Monthly Post

Bracing for Impact

I think it was Lenin who said that there are decades in which nothing happens, and then there are months in which decades happen. It’s a useful reminder that the pace of historic change is not smooth. We’ve all seen immense changes take place over the last few decades, but in the industrial world, at least, most of them have happened slowly.  Recent headlines suggest, though, that the pace is picking up to a remarkable extent. A brief survey of the landscape of crisis ahead of us may thus be helpful.

As I write these words, to start with, Russian forces on the eastern front of the Russo-Ukrainian war have pushed their way through the Ukrainian lines and are moving to encircle the fortress city of Avdeevka, the linchpin of the Ukrainian defenses in the western Donbass.  At the same time the war between Israel and the Hamas militant movement is blazing, as 300,000 Israeli troops converge on the Gaza Strip while Israeli and Hezbollah forces exchange rocket fire across the northern border. An assortment of other wars flare elsewhere, unnoticed by most people in industrial nations; the outrage fanned by our corporate media is as always highly selective.

The two wars just named are important, to be sure, and so are the ones that aren’t getting the same attention. One of the ways that you can tell that a regional or global hegemon is strong is that wars in their bailiwick tend to decrease in frequency; one of the ways you can tell that a hegemon is losing its dominant position, in turn, is that wars imitate June in the song from the musical Carousel and start busting out all over. Russia and Hamas both gambled that the US and its allies were too weak to be able to stage an effective response to war. With Hamas, it’s much too early to tell, but Russia so far has done very well by its war in Ukraine and seems to be confident pushing it forward.

Meanwhile several less dramatic but equally explosive crises are building.  Those of my readers who pay attention to the economic news already know that real estate markets worldwide are in trouble. There’s a fine witch’s brew of reasons for the impending crisis, but the most important is that the big players in real estate financed their purchases with cheap short-term debt.  Now debt isn’t cheap any more and the big players are over their heads in loans they can’t pay off, or even cover interest. Plenty of other economic interests are in deep trouble as a result, and the possibility of a really ugly global recession can’t be ruled out.

Nor can the US simply keep printing money and churning out unpayable IOUs to cover the gap and keep the economy humming away, as we’ve done for the last fifty years. The deficit spending of the last half century was possible because the US dollar was the global currency of trade, and economic globalization forced every bank around the world to stockpile dollar-denominated investments as a basis for credit-based cash flows. Now the global economy is coming apart as other nations realize that the ongoing inflation of the dollar imposes a hidden tax on every transaction, and Russia demonstrates that being able to make everything you need within your own borders has certain hard advantages. The dollar isn’t going to be forced out of global trade all at once, nor will any one competing currency replace it overnight.  Instead, the dollar faces the same death of a thousand cuts that doomed the British pound sterling’s once-inviolable status as global reserve currency.

What makes this a challenge is that at this point the United States is effectively bankrupt.  The US national debt is well over 33 trillion dollars now, and something like half of that staggering sum has been accrued since 2008.  So huge a sum can never be paid back; the only questions remaining are when the default happens and what form it takes. This matters because the entire US economy, and the lifestyles of most Americans, depend on gargantuan inflows of raw materials and manufactured goods from abroad, paid for by the unpayable IOUs mentioned above. When the market for those IOUs dries up—and it’s faltering—Americans are going to have to get used to living with a lot less energy and a lot fewer consumer goods than they think they’re entitled to. I can’t say I expect many of them to take that well.

All this is happening, furthermore, just when our old friend peak oil is rearing its head again.  That was always inevitable; the downside of running a civilization on a finite nonrenewable resource is that no matter how much money you throw into finding and developing new sources, no matter how eagerly you exploit low-grade reserves like oil shales and tar sands, that doesn’t solve your problem—it just kicks the can a little further down the road. Depletion never sleeps, and so every barrel of liquid fuels you burn today is a barrel you will not have tomorrow. Combine that with steadily rising fossil fuel consumption, in a world where nearly all transport still relies on fossil fuels, and you have a recipe for a real mess.

As we’ve already learned the hard way, we can’t rely on windpower, solar power, nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, or any of the other standard nostrums to bail us out. We’ve been building the first two frantically for decades, you know, and fossil fuel consumption just keeps going up in lockstep. That’s not just because wind and solar are too intermittent to provide more than a trickle of power to the grid most of the time, though that’s true; it’s also because it takes vast amounts of fossil fuel energy to build, install, and maintain wind and power installations. As for nuclear fission, it never pays for itself—that’s why utility companies walked away from it—and fusion costs so much more than fission that even if a commercial fusion reactor can be made to work, it’ll be hopelessly unaffordable.

All these possibilities were discussed and explored at length half a century ago. All the gimmicks being hawked on the internet today by people who think they’re being original were being hawked on less transient media back then; they were tested, and most of them were found wanting. The first hard lesson to take in is that we can’t deal with the end of the age of oil by increasing production of some other energy resource. The alternative resources won’t cut it, and the other fossil fuels are already being used as fast as they can be mined or pumped from the ground. The second hard lesson is that there’s no way to make the standard lifestyles of the Age of Extravagance sustainable in a postpetroleum future. Those lifestyles, with their gluttonous appetite for energy and their reliance on petroleum-based materials like plastic, were born with the age of oil and will die with it.

That doesn’t mean that we’re inevitably headed back to the sort of primeval squalor modern mythology likes to project onto the past. It’s possible to support a literate, urban, humane society on a tiny fraction of the energy and resource consumption modern industrial societies consider necessary; the proof is that this has been done many times. What’s more, many discoveries and inventions of the last few centuries could be put to work to make a future society with modest energy consumption much more comfortable and viable.  Consider how much has been learned about the physics of energy, for example, and how that could be combined with architecture to make buildings that are comfortable 365 days a year on little or no heat input. That can be done; I studied how to do it in Master Conserver classes in the mid-1980s.

In the year 1800, the region where I now live was full of thriving communities with their own libraries, newspapers, democratic governments, and trade and information links to the rest of the world, without any dependence on fossil fuels. In the year 2100 the same thing could be true, with improved sanitation, superinsulated homes, shortwave radio, and ultralight aircraft, among other things, making things even more comfortable and interesting than they were in the Federal era.  That’s a future worth having, and it’s a future we can still achieve.  Is the global population too high for that? That’s a question that has not yet been settled; meanwhile every continent but Africa has already gone into population contraction and Africa’s following the same trajectory, just a little more slowly. By 2100, if current trends continue, there will be fewer people on the planet than there were in 2000, and the downslope is expected to continue from there.

The one difficulty with this pleasant picture, of course, is getting there.  We’ve already thrown away two chances to make the transition.  When the first oil crisis hit fifty years ago in 1973, the industrial world still had huge reserves of fossil fuels and used them at a much more modest rate than today. A transition to the kind of future I just outlined could have been launched then at an equally modest cost. That didn’t happen; instead, after several years of flailing, not to mention high oil prices, the US and its allies doubled down on fossil fuels, relying on the North Sea and Alaska oil fields to bail them out. By the time the second oil crisis hit in 2005, the North Sea and North Slope fields had been pumped nearly dry.  So we went through several years of flailing, not to mention another round of high oil prices, before frantic efforts to extract liquid fuels from oil shales brought supply more or less back into balance with demand, at prices that had been considered disastrously high a few years before.

Even then, American oil shale reserves could have been used sparingly to keep the price of oil below ruinous levels while other measures were put in place to deal with the end of the age of oil. Of course that’s not what happened. Instead, the shale reserves got drained as fast as possible for short term gains. Now most American shale provinces have been tapped out, and the one left standing, the Permian shale in Texas, is losing ground fast. So once again we can look forward to several years of flailing before another temporary substitute gets jammed into place, and this time the US won’t be able to draw on the oceans of cheap credit that made fracking financially possible. No doubt some gimmick or other will be found, but it won’t be easy or cheap.

So there’s good reason to think that over the next few years, we’ll be facing a steep lurch downward along the ragged trajectory I’ve named the Long Descent. It’s not the end of the world, though doubtless we’ll see the usual flurry of gloating predictions of imminent doom from the various apocalypse lobbies. What it means is that there’s a high probability that the months and years to come will see very hard times for a great many people across the industrial world, especially in the United States and its allies.  Thus it’s time to circle back and revisit some of the themes I discussed at length between 2006 and 2009, during the early days of my blogging career, and talk about how to deal with the twilight of the age of oil.

Let’s start with a point that should be obvious, but apparently isn’t. No, I’m not saying that you should move to the country, by yourself or with a group of friends, and settle into a lifestyle of bucolic bliss as a subsistence farmer. To begin with, farming is a skilled trade; if you didn’t grow up doing it, or haven’t spent years on working farms learning how it’s done, you don’t know enough to keep yourself from going broke or starving to death. (It takes five to ten years of hard work on average to get past the learning curve and reach the point at which you can feed yourself by farming.)  Since we’re not talking about the end of the world, furthermore, you can expect to have to keep paying a mortgage, utility bills, and taxes while you fling yourself into brutally hard physical labor from sunup to sundown.

Americans have this weird cultural fixation about going back to the land, and the dominant role of American culture worldwide over the last century or so has inspired a lot of people in other parts of the world to fall into the same mental trap. Here in the US, for a certain broad class of well-off urbanites, moving to a rural area and spending a few years playing at farming is an approved way to have your midlife crisis and finish the task of wrecking an unstable marriage. (I’ve watched this happen tolerably often.) It’s not a viable way to deal with an impending economic and social crisis—again, not unless you grew up farming or have some other access to extensive hands-on experience.

So what approach do I recommend for my readers, who are watching industrial civilization lurch and shudder under the weight of its own idiotic choices, and want to protect themselves and the people they care about from the consequences?  I’ve talked about that in quite some detail in the past, but that was a long time ago and it bears repeating at intervals.  The principal rule can be summed up in a single sentence:  “Collapse now and avoid the rush.”

Let’s unpack that a bit. At the end of the period of crisis that seems to be approaching, if you and the people you care about make it through, you’ll be getting by with less energy, and fewer of the products of energy, than you use today.  Electricity, heating fuels, and transport fuels will all be much more expensive than they are now.  Food will likely cost much more, too, especially if it’s the kind of packaged processed stuff so many people in the industrial world rely on. If the impending real estate crash goes far enough, you may be able to make up some of the difference by a decrease in housing costs, but I don’t recommend counting on that.

Those of my readers who’ve been poor, as I have, know that it takes a fair amount of skill to live comfortably on a scant income. The more practice you have, and the more time you have to explore the options before it counts, the easier it will be for you to get by. Since the crunch hasn’t hit yet, you have the chance to get some of that practice and some of those explorations out of the way now, while you still have your current income and resource base to fall back on if you need to. That’s what collapsing now, ahead of the rush, gives you the freedom to do.

Imagine for a moment that your income were to drop sharply—or, which amounts to the same thing, that runaway inflation were to make it worth much less than it is today. Take some time over the next few days to figure out where you would cut back so that you can get by on less.  Focus on ways to decrease your outgo, not to increase your income; that latter’s a different project for another day. Make a list of possibilities. If you live with other people, discuss the subject with them and, if they’re willing, get them involved in drawing up the list.

Then—before raw financial necessity forces you to do so—take some of the items on your list and put them into practice. Make some changes to save money, cutting an expenditure here, doing things in a cheaper way there. Pay attention to the results, and discuss it with the people you live with. Then try something else. Get some experience under your belt so that, when the crunch arrives, you aren’t left flailing.  (I received a lot of thank you notes after the Covid hysteria from people who followed this advice a decade ago, and were much better prepared to cope with the shutdowns and layoffs of 2020-2022.)  And if I’m wrong and the crunch doesn’t arrive?  You have a bunch of extra money in your bank account. What’s not to like about that?

There are deeper dimensions to this little experiment, of course. The habits of spending money you’ve picked up over the course of your life may not be helping you achieve the life you want. In fact, it would be astonishing if they were.  The entire structure of the consumer economy is set up to fool you into spending money you can’t spare on things you don’t need (and may not even want), so that you remain hooked into the system, trudging to work day after day to make enough money to pay your bills. The same structure is also set up to trick you into handing over your own competences to other people—“don’t do things for yourself, pay lots of money to have other people do it for you!” is the siren song of the machine that keeps you in chains.

That’s why the media and the political establishment love to define you as a “consumer.”  Take a moment to think about what that word implies. If you define yourself as a consumer, you’ve given away your capacities as a creator, a producer, a maker of things and experiences. You’ve pigeonholed yourself as a passive recipient of other people’s productive activity. Multinational corporations and their corrupt stooges in government and the media benefit mightily from getting you to think of yourself that way.  Their benefit, of course, comes at your expense; “the man in the suit,” to borrow a line from another song, “has just bought a new car from the profit he’s made on your dreams.”

The secret of collapsing now, ahead of the rush, is that it makes you a creator, not a consumer.  You, not the man in the suit, get to choose how you’re going to spend your money, and thus what you’re doing to do with your life. Sure, the man with the suit will have to postpone buying his new car. So may you—but among the payoffs coming your way is a great deal of increased resilience in the face of a very troubled future.

* * * * *

Two additional notes. First, back when I was last writing about peak oil, I arranged to scan all the handouts I received as a student of the Master Conserver program in the mid-1980s. Yes, this was like the Master Gardener or Master Composter programs that some municipalities still offer, but it focused on conserving energy; some of the advice is dated but much of it can still be put to good use. You can download the whole set here.  Given that rising energy prices may be a major factor in the mess ahead, you might want to consider learning a little about conservation, and this is a good place to start.

Second, my commentariat tends to be astonishingly well informed about odd things, and unusual ways of saving money are among those things, so getting some of that information spread a little more widely strikes me as a good thing. I’m therefore going to launch a new weekly feature on my Dreamwidth account at – Frugal Fridays. I’d like to ask each reader who wants to participate to consider posting one tip for saving money each Friday. (Yes, just one tip per person per week!  Data dumps are a pain in the rump for me to moderate and for other people to read.) Discussion and comparing notes is also fine. See you there!


  1. Here are all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared at and, as well as in the comments of the prayer list posts. A printable version of the entire prayer list current as of 10/17 may be downloaded here. Please feel free to add any or all of the requests to your own prayers.

    If I missed anybody, or if you would like to add a prayer request for yourself or anyone who has given you consent (or for whom a relevant person holds power of consent) to the list, please feel free to leave a comment below.

    * * *

    This week I would like to bring special attention to the following prayer requests.

    May the brain surgery that Erika’s partner James underwent for his cancer on October 16th have gone successfully; and may he be blessed, healed and protected, and successfully treated for all of his cancer.

    May Kyle’s friend Amanda, who though in her early thirties is undergoing various difficult treatments for brain cancer, make a full recovery; and may her body and spirit heal with grace.

    May Jeff Huggin’s friends Dale and Tracy be blessed and healed; may Dale’s blood and spinal fluid infection clear up sufficiently to receive a heart valve replacement; may his medical procedures go smoothly and with success; and may Dale and Tracy successfully surmount these difficulties.

    In the case of Princess Cutekitten and the large bank who is suing her, may justice be done, with harm to none.

    Lp9’s hometown, East Palestine, Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people, animals and all living beings in and around East Palestine, and to improve the natural environment there to the benefit of all.* * *
    Guidelines for how long prayer requests stay on the list, how to word requests, how to be added to the weekly email list, how to improve the chances of your prayer being answered, and several other common questions and issues, are now to be found at the Ecosophia Prayer List FAQ.

    If there are any among you who might wish to join me in a bit of astrological timing, I pray each week for the health of all those with health problems on the list on the astrological hour of the Sun on Sundays, bearing in mind the Sun’s rulerships of heart, brain, and vital energies. If this appeals to you, I invite you to join me.

  2. One place to start preparing for an unpredictable future is to grow a garden. It’s fun and you get to eat your successes (and plow under your failures).

  3. JMG,
    On this blog you have often spoken about how as empires collapse they are overcome ( first at the edges then in the core) by war bands who have become much more focused, efficient and less senile than the the imperial elites. You have also spoken about the use of ultra-light aircraft in the future of warfare.
    So for a moment I though I was watching a JMG novel put to video as Hamas soldiers sailed over the walls of Gaza in para-gliders and descended on the soft citizens of empire with guns blazing. After all, Israel has been identified by some ( Chomesky?) as the forward operating base of the American Empire. So it is to be expected that the Imperial citizens camped along the foot of the Gaza wall may be the first to fall in the way the Roman outposts along Hadrian’s wall were the first to fall as the Roman Empire collapsed.
    It is fall from certain how this episode will work out ,but it is certain to be violent and tragic for all. But it is very certain that it will not be the last time the “Barbarians” surrounding the debt fueled Bacchanal of the Empire decide its time to throw off their colonial chains, crash the party, and drain the punchbowl for themselves. Except this time they will be riding ultra-lights, with encrypted Huawei cell phones in their hands and homemade duel charge anti-tank rockets in their backpacks.

  4. “Collapse now and avoid the rush”… the hardest part about grappling with actually doing with is that it’s not at all how the words seem to sound on first listen: like an act of giving up. But it really isn’t that at all; really more the opposite of giving up. Remaining standing by acquiescing to being grist for society’s mill is not standing with our own power at all; and if anything ever shakes society, so, too, down will we go. “Collapse now” means to lower ourselves at first, in a sense, but only as the first necessary move in then standing up again on our own two feet. It’s downshifting our externals, but also upgrading our internals.

    In the spirit of helping each other to upgrade (whether collapsed or not!), I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to the


    If we work at it, each of us surely has at least one thing about ourselves that we feel sure we can improve, but we haven’t managed it yet. Something that would improve our lives, that would improve us. I’d like to invite everyone reading this post to take a few moments of reflection to see if they can identify such a desired change in themselves. To those that can, I’d like to offer you the chance to take the plunge and attempt to make that change with some aid from the prayers of members of this community.

    There is only one price of admission: whatever you request, you must take concrete actions in the world to increase your chances or rates of success there, for the duration of however long your request stays on the list. Prayers can act as the wind in your sails, but they do little good if you don’t even raise your sails in the first place! Or worse, cast anchor and sit there… of even start rowing your boat in the opposite way…

    Besides that one requirement, normal Prayer List FAQ rules apply: requests can be pseudonymous; it’s nice to get regular updates from folks; and I hope people receiving prayers will consider praying for at least a few others on the prayer list in some semi-regular fashion, at least for as long as they are on the list. (None of these things are required, though I think it’s nice to do.)

    Blessings on all who will have them, and I hope some will join me in this endeavor! I recently added my own prayer request along these lines, and perhaps I’ll see some of you there soon as well.

  5. I like the idea. No need to publish this one to the wider world, necessarily, but while the vagaries of Web site traffic might say Friday is an optimal day for this, perhaps Saturday might be preferable, given the influences at work…?

    I like the active approach here.


  6. Not exactly a welcome topic, but a needed one – thank you for once again bringing this to our attention.

    Two things that seem relevant to this post in opposite ways:

    1) Marc Andreesen shares the diametrically opposed view of the future from deep within the myth of Progress in a recent Twitter thread (super annoying – it should have just been a blog post):

    2) For further details on the nuts and bolts of how and why the US became the global reserve currency, and some major changes that happened to keep it that way (short version: gold-backed dollars weren’t doing the trick, so the US switched to forcing everyone to buy oil in dollars, via the influence of Saudi Arabia on OPEC, and then aggressively enforced this arrangement until the Russian sanctions), I strongly recommend Tree of Woe’s series on the petrodollar, “Running on Empty” (first post here: )

    Apologies that this is the second time I’m sharing the “Running on Empty” post, but I figured it was both more on-topic and that more interested folks might see it on this post than on the High Magic post.

    My blessings to any who welcome them,

  7. I’m curious about how you foresee the major metropolitan areas faring, especially NYC, my current place of residence. I have a home base in Maine (with its concomitant social network) to fall back on, but NYC is home for now.

    It seems in previous shocks and steps down the long descent, the decay primarily happened at the edges of empire and crept inwards. It seems to have touched the cities through the shrinking of the well to do and a propping up through an invisible, unpersoned immigrant class, but the broader facade of life seemed to stay the same. This stands in contrast to the rural areas of America which seems to have suffered a complete collapse into near 3rd world conditions, or even worse, given the lack of physical and social infrastructure to support that way of life.

    This time, however, feels like it’s different. It may simply be that I’m 25, and that this crisis (which I view as an extension of what begun in covid), is the first serious one of my lifetime… but I don’t think so.

    This long preamble takes me back to my question: what do you think will happen to NYC? This place seems to be the epitome of the imperial way of life, incredibly dependents on imports and most especially the money pump. What traditionally happens to a place like this during such a descent?

    Perhaps the consulting, finance, and tech jobs (and the slew of high end services that rely on their extreme affluence) just grow harder and harder to find, and the the silently struggle minority continues to swell. Eventually, there must come a critical point though. What does that point look like in a city?

    Obviously cities are ripe for riot and upheaval during acute crisis, but I’m curious about how the way of life will settle in the new periods of normalcy.

    I’ve had the fortune, and misfortune, to grow up in ensconced in the Ivy League elite that’s now so losing its mind, and trying to find my way from this way of life to another.

    I’d thought to make my grab for wealth at the centers of power during the final extravaganzas, but perhaps that is unwise… it seems the world I was trained to operate in is ceasing to exist.

  8. Hello JMG! Just at this time I ordered a book called “Monastic Life in Eastern Christianity in the Middle Ages” and I am reading a book about the Cistercians and their “ora et labora” fits perfectly with our time and Master Conserver has also been added to the list to be translated, I will print out the pages with photos, the rest will be written by hand in Turkish. I’ll turn it to ‘ and write it in a notebook, it’ll be a bit patchy, but okay! I also had a question, JMG, I would be happy if you could answer it: Is John Lust’s The Herb Book a good book about medicinal plants… I think it should be bought at a time when the collapse is accelerating… after all, I see medicinal plants as a source of information that we should not lose…. With love

  9. I have a general question for the folks here.

    I think that current financial system in the US will undergo a period of hyper inflation within a few years. We just printed too many dollars and there are also so many dollars being used overseas that it seems to me that hyper inflation can not be avoided. I guess technically it could if the huge losses in the financial and real estate markets were allowed to happen, but that would not be in the short term interest of the banks and wealthy. So instead of facing the coming Greater Depression head on we will first get much more money printing, then hyper inflation, then the greater depression.

    So my situation is I am 58, own my home, have no debt and have a fair amount of money saved up. But i am ~90% sure that we will be getting hyper inflation in the not too distant future.

    So the question is : What should i spend my money on while it still has value?

  10. It’s a complete shame the way America has given up it’s industry.
    First we sent manufacturing away. At the start, it was American retailers selling American brands that happened to be manufactured in China. Now guess what? We buy stuff from Chinese brands, through Chinese retailers (Temu or many Amazon sellers). We gave away the core work and the rest of the industry followed.
    Then we sent IT away. Well we didn’t send it away as much as we imported another country in (India). Calling tech support and getting someone with a thick Indian accent is so cliche now it isn’t worth mentioning. The heads of Google and Microsoft? From India. We gave away the core work and they ended up commanding the industry itself.
    This all “worked” for the average American because of globalization, the dominance of the petrodollar, and the might of the American military. We realized we could do nothing and still reap the benefits by holding the world hostage through debt and force. These pillars are breaking now and when they break we will have nothing. The time is now to repatriate manufacturing. At this point it would be preferable to take the IT route and bring in cheap foreign labor on work visas if that’s what it takes to get manufacturing on US soil again. The point being America has to get back to doing something, to producing things, because the time is coming when most of us won’t be able to afford global imports.
    But this is also a military issue. America most assuredly does NOT have the industrial capacity, domestically, to fight another big war. To draw a Civil War analogy, America is the south, with little industry, and Russia and China are the thoroughly industrialized north. As soon as Ukraine or Gaza or Taiwan rise above the level of a spat or proxy war, we are screwed. Russia is already drawing in allies to increase industrial war production in the case of North Korea.

  11. Forewarned is forearmed as they say. It’s not as if you haven’t been warning us for going on two decades now John Michael. Having grown up in Africa in a working class home, I’ve loads of frugality tips which I’ll dole out one by one on the Frugal Fridays (EXCELLENT IDEA, SPLENDID!) but if anyone wants to get started on a practical basis, I can recommend two reads: The first is the book Your Money or Your Life. The second is the blog called Mr Money Mustache. The writer of the latter is a bit left leaning/woke for my taste, but the vast bulk of his advice is incredibly sound. Especially the earliest writings. Disregard his recent midlife crisis EV buying and you’re set for some useful instructions. This is the place to start:

    As to our host: Thank you very much for gifting us with yet more free valuable material, dear JMG. I’m living and breathing the FHR material for instance. Next up, the Essenes material. Etc. Just today I meditated on the meaning of wealth. We’re all in this community very wealthy indeed, if viewed correctly, and largely thanks to you.

  12. I like visiting the countryside and rural areas, but I’m an urban person and I don’t think it would be an easy adjustment for me. I was delighted to read your posts back on the ADR about the “rust belt revival” and the like. If everyone went out to the rural areas, they wouldn’t be rural anymore, and the small towns would no longer be small.

    Yet there is still much to do on our postage stamped sized lot, and there is much to learn even for just basic kitchen gardening to supplement the grocery store. Lots to learn on the spiral path of green wizardry. Thanks for all the writing of you’ve done that have helped me become more braced then I otherwise would have been, but there is still more to do. That’s kind of the beauty of it: you do and learn one thing, and it helps inspire to think of what else can be done and made.

    There is much to love in this vision “of thriving communities with their own libraries, newspapers, democratic governments, and trade and information links to the rest of the world, without any dependence on fossil fuels. In the year 2100 the same thing could be true, with improved sanitation, superinsulated homes, shortwave radio, and ultralight aircraft, among other things, making things even more comfortable and interesting than they were in the Federal era.”

    I’d add to that the revival of voluntary societies and fraternal orders, the revival of “lost” arts and folk traditions, and lots of ways to entertain ourselves and each other on the cheap, without the interjection of unwanted propaganda disguised as entertainment.

    The DIY ethos, in all the bohemian and subcultural milieus it has thrived in, has always been an inspiration to me since I first got hip to such things, man. It hasn’t gone away all together, but a lot of people have numbed themselves out with all the inputs of consumption, they seem to have forgotten that “we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams.”

    Do you think the “back to the land” fixation comes from collective memory of the pioneers and others who came and settled this wild land?

  13. Wow, keep it coming. Painting that outside corner, like Greg Maddux in his prime.
    Here is the latest techno-narcissist credo:
    For laughs and amusement, and delectation. I am sure there will be much MORE before it’s all settled. The lesson I am taking away from this post (and our current reality) is, at whatever level you are operating, create more than you consume. And you can only do that with vision, positive creative magic, and contact with reality. So many thanks, and so much respect, for what you do, in making that more possible.

  14. Frugal friday sounds great. I’m up for that.

    The most obvious thing for me to cut back on if I need to save money is music tuition. I’m spending around $200CAN/month on that at the moment, which is a sizeable portion of my income. I can afford to do so because I am very cheap to run otherwise and have saved a fair bit in the past. I think it is an investment that I think is worthwhile for me, but if I need big cuts in a hurry, that’s where I’ll need to look.

    There’s ways I could continue to learn by myself, although more slowly. I might do more composition. And there’s some local unofficial or nonclassical stuff I could do very cheaply indeed when I want to play with others. Or I could say, enough learning, and put all my energy into finding students so I can make money instead of spend it. Or try to start and run my own musical group, ideally of recorders. Or put my energy into making youtube videos, and posting my compositions so people can buy them. This year, I’ve really been spending my time and energy on improving my skills so I a) have more to offer, and b) because there’s difficult and gorgeous music I want to play and I can’t yet play as much of it as I want to. Why do I want to climb the mountain? “because it’s there.”

    I could also move some of my time away from music back to growing more food and cooking more from scratch. That would reduce my expenses, and the move would also reduce money spent on busfare.

  15. You mention us failing to take previous off-ramps towards a low-fossil-fuel future. Probably because the public believed that meant a significant reduction in quality of life (and immediately saw that in gas prices/shortages, with a reworking to simply have less need for cars being a years to decades long project, it’s a hard sell as a solution). You complain that although low-fossil-fuel may be more acceptable in the public consciousness, low-energy is not, which suggests the same mistake will be repeated in a different form.

    I don’t really have a point. I guess your action plan is to accept that society will likely make the wrong choices and individuals should plan how to thrive anyway. Maybe the only realistic collective action part of this is living by example: living a low-energy lifestyle, showing it’s not a low quality of life failure.

  16. Do you think the “rush” has not yet arrived? I imagine it can’t be far off (though we’ve been saying that for decades now!).

  17. Greetings all!
    Frugal Fridays! Wonderful! In my humble opinion, one of the very first thing to do “to collapse first and avoid the rush ” is to learn how to compost vegetable kitchen wastes. Easy to do, provides a valuable resource and allows one to begin to learn how to grow vegetables in pots of any size for instance. Compost making can be done on very limited space such as on an apartment’s balcony. I did it! Now I have a large garden, compost making is practically on an industrial scale!

  18. Decades ago, there was an excerpt from a book about investing in the Whole Earth Catalog. It said something to the effect that one of your very best investments was insulating your home because you didn’t have to pay taxes on the energy you saved. Not very sexy, but I can say insulating the roof, getting good windows and updating the furnace has cut our heating and cooling bills in half. I suppose big industry, big media and big government don’t find it very sexy because none of them can make any money off it. Sad what happens when we let the culture be set by people who don’t have our interests at heart.

  19. >What makes this a challenge is that at this point the United States is effectively bankrupt.

    Waxing cynical for a moment. Ok, more than a moment. The British Empire was effectively bankrupt since the early 1900s more or less and they’re still bumbling their way through the world, although their trajectory has been decidedly down throughout. They don’t call it empire anymore do they?

    Not to say it isn’t a problem or that it won’t cause consequences. It is and it will.

    >that runaway inflation

    Sigh. I suppose being frugal might help a little bit with that but when you’re dealing with full blown hyperinflation, it turns all the rules of the game on their head. Up is down, etc. For instance, people have dealt milk out the back of their car and smuggled powered milk like it was cocaine. That doesn’t happen usually with milk. But with the power of hyperinflation, all sorts of things become possible that were not just a few short years before.

    My advice is to read one historical account of a hyperinflation. You only need to read one. Because they’re all depressingly the same. I mean, if you’re feeling masochistic, feel free to read more than one. Don’t say I didn’t warn you though. Within that historical account(s) you will find stories about how people dealt with it.

    >you’ll be getting by with less energy, and fewer of the products of energy, than you use today

    Not only that but as we’re seeing in real time, the quality of replacement parts is going downhill fast. I’d say now up to 50% of being a mechanic today is spent finding parts that won’t immediately break in the first two weeks. And I’d bet that manufacturing quality of everything else is going downhill too. Good, fast, cheap – pick two.

    There’s something I like to call “Laboratory Citadel Capitalism”, where whatever it is you’re using can’t be field repaired, can’t be disassembled, can only be made in some faraway “Laboratory Citadel” and if you want to keep using it, you have to go back to the laboratory citadel to get a new one every so often. Another piece of advice, take it for what it’s worth, systematically identify everything in your life that you depend on, if it comes from a laboratory citadel, do your best to eliminate your dependency on it.

  20. JMG

    Thanks for getting back to this, what I consider to be the most important and cogent of your many themes.
    I think that the simplest way to look at this and to approach it is to create a hard-copy personal/household budget. I have been working on this for a month or two now, and be assured, it is a work in progress.
    I have set my standard to live at 150% of the federal poverty level.
    By forcing yourself into living within your self-imposed income level, the tradeoffs necessary to do so are laid bare.
    The good part, that you state firmly, is to realize that it isn’t a slam dunk, there is a lot of practice required to make this kind of thing happen on a reproducible basis.

  21. Thanks to suggestions here over the years, I’ve read a few books on the effects of the Great Depression and of hyperinflation, and I was going to ask for more recommendations, but first I stumbled on this list that might be of interest (

    I’m not sure if we’re heading toward hyperinflation or deflation, so will happily read in both directions (or about stagflation, ’cause that’s kind of happening in the meantime), if anyone has anything to add beyond the Great Depression literature.

    By the way, I recommend Galbraith “The Great Crash”, Terkel “Hard Times”, Roth “The Great Depression”, Egan “The Worst Hard Times”, and Paarsons (sp?) “Dying of Money,”).

    Though I’m late to the game, I’ve proposed that I “teach” (or rather co-learn) a Home Preparedness series for my Grange members – obviously with some emphasis on “surviving economic lean times” in addition to the classic prep-for-disaster stuff. My proposal was well-received and I’m preparing (haha) for it 😀

    Though not your focus here, there’s also a lot to be said for learning to live with LESS so that you can then go on to earn less – which takes some wind out of the sails of the GDP-driven machine, and frees up some slack (if you’re not a two-income family, but instead have an at-home parent, you get to hobble the beast that wishes to monetize the “childcare” aspect of home life, AND you get to have an actual relationship with your offspring), etc. I know this has been discussed frequently here, but just thought I’d mention it again. There’s some latent power in not *needing* to be a corporate slave.

    Regarding real estate – there’s about to be a lot less house-sale “velocity” (which is partly what’s driven rising prices over the years) due to the rising interest rates at a time when fewer can afford to spend more. Deninger over at Market-Ticker has talked about this quite a bit, which reminds me – as much as I appreciate his iconoclastic economics-talk (his fed-post worthy comments can be dropped down a deep hole, if you ask me), I’d like to expand my reading a bit. Anyone got a recommendation for thoughtful (and not bubble-hyped) posts and discussion about our ongoing economic situation? Who out there is awake to energy impacts and to strategies that don’t all rhyme with “put your money in an index fund!” (and so on)? I see Charles Hugh Smith is there, but anyone else?

    Thanks in advance – and too for the Frugal Friday series (can’t wait!)

  22. You said on your subscribestar account that the events during the eclipse starting October 14 were going to be front-loaded. LoL…they seem to be so front-loaded that they fell out the front and started a bit early!

  23. We’re not the only ones with problems. I married into a Chinese family, and so I get information via family sneaker-net and not-anywhere-close-to-officially-approved WeChat posts. The economy over there is experiencing one of the worst bouts of unemployment ever, with the resulting belt-tightening putting the brakes on their consumer economy. Add to this the fact that the post-Zero-Covid recovery was tepid at best; fuel costs are up (even though consumer prices are fixed by price ceilings); the real estate market is in the tank and a commercial loan crisis is brewing; and Chinese young adults are rebelling against the official “can do or else” culture of over-achievement, and you have the perfect storm. Part of this mess is definitely due to Xi trying desperately to drag China kicking and screaming back to Maoism, but there’s plenty of blame to go around. This is also probably the biggest reason for Xi’s saber-rattling over Taiwan–he needs something, anything, to distract from the worsening situation at home.

  24. Thank you for the Master Conserver files! I’ve downloaded them (officially virus free according to my laptop). I thought I’d check out one that I know something about, so as a builder I scanned the earth sheltered structures file; first impression is it is excellent on theory and the basic physics.

    For those readers that see a 1984 date on a document and assume it is out-of-date, I suggest reminding yourself that physical ‘laws’ don’t change (at least over human space/time scales!). I also urge people to learn or re-learn how to do basic calculations without the aid of electronic devices. It is shocking how easily even basic mathematics and geometry is forgotten if you don’t use it. Our host’s cogent delineation of TOOLS vs. PROSTHETICS is worth keeping in mind when considering what you actually need for a good life, as opposed to what you have been told is necessary for “The American Dream”. Which is, of course, a nightmare for every other consciousness on the planet anyway…

  25. Though soldiers (“milites”) have committed massacres aplenty in history, in my view the perpetrators of the 7th October massacre should not be described as “militants”, as the term seems to confer on them a spurious status.

  26. Speaking of HAMAS
    Israel’s digital high-tech fence around gaza, with all the Ir sensors, cameras, automated machine guns, etc. All hamas had to do is to plug off the energy supply to make it useless. Overreliance on technology its always a loosing strategy

  27. I ran across a William Blake quote recently: “The ruins of time build mansions in eternity.” It seems like timely advice on how to handle the approaching trainwreck.

    With regards to the looming disasters, have the excess deaths from the Covid vaccines changed your outlook at all? Meaning basically, will they make it easier to find employment and resources, or more difficult?

  28. Most-stimulating Archdruid, oooh, I know that music reference! For those in the commentariat who don’t, here are the lyrics: and if you go to YouTube you can listen to the song here:

    For today at least, this may be a perfect anthem for the times we are in. I just played it, loud! My wife and I danced! Glad to find out that you, JMG, are among many other things a Traffic fan!

  29. I remember, long ago in the old ADR blog, about the Retrotopia series, how, while the main character was in Lakeland the world was going to hell with a regional war screwing oil supplies and the satellites going down. Things are going really fast and, now that the Israelis blew that hospital, I don’t think that peace is possible and Israel will fight a 3 front war.

    A 3 front war in a world where anti tank and anti aircraft weapons are a dime a dozen, thanks to Ukraine, and in which an assault against a hardened, well equipped enemy will be at least as horrible as Mairupol and Bakmut were. The thing is, Russia has peasants to throw in the meat grinder. Ukraine had to, up to a certain point. Israel has 8 mi people. If if loses 200k like Russia lost Israel is over.

    The imminent fall of Israel will blow the minds of evangelical christians, since they will fully expect that Jesus or the Beast will appear at any moment and when it doesn’t, I belive that it will be a deathblow to the Evangelical, judaized, christians. A lot of people will lose their God and go mad/depressed/berserk if Israel falls.

  30. John–

    Never fear–we simply have to defeat China:

    The author admits that his “soft path” isn’t easy, but he also doesn’t own up to the fossil-fuel subsidies underlying “clean energy” technologies. (Not to mention the massive investments required for an ageing energy grid.) But it’ll h

    More hopium for everyone!

  31. I’m sure everyone here knows this (it’s obvious, really), but, man, stay the hell out of debt. This past year has been absolutely odious, with multiple cuts in income, interest rate hikes and unavoidable cost increases conspiring to balloon my debt while undermining my ability to service said obligations. Thank providence, I’ve (just) managed to pull out of the doom-loop.

    Two things struck me about the experience: A) How incredibly quickly it can happen, and B) what a constrictive effect the situation has on every aspect of your being, thus severely undermining your ability to respond to the problem.

    Really, thinking back to childhood and my mom budgeting and stretching income like a fiend, I should have known better.

    Anyway, NEVER again.

  32. “The US national debt is well over 33 trillion dollars now, and something like half of that staggering sum has been accrued since 2008.”

    The US hit the 17 trillion dollar mark on this day in 2013. A government shutdown over the debt had just ended.

  33. Thanks for another great post! I think Russia, and dare I say, Trump with MAGA, have it right that ‘being able to make everything you need within your own borders has certain hard advantages.’ Saving money and conserving energy (or in other words, consuming less) are definitely important components of the strategy needed to deal with decline, but why should we passively accept our dull fate as mere consumers, when we can be producers also, like more people were before Free Trade gutted so many of the productive industries in North America? In my opinion, taking up a new skill and learning to actually produce something on one’s own is another part of the strategy required to deal with the crisis at hand, and one that could even lead to a new career. At first glance it might not seem to make immediate sense from an economic point of view; after all, there’s no way to compete with Walmart and Amazon and the other big companies. If instead it can be seen as a process that gradually unfolds itself over time, perhaps keeping up with the pace of decline, it starts to seem more worthwhile and do-able. I think it may have been Dmitry Orlov who described the process of taking up a new productive skill as it unfolds in a declining society: it starts out as a hobby, gradually grows into a source of additional income, and finally becomes a much-needed lifeline in difficult times. That’s more or less the process I’ve been following as a farmer. (As an aside, I agree that being a farmer is hopelessly idealistic and romantic, and that the reality is a ridiculous amount of hard work, but I have at least been actually working away at it for the last ten years. Figuring out how to work hard has been a major part of what I needed to learn. And I find it immensely satisfying and would probably keep doing it even if we weren’t in decline. /aside). It started out as me just producing things for my family, neighbors and friends, and over the years has gradually expanded, along with my skills, into a source of additional income. I now have a slowly growing collection of customers that value the quality and local element of the food that I produce, and are willing to pay for it to the point where demand often exceeds supply. So far, I have not arrived at the point of it being a much-needed lifeline, but there is probably more than a small chance that may change in the years ahead. There are many other things besides food that need producing (and don’t require going back to the land), which makes for many opportunities as our society navigates this decline.

  34. Another great post John. I’ve recently been watching some good videos where a host would interview Dr Bill Reese on the subject of overshoot and how our planet is already well into overshoot. There’s even a movement called the degrowth movement although I’m skeptical of it because they’re trying to think of ways to use less energy and still have the same stuff that we have now. But I think we need to realize that we don’t have more stuff we would need two planets in order to keep using the same amount of stuff we have now. So I’m looking for ways to collapse now and avoid the rush in my own life and I try to tell it to anyone that will listen. Keep up the good work. I have several of your books including the long descent and retropia and find Hope in them if people would take similar scenarios and see what might be possible.

  35. One of the skills that I am learning is how to do my banking without needing to use a computer or the internet. I am paying my bills again by mail by writing a check and mailing the payment. I actually find this easier to keep track of my money by doing it this way so going back to an older system of doing something is sometimes a better way.

  36. Quin, many thanks for this as always.

    Raymond, for those who have access to soil, yes, it’s a great direction to go.

    Clay, I was startled to hear about the Hamas paragliders, but only because I didn’t expect to see that quite so soon. Yeah, it’s definitely a foretaste of the future.

    Quin, that’s an excellent point. Thanks for the prayer special, too.

    Fra’ Lupo, I considered Saturday, but Saturn’s energy tends toward stasis and rigidity. Friday is Venus’s day, and she’s the patroness of gardens and handicrafts, as well as of social functions and pleasures; I’d much rather invoke the spirit of carnival than grim Saturnine energy.

    Jeff, oh, I expect the true believers in progress to shout their creed at the top of their lungs as things come apart. They’re facing the total collapse of their civic religion — the future’s supposed to bring jetpacks and flying cars, after all, not decline and fall! Too bad the universe doesn’t care what they think. As for Tree of Woe’s series, I’ll have a look at it as time permits; thanks for this.

    Jake, NYC’s in fairly deep trouble right now, and the surface problems are symptomatic of a deeper crisis: the end of US empire. Once the US can no longer commandeer an outsized share of the planet’s wealth, New York will go back to being what it was in the 19th century, just one more east coast city with a good harbor; that involves a fantastic loss of wealth, of course, and it comes at a time when the NYC infrastructure is coming apart and sea level rise will make most of the city unlivable over the next century or so. I’d point out that there are plenty of other cities that might be a better choice for you; I know it’s a New York habit to think of everything outside of the city as rural squalor, but you might be surprised if you get outside the bubble a bit!

  37. Thanks for this, JMG. Thanks in part to the advice and predictions on this and ADR, we had an easier time with the economic side of 2020.
    Over the past few months, we’ve added baking our own bread and living on one car instead of two.
    The first is all my wife’s doing: as a family of 7, we go through about a loaf of bread a day. At that rate of expenditure, we can only afford the cheapest store bread for the kids – which is not very healthy, as it turns out. For the past couple months, she’s baked all the bread herself. While cost-wise, it’s about a wash with the cheapest store bread ($2/loaf around here), quality wise it’s easily equivalent to buying the $10+ bread. The effects were positive on the kids as well.
    The car is involuntary, some vehicles crashed into my parked car, totaling it (and no, I didn’t get anything from insurance) and I have been unable to locate a suitable replacement I can afford.
    We also saved about $200 on heating last year (despite a cost increase) by following your advice on putting sheeting over our windows. I’ll definitely do that again!
    I look forward to seeing everyone else’s recommendations!

  38. Dobbs @ #9, when I have money extra, I buy useful tools. IDK if that can help you, but for what it might be worth. Allow me to point out that as a property owner, you have automatic status in your local area, and you might want to become in some ways involved in local affairs. You could maybe start by buying the ticket for and attending police benefits. The fuzz usually know everything about everybody. We are all going to be having to rely on local networks in the years ahead.

  39. And if I’m wrong and the crunch doesn’t arrive? You have a bunch of extra money in your bank account. What’s not to like about that?

    Can this be memed as “Greer’s Wager”? Great article as usual, thank you.

  40. Collapse now and avoid the rush: Sr, that will always be one of your most profound statements. trust that you have filled out your trademark applicaton (Insert Smiley Emoticon here).

    I fell away from this way of life a long time ago (happened about the same time as the birth if my eldest son) and tried to stay within shouting distance of the concept ever since. One of the thngs that fell away in my recent purges of the barnacle-like accoutrements of modern American society was my dog-eared copies of:

    The Complete Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle.

    As a starting point for folks to do basic research into an enjoyable collapse, these are not a bad start.

    OK, no more pestering folks here, but I think that I will be spending some time coming up with a post for this week’s Frugal Friday. JMG, I think that maybe a ground rule of a word limit for posts/comments might be in order. I love the commentariat here, but frugality in words might be appreciated by many. I am thinking that a basic idea for enhancing personal freedom by material reduction can be stated clearly in 250 words?

  41. @Dobbs: since you asked, I’m in the same situation but I’m 76 and my mom is still living at 102. I buy things that I need sooner rather than later. When things get rough, I doubt that I’ll be able to protect what I have, so I suspect that hoarding stuff like food, and other supplies is gonna be fruitless anyway. I hope my mom is gone by then.

    Skills are important, and so are relationships.

  42. On the subject of “collapse now and avoid the rush,” I would like to recommend a book written by someone who lived through the 2001 socio-economic collapse in Argentina: “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” by Fernando Aguirre. It’s got some very practical advice in there, including that on personal/home protection, which I think is an under-discussed topic which people should think more about, as crime will likely increase during the long descent; and when seconds count, the police will be minutes away, if they’re available at all.

  43. Who would have thought that of all tales The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Sorcerers Apprentice aren’t just funny stories but delineate some of the basic mechanisms that drive the downfall of whole civilizations?

    It’s a spectacle that’s hard to watch… I mostly peep through my fingers.

    As for the subsistence gardening – you’re right, of course. It’s possible to provide a significant boost to your vegetable supply and even to go subsistence with a few products like tomatoes , onions or potatoes with a few years experience. But that’s far from enough, of course. And you still haven’t fed any chicken, pigs or sheep. But the real obstacle you face is seeds. If you can just buy all of your seeds, fine. But what if not? You easily need to double the acreage, dramatically enlarge and improve your storage facilities and of course you need a lot of additional knowledge and skills. We’re running our garden for several years now with improving results despite only modest time to invest. But seeds….


  44. @TemporaryReality #22
    Have a look at Daily quick posts. Doesn’t sell anything.

  45. “Is the global population too high for that?”

    Unfortunately, all of us are too high to do much of anything at all.

  46. @ dobbs #9

    Insulate. Insulate. Insulate. And not just the batts in the attic or having it blown into the walls or the underside of your floors in your unfinished basement.
    Heavy, insulated drapes that you open every morning and close every night can make a huge difference in your heating and cooling costs.
    And seal off those drafts.

    After that, look at what’s always bugged you about your house and fix it.
    Or your teeth.

  47. A part of collapsing ahead of the curve or behind the curve or under the curve. Around the curve? (She’ll be comin’ round the mountain). Seemingly no bones about it, you collapse on your own. Alone. Lonely. Approval lapse.
    Lucky in company this collaptation rotation with dependent family members coming along through no choice of their own (perhaps) providing a source of focus. Care. Tying a sense of calendar time, of regularity, of commitment. This rotation, listen to panic without acting on it. Locating other prompts to action. Panic acknowledged. Panic withdrew with a slow unsubtle sigh. Prolonged relief.
    After collapse, there is settle.
    After the dust clears a path appears.
    And others glimmering in the way.

  48. The term “consumer” to describe us has been around only since the early 1970s, if memory serves. Back in elementary school, my teachers kept stressing that we should grow up to be good citizens, not consumers. The term citizen has shrunk in recent decades to mean only the country you were born to. But it used to have much wider implications, including the expectation that one would participate in the civic life of one’s community. In other words, it meant one would be active, and implied that one had the power and agency (and, according to my teachers, the responsibility) to make the community a better place to live. “Consumer” means none of that: just shut up, buy the latest products, and let any political power you might otherwise exercise wither. Netflix and computer games are way better than attending city council meetings, anyway. Leave the other stuff to us.

    Also, in case people aren’t aware of UCSD physics professor Tom Murphy’s excellent blog “Do the Math,” this summer he posted a thorough takedown of the hype on fusion.

  49. > Since we’re not talking about the end of the world, furthermore, you can expect to have to keep paying a mortgage, utility bills, and taxes while you fling yourself into brutally hard physical labor from sunup to sundown.

    You make it sound a lot harder than it is.

    First, if you have the savings to buy some plot of land and a house in “the land”, there will be no mortgage. If there is one, it will be much smaller (since both will be much cheaper) than the average urban house. Heck, there are even municipalities in countries like Italy that in demographically challenged areas give away perfectly good piece of land and a house for free, in exchange for living there and fixing it (which in those places one can do for like 30-40 grand).

    Second, if one doesn’t have savings, one could supplement their farming by working remotely (as long as its possible) from there the same kind of stuff millions work remotely while living in big cities atm.

    Utility bills can be much lower with reduced energy usage, like with solar water heating, clothelines, insulation, some solar panels for modest energy needs, etc. Lots of people get quite a milleage off the grid.

    As for taxes, those are on income, aren’t they? So if you have to deal with them, you are already making money off your farm (or other job).

    Farm work also isn’t (or doesn’t have to be, unless you go for production) “brutally hard physical labor from sunup to sundown”. It wasn’t that even in my parts of the world, in rural villages 50 years ago, with 1/10th the resources available to a modern farmer. It would just be that ocassionally, in some few times of the year when concentrated effort was needed. Farmers had much more free time than the average office drone, it’s not even funny!

  50. JMG – thank you for this, and the assistance to think better and start preparing. I am so grateful to have had time to consider, work through and recognize current patterns (pay off debt, get energy audit and follow through, etc.)

    Accumulate and read/act upon various references now, currently online, and print out relevant portions available now but not personally archived, seems a good idea. Having been on board for a while and used to living well below my income, it is easy to get complacent. I am currently re-reading “After Progress” by JMG, highly recommended. Mental/spiritual preparedness and understanding help effective actions, mental resilience and preventative health measures. It is nice to see other groups cropping up, interested in these issues. archive whole earth (sponsored by

  51. Dear JMG, I was listening to a guest on The Durant, and he’s a derivative trader in Europe (he said think of derivatives like insurance). Everything has insurance on it from natural gas, stocks, mortgages, etc. He says there’s currently 600 trillion out in derivatives and of course they can’t be covered when things start unraveling. He see trouble in the mortgage market in 12 to 18 mo, bcz most borrowers have adjusted mortgages and their payments are going to go up by over $1,000/mo. Of course they won’t be able to pay that. Also, he said to watch the natural gas prices bcz if they get up to $4.50. ($3 now), derivatives meltdown will occur. He didn’t call what’s coming a crash but a super crash and it’s unimaginable. He’s one of only 40 brokers in Europe and has been in the biz since 2,000. Since it looks like the Holy Land is about to blow at any minute, this derivative implosion could come soonish.

  52. A rural homesteader friend and I like to joke about our $75 tomatoes, but it’s no laughing ‘mater. (hehe) In fact, after 15 years of collapsing now and avoiding the rush, my wife and I had just recently decided to stop playing farmer and focus our efforts elsewhere. Thank you for pointing out the difficulties of producing any serious contribution to your household’s caloric needs. Even growing up in the garden like I did, I’ve never grown more than maybe 10% of what we ate in any given year. But I’ve sure spent a lot of time pretending!

    Now we’re focusing on cutting expenses. Paying off the last of our debts, cutting extras that cost us more than they’re worth (including some insurance), and putting away money – mostly in the form of silver, but some cash too. I have an easier time holding onto it in silver form, and it paces inflation better. I’ve already mentioned developing a here-and-now local trade network with old silver coins, which has been a ton of fun, and keeps the Law of Flow operating in an arena that could suffer from accumulation quite easily.

    After 4 1/2 years of living downtown we finally decided to sell the old rural homestead and focus even more intently on collapsing in place, and giving up that American dream of a bucolic life in the sticks you mentioned. I’m delighted to say that the place is under contract and should be changing hands in the next 2 weeks. That will move us a very long way toward being debt free and having a more comfortable cushion behind us. We will be putting a large chunk of the proceeds into a new reflective metal roof and insulation, attic fans, a wood stove, removing a very leaky room hanging off the back end of the house upstairs, and putting a roof over the back porch (and all the windows on the NW side of the house).

    Big moves to go with a timely post. Thank you for writing it!

  53. “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”

    But it’s good for GDP according to Paul Krugman.

    Anything you do for yourself is bad for GDP because there is no transaction, whether it is childcare or growing your own tomatoes. (It’s also bad for tax revenue, same reason.)

    I read Krugman’s blog for a few years after the 2008 crash. He lives in quite the odd world.

    “America most assuredly does NOT have the industrial capacity, domestically, to fight another big war. To draw a Civil War analogy, America is the south, with little industry, and Russia and China are the thoroughly industrialized north.”

    You noticed that too? A short war still favors the US, but it’s come as you are. There will be no replacements. In WWII we built 24 Essex class carriers. Now it takes three years to build one, (they hope once they get the bugs out of the construction process)

    Our MIC can’t even make enough primers to serve the civilian market and the military at the same time. Ukraine seems to have sucked everything dry. By the way MSM coverage of the Ukraine seems to have evaporated.

    One last thought, the last time Minneapolis was kept warm with wood heat it was a lot smaller. Do you think the migration south might increase even more as people try to not freeze to death? Global warming raising the winter night’s temperatures from -30 to -25 isn’t going to help much.

  54. I’d be delighted to provide frugal tips and read other people’s ideas.
    As a start, I highly recommend Amy Dacyczyn’s book “The Tightwad Gazette”.
    It’s in several volumes, eventually collected as one massive trade paperback.
    Most libraries have a copy.
    If you can’t cut back your spending after reading even a small portion of the book, it’s because you don’t want to.

  55. I’ve been thinking about this today and I don’t know where else to comment!
    Anyway. I began our Instagram account for our business (look for Peschel Press) and discovered I like Instagram.
    I’ve been doing this about 2 1/2 years.
    In that time, I saw the tail end of the Summer of Floyd when every right-thinking person on Insta posted black squares to show solidarity.
    During Covid, loads of people posted about their vaccine status, wearing their masks, and shaming anyone who questioned getting jabbed.
    When the Russians invaded Ukraine, Instagram turned into a sea of yellow and blue.
    When Hamas attacked Israel and massacred civilians?
    Unless you’re Jewish, nothing. Nada.
    I don’t follow that many people, mainly writers and local businesses, but it is striking the difference in the reaction to Ukraine and to Israel.

    You would think one matters and the other didn’t happen at all!

  56. Reading your post brought me a sense of great relief. First, because you quoted the great, epic Traffic song, “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys,” one of the greatest songs in any genre, IMHO. Second, because your framing of this new outbreak of war, upping the savagery of the previous decades, has gotten my brain into such a tizzy while it was trying to absorb all the competing opinions, stories, philosophies, and feelings that it was likely to explode. A few days ago all the talking (and shouting, whispering, crying, raving) points drained out of my brain. A silence remained, then a knowledge arose: This isn’t really about Israel/Palestine. This is about the time we’re in. This is about collapse. It could even (though you may think I wax apocalyptic) mean the start of World War Three.

    Regardless, the political meltdown in this country continues apace, with the left and right growing more incoherent day by day. The Republicans can’t even elect a Speaker so they could take effective action to carry out their agenda, like, say, supporting their supposedly beloved Israel. The left is melting down over the Hamas attack and Israel’s response: while some are moderate, others call out for more blood and minimize the brutality of the other side. Jews, traditionally a strong underpinning of the political left, are looking at each other and going, “Huh? What’s going on? They hate us, they really hate us!” Not just Palestinians, by the way, but their fellow “progressives.” (Like, for example, the Stanford instructor who told his Jewish students to stand up, confess they are colonialists, and march off to a special re-education session.) This is going to cause a reshuffling of political alliances, I would guess, with many other factors gnawing away at the polarities that have guided us.

  57. Not on savings, but on where to put your money while you still have it: if you have any physical conditions that can be fixed, and have the cash to do so, DO SO! At the end of this month, I’ll be coming off a better-than-two year effort to have everything in my mouth fixed that needed to be fixed, and at the end of this month, my dentist will be creating 4 new lower front teeth for me, to be installed right after Thanksgiving.
    By the same token, I took care of a totally frozen hip that was leaving me half crippled and with very low energy, back in the 20teens, as well as cataract surgery. All of this was in one big, intensive “LET”S FIX EVERYTHING!” drive.
    I’m talking triage here: just the stuff that (a) can be fixed, (b) without which you’re functioning is very low or else puts you at risk for illness, and (c) which fixing WILL restore you to functionality.
    The same goes for any of your tools, machines, etc, that you use and need.

  58. I think the main thing that is going to prevent any positive societal rather than individual responses to our dilemma is the nature of western debt/ growth capitalism. If one blames our decline on Covid, war, whatever, the assumption is that the trend can eventually be turned around and growth resumed. However to actually acknowledge the growing shortages of oil and other resources,, the degradation of land and water, etc, and seek a realistic adaptation to it means the end of growth and a huge financial collapse. Even climate change can be presented as just needing different energy structures to continue growth, and an actual investment opportunity. I don’t think the reality of our situation is going to be faced until there is a major financial crash or even a series of them. this is going to be a huge thing for the world population to accept, somewhat like the five stages of acceptance of death, etc.
    Forgive me.I realize I am saying things you have already said.

  59. The fine folks at recently posted an analysis of the green energy program that has Uruguay providing 98% of its energy needs from renewable sources. Not being a subscriber to Doomberg (part of my frugality program), I did a little research on my own. How does Uruguay do it? Well, to start with, they have enough hydropower to meet about 50% of their demand. They get most of the rest from wind turbines, and a substantial portion from “biomass”. (Exactly what that means isn’t obvious. In some cases, it means clear-cutting forests, chopping the green wood and burning it for steam.) I’m on a low-bandwidth connection tonight, so I can’t get the figures I want, but I ask two questions: how does per capita energy consumption in Uruguay compare to the US? I know that hydro is a small fraction of US electricity, so what would our lives be like if we were limited to 50% hydro + 50% wind/solar? (Hydro is dispatchable to make up for wind/solar interruptions.)

  60. Kind Sir,

    a datapoint for doing things with less energy.
    A few months ago I was in Europe visiting extended family. Most of my relatives live in various small villages and towns in southern Bavaria and I got to visit a grain mill that has a history of at least 900 years.
    It is a three story structure with a quite complex mechanical setup with lots of moving parts, cogwheels and shafts, all done in timber and cast iron.
    As an engineer i found much to be interested in. Had a bit of a chat with the miller, best as I could do navigating the local dialect, and he showed me that the whole machinery was driven by a rather small mill stream. The energy input had been measured to be 1.4kW.
    That is less than an electric hair dryer.
    I don’t quite remember how much the output was, but i think it was in the hundreds of kilo pre day.
    Post WWII some electrical machinery was added, but mostly the mill still runs on the stream.
    If I compare this to the way we do things here in Australia, it looks like some places will be better able to deal with the crunch than others.
    At least I dont need heating here to stay warm…..

  61. Did you intend to post this pretty much exactly (one day late, but still) on the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Oil Embargo in 1973, or is this just a funny coincidence?

  62. John Michael Greer,
    How do you think the Midwestern cities (Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, etc) would fare when America’s empire collapses?

  63. For anyone who has enough land to place a couple of compost bins, I highly recommend The Humanure Handbook. Homescale sewage treatment using nothing more complicated than a bucket. A great way to reduce your reliance on industrial systems, and get some great compost.

  64. What a masterful summary of some of the best analysis and advice you’ve given over the past decade and more. This may be the post I start quietly recommending to friends and family who have heard me talk about such things over the same timespan but may only just now (maybe???) be ready to listen. Here’s hoping at least.

    Frugal Fridays sound like a ton of fun and I am so in. I grew up among well-off urbanites who retain a cultural memory of being refugee immigrants during the Great Depression, and I have leaned into those skills hard all my adult life. If an atmosphere of carnival is what you’re going for, I may just break out the popcorn.

  65. “the Stanford instructor who told his Jewish students to stand up, confess they are colonialists”
    He has a point. Just because your ancestors once lived there doesn’t automatically mean you get to go back. I’m sure if I went back to Baden-Wurttemberg and demanded a house, and oh by the way I’m going to keep speaking English and you have to cater to me the locals would pitch me right in the nearest river.

    Interesting time indeed. The only thing keeping us going is inertia. Will it let us jump the gap in the road or do we splat?

  66. I live a simple liveaboard life on my sailboat. Low overhead moorage, electric, propane, diesel for ship’s engine and fireplace. Local seafood, chicken and eggs, serious veggies.
    Ship paid for($40,000)and no debt. Long distancebicyclecamping. Just unloading used way too complex and expensive car for a tough ‘shade tree mechanic level’ Russian ural 750cc motorcycle with sidecar. Enjoy inexpensive classical oil painting, martial art school, and basic blues guitar hobbies.
    Starting to see a small town community emerge here. Pushback on the woke cultural Marxists who went overboard on the covid health stazi diktats. That whole debacle really hardened me up. Looking at restarting a under the table handyman biz as much as connecting with folk as making a bit of cash.
    Love the frugal Friday idea. Recommend “Ten lost years” by Barry Broadfoot. He gathered stories from all the folk who lived and survived the Great Depression in Canada.

  67. @JMG

    I’ve been following you for many years. I don’t 100% agree with your ideas but they have had a profound and positive effect on my life, especially “Collapse now and avoid the rush.” Here’s some of what I’ve actually done (or didn’t do):

    – paid off my mortgage, no other debt (#1 life enhancer)
    – was going to move to a rural high desert area and try my hand at farming, nixed that idea thank god
    – got some chickens, a few raised beds. seek out local producers, real food
    – started drawing again. splurged on one of those fancy sketchbooks
    – big emergency fund, which was drained recently when I went almost a year between gigs
    – started talking to my family again
    – made a point of socializing, finding like-minded people, even though I’m introvert
    – go on a hike, up a hill, on a beach
    – turned off the news, regular digital detox
    – sold all my stocks. just cash, short-term debt, pm, and real estate
    – down to a single car. walk/bike to what I can

    Maybe I’ll be proved a fool and we’re going to the stars. I think regardless the mindset has improved my quality of life immensely. Just getting my 20th century, pre-internet brain back for a few hours a day was worth it. Thank you for what you do and everyone in this general tribe.

  68. Another timely post! One of the things I want to say to challenge my children as they grow up is “Sure, anyone can be a consumer. But can you be a producer?”

    With reference to the challenges of collapsing now (Quin #4), there are social ramifications. For those of us who grew up in the PMC and still overlap with those circles to an extent, the awkward stares and funny looks you get when you decline attending costly parties, avoid eating out at restaurants, don’t collect the latest electronics or lavish your children with the same, or (gasp!) admit you haven’t flown anywhere in years, can be alienating. In some ways, that may be the hardest part of collapsing now.

    Although it seems to be getting easier. Maybe people sense things are getting harder and weirder out there. Or maybe I’m just getting older and don’t care as much what people think.

    I’m looking forward to Frugal Fridays. Let’s make it cool to be cheap!

  69. Yiğit, Lust’s book is one of the classics; it was around when I was first getting into herbalism and it’s still worth reading. It’s not the easiest thing to use, and there are other books worth having as well, but it’s good to have.

    Dobbs, I don’t think there’s any one answer to that question that applies to everyone. What is important to you? Spend it on that.

    DT, the upside is that once the current economic system falls to bits, the reindustrialization of the US will create a great many new working class jobs. Of course it’s getting there that’s the hard part…

    Miow, you’re most welcome! Thank you for the recommendations and I’ll look forward to seeing your contributions to Frugal Fridays.

    Justin, I grew up in the suburbs but the city was always the cynosure of my insufficiently misspent youth, and I’m happiest living in a working class urban neighborhood, so I get that. Yes, all those things are options, provided only that people get to work preserving and reviving them! As for the back to the land business, yes, it’s a cultural memory of the days when the frontier was always the place you could go to make a new life for yourself. But that was long, long ago…

    Celadon, excellent! That’s a fine maxim, and worth following.

    Pygmycory, I’ll look forward to seeing your contributions to Frugal Fridays. I wonder, though, if you could work out some kind of barter arrangement for music tuition.

    Daniel, exactly. Waiting for society to get a clue is a sucker’s game. Living the best life possible, knowing that most people will be baffled and contemptuous of you, but a few might get a clue from your example, seems much more sensible to me.

    Roldy, I don’t think the rush is quite here yet. It may not be far off, but we’ll see.

    Karim, that’s certainly a good option for people who have a garden, but not everyone does!

    Bradley, I remember the quote. It was from the book Muddling Toward Frugality by Warren Johnson — a classic, and well worth revisiting.

    Other Owen, well, as I noted in the post, “the dollar faces the same death of a thousand cuts that doomed the British pound sterling’s once-inviolable status as global reserve currency.” Of course our national bankruptcy will unfold over decades, of course, the way Britain’s did. As for replacement parts, granted — but remember that this is also a business opportunity. How soon do you think somebody with a decent machine shop can make a living turning out spare parts of decent quality?

    Mary, it’ll be interesting to see how his campaign plays out.

    Degringolade, I return to it whenever I think there’s a chance I’ll be heard. As for your approach, that ought to work very well.

    TemporaryReality, I’m delighted to hear that your Grange is open to that! I’ll look forward to seeing your contributions to Frugal Fridays.

    Thomas, that seems to happen surprisingly often with eclipses!

    Jim, I’ve heard the same thing backchannel from other sources. It’s not surprising; the end of the age of cheap energy is a massive crisis for nearly everybody, and a nation such as China that’s cashed in mightily on the era of globalization is going to face a lot of grief.

    Ken, thank you for this! I’m not a builder, or for that matter a physicist, but I’ve had other people with technical backgrounds look over the files and they all said the same thing.

    Robert, nobody has problems using words such as “soldiers” for Tamerlane’s men, who slaughtered the entire population of whole cities. Thus I don’t see a point to using a cacophemism in this case.

    Paleobear, the role of military technology in an era of decline is complex. Right now the Russians are using waves of computer-guided drones to mess with the Ukrainians, but you’re quite correct that Israeli technologies fell flat on their noses in the face of Hamas monkeywrenching.

    Cliff, it all depends on how large a toll of excess deaths the Covid vaccines cause. If it peaks and declines from here, it won’t be very significant. If it rises from current levels, it could change things considerably — very sharply accelerating the real estate bust, for example, while making jobs more available. But we’ll have to see.

    Bryan, yes, I figured some of my readers would catch that!

    Geronimo, I don’t expect Israel to go under all at once, at least not quite yet; as I wrote quite some time ago, it’s likely to be a messier and slower process due to the need to step carefully around Israel’s nuclear arsenal. If Israel does implode, however, yeah, I expect a lot of fundamentalist Christians to lose their shale comprehensively.

    David BTL, funny. Also, if pigs had wings, we’d all catch our breakfast bacon with butterfly nets!

    D., that’s important advice. Please repeat it on one of the Frugal Fridays, and if you have any useful tips that helped you get out of debt, please be prepared to share those as well.

    Harry, hmm! Thanks for this; I didn’t happen to have that figure. A deficit that doubles in ten years is the textbook definition of unsustainability.

    Stefania, excellent. Yes, exactly.

    Mark, glad to hear it. Yes, older is tolerably often better!

  70. We have racked up considerable experience being poor already 😉
    But one thing I worry about in the decline, is that many of the things that have enabled us to live well in genteel poverty… depend a lot on other people being wealthy and living wastefully. eg In truly hard times, I’m not at all sure we’ll still be able to supply our wardrobes so easily and cheaply from thrift stores, or that we could still mulch the garden and supply carbon mass for our compost entirely from the bags of leaves others so courteously set out by the curb for free. We keep trimming our grocery habits down to “the cheap cuts” again and again, but eventually there’s a floor– and we just have to eat the rising cost of food.

    I can imagine a brief window where folks like us might profitably offer lifestyle consulting services for those still on the way down 😉 But not for long.

    After cultivating the frugal life so long… we are once again contemplating what *else* we can trim, patch, repair, or do without. There’s still some sit left in those pants, but it gets a little nerve-wracking when you’ve already *done* all the easy and obvious things, and still need more slack.

    How far have the rest of y’all ventured into the world of side-gigs and finding new ways to generate income?

  71. Personally I think this could escalate much more quickly than you think, John. Particularly as Israel’s nuclear arsenal is more or less an open secret, and their avowed intention is to start flinging it around in a “Samson Option” if they ever seem on the brink of total defeat. Breaking the nuclear taboo alone would have huge repercussions, without even mentioning the fallout of the destruction of whatever cities they opted to level on the way out. If the conflict were to spread, and go a certain way, I could see such an eventuality happening before this time next year.

  72. I am participating in a church choir, and that doesn’t have dues the way an ordinary choir would. Not separate from church which I was already participating in, and since I’m volunteering there doesn’t seem to be any pressure to tithe. Though I should really get organized so I can at least give something regularly. Churches don’t run on singing alone.

    I have a bursary which reduces my expenses for the stuff directly involved in the conservatory (the income cap was more than four times my income, so I figured I’d probably qualify despite having savings and I was right). I’m supposed to help out with some volunteering if they ask, but thus far they haven’t asked.

    I also substitute taught one class at the conservatory for my recorder teacher, in return for a lesson. There might be more of that in the future, but that is very dependent on events.

    If I wasn’t doing this, I would be paying more. Classical music is not a cheap path, even if you pick things like recorder and voice that don’t have giant instrument costs and only have one lesson in each thing every other week. I’m not expecting to do this much money requiring stuff for years on end, though (a lot of that I already did in the ten years of studying flute while I was growing up), and I can manage financially, can easily back out and cut expenses fast if I need to, and I really want to do this.

    Besides, with inflation the way it is, better to get skills out of some of my money than watch everything just inflate away.

  73. John, glad to hear it.

    Dugan, sure! I’ll look forward to the memes.

    Degringolade, I’ll consider a word limit, though if I do one it’ll more likely be 500 than 250 words. But we’ll see.

    Sam, thanks for this.

    Nachtgurke, exactly. It’s one thing, and a very wise one, to have a garden to supplement what you can get from other sources; it’s quite another to expect to grow all your own food.

    Count Nothing, nah, I got over that habit a very long time ago.

    Amanda, I suspect that’s a path a lot of people will be following.

    Frictionshift, two excellent points. Thank you.

    European, I’ve watched a long string of people try to do what you’ve described, and fail miserably at it. Maybe conditions are just that much harder over here in the US. Here, taxes aren’t all on income — we have property taxes, among others.

    Gardener, once you get used to spending less than you make, the other doors open pretty quickly — but yeah, it’s important not to get complacent.

    Karl, the derivative market is one of the wild cards in the situation. No question, it could come unglued and erase a lot of paper wealth in a hurry. The mess in the real estate market is already baked in the cake at this point, but it’s good to see that others are aware of it.

    Grover, glad to hear it.

    Siliconguy, Krugman’s very useful. Assume that everything he says is wrong, and you’ll usually come out ahead. As for Minneapolis, the northern central states are one of the places where superinsulation makes a huge amount of sense — but I don’t know how many people are even open to that now.

    Teresa, quite a few of the people who put the little virtue-signaling markers on their Instagrams are still trying to figure out which side is the Officially Approved Good Guys. Until that gets settled, they’ll stick with Ukrainian flags.

    Roberta, the song quote seemed very timely to me! As for political incoherence and reorientation, bingo. I’m beginning to think that the first reasonably charismatic figure to occupy the abandoned center of US politics will stomp the bejesus out of both sides.

    Patricia M, that’s certainly one good approach.

    Liane, you and three or four other readers like it a great deal. I’ll have a look at it as time permits.

    Stephen, but you’re giving a useful summary of the most important issues we face, so forgiveness is hardly needed. Thank you.

    Patricia M, there’s that!

    Lathechuck, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Uruguay can get by that way. Uruguay’s energy use is 18,317 kWh per capita; the United States racks up 78,754 kWh per capita. (Source: ). If the US were to cut its energy use to less than a quarter of current levels, thus equal to Uruguay’s, we might be able to manage the same thing.

    dropBear, one of the great secrets of old technology is that mechanical energy is much more efficient than electrical energy. You use huge amounts of energy converting moving water to electricity via a turbine, and equally huge amounts converting it back to motion, heat, or what have you; leave it in mechanical form and gears, shafts, etc. conserve and transmit energy quite well.

    Anonymous, it’s an amusing coincidence.

    Mark, they’ll be in for hard times in the short term, but the Great Lakes and the Ohio-Mississippi valley have enormous potential wealth in the longer run, so once they get through the immediate crisis they’re likely to do well. In my deindustrial-future novel Star’s Reach I have Cincinnati as the capital of a future America — though they pronounce those named “Sisnaddi” and “Meriga” in 2490…

    Weilong, thanks for this.

    Dylan, delighted to hear it. Let’s get that popcorn popping!

    Tim, equally delighted to hear this. It’s good to know there are other people slipping through the cracks.

    Brian, if you agreed with all of my ideas I’d wonder if something was wrong with you. I don’t agree with all of my ideas, you know! The list is a good one, too.

    Blue Sun, that’s intriguing, that you’re getting less pushback. I wonder if that’s spreading more generally.

    Siliconguy, yep. You’ll know that things are unraveling in a big way when internet service stops being available to county-sized areas in rural America.

  74. Methylethyl, oh, no question, a lot of what has worked in an age of absurd extravagance will be less available, or not available at all, once that age is definitively over. That’s one of the reasons I want to get Frugal Fridays going — to encourage experimentation and, as you’ll see, research into ways people got by when there wasn’t that kind of extravagance to draw on. As for side gigs, well, I have one — that’s what my astrology work is, after all!

    Gman, sure it’s always possible to come up with a worst-case scenario. I’ve watched people do that year after weary year, without ever taking into account the failure of every such scenario to happen.

    Pygmycory, that seems entirely reasonable.

  75. A data point for you on Peak Oil. You may recall we live in the Southern Tier/Finger Lakes region of New York State. We bought our property, a forested hilltop at 1700+ feet that is free from light pollution, in the early 90’s. We navigated and did our best to outwit the fracking ppl that came often with offers and schemes. The initial royalty payments would be 8.5%., signing bonus, free gas for the lifetime of the well, Jackets, clothing, glassware, plastic stuff, pens, pads and other material, Needful Things. The chess gods were with us, we chose wisely, and companies rose and fell, were gobbled up, or went bankrupt. The final lease offers limped in at 20% royalties from a fly by night company from Japan seemingly unaware that Emperor Cuomo had been playing them all along.
    Then came the windmill emissary. Sent him and his paperwork packing fast. We had already learned from others mistakes and escaped the Fracker’s house of mirrors by the hairs on our chinny chin chins. The Frackers were manipulative opportunists, the windmill ppl are deceptive and predatory at best.
    So today in the mail (in frack-free New York State) we received “…some positive news.” It wasn’t your “Have you heard the good news?” Landmark meme from long ago, Arch Druid, but the meme has served us well all these years.
    Fr: Southern Tier CO2 Clean Energy Solutions.
    Header/ MT mission statement: “Providing an environmentally and economically compatible solution for cooperatively capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide while generating clean and reliable energy from the shale gas resources of New York’s Southern Tier.”
    “We wanted to share some positive news. I’m reaching out from Southern Tier Clean Energy Solutions with an immediate and tangible proposition to tap the shale gas resources of the Marcellus and Utica shales and use the produced fuel gas as fuel to generate clean or carbon-free electricity. The Southern Tier is the future of scalable decarbonized energy.”
    Two pages of too good to be true then follow, of interest to you might be-
    “INNOVATION OVER TRADITION: We’ve developed an alternative to high-volume hydraulic fracking (HVHF). Our completion method utilizes no fresh water, no added chemicals, and no proppant and employs a CO2-driven process operating a significantly lower pressure. The process reestablishes conductivity within the existing fracture network and forms a new radial fracture network, turning the Marcellus and Utica shales into a dual source of energy production and carbon storage.”
    I suppose that for me the operant word here is “ADDED”, but then again, previous swings and misses by Frackers of all sorts have made me rather wary….
    Later, we are offered 20% net revenue interest “… in the form of the usual royalty payments…” etc. etc. et al, as always. and the Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! call of “These aren’t upfront lump sums, but the terms are fair and exceed anything offered by the industry in the past” Things that make you go “Hmm”, indeed.
    And thus, it begins again. The arrival of manipulative opportunists in BIG shiny trucks, clipboards in hand, who dress and talk “Just like us.” are almost….. “Tangible”.

    Have you heard the good news?

    For reference, their website is:
    Black Tuna and Hand-

  76. To the binary of consumer / producer, add the ternary of … the repairer!

    The Right to Repair movement is gaining momentum all around the world, with Repair Cafes popping up in hundreds of major cities. At these events, volunteers repair broken appliances, clothing, toys etc. while the owners watch and learn about how their things work. There might be one where you live!

  77. Getting out of the cities has taken on a new urgency with the flood of illegal immigrants, 6-7 million we hear, and their passage into major cities like Chicago and New York…If you have the cash, I strongly recommend buying property away from the cities and their immediate suburbs….
    A way that we save money is buying food and other necessities in much larger sizes, and buying food you will eat sometime whenever it goes on sale…Prices aren’t going down in the long run…I hear from friends that in Canada some food items have doubled….

  78. As you say, ‘plenty’ of other economic interests are in deep trouble. This gets the prize for the understatement of the decade, maybe of the century. To name a prominent few, like owners of long duration bonds, like owners of commercial real estate, like home builders, like homeowners, especially those whose mortgages are renewing soon, like banks that own the mortgages, like car makers, like indebted national and subnational governments. And like Wall Street and the whole financial system that’s not much more than a ludicrous ponzi scheme.

    The list of those up the creek is a really long one. It’s difficult to overstate the mess. Central banks may buckle to political pressure and lower rates but it won’t do a stitch of good. I would give them a prize too for how they arranged things. Because if interest rates don’t eat you at the front end, inflation will get you at the back end.

  79. @dropBear & JMG:

    We have one of those very old mills here in Rhode Island.: the Kenyon Grist Mill, which goes back as far as 1696 and still using the original old mill water-powered technology. (The current building is not as old as 1696; it dates only from 1886, but the machinery is original, often repaired.) See:

    My wife and I visited it many decades ago and talked with the then miller, who ran it as something fun to do in his retirement. He was able to talk at length with one of the former millers, an elderly Narragansett, and learn from him the real secrets of how to run the mill safely. (There are real dangers that have to be avoided if the miller wants to stay alive.)

  80. @JMG responding to @Other Owen
    “How soon do you think somebody with a decent machine shop can make a living turning out spare parts of decent quality?”

    It’s already happening, there’s a fascinating channel if you like jerky pictures on screens and are interested in machine shops. Kurtis has a one-man shop called Cutting Edge Engineering, repairing machinery in Australia, he sometimes talks about how much he saves the client (1/3 or 1/4 of the price) Vs buying a replacement from the manufacturer. He has an amazing attitude and pragmatism, and his work is exceptional.

    He has over 670k subscribers to his channel.

  81. @JMG

    Growing up in a middle-class family in India, I sure did learn some things about living frugally and saving money and/or resources. Regarding the saving money part, I think you’re spot on. The minute I get my salary, I put aside part of it as savings, and send it to my father, who invests it on my behalf (he’s an independent financial advisor). Also, I avoid partying, and going to clubs; instead, I entertain myself with long walks in the park near the place I stay, and my (rather big)music collection. I’m looking forward to your Frugal Fridays weekly post – I believe Indians have a thing or two to say about living frugally:).

  82. Hi JMG & all–
    Wow! There certainly is a lot of warfare and craziness going on these days, no matter where you look! At least, we don’t have to worry about AI taking control of the planet. When the fossil fuels dry up and the internet goes down, no more AI. Saved by a universe of limits!
    I am looking forward to Frugal Fridays, for sure!
    Other Owen #19
    Yep, the car parts are lousy and replacements often non-existent–And things have gotten much worse in the last 4 years:
    My 2015 Chrysler Van came with a “900,000 mile warranty on drive train and electronics, good anywhere in North America.” The first time the wiring harness failed, in 2019, the shop replaced it at no charge the day we brought it in.
    When the replacement failed in 2023, I was told I had to take it to another shop 200 miles away. It took 4 round trips over the course of 3 months to get the wiring fixed. The part was on backorder at the suppliers; They got one but it was defective. The third time, I had to leave the car at the shop for 3 weeks and rent a car because their mechanic quit and no one could install it.
    This was the second time the wiring failed and needed replacement. Chrysler is now owned by Fiat. As nearly as I can tell, Fiat no longer wants to honor the warranties they inherited from Chrysler. Parts are scarce and of poor quality.
    Anyone buying a car, just be aware that the warranties are probably worthless due to fracturing global supply chains– And the various wars will not help things, I’d imagine.
    The Russian/Ukranian War is a demographic tragedy. Before the war, the net Russian population was already declining at the rate of one person every 30 seconds. The catastrophic loss of 200,000+ mostly young men can only accelerate the decline. “Throwing more peasants into the meat grinder” makes it less likely that there will be that many Russians left in the coming decades of crisis.

  83. John Michael,
    I’ve been reading here for a while, including going through much of your archive, but never posted. I wonder if you’ve heard of Nate Hagens. He’s a system scientist who’s dropped out of work at Wall Street after understanding that the game’s up. Now, he spends most of his efforts on education and outreach on the subject of the Long Descent or, as he calls it, the Great Simplification. He runs a podcast by that name at where he frequently has excellent discussions with experts in economy, ecology, and beyond. One theme he often touches on but has had little opportunity to explore in depth is what he calls “inner tech”, or how to deal with human psychology to address the failures that brought us to this point and prepare for the challenges ahead. I believe the two of you would hit it off on many fronts, and I think he and his podcast would benefit greatly from your perspective. I know I would be thrilled to listen to the ensuing discussion, so if you’re so inclined, please do have a look at his work and reach out!

    On the subject of farming: I live in Japan, where some 75% of the food is imported from literally overseas, while the countryside is getting ever emptier and most farmers, where there still are any, near or past retirement age. While I hear what you’re saying about subsistence farming, there’s a real shortage of people working the land. I wonder if your warning takes into account how much labor will be needed when oil, and consequently fertilizer, become progressively unaffordable. At no time in history have so few people been involved in food production; surely this, too, will reverse. My hunch is that it’ll be small, labor-intensive farms that’ll feed the world in a decade or two, not the big, faceless and overmechanized food factories that rely on chemistry and technology to turn oil into food. Any thoughts on this?

  84. Jake,

    If I may…your view of rural America is pretty bizarre to me. While the small southern Appalachian mountain town I live in was mostly ignoring COVID and going about its business in the usual ways, NYC was locked down tight under the iron fist of Fauci’s hangers-on, suffering in all the ways we’ve gotten so uncomfortably familiar with since then, and suffering more than most. From the outside, NYC appears to be the decaying heart of an American body politic that gets stronger, calmer, and more unified as one moves farther away from LaGuardia. It wouldn’t be my choice of places to be over the coming years for sure.

    Just my .02 though. Best wishes to you.

  85. JMG, I’m glad I never bet you anything when it came to paragliders in postindustrial warfare — whenever the issue came up in threads before, going back many years now, I always maintained conventional, fixed-wing, wood-and-fabric ultralights would be the face of future air wars. Hamas has proven that the powered paraglider can fill a niche very similar to helicopter assault. Long term, I’m not sure what the economic calculus of trying to manufacture nylon (or silk) canopies vs. the hemp fabric and paulownia wood* of a small airplane… but even I have to admit, it would have been dashedly hard to pull off what Hamas did with any fixed-wing ultralight airplane. It might very well be worth the silkworms to future warbands to keep some of these things around to emulate this areal infiltration– but in a dogfight, my bet is still on a biplane, so I maintain we’re likley to see both.

    As usual, the future is stranger than we can suppose.

    *paulownia, aka Empress, Princess, or Foxglove Tree, is a fast-growing wood that should be suitable for aircraft use, though I know of no examples. (Some say it was in use in Japan once upon a time, which makes a great deal of sense, but I’ve never found much in English about early Japanese airplanes. If it’s not WWII, we just don’t care, apparently.) Those few still building wooden airplanes in the West are mostly still fighting over the last scraps of old-growth sitka spruce, but they’re talking about the Princess Tree as a fallback option if they haven’t given up and switched to metal or fiberglass.

  86. Hello, and thank you for this post. Like many here I am extremely thankful to have heard this advice many years ago and begun taking it on board.

    Still, as you also point out, things that percolate down to manifestation in the material world tend to start on higher planes. In that spirit, I would like to suggest an exercise that might help people to shift their “thinking gears” from dwelling in a world of quantity to dwelling in a world of quality… because really that is the only way in which it makes sense to strive for “more with less” or “a better life using less energy, stimulation, stuff.” The “more” and the “better” come (as I have already discovered many times over) from the increase in quality that very often happens the minute you stop focussing on quantity.

    So, anyone familiar with accounts will know that there are two basic statements produced by an enterprise at the end of each year. One is a “profit and loss” statement detailing incomings and outgoings during the course of a year. The second is a “balance sheet” which describes the current “worth” of an enterprise by detailing the value of its assets vs the value of its liabilities at that moment in time. An enterprise is generally aiming to steadily increase its “worth” over the years by:
    1) ensuring that incomings are higher that outgoings
    2) by regularly converting some of the excess incomings into assets that build up the enterprise’s “worth” over time

    It has often been said that money is not wealth and wealth is not money. Money can sometimes be a useful proxy for wealth, but currently, this is less and less true every day. My exercise suggestion is for people to take some time to draw up a personal “Balance Sheet” but instead of writing in items of quantity, to write in items of quality.

    Just for example, under assets one might consider things (which have often been spoken about in these columns) such as:
    * skills – domestically useful, useful to wider social networks, saleable;
    * social networks, formal or informal – churches, lodges, clubs, sports teams, people who regularly meet for any reason at all, family, friends, neighbours
    * houses, sheds, land, tools, musical instruments, household goods, clothes, other material bits and pieces that add quality to life
    * health, strength, energy, vitality
    * unstructured, uncommitted free time
    * any other idiosyncratically valued “quality” that feels like “wealth”

    As each item is selected, think of its qualitative value to you – which its “price” can never properly represent. If you wish to rank items by some qualitative scheme that is meaningful to you, feel free, but that is not necessary.

    Then think about the “liability” side of the balance sheet.
    Under this heading, strive, again, to consider items in their “qualitative” aspects, even though many of them CAN be quantified also. The exercise is mainly for training in how to *think* quality, not quantity. One way, perhaps, is to think of some things under the general heading of “personally chosen commitments to care and maintain” and other things under the general heading of JMG’s term “illth”. Both are liabilities, but one is far less likely to feel that one’s life quality is “drained” by any self-chosen obligation in quite the same way that one is “drained” by an “illth”.
    One might consider, under this heading, things such as:
    * interpersonal obligations – spouses, children, parents, some or all of whom may be actual dependents upon our care and maintenance, also obligations to our wider formal and informal social networks.
    * obligations to our skills – further training and practice, necessary tools and their care and maintenance
    * contractual obligations – just for example, a rental or a utility contract (considering the contract itself, not its quantitative value, as an item of quality) may be an obligation one accepts as part of one’s obligation to one’s dependent others, or to the practice of one’s skills), some contractual obligations (eg legally mandated insurance policies), might feel more like “illthy” contracts
    * other costs involved in anything one is committed by inclination or necessity to maintain and care for
    * debts incurred – considered in a qualitative sense as a drain on qualitative assets
    * any other liability, obligation, or “quality-draining” thing that personally feels like “illth”

    Anyway, I expect this exercise to weigh out vastly differently for each person (I mean we’re talking about “quality” and this never lends itself to easy comparisons), but I also expect it to uncover unexpected sources of strength in adversity, as well as unexpected “drains” that – once seen for what they are – might be more happily laid down as soon as is practicable. Also, if anyone tries this, they might find it leading in unexpected directions, and I will be very interested in any feedback of any kind.

    Take care all, be well, stay free.

  87. ‘Collapse now and avoid the rush” reminded me of two things.

    Firstly, Sharon Astyk’s “90% reduction project”, where she said we should try to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, consumer goods, water and so on to 10% of the USA’s average, as that’d be a level the world could sustain indefinitely. Her blog for this went defunct some time after 2010, as JMG noted she moved to the city and bought a minivan (no, I’m not joking – but she’s adopted several children). Some of her old pages with their ideas are still viewable on the Wayback Machine, and might be useful for those wishing to collapse now and avoid the loss.
    and the outline of the project remains on wordpress,

    Then there’s my old blog, which had the deliberately-provocative title “green with a gun”, meant to imply not menace, but that not all “green” people are left-wing. I’m what’s sometimes called “camo green.” I nixed this blog when I was changing careers and was worried it might hurt me; I regret this, I should simply have suspended it for a bit. But it is what it is. Parts remain across the web here and there, though the original site got grabbed by some advertising domain sitter, and here’s one part which might be of interest,

    Looking over that now, there are some things I’d change. But if you haven’t changed your mind on a few things in 15 years you’re unusual to say the least.

    Anyway, that’s perhaps a start for things for people to think about.

  88. Hmmm, I don’t know. When I think about it further, I don’t think you can extrapolate my experience more generally. I’ve shifted social circles to an extent since Covid, so I’m not in a position to make an objective comparison.

    My sense, however, is that Covid made people in the PMC more accepting, at least when it comes to social activities, of excuses to avoid participating that would have been considered “weird” pre-Covid.

  89. Lathechuck in comment #62 asks about Uruguay’s energy consumption compared to others, but also mentions hydropower. Obviously, electricity consumption is not all of humanity’s energy consumption. On wikipedia you can find a list of countries by total energy consumption – – and we see that Uruguay is 18,317kWh-equivalent per capita, or 18MWh. The USA is 78, UK 30, Russia 55, Polan 30, NZ 45, France 36, and so on. You’ll get places like Mali and PNG on 1-2, but in practice this is a middle and upper class on 10+, and then a large number of people on close to zero, just whatever firewood or dung they can collect and burn. The energy per capita link is also useful for their link to the “social progress index” article. Energy is like money, it can be spent well, or spent badly. Your example Uruguay is spending less than a quarter the energy per person the USA does and yet getting similar outcomes overall. The UK about two-fifths as much energy as the US, but slightly better outcomes. The UAE spend twice as much energy as the US, but get much worse social progress outcomes. And so on.

  90. Hi John Michael,

    I wouldn’t recommend anyone head into a rural area (or remote-ish area like here) unless they are physically and mentally prepared to do a lot of hard manual work, know how to learn and be prepared to do so, not annoy the neighbours, lower personal expectations, and finally go without. It’s not for everyone.

    I’ve always respected and appreciated your honest assessment of that moving to the boondocks story.

    For your interest, I’m noting a slow dribble of people out of these sorts of rural areas. Possibly many of those are heading back to town. I’m uncertain whether this is being picked up in any official statistics, but it looks interesting to me.

    I’ve been considering the land of stuff’s position on retaking that island they want. You know, it is possible that it could be done using economic warfare. The possibility reminds me of a line in an old song: They’re only there to lend a hand (sung sarcastically).



  91. >In WWII we built 24 Essex class carriers. Now it takes three years to build one

    Has anyone ever noticed that aircraft carriers have been obsolete for a while now? Really fast really accurate missiles make them sitting ducks, essentially.

    >I’m sure if I went back to Baden-Wurttemberg and demanded a house, and oh by the way I’m going to keep speaking English and you have to cater to me the locals would pitch me right in the nearest river.

    Just tell them you’re “culturally enriching” them, wag your finger at them and they’ll quiet right down.

    >so what would our lives be like if we were limited to 50% hydro

    Speaking of hydro we do have, I’ll just leave this video here
    TL;DW – a lot of dams are beginning to fail due to age and neglect. Nobody has the motivation or the resources to fix them.

  92. In honour of Frugal Fridays – a nice idea, and I thoroughly agree with the idea of invoking Venus’s love of beauty, sociality and craft to oversee the process – I have amended and re-written a mantra/affirmation I shared here a while ago. Anyone who finds it useful is free to use and share, amend or change as seems good to them.

    The newest version:
    Generosity is Glorious
    Frugality is Freedom
    Sufficiency is Sublime

    This has evolved from the my rough draft a few years ago which went as follows:
    Generosity is Power
    Frugality is Freedom
    Enough is Sublime

  93. Dear JMG,

    When you say “save money”, my take is that it’s not looking for dimes down the back of the couch, but “saving” as in “rescuing” money from the practitioners of black financial magic, that will help rescue us from the collective delusion of finance.

    I add the below perspective as grist for the (water powered) mill.

    1. Empires fail due to a strategic naivety”: sometimes a misstep many decades earlier which sows the seeds of their demise. This is an interesting read – making the case that the US’ belief in trade with China allowed China to emerge as a competitor for the crown:

    2. My further perspective is that the trade policy was premised on the need for financial profit, a need itself driven by the West’s submergence in a meta-abstraction – that of finance. This abstraction demanded out-sourcing of jobs, technology transfer and the hollowing out of manufacturing to serve the god of maximized shareholder returns. A collective psychosis was carefully constructed from within the cathedrals of theoclassical economics, blandly known as “university economics departments”, which persuaded vast swathes of humanity to depart from the obvious sense that the world consists of more than shareholder value. Neoliberal wizards spent the last 50 years using a form of glamour to build huge wealth atop a pyramid of precarity. The security of “securities” (a glamour if ever I saw one) persuades a few that their wealth is safe when the masses are “hangry”. I tend to assume incompetence rather than malice, but sometimes wonder whether the use of magic was explicit in this endeavor: it seems like a weird coincidence that terms like “the third way” (ref Bill ‘n Tony) were used as incantations to mask the false binaries on which the global economy was constructed: individualism vs society, developed vs less developed, rich vs poor, free trade vs whatever.

    This excellent essay, linked to below, explores the black magic of finance, talking about how the frauds of the last 20 years are rooted in a crisis of reality. The author uses the term alchemy in the sense of glamour magic, rather than personal transformation, but forgive him that and the read is insightful.

    To finally cut to the chase: why do I elaborate the above? Because if a world rooted in reality is to be (re)constructed – and I find JMG’s vision attractive – then the abstractions and glamour of finance must be stripped out of the means by which we communicate value to each other. It’s not just about saving nickels and dimes, it’s about replacing money in its current form.

    Truly, we must save money from finance as a gift to the future.

  94. Hello, Mr. Greer, this was so excellent to read! Reminded me of the old ADR days. I just wanted to say about side gigs I sew and have made cash on the side by repairing clothes for people who can’t sew, but need hems shortened, ripped seams fixed, stuff like that. And also custom sewing, you can charge a lot more for that. I had a friend make business cards for me on her computer and I dropped them off at Jo Annes, almost all my business came from referrals from JoAnnes. I laid out no money, just started charging for doing what I like to do anyway!
    And barter. I had the run of my friend’s garden just for taking care of her 5 dogs whenever she was gone for the weekend at her boyfriend’s house and for giving her an occasional loaf of bread when I baked because she never baked.
    And I am so looking forward to Frugal Fridays, your commentariat has such wonderful ideas!
    Lastly I wanted to ask you if you think The soth west part of Pennsylvania would be a good place to relocate. I have two kids and three grandkids already living there and I love the semi rural smaller towns in that area. Anyway, thank you for your blog, it has been life changing for me in so many ways, Mr. Greer.

  95. Disability may influence labor force, and the rest of the economy, more than mortality (whether from acute infections, poor nutrition, long covid, vaccines or later sequelae). It is hard to decipher whether relative worker shortages are from illness/disability versus renewed appreciation of the value of domestic work/free time, compared to the money economy. I have read that labor value increased substantially historically with the black plague, and also suggested with aging societies. Late effects from immune, vascular and other post-infection shifts are not well understood.

    Disability: 2008 to 2023 June

  96. Thanks to JMG and the commentariat here, I’ve been making my own preparations over the last number of years.

    I felt like I needed to repeat what I’ve learned in a neat and tidy package. So in homage to Carlos Castenada’s The Four Enemies of Man, and in gratitude to everyone here who has given me through time all these not-new ideas, here is my summary. It seemed to want to be written in the style it’s in, and it was admittedly fun to write despite the serious subject.

    The Four Enemies of Collapse Preparation

    People who begin to prepare for the widespread difficulties which now seem closer to fruition may from experience face four natural enemies along their way.

    Times like these, with wars and economic headwinds, makes the first enemy easy to see: Fear! It appears as the anxious scrolling of news and the realization that you may be more vulnerable to crisis than you thought you were, and it increases as you make yourself more aware of the extent of your vulnerability.

    To deal with this enemy, one must have a better fuel than fear; an aspiration to be less dependent on those facets of life which can be taken away by crisis, and the freedom this affords.

    Although fear may be the trigger for the urge to prepare, and as you look for this better motivation, you may find that fear will ebb as conflicts in the world resolve, and events – for a time – calm down.

    Old habits fill the resulting void and those habits show up as that major goal which so many people share, which is your next enemy: the desire for status! That desire, which springs from a natural urge to feel that one matters, gets distorted as a desire to matter more than others. This is itself a kind of fear, and goes hand-in-hand with the need for comfort.

    Face this enemy by seeing how no one thus wants to be left behind, but how leaving things behind is exactly what the times are calling for.

    Fear tamed by aspiration, the desire for status reigned in through the awareness of it (the world’s spiritual traditions will help with this), you realize that you now have less in common with a great many people around you, because you’ve removed from yourself those driving forces so deeply seated behind the actions of most. You then are faced with the third enemy: loneliness!

    You may be tempted to keep apart from “the masses” to make your own preparations, but then you will have fallen into this enemy’s clutches. That activity of knowing others, and becoming known by others, before a crisis happens ensures that, once it comes, you eventually will have in common with many the ground on which you alone now stand upon.

    You will find yourself busy with your battles thus far, and this busyness is itself the last enemy: time!

    Cultivating bonds with others. Cooking from scratch. Baking. Growing your own food. Insulating your home. Learning herbalism. Reducing debt. How does one, with children, with jobs, with the need for healthy sleep, how does anyone do any these things well? How, when the very actions one takes to remove the conveniences of modern life will by definition ensure that these everyday activities will become even more time-consuming?

    Look to those weapons you’ve used to defeat the first three enemies. Your relationships mean you do not need to do it all yourself. Those aspirations you used to defeat fear will guide you to those activities you are most naturally suited for. The shift in perspective away from a desire for status helps you trust your newfound aspirations and ground these goals to what is most needed by yourself and others.

    Thus are the four enemies of collapse preparations best defeated.

    In reality, my own experience of the above is actually much messier than this would seem to show, and I most certainly still deal with all this at regular intervals. So maybe I needed to write this for myself!

  97. Question for the builders, Master Conservers, and hard-core DIYers in the audience– my attic is full. It is insulated out to the eaves with two layers of fiberglass batts; possibly overinsulated, since there’s very little airflow from the eves now. Unfortunately, two layers of batting doesn’t meet the current building code for this cold climate (That’s R60, I have R40), nevermind hit the R80 to R100 you’d need to be considered superinsulated in these lands. (It’s still better than most of the local housing stock, but I’d rather not freeze to death during a power outage.) My choice is to drop the ceiling by a foot or so to add insulation, or move the insulation to the roof deck and make the attic part of the conditioned space of the house, with a cathedral ceiling.

    Is there a major advantage to one or the other from a building science perspective that anyone here knows? Lowering the ceiling would require less insulation (lower area, thanks Pythagoras), but an enormous disruption to our lives while the work is ongoing. A cathedral ceiling would give us storage in the attic, but no extra living space because the roof is too shallow; it would also give me the excuse to replace the roofing early before tin roofs become overly expensive. Pros and cons every-which way. Anyone have advice?

    (The trinary choice is to modify the roof truss, but I know someone who did that and getting a contractor and approvals were a nightmare; the ROI doesn’t look great, either… and in the end, they still only were able to get up to R60.)

  98. I work in IT in the public sector and have been wondering for some time whether I will ever retire in this profession (I am 30). IT in organizations is usually highly centralized via server landscapes. I think in a few years we will find ourselves in a situation where electricity can no longer be guaranteed around the clock. What will happen then? Well, there are still diesel generators. If that happens on a regular basis, can we create a seamless transition from electricity from the public grid to electricity from generators? If not, how long does it take to power up a server farm again? Is there any data loss? How are the normal employees in the departments supposed to work if they can no longer use their PCs? What if there is no hardware supply for years?

    I work in Germany and our public administration is considered hopelessly outdated because so much is still paper-based. Maybe in a few years this will be our strength…

  99. Tim Stewart #69:

    I know the book Ten Lost Years! It is incredible. I found it by ‘chance’ in one of those little free library boxes in someone’s front yard.

    For those who need the sales pitch, the editor travelled across Canada collecting first-hand stories from people who lived through the Depression. The voices that tell those stories are so vivid I often wanted to laugh even while reading about how resourceful they had to be in tough times.

  100. Nachtgurke – re seeds, I’ve been growing a few vegetables for many years now and make sure every year to save enough to start the next year’s plants. It’s also a good idea to share with others as if you have a failure one year, then it’ll be easier to ask others for seeds if you’ve given to them in the past. Look on it as a sort of insurance. I have in the past written a guide to successful seed-saving so will dig it out and put it up somewhere if anyone’s interested.

    Each growing season I observe the plants and save seed from those which perform the best which can result in developing a land-race variety that will thrive in your local climate. Selecting for certain traits – size and productivity for example – can bring good dividends and is easy to do. I once grew a particular variety of tomato and over the years it changed from being round to pointy, so I selected for roundness and bred it back to being round again, which happened within about five years and was quite satisfying – power over tomatoes! Or you can save from the biggest tomatoes. The same can be done with chillies and sweet peppers, though don’t grow them together as they’ll cross pollinate and one year you’ll find you’ve got giant chilli peppers rather than sweet ones. For beans I select for flavour, length and productivity; for peas I look for plants that are more resistant to pea moth and save from those.

    When I started growing, many people were generous towards me, giving me seeds and small plants to get me started, so now I do the same for others. Saving and sharing are important now and will be more important in the years to come.

  101. Off topic, for sure, but I am watching with apprehension the parking of two US navy carrier groups off the coast of Israel but well within missile range of many actors.
    This seems to be right out of Twilight’s Last Gleaming, which I re-read regularly. I had worried that a mis-adventure in Ukraine would precipitate the crisis, but instead this may be it.
    Absolutely prescient, JMG.

  102. My problem is that I live so frugally that I don’t know what is wasteful. I darn my own socks and mend my own clothes. I have heard that people throw away ripped clothes and do not sew on buttons.

    We have followed the “Millionaire Next Door,” in its advice. The point is that millionaires, true ones, do not live like millionaires. They live like poor and modest people. I had a friend who took out so many second mortgages so he could play golf at his country club and have a time share at Disney. He used his house as a piggybank. Then 2008 collapse came, and he went literally insane. He couldn’t afford anything anymore, so he raided his 401K and every money pot he had. He died before he went bankrupt in a nursing home. Everyone thought he had money. No he had debt, a lot of debt.

    We have a reputation in our neighborhood as being secretly rich people. How people know that, is that my husband is generous with our neighbors with his money. He values their help since we cannot fend for ourselves. We have built a web of relationships where we help each other in the ways that we can. We found out how much the neighbors help us when my husband collapsed and ended up in the hospital. They helped with carrying him up the stairs, watching out for us, helping with our laundry, and groceries. So we have used our money (riches) as our way to contribute to the well-being of the community.

    That is something that people need to cultivate – their living communities.

  103. About farming. I regard it like opening a store. It has ease of entry but is difficult to maintain. People think that it is easy until they are in the middle of a fix. We had a community garden that failed. People would start in the spring, but fail to weed and water in the summer. By fall, nothing. Gardening is hard work.

    People said that they were too busy to do it properly or that they were too tired.

  104. My wife and I are planning on purchasing an acre or two of land someday to create a decent garden. Our plan is to have chickens, a vegetable garden, fruit trees, etc. and use the produce to supplement our main calorie intake, which will be food like grain, rice, corn, potatoes, etc. that we will purchase in bulk. Her and I will still have careers, she will work for a hospital and I’ll probably work for the city.

    Is this a good plan, or is this another example of marriage-wrecking back-to-the-land stuff?

  105. In hopes that my own frugality will “scale” to others, I happily drive a 20-year old car and wear mended clothes to my office job. Nobody should be struggling “to keep up with the Lathechucks”. I’ll still be an outlier, but I’ll also prove that it’s possible to be professionally successful without paying for expensive status symbols, and thus expand the space of the possible. Or, so I hope.

    How we live is important, but how we die is also important. Anyone who’s spent time in a hospital knows that plastic is everywhere. Infection control is important, and plastic containers are part of keeping clean stuff clean, and keeping contamination from spreading. Everything comes in sealed containers containing smaller sealed containers, and it’s safer (and thus, cheaper) to throw everything that could possibly cause trouble “away”. (BTW: There is no “away” from the environment. It’s only “away” from you.) And, if you’re in care for many days, there will be many items used just once. Modern medicine can keep a body technically alive long after any reasonable hope of recovery, so giving your heirs (or custodian) clear permission to provide only “comfort care” (hospice) can be a gift to future generations as well as preventing an extended period of medical torture for yourself. We gather here to think clearly about the future, and planning your exit is part of that.

  106. Frictionshift #49: I suspected the fusion energy research boondoggle was more about throwing a bone to the MIC than about anything else, as the excellent article you linked to hinted at. Also, I’m very much looking forward to Frugal Fridays. I’ve been growing my own garden for the past 40 years…someday I may even be good at it. So much to know.

  107. Thank you for this post and I look forward to Frugal Friday. I’ve been accelerating my collapse now that my mom has passed. Conveniences that I was willing to pay extra for to make her last years/months enjoyable are being eliminated. For example, the microwave died back in January and I have not replaced it, instead I have rediscovered the joys of reheating leftovers on the stovetop. I used my small inheritance to pay off the mortgage so now I am debt free. The house has solar panels on the roof that produce enough current during the day to offset my grid usage at night so my only monthly electric bill is the grid connection fee and assorted taxes. I upgraded the original single pane windows to double pane several years ago. I have a water harvesting tank in the backyard to collect the monsoon rains when they happen. I’m in an urban environment so everything is within walking/bus ride distance. The downside to all this is that I live in Tucson Arizona. Brutally hot in the summer with new record heat levels every summer and the whole state is in a decades long drought. My question is, do I stay or do I relocate to a more habitable location?

  108. Hi JMG,

    Thank you for this piece.

    In the past, you have advised those of us in Europe to consider migrating to the north-eastern US, as the breakdown of Europe into warring factions amidst catastrophic, civilization-ending waves of migration makes the future look very bleak here.

    Certainly, no changes there so far, and the war in Israel/Palestine looks set to make things even worse. However, given there is now a serious border crisis in North America as well, do you think the north-east of the US will remain a good place to consider relocating to?

  109. JMG, I found “Designing and Building a Solar House” (1977) at the thrift store and was struck by just how dang UGLY the houses and designs were. Total 70s modernism with blocky thermal mass heatsinks and inaccessible reflective clerestory windows (oh the dust we can collect!) and general home layouts showcasing only the low-tech tech and not creating beautiful spaces or improving a landscape in any way. I’m wondering if the aesthetics, and authors’ and illustrators’ inability to design with beauty in mind — or to at least feature stylistic variations of a more classic variety — are partly to blame for the dropping of that conversation within our society. Something a little less abstract and hewing closer to craftsman- or shaker-style might have ensured a longer lifespan.

    Thank you elkriver (#45) and Tim Stewart (#69) for the reading recommendations!

  110. We just got in a tasty looking cookbook with a great subtitle:

    Gennaro’s Cucina: Hearty Money Saving Meals from an Italian Kitchen:

    “In an era of excessive convenience and disposable food waste, Gennaro’s Cucina could not come at a better time—you will learn how to use simple ingredients in inventive ways, eat seasonally, spend less, and ultimately eat better.
    “Cucina povera” is the food that traditionally fed the poor of Italy, yet remains the basis of most Italian dishes we love to eat today. It’s a simple philosophy—delicious, hearty meals using accessible and affordable ingredients. Encouraging an ethos of zero waste, Gennaro’s Cucina ensures that every part of the ingredient, and your budget, is put to good culinary use.

    Along with the majority of post-war Italian families, a young Gennaro was raised on a diet harvested on a limited budget. Restricted choice of scarce ingredients meant they learned the value what they had, how to cook dishes lovingly, and use imaginative methods of preservation to make simple dishes go far: including salting, drying and curing.

    In this inspirational cookbook, Gennaro takes you on a culinary journey of simple regional Italian staples and turns them into beautiful meals. With tips and ideas of what to do with leftovers, Gennaro helps home cooks squeeze maximum use from the “cucina povera” ethos, turning humble ingredients into nourishing feasts without sacrificing flavor.

    From Sicilian chickpea fritters to lentil soups and bread salads, to more elaborate filled vegetables, delicious “poor-man’s” ricotta dumplings, and simple sweet biscotti, this book will transform the way you shop, cook, and eat.”

    But don’t buy a copy of your own. Check one out from your local library system. I’m going to take a copy home myself. I generally don’t cook from books unless I need to learn a new technique, but sometimes it is fun to learn some new recipes to mix things up. Also, I’d been inspired the past year or so to learn more about the ways Italian immigrants gardened, as I’m rather fond of that side of my American-mutt mixture. So this book will be good along those lines too. I’m just happy to see a new book on budget cooking. So many of the cookbooks I see at work are aimed at the highfalutin foodie crowd.

    The best food always started out as peasant food anyway.

  111. Your Kittenship, well, runes are old technology, aren’t they?

    Black Tuna, no surprises there. Now that fossil fuels are running short again, expect every con job, every discarded theory, and every raving delusion that makes people think they can keep their current lifestyles to be snapped up. I expect to have somebody ranting about abiotic oil here any day now…

    Kfish, and that’s one of the most heartening things I know about. Repair Your Stuff! is a revolutionary slogan.

    Pyrrhus, or you can stay away from the handful of big cities that deliberately passed policies to encourage mass migration of illegal immigrants, and do just fine.

    Smith, oh, granted. To a very real extent, if it’s denominated in dollars, it’s actually worth a tiny fraction of its notional value — and there are other currencies that aren’t that much better off. The toboggan ride down the slope from here is going to be breathtaking.

    MCB, huzzah! If I were asked to advise a young person with mechanical talents what to do to make a living, I’d send him or her in that direction. The capacity to fix things when the manufacturer’s no longer providing spare parts will be a ticket to serious wealth.

    Viduraawakened, glad to hear it. I’m going to be particularly interested in Frugal Fridays input from outside the US, and especially from the Global South, because those parts of the world have had a lot more experience with living on less than we have up here in Gringostan.

    Emmanuel, it’s a crazy time and it’s probably going to get crazier. Hang on as the toboggan picks up speed!

    Felix, Nate and I used to hang out together at peak oil events back in the day, so yes, I know him. If he’s interested in having me on as a guest, why, he ought to know how to contact me. With regard to farming, oh, no question, once fossil fuels become so short that low-energy agriculture becomes economically viable again, “peasant” is going to be quite a viable job category — but we’re not there yet, and it may be a few decades before we start getting there. (In many places, the price of farmland also has to collapse first.)

    Tyler, I’d be very interested if someone were to do the necessary experimentation to figure out what other natural fibers can make a working paraglider. My thought was that it’s the simplest and most portable air technology around, so a deindustrial army on the march could easily carry half a dozen with them for scouting purposes — an immense advantage in old-fashioned war, when finding the enemy was a major challenge. Your basic wood and fabric plane, be it a biplane or a monoplane (or even a triplane!), is superior in most respects but it needs to operate from a fixed base. Thus I’d expect deindustrial armies to have both — paragliders for expeditionary forces, and fixed-wing planes working out of fortresses and established military bases.

    Scotlyn, this strikes me as a very good idea indeed.

    Hackenschmidt, from my perspective, it was precisely the fact that Sharon went for so extravagant a level of energy decrease that guaranteed that she was going to back out, move to the city and start driving an SUV. (That, and peak oil stopped being a fashionable cause.) Real change is best done one realistic step at a time. As for your blog, have you considered restarting it? There’s a need for more discussion of our predicament from the “camo green” perspective.

    Blue Sun, interesting. Thanks for the data point.

    Chris, China currently has the world’s largest blue-water navy, and a blockade around Taiwan is one of the most likely scenarios.

    Scotlyn, excellent! Thank you for this.

    Boy, that’s quite plausible. The difference between money and wealth, a central theme of my book the Wealth of Nature, is crucial here — money is a set of abstract counters used to control the movement of wealth, and finance is a further pyramid of meta-abstractions piled atop the abstraction of money. In the collapse of previous civilizations, money has dropped out of use entirely because it was so thoroughly gamed by parasitic wealthy classes — instead, the household economy became the linchpin of economic activity, with customary economies and gift economies taking exchanges between households outside of the market, where money couldn’t reach them. I expect the same thing to start happening in this case also — but we’ll see.

    Heather, delighted to hear it! I know people who live in western Pennsylvania and think it’s a great place, so long as you have connections — like your family members there, for instance.

    Methylethyl, oddly enough, so do I. 😉

    Gardener, granted — but here again, we don’t yet know what the long term effects will be there either.

    Jbucks, spoken like a man of knowledge!

    Tyler, I’ll have to leave that to the builders. Anybody?

    Executed, it occurs to me that at least one option you might pursue is finding out more of those “hopelessly outdated” methods. Unless Germany goes to bits completely, there’s still going to be public administration, and someone who knows how to downshift to a pre-computer way of doing things will be an exceptionally valuable employee.

    Alan, I keep telling people I meant that novel as a warning, not as a manual!

    Neptunesdolphins, I get that. I’m in much the same situation; my wife and I live on around half of my income, and yes, she darns our socks. At a certain point you’ve got to assume that you’ve collapsed about as far as you can.

    Enjoyer, an acre or two when you have other sources of income is very sensible. It’s the people who move to the country expecting to make a living as farmers who are generally on their way to a midlife crisis and a divorce.

    Lathechuck, a very good point.

    Julie, that’s a tough call. A lot depends on how old you are, and whether you have lots of local connections. If you’re getting on in years and have a good local network, it’s probably wisest to stay put. If you’re young and footloose, moving might be wiser.

  112. Luke, that’s why I’m still here. The blowback against the immigration crisis is building very fast in the US.

    Temporaryreality, the ugliness was a deliberate tactic — they were trying to make solar houses look modern, cutting-edge, and up-to-date, which in architectural terms always means stunningly ugly. I think it was a mistake, but that’s why they put those illustrations in the books.

    Justin, hmm! That sounds tasty.

  113. I guess “learn to be frugal by being raised in a large family by parents who grew up in the depression era ” isn’t really a useful tip for anyone these days.

  114. My car has come to the end of its life and I’ve decided that I’m done with car ownership. With the money I save, I can afford taxi rides and rentals on the rare occasion that I need it. (New cars are so full of spyware and anti-consumer features that I’m kind of afraid of what I would be getting into if I bought another one.) I haven’t driven in about 10 months and the results are already showing up in improved health. It doesn’t hurt that increasing labor costs have reduced the cost-effectiveness, for many public transit authorities, of collecting fares at all, so when a destination is too far to walk, most of the time the ride is free. Now I just have to find the title so I can offload it.

  115. I guess then that the little Instagram bell, signaling who’s on first, has yet to ring.
    When it does, we’ll all know who we are supposed to favor.
    This probably works the same way across the board on social media.
    It feels so much sometimes like a hive mind, where the queen directs the action and the workers think they’re being original.

  116. Siliconguy: It’s with a somewhat wry feeling of amusement to have learned about the very local issue of the UPS service downgrade in my neighborhood here in Elk from a forum so international in scope as this! While I can understand the business sense in cutting service to the area where many, many families have been displaced as a result of the wildfire this August, it still feels like a piling-on of the challenges for those rebuilding or preparing to overwinter in the rough, as many are, for lack of better options.
    I think this little example well illustrates how the challenges can cascade in a fragile system, resources you expect to be there for you in challenging times might just not be there, if they aren’t under your direct control! One of several carriers cutting a couple delivery days out seems like not a big deal to some…until this has been done several times by all of them over the years and you now are seriously constrained in your options.

  117. Hi JMG
    Very appropriate post for the time that is upon us.

    I have a question to you that I do not consider too much off-topic: what do you think are the reasons for the total unconditional support to Israel from all the political parties and candidates in your country?, Even the “roge” or “outsiders” candidates are more pro-Israel than the mainstream politicians, as is the case of Trump or RFK or Tulsi Gabbard an many other. For example Trump criticize Biden to announce 100 millions $ in aid for Palestine (and 100 billiions $ for Israel and Ucraine, and I suppose most part for Israel).

    With two carriers in the East of the Mediterranean, if this force is to attack Hezbollah if they “stab in the back” Israel in the North, I could see a chain of events very very dangerous for all, but mainly to the US military machine.

    I could see the following chain of evens (a bit long):
    1) IDF start the ground invasion of Gaza (North part) and continue flattening other parts with many more civilians casualties.
    2) Hezbollah start increasing the volume of rockets volleys to the North of Israel, mainly to military outpost, bases and troops concentrations.
    3) Israel retaliates not only to Hezbollah, but as usual, start demolishing Lebanese infrastructures and buildings, in the beginning only in the border with Lebanon; to pressure the Lebanese government (as usual, and, as in 2006, this also does not work)
    4) Hezbollah start to attack more frequently the Israeil air bases with more powerful and precise missiles, putting out of service a few of them.
    5) The IDF continue to bomb the South of Lebanon increasing the amount of ordinance used. For the first time the IAF start to bomb the suburbs of South Beirut the main base of Hezbollah leadership, with dozens of civilian deaths. Another red line is crossed. Nasrallah inform that they will attack all the air bases that attack Lebanese territory.
    6) Hezbollah increase exponentially the volleys of missiles (NOT rockets) and drones against the North of Israel with a clear focus on the IAF bases, in 4 days almost all the air bases in the North of the country are out of service (at least for some days) due to the Hezbollah missiles and drones attacks.
    7) The IDF asked the Americans to defend them attacking Hezbollah targets in the South of Lebanon to help the IAF. Meanwhile the IDF is bogged-down in Gaza but also has lost many bases and planes in the North and cannot sustain the required pace of attacks against the Hezbollah, Gaza and the Lebanon’s infrastructures.
    8) Of course Joe Biden gives green light to the 2 US carriers in the Mediterranean Sea to start bombing Hezbollah targets all around Lebanon (“to fight terrorism”, he says), in fact to help the Israel Air Force.
    9) The next day US is start bombing Hezbollah; the Iraq’s PMU, the Syrian Shia militias, the Houties, and all the rest of Shia militias (and some sunnies militias also) give an ultimatum of 24h to stop bombing Lebanon to the US government, or they will start to attack American bases in Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, UAE, KSA, etc…with all the means at their disposal.
    10) The same day the US threats Iran that if the Shia militias in any country start to attack American bases in the ME, they consider this as an Iranian attack to the US military and they will retaliate against targets inside Iran. Meanwhile the Gaza ground operation is a mess with many IDF soldiers killed but many times more Palestinians also killed (90% civilians).
    11) Iran responds to the US that if his territory is attacked, they will target all the American bases and assets in the ME and they will close the Straight of Hormuz to all traffic.
    12) The answer of the American government is that they do not bow to pressure from terrorist organizations controlled by Iran and continue bombing Hezbollah but also start bombing “preventively” Shia militias all arounf the ME, and send two more carries to the Indian Ocean to “protect the American interests in the Gulf”
    13) There are some small attacks on some American bases in Syria and Iraq, that are immediately answered by the americans with heavy bombing of the (presumed) bases of these militias.
    14) The NATO sends a message that they will fight alongside the US if they are attacked (article 5)
    15) Hezbollah operatives inside Syria attack, with a huge rockets and drones barrage, and overrun an small American military base in Syria, the survivors soldiers are taking captives by the Hezbollah operatives and send to Lebanon.
    16) The Americans start to deploy troops in Kuwait and in Israel and some op spec troops inside Lebanon. The number of rockets and mortar raining down in the American bases in Syria and Iraq start to increase exponentially as also the US casualties. The Pentagon send a lot of planes to attack the source of the volleys killing dozens or even hundreds of militias and also civilians, but the rockets and mortars continue raining down on all American bases anyway. The American helicopters tried to evacuate many wounded from the bases but they are under constant threat of MANPADs and ATGMs fire, and 8 of them have been downed in 1 day killing dozens of soldiers; the Pentagon order the evacuation of the bases deep inside Syria and Iraq, some of them by their own means, and for the big ones they are preparing an “expeditionary force” to the rescue. They cannot evacuate any of them because all the roads are fill of IED’s that stop the US convoys, traped in many ambushes (à la Teotoburg forest).
    17) The American sends an ultimatum to Iran that if in 24h the militias does not stop attacking the American bases and soldiers, the US will attack targets inside Iran. Iran says they do not bow to Imperialism’s pressure and the problems of the American soldiers are not related to the actions of Iran.
    18) After exactly 24h of the ultimatum to Iran the USAF and the Navy ships and submarines start bombing the oil terminals, air defenses and military bases of Iran. The US and Iran are, in fact, at war.
    19) After 16 h from the start of the US attack on Iranian assets, the US Al Udeid base in Qatar is flattened by more than 100 heavy Iranian missiles (prepared for this task years before), The Patriot batteries only downed a few of them. The oil go to 300$ and the US, UE and world economies sink.
    20) The US threat Iran with nuclear weapons…..This also does not work.

    Of course the end of this chain of events (like in your TLG) is the end of the US Empire and the end of the state of Israel one decade later.

    Is it crazy that this chain of events could happens?


  118. Count me in as another fan of The Complete Tightwad Gazette. Amy taught me how to collapse before the rush back in the 1990s, when she was writing the newsletter that eventually became the three books of the title and I was a newly frugal person. The newsletter ran for 6 years, from 1990 to 1996. The genius of her newsletters was that she didn’t just tell you what she did to keep money outflow low and quality of life high, although she certainly did that. But she also showed you how to figure out for yourself how to make changes in your own life that she didn’t specifically address, and she printed many readers’ frugality tips in each issue (a 1990s version of Frugal Fridays). Furthermore, she stopped writing the newsletter when she ran out of new things she could say on frugality, and she did her own research into the topics of the articles that she wrote, so readers could trust what she wrote about. And she’s a good writer besides; her newsletters were always worth reading for her writing as well as for the information they contained. I hope that this helps some of you decide to read her books.

  119. Hi JMG and commentariat,

    Wonderful post by JMG as always.

    Looking forward to Frugal Fridays. No doubt there will be much helpful info. Not wanting to make more work for JMG, perhaps it might be helpful if in our replies we indicate some general topic of the tip, i.e storage, laundry, etc. so people looking for specific info can scroll through and find more easily?

    General Topic: suggestion

    Just a thought.

  120. >Our plan is to have chickens, a vegetable garden, fruit trees, etc. and use the produce to

    That’s ambitious to start with. And you’ll need someone or something to watch over the chickens. Otherwise they’ll get eaten or stolen. On what terms are you with Man’s Best Friend? Is he a good boy? And what’s your opinion on the myriad of bugs that want to eat it all before you can? Are you one of those, gimme a tank sprayer, a breathing mask and a several gallons of chemicals or are you one of those organic types? And if it isn’t the bugs, it’s the deer, the squirrels, you name it, it wants your free food. Again, on what terms are you with Man’s Best Friend? That might be a good place to start right there, get a dog and see how well you two get on with it.

    >supplement our main calorie intake, which will be food like grain, rice, corn, potatoes, etc. that we will purchase in bulk.

    And now we come to why bother with all of that to begin with? If the grocery store shuts down, you’re going to be right back in the same boat as everyone else. Those zucchinis and tomatoes and radishes don’t have enough calories in them to keep you going. All those things you listed, do.

  121. In relation to the Ukraine war, is it just me or does it represent a subtle but quite profound paradigm shift? The US has covertly supported various conflicts over the decades and it has overtly waged war with its own military. But it seems to me that Ukraine is the first war where the official US position is to fund another country’s military to fight a war. That’s also been the way it’s been sold to the US public.

    And now that things are kicking off in the Middle East, the same model is rolled out where the US will fund Israel to fight a war. Even stranger is the fact there seems to have been no pushback in the public discourse as if funding other countries to fight wars was perfectly normal.

  122. Alright. We’ll keep on planning on getting a couple acres.

    I have some other questions I’ve been thinking about. Do you think other nations besides the United States will have fracking booms of their own, and if so, will they further delay peak oil?

  123. > It is hard to decipher whether relative worker shortages are from illness/disability versus renewed appreciation of the value of domestic work/free time

    Might I rotate your perspective a little bit? Perhaps it’s not a “worker shortage” but the beginnings of a new bull market in labor. Why now? Why not? It’s like the seasons, spring inevitably follows winter, you can’t have a permanent winter that lasts forever in anything, whether it’s the outdoors or the labor market. You’ll never ever hear referred to as a bull market in labor outside of this forum, they’ll call it “lazy workers” or “labor shortage” or “striking workers” or a problem that needs to be dealt with and put down.

    I took note when I saw a union boss on TV. Forget the strikes. What perked my ears was that people cared about what he had to say. That was something new. Used to be nobody cared what a union had to say about anything at all.

    Old saying “The best cure for low prices, is low prices”. And they’ve systematically driven down the price of labor for decades now.

  124. Elaine, no, but I bet you could pass on some of the tips you learned from them.

    Joan, I’ve done without a car for my entire adult life, and never regretted it — it’s because I didn’t have that additional expense to cover that I could take the risk of pursuing a writing career, just for starters. Glad to hear that you’ve learned the same lesson.

    Teresa, that’s quite an accurate description, I’m sorry to say.

    DFC, the reason the US political system always supports Israel is entirely a matter of domestic politics. The US has more Jewish inhabitants than any other country on Earth, and most Jewish Americans consider support for Israel to be a top priority when it comes to elections; thus they’re a significant voting bloc that can’t be swayed by the kind of vacuous handwaving the two parties inflict on less careful constituencies. Since the Jewish American vote can sway elections in quite a few crucial districts, both parties cater to Israel in order to get that sector of the vote. They’re far from the only constituency that has that kind of stranglehold on specific issues; for example, any politician who even suggests putting a means test for Social Security, so people who already have lavish pensions aren’t also getting a government old age payment, can count on losing the entire retiree vote. The way our political system operates, there are lots of pressure groups that can get what they want out of the politicians this way. As for your scenario, the one reason I don’t think it’s likely is that the Biden administration knows that $300 a barrel oil would wreck their chances of staying in power; they’ve just cut a deal with Venezuela to get US oil prices down. But we’ll see.

    SLClaire, duly noted!

    Anonymous, I’ll certainly consider it.

    Simon, the US has been trying to do that for years. We were supposedly going to fund South Vietnam’s army to fight the Viet Cong, for example, only they couldn’t do the job. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if the Ukrainian army starts to crumble…

    Enjoyer, only if they can find some similar way to fund a fracking program that won’t pay for itself. That’s the thing that blindsided a lot of us in the peak oil scene: nobody thought the US government would be crazy enough to run itself tens of trillions of dollars in debt, guaranteeing hyperinflation and debt default, just to prop up the petroleum economy for a few more years.

  125. Hi ho. Big news only for me I guess.

    Anyway, have you heard about the ammonia engine that’s going to make EVs obsolete?

    While I agree that EVs have a very limited shelf life in the real world, why is that such smart people will waste so much time, energy, and money on an idea that doesn’t even get through a basic physics examination? If you have to MANUFACTURE the fuel needed to run something, you’re not going to get very far. I suppose it could be sold to credulous Americans, like ethanol was, and make a few people very rich in the process, but this is a really lame attempt at any sort of a technological “solution.” Before we even get to issues of toxicity.

  126. Dear JMG,
    I am yet to read Wealth of Nature. A World Full of Gods is ahead of it on my list, but I look forward to it nevertheless. My own view of money is that it is a form of fungible and decentralized license, giving right to a variable basket of goods and services. You and I obtain our license by selling assets, goods or services into the market economy, which is fulfilling our part in the social contract (whether we like it or not). We can also obtain license by taking bank credit, which creates an obligation to return more than we received. So the counters you describe are abstractions in that they represent a person’s power to juice the economy, but they are not the power itself. That the system is capable of being gamed by corrupt elites is an accurate characterization, and arguably a feature, not a bug. This excellent “brainteaser” reveals the cheap parlor trick that sits at the heart of the modern human condition and also, gives clue as to how to “save money” (sorry to partially hijack the meaning!).

    “It is the month of August; a resort town sits next to the shores of a lake. It is raining, and the little town looks totally deserted. It is tough times, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

    Suddenly, a rich tourist comes to town. He enters the only hotel, lays a 100 dollar bill on the reception counter, and goes to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one. The hotel proprietor takes the 100 dollar bill and runs to pay his debt to the butcher. The Butcher takes the 100 dollar bill and runs to pay his debt to the pig raiser. The pig raiser takes the 100 dollar bill and runs to pay his debt to the supplier of his feed and fuel. The supplier of feed and fuel takes the 100 dollar bill and runs to pay his debt to the travelling salesman who runs to the hotel, and pays off her debt with the 100 dollar bill to the hotel proprietor to pay for the room that she rented when visiting town.

    The hotel proprietor then lays the 100 dollar bill back on the counter so that the rich tourist will not suspect anything. At that moment, the rich tourist comes down after inspecting the rooms, and takes his 100 dollar bill, after saying he did not like any of the rooms, and leaves town.

    No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now without debt, and looks to the future with a lot of optimism.”

  127. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah, that’s equally possible. Certainly the err, regular articles promoting the topic on the land of stuffs intentions, seem to be softening up the West for that outcome.

    Language is a funny thing. A couple of decades ago, I may have quipped that: “there are plenty of ways to skin a cat!” As you’d be aware, it is an old saying declaring that there are many different paths to an end point. However, the person I spoke with was entirely unaware of the old saying. Mate, it was just awkward. The question: “why would anyone want to do that?” was admittedly hard to answer. 🙂 Far out, what do they teach people these days? Hehe! I’m sure you’ve also been there!

    Prior to Hong Kong being handed back, it was hard not to notice that a few wealthier families from there, landed in this corner of the planet.



  128. JMG,

    Interesting. I didn’t know that about Vietnam. Still, I wonder if this is another signal that we’re approaching some kind of end game. The operation of politics in the post-war years has largely been clandestine with the US supporting whichever group happened to be in its interests at the time and often later supporting some other group to destroy the first group. The US has been playing both sides against each other.

    This dynamic is no longer clandestine, but coming out into the open. I think Biden just announced money for Palestine which means the US is funding one country to drop bombs while simultaneously sending money to the country being bombed . Meanwhile, the EU continues to buy Russian fossil fuel despite supporting a war against it. If Taiwan escalates, we might find the US financing military attacks against its main trading partner.

    Of course, this is the way war and politics has been waged for a long time. The difference is that governments have been able to sell war to the public by portraying the opponent as the bad guys and itself as the good guys. Only the most gullible can believe that anymore. Ukraine is a corrupt nation and Israel is certainly not blameless. As a result, it’s almost impossible to manufacture consent now and the actions of government seem absurd and corrupt to an increasing share of the public. Sounds like an endgame to me.

  129. I’ve been reading how the USAs strategic petroleum reserves is down to 17 days, the lowest since 2,000 (thanks to the Biden Administration emptying it to lower gas prices and not refilling it). The engineers running it in Oklahoma are warning that old oil is going to be sucked up that may damage parts, and they’re not sure if it will operate correctly if it gets much lower. Of course this is happening with major oil disruptions on the horizon. When it rains it pours.

  130. “Let’s start with a point that should be obvious, but apparently isn’t. No, I’m not saying that you should move to the country, by yourself or with a group of friends, and settle into a lifestyle of bucolic bliss as a subsistence farmer. To begin with, farming is a skilled trade; if you didn’t grow up doing it, or haven’t spent years on working farms learning how it’s done, you don’t know enough to keep yourself from going broke or starving to death. (It takes five to ten years of hard work on average to get past the learning curve and reach the point at which you can feed yourself by farming.)” AND “Here in the US, for a certain broad class of well-off urbanites, moving to a rural area and spending a few years playing at farming is an approved way to have your midlife crisis and finish the task of wrecking an unstable marriage.” Apparently, I’m a categorical type. Who knew?
    Well, looks like I’ve made some horrible life choices!
    That’s about par for course. Away we go!

  131. Nachtgurke @ 44
    May want to check out Carol Deppe “Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties”. It is nice to have extra space to avoid cross pollination, but there are other tricks that can be helpful. Regardless, growing even a few of your own veggies, with healthy soil and natural fertility, can make a big difference in nutrients for your family and savings on healthcare costs. Keep it up!

  132. JMG,
    Inspiring post, thank you! So much to reflect and comment on but I’ll mention just a few things:

    In the spirit of DIY/be a creator, among other reasons, we don’t do media/screens with our 7 year old. So when it comes to music, shows, etc, we do music class, sing at home and take him to community theater (Just saw an awesome production of Sound of Music, he loved it!).

    Our 24 year old car won’t pass the next inspection so this post is giving us the push we’ve considered for a long time of going to one car. We are fortunate to live within foot/biking distance of many basic necessities, even though we still need a car for other things.

    As for gardening not always paying, sometimes I wonder if I should bother with our front yard garden when a season goes poorly. However, like with so many activities we dabble in, we are modeling for our son, and the neighborhood, how to do things his generation will need to know. Plus I love to garden!

    Ecosophy Enjoyer, get your land and if you can, hold on to it for your progeny. When my mom died we inherited an acre of land here in the mountains, west facing. As long as the taxes aren’t a burden, we’ll hold on to it so as to pass it on to our son. For now, we’ll set it up as a weekend camping site and harvest a little firewood from it.

    And Justin Moore, thanks for the recommendation for the Cucina Povera book. Half my family is Italian peasant and I love that tradition!

    And lastly, back in my 20’s in the early ’90’s, along with Wendell Berry, Jerry Mander and Scott Savage’s Plain magazine, it was The Tightwad Gazette that got me going on my frugal/luddite path. And if I recall, she was inspired by Your Money or Your Life.

    See everyone at “Frugal Fridays”!
    Ellen in ME

  133. Time to do a refresher on Buckminster Fuller? In the early 80’s, he calculated that technology and current resources could provide a comfortable life for all of Earth’s humans. He also would have agreed with the late David Graeber that ‘earning a living’ was not a moral duty. (And Burien was not a bad place to be raised… I was on the other side – Rainier Valley, taking the #7 downtown)

  134. Also, didn’t Wiemar Germany, after WW1 experience hyperinflation, paying for food with wheelbarrows of marks? And Schacht had it fixed within a year (or so?)

  135. Neptunesdolphins at #108 mentioning a “web of relationships” reminds me of what I’d already come here to say. Charles Hugh Smith, who is rather a doomer of a writer but has some interesting things to say, commented a while back that you don’t want to “prep” simply by the old favourite of a bunker somewhere packed with ammo and spam – that just makes you a target for someone else to come along and take it from you.

    What you want is for other people to want you to stay alive. For this you must have some useful skill, or be known in the community as a friendly helpful person – preferably both!

    What are useful skills long-term is arguable, and it’ll probably depend a lot on your local area. One good book which can help you start thinking about it is ‘Durable Trades’ by Rory Groves. He comes from a different perspective to “collapse now and avoid the rush”, but I think it probably ends up in the same place. He began by thinking that his IT software work wasn’t really a trade he could pass down to his children, and it commonly took him away from his home and family. So he looked to make a list of jobs that have existed for a long time and are likely to in future, which could be done at or close to home, and could be passed down to children. I think there’s good overlap between that and jobs which will still be around even in more difficult and resource-constrained times.

    So much for skills. As for “web of connections”, think of the houses to your left and right, and the three immediately across the road. Do you even know all five householder’s names? Their religion or birthdays, their workplace or that of everyone they live with? Do any of them have useful skills, do you like any of them? Would you – and this is the real test – be willing to go hungry for a bit to help them out?

    This is one reason that in my “Just One Tonne” bit I mentioned having a few food-growing boxes, mentioning that you wouldn’t realistically grow much food, but it could provide you some to give away. Gifts of food are a great way to make some friends, believe me. Our family is Jewish, and every Friday we make two big loaves of sweet bread – challah. There are religious reasons we’re supposed to make two, but our family reason is to always have one to give away, either to our Friday night dinner guests or to someone else we know.

    And as JMG said, even if we were headed for some cornucopian high-tech space future, these would still all be good things to do anyway, enriching our lives. Life is better when you’re closer to home, doing something you feel is useful, and you’re connected to and valued by your community.

  136. Grover, well, they’re still hawking hydrogen power, when hydrogen fuel has to be manufactured — and due to those pesky little annoyances called the laws of thermodynamics, you always have to put more energy into manufacturing hydrogen fuel than you get from burning it. Why not add ammonia to the list of pie-in-the-sky gimmicks?

    Boy, that’s a great metaphor. I can see the point of treating money as a license rather than a token; one way or another, we’re agreed that money isn’t wealth, but a way of managing wealth. I know there’s been a lot of discussion about alternative money systems over the last century or so, and I admit I’m curious to see if anything comes of it, or if we just end up going down the usual route to a post-money dark age economy based on labor and customary exchanges.

    Chris, no surprises there. British Columbia got so many of them that it drove real estate prices up measurably.

    Simon, you may be right. The collapse of the charisma of authority is becoming a massive political fact in the US and most of the Western world these days.

    Karl, yep. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Biden’s handlers that the Arab world may respond to the current mess in Israel the same way they responded to a similar situation 50 years ago — an oil embargo aimed at the United States. If that happens, and the Political Petroleum Reserve is down to the dregs, Biden will have to be very, very lucky to serve out the rest of this term.

    Tom, thanks for these.

    Petros, sorry to hear this. If it helps at all, I know a lot of people who did the same thing.

    Ellen, you’re most welcome. Glad to hear all these things.

    Nancy, Fuller’s calculations assumed that nuclear power was going to produce electricity too cheap to meter. Some of his ideas are worth revisiting — I have a copy of Synergetics on my bookshelf, for example — but some of them are pretty dubious. Yes, I know the Rainier Valley fairly well, though it’s been a while! What I disliked about Burien was the suburban culture, and iirc there was less of that on your end of things. As for the Weimar hyperinflation, sure, the government got a temporary band-aid slapped over it after a year or so, but the German economy didn’t actually recover until a certain later political figure defaulted on the Versailles reparations…

    Hackenschmidt, these are excellent points. Thank you!

  137. “Now that fossil fuels are running short again, expect every con job, every discarded theory, and every raving delusion that makes people think they can keep their current lifestyles to be snapped up. I expect to have somebody ranting about abiotic oil here any day now…”

    About “abiotic oil”, the origin of the oil doesn’t really matter here. It really only matters if the oil supply could be replenished within a few decades for our current industrial civilization to survive – so far it seems that it can’t be replenished that fast. If it takes even a few millennia for the oil supply to replenish, let alone a few hundred million years as currently hypothesized, then whether oil is replenished via abiotic or biotic means is completely irrelevant – our current industrial civilization is doomed regardless since the oil supply can’t be replenished fast enough.

  138. Re #80 Black Tuna and Hand
    Do it, Get your $10, change it to paper money, tack it to your kitchen wall.
    Their geology looks very good, chemistry too. They have to have a slick too-good presentation (a marker of flimflam) to have a chance of a viable start.
    We NEED projects like this to hold back the big collapse, to give us a chance to avoid worse.
    The big thing is, we get (an admittedly small) addition to our fuel reserves WITHOUT the polluted water, wasted water, earthquakes of old-style fracking. In addition we get a big new place to stick our CO2. Your region will get a boosted economy for a while. You may even get 20% of some real money. Enough to buy a better place off-field. But still in the Finger lakes (Yah Finger lakes!)

  139. The idea of calling myself a consmer now is revolting. I realized years ago, while reading your work at ADR, that my red wrigglers do a fantastic job being consumers and revitilizing the soil, while my creativity had been effectively amputated. It appears I find .myself – a Sovereign National – in an amputated Republic! I’ve been cutting wood all day to prepare for winter, and building out my own storage unit on one side of the front porch – for cheap – because units around here are neither cheap nor secure. It’s temporary. I’m the gal who Quiet Titled what was a rental I lost in the GFC, that and $500k retirement and this SFR sat abandoned by (4) banks for 8 years so you can imagine the damage. Everyone walked away, it wasn’t “worth” enough, so I have it now. Heat with wood, refuse to jack electricity back into the pay to play system, get cold water from the city and turned the five foot grass into a food forest garden. You are correct; this has taken 3 years and there’s more to do so budding homesteaders beware. I have experience and there’s always more to learn. Thank you, I look forward to more of your work and participating a bit more as the winter comes on.

  140. @Lazy Gardener #139
    Glad to see Carol Deppe get a shout-out on here. She’s one of the respected elders in our local farming and seed production region.

    @Ecosophy Enjoyer #110 #128
    In my experience you can achieve what you have in mind on a half-acre or less. At the moment we have a 0.45 acre lot which is 0.38 once you subtract the road easement. On that we have:
    –a 1500 sq. ft. duplex that houses us and a renter or a family member in need.
    –a 300 sq ft covered area for outdoor dining and gatherings in the rainy season.
    –two sheds at 200 sq. ft each, one for storage and one as an insulated studio space.
    –a 3000 sq. ft. garden that is as much as we would want to manage as working people and that supplies a significant portion of our food. We have also arranged trades with friends and neighbors from Malaysia, Turkey, Yemen, and Lebanon who cook their traditional cuisines for us in exchange for fresh veggies.
    –an orchard with three apple trees, one pear, one fig, one persimmon, and one quince. The peach, plum, and failed to thrive so we took them down and will be replacing them with berries.
    –about 2000 sq ft of gravel driveway on which we might someday put a garage for more storage/projects, and that currently is plenty of space for two vehicles, a utility trailer, and guest parking.
    –a three-cord woodpile (5′ x 24′) that is enough to fuel our woodstove for the winter, and an equal-sized area for bringing in unsplit wood for the following year.
    –a small chicken run with five chickens.
    –a little vineyard with eight grape vines and some raspberries.
    –a shade tree in the backyard with a clothesline running to the house, and an open ~2000 sq ft of mowed grass with a firepit and hangout/project space.
    –and we STILL have some unallocated space that just gets mowed, that could be put to a better use.

    I have lived on 1-acre and 1.5 acre lots, and my experience has been that more than half of the land remains unmanaged in tall grass and weeds or else I spend an inordinate amount of time and gasoline mowing an unnecessary lawn.

    So…I would make the case that most homesteaders don’t need more than a half-acre unless you plan on running a sideline market farm (which is almost a full-time job) or raising livestock (sheep, goats, pigs, cattle) larger than chickens. You can grow more veggies than you can possibly eat on 3000 square feet and more apples than you can possibly eat on one mature tree.

  141. Hi Quin,
    I would greatly appreciate you adding Mike Malone to your prayer list. He has one brain tumor, had surgery and chemo; got a second, inoperable, more chemo; now a third has appeared, just after the first reappeared..
    I appreciate your mission and provide my prayers often.
    Much Love,

  142. Jmg

    My question is what happens with newly minted immigrants coming to usa and Europe if the welfare dries up. Currently covers everything but what happens when you get package of food and roof above your head, and figure it out the rest with heating, clothing and healthcare? What about the middle class immigrants who have contacts with their countries who seem to be getting better while Europe and usa getting worse with crime, living standards etc.

    I was discussing with my mother ( i am from Eastern Europe living in Norway even though officially our country has lost 10% of its population our capital which is the only city that hasn’t lost population and since covid ended had 50% increase in property prices to the point that we now get flippers something unheard of few years ago. It seems people are coming back and retiring or resettling in my country. I have been talking with other eastern Europeans they have similar stories people who would rather scrub toilets in West Europe than being managers back home are coming back saving far more money working manual jobs than being office drones in West

    Is there similar possibility for the arabs / africans / asians who came for the welfare and easy lifestyle? Once the money dries up?

  143. @ tyler #103

    It is not just about insulation, just adding more batts. Your biggest losses will come from infiltration. So, you have to pull back the insulation batts and get your spry foam can, I now have a reusuabe spray foam gun like this —- and you need to fill in all gaps and cracks and outright holes between your attic and your conditioned space. Especially look to the top s of your walls as you can get a chimney effect in the walls if air can enter at the bottom of the walls and exit the top thru these gaps and cracks. The small openings can realy add up in a cold climate as the temperature difference is large — think of it like having a pressure difference with water or air, the large temperature difference means the air will move thru those cracks faster. Insulation batts do not stop this.

    Personally, I would not spend the type of extreme money to try and retrofit to a higher R value in your ceiling, yours is close enough. I would caulk and spray foam and put a radient barrier on the bottom of the roof rafteer. Then I would go under the house and spray foam and caulk the underside of the walls thereto further stop the chimney affect.

    I would devote the money saved on other preparation needs. A wood stove as backup heat for a room or part of the house, for example. Converting a south facing area to a passive heat source ( I dont know your house design to say whcih type) Sometimes, like at my house, there is a porch, mine was all down the east side, so I walled off the end, the south east corner, as a mini green house, and on sunny days, it contributes heat at low cost. Look at the web site build it solar for passive heat add ons and tips on how to caulk and weatherize

    You should also investigate ways to keep from freezing. SOme examples are to make a super insulated area within your house. This can be improvized in an emergency. Like a child making a fort. Put a blanket over the dining room table, out the couch cishions upright along the side. Get in there with all your blakets and the cat. If your house hold is larger, just have everyone get into one room, put quilts over the doorway and windows. This is just a back up to your wood stove back up ! So you dont have to worry about freezing, you can make it so you wont freeze.

    Then, go to the new frugal friday to ask more or to the green wizards web site, which appears to still be up, and there you can download phtos of your house and ask questions more detailed

    Atmospheric River

  144. I was a riot for austerity participant. I found it realy useful excercise. It is certainly possible to do it, or at least come very close, without crawling into a cave as a hermit, realy it is. Since it is just me in the house now, so the miles driven per person is off. And the fire took out my gardens, Im getting them back. But we were very close or about there on that 10% for quite a while. It is good to have a goal, and like perfection, maybe you never quite achieve it but it is the striving towards it and all the learning. You realy end up with some useful habits from it, buying local wool for a comforter you sew yourself. Having a nice big garden for the kale, tomatoes and fresh vegetables. Not buying stuff, certainly not new stuff, unless it is for making yogurt or air sealing the house. Not making trash by not buying packaging, Sheet mulching paper bags from the 50 lb bag of rice under the fruit trees because you are buying bulk dry goods and eating your own or farmers market for all fruits vegetables eggs cheese and milk. Heating the house with wood from your neighborhood ( easy where I live) . Severly limiting driving in a 45mpg diesel, Never flying, taking the train, and not that often.

    But, yeah, I agree that Sharon Asyk kind of just dropped the whole thing, moving to the city would be fine, there were Riot for Auterity participants in cities, but she did not keep it up from what I could see. The other movement, transition Towns, fizzled too, there were more people feigning interest in those. Next thing I knew, all that non-consumption driven initiatives were gone and it was all government driven greenwashing to buy buy buy, electric cars, all electric houses ( meaning houses in my area that never had airconditioning before now have a heater with built in air conditioning, which they now use, so there is no energy saved not to mention the ROI of the units that certainly wont last long) and all of us here, ecosophians reading this, rioting for austerity as we collapse before the rush, know that you cant consume your way out of a consumption problem. Personally, having worked at it, I think that it can be done with fun, how low can you go, lets break out the last 2 bottles of that plum wine I made before the fire from the plums all over the ground under my neighbors tree, and drink a toast to the amazing bounty and beauty and being careful of falling fruit, the amazing color of a down home plum wine, pass the soup and warm bread. I m too far away to give you all some of mine, so pick up some fallen fruit, maybe try to ferment it, buy some bulk wheat ferment and bake, grow or buy a few local veg to throw in the pot, and lets be thankful and riotously grateful and happy and raise a toast to each other in this journey.

    Atmospheric River

  145. I, too, have long objected to referring to people of our society as “consumers.” Sure it’s appropriate sometimes, but the word is used far too often and in contexts not specifically related to consumption. It betrays the modern conception that the only thing the individual has to offer greater society is their willingness to whip out their credit card and consooooom.

  146. MMS/3i’s have no aptitude to “brace for impact” and with the current level of ignorance and irresponsibility there is no chance for that behavior to exist among the large majority of MMS/3i’s.

    As for the DEBT (the Wealth of the OWNERS of the MONETARY SYSTEM) a little FUN fact:
    $1.2bn DEBT per hour
    “….US debt adding around $28.5bn per day for 18 days in a row….or put a different way increasing that debt burden by $1.2bn per hour and likely to increase that total debt bill by around $1 trillion in around 6 weeks” (GS trading desk)

    Enjoy it!

  147. Hi Temporary Reality (22)
    I read three main economics type blogs.
    Surplus Energy Economics is excellent. It is in depth and seems realistic to me. The comments are also often useful though not as well-managed as JMG’s. Party politics is forbidden which helps.
    I also keep up with happenings with Climate & Economy
    This can be tremendously depressing and I tend to just read the headlines.
    Finally, with a UK bias, Consciousness of Sheep has and economy section that is well worth reading.
    Apologies if these have already been suggested. I’m only a third of the way through the comments.

  148. Greetings all,
    I have been reading up on the US national debt today. It seems to me that there well could be a link between oil prices and national debt whether expressed in US dollars or as a percentage of GDP too.
    Can anyone comment on that?

  149. “‘supplement our main calorie intake, which will be food like grain, rice, corn, potatoes, etc. that we will purchase in bulk.’

    “And now we come to why bother with all of that to begin with? If the grocery store shuts down, you’re going to be right back in the same boat as everyone else. Those zucchinis and tomatoes and radishes don’t have enough calories in them to keep you going. All those things you listed, do.”

    In praise of the potato…

    Please remember that rice and corn may be hard for a low-tech, low-labour input vegetable garden to provide, but potatoes are another story. (I’m told) potatoes can produce at least 17x (or more) the calories per acre of any other crop, including grains.** This makes potatoes worth growing if you do have a garden. Like everything else, some things are going to work better some years than others, and that is why “mixed” means stressing “variety” in your planting… but potatoes are excellent growers under many conditions, with few necessary inputs compared to grains, and also, can add a high-calorie food staple to any mixed vegetable garden.

    Potatoes also have advantages that grain crops lack – for example, you do not have to harvest under very specific conditions, which if they fail to occur in any year, can mean loss of an entire crop. This year, for example, strange weather conditions (two months drought followed by two months drenching), led to blight in my own potato crop. I have never had to deal with blight before. So, while I did think I had lost my crop, it was not nearly as bad as I feared. I immediately cut ALL the above ground potato growth, and burned it. (Blighted plant growth is not for composting with any soil you might grow more potatoes in). And, then, with initial trepidation, and later, with increasing confidence, I began to dig out the rows. Beginning in August, and finishing last week, whenever I had a spare hour or two, I’d dig through another row. I soon discovered that around 80% of the crop were still viable and undamaged. This could not happen with a grain crop that was damaged by a disease, or by a pest, or by an adverse weather event.

    ** I can well believe this, because it seems that the way the potato expanded Irish peasant acreage by 17x allowed the population to grow from under 2 million in 1650 to over 8 million in 1850 – and then (as is well known) crash again when the potato crops failed. obviously, this makes sole dependence on potatoes a problem, but as part of a mixed, low-energy input, low-labour input, vegetable garden, it has a lot to contribute.

  150. @ Ecosophy #110
    Fwiw, I have a suburban house on about 1/3 of an acre. I grow vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, okra, greens, beans) every year and usually get enough to can that lasts into the winter. That is, the stuff I grow maybe provides 5 to 10% of my diet for half the year. I have a rototiller that helps keep the gardening from being too backbreaking. I have fruit trees that have produced exactly zero usable fruit. I live in the mid-Atlantic region, and even apple varieties made for my region have succumbed to fungal diseases. I’ve tried every kind of organic remedy (Neem oil, copper) but no fruit at all. I have had chickens over the years and that was successful, but chickens have to be cared for: let out and fed and watered every morning and shut away at night to protect them from predators. We have foxes in our area and some or all of the chickens were picked off through the years. I guess, long story short, if you love it and enjoy it, absolutely do it. But you have to love it because it takes effort every single day, especially the chickens. I really enjoy it, and have household pets also including a dog, two cats, and a parrot, so taking care of animals is a daily chore, chickens or no. And I love to garden and can. But I wouldn’t do it just for the produce if I didn’t love it. One other thing you might consider: I have built up relationships with local farmers who are within a one hour drive of my house. I buy half a cow, half a pig, and pasture raised chickens through the year and keep them in the chest freezer in my basement. I also belong to a Community Sponsored Agriculture organization in my area that provides vegetables and grains all year round. That keeps me out of the grocery store and gives me healthier food. Just some other options to think about along with or as an alternative to buying land.

  151. Stefania,

    My wife recently bought a sleigh bed for us. We’ve never actually had a bed frame before, in 22 years of marriage, just mattresses on rails. And when I picked it up from the thrift store, I wasn’t terribly impressed with it. But I thought, hey, 50 bucks, how could we go wrong? But then she started cleaning and polishing it, and researching the hallmarks. In the end it’s a beautiful (and heavy) mahogany piece of art with hand-carved dental work along the edges, made by a furniture company just up the road. Or was just up the road, before NAFTA ended their run. The date on the bed is 6-1-96, and it’s initialed by the craftsman who made it – perhaps one of the last pieces ever turned out by that company in N. Georgia. It’s gorgeous, and I’ve honest-to-Pete been sleeping better since we got it. There were more local NAFTA casualties, but that’s the latest to enter our little world.

    Congrats on your successful farming, btw. Our little herbal products company is pretty much the same. Our products started out as something we made for our own use, then we discovered wider applications along the way, proved their mettle, and started selling them, and it’s slowly becoming a real business. Just when we really need it to be. Feels good, doesn’t it?


  152. Somewhat off-topic, but an Iron Age coin was recently found in Hampshire in southern England. The coin was inscribed with the name ESUNERTOS, which translates as “Mighty as [the god] Esus”.

    As Esus was depicted as felling a tree, and has become known as the Chief of Tree Spirits in modern Druidry, I detect a certain synchronistic connection with the recent felling of the Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall.

  153. I have not had a chance to read all the comments, so please forgive me if someone has mentioned this thought already.

    Decades ago I had the pleasure of hearing a CBC Massey Lecture given by Ursula Franklin in which she talked about the impact of technology on expectations, among other things. Here is a bio for anyone who has not heard of her:
    and a quote from that link:
    “She defined technology as practice: how things are socially and morally done. She saw technology as a complex system of methods, procedures and mindsets rather than as a collection of machines and gadgets.”

    In part of the lecture, she explained that as technology frees up time, expectations change to fill up the free time so that women (she focused on women’s work) are working as hard as ever, and in fact spend a few more minutes per week on housework today than they used to. Here is one example she gave that stayed with me all these years.

    Wash days, usually Mondays, in pre-washing machine days, resulted in 1 piece of clothing taking around 7 minutes (keeping the math simple) which was then worn 7 days a week. Today, women spend 1 minute per piece of clothing but wash it 7 times in a week. With the introduction of the washing machine and the assumption that it would free up women’ time, expectations changed from wearing clothes for seven days before a wash to wearing only clean clothes every day. Are we more comfortable? Only because we are now expected to have clean, fresh-smelling clothes and feel uncomfortable if we don’t (speaking in generalities here.)

    So the question to ask ourselves is not “how can I find a way to do this with less money, resources, technology, or whatever?” but “why am I doing this?” The real answers are usually along the lines of “because I need to impress my social group and their expectations so I’m not kicked out.”

    That thinking has served me beautifully over the years: “Do I spend time meeting the local neighbourhood’s unspoken standard of property management driven by all the gadgets to do so, or do I read this book?” A no-brainer to me. The grass was mowed sporadically and haphazardly. 🙂

  154. I have the book Your Money or your Life, and I started doing a bit of poking around on Money Mustache based on the recommendations here. It appears both have the same core idea: pay off debt and control spending, and then invest the difference between earnings and expenditures to earn money that way. The first principle, cutting spending, makes a lot of sense and is great advice. But investing? Is that smart, when the economy could decline, which means investments also decline?

    It’s been a while since I last looked at Your Money and your Life, and I’m quite happy to see that we’ve already got some good habits with cutting expenditures. Our only debt is a quickly decreasing and very affordable mortgage, we own well over half of our house. So for what it’s worth, that book has some great advice in it.

  155. Petros, don’t feel bad. In one way or the other, at whatever scale, we’ve all made a similar oversight or miscalc. If you had more money, it just made easier to implement. I’ll bet there’s a way to salvage or course correct.

  156. Hi John Michael,

    The author and farmer Gene Logsdon made similar observations about trying to earn a living from the land whilst learning to farm. He may have advised having an ‘off farm’ income and putting that to good use developing the land. It’s good advice.

    Land of course was cheaper in those days too. I never expected to make an income from the land, and so set out with that limitation front and centre. To do otherwise would be a hill to die upon. Of course, there is always the possibility that I completely mess this adventure up. I’ve written about insurance woes once a year, every year for almost the past decade. Hey, those dudes are the proverbial canary in the coal mine don’t you reckon?

    I had a bad feeling about oil possibilities once we lost the war in Afghanistan, and we discussed that at the time. It might get like the mid 1970’s all over again. The problem with being a prize fighter is that eventually you pass your peak, and other contenders steal the glory.



  157. You first caught, and kept, my attention when you did your ‘green wizardry’ posts back in 2010 – so, this post and any similar to it are right up my alley, JMG. Thanks to those posts way back when, my humble home is well-insulated, my compost heaps overfloweth, my year-round organic gardens thrive, and I occasionally cook a ‘solar’ meal with my home-made Maria Telkes (aka The Sun Queen) cooker or ‘biomass’ meal with my home-made rocket stove.

    I guess I was lucky having parents who were ‘burned’ by the Great Depression during their formative years because they maintained a lifelong frugal lifestyle which I internalized. Also, I have been blessed with poverty for much of my life as well as an ascetic temperament. That being said, I am happy to share what I can on Frugal Fridays.

  158. Collapse as far as you can. Because of my family’s various disabilities, we do rely on delivery services. My brain injury is such that I cannot go into stores or libraries.

    However, I do recycle my books to the local book nook. I needed a place for books that I have read. The book nook at the local strip mall was sadly lacking in books. So, I started putting my books there for others. Two years later, I am known as the “librarian” of the book nook. What has happened is that more people have donated books, and we have a thriving small library going. People take books to read, return, keep, or donate more. It was a simple action that cascaded into a neighborhood of givers of books, DVDs, CDs, records (yes), toys, and magazines. So, there is a need for people to give surplus stuff and a place that fulfills that need. I think the key for the whole thing was that I didn’t care what was donated. I just straightened it out into segments for people to see. Others do manage the books when I am not there. And we have people take the stuff too. So, I guess it is like ripples in a pond.

  159. I’ve come to think that fracking is likely only a result of the fact that the US ran the utterly insane debt load over the last 15 years, and not why they did it. The issue is that it is an utterly insane policy choice; and I cannot think of a way to justify it. However, another industry got a lot of money out of this, and one I think there’s good reason for the establishment to want to support at all costs: the internet.

    Modern society (since about 2000) is utterly unique, as far as I can tell, in that an incredibly large percentage, possibly a majority, of the young men living in it are weak and passive. This is a very odd situation, and it correlates rather well with the rise of the internet. The combination of porn and video games functions for a lot of young men like a pixelated Valhalla; and with our brains convinced we’re getting plenty of sex, and have access to plenty of violence, a lot of the forces which drive young men vanishes. The result is a huge number of young men with poor social skills, poor prospects in life, who are content with their poor condition because of what amounts to non-chemical tranquilizers.

    Both of these are easily distributed by the internet, and indeed the internet is flooded with both. Take away porn and video games, and I think there is a very real risk of serious upheaval as millions of young men go through withdrawal, and then take a look at their lives and realize they suck, and start doing something about it. Given human nature, that something almost certainly will include a great deal of pointless violence, and risk seriously destabilizing a lot of things.

    This is the only reason I can think of for why the establishment is acting as if keeping the internet running at all costs is essential, even as the people who are responsible for keeping it alive are trying to reduce their own exposure to it. I think a reduction in the size of the internet risks a serious short term catastrophe, and so every gimmick to postpone it, even just for a few years, is going to be tried; and that one of them was the US government running up a colossal amount of debt to quietly funnel into an industry that doesn’t make any kind of economic sense at a time when investors started to spook.

  160. On the TV ads for the local elections in Virginia. The Democrats are focused on abortion, while the Republicans are focused on crime.

    In a bankrupted world, I believe that the elites are more focused on their own ideologies, and everyone else on their own safety. Which one will win? About one-third of Virginia is federal workers and contractors, so it may be close, since they are the elites.

  161. Thank you for always being a voice for clarity and reasonableness.
    We have lived rurally for around 15 years now. My wife lived rural most her life. I went back and forth from urban to rural.
    I have been a professional horticulturist for 20 years, with an emphasis on taking care and rehabilitation of peoples orchards.
    Which brings me to my point. One that, I think, will be helpful in the years to come. Trees that produce food.
    Farming annual crops is very hard work year in and out. It takes very refined know how.
    Where as perennial crops are hard work a couple times a year. And require less attention and know how.
    Many tree crops (particularly trees like figs, and even hazelnuts (trees that do not require rootstock)) are very easy to propagate from cuttings taken at the right time.
    A book I recommend is “Tree crops” J. Russell Smith.
    It will give you an idea of the viability of food trees, and their history, of how they can be rediscovered to help us in the years ahead, and at building more (truly) sustainable lives.
    Another is “Trees of power” Akiva Silver. This book focuses on Food trees. Akiva also has a website for his tree business’Twisted tree farm’ and YouTube videos plus appearances on podcast that are very informative and inspiring for anyone who wants to learn about the trees and how to propagate lots of trees on a small space.
    Also I would recommend learning the wild edibles around you. You may be surprised at the tons of food all around that you have been seeing your whole life and not noticing.
    Obvious one is blackberry. Seen as a scourge and a nuisance, it may be one of the plants that save our a***s.
    God bless

  162. Dear JMG,

    You say, “I admit I’m curious to see if anything comes of [discussion of alternative money systems] or if we just end up going down the usual route to a post-money dark age economy based on labor and customary exchanges”.

    Me too! But in your vision of a mosaic of diverse local economies and governance systems, there will doubtless be new systems which emerge.

  163. On a different note; when exactly and by whom did talking to one’s self become crazy?
    I would posit that a good hour sess of talking with oneself would prove more profitable to ones well being than years of therapy talking to someone else.
    In hard times particularly, or those times when you feel you may break apart, do not underestimate the power of a good rocking back and forth-talking to yourself-to rebalance, or get clarity in a situation.
    Setting and timing recommended;)

    Stay lite

  164. In regard to potatoes in the garden, there is more than one variety. In this county vast numbers of Russets are grown, but red potatoes are not. So I grow reds and Yukons. The reds are not great baking potatoes but are great mashed or roasted. Roasted red potatoes with dill and chives are quite popular in this house, goes great with BBQ in the crockpot pork. The Yukons are great in hash browns, and also mashed, and they aren’t that bad as bakers. Variety is your friend.

    Variety is what the Irish did not have.

    Last year the red potatoes did not do all that well, this year I have buckets of them. The Yukons did better last year than this year.

    As for fracking, it’s not alone in dying of high interest rates. Anything involving high up front capital costs with a low rate of return is in trouble. Nuclear power plants were already discussed, but look in the news offshore wind projects are getting cancelled left and right. The companies are demanding bigger subsidies to go ahead. At current interest rates the energy generated won’t pay the interest payments on the construction loans. Onshore wind is starting to see the same thing happen.

    Earlier this week I saw the same complaint about solar power. Demand for panels is diving. Even though PV has a cash flow advantage (you can install an array a bit at a time, so that you are getting a cash flow from the first part of the array to help pay for the next part to be installed) they are still being impacted by what is historically a very modest interest rate.

    So how much is night time electricity really worth? It has been cheap because so many fossil fuel or nuclear plants had to stay running through the night to carry the day time peaks. But if you are trying to run off PV, and the winds die out around midnight, if they show up at all, then what? Then it’s below zero (F) outside and the All-Glorious State has strong-armed everyone into using heat pumps, that 4 AM power supply might be worth a pretty penny.

  165. Emily @ 150. about ” arabs / africans / asians who came for the welfare and easy lifestyle?” That is not the only motive for immigration, at least not to the USA. Some have frankly ideological reasons “We are going to turn their cathedrals into mosques.” That is an actual quote, BTW, from a young man entering Europe.

    Others intend to make their fortune and then return in triumph to the old village. Still others live in extreme frugality so they can send remittances back home. This is something well meaning Americans find intensely frustrating. No matter how fair or even generous the wage, and how proactive are churches and charitable organizations, there never seems to be any visible improvement in circumstances because “I have to send money home.”

    Migrants from southwest Asia, in particular, have not made themselves popular, in general, in the USA, and that is part of the reason for lopsided support for Israel in the present emergency. I think the recent riots in France were a tipping point in that regard. I have never heard that groups of angry young Jewish men burned public libraries or trashed the buses on which their grandmothers ride to work. Educated Americans, Americans who vote, are well aware that Israel welcomes Christian pilgrims to places sacred to that religion. At least a third of American Christians of all denominations have made at least one Christmas or Easter trip to the Holy Land. In Israel, Christian archeological sites are excavated and studied, with Christian scholars allowed access. In the KSA Christian sites are promptly bulldozed as soon as uncovered.

    IDK what will likely happen in the near future. Hamas, backed up by the entire Arab world, is likely to make freedom of migration part of their demands for a negotiated settlement.

  166. Nancy Sutton #141
    “Since He also would have agreed with the late David Graeber that ‘earning a living’ was not a moral duty”

    I think it is important to clarify that it was not “earning a living” which Graeber was taking aim at, but the idea that pointless “jobs” (which entail the wasting of energy and natural resources) should be created just for the sake of it.

    Here is one of the shorter pieces he has written on the topic, for anyone who might want to see (and possibly still take issue with) what he actually had to say.

  167. Wendell Berry on how to bear the unbearable:


    Turn toward the holocaust, it approaches
    on every side, there is no other place
    to turn. Dawning in your veins
    is the light of the blast
    that will print your shadow on stone
    in a last antic of despair to survive you in the dark.
    Man has put his history to sleep
    in the engine of doom. It flies
    over his dreams in the night,
    a blazing cocoon. O gaze into the fire
    and be consumed with man’s despair,
    and be still, and wait. And then see
    the world go on with the patient work
    of seasons, embroidering birdsong
    upon itself as for a wedding, and feel
    your heart set out in the morning
    like a young traveler, arguing the world
    from the kiss of a pretty girl.
    It is the time’s discipline to think
    of the death of all living, and yet live.

  168. Yvonne Rouse (#155) thank you for the recommendations!

    To all the folks (Ecosophy Enjoyer, esp.) worried that starting a little farm (or garden or half-acre whatever) is a bad idea, I propose looking at it as a bit of an experiment. You never know if the conditions in your area are actually perfect for your endeavor. It’s a big world! If this is something you want to learn anyway in spite of the time’s challenges, then go in with the knowledge that life on earth is predicated on having and creating many options. There are many genetic and epigenetic options on just the physiological level, not to mention the options that multiply once you add in sociological/cultural/resource inputs (for all species). Nature does this so that SOMETHING works out. Be part of the Great Experiment (be smart about what you can, but as JMG says, “go ye forth and do your thing.”)

    I’m also bucking the ecosophia-orthodoxy (heaven forfend, there is such a thing!?) as well. Might’ve been the world’s worst time to buy a piece of land in my area, but it beat having an inheritance stashed at Vanguard, losing purchasing power by the day, threatening me with my neighbors’ versions of retirement.

    I’d never expected the inheritance anyway and always assumed a work-til-you-die kind of future for self and hubby; so now here we are, deciding the kind of work we want to do and diving in to do it. Might as well. I like to eat and if we can get anything edible out of this, it’s a win. Whatever we start, at least it’s a start – and something productive to do, and to model for our kids.

    Scotlyn, Boy, jbucks – thank you for your thoughts on economy, assets, accounts, money, frugality, etc. Your comments have given me something good to mull over in preparation for my “home preparedness” series.

  169. @JMG
    You said: “As for your scenario, the one reason I don’t think it’s likely is that the Biden administration knows that $300 a barrel oil would wreck their chances of staying in power; they’ve just cut a deal with Venezuela to get US oil prices down. But we’ll see”

    Well two considerations:

    a) Joe Biden seems to have very low probabilities to win the re-election, at least is what polls say, but on the other hand a “war president” when the US is “under attack” by “terrorist” could be a solution for him if you have a Tomkin Gulf or Maine or better Pearl Harbor style attack agains the US troops in the ME, and then all the country will close the ranks with the president, and the army.

    b) I listen the Biden speech yesterday, and this and all the previous declaration from the attack of Hamas remind me the “Blank Cheque” of the Kaiser Wilhelm II and his chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg to the Austro Hungarian Empire. In fact all this issue remidns me the start of the WWI.

    So I think is quite probable that the US carriers intervene in the war and bomb targets of Hezbollah in Lebanon and start a series of events that could ignite a big regional war and even WWIII.


  170. Someone above that works in IT for governments was worried about servers, generators and replacement parts. I work I IT also and my view about that is that this hypercentralized, cloud-centric IT we have today will progressively fade away. Rising costs of electricity and replacement parts will drive computation back to personal computers and begin a feedback loop that will destroy the Cloud. AI is a pipe dream that can’t pay itself even with zero interest rates and cheap electricity and GPUs, so all these people worrying about ChatGPT taking over they job aren’t looking at the real dangers. So the cloud will fade away and a small silver age of desktop computation will happen. Then the shortages will end desktop computation too, probably during the next great crisis near the end of the century. Cloud-centric programmers, too dependent upon networked software repositories, like the javascript bros, won’t make it. The old will be new again with concerns from the nineties and eighties coming back: c++, optizations, packing your own dependencies, shipping it right because people won’t be able to download patches every week… at least until tropical diseases, the Chinese Civil War and the rising sea levels makes anything beyond discrete transistors impossible to replace.

  171. #167 Anonymous

    There is a lot of right in her post. Our current situation is somewhat reminiscent of the time of the Opium War of China, only that we are flooded with digital heroin.

    I would disagree with you on one thing though. I think you give our elites a lot more credit for intelligence and foresight than they actually have. Most of these people are semi-corrupt, greedy careerists. Their worldview fits on a PowerPoint slide, and that’s the only thing they can deal with. So I don’t think they think in the long term and profound terms you listed in your line of reasoning. It is much more obvious that the fracking hype has again come from their usual measure of short-sighted thinking for money and votes.

  172. JMG,

    One pitfall I see folks walk into when they start attempting a simpler/less-costly life is attempting to re-create any/all their prior “consumer wants” via an endless list of Do-It-Yourself projects. (Or…. even worse folks tackle an endless list of Do-It-Yourself projects and have agressive schedules for completion.)

    Creating less at a slower pace is a must because all those consumer goods you arent buying are actually the physical form of “saved time”.

  173. Kurt, granted, but every single person who’s brought up abiotic oil in response to my peak oil posts has used it to claim that there really is an infinite amount of oil down there, so we don’t have to worry about it — thus my response.

    Sheila, hmm! That’s certainly one way to do it. You might consider writing up a booklet on how you did it, because it’s quite possible we’re going to see a Greater Financial Crisis sometime quite soon and other people might be able to do the same thing.

    Emily, I suspect there’s going to be a lot of that in some places.

    Atmospheric, I’m sorry to say that the Transition Towns franchise fell over and died in exactly the way I predicted — everyone was on board for making a Transition Plan, nobody was ready to tackle the hard part and put the plan into action. I didn’t follow Riot For Austerity closely but it seems to have followed a similar trajectory. That’s why I’m proposing to put the hard part first and get people pursuing more frugal lifestyles.

    Zachary, a hundred years ago “consumption” was the name of a disease. (We call it tuberculosis these days.)

    Voza0db, maybe you can translate those acronyms so somebody else can figure out what you’re talking about.

    Karim, fascinating. I’m not sure what to make of that.

    Luke, hmm! Maybe so.

    Myriam, interesting. Franklin’s principle suggests a wider application of Parkinson’s Law, which holds that in a bureaucracy, the work expands to fill the time and resources available to do it…

    Jbucks, in a contracting economy, the average investment loses money, so that’s a worthwhile concern.

    Chris, the foreign minister of Iran has just proposed an embargo of oil and gas sales to any country that supports Israel. Deja vu, anyone?

    Ron, delighted to hear it and I’ll look forward to your posts there.

    Neptunesdolphins, thank you for this! That’s a fine story, and one I’d encourage others to think about.

    Anonymous, that’s an intriguing hypothesis.

    Neptunesdolphins, that is to say, nobody’s talking about the issues that matter. Typical…

    Pygmycory, it went up at 12:19 pm! (I’m not a morning person.) It’ll be open for the whole week, until the next one goes up.

    Travis, for those that have places to plant food trees, it’s certainly an option.

    Boy, here’s hoping!

    Travis, no argument there. I prefer to do it via a pen and a spiral bound notebook, but then I like to write.

    Larkrise, it’s a fine poem — and a reminder that in the mid-20th century, nobody believed that we’d avoid a nuclear war this long. The lack of mushroom clouds is worth reflecting on.

    Roldy, thanks for this.

    DFC, well, we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

    Geronimo, that’s exactly what I’ve been expecting all along.

    GlassHammer, that’s an excellent point.

  174. Chris Wheeler (offlist), thank you, but my readers are fine with the occasional typo, and I’ve had way too many bad experiences with editors who thought it was their job to erase my personal voice and style. But I wish you luck in your project!

  175. The astrologer “Astrowolf” on Youtube from Vienna really is not bad.
    Last year, he predicted that something major *might* happen on the weekend of the pipeline attack in Europe.
    This year in Spring, he said one day for the next that “friendships that have broken mend together again” – on which day unexpectedly a friend called again whom, as you would assume, had been angry with me for ~one and a half months.

    This 4. of October, he predicted a horoskope that was “uncommonly both short in its effect, two and a half days about, yet as well a real ‘trigger’ horoskope, a major event unfolding”.

    You can guess what that was.

    And for this friday the 20th he said: ” a good time to buy some stuff you might need, for in the next days, there will be a major inflation event.”

    A good moniker – maybe tomorrow there’s still time for that.

    It would befit the charming Lena Petrova on YT and other channels, an obviously Bulgarian women, seemingly living in the US and good on English spoken. She gives news on oil and energy markets, and mostly otherwise finance.

    She said the strategic petroleum reserve of the US is depleted within the next weeks.
    The old man bought himself some time.

    It is said it theoretically would take decades to refill it. Theoretically, because we don’t assume here it’ll
    be like that in the past.

    Today I have heard from a woman I know her friend was fired from her architecture or something job due to the usual layoff reasons.

    Meanwhile the sidings with either side in the middle East give absolut weird turnings within our liberal political class, schisms, in an erratic manner I cannot really fathom well.


    A potentially practical advice, but only for the sports interested:

    Our host sometime back gave someone the answer, he cannot train martial arts alone effectively.

    While that for a good part is true, I think there’s a smaller part that can be done in the direction in a solitary circumstance.

    Vienna boxing champion Fadi Merza trained alone as a teen before he got the money to enter a club.
    Boxers train dodging and shifting alone, and also shadow boxing.

    Something like truly feeling the weight of another and many others, and their shiftings, to do throwing
    and levering the other, that is another matter of course, no doubt.

    But the precursors – swiftness, being a good random generator of movements, deception maneuvers, precision
    in striking and stepping, rolling on the floor (in some situations very useful)….

    there’s many things with dedication that can be done alone, though one should also imagine real life violence events many times more complex, challenging and so forth than in one’s own imagination.

    Still – doing exercises like that in many ways is very beneficial too.

  176. Re: low-tech birth control; from a literary list discussing the English Regency period of 200 years ago. I’ve also seen sponge tampons back in the day when organic alternatives to things were more popular in certain circles. These were not, repeat, NOT, the common mass-market household sponges.

    “Sponges were common household items, so it would be easy to use a small
    piece, soak it in vinegar, brandy or lemon juice, and insert it before
    intimacy. They tied a thin piece of ribbon around it, so it could be
    removed the next day. It was far more reliable than anything that had
    gone before, and more discreet.”

  177. JMG, thanks for making available the pdf and zip of the Master Conserver materials. That’s very generous and helpful of you.

    About that 5- to 10-year learning curve for farming: Spot on. And it’s better spent while a person’s still living wherever he or she already is, in the city or suburb or elsewhere, but preferably before running out and dropping hundreds of thousands on acreage. I’ve been at this for 6 years in earnest, though I’d been dabbling for decades before that, and I still feel there’s much to learn. I wrote up my experience as “How to homestead when you don’t have a homestead,” and the post went a bit viral, many people chiming in with similar experiences:

    Finally, thanks for Frugal Fridays. See y’all over there!

  178. “I listen the Biden speech yesterday, and this and all the previous declaration from the attack of Hamas remind me the “Blank Cheque” of the Kaiser Wilhelm II and his chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg to the Austro Hungarian Empire. In fact all this issue reminds me the start of the WWI.”

    You too? The first part of The Guns of August has seemed to be rhyming lately and the interlocking alliances stagger toward war.

    One of the Appendices explained why the French gave up so quickly in WWII. They just weren’t interested in doing that again.

  179. >In praise of the potato

    The other nice thing about them is they don’t need milling. Rice has to be milled. Oats need to be milled. Corn has to be milled. Wheat, yup.

    But not taters. All you have to do is wash the dirt off them and then you can process them with a chef’s knife. Or not and just wrap them in foil and bake them. Or you don’t even have to wrap them in foil, just put them straight on the rack. Or throw them in a pot of boiling water.

    >In regard to potatoes in the garden, there is more than one variety.

    Different taters grow better in different climates too. Talk to the locals, they will know what grows best and what doesn’t.

  180. Hi John Michael,

    It’s true what they say about everything old being new again, and that strategy is as old as I am. It’s pretty hard for the west to fight a war these days without diesel fuel, and that supply was throttled how many weeks ago now? This whole situation we’re all in, is idiotic and reflects very poorly upon our leaders.

    I’d imagine that sooner or later, we’ll be facing rationing. We’re already getting a sort of weird rationing by price going on. Incidentally, I do wonder if there was an element of protest regarding that situation at last weeks vote. Wouldn’t surprise me, especially the way the elites are acting-out. I genuinely thought that they were smarter than this.

    When I first learned of Peak Oil back in about 2004 whilst writing for the hippy press, it’s not like you couldn’t just go to a book store, grab a book on the subject and read up on what happened when I was young enough to be still taking a dump in my nappy’s. 🙂 The inescapable conclusion was that if it’s happened once, it’ll happen again.

    There’s a great website showing inflation rates in: Australia. The graphs make for horrendous reading, and I reckon that is where we are headed, maybe worse. How could it not do so?

    Anyway, this time around we’ve already chucked the economy under the bus, immigration (a form of export) is running harder than ever, and for us there is no Bass Strait oil fields to pump dry (or North Slope / North Sea fields – same, same, but different).

    Sure, they might come up with something unexpected e.g. the fracking err, innovation. But each new gimmick has a much higher cost.

    Out of curiosity, what’s your view on the so called central digital currencies? They sound like so much hot air to me, but I’ve been wrong before.



  181. Other factors behind US bipartisan support for Israel:
    1) Above and beyond the numbers of Jewish voters, the skill of the pro-Israel lobby
    2) In recent decades, strong support from the most Bible-oriented Christians for Israel as part of their end times theology; this part of the nation used to feel anti-Semitic to me, so this has been a big swing.
    3) Antipathy for Arabs that started building during the first oil shock in the early 1970s and increased with incidents such as the Munich Olympic Massacre and of course 9-11
    4) Israel’s role as another excuse for funneling more money to the military industrial complex (Though a writer more familiar with the intimate details of the military industrial complex than me says this is untrue.)
    5) In America’s own mythology, the US single-handedly saved the Jews from the Nazis, so being the protector of Israel is a keystone in the US image of itself as the good guys. The 1000 Year Reich may have only lasted 12 years but as long as Hollywood survives, it will live on in mythology.
    6) Minor, but after the 6-Day War of 1967, Israel’s representatives spoke the kind of posh British English that Americans are suckers for, but the Arab representatives all spoke with strong accents. I remember my Dad being impressed by that.
    I am not implying here that Israel should or should not be supported, just trying to explain why it is supported no matter what it does.

  182. Re money systems

    A while ago I read that one of the very ancient civilizations had a system of grain storage in centralized warehouses (maybe run by the local potentate or one of his minions) where the farmer would bring his harvest to the facility to be stored. The farmer would be given metal tokens indicating units of grain. When the farmer wanted to retrieve some grain he would bring tokens to the facility to be redeemed for grain.

    But what also happened is that the tokens became money, that is, a medium of exchange.

    Picture this: the in-laws are coming. Damn. And the missus wants to do some baking. But she needs eggs. So, the price of a dozen eggs in terms of wheat is xxx. Got tokens? Great, here’s the eggs.

    Maybe the ancients were onto something. The token represents grain. The grain is under guard in a royal storage facility. You can grind grain into flour. They had grain. We have blind faith. Er, maybe the ancients did too, that the grain wouldn’t get pilfered.

    Anyway, when elite predation finally disembowels our monetary system, maybe what’s old becomes new again. As the natives used to say, and maybe still do, when the last fish is caught and the last deer is shot, white man will realize that you can’t eat money.

  183. Curt, TSW!

    Patricia M, I wondered when both of those would happen.

    Brunette, thanks for this.

    Chris, exactly. I was a teenager during the first energy crisis, and it remains a source of wry amusement to me that so many people went out of their way to pretend that kicking the can down the road just meant they’d be sure to face the same thing again someday. As for central bank digital currencies, my guess is that they’re guaranteed to fail; so much wealth transfer these days involves flagrant illegalities that nobody’s going to want a trackable currency, and that guarantees that any trackable currencies that are floated will be ignored, or accepted only at a sharp discount. (“I’ll take twenty bucks for that, or fifty digitals, take your pick.”)

    Jessica, oh, granted, those are also involved.

    Smith, that was ancient Egypt, and yes, they managed quite a lively and complex economy without money as we know it. Money itself came into being later, in what’s now Turkey, as a convenient way to divide up lumps of gold and silver for trading purposes. But you’re right that a grain-based system works quite well; the economy of Tokugawa-era Japan worked that way, with stored rice as the basis of the system of trade.

  184. Siliconguy, about the French collapse in WW2, I read that one of the problems in WW1 was the large disparity in France as to what class bore the casualties. According to this account, it was the rural folk and farming class that disproportionately got fed into the abattoirs. Skilled urban factory workers were needed for arms production and so this class suffered less.

    When WW2 rolled around, there were no doubt multiple factors that accounted for the rapid French capitulation, one of the important ones as you write, people said thanks but no thanks. But maybe it was the farming class that was most disgruntled and said to their betters, sure, after you.

  185. @Myriam/@JMG,

    Franklin’s example is an illustration of Jevons Paradox – technological improvements in efficiency (washing machines) very often lead to greater resource (time) use, not less.

    For whatever reason, humans seem to have an innate budget for work/distraction and will fill that quota by whatever means necessary.

  186. Yet again, with the events of the last few weeks, and the last few years for that matter… your book Decline and Fall: The End of Empire and the Future of Democracy in 21st Century America seems ever more thoughtful about the path of the future. Particularly your foresight on the role of Israel and its future.

    On the latest episode of The Great Simplification, Nate Hagens and Chuck Watson went over the whole issue of the current major conflicts. They where very accurate in diagnosing the issues that face them and that the US is basically trying to project an image of military power it now longer has.

    The last 2 years have seen the US military, bungle the pull out of Afghanistan, fail to provide any meaningful support of Ukraine and now has to face the idea of splitting that limited support with Israel. The might of the empire crumbling in real time.

    As always with these conflicts, when the elephants fight, the grass gets trampled. The people stuck in between get all the fall out from the mess. But such is the way of life.

  187. Tawal,

    Of course, I’ll add him right now. (I am presuming that you have his consent for prayer.) For now I’ll add a very general prayer for healing and comfort. Depending on his situation and how far along his cancer is, you might consult with him if he has any requests for a more specific prayer than what I am about to write on his behalf. If there are any treatments coming up, for instance, support for an operation or the like; or perhaps he has other ideas.

    Anyway, may his situation progress in the best possible way that it can for him. And thank you very much for your prayers as well, Tawal.

  188. Most people do not realize that their biggest expense is actually taxes. As things unfold, I expect taxes at all levels–federal, state and local–to go up relentlessly. In order to keep more of what one earns, I recommend learning about simple and legal ways to reduce taxes.

    The household economy and gift exchange are great ideas for avoiding the tax regime entirely. Most people will still continue to earn cash in one way or another though. Having a home-based business, even a small side gig, can open up a world of deductions not otherwise available.

    Taxes are boring, I get it. Most people would rather slam their head in a car door than work on taxes. When you realize it is your #1 expense, and thus the largest bucket of potential savings, it gets a bit more interesting.

  189. JMG, you disagreed with me regarding the use of the term “militant” for Hamas’ murderers, your comment being, “nobody has problems using words such as “soldiers” for Tamerlane’s men, who slaughtered the entire population of whole cities. Thus I don’t see a point to using a cacophemism in this case.” But there’s a case in point: would it not be distinctly odd to dignify Tamerlane’s men with the appellation of “militant”? Mind you, come to think of it, BBC reporters might have done just that, if they had been around in 1400…

  190. Wer here
    Hello everybody. I cannot help but see something here, that in this mess in Izrael HAMAS choose the right time. Let me explain. Some months ago a man claiming to know things about the military was claiming that Israeli stockpiles of ammo were depleted because of the war in Ukraine. Israel due to it’s political treaties had mostly Us made equipment including a lot of HIMARS missles and 155 mm shells, there are claims that because the US and UE could not produce enough of them at the time, they were send in order to aid “the great Ukrainian summer counteroffensive”. if I were someone who would want to start a war with Israel i would wait untill the ammo depots are dry and cannot be filled up quickly, maybe HAMAS was observing the Ukrainian war (Merkavas destroyed by cheap drones, Gaza turned into an urban front that is impossible to advance in quickly and launch a blitzkrieg, US and NATO too preoccupied with Ukraine to be of any big help in Israel) here in Poland during the last mounth there was a remarkable transition The Ukrainian reffugees that we were told were our “brothers in arms” turned overnight to pariahs etc. Polish goverment announcing that they will be deported and the rest will had their benefits cut and all. There are rumors going around that NATO and the US will either refuse to give the ukrainians more money or weapons or give them too little to change the situation at the fronts in Ukraine. Maybe the Russians know this also (they have spies) and are waiting until ammo and weapons and money runs out to then start moving forward?

  191. @Samuari_47: In the American Revolutionary War, the Brit’s “Redcoats” were clearly soldiers; ours were clearly “militants.” Or perhaps “freedom fighters.” I keep remembering Disney’s 1960ish series about Francis Marion, “The Swamp Fox.” That’s right: I get my history from Disney!

    I hear (from Yahoo news) that one of our boats, somewhere near Yemen, spent 8 or 9 hours firing missiles at drones and other objects. Those surface-to-air missiles aren’t cheap. I wonder what the relative cost comparison is between the missiles we’re expending, and the stuff we’re shooting down. I wonder how long our supply will last.

  192. Mr. Greer & crew
    So, after mulling/agonizing over whether to ditch the ol’ high milage 30-year-old ‘buckboard’ or buy a newer used vehicle, I chose the former option. New tires, shocks, and a brake job later, good for as long as the engine hums.. Interesting bit of progressive crapification.. re. tire replacement. Turns out that the ‘all-season-tires’ that needed replacing are no longer available for my truck’s rim size … something about trucks these daze being of greater size and stature, evidently including wheels! Whocouldanode?? So it’s regular street tires for my steed. Also replaced a few bulbs (brakes, backup) AND a plugin signal/blinker fuse/relay – the right side indicators were not functioning, a recipe for traffic disaster to be sure! Seeing all the rising chaos happening in the Near East, times the continuing Ukraine debacle is what prompted me to finally get off the stick and fix what needed tending, to convey for another day – besides … I need that extra black gold horsepower to next year’s compost to my community garden plot! speaking of which:

    I produced enough this year to put up several hundred pints/8 once jars of combination.. the following: pasta sauce, tomato sauce, tomatillo/green chile salsa, tomato/green chile salsa, green tomato relish (twas a glorious tomato season here on the Olympic Peninsula- not always seasonally, a sure bet..), loganberry jelly, blue/huckleberry conserve, huckleberry butter, raspberry jelly ..whew!! as well as dill pickles and the afore-mentioned kimchee which, by the way Mr. Greer, came out
    perfectly. Those last 2 items I resorted to using, in part, store-bought local produce. Not enough to survive on by itself… but good towards stretching out the larder, no? plus I give away some to neighbors/friends as a goodwill gesture.
    Have pondered what to discard/downsize .. the only thing that I have considered was perhaps my internet service … but then I would not have this fine site to peruse at my leisure, keeping me somewhat sane whilst the opposite rains down across the Realm and beyond.

    I’ve decided … for now, to stay where I am for another year, before considering/assessing as to whether making a move elsewhere is warrented, or even possible .. Cascadia Faultzone be damned! ‘;]

    polcat – over and out!

  193. Daniel, an excellent point.

    Michael, thanks for this. No question, we’re following the usual trajectory of a failing empire, and doing it more clumsily than most.

    Samurai, interesting. Taxes aren’t my top expense by any means — they cost me considerably less than rent, and also less than food and utilities — but it’s certainly worth paying attention to that expense as well.

    Robert, is “militant” a compliment in British English or something? In American English it’s simply the usual, neutral term for people who don’t belong to a national military but carry out military actions.

    Wer, at this point the Russians hardly need spies, since the Western media babbles about such things so freely! Thanks for the update.

    Román, true — and it won’t be a bullet that lays the man to rest, either.

    Polecat, my guess is that a lot of people are making such choices right now.

  194. Samurai 47, houses around here are suddenly worth $30K more than they were 2 weeks ago, so that more property tax can be collected. Local government was quite frank about this.

    —Princess Cutekitten

  195. JMG,

    Re taxes: I’ve heard over and over from young people starting out how shockingly little the take home pay is after having payroll deductions taken out of their first paycheck. One more reason to avoid a W-2 wage income! If you are an independent contractor or small business owner with a home office, you can legally reduce your taxable income by writing off a portion of rent, utilities, and other expenses in many cases.

    Also, most folks with a mortgage have their local property taxes paid through an escrow account via their mortgage service company. Because they never feel the pain of writing a separate check for property tax, it is a hidden cost and generally doesn’t enter their consciousness. Renters pay property taxes also, just not directly. It is baked into the rental amount. This might be one reason your rent is a major cost.

    Most municipalities are profoundly insolvent. They have made up for it by a combination of debt, and debt-fueled “growth”. Once the borrowing punch bowl gets taken away, we can all expect a much higher tax burden. Detroit, for instance, now has one of the highest property tax rates in the nation. This is a preview of coming attractions.

  196. So I looked around a bit, and there are several books with the title Your Money Or Your Life, by different authors. Which one is the one that is recommended here?

  197. @boy #132 if I may: Your example is instructive, but it isn’t really about what i would call debt. In the time before plentiful coinage, people would regularly run up ledgers at various merchants, and periodically clear the ledgers against each other. They were able to do the clearing without external input such as the tourist’s money! Then, only any residual values needed to be paid out in coins.
    The picture changes completely in the presence of loans with interest. That is why interest was forbidden from the Christianization of the Roman empire until the Renaissance, and even longer in the Islamic world…

  198. Greetings
    Dobbs@ #9. A good coat. That would be my choice.
    A toast to each other, ecosophians.
    Thanks to our host.

  199. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah, that was my take on Peak Oil as well. Any solution can only ever be temporary. It baffles me that so few people want to grapple with the implications of that reality. It’s hard wired into the story.

    History is a funny thing isn’t it, and I’ve enjoyed a wry sense of amusement whenever you post a picture of that history meme with the two dudes sitting in the armchair pondering the future by observing the past. It could equally be said that the problems which wrought the Great Depression, never really went away. We’re kind of going to discover what the other side of that money continuum looks like, basically due to fiscal irresponsibility.

    As usual the middle ground option in the money story was ignored.

    Frankly, it seems weird to me that the elites would not act in their own best interests, but then I observe a lot of people living large. That’s probably a questionable option at this moment. Beats me why people want to do that?

    Thanks for your thoughts on the currency weirdness. It does make you wonder how the more dodgy transactions will be managed, so you’re probably right there. The whole thing could be a lot of talk, after all, it’ll also bypass the banksters, and those things are like gorillas thrashing around in the economy (probably an error to let them get that big in the first place).



  200. @ samurai_47 says:
    October 21, 2023 at 11:09 am

    Could you please share some books or websites that give useful tips approaching taxes wisely?



  201. In the “Oh joy” category we have this,

    “According to multiple news sources, the Lake City ammo plant has cancelled all of its commercial contracts.
    This means that stores will no longer be able to purchase ammo from Lake City, which currently supplies 30% of the civilian market for 5.56 ammunition.
    The Lake City ammo plant is owned by the US Government, but operated by Olin Winchester. Winchester produces ammo and sells it to the government.
    When the facility is able to produce more ammo than the government requires, they sell it either to consumers or distributors.
    If it’s true that they’ve cancelled their commercial contracts, this means the US Government is requiring more ammunition, enough that they can’t produce enough to sell the excess.”

    Headed to Israel? Or into the depleted Government stockpiles? Either way it fits the Bracing For Impact theme.

  202. Speaking of Brace for Impact, is anyone else seeing this epidemic of bad driving?

    For the local county;
    “2022 tallied an eye-popping 34 crashes that killed at least one person, marking a 10-year-high. In fact, fatal crashes surged from 22 in 2021 and the 11 deadly wrecks racked up in 2019. The second highest tally over the 10-year period was 24 in 2013. Of the 34 fatalities in 2022, data shows that 14 were the byproduct of speeding, nine were drug-induced, 7 were the result of distracted driving and another 7 involved a driver who was under the influence of alcohol.”

    “Coincidently, Chelan and Douglas counties also experienced a 10-year peak with 20 killer collisions noted in the two-county area in 2022; both counties experienced a zenith in a decade combined and individually. ”

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Traditionally three is a conspiracy.

  203. What do think life will be like for the growing elderly population several decades from now? Will people be dying in their homes again? What of the growing number of people choosing not to have kids?

  204. Boy #132, As Aldarion said, it’s a thought-provoking fable, but it omits a crucial factor: money that goes out of the community. When all the debts are owed within “the fenceline”, they can be cleared by mutual consent (whether or not someone leaves a $100 bill on the counter). But when goods are imported, services are obtained from outside, and/or taxes are paid to an authority outside the fence, then if the overall “balance of payments” is negative (more going out than coming in), the whole community becomes gradually impoverished. Conversely, if any member of the community can produce a good for export, a service for remote clients, or accept payments from a government (e.g., Social Security, etc.), then the whole community is better off. (If the economy runs on bank debt, then the interest owed the bank also leaves everyone else poorer, except when a defaulted loan prevents money from returning to the bank.)

    So spread the word: keep you money close, and suggest that your neighbors do so also. “Imports are insults.”, perhaps?

  205. Mr. Greer….

    I will say, things escalating as they are, that I’m considering either acquiring an E’bike, or perhaps, a small ic scooter .. as an alternative towards running the ol’ Iron-horse buckboard, should the need arise where/when the go juice.. All Shiny-n-Chrome (insert Road Warrior celluloid reference HERE ___) … becomes ever scarcer!

    My plan … should things get really hinky, where the local Powers-that-CURRENTLY-be, eventually fall apart .. is to hang out a shingle ……. and offer limited home-cooked food-stuffs, based on what’s available locally ANNND regionally.. as per my inclination! BUG$ will certainly NOT be on the menu, unless passed through chickens, or some such, first. The WEFians, and their ilk, can go pound sand!

  206. If anyone is in the position of needing a small, unobtainable, part for a well-used bit of home technology, I offer custom metalwork. At this time, money is not a problem for me, and I’d like to develop a portfolio of successful efforts before I worry about deriving any income.

    One project that I recently completed for myself might be a good example. I had a lecture pointer made of telescoping metal sections, with a conical tip threaded onto the end. The original tip was made of plastic, and eventually broke. I was able to determine from the remaining part that the thread was 1/4″ diameter, 48 threads per inch, so that had to be matched if it was to twist on. That’s not one of the common screw threads, so my first task was to fabricate a special thread-cutting tap (which is now in my tool collection). When collapsed, the pointer was also a ball-point pen, so the tip needed a small hole all the way through. The maximum outer diameter was about 3/8″. (I can work metric units, if necessary!) The rest of the dimensions were “that looks about right”.

    JMG has seen other examples of my work.

    As another example, someone asked me to fabricate a missing ratchet wheel for his loom. I took a guess at what it would look like, and sent a prototype made of scrap wood. When he showed it to a friend, the friend said “Oh! Is that what you’ve been lacking? I know where the originals are.” So, the loom got fixed, without using my part! I still call that a win.

  207. @ samuri 47 #209

    YOu have to be a little careful or think if you realy want the full repricussions when taking a tax write off for business use of the home. If you rent, it is no brainer, do it. If you own, what you pay every month is a combo of property tax, homeowners insurance, Interest if you have a loan, and then there is the part of your loan that is principal, the actual value of the property itself.

    SO, you can safely write off the leagally prescribed portion, ratio of the part of your home used for business vs. entire home, of the interest on a loan, property tax, insurance. You have to think if you want to write off a portion of the homes actual value because if you do so it changes the “basis” of the home ( basis is pretty much the amount you bought the house for, the purchase price) so Every bit of the amount you write off of home value gets subtracted, makes that basis lower like you paid less money. Think of it like, you didnt pay that purchase price, your business paid that part of the purchase price, and you already wrote it off the business income before taxes….. that is pretty much how the IRS is going to view it. Then, when you sell the house at some future date, the IRS will calculate what you sold it for, less upgrades, vs the basis, what you bought it for. And then they are going to tax you on the gain, the difference. in their mind, the profit you made on the house transaction ( yes, there is more complexity than that, there is a 250,000 write off at this time, who knows if we will always have that and other things, but I am being simple here to show the point) So, if your basis has been adjusted alot due to taking the value of the home as a business write off, they will tax you more later when you sell. ( Maybe this only makes a difference in a high value housing market, I live in Californa where the gain on a house used partially for business purposes would be over 250,000 in alot of cases. )

    So, not giving legal or tax advice. Saying to make sure to research thouroughly wether you want to write of amounts that change your basis. My personal example is, when I had a home business, I only wrote off the correct poertion of prop tax, insurance, and interest. But, situtations vary, locations vary. talk to your accountant

  208. Hi JMG,

    I am tutoring a friend in philosophy and was explaining to him why I thought that myths were so important to the Neoplatonists. I was primarily following Sallustius; but because it’s such a good example, I was using your treatment of how the climate change narrative follows the myth of Dudley Do-right (with the earth being Nell, tied to the railroad tracks, and the priveleged elites being Snidely Whiplash), with all the problems that implies.

    However, while I was doing so, another myth that can be applied to climate change came to mind: the myth of Erysichthon, who chopped down Ceres’ sacred grove, was cursed with insatiable hunger, sold everything he owned for food, and ultimately ate himself. It seems to me that if you replace Erysichthon with “industrial civilization,” Ceres’ sacred grove with “the earth,” and food with “oil,” you have a pretty good description of the last couple hundred years and a pretty reasonable prediction for the next couple hundred.

    But what amused me is how nicely this dovetails with the themes you’ve been talking about for years. Erysichthon’s autophagy is catabolic collapse, of course. But then there’s Erysichthon’s daughter, Mestra: she is repeatedly sold into slavery to feed her father’s appetite, but is blessed by Neptune with the ability to shapeshift, and so is always able to get away safely. If Mestra represents those of us who want nothing to do with the mess but are unable to escape it, it seems the myth’s recommendation for weathering the crisis is to stay nimble and be ready to transform oneself on a moment’s notice—that is to say, “collapse now and avoid the rush.”

  209. @Athaia — the *Your Money or Your Life* to look for is the one by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

  210. Samurai, duly noted. I should mention that as a self-employed person I pay twice the Social Security tax that an employee has to pay, since I’m responsible for the employer’s cut as well as the employee’s; I do deduct part of my rent and such actual costs of business as I have, but it doesn’t amount to that much. My tax bill is still much less than my rent. Yes, I know the share of property tax in my rent — I’ve discussed it with my landlord — and the non-tax rent is still higher. I wonder how many of these kids are suffering from straight-up wage theft…

    Chris, the reason that civilizations fall is that elites lose track of their own best interests. The reasons why are complex, and so are the mechanisms of the fall, but if the people in charge of civilizations genuinely paid attention and acted rationally to preserve their own position, there would still be pharaohs in Egypt and emperors in Rome.

    Siliconguy, I’m really starting to think that black powder is the wave of the future. As for bad driving, something seems to be causing quite a wave of neurological impairment, and also a sharply increased rate of drivers suffering sudden health crises while behind the wheel. Since this post isn’t about the obvious suspect, we can let that rest for now.

    Sam, that’s a topic for an entire post, not a brief comment. For what it’s worth, I turned 61 this year and have no living children, so yes, it’s on my mind.

    Polecat, I tend to rely on good walking shoes instead, but by all means use what works for you.

    Lathechuck, I have indeed, and can very highly recommend your mechanical and electronic creations; that double pendulum moves very, very smoothly.

    SDI, excellent! I included the myth of Erysichthon in my recent book The Ceremony of the Grail, precisely because it so well reflects the collision between linear human systems of extraction and the cycles of nature, and reflects the tremendous famines caused by topsoil loss at the end of the Mycenean age. I didn’t reference Mestra, but you’re right that she’s a good role model just now.

  211. With the mention of the increasing interest rates crushing these larger businesses, there is another way to see the predicament of the future but I will put it purely in business terms. Just for fun.

    Warren Buffett once said “When the tide goes out, that is when you find out who is skinny dipping”. Those companies that live off cheap money all of a sudden cannot keep funding nonviable businesses by dragging ever more investors into their ponzi scheme. You know, Venture Capitalists, fools and money easily parted.

    To make the analogy work, society is a one big venture capital run business, we had a huge grant in the form of fossil fuel energy and have gone to town with a million ideas and concepts. Almost all of them stupid but because there is so much money/energy, viability be damned! Now the money is running low. Sure we can pull a few investment tricks to get a little bit more (Fracking, Tar sands) but the time has come to finally turn the business into something sustainable.

    That to me that is the uplifting part. We have a million ideas, now we need to start figuring out which 10,000 ideas, or whatever amount, actually have any legs. That is exciting even if it will be a bit messy on the way down.

    Hygienic practices, great! Cheap and effective. Edge of Space rocket tourism? Definitely not going to stay around for long. Libraries, fantastic! Youtube… maybe not so much. JMG, you know this all to well, you covered it very well in Dark Age America.

    The tide of energy is going out, now we can see which technologies and ideas are skinny dipping.

  212. jbucks,

    Many thanks for your post on the 4 enemies! That parallels my experience very closely for sure, and has given me something to ponder.

    As for investing, I’ve had this on my mind lately too. With all the normal ways to increase wealth becoming more questionable by the year, what does one do with extra money? Certainly “buying the market” is a bad idea at this point, but Warren Buffett would say that this was a bad idea all along. His recommendation is always to really know the companies you want to buy and then buy them. Don’t spread out, don’t diversify – know what you’re doing and do it.

    In full disclosure, having any extra money is a new thing for me, though I really think it came out of collapsing now and avoiding the rush so early on! I tend to park money in precious metals only as a temporary expedient in times of looming crisis, which is obviously where we are now. And the same strategy certainly paid off in ’08! But that’s more of a wealth preserving strategy than a wealth building one. There are surely companies poised to perform well in an accelerating collapse. However dark our next age will be I think there must be plenty of opportunities to be had between here and there. To that end, we’ve started watching/play-investing in a variety of rail companies and collapse tech like power tools, wood stoves, solar power, materials salvage, etc.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on the subject as well.

  213. Siliconguy,

    FWIW, you can add my name to your list of folks noticing the quality of drivers sharply diminishing lately. Our night manager at work just got cremated on his way back from dinner early last week, in his 40 year old Jeep Scrambler. Poor guy. He loved that Jeep. But yeah, in general, I think people are becoming increasingly incompetent behind the wheel, and I’m bettin’ you know why. Scary.

  214. SDI, that’s a marvellous myth I didn’t know, and indeed quite applicable! I would add that Mestra unwillingly helps her father’s addiction until he dies, something like Jevon‘s paradox.

  215. A friend of mine tried his hand at farming. Fortunately he started small.

    He joined with a partner and together they pooled their money and labor and rented a field from a farmer. They decided their first crop would be onions. Easy to grow, not much machinery or labor needed, and they both liked onions.

    Things went well, and they harvested a good crop. They bagged the onions, rented a truck, and sent their produce off to market. Unfortunately, they hit the market at the peak of an onion glut. He told me that the bags for their onions alone cost more than they got for selling their onions, never mind cost of transport, labor, their time, etc.

  216. Some random anecdata:

    This article in the Guardian caught my eye: Cracked tiles, wonky gutters, leaning walls – why are Britain’s new houses so rubbish?.

    This is something very close to my heart. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I bought my home a few years ago, very much influenced by my reading of your blogs, JMG: in the centre of town, surrounded by agricultural country. Within walking distance of shops, hospital, and both rail and bus stations. No space for parking a car, but I don’t want to have on, so no problem. The problem? It was cheap, and that turned out to be for a reason: a major damp problem which has worsened over subsequent years. Last winter, this became serious: the air inside the house was notably wet whenever it rained, and it became clear that mould was beginning to take hold. I developed a persistent cough, which I suspect was connected to this.

    Ever since I moved in, I’ve been trying to get someone to fix the roof – and failing. My experience of tradesmen was:
    – the ones who promised to come and take a look but never showed up
    – the ones who came to take a look, promised to get back in touch with a quote, and were never heard of again
    – the ones who came, promised to do the job for a given price… and then never showed up, and/or got back in touch to massively increase the quote…. and then were never heard of again.

    It became clear that for most of the local tradesmen, my house is just too difficult to access, and not worth the hassle. By the end of this summer, with another winter approaching, I was getting desperate. Water was getting in in at least four different places. I’d bought two dehumidifiers, and they would fill up in about 48 hours; less, after heavy rain. Then, I found a roofer who said he could do it – and could start the next day. He knew my situation and took advantage of it: he quoted me a price which makes people gasp in horror when I tell them how much it was. Luckily, I had sufficient funds and decided to just do it: I couldn’t face another winter like the last one. He took 3 days to do the work, and it seems to have been done well: it obviously took a while for the water already in the walls to work its way out, but over the last few days the dehumidifiers have been almost empty, despite massive storms.

    That took a massive chunk out of my finances – but it’s worth it to have the roof sound again. And that’s my contribution to this week’s topic: if your home isn’t sound, nothing else counts. If I hadn’t paid out, the structure would eventually have been damaged, and my health would have been undermined.

    On a similar note, I’m starting to invest in expensive pure wool clothing rather than cheap garments made from artificial fibres: they’ll last longer, require less washing, and (being incredibly warm) should mean lower heating requirement – a not-unimportant factor given the precarity of energy supplies at the moment. Living like the 1920s…

    As the Guardian article says, and my own experience supports, the UK is running low on competent, professional tradesmen – and the problem is getting worse. Takeaways: a) get your home improvements done asap, while there are at least some good people left and b) as the article suggests, getting good training (emphasis on good) in a trade, and taking a professional, quality-based approach, looks like being a fantastic career option for a young person. I know you ‘ve been saying this for years, JMG, but I’d say crunch time has indeed finally arrived.

  217. Hi Athaia #210,
    I think the version you want is by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. After Joe died, Vicki produced an updated version for 2018 as the original investment advice was very dated. Except for the investment data, the information in the original book is still very good and I found it made a huge difference in my financial life when I applied their methods. Good Luck.

  218. “Jessica, oh, granted, those are also involved.”
    No disrespect intended. I knew that you knew this, but I thought that an additional explanation of the other factors behind US unconditional support for Israel might be useful for folks from outside the US. I think that in particular the role of the Christian right in US support can be overlooked at times.

  219. @Edward #214

    Sure. There is a lot of information out there. If you are just getting started I recommend an easy-to-read introduction such as Tom Wheelwright’s Tax-Free Wealth. A more advanced, 2 inch thick encyclopedic tome I rely on is Jeff Schnepper’s How to Pay Zero Taxes.

    @Atmospheric River #221

    Tax strategy is a big subject, and there are certainly pitfalls. The key is to keep it simple and straightforward and not leave money on the table for the tax man needlessly. Most people do not have the patience or inclination to do the necessary record keeping, so they pay excessive taxes. My point is that a relatively small investment in paperwork can create real savings. It’s not going to make one rich or bring one’s taxes to zero, but it can help on the margins.

    We’ll see if I’m right, but I think it will be a more and more necessary skill as all taxes ratchet relentlessly upwards.

  220. I don’t mean to off on a tangent here, and the myth SDI cited certainly suggests intimate knowledge of famine in Ovid’s time, together with a protective function of sacred groves, as you have suggested in the past.

    However, your remark about topsoil loss at the end of the Mycenaean age (#225), combined with my recent reading of Dawn of Everything, made me look for references, and the reference I found, “5000 years of land use and abuse”, does not suggest such erosion at that point in time, at least for the Argive sites studied:
    “The Pikrodafni [erosion] event demonstrates the eventual failure of Early Helladic [3rd millennium BC] agriculture to contain the loss of soil. That renewed expansion during the Late Helladic [=Mycenaean age] did not invite a similarly disastrous response, even though the same soils and slopes were exploited, demonstrates that the lesson had been
    learned well… Whatever the soil conservation techniques may have been (although terracing appears to us the only plausible candidate), they were eminently successful, because no further trace of alluviation is found for the entire period of Mycenaean prosperity. Not even the collapse at the end of this period and the subsequent major abandonment of the area shown by the apparent absence of 11th- and 10th-century sites have left any mark on the landscape. The reason must surely be the rapidity with which, upon abandonment of large tracts of land, the natural vegetation takes over.”

    None of this is to deny that rapid topsoil erosion has taken place during the 20th and 21st century and will cause us great trouble when fossil fuel-based fertilizers become more expensive.

  221. Bogatyr #231

    I feel your pain on the whole house fixing aspect. The reality is that, in general, a skilled construction guy is hard to find and the prices do make you gasp. You did not overpay, especially as you say you have to keep the house sound. I made the opposite mistake last year when I did not take the quote of the company that said they would only re-side the entire house and not just do the one or two walls. I now see the point of how that is easier, and I still have a second story and the other wall to do ( havent been able to get a window yet for the second story area, it is ugly caulked up against the window pane, so no leaking at least while it sorts out) . The guys I did hire last year for the one side of the house, as the cripple wall damage I saw HAD to be addressed, they sounded good, I certainly paid over 100/hour, they were framing a neighbors house, so not a complete unknown. But, the job was substandard as they let the bosses cousin who was learning make alot of the cuts, and then they needed to move down to a larger job in another town and just left the last undone. I could only get what was done done by weekly cash payments, so when they walked, they walked. Luckily house wrap is realy the waterproof layer and having the trim areas only left with no wood and just wrap made it thru the 80 something inches of last winters rain – at least they caulked the heck out of that second story window that needs replacing.

    So, I have also found out that price is no guarantee of workmanship. The lousy ones will overcharge because they have heard that is what the good outfit is getting….

    I feel very behind, I have seen the storm clouds coming and my building envelope, and other parts, is not fully secured yet. The peace of mind you now have is worth whatever he charged you. I think we could run into supply disruptions again, well we will again, the point is we dont know how long we have until it gets here.

    I am plugging away still, including today where any minute the young guy, I had a family connection for this one, is going to arrive and continue framing my “barn” ( large outbuilding) after-fire rebuild. I am trying to keep him happy, he is driving far to get here on a weekend, I throw cash at him at the end of the day, and mid day, I drive to whatever form of food he wants ( sandwich shop, buritto, oh you want a canned cold coffee ? A gatorade, yep, Im on it… ) I am hoping I can get a commitment for him to come back when the rains cease, it is too late to open up siding and house walls. By May or so, that kind of work can start to get down again. I have a rainy season and a dry season.

  222. I don’t know if this is true elsewhere, but my husband and I are convinced that the increase in bad driving in St. Louis, MO that has occurred in the last several years is due to lack of police enforcement of traffic laws. The police have been quite angry about a number of local issues and according to local scuttlebutt they have retaliated by refusing to enforce traffic laws. Given how few of them I see on the side of the road with pulled-over drivers, despite the flagrant breaking of traffic laws, I think the scuttlebutt has it right.

  223. Thank you for all your work JMG,

    I found the toilet-cleaning challenge and what seem to be its positive consequences in multiple planes fascinating.

    May i interpret the phenomenon as proof that creating your own positive ritual, assuming it has equivalent emotional connotations to you, will also bring forth benefits in multiple planes of existance?

    I ask because a few years ago I started doing a little bit of exercise every morning to get the health benefits of that, but mainly to work on what seemed to be my underdeveloped ability to be disciplined. I think a number of beneficial developments in my life resulted from that mostly symbolic habit. may I re-dedicate myself to this ritual, i.e., do you think it may have the same types of beneficial effects as the toilet-cleaning ritual?

    I am trying to find an entry-point into the magical world that fits my abilities and disabilities.

    I also wonder if I have to have a specific request when going through the daily ritual–exercise or other. My doubt there is what to ask for. The hard-earned humility I have acquired in the last decade or two has left me uncertain of what to ask for, as I am not confident I know what I actually need… I do not want to end-up like the protagonists of so many jokes where wishes are answered a bit too literally.

    Thank you sincerely for your guidance,


  224. Michael, hmm! Yes, that makes a great deal of sense. I’ll credit you when I use it in an upcoming post.

    Bogatyr, thanks for this. Yeah, we’re in the gap between the period when money was abundant and so there were lots of contractors ready to take it, and the period when money will be scarce and so there will be lots of people with building skills desperate for business. Once the real estate market crashes here in the US, I’m hoping to pick up a small house, knowing that repairs may be a challenge for a while.

    Jessica, no offense taken!

    Isaac, I really get the impression that the elites (or, as I’ve seen it said online tolerably often these days, “the effetes”) are the only people in the country who don’t realize just how far down the ol’ crapperoo things have gone.

    Aldarion, for late Mycenean soil erosion I’m drawing on, among other sources, Fuchs, Lang, and Wagner, “The History of Holocene Soil Erosion in the Phlious Basin, NE Peloponnese, Greece, Based on Optical Dating,” The Holocene 14 no. 3 (2004), 334-45. They found a large soil plume on the bottom of the sea dating from that period.

    SLClaire, interesting. Yes, I can see that as an important factor.

    DisciplinePupil, that’s certainly one way to work with will and imagination; if it works for you, by all means. If you don’t have a specific request, don’t worry about it — you can always just let things work out as your own Higher Self directs.

  225. @Discipline Pupil

    As a toliet challenge participant, I will say that we are not asking for anything, no requests specific or otherwise, and it is not an emotional connotation thing. I have no personal emotional connotations with super clean toilets….. Go and read her write up as to why and go ahead and go to the check in, even if you have not participated, to read the check in comments.

  226. JMG,

    Your response to Bogatyr about buying a small house kinda surprises me. I figured you had opted for an apartment on purpose. Shared interior climate, shared property taxes, proximity to shops, no outdoor chores to distract you from writing, etc. That said, I totally get it. I like having a detached house, and the porch roofs and privacy fence I’m about to build will make living in a densely populated neighborhood a lot sweeter. We grabbed what was available right downtown, and didn’t bicker about the price, as soon as we saw the Berkshire Hathaway real estate signs going up around the county. The writing was on the wall. We had just been named one of the “Nicest Towns in America” by Reader’s Digest; Forbes had just listed us as a great place to retire. This was Winter ’18-’19, and we bought in February ’19, just before the market went absolutely nuts. Now we’re hoping to enlist the services of local contractors just as the demand for their time begins to ebb. Your steady guidance has of course been a boon to everything we’ve done over the past decade or so. Many thanks for that.

    Hope you find a great little place.

  227. Well count that as my vote for a fifth Wednesday.

    I’m only 30 and do have children. But most others I know have no kids and no partner. I can’t even begin to imagine how challenging old age will be for my generation. But I’ve always been a future planner and now that I have a house and kids I’d like to start planning for my old age in a way that makes sense.

  228. @JMG #225: Ha, fascinating! It seems pretty easy to regard Ovid’s retelling as a dim, mythic echo of the Bronze Age Collapse. I’ll take a look at your book!

    @Aldarion #229: I agree: it is impossible to not be at least a small part of the problem and it is important to recognize this. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people genuinely concerned about the destruction of the environment gave up simply because they couldn’t get out of the red and into the black, so to speak. My deity always, always says, “Just do your best and don’t worry!” and so that’s what I strive for.

  229. JMG: Once the real estate market crashes here in the US, I’m hoping to pick up a small house, knowing that repairs may be a challenge for a while

    Being a bear by nature, I wonder: will that ever happen, do you think? Oh, of course, the value of plasterboard McMansions across the USA will collapse to zero, and middle-class flight means many cities will follow suit. The very logic that drove your move to East Providence, though, is surely going to maintain, or even increase, property prices there as others follow your reasoning? I suspect a very large number of people will also decide it’s a good place to be, and many will have deeper pockets than an author. I may be wrong, of course.

    This raises an idea, which I put here for your consideration. Over the years, your blogging has had a huge impact on many people, including me, changing our lives for the better. I wonder whether you might consider a crowdfunder to raise the down-payment on an appropriate property where you and Sara would be happy to live out your days? My circumstances are currently somewhat straitened, but I would commit to throwing £500 into the pot, more if it happens when my income has improved. I’m sure many others would feel the same. Of course, it’s something you would need to run past your accountant. Nevertheless, I just thought I’d introduce the idea to the conversation.

  230. Speaking of out of touch elites: the college of family physicians in Canada wants to add an extra year of training for family physicians in Canada.

    Very few other people are in favor of this. The provincial premiers, the medical students, assorted practicing family doctors, random people on the street and in the comments below the article… why can’t the college of family physicians see that the problem with family physicians is that people don’t have one because there are too few, and adding a whole nother year of schooling will make it even harder to get the new family doctors we desperately need?

    Though this seems to be an odd case where high level elected politicians are actually in touch with ordinary people.

  231. Silicone @ 3216,

    Well, if one to ask a tree clinging polecat, the most likely culprit would be the chronic effects of the Janky Jab – as those lipidnano particulates .. graphine slicer-dicers .. mRNA spikey proteins .. short doublestrand DNA bits .. et. al. ……. do their worst!

    Lots a humonGMO’$ out there are, in a sense, driving whilst genetically fracked up!!

  232. JMG & Commentariat: Would there be interest in some kind of Archdruid-approved or overseen Wiki or database – all downloadable locally – as a clearinghouse of information on best practices so far in gracefully collapsing before the rush?
    With a handful of categories where people could contribute documents free of copyright issues, share their tips and experiences?
    And also to recommend what else to read, watch, and hear?
    So that these tips don’t disappear when the comments caravan moves along to the next post?

    I have an Information Technology background and would be happy to contribute coordinating ideas, and to be part of a volunteer team supporting free, open source based infrastructure. Would be some minimal third party costs to split for hosting.

    I don’t think I could promise to do it all on my own right now. Nor, given this post’s themes, should I have to! It would be best, I think, to have a team with a shared admin checklist, so turns can be taken as available to weed and hoe the virtual garden. Plenty of things that could be done at many skill levels by many hands. From splitting or joining topics so it’s easier to find the most relevant information, checking for dead links, to more technical things like downloading and rotating backup files so there are locally cached copies in case Internet access goes down, etc.

    JMG, it looks like maybe the single biggest thing we can do is a mindset shift. No more assuming that The Authorities, The Establishment, The System are both benevolent and competent.
    The more abstract, disconnected from here and now pragmatism and compassion things are, the more to be wary.
    Motions to Vacate so the smallest, most stinger-laden part of the tail gets to wag the whole dog… Monetized Debt Repackaging Tranches… Web3 Blockchain Capitalization “despite continuous howling from Communists and Luddites” in Marc Andreeson’s words… “AI” mega search and replace prompts taken as truth rather than statistically sampled, plausible sounding total bull****…
    These are about as far as you can get from a head of unpolluted lettuce in your hands, standing on a physical floor with intact nails that hold it together.

    Quin, thank you. I’m very pleased with good healing of my broken toes. Far less pain than I expected. Today I figured out how to successfully use crutches to get to the bus line to the discount grocery store.

    pygmycory # 14, I encourage you to start on Youtube, with a backup somewhere else in case you run afoul of their weird copyright strike system. Start with what you’ve got right now in recorder playing and composition. “I’m working on getting better at this, here’s my latest efforts” seems to be at least as popular on Youtube as “check me out, the awesome foremost expert.”
    I see before I got to it, JMG suggested you could also consider some bartering of music lessons for nice farm food and meals from people who love to cook, and are at least one step behind you on the recorder.

    Daniel # 15 “I guess your action plan is to accept that society will likely make the wrong choices and individuals should plan how to thrive anyway.” I think that’s exactly his point!

    Bradley # 18 “It said something to the effect that one of your very best investments was insulating your home because you didn’t have to pay taxes on the energy you saved.” There was a book called The Alpha Strategy that basically said if you pay cash, and buy high quality when it’s on sale, it’s equivalent to something like a 20 percent return in the financial markets. I don’t remember any more details about it now.

  233. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah, history is very suggestive as to the future.

    There’s a big pumped hydro scheme being built down under. The thing sort of works like a giant battery, and is probably necessary for the east coast grid stability. Except costs have blown out from the estimates of $2bn, to err, $12bn and the tunnel boring machine appears to be bogged. Anyway, I thought off grid solar power was expensive! 😉 And there have been some what I’d describe as significant engineering issues: A sinkhole, toxic gas and the $2 billion mistake behind Snowy 2.0’s blowout

    I must add that there is a credibility issue when it comes to goobermunts project costing efforts. Cough, cough, nuclear power. It’s not good, and history is suggestive.



  234. Grover,

    That sounds like a great bed! It’s hard to beat real wood. We have a nice cast iron frying pan that is stamped with the name of the city near where we live, which is right on the St. Lawrence and 150 years ago was home to industries like shipbuilding, saddleries, tanneries, tinsmiths, a foundry and a brewery. Up until before Free Trade it was still a center of industry, but nowadays it’s a lot quieter and not much gets made here except for 3M products. Heck, in the mid-1800s just down the road from us was a thriving village (now long gone), due to the presence of a decent waterfall that powered a mill. One of the earliest schools around was built there because there were so many children of the many families that worked at the sawmill, gristmill, cheese factory, tannery, distillery etc. Part of me would like to see a return to those days, but it feels pretty far off.

    Great news for your business too! I think starting small and slowly expanding is the way to go, although most business people would probably laugh at that approach. I do have a couple of farmer friends, though, who started out fairly big (and invested a sizeable amount of cash into infrastructure and equipment) and burned out after only 3-4 years.

  235. Lathechuck,

    might I mention your skill to one of my mimeograph friends? I don’t know for certain that he has need of any particular part, but he finds old machines and restores them as he can, frequently cannibalizing them when parts are unavailable. He might appreciate have a contact who can make parts.

    I’m signing in this time as myself so you can click through to my website and leave me a message with your email address if this is something of interest; normally, I’m “TemporaryReality” 😀

  236. I can’t say I’ve seen worse driving going on, BUT I’ve noticed a slowing down of traffic. I’ve noticed this in the left lane on four lane and five lane roads., and I’ve seen this on three lane roads (one through lane each side plus a left turn lane) when there’s no one in front of the car in front of me going 5-10 mph below the speed limit.

    This has been going on in a noticeable degree for the past two months or so. I was going to mention this next Wednesday-Thursday, but with people talking about traffic issues presently I decided to bring it up now.

  237. Grover, no, it was a useful expedient when it became necessary for us to move. I prefer a house, not least because it’s easier to set up a dedicated space for ritual work, and of course gardening’s a lot easier when you own the property.

    Sam, there will be a 5th Wednesday next month, so bring it up when I call for votes.

    SDI, that was how I took it, certainly.

    Bogatyr, a great deal of US residential real estate these days is owned as an investment, either as rental properties or to feed the AirBnB bubble. As we hit the downturn, a vast amount of that will be hitting the market, just as mortgages here are becoming completely unaffordable due to rising interest rates. I expect to be able to buy a house for cash during the panic period — and, ahem, since my wife and I live on about half my income these days, we’ve got fairly deep pockets. But thanks for the suggestion!

    Pygmycory, it doesn’t surprise me at all that the physicians want to squeeze their monopoly even tighter; it does surprise me that the politicians are paying attention. That may mark a shift of some importance.

    Christopher, hmm. I don’t have the free time these days to oversee such a project, and there’s already one such site in existence — the Green Wizards forum at — though I don’t happen to know how active it is these days. If you feel there’s a place for another such project, though, and you can find other people to work with, by all means. As for mindset shift, sure, but making that happen is far from easy, you know!

    Chris, I get the impression that the thing that will actually bring industrial civilization crashing down is this habit of launching vast engineering projects with, shall we say, half-vast ideas behind them…

  238. Would anyone have any advice or resources for a lifelong urban dweller who intends to someday own a property big enough to be a homestead/hobby farm?

    I live in a condominium with my wife and parents, we currently have no room even for hydroponics. I have volunteered at community gardens in the past, and I read a lot of books on farming, permaculture, ecology as well as watch videos of homesteaders. I know I lack a lot of the skills these farmers have, even craft skills like fixing up a piping system. I’m just not sure where to start.

    In terms of gardening, I am thinking of trying to propose using some unused parking lots in our estate for a small community garden, or at a minimum, having a little corner for making compost, with contributions from all residents. But that’s only a small part of learning to farm, what else can I learn?

  239. Very late comment, I guess.

    I think I have walked that path of the four enemies. As I was reading your sum up, I could not help but think about the past three years.
    Thank you.

    @Chris at Fernglade
    Skinning a cat is wrong, so maybe the saying implies that there are many ways to do a thing, but is this the RIGHT thing to do?

    I am late to the Fridays’ tips. Maybe next week.
    I just wanted to chim in that there are three ways of getting wealth:

    The three must be considered together. In production, there’s a trade you can make better than others, and you sell your production for the things you need. In conservation, you get the best utility from the goodies you acquire, be it a cooking pan or electricity for heating the house. Predation is taking advantage of what others have produced, be it taking their wastes (thrifting), be it stealing,

    Collapsing now is to reduce the consumption to levels well below of what this wealth income could provide. The savings could be employed to further savings or increased production.
    But there’s a trap here. If a person just focus on one side, it becomes dominant and the result is less than optimal. For example, if I become fixated about reducing my electricity bill, I may not realize that there are better investment oportunities.

    The trick is to invest our resources (time, energy, money) in things that would free up resources for further investments fast. For example, an automatic irrigation system saves tons of hours in the garden, and this time can then be employed in other gardening tasks.
    But the long term optimal investment is different if you think we are already heading into the Long Descent than if we are not already there. If I can rely on steady internet connections, electricity and all the stuff modernity offers, then it makes sense to invest on anything that depends on it. If I assume that oil is depleting and most of what I take for granted could not exist in a not too far future, then I should avoid such investments.
    Mistaking the scenario is leading to the wrong investment choice. Even the choice of skills to be learned is an investment that could go wrong. What is foraging good for if my food is secured? Skills in IT could have gave me a better return for my investment, by better paid jobs.
    Farming should be a useful skill always, but depending on where you live, it may not give you enough to make a live.
    As a commenter said before, sitting in a chair and doing the maths to see where are your energies best employed (producing, saving, profiting in the edges), it really paids off.

    And finally, about the shared dream of living in a farm, I face a similar problem when discussing permaculture. A current in permaculture thinks that ‘agriculture’ is at its root, so someone who claims to be doing permaculture ought to cultivate the land. I differ. Permaculture is a design methodology with ethics, focusing on permanence. As such, it relies heavily on Nature and natural processes. It does not mandate to be a farmer or a gardener anywhere. Oh, it is easier to let Nature meddle in gardening that it is in, say, car manufacturing, but permaculture principles can be applied in any human process.
    It can be applied to a middle-sized town, with public spaces and amenities, traditional jobs and boring clothing. No need going to live to the farm cottage, isolated with your big family, trying to survive on what you grow.

  240. JMG, glad to hear about the deep pockets! I’d seen you comment previously about living on half your income, but that covers a very broad spectrum, and the spreadsheets for my debut book have pushed my assumptions deeply towards the lower end of it!

  241. JMG,

    Well, that makes plenty of sense to me. I may be giving up large-scale annual vegetable gardening for a while, but I still have lots of perennial fruit and herbs, and laying hens. Actually, a young mulberry tree has volunteered in the middle of my red raspberry patch, and I see no compelling reason to run it off either. My ritual space, OTOH, was taken over by our son once we realized that the aforementioned leaky room hanging off the back end of the house upstairs where he was sleeping wasn’t really fit to be a bedroom. I’m very excited about removing it altogether and tightening up that wall. But I’m still trying to figure out where my next dedicated ritual space will be…

    Anyway, I’m certain you’ll end up with the perfect little house, at the perfect time.

  242. Stefania,

    What a wonderful little village that must have been at one time! And the nearby city sounds like it was a happenin’ place before NAFTA too. It’s really starting to sink into my head just how destructive that was for domestic industry. So many livelihoods gone, with the stroke of a pen. So many vulnerabilities to work our way back through on the other end.

    Your last comment made me think of Joel Salatin’s talk about giving birth to a hundred pound baby. How business as it’s done these days, and the regulatory environment in which it’s done, basically require one to go big or go home. So much more sensible to start small (as he did and you are doing) and work up along successful routes. The other option seems to almost guarantee your larger scale friends’ demise. Best wishes to you.

  243. Wendy / TemporaryReality-

    Thanks for reminding me that I won’t get much attention for my machining skills without leaving contact info! I use gmail, with my screen name.

    I’ve had some success with simple sewing machine parts, so mimeograph machine parts would be a great idea! The low-hanging fruit, I suspect, is replacing worn bronze sleeve bearings, which are geometrically easy to describe, easy to fabricate, easy to ship, but not easy to purchase due to the myriad combinations of dimensions and the precision needed.

  244. As for bad driving, we have plenty of plausible reasons. I’ll add one more: mobile phones. I’ve felt the gnawing temptation to pick the thing up while driving, because it just chirped the arrival of a new message. “What if it’s IMPORTANT?” one voice in my head asks. Fortunately, the other voice in my head answers: “More important than DRIVING SAFELY and LEGALLY?” I may be arrogant at times, but not so arrogant as to believe that I can drive and text at the same time. (The recognition of multiple voices in my head is a metaphor, by the way.)

  245. To answer your point JMG: “Militant” in British English is a word used by the anti-Israel BBC who wish to avoid describing Hamas as “terrorists”. Imagine if a US news agency were to describe those who destroyed the Twin Towers as “militants”.

  246. The Other Owen # 19 “The British Empire was effectively bankrupt since the early 1900s more or less and they’re still bumbling their way through the world” Reminds me of the great line from Casablanca, “We mustn’t underestimate American blundering. I was with them when they blundered into Berlin in 1918.” Apparently not historically accurate but it does go with your theme!
    “Laboratory Citadel Capitalism” I dunno, it does seem like “right to repair” laws are gaining some traction lately on both sides of the Pond.

    TemporaryReality # 22 “I’m not sure if we’re heading toward hyperinflation or deflation.” You might like to read about Harry Browne’s “Permanent Portfolio” idea. He said economic prediction in the short run is impossible. So, have some assets that will do will in hyperinflation, some in deflation, etc. Each year one part of the portfolio will match current conditions and do well. Sell those profits, take out what you need to, put the rest into buying more of what did poorly last year to rebalance things equally, since things might change next year and prophecy is a lousy business plan. “Dogs of the Dow” is another version of this idea.

    John B # 38 I grew up in a family of six. Every few months my folks would round up the kids and take the station wagon to a nearby city, with an Oroweat direct bakery outlet. We’d stock up, and the chest freezer in the garage always had plenty of loaves of bread and other bakery items.

    Mary Bennet # 39 I love your great practical advice about the police benefits!

    Nachtgurke # 44 “It’s a spectacle that’s hard to watch… I mostly peep through my fingers.” Or like Dr. Who fans, watching the scares on the telly while hiding behind the couch. Except the scares are nonfiction.

    Black Tuna and Hand # 80 What does your pen name mean?
    If you had taken those oil percentages, you’d have died unhappily by now, murmuring “Rosebud…”

    pyrrhus # 82 Discount food warehouse grocery prices in Los Angeles are around 50-100% higher than 2-3 years ago. Previous items sold at a dollar for many years, now are two bucks. Even there, huge price range if there’s a catchy promotional story: Dave’s Killer Bread, man! which admittedly is good stuff, three times the price of no-name store brand.

    Viduraawakened # 86 I think you’re that ordinary Westerners have a lot to learn from some that Western elites have looked down their noses at for too long. Looking forward to learn from you.

    Emmanuel Goldstein # 87 It will be possible to run simpler sites and independent forums like this one for quite a while. Since JMG’s not trying to serve a hundred billion videos to a billion viewers, or build a sellable dossier tracking all the interests and shopping and voting tendancies of users, he doesn’t need a Youtube or Faceb ook size data center. Email, small forums, small sites, whatever will be the novice-friendly replacement for Mastadon, will be able to stay up and running, maybe with daily updates like in the 1980s rather than instant online collaboration. It’s not the AI chatbot cybercoin future or nothing at all. The Internet includes a huge range of technologies invented when systems and bandwidth were smaller, and that have never rusted away. Helping people go from doom to comfortable downsizing with this technology is something I’d like to do. I’m typing this on a ten year old laptop with a busted internal hard drive, but Linux on the USB key, ten bucks at Target, is perfectly usable for anything short of video editing, orchestral production, corporate databases, or 3D graphics.

    Tyler A/D. Shine/ E.Doomer # 90 I saw something about some ingenious Chinese militaries a few centuries ago using big kites to send up spies for an aerial peek at the enemy situation. Unfortunately, I don’t remember any more about it right now.

  247. @ Alvin

    Work on preserving the harvest. This also takes alot of practice.

    This could involve buying a winters worth of hard squash and stowing it under your beds and incorporating it into your diet. Hard winter squash is easy to grow. Potatoes are also an easy to grow crop once you can grow something. That wants idealy a lower temp to store for very long, but you could start to gradually up how much potatoes you eat, so start with maybe a pound a week per person, buy a months worth at a time and use it.

    Also, learn to can. So buy yourself a set up for water bath canning. The ball canning book and or other resources. I like Pomona’s pectin and their low sugar recipes are free on line ( this is for jams and jellies to thicken) . IF it is not too late for buying a flat or two of tomatoes, learn to water bath can chopped tomatoes . I dont peel and seed, I just chop mine like I would if I were adding them fresh to a recipe, add salt to each jar, and can them. Apple butter can be made now as you can still buy this seasons apples. Pickles of all types. Mybe right now a chow chow mix ( sweet) or a pickle with pepper in it, either would be a base of cauliflower, cabbage, carrot so can be done now. Anyway, you can spend the next couple years learning to preserve everything as the seasons come up.

    In addition, buy some bulk grains and legumes, and learn something of the storage and use. This means cook from scratch your bread, a pot of bean soup, pie crusts, cakes etc… like our foremothers did. Look up pioneer recipes if you want to realy get into it.

    You probably cant start all of this at once. But, you can see that there is an awful lot of homesteading skills to learn while you are still in an apartment even.

  248. @ Robert Gibson #262

    Perhaps the correct word for both Hamas and those who destroyed the Twin Towers is “atrocity enablers”.

    Whereas most of us ponder the truly horrific things that some people do and try to figure out how to never fall that far, it seems that in both the cases you name, TPTB chose to allow the horror that had just unfolded as permission to see how much lower they themselves could sink. When powerful people use a horrific, and highly publicised act, as permission to “go and do thou likewise”, instead of as a lesson in depths to be avoided at all costs, we all have reason to worry. Where can such contests in “who can sink to the lowest and most horrific level” ever end if all refuse to take the high road?

  249. Sign o’ the Times (apologies if this link has been posted previously)
    Here is a link for a recently published paper (2022) proposing a boondog-, I mean carbon sequestration techno-wonder project. IIRC, W Gates recently mentioned something like this. Maybe he read the paper.
    It involves burying various kinds of wood (trees) and wood waste in vaults located in various biomes using various methods. This came through my work email (California state agency – water quality) and so we are asked to consider potential permitting requirements. This is at the hypothetical stage right now, no specific proposals, just “what if?”
    I am hoping that’s where it stays. Perhaps the State’s collective permitting requirements will act as a deterrent.

    Last line of Conclusions:
    “WHS [wood harvesting & storage] provides a powerful tool for managing our Earth system, which will likely remain forever in the Anthropocene.”
    Transl: “We can still have our lifestyle and eat it too.”


  250. Signs of the times, both from Pocket:

    Today: “Hello, Mending, Goodbye Fast Fashion: How to Build a Sustainable and Fashionable Wardrobe.”
    Yesterday: “Oregon no longer requires skills assessment for high school graduation.”
    Because, apparently, it’s hard on the lower-performing students. The source publication, Western something, took a snotty down-your-nose tone,as if it were more interested is scoring points against liberals than in analysis; NPR’s comment (ran a search on the headline) was even less helpful. Nobody mentioned (a) the decline of education and (b) the implicit judgment that the lower-performing students were hopeless cases.
    Not from Pocket, but from real life: I have a very ticklish sore throat, with heavy mucus and feeling chilled. My daughter, an MD (psychiatry) has a collection of COVID tests on hand because (as she boasts) she tests her family members every time they come down with anything respiratory. Lucky for me it was negative.

  251. @Robert Gibson,
    It seems that what is at the heart of this desire to control the use of terminology for the oppositions soldiers is the tendency for the elite classes in western civilization to classify themselves as the ” good people” while labeling their opposition the ” bad people”. This is the case weather the conflict is internal ( Bidenites vs Magas) or external ( moderate democratic leaders vs Islamic Terrorists). Since what was once mostly on the battlefield has moved in to the PR space effort is put in to defining who is good and who is bad.
    But to me, one of the strongest signals that the empire is crumbling is that we ( Western Elites) are losing control of the narrative as quickly as we are losing control of the battlefield. Thus the tantrums from Israel and its supporters that Hamas must always be labeled as ” badity bad” in some way shape or form.
    A few years ago the western media could have comfortably placed the blame for the Gaza hospital bombing ( no matter who did it) on Hamas rockets, and everyone who mattered would have believed it. But this time the bulk of people around the gloab blame Israel and the readers of the NYT and Wapo pounding their fists on the table matter not at all. What a change from the Viet Nam war where the only thing the Nixon and Johnson administrations worried about was the message from US media. I would guess Richard Nixon did not lose sleep over what folks in the Indonesia, thought about the war of the time.
    There will be much gnashing of teeth, fist pounding and spittle spewing before it sinks in that controlling the narrative in Peoria and Providence will not matter much as the empire lurches toward its demise.

  252. >As we hit the downturn, a vast amount of that will be hitting the market, just as mortgages here are becoming completely unaffordable due to rising interest rates. I expect to be able to buy a house for cash during the panic period

    But as you saw with the fracking bubble and with the previous real estate bubble, do not underestimate the government’s ability and motivation to interfere in ways you didn’t anticipate. They would never do that – and then they did do that. It’s going to be chaos, no matter what, but what kind of chaos? I truly don’t know.

    The more they mess with the economy, the less well it runs.

  253. Hi, Alvin.
    I am in a similar situation, only that I don’t daydream about having a property so big.
    If you do not have any place for growing, there’s always the option to grow in containers. Thing is, you need some substrate, water, and fertilizer (and a spot with the right amount of sun). Growing in containers, you have to choose the species according to the size of the container. If you want tomatoes, you need a very large pot.
    If you are going to use ground dirt, in the city, it should be tested before for heavy metals. You don’t want to add lead to your diet.

    You can learn by going to a gardening course, or maybe they’ll accept some cheap hands in a nearby nursery, but there’s always the option of learning by doing. It takes two to three years to start understanding why you are killing your plants so often, so the sooner you start, the better. Or the worse, depending on whose point of view we are talking.

    I dislike hydroponics. I see it as a not very resilient method for growing as it depends heavily on modern technology.

    It is much more beatiful if you grow flowers in addition to food and culinary herbs. Flowers will attract bugs and will prevent plagues. Sometimes, a few hens are allowed in urban lots, that’s an extra asset since poultry provides a nice fertilizer once composted, bug fighting, and some fresh eggs.

    But really, all begins with a little bit of space, and a source of water.

  254. @Christopher from California, thanks for the suggestions. I am actually fine for money even if I were to continue doing exactly what I’m currently doing. It is only if things change that I will have to switch things up, and the monetarily expensive work I’m putting in on gaining skills isn’t something I’ll be doing forever.

    I have various health issues that restrict how much stuff I can do in a day. This means I can’t really add a bunch more stuff to the amount I’m already doing without crashing and burning. I’ve done youtube before, and one thing I learned is that it takes a lot of time and a lot of hand use to create and edit video well enough to be useful. It’s really easy to burn out on it. It also takes a long time and a lot of effort before it produces any money. It’s on my list of things I might do at some point, but it’s not a high priority due to previous frustrated experience. The big thing on the list, though, is looking for students. That’s likely to be a major focus next year, maybe starting next september, possibly as soon as january. And yes, I might get a little creative at first – I traded recorder lessons for knitting and crochet lessons with the one regular student I’ve had so far.

    But what I actually do will likely depend on events and opportunities. I was not intending to get deeply into voice like this, but a bunch of stuff happened, and now I am. I don’t really regret it, though. I keep ending up singing for people, sometimes difficult and exposed things, and I’d ended up doing stuff I simply didn’t have the skills do do well. It was high time I put the effort in to do it properly. And singing doesn’t require hand use the way instruments do, so I can even do it on bad hand days when I can’t play any recorder larger than soprano.

    One reason I’m a multi- instrumentalist is so that it is difficult for my health issues to steal my music the way it wrecked havok on my ability to play flute. I never want that to happen again.

  255. From the news, in regards to a San Francisco apartment building;

    “Crescent Heights, the building owner, is at risk of imminent default because its $384 million mortgage exceeds the current $279 million value by $105 million. In August, Trepp said the building owner warned, “The property’s cash flow can no longer cover the monthly debt service.” ”

    Commercial real estate loans are not 30 year fixed rate. The sort term loans are rolling over into new loans at higher rates.

    To quote Mary Chaplin Carpenter, some times you are the windshield, and sometimes you are the bug.

  256. Siliconguy @ 216…
    Sorry for moniker/comment # flub… My angst as stated below:


  257. Permaculture? Here I’m thinking of the large number of black walnut trees growing in my neck of the woods. All those walnut trees and all those walnuts: even the squirrels can’t use or hide ’em all. They collect on the streets, lawns and sidewalks and are considered a big nuisance by homeowners. Crows seem to like the nuts if they can get you to run over them with your car enough to crack their hard shells. Black walnuts are very messy trees: I know because the house I grew up in had at least six of them. Whew! I’ll take a shagbark hickory any day over a black walnut. But those walnuts are edible. When we get hungry enough….. and we can eat the squirrels too.

  258. In the phrase “more than one way to skin a cat” the “cat” is short for catfish.
    Catfish do not have scales, they have a thick icky skin. Before a catfish can be sold for human consumption it need to be skinned. Fisherman would come in from a long day of fishing and would have to skin the day’s catch before they could go home. Many different techniques and methods were used to perform this task. So yes, there is “more than one way to skin a cat.”

  259. On central bank digital currencies: the taxman wants them so they will be pushed at all cost. From that point of view they can’t “fail”. As long as there is a perception in government circles that digital currencies imporve tax collection they will be deemed a success.

  260. Martin Back (#230) – Re: the excess of onions

    This tale is a great reminder of the financial aspects of farming. I suspect that a more sophisticated farmer sells his crop before it’s even in the ground, in the form of crop futures contracts. Not knowing whether it’s going to be a good, average, or bad year, both the farmer and buyer can negotiate a reasonable price for some portion of the crop. Suppose each puts 75% of the usual production under contract for the historical average price. If the crop is small (<75%), the farmer gets the average price for all that he grew, while the non-contract farmer does better on the "spot" market, selling into the shortage. But if the crop is big, the contract farmer still gets the average price for the 75% that's under contract, and the non-contract farmer might not find a market at all (as your friends found out). Both parties reduce their risk. This is the way I imagine that ag futures work, but I must admit that I've never actually purchased one as a middle-man speculator. The role of the speculator is to bring deep pockets to the table. Since farmers and buyers have a lot of other things to worry about (e.g., weather, equipment, transportation, etc.), there's money to be made, on average, in "helping" reduce the risk for both, if you can afford to manage the extreme cases.

  261. Robert@#262
    hamas are more militants – terrorists go after soft targets because they stand no chance against hard ones, they don’t control territory because it’s all about the hit and run, al quaida were terrorists
    hamas wouldn’t have been able to do a fraction of what they did (which did involve going through hard targets before they got to the soft ones) if the israelis had been even slightly on the ball
    somebody has some explaining to do

  262. @Grover Tibbetts:

    Your thoughts about investments make a lot of sense. I don’t pretend to know enough about investing to offer much. It’s interesting that Warren Buffett’s advice contradicts the approach the Money Mustache guy takes, which is to invest in index funds because they are already diversified. I suppose one could try both approaches in a small way simultaneously to see what happens. All those industries you’re looking at seem reasonable to me. Boring but essential utilities might be worth watching, too. But I don’t know enough to judge it properly.

    My interest in investing is along the lines of your own: to preserve wealth rather than build wealth. We might consider investing a small portion of our savings as a way of keeping purchasing power, because inflation is eroding away at the purchasing power of our savings. We put excess money into learning skills and long descent preparations around the house and land, but we keep a rainy day fund as savings, but inflation is affecting this.

    But the conventional wisdom says that in the long term one’s investments will increase as the economy improves, the unconventional wisdom would ask whether the economy will ever improve to the same point that one bought in to it. I’ll post back if I ever do experiment with it!

  263. Another late entry here, but I’m cataloging this book just now and thought it related to the discussion.

    “Optimal Illusions: The False Promise of Optimization” by Coco Krumme.

    “Optimization is the driving principle of our modern world. We now can manufacture, transport, and organize things more cheaply and faster than ever. Optimized models underlie everything from airline schedules to dating site matches. We strive for efficiency in our daily lives, obsessed with productivity and optimal performance. How did a mathematical concept take on such outsize cultural shape? And what is lost when efficiency is gained?

    Coco Krumme’s work in mathematical modeling has made her acutely aware of optimization’s overreach. Streamlined systems are less resilient and more at risk of failure. They limit our options and narrow our perspectives. The malaise of living in an optimized society can feel profoundly inhumane. Optimal Illusions exposes the sizable bargains we have made in the name of optimization and asks us to consider what comes next.”

    Just say no to the next upgrade.

  264. @Bacon Rolypoly #106

    “I have in the past written a guide to successful seed-saving so will dig it out and put it up somewhere if anyone’s interested.”


    Been saving seeds. Don’t really have enough room. Quality declines over time.

    And we have an anthracnose problem here. I realize I need to find a way to heat the seeds just enough but not too much. But haven’t tried it yet. Have seen it suggested to do it in water using a candy thermometer to control the temp. Then redry the seeds. Have you tried this or another method of heating to kill disease?

  265. About storage of grains and dried beans, store those In Glass containers unless you want to be maintaining a mouse smorgasbord. Glass is the Only thing I have found which critters can’t chew through. And, as most of us know, a bay leaf inserted into the glass jar into which you have poured your grains or beans will deter those nasty kitchen moths. I look for glass containers at the grocery store and am willing to pay a bit more for a reusable jar. Glass jars can be used in your freezer so long as you leave room for expansion of the contents.

  266. Will1000, you surely know that in CA there is a lively trade in wood for burning. When I lived in CA, guys with pickups were scouring the countryside for wood they could sell to rich city folk. That buried wood will be dug up as soon as state authorities’ backs are turned, if the wood laden trucks are not simply stolen first.

    I am having not too bad results with mini hugulcultures, burying rose clippings and windfall branches in garden beds. And, your state’s nursery and ag interests want that wood for making mulch and compost, so I would be surprised to see any such proposal as you described getting through your legislature.

  267. “Email, small forums, small sites, whatever will be the novice-friendly replacement for Mastadon, will be able to stay up and running, maybe with daily updates like in the 1980s rather than instant online collaboration. ”

    Compuserve and Genii come to mind. There was a thriving Apple // community blogging happily away trading small programs all over 1200 and 2400 baud modems. Huge piles of newsgroups as well. The question is will a utility rerun the copper phone lines, or do we keep the cell phone system? A modern smart phone may be too much to keep building, but what about a flip phone? There are also base station cell phones when portability is not needed, but bigger antennas and more power are needed.

  268. @ Clay Dennis #270 “I would guess Richard Nixon did not lose sleep over what folks in the Indonesia, thought about the war of the time.”

    Your point about which media politicians worry about reminds me of the time, many years ago, when a local politician (Mary Coughlan, if anyone is curious), infamously served rather embarrassingly in several ministerial roles. When someone pointed out that a recent piece in a national paper had portrayed her in a less than flattering way, she riposted, “ah well, that’s only the national papers.” My husband was incensed at the time… AS IF Donegal people don’t read the national papers, was his personally insulted take. 😉

  269. Hi all

    The Israeli lobby is so powerful in USA, that the government will support Israel even if that implies a real threat to thousands or even hundreds of thousands of Americans in the ME, the risks are real, and the Pentagon are making plans now:

    “The Biden administration is preparing for the possibility that hundreds of thousands of American citizens will require evacuation from the Middle East if the bloodshed in Gaza cannot be contained, according to four officials familiar with the U.S. government’s contingency planning”

    The Arab streets are boiling, even there are some saber rattling in the military of some Arab countries, the repeat negative of US to stop the massacres in Gaza is making US at the center of the rage in the Arab world. Is this the right policy to contain extremism in the ME or to encourage it?

    Also it seems that the killed in the terrible attack of Hamas were not only civilians, this terrorist act was certainly terrible, but more and more information is coming that many of the MSM reports were exaggerating and the carnage now in Gaza against civilians is order the magnitude worse:

    This crisis could means the end of the US Empire in the short term and the end of the state of Israel in the medium term.



  270. Just for the record, Warren Buffett is actually quite fond of index funds. In fact he has bet that they would outperform thanks actively managed investments. If one chooses to invest in the stock market, following his advice is always a good idea. Or just buy stock in his company.

  271. Hi JMG,

    One thing I’d point out is the few percent swing vote of Jewish people is not the big prize that politicians of both parties appeal to — it’s the fact that around 50% of total campaign contributions for both parties come from wealthy Jewish people. This is referenced every couple of years in publications like “Times of Israel” and even the “New York Times” and “San Francisco Chronicle,” not some obscure conspiracy media.

  272. Phutatorius,

    My boss told me the other day that he had heard that animal shelters were swelling with donated pets because their previous owners were having to make the choice to feed them or feed themselves. My permacultural function-stacking brain immediately wondered why they didn’t see the obvious solution in their “problem!” 😉 (Apologies to all the animal lovers out there) Your problem isn’t being hungry…it’s not being hungry enough! Here, kitty, kitty!


    I think that index investing is probably a fine way to play the market when the market is generally rising, although Mr. Buffett would say that no one ever got rich that way. Now that the global economy is contracting I would reckon that investing has to become even more specific and focused on individual companies, a la Warren Buffett’s line of logic. But I’m betting that Mr. Money Mustache has a lot more…money than I do! So who am I to argue? Do report back with your success and failure stories! I’m all ears.

  273. Phil,

    One share of Berkshire Hathaway is currently $514,800…up $2300 today.

    I’ll take two! I told my friend the other day that it keeps the riff-raff like me out.

  274. Alvin, I’ll have to leave this for others who have been in your situation.

    Abraham, of course the “collapse now” advice can have its downsides. It’s simply that I’ve found that most Americans, in particular, can gain more by cutting useless expenditures than by anything else, by a long shot. Other issues — for example, production and (defense against) predation, are also important, but as I noted earlier, they belong elsewhere.

    Bogatyr, one published book won’t get you much more than pocket change. Twenty published books can add up to real money, and it’s not just additive — every book you have makes it more likely that you’ll attract fans and other repeat customers. Me, I have more than 80 books in print, in multiple genres, so I’m doing okay. 😉

    Grover, I’ll want at least a small garden for annuals, but most of whatever yard we have will be dedicated to perennials, and to plants that benefit pollinators. But we’ll see what happens.

    Robert, the word “militant” got used in US newspapers for the 9/11 perps quite routinely. The word really does have a different flavor in American than it does in British.

    Will1000, yeah, I’ve heard of that. Putting it in vaults is very convenient for the people who will empty those vaults and sell the wood to the firewood trade. You’d think the people who propose such things would take five seconds to think them through…

    Patricia M, thanks for both of these. Feel better!

    Other Owen, which is why I’m not betting the farm on it. My working guess is that the government will let residential real estate crash so they can prop up more desperately needed boondoggles. If I’m wrong, I can afford to wait; enough of my income comes from outside the US that if the dollar tanks, I’ll still be fine.

    Siliconguy, yes, I heard of that! Down we go…

    Vlad, well, the Biden administration insists that their economic policies are a success, too…

    Justin, thanks for this! That’s a book I’ll have to chase down.

    DFC, I was pleased to see that. Getting ready to evacuate as many Americans as possible is arguably the first smart thing the Biden administration has done about the Middle East.

    Idahoforest, the Jewish vote in the Northeast, in Florida, and in a couple of other states is quite adequate to swing important districts. As for the business about donations, perhaps you could link one of these stories you say are so common.

  275. Re: housing costs being a bubble that will inevitably deflate – well, maybe.

    There are a lot of dynamics involved and it is hard to know how to make sense of all the interactions. Wealth inequality means the rich can bid up the cost of the marginal house, with cascading effects on all house prices in the area. Corporations bought up a lot of houses in order to rent them out, perhaps because they realize that being a rentier is the main way to make a buck in this country now. In some places, such as my own town, there aren’t many places to put new homes economically, because the suitable land already has houses on it and it isn’t economic to knock them down to build higher density buildings.

    I don’t see any of those three dynamics changing in a way that incentivizes new construction. I also don’t see wages rising enough for the working and middle classes, relative to the incomes of the wealthy, to let them bid for existing houses more competitively.

  276. DFC, JMG, et alia,

    Interesting that the U.S. was mobilizing National Guardsmen at least a month BEFORE the Hamas attack on Israel for duty in “the Middle East.” I happened to be at my favorite bar one afternoon when the boyfriend of one of their bartenders was being sent off with a party (from a very successful career as a real estate agent in a lucrative market no less). Where he was heading exactly was a bit of a mystery, but I was confounded by the idea of sending national guardsmen into a foreign country, especially since it wasn’t Ukraine. But sending them to help evacuate American citizens makes some sense…even if it was a bit premature on the timeline…


  277. DFC, I am afraid that American popular opinion, as separate and distinct from beltway/national media talking points du jour, is trending towards a pox on both their houses with regard to the ME. How many times now, since the 6 Day War, which was, 50! or so years ago, have we heard atrocities! end of civilized life! responsibility to protect! The boy who cried wolf! comes to mind here. At the present time there is, I venture to say, no working or middle class American who is not either related to or acquainted with at least one family in distress. I cannot leave my house, walking, no car, without encountering at least one person in desperate circumstances. Sure, I can and do give them a few dollars, but that won’t pay inflated rent nor even buy a nourishing meal. And I am supposed to care about the Gaza strip? Presidential candidate DeSantis, who, for all his faults, seems to be able to read the public mind, has openly stated we should accept no Palestinian refugees, and another Republican congressperson pointed out how many millions have we sent to Egypt and they won’t take in refugees of their own faith from next door?

  278. JMG said,
    “If I’m wrong, I can afford to wait; enough of my income comes from outside the US that if the dollar tanks, I’ll still be fine.”

    I can always mail you a silver half dollar every month to cover my Patreon pledge…

  279. Grover:
    LOL. Seems like a good price, pick up a couple shares for me too please..

    Seriously though, there is another class of Berkshire Hathaway stock that sells for much less. And I think you can even buy fractional shares too these days.

  280. WWI started with a terrorist attack and a “Blank Cheque” and WWIII could easily start with both again.
    The war ended with the liquidation of the Empire that gave the “Blank Cheque” (it could not “pay” it), may be this time also.

  281. Grover, DFC, JMG, re: US military activity in the ME. I cannot independently confirm it, but a USAF veteran who does daily sitreps about what aircraft are where, and figures out what they are up to and what they are transporting all over the world, has recently stated that there has been a significant increase in US military aircraft to and from the ME for the past two months. Not only are they the kind of aircraft that transport troops; they are also craft which typically transport heavy artillery. This guy as well as other veterans have noted the small arms sported by Hamas militants and note that hundreds of thousands of these pieces were left behind by the US when they fled Afghanistan. This USAF dude seems to be pretty pro-US and pro-Israel from what I have seen, but even he strongly believes that there is way more than meets the eye with the Israel-Palestine conflict.

  282. >Interesting that the U.S. was mobilizing National Guardsmen at least a month BEFORE

    I wonder when we’ll get to the Vietnam Era job punt, that goes something like this:

    “HI, I’m looking for a job and I’d like to work for you”
    “Well, we’re not interested in you, because you’re likely to get drafted soon”
    “Oh come on, er, well, um, I just got my draft notice”

  283. “but most of whatever yard we have will be dedicated to perennials, and to plants that benefit pollinators.”

    This does not exclude herbs. The bees are all over the oregano, sage, and chives. The basil and dill are annuals and the bees like the basil, but now that I think of it I don’t recall them on the dill.

    And I’m also in the ” a pox on both their houses with regard to the ME” camp myself.

  284. re: onion futures trading… you can’t actually do it! The Onion Futures Act, of 1958, was specifically created to ban the trading of onion futures, after somebody found a way to manipulate the onion market. A law was passed, and (according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission) remains in effect to this day. And onions is (said to be) the only agricultural commodity that is banned from futures trading.

    This feels just really weird to me.

  285. Isaac – Re: housing prices. We all know that financial businesses bought up a lot of the troubled mortgages back in 2008. Partly, that was to get a steady stream of rental income, but also (perhaps) to preserve the equity that they had in the housing that they already owned. If there are 10 houses for 11 families, somebody’s going to bid the price up to avoid homelessness, but if there are 10 houses for just 9 families, the market value of all of the houses could crash as the landlords compete not to be left with a vacant property. So, it could be in the interest of a landlord to keep vacant properties off of the market (either as sales or rentals) to conceal the (speculative) fact that there’s more than enough housing to go around. When they could borrow money at low interest rates, the cost of carrying vacant properties was low (relative to the loss of equity in a competitive market). With interest rates going up, they may have to liquidate. The floor may be a long, long, way down.

  286. Isaac, most of the real estate owned by corporations was bought using cheap short-term loans — the usual investment gimmick these days. Those loans have to be rolled over at regular intervals, and credit is no longer cheap. That’s why commercial real estate is imploding in markets across the US — building owners are defaulting on buildings because they can’t afford the cost to keep financing them — and it’s also driving the collapse of the AirBnB bubble, which was similarly inflated with short term credit. Thus it’s not a matter of new construction or purchasers bidding more competitively — the owners of a great deal of real estate are facing liquidation. That’s the situation I’m watching.

    Grover, interesting. Thanks for the data point — and I’d be happy to have the half dollar. 😉

    DFC, one way or another, that’s entirely possible. The downfall of US global hegemony is unavoidable at this point; the only questions are when and how.

    Ron, equally interesting.

    Siliconguy, I’m certainly not excluding herbs. There also, I’m partial to perennials.

  287. The deficit is sustainable.
    It’s the yield of last resort for all that currency that has been hoovered up by the winners (banks, bi-lateral trading partners, buffets of the world) that is not interested in finding higher yield elsewhere. They would just prefer to hoard treasuries instead of currency. Let them. It gives us a good way to recycle our currency back into our economy – through the power of Fed Gov spending.

    Alternatively we can always tax these winners. But look at who we’re trying to tax here: banks, bi-lateral trading partners, the buffets of the world. Good luck with that.

    And a good thought experiment: is there a ceiling to how much these winners are willing to hoard? No? In that case, it doesn’t make sense to worry about treasury debt as a percent of GDP.

  288. RE #146 David Babcock ((Yah Finger lakes!))
    We’re not NIMBY by any stretch, but- nah. When The Arch Druid JMG Wrote ” Black Tuna, no surprises there. Now that fossil fuels are running short again, expect every con job, every discarded theory, and every raving delusion that makes people think they can keep their current lifestyles to be snapped up. I expect to have somebody ranting about abiotic oil here any day now…” it was from words of experience and wisdom. So, for the time being, “let it be” is the ancient mantra in use. As for fresh H2O and our finger lakes region, I took my first breaths on the shoreline of Cayuga lake. Ithaca, NY/Cornell U is there. Cornell used to be to us like Brown U was to old Lovecraft. Still Harry Potteresque in many ways and the KAT Fra still prowl about here and there, but times they are a changin’. During the most recent drought, Ithaca forced its citizens to dump out their rain barrels. So, one shouldn’t relocate here because of the unlimited access to lake side H2O. One day soon, you just might be arrested for water theft. But drink the craft beer! It’s clean and tasty and the patrons are still mostly old school or transient college ppl. How do you like those apples? Be well, thanks for responding! Good stuff.
    –Black Tuna and Hand

  289. Re # 264 Christopher from California The “Rosebud…” Mysteries…
    I’m Not ded yet. We learned from the experience to stick with our plan and retired early. We do not need or want for anything material. We have worked HARD day in and out on our homestead for going on 30 years. A 2nd home on Cape Cod no longer appeals to me. Sharks bite. Seal babies stink.
    As for the “pen name”? It means- I know what you know. keep it seCreT keep it sAfe.👌✔ The Arch Druid knows all.
    Black Tuna and Han d

  290. It’s 2023, the record of the last 16 years is amazing, I really feel like I’m doing some kind of quantum leap every 5 years.
    In 2007 I discovered the peak oil phenomenon. Several years of anxiety and even depression follow. I look for oil-free solutions, but none of them really work since they all involve hidden oil.
    In 2012 I came across one of American John Michael Greer’s articles “Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush”, which literally saved me. The idea is, if there is a collapse, to voluntarily collapse right away, thus acquiring the essential skills and tools while they are still available.
    In 2017 I created the Permavillage movement. Rationale : stable communities, 100% local, zero oil and (almost) zero pollution. The beautiful yellow-blue-green flag of the Permavillages represents the Sun, Water and Plants. I also embrace the concept imagined by Ray Jason, the Sea Gypsy Tribe.
    In 2022 I build and test in Belgium what I modestly call the first experimental mini Permavillage. I establish a list of 26 Essential Skills. And, armed with this acquired knowledge, I decide to buy a sailboat and set off, somewhere on the European coast of the North Atlantic, to initiate a Permavillage and a Sea Gypsy Tribe.

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