. As I recall, it gives accurate descriptions of the conditions of Irish/English transportees. It’s on Project Gutenberg.

    Re: agricultural workers. There was an article on the Guardian about this:
    As JMG and Avergejoe have noted, farmers don’t seem to be willing to pay British workers enough. It’s wrong to blame the farmers, though: in the UK, at least, they tend to have their prices dictated to them by the supermarket chains who are their primary customers. To get the work done by local workers means paying more, which means getting the supermarkets to agree to higher prices, which means the public have to be persuaded (or obliged) to pay more for their food.

    Re: ‘we’. Mandarin Chinese has this, with “women” (general) contrasted with ‘zanmen’ (inclusive),

    Re: the benefits of the pandemic for the environment. The media has reported many uplifting stories about this, but there are downsides. Apparently in the UK, there’s been a big uptick in fly-tipping (dumping rubbish such as old mattresses) at nature reserves, etc, and this is having an impact on endangered species. More generally, I expect this to be a feature of the Long Decline: all that STUFF that was cheap for western consumers to buy but which has become expensive to dispose of has to go somewhere, and a lot of it will be dumped so that it becomes someone else’s problem.

    Re: oil prices. Lots of contradictory articles. All agree that US shale is, ahem, totally fracked. Some say Russia will win because it has financial reserves while the Saudis are running a massive budget deficit. Others say the Saudis will come out ahead, because as storage runs out, producers will be forced to shut down their wells – which then wouild need to be re-driled, a time-consuming and expensive process which the Russians would find difficult, Take all opinions with a fistful of salt, I guess.

  219. Re. UBI: I believe there are some countries that already have something like UBI. France, for instance, has a little tiny dole that goes on for life. When I say tiny, I mean if you’re on it, you can’t afford your own apartment. You have to live with either relatives or housemates. But you can get by.

    Garbage collection, on the other hand, brings a middle class paycheck, so it’s a respectable line of work. Social rank might not be a major motivator for the likes of you and me, but it’s still a very big deal for many people.

    I believe the French still have immigrants harvesting their crops, though, because they can do that, because they’re a former colonial empire.

  220. Lathechuck, if I may, you may wish to consider using a different search engine. When I ran your search using DuckDuckGo, Duluth Trading Co did not show up in pages I perused. There are many search engines, and I’ve never understood why practically everyone can’t seem to think beyond Google (using “Google” as a verb even!), which from my reading and experience, biases its search results quite heavily.

  221. I just finished Star’s Reach, which was very enjoyable and thought-provoking, thankyou for writing it. But I have one question: in Meriga, does anyone eat anything besides bread with bean soup? Apart from alcohol, that’s all the main characters consume. Does this happen to be a favourite of yours? Should the next edition include a recipe?

  222. @jbucks re authors in the Clark Ashton Smith vein: you might try Jack Vance’s far-future enchantments, which are as colourful as Zothique, namely “The Dying Earth”, “The Eyes of the Overworld”, “Morreion” and “Rhialto the Marvellous”.

  223. Thanks, JMG. The Stalin approach was tongue-in-cheek, but I do in all seriousness think that all the UBI schemes implicitly rest on the assumption that foreign laborers (who obviously wouldn’t be entitled to UBI) would do all the less-than-pleasant work. That leaves you with two options. Either make it difficult-to-impossible for those foreign laborers or their children to ever become citizens (thus creating a permanent lower caste), or count on a new batch of foreigners to show up year after year (and what if they stop coming, either because your country suddenly hit a rough spot, or because conditions back home improved and they see no reason to leave?).

    A new topic. I wonder what will happen to tourism after the pandemic is over. Prague (where I currently live) used to be polluted with tourists, until they suddenly vanished once this crisis began. I fervently hope they never come back. You think there’s hope? (Oh, I don’t mind having *some* tourists around. I’d just like to see their number go down by something like 80-90% compared to what it was in the late pre-corona period.)

  224. Temporaryreality

    I’ll play:

    Sweeney among the Nightingales, by T.S Eliot

    Apeneck Sweeney spread his knees
    Letting his arms hang down to laugh,
    The zebra stripes along his jaw
    Swelling to maculate giraffe.

    Song of the Master and Boatswain, by W.H. Auden

    At Dirty Dick’s and Sloppy Joe’s
    We drank our liquor straight,
    Some went upstairs with Margery,
    And some , alas, with Kate;

    Untitled, by Tu Mu

    By rivers and lakes at odds with life I journeyed, wine my freight;
    Slim waists of Ch’u broke my heart, light bodies danced into my palm.
    Ten years late I awake at last out of my Yangzhou dream
    With nothing but the name of a drifter in the blue houses.

  225. LunarApprentice et al,
    re: You Know Which Subject

    I’m a bit more cavalier about COVID than your average bear, admittedly. And I’m a biologist – an ecologist more specifically. I remember my 10th grade Biology course, and the subsequent 11 college Biology courses I took to fulfill my degree requirements, fairly well.

    One thing that really stuck in my craw from all that was how utterly miniscule and yet surprisingly mobile viruses are. Even from a bacterium’s POV a virus is very nearly microscopic. They mutate rapidly with generation times that would make your head spin, and are as cosmopolitan a critter as you could ever hope to…avoid..

    At this point, in my not entirely humble opinion, you and everyone else here has already made contact with the COVID-19 virus personally. Your body has already dealt with it. Or with one of the 30-ish mutant variations that we know of so far.

    (I probably shouldn’t even bring up the dubious accounting practices that have been pointed out about the false and misleading assignment of blame on coronavirus. Handed down from the CDC no less.)

    Meanwhile…the ongoing shutdown of our economy is wreaking havoc on the financial lives of ordinary Americans. I don’t know a single person who’s had the coronavirus, officially (I’ve met plenty of people who speculate that they’ve had one version or another, and gotten over it, including my wife and son). But unfortunately I do know people, dear friends, who have had to shut down once-thriving small businesses because they were forced to. Not because of bad management practices, or any other fault of their own, but because some stuffed shirt prohibited the continued operation of their business. And it’s doubtful they’ll ever recover.

    I personally have lost my renters, and roughly $5000 in income, so far; my neighbors two doors down had to delay the opening of their ice cream shop downtown until someone they don’t know says it’s OK to open, and this after being closed for winter under normal conditions. They need that income. I need mine too. We don’t want to eat cake, Mdme. Antoinette.

    I dread the final tally of small businesses that will never open their doors again.

    And still no one any of us knows has officially had the coronavirus. So tell me, is the coronavirus doing more damage, or is the reaction to the coronavirus doing more damage? FWIW, I’m voting for the latter, and hoping for a sudden mass injection of whole systems perspective for our population rather than a rush-job vaccine…

  226. Oh, certainly – but the 40 hours a week I do spend working for money produces more money than I need in order to live, and I have to do something with the surplus. My rate of learning is, unfortunately, not a limitation I can throw money at, so I was just wondering whether there’s a trick I’m missing.

  227. Here’s one I learned at the age of 7 and never forgot:

    I eat my peas with honey,
    I’ve done it all my life.
    It makes the peas taste funny,
    But it keeps them on my knife!

    And Edward Gorey’s “Gashlycrumb Tinies:”

    A is for Amy who fell down the stairs
    B is for Basil assaulted by bears
    C is for Clara who wasted away
    D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh…

    JMG, it is my fervent hope that there are currently teachers like you all over the world, in many cultures and countries. Thanks.

  228. To “Anonymous”
    “Does anyone know where to find a slide rule?”

    The slide rule was an essential tool for scientists and technical people who were working before about 1975 when pocket calculators started becoming available. I suspect anyone with the right background who was born in the ’30s or ’40s had one at one point.

    Slide rules are made of metal and stable materials like bamboo or plastic, so almost all of them are still around, somewhere. (They were expensive at the time, and don’t take up much space to store.)

    I’d start with e-bay, but asking family members and people with the right sort of background might turn up a bunch of them.

    Do you have a good book about how to use one for calculations?

  229. Very revealing about this crisis is how every level of government took no action until they received orders. I’ve seen this dynamic at our local township meetings where most of the discussion is how to handle the various demands by various agencies (DEP mostly) and crumbling infrastructure. But the entire state of PA is the same bunch of government officials waiting for orders.

    We have what I’ll call permanent visitors from other countries who commute to NYC to work. Did the PA gov or NYC mayor or NY gov stop travel into NYC at any point? Nope!! The major outbreak and it’s on a freakin island accessible by tunnels and bridges only, making it literally the easiest thing to shut down. Does our local media ask any questions of the PA gov on why he didn’t shut down travel to NY? Nope! People travel by bus back and forth, so are the bus lines shut down? No, again!

    It’s really sad that if you look at the outbreak maps for PA the absolute highest percent infected areas (test results are 60% positive) are these former factory towns filled with illegal and legal Spanish-speaking immigrants. By not stopping travel, people were forced to go to work, and made their whole families sick.

    In response, PA has set up a commission to examine if minorities have been more impacted and if there was discrimination in healthcare and testing. (eye roll) They are seriously going to play the racism card, when it was their own awful lack of effective action that caused the spread.

  230. JMG – I looked beyond Duluth, LL Bean, and New Balance, for the elusive US-made men’s casual shoe, and eventually found a pair to order from “Footskins”. I first looked at several other on-line offers, but apparently some recommended brands get only certain models of shoe domestically, and the ones I was interested in were imports. And other vendors make “weird” shoes (more like slippers, to my mind) which look like they’d wear out too soon. I placed an order, happy to support American workers. ($140, with taxes and shipping, by the way.)

  231. Re: COVID-19 significance. In the Apr 23, 2020 “Peak Prosperity” (Dr. Chris Martenson’s YouTube video) program, he shows a plot of death by all causes, weekly, for the UK, for the last five years. The flu seasons are clearly visible, and then COVID-19 shows up and the weekly deaths jump from about 13,000 per week to about 20,000 per week. I think this is a great statistic to look at, because there are no questions about sensitivity or specificity of testing, death is unambiguous. So, death is up by a very significant amount. How long it will stay up depends on the development of silent immunity, which would be good to know, but at least this is the sort of data that we should be able to agree on (which I haven’t seen anywhere else).

    Later in the video, he goes on to dismiss “left/right” politicization of the issue, focusing on objective, open-minded assessments with a willingness to abandon a position in the light of new data. That might appeal to us here, too. The video is a narrated slide-show, with excellent audio production, and very little (if any) talking-head jerky images behind glass.

  232. Re: impact on higher education. From the Washington Post, April 24, p. B1.

    Johns Hopkins University will suspend contributions to employee retirement accounts, cut salaries of top leaders and prepare for furloughs and layoffs, officials said this week, as it confronts a massive budget shortfall touched off by the coronavirus pandemic.

    I’ve also seen a story about college students asking for tuition refunds because the on-line instruction they’re getting is not the on-campus experience they were promised and paid for. (They certainly should get a refund of the mandatory activities fees, for activities (such as basketball games) that aren’t even happening.)

  233. Scotlyn and JMG,
    IIRC the person who made the list for hardcopy newsletters was Cathy Macquire(?) – not sure about last name.

  234. Regarding kleptocracy and Boeing, Thorstein Veblen, writing more than 100 years ago, had interesting things to say in his “Theory of Business Enterprise.” In a nutshell Veblen, claimed that business leaders are more interested in maximizing profits than in producing a product – and creating chaos in the markets is a fine profit-maximizing tool, to which such leaders will resort, It’s a shame that Veblen made his prose so dense as to be nearly impenetrable, and that he is generally pigeonholed these days as “the father of institutional economics.” He was much more interesting than that!

  235. A favorite poem–I looked it up but mostly know it by heart–by the late, lamented John Ford, from here:

    Against Entropy

    The worm drives helically through the wood
    And does not know the dust left in the bore
    Once made the table integral and good;
    And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
    Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
    A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
    The names of lovers, light of other days
    Perhaps you will not miss them. That’s the joke.
    The universe winds down. That’s how it’s made.
    But memory is everything to lose;
    Although some of the colors have to fade,
    Do not believe you’ll get the chance to choose.
    Regret, by definition, comes too late;
    Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.

    I also love Kipling’s poems–two favorites are “The Sons of Martha”

    The sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part,
    But the sons of Martha favor their mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
    And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude the the Lord her Guest,
    Her sons must wait upon Mary’s sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

    And “The Supports”

    …He who launched our Ship of Fools many anchors gave us…

  236. Hey! Lay off us single middle-aged cat owners. The fact that a bunch of people whose ideas and values and manners you don’t like are included in that class doesn’t mean that the entire class is made up of people whose ideas and values and manners you don’t like. [DO remind me to re-acquire that Logic 101 gem, “Bad Arguments.” Let me hit the local Books-a-Million website.]

    And, dears, please don’t be as catty as they are! Me-ow!

  237. I have some relatives interested in opening an education savings (investment portfolio?) account through a state program for our children (aged 6 and 10), which offers some small benefits such as tax free accrual and tax credits, etc, but can only be withdrawn by the child when they have qualifying costs such as fees, room and board, trade school, etc. My children are homeschooled and fairly nontraditional so I don’t have any inkling what their higher education future may hold. These relatives are unlikely to contribute very much (hundreds, not thousands) but if we are unwilling to furnish their SSNs they are willing to give the lump total in cash upon graduation. Wondering if anyone has advice as to whether we should turn them down, let them do as they wish, or possibly actively contribute to this account myself.


  238. @TemporaryReality

    Some great poems, not fully commited to memory:

    From: Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, on sexual double standards for men & women…

    Hombres necios que acusais
    a la mujer sin razón
    sin ver que sois la ocasión
    de lo mismo que culpais

    ¿O cuál es más de culpar
    aunque los dos hagan mal:
    la que peca por la paga
    o el que paga por pecar?

    ¿Para qué os espantais
    de la culpa que teneis?
    Queredlas cual las haceis
    o hacedlas cual las buscais.

    From: Francisco de Quevedo, on that shiny thing that makes the world go round and round…

    Madre, yo al oro me humillo,
    El es mi amante y mi amado,
    pues de puro enamorado
    de continuo anda amarillo.
    Que pues doblón o sencillo
    hace todo cuanto quero.
    Poderoso Caballero
    es Don Dinero.

    Es tanta su majestad,
    aunque sus duelos son hartos,
    que aun con estar hecho cuartos
    no pierde su calidad.
    Puesto que da autoridad
    al gañan y al jornalero.
    Poderoso Caballero
    es Don Dinero.

    Valen mas en cualquier tierra,
    mirad si es harto sagaz,
    sus escudos en la paz
    que rodelas en la guerra.
    Y pues al natural destierra
    y hace propio al forasterio
    Poderoso Caballero
    es Don Dinero.

    From: José de Espronceda, not so well known, but a paean to Liberty and Defiance nonetheless…

    Con diez cañones por banda
    viento en popa a toda vela
    no corta el mar, sino vuela,
    un velero bergantín;
    bajel pirata que llaman
    por su bravura El Temido
    en todo el mar conocido
    del uno al otro confin.

    Navega velero mio,
    sin temor
    que ni enemigo navio,
    ni tormenta, ni bonanza,
    tu rumbo a torcer alcanza
    ni a sujetar tu valor.

    Veinte presas
    hemos hecho
    a despecho
    del inglés
    y han rendido
    sus pendones
    cien naciones
    a mis pies.

    ¡Sentenciado estoy a muerte!
    Yo me río:
    no me abandone la suerte.
    Y al mismo que me condena
    colgaré de alguna antena
    quizá en su propio navio.
    Y si caigo
    ¿qué es la vida?
    Por perdida
    ya la dí,
    cuando el yugo
    del esclavo
    como un bravo

    Que es mi barco mi tesoro
    que es mi Dios la Libertad
    mi ley, la fuerza y el viento,
    mi única patria, la mar.

  239. Hi John Michael,

    Thanks for saying that, I too was a bit bored by all the virus talk and have reduced my exposure to the news media to merely scanning the article titles and seeing what interests me. And the language used in the virus talk sounds very much like correctional facility language to my ears. Might be something in that!

    Other people might be enjoying quiet time out on their various couches, but mate I have been seriously busy helping people and businesses through the Byzantine labyrinth that are the various helpful initiatives designed to replace income lost because normal trading was no longer possible.

    Interestingly, what I am observing is that folks who have been through hard times before, and know their way around those times, are far more resilient and flexible than those who want things to continue on as they were. I have nothing but praise and respect for folks who can get off their backsides and save themselves. Seeing this in action makes me seriously wonder about the wisdom of our societies preference for avoiding painful experiences.

    Did I see mention of electric cars above and renewable energy futures in the comments above? Oooo, the technology is good, but unfortunately it is not good enough. Every year for the past decade I have had to add or make modifications to my off grid solar power system, and unfortunately I can’t really believe that more work won’t be necessary in future years. To my mind it looks like one of those rats on a treadmill where the rat spins faster and faster and stays in the same place. Banksy’s rats would never put up with such nonsense! 🙂

    A green future based on renewable energy will most certainly involve a lot of plants – a whole lot of plants!!! Not so many electric cars, but you know if someone wants to give it a go and put their money where their mouth is, good for them. And the learning experience will be instructive.



  240. Well, I certainly find Toynbee’s conception of caste in civilization, that of a creative (turned dominant) minority, an inner proletariat and an outer proletariat.

    You may recall a few blog post ago my posting of Colombia sociologist Musa Al-Gharbi’s essay on how performative anti-racism by much of the professional-managerial class can serve as a cover for their exploitation of the metropolitan masses of racial minorites and immigrants ( He later published a follow-up article in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdowns entitled, “Disposable People” ( In it, he described how much of this metropolitan proletariat continue to be invisible and exploited to even the wokest members of the PMC, being expected to continue working while the (disproportionately white) PMC takes a holiday.

    He states, “I have never seen such inhumanity as I’ve seen in New York City. A liberal bastion, full of enlightened experts and professionals, self-assured and self-righteous. They say and ostensibly feel all the “right” things. They pride themselves on “just” consumption—for instance, gravitating toward organic, non-GMO and fair-trade foods. Yet their lifestyle is predicated upon an army of poorly compensated servants, expected to be responsive to their needs 24/7 at the press of a button, who can be casually abandoned to fend for themselves the moment they cease to be as useful.”

    These “Disposable People” are, of course, analogous to the External Proletariat of Toynbee’s description, ethnic outsiders brought in as cheap labour and slaves for a dominant minority that has lost all sense of stewardship, culturally or otherwise.

  241. John, et. al.–

    And a few more energy tidbits.

    First, 2019 LNG per the EIA (story quoted in part)–

    Global LNG trade sets another record in 2019, recording the highest-ever annual growth

    Global trade in liquefied natural gas (LNG) set another record in 2019, reaching 46.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), according to the recently released The LNG Industry GIIGNL Annual Report 2020 by the International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL). Total trade increased by 5.4 Bcf/d (13%) compared with 2018, the largest annual increase on record. Spot and short-term trade increased by 2.6 Bcf/d (20%) in 2019 over the previous year and accounted for 34% of the total global LNG trade.

    In the past five years, global LNG trade has increased by 45% (15.2 Bcf/d), led primarily by capacity additions in Australia, the United States, and Russia, which combined accounted for more than 90% of the global growth in liquefaction capacity during this period. In 2019, Australia completed its massive capacity buildout program and became the world’s largest LNG exporter for several months, overtaking Qatar. The United States continued commissioning new liquefaction trains in 2019, including Train 2 at Corpus Christi, the first two trains at Cameron LNG and Freeport LNG, and the first five small modular liquefaction units at Elba Island, adding a combined 3.3 Bcf/d of new liquefaction capacity. Russia continued to ramp up production at Yamal LNG and commissioned a small-scale liquefaction facility, Vysotsk LNG (0.09 Bcf/d capacity).

    Bcf/d =billion cubic feet per day
    Link to report mentioned above:

    Secondly, re impacts of That Which Shall Not Be Named, MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the coordinator of the regional electric grid and wholesale markets in these here parts) gave an update recently on the current crisis. Among other items, we are seeing load reductions on the grid of ~10% from normal. As we are in the spring “shoulder season” when loads are generally soft anyway, this further reduction by such a significant magnitude is really saying something.

  242. RE: Cougars: I’ve been following with interest a discussion in nearby Connecticut. Many people in the Northwestern part of the state swear they’ve seen a cougar, while the “experts” claim they’re long gone.

    @Lady Cutekitten: we have two cats. Unfortunately, one of us suffers from TDS, though not an extreme case, while I most emphatically do not. (Note to JMG: perhaps Sara’s allergies has protected you from TDS? 😉 )

    On the general discussion on slide rules: I have both circular and straight ones. I also have book of log tables published in the mid 19th century which was my father’s. I hope that with care it will outlast the slide rules.

  243. @DavidOTN

    I don’t know what it’s like in PA, but here in FL we are quite proud of still having a wild panther population. I know several people who swear to have seen or heard them (they sound like screaming women). We get all proprietary and call them “Florida panthers” but as far as I know there is little or nothing to differentiate them from the Appalachian type. We had a news item recently where Central FL trail cams were picking up panthers that appeared to be ill, and the wildlife biologists were scrambling to figure out if they were diseased or had been poisoned.

    Our trail cam picks up the occasional bobcat. But no panthers so far.

  244. Dear JMG,

    If I may, what are your thoughts on the degree that current lockdowns have turned into a political issue?

    Basically, it seems that those who favor stricter lockdowns are those who oppose Trump, and those who protest the lockdowns do so with a lot of MAGA hats and Trump 2020 signs. This is true at least among major politician types, I can’t tell how much this trickles on down to the rank and file, but I certainly assume that it does.

    Do you think that we’ve entered an absurd situation in which people are playing political chicken with this whole affair? Personally, my sympathies always tend towards the populists in general and more specific to the issue at hand since I’m tired of the lockdown for purely selfish reasons and I question the deadliness of the virus, and the effectiveness of quarantine. that said, I find it rather disturbing that this is so clearly becoming a partisan issue, rather than an issue of, say, medical science and detached reasoning. It seems, to me at least, that the pretense that the quarantine is for safety or what have you is increasingly lost in the fray of what has become an obviously partisan issue of a rather mindless, snarl word variety. At least, that’s how I’ve been reading the news, and of course other folks’ opinions may vary!

    To my mind, then, to extend an economic shutdown for partisan reasons strikes me…as the sort of actions that inept bureaucrats do before revolutions. Do you think a crisis of legitimacy may follow this, at least in some states? Certainly I hope not, but this sort of detached playing with people’s livelihoods seems the sort of thing that tends to end rather poorly.

  245. @JMG and others…

    So I’ve been waiting a couple of weeks for an open discussion point to mention an interesting development in the world of maverick particle physics. In order to put a bit of context around this, it centres on a guy called Stephen Wolfram who is moderately well known in both the academic physics/math and computer science world for various ideas. In the commercial world he has run a pretty successful software company for years. He’s pretty eccentric even by the standards that pertain here and I think its fair to call him a genius although my impression is that he’s far more practical than that term usually implies.

    In other words, what he’s recently started writing about should not be dismissed as merely ‘Time Cube stuff’ ( It’s the beginnings of theory of everything, where ‘everything’ is our standard cultural view of ‘everything’. The reason it might be of interest is because the ideas revolve around the concept paths in space, which caught my eye because it’s extremely reminiscent of the early parts of The Cosmic Doctrine.

    Somewhere back towards the millennium he published a book called ‘A new kind of science’, which was eagerly awaited and then almost instantly dismissed by the intellectual establishment of the era because it actually was mostly about cellular automata. If you’ve ever watched Conway’s Game of Life on a computer screen or tried it for yourself on a sheet of graph paper you would have encountered an example. Wolfram’s were both simpler and yet also more widely explored – my copy of the book is about 2 inches thick.

    The basic idea of cellular automata is that there is a simple situation such as cells filled or empty on a sheet of squared graph paper, along with a rule. In the case of Conway’s game of Life, the rule is that any cell with none or one neighbour to the north, south, east, or west, dies of loneliness. Any cell with two or three neighbours lives, and any with more neighbours dies of overcrowding. You simply take the current situation and apply the rule over an over again. Sometimes the graph paper fills up, sometimes it empties out, and sometimes you get the weird little self replicating patterns that live for ever or move about the page. It all depends on your starting state.

    The new work is based on a situation being described as a collection of paths in space. He calls them directed hypergraphs – it’s the directed part that makes them the same as a path in my opinion. The rules describe how a particular pattern of paths can change from step to step. Wolfram has published an introductory piece at and I think the early section is both quite an easy read and also quite intriguing, particularly if you can follow the argument to the point where he says that fundamental particles are represented as particular patterns of paths.

    I’m in lockdown at the moment but unfortunately I’m simultaneously far too busy to enjoy it or even spend to much time exploring this; however it did seem worthwhile mentioning it. I’m told that to date the ideas have had a very similar reception as did the original book from – basically a shrug and a ‘meh’. If that’s the case it’s a pity, personally I think there’s something quite important developing here and it may have wider implications than the standard view of the universe.

  246. Hi JMG,

    I’m going to expand on Milt’s question to you (regarding UFOs and so-called “Visitors”) with a little more specificity: as a practitioner of a spiritual path that strongly reveres the Earth and the natural world, how do you interpret the dire warnings about ecological destruction that are received through these contact experiences?

    It is an almost universal feature of the experience (Strieber’s accounts are a good example), that the “Visitors” will fill the contactee’s mind with apocalyptic visions of Earth’s destruction, brought about through nuclear weapons use, industrial pollution, etc. These dire communications are often wrapped in a cloth of prophecy, with contactees lead to believe that the total destruction of the Earth and the human race are only a few short years ahead. As you often point out, this type of thinking is nonsense: industrial civilization will collapse long before it ever has the opportunity to make the Earth uninhabitable, and humans (like cockroaches) are extremely adaptable and among the least-likely species to go extinct.

    Does the intelligence behind these contact events not understand such basic environmental realities? Or is it, as Vallee and Keel have often suggested, being purposely misleading? It seems to have been running this “abduction” program of warning humans about environmental catastrophe since (at least) the 1960s and, by my reckoning, seems to have utterly failed its mission: industrial growth and associated pollution have continued without skipping a beat.

  247. Enjoying WoH again, up to Dreamlands, enjoying the second time around even more than the first time. I finally noticed what a perfect name Dr. Noyes is for a dept. called Noology. Negation indeed!
    I may be last in line but at least I’m in line LOL

  248. Onething asked:

    “Why in the world are they dumping milk when everyone goes to the grocery store as usual?”

    There are basically two types of dairy plants, those that bottle milk and those that manufacture products like cheese and sour cream. The simple version is this: the cheese plant has contracts with farmers for X lbs of milk, so the farmer delivers X lbs of milk to that particular plant daily. Because the hotel/restaurant/school market has dried up, these plants don’t have enough buyers for cheese. These plants are not set up to bottle, hence the dumping. Depending on the particular contract, sometimes it’s the farmers that dump the milk, sometimes its the plant. Because the regulations surrounding food and dairy in particular are absolutely insane (see FL farmers dumping produce that was meant for cruise ships) you end up with people in miles long lines for the food bank, the price of liquid milk going up and millions of lbs of milk poured down the drain.

  249. Concerning the future of sports, in North America specifically there’s one giant confounder: Mesoamerica, and its pseudomorphosis in parts of the continent not part of Mesoamerica proper. (As I think I’ve noted before, I very much disagree with our host that there’s a question what the second psuedomorphosis that the future North American civilization will react against; it’s Mesoamerica, and if anything the Faustian is the second pseudomorphosis future North America will react against.)

    My understanding (which may differ somewhat from Spengler himself) is that civilizations in the Spengler sense tend to have both a view of (space)time and an image of the ideal society, and they are not the same. The Faustian has limitless expansion and the Saved visionary teaching the ignorant masses, respectively; China had the looping Dao and the celestial bureaucracy’s order of all under heaven; the Magian had the community of believers and the divine play from Creation to the Last Judgment. The Mesoamerican sense of time is fractal (hence the structure of the Mayan calendar),, but its vision of community is the ball court, including the sacrifices of the players (traditionally in a rather literal sense of the word). The rest of North America may well have a similar sense of time (roughly the Chinese Dao to the Indian mandala), but its vision of community is probably instead the vision quest. (Part of the thing about the cultural emphasis on both college and the military in modern America are that those are the two institutions that currently fill the vision quest niche.)

    I very much doubt it’s a coincidence that the parts of America where football is most prominent also tend to be closer to (and, to my eye, generally more influenced by) Mesoamerica.

    As such, I’d expect at minimum for the southern half of Texas to fight tooth and nail to try to keep football, at least, though futbol may well overtake it in time.

    Moreover, given that if I’m right the future North American civilization will be defining itself in part against Mesoamerica, I really wouldn’t be surprised if that civilization has at least some backlash against organized sports in general. (Individual feats of excellence, however, would play quite nicely with the vision quest in general; track and field may do well, and the strongmen of the early twentieth century strike me as quite consistent with a North American viewpoint.)

    On the subject of astrology, and also our host’s reply to SMJ above: I would keep a very, very close eye on the Chinese leadership for the next six months or so, especially once we get into June. I doubt either the US or China actually want a hot war (because nukes), and I doubt the US blunders into one in the next year either… but given the charts I don’t think it’s out of the question that China miscalculates its way into the business end of a nuclear exchange, most plausibly via launching an invasion of Taiwan that draws foreign powers (probably including the US) to intervene. Not sure I’d call it likely, but the kind of odds where preparations might be prudent.

    – China’s Aries ingress this year is consistent with a war chart – they’ve got the Jupiter-Saturn-Mars-remains of Pluto stellium in the seventh house, and had Mars in the seventh in their last Libra ingress as well. (The one small mercy here is that Saturn rules the seventh in that chart, unlike the second house in the US ingress.)
    – The good news is, said Aries ingress (like Riyadh’s) has a cardinal sign rising and is only good for three months. The bad news is, that means their Cancer ingress is definitely active, and to my eyes it’s ugly as sin. As I’ve noted before around these parts, that ingress chart’s general structure reeks of some kind of major event this summer (an aspect structure featuring either eight or nine of ten planets, depending on how you count – and that’s not counting both Pluto and apparently Ceres – and including a Sun-Moon conjunction); gut says that’s not COVID, and it may well have more impact than COVID does. This chart’s not quite as bad for Beijing as I once thought – I originally misread the position of Sun-Moon and thought that conjunction was on the ascendant – but it’s still got Mars-Neptune straddling the midheaven (Mars in the tenth) and the Jupiter-Saturn-remains of Pluto stellium all retrograde in the seventh. (Also retrograde Mercury rising.)
    – Oh, and speaking of that Sun-Moon conjunction: There is a solar eclipse the day after the Cancer ingress. That eclipse’s path goes straight through both China and Taiwan. (Ninth house eclipse, but if I’ve cast and am reading the chart correctly it’s loosely conjunct midheaven in Beijing.)
    (- Side note: That eclipse path also goes through Pakistan and India. I don’t see obvious war indicators the same way in that chart, at least in New Delhi, but there some things that might be and if I ran the chart correctly – always annoying with New Delhi given their timezone – then they’ve also got the eclipse conjunct midheaven, but this time tighter and in the tenth house. Also Jupiter in Capricorn in the fourth house ruling the fourth house; that would be consistent with famine, or possibly genocide. Uranus in Taurus in the eighth house is unlikely to be pleasant… and actually I take back what I said about war indicators; just checked Islamabad and they trade eclipse conjunct midheaven for Mars in the seventh house conjunct the house cusp.)

  250. I’m an inadvertent early reader of A Voyage to Hyperborea, (Shaun had an oops with the digital launch cannon for the Kindle version of Love in the Ruins). It was nearly as good as Dreamlands, the pages did turn.
    (Shaun, if you’re buffaloed on how to fix it, maybe you could shoot an email to Larry Kollar, the Tales from Far Manor guy)

  251. I must say I agree with the notion that we are getting off extremely easy with a not-very-lethal virus that mostly affects those who are most vulnerable to something else anyway. Hard to imagine what the reaction would be to a ‘real’ crisis.

    It seems to me that the past month is an interesting and useful case study in the kind of real-world action needed to combat climate change (and other environmental issues) – basically doing and using less. At first I thought that this might lead to a huge rejection of climate action (which I know you’ve predicted was coming anyway) as people realized how much they disliked the lifestyle they would have to lead to really effect change. However, as reflected in many of the above comments and my community, it seems that many people appreciate aspects of ‘restricted life’ if they don’t prefer it outright to the previous status quo. Two questions based on this:
    1) Do you think that the shutdown of industrial activity has been/will be long and deep enough to have a direct long-term environmental benefit?
    2) Do you think that if the change in mindset persists, it will be enough to make real progress with respect to climate change and perhaps shift focus towards reducing rather than renewables?

  252. This question might be too weird? I want to talk about the ultimate social distancer–Big Foot. Until February, I thought that Big Foot was just a legend. But I was in a business meeting and saw a funny item on shelf of this guy’s office–a Big Foot lunchbox. So I asked him about it. He said that when he was 20 he was driving through rural Idaho on his way home from college for Christmas break. It was snowing and he stopped to put chains on his car by this large lake. A large bi-ped was walking toward him over the frozen lake, and he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, and it scared him. He quickly finished working on the chains, and left immediately, knowing whatever it was, it was way too big to be human. (Someone in the office gave him the big foot lunchbox–his office mates give him a little grief over his story.)

    Has anyone out there seen a Big Foot creature, or have a theory about the legends?


  253. JMG,

    Do you think that once the current viral infestation is over it will have a lasting effect on certain types of cultural behaviour. In the last decade I have noticed, among the younger generations ( and those attempting to be percieved as up to date) a trend towards exaggerated emotional displays between even casual aquaintances. Hugging, air kisses etc upon arriving at restaurants etc. As a decendant of dour midwestern farmers this type of thing has always puzzled me. In other words will our current experience leave us with some changes in cultural behaviour , both obvious and unexpected?

  254. Onething, boysmom, my understanding is that milk demand has dropped as, first of all, it’s fairly perishable, so if people cut back from twice-weekly to twice-monthly grocery runs they buy less milk, but more importantly, the US public school system goes through a tremendous amount of milk, and that demand has dropped almost* to zero. As I saw someone on Twitter put it, “Only in high school is a pint of milk considered a normal pairing for a cheeseburger.”

    *Almost as in some places the free/reduced lunch programs are still making meals for lower-income students.

  255. Chris at Fernglade, and Violet, since quite a while the media scream as loud as possible how dangerous, etc. the Coronavirus is and how dumb, etc. the people are who aren’t fully on board with total lockdown. I do think it is time that the governments and the media of the Western world are getting serious pushback against this. And of course the cultural and social aspects of lockdowns aren’t seriously thought through, because the current elites simply hate ordinary people. It’s one of the moments where some people may actually be glad that coronaviruses mutate so often, so that any attempt at obligatory vaccinations with not very thoroughly tested vaccines will be futile; it would be something which starkly shows the limits at attempting to control everything. Of course, your mileage may vary.

  256. re: sliderules

    You can always make your own. Here’s a video on how you’d go about it. It’s just two log tables written out on two rulers. Or more, depending on how elaborate you want to get. Or you can just use log tables in a book to do the multiplication and division. The other question is what are you going to be using the thing for? There’s always going to be a bit of a “in the ballpark” inaccuracy to the things, they’re meant more for situations you need a fast number over a super accurate number. If you need lots of decimal places, a log table in a book is more appropriate.

  257. Re UBI

    I’ve always seen UBI as inextricably intertwined with techno-fantasy where mechanical servitors do all the grunge tasks and cater to our every whim. No one works and we all get paid…what’s not to like? (Except feasibility, of course!)

    Re sliderules

    Many (many) years ago when my parents were going through the late middle age ritual of clearing out all that stuff they’d kept in boxes for far too long, I was able to abscond with my dad’s old slide rule and the instruction book that went with it 🙂

    Re the lockdown and its discontents

    We here in WI are apparently looking at a potential limited re-opening of businesses for May 1st, though contingent on social distancing requirements. Good news for small businesses and people needing paychecks.

  258. JMG,

    All you need to do to keep my interest these days is not incessantly talk about Covid-19! 😉


    Take the cash, but do not contribute to the account. If you have an account which can only be withdrawn for set purposes, the people who manage it have a very good inventive to come up with ways to justify why you can’t have the money. I’ve seen a bank fight with a friend’s family over certain school related expenses (paper, pens), arguing they “weren’t strictly necessary for [his] program”, and trying to cut him off from money for residence, as it’s not covered in a foreign country (international tuition+residence in Canada costs less than going to a state college). His parents had to threaten legal action in order to get the money, and even so, will probably lose the money for residence.

    Also, once he graduates, turns 25, or four years pass from when he enrolled in college, all the money left goes to the bank. So I think you’re better off having cash.

  259. @TemporaryReality

    I like the stupid, funny poems
    (I’ve tried a few myself) —
    Lewis Carroll, Ogden Nash,
    Edward Lear, doggerel trash —
    Easy stuff, not writ in tomes
    All dusty on the shelf.

    But, to be serious, these lines slightly misremembered from James Elroy Flecker have stuck in my mind for many years, although I myself am a rather timid traveler:

    We travel not for trafficking alone;
    By hotter fires than these our hearts are fanned:
    For lust of knowing what should not be known,
    We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

    I first heard the poem “High Flight” when my stepfather, who served in the air force in WW2, took us to the dedication of an air force memorial. It was recited by the massed ranks of air force cadets. Stirring stuff:

    Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
    I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark, or ever eagle flew –
    And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
    The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

  260. More poems for memorization/recital:

    The Lady of Shalott, Alfred Lord Tennyson (bit of a cheat because I learned it from the song by Lorena McKennitt. Same with “The Bonny Swans”)

    Wild Geese, Mary Oliver

    The Lake Isle of Innisfree, W.B. Yeats

    Because I Could Not Stop for Death and To Make a Prairie, Emily Dickinson

    The Raven, Alone, and Annabelle Lee, Edgar Allan Poe

    Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers, Adrienne Rich (artifact of undergraduate days!)

    and, of course

    Cassilda’s Song from the King in Yellow by Robert Chambers

  261. I wanted to submit the following quote assuming JMG approves it because I think it helps point out some of the defects of modern societies around the world, not just Western ones.

    Predicament of the Times

    If every day, something weird appeared in their dream, not even in reality, a whole lot of people would lose their mind because they do not have much of a mind anyway. I am not saying this to be sarcastic. Particularly the modern education systems have done humanity a huge disservice by not working on the mind but only on the memory. The focus of modern education systems is on producing a product that will fit somewhere into our economic engine, not on trying to produce a great human being. Society is not interested in great human beings because they may not follow instructions. They may not fit into the social milieu. Most of those who showed any sign of greatness were slaughtered in the past because the mediocre is safe, but greatness may turn things upside down.

    Right now, the human mind is not being developed to handle both sweetness of emotion and sharpness of intellect together. Most commonly, people who have a reasonably sharp mind are in a bitter emotional state within themselves. You will see very few people with a sharp mind and sweetness of emotion. Those who have a sharp mind think they have to cut everyone. Those who have sweetness of emotion are considered as fools. This is almost a given in the world: If you are intellectually sharp, you will not be emotionally sweet. If you are emotionally sweet, you are considered a fool. This kind of categorization is happening in the world, which is not a good thing at all. The anahata is a fantastic place, but I find in today’s world, getting people to sharpen their mind and turn their emotion sweet is quite a job.

    – Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

  262. @Packshaud, Christophe:

    Vietnamese has an exclusive and inclusive “we”. There are three variants that I know of: chúng tôi (exclusive: us but not you), chúng ta (inclusive: us plus you), and chúng mình (inclusive, but also implies social intimacy, like family or close friends).

    @Antoinetta III:

    I’d be delighted if robocalls ended! I’m still getting a few, but yes, there have been fewer. Technically, you *can* have spam call operators working from home, but in practice, most of them are working out of huge call centers in India, so I imagine what’s happened is that the lockdown is keeping them out of the office. May better job opportunities come their way, when lockdown is lifted!


    Many years ago, I went on an inexplicable poetry-memorizing kick. I have forgotten some of them, but the handful I can still recite, while perhaps not all the greatest poetry, are the ones that rolled most nicely off the tongue:

    Someone has mentioned “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” already, and I’d add Puck’s speech from the end of Midsummer Night’s Dream (“If we shadows have offended…”), both of which I can sing, thanks to Grant Foster and Gregor Harvey’s recordings of them, which I bought from them in a subway station. I believe someone’s posted them on youtube, but can’t verify because my internet’s about on par with dialup.

    Blake’s “The Tyger” is fun. My Dad had me learn it when I was four. Because it was hilarious hearing a little girl squeak: “And what shoulder, and what Art, Could twist the sinews of thy heart?” I still know it, and it’s still fun.

    Poe’s “Eldorado” is short, sweet, keeps to an easy meter, and sticks like glue. “Gaily bedight, a gallant knight…” It’s a nice walking pace.

    My favorite one to torment my children with, is The Walrus and the Carpenter, from Through the Looking Glass. It’s a lot of stanzas, but was surprisingly easy… “and this was odd, because, you know, they hadn’t any feet.”

    I’ve been trying for the first chapter of Ecclesiastes in the KJV for ages. It’s a fantastic piece of poetry, but I falter after verse 11. Because things that don’t rhyme are *hard*.

  263. More on That Subject.


    Quoting someone else, you write,

    Lastly, NO vaccine has ever been successfully created to immunize people against a coronavirus.

    Thus destroying any argument for a lockdown beyond those most vulnerable. Sweden’s taken a different approach.”

    Sweden has a growing death rate compared to Norway, which has imposed isolation measures.

    You mistake the primary purpose of the shelter in place orders. The reason for them is to slow down the rate of infection, so that the hospitals will not be flooded with so many COVID-19 cases all at once that patients are on gurneys in the hallways and in tents in the parking lot, with no intake nurse available to take their temperature, and no supportive care at all.

    SARS-2 is highly transmissible. In places where it spreads through communities without early measures to slow the rate of contagion and the rise in the rate of contagion, case levels rise exponentially. The limiting factor is herd immunity, if rates of mutation allow herd immunity.

    If a number doubles once or twice a week, it doesn’t matter if the original number was one; by the time people start paying attention, the rise is too fast to keep up with and on its way to gobbling up all the available space, or resources, or lives. The clever man asks the king to reward him with one grain of wheat on the corner square of a chessboard, two grains on the second square, four grains on the third . . .128 on the next corner . . .up to 64 doublings. The king says, that seems reasonable, and next thing he has given away all the stores of grain in the kingdom. The area of the pond that is covered with lily pads doubles every day. Yesterday a quarter of the pond was covered. Today half. Tomorrow the pond is completely covered and the fish are dying from hypoxia. If you wanted to save the fish, today is very late and tomorrow is too late.

    If you followed the news from Lombardy about six weeks ago when their hospitals were completely overwhelmed, that is how it happened. Northern Italy is the rich part; they had good hospitals, but no hospital system can handle exponential growth in admissions in its late stages. The late stages arrive very quickly after the middle stages. A month later, the outer boroughs of New York City were parking rented refrigerator trucks outside hospitals to have some place to stack the corpses. They put a field hospital in Central Park.

    We now know that Santa Clara County had two cases of community transmission of the virus in January, even before New York. Early rates of hospital admissions were similar to New York’s. Santa Clara County’s public health department has a very active director who understands epidemiology. She tracked what was going on in Lombardy and NYC. When the numbers of local cases started to grow, she got in touch with her counterparts in San Francisco and other neighboring counties. They had the authority (or obtained it), to impose a uniform and stringent shelter-in-place order on all six counties the very next day. This was the first such order in the entire United States. Two days later, Governor Newsom imposed a similar order on the rest of the state of California. Compliance has been high.

    According to a graph I saw last night, the San Francisco Bay Area now has an extremely low growth rate of COVID-19 hospital admissions (a gentle upward slope rather than a steep slope or a hockey stick), and a low number in absolute terms too, despite having been one of the earliest regions in the country to be exposed to the virus. A month ago, authorities were looking at turning convention centers into overflow hospitals. This is turning out not to be necessary in the SFBA.

    The current order is still not as drastic as the ones that northern Italy wound up adopting in desperation. Californians can go out for a walk when they feel like it, and the cops don’t stop two people from going into a grocery store together. You can get takeout from the restaurants that are still open, and cocktails to go.

    It has worked exactly as planned. The rate of rise in new hospital admissions for COVID-19 was throttled. The hospitals were not overwhelmed. if you are taken to the ER with a heart attack or trauma, they have a bed for you. Some hospitals have resumed doing a limited number of elective surgeries for things like brain tumors. Places where social isolation is impossible, like nursing homes and prisons, are still having high rates of infection. That problem is just beginning to be tackled.

    As usual, it’s hardest on the poor. Most of the essential work still allowed is low paying and requires going out in public. The local governments have passed laws prohibiting evictions for failure to pay the rent for the next couple of months, but the rent is not being subsidized or forgiven. Small landlords and small businesses are going broke. Schools are closed. Libraries are closed. Nobody knows yet what comes next. But we don’t have, to quote Lou Reed, “dead bodies piled up in mounds.”

    Isolating only the most vulnerable does not work to contain exponential spread of the virus. Pay me now, or pay me later with compound interest.

  264. Lathechuck; Shoes made in USA. The West Coast Shoe Company is a maker of custom shoes in Skapouse Or. They do make some casual shoes.

  265. Deborah Bender,

    Sweden’s death rate is higher than their close neighbors but well below the rest of Europe in lockdown, and their death rate is highly concentrated among nursing homes.

    And yes, the lockdown was meant to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed, but Sweden’s hospitals aren’t overwhelmed either and their “herd immunity” will minimize exposure to successive waves.

    This continuing lockdown is attempting to cure the illness by killing the patient.

  266. “Antoinetta, no, it’s the other way around. It’s not that astronomers did anything to Pluto; it’s that the heavens shape the decisions of astronomers as they do everything else on Earth. Just as a new planet is discovered when it’s time for a new influence to come into action here, a planet gets downgraded or disproved when an influence has done its work and is fading back into the stellar background.”

    On the other hand, if you explore the history of the cyclic conjunctions of Pluto with the other slow-moving planets, a strong case can be made that its influence has been powerful and intense since long before its discovery. This is the primary reason for my skepticism.

  267. @Deborah Bender

    You wrote (in reply to TJandTheBear): “You mistake the primary purpose of the shelter in place orders. The reason for them is to slow down the rate of infection, so that the hospitals will not be flooded with so many COVID-19 cases all at once that patients are on gurneys in the hallways and in tents in the parking lot, with no intake nurse available to take their temperature, and no supportive care at all.”

    That makes excellent sense, but here’s the problem: it looks increasingly likely that there will be no vaccine for this virus (not any time soon anyway). So, how long are we supposed to continue like this? For decades?

    So, I’m afraid that TJandTheBear is right: “This continuing lockdown is attempting to cure the illness by killing the patient.”

    Now, how about some alternatives? By all means keep the stadiums shut for the foreseeable future (and let’s just cancel those Olympic Games, shall we?), and do get everyone to wear a mask (as we’re doing over here in the Czech Republic), but beyond that, life must go on.

  268. Ryan, excellent. Exactly; it’s when scietists set aside “intuition” (meaning, usually, ideology) and pay attention to what’s actually happening, even when that contradicts current theory, that the scientific project fulfills its promise.

    Bogatyr, I’m waiting for Trump to slap tariffs on imported oil in order to keep the fracking industry from being, as you say, fracked. But we’ll see…

    Joan, for what it’s worth, I think that replacing the current US welfare system with a straightforward monthly check is a good idea, but there should be some criteria for who gets it and who doesn’t. But we’ll see what comes out of the debates.

    Kiashu, I take it you nodded off during the scenes in Memfis during the rainy season! That said, yes, there’s a lot of bread and bean soup, and that’s quite deliberate. Most poverty cultures have a couple of staple foods that most people eat most of the time. Think of rice in the Far East, pease porridge and bacon in medieval England, tortillas and beans south of the Rio Grande; bread and bean soup is the Merigan equivalent, and it’s particularly something that gets cooked up by the metric ton by ruinmen.

    Irena, a lot depends on what happens to the global economy once the outbreak winds down, since global tourism depends on the buildup of a lot of excess wealth among the comfortable classes. I suppose you and other like-minded people could start going onto tourist websites and posting “100 reasons to stay away from Prague” and the like!

    Greencoat, that excess money can buy books, tools, classes, lessons, instructional videos, raw materials to use while learning a new craft or skill, trips to places where the skill you want to learn is still practiced, etc., etc….

    MizBean, thank you. Consider becoming one yourself!

  269. @JMG, DaveOTN and others re: big cats –

    I suspect out-of-place cougars are ‘invisible’ to wildlife authorities for the same reason that unwashed dishes are ‘invisible’ to lazy roommates: because if you acknowledged them then you would have to take responsibility. Anything rare enough to fly below the radar is going to qualify as a protected species. ‘Protecting’ a stealthy, wide-ranging large predator is a pain in the rump. Look what the people responsible for protected wolf populations go through: ranchers complain about lost livestock, poachers are attracted by the rarity, any human injuries are a PR disaster. Why borrow trouble?

  270. I’m not entirely decided yet, as I will have to do a ton of divination and meditation before making a decision, but I am leaning in the direction of starting a subscription library attached to my music studio in the far western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.

    Here is what has changed: the Coronapocalypse closed my area libraries, including the subscription library I belong to (which I think is super dumb because it’s not like that place is ever crowded). I have to rent space for my music studio anyway and most of the spaces available are too large.

    Personally, if an event like this one happens again, I would try to keep my library open during it.

  271. Hi Martin Back,

    The Air Force Museum In Fairborn, Ohio, has John Gillespie Magee’s original handwritten “High Flight “ manuscript on display, and, God willing, they’ll open back up so you can go look at it.

    I recommend the AF museum to everyone. I have no interest in aviation and even I found it interesting. It’s the history of the 20th century as well as the history of American aviation.

    Helpful hint: if you are 6’4” or taller, skip Air Force One. All seats, counters, you name it, have hard plastic covers that jut out into the aisle. Sonkitten had to move sideways with his feet in a sort of plié position to get his big feet through those narrow aisles.

  272. Our state set a number that to open, the county must have less than 50 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days. A ridiculous number to meet anywhere there is a city with public transportation.

    So to open, all we have to do is just stop going to get tests for COVID. Number of positive tests goes down and small businesses can open back up. Bonus – it also looks like the virus just went away. Two problems solved at once!

    But seriously, if you tell people that the government wants the number of positive tests to go down so your school, job, etc can open, people are just going to stop getting tested. They want their lives back under their own control.

  273. MizBean,

    Thanks for the “peas with honey” ditty! You’re the only person outside of my family who’s ever recited that one to me (and we say it all the time…).

  274. There has been a great deal of discussion here in the past on the fact that the internet is ultimately an unsustainable technology due to resource demands of dependence on certain rare earth minerals, infrastructure costs, and energy demands of the big server farms.

    Over the past few months, one thing we’ve seen is a large scale shift to online telecommuting throughout the work force. We’ve also had an opportunity to observe the effects of this shift on environmental impacts of human activity, especially when it comes to air pollution. And I’d imagine that even if Saudi Arabia is the driving factor, demand destruction on fossil fuels from reduced travel is no small part of the current oil glut.

    Do you think a more permanent shift to online telecommuting for work that can be done remotely could have potential to flatten the curve of industrial decline somewhat even if the technology itself may not be sustainable in the long term? Or do you still see the internet’s caving under the burdens of its own costs in the relatively near future? Reducing nonessential travel by moving it online seems to have a pretty significant and measurable impact on both the atmosphere and oil reserves, which has had me rethinking the internet’s potential role in the shift to scarcity industrialism.

  275. John—

    Given the currency of the topic, how do you think the issue of state bankruptcy and the fiscal woes of some states generally will play out with re to the coherence of the Union? Would you see regional divide getting to the point where some states vehemently oppose the bailing-out of their debt-encumbered peers and that opposition gaining traction? Perhaps it will be one of many such issues operating when that time eventually comes.

  276. Matthias Gralle–re 1968 flu–well I was 20 at the time, and in college. Have no memories of any effects. Certainly don’t recall any events cancelled, schools closed or anything of the sort.

    re mistreatment of immigrant labor–mystery writer Joe Gores wrote a semi-autobiographical work about his travels from the East coast to California, _Cases_. His protagonist works briefly for a construction company in Los Angeles when he realizes that it is no coincidence that La Migra shows up on Fridays just before paychecks are issued.

    Jen–re Bigfoot, years ago I knew someone who was a Bigfoot hunter. Never heard of results–he had moved on by that point. But I recall hearing some spooky tape recordings on Art Bell’s late night radio show. Construction workers in remote area hearing loud noises, record them, emerge from trailers in the morning to find oil drums tossed around and other damage to work site. I’m currently reading _The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft._ Lovecraft definitely captures the attitude of city folk, professors, etc. to tale tales from the rubes. Despite his own disdain for what he personally regarded as interbred, degenerate hill folk he also captured the tone of “experts” dealing with mere civilians. It is nicely coincidental that I checked the book out of the library on my last visit before the shutdown–plenty of time to read a book suitable for propping up the youngest child at Thanksgiving without worry about overdue fines.

    Locally I have heard that the city of Bolinas CA is being tested with the new antibody test as well as the nasal swab–and plans underway to test a selected area of the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco. Bolinas is a small and relatively isolated town north of San Francisco on the Marin peninsula. it is at least 95% white. The Mission is very racially mixed. It used to be working class, but that was long ago–not sure of the income mix these days. The tests are voluntary, so not sure how good the coverage will be, especially in the Mission, which has heavy Latinex population. This effort is being put together by UC San Francisco–which is one of the medical school campuses of the University of California system.

  277. The fact of the matter is, COVID-19 will still be there, whenever we decide we’ve had enough of the lockdown – next week, next month, next year, next century – just like bird flu, SARS, Hong Kong, Spanish, the Black Plague for heaven’s sake, the plague of Justinian…they don’t just go away because we’ve taken them seriously. Or developed a vaccine for that matter.

    Are we going to cower in our closets for the rest of our lives?

    (You know, to a virus neither the walls of a house nor a facemask is a barrier. Just sayin’.)

  278. Hello Jen, re: Bigfoot/Big Foot/Sasquatch

    On two occasions, I have been fortunate(?) to smell Bigfoot.  Never has he been seen nor heard by me, nor any other sensory sensation than smell.  He smells like the Skunk Ape (a similar biped located in the Florida swamps), except not as severe.

    On both occasions, I had the distinct psychic impression that his purpose was to protect a water body I was in or near, and that he was in fact purposefully ‘letting off’ his fragrance so as to alert me to his presence and that he was there as defender.  

    The first time was in the summer of 2017 at the shore of a little tumbling water creek called Canyon Creek in Skamania County, Washington State.  The odor of wet dog that was in sore need of a bath was in the air, and I wondered who had had their dogs swimming who so badly needed to soap up the poor things.  The smell came and went.  As the minutes ticked onward, I finally began to realize that there was no way this amount of smell could linger this long from wet-dog contact that had occurred before my arrival.  In particular, the coming and going nature of it – and NO identifiable source – was a big clue.  Finally guessing that it might be a nearby, unseen guardian of the creek, I did my best to send out psychic information that I was a friend of the forest and its creatures, and would harm nothing.

    Perhaps there was an uncertainty from him about my presence.  Perhaps he was a younger, newer defender of Nature, not sure what to do about these humans.  Perhaps he was standing guard or doing rounds as a sentry when he came across me.  No one with me smelled him.

    The second time was the end of summer of 2019 at dusk along an eddy of the Lewis River in Cowlitz County, Washington.  Darkness was already encroaching but I was a late swimmer, along with one of my children.  Earlier in the day there had been large groups of swimmers and kayakers, and we were the only two remaining.  My child was in the water bouncing around, not wanting to leave yet, and I was on the shore when suddenly my nostrils were assailed by a strong stench of wet dog.  It quickly grew in intensity, yet there was nothing around us – no people, no pets – that could’ve created such a scent.  My young son then shouted from the water, “Wow, that smells really bad!”  He was a good 20, 25 feet away from me, and much farther down an embankment.  No way even a passing scent of wet dog could’ve hit both of us so hard at the same time from such a far distance apart.  

    This time I was more… ready for it?  And quickly sent out the info that we were friends of water and of the earth.  The smell passed.  It had hit hard, though, and I liken this one more to a foghorn of a notification than the earlier encounter.

  279. Hi JMG,

    As per your response to Clay, are you skeptical of a real estate bubble burst? More specifically, the housing bubble? I’m curious on that one, as we would like to buy some day but the current prices here in Portland are absurd. I wish no ill will on others, but I was wondering if this might help deflate them down to the point that we could comfortably afford a mortgage at some point, assuming we don’t end up losing a significant amount of our income over the economic impacts. Obviously, it’s early to tell, though initial numbers are pretty bad. On the other hand, I am keeping in mind your astrological predictions for this event and wondering if the recovery might yet still be relatively quick–though the longer this goes on, the more it seems like it’s going to have some long-lasting impacts!

    Anyway, I would be curious as to your thoughts on potential impact on housing, if you have any yet.


  280. @Scotlyn re: guilt.

    Shame researcher Brene Brown says similar things, but makes the distinction between guilt, which IS useful, and shame, which is NOT. Most people mix them up or fail to make the distinction, but they are distinguished, she says, by guilt being “I did something bad” vs “I am bad”. Evangelicals fail to distinguish, usually, by saying “you did something bad, therefore you are bad” (you are a sinner, only sinners sin). Hence our whhooooole problem.

    Her research shows shame never produces changed actions, because you have been explicitly taught to believe it doesn’t matter – why stop being racist/sexist/polluting if by definition being white/male/human you’re by definition a sinner whose every action is tainted by that sin? Every action is wrong, why care which action you take.

    Guilt, however, means an action was wrong, but **other actions are still possible that are right, and you are capable of doing them**. Optimally, you can negate the first action by another (give back the thing you stole), but you can make actions that mitigate (pay money to replace lost income from the breadwinner you murdered) or at least, avoid that action again (serve your time) or make amends in intent (help get other kids out of gangs before they kill someone else). Stable human societies always have laws that help people decide when a member’s actions are enough to pay off/absolve their guilt.

    Critical to the system working, is that:
    a) **there must be an agreed route to redemption**. If they support the widow and orphans, it calls off the retaliatory murders – they are not a murderer, they are again a citizen in good standing. The murder victim’s family become the criminals if they won’t forgive, now.
    B) the compensatory actions are meaningful beneficial. To the victim, at best, but may be simply to the rest of society (can’t make it up to dead guy).

    Reading about traditional societies handling that sort of restorative justice, is notable that punishment almost never enters into it. You can’t punish a person who is bad. If they are genuinely not capable of feeling the social pain – the guilt – you allow the victims family to choose to kill them, because you know they will probably kill again, they’re a sociopath. But if they are capable of guilt, they don’t need to be punished, guilt, and whatever they will need to do to as an appropriate action to make amends, is gonna hurt where it needs to.

    I have been thinking… Our social habit of promoting shame instead may often be another manifestation of the repression of acknowledging hate, and the need to maintain an acceptable outlet for it we can pretend isn’t what it is (this isn’t a sex club, it’s a spiritual lodge!). If your opponent has a route to redemption, they get to be human again, and if they don’t, they get to remain fair game for vengeance.

    And, if I start from my position in shame, it’s okay. Everyone else is fair game for vengeance because humans suck, they breed too much and destroy the rainforest; I’m no worse for punishing others eternally by sucking up all the resources they could have had; we’re all just equal sinners, here. You get your hatred and self hatred cake to eat together…

  281. @pretentious_username

    Re: sports and Mesoamerican culture –

    In any situation involving a dissolution or fragmentation of the US, it’s highly likely that Texas goes independent, and if this is the case it will almost certainly continue to be more influenced by Mesoamerica than it will by the rest of the former US.

    Furthermore (going by Colin Woodard’s “American Nations” thesis), much of Texas that isn’t El Norte (which is Mesoamerican proper) is Greater Appalachia – and Greater Appalachia is a warrior culture (in a sense, we’re the Braveheart guys (and I say “we” because I belong to that culture as Woodard defines it)). It doesn’t look like that now, because of pampered modernity and what we might as well call the “war on risk/war on death”* being waged by the bicoastal elite, but I suspect it’s still there, hiding beneath the skin.

    Now, going back to the ball court. The ball court is, as you’ve stated, the vision of Mesoamerican community, so it makes sense that a warrior culture would have adopted this readily and simply adapted it to their own sports – viz., football, the most brutal of the American mainstream sports (Hockey is arguably more violent… but hockey also requires an ice rink, which doesn’t really work that well in Texas, and especially won’t work well in a deindustrialized Texas).

    And while, yes, gridiron football as currently played requires more equipment than baseball/basketball/soccer, the same is not true of touch football (easily played in parks) or rugby (gridiron’s uncle)

    So football will probably survive well into the coming centuries, at least down here, but it may not fare as well north of the Ozarks or east of the heavily swollen Mississippi. Likely, as international travel and monitoring become difficult again and cultures begin to diverge, the game will merge with fútbol and have elements of both. I don’t see them literally sacrificing the losing team, but there may be a ritual flogging of the defeated quarterback.

    *Motto: “We will do whatever it takes to keep you alive, even if it makes you miserable and even against your will.”

    Re: China’s ingress charts:

    Eclipse is well away from midheaven in Beijing (Sun passes midheaven before the eclipse has even started, and the midheaven is over a sign away by the moment of true new moon)… but it is conjunct the midheaven in New Delhi by 3 degrees. Another danger for war.

    For what it’s worth, I cast a couple of geomancy readings to the effect of “Is the soul that once dwelt within Sun Tzu currently incarnate?” and “Is the individual bearing that soul currently in the upper echelons of the Chinese military?” Both responses were yes.

    @Eric Singletary re: the Internet

    I think widespread telecommuting and videoconferencing can mitigate it in the short term, but not in the long. They may have lifted data caps for the emergency, but those data caps were there for a reason and that reason probably wasn’t just “mwahahaha profits.”

  282. Hey jmg

    By any chance have you read “Landscape & Memory “ by Simon Schama?

    I’m almost 1/2 way through it and it is one of the best doorstoppers I’ve read.

    It’s all about how the environment has affected or been influenced by human culture, and there is a lot of very interesting historical trivia in it. As well as prints of various paintings that depicted nature in someway.

  283. Lathechuck, glad to hear it.

    Bridge, there’s certainly a hereditary propensity to it — my father has a classic case, for example — but I’m far from sure it’s entirely hereditary. As for whether I’d choose it, no, I wouldn’t. It has its benefits but on the whole it’s a disability.

    Lathechuck, hold it — they’re actually cutting the top administrators’ salaries? They must be in a state of total panic. The usual rule throughout the corporate and academic sectors is that the people on top must have their privileges protected at all costs. If that’s changing, there may be more than a common or garden variety cash shortfall involved.

    JustMe, thanks for this.

    Phutatorius, true enough.

    Patricia M, er, I think you’ve fallen into exactly the logical trap you’re talking about. Even if it does turn out that the majority of people with bad cases of TDS are single white middle-class women of a certain age who own two cats each, that does not mean that all single white middle-class women of a certain age who own two cats each have bad cases of TDS — just that this specific demographic is for some reason overrepresented among terminal TDS sufferers. It’s like the current fuss over “Karens” — it is not true that every expensively dressed middle-class white woman who goes into a restaurant or a store is going to demand to see the manager and abuse the employees, but those of us who’ve worked in retail and restaurants (I’ve done both) know that when someone shows up with a bad sense of entitlement, bullies the employees and demands to see the manager, the chance that it’ll be an expensively dressed white woman is much, much larger than would follow from mere chance.

    Peter, in your place I’d ask for the lump sum on graduation. Once you hand money to the state government you have no control over what additional restrictions they might slap on it.

    Chris, bingo. One of the reasons I encourage people to try out solar power and the like is that it’s a great corrective to pie-in-the-sky green utopia fantasies.

    David BTL, thanks for all of these.

    Aidan, I hope al-Gharbi has a second career lined up. If he keeps saying things like that, the comfortable classes will find an excuse to throw him out on his ear, precisely because he’s right.

    Violet, that’s my read on it. I suspect that in those states that have laws allowing the recall of governors, some of the more heavy-handed governors may find themselves fighting for their political lives in short order.

    Andrew, I’m quite familiar with Stephen Wolfram; I have a copy of A New Kind of Science on my bookshelves, right next to books by Buckminster Fuller. The people who dismissed it as “just” about cellular automata demonstrated their own total failure to understand it. Wolfram demonstrated in that book that mathematics, far from being the actual underlying logic of the cosmos, is just one set of abstract models that humans can use to make sense of their experience — and he did this by demonstrating that another set of abstract models, those deriving from cellular automata, are as useful as mathematics and can explain things that mathematics can’t. It’s a brilliant book and repays many readings. With that in mind, I’ve bookmarked the paper of his you’ve cited, and will be reading it carefully as time permits — thank you!

    Chris, the prophecies of imminent ecological doom are only one set of false predictions that the entities associated with UFO phenomena reliably produce. How many times have they insisted that a mass landing of flying saucers was imminent? (When Prophecy Fails is of course the classic example, but it’s far from the only one.) That’s one of the reasons I recommend John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies as basic reading for people who want to understand the phenomenon. A different set of entities said to W.B. Yeats at one point in his magical work, “Remember that we will deceive you if we can,” and I forget which famous psychical researcher said of the spirits contacted by mediums, “I know only two things about them: that they exist, and that they tell lies.”

    JeffinWA, delighted to hear it. Noyes’ name originally came from a character in Lovecraft’s story “The Whisperer in Darkness,” for reasons that are made clear in Arkham, but yes, the name worked really well!

    Username, there have been rumors of serious dissension in the PRC leadership of late, and the possibility of serious turmoil there can’t be dismissed out of hand. I haven’t yet cast charts for the upcoming eclipses, but they’re on the schedule.

    Jon, I was wondering what was holding up the release! Glad you enjoyed it.

    Ryan, I don’t think that the economic contraction will last long enough to have a long-term environmental impact, but I’ve also noticed the extent to which a lot of people seem to be reconsidering their lifestyle choices, so it’s at least possible that cultural shifts coming out of the current situation may well have a long-term environmental impact.

    Jen, all the evidence I’ve seen suggests that there may be relict populations of Gigantopithecus — a big, shaggy primate that existed over much of Asia a few million years ago — in a couple of parts of the world. The Himalayas and other central Asian mountain chains are one of those, whence the “abominable snowman,” and the Cascade mountains of the western US and Canada (whence the “sasquatch” or “bigfoot”). Robert Michael Pyle’s book Where Bigfoot Walks is a good intro to the subject.

    Yorkshire, nope. The last one failed to get enough submissions to make a volume, so I think that experiment has run its course.

    Clay, I have no idea. That’s one of the most interesting questions we’re facing just now.

    Panda, thanks for this.

    Jim W., good. That’s the way a science like astrology grows; I’ll be presenting my theory about it in a forthcoming book, and then other astrologers can compare my arguments and predictions with the evidence available to them and make up their own minds.

    Aquari, that makes a lot of sense.

    Kimberly, delighted to hear it!

    Eric, if telecommuting becomes much more significant over the long run than it was before the outbreak, then yes, that could change the economics of the internet sufficiently to make it more likely that it will survive somewhat longer. One conceivable way that it could sunset out, in fact, is if it becomes gradually more and more expensive, until only those whose internet service is subsidized by corporate or government funds are still online.

  284. David BTL, my guess is that attempts by states with severely underfunded pension funds to get federal bailouts will not get far, and that yes, that will turn into a major point of contention between red and blue states. But we’ll see.

    Joel, the real estate bubble is a product of local and (in some cases) state government policy — one of many arrangements that benefits the well-to-do at the expense of the poor. (People who own real estate benefit from rising land prices, people who have to rent suffer from it.) Until governments are forced by one means or another to abandon the policies that drive up rents and real estate prices, any decline in the real estate market will be temporary.

    J.L.Mc12, yes, but it was a long time ago and it didn’t leave much of an impression.

  285. Violet asked John Michael, “Do you think that we’ve entered an absurd situation in which people are playing political chicken with this whole affair?”

    That’s a question I have been unable to stop asking myself for months. Unfortunately, I think we have been in an absurd political chicken moment from the very beginning of this pandemic. The countries that have had the most dire body counts, whether that reflects statistical game playing or ineffective national policies, appear to be all the countries trapped in such a political tug-o-war that their crisis responses are governed entirely by political posturing — Italy, France, Spain, the US, and Britain.

    Italy is being run by Eurocrats terrified that Salvini’s populist wave will wash them away. The Eurocratic elite has hung so much of its fate on open borders that the Italian leadership was forced to produce absolutely terrifying numbers just to be allowed to shut their borders and implement quarantine. Had they not brewed up a potent panic before restricting movement, Salvini could easily have lampooned them for finally agreeing with his anti-immigration rhetoric. And thus the political gridlock in Italy succeeded in manufacturing the highest mortality statistics globally, causing and justifying panicked overreaction throughout the world. Biologists continue to look for a viral mutation that would explain Italy’s high mortality rate — perhaps political scientists should clue them in that a fractured integrationist consensus desperately trying to hold back rising populist nationalism might be the mutation they are looking for.

    For quite some time now, France has been losing the political and social cohesiveness that once held it together. Macron has been battered by the peaceful insurrection of the Gilets Jaunes for over a year and has lost legitimacy in the eyes of the peasantry (please read that as a French term that reflects the French reality.) Le Pen is a constant threat to Macron’s reign, and like Salvini she can benefit from any reversal of his open-borders policy. Again, political calculus rather than epidemiology led to terrible early policy choices. Any ability for Macron to demand or inspire obedience or compliance from the populace is a fading reverie at this point. France has always been an unruly coalition balanced on negotiated promises that are forever getting broken, but that balance has come crashing down on the side of extended civil disobedience right when solidarity was most needed.

    Spain is trapped in the same Eurocratic power struggle against populist nationalism, or even provincialism in the case of Catalan. The populace sees disobedience as their only access to influence. The leadership sees political and legal manipulation as its only way to hold onto power. That does not lead to well-reasoned policy that inspires public compliance.

    In the United States no opportunity will be missed for the two legacy parties to hurl grenades at each other. With the impeachment debacle so fresh in both sides’ memories and the election looming ominously in the future, epidemiology does not stand a chance of reorienting either of these warring bands from their current trajectories. Of course, the question of which policy current epidemiology might recommend has become yet another battle line drawn between our warring elites with their sock-puppet scientists. Need anyone wonder whose statistics Bill Gates or Tedros Adhanom will be cherrypicking for their next briefing? Sock puppets are quite a convenience when your audience processes information no better than the average toddler. And why waste a good crisis? This epidemic has become a hot potato that no politician wants to be responsible for any longer than necessary. So long as the other side can be manoeuvred into implementing policy in the face of uncertainty, then only they can be blamed for any bad decisions made. Naturally, any good policy choices will get claimed after the fact by all sides in a vicious scrum. Democracy in the real world!

    Britain has also just gone through a successful populist realignment. That doesn’t make it any more stable than had its elites managed to block Brexit. It is being torn apart by infighting such that no coherent medical policy can win the support of the populace. In fact, the people can’t even be cowed into compliance as they can be under more stable regimes like Russia, China, and Iran. In Britain some aspirational minority party will always see more power accruing to it through disobedience with current policy. If Johnson changes the policy, he is also changing which group will vocally demonstrate non-compliance.

    From what I can tell so far, assessing the political fragility of ruling parties is the most accurate way to predict the kind of failed policy that will lead to medical crisis. Or conversely, tracking which countries respond most poorly to epidemic may be the most accurate way to determine who has the most unstable and threatened political regime. Given the unbelievable propaganda being foisted off by the mainstream, this could be a useful tool to counterbalance the media brainwashing. For instance, most English-language media keeps pumping that Iran and Russia will collapse any day. From how they have handled their epidemics so far, I would bet that they are two of the world’s more cohesive regimes. I will keep watching Turkey, where Erdogan fights for total control but seems to have little. Then there’s Saudi Arabia, where the internecine plotting of the Saudi family never sleeps. Will medical crisis expose the true extent of the political instability within all the nations of our stressed out little planet?

  286. Dear John,

    I wonder if you’re interested in the Abrahamic religions and their esoteric roots? I’ve been trying to trace the particular “mystery school” they supposedly descend from, the closest and most logical to me seems to be around the Gnostics and the Zoroastrians, what do you think?

    I’m quite fascinated by this tradition, even though I grew up Muslim and eventually broke away from it.
    But lately I’ve been intrigued and looking up more on the famous incident of Karbala and the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali and the suffering of Ahl al-Bayt (descendants of Prophet Muhammad), it’s like the Muslim version of the passion, there are even certain rites and prayers to invoke the blessings and intercession of the Imams, similar to the Christian saints. I find this very interesting because I do believe that those who suffered and sacrificed create a certain spiritual momentum and energy, and this particular notion is rarely found outside of the Abrahamic tradition.

    I feel like history and many different opposing factors haven’t been kind to this tradition, which resulted in its current form and condition.

  287. @Irena etc re: UBI: I think the point of the idea is not that everyone gets UBI * and that’s all * – in which case, why would anyone do the dirty, unpleasant work, as you suggest? The idea is that everyone gets UBI * as well as any other income they do or don’t have *. People can still do their jobs and get paid, quite separately from their UBI income.

    So, for the unemployed, or unemployable, or those who choose not to work, UBI provides a minimal way to get by. (Which society might be pleased to do: many of the the great bands of British music in the late 20th century, for example, were only able to get started because they could claim unemployment benefits and spend their time on their music). Who would do the unpleasant jobs? No need for foreigners: the companies who employ people to do such work would find they had to offer wages attractive enough to attract people to do it on top of their UBI. Good wages for essential work: it’s one of the ideas that’s coming back into fashion during the current unpleasantness….

  288. Well, Musa Al-Gharbi currently works at Colombia University. He indicated at the end of his “Aestic Anti-racism” essay that he has supportive colleagues and his Twitter account reveals that others have re-tweeted many of his essays.

    I first became aware of him through his brilliant essays at HeterodoxAcademy. He apparently grew up around a military base in Arizona and a brother of his was a casualty of the War in Afghanistan. Much of his early work (c. 2014-2016) critiques U.S. foreign policy. One of his essays critiqued the popular notion that white racism was a principal driving force in terms of support for Trump and it included his mentioning of Hillary Clinton’s militarism and how many commentators compared it to a Republican convention. He then asks the question if militarism is therefore the main driving force in support for HRC! (

  289. Jen & Athena…

    When we first moved to N. Georgia we were in prepper panic mode and determined to own the land we lived on at any cost. “The cost” turned out to be living in a wall tent for two years with our two young children…

    Quite the experience, wouldn’t trade it for anything, and our first tax return there – this would have been March ’13 – provided us with a gas-light and space heater setup in our tent to supplement our woodstove and oil lamps. The gas-light was awesome.

    But just a few days after we installed it we had just put the kids down for bed and were sitting up in our own bed talking when a very large dark shape sidled by the tent just a few feet from our sleeping children. Smelled wild! Rank, gamey, musky, very alien to us. And totally overwhelming. Whatever it was it moved along the tent on that side and ran its paw? hand? along the tent as if testing it to see what it was. This would have put its “hand” up about 5 1/2 feet in the air. Totally reachable for a big bear, and that’s what we labeled it at the time, but whatever it was it wasn’t hostile in any way, just…curious. Who’s ever seen humans living in a tent before? And it was unbleached cotton canvas and had a fantastic glow to it when the gas-light was on. (Top-shelf place to grow orchids too – we had some bloom continuously for nearly a year and a half.)

    There are lots of Bigfoot stories in the Appalachians too. I’m convinced they make this area their home as well as the others our host listed in his response. I’ve just too many convincing first-hand tales to ignore. And my wife and I now think that’s what it was that checked out our tent.

    Pretty wild!

  290. JMG, I still hope to figure out why it’s always cats and not dogs, turtles, or canaries. A dog would seem to be the ideal SJW pet because if you train it, it’ll do exactly what you tell it to do, It’s a mystery!

  291. Here’s the specific quote for the al-Gharbi essay similar to what you posted on your old Archdruid Report blog:

    “Hillary Clinton has a long record of foreign policy hawkishness – even surpassing most of the
    Republican primary candidates in the 2016 election cycle (al-Gharbi 2015a). Her Democratic National
    Convention was noted for its emphasis on patriotism, supporting the troops, confronting America’s
    enemies, etc. to a point where many pundits observed that it actually seemed like a Republican event (e.g.Gaouette 2016). Many prominent neoconservatives outright endorsed Clinton as the best candidate in either party to promote their agenda (Norton 2016). Clinton actively sought out the endorsement of controversial figures like Henry Kissinger and repeatedly bragged about their support on the campaign trail and in debates (Grandin 2016).16 During the primaries, she relied on the same foreign policy consulting firm as hawkish Republican candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz (Fang 2015). Her general-election national security advisory team was drawn heavily from people who oversaw some of the greatest excesses of the George W. Bush administrations (Jilani, Emmons & LaChance 2016). Should we assert that because Clinton’s well-established record of hawkishness was not disqualifying, that her supporters must have voted for her because they, themselves, are hawks? Or to be less charitable: did most Democratic voters support Clinton because they actively endorse the killing, traumatization and immiseration of others abroad (mostly people of color, often of low socio-economic status) in the name of ill-defined ‘U.S. values and interests’? No. For most Clinton voters this was an aspect of her record they found troubling, perhaps abhorrent, but not disqualifying.17”

  292. Onething, DaveOTN

    As I understand it there are different streams of production for different retailers of milk. If you are a dairy that normally sells to a supply chain that packages milk for grocery stores you’re fine. Public schools, probably okay (at least in my state, the lunch program is going forward full blast). Restaurants, not so well. University cafeterias, what university cafeterias? Cheese, ice cream, yogurt, etc, all the same problems.

    University cafeterias get their milk in a big bag that resembles the bag inside a box of wine, but much bigger. (I lived in a co-op in college, we had our own cafeteria and learned to handle all those things.) Goes in a metal refrigerated dispenser. Unlike the wine box, the valve is part of the dispenser, not part of the bag. It really can’t transfer to home use or grocery retail: even if you have the family size to use that much milk before it goes bad, do you have the dispenser? I think many restaurants get the same.

    So you can be unable to buy dairy at the store due to shortages at the same time the dairy farmers have to dump milk they can’t sell. And, of course, in many states, it’s illegal for the farmers to sell milk directly to the consumer, for disease prevention reasons that seemed good and sufficient at the time the laws were put into place.

  293. @JMG,

    About “Lincoln Derangement Syndrome” – I had it as a teenager, once I began seeing how many of America’s problems stemmed from the power centralization which seemed to have began with the Union victory in the civil war. As I got older and more mature, I admitted that a Confederate victory would have led to its own set of (probably much worse) problems. It’s easier to make sense of history when you let go of the idea that there was one single point where things started to go wrong.

    As for the Song of Earendil, that is my favorite LOTR song as well; here is a link to my favorite performance, if you are interested:

    @Robert Gibson,

    I think that what’s been happening with the Supreme Court these days is a case of Brezhnevian Scleroticism. Basically, the Warren Court discovered back in the 1950s that, by declaring itself the protector of every minority group who felt that its rights were being violated by more democratic institutions, it could become America’s Top Legislature (that’s what “interpreter of the constitution” is a euphemism for). The Justices then used that power to make a lot of dramatic changes to the way America was governed, going quite a ways beyond suppressing the racial injustices which originally justified their power trip.

    But ever since the 1980s, the Court has basically been a conservative institution (conservative in the sense of defending the status quo, of course, not in the sense of promoting Reaganism). Most of the important precedents from the 1960s and 1970s have stayed in place – “what we have, we keep” – and the Court will never willingly give up its position as Top Legislature. Also, it will still advance the sexual revolution with cases like Obergefell v. Hodges. But it wasn’t interested in doing the complicated administrative work needed for a policy like bussing, so that faded out over the next few decades, and nothing the Court has done in the last 40 years or so has been as radical or dramatic as what happened between 1954 and 1975.

  294. @Brendhelm @pretentious_username, thanks for your astrological inputs. Brendhelm are you saying that China will do its best to avoid war, for the next few years at least? Sun Tzu says not to fight a war unless the odds are overwhelmingly in your favour, and I don’t think the Chinese military overestimates its power.

    @JMG, could you provide some links about the dissent in the PRC leadership please?


  295. JMG, wow, memorizing Latin, that’s taking it to another level. By force of sheer repetition, when my husband was teaching our kids to recite Confucius’s Three Character Classic, I also picked it up, but that’s pretty much the only non-English thing I can recite (“Ren zi chu, xing ben san, xing xiang jin, xi xiang yuan…”)

    BoysMom – I wonder if a cow-share program would work in this situation. Or a go-fund-me type fundraising drive. Because at a point in the near future, those cows will once again be worth more alive than they’re worth dead. It would be interesting to know how much it costs to feed one milk cow for a day and that information might be able jump-start something. Cows are amazing animals and I’m sorry human problems have spilled over into something like this. Unfortunately, my only Idaho-related contact didn’t pan out to finding a cow-adopter.

    Martin Back – too clever, you!

    And, thanks again to all those who are chiming in with more poems. I’m so glad I asked!

  296. Rereading W of H: Innsmouth, something struck me. Owen keeping his wallet in something he could leave behind, forget, or have stolen. I gather he’s far too well organized for that to happen, but I finally took to carrying my keys in my pants pocket and nowhere else, often having locked myself out or having had to go back to where I last was and ask if anyone had seen them. Likewise my phone, bus pass/UNM ID card, and other things. I carry a coin purse big enough for the ID I dare not lose, some walking-around money, the credit card, and the debit card.

    But then, I think it’s disorganized people lie me who have to take such precautions, to the point that many of my friends back home found me to be hyper-organized. Becasue if you’re ditzy, you need an ironclad set of habits to compensate. Just my $0,02.

  297. Grover, Miz Bean – a song I remember hearing as a child, and one I think my dad liked. “The Johnson boys were raised in the cellar, didn’t know how to court a maid, duck their heads and hide their faces, sight of a pretty girl made them afraid…..the Johnson boys eat peas with honey, they’ve been doing it all their life. Makes the peas taste mighty funny! But it keeps them on the knife…”

    That could have been from a TV show called Hee-Haw – Dad liked country humor. Or it could have been from another source. We’re talking late ’40s to early ’50s, I think. Any elders here with any clues?

  298. Hello JMG,

    Some years ago you mentioned a lesson in magick that you gave in your Druid group. You wrote that it routinely spooked two or three members, who then left the group. Are you willing to explain what this was, or what you were trying to achieve? Or which part of which of your books I can find this in? At the time I was astonished that you would write such a thing, but given your status as a solid thinker, my blinkers gradually came off and my mind was opened, and at times things have occasionally kicked off around me.

  299. Uh, oops! Sentence missing in the post about pockets. The coin purse goes in the pants pockets along with keys and phone, always, unless I’m in a place where money and ID are not necessary, such as the retirement village campus. Never in a coat or jacket pocket… “hey? Did I leave a jacket behind? A black fleece jacket (like several hundred others…)”

  300. @ Antoinetta III “How can anyone be responsible for any piece of nastiness if one didn’t exist when it happened?”

    Your question (as I have personal reason to have found out) has the capacity to completely rumble Christianity’s foundational tenet that every human needs to be “saved” because although Adam and Eve sinned, every human being everywhere and everywhen is equally guilty and fallen. (some doctrines include the whole world – plants, animals, microbes, soil, air, water, the lot, as among the “fallen”).

  301. @JMG re: logic. Point made! My father-in-law (a dog person – dogs obey you, cats don’t – I think the male equivalent of “Karen” tends to be dog people) was proud of his ability to bully front-line clerks and the like. My eldest daughter came home from a visit with the grandparents once and indignantly passed on an episode of his behavior to me, knowing my attitude. I think she’s kept it up. She certainly took it for granted she’d pay her housekeeper while the housekeeper couldn’t work because of the lockdown, and was surprised anyone would think differently.

    Yet, when a certain demographic is over-represented in the group of “those behaving badly,” those who are not, like hard-working young men from bad neighborhoods, can be in for a world of hurt. Sometimes lethal hurt. One of life’s little Catch-22s.

  302. @Scotlyn,

    Regarding guilt, I think you’re correct to say it does no one any good when it doesn’t lead to action. On the other hand, I do have the experience of changing my actions on account of guilt – that is, on account of feeling so awful about something I did that I’ve made a point to avoid similar actions ever since – so I will defend the role of redemptive guilt within my Christian belief system.


    I was surprised at how quickly the lockdowns became political, though in retrospect I should have seen it coming. Basically, what I think it happening is that Trump is standing up for the working class – people who need a paycheck to cover their bills and won’t get it as long as the shutdown continues. The Democrats have lined up opposite Trump – and on the side of the chattering rich.

    Is it a coincidence that the “we must stay quarentined till the end of the year” narrative is being pushed by doctors and journalists who either still have jobs, or are wealthy enough to do without one for a while? I don’t think so. The other day I wrote a blog post called “The Rule of the Comfortable Classes” (thank you to our host for coining the phrase “Comfortable Classes!”) in which I talk about how the people with the least to lose are setting pretty much all the public policy and public opinion on this matter.

  303. So, a crazy notion crossed my mind to consider going back to school in a few years if I indeed opted for an earlier “retirement” from my current career. Had an even crazier notion of trying to disguise the study of esoteric philosophy underneath the cloak of some interdisciplinary graduate degree. Found a program at a sort-of-nearby university with a humanities PhD in Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture. That probably ought to have clued me in, but no—I keep reading. Then I come across a blurb about past research projects. Can anyone explain to me what the heck “problemizing reproductive technologies and the shaping of female embodiment through the Foucauldian clinical gaze” means?

    I should probably stick with home-study programs.

  304. David and all who have commented on UBI:

    “I’ve always seen UBI as inextricably intertwined with techno-fantasy where mechanical servitors do all the grunge tasks and cater to our every whim. ***No one works*** and we all get paid…what’s not to like?”

    I am very much in two minds about UBI, attracted enough that I have been looking into the ideas for a number of years, before it became fashionable, however, there is always the fact that “there’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip” – ie whatever plan you have, it can be pretty well guaranteed to work in any way except the one you intended…

    That said, it seems to me that very few people actually understand what is intended by UBI proponents, and I’d like to spell that out a bit, because an idea should be represented as fairly as possible before its faults are picked over. Also at least some of the intended effects are very much worth pursuing, whatever means are used. (Please bear in mind, though, that I make NO claims that what is intended is what would be achieved if implemented).

    So, the most important misrepresentation of the UBI proposal package is the “no one works” bit. The basic income proposal is usually packaged with the idea of a flat tax and no minimum wage. The idea on the income side is that it is “basic”. It will prevent you from starving, and give you some freedom to refuse bad working conditions. OTOH, no one imagines there will ever be more that a few people who would be content with not going out to earn more – also the income has to be spent somewhere! Of those who are content to earn no more, quite a few will be those who are thereby freed up to do necessary but unpaid “vocation” type work – caring for children, elders, maintaining and caring for homes and gardens, and community spaces, running community organisations, making art or music. The idea on the tax side is that it will be a singe rate of tax that applies to every dollar earned, from first to last with no loopholes or exemptions or cut off points. The idea on the no minimum wage side is that the power to bargain for terms will be very much on a per case basis, but the support gives people the basic freedom to walk away from bad deals.

    The package is firstly intended to be straightforward to administer, with no fiddly means tests or rules to adjudicate on, and therefore to cut out a huge amount of bureaucracy. Secondly, the package is intended to make it easier for small business start ups, as they can initially take on workers willing to work on an apprenticeship or enthusiasm basis, until the business is generating enough to reliably pay wages. By making it easier for people to refuse bad conditions for work (they won’t starve) it is intended to give a “worker side” power boost to bargaining for better pay – especially for the really essential, but unpleasant jobs – such as collecting garbage.

    Whether UBI turns out to be the right way to achieve these things or not (probably not if left in the hands of the PTB to implement), I still think the ideas that the early UBI proponents were putting forth are very much worth pursuing: 1) radical reductions of bureaucracy and administration 2) more freedom on the worker side to walk away from bad offers and thereby bargain for better terms 3) a basic floor of support for those who really wish to dedicate themselves to doing what has never “paid”, and always been necessary and good for people, but has become increasingly difficult for many to afford to do – caring for children, elderly and for ill or disabled relatives of all ages, for making art, music, and stories, and for organising local life and amenities in the community.

  305. Hello everybody. I have been rather busy lately, as though all of my gigs have been cancelled, lots of other work showed up, and spring is finally here in Central NY.

    I put out a new solo album a couple weeks back if anybody would like to listen:

    Also, JMG, I thought I’d bring Norio Kushi to your attention. He’s become affiliated with the spiritual group I belong to, and I found out that he happens to be the child of the famous promoters of macrobiotics. He had some sort of spontaneous awakening a few years back after earnestly asking himself what it meant to be human. It seems his mom encouraged him to follow his feeling sense, and he has one of the most pure childlike energies(in a good way) of any adult I’ve met. He never practicex any sort of spiritual path before his awakening, but his spontaneous inquiry (over a few years) seems to have lead him to similar insights to those in Vedanta or Zen. What do you think of cases like these? Past lives? He was quite ambivalent/agnostic when questioned about such.

  306. As for poetry, my favorite series of poems is the Duino Elegies by Rilke, even in translation.

    Translated by A. S. Kline

    “Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the Angelic

    Orders? And even if one were to suddenly

    take me to its heart, I would vanish into its

    stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but

    the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear,

    and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains

    to destroy us. “

  307. Just watched “Planet Of Humans”, the Jeff Gibbs movie that Michael Moore executive produced, mentioned in several earlier comments. It’s free on YouTube. Well worth watching, probably nothing new to anyone here, but it does tie it all together. Entertaining to see the great and the good of the environmental movement thoroughly skewered. Saint Bill McKibben in particular does not come off well.

  308. Aziz, I wasn’t raised in any of the Abrahamic religions — my parents were not so much agnostic as apathetic when it came to spiritual issues — and I’ve never found them even slightly attractive; the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs they meet in people who believe in them are apparently not needs I have. So I’ve never really looked into their origins and the esoteric schools that might have been behind them. I’m perfectly willing to believe that this represents some kind of lack or failing on my part, but there it is.

    Aidan, that’s fascinating; most of the universities I know of are rigidly dogmatic about the goodness of the Good People, and asking the kind of questions about “anti-racism” that al-Gharbi asks is a good way to lose an academic job. (Along similar lines, I’ve just read that the distributor for Michael Moore’s new film Planet of the Humans has pulled the film from distribution because so many people on the left objected to its honest discussion of the downsides of green technology.) If Columbia’s willing to stand by a scholar who’s willing to ask hard questions about the roots of contemporary virtue signaling, bully for them.

    Your Kittenship, that would be logical, sure, but our species isn’t good at that.

    Aidan, when I asked people in impoverished western Maryland why they voted for Trump, the most common answer I got from women is that they were convinced that Clinton would get us into a shooting war in Syria, and weren’t willing to see yet another generation of young people come back in body bags from a pointless war.

    Wesley, the level of Lincoln Derangement Syndrome during his first term literally has to be seen to be believed. Major newspapers carried editorial cartoons portraying him as a baboon, and an endless array of stories sneering at him for this or that or the other. That’s usually what happens to a president who presides over one of the major turning points of our collective history — and yes, it also happened to Roosevelt.

    SMJ, it’s something I saw in one of my recent trawls through a series of news aggregator websites. If I see it again I’ll post something.

    Temporaryreality, I translate enough Latin these days that having a better grounding in the classical language will be helpful! It’s also just plain beautiful…

    Patricia, I know people who habitually keep their wallets and ID in a backpack or the like, the way some women keep such things in a purse. It made for an easier plot point!

    Garth, no, it wasn’t in a Druid group, and we (there were two of us involved) only gave it once, for a specific reason. This was in a magical lodge I helped found many years ago, and one of its members was the sort of person who has severe mommy problems and is constantly trying to work them out by finding authority figures against whom to rebel. He made lot of noise about being interested in magic, while insisting that he was no more psychic than a potato. So we had him do a set of exercises derived from qigong which sensitize the hands to qi, the life force. If you do them, you can actually feel the qi field between your hands, as tangibly as though it were physical matter. (It’s reminscent of the repulsion between the similar poles of two magnets.)

    So we walked him through the preliminary steps, made sure he did everything good and hard, and then had him bring his hands toward each other so he could feel the fields. His face turned bone white and his eyes bugged out, and he inmediately stopped doing the exercise and wanted to talk about something else. Thereafter he became almost frantically disruptive, and we finally had to throw him and several of his friends out of the order. Neither of us had realized that his supposed interest in magic was pure posturing, and that he was horrified to find that there was actually something real behind the shock-your-mom pose he’d adopted.

    Patricia M, oh, granted. There are probably a lot of middle-class white women with expensive clothes and fashionable hairdos who are perfectly sweet to counter clerks and waitstaff, and wonder sadly why it is that so many of those people are so guarded and defensive around them!

    David BTL, welcome to contemporary academic doubletalk. “Problematizing reproductive technologies and the shaping of female embodiment through the Foucauldian clinical gaze” means “engaging in masturbatory virtue signaling by quoting a long string of fashionable critical-theory authors on the subject of women and sex.”

    Isaac, good question. It might be a matter of previous incarnations, and it might also be that being raised in an environment saturated with Japanese mysticism was conducive to such experiences.

  309. I’m not a fan of Michael Moore’s work in general. But this one is different. He has released a video for Earthday which is sure to anger both left and right wingers. It’s definitely not a feel-good video. And I think everyone should see it and discuss it. It”s that important.’

    And it fits it with many of our host’s writings aboyut the unsustainability of our industrial civilization. I’d be very interested in what he thinks of this — if he can stand to watch a video.

  310. I don’t know any poems per se, but have memorized several folk songs that I sing at work when I’m bored (I work in a cardboard packaging factory, the machinery usually drowns me out)

    The Raggle Taggle Gypsy (Folk song from northern England)

    There were three yellow gypsies came to our door,
    They came brave and boldly-O!
    And the one sang high, and the other sang low,
    And the other sang the raggle-taggle gypsy-O!

    Twas upstairs and downstairs the lady went
    Put on her suit of leather-O!
    Twas the cry all around her door
    She’s away with the raggle-taggle gypsy-O!

    Twas late that night when the lord came in
    Inquring for his lady-O.
    The servant girl, she said to the lord,
    She’s away with the raggle-taggle gypsy-O

    Up and saddle for me, me milk-white steed
    Me big horse is not speedy-O!
    I shall ride and and I’ll seek me bride
    She’s away with the raggle-taggle gypsy-O!

    Well he rode east, and he road west,
    He rode north and south also!
    Until he came to a wide open field
    And its there that he spied his lady-O!

    Oh why do you leave your house and your land
    Why do you leave your money-O?
    Why do you leave your only wedded lord,
    All for the raggle-taggle gypsy-O!

    Oh what do I care for me house and me land,
    What do I care for money-O?
    Tonight I lie in the wide open field,
    I’m away with the raggle-taggle gypsy O!

    Another amusing folk song from Northern Ireland, rescued from obscurity by Scottish band Silly Wizard. The River Bann and Rathfriland are real places in NI.

    Willie Archer on the Banks of the Bann

    As I was a walking down by yon mill town
    The fair and lovely mountains they did me surround
    I spied a pretty fair maid, and to me she looked grand
    She was plucking wild roses on the banks of the Bann

    So I stepped up to this fair maid, and to her I did say
    Since nature, it has caused us, to meet on this day
    Since nature, it has caused us, won’t you give me your hand
    And we’ll walk together on the banks of the Bann

    Now, it being a summer’s evening, and a fine quiet place
    I knew by the blushes that appeared on her face
    We both lay down together into a bed of sand
    And she rolled into my arms on the banks of the Bann!

    At this point, in their performance of the song, Silly Wizard would play an instrumental verse with no words. I leave it to the reader to figure out what may be happening.

    O young man, you have wronged me!
    Won’t you tell me your name?
    So that when my babe is born
    I can give it the same!

    My name is Wille Archer, and I’ll have you understand
    That my home and habitation lie close to the Bann
    But I cannot marry you, for apprentice I am bound
    To the spinning and the weaving in Rathfriland town

    But when my time is over, I’ll give you my hand
    And we will be married on the banks of the Bann!

    So come all ye pretty fair maids, take a warning by me
    Don’t go out a courting at one, two or three!
    Don’t go out a courting, not at all if you can!
    Or you’ll meet a Wille Archer on the banks of the Bann!

    Also, Angel Band, an old Appalachian baptist hymn.

    My latest sun is sinking fast
    My race is nearly won!

    My strongest trials now are past
    My triumph has begun

    O, come, Angel Band!
    Come and, around me stand!

    O bear me away on your snow white wings
    To my immortal home! (last couplet 2x)

    And one last song, often mistaken for being an Irish folk song, but written in northern England in the early 20th century by Ewan McColl. The song was originally about an English industrial city called Salford, but it reminds me of my own adopted town of Roanoke, a former railroad and manufacturing city in the Virginia Blue Ridge that grew up where several rail lines carrying coal from West Virginia came together.

    Dirty old town

    I met my love by the gasworks wall
    Dreamed a dream by the old canal
    I kissed my girl by the factory gate
    Dirty old town
    Dirty old town

    Clouds are drifting across the moon
    Cats are prowling on the beat
    Springs a girl from the streets at night
    Dirty old town
    Dirty old town

    I heard a siren from the docks
    Saw a train set the night on fire
    I smelled the ash on the sulfur wind
    Dirty old town
    Dirty old town

    I’m going to make me a big sharp ax
    Shining steal tempered in the fire!
    I’ll chop you down like an old dead tree
    Dirty old town
    Dirty old town

    (And yes, I typed all those from memory)

  311. Re: Your response to Hillary’s militarism:

    Or better yet, turn as all into radioactive ash by getting into a conflict with a nuclear-armed power. Can you imagine if, say, Ronald Reagan proposed creating a no-fly zone over Afghanistan in the 1980 election to deter Soviet aggression? Even he would never have suggested that!

    Re: Your response on academia:

    In my experience with woke academics or aspiring woke academics, they can be at least semi-receptive to heterodox ideas if you can get them in a small, lightly-populated, non-digital room with the voice of an old oak tree [1], some creative responses, and the unpredictable but elegant rhetoric of a bubbling stream….and they will still be friendly with you afterwards [2].

    [1] I am 25 in May.

    [2] Especially if they are young females.

  312. @SMJ re: Sun Tzu reincarnated –

    Not necessarily. The geomancy question I posed was simply whether he was in the upper echelons, not whether he was actually the head honcho. So it’s possible he could dissent or hesitate but be overruled. It was a shield chart with Fortuna Minor as judge and Laetitia/Rubeus as the witnesses.

    I am also not entirely convinced that reincarnations have to occur in chronological order (although glimpses of future lives tend to be much rarer than past lives).. In which case it’s possible that the Sun Tzu incarnate now is actually an earlier incarnation that learns a valuable lesson enabling him to become the historical Sun Tzu at what for the soul’s perspective would be some “later” point.

  313. @JMG,

    A question about Twilight’s Last Gleaming. Is the sort of missile attack which you have Tanzania launch (with Chinese help) dependent on satellite intelligence to locate the targets? I am rather curious about it because Iran (which already has hypersonic cruise missiles) launched its first military satellite earlier this week, and has plans to launch more, so it looks like the lack of satellite recon is a gap that Iran is intent on closing.

  314. Grover et al…

    My father also recited the ‘peas with honey’ ditty at the dinner table all throughout our childhood. Possibly from a nursery rhyme book we called the Different Book, but which had a real name…part of a series of children’s storybooks. He was born in 1934, and my childhood was 1970s and 1980s. He had many, many such small sayings, which we called Dad Watt ditties, and I try occasionally to pass them on to my kids. When eating peas, for example.

  315. Re: Lincoln Derangement Syndrome

    I wonder if the southern democrats also promised to give slaves free healthcare, like their contemporaries do. After all illegal immigrants are used for the same purpose as slaves, as a source of cheap labor without rights.

    “This was in a magical lodge I helped found many years ago, and one of its members was the sort of person who has severe mommy problems and is constantly trying to work them out by finding authority figures against whom to rebel.”

    Sounds a lot like Aleister Crowley! I guess it’s just a type of person that gets attracted to all things exotic and forbidden.

  316. @JMG

    You have a copy of A new kind of science? I’m genuinely surprised, and not for the first time. Well in that case, I can only hope that time does permit because I really want to hear your view on what he’s done, and also the views of anybody else here who feels up for the challenge.

    Additionally I’m a bit jealous of anyone who has significant chunks of Buckminster Fuller on their shelves. I was able to access some of his work from Canada’s public library system when I lived there. I don’t actually own anything. Really must try and find some.

    One of the unexpected developments of lockdown is a developing public interest on the contents of people’s bookshelves. One of the UK’s cabinet ministers recently broadcast a video in front of curtains that appeared to have been cunningly fashioned from Stilton cheese, but most of them and most people in video meetings generally have shelves in the background that are just slightly out of focus. Inevitably I spend too much time trying to work out what the books are rather than listening to what they are saying.

  317. David, by the Lake and Chris in Fernglade:

    I have an energy question that I’d like to pick your brains on… I’m considering the likely cost/benefits of whether distributed homeowner/community solar helps creates resilience in a hydro/solar/wind/natural gas energy grid mix, or merely throws good money and resources away from less glamorous options.

    I frequently get into arguments with people in the literally Green (Green provincial and federal representatives) I live in about solar power. Since BC has about 92% hydro in our power mix (natural gas and a tiny bit of coal for our hydro downtime), and that hydro capacity was built ~60 to 100 years ago, our carbon footprint for electricity is actually about as low as it can be – all the methane release from flooding and carbon dioxide release from cement, etc. has had a long amortization period, and has a fair bit left in most cases. So, doing some math on the carbon footprint of new solar panels being touted as a “green alternative” to hydro (everything is grid-tie, so it merely displaces) – solar panels are definitely more carbon-emitting that simply using our existing energy. This is not well-received.

    However, some people do concede, but then say on balance we should still prioritize adding community solar (with our personal funds, or community green retrofit grant money), because as climate change creates greater drought occurrence, our hydro may become more intermittent, and produce greater conflicts with fish habitat water release needs. Thus, having more solar panels (and wind) in the mix would create resilience, as panels would produce during the peak dry seasons, and hydro during the wet winter, when we usually have vast surplus reservoir status.

    To that end, my family is considering adding solar to our roof (we are 100% electric, so we use a whopping 13 kWh for our house because of heating – so we would only try for say, 10 MW to get maybe half our energy). While it would actually increase our ecological footprint right now, perhaps it would help increase overall community energy resilience in the decades ahead and smooth out the bumps down. Is that reasonable? The other thought is that grid fragility (it should not be so bad here, it’s a government-owned entity) might just moot any point about source and carbon emissions, and preparing for more wood and propane/diesel backup generators would be more likely to increase resilience to the more likely first shocks to our energy system.

  318. Hey jmg

    All this talk about Stephen Wolframs work with cellular automata has made me realise something.

    In the deindustrialised future when computers are no longer viable, how would future scholars continue doing work in that field?

    I’m aware that you can do cellular automata using just graph paper of a Go board, but it would be difficult and tedious, maybe impossible, to do a lot of the important stuff we can do using computer via those methods.

    Do you wonder how the study of cellular automata can carry on jmg?

  319. Regular here, posting anonymously for obvious reasons:

    I’ve been engaged in spiritual practice for quite some time, and past life memories have emerged that are clear enough for me to be able to get a sense of the past few lives, and it turns out the last few have been rather nasty.

    The first one which is really clear, and which seems to have set things in motion, was born around 1820 (Bunsei 2 by the Japanese calendar). By the time he was 25 he’d joined a monastery and become a Buddhist monk. When issues began to occur with the opening of Japan, he participated in a set of rituals to return power to the emperor and bring the wrath of the divine upon the foreigners and protection for Japan. It worked, as the emperor was returned to power, and Japan quickly became a major power; however, the Meiji government aggressively persecuted Buddhism, and so he was forced to flee. He went to the US, where he died not long after.

    He cast a working that he would return home though, and I can’t help but note all my lives since have been forced to leave their home. The next one was born in 1883 in San Francisco, but moved to Chicago before she was three, and at the age of 10 met some Druids at the World’s Parliament of Religions. She decided she wanted to become one, and although she wasn’t able to do so, she did explore a lot of the alternative spirituality scene of the era.

    She lived a fairly quiet life, but in the early 1920s a gang decided it wanted to use her spiritual order as a front and got very offended when she said no, and so she was ultimately forced out of the city. She decided to take advantage of this fact, and so went to India to study Buddhism. In 1929 she died of a disease of some sort (probably malaria).

    My next life was lived in what was then British India, and is now Pakistan. I wasn’t him for very long though, as the partition of India occurred, and the family, Hindus, suddenly found themselves on the wrong side of the border in 1947. At the age of six, he watched his entire family killed, and then was murdered himself by a former family friend (and in fact, a man who was in many ways more of a father figure for him than his own father).

    The life after that was born in Pakistan in 1953 to British settlers who hadn’t left at that point, but moved to New York when she was a little kid. She became a hippie, participated in the Summer of Love, and was disowned by her family; this didn’t bother her, since she had a community, and was determined to be part of it. In the 1970s, she got her natal chart cast, and recoiled in horror from what she saw: she had Pluto on the ascendant. She refused to accept it, went out of her way to be as non-Plutonic as possible, but when the Reagan Revolution hit in the 1980s, she was quietly relieved. She hated herself for it, and so in 1984 when Reagan won reelection, and she felt happy about it, she killed herself.

    1) Do you have advice for dealing with having had so many traumatic lives recently?

    2) Do you suppose all of these are related to the two workings the first life I described performed? If so, how can I go about breaking them? The one about getting home I think could be resolved easily enough by going to Japan, but I don’t know how I feel about that given it’s an incredibly densely populated island, and I’ll never fully fit in there given I’m white…..

    3) The working to bring down divine wrath upon the foreigners (Americans) used imagery disturbingly similar to nuclear weapons; and the two centres of the working were Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I suspect there’s a connection here with the fact those cities are the only ones to ever have been nuked….

    4) My life before this one used a ton of drugs, and my nervous system does not work quite right. Do effects from drug use carry over from one life to the next?

  320. @Bogatyr

    “I think the point of the idea is not that everyone gets UBI * and that’s all * – in which case, why would anyone do the dirty, unpleasant work, as you suggest? The idea is that everyone gets UBI * as well as any other income they do or don’t have *. People can still do their jobs and get paid, quite separately from their UBI income. […] No need for foreigners: the companies who employ people to do such work would find they had to offer wages attractive enough to attract people to do it on top of their UBI. Good wages for essential work: it’s one of the ideas that’s coming back into fashion during the current unpleasantness…”

    Yes, I suppose that is, indeed, the idea. Somehow, I doubt it would work out that way. It’s much more convenient to hire a foreigner (who doesn’t receive UBI, after all) and pay that person as before. Take a look at your own post earlier in this comments section: paying workers more means raising prices for the consumer. Good luck convincing the electorate. So, expect people to (try to) do what people always (try to) do: have their cake and eat it, too. UBI for the citizens, and low-paid, low-status work for the lowly foreigners.

    Well, I suppose it all depends. If you passed a UBI bill as the last in a sequence of pro-labor measures, then it might indeed work as you suggest (provided UBI really did only cover the bare minimum). But if it was basically just an attempt by the rentier class to stop the unnecessariat ( from rebelling in the cheapest (from the point of view of the rentier class, that is) way possible, which is what all these schemes smell like to me, then yup, expect my scenario above. That scenario is unsustainable, of course, but so is the entire industrial civilization, and that didn’t stop anyone from giving it a go.

  321. Regarding slide rules, I still have my fancy Faber-Castell slide rule from studying engineering in the mid-’60s. The joke was, give a first year student a slide rule and ask him to multiply two by two, and he’ll squint at the cursor and reply, “Three point nine… ni-i-i-i-ine…… oh, make it four.”

    Later, when calculators came in, lecturers would complain that they gave a spurious sense of accuracy. Students would answer questions to eight decimal places when the original information, like the strength of concrete or the load on a bridge, was only know to the nearest hundred, if that. e.g. What’s the weight of a car? Loaded or unloaded? Driving how close together? And cars in fifty years’ time?

    Later I studied land surveying. There you deal with very large numbers, like the distance from the equator in centimeters, and you have to do calculations with very great precision. A slide rule would never hack it. You had to use 10-figure logarithms manually looked up in a thick red book, and do your calculations with a coffee grinder (hand-cranked calculating machine).

    I am not nostalgic for those days. You will have to drag my electronic calculator from my cold, dead hands.

  322. Thank you, JMG. Interesting that it involved qi. As a 50-something I discovered that I could make my fingertips tingle at will, but I thought nothing of it. Aged 59, I was sent by my doctor to A&E (here in south London) after I’d complained of a bad limp, because a blood test suggested I had a blood clot. A couple of chairs away in the waiting room was a 30-something man who looked Polish. His burly build suggested to me that he was a builder. He was doubled over with pain, clutching his leg and groaning intermittently. Anyway, tests found I had no blood clot and I was given a preliminary appointment at the local ambulatory clinic for the following afternoon.

    Next day in the waiting room at the ambulatory clinic, a few feet away from me, was the very same Polish man, once more bent double with pain, clutching his leg and groaning. On a sudden whim, I made my fingers tingle and pointed them in his direction, play-acting as if I could cure him. Instantly he kind of unfolded, sat bolt-upright, looked at his legs in astonishment and then stretched out his arms too at full length too and examined them. It seemed as if all his pain had been instantly banished. I almost fell off my chair in shock. ‘Did I do that?!’ I asked myself. Back then I didn’t know of the concept of qi. Within a few minutes he was called to his appointment and I never saw him again. I’d love to know if he was cured of whatever ailed him.

    I tried my tingle fingers on my own gammy leg, but to no avail, so I lost faith in my ability. No cause was found for my limp, but a couple of months later I was coincidentally prescribed an increased level of thyroxine (I have an underactive thyroid), and within a few days my leg was healthy again.

    Around eighteen months later, I found that green concentric circles suddenly seemed to be emanating from my vision. Tests at the optician found no physical cause. Next day at the supermarket I saw a boy of around 12 with a badly malformed and discoloured cauliflower ear and felt sorry for him. My green circles were still permeating my vision. When I next looked at him, his ear was now perfectly healthy and I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to ask him about it but was certain he’d think I was a nutcase. I tentatively imagined my thoughts must have healed him but then realised that that way madness lay. The following day I woke with a terrible head cold, a temperature and a nose running like a river, but later it occurred to me to point my ‘tingle fingers’ at my head briefly before returning to the book I was reading. When I stopped reading, I noticed that my heavy cold, which normally would have lasted 3 days, was completely gone – no temperature, no runny nose – all with a matter of minutes. This time ‘qi’ had worked. Why? Next I wondered about a mole on my face that had grown to about half an inch by three-quarters over a couple of years. When I’d previously tried to scratch it off, all I did was cause a bloody mess. Now I pointed my tingle fingers at it. That evening the edges had hardened and I was able to scratch them off successfully. I did the same over another three days, and eventually I scratched the mole off completely. It never reappeared.

    I won’t describe in detail the brief magic effects (an example of remote viewing, minor telekinesis) that lingered during my short period of green concentric circles in my vision, but I wonder if you have ever heard of such a thing, JMG? The Hindu concept of ‘siddhis’ comes to mind – magic kicking off around me.

  323. Grover: “You know, to a virus neither the walls of a house nor a facemask is a barrier. Just sayin’.”

    Wearing a mask will not protect you. The reason you should wear a mask is because, if you happen to be sick (quite possibly without knowing it), it will protect others from you. Not 100%, of course, but to quite a significant extent. Likewise, if a sick person in your vicinity wears a mask, that will significantly reduce your chances of getting sick from that person. So, you have little to gain from wearing a mask, but you have quite a bit to gain from everyone else wearing it. And if you want everyone else to wear it, then surely you should wear it as well.

    Here’s a well-written article on the subject:

  324. I was soaking in the bath and an idea occured that might squeeze some more life out of writing contests. You could do a Dreamwidth post where people can suggest themes for a competition that they know would give them something to contribute. Then the more people chime in agreeing, or with similar ideas, you’d get a sense ahead of time if the volume of submissions would make any particular subject worth it.

  325. Medieval food – yes. Bread, cheese, ale, bacon when they could get it, bean and/or pease or oat pottage, supplemented with whatever was around and in season and available. At least in England. Oats and herring in Scotland and points north-west. (In one poem, even Thor says that’s what he had for breakfast!)

  326. @Eric Singletary regarding the Internet long-term prospects.

    While I personally don’t expect the huge data centres, the major web platforms, the always-on connectivity, and the large bandwidth of today to survive the multiple centuries of the long descent (to look at cat videos on YouTube!), I see no reason why we could not keep a low-tech, intermittent, solar or human-powered, radio-based, and low bandwidth connectivity world-wide. The 19th century technologies were enough for that. Today we also have many Peer-to-Peer protocols ( that don’t require data centres and can leverage plenty of unused hard-drive space and local computation capabilities. As long as we keep current computers running, this should be maintainable by a world-wide network of volunteers, much like the ham radio communities.

    The big question for the longer run is whether we can build affordable enough computers without the exotic material, high-precision and world-wide-scale industrial supply chains. There is a significant part of Computer Science that don’t require those, but I have yet to find good-enough computer hardware that don’t rely on this.

    Beyond the possibility of telecommuting, I see other reasons a sufficiently dedicated world-wide team of volunteers might want to keep the Internet and Computers around:
    1. they are harder to censor/control than mass (broadcast-based) media: a world-wide communication infrastructure might increase the empathy towards distant cultures and lower the possibility of world-wide wars;
    2. they greatly accelerate our collective ability to learn by spreading information faster and regroup around shared interests, even if no one in our locality shares them (like this blog!);
    3. they enable the exploration of ideas/phenomenons by simulating complex processes and “direct” interactive manipulation of ideas: this way we can develop intuitions about systems that are too complex to simulate entirely in our brains and too fastidious to do by hand. The insights of Limits to Growth, which our host heavily relied on for forecasting the future, came out exactly of this.

    None of that is guaranteed to survive in the long run. But I think we have a fair chance at carrying them forward if enough people pick some aspect of it as a hobby (like ham radio, open source software/hardware development, editing wikipedia articles, archiving the most interesting scientific papers and textbooks, etc.).


  327. @kiashu and JMG regarding bread and bean soup (and its real historical and regional analogues),

    One of the most brilliant and memorable panels of the Cartoon History of the Universe comic series by Larry Gonick occurs amid a discussion of life in ancient Mesopotamia. A caption explains that the common diet there consisted almost entirely of bread and onions. In the panel illustration, one worker in a field asks another, “Don’t you get tired of bread and onions?” The other replies, in incomprehension: “Tired of food?” A complete reversal of perspective in three words.

  328. @JMG @Commentariat

    Wanted to share this fascinating article I found from 1972 concerning the practise of Obeah in the Caribbean. Having a hard time finding anything recent. Guessing anything written today without a social justice twist is likely heavily censored.

    Some things I noted that the author touches on:

    “Tourists seldom realize how powerful and persistent this obeah, or necromancy, is throughout the Caribbean islands. Brought over centuries ago by African slaves, it has been enhanced by superstitions prevalent among Scotch and Irish Highlanders, interlaced with Christian ritual and aided by an expert botanical knowledge inherited from the Carib Indians.”

    “Caribbean obeahmen live in seclusion in the bush, out of the eye of the law, which is forever on their trail. They speak in unknown tongues, which not even they themselves can always understand. Their powers can both heal and harm and are for hire by rich, poor, black and white.”

    There are definitely practitioners in Canada I can find online but not much scholarly information in terms of history of the practise here or who they service. I guess that would be for me to research more on or follow up with personal experiences.. The cultural intersections mentioned in the article are what I find most interesting. I doubt anyone today could write anything concerning these points without being cancelled these days… despite the bridging and healing that telling stories related to the intertwining of these cultures might do.

  329. John—

    Perhaps I could submit my dissertation proposal as “Toward a Rhetoric of Re-enchantment: Efforts to Reconnect with the Anima Mundi in Contemporary Culture.”


    Re UBI

    I understand your points, which are valid. While the intent of UBI may be such, its implementation will not be. “Basic” is in the eye of the beholder, for one thing, and there will be perpetual pressure to expand benefits. Secondly, such a program severs the connection between the fruits of one’s labor and exchange while still maintaining the present market system of abstractions. Thirdly, it further cements centralized control in government. It may work for a time, but eventually human nature and mismanagement will take their toll. Social security was a noble effort and worked for a few generations. However, I fully expect the 25% haircut that’s looming to occur and my retirement plan assumes that I’m getting at most three-fourths of what I’m promised out of that program.

    I’d rather encourage localization, simplification, and reification of value than centralization, complexity, and further abstraction of value. In a Long Descent scenario, I just don’t see a future for something like UBI as it has been proposed.

  330. JMG wrote: “DaveOTN, I’m trying to figure out why officialdom is so freaky about ABCs — “anomalous big cats.” Here in Arkansas, the Game and Fish JUST admitted that, yes, they’ve been here for a decade (cougars) and YES, they were lying about it the whole time, they already knew. They didn’t say why they did that, but my practical theory (and others in Arkansas seemed to think the same) was that they did not want anyone interfering with their re-establishment program, which was to quietly allow them to seep back in and keep everyone but the locals baffled about it, as otherwise you might have the hyperventilating crowd terrified of going for a walk in the woods. Anyone says anything now, they’ll say, hey you’ve been camping next to them for a decade with no problems, see? The backwoods people knew for a fact they were around, because of the screams as they prowled up a river valley, or they heard a big cat stalking them along a trail, or they saw it on the river bluff, etc., etc.

  331. Dear Aziz,

    There is an interesting book by an Egyptian author, Ahmed Osman, with title “Christianity – An Ancient Egyptian Religion”. Some of his claims (like identification of most of the Abrahamic prophets with Egyptian pharaohs) seem far-fetched to me, but still it is a nice book that it shows the relationship between ancient Egyptian mystery schools and the roots of Judeo-Christian tradition.

    As for Islam, it is a bit more complicated issue. There are some claims that Mahomed was trained by a heterodox Christian priest (Waraqah ibn Nawfal) who was the cousin of his first wife and they were both members of the same political organisation (Hilf al-Fudul) before the emergence of Islam; but the practice of magic is strictly forbidden in mainstream Islamic sects. Only Sufi orders are involved in occult practices, but the ones that I know of in my country (Turkey) are mostly corrupted. In here, most of the Sufi orders use magic for brainwashing their disciples (mürids) and for pursuing absolute power in politics and economics, instead of spiritual development. For example, AKP government is a de facto coalition of more than a dozen Sufi orders (mainly Naqshbandi groups).

  332. Dear Booklover, excellent points — thank you! Something I find compelling is how people many people seem to bray in unison regarding vaccines and how it will take 18 months to develop one. Now, of course, I’m no scientist, but my understanding is that coronaviruses mutate much too rapidly to create vaccines for. So all of this braying into the wind confuses me — do people actually think that folks will just quietly starve for 18 months? Don’t folks see that the protesters — at least in the US — of the lockdown have a habit of showing up at rallies with lots of military grade arms?

    Dear JMG, that’s a good point — thank you! Honestly, I find the whole political aspect of the situation rather baffling. Also, Governor Whitmer of Michigan totally looks like a Radiance adept to me! Really, I think that the Progessites have utterly lost their minds. You wrote about this in your essays of Tamanous and Sobornost, how the Faustian Weltanshuuang proves extraordinarily brittle. It seems to me that the utter lack of proportion that these colonial elites display seems to me frankly insane. All of those veterans with big, scary guns at the anti-lockdown protests strike me as the sort of people who know how to make their will felt, and indeed, if we were all living in Colombia, say, and the government shut down major portions of the economy and then partisan veterans started protesting with assault rifles, I imagine people would look over the situation and say, without needing to think on the matter very long, “looks like regime change!” And yet, the same thing occurs here and politicians double down and bluff with a lot of corporate smirking. I guess, upon final analysis, humans just can’t think very well in the presence of cognitive dissonance, and even without the cognitive dissonance, as a species we simply aren’t that bright.

    Dear Christophe, all good points — many thanks!

    Dear Wesley, those are also really good points — thank you! I simply cannot grasp how people can think that if they were to force a lockdown for a year there wouldn’t be massive political and economic ramifications. The utter senility of the elite proves beyond my comprehension.

  333. Hi John

    I agree that stock market valuations are still absurd.

    In regard to the coming US elections, a private newsletter I subscribe to suggested that the election will have to be postponed and this will trigger by early 2021, either mass civil unrest/civil war, a quasi military coup or a state or series of states seceding from the union.

    The BBC also elaborate on why the US elections may end up getting postponed and the potential political and constitutional chaos that could enfold –

    What are your thoughts?

    Also, the Limits to Growth BAU modelling suggested that in 2020 the world would peak, per capita, in key metrics (as outlined in my FI post here The arrival of this pandemic, and the economic impact of the Great Lockdown, appears to herald that topping moment for our industrial civilisation.

    Famines are likely in the most vulnerable parts of Africa and economists are talking about a recession, and in some quarters, the dreaded Depression.

    I appreciate it is early days but it seems to me that this is it and, uncannily, the LTG computer model from 1972 has accurately predicted the turning point in our industrial civilisation. Yet nobody talks about it…

  334. Hi everyone,
    I, too, have just watched `Planet Of The Humans´. Fascinating to see some of the ´´poobaahs´´ (as one of the talking heads shown in the film called Bill McKibben) exposed, lost for words and generally behaving as your average power-hungry politician when caught in the act of doing something very unsavoury – well worth watching for that alone! Shame it´s not available with German subtitles – if I had the time necessary to do it with my limited skills I´d subtitle it myself. Here´s hoping someone with enough translating skills and spare time gets around to do it. For the time being I´ll distribute it to those of my friends and family who speak English. Will it have any impact? Who knows, but I did notice a lot of people starting to think about and question our way of living during this time of facemasks and lockdowns. As a German saying goes: Hope always dies last…
    Frank from Germany

  335. Dear John,

    I don’t resonate much with the Abrahamic tradition either, especially the ethical part. And honestly I’m not sure if there will ever be a renaissance to it soon, which I hope though.

    Been meaning to ask you some questions on the astral plane. How do you know you’re experiencing astral activity/vision/energy? What are the trademarks from your experience?


    Can you elaborate more on what you mean by “where the internecine plotting of the Saudi family never sleeps.”?

  336. JMG: “I suppose you and other like-minded people could start going onto tourist websites and posting “100 reasons to stay away from Prague” and the like!”

    Ha! That’s quite an idea. I like it, but I’m too lazy to do it. 😉

    On a completely different note… I noticed your reply to TemporaryReality. Never read the _Aeneid_ (in the original or in translation), but it did immediately call this to mind (let’s see if your blog can process Cyrillic):

    Латынь из моды вышла ныне:
    Так, если правду вам сказать,
    Он знал довольно по-латыни,
    Чтоб эпиграфы разбирать,
    Потолковать об Ювенале,
    В конце письма поставить vale,
    Да помнил, хоть не без греха,
    Из Энеиды два стиха.

    That’s from Pushkin’s _Yevgeny [aka Eugene] Onegin_, written nearly two centuries ago. Here’s a (slightly free) English translation due to Charles Johnston:

    Now Latin’s gone quite out of favour;
    yet, truthfully and not in chaff,
    Onegin knew enough to savour
    the meaning of an epigraph,
    make Juvenal his text, or better
    add vale when he signed a letter;
    stumblingly call to mind he did
    two verses of the Aeneid.

    I remember you once said that if you had it your way, all American children would learn one foreign language, one dead language, and the Native American language that used to be (or still is) spoken in their area. Well, I’ve picked up a few foreign languages (English and Russian included), and there is no way I’m ever going to learn an indigenous language 😉 (Native American or otherwise), but I’ve long been intrigued by the prospect of learning a dead language. Maybe one day, once I get my Czech to a professional level. Maybe Latin, though Ancient Greek and Biblical Hebrew also seem enticing. How come you chose Latin, btw? Just because it was the “default” dead language, or for some other (more specific) reason?

  337. OK – just gonna toss this out…

    I have been in oil drilling and exploration since 1977, and so the ‘feat/famine’ regimen of long term employment in this industry is not new. I have been through many downturns caused by numerous things. What may make this one different is that we just had a downturn in 2014, which we were barely recovered from.

    Additionally, nationally owned oil companies (think PEMEX in Mexico or PETRONAS in Malaysia) generally use thier fat budgets to simply push through these downturns. In North America, the only place remaining where there exists independent oil companies, we have to react to prices or the money runs out. So typically, when the US market is abysmal, overseas markets with national oil entities are stable – if you are a multi-national, this helps your company weather things.

    There is a HUGE service sector for the oilfield (like Halliburton, GE and thousands of smaller firms) that employ many more people than the oil companies – which means we have a larger than typical “knock-on effect”. I operate in both oil company and service company circles due to the weird nature of my consulting business. I also have service companies in other countries as clients.

    You can see that as of this week, the rig count is at 2014 level and still dropping. Canada is nearly shut down, and has been for almost a year. Mexico is just now starting to slow up.

    What has happened that is different is that this downturn is fast on the heels of the previous one, so our ‘recovery’ was incomplete. Additionally, many investor owned companies and publicly traded ones shut down completely, which is a very non-oilpatch practice. We normally operate 24/7/365, hell or high water, with hurricanes about the only thing that produce a brief pause.

    I have gone from 9 active clients in 4 countries to 1 in this last month. I have seen several steady companies simply lay off everyone and close their doors, my son-in-law just got his ‘seeya’ notice yesterday. National oil companies are ceasing their operations all over – Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan simply stopped drilling and travel, and many others have done the same.

    What may make that spike (which JMG, myself and others see coming) horrendous, is that many shuttering service companies are not coming back. Similarly, many potential employees of these service companies are not returning either. We also are at the retirement period for Boomers, who possess a LOT of knowledge wrt oilfield practices and “train wreck avoidance” during these complex operations. We boomers are considering or have already taken retirement – so a lot of experience has disappeared in the last 5-6 years. It shows up as increased expenses due to mistakes and other decisions made by less experienced engineers.

    Again – we just had a major wave down in the oilpatch in 2014.

    From where I am on the oily trail of life, this is unique because it was NOT normal to our cycle. This virus response was very much a “black swan” thing for the oilpatch, where we traditionally weather storms on the ocean of business. The reaction of investors and executives has been much more extreme than previously. National oil companies shut down, which doesn’t happen – they just slow down operations normally.

    So if you look at all this, and then consider how inelastic demand has always been, it looks and feels to me like the future spike has much more potential than historic ones. Further, the longer the country stays in lockdown, the harder the whipsaw gets pulled back. There are also issues with reactivating shut-in wells – many never produce at the previous rate; some don’t come back without working them over.

    I just thought your readers might want to think about the abnormality of what has occurred. It affects different industries in different ways, and other things factor in that can make the rebound of business less than expected or simply impossible.

  338. To add to the UBI conversation:

    There is currently a coutrywide UBI-like program going on in Poland, by the name of ‘500+’, whereby families with children below the age of 18 would receive 500 zloty (120 US dollars, or 110 Euro by today’s exchange rates) per month, per child. It was started in 2015, and originally only included families with at least two children, which also met some other (not very restrictive) criteria; it got expanded to include one-child families last year, and I think those additional criteria were loosened as well.

    Politically, it was a smashing success. It was a core electoral promise of the local deplorable party, Law and Justice, and it brought them to power in the 2015 elections – and more remarkably, gave them more that half of parliament’s seats, which was then unprecedented. There were howls of protest from all predictable corners, but they kept their promise. The promise of expanding the program allowed them to repeat this result in the 2019 elections. But by then there were only a few fringe parties who advocated for removing the program, and they got nowhere near entering the parliament.

    Economically, not much has changed really. The program was conceived as a mechanism for promoting family formation, with economical benefits as a happy side effect. There were more births in the first few years, but the figure seems to be reverting to median now. Unemployment rate fell by half, but then it started from a high value and has already been falling for a few years before the program was implemented. Employment rate increased, but only by a few percent. The number of ‘economically inactive persons’ remained essentially unchanged. Inflation remained low and consistent with its historical ebbs and flows. GDP growth accelerated initially, but seems to be reverting to a longer-term trend as well. Debt to GDP wobbled a bit, and is currently slightly lower than before the program started.

    The only major exception is the wage growth, which has doubled: the average wage is now some 20% higher than it was 4 years ago. This perhaps clarifies why people did not choose to stop working… 😉 but I admit this is probably more a result of the falling unemployment.

    To be sure, this is not a pure UBI; but having children is very common, as you can imagine. And it does run on the scale of a whole country, with a population and size similar to the state of California.

    And one more thing: the amount of money paid out really is *Basic*. The government defines a ‘biological minimum’ as between 500 and 600 zloty per person, depending on how many people there are in a household. If you have less than that, you basically run the risk of starving. You would notice that the program pays less that even this meager amount.

    Migrant Worker

  339. I was wondering about some of the details of how the European economies gradually moved back toward the use of money in the Middle Ages, and how practical merchants would have handled all the curlicues of Scholastic moral philosophy on Just Price and similar questions. I found a fantasy series which gave some clues, the Merchant and Empire stories by Alma Boykin. Her lead character is a Master in the Guild Merchant of a free city, doing long-distance trade, so he has to know the rules, and even gets called on to adjudicate by a local market master.

    His society makes a distinction, which they argue about in hard cases, between “leb goods” and “luxury goods.” Leb goods are those essential to life, and their prices are rigidly fixed by custom (which you can get away with, in a stable economy with very limited credit and no inflation.) For luxury goods, the sky’s the limit.

    Ms. Boykin speaks German well enough to make a vacation hobby of reading medieval and Renaissance documents in that language, especially in the Hansa cities. That’s where all the realistic details came from.

    The complex rules of the Schoolmen regarding commerce differ only in fine detail from what the Muslim jurists had come up with. I don’t know any public companies following the rules laid down by folks like Antonino of Milan, a bishop who had read the books, but then went down to the market and talked to the merchants. “What do you think is fair?” He made a distinction between trading between two professional merchants in the same trade – anything goes, may the best man win! – and a merchant dealing with an uninformed civilian. “If the goods are common enough to have a market price, and you pay Goodman Pierre less than two-thirds of what you know you can sell them for, you have sinned venially against charity, and should pay him the difference when next you see him. If less than half, you have sinned gravely against justice, and must make threefold restitution at once, ideally before your next confession.”

    The Muslim rules of finance are called Suquq, and I own a bit of a Singapore company that raised its money from very orthodox Arab Gulfies, so they committed to follow those rules.

  340. Jeff on the Bluff: thanks for the suggestion.

    Christophe: your description reminds me of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, on how the language structure limits the structure of thinking. A story was made having the hypothesis as a plot element, Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang (that won the 2000 Nebula Award for Best Novella), which I didn’t read; and a movie–that I watched–was made based on it, The Arrival (2016).

    Chuck Masterson: it’s interesting that the distinction is present in an Native-American language. Surely, the distinction is important to know who gets the ice cream.

    methylethyl: Vietnamese noted. Perhaps the distinction exists in some form in other Asian languages.

    Booklover: thanks for the examples. Maybe the limits in the insular environment favored responsibility, like Christophe said.

    JMG: I was hoping, perhaps, for some archaic word, to be put back into circulation. Oh well. I suspect you might like the novella I mentioned to Christophe, try to find a copy. Wikipedia (I know) tells me that it was “first published in Starlight 2 in 1998, and in 2002 in Chiang’s collection of short stories, Stories of Your Life and Others.”

  341. Oilman2, great information — thanks for that! It aligns with everything I’ve been seeing as an informed outsider.

    Regarding UBI… this appears to be yet another means of permitting the guilt-ridden among us of absolving themselves of the need to engage and address the real problems behind unemployment and homelessness by papering over them with free cash. IOW another road to hell paved with good intentions.

    Irena, most so-called “pro-labor” measures are in fact job killers.

  342. Actually, here’s another translation of that those Pushkin verses (this time due to Henry Spalding):

    Latin is just now not in vogue,
    But if the truth I must relate,
    Onéguine knew enough, the rogue
    A mild quotation to translate,
    A little Juvenal to spout,
    With “vale” finish off a note;
    Two verses he could recollect
    Of the Æneid, but incorrect.

    That translation is also somewhat free (perhaps even more so than Johnston’s), but in some sense, it’s closer to the spirit of the original. Pushkin is poking fun at Onegin’s poor Latin, which isn’t quite evident in Johnston’s translation, but definitely is in Spalding’s. 😉

  343. There’s a rather interesting side effect of the pandemic I’m watching: my family has decided they need to cook more. This would be laudable, except for one thing: there’s no consistency from week to week. They meal plan, without looking at what’s already there, and then put together a grocery list without looking at what we have. The result is that there are certain staple foods which get bought in bulk every week, and then thrown out, every week.

    The waste is utterly appalling, but it’s something which, talking to the other members of our overly privileged classes, seems to be incredibly common. What’s occurred to me is that it’s just another manifestation of our tendency as a culture to avoid planning as much as possible.

    Also, on the topic of travel, I doubt it’ll start up for a while. There’s an important factor which I think tends to be forgotten: the travel industry depends on people with lots of money wanting to travel. If it becomes fashionable to avoid all travel, then the industry won’t recover. I find it quite plausible, for what it’s worth, that just such a mentality, of leaving home for any reason is dangerous and must be avoided at all costs, has started setting in in the comfortable classes, and I expect it to remain for the foreseeable future: the level of trauma which this epidemic has apparently caused them is intense enough I expect after effects to last for years.

  344. Irena,

    Thank you for the response, and I hope you won’t take mine too personally, but the whole “wear a mask for the sake of others” bit smacks to the roof of virtue-signalling to my mind. Observing first-hand just how divided the country is on the topic, along political lines, simply reinforces that perception to me.

    But if I may, I’d like to offer another angle on this mask thing. And that is that wearing a mask is probably REALLY bad for your health. It makes it harder to breathe, it traps water vapor and countless other germs up against your face where they are likely to do more damage than they otherwise would, and very possibly raises the CO2 level of each subsequent in-breath slightly.

    Which is great if you’re hyper-ventilating, but otherwise…

    When the CO2 concentration of the inhale increases, the O2 level decreases by default. That’s why breathing inside a paper bag settles the hyper-ventilating patient. But emerging evidence is showing that one of the primary ways COVID attacks the human body is by…wait for it…decreasing O2 levels in the blood.

    I try to leave my conspiracy-theorist cap on the rack when I come here, but if it were me devising a way to INCREASE the impact of this thing, it’s an open question as to whether I could do a better job of it.

    Your mileage may vary considerably, of course, and I’m an old-fashioned liberal who still believes in antiquated notions like letting other adults make their own decisions, even if I don’t like them, so I certainly wish you the best and respect whatever choices you make for you and yours.

  345. Kevin Taylor Burgess: “Also, on the topic of travel, I doubt it’ll start up for a while. There’s an important factor which I think tends to be forgotten: the travel industry depends on people with lots of money wanting to travel. If it becomes fashionable to avoid all travel, then the industry won’t recover. I find it quite plausible, for what it’s worth, that just such a mentality, of leaving home for any reason is dangerous and must be avoided at all costs, has started setting in in the comfortable classes, and I expect it to remain for the foreseeable future: the level of trauma which this epidemic has apparently caused them is intense enough I expect after effects to last for years.”

    From your lips to God’s ears, my friend. (I was the one fervently hoping upthread that tourists would never come back.)

    Honestly, I never understood the appeal of jetting around the globe. I do understand that spending a few years (or even just a few months) in another country can be quite an enriching experience. But giving yourself jet lag in order to spend a week (or a weekend, as some people do) in some faraway place, looking at tourist attractions (which you could just as well see in high quality photographs), while surrounded by thousands of other jet lagged people who’re doing the exact same thing, and interacting only with waiters and tour guides – why???

  346. Walter, I’ll pass on the video, but I’m glad to hear that Moore has goosed the faux-green end of things.

    Aidan, two for two. 😉

    Wesley, the specific technology I imagined for the cruise missiles involved getting a single burst download of data from a satellite, using that to approach to within line-of-sight range of the target, and locking on at that point using onboard sensors (visual, electromagnetic, etc.). There are many other ways it could be done, but that’s what I used in the story. The satellite, btw, and the cruise missiles were both Chinese.

    Ecosophian, the southern Democrats didn’t specify health care, but one of their main talking points was the insistence that the slaves were treated well, and would not be able to take care of themselves at all if they were freed. Yes, this came from the same logic that convinced them that people of African origin suffered from “drapetomania,” this bizarre mental illness that made them run away from the plantation for no reason at all…

    As for Crowley, well, yes. It’s a known type.

    Andy, I posted an essay on Wolfram’s book on my previous blog which you might find interesting. As for Fuller, I find him as fascinating as he is annoying — a practicing engineer who spent his entire life convinced that Pi couldn’t really be an irrational number is well up there on the scale of eccentrics. If you can get his major book Synergetics you’ll have a couple of decades of food for thought. (It’s easiest in small doses — bathroom reading, for example.)

    J.L.Mc12, that’s something that future scientists in that field will have to work out, of course.

    Anonymous, (1) get plenty of massage and take up some kind of bodywork that helps release tension from the muscles. Very often trauma gets anchored that way on the material plane, and has to be released on that plane before it can be released on the other planes. (2) You’re probably at least going to have to visit there for an extended period, so that the working can earth out and dissolve. (3) Possibly yes. (4) Yes, because drug use lays down patterns of consciousness. You’ll have to work that out either by regular meditation or by other forms of focused, clear, reflective thought.

    Martin, oh, granted, there are some things for which electronic calculators are really handy. I’d just like to see the slide rule revived sufficiently widely that it remains in use after the industrial system needed to build electronic calculators is no longer around.

    Garth, yes, this kind of thing happens. I suspect that you developed those abilities through patient practice in one or more previous lives, and if you work at developing them further, you’ll be able to do even more. You might look up the once-famous Valentine Greatrakes sometime — he had a similar gift.

  347. Dear Minervaphilos,

    Thank you for the recommendation, never heard of that book! I believe a sort of organic syncretism occurs when certain traditions/orders/schools incarnate without necessarily there being a direct connection.

    About Islam, you’re definitely correct and I’ve always wondered about the mysterious figure of Warqah, the Biblical influence is too obvious in the Qur’an. I believe the core of Islam is purely mystical and of the right-hand path, but people cannot easily discern that across the wide historical and even cultural gulf that accumulated between now and the time of Muhammad. I’m also interested in West Asian minority religions and sects like Ahl-e Haqq, Yezidi, and even Alevi, they seem to echo something ancient while being similar or influenced by Islam.

    If you like reading on the occult, I suggest you check Crowley’s Liber Aleph, he has some interesting notes on Islam and particularly the name of Allah, and it becomes more interesting when it’s juxtaposed with his central text Book of the Law.

    My apology if anyone mentioned me already and I didn’t reply as it takes time and it’s easy to get lost with all the comments.

  348. @Grover

    About masks: you know, over here (in the Czech Republic), it’s illegal to go out without a mask. We also have a fairly low number of cases, a low death rate (which suggests that the low number of cases isn’t simply a matter of not enough tests), and non-overwhelmed hospitals. Coincidence? Perhaps, but by now, the burden of proof is on those who deny the connection. It is, of course, possible that masks will hurt your health for other reasons. I wouldn’t know. They do seem to slow down the spread of this particular disease.

    In any case, I’m obviously going to continue wearing a mask. As I said, it’s the law over here, and I have no intention of being fined, arrested, or deported (I’m a foreigner, after all).

  349. @Andy Dwelly, I’ve just recently started looking into Wolfram’s new physics project, and I read NKS shortly after its publication. (I had also read Wolfram’s Scientific American article years before.) I count myself as one of many who, when looking at the introductory chapters of NKS, had to ask self-kickingly, “why didn’t I put all this together myself?” Back in high school I had experimented with simple computer models of natural phenomena (fire propagation and predator-prey population dynamics, among others). I saw the unexpected complex behavior, and like so many others, did my best to make it go away instead of thinking about what it meant. Wolfram’s work has greatly influenced my thinking ever since.

    A lot of my thinking about how the world works, even at the Newtonian level, is computationalist. The key is the difference between mathematics and computation. Mathematics is about permanent relationships. In mathematics, 2^32 and 4,294,967,296 are just two different ways of writing the same thing. But to compute either one of those expressions from the other one requires action, “work,” a process, a sequence of steps related causally. Computations involve time. Simple to disregard, if the computation is some arithmetic being done by a high-speed computer. But natural computations are much harder to put boundaries on.

    If you posit that your current thoughts are the result-so-far of an ongoing computation performed entirely by material structures (not a popular notion here, but try it as a premise anyhow), when did that computation begin? A moment ago? When you woke up this morning? Naive materialists would posit that all the relevant computations happen only in your brain, but can you omit the computations that resulted in your brain taking form in the first place? Or the computations that resulted in these sentences you’re now reading? If not, then perhaps the answer is when you were born. Or when the Earth coalesced out of cosmic dust four billion years ago. Or… etc.

    It takes a deep lack of imagination to see a computationalist reality as necessarily dull, mechanistic, lifeless, or mindless. When the import of the computationalist view starts dissolving boundaries (especially the one between the self and the world) it reaches a surprising degree of consensus with the mystical.

    As for Wolfram’s new physics, I’m afraid it’s going to be beyond me to really understand, let alone contribute to, because I don’t have a good handle on the mathematical framework of the physics side. I can’t, for instance, comprehend on any intuitive level, nor work the mathematics itself to show, how the structure and physics of spacetime can be equivalent to a different set of physical laws acting on the two dimensional event horizon of a black hole. Yet that equivalence, claimed to be mathematically proven, is one of the “basics” of the level of physics Wolfram is aiming at. In other lives I’ll have to pay more attention to integration by partial fractions, which is about the (very elementary, as these things go) level where my present life’s mathematical education hit its limits.

    Even so, I have some basic conceptual concerns in my mind about the project. One is the likelihood that of all the different conceivable (and not yet conceived) systems in which simple rules produce complex behavior, how likely is directed hypergraphs to be the right kind? Rejecting cellular automata as the basis of physics made sense. They unavoidably retain certain properties (such as directional anisotropy) that we don’t observe in reality. But given the ubiquity of such systems, which Wolfram himself takes as a fundamental principle, how likely is it that the very next guess will pan out? It seems about as likely as firing a bullet blindly into a prototype time machine, and killing Hitler.

    Another is the relation between the different scales physics acts within. Even if an electron has a finite size as Wolfram proposes, that size is still smaller in relation to an atom than an atom is to a bowling ball. The problem is, complex behavior arising from simple rules tends to be “fragile.” Yes, you get certain identical stable structures arising out of them consistently, and some of those structures are larger than others. But for instance in a cellular automaton, a tiny stable structure interacting with a gigantic stable structure will usually blow both of them up. The simple rules have to be functional and stable at all these vastly different scales. Which is a basic problem for all formulations of modern physics, but the stability issue seems more of an obstacle here. I haven’t yet seen a “simple program” model of stable structures coexisting at scales many orders of magnitude different. I don’t see how, for instance, a complex intelligence existing on a vast Life grid could survive the impact of a single, ridiculously tiny (to it), stray glider.

    The “tracks in space” analogy to CosDoc is interesting. Since we’re dealing with metaphor at both ends, it’s a mere quibble to point out that Wolfram’s hypergraphs aren’t tracks “in” space; they are space, and everything else. (What they might be tracks “in” is a question completely off the table.)

    Of course, Wolfram’s not likely to stay parallel with the CosDoc narrative for long. He’ll want to go from the tracks, to quantum fields or subatomic particles, and so forth. It might be worthwhile to search in the opposite direction, looking instead for models that first generate vast currents, then vast rings, and so forth, getting to particles at the end. I wonder if the “outreach to other fields” part of his project could deal with an outreach to the occult community… and if so, how to bridge that linguistic and cultural chasm.

  350. Ecosophian–one of the arguments that Southern slave owners did use was the claim that they cared for their slaves from birth to death– I suppose that is the equivalent of free health care, They contrasted that with the Northern factory system in which those too old or ill to work were left to fend for themselves. Of course testimony from former slaves puts the lie to the claims of the tender hearted slave owner. While there undoubtedly were owners who treated their slaves humanely, the system did not require it, nor did it punish cruel treatment. And, as _Uncle Tom’s Cabin_ made clear, even good owners could have financial setbacks which sent their human property to the auction block–breaking up families regardless of promises made.

    I was one of those who could not swallow Hilary Clinton’s militarism. The dangers of confrontation with Russian troops in Syria seemed clear–although I don’t think Putin would have pushed it to the nuclear exchange level, but why take the chance? And, even though I am pro-choice I am getting very tired of the defense of Roe v. Wade being the weapon used to defend even the most dismal of Democratic candidates.

    It seems as if the UBI is similar to the proposal of Edward Bellamy in _Looking Backwards_ that every citizen be regarded as a shareholder in the national economy– required to serve a certain amount of time in the industrial army and guaranteed a certain income. The author makes provisions for choosing different careers and different living arrangements, Been a while since I read it, but the ideas were popular and led to the formation of Bellamite societies. Some of the ideas may have contributed to the Populist platform. The tricky part was that this whole utopia is produced by a non-violent revolution–wouldn’t it be nice? In the 1960s my family lived briefly in British Columbia. At that time there was a small, but useful, allotment paid per child, not part of any welfare scheme. We qualified even though we were immigrants. Mom can’t recall the amount; it wasn’t enough to live on, but was a useful addition to the budget.

    One problem I see with the “shelter in place” orders is the mission creep. At first we were told—flatten the curve, to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. But now I hear some people implying that we can’t open businesses and public places until there is a vaccine. That raises alarm bells, since there is no guarantee of a vaccine–and some are saying that it is actually unlikely for this type of virus. I’m not an expert on the subject, but I do know that all the funding in the world cannot overthrow the laws of nature. So it may make sense to wait to go out until adequate testing a available, but to wait for a vaccine that may never come is an impossible position to support.

  351. @temporaryreality –

    What fun!

    One of my favorites, ‘The Cremation of Sam Mcgee’ by Robert Service, starts out:

    “There are strange things done in the midnight sun
    By the men who moil for gold;
    The Arctic trails have their secret tales
    That would make your blood run cold;
    The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
    But the queerest they ever did see
    Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
    I cremated Sam McGee.”

  352. @ Sara Duncan

    Re community solar, grid resiliency, GHG, etc.

    As with most things, there’s not a straightforward answer as there are multiple interconnecting issues. One thing I’d say to tell your friends to keep in mind is the difference between “sunk costs” and “incremental costs.” The latter can be avoided on a going-forward basis, whereas the former have already been incurred. For example, the GHG “cost” of the hydro dams is sunk: it is there, regardless of what you do. Building new solar panels, on the other hand, incurs *new* costs for their manufacture. Now the solar *does* to some extent supplant NG consumption in, say, a combined cycle gas turbine on a going-forward basis, but to the extent it is replacing hydro generation, then you’re not really improving anything and have actually increased GHG emissions insofar as the production of the panels is concerned.

    Moreover, solar generation is intermittent–that is, uncontrolled–and cannot run the grid alone. (Wind falls into this category as well.) Grid stability requires frequency control and a whole host of other components to be managed (voltage support, short- and long-term reserves, etc.). This is one of the reasons that gas turbines were originally built–to serve as quick-start, rapid ramp units able respond to near-term changes in electric demand. You cannot ramp up a solar farm; it simply produces what it produces when it produces it.

    If a community wanted to maximize the use of existing hydro and fully utilize the sunk costs of that investment, energy storage capability would be something to consider: e.g. battery storage. This would allow you to “flatten your load curve” and shift loads from peak times to off-peak times. The holy grail of the industry is the 100% load factor, which would mean the same amount of energy is consumed for all hours of the year. This would result in the most effective and efficient use of existing generating facilities.

    So this is one aspect of your issue from one possible perspective. There are many others!

    Hope this helps somewhat.

  353. I will only write down here some lines that I memorized from seeing them every day on my wall, and heartily recommend the whole poems to others! In my experience it takes repeated mastering of a whole poem until it actually stays engraved in the mind.

    Take; I have seen the branches of Broceliande.
    Though Camelot is built, though the king sit on the throne,
    yet the wood in the wild west of the shapes and names

    probes everywhere though the frontier of head and hand;
    Everywhere the light through the great leaves is blown
    on your substantial flesh, and everywhere your glory frames.
    (Charles Williams, Bors to Elayne: The Fish of Broceliande, from Taliessin through Logres)

    Ella ridea dall’altra riva dritta,
    trattando più color con le sue mani
    che l’alta terra sanza seme gitta.
    Tre passi ci facea il fiume lontani…
    (Dante, Purgatorio XXX)

    Tros Anchisiade, facilis descensus Averno;
    noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis.
    Sed revocare gradus, superasque evadere ad auras
    hoc opus, hic labor est…
    (Aeneis VI)

    Aspirant aurae in noctem, nec candida cursus
    luna negat, splendet tremulo sub lumine pontus.
    Proxima Circaeae raduntur litora terrae,
    dives inaccessos ubi Solis filia lucos
    adsiduo resonat cantu, tectisque superbis
    urit odoratam nocturna in lumine cedrum
    arguto tenuis percurrens pectine telas.
    (Aeneis VII)

  354. @JMG: In the last open thread, you asked if I believed in a final stage of history. I’ve been thinking over that question for a while, because I don’t really have a simple answer for it.

    I think that some developments – be they material, technological, economic, social, cultural, or political – tend to stick around, not because progress is inherently good, but because they’re simply more practical or more efficient or more desirable in some way. For instance, we’re not still wearing plate armor, both because it’s poorly suited for protecting against modern weaponry and because it’s a lot clunkier than modern forms of armor. We’re not still using quills and ink wells to write, because ballpoint pens are just better from an ergonomic perspective. Of course, this has limits, as you’ve noted; human development, like most things in the universe, is subject to the law of diminishing returns. A 21st century ballpoint pen isn’t that much better than a 20th century ballpoint pen, and I’d be surprised if there were any more revolutionary new developments in manual writing technology left to be discovered. But I don’t think we’ll go back to using quills and ink wells any time soon, unless an asteroid hits the Earth or some other great cataclysm sends us back to the Dark Ages.

    Social and cultural values are a lot more subjective than the value of material developments, so I don’t think we’ll ever have a single, permanent, universal culture for all of humanity. But even so, I think certain sociopolitical and socioeconomic structures just work better than others, and as such, I would expect them to stick around. Representative democracy is probably here to stay, because autocratic regimes are less effective and less stable. That doesn’t mean the future won’t have attempts at despotism, but it does mean that those attempts will likely fail; autocratic regimes have a tendency of falling apart within a matter of years or decades. Economic systems are harder to predict, because we have no idea what the material conditions of the future will look like, but we can at least say with some degree of certainty what won’t work. State-socialist command economies don’t seem to function very well, nor does wholly unregulated free-market capitalism, no matter how much the Marxists or libertarians insist otherwise. Through trial and error, I do think we’ll eventually find an economic system that can maintain a lasting equilibrium. That doesn’t mean it’ll be perfect, or that there won’t be regional and sequential variations of that system (just as there are so many different forms of representative democracy today). Does that count as a final stage of history?

  355. Yorkshire, I’ll consider that.

    Patricia M, oats and herring! Yes, I could see that as Thor’s breakfast.

    Walt, excellent! The guys who built the pyramids of Egypt were fed on bread, onions, and beer — some of the receipts have survived.

    Ian, fascinating! I hope you look into it, and publish the results. As for the negative reaction, why, that’s precisely because of “the bridging and healing that telling stories related to the intertwining of these cultures might do.” The divide-and-conquer routine remains a standard strategy for keeping the comfortable classes comfortable…

    David BTL, nah, you’re white and male, so your dissertation will be retitled “Fiendish Cackling Over The Sufferings Of Everyone I Oppress” by the committee.

    Arkansas, well, good for them. I’m glad you’ve got cougars again — though I suspect the local feral swine population isn’t half so pleased…

    Violet, I expect to see a lot of those smirking politicians discovering via the ballot box that they have another think coming. Whitmer in particular is facing open revolt from the state legislature as well as the citizens; it could get colorful.

    Forecasting, they’re shoveling smoke. There is no mechanism for US national elections to be postponed — the Constitution specifies when they are to happen, and it would take a constitutional amendment to change that. Keep in mind that we had the 1864 presidential election on schedule in the middle of our Civil War and the 1944 presidential election on schedule in the middle of World War II; the 2020 election is not going to be postponed on account of a really fairly minor pandemic!

    With regard to the LTG prediction, yes, it remains the best model so far The next decade is the one that’ll tell us if the data will continue to track the model on the way down; if we see food production and industrial output peak as shown, it’s probably safe to assume that the rest of the trajectory will unfold pretty much as shown:

    Aziz, the astral plane is the plane of imagination, dreams, and concrete mental activity. You experience it whenever you have a parasensory experience — by that clunky word I mean those experiences we all have that are like sight, hearing, etc., but aren’t mediated by the physical sense organs. (Imagine a purple cow. Now imagine it letting out a loud belch. Those are parasensory experiences.) So the astral plane isn’t something exotic; it’s a constant part of human experience.

    Irena, funny! Thanks for this. I learned Latin because there’s a huge amount of old occult literature in Latin that nobody’s ever translated, and I decided that one way I could contribute to the revival of occultism was by putting some of it into English. I could have done the same with half a dozen different languages at least, but a great deal of what interested me most when I had a choice of language classes was in Latin, so Latin it was.

    Oilman2, many thanks for this. Any thoughts from your perspective on how soon the spike will hit?

    John, fascinating. Thanks for this.

    Packshaud, I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    Pygmycory, ha! Funny. Thank you.

    Kevin, is there any way you can point out to them that they’re behaving like idiots? As for travel, I hope you’re right — a sharp decline in tourism would do an enormous amount to help the environment get back into balance.

    As for partisan issues — not now, no. With partisan passions as overheated as they are now, neither Donald Trump nor Nancy Pelosi can fart without setting off a major partisan yelling match in the media.

  356. David, BTL – fair enough and those are all thoughtful points that make sense, and are very likely how things would pan out in practice.

    What got me going was the “no one works, everyone gets paid, what’s not to like” mischaracterisation, a mischaracterisation that is not actually necessary in order to make the better points you made later.

    PS I always enjoy your contributions, and thank you for your energy links. It is only fair to add that to balance this comment properly. Be well! 🙂

  357. @ Sarah and Wesley – Yes, I accept that guilt may lead to changed action. (And thanks Sarah for the suggested reading!)

    But it is the changed action that is key, and not the fact that guilt incurred bad feeling.

    It is also possible to change ones actions WITHOUT having the bad feeling that guilt incurs. Which is, I think, a very good thing!

  358. Irena,

    How do the rates of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes in the Czech Republic compare to those of the United States? Those seem to be the preexisting conditions that matter most when it comes to rates of morbidity and mortality.

    Maybe it’s cliche’, but when I think of the Czech Republic I imagine a relatively svelte and attractive population. When I think of the United States, well…

  359. Ashara, interesting. Yes, that counts as a final stage of history, or at least an asymptotic approach to one. The arguments you’ve presented here are of course quite standard, and depend on some very familiar bits of shaky logic — the binary fallacy that flattens out the array of available writing instruments into ballpoint pens vs. quills and inkwells is a classic. (I use a fountain pen by preference; so do a good many others, and cheap fountain pens are again becoming available. Where does that fit into your theory?)

    The broader flaw in your logic, though, is even more common. This is the conviction that your personal value judgments about, say, what kind of system of government works best are not personal value judgments but reflections of an objective reality to which everyone will eventually conform. Right now, territorial representative democracies happen to be quite common in the world; two thousand years ago, city-states governed by senates elected by the well-to-do were just as standard over much of the world, and no doubt a member of the senatorial class would make exactly the claim you have, arguing that the polis simply worked better than all the alternatives and would gradually supplant everything else. History tells a different story.

    Nor, of course, does it take an asteroid impact to make even the most deeply entrenched cultural fashions and technological habits go away; ordinary historical change will do that. But that’s something I’ve discussed at vast length in previous writings, and you probably don’t want to hear it all over again.

  360. Dear Aziz,

    I totally agree about the West Asian minority religions that you’ve mentioned. Alevism and similar types of faiths are definitely influenced by traditions much older than Islam. Faiths like Alevism and Yazidism are the ones that were most harshly persecuted by orthodox Islamic authorities in Medieval times for mainly two reasons: 1 – Because of the esoteric doctrines that they inherited from Pre-Islamic religions of Turks, Kurds and Iranians, 2 – Because of their egalitarian outlook and popularity among impoverished peasants in their regions. I could recommend some books about the basic tenets and history of these faiths by authors like Irene Melikoff, Faik Bulut, Ahmet Yaşar Ocak, Önder Kulak etc., but as far as I know, their books haven’t been translated to English.

  361. John (and any mathemagical members of the Ecosophian community)–

    As i continue working through your text on geomancy (the art and practice of), I’ve been playing with the figures from a mathematical perspective (something to which they are well suited, as products of a binary system). I’m sure this is nothing new, but I came up with an observation and want to get your thoughts on it:

    First, consider the four figures of Populus, Via, Conjunctio, and Carcer. Think of them as symmetric operators which transform the other figures to which they are added. Populus is the null operator (like adding zero or multiplying by one) and returns the same figure as the original input. Via inverts the figure (turns it “inside out”) by replacing evens with odds and odds with evens. Conjunctio holds the outer elements constant (earth, fire) while inverting the inner two elements (water, air). Carcer does the opposite, holding the water/air elements constant while inverting earth/fire.

    If we then apply this family of operators to the remaining figures, we find that those twelve sort themselves into three additional families wherein each of the figures in a family can be transformed into another member of that family by means of one of the operators. In abstract algebra, we’d call these families “equivalence classes” where (any) one member of a class is representative of the class as a whole.

    The other three “families” (aside from the family of operators) would be:

    Albus, Puer, Rubeus, Puella
    Acquisito, Amissio, Fortuna Major, Fortuna Minor
    Caput Draconis, Laetitia, Tristitia, Cauda Draconis

    Do you know of any work that has been done with regard to these groupings? Do they mean anything from an occult perspective?

    This all stemmed from my attempts to assign the 16 figures to the 2×16=32 paths of the Tree of Life and trying to figure out which 10 get assigned to the Sephiroth.

  362. @ Scotlyn

    Re UBI

    That is fair 🙂 To be perfectly honest, while I *was* being slightly tongue-in-cheek (perhaps even snarky) with the “no one works and everyone gets paid” comment, something along those lines has been the general context in which I have encountered UBI proposals. My experience is not the universal set, I will grant, but it admittedly colors my outlook. For the most part, I’ve seen UBI proposed in the context of MMT (infinitely printable money without consequences) and the techno-servitor, limitless energy vision of the future where no one has to do anything they don’t want to do–that is, there are no trade-offs.

    That’s not to say that a robust set of public goods and services isn’t a useful platform: I very much support something like that. But those goods and services ought to be produced and managed as close to the people being served (i.e. locally, regionally) as possible. And I think building relationships based on direct exchanges of goods (e.g. barter) will be more useful in the future we’ve got coming than a system of token distribution.

    That all said, I can understand (and even agree with, to some extent) the intent of UBI proponents. I think the means they’ve selected are problematic, however.

  363. @Grover

    “How do the rates of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes in the Czech Republic compare to those of the United States?”

    I haven’t seen the relevant statistics, but I think it’s fair to say that the average Czech is thinner, but more likely to smoke, than the average American. I’m not sure how that translates into heart disease and/or diabetes.

    But anyway, compared to NYC (whose population size is roughly comparable to that of the Czech Republic), we have very, very few COVID-19 cases, and very, very few deaths.

    For what it’s worth, I was highly skeptical of masks initially. I also find them less than comfortable to wear (though I’m getting used to them). It’s just that they seem to work. So, I’ve decided to wear them without complaining. (Well, I was going to wear them anyway. As I said, I don’t want to get fined/arrested/deported. I just decided it was time to stop complaining about them.) I got ten cloth masks, and I only wear the same mask once before washing it. That should help reduce germ growth/accumulation. I do find it unpleasant that my breath travels to my eyes as I breathe, but I’m getting used to it.

  364. @Ashara, JMG on democracy,

    I am inclined to agree with our host that representative democracy is not as permanent a thing as its promoters seem to think.

    First, there is the fact, which JMG already pointed out, that people living at the height of any civilization will think their own form of government to be the best and, if they believe in the Myth of Progress, the most advanced. Just look at Hegel in 19th century Prussia: “The first political form therefore which we observe in history, is despotism; the second democracy and aristocracy, the third monarchy.”

    Second, since the idea of “democracy” is held in such high esteem these days, a lot of countries are going to claim to be democracies that aren’t. Sometimes, it’s just crass propaganda, i.e. “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” But sometimes a milder form of oligarchy can pass for a democracy because it used to be one, prior to undergoing revolution within the form.

    Just think about where the laws in the United States actually come from. The big social issues that draw crowds of millions of protesters into the streets – such as segregation in the 1960s, or abortion and same-sex marriage later on – are generally decided in the courts. As for the thousands of pages of regulations that determine how most of our schools, farms, factories, transportation infrastructure, and so forth actually function on a day-to-day basis, those are generally written by bureaucrats. Elected members of congress have little say in the matter, and when they do get involved they tend to listen to lobbyists rather than constituents.

    A century ago, the US was much less centralized, and much more democratic, than it is today. Did it tolerate things that are generally seen as repugnant by today’s liberal democrats? You bet. But that’s because “democracy” means that the common people are in charge, not that the common people are going to like the same things you or I like! During America’s early flirtations with oligarchic rule – when, for instance, the courts grasped at legislative power with the Dred Scot decision or Lochner v. New York and its progeny – the result wasn’t the promotion of modern values, it was the promotion of the aristocratic values of a different time.

    Will the present state of centralized power last forever? Of course not. America is good at revolution-within-the-form, and I expect the country to have more of them. (Just look at the scenario in Stars’ Reach, where a hereditary Presden surrounded by Jennels and Cunnels keep up the appearance of the old system, even summoning the College of Electors from time to time). I recall JMG predicting that sooner of later, the lack of resources needed to centrally administer a country the size of the US will lead to more power flowing back to local, representative governments.

    But don’t expect this to be an easy, predestinated process. If you look at English history from 1215 to 1688 or so you will see that it took a lot of rebellions and coups and civil wars for representative bodies to gain their dominant position within the Anglo-American system. Similarly, if they want to hold onto that power through the long descent, they will need people willing to fight for it.

  365. @Irena
    Re tourism: Here in New Zealand before the virus necessitated our boarder shutdown, we have been experiencing a virtual plague of foreign tourists. 3 million/year in a country of 5 million. The roads were full of slow cheap self-drive vans (many accidents because we drive in the left lane). Hordes of “freedom campers” in cheap vans with no sanitation provisions who camp in nature reserves, rather than camping grounds, to save a few bucks.
    Just before the lockdown, my girlfriend and I took our 10m yacht across Tasman Bay (we live in Nelson), to Able Tasman Park, one of the beauty spots of New Zealand. In the past, the Park has been full of literally thousands of day-trippers delivered to its white sand beaches by a fleet of large loud water taxis which come and go every 15 minutes of so. There are hundreds of rental kayaks pulled up on the beaches and the walking tracks are sometimes filled with endless lines of hikers, so solitude is impossible. Its the same scenario in all of NZ’s National Parks and internationally famous beauty spots. Frankly it feels like an invasion.
    Imagine our delight when we arrived at our anchorage to find not a single tourist anywhere in the Park. It was like a return to the 1980’s. The animals were much more visible, and there was peace and quiet. I and many other New Zealand citizens fervently hope that mass tourism never comes back; its a plague.
    The NZ economy has gotten itself into the position of relying on this yearly invasion; 1 in 7 working people are involved in this trad directly or indirectly, and much of the work is low paid. Time to have a good look at other economic options for NZ and other international tourist destinations.
    The reality is that many of the tourists actually don’t need to come here. They only come for bragging rights and to take “look at me” Instagram photos. Gone are the days when travel was an adventure and you really didn’t know what to expect. Now its all on the internet, where it can stay.

  366. Hi everyone! We’ve had the most GLORIOUS day here in WMass and I am covered in sweat, soot, and dirt – and very happy. I wanted to chime on a few items.

    Re: slide rules: as recently as 1991, student Naval Aviators learned to use circular slide rules to calculate true airspeed, ground speed, density altitude, etc. They were affectionately known as “Whiz Wheels.”

    Re: poetry. I, too, memorized Chaucer and the opening to the Aenead (in Latin) in high school, in the early 80s here in WMass, though we are a college town known for nerdiness. Violet may be amused to know that while in grad school in the ‘Oughts, I wrote a paper arguing that your sonnet was actually written ironically. I’m not sure I believed it, but I sure had fun writing the paper. I was taking a class at Smith with all undergrads, and I think the professor probably rolled her eyes. As far as Tolkien poetry, I always favored “Gil Galad was an Elven king/of him the harpers sadly sing/the last whose realm was fair and free/between the mountains and the sea.”

    Finally, to J.L.Mc12, re: Simon Schama. I haven’t read any of his books, but I’ve watched documentaries he’s made. His “History of Britain” is a favorite of mine. I don’t know how many times I checked it out of the library before I blundered onto a complete set of it in a thrift store <3

  367. Hi Sara,

    I’m not going to muck around with you and prevaricate. I assume BC is short for British Columbia? Anyway, let’s assume that it is, and you are 53’N latitude. The simple fact is that you don’t get much sun over winter. It really is that simple and cannot be worked around. Can you grow food crops outdoors in winter? I doubt it.

    I’m at 37.5’S latitude and if conditions were optimal at best I could average about 2 hours of peak sunlight per day. Peak sunlight refers to: if you have a 200W solar panel, then 2 hours of peak sunlight means that you can on average enjoy 0.4kWh per (i.e. 200W x 2 hours). However there are days during winter when all I get is 15 minutes of peak sunlight and my usage has to accommodate that, and it might happen the day after that, and then again the day after that before the sun eventually breaks through the thick clouds. It can’t be worked around.

    Unfortunately for me however, conditions here are not optimal and I enjoy 1 hour of peak sunlight for 3 weeks either side of the winter solstice. Yes, snow does occasionally fall here, but I can still eat out of the garden and the orchard provides citrus fruit at this time of year. How does that compare to your experience?

    I assume when you wrote 13kWh you actually meant to write 13MWh usage for the year. Here is the kicker: That’s about as much electricity as the off grid solar power system has produced in the past 10 years – and it is not a small system and I monitor it every single day.

    You need to use less electricity, and I’m not talking about a little bit less, I’m talking about taking it down to 10% of your current usage – or swap to a locally sourced heating fuel over winter. It really is that simple.

    Good luck and apologies for my bluntness, but there is no work around.


  368. John, I was wondering what effect you think this pandemic will have on alternative medicines and health systems. From what I’ve seen on news reports and in articles, there has been a general appeal to science to save us, by which I think they mean “approved, legitimate science as formed by the consensus of the present medical establishment”, which has always been negative towards alternative and complimentary medicine. I heard some attacks on a particular doctor (who has been accused of teaching “woo”) for favoring easing up on the lock down by another competing-for-attention doctor (they were on rival news networks, which may explain some of the disagreement also), and also one talking head wondering if the search for a vaccine will have any effect on changing minds in the anti-vax movement* (he was hopeful). Right from the beginning when this started to take off in the US, I noticed how what I would term “worship of the white lab coat” dominated the airwaves, and I thought the pandemic would be used to further discourage people from abandoning what I call slash-and-burn/industrial/big pharma medicine for other alternatives or traditional systems of medicine. Of course, the opposite might occur, and people turn to alternatives after seeing the mainstream medical system scrambling to treat people and maintain control of the situation. I just hope this situation won’t be used as an excuse to crack down on alternative medicine! Plus, some have been using this to insist how we need a national health system such as Medicare for everyone, and I’m sure that will only pay for mainstream treatment, not alternatives.

    *Please everyone; let’s not turn this into a pro-vax vs. anti-vax slug fest, as happened once before when the topic of vaccines came up. I’m just including this as an example.

    Joy Marie

  369. Also, I’ve only made it part way through all of the comments, but want to say how I laughed when one commenter spoke of the “Great God of Progress”. That sounds like a wonderful swear word substitute, on par with many of those shared on this blog some time ago as alternatives to the forbidden words that John would have to strike from the record if inserted into a comment.

    Pounds thumb with a hammer: “Great God of Progress!”

    Realizes the electric bill wasn’t sent in and will now be late: “Great God of Progress!”

    Finds pipe leaking under the sink: “Great God of Progress!”

    Joy Marie

  370. Hi John Michael,

    I’d imagine that you too have been poked by plenty of other people about watching the latest Michael Moore directed documentary on renewable energy systems.

    About 20 people must have poked me about it over the past two days, so I became curious. Last evening I made it through about half of the documentary. The defeated tone of the narrative was only bested by the image of the (and someone please correct me if I’m wrong) 3 storey log eco-cabin that he’d built in the woods. The photo of the cabin showed trees all around the cabin (shading for the solar photovoltaic panels), there may have been snow on the ground (yeah, that PV stuff doesn’t work so well in such conditions), and it was not lost on me that the design of the house was such that there was only a small roof footprint with which could hardly have held many solar PV panels in the first place. And heating that cabin in those conditions would have been a nightmare of a problem.

    Then as a film maker he travels all around the countryside (no mention of how that took place) discovering a dark tale of environmental degradation.

    Maybe it is just me, but the documentary just stirred some emotions and they were on the grumpy end of that scale. However, what will be, will be.

    I’ll tell you a funny story, which is not so funny. A few months back I picked up 16 second hand solar panels for $400. The fact that that was even possible indicates the general level of concern for the environment that is prevalent in our civilisation. In a sane society, it should not have been possible to do that.



  371. Re: “Planet of the Humans” I just finished watching it, and found it terribly sad on many levels. It did, however, take my mind off of the COVID-19 situation… put it into perspective, really. And it prompted me to realize that there IS something I can do, one more step, to reduce my fuel consumption.

    By the way, I learned this winter that I am much more cozy and comfortable (in my basement lair of radios and computers, which runs 65-68F) if I wear a relatively small flannel scarf inside collar of my flannel shirt. I originally experimented with the practice with an idea of reducing my soiling of the collar, and wearing out that fabric. Now, I think I could drop the temperature another degree or so without discomfort. Such a scarf is dead simple to make: just get a 1/4 yard (9×36″) of “shirting” flannel fabric (when your local fabric store re-opens), and hem the edges so it doesn’t un-weave itself. It’s another small step toward comfort in a post-carbon future.

  372. @Rita & JMG

    Thank you for answering my question, that was actually more information than I expected.

    @Garth & the anonymous ex-Japanese monk

    I so envy you having these numinous experiences, even though some may be negative.
    How I wish I could have a profound moment like that. Like remembering past lives or feeling some strange power awaken in me. Childish of me really, I know.

  373. David BTL, I’ve never seen any discussion of those points. Geomancy was mostly practiced at a folk level for many centuries — astrology was the high-class divination system in the Western world and got the lion’s share of attention from those circles with mathematical interests — so as far as I know you’re breaking new ground.

    Your Kittenship, clearly I have to go there someday. 😉

    MadJack, about the only thing they have in common is a basis in Druid Revival tradition and symbolism. The Dolmen Arch is a system of occult training more or less in the tradition of the Ancient Order of Druids in America; its core ritual is the Sphere of Protection, and it focuses on meditation and subtle energy work for healing and initiation.
    The Celtic Golden Dawn is a system of ceremonial magic derived from that of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn; its core rituals are the Rituals of the Pentagram, and it focuses on magical rituals.

    Joy Marie, as far as I know most people in the US alternative health scene are staying fairly quiet, but a lot of people are relying on alternative methods to deal with the coronavirus. What’s on the airwaves and what’s going on in people’s heads these days aren’t necessarily in tune with each other. I like “Great God of Progress” as an expletive!

    Chris, yes, I’ve been told about it by various people. I hadn’t heard yet about the dismal tone, but that doesn’t surprise me. I hope people who are serious about sustainability pay attention, and recognize that you can’t just plug your petroleum lifestyle into a solar panel!

  374. Dear JMG, that’s an excellent point. There are so many times that I’m grateful I live in a still functioning representative democracy.

    Dear Joy Marie,

    If I may:

    many herbs are much more difficult to find in commerce since the pandemic, indicating that a lot of folks are at the very least purchasing them. I’ve not done much market research on this, but I’ve been absolutely astounded by the number of herbs now impossible to purchase in commerce. This indicates that the business at the herb companies must be booming.

    As for insurance and alternative medicine I data point I can furnish is that in Massachusetts, much to my my surprise, I fount that my insurance totally covered trips to an acupuncturist.

  375. In re: Writers similar to Clark Ashton Smith

    H. P. Lovecraft (of course)
    Robert W. Chambers – “The King in Yellow” and “The Repairer of Reputations”
    William Hope Hodgson – “The Night Land”
    Arthur Machen – “The Three Imposters”
    Abraham Merritt – “The Dwellers in the Mirage” “Ship of Ishtar”
    Jack Vance – The “Cugel the Clever” books

    Antoinetta III

  376. Sandy FontwitSandy Fontwit-

    I Live in NZ too. I think you tried to contact me few years ago. anyway, If I’m ever in the Nelson region I might drop by? I’ll leave an email on this forum if you like? or vise versa? (I’m not really comfortable posting an email on this forum until I’ve heard back fro you)

    Also yeh I’ve been wondering myself about the impact the drop in tourist numbers might have here. I agree there were far far too many and it was not a sustainable situation (economically or environmentally). The loss of tourist numbers may be at least partially counterbalanced by more New Zealanders holidaying locally rather than going overseas.

  377. Check out this twitter thread! the ‘green new dealers’ are in full on panic mode about Michael Moores film…

    I have to say, I’m reminded of the bit in retrotopia where the Genetic Engineering company sue anyone who tries to point out that their starfish gene grain is killing babies… on grounds its ‘spearing misinformation’…

    What’s even worse for me, is this is otherwise quite intelligent people who really can’t seem to understand why the ‘good people’- aka liberal intellectuals are being doubted.

    Oh of course! like I said earlier, good intentions trump everything else!!!!!! (in the eyes of affluent liberals)

  378. Hello, JMG.

    You’ve mentioned a few times that anger is a secondary emotion, covering up some other emotion that the person is avoiding..
    Recently in response to a Magic Monday question you said the same of ennui.

    This got me wondering, and I’d like to gain a deeper understanding of secondary emotions in general. I’m willing to do the contemplating on my own, but I do have a few technical questions that’ll help orient me:

    1. What are some other examples of secondary emotions?
    2. Does a given secondary emotion typically arise to cover up a particular primary emotion, or can any secondary emotion arise in response to any primary emotion?


  379. @J.L.Mc12

    So I suppose the thing about computers is that they are put together with a relatively small set of fundamental ideas about what is required – a structure to hold a program and results, and a structure to calculate new values. You can put together quite low tech machinery to do this. It’s certainly possible with magnetic relays, and I’d speculate that a purely mechanical version might be possible with a decent design and skilled machinists. Babbage failed at the latter to be sure, but his was the very first attempt and he came close.

    This implies that computers could have existed in the late Victorian period. They had the pieces. What they didn’t have were a wide understanding of the concepts (e.g hardly anyone but Babbage and Lovelace), and especially importantly – the desire to create such a thing.

    So, I believe that a low tech society could in theory carry on with the study of cellular automata. Would they? That would surely depend on much larger questions about economic surplus, transfer of knowledge, and probably religion and politics too.