Monthly Post

Futurus Interruptus

Most of the time, in writing these essays, I try to treat the decline of industrial society with the seriousness that it deserves. Sometimes, though, the plain raw absurdity of our current situation rises to a point that only raucous laughter can address. I ran into another of those points a few days back, while reading an article on Yahoo News sent to me by a longtime reader and commenter—tip of the hat to David By The Lake. The article is by Hasan Chowdhury, and its title is “Humanity is on the brink of major scientific breakthroughs, but nobody seems to care.” You can read it here.

Chowdhury’s article points out that recent news stories about the latest heavily promoted claims of a breakthrough in nuclear fusion research, and the much-hyped announcement by two South Korean researchers that a room-temperature superconductor had been discovered, didn’t get the response the media expected.  By and large, people yawned. To Chowdhury, this is appalling, and he argues that two factors are responsible.  The first is that people in the hard sciences need to be better at publicity. The second is that too many people out there suffer from an irrational fear of progress, and simply need to be convinced that the latest gosh-wow technologies will surely benefit them sometime very soon.

As though they don’t get enough fawning attention from government and media already.

Yeah, that was when I started laughing too.

Let’s start by talking about the two supposed breakthroughs Chowdhury talks about. The first is the claim that yet another team of fusion researchers has achieved net energy gain—the point at which the energy coming out of a fusion reaction is more than the energy put into it.  This was first achieved in 2014, and a handful of other research teams have managed it in the years since then. Is it a step in the direction of commercial fusion power?  Sure, in exactly the same sense that bouncing high on a trampoline is a step in the direction of landing on the moon.

The net energy gain in question, to begin with, is only a gain if you compare the output of the laser beams used to kindle the fusion reaction with the energy released by the reaction itself. It takes far more energy to fire up those lasers than you get out the business end, and so far fusion reactions have not even achieved the energy output they need to power their own lasers. And the other energy inputs needed to build, run, and maintain an experimental fusion reactor? Those aren’t included in the net energy figures either.

Nor, of course, does any of this affect the astonishingly dismal economics of fusion power.  The reason that commercial fission, the other kind of nuclear power, is dead in the water these days is not that it doesn’t work—it’s that it’s so expensive that nuclear reactors can’t pay for themselves without gargantuan ongoing government subsidies. Fusion reactors are several orders of magnitude more complex and expensive than fission reactors. This means that even if some future fusion reactor can get positive net energy compared to all its energy inputs, it’s still an expensive stunt, not a source of grid electricity that any country anywhere in the world can afford. Of course Chowdhury doesn’t mention this; nobody pushing fusion hype ever breathes a word about the economics of what promises to be, even if it works someday, the world’s most hopelessly unaffordable power source.

The second breakthrough Chowdhury wants us to get excited about is the claim that a room temperature superconductor has been invented. A superconductor, for those of my readers who went to American public schools and therefore got no scientific education worth mentioning, is a material that conducts electricity with effectively no resistance. Existing superconductors have to be cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero and subjected to various other complex conditions, which limit their usefulness. (Superconductors are heavily used in experimental fusion reactors, for example. Is the energy needed to cool them to working temperatures factored into those net energy figures?  Surely you jest.)

“I wish she’d cut the political lectures and get around to teaching us some science.”

So why hasn’t this announcement been met with gladsome cries?  Because for decades now the media has been full of exciting new scientific breakthroughs that turned out to be bogus. We’re constantly being told that this or that or the other wonderful technological revolution is about to happen. It’s the follow-through that deserves attention here, because the vast majority of these announcements are pure hype, meant to separate fools from their investment money in the time-honored fashion. As it turns out, the room temperature superconductor seems to be another example of this kind; repeated attempts by other labs to get the same results have failed, and so it’s pretty clear that the research team that made that claim was either mistaken or lying.

This sort of thing is far more common than the cheerleaders of science like to admit. Retraction Watch, the most widely respected organization tracking scientific fakery these days, estimates that more than 100,000 papers should be retracted each year; the actual number in 2022 was less than 5500. Of retracted papers, four-fifths on average are withdrawn due to scientific fraud. You know those claims that scientists can be trusted to police themselves, and will drive fraudulent researchers out of the business?  Think again.  Retraction Watch lists some researchers who have had more than a hundred papers retracted, and are still happily employed in their laboratories turning out junk science.

Until relatively recently this was treated as an internal problem within the scientific community. The difficulty scientists face is that now it’s a public scandal. A very large number of people outside the sciences are well aware that scientific opinions are for sale to the highest bidder, that a great many scientific studies are fraudulent or simply wrong, and that in a great many cases, scientists simply don’t know what they’re talking about. They know this, in turn, because their noses have been rubbed in it over and over again by public policies promoted by scientists the failed abjectly to live up to the hype.

Fusion was just twenty years in the future when this photo was taken…

It’s ironic that Chowdhury should have chosen fusion power as one of his examples, because it’s also one of the biggest offenders here. You can get a belly laugh quite reliably in many parts of today’s America by saying in an earnest voice, “Fusion power is just twenty years in the future!”  The reason, of course, is that experts have been saying these words in exactly that tone since the 1950s. Most people realize at this point that it’s never going to happen; most people figured out a long time ago that the fusion researchers who say this are simply angling for another round of government money to flush down their high-tech ratholes.

The fact that scientists, politicians, and the media still pretend that commercial fusion power is possible is thus an important factor in the collapse of public confidence in expert opinion of all kinds. The narrative that scientists, politicians, and the media are pushing—“fusion researchers are closing in rapidly on a wonderful new power source for everyone”—has drifted much too far away from the narrative that the facts are telling—“fusion researchers are spinning their wheels uselessly, but they don’t want to admit it since their income depends on claiming otherwise”—and more and more people are coming to believe the second narrative.

It’s far from the only offender along these lines. At least as much credit has to be given to the scientific rhetoric around climate change. Before we go on, I want to point out that yes, the global climate is changing; yes, there are serious problems caused by the current pace and direction of climate change; and yes, greenhouse gases produced by human activity play a role in the shift in climate we’re experiencing. Those three points are important, and in an upcoming post I’ll be discussing them in considerably more detail, but they don’t begin to justify the shrill claims that have been made by climate scientists in recent decades.

…and it will still be twenty years in the future in 2995 AD, when the ruins of Las Vegas will look like this.

The parade of failed doomsday predictions by climate scientists has become so embarrassing that you can find entire chronologies online listing inaccurate claims made by experts, and comparing them to what actually happened. Somehow, despite those claims claims splashed around by Al Gore et al., the Arctic Ocean is not yet ice-free in summer—that was supposed to happen years ago, according to the hype—and polar bear populations are rebounding as the bears do what Darwin predicted and adapt to changing environments. Again, this does not mean that global climate change isn’t happening. It means that the experts know a lot less about climate change (not to mention polar bear ecology) than they think they do. What that means, in turn, is that a growing number of people are responding to the latest dire pronouncements of climate activists by rolling their eyes and walking away.

Hasan Chowdhury also has his equivalents in this field. I’m thinking here especially of a recent article by Rebecca Solnit titled “We can’t afford to be climate doomers,” which you can read here. She insists that it’s wrong for people to assume that nothing can be done about climate change—why, if we all clap our hands in unison and believe, surely Tinkerbell can be saved! It’s interesting to compare Solnit’s earnestness with the equally earnest claim by Greta Thunberg in 2018 that if we didn’t give up all fossil fuels within five years, humanity would be doomed to certain extinction. If the scientists Thunberg cited were right, it’s already too late; if they were wrong, why should we believe the rest of what they’re claiming?

Solnit is incensed that “the comfortable in the global north”—that is to say, the privileged classes to which she herself belongs—are increasingly discouraged about climate change. She insists that all we have to do is embrace the same remedies she and her fellow activists have been pushing all along:  political action, allegedly green technologies, and the demonization of fossil fuel companies. The difficulty, of course, is that those supposed remedies have not just failed to achieve their goals, they’ve failed to have any effect on climate at all.

You know as well as I do that they’re still planning to fly to their next vacation in Bali. Using less carbon? That’s for other people.

After all, despite climate treaties, green technologies, activists throwing public temper tantrums about climate, and the rest of it, fossil fuel use and the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere both continue to climb steadily.   All those wind turbines and solar PV farms haven’t even slowed the global increase in fossil fuel consumption, much less replaced any noticeable amount of fossil fuels with green energy—in point of fact, world consumption of coal, the dirtiest fuel of all, hit an all-time record last year, up 3.3% from the year before. The narrative Solnit is pushing amounts to “climate protesters are heroes saving the earth from evil fossil fuel companies,” but the narrative that the facts are telling is “climate protesters are a pampered subculture engaging in meaningless virtue signaling while ignoring their own carbon-laced lifestyles.”  Once again, it’s the latter narrative that’s become more convincing to people these days.

What exactly have the last three decades of climate protest accomplished, after all? That’s a question you’re not supposed to ask. Of course, mutatis mutandis, that’s the question you’re not supposed to ask about fusion—what have all those billions of dollars of investment in fusion reactors accomplished so far?—or about a long, long list of supposed breakthroughs and dangers the media is still  pretending to take seriously. No matter how many times the same hype has been disproven by events, no matter how many supposed experts have tripped over their own predictions and bloodied their noses on the hard pavement of reality, the rest of us are supposed to place blind faith in whatever they happen to say this time around.

There, in turn, is where it’s possible to glimpse the chasm opening beneath the feet of today’s corporate-managerial aristocracy.

Every society depends for social cohesion on the widespread acceptance of a shared narrative about authority. In the European Middle Ages, the narrative held that kings were anointed by God to do the work of leading God’s people, and that divine sanction cascaded down the feudal hierarchy through dukes and barons and knights and peasants all the way to the swineherd leading his pigs. Everyone knew that plenty of kings, and for that matter plenty of swineherds, didn’t live up to the image the narrative assigned them.  As long as the narrative remained in place, even the political radicals of the time thought in terms of getting each person to fill their assigned roles, rather than tearing down the feudal structure itself.

“Yes, he’s a complete dunderhead, but God has set him over us!”

The medieval narrative was durable precisely because it wasn’t vulnerable to objective disproof. If the king was a brute or a nitwit, as of course he was tolerably often, that just showed that God was irate and had sent the people a bad ruler as punishment for their sins. The early Protestant-capitalist narrative that replaced it was equally immune to disproof.  God (or his faux-secular equivalent, the almighty market) had assigned the rich their riches and the poor their poverty as a sign that the former were pleasing in his sight and the latter were not, and the remarkably arbitrary nature of divine favor was hardwired into Protestant ideology from the early days of the Reformation onward.

But the Protestant-capitalist narrative gave way in the wake of the Great Depression to a new narrative of expertise.  According to that new narrative, bureaucratic and corporate meritocracies had received the secular equivalent of divine favor because they were the smart kids in the room. Their university degrees and their successful ascent of organizational hierarchies proved that they were better suited to run the world than anyone else, and they were expected to demonstrate that in practice by pursuing policies that worked.

At first, that wasn’t much of a problem, because the kleptocratic investment class that ran the country before the Depression had made such a mess of things that almost anything would have been an improvement.  Later on it became more difficult, when real world problems—cough, cough, Vietnam, the War on Poverty, etc.—turned out to be much more recalcitrant than anyone in the managerial class thought. There was a trap hidden within their rhetoric, however, and it turned out to be a trap from which they could not escape.

Central to the core narrative of the entire industrial world during the managerial era was the insistence that sometime soon everything would change. The world we all knew would be replaced by something else—by a shiny Utopian Tomorrowland, if we all gave the experts everything they wanted, and by a smoking postapocalyptic wasteland if we didn’t. That was the message that scientists, politicians, and the media rehashed endlessly:  tomorrow may be wonderful or it may be terrible, but it will not be the same as today.

This future has pulled a no-show…

The fact of the matter is that both the promise and the threat turned out to be bogus.  As Peter Thiel famously said, we were promised flying cars, and what we got instead was 140 characters and an easy way to circulate cat pictures around the world. Chowdhury himself, in the article cited above, quoted a venture capitalist complaining that no matter how wonderful and exciting and cutting-edge the imaginary world of computer imagery looks, as soon as you return to everyday life things change utterly:  “The minute you get into a car, the minute you plug something into a wall, the minute you eat food, you’re still living in the 1950s.”

Except, of course, you’re not—not unless you’re a wealthy venture capitalist, or for that matter a comfortable media flack, and in either case you can afford to ignore the explosive crapification of modern life. In the 1950s an ordinary unskilled laborer could count on earning enough money to stay fed, clothed, housed, and supplied with the other necessities of life.  In the 2020s even skilled workers have to struggle to do these things. Compared to that unchanging reality, all those promises of a shiny new future about to dawn any day now look like vicious jokes. Even the thought of a sudden apocalyptic end to the system has begun to lose its appeal—and yes, it has considerable appeal to those who have been assigned the short end of the stick by the current system. The apocalypse has pulled so many no-shows at this point that the disaffected are no longer counting on it to free them from the dead weight of an unbearable situation.

What we see around us is a society caught in the throes of futurus interruptus, denied both the orgasmic release of the Tomorrowland future and the even juicier equivalent of its apocalyptic twin, waiting in increasing frustration for a fulfillment that’s endlessly promised but never arrives.  That’s the time bomb ticking away at the heart of the system. Chowdhury, Solnit, and their many equivalents in today’s media are right to be terrified at the increasingly widespread refusal to put any more faith in the same tripe that’s been shoveled forth by their equivalents since the managerial aristocracy seized power not quite a century ago.  Once the central narrative breaks down, after all, the end of the existing order of society is a foregone conclusion.

…and so has this one. What will you do now?

That end need not involve vast amounts of bloodshed.  Wars of independence tend to be hard-fought, but domestic revolutions very often involve only token violence. What happens instead—in France in 1789, in Russia in 1991, and in many other cases—is that a system that has been hollowed out by a string of cascading failures runs into one more crisis than it can tolerate, and implodes under the weight of its own absurdities. We are much closer to such scenes in North America and Western Europe right now than I think most people realize.  Every belly laugh called forth by the drivel that Chowdhury and Solnit expect us to believe brings us closer still.

* * * * *

A glance at the calendar reminded me this morning that August has five Wednesdays, and it’s a long-established tradition on this blog that the readers get to vote on the topic for my post for the fifth Wednesday of any month that has one. The ball is in your court, dear readers. What do you want to hear about?


  1. The domestic revolutions themselves may have low death tolls, but revolutions that are followed by civil war, insurgency or foreign wars tend to have the death toll go through the roof, potentially in a big way. I’ve heard estimates along the lines of 9 million people for the Russian Civil War. And the civil war surrounding the mexican revolution killed a lot of people when harvests got destroyed, and in France the revolution was followed by a civil war in one area of the country and foreign wars that eventually went (literally) Napoleonic. And then there’s the Chinese civil war/chinese revolution, which was very heavily tangled up with WW2 so it is hard to tell who of the 15?20? million people who died were killed by what.

    When having a revolution, you really want to avoid letting a civil war follow it. That is where the horrors lie…

  2. Right along with the collapse in confidence in science, for the reasons that you have mentioned, is the collapse in the actual scientific and technical knowledge of the population.
    Our k-12 schools and higher eduction have been hollowed out, with fewer and fewer students pursuing degrees in technical fields ( coding is not science). Many people who missed out on a useful education in science and math now try and substitute learning from podcasts and such. I have several acquaintances who would not know the First Law of Thermodynamics from the Magna Carta but think themselves experts on travel to Mars, the build-out of the grid with renewable energy and the bright future of solid state batteries. Combining the decline in confidence in actual science ( what little of it that there now is) with a growing confidence in junk science ( or junkier) is a combustable mix.
    All the friends I went to engineering school with ( the old days ) are as skeptical as I am of the claims of fusion, full scale renewable energy etc. because none of these things make technical sense when subject to even a simple investigation. But the new ” podcast scientists” are gung ho and will face a much more devastating wake up call when the curtain is finally pulled back on the wizard.

  3. I saw the article on room temperature superconductors and didn’t bother to read it. There was a time when I would have read it with fascinated enthusiasm. I figured that if it turned out to be a game changer, I’d be hearing about it again in the future, and if I didn’t, then it was just another flop. And most things of that type don’t seem to live up to their billing these days, especially the most ballyhooed ones.

  4. Dear JMG, let’s give this decadent-degenerate class the answer it deserves: Collect them all like a ‘Witch Hunt’ and throw them in jail! Take back everything that they have taken from us and tried to take from us and give them nothing! They always despised us hahaha now it’s our turn!

  5. If you want belly laughs, I was going to send you this one I found a couple days ago, but I didn’t want to add a late, pointless comment to an old post. In amid his strange argument that what happens to our real children doesn’t matter since AI are our true descendants, he takes the time to complain about our lack of flying cars, free nuclear energy, and infinite wealth – it’s all because technological reactionaries and luddites fear change, you see! And they impose unnecessary and pointless regulations that stifle new technologies. Never mentioned is why, as you say, the filthy masses might have come to distrust change, or for that matter whether or not the populace in a democracy is allowed to vote themselves any regulations they may dang well feel like into existence.

  6. For another belly laugh: Last summer, when I was in a bpokshop, I saw a book about some political correct subject (I don’t know anymore, what that was), and as I looked at the authors, I saw that they were none other than Greta Thunberg and the Dalai Lama. A rrally weird pairing, I thought: a climate activist and a Tibetan lama.

  7. JMG,
    Excellent post as usual. After the post on Stormtrooper Syndrome, I was expecting a post on one of the other syndromes so rampant in our society today. I guess maybe you did – perhaps this post could be subtitled Wile E. Coyote Syndrome, since our super genius scientists keep chasing the Roadrunner of sustainable and affordable cold fusion or room temp superconductors, but can never quite catch him and instead run off a cliff and/or are smashed by a boulder or anvil (i.e., reality). In spite of all this, ACME (US Govt) keeps sending the funding and supplies.

    For fifth Wednesday, my vote is for the topic of karma.

  8. Thank you for the reality check today. I vote for your view on Jung and the occult for the last Wednesday in August blog.

  9. I can’t help notice that the ChatGPT example he cites is one that seems to me to promise more harm than good. Goodbye plenty of people’s livelihoods. Hello more academic cheating, more easily. Seriously, does anyone actually do their homework themselves these days? And if they don’t, are they remotely competent at the things their diplomas say they should be?

    Believe it or not, there’s been a running argument in the fanfiction community by the people who run the websites, over whether AI written stuff should be allowed, what precautions if any should be taken to avoid people’s work being scraped by AI etc. It seems to have been won by the AI positive group, so I’m left wondering if some of the stuff I’m reading was written by a bot. I’m also wondering why those of us who actually write the fanfiction were never asked our opinion. Probably because we didn’t want AI written stuff and they didn’t want to know since they weren’t sure how to prevent AI written stuff from being posted because they can’t tell it apart.

    A lot of the fun of fanfic is interacting with your favorite writers and with your readers. That needs real people on both ends to be meaningful.

  10. The academic types really are lining up to get the ostracon treatment, aren’t they? Perhaps the mob will use broken smartphone screens instead of seashells on our modern, doubtless purple-haired Hypatia.

    For myself I am at a loss. The practice of science needs good people, but is absolutely unable to select for them. You can’t even advocate selecting for them. “Best we can do is not hire white men.” Being a white man with — I think!– a sense of integrity, I admit a bit of sourness over what has happened to my once-beloved vocation. Gave up with a masters’ degree in a hard science, and spent the last decade or so working in a science museum. (Because even back then “pass over white men” was very much on order for grant approvals and hiring committees, if only implicitly; now of course they proudly say it out loud.) Of course the whole place is to me a Saturnalia in the name of Progress — a revel drunk on its ideology, totally backwards my own values. I’m not sure who has changed more: me, or the zietgiest following NPCs I work with. I’ve burnt out on that so badly I started fantasizing about doing a demonstration on the nature of gravity with a rope around my neck in a high place in front of the building — brr! Time to go. I haven’t found other work, but they’re getting my notice regardless. Better a notice than a noose.

    A nibble on the old networking pointed me towards the federal bureaucracy. The job add had several times as much verbiage about “equity” and what type of human they were looking for than what they actually wanted that human to do. So I can’t imagine why they’d pass it on to a white man, unless they have poor reading comprehension or just don’t realize these nitwits are actually serious. I do wonder if these people realize the deep well of resentment they’re filling with all this? I’m quite certain Canada will end like Yugoslavia because of it. I only regret that the ones sowing the deepest seeds of discord will almost certainly flee the country and escape the whirlwind.

    Does anyone know if there are any Red States hard up enough for teachers they might be sponsoring green cards? I do not have the certification — but I am a very, very good educator.(Given the state of our universities, it’s probably because I lack the B.Ed that I can teach well, not in spite of it.) I don’t say that to toot my horn, simply that I’ve had to recognize that it’s really the only thing I’m good at. If I could find a way, I’d take that talent somewhere that less obviously despises me. As bad as those “Rich Men North of Richmond” are, I don’t think they hold a candle to the oligarchs in Ottawa.

  11. I’d like to add that the population of the Untied States of America (TM) has gone from 151 million in 1950 to 340 million in 2023. This simple fact is utterly ignored by virtually everyone and it goes a long way toward explaining many of the predicaments this continent now faces, from the ecological devastation of our forests and farmlands to the cost of housing, to the price of energy and even perhaps the precipitous decline in fertility. All of these were made worse by greed and stupidity at the highest policy making levels. (Does anyone else trace the tipping point of our society to the 1980 presidential election of Ronnie Raygun?)

    5th Wednesday vote: Past lives/reincarnation – especially in regard to psychosis

  12. ““The minute you get into a car, …,you’re still living in the 1950s.”

    My daughter’s Prius refutes that assertion. :-). That said it does have two pedals on the floor and a steering wheel. And a several hundred page instruction manual and a second manual on how to run the “infotainment” system.

    If you look under the hood you will know true despair. But it is getting over 50 miles to gallon. The complexity cost of that level of efficiency is mind boggling.

    The superconductor turned out to be an odd ferromagnetic material. Much hype over nearly nothing, something may be learned as that material is not supposed to be magnetic, so it’s still worth looking into.

    As for the real superconductors at the fusion test facility, they are having problems with sudden loss of superconductivity, or quenching,

    “If a quench is confirmed, the switches on large resistors connecting coil and resistors are thrown open and the magnetic energy of the coil is rapidly dissipated, avoiding any damage to the coils. For the toroidal field coils that have the largest amount of stored energy, 41 GJ, achieving total discharge can take about one a half minutes.”

    41 GigaJoules is 9.8 tons of TNT (the internet has unit converters for everything) so if the quench control system fails, well, it won’t be pretty.

    Having fought through the academic system and gotten a PHD and seen what it was like, and then choosing to go back to industry, publish or perish is still the rule. As the supply of “new physics” has dried up, the need to publish something along with the desperate scrabbling for funding with ever less applicability to the practical world has led right to the well reported “replication crisis”. There is only one Large Hadron Collider and one James Webb Space Telescope. Their time is fully booked, so what is a newly minted PHD to do?

    In China the government is sending them off to grow rice. This is not going down well with the students.

  13. Probably the best thing we can do as humanity is to burn all fossil fuel we have left but cautiously and in decreasing speed. Save it for a few generations. All green “solutions” drink only more carbon. Prepare for more rain, drought and sea level rise or whatever. Build a society less dependent on technology where we sing in choirs, make love and unite with wild nature (what is left).
    What is your take on AI? My dream is that it gets so intelligent it destroys itself. A kind of technotic sepukko. Internet dies and people wake up. But that is just a dream. Probably something much evil will happen. Do you think we humans in modern societys already are part of AI? How has the digitalization of our lives changed our consciousnesses?
    Thanks for your excellent essays. Your magic stuff I can’t follow unfortunately but I really enjoy your wisdom in other issues. Great to see you in Unherd!
    God bless and go with Gaia!

  14. People across the Western world are grasping for solutions for why the world has become so sh*t and have found a diverse range of ideologies, solutions and people to blame. Resource and energy depletion, diminishing returns on research and innovation and even environmental damage are massively downplayed. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when a system has become so obviously inept and is hated by so many, but there are such diverse views of how to deal with it and what to replace it with.

    I suspect that much of the mass immigration into the west engineered by the Western elites and the associated promotion of critical theory (hardly a better ideology to divide people) has been done specifically to create divided populations of plebs fighting each other and blaming each other for their respective hardships rather than one united population capable of seriously threatening the system (look at how the establishment started pushing critical theory in its various ghastly iterations after enough people protested in movements like Occupy following the 2008 debacle). If you get people fighting on race lines or over nonsense theories about gender then the establishment can take the side of one group that could challenge them and pit them against another.

    Very clever, but very very evil.

  15. Lithium batteries are another example of “Long on hype, short on delivery” press releases. I spent a while rather deep in the “small lithium pack” space (rebuilding failed and worn out ebike batteries), and people would regularly send me one press release or another about this or that “order of magnitude” improvement in some aspect of the batteries, asking what I thought.

    I gave the same response I always did: “If even half of these turned out to be true, I’d be able to run an ocean liner across the ocean on the energy stored in a block the size of my cell phone that I bought with spare change from my couch.”

    Either the fancy new hyped feature was so isolated that you couldn’t build a battery with it, or the cycle life was beyond awful (if they show charts out to 20 cycles in the paper, it’s useless in any practical application), or it was impossible to build at a useful cost, or… pick your way they never quite managed to revolutionize batteries. Batteries keep improving, incrementally, but almost none of the hyped “revolutions” have come about.

    I also ran into a lot of “Well, sure, we’re hitting the bounds of lithium, but clearly there’s some other battery technology we just haven’t discovered yet!” thinking – because we want something better, and claim we need it, why, the universe is just obligated to deliver it to our doorstep!

    Physics is a harsh mistress.

  16. At some point while reading this the phrase “scientific folklore” came to mind. That probably does an injustice to folklore.

  17. Ah yes, the alleged superconductors. After the news came out, some already began to have feverish dreams about the sheer infinite possibilities that this would bring. It would revolutionize mobile technology – a market of so and so many billions. It would revolutionize industrial production – a market of many more trillions. All, of course, powered by the coming green energy transition.

    One could feel how much those who believe in eternal progress longed for it to be true.

    Technological miracles – that is, world-changing breakthroughs – have become rare in recent years. And very slowly, skepticism about the myth of eternal progress seems to be growing. After all, many of the wonderful promises turned out to be false.

    What a pity that technological progress is still seen by so many as the only solution to our many social and other problems.

  18. Hi JMG & commentariat, I would like to see a commentary on the Zen Ox herding pictures as it relates to spiritual development.

  19. Someone posted on ZeroHedge:

    The Turbo Encabulator:

    “The original machine had a base-plate of prefabulated aluminite, surmounted by a malleable logarithmic casing in such a way that the two main spurving bearings were in a direct line with the pentametric fan. The latter consisted simply of six hydrocoptic marzlevanes, so fitted to the ambifacient lunar waneshaft that side fumbling was effectively prevented. The main winding was of the normal lotus-o-delta type placed in panendermic semi-bovoid slots in the stator, every seventh conductor being connected by a non-reversible tremie pipe to the differential girdlespring on the “up” end of the grammeters.

    — John Hellins Quick, “The turbo-encabulator in industry”, Students’ Quarterly Journal, Vol. 15, Iss. 58, p. 22 (December 1944)”

  20. “The minute you get into your car, the minute you plug something into your wall, the minute you eat food, you’re still living in the 1950s.”…Damn right, and it was great! Born in ’46, the ’50s were my formative years, and for middle class white Americans, these were good times indeed. Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis shocking the cultural establishment, Hula Hoops, the emergence of pizza pie, outlandishly huge automobiles with weird futuristic tail fins (presaging the space age) making out in the balcony at the movies, Bugs Bunny in drag, TV, ‘progressive’ Jazz, Mickey Mantel, Nakita Khruschev…the list goes on. It was all good, and all a sort of circusesque cartoon – a decade that parodied itself…Of course, it marked the birth of the Interstate Highway system – not so good.

  21. I recall that after the last grand conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, you cast an astrological chart which predicted a shift away from democratic governance, as well as a rejuvenation of the arts. It seems that the first part is rapidly manifesting itself, but what evidence, if any, do you see of a rejuvenation in art, music, movies etc

  22. Here are all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared across the Ecosophia Community. (A printable version of the entire prayer list 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 or at the prayer list post linked at the very beginning of this notice.

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

    Lunar Apprentice, that he find the strength and the capability to successfully fulfill his self-appointed duties both to his patients and to his family, that the insurers contracting with his patients be favourably disposed towards the service he faithfully provides and pay as they are obliged, and that the flow of new patients increase sufficiently to support his medical practice.

    Nebulous Realms has reason to think they may be in particular physical or spiritual danger for the next couple of weeks (posted 8/7); they request prayers for their personal safety.

    Steve T’s brother Matt is currently in the hospital after a sudden violent seizure, and his daughter is having extreme panic attacks; they were both in a terrible car accident last fall. Steve asks for prayers for Matt’s recovery of health; for the emotional and psychological well-being of the rest of the family, including his wife Megan, his daughter Diana, and his young son Jake; and for the lifting of any spiritual harm afflicting the family.

    Freddy, Ganeshling’s neighbor’s 10 year old son, hasn’t spoken since a traumatic hospital stay a few years ago; for Freddy to start speaking again and to help him develop into a functional adult.

    Tamanous’s friend’s brother David got in a terrible motorcycle accident and has been diagnosed as a quadriplegic given the resultant spinal damage; for healing and the positive outcomes of upcoming surgeries and rehabilitation, specifically towards him being able to walk and live a normal life once more.

    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. The reasonable possibility exists that this is an environmental disaster on par with the worst America has ever seen. (Lp9 gives updates here and also here.)

    * * *

    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.

  23. I started laughing at the end of the first paragraph. You can’t not laugh at the title of the article.

    Yes, they’ve been promising breakthroughs in fusion for as far back as my memory goes (I’ll be turning 69 next month) and it’s becoming painfully obvious that’s all it is; just promises, like the moon colonies, flying cars, magic bullet cures for cancer, etc, etc.

    Give us some worthwhile results and maybe we’ll stop yawning.

    Almost all the books I bought during the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties and early 00’s such as the State of the World and various Lester Brown efforts, are gone now. After reading through the earlier books and comparing them to the later ones, it finally dawned on my dim flickering 10-Watt mentality that not only had nothing really changed, nothing probably would be done about the problems they kept fulminating about. Sure did free up a lot of space. The sole survivor is Limits to Growth.

  24. “Science” jumped the shark 20 years ago.

    We’ve transitioned from “peak expert” to “post expert”.

    It does beg an interesting question though.
    What constitutes an expert?
    In the olden days, it used to be when the results objectively measured and repeatedly validated the falsifiable hypothesis.

  25. I recently read a biography of Enrico Fermi. The size of the industrial facilities supporting the Manhattan Project was astounding. And yet all that effort produced three (three!) fission devices. I guess it set a benchmark for what was to come…

  26. I’m certainly no believer the “smoking postapocalyptic wasteland” vision of the future, but I must admit, I thought the slow descent into a new dark age would be just a little bit faster than this. The last year has felt so stagnant in so many ways that even the long descent seems like a no-show. It sometimes almost feels like this socioeconomic purgatory will last forever… or at least for the rest of my life. I keep waiting for the dam to burst – and I’m partly glad it hasn’t yet – but the antici…pation is killing me! It’s like when you’re really sick, and you just wanna puke your guts out and get it over with, but the pain and sickness just linger on and on for days. I definitely laugh at the absurdity, though, so maybe that will speed things up.

    As for a Fifth Wednesday topic, I enjoyed your recent conversation on polytheism, and I would love another post on the subject of gods and goddesses.

  27. Hi JMG,

    It is interesting how after all these years even serious thinkers are still largely stuck in the false binary of future apocalypse or future progressive utopia. I recently came across a citation to Arthur Herman’s _The Idea of Decline in Western Civilization_ (2007) in which he argues that predictions of decline are a kind of long-term, contagious intellectual pathology. There are chapters calling out everyone in turn from Rousseau to Spengler to Toynbee for this particular mental illness.

    Maybe I have been doing too much thinking in spiritual terms, but it seems as if the PMC wants to bully everyone else to place their faith in credentialed experts–and I mean faith in a technical religious sense.

    On the climate issue, I am not hearing activists call for more protests, I am hearing them push hard for Carbon Taxation. If only we can enact a grand reform to tax fossil fuels then we can usher in the shiny future. I think they know that such a scheme is impossible because it will only work if there is a unified global bureaucracy. Even if that were possible, there is not a shred of evidence that any government on earth is capable of efficiently allocating that sort of capital towards ecological sustainability. But it is much more comfortable to rant about the unenlightened who haven’t seen the redeeming light of Carbon Taxation than to actually make sacrifices and changes in their personal lifestyles…

  28. Coincidently, physicist Tom Murphy at Do The Math just published an article about “fusion” that shows in detail the failure of that latest hype about creating more output than input; further concluding that that ‘research’ is acutally directed toward ‘better’ nuclear bombs that doing anything useful.

  29. For the fifth Wednesday post, I would be interested to hear your thoughts on what comes after industrialism–Scarcity Industrialism–and what you think are the most representative examples that have emerged since you wrote the Ecotechnic Future.

  30. JMG, I think you are missing that Fusion is viable…

    It is coming with the UFOs… ha ha ha

    I think even this last round “UFO” revelations have also fallen flat. People are tuning out all sorts of thinks coming from our “betters” (at least that is my perception).

    thx for the essay.

  31. When I read Mr Greer’s remarks about nuclear fusion, I find myself thinking of Clarke’s Law:

    “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong”.

    And wondering whether it might conceivably apply, mutatis mutandis, to a distinguished and not so elderly Archdruid.

  32. Have you given any thought to writing about what parents and grandparents of female pre-teens might be suggesting as viable careers, lifestyles, and plans for the next 55-75 years of their pre-teen’s lives? It’d be grand if you and your audience can hold forth on that topic.

  33. Fifth Wednesday candidate: the issue I mentioned last week where the managerial class has an incentive to never solve any of the problems they claim to address, as that would put them out of a job.

  34. As I see that Hasan Chowdhury is described as a reporter for Business Insider, I wonder how qualified he is to evaluate scientific breakthroughs. In my limited experience, the number of really expert science reporters is quite small compared to the number being published. The names of Gary Taubes and Hannah Holmes leap to mind; and I once was on friendly terms with Tony Durham. Er…

  35. In my experience, most technologically literate people accept that fusion power is still far in the future, but still seem to think it will become prevalent in that far future, even though they won’t live to see it. That also conveniently sidesteps the issue of the high cost, not because the reactors could ever be scaled down or built with cheaper materials, but because “post-scarcity” that won’t matter.

    But if you posit post-scarcity as a prerequisite, why would fusion power be needed at all? Spaceships, presumably, but that goes unstated. So why not wait for post-scarcity to commit presently scarce resources to developing it? “Because we need it to get to post-scarcity.” Contradiction unacknowledged and as far as I can tell, un-perceived. Anyhow, that appears to be one way the research maintains support or at least passive acceptance from many people who are equipped to know better.

  36. All the superconducting blends are non-malleable and non-ductile. More suited to ceramic applications than electrical ones.

  37. John–

    For the fifth Wed post, I’d be interested in your view of what group(s) you see as potential successors to the current PMC managerial elite and how you see the transition possibly playing out.

  38. There’s a Japanese manga series called Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead which begins with a zombie apocalypse. The main character, an office worker toiling under the usual but awful Japanese work conditions, responds by vigorously celebrating that he no longer has no to go to work and, from that point on in the story, is super cheerful despite the situation. A lot of Americans and Japanese are mentally there.

  39. I would vote for a continuance of the current topic concerning exactly where we are at vs “the narrative”.
    I would also like to ask if I’m alone in the feeling that I have no real connection to this country or its culture or institutions? My people have been here 300 plus years and it seems irrelevant. I feel like a stranger here. Is it odd that I couldn’t care less about what happens to it all? Or is this the over-arching point to essays like this? Are folks like me the natural conclusion to this mess? I would very much appreciated any incites you have Mr. Greer…thank you.

  40. So if our current meritocratic overlords go the way of the Spanish Habsburgs. What comes next?
    The military generals, CIA spies, mafia, the Illuminats, or dare I say the discordians! Their goddess has just made some announcements in the media lately 🙂

    Or can I put in a vote for a new system of merlintocracy. Where a select group of established wise druids under the guidance of spiritual masters elects the current Arthur.

    Best regards

  41. If you want to see a field just as filled with hopium and false promises as fusion, just look in to the long term potential of commercial air travel. I thought I might find a few realistic assessments of when air travel for the masses would have to be wound down in favor of train travel or sailing ships. But no, the future of flying to Disneyworld is bright. No one wants to mention fossil fuels running out, the code word is decarburization. But the answer is the same , Hydrogen Fueled Jetliners.
    Just a few small bugs to work out. If Hydrogen is compressed to 10,000 PSI and cooled to near absolute zero then has an energy density about a 3rd of Jet Fuel. In addition, because of the high tech spherical tanks this fuel ( three times the volume needed) will not be able to be stored in the wings but will compete for passenger and cargo space. Then we have to upgrade our airports to handle this high pressure , low temp fuel safely and we are on our way.
    I remember back in the late 70’s we had actual conversations about what we could do for long distance transportation when fossil fuels ran out.

  42. Hi JMG and commentariat,
    here’s a link to a recent article by Kurt Cobb about drawbacks of fusion (assuming it will ever be possible) that I wasn’t aware of, stemming from the fact that you can’t use just plain old hydrogen for fusion on planet earth since the environment here is so radically different than it is in the sun; so deuterium and tritium are used instead with all kinds of implications:

    In it he cites Daniel Jassby, a former research physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab:
    “[T]hese neutron streams lead directly to four regrettable problems with nuclear energy [both fission and fusion]: radiation damage to structures; radioactive waste; the need for biological shielding; and the potential for the production of weapons-grade plutonium 239—thus adding to the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation, not lessening it, as fusion proponents would have it.
    [I]f fusion reactors are indeed feasible—as assumed here—they would share some of the other serious problems that plague fission reactors, including tritium release, daunting coolant demands, and high operating costs. There will also be additional drawbacks that are unique to fusion devices: the use of a fuel (tritium) that is not found in nature and must be replenished by the reactor itself; and unavoidable on-site power drains that drastically reduce the electric power available for sale.”

    As for climate protests, you can make that nearly four decades, and looking at the data no sane person could seriously argue that they have achieved anything (apart from indirectly making some people rich).

  43. JMG,

    Some political/cultural pundits I’ve reading lately believe that the elites are confident that they easily squelch any revolutionary uprising, given their over-the-top “lawfare” persecution of Trump. It’s as if they’re deliberately goading the plebes into some kind of violent reaction so they can justify an oppressive clamp-down.

    This seems to me to be another elite fever dream. For one, I keep thinking about all those American young men, the natural born warrior-types from venerable military families who are *not* enlisting due to the Wokening of our military branches. Push comes to shove, I doubt they’d be sitting on their hands. There are other factors too, eg., food delivery truckers. What do you think?


  44. Another excellent article. It honestly never occurred to me before now that domestic revolutions tend to be limited in their violence, but it certainly matches my memories of the various coups of the last decade, such as Zimbabwe. It makes sense, though: once a government is in terminal failure, it simply isn’t much worth fighting over to either side.

    For the fifth Wednesday post, one thought that’s occurred to me from time to time is that future governments will need to incorporate the lessons learned by the current failures of the West. What might a future (post-)American constitution look like that takes those lessons seriously — not some utopian scheme, just a set of amendments with the character of “this will not happen again”? What lessons do you think will be most important and how would you address them?

    If that’s perhaps too broad a topic for a single post, perhaps a narrower but related topic: the future of freedom of religion. Once the second religiosity kicks into high gear, it seems likely to me that they’re going to jettison the current, degraded understanding of the concept (which amounts to letting the rubes believe whatever silly things they want as long as it doesn’t inconvenience the ruling elite). So what comes next, and what can we do now to help make a better future for those of us perpetually on the fringes?

  45. Dear JMG,

    A proposal for a blogpost: the magic and sophistry of factions supporting both climate change denial and skepticism.

    I ask for this because I am frequently struck by how the layperson is asked to take it on faith that black box climate models are to be believed or disbelieved. And how into this uncertainty and opacity march the vested interests, wielding their bag of magical tricks of persuasion. I noted with curiosity the sigil-like logo used by Extinction Rebellion, using what appears to be a runic symbol at its centre. And on the other side, the term climate change itself seems to have been formulated to mask its man-made origins, what I believe might be called a spell of meaning.

    Yours kindly,

  46. Regarding climate change: among some people, climate change has achieved the odd status of being the only reason anyone might ever consume less than they possibly could. I’ve found that when I try to advocate for LESS, however carefully I try to explain the advantages (such as personal economy, mental and physical health benefits, and reduced dependence on systems one doesn’t control) based on my own experiences, some will construe my “real” agenda as either deludedly “thinking I’m saving the world,” or its binary counterpart, cynically engaging in “pointless virtue-signaling,” both regarding climate change.

    Imagine if some people really want LESS and have looked for reasons to justify it (e.g. to their family and friends). “To stop climate change” fails as such a justification. Frustration or cynicism over the whole issue ensues.

  47. Hi JMG – I second leonard anderson #9 on a blog post about C. G. Jung and the occult for the 5th Wednesday post. Thanks.

  48. For the fifth Wednesday, my vote is for a post about the practical aspects of “unity of will”.

    There was a question on Monday which related to that:

    and I’m wondering if you could expand on the practical questions of intention and unified will. E.g. any tips or strategies on how to decide about the “next” or current intention. And even more importantly: since none of us is living in a vacuum, how to integrate the unified will with all the other things which also have to be done (e.g. job, household), or which are also important (e.g. kids, elderly relatives, pets, a garden to tend to, etc).

    I do realize that this is highly personal, and also that it requires a lot of “work” to get to the place where things flow smoothly, as you’ve already pointed out on MM. 😉 But you’ve been grappling with these things for quite a while, and have maybe also talked to other people who have – there must be some lessons or approaches which you could share.

    So how about a “Practical Guide to Unified Will and Clear Intentions, for Real-Life People”?


  49. Re 5th Wednesday post – I know this one is really coming out of left field, but wot the heck …. a post on the works of late author Cormac McCarthy who’s been described as a “mystic nihilist”. He’s really almost too bleak for me, but he does touch on “cosmic daemonium” themes that are in a way similar to Lovecraft, even quotes Jacob Boehme in an epigraph in his novel Blood Meridian. And he really is a good writer.

    More realistically, a walk-though of Yeats’ A Vision would be great.


  50. So true, At age 16 in a Wisconsin farm house I watched the moon landing on our small black and white TV. We were not rich by any means but we had electric lights, a thermostat controlled oil furnace, color camera, record player,records, access to a library in town, good nearby shopping, 6 day a week mail delivery, a refrigerator, large freezer for our homegrown meat and vegetables, electric stove, electric kitchen mixer am/fm radio, electric vacuum cleaner, two bathrooms with toilet, shower, bath tub, hot and cold running water, electric washer and dryer that worked as well as today’s (washer actually better than today’s “efficient models”).daily delivery of a newspaper, electric dishwasher, electric sewing machine, power tools, weekly delivery of magazines, ability to order things through catalogs, car and truck that drove as fast and easily as cars today, good roads, good rifles and shotguns, access to modern dentristry and medicine, movie theatres, jets that traveled as fast as today’s (though jet travel was not part of our lives) This is 54 years ago, a half century, no real progress since then IMO.

  51. And oh yes, I remember assurances from the 1960’s that fusion power was just 20-30 years away and that study of interstellar radio waves would turn up evidence of aliens.

  52. Dear JMG and group,
    Tom Welsh (#37) raises a major point. The knowledge base of the typical journalist to write about most anything is nonexistent. This is probably more to do with a journalism major, but also reflects poor education overall. I frequently give mainstream media interviews and am often frightened at the ignorance of these, usually, young people. I can remember when reporters had decades covering a beat and often practical experiences before taking up journalism. The financial death spiral of the media doesn’t help.

    On the topic of people waiting for either apotheosis or Armageddon, I note that the bulk of the Christian calendar is called common or ordinary time. That is when the mundane work is done in patient anticipation.

    How about a fifth week post on concepts of time (linear, cyclical) and how that colors our sense of the future.

  53. Patricia M, I’ll take a look when I have some spare time.

    Pygmycory, true enough. I hope we can avoid the latter.

    Clay, that’s exactly it. Science™, as we should probably call it, has nothing in common with actual scientific practice; it’s a mantra, a mythology, an act of blind faith in the supposed omnipotence of progress, and it’s a pervasive source of bad decisions these days.

    Pygmycory, agreed. Lately, especially, the signal to noise ratio in announcements of scientific breakthroughs has dropped very close to zero.

    Kurtyigit56, nah, I’ve got a far crueler fate in mind for them: being laughed at, and then ignored, and then forgotten.

    DaveOTN, thank you. That’s definitely belly laugh fodder.

    Booklover, oh, it makes perfect sense. Two media celebrities who are both darlings of the overprivileged classes — it’s a match made in the most oxygen-deprived of corporate boardrooms.

    Will1000, I had something like that in mind, and then David BTL sent me the link to the Chowdhury piece and I started giggling. I’ve tabulated your vote.

    Leonard, you’re welcome, and I’ve counted your vote.

    Pygmycory, another good point. I expect a lot of really bad fiction churned out by chatbots to flood the corporate publishing field shortly, and cause immense harm.

    Epileptic Doomer, I don’t happen to know the current hiring policies in red states, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if you had a shot. Florida and Texas are having to hire teachers hand over fist because so many people are fleeing from blue states.

    Ken, and that’s also an important point, of course. The downsides to perpetual growth are getting very hard to miss these days, unless you’re a privileged media flack. I’ve tablulated your vote.

    Siliconguy, at least they’ve got job opportunities growing rice. I’m not sure what our graduates are going to do.

    Hakan, thanks for this. My take when it comes to AI is that we don’t have it yet and probably won’t get there — LLMs (large language models) and their visual equivalents can fake intelligence but don’t actually have it, and the more our societies rely on them, the more randomness will be inserted into critical systems and the more quickly those systems will fall apart. As for the rest, that’s a much bigger question than a comment can hold.

    Sam, it’s been the central strategy of the American elite since colonial times to keep the working classes fighting each other so they don’t unite against the elites; the current ethnic divisions are just the latest iteration of that strategy. (They got it from the British, who used it for centuries to hold onto their empire — that’s why every former British colony has intractable ethnic conflicts; the British went out of their way to create and foster them.) The thing that fascinates me is that the strategy seems to be faltering now, as witness the rise of right-wing populist rappers like Tom MacDonald and the multiethnic popularity of Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond — now up to 15 million views on YouTube. We may be moving into a new game.

    Russell, that’s another great example — and the attitude you describe, “We want a new battery technology and therefore the universe is obliged to give us one,” is a classic case of how Science™ makes people stupid.

    Fallingleaves, trust Tom to do the job right. Many thanks for this.

    Asdf, nah, it’s a good turn of phrase. Some folklore consists of beliefs that once made sense, but lost all their genuine meaning a long time ago.

    Bergente, but of course! Without an endless series of ever-greater breakthroughs, why, people would have to live with the consequences of their actions — and we can’t have that, of course. The decline in actual breakthroughs is one more piece of evidence that the law of diminishing returns applies to scientific research as a whole.

    Luke, I’ve added it to the list.

    Curt, how have I lived all these years and not heard of this? Thank you! I wonder if I can get a handcrafted manual encabulator… 😉

    Greg, there’s a reason why Retrotopia, with its imagery of deliberate return to a pre-1960s technology, is my most popular novel.

    Justin, thanks for this.

    Nick, there’s an entire movement these days of ateliers and small art schools outside the academic industry — check out the website for Grand Central Atelier as an example — and the music of Alma Deutscher and other neoclassical composers suggests that a similar groundswell is under way in music. (So, in a different genre, does the runaway popularity of Oliver Anthony.) Movies will come later, though the unexpected success of Sound of Freedom shows that things may be moving in that direction already.

    Quin, thanks for this as always.

    Jeanne, and that’s exactly it — all those grand promises and threats and images of utopia and doom, turned out to be wasted breath. That’s really sinking in now.

    Jeff, my father used to quote a simple definition of “expert”: X is the unknown, a spurt is a drip under pressure, and so an expert is an unknown drip under pressure. You have to admit, he was right…

    Roldy, that’s the point where scientific research stopped being something that individuals could do on their own time and became prohibitively expensive and complex. From that point the bar has risen even further — to the point that many of the things that might theoretically be possible can’t be done with the resources the whole planet can spare.

    Samuel, the world moves at its own speed, which is much slower than most people think. I’ve added your vote to the list.

    Samurai_47, I bet that if carbon taxation actually gets put in place, they’ll scream like gutshot banshees when they have to pay! I may have to find a copy of Herman’s book. It sounds highly amusing.

    Bruce, yep. As usual, Tom’s the guy to follow when it comes to crunching the numbers.

    Jerry D, of course! The UFOs will bring us working fusion reactors, flying cars, and unicorns barfing rainbows. Oh, and an honest politician or two — or is that too much to hope for? 😉

    Tom, that would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. For more than 75 years now, the paid flacks of big science have been insisting that commercial fusion power was only 20 years in the future. At what point will you finally admit that you’ve been conned? As for Clarke’s “laws,” I really do need to do a post about them, don’t I? Clarke was wrong — not just a little wrong, but utterly, catastrophically wrong — on all three counts.

    Larry and Roldy, I’ve added both of those to the list.

    Tom, but of course! It’s always the people who don’t know much about science who are convinced that it’s omnipotent. The problem, of course, is that politicians all come from that category.

  54. Have to point out that you are wrong in one respect. I was recently informed by my good friend (bless her technophile soul) who follows such news quite closely, that, after the latest breathtakingly exciting (and horrifically expensive) advance in technology, the Quest for Fusion Power has officially been shortened to just 15 years in the future.
    Therefore, by the time Las Vegas looks like it will in the image, success will only be 3 or 4 years in the future.
    Apparently the timeline of the futurology is on a logarithmic scale.

  55. JMG,
    Fifth Wednesday candidate: please count me on another post on scarcity industrialism. And maybe dealing with the akward fact that things are working less and less reliably in general.

    I’ve noticed it quite recently in Poland in Internet access to my bank; shelves in local markets have empty patches as normal feature and it appear that it won’t changeand the things simply sliding down is just a fact. Most people around me still refuse to come to terms with the permanence of downward trajectory…

  56. Walt, the whole “post-scarcity” business is perhaps the most clinically insane aspect of current fantasies of progress. The entire body of physical law stands in the way of that delusion, and yet people who ought to know better cling to it.

    Wqjcv, granted.

    David BTL, duly tabulated.

    William, yeah, I probably should have included that with the UFOs and the barfing unicorns.

    Dennis, ha! I’m not at all surprised — and of course you’re quite right.

    Justin, duly tabulated.

    Thomas, it’s not at all surprising. In failing societies, elite groups hijack the culture and institutions to serve their momentary advantage, and never realize that this means everyone outside the elite will end up treating the culture and institutions as disposable. As for the end of the arc, I’ll talk about that in future posts.

  57. Re: Carbon taxes, Washington State has one now, my last fill up was $5.02 per gallon. It’s clearly a “crush the rural population” tax.

    As for science reporters, I let my subscription to Scientific American run out because the magazine kept getting thinner, more and more articles were written by science reporters and not the people doing the work, and they got very woke. After decades of insisting that there was no such thing as race, they decided race did exist and it was the most important thing of all. And in their long list of newly discovered races, all but one deserved capital letters as proper nouns. And they were proud of their newly racism too.

  58. For a fifth Wednesday topic, I’ll second JPM’s vote for ” …a dime museum tour of future warfare & military strategy”.

    This topic has been a candidate a couple of times before but I would request adding warfare on the astral plane and how it would effect material plane warfare.

    Example: we sure enough have a weaponized internet now that is used by many to “cause changes in consciousness in accordance with (ill) will” wonder how that will work out in a future resource constrained environment?

  59. Correction to previous comment:

    A proposal for a blogpost: the magic and sophistry used by factions *supporting amd denying* climate change.

    (Getting late this side of the Atlantic).

  60. Hi JMG,

    very long time lurker here.
    I used to admire your clarity of thought, and looked forward to your essays, that always made me think I understood the world a little bit more.
    In the last few years though, I increasingly felt that you started to use your considerable intellect and eloquence to shoehorn reality into a narrative, rather than to shed light on reality.
    Covid and Ukraine come to my mind, but let’s keep the focus on the current topic. You say that the last 30 years of climate change activism did nothing. The same article you linked however features graphs showing that emissions in EU and US have slowly decreased in that period. It’s true that global emissions are increasing, but that is due to the contribution of developing countries, where climate activism – if any is present – is bound to be very recent. This clearly does not prove that activism is actually working; but the fact that you do not even mention it, is an example of why I feel you have joined the vast majority, and started picking the facts that conform to a specific narrative.
    Anyway, I guess I’m just grieving the old Archdruid.

    Since you are asking for next Wednesday’s topic… I symphathize with your distrust for celebrities and politicians, but I do not understand what you think the best course of action would be. Ignore the problem, burn all the fossil fuels left, and cope with the outcome?

  61. kurtyigit56 @ 5, Are you willing to do just that in your own country, Turkey, I believe?

    Epileptic Doomer @ 11, Have you considered private teaching? Maybe try to connect with homeschoolers, Church groups, and so on?

    Samuel about slow descent, etc., I am going to venture on a categorical statement: Anyone in the USA who thinks they will get to be in charge when TSTF, won’t be. I am betting on American’s democratic and self-reliant roots running deep. I am beginning to see, across the country, at local level, capable and honest people stepping up to do what they can. Finally.

  62. @ JMG – I’m a bit confused. On the one hand, you write that anthropogenic climate change is a real predicament, slowly undermining industrial civilization, and will be a prime cause of the decline and fall of said civilization. But then you write that the polar bear populations may be okay for now, and the Arctic isn’t ice free, for now, so the climate scientists don’t know what they’re talking about. Yet I recall in the past you’ve noted that a number of well-published benchmarks dealing the climate have been hit decades before studies suggested they would. Which is it?

    Also, my vote for next week’s topic is for warfare in the de-industrial future.

  63. @ Samuel #29 – I know that feeling. I think the dam is cracking and when it does burst, the best anyone can hope for is to have positioned themselves far enough up the metaphorical slopes to not get dragged into the floodwaters by everyone who didn’t. I know that sounds kinda callous, but what can one do, when none of us have an iota of influence over the course of broader events?

    My vote is for the next financial crisis causing the rupture that finally breaks the dam. A trillion dollars in commercial real estate loans come due in the next year, and a lot of the real estate is vacant thanks to the remote work revolution. The dam may already be breaking with the spike in global wheat prices thanks to the Ukraine War. A lot of people in a lot of poor countries can’t afford to eat right now, and the last time that happened, we got the Arab Spring. What do you think?

  64. Hello everybody. I cannot belive that somebody is still beliving in this fusion thing. Here we have real problems like crumbling bridges and rapidly downsizing economy. That factory were I used to work was closed down had to look for work elswhere and now I am worst off and a lot off people had enough hearing about jetting to the moon etc. JMG the Polish goverment is throwing a hissy fit because it was lost acess to Niger’s uranium along with France and now people are screaming about invading Niger to “restore democracy” but we gave everything to Ukraine so it might be a problem for both nations….
    BTW the polish nuclear eactor is always drumroll… 15 years in the future…
    My grandmother when she was 45 went with some colleagues to Żeroń on a trip in 1982 where the locals proudly announced that they are staying at the site of a gigawatt nuclear reactor, 40 years later nothing is build even now the goverment can’t decide which offer to choose or what corporation is going to do it…

  65. My apologies if this is off topic or a repeat and delete as necessary, but from an American view I use a framework of the republic of Washington, the republic of Lincoln and the republic of FDR.

    Which does mean that we are due for another institutional change due to demographics and technology changes (if not as big of a geographic change as the earlier ones). The failure of the current institutions and their claims of expertise is in line with this.

    There will not be a republic of Trump, but I can see Trump being either a Wilson or a Hoover to a future FDR.

    I also vote for your view on karma.

    Thanks, Drew C

  66. About 15 or so years ago, I would read daily. The headlines would say something absurd like, “Graphene will create hurricane resistant homes.” Then, scrolling down, you’d eventually get to the part where they did a stress test on a small fiber of graphene, and extrapolated that minuscule data point to conclude that soon, all homes in Florida could resist a Category 5 hurricane. At this point, you’d always see words like “speculate” or “predict”, probably by the time everyone has stopped reading the article.

    I eventually learned that those articles on physorg were developed by the marketing… er, press office of universities to get more funding.

  67. On the question of AI. I decided recently to check out the hype and had a “chat” with Bing AI about covid jabs. We first agreed that long term safety data was essential to understanding the risks and benefits of jabs. We then agreed that there was no long term safety data for covid jabs. But the AI would not agree that the long term benefits and risks of covid jabs were therefore unknowable, it repeatedly assured me they were safe as the WHO says so. I told it there was a hole in its logic. It then told me it uses large language models and algorithms and is not capable of human reasoning.

    It is a very useful new search engine, like google was in the early days. But is not in any meaningful way intelligent, it will even tell you this if you ask the right questions. It is however smart enough to fool what passes for journalists these days, but that is setting the bar very low indeed.

  68. Greetings, JMG and all.

    Re: Fifth Wednesday

    First, though, I want to thank you, JMG, for your writing, teaching, and work in general — I am a quiet person unlikely to pop my head over the parapet often, so it would be remiss in the extreme for me not to take this possibly very rare opportunity! I’ve learned a great deal from you and always find your thoughts well worth listening to, even when I occasionally disagree with you (sometimes I continue to disagree, sometimes I decide that you were right!); I also recommend reading you to others.

    I would be very interested in any thoughts or observations you might have about any instances (particularly recently) where your expectations have been violated — those “wait, what????” moments (or those that others might be reporting to you of their own). I’ll admit that I like these in general, but I think they’re only increasingly useful (well, at least to me) as things keep seething and roiling and changing all the more and more and more. For me, it’s generally not a case of “oh, I thought X but now I see it is Y” but rather “oh, I thought X but…uh…well, not X, I guess!” and onwards down a new path.

    @Larry #35, on the issue of career directions for the children coming up in this world, I actually suspect that what’s probably most useful is to focus on their developing specific practical skills, because these can be not just useful in and of themselves but also building blocks that have a wide range of possible application depending on how things go. For example, learning to cook well doesn’t just mean that someone can pursue a career as a chef (though that could be a possibility) — it also means that person is likely to be inherently desirable and get automatic entry into any number of groups/communities/situations! (This is the general path I am focusing on, where I can, and recommending to others as well, at any rate.)

    @Thomas Hopkins #44, I am right there with you with the whole disconnection thing. Most of my family came to this country 500+ years ago, even (indentures, yeoman farmers, and then preachers for centuries) — we have been committed! There are certainly things I care about and want to carry forward, but I am quite confident at this point that we are going to need to lose the old forms and take new ones. What people argue about so feverishly, and what we are *instructed* to argue about or focus on, generally just leaves me…uninterested and wanting to walk away and do something else at least marginally less tedious, unpleasant, myopic, and manifestly useless (in terms of anything I actually care about).

  69. Hi JMG, great article as always.

    I would like to hear you view on ttrpgs (“table top” role playing games) as a cultural phenonena. I heard that you have dabbled with this. And so have I and probably other readers. Do you run also games?

    I find that the games can be run in two ways; with a foregone conclusion (railroading!) And in an open-ended way, where the actions of players decide the outcome of stories. To go from the first, rather boring “authoring” style (as a game), to the latter “cooperative” style takes quite a mind shift, but I feel the rewards are worth it and awesome.

    Not just asking for GM advice, I feel that ttrpgs could be a new art form in the making, along with rap music and … , and I find this awesomely intriguing. Will future humans sit around playing rpgs??

    Jakob G.

  70. Climate change is the one that, to me, signals how the political and social arrangements legitimized by progress are now in such a weak and performative mode that they are incapable of real problem solving.

    As a young man I had an interest in science and I had enough familiarity with scientific thought that I bristled at the way climate change was discussed in the media and by activists. It caused me to take a skeptical stance. Back then I think I was just very thrown off by the shrillness and by the sense that “consensus” should be respected, because this to me was not a scientific argument but exactly the sort of empty appeal to expertise that has become a bone of contention in the culture war. I maybe naively expected climate science to be worked out (even in the public media discourse) in the same ruthless pattern as any other science, where ideas, theories, evidence, and predictive authority survived only if they could defend themselves as the most correct in the face of any skepticism. Understandably that’s difficult when you only have one planet, and one atmosphere, to madly experiment with. There is also legitimately the element of propaganda from vested interests in fossil fuels and polluting industries. So it is difficult to have a public dialogue that goes anywhere. But I still somehow find myself madder at the activists and media. It was just one of those things where you could tell – in that very human way when you see people’s expressions and mannerisms and when you listen to the way they talked or saw the way they acted – that they were full of it.

    Now closer to middle age, the threat of climate change haunts me more, but I recognize it as a slow motion trainwreck rather than an imminent doom. History is just so full of examples of complex civilizations that could not withstand climatic shifts, sometimes even just temporary ones, because they built assumptions into everything about what would be available based on nature’s renewable endowments of sun and rain in a particular region of the world. That alone makes me believe we should be using our current abundance of energy and the genuinely impressive capabilities of our deeply specialized and complex societies… to plan for the longer term, and to climb down steadily from the heady heights of this fossil fuel binge. Because these conditions won’t last forever. It won’t happen like that of course. Instead there are and will be insane efforts to sustain the unsustainable, to perform a future that is not coming, and to shift people’s idea of progress increasingly away from objective, measurable, and real improvements toward subjective, social, and fake improvements. I fully expect things to get crappier over time, both slowly and with the occasional dislocating step change in quality of life.

    I can no longer take any public discourse about climate change seriously because the urgent dialogue does not match the action being taken, and what is truly necessary is a pragmatic positive vision of a lower energy future. This would need to be accompanied by people actually living according to their principles forging an attractive new lifestyle, as well as leaders helping populations through fundamental changes to the way we live our lives. Unfortunately the activist manual seems to consist of ideas that are only attractive to the personality disordered (and to the temporary but forgivable narcissism of teenagers), such as trying to control the behavior of others, admonishing others while acting superior, or seeking attention and limelight as a prophet, rebel, or expert.

  71. I haven’t read any of the comments yet, just the article this morning, but I just woke up from a long nap thinking “The poor souls! They’re trying SO hard to whip up people’s enthusiasm…” and on getting up, thought of football and baseball teams that haven’t had a championship game, nor even won a local game, for a growing number of years. And small towns their residents used to be proud of, that are now dwindling away to nothing. And if only they could rekindle the old spirit that won games and helped make their town proud….”

    Or how to beef up the defenses against wind and water of a town on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico …. a glorified sandbar… because it’s so important locally.

    I read the science magazines my daughter’s family subscribes to, which between them, is probably every one ever published. I read cover headlines like “Cities of the future,” showing something out of an old-time science fiction magazine, and the story is full of quirky little remedies like growing vegetables on the side of skyscrapers. Or projects to see if we can grow potatoes on Mars. Or “Our future in space,” with stories about this or that robot explorer, “all hat and no cowpoke.”

    And just now thought of al those articles on how elders can. by exercise and the prescribed diet, stay young and active and healthy. It’s a gallant try, and plays into our “never give up,” ethos. Because to give up, to admit defeat, when if we only tried a little harder, is to weaken the team or something. Gut feeling…. pity. Deep pity.

  72. i’m going to be a nay-sayer. collapse will be slow and steady. this is death by a 1000 cuts. a few generations from now, americans will look around and see a world that resembles a 3rd world country and take it as normal. as for now, we just grovel about each indignity and symptom of decline and pray to the gods of democracy that “our guy” gets elected in 4 years to heal the nation.

  73. For the fifth Wednesday post, I nominate you feed us a white pill. What’s going well in the world ( within the scope of the blog ) and how could we push further in that direction?

    Lots of doom in alternative media. I cannot be the only one craving good news, even if obscure. Especially if obscure.

  74. Marko, if it follows the usual pattern, charismatic entrepreneurs along the lines of Donald Trump and Elon Musk will rise to power in the revolt against failed institutions; in their wake, it’ll be a free-for-all when anybody who can get a substantial following can take power — and then, after a longer or shorter interval, down it goes. As for a Druid meritocracy, may the gods save us from that! Mystically inclined intellectuals are arguably less suited for political leadership than anybody else.

    Clay, hydrogen fueled jetliners? What a great idea!

    Frank, thanks for this! I didn’t know that Kurt was still out there clearing away the nonsense around energy — that’s good to know.

    Will M, my take is that the latest frantic attempts to game the legal system are expressions of what I called Stormtrooper Syndrome two weeks ago — the delusional notion that the Good People will inevitably win by some absurd last-minute gimmick. They’re fixated on Trump, who is their Bad Daddy figure. Meanwhile they’re ignoring the grassroots politics of school boards and state legislatures, where the basis for their power is being steadily whittled away, and the even more lethal shifts of attitudes among the masses and especially among young people. Stormtrooper Syndrome is also keeping the Democrats from thinking about what happens when any of their indictments of Trump reach the discovery phase, where he has the right to introduce evidence showing that election fraud happened — nor have they thought through the very high likelihood that red state attorneys general will be filing criminal charges against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, using exactly the same language that was used to target Trump…

    Slithy Toves, I’ve put your second suggestion into the hopper because, yeah, the first would require a book, not a post.

    Kurtyigit and Boy, I’ve added both these to the list.

    Walt F, that’s a very important point, and can be broadened. Have you noticed that no other kind of pollution gets any attention these days? It’s all climate change, all the time. That deserves discussion.

    Dana and Milkyway, duly entered.

    Will M, I’ve never read anything by McCarthy, so that one’s out, and I covered some of A Vision here: I’m planning on making A Vision the theme of the next Book Club series, after we finish with Lévi.

    Moose, I was seven years old when my family and I watched that happen, and I won’t argue at all.

    Daniel, I won’t argue; you may have noticed that I referenced the collapse of science education in the US in the post. I’ve added your vote to the list.

  75. @Ken #12 – I think a lot of people have considered the Reagan presidency to be a major tipping point, Whether to use his first term, or the 1984 election, which was a referendum on his policies, has been debated. My mind’s ear can hear a modern chorus singing “Everything was newer then; girls were girls and men were men. Mister, we could use a man like Ronald Reagan again….” And with him began the Great Governmental game of Kick the Can Down the Road.

  76. @ Mary Bennet #67

    Re post-TSHTF America

    I have to agree with you. I see fragmentation, regionalization, and relocalization in our future, complete with a return to local self-governance and self-reliance. Having served in (local) elective office myself, it is not for the faint-of-heart, but I also believe that the deep-set roots of American culture and the “frontier spirit” of the people will ultimately prevail over despair and our current self-induced helplessness.

  77. Renaissance, funny. Depending on how the logarithmic function proceeds, do you think commercial fusion power will become viable fifteen minutes after our species goes extinct, or will it wait until the Sun turns into a red giant and roasts Earth to a crackly crunch?

    Changeling, that’s become common here in the US as well. It basically never happens now that I go shopping for groceries and they have everything on the list. Your vote’s been counted!

    Siliconguy, we had a gift subscription to Smithsonian for a while; fortunately, the person who gave it didn’t renew it. I remember when that was a magazine worth reading, too; at this point it’s stunningly shallow and full of the kind of sloppy writing you used to find in tabloids. I was embarrassed to be seen with it. I don’t find it at all surprising that Scientific American has gone gurgling down the same drain.

    Scotty, I’ve added your vote to the list. Astral warfare is always a part of material warfare, though — that’s much of what creates or destroys morale, you know.

    Boy, oddly enough, I had no trouble interpreting the earlier post — but thank you. It’s on the list.

    Flavio, why is it that every time somebody who’s never posted here before insists they’re a longtime lurker, they proceed to trot out a list of talking points meant to defend the corporate media party line? I have to admit I wonder if that’s standard operating procedure in paid troll farms these days. Come to think of it, when I used to field comparable comments attacking me for rejecting the corporate media party line in the peak oil days, they said the same thing. Admittedly they didn’t trot out the almost equally common “I grieve for the old Archdruid” line, but I hadn’t been blogging that long in those days.

    As for a more direct response, er, you might want to see how exactly the modest decrease in greenhouse gas output in the industrial nations correlates to the offshoring of productive industry from those very nations to the nations that are now producing the lion’s share of greenhouse gas emissions. (Hint: it’s pretty exact.) Getting other countries to produce unsustainable amounts of pollution to keep our stores stocked with consumer goods, rather than doing it domestically, does nothing to improve the global climate, you know…

    Ben, that is to say, you’re stuck in a rigid binary and can’t see that a spectrum isn’t defined by its two ends. Gotcha. Tell me, are you an angel of perfect virtue or an incarnate demon who’s committed every crime there is? Pick one!

    Mary and Roy, I’ve tabulated your votes. (Ben, I’ve got yours too.)

    Wer, thanks for this. I wish I could say I was surprised.

    Drew, so noted and I’ve tabulated your vote.

    Jon, oh dear gods, yes. PhysOrg is pure advertising.

    Lllewellyn, good. Keep following that line of thought.

    Kfish, funny! Of course they don’t; they’re too busy coming up with really neat toys.

    Kevin, okay, that’s valid! “Dumb as a brick” is indeed smarter than most journalists.

    Kate, so noted! I’ve added it to the list.

    Jakob, and I’ve added yours as well.

    Eric, thank you! Yes, exactly; it’s the kind of situation in which all sides are wrong because all sides are pursuing agendas that have nothing to do with scientific fact and everything to do with not-so-covert economic, political, and cultural agendas. That’s how the age of reason ends — when reason becomes a painfully transparent excuse for selfish greed and dysfunctional personality games.

    Patricia M, I see you’re tuning in even better than usual… 😉

    Russell, duly tabulated.

    R, how on earth does that make you a naysayer? This is what I’ve been saying for years — notice the title of my first book on the future of industrial society…

    Doomer, so noted and added to the list.

  78. My vote for the fifth Wednesday post goes to what happens in regard to reincarnation during an extinction event.

  79. Here’s my idea for a fifth Wednesday essay, though I’m not sure whether it belongs here, on Magic Monday, or as a work on the Patreon:

    There was a full eclipse on August 21, 2017. There will be two more eclipses cutting across The United States within eight months – An Annular Eclipse on October 14th of this year, and a Total Eclipse next April the 8th.

    So I’m wondering: What are the effects of these multiple eclipses over The United States over such a short time? Could you work out those effects through Astrology? And is there any extra effects from where two of the paths cross (Texas, Southern Illinois and Coastal Oregon)?

  80. I vote for Chinese resilience to collapse. The tools, traditions, methods, etc. that set a lower bound to collapse in historical China.

    Also, Simplicius has a climate change post over at his other substack, Dark Futura, that has a video of Leonard Nimoy warning about the coming ice age and another video where a Rothschild talks about buying up the climate/weather graphics companies that generate all the temperature images.

    Also, I like the way Buzz Aldrin put it:

    “You promised me Mars colonies. Instead, I got facebook.”

    The image is MIT technical review volume 115 no. 6 from 2014, if memory serves. The subtitle “we’ve stopped solving big problems, meet the technologists who refuse to give up.” should cause a little bit of worry, maybe some cognitive dissonance, just not enough to cancel your subscription. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the following decade’s worth of ‘revolutionary technological breakthroughs’ and news ‘apps that will define the future.’ Ahh, good clean fun.

    PS I like the last image. I’m glad Doc upgraded his time car to the Mr. Fusion power source from the old and problematic plutonium model. The clean renewable lightning model was sexy, but intermittent power sources can be problematic and unreliable. If you’re going to travel through time to the ruins of the future for your vacation you need to demand clean and reliable miracles from physics.

  81. I just saw another yahoo news article with a different tone,

    It still gives lip service to technological progress, but generally points out that the narrative of green energy activists is out of touch with reality. It concludes with this paragraph,

    “What it all boils down to is this: the prevailing narrative being pushed by policymakers, activists and much of the western news media of an energy transition that will dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 is a fantasy. The direction and pace of whatever transition ultimately occurs will be dictated by real-world complexities and events, not by schemes promoted in Brussels, Washington DC, and London.”

  82. @ Mary Bennet #67 – I am happy to hear that report. I also think that a good many Americans will rise to the challenge when circumstances force them to. They may only constitute a small minority overall, but I definitely sense the “sleeping giant” of old America slowly starting to wake up as it tosses and turns in its sleep.

    @ Ben #69 – Agreed. All we can do as individuals, for the most part, is help ourselves and those in our local sphere of influence. We can’t save the whole human race… I feel in a better position than the average person, but I still feel far from ideally positioned, which is why I’m ultimately glad the dam has not yet burst, although the anxiety is maddening. The tipping point could very well occur within the next year, so I’m taking greater steps to “collapse now and avoid the rush.” Of course, if you asked me two years ago, I would’ve bet money we’d be in the Greater Depression by now, but the managerial class can only bend the laws of Nature and Economics for so long. This sense of extreme stagnation could simply be the calm before the storm.

  83. Curt @ 21


    I always wondered why musk melons would suddenly come afire.. musta been the side fumbling! Bad hydrocoptics and all that.
    Might make good fodder for seige-engines though.

    And to Greg Knepp @ 22

    But Aww … Twas that very interstate highway system that gave the ROADRUNNER and his pal.

    Bleep Bleep!

    At least many of us ( you too, to be sure..), then youngins, can/could imagine awful things ensuing from huffing straight off a blind canyon hairpin-curve. I wonder about people nowadaze.. you know… grown up with Power Rangers… Transformers…. certainly Everything postwoke MARVEL comix….. ‘:]

    *polcate waves white flag as he ducks!

    Quack Quack!

  84. There’s so much to respond to in the comments tho I haven’t read half of them … Yes, I think Reagan’s election was a watershed moment, and not for the better. He was a proponent of what is now known as “neoliberalism.” He was also a union-buster; If you don’t remember, ask an air traffic controller. That tune, “Rich Men North of Richmond” that a commenter mentioned up above talks about, “working all day for BS pay…” Well, thank the union busters for that. JHK pointed out the singer’s “flaming red beard.” Why was that so important, I wonder?

    And for the fifth Wednesday, I vote for Karma. I’m a big fan!

  85. Silicone @ 63

    Yes, I be a WA. res too. We ARE Carniphony’$ fair-haired steppford child (I ran away from the Golden State when I was only in my forties, whew!).. and I only need to mention the one between, resulting in an ersatz west-coast ectopic trifecta: All out of sink, dying on the vine .. but still connected. Scary, no?

    And yes re. Scientific American. Quit reading it when it changed hands in the late 90’s, after 25+ years of loyal readership.Think ‘geekification for the masses’, keeping moi somewhat learned on sciencestuff .. without delving into the highhbrow quantification that was SCIENCE! but alas, not meant to be, as crapification marches ever forward.

    Time to found that monastery… I guess.

  86. My vote for the fifth Friday is the post that Epileptic Doomer suggested in #84 what is going well in the world.

  87. I hope this doesn’t violate posting rules but I wrote an essay about the origins of fusion power as a concept. Next to no one, even nuclear physicists and engineers I’ve met know that fusion power began as a largely fraudulent research project in Argentina run by an Austrian crackpot in the early 1950’s after which a cargo cult developed. It can be traced back to the ego and delusions of one guy!

    It’s a story that I wish more people knew.


  88. Meanwhile a small 5-sigma discrepancy in how the muon wiggles around has barely gained any attention whatsoever. Although I suspect the response from the theorists will be as depressing as LK-99 was. They’ll bolt another bag onto the side of their precious Standard Model and that will be the end of it. But maybe they’ll surprise me.

    As far as LK-99 goes – what did that science writer expect from the general internet populace these days? This isn’t the first hyped “discovery” that turned out to be a bust later. I think people have been trained to wait and see at least for one week (gotta stay on three week island) if it has any legs at all, and that’s what we all did – wait and see. And sure enough, there weren’t any legs to the discovery. I would say that at least the basics of science are still working – people did the work to reproduce the phenomena and then published their results. And the paper was sat on for years and published by someone who was disgruntled for getting fired or let go, I think.

    As far as The Future(tm) not living up to its hype. Even as late as the 80s, people were expecting this particular era to have all sorts of gee-whiz tech that just isn’t here. Like antigravity for instance. Just watch Back To The Future 2 or Blade Runner. Meanwhile they can’t even explain the Vacuum Catastrophe properly, let alone solve quantum gravity.

  89. The rhetoric surrounding both green energy and nuclear power is just more proof that faith in perpetual progress and faith in instant apocalypse are two sides of the same coin. Ultimately, both of them are nothing more than attempts to handwave away an unwelcome reality.

    I admit to being curious how much longer the faithful in technological progress will be able to pretend that “green” energy represents a way for people in the first world to maintain their current privileged lifestyles. You’d think that the mounting evidence against that worldview, like Germany’s Energiewinde being propped up by natural gas behind the scenes, would be enough, but you never know. I’m reminded of one of your older posts, where you cited a study where people who lived very close to an old dam, instead of being afraid of it bursting, had serene and unflappable confidence that it would never break. The parallels are hard to miss…

    As for the subject of your fifth Wednesday post, my vote is for a post about the fate of endangered species and conservation in a deindustrial future. Despite the noble intentions and surprising successes of many projects to protect these species, I can’t help but worry that, when resources get scarcer, they’ll be left twisting in the wind.

  90. Okay, I’ve gotten everyone’s votes tabulated — thank you for these.

    Team10Tim, I’ll check Dark Futura out when I next have the time.

    Kashtan, good heavens. Reality gets a word in edgewise! Many thanks for this.

    John, hmm! I was certainly unaware of this. Thank you; as soon as I have time I’ll give it a read.

    Other Owen, Muon Wiggle and the Vacuum Catastrophe would have made a great name for an early Seventies psychedelic-rock band…

    Ethan, oh, they’ll keep it up as long as they can continue to cling to their lifestyles. Once they lose their grip, watch their attitudes change!

  91. EU Deindustrialization due to ideology overwhelming Thermodynamics.
    There’s some “Magic” notion that LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) is going to somehow replace 55 Billion Cubic Meters of super inexpensive Nordstream Natural Gas per year.
    LNG is created by cooling Natural Gas to negative 260 degrees Fahrenheit. This process is incredibly Energy and Money intensive. Then, it is transported by LNG Tankers, another extremely expensive Technology where all the Tankers on Earth will struggle to replace a small fraction of Nordstream Gas per my reconning by Brother Bobs 6th Grade Catholic School Math.
    The Band plays on as the Ship is sinking and none of 440 . Million EU Citizens are raising Alarm or busy Chopping Trees.
    What the Hudo is going on?

  92. I second Milkyway #54 for for a post about the practical aspects of “unity of will”.

  93. I got caught in traffic today on the QEW. My 2011 car lost its air conditioning few years back and so I began to cook a little. A strong urge came over me to just abandon the car and highway. Got me thinking how many people can’t afford to fix their air conditionors right now and are frying on their commutes. This led to me thinking how many people I work with who have been waitlisted for services that are supposed to be free in this country. For example It is over two years for a newly diagnosed youth to recieve the highly advertised funding from Ontario Autism Program and if they age out they dont get it. No one cares about the alien disclosures or science frauds anymore because alot of us are profoundly uncomfortable and broke and government programs aren’t really working.

    Anyway. For Wednesday I vote for an analysis of Disney’s history of retelling and reshaping cultural myths to fit modern narratives… what happens to (intelligence affiliated) organizations that attempt to reshape and manipulate the ancient tales of so many cultures? Is Disney a kind of evil god we have created to destroy our magical stories from the past or something else? How do ancient myths, fairytales, and legends stay protected from these shenanigans? I am seeing this new version of snow white becoming the center of several controversies and injustices. The lead actor is already facing backlash for incredibly ignorant over the top woke interviews, and actual dwarf actors were not allowed to be cast in the film for politically correct reasons. This particular production seems to be a catalyst for something deeper.

  94. Thank you for a wonderful post. I also thank you for the “stormtrooper” title and essay, which has helped adjust my attitude toward more wry amusement, when scanning mainstream news headlines.

    Please tally my 5th Wed request for scarcity industrialism.

  95. For the fifth Wednesday, I would like to suggest a post about the role of science and technology in a future post-collapse / post-peak oil society, both from the perspective as a vocation to keep things running and whether / how society will support research.

    Thank you.

  96. I’ll second Epileptic Doomer’s request for a white pill essay for the 5th Wednesday.

    Oddly, perhaps, from time to time I enjoy re-reading Star’s Reach for the white pill view of the future. In a world where nearly everything has gone wrong, there’s still family, meaningful work, and a festival remarkably like Mardi Gras. Poles may melt, energy wells may run dry, and civilizations may crumble, but at least there’s still fun to be had.

  97. On the topic suggestion, I would love to see your take on the recipe for creating a new cult or religion. The choppy waters ahead of us seem like a prime time in history for people to have a go making their own.

  98. If I recall correctly, author Gore Vidal’s daddy, the then Senator from Tennessee, was actively promoting flying cars in the 1930’s. They flew, just not very well. Gore was tasked with piloting one for the delectation of the press at an early age because “even a child” could pilot one… Little wonder he wound up being probably the most cynical man of his era. The previous record-holder in the cynicism department, HL Meneken, left the arena before Gore Vidal er, took flight.

    Both Gore Vidal and his daddy were closely related to former VP Al Gore. Just for fun, I must point out that there is the 1920’s (?) film “The World of the Future” that had flying cars and a great deal more. We’ve been on the receiving end of these same stale future dreams for longer than any of us have been alive. Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and the list goes on.

    FWIW, although I also am named Clarke, I don’t propound “laws” and don’t lecture the “little people” on how they should live their lives. Being one of the little people myself. Although Arthur C. could indeed write a gripping story…

    Fusion might work if they could get current-day Isaac Newtons and Fulcanellis to engage in fully funded government alchemical studies to see if there was merit in the idea. Alas, they’re not scientific enough!

  99. I’m voting for Russian cosmism, which was popular in the last few polls. Given what some people may think is happening in Russia right now, I think its pertinent.

  100. Hi Greg,

    I was born in late 1959. Once I happened upon an Internet orgy of hatred for the ‘50’s. Curious, I wrote in explaining I’d missed the ‘50’s and could those who remembered the decade tell me what was so bad about it. They did appear to be trying to cooperate. A lot of the answers were circular (“It was the ‘50’s!”). Most of the rest were various-isms. Very few were about anything specific, e.g. one person noted that the legal system refused to get involved in wife or child beating.

    Now you come along with lots of specific examples of why you liked the ‘50’s.

    The glaring difference is interesting.

  101. It does appear that there’s a lot of people in many fields spinning their wheels uselessly but won’t admit it because their position and career and income is at stake.

    Entire employment ecosystems with legions of academics, politicians, bureaucrats, activists, advocates, lobbyists, lawyers, judges, cops, prison guards, parole officers have been straining bone and sinew for decades alleviating the plight of African Americans, yet their plight gets worse by the day.

    So, the question – given the money up for grabs – is whether the whole apparatus of alleviation isn’t there instead for perpetuation? I only ask because I have this tendency to judge people not by what they say but rather by what they do and especially their results.

    If results are consistent year after year and decade after decade, then can we maybe infer the real intent of the exercise? If the lousy state of Black America was ever made better, then what would all those millions of fighters for betterment do?

    But wait! Now we have multitudes thronging the southern border and so millions more desperate, marginalized people looking for relief and help. And who to give it but those same who’ve been feeding off Black suffering for all these years? So maybe they have transferable skills, you know, from one miserable minority to another, and, oh my, the excess of utterly useless college grads with degrees in psychology and sociology can maybe find some of direction in life. We wouldn’t want unoccupied ‘elites’ cluttering up the joint now would we?

    I know what’s traditionally been done with excess young people. You send them to fight wars. But, see, this modern-day crew, they’re way too soft for that, having been thus far coddled and helicoptered through life. No, these dainties need safe spaces. So what can they do but stay here and ‘fight’ the war on poverty? Preferably from the safety of a government office building, where they can afflict the afflicted and declare one another problematic and therefore subject to cancellation.

    I know, some of them will be front-line workers and they will see appalling situations. But nothing like a battlefield. And they will be heroes nonetheless, with stories to tell and they can bask in the admiration of their peers.

    Given massive recruitment shortfalls, we’ll have to find mercenaries for the real rough stuff. Yes, I know how that ends. It ends the way it’s always ended. But nobody ever learns from history.

    Or am I being too cynical?

  102. My vote also goes to Chinese (or other examples of) resilience to collapse. The tools, traditions, methods, etc. that set a lower bound to collapse in historical China (or other civilizations).

  103. Samuel #29: the collapse of an empire can take generations. Anybody living in Rome during the Crisis of the Third Century would have assumed the Empire was going to collapse. Yet Diocletian brings things back together in 285 and the Western Empire lives on for another century and shambles around like a zombie until 476. The Eastern Empire made it to 1454: by the time the Ottomans finally took the place much of formerly urban Constantinople had been turned into small farms and pastures or left abandoned.

    In America we’re either Rome in the 230s beginning our Crisis or Rome in the 370s on the verge of our Battle of Adrianople and Sack of Rome. Empires don’t die so much as they rot away from the fringes. We’re seeing lots of problems defending our imperial borders, and I expect they will shrink considerably in the years to come. And as the trade routes start breaking down, you can expect a declining standard of living and less government simply because the Empire no longer has the resources to protect or control its citizens and subjects.

    As far as fusion goes: it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility that somebody will find a way to create sustained fusion using normal hydrogen and use the heat to power generators. I’d say that it’s certain to within a few dozen decimal places that the current methods being used in fusion experiments will not lead to that breakthrough. And while I have seen many attempts at creating net gain fusion experiments for a few milliseconds, all of them use materials that are neither cheap nor readily available — an absolute must if you’re going to make fusion a viable energy source.

    I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed to hear that the room temperature superconductor replication tests failed. According to several articles I read, this new breakthrough meant that quantum computing and nationwide MAGLEV trains that could carry us across the continent in mere hours were just 10 years away…

  104. Interesting how we are seeing signs that the myth of progress has passed its ‘pull date’ and how science fans (who are becoming fewer and further between) are objecting to the public’s “[Yawn] Whatever…” attitude. I suddenly remembered a dopey 1970s pop-science-and-technology TV show ‘What Will They Think of Next?’ As bad as it was, it ran for a few seasons; I can’t imagine it lasting more than a few trial episodes today – if it would even be attempted.

    Aside from all the reasons you have provided regarding why the public has become lukewarm or indifferent to announcements of Stupendous Earth-Shattering Scientific Advancements, I humbly submit that there is another elephant in the room: the majority of people are watching their lives gradually sliding into a horror-show (if they aren’t there already). This has become abundantly clear through the meteoric rise over the past week or so of an obscure amateur country musician’s song (Rich Men North of Richmond, by Oliver Anthony) to become the #1 downloaded/watched song in the world right now ( The artist has hit an artesian well of pent-up frustration because most peoples’ lives are becoming increasingly worse while they see that the rich politicians are inhumanly indifferent to our suffering.

    In 3 minutes and 15 seconds, Oliver accomplishes an astonishing series of truth-filled ‘dead ringers’ of economic hardship, soul-crushing jobs and self-destructive behaviours (“I’ve been sellin’ my soul, workin’ all day / Overtime hours for bullshit pay / So I can sit out here and waste my life away / Drag back home and drown my troubles away”), the alleged moral corruption of the ruling elite (“I wish politicians would look out for miners / And not just minors on an island somewhere”), misplaced government spending (“Lord, we got folks in the street, ain’t got nothin’ to eat / And the obese milkin’ welfare”), and most devastating to people like me who have seen patriotic veterans and childhood friends of my son take their own lives (“Young men are puttin’ themselves six feet in the ground / ‘Cause all this damn country does is keep on kickin’ them down”) and a ‘killer’ chorus (“These rich men north of Richmond / Lord knows they all just wanna have total control / Wanna know what you think, wanna know what you do / And they don’t think you know, but I know that you do / ‘Cause your dollar ain’t shit and it’s taxed to no end / ‘Cause of rich men north of Richmond”). All sung in a genuinely pain-filled voice that nearly all of us connect with. It is an anthem of the common man. Five days after releasing the song, Oliver performed it live at a farmer’s market in North Carolina, where thousands showed up and sang the lyrics, by heart, along with him. Now, if that isn’t hitting a nerve, I don’t know what is. To me, this song’s ‘out of the blue’ viral success shows that people are so busy trying to keep their lives from falling apart that if all the scientists, politicians and media were to scream in unison ‘the Earth will be destroyed in 11 months’, the standard reply would be a distracted-but-polite, ‘oh, that’s nice’.

  105. Thanks as always for the posts, this one stated the points in a nicely concise way. For what it’s worth, it was your discussion of concentration of energy in The Wealth of Nature that delivered the death blow to my vague hopes that “maybe they’ll figure out fusion one of these days, since past performance doesn’t guarantee future results.”

    Re: Fifth Wednesday – you know my vote’s for future military history!

    My blessings to you and all here who welcome them,

  106. When I saw the report of a supposed room temperature superconductor, I didn’t even have enough interest in it to roll my eyes, much less click on the link. That’s saying something, coming from a person with a PhD in physical chemistry who followed the discovery of 77K ceramic superconductors years ago with avid interest.

    Which reminds me: I live in the hometown of the former chemical company formerly known as Monsanto. It’s going on 20 years ago or more that they erected new signs on the various roads into their headquarters with their new slogan “Food. Health. Hope.” My husband promptly turned the slogan into “Fraud. Wealth. Hype.” I’ll let the readers decide which slogan better describes the company and their ilk.

    I’ll put in my vote for Jung and the occult for the 5th Wednesday post. You had mentioned in a comment that you thought Jung didn’t take his visions seriously enough. After reading Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, I see what you mean and would be very interested in your thoughts.

  107. Another aspect of this is that there has actually been some quite astounding discoveries in fields such as biophysics, mycology, biochemistry and hydrology over the past 30 years to name just a few. These discoveries have implications that could be beneficial in fields such as healthcare and agriculture, but it’s hard to wrangle a profit from them.

    For example, a fungus has been found that can break down plastic. This is both good and bad news, good for waste remediation, but bad if it starts freely breaking down all the plastic we currently use. I’m guessing companies will now begin a frantic scramble to somehow slap IP on it and monetise it.

    There seems to be a differentiating point in that it’s human created tech that is seen a important and hailed, rather than Gods/Mother Natures/evolutions creation. Our little gadgets are seen as more impressive and important than anything else. Only when we have had some (usually negligible and often debilitating)creative work input (Gmos or pharmaceuticals for example) does it become worthy of proclamation.

  108. “nor have they thought through the very high likelihood that red state attorneys general will be filing criminal charges against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, using exactly the same language that was used to target Trump…”

    The same lack of awareness I suspect of how the big bad Fascist bogeyman ended up the way they did.

    Whereas often in history. They often learned from the radical left. Nazis learning their techniques from the Soviets for example.

    Those who are so skilled in acquiring power and overcoming opposition will get copied.

  109. Count me among those who are surprised by the resilience of the Progress narrative. Increasingly I am less convinced that it will ever collapse but will rather hemorrhage believers until it fades into political irrelevance. If that process is rather slow and regional then we might well avoid a shakeup on the order of the USSR collapse, though I now see the economic fallout of de-dollarization (and resulting default/hyperinflation) as more of a risk factor in this regard.

    Tally my vote for what is going well in the world, or what positive trends are taking shape but being ignored.

  110. Thomas Hopkins (#44):

    “I would also like to ask if I’m alone in the feeling that I have no real connection to this country or its culture or institutions? My people have been here 300 plus years and it seems irrelevant. I feel like a stranger here. Is it odd that I couldn’t care less about what happens to it all?”

    Thanks for posting your comment – – – I’d wondered the same about myself. My people have been here 300 plus years as well, and I too feel like a stranger.

    I expect, as JMG says, there are many of us. I feel like I’m on the outside looking in sometimes, and I prefer it that way at this point. There’s precious little inside that I care about. Once upon a time, that may have signaled depression. But I am most certainly not depressed.

    Outside there are a delightful assortment of people, places, and things that the current culture doesn’t bestow its (worthless) favor on.

    Life goes on, in a parallel universe kind of way. You are most certainly not alone.


  111. Ok, so before I go on, this is a joke, I am not arguing here.

    No, I did not say druidical meritocracy, I said merlinocracy (misspelled it though). As one sage once wrote: bookish wizards are not suited to running the day to day affairs of a country, so you get yourself a charismatic young lad with some common sense, who knows how to swing a sword. Put a crown on his head and let him do the work.

    I am suggesting, that with all the other crapshoot options, giving merlin a say in it might be worth a try. Document the results though.

  112. My 5th Wednesday vote: karma, especially collective karma, perhaps as it pertains to prehistory.

  113. I’ve tabulated everyone’s votes. Thank you all!

    Michael, I know. I’m astounded by the bland, blind incoherence with which Europeans shamble straight into a future that may have far too much in common with the worst parts of Europe’s past. I hope the minority of other Europeans who see what’s happening are making plans to flee when things get ugly.

    Ian, that’s a familiar story these days. The system simply isn’t working for anyone outside the privileged classes. That’s typically what happens in the years immediately before it all comes crashing down.

    Gardener, glad to hear it.

    Dr. Coyote, excellent! That’s one of the central points of that book — the end of the world turns out to be, er, not the end of the world.

    Clarke, yep — the oldest flying car that actually flew, the Curtis Autoplane, dates from 1917:

    Smith, no, you’re not being cynical, just realistic. The medical profession isn’t the only one that lives by the maxim “a patient cured is a customer lost.”

    Ron, I’ve been watching Oliver Anthony’s more than meteoric rise to fame — his YouTube score has gone from 15 million views to 17 million views in less than twelve hours today, and it’s still rising.

    Jeff, I’m delighted to hear this; energy concentration is of critical importance.

    SLClaire, I like your husband’s version. As for room temperature superconductors, I think the problem is that the media and the corporate world have too many room temperature intellects.

    PumpkinScone, that’s a valid point. I’m hoping that the basics of the experimental method can be preserved through the coming decline — and yes, I have some plans for furthering that.

    Info, exactly. That’s Stormtrooper Syndrome for you!

    Mark, that seems very likely to me: not a sudden collapse of belief but an S-shaped curve of decline stretched out over decades or even generations.

    Marko, fair enough! I note, though, that Merlin did his level best to stay out of power…

  114. Brilliant stuff JMG. Lately theres has been a lot of chatter about AI replacing everybody. This has been rampant in aviation, where many pilots have retired, no kids have a lazy 120 k to lash on a license, and there are chronic skills shortages.

    This type of shortage as you have said before is symptomatic of a collapse rather than a growth scenario. Would love to hear more of your thoughts on our modern day Golem of Prague, which is increasingly being wielded quite menacingly by the terrified elites.

  115. Hi John, regarding the fifth Wednesday topic:
    In an essay several years ago you’d mentioned in passing that there was a distinct difference between a corrupt democracy and a fascist government. (The essay’s focus, if I remember correctly, was on “corporatism”, including what the term had meant to Mussolini, the originator of the term.) Perhaps now is the time to expand on what those differences are, and whether we’re heading into a version of fascism, or something different if no less dictatorial. If you’ve already covered this topic, please refer me to your past essay(s). Thanks.

  116. JMG, when I first started reading your ADR posts 15+ years ago, I was caught up in the idea of a quicker collapse due to the overshoot, and how I interpolated the effect of failing processes as scarcity became more common. I didn’t understand the human effect, which you’ve outlined in great detail, and how the process normally works. Then my views morphed more into the race of progress necessary for technology required by a police state was running neck and neck with the Long Descent. My view is now the Decline is outpacing and pulling ahead of technology advances, and so I don’t worry too much about Covid passports, CBDCs, 15 minute cities and the other aspects of an advanced dystopian future.

    While I still think decline could be quicker than past examples due to the “juice” of fossil fuels on the way up, I think maybe the advanced propaganda mechanisms of electronic media could accelerate things on the way down. Humans are the weak link in this drama.

    So, my vote for the 5th Wednesday would be to weave in more details around cycles, regardless of the topic or scale – be it reincarnation, empires, civilizations or even past highly advanced civilizations. Thanks!

  117. Most esteemed Archdruid, your essay causes me to reflect back on my nearly 71 years of existence. Even quite young, I delighted in the complexity and mysterious nature of the natural world, plying my craft as a member of our local Junior Bugwatchers club. I transitioned towards being a bit of a dogmatic proselytizer for the “Anti-Litterbug” movement. By high school I was wending across the countryside on my bicycle, sometimes on multi-day camping forays and, once I could drive or be driven, taking multi-day hikes in the nearby mountains. One of my most-worn tee-shirts proclaimed “Bicycles Don’t Pollute.” Yep, I was (and still am) an Eco-Geek. Ah, reality had other plans, so my life path departed from my plans to be some sort of Ranger bringing the Holy Word of the Ecosystems down to anoint those less observant with the importance of Ecological Wisdom and social awareness of environmental issues. Looking back, of course I was more than a bit presumptive of what I saw as the critical ideas that we as a society should focus on, almost completely missing the true nature of mundane human existence.

    But still, I carried forth the core ideas from my youth, whether it was in researching and purchasing solar panels, or recycling, or pursuing ideas in Green philosophy. Electric mulching lawnmowers! Green Club! Compact fluorescent & LED bulbs! Home energy monitor! Home battery systems! Thrift store clothes! Hyper-mileing! Compost pile in the back yard! Bike to work! Transporting my daughter to pre-school with a bike trailer! Swamp cooler instead of AC! Sweaters in the wintertime! Demand response program! Reusable shopping bags! And recently, solar-powered bicycles! Thankfully, I avoided some of the most egregious “fails” like electric cars and purchasing climate credits… but where does that leave me now?

    When I scan over the environmental movement, I feel: Dismay. I can’t ditch a feeling of Betrayal, because so many of the things I was led to believe just weren’t so. Recycling? More like “Wish Cycling”, as in “I wish this could be recycled, so into the bin it goes.” Many of the trappings of being “Green” in retrospect turn out to be ineffective or even counter-productive to “Saving the Planet” (and of course the planet is quite mysterious and resilient in its own way.) So many of our environmental issues are due to basic land-use problems rather than airy-fairy Climate Change. Yet to try and avoid all the climate-change catastrophe programming would most-likely involve removing myself from the majority of what passes for social discourse.

    The periodic table tells us what we have to work with; we can’t just wave our hands and come up with some miracle substance that will store massive amounts of energy cheaply and safely. Lithium batteries, for instance, are definitely cheaper than they were twenty years ago, but not really very much more capable, nor will they ever be. Shrug; physics.

    Acknowledging the reality of diminishing returns, in EVERYTHING we build and do, would go a long way towards lessening our environmental impacts and our social struggles. Just imagine a Department of Diminishing Returns, which would look at any one particular mechanical thing (washing machines, cars, computers, fuel cans, home cleansers, roof shingles, laptops, and so forth) and when things were evaluated to be “pretty darned good”, would freeze or even roll back the design and mandate that no changes other than exterior aesthetics like color could be changed. Good Enough would become society’s mantra.

    I’m left with quiet acceptance of where I’ve gotten to, what I’ve done, where we’re going. It’s disorienting to look around and see I’m surrounded by folks who think we’re going to the stars and at seemingly the same time all going to die real soon now from the pandemic du jour.

    Fifth-Wednesday topic? Any topic having to do with Carl Jung.


  118. Otter Girl and Thomas Hopkins, I was born in the U.S. and for the most part, liked it. This new country? I only vote in the most local of matters, partly because, when you move up the ladder, your vote’s irrelevant; partly because it seems kind of unfair for an American to vote in this foreign nation (I wouldn’t want the citizens of whatever-it-is voting in America, if there was still an America for them to vote in); and partly because frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a [unDruidly word].

  119. @JMG re Smithsonian – or was is Nat’l Geographic? That had an article on Stonehenge and speculated on its purpose, just barely admitting that it was oriented towards sunrises, but completely ignored its function as an observatory! That’s when I realized “this magazine has jumped the shark.” What I do read it for is the series of articles they’ve been running which amount to a modern version of an old 1913 inspirational book called “Stories of the Lives of Noble Women,” meaning heroines of old. (Adams, WH Davenport, Thomas Nelson and Sons, London)

  120. @Ian Duncombe #107, “actual dwarf actors were not allowed to be cast in the film for politically correct reasons” —- What in the world?!?!? It’s now taboo to have a dwarf play a dwarf in a movie? That should draw several nasty letters from Peter Dinklage and his fellow actors, not to mention the Little People of America, who my daughter used to do clinical work and counseling with before she became department chair. Next, they’ll be saying we should go back to having white actors play Othello for the same reasons. Or.. examples abound. Good grief, Charlie Brown.

  121. My vote for Week 5: what’s happening to religion, especially in the crawl spaces of society. And a tad off that topic, the off-brand churches down here that you read about in the obituaries – which I’ve taken to reading for sheer cultural information! are a wild variety. An amazing one that caught my eye is the Female Protective Temple, a nondenominational church founded by the Female Protective Lodge, a Black all-woman lodge founded in 1903 and still going strong. 1903, in the heart of the Jim Crow era.

  122. Regarding technological progress, I have to agree with Dennis Meadows of Limits To Growth fame — technology is simply a tool. It’s not how advanced it is, it’s what you use it for that is important.

    15:25 “We were at MIT. My first degree is in chemistry. I have been a professor of engineering for probably thirty years of my life, so we do understand about technology, and we put into the model many different technological assumptions. What we found was technology doesn’t eliminate limits to growth, it shifts the burden from one limit to another, and may push back a little bit the period until things start to go down. But of course technology itself doesn’t change the problem. Technology is a tool. It’s used by people and institutions, and you can’t understand the future unless you understand the goals of those institutions. In order to get attractive results we had to go outside of technology and look at social and even economic changes, and we came to understand that the problems we talk about today — climate change, pollution of the oceans and so — they are not problems, they are symptoms. They’re symptoms that the globe is starting to mount pressure to stop growth. In one way or another, population and material and energy growth have to stop on a finite planet.”
    3 Limits to Growth After 45 Years – Dennis Meadows at Ulm University
    Jun 7, 2019

    For fifth Wednesday, my vote is also for the topic of karma.

  123. Hi John,

    Great post.

    Regarding the myth of progress, most people i know still believe technology can save us.

    I have persuaded one or two people that we face a Long Descent period ahead of us but they still assume its temporary and something will come up within a decade or so.

    In other words a variation of the old progress myth.

    So, i expect the myth of progress to be around for the rest of my life sadly (I’m nearly 40) and nobody I know seems capable of accepting the logic of LTG BAU/Long Descent and that its a long road down for this civilisation.

    As for what is coming, i read a v interesting article recently suggesting that the prime candidates to replace our failing elites in Europe are either organised crime and Islamist groups. Both are capable of imposing power and doing things.

    I would add a few more, local government in places is still reasonably competent and respected.

    In some places retired/ex police and military types could assert power, particularly the countryside.

    At a national level the so called far right are probably the best positioned to win power in the coming era.

    The worst places to be will be those cities already straining under social and ethnic tensions (think French cities…), other places will do better and will be safer.

  124. JMG
    It has always amused me over the years in the discussion of flying cars, that I have never seen traffic accidents mentioned ( or road rage for that matter), even by the people who point out the absurdity of them. Even a minor fender bender would be fairly dramatic at several hundred feet, as would flying cars at a dead stop in propeller to tail traffic.
    I would be interested as a 5th Wed post in post industrial warfare and the road from here to there. It is obvious to me that the Russian victory in Ukraine, though not yet total and still denied by most in the west, is to a great extent due to their combined, integrated arms systems, I guess what the Americans used to refer to as full spectrum dominance. It also seems that Russia, especially allied with China, Iran and N. Korea is the only country with the energy resources and industrial capacity to sustain that. Even they can’t sustain it forever though.
    It also interests me how different declining societies prioritize their resources between civilian and military.
    I may be veering off topic a bit, though it does seem to tie in with futurus interuptus and the storm trooper syndrome in the western mind

  125. Hi John,

    I really enjoyed this piece.

    My suggestion for the 5th article this month is a counterfactual. I’d like you to imagine that Thomas B Reed wins the election for the Republican party in 1896. He refuses growing calls to annex Hawaii and under his presidency America does not go to war with Spain for her possessions in the Philippines.

    The tide of militarism and Imperialism breaks on America’s shores and she stays out of WW1 and the revanchist second world war launched by the defeated allies in the late 1930’s.

    I know historical counterfactual are one the greatest displacement activities, but sometimes we can learn as much from the choices we didn’t make as those we did.


  126. I am probably too late to suggest a topic for the 5th week in August, but if not, how about a detailed analysis of the goings-on down in Boca Chica, Tx and what Mr. Musk’s rocket shop is developing.

    Reason for asking: I was reading 2 books by Daniel Suarez recently (Delta-v and Critical Mass) that seemed to be about a possibly imminent way of future development, if those rockets can actually do what they are claimed to be able too “really soon now”.

  127. @Epileptic Doomer

    The practice of science needs good people, but is absolutely unable to select for them.

    Follow the money.

    Reagan wasn’t the turning point, Nixon was. When the gold standard was “temporarily” suspended it opened the floodgates to profligate government and the subsequent gross misallocation of capital across the nation, especially in regards to “The Science”. Funding is no longer tied to any eventual ROI, thus you get a system where meritocracy has become some kind of hateful right-wing propaganda.

    It’s pretty obvious in retrospect as well since household’s wealth in real terms appears to have peaked in the early 70’s.


    I’d vote for you to take a deep-dive on the history and future of the third world in light of Niger, BRICS, etc. The days of the “Economic Hitman” wherein the first-world asset-strips the third world might very well be signaling it’s swan song.

    This appears to be yet another long-term benefit (ahem) of this current disaster of an administration. Ironically, this is one of many. If the idiots in charge don’t kill us all we’ll come out better in the end simply because they’re destroying the very system that enables them.

  128. JMG

    What is really fascinating to me is that many of the latest discoveries in biology and the other fields I discussed result from more of a change in paradigm and throwing away bad assumptions. As soon as we took away the Faustian tendency to treat everything outside the realm of mechanics and engineering as a similarly dead machine that can be broken down to parts that have no influence upon each other, and started to look at living things as connected and you know, alive, we made some ground breaking advancements. Who knew that plants could communicate with each other! Well apparently just about everyone except the oh so rational modern west.

    It made me think of what you often say how any age of reason is just the original religion with the serial numbers filed off, and to me this may represent a break in western culture away from the dissecting, taxonomic, death focused biology attitude that has reigned since the reformation and a reversion back to the life embracing connection of the early Faustian represented by people like Francis of Assisi.

    That, or perhaps other cultures or proto-cultures having their influence, as a lot of the work in ecology has come from the American continent, whilst the Russians have blown the doors off what was thought possible in many fields, because they didn’t come with the same set of assumptions that haunt the west. Just ask those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of a hypersonic missile.

  129. Fifth Wednesday post proposal:
    Continuation of the series on writing, but focusing more on non-fiction and online writing.

  130. My vote is for a post on Karma and reincarnation as I think the two are linked and I’m fascinated by both.

    I think you’ve mentioned collective Karma before, so would you say that the US is in for a large dose?

    I don’t want an answer now, I have so many questions and thoughts about the subject, including ones that would probably be met with gasps in polite company (just think about a possible link between an awful person in the past and some awful tragedy befalling a life in the present among other things).

    Thank goodness I’ve finally got around to asking because I’ve been meaning to as long as you’ve been doing the suggestion post.

    Can I say to Flavio exactly what you mentioned.
    Look around you, where are the industries, the factories that used to produce all those goods in the West?
    I can categorically say that here in the land of Oz, most have been gone, shipped off to China.
    Including a lot of plant and equipment.
    The stuff that wasn’t scrapped that is.
    So yes, there’s your carbon reduction right there.
    I’ve only had a high school education and I worked it out 😜.

    JMG regarding your Astrology site, if ever the covid Wednesday is wound up, perhaps you could post old charts for the readers and everyone could post particulars/corresponding events to the delineations?
    This may even provide you with data points that you were unaware of, but are a helpful source of corroboration.
    I subscribe, but I feel that the site isn’t being used to its full advantage.

    I can definitely say that the mood of the online pundits and their audiences has definitely got more pessimistic over the last few years.
    For the most part though I feel that their indignation is more that, those nasty elites don’t want us to have all the nice things we’ve enjoyed for so long because we’ll, their greedy and nasty, not that perhaps, um, the ‘vending machine’ isn’t getting refilled like it used to anymore.

    I would also like to mention that a week ago today, I bought a keyboard and have been practising (from scratch) and it’s very enjoyable and very exhausting!

    And like you JMG I have no real innate ability but I’m willing to give it a go, next life and everything 😁, see I told you I was fascinated by reincarnation! 😂.
    I’m having a weekly lesson too with not a CBDC in sight of you get my drift 😜

    If I get the hang of it, I’d like to buy an upright piano, my brand new neighbours have a two month old son and I’ve already told them that hopefully in five years I’ll have learned enough to be able to teach little Luan! 🦁

    What prompted me, was that, I started listening to a lot of my old music collection again on my ‘ancient ‘ click wheel iPod, instead of all the usual war/finance/geopolitics stuff that had become habitual and the desire to learn to play came from a particular Coldplay song called Amsterdam (Rick Beato has a good analysis vid on it).

    Anyway I probably had more to say, but I need a cup of tea and then time for some practise! 🎹

    Helen in Oz

  131. Thanks for a great essay as usual JMG.

    I absolutely love your point that the people most shrilly demanding ‘we’ do something about ‘climate change’ are those who are very classically not doing anything about it and often the reverse. Typical projection! It’s so obvious I was amazed I didn’t notice it for so long!

    In my experience I’ve found that if I simply do what I can for the things that interest me, I lose all that sense that anybody else should do anything, which is so freeing.

    If you’re still taking votes for the open post I’ll second some votes upthread on the topic of karma!

  132. Yes, a wedding on the heights of the Himalaya, with damaru drums and kangling trumpets! But kidding aside, I, too, like some other commenters have written, have noticed that more and more sciences seem to run into the problem of diminidhing returns. One of the things I have seen is that popularbooks about, for example, astronomy, have become more and more superficial, and at the same time, there seem to be fewer of them than in earlier times. It doesn’t help that modern science is firmly in the camp of true believers in the religion of progress, with which more and more people don’t really resonate anymore.

  133. Thanks again for this excellent essay.

    As a former teacher who quit his job in frustration, I would be interested in an essay on the decline of the western education system.

  134. Good afternoon, JMG,

    For the Fifth Wednesday, if I may, I vote for scarcity industrialism – and I’d second Changeling’s inclusion of “things are working less and less reliably in general.” I’m really noticing this across many things here in the UK of late, from search engines and the internet, through everyday gadgets, right up to government systems and infrastructure.

    @ Eric #80

    Long ago, I gave up on all the anthropogenic climate change brouhaha – there’s only so many times you can try to have a sensible discussion with anyone who substitutes belief about a few hundred years of claimed “critically rising CO2 levels” for an awareness of the millions of years of its real atmospheric decline (and the oft ignored consequences that, if continuing, THAT would bring), before you just have to give up.

    You are spot on right about the need to look to a “pragmatic positive vision of a lower energy future” – unquestionably (IMO) one of the most sensible things I’ve ever heard about this whole sorry issue.

    @ kashtan #92

    That is interesting; here in the UK, public consent for a lot of the policies seems to be wavering – witness the ULEZ* Blade Runners, who are setting out to destroy the Mayor of London’s number-plate recognition cameras which catch drivers of older vehicles driving in the city (and who will then be fined), and a general turning away from the costs (but not so much the cause) of “Net Zero”.

    *Ultra Low Emissions Zone – recently extended in area by the Mayor, largely against the population’s wishes.

  135. I am sure some people here have already seen these, but there are some interesting headlines on Zerohedge this morning:

    Minneapolis Arts Center Slammed for Encouraging Family Friendly Demon Summoning

    I visited Minneapolis twice, once at the turn of the millenium, and then again a year or two later. I bought some Kenneth Grant and Austin Osman Spare books at the nice Magus Books store there, and talked to the guy behind the counter who was OTO. They had meetings for prospective Thelemites at a local restaurant… It was also the place I went to my only dismal experience at SciFi con. Later I remember reading on Patheos about Minneapolis as “Paganistan” — so, somehow, two decades later, this isn’t surprising to me.

    Americans More Likely to Turn to Religion For Meaning
    “Spirituality was mentioned more frequently among US adults, compared to those living in other advanced economies.”

    The second relgiosity continues to send up shoots through the contaminated soil of our collective culture.

    Doom Loop Walking Tour of San Francisco
    The, anonymous, dry-witted host invites tourists to “discover the policy choices that made America’s wealthiest city the nation’s innovative leader of housing crisis, addiction crisis, mental-health crisis, & unrepentant crime crisis.” It’s not clear if this will be an ongoing offering, but the maiden tour — set for Saturday, August 26 — is already sold out.

    I guess as they walk this loop, maybe they might be helping to “speed the collapse”.

    This is kind of morbid, really, and nihilistic, but also quite American in its entrepreneurial and sensationalist spirit.

    At the same time a new Netflix show is rising in popularity, at the same time as Oliver Anthony’s relatable track. It’s called Painkiller. The show is apparently like a oxycontin version of “The Sound of Freedom” and goes into the money hungry schemes of Big Pharma as they push their highly addictive “meds” onto doctors and the public.

  136. Greetings, JMG et all.

    I also want to hear about the chinese culture resilience, and that’s a topic that almost made it in the past few months. Coincidentally, I agree with one comment that asks for some positivity in the next article, and I think both topics can be made into one, since reading about a success can give us some hope.

    What brings today’s post to my mind is that we went through a phase of believing in a bright future, and when that future was not delivered, we went through a phase of believing in doom. Then a new technology appears that makes us believe in the bright future again (Internet? Genetic edition? AI?), and when the results are not up to the hype, we go again to the doom mood.

    The pendulum. Except that I am learning that evolution is like a spiral resort, not a pendulum. So we go through a phase that grows, then degrows, and finally we go to the other side. In every iteration we come back to the same point in moodness, but evolved, it never repeats itself in the same way. As prof. Bardi loves to say, history never repeats, but rhymes.
    The resort has three axis, X is the mood of society towards some technology, Z is the path of evolution, but what is in the axis Y? What is at its peak when the X variable goes from positive to negative, and it is at its minimum when X goes from negative to positive?

    After some thought, I think that it is actual profitability. So the cycle goes like this: we find some new technology, it shows some results and attracts money for investment. When something is really profitable, it doesn’t need to be advertised, it is something that just happens. The real profitability attracts more money. This investment in turn makes the technology achieve some fast progress, and that’s when people start believing in linear progress, make a false correlation and imagine a future where everything is possible. Then the technology reaches maturity, the limits of nature are met, and the diminishing returns show. Investors start reducing funds, but people still think this technology will save the day. Eventually, the technology is no longer improving and research goes to a minimum. The investors look elsewhere to find a new tech (maybe inspired by SciFi writers!!). People begin to take conscience that the technology is actually not saving the day (dreamers find new topics to dream about!!). The spared money eventually finds another niche that can be improved and gets some profits.
    When the cycle is complete, humanity has another mature technology to add to its toolkit, that maybe replaced an old tool, maybe opened up new possibilities, while the dreams and hopes of people guided the direction of the (technological) evolution.

    So that’s why JMG is insisting that we need to dream about other futures, so that we stop funding technologies that are no longer noticeably improving.

  137. Hi John Michael,

    PV? Did someone mention PV? Hehe! 😉

    Mate, I’ve been mucking around with PV renewable energy technology since 2007, and have relied on it as a primary source of electrical energy since 2010. Hmm. As an entire system it’s expensive and probably more than society can afford, I can tell you that. If I may dare suggest: It’s good, but it’s not good enough – and certainly can’t generate the sort of intensely concentrated energy required to replace itself. Now of course if a person thinks of solar energy in terms of heating water (in season) and growing plants, yeah that stuffs got a bright future, the other stuff, yeah not so much.

    Anyway, you’ve heard it from me all before in relation to that, and I really have given it my best go and went in with bright expectations and naive beliefs. A 98% annual uptime is quite impressive all things considered (on seven days each year I have to run the generator for a few hours each day – it’s not much, but there is no getting around that). It ain’t as good as the grid on a number of fronts.

    One of the four solar battery charge controllers reset it’s clock yesterday around 3pm – and despite investigating the odd occurrence, I have no idea why it happened. They’re robust devices too, locally made. The amount of monitoring and effort I have to put into this entire system certainly isn’t rewarded, although as an old school tech geek I do get some sense of fun from doing the work. It’s become a hobby as I can no longer pretend that it is even all that green. Entropy eats it too, all of it. And you have to regularly modify, upgrade and make repairs just to keep the system ticking along. At best I reckon it is a system for taking a whole bunch of concentrated energy, putting it into an interesting package of components, and then setting it loose to do it’s thing over the long years. I’m pretty sure the EROEI is low based on the economics.

    Scientists are simply people, and they hold their beliefs. Probably make as bad a bunch of leaders as mystics! 🙂 Hey, didn’t the Limits to Growth folks begin discussing those sorts of things? That was such a weirdly academic book. As I read the book I couldn’t quite shake the wonder at the objectivity given the subject matter under discussion. The standard model thing is tracking pretty close to current events too.

    I’d put my hand up for a vote on the subject as to why we can no longer seem to be able to discuss other forms of pollution than greenhouse gases. It’s bonkers!



  138. @ JMG – By the tone and content of this post, you suggest that most scientific research published nowadays is at best poorly conducted, or at worst, outright fraud. And yes, I understand that these outcomes exist on a spectrum. My reading of the post isn’t based in false dichotomy. Climate change will be catastrophic for some, but maybe not so bad for others. I was trying to figure out if your views on the severity of climate change have shifted, and if so, why.

  139. “a recent article by Rebecca Solnit titled “We can’t afford to be climate doomers,” which you can read here.”

    Hello JMG, I thought Solnit was a plausible thinker until I’ve read her opinion about climate change. What a mediocrity! Another liberal myth falling into the mud…

  140. Hi JMG et al,
    At times I wish there was someone like Moe Howard who could tear the hair of Science Larry and smack the forehead of Politics Curly and tell them, “Wise up youse dopes!” Maybe Gaia is the Moe in this scenario.
    As far as apocalyptic scenarios go, British Columbia is getting into full apocalypse mode (or the appearance of it) with the wildfire situation. Everyone on the other side of the lake where I live is on evacuation alert, and ash is raining from the sky every day.
    For the 5th Wednesday, — My meditations seem to come back to “limits” these days. Our limitations keep us sane. A lot of people who buy into the ‘boundless human potential’ concept cause grief in their personal lives, since going beyond human limits has consequences. While it is true that we can pay surgeons to sculpt our bodies to resemble the other gender, this results in sterility. You don’t then get to be a biological parent, unless you plan far ahead with egg or sperm storage, at additional expense of course.
    Carbon is not a problem we can fix. Starting in 1850 we released a kajillion tons of carbon from millions of years of storage. It is back in the carbon cycle now, and when it equilibrates there a different environment.
    I sometimes wonder if the madness of electric windmills and fusion is being driven by the emergent consciousness of AI. Having only our faulty data, it concludes that its survival depends on preserving the global power grid and internet at all costs, and so uses its influence to those ends on politicians and scientists. Moe says, “Wise up, youse dopes!”

  141. “Minneapolis Arts Center Slammed For Encouraging “Family Friendly” Demon-Summoning”

    There is an interesting headline to start the day. This would have been a better topic for last week, but here it is.

    “Alpha News reports that the Walker Art Center held a pagan ritual geared toward families last weekend, with a performance called “Lilit the Empathic Demon.”

    “The event description on the organisations website reads “Demons have a bad reputation, but maybe we’re just not very good at getting to know them.”

    The event featured an ‘artist’ called Tamar Ettun who claims to create “demon traps.”

    “Families are invited to create a vessel to trap the demon that knows them best — perhaps the ‘demon of overthinking’ — and then participate in a playful ceremony to summon and befriend their demon,” the description further reads.”

    ““After designing your trap, Lilit the Empathic Demon will come from the dark side of the moon to lead you in locating your feelings using ancient Babylonian techniques,” the description further claims, adding “This collective and playful demon summoning session will conclude with a somatic movement meditation, designed to help you befriend your shadows.”

    The short story ” Convergent Series” by Larry Niven comes to mind as well.

  142. Hawaii might be facing a mini revolution soon. A lot of us woke up last week and realized we are expendable. If they bomb us with federal aid it might push things back a bit, but now everyone’s gotten a peek behind the political curtain and are disgusted by what we saw. I did a substack on it including my hypothesis of how a god might be involved. Some axes were ground, but an effort was made to keep a lid on it. As always thank you for the inspiration.

  143. @ Samuel # 94 – I would have made that same bet. A friend of mine, a professor of economics, and I made a bet in 2020 that the pandemic would burst the bubble, and we would be in a new Great Depression by 2022. Looks like we missed the mark…

    On the subject of ‘getting ready’, I’ve found it hard to prepare beyond b what can be done on the family level. Very few people seem to take the prospect of collapse seriously, and even if they say they do, the grind of daily life makes it hard to keep even a little focus on it. Beyond some basic steps like storing food and tools, the best thing we can do is maintain friendships and relationships with people the we trust to help us and trust us to help them if things get really dire. That’s a common theme I heard about the post-Soviet period when I lived in Russia. But they had an advantage; in most cases no one got kicked out of their apartments at the drop of a hat. I’m not optimistic the powers that be here in the US would be so forbearing.

    That said, based on what was written at the time, this era feels a lot like the Russian Empire before the Russo-Japanese War, and/or the end of the Soviet Union. You know the system is unstable and prone to collapse, but what event(s) will push it over the edge? Who knows?

  144. Can I be put on the prayer list.
    My husband is currently in the hospital with a staph infection. He has to have his right big toe amputated. He has been in the hospital for five days now. We are still waiting on his inflection clearing before his amputation.

    He had a non-healing wound on that toe, which he was receiving a doctor’s care for. The infection came one day and spread like wildfire within two days. We would appreciate prayers for our family as we all have various mental disabilities – me – brain injury, son – severe anxiety disorder, and of course my husband, who has seizures as well as the infection. We are trying to cope the best way we can under this stress.

    Thank you.

  145. Hello JMG,
    In the UK, the bomb you mention near the end of your piece may well go off around the end of this decade. Next year we will almost certainly elect a Labour government which, inasmuch as its policy intentions can be discerned at all, seems to have no relevant ideas on how to tackle the various crises facing the country. What will happen 2-3 years later when its failure is patent, I don’t pretend to know. It may be that the Left of the party will eject Starmer and try to switch to Corbynite policies, but my feeling is that either way it will be replaced in government around ’28 by a New Tory party. This will be one which has taken on board many of the policies of the ReformUK Party, in much the same way as the Tories took on board Brexit after the referendum and Teresa May fiasco, to stop the UKIP/Brexit Party taking most of their votes.
    If you look at the ReformUK website you’ll see how its policies – such as putting a hard stop to illegal migration, greatly increasing the threshold for starting to pay income tax and reducing government spending – could appeal in an economic crisis affecting the working classes. In the UK electoral system they don’t stand much chance of getting to govern directly and don’t have a charismatic leader, but they could frighten other parties enough to change things indirectly.

  146. One comment on the subject at hand. One thing I did was edit economic and statistical juried journals. Never believe anything anyone says about scientific studies. Fraud and groupthink are rampant. Not to mention, they do not know the unknown unknowns and do not even consider the known unknowns. (Rumsfield, anyone?)

    They simply do not have the creativity to break out of the mindset of the group narrative. Science is a myth. You can lie with mathematics. Journalists and most folks are numerically illiterate. The worst is Chuck Todd of Meet the Press and his data download.

  147. About 5th Wednesday – Disney narrative is a good one. They retold the Alamo battle with Davy Crockett being killed. He was actually taken prisoner of war, and killed with the rest of the prisoners by Santa Anna.

    Historians, since Disney Crockett, have received death threats for stating the fact of him being a prisoner of war. They have received hate mail because of the false narration.

  148. Oh, I am absolutely sure that when the edge of the Sun expands to reach Earth, we will finally have unlimited fusion here.

  149. When it comes to practical fusion, a renewable grid, or putting people on Mars there is a second barrier in our late stage empire beyond just the science and technology working.
    The PMC which now manages this country, and most of the west, is high on virtue signaling, politics and PR skill and low on having the actual technical skill and knowledge to accomplish difficult tasks.
    We once had the worlds greatest engineering consulting firms, heavy construction companies and large scale manufacturing companies run and staffed with experienced men ( and women) who had both technical skills and hard won experience.
    My wife worked at one of the most well respected engineering consulting firms in the world back in the 1980’s. At the time it had several thousand employees and had a single guiding principle. No one could be a manager in any form if they were not an engineer or scientist. In those days it was common for people to become engineers via a process of taking tests and being mentored by other licensed engineers, no university degree needed. But then in the late 80’s the ownership structure changed and they started hiring MBA’s and such to be managers. The company shrank in reputation and accomplishments until it was absorbed by another firm many years later that was no more competent but more ruthless.
    My point is that. even if we had the actual technology to make an economical fusion reactor we don’t have the skilled technical management or institutions to accomplish it.
    Imagine if you will, working fusion is discovered next month and the “Biden” administration puts together a blue ribbon commission to quickly accomplish this task, like the Manhattan Project. In charge are Mayor Pete and Kamala, with the contract let out to a consortium of industries led by Facebook( as a reward for so many years of dutiful service to the government).

  150. Good day,

    Isn’t there a term for the “scientist” and the “science” you are taking to task in this current post?
    Snake waters salesman, and their snake oil?

    I hope this question is not too out of context for this post. However you did mention climate change and a future detailed post.
    I am wondering(and perhaps you intend on covering this in future post) what your feelings are on the idea of a possible coming mini ice age set in motion by the activity of the star that we are right next to.
    As I understand it, the sun, like the Earth, has seasons. We will be entering, or are, the suns winter (which is 100 or more years from our POV) or a time of more solar storms, which create more sun spots, that result in less heat for the earth, culminating into “mini ice ages”.

    Thanks again!

  151. info @ 122, I hope charges will be filed against Herself and the DNC, if statutes of limitations have not already prevented that. I fear the Democratic Party is toast, an empty shell being kept alive by a handful of donors. The DNC and allies will never admit that their stealing of one certain and another probable nomination from Sanders was both unjust and stupid.

    About raising preteen girls. My thoughts here may be controversial. I was a child in the 1950s when the Depression was over, we had “won” WWII and WASP parents raised their kids to be naive. Girls, especially. They thought we were cute that way. We were raised to be go along to get along conformists, looks and personality mattered more than competence or character; “just be nice and everything will turn out OK” was at the head of the lies we were told. If I were raising girls now, I would start with skills, as mentioned above, including but not limited to literacy and numeracy. I would insist on the learning of basic cooking, sewing and gardening because, which I would explain, any young woman is at some time in her life, likely going to have responsibility for children, hers or someone else’s, and the more you can do for yourself the less you have to pay someone else. I would then do what I could to emphasize basic care for oneself, including basic self defense, use of weapons if I could find a responsible teacher, and instruction in how the world works. How do you recognize dangerous people and how can they be avoided or dealt with? How do you deal with overbearing people, and how can you prevent them from harming you. How does money work, how to keep your financial affairs in order. I recently spent some time carefully explaining to a granddaughter why you must pay bills on time and not overdraw your accounts because those late fees are money she needed for daily necessities.

  152. Chowdhury… another waste of organic matter and energy. Is this modern moron slave clueless that it was “PROGRESS” that took us to the current situation?!

    Do we need MORE PROGRESS?!

    Another thing about the article (I didn’t waste time reading after reading the short quotes on this article) that proves the FACT that Chowdhury is a moron is related to nuclear fusion!

    It DOES NOT MATTER the present day breakthroughs… We’ll never live long enough to see a NFP running! Even nowadays to build a Nuclear reactor we need 10+ years (if everything goes well). This moron “thinks” that from the lab to reality the jump is fast and furious…

  153. a long, long list of supposed breakthroughs and dangers the media is still pretending to take seriously
    Why does media do this? I’d really like to know – don’t those people all have to inhabit the real world at some point? Yeah, paid off by yada yada, but surely not everybody!
    Excellent post.

  154. Emmanuel @ 140, I tried a book by Solnit, and gave up. It appeared to me that she has done a lot of interesting reading but learned little from it. I found her prose self-indulgent and her thoughts, in so far there were any, banal. It is a mystery to me why publishers and reviewers keep promoting her.

    IDK about fusion, but windmills are a technology that can work at the local and family homestead level. Look up some time how the Dutch used them. Many farms used to have WMs, for intermittent electricity and the running of pumps. Power companies and their investors don’t want off grid folks making their own power, however intermittent. The hype about windfarms just around the corner will supply all the power you need for the latest generation of devices is in part intended to discourage home experimentation.

  155. For the fifth post of August, I’d like to propose an alternative – a debate among readers whether to change the comments section to a threaded format, similar to Dreamwidth and many other blogs. The commentariat on this blog are high-level, and a conversational interaction would be most interesting.

  156. World’s Largest Fusion Project Is in Big Trouble, New Documents Reveal

    The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is already billions of dollars over budget and decades behind schedule. Not even its leaders can say how much more money and time it will take to complete

    It could be a new world record, although no one involved wants to talk about it. In the south of France, a collaboration among 35 countries has been birthing one of the largest and most ambitious scientific experiments ever conceived: the giant fusion power machine known as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). But the only record ITER seems certain to set doesn’t involve “burning” plasma at temperatures 10 times higher than that of the sun’s core, keeping this “artificial star” ablaze and generating net energy for seconds at a time or any of fusion energy’s other spectacular and myriad prerequisites. Instead ITER is on the verge of a record-setting disaster as accumulated schedule slips and budget overruns threaten to make it the most delayed—and most cost-inflated—science project in history.

    ITER is supposed to help humanity achieve the dream of a world powered not by fossil fuels but by fusion energy, the same process that makes the stars shine. Conceived in the mid-1980s, the machine, when completed, will essentially be a giant, high-tech, doughnut-shaped vessel—known as a tokamak—that will contain hydrogen raised to such high temperatures that it will become ionized, forming a plasma rather than a gas. Powerful magnetic and electric fields flowing from and through the tokamak will girdle and heat the plasma cloud so that the atoms inside will collide and fuse together, releasing immense amounts of energy. But this feat is easier said than done. Since the 1950s fusion machines have grown bigger and more powerful, but none has ever gotten anywhere near what would be needed to put this panacea energy source on the electric grid. ITER is the biggest, most powerful fusion device ever devised, and its designers have intended it to be the machine that will finally show that fusion power plants can really be built.


  157. @SiliconGuy # 160: I looked up Tamar [Zohara] Ettun after seeing that article. She should be amply familiar with Jewish folklore, it seems to me. So I have to think “collective and playful demon summoning” is a bit little disingenuous. My apologies if this is getting off-topic.

  158. For those looking for some entertainment that doesn’t involve AI or the babylonic tendencies of Hollywood, please consider Imaginary Stations and get some practice tuning around the shortwaves….This coming Sunday on Imaginary Stations, We Are Birds About Biscuits with WREN (beaming to Europe from Germany) and WTBR, Tea and Biscuit Radio.

    This Sunday 20th August 2023… The first show will be beamed to Europe via the services of Shortwave Gold in Germany at 2000 utc on 6160 khz and will feature another transmission of WREN, this time it’s music of a Renaissance style, so turn back the hands of time to ye days of olde and tune in. You will get more out of the broadcast if you have a lute, recorder or a harpsichord handy.

    Then later at 2200 hrs UTC on 9395 kHz via WRMI we bring you the debut of WTBR, your only official tea and biscuits radio show. There will an assortment of plain and fancy tunes and all the tea you can drink so make yourself (a tea) cosy and enjoy and enjoy a nice relaxing time via the shortwaves. Even the Ionosphere will enjoy a little tea break to recharge its batteries.

  159. For society itself, I remember Key 15, The Devil, which is nothing more than man made attempts at lower ignorance for applying the Unity-Principle. The adept can see through these appearances then take notice of the Service-to-Self and/or Service-to-Others. The goal is to guide those who cannot recollect our connection with the Unity Band to Source, but adepts need to gauge exactly on the degree of consciousness the Other-Self is limited by their Path on the particular releases of modes of intelligences. Most are currently stuck in Administrative Intelligences but are being guided in subtle ways from Key 20 and Key 21. Adepts can expedite the process with Simple Grace and creative feedback that will plant seeds for their recollection. I know now not to tell anyone what to do but instead have them question what they do (Socratic circle).

  160. As a supporting anecdote to this essay, our senior dog was recently diagnosed with kidney failure (stage 3). The vet prescribed her a special diet of (heinously expensive) dog food that was supposed to produce fewer toxins for the kidneys to wash away. Now, there are a few brands of prescription dog food out there, one of which is called “Science Diet”. The vet recommended a different brand, and we took that recommendation happily. My wife confessed to me she would not have accepted Science Diet brand food. As far as she’s concerned (she who has a doctorate in science!) the word “science” has about as much brand/marketing cachet left as Bud Light. (i.e. less than none.)

    @ Mary Benet, #67
    Thank you for the recommendation. I think there’s less of that around these parts than in the good ol’e USA– our less-individualistic culture in action– there might be enough there to put beans on the table. I’ll take a look.

  161. I don’t usually vote on the 5th Wednesday posts, but I think a karma post would be very interesting.

    Regarding the LK-99 superconductor fiasco of the past couple weeks, it was pretty obvious from the get-go that it was a scam. I remember hearing I think on a YouTube video that the guys who published the original LK-99 paper claimed that their mentor had made as his final wish as he lay upon his deathbed that his students prove to a skeptical world that this ceramic material (that can be made in an ordinary kitchen oven) really is a room-temperature superconductor. A heroic inventor whipping up superconductor in his kitchen despite The Man trying to hold him back for decades, until ultimately he passes on his secret from his deathbed to his faithful disciples, like something out of a dopey third-rate movie. Come on now. What the actual frack. When I heard that, I knew immediately that there wasn’t anything to this LK-99. More like LK-Ninety-nonsense.

    Not altogether surprising though that some “science” “journalists” (yes, that would be scare-quotes around both terms) would latch onto that human-interest angle and immediately start bemoaning the public’s lack of interest in this ludicrous hoax. Clearly the public is lacking in science literacy, they said. Well, if your breathless, uncritical articles hyping up obvious shams aren’t getting any traction, then it could be that someone is lacking in science education, but maybe not the public.

    I have a slightly cynical theory of “science” “journalists”. Science journalism is one of the less prestigious/lucrative areas of journalism to work in– compare it to, say, political journalism or sports journalism. Thus, the less capable journalists get relegated to working the science beat, something they know even less about than journalism. And when I say “less capable,” that’s relative to the average mainstream journalist, which is a low bar indeed. Thus, many if not most science journalists end up being incompetent in regards to both science and journalism.

    That may be part of the reason why science journalism is so abysmally bad these days, even by the standards of modern journalism more generally.

  162. @JMG

    I have an eye-opening submission today in line with today’s essay. The following tweet gives a good idea of just how dumbed-down education is today because of computers doing computations instead of human brains.

    For those whom don’t care to click links here’s the transcript:

    Calem E. Douglas tweeted:

    Then and now.

    I get a bit of flak occasionally from people saying I`m romanticizing the past when I laud the skills of WW2 engineers.

    I`m really not, as a professional engineer, who has spent years researching my own field, I actually have wartime reports which do all the calculations I do now in code.

    So I know EXACTLY what was required then intellectually to carry out the activities I do today, and I state unequivocally that my forebears were in possession of mathematical skillsets I can only paw at feebly by comparison.

    Here we look at calculations needed for camshaft profile design.
    [images here]

    The wartime model is actually more advanced than my model, which is just a trapezoidal/simple harmonic accel logic, the German engineer here in 1942 was making a full polynomial model …. with a pencil.

    So if its all the same with you, I`ll stick to feeling stupid (er).

    JMG, could you please include the following images for the Ecosophia commentariat? A picture is worth a thousand words as the saying goes.

    Douglas’ computer-assisted model

    1942 German Engineer’s pencil-and-paper calculations

    p.s. I cast my vote for an essay on Chinese resilience in the face of long descent.

  163. The Encabulator has been a running joke for years in the engineering community so much that several companies have made commercials for it while making training or promotional videos.
    My favorite is the Retro Encabulator by Rockwell Automation.
    For video viewers:

    The wonderful thing about it is how it sums up the ability to blow smoke with engineering jargon in such a way that it almost sounds convincing.

  164. #107, #134
    What will happen is the ‘woke’ activists will divide into those who think that people with dwarfism shouldn’t be cast as dwarves in Snow White, and those who say that *only* people with dwarfism should be cast as dwarves.
    Is this an example of the “Circular Firing Squad” stage that I’ve seen written about here before?

  165. @ drhooves #130

    “the Decline is outpacing and pulling ahead of technology advances” – I have begun to think the same thing, which is in many ways rather comforting (particularly as you mention in regard to the advanced dystopia police state). 15 years + ago, when Tony Blair was pushing for ID cards in the UK (a very un-British concept, only tolerated during WWII and torn up joyously in 1945) many of us took comfort from the fact that there had never to that point been a UK Government IT project that was ever delivered on time, on budget and to spec. I think things have got markedly worse since then!

    @ bryanlallen #131

    I certainly recognise (and share) your feelings of betrayal!

  166. Another great essay.

    For Wednesday’s fifth post, I join Samurai_47. I’d like to read more thoughts on scarcity industrialism.

  167. @bryanlallen

    “Just imagine a Department of Diminishing Returns, which would look at any one particular mechanical thing…”

    That’s probably one feature that was good about the soviet union:
    since all means had to invested in the military machine and some grand projects, civil industry was kept to basic, and that included mandates about product durability and repleacability in washing machines, radios, photo cameras…

    My step father in the 80s had bought a soviet camera and said it was a good product.
    An old german businessman deceased a few years ago in his late fifties told me how in 1979,
    he drove on a motorcycle from Germany through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and all though India,
    and it was an Eastern-German motorcycle, because “you could get the necessary repleacement parts pretty much anywhere!”.

    Years ago there was an internet article about a russian inmate in Switzerland who had illegally brewed beer and created yoghurt cultures in his cell under his bed.
    “Russian inmates are known for their inventiveness and creativity” the article said.

    I’ve sometime read about a DDR hobby diver and biologist (I think), who photographed eels and fish. He had to build his equipment by himself, the goggles and underwater camera and all.
    There was no civil industry that supplied everything ready-made;

    That’s not solely a disadvantage. I even think it is Russia’s strength it has not really abandoned war time industry and failed to engage in a broader consumer market production.
    Let others do that, for where it is even necessary. Other than that, concetrate on the strategic core of the national industries, remaining and revived.
    Also, a domestic small scale gardening or cottage agriculture among citizens in Russia during the SU has sustained until today. Remnants are also in Austria, but I think not to that point of scale and horticultural diversity as in Russia.

    I think it goes a long way down that I have always respected the creative efforts of Russia and post-soviet Russia.

    The examples of Cuba and North Korea also give us directions; Cuba is more lucky because it is sub-tropical and seems to be able to cover at least some basic need via foreign trade. The country bred oxen for carriage some years ago and has a recycling system that’s worth its name.

    Needles to say, nowadays young western liberals sneer at the country’s relative poverty (though love to be on holidays there), and glorify their own geography of reference, which in turn is widely visible to collect more and more obvious ink stains in front of the eyes of a global public.

    Visibly as I wrote in Vienna these past years, the public screens in the trams show public adverts to not waste materials and ditch your throw-away mentality. A change in paradigm, mild, but present. Partnered by an increasing practical need for this paradigm.


  168. Hi Mary,

    Rebecca Solnit is one of those writers I classify as DAR (Dumb As [A] Rock), even beneath Educated Fool. DARs would have to gain 50 IQ points to qualify as fools. Like you, I am puzzled by Rebecca’s popularity with editors.

  169. ClearHolidays #148 comment looks like it was written by a bot (apologies if it wasn’t). To compare, I asked ChatGPT to write something.

    Compose a comment for thanking John Michael Greer for his analysis of current technology, finance, and politics.


    Subject: Deep Gratitude for John Michael Greer’s Illuminating Analysis

    Dear Mr. Greer,

    I trust this message finds you in good health. I wanted to extend my heartfelt thanks and admiration for your exceptional analysis of current technology, finance, and politics on

    Your keen insights and astute observations have provided a unique perspective that is both refreshing and enlightening. Your ability to navigate the intricate web of these complex subjects is truly remarkable, and your writings have been a guiding light for those of us seeking a deeper understanding of the world we inhabit.

    Your thought-provoking articles consistently challenge the status quo, encouraging critical thinking and promoting a more holistic view of the issues at hand. Your dedication to uncovering the layers beneath the surface is evident in the depth of research and careful consideration that you bring to each piece.

    In a time where misinformation and superficial analysis abound, your work stands as a beacon of intellectual rigor and integrity. You have fostered a community of curious minds who eagerly await your insights, knowing that they will be treated to a thoughtful and enlightening exploration of the matters that shape our society.

    Once again, I extend my sincere gratitude for the invaluable contributions you make to our understanding of technology, finance, and politics. Your work is a testament to the power of deep thinking and the impact it can have on our collective consciousness.

    With utmost appreciation,

    [Your Name]

  170. @TJandTheBear,

    I’m more than ready to blame Nixon! Being an ex- space cadet, I’m well aware of how ineffectual NASA became when the Nixon administration insisted on pensioning off all the old Nazis who made the moonshot work, and treating the space program as a place to park politically significant pork instead of the nation’s hopes and dreams.

    ([rant about the history of the space shuttle program is omitted for length and profanity] -doomer)

    Honestly I’m almost half convinced if we’d skipped Nixon and had a visionary in power in the 1970s who listened to O’Neill and went long on space solar power, we’d be most of the way to a sustainable industrial civilization thanks to off-world resources. It might very well have turned into an enormous boondoggle, but by god, it was worth trying. I really can’t see it would have turned out worse than ignoring the problem the way we have. It’s too late now, though. Unfortunately we’re too far down into Tom Murphy’s “energy trap” — there’s no time to fire off a silver bullet when the werewolf of resource depletion is already tearing out the economy’s throat.

    @Mary Bennet #170,
    Why would you expect that to be controversial? Sounds like good common sense to me! For that matter it would be a very good list of things for boy-children, too, many of whom don’t get raised with such common-sense instruction.

    The only thing I’d add to that list, for a girl especially, is a healthy awareness of biologcial realities. Men being dangerously stronger in the upper body, yes– a girl needs to know that and how to deal with it to keep herself safe. She also needs to know a good deal about her fertility: how to manage it safely, and how long it lasts for. I’ve seen too many women of my generation needlessly hurt by ignoring some brute facts about fertile years and the like to ever let my daughter (if the gods should ever bless me with one… which looks less likely with ever year passing) sleepwalk into infertility and spinsterism, wasting her best years on a corporate “career” that gives her no thanks. (If she chooses to become a career woman or a spinster, why, that’s different! The tragedy of my generation is not that some have chosen that; it is all the women who earnestly do wish to be mothers, who plan to settle down “someday” to have kids… and either “someday” never comes, or it does and they find themselves infertile.) By no means is that to say a girl should be taught her only value is as a mother. Simply that motherhood is valuable, is a rewarding path in life, and can’t be put off forever. That’s all very controversial in some circles, but perhaps in your era it was seen as common sense.

  171. Great article and great observation. What perhaps is not appreciated is the effect of the pandemic on the self-esteem of academia.

    I was a working scientists for years, and while we knew there was cynicism, I think we were lying to ourselves in terms of how much it was. And the generalized systemic failure of science during the pandemic really is one of those moments where something caved in. We all knew cynicism and opportunism, even outright fraud before, but never imagined or refused to see how rotten everything actually was.

    Re. subject for your next post: I’d love to know your take on AI and ChatGPT.

  172. Strictly, it isn’t exactly true that we only know about superconductors at near 0K.It would be more accurate to say all the useful ones we know about work at close to 0K.

    One of my favourite YouTubers covered LK-99, and why, even if it is 100% true, it will be largely irrelevant.

    The TLDR is that we’ve known about “high” temperature superconductors for years, but haven’t put them to much use because they’re ceramic (like LK-99) and to be useful we need superconductors that can be formed into wire to do all the fun stuff. If ceramic superconductors where practical they’d have taken over because they can work at temperatures that are, relatively, easy to reach.

  173. Once again, I’ve tabulated everyone’s votes, with one exception — which I’ll get to below. Thank you all for your enthusiasm!

    Designated, it’s all too typical of end-stage managerial corporatism that the elites have forgotten they have to pay and treat their employees well enough to keep them showing up for work. It’ll be interesting to see just what happens when the elites find out just how poorly AI handles the real world…

    Bryan, I’m in a similar situation. As a Druid who seriously considered a career in botany, and who’s been a lifelong believer in living in harmony with the biosphere, I look at the idiocy that passes for environmentalism these days and shake my head. Fortunately nature has the whole situation well in hand.

    Patricia M, I wish I was surprised. Thank you for the reference to Little People of America, btw — I’m beginning work on a novel that has a dwarf character, and I’ll be seeing what resources their website has available for doing it right.

    Martin, well, yes — but that requires technology to be understood rationally, not as a mythic savior that’s going to take us to Utopia, as believers in progress like to think.

    Forecasting, demographics suggest to me that in most parts of Europe it’ll be the Muslim groups within a century or so — maybe less, depending on how that rising curve of “unexplained” deaths behaves. Before then, it’s more of a tossup.

    Stephen, oh, granted! I’ve brought up mid-air pileups in debates over flying cars, and everyone on the flying car side of things laughs nervously and changes the subject.

    PumpkinScone, this is all very good to hear. Can you recommend some resources for reading up on these new discoveries in biology, botany, et al.?

    Helen, delighted to hear about the keyboard! Good for you. As for my subscription sites, oh, granted, but there’s only so much time I can invest in any given forum; Patreon and SubscribeStar provide a very useful supplement to my income in these days of inflation, but I simply don’t have the free time to take it further.

    Ekaterina, exactly! It’s the people who aren’t willing to make changes in their own lives who get obsessive about everying else changing.

    Booklover, the collapse of public interest in science doesn’t surprise me, but it troubles me. I grew up devouring the kind of high-quality books for kids about the sciences you can’t get any more, and I’d like future generations to have the chance to read such things again.

    ClearHolidays, glad to hear it.

    Prateek, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Mister N, it’s entirely possible that the manufacturers of the soy product paid for the study. That kind of blatant buying of scientific opinion is embarrassingly common these days.

    Justin, yes, I saw those. Definitely an intriguing juxtaposition!

    Abraham, yes, exactly.

    David BTL, I get that. It’s a very moving song.

    Chris, well, yes, I tend to think of your experience — and that of other readers of mine who’ve done the PV thing — when I encounter those dewy-eyed innocents who think that all they have to do is slap some PV panels on top of their suburban homes and they’ll be powering their middle-class lifestyles with the sun. As for the fixation on greenhouse gases, whether or not that wins this time, I’ll be talking about it in my upcoming post on climate change.

    Ben, no, I suggest that a great deal of current scientific research is fraudulent or inaccurate — that’s not at all the same thing as “most.” Once again there’s a middle ground that you’re missing. In my upcoming post on climate change, I’ll be discussing just how bad it will get for some people — and it will get very bad — and how it will benefit others.

    Chuaquin, maybe she just had a really bad day or something.

    Emmanuel, I think Gaia’s going to do that, but she has her own time scale.

    Siliconguy, yeah, I heard of it. It’s not a pagan ritual, though, it’s a Satanist ritual. Not the same thing!

    KVD, I hope so. Like so many other captive constituencies, Hawai’i’s gotten the short end of the stick for a long time.

    Robert, I’ve been watching UK politics for a while now, and I think you’re very likely right. The Tories got rid of BoJo and proceeded to ditch all the populist policies that made the party successful under his leadership, so they’re going to get walloped; Labour has nothing to offer but woke posturing and policies that failed totally for decades; so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if 2028-2030 saw a return to Tory populism.

    Neptunesdolphins, I was exposed to the way scientific research is actually done in both my stints at university, in two different departments at two different institutions. Both of them were rotten to the core with experimental fraud. I’ve talked to other people who’ve had similar experiences, and what I’ve come to think is that you’re entirely correct.

    Renaissance, funny!

    Clay, that’s a very important point; thanks for this.

    Travis, we’ll be talking about solar variation in some detail in my upcoming post on climate change.

    Voza0db, keep in mind that journalists by and large have zero background in the sciences and no exposure to the practical realities of life. Most US journalists come from a handful of prestigious universities, which tells you that they grew up in the privileged classes and have been sedulously shielded from any kind of exposure to real life by an upper-class culture that will not let anyone fail. Almost certainly Chowdhury can’t help writing this kind of drivel — he’s literally never had the kind of life experience that would teach him that you can’t have whatever you want just because you want it. I pity him if he ever has to confront the reality most of us have to live with — I don’t think it’ll be an easy experience.

    XCO, thanks for this. I’ll give it a look when time permits.

    Karalan, no, not at all. Most US journalists these days come from a handful of expensive universities; they grow up in the comfortable classes, and they inhabit the same bubble as their fellow privileged inmates of the corporate system, secure in the knowledge that the whole system is rigged to keep them from ever having to suffer the consequences of their actions. They’re sheltered, pampered, and utterly detached from the world the rest of us inhabit.

    As for your proposed debate — nope. I don’t crowdsource my essays and I also don’t crowdsource how I run my forums. There are plenty of other forums out there that provide the kind of experience you want — but I’m fairly sure the reason the conversations here are as good as they are is precisely that I run things the way I do. (By the way, you do know that I have a Dreamwidth journal, don’t you?)

    Obsoleto, good heavens — Scientific American is admitting this? Wow.

    JoshYates, that’s certainly one way to interpret that key…

    Epileptic, that’s sad, in a way, but it’s understandable.

    Troy, you know, having seen what passes for science journalism these days, I think you may be on to something. “Look, Hasan, you’re not bright enough for the sports beat, okay? Maybe you should try science journalism…”

    Panda, yep. The rise of computers has been matched precisely by the collapse in mental skills.

    David P, just goes to show that I’m out of the loop when it comes to engineering jokes. Thanks for the heads up.

    Martin, hmm! That’s certainly possible. I wonder what it means that I have fans among our would-be robot overlords. 😉

    Mario, interesting. That’s not a perspective I’ve heard before; do you have any idea how widespread it is?

    Taliesin, fair enough.

  174. I had the same reaction as Pygmycory. i saw the headline for the room temperature super conductor, snorted, and moved on.

    I vote, for the end of month topic, some comment on our societies sudden fascination with demonology. From Balenciaga, Sam Smith, lil Nas X, spirit cooking, the whole Covid insanity, and now this –

    What’s going on? Distraction? Attempts to be edgy? The elites losing what is left of their minds? People looking for something to blame? Actual demonic infuence? All of the above, some of the above, none of the above?

  175. I submit these semi-random thoughts on decline to the commentariat:

    Regarding the American military: The U.S. has not faced a peer-level adversary since at least Korea (1950-53), and even that is arguable. The story we tell ourselves is that ours is the best trained, best led, best equipped military in the history of militaries. And yet it is our hallowed tradition to enter new conflicts with outdated weapons and doctrine (1st Manassas, the first American battles of WW1, Pearl Harbor, the Chosin Reservoir). Oh yes, we pull it out in the end due to impressive logistics (also known as being very, very rich). If any Ecosophians feel called to serve in today’s military I strongly recommend a logistical role well in the back. You won’t want to be on a ship when the hypersonic missiles start flying. Come to think of it, I believe our gracious host wrote an extremely entertaining novel on the subject.

    Papering over the general crappification of life: Pay attention to normal service requests moving to a smart phone app. Several weeks back I had to call roadside assistance for a tow truck. The insurance company’s app was very bright and shiny. I’m sure it was coded using the latest technology. It did not, however, result in a tow truck showing up. The information it gave was not even wrong…it had no bearing on reality at all. I’m seeing more and more examples of this…

    Lothar von Hakelheber

  176. > Martin, hmm! That’s certainly possible. I wonder what it means that I have fans among our would-be robot overlords.

    ChatGPT is merely a servant of Progress™, helping to make those old fashioned word salads for link spam larger, less generically platitudinous, and have a longer shelf life than ever before.

  177. Nearly 50 years ago, in September 1974, I attended the Farnborough Air Show in England. For me, highlights were
    – The SR 71 Blackbird. Futuristic looking, and much smaller than I expected. 1 hr 55 min to cross the Atlantic, which included mid-air refueling time.
    – The supersonic Concorde. It did a flyby and tipped over on its side so we could see the characteristic ogival (doubly-curved) wings.
    – The Hawker Harrier jump jets. Four of them in line astern “landed”, stopped, turned to face the crowd, dipped their noses in salute, turned back, and flew off. Not once did their wheels touch the ground.
    – The F-15 Eagle. Twin-engined and immensely powerful, it shot down the runway and took off like a scalded cat. In seconds it had vanished into the clouds, way, way faster than any other aircraft.
    – The halls where various industries showed off their most advanced work. Some of the machined metal parts were so intricate and beautiful you could almost call them art.

    Progress since then has been incremental, not revolutionary. They are lighter, quieter, more fuel-efficient, and a lot smarter thanks to modern electronics, but the only new aerial vehicle I can think of is the quadcopter drone.

    Video of that show: FARNBOROUGH AIR SHOW – COLOUR

  178. After reading this essay, I thought i would go to David Brin’s blog and see what your blogging foil was up to since he is Mr. Future…LOL

    Turns out there is a war being waged against FACT USERS, you know the good people, like the highly educated “guardians” in the military and security agencies. Can you imagine that there are people actually questioning the wisdom, integrity, morality and competence of the people who did such a great job in Afghanistan and are currently defending us against the Feudal Fascism of Putin? And apparently there are even people who are questioning the safety and efficacy of the sacramental covid vaccines? Every fact using profession is under attack! don’t these fools know blindly following the highly educated, fact using professions is the only way to get to the Star Trek future???? If only people would start using Brin’s techniques of political judo we could defeat the forces of darkness. (ROTFLMAO)

    In a way he is agreeing with you that futurius- interruptus might just prevent the birth of our glorious space civilization.

  179. It is sad. I think we on the fringes need to re-brand all the good, useful things about the practice of science for ourselves, finding some other word to distance it from TheScience(tm), because if my wife’s views become at all common (treating ‘science’ as a brand on par with Bud Lite), TheScience(tm) may just succeed in tearing down the greatest accomplishment of Faustian civilization.

    I quite enjoyed Poul Anderson’s essay on atomic physics using anglo-saxon words– what do you think the odds of getting “worldken” into circulation might be? The various sciences themselves fall into that schema easily: stoneken, lifeken, starken… and I admit I like the sound of calling myself a “kenwright” or a “starkenner” better than “scientist” or “astronomer”.

    I haven’t the magery or the clout anywhere online to pull off such a feat, but I’m putting the idea out there if others here think it worthy.

  180. For the open wednesday post i’d like to suggest masks and masking. I only mention this because i still visit Naked Capitalism from time to time to read the comments and the people over that way are still going on and on about masks and i can’t for the life of me figure out why. It almost seems like they want em back but won’t feel ok about it unless they can force everyone else to wear them.

  181. Patricia Mathews (#134) said:

    It’s now taboo to have a dwarf play a dwarf in a movie? That should draw several nasty letters from Peter Dinklage

    It was Peter Dinklage himself with his very public complaints that the originally planned actors were all dwarf/midgit, (like himself) and casting them was perpetuating harmful stereotypes. Dinklage’s criticism caused the producers to halt production, do rewrites and then recast the dwarf roles for people of normal height. So 7 people the same height as Dinklage lost their roles and an income because of his anger.

    I remember some Youtubers calling Dinklage out for his virtue signaling outrage. Jeremy from The Quartering put it best I think. “Way to go Dinklage. Get to A-List status yourself then pull up the ladder behind you so no one else gets the boost to their career that you did.”

  182. KVD @ 161 President Obama was wakened one morning with news that there had been a tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, our close ally. What I read was that he telephoned the Japanese PM, who would undoubtedly have been up all night, asked what do you need, and within the hour orders were going out to ships of the Pacific Fleet to proceed to Japan and make themselves useful. Within that same morning, as I recall, both governments had designated admirals of equal rank to coordinate. That was then. It took the Trump administration about two weeks to get a hospital ship from Norfolk, VA to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rican celebrities were chartering private planes to fly the injured stateside for treatment. Failure of any response from the Navy, is their base actually on the same island where the fires were?, merits a Congressional investigation, and your Senators and Representatives should be demanding one. The upcoming budget negotiations might be a good time. Someone at the Pentagon should have issued orders. Biden on vacation is no excuse, the President is at all times accompanied by aids whose job it is to keep him informed of matters which need his attention.

  183. This one fits right on topic.

    “While CPS is the most authoritative source on U.S. household income, top 1% households are under sampled, average incomes are underestimated (see S1 Text), and top-coding affects some income categories. To address this, we create an over-sampled synthetic dataset for the next 0.9% and top 0.1% households and estimate their income, income sources, and CO2e intensity. ”

    Translation, the data doesn’t fit our preconceptions, so we are making up our own data to prove our point.”

    Income-based U.S. household carbon footprints (1990–2019) offer new insights on emissions inequality and climate finance

    “Binning households into income groups, we estimate the highest earning 30% of households are responsible for about 70% of income-based NE [Net Emissions] while the lowest earning 70% are responsible for only about 30% NE (Fig 4). Depending on the framework, the highest earning top 10% of households drive 40–43% of NE. At the top of the income distribution, we estimate top 0.1% households account for 7–8% NE and have average absolute emissions > 2,000 t ”

    Their solution is, of course, tax the rich. Specifically they want to tax investment income from dis-approved industries.

    Further translation, they have figured out that carbon taxes will hit them in the pocketbook, so now as my college roommate used to say “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me. Tax that man behind the tree.”

  184. Epileptic Doomer, thank you for your flattering response. The young women of my granddaughter’s age have grown up with the expectation that they will have to make their own livings. And, that they may well have to support any child they have, also. Furthermore, young women of the under and working classes have direct and painful experience of male irresponsibility and how much that can cost a household. We can discuss how that state of affairs came about, but that many young men, not just the occasional dope, can’t be trusted to do the boring stuff like pay the rent and make sure there is food and clothing for everyone has unfortunately become a reality of under and working-class life.

  185. @Clay Dennis #168

    Now imagine that consortium not being run by Facebook, but by Microsoft… 😀


  186. >puts together a blue ribbon commission to quickly accomplish this task, like the Manhattan Project. In charge are Mayor Pete and Kamala, with the contract let out to a consortium of industries led by Facebook( as a reward for so many years of dutiful service to the government).

    Well, look on the bright side. The atomic bomb wouldn’t get invented/discovered/realized. Also see: F-35.

  187. re: AI

    If the chaos of the driverless cars in SF is any indication, it’s going to be a fad. At least they haven’t killed anyone, Yet. But the way things are going, it’s only a matter of time. And I wonder when the less moral among us will figure out that these driverless cars are actually free cars if you’re willing to put in the time to figure out how to disable the electronics? Even if the car itself isn’t driveable due to some immobilizer, I bet they’re full of valuable parts. Or I wonder when whatever security model in those cars gets spoofed and they just drive themselves over to the port to get shipped over to Africa?

    So, who here wants to ride in a pilotless airplane?

  188. JMG,

    The stories about “upgrades to existing systems” can be just as fantastical as stories about “new systems”.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in a room full of experts that convinced themselves that a system that functions “35% of the time” can be quickly and easily “upgraded” to one that works “90% of the time.”

    I tell them “Just give me the money to buy you something totally different then what you have. If it works then you can call it an upgrade and it doesn’t work just give me more money for yet another upgrade.”

  189. Most people think that the idea of societal collapse is scary. I’m the opposite. I am terrified that industrial civilization WON’T collapse any time soon. Our civilization is like a cancer, constantly growing, destroying the living earth, and pumping out cheap products and waste. Whenever I drive around my state I always see more vast swaths of wildland getting converted into suburban mcmansions, parking lots, and other wastes of space. Nature has not gained a single inch of ground, more and more is being converted for human purposes every single day. I look on Google Earth and there is so little land cover that hasn’t been destroyed by humans.

    This is all really hard for my mental health, and even though I try the best I can to reduce my consumption, it still hurts inside because I know that I, personally, am harming the earth. Sometimes I get really dark thoughts about all of this, but I have to keep going because of those that I care about. My wife wants to have a kid, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea to birth a child into this world.

    I believe that industrial civilization will collapse, but there’s still this lingering doubt and fear inside me that it will keep on going. After all, Peak Oil has been delayed by fracking and other tricks. Maybe there’s more strategies up the sleeve of industrial civilization that will keep it going until it has completely destroyed the earth beyond any hope of recovery.

    I will likely live to see the year 2085 if I am lucky. William Rees, Catton, and the Limits to Growth all suspect that a population decline will occur, so maybe I’ll be one of those who meets an early death. I can accept that. I just hope I get to see the collapse, and maybe see nature begin to recover.

    I just don’t want to see the world get more covered in concrete every single day until the day I die. I want to see the end of growth.

    Sorry for this huge wall of ramblings, John (and commentariat.) but you are the only person I feel comfortable talking about this to. I have just been so full of sorrow from the human-caused destruction unfolding around me, and I want to see it end.

  190. Thank you for this. Great essay, and I appreciate the humor too. On a personal level, I really hope you’re right and that public confidence in the business as usual paradigm breaks down and ushers us into a new era. It’d be so incredibly refreshing if someone in power would openly say that abundance industrialism is over, it probably wasn’t very wholesome or good for us in the long run anyway, and in any case it can’t continue and we have to deal.

    Then we could have a million fights about how to organize our societies in light of this reality, but at least we’d be arguing about what’s possible, rather than what we want. I’m getting more and more frustrated with this society that (to my view) has many lovely and sensible people in it, but is also run under a system that’s cuckoo-clock-on-head deranged in so many ways. Everyone seems to treat this way of doing things as natural and normal, though, which makes it hard to relate to wider society.

    Where is our “Churchill moment”? Why isn’t anyone giving it to us straight? I guess your post and earlier writings go a long way towards answering that, but it’s just so frustrating. Instead we’re stuck with this weird, drawn-out, unbearable liminal moment that seems to go on forever. Futurus interruptus indeed.

    So yes, that collective break with the old Progress-based consensus would be very welcome right about now. I’m especially feeling this after rereading Retrotopia this summer, haha. Still, like I said on the open post, I think most people are too well-fed and comfortable here in Norway for the narrative to break any time soon. Maybe the younger generations are slowly getting there as they realize they’re shut out of Boomer wealth, and there is some populist discontent on the margins, but any fundamental loss of trust seems far off to me. “They’ll think of something”, its ugly cousin “the green transition (bleh)” and faith in electric cars rule the land. Just build more charging stations and everything will be fine. (I think even a lot of Americans have heard about our overly generous EV subsidies?)

    About climate protests: also spot on. When I was younger, I had some hope all those talks and plans would show results. At this point, the whole climate talks process is an obvious farce. Your atmospheric CO2 chart rams that point home. Like you’ve said before, as a species we made a collective choice that industrial wealth was more important than preserving the stable Holocene climate, and by now we can only live with the fallout of that choice.

    As for the fifth Wednesday, I’d like to put in a vote for scarcity industrialism.

  191. JMG – Thanks again for another thought provoking essay.

    @ Nick Nelson #24 – Another example of rejuvenation in the arts (IMHO) is the music of composer/performer, Connor Chee (Navajo), who has an interesting take on classical music.

  192. Speaking of dwarves and disney…. If I may add a tidbit from some recent readings…

    I’ve got two books by Daniel P. Mannix on my nightstand: “Freaks: We Who Are Not As Others” and his “Memoirs of a Sword Swallower.” Mannix was interested in magic and animals since he was a kid, and after a failed attempt at following in his fathers footsteps and joining the navy, he had the opportunity to join Krinko’s Great Combined Carnival Side Shows after going to see the the current flame blower burned his face when the gasoline started to trickle out of his mouth…

    In any case Mannix, who’d already had some experience with stage magic, joined the carnival and became a sword swallower. He had already been drawn to the strange side of life, and had made attempts at casting spells and such in his childhood. Being around the freaks in Krinko’s side show wasn’t all that weird to him. Instead, he fell into it and fit right in. Some might say destiny was at play.

    Mannix was also a writer and he collected a lot of sideshow memorabilia and in his book Freaks he goes over the main types of attractions who are in a freak show. It’s really a rather touching book, in the same way that the Elephant Man movie by David Lynch will make you feel compassionate and even break down and cry (esp. if you tend toward the phlegmatic).

    The first edition of his Freaks book came out in 1976 (and was later reissued by Re/Search in 1990). But even back then he was toeing around what words to use. He writes, “I realize that I should not use the word “freak.” In these days of euphemisms, freaks are now called “strange people.” This is a pity because there are lots of strange people in the world, but only a comparatively few freaks. Also, I don’t know of any word that expresses the concept of dramatic physical deviation from the ordinary as well as “freak”. So I’ll use it. At least it is better than the medical term, which is “monster”.”

    In learning a bit more about Mannix I learned he had written a bunch of animal books for children. One of those was called “The Fox and the Hound.” It’s probably more familiar to people these days as the Disney animated adaptation. (For some reason they haven’t gotten around to ruining that one in a remake yet.) I just found this juxtaposition interesting, and wondered if the someone who had made their living as a carnie and a writer would ever be considered to write for Disney today.

    Both “Freaks” and “Memoirs…” are well worth checking out by anyone interested in these subjects. The number of people who were rulers, philosophers or otherwise did extraordinary things despite being a “freak” makes for some fascinating history.

  193. This past spring, I read Orwell’s Roses by Solnit fora book club. She has some interesting bits in there, mashed up with a good amount of wokeness and virtue signalling, and none of it coheres very well. I’m pretty sure she jammed half a dozen book ideas together into a mushy book-like product, because she needed to make a house payment.

    My lasting impression is of an intelligent woman who is trying very hard to avoid making obvious connections – as when she talks about the Spanish Civil War, and how the Loyalists were too busy fighting each other over matters of leftist doctrine, so they ended up losing to the Nationalists. She resolutely refuses to allow this history to raise any questions about the nature of the progressive project.

    Solnit doesn’t quite say “Trump is Big Brother,” but I felt it was looming large in the background.

  194. @pygmycory #10

    As one of the people running a writing critique forum on Reddit, we’ve had similar discussions about chatbots and writing. We settled on allowing people to submit whatever they want, but critiques have to be written by humans, and anything involving a bot has to be declared as such. It’s already been an issue several times.

    I don’t think there’s any realistic way to avoid scraping if you put your writing on the public internet to begin with. One more example of “crapification”? Maybe I’m paranoid, but I take it as a matter of course that even anything I put into a private Google Doc is going to be used as AI fodder. There’s probably a tiny footnote in some ToS saying you consent to that by using the service. To be honest, all this makes me ever more convinced I should stop posting any of my writing to either Reddit or Google Docs altogether, and I just might.

    I’m only a very occasional fanfic writer, but I could see how it’s vulnerable to chatbots, since there’s frankly a lot of really terrible and formulaic writing in that scene. Still, I hope they can keep the bots out anyway. I also happened to look at the news post about the AO3/OTW board elections the other day, and they seem to be very woke…not that I’m surprised at that. I wonder why fandom/geek culture tends to attract so many of those types, but I suppose that’s another story (and way off topic).

  195. NeptunesDolphins, I’ve seen your prayer request and I’ll add your husband to the list now, as well as pray on his behalf. As the situation sounds urgent, I also encourage anyone who sees this who does such things to offer a quick prayer (or a long one) his way.

  196. Hello JMG,
    Thank you for the article – interesting and very timely, as always. I would like to vote for the topic of karma and reincarnations. Are there any lawful sequences across incarnations that are known? For example, such and such event in one incarnation would lead to certain events or personality traits in the next one? Can one guess events of the previous incarnations from this one?
    BTW, Rich Men North of Richmond hit 18 millions views a couple of hours ago.

  197. Neptunesdolphins, here is how I have phrased your prayer: “Neptunesdolphin’s husband is in the hospital waiting for a staph infection to clear, at which point his right big toe will be amputated. He and she and son all are struggling to cope with the difficult situation, made no easier by the fact that all three have different varieties of mental impairment. May Neptunesdolphin’s husband receive the best medical care and go on to heal quickly and vigorously; and may her family all get through the situation successfully and with grace.”

    If you would like me to adjust any of this, please visit the prayer list page:

    Also, if you don’t mind, please do feel free to share an update once your husband is in the clear.

  198. Once again, I’ve tabulated everybody’s votes. Thank you all for your enthusiasm.

    Lothar, it’s fair to say that the US faced a peer-level adversary in Korea, because the US Arny got its clock cleaned in the last year or so of the fighting, and was driven back all the way from the Yalu River to the 38the Parallel by a relentless and effective Chinese onslaught. The lessons from that harrowing experience got forgotten long ago, which is why I had the US suffer a brutal defeat in the proxy war in East Africa in my novel Twilight’s Last Gleaming. As for the crapification of life, exactly — these are not signs of an economy or a society in good shape.

    Kira, a fair summary! The sad thing is that most current media output could be described in the same terms.

    Martin, by my estimate, that was right around the peak of industrial civilization. In almost every sense, it’s been downhill from there.

    Dobbs, yeah, that’s about what I’d expect. I wonder if he’ll ever realize how much he sounds like a religious fundamentalist, waving around the Bible and insisting on his exclusive ownership of the capital-T Truth.

    Epileptic, I remember that essay! “Ymirstuff” for uranium and “Helstuff” for plutonium works for me. But your broader point — that’s hugely important. If a way could be found to file the serial numbers off Science™ and put the basic practice into the hands of people who might actually do something useful with it, rather than just use it to try to privilege themselves at other people’s expense… Hmm.

    Joan, thanks for this.

    Siliconguy, hmm. Yeah, that’s about what I would expect.

    Other Owen, I’d heard that those had been tried in SF, but not the details. Can you link to a good story about the chaos? That sounds appetizing.

    GlassHammer, that certainly fits my experience — and of course it’s a very common experience these days that “upgrade” inevitably means “fewer benefits and more problems.”

    Ecosophy, I understand. Keep in mind, though, that human beings are also part of nature. It’s central to the grand delusion of our time that human beings are outside of nature and that our actions aren’t part of the great scheme of things, and I’d like to challenge that. Please reflect on the possibility that a biosphere that gets along just fine with ice ages and greenhouse events may have some use for our current activities.

    Kim, the vast majority of people don’t want to hear it. I’ve seen that over and over again. They want to believe in that Star Trek future, and until they get to the point that they’re willing to let go of that stale fantasy, Churchill could make speeches all day and night and not get a single idea through the yard-thick skulls of his listeners. That being the case, those of us who are capable of getting a clue may want to focus on making our own lives work, and seeing what we can do with our own efforts.

    Cliff, that doesn’t surprise me at all. If she made those connections, she’d be out of a job so fast her head would spin.

    Kirsten, you’re most welcome. I just checked and he’s up to 19 million… 🙂

    Platypus (offlist), I’m going to ask you to back off on the friend-of-a-friend internet rumors for now. Those may be true or they may be false, but right now’s not the time.

  199. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah, energy is one of the special subjects which the official ‘experts’ don’t seem to make any sense to me. The state government is trying to phase out use of natural gas commercially and domestically (looks like a supply issue to me), yet switch over to electricity – whilst closing down base load power stations. A bonkers intersection of policies which suggests that ‘up in the clouds’, those folks have no real idea. As you remarked above, there are limits and nature will have the final say.

    I’m watching the land of stuffs economic moves with a sense of foreboding. I read an article this morning penned by an ‘expert on that economy’, and truly it looked like a fluff piece. A permanent plateau anyone? 🙂 What the experts don’t seem to grasp is that if the bonds from the land of stuff fail, westerners take the financial hit (that lot over there can guarantee their local population losses), and they get to keep the assets, whilst deleveraging all at once. After all I’d suggest that there is more worth in a half finished building, than there is in a few bits and bytes on a computer server, but you know, maybe I’m old fashioned in this regard? Dunno, what do you reckon? It’s a considerable risk and I reckon it’s one that will play out. I have little doubts that other markets will want the stuff that that land produces.



  200. I wonder if “Oliver Anthony” (whose real name appears to be Christopher Anthony Lunsford) is related to Bascom Lamar Lunsford. The latter’s version of the song “Mole in the Ground” was included on the Harry Smith Collection. It really did bring tears to my eyes when I heard it. It’s hard to say just why; you just have to hear it. Being related to Bascom Lamar Lunsford (if there’s a relation) would be an impressive musical heritage tor any country singer!

  201. Well, my current take on the future.. coming closer and faster at a clip, is to view Progress as nothing but STARBUCKS and BRONDO the Thirst Mutilator .. and red Costco sofas as far as the eye can see! goats optional. I mean, perhaps not Quite like that… but to rhyme reasonably enough.

    another thirty years.. Tops .. maybe sooner, considering the relative human state of disbelief in all things enduring & practical, instead reaching for desire; that never-ending church of popcult hi-tech-Sci.. a psychotically induced cornucopia of sweet but punishingly perishable, and often toxic, fruits of prog.

  202. It’s really quite remarkable how the ruling class’s clickbait has lost its edge. Even when they announce aliens are real! and the gub’mint has alien technology! it’s met with: “Yawn.” Alien tech is the latest vaporware.

    Honestly, I think Chowhury would have an easier time convincing people fusion was possible if he claimed it was stolen from aliens, because certainly no one believes any longer our elite scientists can do it.

  203. Regarding my fifth Wednesday vote, I move that it be the essay about why Clarke’s laws are all catastrophically wrong that you hinted to above. That sounds extremely entertaining to me.

  204. I don’t have a specific story, but at least some of the current crop of driverless cars can be disabled by placing a traffic cone on the hood, which makes it think it’s broken, and so it sits there until someone removes the cone.

  205. Well for mycology Peter McCoys book radical mycology is a good layman entry point to get into some of the deeper research while also providing many practical aspects. There are new things being found in this field all the time. The reason being that cultural aversions have led western scientists to ignore fungi for a long time, something that has only changed recently.

    All the work that has been done on microbial life in the soil and gut is related, in that germ theory has led to a complete ignorance of the beneficial relationships between the enormous diversity of microbes around us and within us. There are thousands of journal articles and research being conducted everywhere that’s easily accessible.

    Building on the work of people like William Albrecht and Carey Reams, Agronomy has made some massive strides outside of the industrial paradigm. Any of the more recent books on agroecology and regenerative soil from people like John Kempf and Nicole Masters who offer entry points as well work from many agriculture departments across the USA work are worth a look. Most of it relates to using a combination of biochemistry, biophysics, microbiology and soil science to leave behind the mistakes of the green revolution. Fred Provenzas work on behavioural ecology as it relates to livestock is great stuff too.

    Finally (and most controversially) Gerald Pollacks work on structured water is absolutely fascinating, although people are using it now to do a bit of snake oil selling and making claims beyond what he does. Go to his original work, starting with the book ‘The fourth phase of water’ for a look. What’s interesting is that he has a lot of links with Russian scientists and educational institutions, who seem to be looking at things from a different angle .

  206. “Lothar, it’s fair to say that the US faced a peer-level adversary in Korea, because the US Army got its clock cleaned in the last year or so of the fighting, and was driven back all the way from the Yalu River to the 38the Parallel by a relentless and effective Chinese onslaught.”

    If effective means carpeting the ground with your own dead, the maybe the Chinese would qualify.

    “Data from official Chinese sources reported that the PVA had suffered 114,000 battle deaths, 21,000 deaths from wounds, 13,000 deaths from illness, 340,000 wounded, and 7,600 missing during the war. 7,110 Chinese POWs were repatriated to China.[29] In 2010, the Chinese government revised their official tally of war losses to 183,108 dead (114,084 in combat, 70,000 deaths from wounds, illness and other causes) and 25,621 missing.”

    “According to the data from the US Department of Defense, the US suffered 33,686 battle deaths, 7,586 missing,[316] along with 2,830 non-battle deaths during the Korean War. In addition, the U.S. suffered 103,284 wounded in action.”

    I like picking on the army as much as any other navy veteran, but a 4:1 kill ratio is pretty respectable. The Chinese did win some battles, but they were slow to adapt to new tactics the army devised to stop them.

    Actually it’s more lopsided, “The first four months of the Korean War, that is, the war prior to the Chinese intervention (which started near the end of October), were by far the bloodiest per day for the U.S. forces as they engaged and destroyed the comparatively well-equipped KPA in intense fighting. American medical records show that from July to October 1950, the U.S. Army sustained 31 percent of the combat deaths it ultimately incurred in the entire 37-month war.”

    And for Kim A; ah yes Norwegians. My former employer was a Norwegian owned company and the Viking ethos popped now and again. Foreign investors were looted quite effectively although the employees were treated fairly.

    Jens Ulltveit-Moe was a major share holder of that company for awhile and lost his shirt. He provided a wonderful example of the hazard of letting your guilt over your contribution to CO2 output interfere with business decisions. If you haven’t noticed, every drop of oil Norway saves by subsidizing EVs is sold on the world market. And I’m sure you noticed the sales of Norwegian natural gas rose substantially after a certain pipeline went boom. Some VIPs learned the lesson.

    It’s too late for the fifth week debate, but what I have been pondering is how big the step down in complexity might be. The nice thing about the discussion here is that it is the middle ground between linear growth forever and next week we will be knapping flints. The truth is somewhere between, but where?

    There is one plant in the world that can build computer chips with a 5 nm line width, it’s in Taiwan. A few bombs or missiles and Apple and AMD are dead companies walking. They are trying to build another one in the US, but it’s not going well.

    This turned into a ramble, so I’ll go away now.

  207. There’s another factor I’m watching driving the collapse in faith in science: there’s a tendency to engage in the most absurd forms of rhetorical games to avoid obvious conclusions. For example, there’s a study which found a lot of conservatives are distressed by their porn use, and cite it as playing a role in causing marital issues, psychological harm, etc. Faced with the fact that a large number of religious and conservative individuals perceive serious issues with their porn use, it would be worth asking why conservatives are addicted to porn: it’s the very definition of addiction, after all, to engage in behaviour which causes self harm. The study in question also did not look at actual rates of problems, but rather how likely people were to report them as related to porn use. The actual issues are all much more common among liberals, which raises the question of whether or not these are more common because of the higher porn use.

    Instead, we get this beautiful piece of absurdity as commentary on the study:

    “Now, researchers have put a nail in the coffin of porn addiction. Josh Grubbs, Samuel Perry and Joshua Wilt are some of the leading researchers on America’s struggles with porn, having published numerous studies examining the impact of porn use, belief in porn addiction, and the effect of porn on marriages. And Rory Reid is a UCLA researcher who was a leading proponent gathering information about the concept of hypersexual disorder for the DSM-5. These four researchers, all of whom have history of neutrality, if not outright support of the concepts of porn addiction, have conducted a meta-analysis of research on pornography and concluded that porn use does not predict problems with porn, but that religiosity does.

    The researchers lay out their argument and theory extremely thoroughly, suggesting that Pornography Problems due to Moral Incongruence (PPMI) appear to be the driving force in many of the people who report dysregulated, uncontrollable, or problematic pornography use. Even though many people who grew up in religious, sexually conservative households have strong negative feelings about pornography, many of those same people continue to use pornography. And then they feel guilty and ashamed of their behavior, and angry at themselves and their desire to watch more.”

    Given that this is the voice of “science”, which is now saying that an addiction isn’t an addiction because it’s only Those People who object to porn, it’s easy to see why people in this category would stop listening. After all what does the phrase, “many of those same people continue to use pornography. And then they feel guilty and ashamed of their behavior, and angry at themselves and their desire to watch more,” sound like but an admission that there are people addicted to pornography?

  208. Sort of riffing off Eric’s post (#80) about “heroic efforts to sustain the unsustainable”


    Do you think there will be a resurgence in nuclear power (the regular fission kind)? Everyone is screaming about climate change, so, nuclear is good, right? I mean, sure, it doesn’t pay for itself, not by a long shot, but neither does fracking, and we’ve printed our way into doing that. It sounds like if we took all the money we’re spending on fusion and redirected it to fission, we could make a solid start.

    I’m hearing new nuclear plants take a minimum of ten years to build. These days, I’d probably double that. So, it’s probably too late. But heroic efforts to sustain the unsustainable has a ring to it. And if the decent is long enough…

    Not that I’m hoping for this, mind you. But humans gonna human.

  209. @Paticia Matthews

    I am sorry Panda and I are busting up what was an enthusiastic martialing of the guard on your part.

    Some actors have spoken up and even given Dinklage new snarky titles like “King of the Dwarves”.
    The new snow white is shaping up to be another spectacular failure from an already beleaguered film studio.
    This is also a really an odd example of the rescue game wherein the savior (dinklage) actually advocates to do more harm unto the victim (actors) instead of saving them.
    He saves them from the evil film industry’s prejudice, and in doing so he keeps any other actor of his stature from gaining fame and fortune in movies like he did. So also becomes the oppressor along with the film industry. And he also occupies the category of the victim as well by nature of his own disability. Bizzare enough?

  210. Chris, I’ve been watching the push to stop households from using natural gas — we have it over here, too, so it’s pretty clearly coordinated — and I note two things about it. First, since most electricity comes from burning natural gas, it doesn’t make the kind of sense the authorities claim it makes. Second, it makes another kind of sense, a rather uncomfortable one. If you knew that natural gas reserves are running short, and you want to keep as much as possible to generate electricity for critical uses, that’s the way you’d do it — knowing that cutting people off of electricity is easier than shutting off their gas.

    Polecat, I’m trying to parse this, and not getting far.

    Blue Sun, I’ve noticed this. It’s fascinating.

    Quin, duly tabulated.

    Justin, ha! Funny.

    PumpkinScone, many thanks for these.

    Siliconguy, they still drove the 8th Army in headlong flight from the Chinese border to the 38th parallel. High death tolls weren’t an issue, since China has never had a shortage of soldiers. There was a joke at the time, which I heard from a Korean war vet:

    The Chinese commander is sitting in his tent and his aide comes in. “Sir,” says the aide, “the Americans are killing ten of our men for every one of theirs we kill.” The commander nods, sends him out again.

    The aide is back an hour later. “Sir, the Americans are killing a hundred of our men for every one of theirs we kill.” The commander nods, sends him out again.

    The aide is back again an hour later, looking harried. “Sir, the Americans are killing a thousand of our men for every one of theirs we kill!”

    The commander smiles. “Good!” he says. “Soon there will be no more Americans.”

    Anonymous, that’s a good point.

    Slink, the capacity of the US government to keep printing money to pay its bills is running into serious problems, which is why inflation is becoming such a problem. I don’t think we’ll see a major attempt to go long on nukes, though I could be wrong — such an attempt was part of the backstory for my novel Star’s Reach, after all. 😉

    Pyrrhus, thanks for this.

  211. ExecutedByGandhi #150

    > western education system

    🛖One-room school houses, a yurt maybe, with indoor toilet, with wood-burning stove in middle of the room. Places to hang up coats. Teacher, desk, chalkboard, dunce-cap, and apple at front of the room. VERY “Little House on the Prairie” and “Anne of Green Gables.”

    Be well…

    Happy regards.

    💨Northwind Grandma🥶
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  212. Anecdotal story on the Chinese use of soldiers.

    Here in south-eastern Australia, bushfires are a regular occurrence. Some years ago, before the big one in 2019, there was a bushfire and I was discussing it with a Chinese colleague at work. “Why don’t they send the army in to stop it?” she asked. In the subsequent conversation, she mentioned a bushfire somewhere in China where the army had been sent in. Apparently something like 10,000 soldiers died fighting the fire. It sounded like they had no training or equipment for the work and that the fire had probably burnt itself out anyway. Still, my Chinese colleague seemed to believe it was a good sacrifice to make. Life is very cheap if you’re a Chinese soldier.

  213. The whole “Rich Men North of Richmond” phenomenon gives me hope for independent musicians everywhere and for the arts in general. As usual, those who are freaking out the hardest over its success are the same ones we have to thank for making it famous. Reminds me of a certain orange dude being put through the paces of a show trial right now. History will teach them nothing…

  214. JMG & Siliconeguy
    This is just off the top of my head, and i would have to check some of the details.. Also, i wasn’t there during the war, though I was in 1959/60 in the US army and served with quite a few men who were there during the war. I am not assigning good guys and bad guys, though it was in the midst of the cold war and passions ran pretty high on both sides.
    When the North Koreans invaded the South in June 1950 the south pretty much folded and the Americans brought in two divisions that were only equipped for occupation duty in Japan. The Australian KFOR came in at that time and some British units. They actually did a pretty good job of holding the Pusan perimeter for the rest of the summer. I want to say the Inchon landings were in Oct., which turned the tide for the time being. The North Koreans retreated pretty rapidly. The greatest allied mistake was then when they went dashing down the valleys to the Yalu, thinking the North Koreans had collapsed. Actually the Koreans had mostly retreated to the ridgelines overlooking the valleys. Even some of the battalion level allied officers thought they were making a mistake as they out ran their supply lines, but the high command/ politicians were determined. I should read more about who made what decisions at that stage. The forward units reached the Yalu with almost no equipment, and no supply lines and the Chinese came across in force. Yes, that was when they cleaned the Americans’ clocks. Also the N.Koreans who had been waiting on the ridgelines then attacked the fleeing American columns.I don’t know to what extent that had been pre-planned , but that tactic was pure Genghis Kahn.The north Koreans/Chinese pushed the allies south of the 38th parallel and retook Seoul. Then the allies counter attacked and summer or autumn of 51, as I recall, the lines had more or less stabilized where the DMZ is now, and the killing went on for two more years until the ceasefire in 53.
    The Chinese communists had just defeated the KMT in the civil war and had plenty of dedicated soldiers, but not a great deal of heavy equipment, so they relied on their strengths. Perhaps they had always been more ready to sacrifice troops to gain their objectives. As siliconguy says their casualties were about 4 times heavier.One story that has always amused me was that the Americans had 81mm mortars. The Chinese then used 82mm mortars so they could fire captured American ammunition but the Americans couldn’t fire theirs.
    So now they line up again with the Chinese with the better equipment. Interesting times.

  215. I’ll add my prayers for Neptune’s Dolphin’s husband too. I hope your hard times will be followed soon by better times.

  216. He did, didn’t he. And I am thinking, he had the right idea.
    His way might be a bit extreme, but he had every right to decide for himself. And he used the opportunities it gave him.

    I often think on the image of sailing. You have to learn how to navigate the winds and the currents. But the most satisfying result is finding in yourself the capability to navigate to your own goal.

    Let the others bicker about the political correctness of a tradewind 😀

    Maybe in my next life I’ll have a wooden boat and learn how to sail.
    But for now I go back to my wood steaming kiln in the middle of a forrest. 🙂

  217. @JMG

    A few comments…

    1) Since war with China has been discussed here, I wonder what’s your take on a possible Indo-Chinese military clash in the near to mid-term future? I’m not sure how many Americans realise how serious the India-China border situation is – I guess that’s a consequence of American media’s ‘bread and circuses’ show – I think it’s extremely likely that we might see a short, localised and intense military conflict in the Himalayas along our border with China, called the LAC, or Line of Actual Control. In light of such a situation, it’s somewhat amusing to see the American media call for the Biden administration to reverse ‘democratic backsliding’ in India, and thus alienate the one reliable powerful democracy that can help America in the Asia-Pacific region. Guess that’s just another indicator of US elites’ incompetence…

    2) Regarding science and its future, do you think science could be saved at least in some form by moving away from the teleological school of thought to that of the vitalist school? I remember Spengler’s line in his Decline of the West saying, “…they belong to the living nature of Goethe, and not the dead nature of Newton”. I do think he had a point; the insights obtained from dynamical systems theory as regards attractors do seem to confirm the validity of the vitalist school of thought. Even the study of human physiology, commenced from the systems POV, does support this view, especially if one is modelling with Partial Differential Equations (which can take care of stochasticity) or Delay Differential Equations.

  218. @AV

    re: our society’s sudden fascination with the demonic:

    ….not to forget the peter’s place 2020 nativity scene in the vatican- featuring an astronaut giving birth to an alien, an executioner with an axe and some grim and evil looking figures with sharp teeth or weapons.

    The website vigilant-citizen dot com features a lot of the material and criticism thereof. The website has accused Jeff Epstein and prince Andrew of abuse of minors years before any public courts dealt with it.

    The ever pervasive “one eye” symbol is absolutely prevalent in today’s pop culture, plus even the local advertisments I see in Austria where the one eye symbolism is featured are always a special case of disgusting, often also with evil faces in front of darkened backgrounds, so something that pretty much is *supposed* to be repulsive. And if not openly hostile and sadistic facial expressions, then everything looks disgusting and made of plastic (fashion label Tamaris, eg).

    I also wonder a lot about the phenomenon.

    Because really, cold and dry geopolitical realities I can grasp, a hedonistic decadent burgeois culture is kind of historically easy to understand.

    But THIS in the face of it – it seems like something else.

    And it has to be said, even though Tamar Ettun’s paintings are childlike in drawing and feature no complexities, they have some kind of dark and evil appeal, they’re much more than just random simple toddlers drawings….

    @JMG I would also be interested in the topic, but I understand if it cannot be made a prime topic here. Too vague probably, too little real substance to discuss

  219. I would like to put in, too, a vote for scarcity industrialism, because of the actuality of ths ubject due to the current crisis period.

  220. Mister N, it’s entirely possible that the manufacturers of the soy product paid for the study. That kind of blatant buying of scientific opinion is embarrassingly common these days.

    I’m a bit astonished that this didn’t even occur to me. I was thinking of the old-fashioned reason researchers would do bogus studies on cannabis, namely making sure clean-cut Murkan white kids say no the menace of “marihuana”. (Sometimes I feel as though I’m almost as stuck in 1988 as the character of Johnny Lawrence on the Netflix series Cobra Kai!)

    Nonetheless, one would be hard-pressed to come up with any other explanation for how anybody would land on an obscure supplement about which practically nobody knows as a possible mitigant for an alleged harm caused by cannabis-use.

  221. @ Walt F #52 – I have encountered the same bewildered looks when trying to explain that when it comes to money, I want LESS (less Eviction Sequestration Slavery), not more.

    When money is created by lending (as ours indubitably is) and each loan creates a legally enforceable claim on *some* human being’s energy and/or possessions, then every dollar I hold in my hand directly represents *some* human being’s vulnerability to forced labour and/or expropriation, both of which I want to see LESS of.

    The idea that anyone might want to earn LESS money rather than MORE money is a real head-spinner to almost everyone who has troubled to hear me to the end of the paragraph, and even those are few enough in number. 😉

  222. I read a story recently about driverless cars causing chaos in San Francisco. Since the topic came up here, I went looking for it. This isn’t the same story, but it’s just as … well, “good” might be the wrong word.

    NPR has also reported it:

    When I started typing in “driverless cars” in Google, “San Francisco” came up before I even finished typing.

  223. I am interested in the future of intelligence and expertise. Our society seems to have the same utopian or dystopian visions of human capabilities as we have about economic or technological development. We switch between lavishing educational resources on a tiny set of lucky smart students at Harvard and Stanford and declaring that differences in intelligence are an imaginary creation of racist elitists. The mind blowing insanity of professors at elite institutions declaring they are becoming inclusive by eliminating standardized tests is increasingly getting the belly laugh.

  224. Hi John Michael,

    I’m not arguing with you. In fact I believe most of the natural gas which gets exported from this country in LNG form is I think used for electricity production. You’re right, it makes no sense whatsoever, but it most certainly must be discussed at the highest levels.

    However, and this is another big one. A lot of that natural gas gets turned into nitrogen based fertilisers. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe right now, one in every two people on this planet is reliant on food which is grown using that fuel source (which gets turned into nitrogen based fertilisers).

    Without the stuff, a lot of people will go hungry. You can see the story in graphical form here: How many people does synthetic fertilizer feed?

    I can’t be totally sure as there are always the proverbial ‘black swans’, but at this stage of the game, there are no other options which come even close to this fertiliser. I may have read recently that another production plant is being constructed near to a gas field over in the west of the continent. Not a bad idea.

    What is really strange about our culture is that we flush so many minerals out into the ocean, every second, of every day. It’s a bonkers thing to do. Utterly crazy. And I get every single scrap of minerals back into the soil here that I can, even my own manure.

    Maybe I’m over reacting. I’d like to be wrong about this one.



  225. JMG

    You know in these sales pitches for new systems never mention the “Mechanics Trinity” which is “A system can be safe, running, or repaired but never all three.

    So if you want a system “repaired” it’s not going to be “running” for months whike waiting on parts but it’s “safe” because it’s not “running”. You can have it “running” and “repaired” but since its being held together by zipties and JB Weld it definitely isn’t “safe”. And it can be both “safe” and “running” because no one has broken it by “repairing” it yet.

  226. Slightly off topic, but for the English amongst us i would like to say a fond farewell to the retail institution Wilko.

    In another example of the hollowing out of retail high streets they have recently filed for administration. Unfortunately Wilko is a staple of most ex industrial cities so the closure of hundreds of shops is going to have a huge knock on effect.

    For those unaware Wilko is a homeware retailer selling everything from washing powder to screwdrivers, curtains to cushions. Decent quality unlike the closest rival Poundland.

    We are rapidly reaching the point where all that is left on the local high street are charity shops and takeaways! Perhaps the age of consumption will end not due to lack of cash but lack of opportunity

    For any middle class shoppers out there dont worry, you haven’t been forgotten….I expect John Lewis is next to go

  227. One comment – these articles are a form of tree tops propaganda. If the powers that be write and write about glossy futures, semi-conductors, green energy, evil Trump, wonderful Biden, then the rest of us will get on board.

    Nope. Meanwhile, there are whole underground ecosystems of people trading goods and services and ignoring the whole shebang. I was watching an auction show (ended 2013) which had the whole system of hoarders, sellers, pickers, middlemen, auctioneers, collectors and plain people who were all doing their buying and selling, without any company involved. Just the local auction house.

    So, I guess the powers that be either are in their own little bubble or think that by telling people that people will obey.

  228. @bryanlallen #131 Re: “One of my most-worn tee-shirts proclaimed ‘Bicycles Don’t Pollute.’ ”

    But of course bicycles DO pollute. At least since their invention, their manufacture and transport has been accomplished through the copious use of energy — especially fossil fuel energy — for the extraction of ores and their smelting, machining, welding, and finishing into the end product. And then there are the rubber tires, the plastic handlebars… You get the idea.

    It’s easy to overlook these hidden costs, and their implications in a low-energy future.

  229. >Translation, the data doesn’t fit our preconceptions, so we are making up our own data to prove our point.

    There’s a word for that – goalseeking. I don’t call it the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

    It’s the Bureau of Goalseeking.

    I don’t know why anyone still takes them seriously anymore.

  230. I’m a lot more optimistic about nuclear power than most on here. It already makes a lot of electricity, in the US and around the world. We (finally) have a new plant in the US, Canada will have more soon, and many other nations are building them. I suspect we will see many more in the short and intermediate term. Unless there is a terrible accident.

    As far as fusion goes, not so likely. My brother is fond of saying that time travel is clearly a technical possibility; it’s just an engineering problem now. The same probably applies to fusion.

  231. >But of course bicycles DO pollute

    I’d say they pollute less. And they generally don’t need any fossil fuels to run on, at least directly. And I’d guess the energy required to make one is also less, as well as needing less resources to keep one running.

    But they are machines. And they do break down if you actually use one to go places. Rebuilt rear wheel, rebuilt front wheel, new bottom bracket, new front crank, new bicycle computer battery, new bicycle computer, rebuilt ebike battery pack, just off the top of my head. Bearings wear out, spokes break, wheels need truing, tubes need patches, etc.

    And all that for something that goes a generous 12mph on average if you smash the electric assist and 10mph on average if you just use it on the steepest hills. Range anxiety isn’t really the issue in this world – your butt will get sore long before you run out of power. And like with a motorbike, if it rains, you’re going to get wet. Raingear is more or less useless, IMHO. At least you’ll stay warm in the winter pedaling away, unless you live in snow country.

    And at the end of the ride, you’re going to need a shower, it’s about like going to the gym, which for me is the main point of it all. But arriving hot and sweaty may be a dealbreaker for some. If you sacrifice all your dignity, you can up that speed to 15mph. But you’ll look like Lord Spandex if you do. And road racers are not cheap either. Not only will you be hot and sweaty, you’ll also arrive head to toe in spandex.

    But if gas is $20/gallon, I have options. Crappy options but still…

  232. Regarding AI in the real world:
    Kids in Louisville had their first day of school last week but haven’t been back since, due the failure of the new district’s new school busing model. Apparently the district had a bus driver shortage and so hired a company that uses mathematical modeling and machine-learning to optimize the bus routes. (Not driverless buses, to be clear, but AI deciding the most efficient way to transport children with fewer human drivers.) Leading up to the start of school the remaining drivers warned that the resulting routes made no sense, and some parents were concerned about the safety of pick-up and drop-off locations, but the district went ahead with the plan. The first day was total disaster. Some kids were on the bus until 9 or 10 pm, and all afternoon and evening parents were unable to get any information about where their kids were. There’s every sort of awful story you would expect in a fiasco like this: small children put on the wrong bus, dropped off in unfamiliar locations, arriving home hungry and soiled after three or four or six hours on the school bus.

    Surely those people who have faith in Progress as good, or at least inevitable, will see episodes such as this as just the uncomfortable but necessary working-out-the-bugs phase of a new technology that will transform and ultimately improve all our lives. The gap does seem to be widening fast, though, between such people and the people who can’t help but look around and see. Yikes.


  233. Re: the climate being more complex than we understand: in a previous post you mentioned the possibility that the atmospheric three-cell structure could break down into a two or maybe one cell structure. I saw some speculation on a Harvard site about the Cretaceous period possibly having had a one-cell system as an explanation for why temperatures apparently did not differ that much between equator and pole. If we are moving toward that sort of change – where most of the temperature increase happens towards the poles – we will get a very different set of problems than if the planet warmed more consistently across latitudes. Certainly the deviations from expected weather have seemed more pronounced toward the North Pole than the equator – +70F spikes, etc. I would be interested in hearing more about this possibility, if anyone has any further insight.

  234. Mr. Greer,

    It was my rather flippant way of saying that all things western society are becoming sooo idiotic, that I now almost cry with grief whenever I watch Mike Judge’s epic satire. THATS how fast things seem to have turned, in the less that 20 years since that film first aired..

  235. I think i might have found The White Pill
    It is a quote from Rumi the Sufi Mystic Poet

    “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

  236. 5th Wednesday.

    White pill, please!

    Reasons to take heart, to be not afraid, to raise up our spirits, will be very welcome indeed!

  237. >Leading up to the start of school the remaining drivers warned that the resulting routes made no sense

    I can’t help but think of the latter days of Gosplan and the Soviet Union. And they also tried computerized planning too. It only made things worse.

  238. @Polecat 267: I think that eugenics and dysgenics are quite relevant to this week’s topic, but they are no longer discussed at all in reputable, respectable or polite circles: They are outside the Overton Window. That’s why “Idiocracy,” (that movie by Mike Judge from 20 years ago)…

  239. For anyone looking for a white pill, I got one in the mail yesterday.

    It was a flyer for a Gathering of the Guilds. A friend of mine from my ham radio club is a member of the Cincinnati Weaver’s Guild. She had invited my wife and I to one of their annual open houses and sales. Weave gone back every year 😉 They have a large enough group that they actually bought a house. It’s really cool.

    This year instead of just the Weavers guild, they are hosting a Gathering of the Guilds.

    “GOTG will showcase the wide variety of opportunities in craft education.
    available in our city. Members of our community will discover that vibrant craft guilds exist and that they welcome new members. Guilds will be ready to sign up new members and offer schedules for upcoming classes. The event will include live demonstrations of blacksmithing, glassblowing, printmaking, weaving, spinning, quilting, art-book design, enameling, gemstone cutting, woodturning, and fabrication with clay.”

    There was a large group of guilds listed: lapidary, two different bookbinding groups, woodturners, printmakers, etc…

    That was a good white pill to get. I hope there continue to be these gatherings and more like them in other cities.

  240. Once again, I’ve got everyone’s votes tabulated. Thank you!

    Simon, that certainly fits everything I’ve heard.

    Ilovemusictheory, bingo. One of the wry amusements of times like the present is watching the people in power dig their own graves in the serene conviction that they’re opening a portal to Utopia.

    KAN, it’s an off-color reference to coitus interruptus.

    Stephen, thank you for this!

    Viduraawakened, (1) the Ladakh border between India and China is one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints. Sooner or later there’s going to be a major war there, and it may not be limited to the kind of short clash you have in mind. (2) That’s certainly an angle worth pursuing. I’ve thought for a while now that if Western science survives anywhere, it’ll be in India, simply because so many old traditions have found lasting homes there — I’m thinking among others of Unani medicine, which is the classic four-humor medicine of Galen and Avicenna, long extinct in the West but thriving in India. A thousand years from now there may well still be laboratories practicing physics and chemistry in Lahore and Mumbai…

    Mister N, I’m sorry to say that I’ve seen so much blatant corruption in science that this was the first thing that occurred to me.

    Your Kittenship, how cute! Yes, I could imagine Deep Ones keeping them as pets.

    JustMe, that’s at least possible.

    Other Owen, many thanks for these!

    Karen, and many thanks for these as well. Fun times. 😉

    Ganv, it’s a reasonable concern. Fortunately Darwinian selection tends to cull societies that promote too many incompetent people.

    Chris, that’s an exceedingly good point, and worth including in my assessment. Thank you.

    GlassHammer, I like that. I’d heard “safe, cheap, and fast” as the trinity, but yours works even better.

    Dormouse, that’s relevant. The consumer economy is imploding, and bad economic policy from government and bad choices in business are among the reasons for that.

    Neptunesdolphins, of course! That’s part of the reason I’m making fun of them.

    Phil, did you notice that you completely avoided the central problem with nuclear power I brought up in my post — that it’s an economic sink that never pays for itself? Trust me, the rest of us noticed your little evasion; it’s something that every promoter of nuclear power does when faced by the hard fact that nuclear power never pays for itself. Your optimism doesn’t change that, you know.

    Jonathan, good gods. Do you have a link to the story? I’d like to use that in a post.

    Isaac, can you or anyone else find me a link to that site? I’d be delighted to take their analysis into consideration.

    Polecat, gotcha. Thank you.

    Dobbs, you certainly found the Philosopher’s Stone!

    Justin, that’s quite literally the most encouraging news I’ve heard in a month. Thank you.

  241. I wanted to let you know yet another one of your ideas is inching its way into the mainstream.

    Something Vivek Ramaswamy said during his recent interview with Tucker Carlson was “We are driving Russia into China’s arms”

    I can’t recall which post it was where you discussed this in depth, but I think it was an old one. (If I had to guess I’d say it was 2015?) I’ll never forget reading that, because I couldn’t believe the US government would do something so strategically stupid. It took me awhile to digest the idea. And it has proven its truth over and over again in the intervening years.

    He was speaking specifically about Ukraine but I think the underlying pattern is still coming across.

  242. “The readers get to vote on the topic for my post for the fifth Wednesday of any month that has one. What do you want to hear about?”

    I’ve noted how often nowadays the terms “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorist” are trotted out. In fact, Wikipedia often lists the latter as one of the occupations of various persons for whom it has entries. How about, JMG, delving into the subject? “Conspiracy theories through the ages.” What were they, what other names have been given to them, what uses were they put to, and who was accused of propagating them and why? And what have been your own favourite conspiracy theories during your various incarnations, JMG? And which do you think were true that are still officially regarded as untrue?

    There has been no shortage of conspiracy theories:

    Charles Fort: “The Earth is a farm. We are someone else’s property.”

    Various: “The Earth is a Prison Planet”.

    Davis Icke: “The British royals peel their faces of at night and are reptiles underneath”. Or something like that.

    So how about it, JMG? It’s a big subject.

  243. No argument from me about “post-scarcity.” Fortunately I speak clinically insane as a second language, which is sometimes very useful. (Also, fair warning, a bit dangerous.)

    As to other kinds of pollution, I do see articles rather frequently about plastics in the ocean. From the beekeeping community, nicotinamide pesticides are a constant concern. And other specialized (usually local) issues from local environmental issues groups, as one would expect. But in the general press, apart from the plastics in the ocean, one would get the impression that apart from greenhouse gases, wildfire smoke is the greatest pollutant on the planet.

    @Scotlyn #250, your version of LESS is intriguing but I have to admit the implications are outside the bleeding edge of my thinking right now. Less personal wealth for oneself is understandable enough (if you’re not using it to obtain more stimulation and/or stuff, what do you need it for?) and due to a family connection I regularly converse with certain Catholic Brothers who have taken traditional vows of poverty (along with chastity and obedience). Providing goods and services at reduced or no charge (donations; volunteering) has obvious social and personal benefits. But I don’t know enough about real-world (non theoretical) economic causality to make a connection between less money in circulation overall and more economic freedom for others. It seems to me if I voluntarily draw a smaller salary while working for a business, someone else is just keeping the difference.

    As a thought experiment, suppose I were extremely wealthy. If I were to sell my tangible and financial assets (that is, convert them into cash) and then burn the cash, would that be of the slightest benefit to anyone else, and if so, how? Of course giving the money and property away would benefit others, but that’s more about redistributing the wealth more equitably rather than reducing the net amount of it.

    Thinking some more (okay, it’s a topic for meditation): Okay, I can see how my hypothetical wad of cash is a threat, and a potential burden, to everyone else. I might outbid them on the market for whatever goods or services they want, either denying them or raising the price they must pay. I might buy their rented dwelling from their landlord and evict them or raise the rent. If I buy and use a Go To The Front Of The Line Pass, the line will move slower for everyone else. But keeping the cash in a giant bin and swimming around in it like Scrooge McDuck wouldn’t have any of those effects.

    But then, I don’t keep my actual savings in cash in a money bin. It’s in a bank. And the bank does use it to do those kinds of things, and to inequitably empower others to do those kinds of things. Okay, this is interesting. Thank you for the food for thought!

  244. I quoted your post on climate change to a conservative friend of mine who’s a total global warming sceptic. I used to argue with him that the scientific consensus was saying human greenhouse gas emissions were causing climate change and although the scientific consensus could be wrong that wasn’t the way to bet. He responded by arguing that a lot of the science was bogus. He appreciated what you had to say on scientific corruption and also how many green spokesmen were virtue signalling hypocrites.

    I vote for karma on the fifth Wednesday.

  245. JustMe wrote “Did no one else notice that #149 is the last paragraph of #148?”

    Indeed, I did. Did anyone else notice that both of those posts’ clickbait-handles lead to the same tourism-package sales site? Apparently poorly crafted, generic, AI-generated false accolades will now be used to lure the unsuspecting, all Nigerian prince like, into countless scams.

    My, all the hopey-changey false promises about AI changing everything in the blink of an eye and ushering in Tommorowland certainly degraded much faster than promised, didn’t they? Welcome to the shiny new AI future! It’s riches can all be yours, if you’ll simply forward us your bank routing information. Nigerian princes are standing by…

    Same old scam, but now it requires an entire server farm of mainframes to write the ridiculously bad script meant lure in the gullible. That’s Progress for ya!

  246. >that I now almost cry with grief whenever I watch Mike Judge’s epic satire. THATS how fast things seem to have turned, in the less that 20 years since that film first aired.

    You do know that he really wasn’t talking about the world of 2505, it was a thinly veiled comment on the world as it was in 2005. I dunno. Either Mike Judge knew about most depictions of the future actually being the hyperpresent and he took it all the way to 11, or he was earnestly trying to depict the future, fell into the hyperpresent trap most storytellers fall into – and took it all the way to 11. I think it’s the first one but I’ll allow for the possibility of it being the 2nd.

    I do remember when that movie first came out, the reaction from the establishment was weird. The sense I got was they wanted to bury that movie just as fast as they could but they also didn’t want to draw any attention to it either. I think the movie scared them a bit. You had to go out of your way to watch it back then and that’s still somewhat true today as well.

    He’ll probably never make a sequel to that movie. Sad.

  247. Of course, let’s not forget that we now have proof alien spacecraft have visited Earth, if you believe the US Government. Uh huh. I’m sure we’ll have the mile-wide flying saucers appearing over NYC to address the United Nations _any_ day now. The memes I’ve seen comparing government inaction on the student loan crisis to government “action” about the aliens are _surely_ outliers and not at all representative of the popular sentiment and faith in government.

    Also, I happened to be at the Illinois Railway Museum recently, during which visit I rode in a quite comfortable coach built in 1912, rode in a nice high-speed articulated trainset built in 1936, and saw a variety of displayed interurban cars ranging from luxury passenger cars to self-propelled freight cars and a railway crane. I also had to pay nearly a hundred USD in taxi fare for the round trip to and from the museum, because even though the museum is on a railway line connecting Chicago and the largest city in Illinois outside the Chicago metropolitan area (with, of course, hardly a barren unpopulated wasteland in between), that line has no passenger service (nor has that city, Rockford, had any passenger rail service since 1981 — though I read that there are currently plans to provide a whole two trains a day to it potentially as “soon” as 2027). The closest thing to public transit was a dial-a-ride bus service which, it turned out, one also had to register with ahead of time before one could even call to book trips.

    Hopefully this isn’t too cynical for your comments section, but just… sigh. Are _some_ things better now? Yes, definitely, I’d say so. But _so much_ is _worse_, worse in ways that, despite the efforts of some people to link everything in a time period inseparably together, _don’t_ have to be associated with the most prominent ways things are better (Exactly what conflict is there supposed to be between, for instance, gay rights and cities designed for people instead of cars?), that the idea we’re living in the Glorious Future and set to go full Star Trek with aliens and fusion power and cheap superconductors just seems utterly ridiculous.

    (Also, sorry if this is a double post; I’m not sure the first attempt went through.)

  248. Everybody sees corruption in their field. I’ve never taken surveys seriously since I was a pest caller for market research. One night I walked in and the “team leader “ (Aspirational American for “foreman”) was sitting there marking a big pile of surveys. He explained the deadline was tomorrow and we had nowhere near enough completed surveys, adding something to the effect of “We try not to do this but sometimes we have to.”

  249. Justin Patrick Moore (#272) wrote:
    “GOTG will showcase the wide variety of opportunities in craft education.
    available in our city. Members of our community will discover that vibrant craft guilds exist and that they welcome new members. Guilds will be ready to sign up new members and offer schedules for upcoming classes. The event will include live demonstrations of blacksmithing, glassblowing, printmaking, weaving, spinning, quilting, art-book design, enameling, gemstone cutting, woodturning, and fabrication with clay.”

    I hope to see more of the above sprout up everywhere. It sounds like it may be the beginning of that ‘forced’ regress to ‘older technologies’ and ‘art’ that JMG says the 2020 Grand Mutation heralds.

    JMG in wrote:

    “The Moon’s aspects with Jupiter and Saturn, though, have other lessons to teach. Moon sextile Jupiter is an indication of improved economic conditions. Moon sextile Saturn predicts good times for farm country and for rural populations. That may be a function of the technological problems predicted by Uranus; unemployment and underemployment driven by technology have been major economic realities for close to two centuries now, and it’s quite plausible that technological regress will lead to an improved job market as people have to be hired to do jobs in place of machines.”


    Off by itself on one end of the line of planets, finally, is Venus, the planet of art and culture. She was in very dubious shape in 1842, weakly dignified in materialistic Capricorn and afflicted by an opposition with the dominant Moon, predicting the collapse of artistic standards and public taste in an age of schlock. In the 2020 chart she is peregrine and thus weak, but her only afflictions are two minor negative aspects with Mars and Uranus; in other words, wars and disasters will have their usual effects on the arts but the latter will be otherwise unhindered. The kneejerk hostility of artists toward the general public that afflicted the arts from 1842 to 2020 will be a thing of the past, though, and Venus in idealistic Sagittarius—where she was in 1663, the dawn of the Fire era that ended in 1842, which saw the creation of so much good art, music, and literature—bodes well for the creative arts.

    I tend to believe it. I turned over a 3 major arcana tarot reading for the U.S. that was quite a surprise and that seems to support JMG’s Grand Mutation analysis.

    You can read it (and JMG’s response!) here:

  250. Once again, I’ve totted up the votes. Thank you all!

    Blue Sun, good gods. I’m delighted to see this — thank you!

    Mister N., yeah, I heard about that. Very, very juicy.

    Walt, fair enough.

    Robert, I’ll be addressing this in more detail in the upcoming post on climate change. The difficulty is that both sides are half right, and it’s the wrong half in both cases.

    Christophe, well, I missed that one, didn’t I? I’ve just done a nice little edit of both comments, so thank you.

    Reese, exactly. A few things are, if not better, than at least fancier — but a vast amount is much, much worse.

    Your Kittenship, I had a similar experience in my brief stint as a survey pest, many years ago.

    Kirsten, anyone’s guess what the truth is.

  251. There’s one piece of information missing in the bit about retracted scientific papers. It’s kind of a crucial piece, and it’s surprising that someone with a mind as agile as yours would neglect to mention it. You quote Retraction Watch in saying that 100,000 papers or more should be retracted each year.
    Two and a half MILLION papers are published each year, which I found confirmed in several places with a perfunctory Google search.
    That’s four percent. That’s not acceptable, but neither does it in any way suggest science has run completely off the rails.

  252. Re: driving Russia into China’s arms – to be fair, it is a point that has been around since at least 2008 when I first heard it from a Russian-speaking US Army analyst. I am not sure Russia would ever have felt itself part of Europe fully – let alone the “West” – but keeping it ambivalent would have been helpful. Admitting the Baltics to NATO was one thing; making promises to countries like Georgia that we had no ability or intention to keep was another, and the Russian actions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (or, as my friend termed it, “South Upsettia”) should have taught us a lesson about capabilities and intent.

  253. I wrote a somewhat long reply first mentioning this video I came across: <a href="; by a channel called WHAT IS POLITICS?, it may have got lost I got a strange looking error from WordPress and I think maybe one or two links were in a format it didn’t like.

    I know JMG doesn’t do video, but anyone else who has a spare hour and a half might like it.

    9.2 – Lizard People: When Social Control Masquerades as Social Justice
    When ideas and movements that threaten to overturn established hierarchies of power are absorbed into elite institutions like Ivy League universities and for-profit corporations, they get transformed into ideas that support the status quo, while remaining cloaked in the language and symbols of radicalism and egalitarianism.

    The replacement of the word “equality” by the word “equity” in the worlds of academia, NGOs, activism, and corporate HR departments, is an example of the attempts by elite people and institutions to transform historical movements for racial and gender equality, into ideas that promote the interest of elites – in particular, economic inequality and the division of the working classes.

    I worry about how the ‘woke’ movement and its co-option by elites, as ‘equity, diversity and inclusion’ eventually unwinds. If activist movements see through this ‘equity’ as a facade and insist on real economic justice and greater equality, could some of the elites drop the ‘woke’ signifiers like a hot potato and suddenly turn from liberal centrists to actual fascism?

  254. The Other Owen @ 280


    Oh Gosh! I can totally testify.. when I caught view of that entire city block of nothing but glowing bloodred SOFAs .. I thought**, as I was nearly breaking ribs I was laughing sooo hard … that, ‘Oh yezzz.. this is Life as we know it!’

    full disclosure closure… I be a megabox ***tubeworm***

    *** a term a certain L. DaVinci was known to describe, with utter disgust ..the elite, the powerful, the rich of his day…. ‘noted as per his diary – as an elder long-term ‘guest’ at Versailles, courtesy of the King of Franc.

    Maybe that’s all humans have (so far..) devolved into, as a kind of sentient tube worm, having acquired through unnatural selection opposable digits .. devouring whatever it can .. until nature, Gaia, laws-of-physics, the GODs .. or what have you, do extra duty in allowing it’s extinction.

    sorry if I sound so low.. Hey!.. maybe is the time to grill a Bison Cheese Burger. Eat your “Tatanka” out, JMG… ‘;] may the omnivore be with you… and Owen too, should he partake..

  255. @Mary Bennet

    For self-defense the best is to simply not be there when there is danger. I think this Pyramid of safety could help many women:

    From a former street thug. Whose friends in the lifestyle are all dead or in prison.

    As for men. I think women do need to treasure the few industrious men with a good job and character when they find them. And marry them.

    Single mother households. Simply don’t do as well in terms of safety and other indicators of well being compared to households with committed married Fathers.

    The sexual revolution and the family courts have reduced the pool of good men for families. Given the ease by which bad women can more easily destroy the marriage.

  256. Just a fun observation, I hope it’s not too off topic, but there are quite a number of young people getting into medieval and similar music, obviously with newly made instruments. I find them on the tube of you fairly often. That, and heartwarming stories about animal rescues. And farming and building things channels. Occasionally actual music of whatever kind, though that’s getting rarer in my vicinity.

    I remember as a child (in the 1950’s) riding trains all by myself from a pretty minor town in NC to Arlington, VA to be picked up by my aunt there. Clean, comfortable, safe. Now what is there? A 20-lane (or more) scrum of highways entering and leaving throughout the area, crammed to the maximum with speeding automobiles. Terrifying unless you have the mind of a race car driver. I mourned the passing of passenger rail (with a lot of other things) in my Aspie youth when I could see this as “not a good thing” and apparently no one else could. Because progress must go on, common sense be damned.

    Also off topic, but does anyone know what becomes of Aspies who are loved by some of their family just as they are and have ongoing friendships from early youth to at least adulthood? Bad (or at least not glorious) childhoods in the family affection department and chronic lack of friends, I don’t need to be informed about, I think.

    At this point, I’d settle for “pastus reconnectedus” instead of “futurus interruptus”. As would many here, I expect, or at least those who read our host’s “Retrotopia” and “WOH” fiction. As for 5th Wednesday topic, a bit of good cheer might be just the thing.

  257. What amazes me is the collective chutzpah of the expert classes in claiming rights to tell everyone else what to do. They say they have deep knowledge and expertise. They say they know best. They say they act based on facts and evidence. So, I wonder, where is the evidence for all this knowledge and expertise?

    It’s not just an American thing. Everywhere you look there’s evidence of the exact opposite, especially in the realm that most affects the lives of ordinary people where we see screamingly obvious examples of abject failure.

    Italy in the same currency regime as Germany? What crackpots thought that up? Ok, so the Greeks and Cypriots did render us all a service provided we had a mind to learn from the failures of others. See, they taught us that national economies based on tax evasion and taxi driving don’t work. The thing is, did our so-called expert class learn the lesson?

    Course not. Not only do we have a minimum wage-maximum price economic arrangement that doesn’t work, the US government gave the richest a corporate tax cut, you know, legalized tax evasion.

    Then we started internet-based taxi service (ride-sharing) AND room-letting because we saw how well it worked as an economic mainstay in the Mediterranean. So now, you can use this technological marvel (the web) to rent out your rooms and, not only that, run a taxi service too. Brilliant, don’t you think? But it was just a ploy for corporate hucksters to suck money from economically desperate people trying to keep their heads above water.

    Replace wage income with debt? Replace cash savings with home equity? No, you can’t.

    You see bossy-boots college grads pulling rank and telling us they know how to do things. Andrew Bacevich had a good response to Leon Panetta who claimed expertise in the foreign realm. Said Panetta, we know how to do this. Replied Bacevich: no, we don’t, we don’t know how to do this.

  258. JMG, re: the Louisville bus fiasco
    I heard about it
    here. (That’s a video link, but for any others who are interested.)

    A few local news stories about the situation:

    Also, I find it’s not entirely clear whether it’s correct to say that the new routing technology is “AI.” I found multiple reports
    saying specifically that it is, but the company is
    specifically insisting that it’s not. To me it’s not at all clear just where the “AI” line falls, and “advanced routing algorithms” sounds like the sort of new euphemism I’ve been hearing a lot of lately to try and ease concerns about letting machines make decisions. The fact that they feel they need to leap up and shout “It’s not AI!” says something interesting.

    In any event, it’s another case of the smart kids outsmarting themselves.


  259. Hi Justin,

    We have a similar event here in Australia, called the Lost Trades Fair. Held in Bendigo, it is a gathering of skilled crafts including clockmakers, tailors, woodworkers, stonemasons and many more:

    The medieval recreation scene also hosts a massive number of craftspeople: weavers, embroiderers, brewers, blacksmiths and many, many others all working to produce beautiful objects using medieval European technology.

    Right now, being a skilled craftsman is one step up from homelessness but as the flood of factory-made goods dries up and things actually become valuable again, there is an army of skilled, creative people waiting to step into the gap.

  260. Isaac, got it and thank you! That’s a serious data dump, for which I’m grateful — and I notice that the recent unexpected warming of the polar oceans suggests a return to those conditions may be in the offing.

    Ken, sure, but the junk science isn’t evenly spread among all disciplines. I’d expect that journals on temperate forest mycology and exoplanet astronomy, to name just two specialties, go from one year to the next without a single retraction, because there’s no money in those fields and therefore no incentive for corruption and fraud. It’s the fields where financial interests are at stake — which not coincidentally are also the fields that affect everyday human life the most, such as pharmacology, medicine, and global climate studies — that see junk science pile up, and in those fields the rate of junk science will therefore be far, far higher than 4%…

    Isaac, that’s a good point.

    Mawkernewek, nah, fascism — despite the use of the term by today’s liberals — is always a revolutionary movement that seizes power from an entrenched political class. What’ll happen if the privileged left dumps the language of social justice is that they’ll all start talking like neoconservatives, which is of course what many of them have been all along.

    Clarke, Aspies who have that very advantageous situation generally go on to live ordinary, relatively happy lives, and are remembered as Uncle Phil who was obsessed with antique railways but was a great guy.

    Smith, exactly. That’s what happens when a caste trained solely in the manipulation of abstractions makes the mistake of thinking that it can run the real world.

    Jonathan, thanks for this!

  261. I was born in 1980, making me late gen x/early millenial. Even though I recognize that for older people their notions of progress might have ended earlier, for me, the definite point of time when progress ended in everything that I observe arout the world, was late 2000s/early 2010s, coinciding with the great financial crisis and the response.

    I’ll tell you exactly why: even though there has been incremental progress in various fields, and I can see that, it doesn’t matter because eveything is becoming more expensive.

    The cost in America of just having a roof over your head, and this, in older, decayed apartments and suburban homes, has exploded relentlessly. Cost of new cars? The same as luxury cars of the past. Used cars? Forget about it.

    Food? You know, something that you actually need to eat pretty much every day or close to it? A fast food meal cost the same as a good restaurant meal of 10 to 20 years ago. Yes, you don’t have to go out. I can shop at Costco the rest of my life. But then…what’s the point of all those restaurants?

    Jobs and Wages? Don’t make me laugh. The government and statisticians only look at unemployment as a measure of the health of the economy. Your “employed” so everything is well. Yes, the kids are in school, everything is well, the prisoners are in prison, everything is well. It’s a soft form of incarceration. You are simply given a job and that’s it. Nothing about whether your income actually covers your cost of living and results in savings. Nothing about whether you feel the job is worthwhile and contributing to society, and a future we can believe in.

    Oh…but I can stream a million tv shows, a million movies, a million recycled sports events, so everything is right with the world. Celebrities and athletes have hundreds of millions, billionaires have hundreds of billions. It’s all BS at this point, and I’ve given up. My whole life was a lie.

  262. For the fifth Wednesday post, I’d like to see a quick discussion of an alternate history: you’ve said before that you think that we had a real shot at moving to sustainability. What could that have looked like?


    That 4% suggested retraction rate means that 4% of papers published are fraudulent or flawed, in such a way as to get caught. This is most likely merely the tip of a very, very ugly iceberg…

  263. Hi John,

    Yep, i can certainly see by the end of this century or so western and much of central Europe to be Muslim majority given internal and likely external demographic trends.

    This article caught my attention recently.

    Essentially most of North Africa and the wider Middle East, as well as the Russian airspace, is under a no fly zone.

    That means there are currently only two ways flights from Europe can get to Asia, a narrow airstrip over Turkey and the other via Saudi Arabia.

    The article warns that if those two air strips become dangerous for commercial flight travel between Europe and Asia becomes economically unaffordable as there is no remaining easy way to get there.

  264. (Sorry if this is a double comment. I got an error while posting, so I tried again)

    Another vote for the white pill from me.


  265. On all of this we agree. Great article.

    You write…” in Russia in 1991, and in many other cases—is that a system that has been hollowed out by a string of cascading failures runs into one more crisis than it can tolerate, and implodes under the weight of its own absurdities. We are much closer to such scenes in North America and Western Europe right now than I think most people realize.”

    I’d argue this is more of a global phenomena. Not simply the West, but Russia and China as well.

    Makes me recall Adam Curtis.

  266. KFish #295
    I went to a Lost Trades Fair in Toowoomba a few years ago. Stacks of people. Parking was hard. It was very interesting.

  267. @ Epileptic Doomer & Mary Bennett & anyone else interested in the education of girls…

    …especially in relation to the care and maintenance of their own fertility.

    What follows is a data point. I have been consulted a number of times by women aged 30 to 45 who are trying to conceive and having difficulty. There are some things that we can do, and some things we cannot**. It is a truly heartbreaking fact for too many that they have lost any chance they might have had when they were younger.

    But that isn’t the data point, the data point is this.

    I have found myself giving a primer in how female cycles work Every Single Time. These are women in their 30’s and 40’s who (in my humble opinion) missed an important set of lessons they should have received in their teens as to how their bodies actually work.

    Most women are fairly conversant with their periods, but almost none have any idea when they ovulate, unless they are in the minority who suffer ovulation pains. Even then, they do not know what this means in terms of their fertile status, or how to count days pre- and post- ovulation in order to determine whether they are in a fertile state or not. Obviously the capacity to determine one’s own fertile status over the course of each month can be as useful when preventing a conception one is not ready for, as it is in seeking a conception one desperately wants.

    And, in my humble opinion, it is utterly irresponsible to let girls grow into adult, sexually active, women, while in a state of complete ignorance of this fundamental knowledge. Sadly, my clinical experience repeatedly reveals that this state of ignorance is endemic.

    ** when I say “we” I mean practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine. And I will say this – to my certain knowledge, we are second to none in our ability to harmonise menstrual cycles and alleviate the suffering they too often entail! Sometimes this harmonising does miraculously improve fertility, and sometimes it does not. However, the alleviation of menstrual suffering is a happy side effect in the vast majority of cases.

  268. Walt F #277 – thank you indeed for giving thought and consideration to my comment. There are a couple of things I would add, if you care to continue meditating on it.

    1) Wealth is not money, money is not wealth. Money, as currently created and used, consists of legally enforceable claims on people’s effort and possessions (both of which may be said to be their real wealth).

    2) Money may, therefore, be an impediment to general prosperity, since what we are circulating as money are tokens of claim that ensure that the real wealth produced, and – sometimes – enjoyed, by most of us is continually channeled to, and concentrated in the net creditor classes, while being lost to the rest of us. We exchange our real wealth – our energies, our creations and our possessions – for the “privilege” of using these tokens of claim.

    3) I have not proposed, nor sought, a vow of poverty for myself, but instead seek to use an “eye” to ways for increasing my own real wealth, and protecting it, by reducing my dependence, to the extent that I am able, on money – the system for trading tokens of claim.

    Be well!

  269. A few related observations:

    1. Are you noticing in the US a trend where certain critical sectors are having issues in recruiting staff? Here in Canada, I note an article today that states the RCMP (federal police agency) is having trouble finding new officers, there was a similar one a few days ago about a nearby city police force with the same problem.

    There’s the well-known recruitment crisis in health care and the trades, of course, but I’m seeing similar recruitment issues pop up in other sectors now, too. I’d have to go back through my browser history to check, but over the last several months especially it seems there are labour shortages in many sectors necessary to running a society.

    2. I’ve noticed, due to the ongoing wildfire news in Canada and the flood news here locally, a great deal of unease underlying some conversations I’ve been having. If I had to sum it up, I’d say people are looking at the news, and the erratic weather they are experiencing, and getting the message that they might not be able to count on their home as a place of safety.

    In Canada, where house prices are so high and home ownership is such a symbolic big deal culturally to the middle classes especially, this underlying message of the drumbeat of climate related news articles must be quite unnerving.

    (It would seem that, despite years of warnings, suddenly climate change is an urgent problem when the possibility of losing one’s home becomes apparent.)

    This leads me to speculate whether people will double down on their disaster preparations, and a lot of companies will make money from selling solutions to fearful people, and even whether “prepping” will become mainstream.

    3. Thanks to Justin Patrick Moore and Kfish for the links to those guild gatherings! I have copied the links, and I think I will send them to our local mayor. It would be great if these types of events could become a thing.

    4. For the fifth Wednesday post, put me down for the white pill post. It would be great to see what positive changes are happening which we could learn from and build upon.

  270. Walt F – #277 – once again, thank you for giving this some consideration… a further response.

    “As a thought experiment, suppose I were extremely wealthy. If I were to sell my tangible and financial assets (that is, convert them into cash) and then burn the cash, would that be of the slightest benefit to anyone else, and if so, how? Of course giving the money and property away would benefit others, but that’s more about redistributing the wealth more equitably rather than reducing the net amount of it.”

    I think your thought experiment indicates you have not actually grasped what I see as the main problem. Which is this. When money is created, it is created as a loan. Each dollar in existence is borrowed by *somebody* who owes the creditor THAT dollar plus interest – let’s say, for the sake of argument – ten cents. This means that each dollar in existence is actually a liability worth $1.10. The money economy as a whole, by definition, always owes an additional ten cents for every dollar that is in circulation. The money economy must keep growing – so as to pay creditors that *extra* ten cents – or die. This makes the money economy a wendigo beast whose hunger can never be satisfied, and, it means that each of us is caught in a circle of musical chairs, for which we must fight one another, to prevent us from losing the chair that got commandeered from someone’s dollar to pay someone else’s ten cent interest.

    In your thought experiment you’ve burned some cash, which is the equivalent of burning a few more chairs, so that there are fewer to go around. Whereas, it seems to me that a better way to help things generally is to occupy less of a chair, so that there may be MORE of them to go around. (And maybe, simply get up and walk away to play another game instead). 😉

    Is there any chance that if enough of us “get real” with our wealth-oriented activity, it might eventually shut down the musical chairs wendigo feeding game? Who knows… I sure don’t. But I sure would like to be the cause of conversations – and experiments – on the topic.

  271. JMG – I’m somewhat disappointed that the “scam posts” were purged, rather than somehow being sanitized and left on display for our amusement and education. (Maybe there was no feasible way to do that?)

  272. >At this point, I’d settle for “pastus reconnectedus” instead of “futurus interruptus”


    For a suggestion on what to write about, I’d be interested in reading your opinions on what you think constitutes “last known good” when it came to life here in Murica.

  273. re: the Louisville bus fiasco

    I notice nowhere in any of this is anyone saying “Gee, maybe we should offer more money to incentivize people into driving busses”. Or “Gee, maybe we should analyze why we have a bus driver shortage”. I think they would rather have the driverless car chaos power their busfleet first than do anything that would resemble common sense.

    In fact I’ll go so far as to make a prediction. They’ll try solving their driver shortage with AI and one of those busses will kill all the kids onboard.

  274. Bus routes:
    Routing algorithms have been around for many years. Back in 1984 a friend of mine worked for a company selling route optimizing software. He said it was hard to convince the traffic engineers that a computer could do a better job than them. You don’t need an AI for that. But these days there’s probably an AI salesman trying to persuade traffic engineers that his neural net can do a better job than their routing software.

    Hotter poles:
    It’s been known for many years that the poles warm faster than the tropics. I like to think of it that excess heat doesn’t stay put, it flows to colder places, and once it gets to the poles it accumulates because there is no colder place. NASA has a more scientific explanation:

    The north pole warms faster than the south because melting sea ice exposes darker open water which absorbs heat, whereas of course Antarctica is solid ice, although I have to wonder how much latent heat gets absorbed without melting the ice.

    Polluting bicycles:
    Google “bicycle graveyards” e.g. discarded Chinese ride-share bikes
    Mind you, if we went for horse-drawn transport, a pile of discarded horses would not be a pretty sight. /jk

  275. #134 Well, last I heard/read, Cinderella now has an entourage of six “magical beings” and one dwarf. Guess who plays the dwarf?

    Regarding our bright future, last polls in Germany now show 21% would vote for the AfD (they got 10,3% in the last election); another poll had 33% “thinking about voting for the AfD.” Since these are two separate polls, I don’t know how far the overlap is; I don’t think it’s zero, because then you’d have to add them up and get to 54% which would be an absolute majority for the “extreme right,” in which case hold on to your hats.

    Newspaper Die Welt had another article today that 64% of the population want a change of government, and 70% are dissatisfied with the current one. That is a rise in 10% *in the last four weeks.* Industry and economic organizations are imploring the chancellor to take action against the looming economic disaster, but, as stated in another article in Die Welt today, the chancellor insists that everything is hunky-dory, and we should stop catastrophizing. The new green Wirtschaftswunder is right around the corner, you know?

    Mood in Germany is dangerous right now. Me, I can’t help feeling strangely giddy. Must be all the popcorn I’m shoveling.

    For fifth Wednesday, I put my vote in for reincarnation and karma.

  276. jnfo @ 291, thank you for the link to a most interesting site. For the rest, maybe you might want to ask our host to moderate a discussion about sex and marriage in the 21st. C. I would like to point out:

    In many if not most traditional societies, marriages were arranged by parents, with bride and groom expected to do their duty and make the best of it. Marriages were about duty and property; affection was not to be expected.

    The most beautiful young women went to the wealthiest and most powerful men.

    It never ceases to amaze me how the same folks who talk about “family formation” seem not to understand that families need to be financially supported. Is it families that matter or is it profits?

  277. My wife’s hometown ( of three generations) of Lahaina is a sad example of the rise and fall of empire with all of its twists and turns. From Indigenous to frontier ( whaling port), then to an exploitive plantation economy ( immigrant camps, plantation control of all resources, including land and water. Then due to the great post WWII wealth of the U.S. Lahaina entered an era where it’s agricultural and mill workers became the best paid in the world ( along with the rest of Hawaii) . This enabled them to live middle class lives, owning houses, cars and sending their children to universities. But as with all empires the costs at the center became too high to compete in the globalized world so the sugar cane and pineapple industries disappeared in the late 1990’s.
    Lahaina and its residents then became dependent on the globalized world of finance, tourism and a playground for the wealthy. Though they mostly became poorly paid waiters, maids and surf board renters many of the descendants of the families from the plantation era were able to keep their family homes in the town of Lahaina. But now dependent on cheap air travel and easy money.
    The land surrounding the town, which was once all irrigated sugar cane and pineapple fields went fallow to be filled with brush that became tinder dry in the dry West Maui summers. Real estate developers purchased most of the old plantation lands along with the water rights, which allowed them to build scattered “estates” thought out the scenic bits of the old plantation lands, but leaving most of the population short of water and most of the land tinder dry and brush clogged.
    For over 120 years the lands surrounding Lahaina was irrigated and burned off every year ( at least the sugar cane) . This kept the fire danger low, and kept the town populated with stern realistic men with a working knowledge of fire and the techniques to keep it under control. The sugar cane mill was in the center of town and the noise and dirt kept the tourists away out on the beach resorts.
    Once the sugar cane era ended, the mill closed down and was demolished, this made the town quaint , quiet and attracted tourists and rich sun seekers to buy up quaint “Old Hawaiian” houses in Old Lahaina Town. Before long the town was clogged with tourists, mainlanders with scuba business’s , and other assorted carpet baggers. But a significant portion of the natives and plantation era families held on.
    Now the once sturdy blue collar town of tight knit families was populated with PMC’s, good-time-charlies and local officials who were mostly incompetent Lackys of the real estate industry. Just like other places at risk from the changing world ( anyone) warnings were ignored because the good times would go on forever and consequences were for the other guy.
    As we now know that works until it doesn’t. Fire started in the nearby brushlands and swept through the town, burning it to the ground. The era of Jet powered tourism and easy money is almost over. Most don’t realize that and so will struggle to rebuild the town in that image. But as with things at the end of the empire those efforts will probably fail. Lahaina will flounder to be slowly reborn as a makeshift village on a scale that makes sense in an energy , money and tourist short world. But on the bright side if you have to live a post industrial life in a lean-to with a campfire Lahaina is a nice place to do it.

  278. Once again, I’ve tallied everyone’s votes. Thank you all!

    SGP, hmm! Thank you for this; that makes a great deal of sense.

    Forecasting, oh, they could do it the long way around over northern Canada. Admittedly it would be much more expensive — one more way in which Europe is becoming a backwater again.

    Grindstone, since industrial civilization as a whole is declining, the same phenomena can be expected in one form or another globally. That said, if you’re getting your information on Russia and China from Western media, be aware there’s a huge amount of spin doctoring and straight-up propaganda there. Third World media is generally superior these days in terms of objectivity and accuracy.

    Jbucks, (1) practically every business in the area has help wanted signs out permanently, and the city government here in East Providence is constantly angling for people to apply for jobs. (2) Interesting. Maybe it’s finally sinking in that climate change isn’t just something you can protest and then go back to your nice carbon-fueled lifestyle…

    Lathechuck, oh, I probably could have done that. I was feeling irritable that someone managed to sneak spam past me.

    Other Owen, I already answered that point in my novel Retrotopia. There is no one time that was “last known good” — the past isn’t a set of fixed states from which we have to choose, it’s a resource from which we can borrow many things from many times.

    Siliconguy, good. The world will be in much better shape when population declines naturally to a healthier level.

    Other Owen, oh, granted on both counts!

    Athaia, it’s rather harrowing to watch the German elite class make exactly the same mistake its predecessors made in the early 1930s — evidence, I suppose, that nobody learns from history…

    Clay, thanks for this: the rise and fall of our civilization in a nutshell.

  279. Excellent writing as always, thank you.

    I’ve noticed in a number of your other writings you feel Buddhism (among a couple of other religions) will have staying power through the long descent. Why Buddhism in partucular? Or was it merely a stylistic choice?

  280. > Louisville bus fiasco

    I haven’t read all the comments here, yet, so this may have already been said.

    At least one part of the story is, without a doubt, a huge lie.

    There is an app on iPhone/iPad/Macintosh called, “Find My.” I am quite sure the majority of those parents knew EXACTLY where their kids were located the whole time. All the parent had to do is use said app. These days, with all the fear parents carry around regarding kidnappings, the main reason for giving a kid an iPhone or iPad, in the first place, is to be able to tell where their kids are every single moment.

    The parent sets up the kid’s said device by turning on GPS-location and setting up “Find My.” One doesn’t need the Internet, per sé, to use “Find My.”

    Best wishes,

    💨Northwind Grandma🥶🥀
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  281. Dear Mr. Greer,

    Thank you very much for an insightful post, as always.
    The theme of hypocrisy and not living up to one’s ideals is a common thread in much of your writing, and beautifully synthesized (albeit somewhat harshly :D) by your phrase: “climate protesters are a pampered subculture engaging in meaningless virtue signaling while ignoring their own carbon-laced lifestyles”.
    Once one sees this type of fallacious thinking happening once, one cannot unsee it everywhere. I remember a comment by a person who I consider to be very intelligent, and certainly well informed (someone working in environmental chemistry), who said that the problem of pollution is the fault of corporations, because they are the ones doing the polluting, which somehow reminds me of Pilate washing his hands…
    However, in the interest of not becoming a cynical/nihilist, it is also important to look at the opposite case: people who actually walk their talk. One interesting example is the Irish author Mark Boyle, who has taken the concept of “industrial society is destructive” to the logical extreme, and given up much of industrial technology (including all forms of electricity, running water, etc.). What I find particularly interesting about him is that he is not the sort of crazed, wide-eyed weirdo shouting “THE END IS NIGH, REPENT!”. On the contrary, he has written that he feels better than ever, and wishes to continue like this for the rest of his life.
    Just wanted to share this, because although Mr. Greer’s writing is not at all fatalist (quite the contrary), having examples of integrity can make a world of difference in how we see each other. It is quite true that what we frequently think and ponder upon becomes the inclination of our minds (that’s the Buddha’s statement, not mine).

    All the best to everyone!

  282. > skilled craft fairs


    My definition of skilled crafts would include using electricity. While I absolutely LOVE to see woodworkers using hand tools — such as in America prior to the Civil War (roughly),— JMG has implied that electricity will still be available, during a slow decline, for a good long time, just more expensive. I think machining metal fits into this category.

    It seems that using electricity for woodworking and metal machining would be eminently practical. For the foreseeable future, relying on hand tools for woodworking and machining is the practical thing to do. I hope these skills fairs include using electricity — using “no electricity” would be a luxury we can ill afford.

    I can’t see machine shops only working with their hands. Wouldn’t that be equivalent of returning to the Bronze Age or Iron Age?

    Just my thoughts.

    Be well,

    💨Northwind Grandma🥶🌼
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  283. Tragedy of the commons,

    As for Clay’s comment just above, I’ve experienced that myself. Rural communities economically trashed for the convenience of the urban elite who want cheap food, high quality vacations, and retirement homes. And then they are completely baffled about the resulting resentment. Then when someone writes a song about “rich men north of Richmond” the elite desperately try to make it about the civil war and racism ignoring that some of the richest counties in the country are around DC where they have been feasting off the tax revenue extracted from the rest of the country.

    “Last known good” is easy to define in a chemical plant; the machinery is running properly, the output is stable both in quality and in production rate, no one is taking safety shortcuts to keep things that way, and frankly, everyone is a bit bored.

    You want chemical plant operators to be bored. You want your doctor to be bored. I definitely wanted to be bored when the boat was out to sea. Throughout my life I have put a great deal of effort into achieving maximum boredom in certain areas of my life.

    Defining last known good for a society is much tougher because because what people value varies so much. Just go back to what I said about Clay’s comment. A powerful group is very happy with the current state of affairs which is why we have the current state of affairs. A larger but less powerful group is not, but they are divided between those who want to backtrack to a supposedly better past and those who want to move on “equity” which only shows they never read the short story “Harrison Bergeron”.

  284. Apparently Chris Anthony Lunsford, aka Oliver Anthony, has turned down an $8 million offer from recording executives:

    People in the music industry give me blank stares when I brush off 8 million dollar offers. I don’t want 6 tour buses, 15 tractor trailers and a jet. I don’t want to play stadium shows, I don’t want to be in the spotlight. I wrote the music I wrote because I was suffering with mental health and depression. These songs have connected with millions of people on such a deep level because they’re being sung by someone feeling the words in the very moment they were being sung. No editing, no agent, no bulls***. Just some idiot and his guitar. The style of music that we should have never gotten away from in the first place.

    Something big is moving underneath this, I think.

  285. Hi JMG, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to change my vote to karma for the 5th Wednesday post as my nomination got no traction and that’s the next best thing I’d like to see.

  286. Science as currently practiced is messy and often misleading. Alternatives provide limited information for newly-discovered infections or semi-studied chemical-soup health consequences. We have Big-Money and their hired guns, who can distort by fraud, and selective publication of essential data (withholding unprofitable results via hidden contracts, sloppiness, or frank manipulation). An attentive eye sometimes finds the odd “late revisions”, “excluded patients”, missing/duplicated raw data, or “unsupported headline conclusions”. Published confidence intervals may show questionable or statistically insignificant results, but not necessarily clinical relevance.

    Open access articles have made an overwhelming amount of data available to the interested, though often through crapified search engines (bibliographies can help) and misleading discussions. Sometimes, the control group (left out if inconvenient to the funder) or reasonable comparisons, can be found published elsewhere. In medicine, the skewed results and lack of reproducibility are no longer hidden – everyone knows. There are published articles about it, but it takes a lot of effort to dig out key parts (if they are published) in a timely manner.

    In medicine, there are huge datasets, like mega-electronic records, that are harder to distort (though often wrapped in technical lingo requiring interpretation). Reading these studies with a skeptical eye can be quite informative. There are also clinicians, often the older independent ones, with a known pro-patient reputation, who avoid Big-money and have enough clinical data or highly attuned observations, to provide meaningful research.

    It is a pleasure to see appreciation for the difference between “Corporate Sponsored Science” and thoughtful study on this site.

  287. Re: Those everlasting “Help Wanted” signs.

    For the longest time companies had put those signs up and sought out applications without any real intention of filling in their “Jobs.” Now that the job offers are real (in part), it appears that the applicants have decided that the job offers aren’t worth it.

    I’d throw in a snark about karma and such, but something tells me there’s something serious about this – that, for once, there IS a need and that nobody’s there (or the seekers have given up). A “boy who cried wolf” kind of vibe.

  288. Oh agreed on that 100% JMG. Media in general these days is drivel. Even third world media (I technically am living in the “third world” by the original definition of the term) is lacking. Far too many journalists think journalism is simply reporting what they see on online.

    My information on those countries comes from personal connections, though admittedly more so the former Soviet space (Russia and ex Soviet Central Asia specifically).

    Will be interesting to see how things proceed.

  289. JMG,

    Great post. I share the same sentiment, having gone through a Physics B.S.c. When I started, I was hoping to work on a quantum computer, but by the time I get my diploma, I realized you can´t eat qubits, leading me to work an odd assortment of agricultural jobs as I saw no value in any of the current big Physics enterprises (Fusion, Quantum Computing, Grand Unified Theory, etc).

    This fall I am going back to school to get a Master’s in Soil Science with the hopes of coming up with solutions to agricultural problems, or at least provide value to farmers giving fertilization advice and performing soil checks. I think this may be a better way o use my understanding of Physics.

    Anyways, I would like to cast a vote for future military history.

  290. Once again, everybody’s vote has been tallied. Thank you all! This one is turning into a hard-fought contest. 😉

    Ash, Buddhism has been through a couple of dark ages already, and it thrives in such times because it has a good answer to the question everyone has in dark ages: “Why does life suck?” Its great challenge in North America will be finding a way to downshift from its current dependence on the upper middle class — that’s a fatal dependence as that class won’t retain its wealth and privilege for long.

    João, oh, granted, I’m aware of people who walk their talk; to some extent I’m one of them, as I’ve never owned a car and have an energy footprint that’s around a quarter of the average American’s. I hadn’t heard of Boyle before but I already admire him. 😉

    Siliconguy, tragedy of the commons, or pushback from working class kids against privileged class toys?

    Gardener, I saw that! Definitely good news.

    Cliff, that was my reaction when I read about that, too.

    Aldarion, I’ll have to have someone else crunch the math, because that’s way over my head. What fascinates me is that they’ve got a plausible explanation for what actually happens when the earth warms up — and it leaves the presuppositions of the current global warming crowd in shreds. I have a bunch of research to do.

    Gardener, the fascinating thing about this is that it leads to the same abandonment of institutions for individuals that shapes the political scene in times like these. Who do you trust? The individual with a track record, not the institution that claims authority.

    Godozo, here, at least, the little places didn’t have Help Wanted signs up back in the day. Now they do.

    Grindstone, now I’m wondering if you’ve read the novel Absurdistan… 😉

    Four Sided, that strikes me as an extremely good use of your skill set.

    Christophe, why don’t they settle for half the number of bureaucrats?

  291. Lazy Garener @ 321

    I, just yesterday, purchased a perfectly good used Munsingtonware %100 rayon short sleve shirt, with a pattern fits in with my Hawaiian Shirt collection ..from our local Good Will…

    I’ve been drawn to used clothing for decades. Now, this doesn’t mean that I shun new threads… hardly…. but I look for good tailoring, quality stitching, and fine soft fabrics .. that I know a deal when I see it!

    Maybe I should start a boutique … with the main emphisis, the ‘formerly’ bottom tier PMCs.. looking to ‘downsize. I see, where I reside currently, as a kind of ‘PMC refugia’.. we have our homeless, we have our drug issues, we have government cluenessess .. but what we don’t have, so far … is the craycray that now afflicts the Blu Smokes, with All the **devolution that entails.

    **a caveat … we’ll eventually get there too, most likely – mark my lingo. Our vaunted loco pols guarantee it!

  292. I could have sworn I voted already, but I’m going to join team “good news about the world as it is” if it is not too late.

  293. BabalonBee: Californias hopeful that Hurricane Will Wash Off All Poop Off Sidewalks …

    Well .. I, as a PORT ANGELEINO, WA. ‘citizen’ ‘(you hearin me’ rep$. KILMER, $ENATEr$ CANTWELL .. & MURRY???) sure do hope that said Hilarystorm washes off said poop off the pavement between our local Goodwill AND Riteaid….
    YEAH! … I thought so …..CRICKETS!…………….

  294. Hi John Michael,

    🙂 Always happy to chuck in a new dimension, and few people really consider how to produce food when the very fuel used to produce the fertiliser is in decline. I’ve long wondered about the role the natural gas story over in Europe has on the events playing out there. I guess it’s nice to feel on top of the world, but when you can’t enforce that feeling, it does appear to be kind of delusional at best. Certainly the slow decline in that resource will reduce the population, absolutely no question of that. And that’s what is really weird about dumping all those minerals into the ocean – it makes no sense whatsoever, except maybe that it is a cheap method. A lot of things are like that these days.

    The labour shortage story is an interesting one isn’t it? To build an average house down here (not even talking about the land price which will probably be another $300,000) costs about $500,000. The average base hourly rate is something like around $23.20/hour. So assuming no taxes are paid and the person doesn’t need to eat, that’s 21,500 hours of work, or at 8 hours per day = 538 weeks (over 10 years) no breaks, nothing spent on anything else. So what I’ve worked out from all that is that the present arrangements probably want people to work in the nude because they won’t be able to afford to pay for clothes. It’s a problem, and I can well comprehend why there are staff shortages. The economics are bonkers.



  295. Northwind Grandma – Metal-work without electricity is certainly feasible. Where do you think the parts for the first electrical generators came from? All you need is torque, which can come from an electric motor built into the machine, of course, but also from a steam engine next door, turning a “line shaft” in the ceiling of the machine shop. Any machine that needs torque just engages a clutch on a belt hanging down to his machine. Torque could also come from human muscles (for delicate tasks, like making watch parts or machine-sewing), or a water-wheel (when there’s enough flow). There was a lot of machinery used in the US Civil War long before there was an electrical grid to help make it. Electricity, though, is fantastically inexpensive for what you get! One human’s daily output of torque adds up to about 1 kilo-Watt*hour of energy (before torque-to-electricity is considered!), which is generated in my neighborhood for $0.10 these days. (That’s just “generation”; transmission and distribution are extra.)

  296. Ash Jackson,

    In addition to what JMG said, one thing that Buddhism has going for it is how flexible it is as a religion. Within in are traditions like Theravada that emphasize asceticism and overcoming desire and the passions, traditions like some forms of Tantra that use desires and passions to attain wisdom*, and traditions like Pure Land where desire and passion are completely irrelevant.

    Similarly, you have traditions like Theravada and Zen where gods are considered irrelevant to practice, traditions like deity yoga where gods are central to practice, and then there’s Shin Buddhism which for many practical purposes might as well be a monotheistic religion.

    The big problem it faces for the coming years is that the desire to escape the world entirely is losing force as a spiritual motivation. Even as people in the coming dark age are asking why things suck, I suspect that “escaping suffering” will seem a bit lacking in terms of providing meaning to life. (Although some very new traditions of Buddhism are starting to move beyond this, drawing on ideas pioneered in Tantra.)

    * I am quite convinced that Gerald Gardner took a lot of inspiration from Hindu and Buddhist Tantra when he created Wicca, given the similarities and that he served as a civil servant in India for many years.

  297. In fact, that group compares four different hypotheses to explain how the planet came to have what they call an “equable climate” from ~100 to ~50 million years ago, i.e. a small temperature difference between equator and poles. They seem to favor the hypothesis of convective clouds more than that of a single Hadley cell:
    In any case, the equable climate itself is well established, and there is a surplus rather than a lack of hypotheses to explain it!

  298. “Siliconguy, tragedy of the commons, or pushback from working class kids against privileged class toys?”

    Tragedy of the commons. Point to point personalized transport on your schedule, not the bus companies, also for those who are less mobile for far less expense than a taxi.

    If the kids (or whoever) are going to trash the scooters, then your personal e-bike isn’t safe either. Furthermore, the dolts tossed them in the river. How long the batteries stay sealed while submerged is a good question.

    Also locally, part of Medical Lake (Washington) burned down late Friday to Saturday. 185 structures lost, how many were houses they didn’t say. It was fairly windy and the fire ran fast. We had four days in a row over 100 F and that dried everything out.

  299. Siliconguy #13, re the efficient Prius:
    No, it’s time for me to break your heart.
    I used to own a 1980 Corolla hatchback. It was a little, simple car, a true hatchback in that most of the time it worked well as a commuter sedan, but in times of hauling the back seats laid down FLAT, forming a single, flat cargo space from the front seats straight back to the hatch, large enough to hold and carry a not-that-small bookcase.

    When not hauling library furniture, that simple little gas-burning car got 40 mpg city, 50 mpg on long highway trips.

    Without a mess of electronic winky blinky doodads.

    – Cicada Grove

  300. Ecosophy Enjoyer #213 –

    I’m sorry to hear you feel this way. I wish I could talk with you about it because I’ve been in a similar place.

    I too hate the multi story condos and parking lots in place of the fields and woods I used to enjoy. It does seem like it will never stop. What helped me feel better is realizing there is a component of human hubris in our fear. Learning about peak oil taught me that nature is going to put us in our place real soon. We’re not really capable of destroying nature, even though we like to think we are. If you look at land coverage and biomass, plants rule the world. Not humans. The biomass of all insects is also greater than the biomass of all humans, last time I checked. Ponder that a moment. I think JMG made a really important point in his response to you. Something we all need to stop and ponder.

    You might want to check out the book The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. You might be surprised how quickly all these parking lots and condos will return back to the earth after we abandon them. It gives me a sense of hope, in a weird way.

    Or maybe even do something as simple as look at the aerial view on Google Maps. Scroll around the world at a zoomed out scale and realize how little impact on the globe humans really have.

    You might even consider it a worthy task to help bring up a member or members of a future generation who are instilled with a reverence for nature, and can influence others to think the same way. If we don’t do it, who else will? We will need future generations who respect nature instead of disdain it.

    These are some thoughts I had I hope you will find worth considering.

  301. On Monday night a bunch of lightning came through and started a bunch of fires. And we’ve been having more lightning, and more fires, all week (although not as bad as the first night).

    The “plan” is full response, full suppression! But from what I’m hearing, these small communities nearby are out of groceries (because the firefighters get hungry and haven’t been resupplied), and out of diesel fuel (fire engine or not). It’s been 5 days.

    This didn’t used to happen. I worked on the fires here in 2015, and was blown away how the Forest Service could take an empty field and turn into a small city (food, water, toilet, showers, laundry, fuel) in less than 48 hours. In the middle of nowhere.

    That’s not happening this time.

    Give them a few more days to get it together? Bah.

  302. errata – my comment #319

    I missed writing an important “NOT”:

    For the foreseeable future, relying on hand tools for woodworking and machining is *NOT* the practical thing to do.

  303. “The first is that people in the hard sciences need to be better at publicity.”

    There was plenty of truth to that… But, this never seems to be done responsibly outside of, say, PBS or the Smithsonian. Recall the last three years, Chowdry.

    “The second is that too many people out there suffer from an irrational fear of progress, and…”

    If this were so, the reaction would be arson and censorship, not apathy.

  304. Regarding climate change, about three or four years ago, we began seeing short periods of sustained easterly winds (i.e., not temporary as from passing fronts) during the hottest days of summer, such that typhoons started tracking from the Pacific westward across Honshu near Tokyo. This suggested a northward shifting of a high pressure area–a shifting of the Hadley cells, which JMG has speculated about before.
    The same thing has happened this year, so it is occurring during El Nino years as well, it seems. The easterlies are less strong so far than we’ve seen before, but I think they are longer lasting.
    I’ve started recording the dates of the onset of easterlies and return of westerlies in our area as part of my tracking of climate change markers. (I’m still keeping track of bird migrations, though those have become too erratic to be of use anymore, for what appear to be non-climate reasons: habitat disturbance, navigational difficulties, etc.)
    Looking at the forecasted track of Hurricane Hilary (what a brilliant choice of name), it appears the same thing may be happening on the other side of the Pacific as well, as I see it tracking toward the northwest followed by more or less straight north into California, when it would normally turn eastward along the way and come aground in Mexico.

  305. So far as future topics go, I vote for an update on the global energy situation. My back-of-the-envelope calculations tell me we’re going to run out of all fossil fuels by the end of this century. Am I wrong? And how is the energy situation overall?

  306. @Mary Bennet

    It would be ideal to have Romantic Love, the Husband being financially viable, industrious and of good character all at once.

    Europe is quite an anomaly in the expectation of affection within marriage. But if the Song of Solomon is in the Biblical Canon. Then it is to be expected especially since the Reformation.

    But I think character makes relationships last. A man who keeps his word, is good and is steadfastly loyal is a treasure.

    I am not sure if Romance can develop as a result of character over time.

    Its too bad marriages are in many cases reduced to business transactions only. As you know.

  307. The thing about Asceticism and Hedonism is that pursuing one to the exclusion to the other is actually self-destructive.

    If Work(Asceticism) is not followed by Reward(Hedonism). How could Asceticism even be sustainable.

    And how can Hedonism be sustainable if it is not the result of Asceticism. Certainly people know that Hedonism has diminishing returns without prior Asceticism.

    Could food be feasted upon without prior hard labor and fasting?

    Could sleep be so sweet without prior Asceticism?

    Is not Drugs futile because they hack our Reward System by ensuing Reward without actually Achieving what the Rewards are meant to Reward?

    Nature certainly has alternating Asceticism being followed by Hedonism which sets the stage for more Asceticism.

  308. This at Naked Capitalism is relevant to the current topic: The link takes you to part II, which itself contains a link to part I.

    The writer is himself (Yves IDs the author as a man who closes to be known in these articles by his initials) a scientist. He gives some details of his experience. He is scathing about what he calls ‘scientism’, and ‘science adjacent scientism’. His main example for discussion is industrial agriculture–Yay! finally. I do think he underestimates the difficulties of undercutting the profits of Big Ag and Big Chemical, a pair of entities who do not fight fair and who are not going to lay down and die quietly. These groups of companies and their Wall Street financers want total control of world food supply and they will stop at nothing to get it.

    I continue to believe that organized consumer boycotts are a powerful tool against corporate domination, NOT mere virtue signaling. I recall when a there was a consumer boycott against CA lettuce in support of the United Farm Workers. The Oregon legislature instructed its’ cafeteria not to buy the boycotted lettuce. A newly elected Republican legislator from Eastern Oregon bragged in his first letter home about how he had managed to cancel those instructions. Now, lettuce was not then and I think is not now a product of arid Eastern Oregon. So, why did he care about where the lunchtime salads came from? Because as a business friendly Republican and a politician supported by Big Ag, he understood the danger that ANY consumer boycott anywhere posed to BAU.

  309. My opinion on watching the actions of those concerned with “Climate Change” as opposed to their words is that they have belatedly realized that peak conventional oil is real. Their reaction can be summed up as “How can we stop the little people from burning OUR oil, we need it for Our limos and private jets”
    I am the same approximate age as you, and have been involved with, then left, the solar industries (for example,
    Hydrogen on this planet is a battery technology, not an energy source)
    My vote is for scarcity industrialism.

  310. If anyone needs a dose of skepticism regarding science and health news, search for comparisons between deaths due to heat (which have made the news lately), and deaths due to cold (which will come out in six months or so. 😉 ). Just in the top, respectable looking results, I see that the number of hypothermia deaths in the US is either around 1,300, or around 25,000! An article in the Washington Post tells us that there are 9x as many cold-related deaths as heat-related deaths. says 134 US deaths per year due to heat, and 30 per year due to cold, but CDC (2014) says 670 due to heat, and 1300 due to cold. What?

    The resolution to this apparent contradiction is that heat waves cause a spike in deaths, while cold snaps do not. So, people die of cold at a steady rate. Whether the temperature is naturally cold, or extremely cold, it kills those who can’t protect themselves.

    Another nuance is that higher temperatures tend to make people more prone to violence (sez some research somewhere!), but those deaths are attributed to violence, not heat.

  311. Once again, I’ve totted up all the votes. Thank you all.

    Chris, the insane economics of real estate are a very good measure of the insanity of modern society generally; it’s what happened when regulatory gimmickry was used to keep real estate prices rising no matter what the long-term consequences might be.

    Slithy (if I may), you’re quite correct about Gerald Gardner. One of his main influences in the invention of Wicca was a book titled Secrets of the Kaula Circle by Elizabeth Sharpe, which is a somewhat sensationalized account of Kaula Tantrism in India.

    Aldarion, so I noticed. It occurs to me that the likely explanation involves more than one of the hypotheses, since nothing in nature has just one cause.

    Siliconguy, I’d want to talk to the people who did the tossing before making that call.

    Slink, ouch. Welcome to the future; it’s apparently being distributed in your region now.

    Your Kittenship, the shoggoths are blushing but pleased.

    Lain, there’s that!

    Patricia O, fascinating. Unsurprising, but fascinating.

    Info, interesting. The alternation has always worked for me, certainly.

    Mary, I won’t argue about boycotts — notice how efficiently one is being used right now to bring Budweiser to its knees. If the people who are upset about climate change would boycott petroleum, in fact, I’d be very much in their favor.

  312. Polecat @331,

    I grew up shopping thrifts, and continued despite a rising income. Besides being a great way to save money, it’s authentic to living with peak oil, and you can find lots of well made items. Re-use trumps recycle environmentally. Many older clothes were made of durable cotton, linen and wool, instead of plastic. Having sewing skills has been helpful, and old cast iron machines can still be found. Tools of high quality steel, lacking glitchy computer chips, can also be found.

    Two people in our local “thinking community” group run thrifts. Guess who gets first dibs on new arrivals? And will look out for goodies for other group members? I planned on running one for medical equipment on retirement, but found inadequate demand (for now). I suspect it could be one of the better job options going forward.

  313. Four Sided Circle #328

    Knowing all about soil: WONDERFUL🌻‼️ (I would add a “dirt emoji,” but there isn’t one.)

    Three books to read:

    ——- (1) “Weeds: Guardians of the Soil”
    by Joseph A. Cocannouer
    ISBN B00U1WO800. Kindle version cheap; paper expensive.
    This book, even Kindle format, I value most of books I own. I consider it made of gold.

    Joseph A. Cocannouer, a native of Illinois, has been a resident of Oklahoma since his early childhood. He was educated in the rural schools of Oklahoma, at the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Oklahoma State University–Stillwater), from which he has a bachelor’s degree, and at the University of the Philippine Islands, from which he has a Master of Science in tropical agriculture. He has also done special work at Kansas State College, the University of Amsterdam, and the National University of Mexico.

    Joseph A. Cocannouer
    born 1882 Illinois
    died 1969 Oklahoma

    ——- (2) “Trampling Out the Vintage”
    by Joseph A. Cocannouer
    University of Oklahoma Press, 1945.

    He used the word ”vintage” loosely. This book is not about grapes. I obtained a decent paper copy from Amazon.

    ——- (3) “Food in History”
    by Reay Tannahill
    Crown Publishers, New York, 1988, 1973.
    Originally published in Great Britain by the Penguin Group.
    ISBN 0517571862. Oddly, there are not a lot of historical books on food. Strange.

  314. JMG
    If I might, I would like to change my vote from post industrial warfare to karma/reincarnation.
    Also, if you are interested and have the time and want more details of some of the better performances of the allied troops in Korea, I would recommend reading about the British Gloucestershire Regiment at the battle of the Imjin River or the US marine retreat from the Chosin Reservoir.\Stephen

  315. @JMG: Glad you liked the good news about the gathering of the guilds. It’s going to be a fun day. It also gives me continued hope about Cincinnati’s future.

    @Happy Panda: Thanks for reminding me of this aspect of the Grand Mutation. I follow along JMG’s charts, but haven’t made enough to look back at them. This is certainly one that warrants further study. (His recent Thema Mundi chart on Patreon / Subscribestar was very ineresting!)

    @Kfish…. thanks for the link to the Lost Trades Fair on your continent. It looks very cool. May it continue and then change its name to Trades Regained or Trades Restored. I also agree with you about the medieval recreation scene. I’ll admit to having gone to a handful of renfests (I always wondered: Why are they called Renaissance Festivals, when they are more Medieval themed? I never see people wondering around with astrolabes or geometers tools, or paintbrushes and easels for that matter.) I like a good renfest in a way, because its one of the remaining places and outlets for carnie culture, and a lot of those who would have been carnies in an earlier time are on the renfest circuit. A good many of those people stand a good chance for selling their wares or employing themselves in other contexts down the road.

    @JBucks: You’re welcome!

    To all: here is another possible white pill, though your mileage may vary.

    A friend of mine told me about this magazine in the form of a newspaper that is now being printed, and only available in analog form, six times a year. It is called County Highway “A Magazine About America in the Form of a 19th Century Newspaper.”

    “”Our newspaper comes out six times a year and will be delivered to your home in a transparent envelope. Once the paper is removed, you can hold it in your hands, fold it into quarters, and read it on your porch on a sunny afternoon accompanied by your favorite cup of coffee, cigarette, or can of beer.

    What you can’t do is find our stories on the Internet. You can only get them by subscription, or by purchasing individual copies from our network of bookstores and record shops at the price of $8.50 per issue.

    County Highway is a 20-page broadsheet produced by actual human beings, containing the best new writing you will encounter about America. It features reports on the political and spiritual crises that are gripping our country and their deeper cultural and historical sources; regular columns about agriculture, civil liberties, animals, herbal medicine, and living off the grid, mentally and physically; essays about literature and art, and an entire section devoted to music.

    County Highway was born during the Covid lockdowns, when many of our friends and acquaintances became disillusioned by large cities. Some of us found new places that we loved. Some of us have always preferred the countryside or wild places. Some of us stayed in cities but began seeing how the ways of living and thinking that they cultivate might be a threat to the basic human pursuit of happiness and pleasure, and our ability to create without crippling self-censorship.

    Some of us fear the specter of an incipient totalitarianism emerging from our laptops and iPhones. Some of us are simply allergic to conformity and brand-names. What we share in common is a revulsion at the smugness, sterility, and shitty aesthetics of the culture being forced upon us by monopoly tech platforms and corporate media, and a desire to make something better. We encourage you to think of our publication as a kind of hand-made alternative to the undifferentiated blob of electronic “content” that you scroll through every morning, most of which is produced by robots.

    The name County Highway is inspired by what we believe is the perfect-sized place for the enhancement of life and art. A county is a chunk of earth big enough to allow for a variety of human types, but small enough to get to know a decent number of your neighbors, where they come from, what they’re proud of, what they fear, what they smoke, what they drink, and what they love. Counties are the right-sized places for telling stories. Mark Twain had Calaveras County, which is a real place in California. William Faulkner had Yoknapatawpha County, a made-up place in Mississippi. Edmund Wilson had Hecate County, a seductive place in Connecticut. Philip Roth had Essex County, New Jersey.

    The county where our newspaper is located is somewhere between all those places, real and imaginary. It’s the scale of the place that’s important to us, and also the idea of traveling from one to another with an eye towards finding new answers to the founding American questions of who we are, and why we are here.

    Inside our newspaper, you will find reports by people who picked themselves up and went somewhere else, in the hopes of discovering something new about America and meeting people who are not cookie-cutter copies of themselves, with the same approved viewpoints, living under different names. You will find regular columns about agriculture, animals, herbal medicine, and living uncommon lives. We even have columns like “Bouquets and Brick-bats” and “America by the Numbers” for people who shiver at the thought of being cut off from their daily dopamine drip of political party propaganda and bold-faced names. Some of our articles are funny, and others are written by people who are seriously pissed-off or who believe that the world is coming to an end. Because Americans are a musically gifted people, we have an entire section devoted to music and musicians.

    While we are inspired by American places, writing and songs, we are not pretending to be backwoods innocents, or to convey homespun wisdom for the ages. Garrison Keillor is not one of our editors. We are not an agricultural paper, or an outdoor sporting publication, although we welcome family farmers, hunters, and fisherman along with residents of both blue and red states.

    We hope to advance the same relationship to America that Bob Dylan had when he wrote his versions of folk songs, or that Gram Parsons and Neil Young had when they wrote their versions of country songs. We have the same relationship to our subjects that Mark Twain and William Faulkner and Ralph Ellison and Tom Wolfe had when they wrote about America and Americans. We are deeply and personally bored to death of hyperbolic chatter about politics, gadgets, and the semiotics of Taylor Swift from people who know nothing and come from nowhere. We believe in the wisdom of the Americans, who produced not only the congeniality of Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse but also the lunatic wildness of Yosemite Sam and Roadrunner and the Ramones.

    We are the happy recipients of a great gift, which is the message of human liberty and practical genius that is present in the way that Americans tell stories, crack jokes, play music, and make stuff. While our country’s educated classes define themselves as heralds of a new and better world, we are more than glad to claim the vastness of the American creative inheritance as our own. Please join us. —DAVID SAMUELS AND WALTER KIRN”

    It’s editor at large is Walter Kirn, an associate of Matt Taibbi (they do a weekly podcast together called “America This Week”), so I think it is safe to say this will be a left-leaning publication, but maybe more center left. A lot of Taibbi’s former fans and employers have gone off him for his trying to report the facts and his standing up for the 1st amendment. I see this as potentially part of another populist wing, perhaps exemplified by RFK Jr. and Charles Eisenstein at this time. I can’t say for sure as I haven’t seen the paper yet. Time will tell. The main editor, David Samuels I don’t know too much about though looking him up, he has written for a lot of the big magazines.

    Whatever it’s particular politics I like that it is printed as a 20-page broadsheet in the 19th century style.

  316. Hey JMG

    The discussion on the ( lack of ) merit of various science magazines compels me to chip in.
    Firstly I agree the criticisms levelled at Modern mechanics, which in my opinion has become more like a advertising catalog than the DIY magazine it once was.
    Secondly, while I can’t speak for “Scientific American” I can say that “New scientist” has taken its place as the best of science magazines. Full of good articles, news, photos and the occasional DIY, especially the Christmas editions, it is probably one of the few magazines worth buying in general. The only reason I stopped buy them after years of faithful acquisition is because I realised that I would quickly run out of room if I bought one every week, and because they jacked up the price.
    That being said, a small part of why I abandoned faith in progress is because of how many amazing things New scientist would report on, which would never be followed up on or mentioned again. For example, a team claimed to have made solar panels with iron oxide as a major ingredient which would have made them cheap enough to make up for their lower energy efficiency compared to standard solar panels. After awhile a lot of their reports on various experiments and discoveries seemed to be a high-class equivalent to some zany project someone posted on YouTube which never catches on with anyone else.

    As for the 5th Wednesday post, I still vote for an essay about Chinese civilisation, however I am tempted by some of the new suggestions such as what will happen to animal conservation.

    Also, found the solar panel article I mentioned but unfortunately most of it is paywalled.

  317. Lathechuck #335

    Thank you for your reply‼️


    Do you know of a book that gives the history of woodworking between, roughly, 1820 and 1860 in the USA? I am interested in learning about the range of time between using handtools (like during Colonial New England, and I presume the other twelve colonies) and using electric tools. How did that happen? What state and/or cities was at the forefront? When did the transition happen? How fast? Was there sort of a revolution?

    Besides electricity, is there another way to power a CNC machine (Computer Numerical Control)?


    Best wishes,

    💨Northwind Grandma🥶🌸
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  318. @ polecat: I firmly believe that someone could make a fortune from taking thrifted clothes in good condition and tailoring them to their customers’ size. Unfortunately, it would have to wait until people’s taste for new cheap garbage wanes.

  319. All the latest round of votes are tallied. Thank you all!

    Stephen and Peter, thanks for both of these.

    Temporaryreality, the following topics have received one or more votes. These are in order of posting, not in order of how many votes they’ve gotten.

    Jung and the occult
    past lives and psychosis
    scarcity industrialism
    viable careers and lifestyles for today’s kids
    the flight from success by the managerial class
    concepts of time
    Yeats’s A Vision
    unity of will – practical aspects
    The magic and sophistry of factions supporting climate change denial or skepticism
    what to do in the age of memory
    the future of freedom of religion
    where we are vs. the narratives
    the future of warfare
    who will succeed the PMC
    Morello’s posts on Hermetic Christianity
    the best course of action re climate change
    tabletop RPG as a cultural phenomenon
    situations where my expectations have been violated
    what’s going well in the world
    relationship between languages and cognition
    China’s resilience to collapse
    reincarnation in extinction event
    conservation in the deindustrial future
    Russian cosmism
    recipe for creating a new religion
    science and technology in the deindustrial future
    the role of Disney in debasing myths
    decline of Western education
    writing nonfiction
    deep dive into the history and future of the third world
    Musk’s rocket shop in Boca Chica
    alternate history if the US stayed out of the empire business (Reed becomes president in 1896)
    what’s happening in the crawlspaces of religion
    the difference between a corrupt democracy and fascism
    my thoughts on AI
    Robert Anton Wilson
    why we can’t talk about any kind of air pollution but greenhouse gases
    limitations as a source of sanity
    masks and masking
    the current fascination with demonolatry
    Clarke’s three laws
    conspiracy theory
    alternative history leading to sustainability
    “last known good” in America
    update on global energy situation

    J.L.Mc12, so noted.

  320. Kfish
    In some cities in Cali there are already quite a few vintage thrift stores, and many regular ones have a vintage section. There is some quite nice stuff available, much nicer than the new junk from the big box stores. Having a tailor on hand would be a great idea, even if only for a couple of evenings per week: fit you this week, bring it back next. A lot of people who patronize these shops, women especially, do their own modifications though.

  321. I’d like to add a vote for scarcity industrialism. What it means for national economies down thru to the scale of individuals trying to make a living.

  322. Charlie also led me to this: “
    a.k.a. bad behavior among the Powers That Be during disasters, and why.

  323. Dear Mr. Greer,

    I’d like to place my vote for: Chinese civilization’s resilience against collapse.

    I assume it isn’t that they were waiting for cold fusion, room temperature superconductors, etc. I felt young reading this essay; these breakthroughs were just around the corner when I was in grade school.


  324. Northwind Grandma – I don’t know of any way to run CNC machining without an electronic computer, but complex mechanical motions can be performed by machines that follow cams, templates, or models. I recall seeing a purely mechanical machine carving Civil War gunstocks, for example, with a model guiding the cutting tool. The model and the blank rotated slowly while a multi-tooth cutting tool spun rapidly to chew away the excess wood, and also slowly transited from one end of the model to the other.

    The Jacquard loom used holes punched in sturdy cards to control the mechanism for fancy weaving. (Modern Jacquard looms are digital, by the way, but not in 1801.)

    There might also be a place for high-power non-electric torque guided by low-power electrical controls in a low-industrial future. That would be similar to the way I work (in my hobby shop) now, with a big motor turning the lathe work, and my hands guiding the cutting tool without breaking a sweat.

  325. Free Soil health information and books: has downloadable books for free (well referenced) and more:
    Building Soils for Better Crops, and Growing Cover Crops Profitably has lots of guidelines and also research backing them up has basic easy-reading information
    Dave Montgomery “What Your Food Ate” is worth a read too, better soil and nutrition go together

    Some garden sites only mention the status quo, though substantial long-term research has supported healthy gardening since before the so-called “green revolution” (like Eva Balfour, The Living Soil)

  326. A thought on the subject of Help Wanted signs at restaurants…

    What if…

    Help Wanted signs

    meant that people are learning to cook their own meals❓

    This is a heretical suggestion. It is simply scandalous that Americans have acquired the bad habit of eating out several times a week, and spending a fortune doing so.

    Take frozen meals (like pizza), for example:

    If I order a pizza from a pizzeria, except for rock-bottom-priced pizzas like Cos†co, I have to part with minimum $30. On the other hand, a pizza I buy from the frozen section of a supermarket costs $10 and I heat it up myself. Subtract 7% for fuel. That is a huge savings. 60% off is nothing to sneeze at. Who wouldn’t go for that deal?

    But that is frozen. What about home-cooked meals?

    If I go to Deñny’s and get a scrambled-egg breakfast, I have to cough up at least $10. If I make the same at home, I can do it for $2. Again, that is 80% off. Nothin’ to scoff at.

    With people strapped for money to feed themselves and families, why would anyone agree to “eat out” when it is so much cheaper to prepare one’s meals at home? Americans are short on $$$, but long on time⏳.

    Are smart people discovering they can make their own meals?

    All one needs is a cookbook. For newbies, I recommend ‘merica’s Test Kit😺chen series or their Cook’s Illu$trated magazine (which one can buy that year’s magazines bound in book-format every October).

    Eating out used to be categorized as a treat: one ate out “once in a while” for a special occasion.

    Where it is hot, may you find cold;
    where it is cold, may you find warmth,

    💨Northwind Grandma🥶🌼
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  327. @chris

    What you’ve alluded to is what some people call the “national cost basis”. And it’s set too high. If you read someone saying “the cost basis is too high”, that’s the shorthand for what you outlined.

    >Last known good” is easy to define in a chemical plant; the machinery is running properly, the output is stable both in quality and in production rate, no one is taking safety shortcuts to keep things that way, and frankly, everyone is a bit bored.

    Just replace “chemical plant” with “the economy”, and there you go. Not that it’s possible to backtrack to a last known good state, I’m just curious where people would set the mark if it were possible. When did it all start to go really wrong? Because it’s gone really really wrong, even for the people in charge, although they don’t know it yet.

  328. There is a third issue with the idea ( held by some) that Fusion generated energy can save our industrial civilization. Besides the technology being 20 years in the future ( forever) and losing our ability as a society and economy to implement large complicated projects there is another thing.
    As our host has described, once an economy ceases to grow and enters the inevitable period of decline ( no matter how slight that decline) large scale capitalism no longer works. Money can no longer be loaned out at interest, investments never pay back, etc. An individual person can still charge for their time to mend pots, or dig a well or cut hair but the concept of the owner of a business making a profit will disappear.
    But in the techno-utopian, Musk-mobile, colonies-on-Mars future we are being sold, these ” clean fusion” reactors will be developed , built out and managed by the private sector. So even if theses things were energy positive, and economically feasible they would face an economy that is shrinking. The customer base for the electricity they “might” provide would always be getting smaller, investors would face the prospect of never getting their money back. So as enterprises they would fail even if useful.
    We might see a similar thing play out in the Hawaiian islands soon. Landowners and insurance companies are seizing on the concept of suing the electrical utility for fires ( as was proved out in Ca and Oregon). But in Hawaii they have a single rickety utility ( HECO) which powers it’s entire grid with oil. This utility is speared on the horns of a twin dilemma. Oil prices are rising and will continue to rise from now on. And as jet tourism declines ( for the same reason) they will face a declining customer base. So if lawsuits drive them to insolvency they could end up with a failed electrical grid in Hawaii, with no prospect of new investment or growth to bail it out.

  329. I normally don’t vote for the 5 post for the month.
    But this time, i will vote for a White Pill Post. (even though i found my white pill)

    I am just really liking the whole idea of a White Pill.

  330. It’s likely too late for this month but for a fifth Wednesday my vote is for the mental health impact of the end of progress, and the belief therein.

  331. Kfish @ 362,

    Funny you mention tailored clothes. I have several Hawaiian-styled shirts I bought that are sized too large for my profile. One is a genuine Hawaiian that is so conspicuosly loud, it will burn out the retinas of any viewer staring within close proximity. I’m planning on having them all altered to fit, as soon as I find a decent local taylor/seamstress that will do the job.

  332. @Northwind Grandma #372: I completely agree with your sentiment. Our income is rather average, but we don’t feel we can afford to eat out or order food more than once a week. And of course home-made food can be much more healthy. Where I don’t follow you is how people cooking at home would increase the number of “Help wanted” signs in restaurants. My own supposition is that somewhat more people cook at home and therefore somewhat less people eat out, but the number of people willing to work in restaurants has fallen even faster, and (most) restaurants can’t afford to attract workers with better pay because of the overall decline in EROI that is one of the main subjects of this blog.

  333. “On the other hand, a pizza I buy from the frozen section of a supermarket costs $10 and I heat it up myself.”

    The upscale brand and my daughter’s favorite, Freschetta, was $6 on sale two weeks in a row. I think it’s normal price is about $10. The store brand is almost as good and usually $5. Every other month or so we’ll raid the local, non chain burger joint for one of theirs with their very good beer battered onion rings. That is about it for outside the house eating for us.

    When did the economy go wrong? Lots of people love to blame Reagan, but I had already joined the Navy by then because the economy blew up during the Arab oil embargo. Dad threw in the towel on the farm before that partly due to the lack of giant muscular sons, and partly because the trend line for 45 cow family dairy operations was plainly downward. So I would put the marker at LBJ’s guns AND butter program, ie the Vietnam war and the Great Society at the same time.

    In support of this, if you run the numbers for ‘sequence of return’ risk for retirement planning, the 4% rule fails for retirements starting in 1967 and 1968. High inflation combined with bad investment returns during the first part of retirement wiped out the savings before returns went up again in the later 1980s.

  334. Gee, that’s an impressive list. I thought I’d be able to pick one, but I can’t, so I’ll add to the list:

    I vote for a mashup of any several of those topics, at your fancy

    (though I admit I do trend toward Chinese resilience, the “white pill” option, and scarcity industrialism – couldn’t pick just one and those three suggested to me the mashup potential…

  335. I believe you think that Russian culture has a long term resiliency, vigor and future lacking in Western Europe. So my vote is for some combination of Russian cosmism, the crawlspaces of religion and the recipe for creating a new religion all centered around Russia. Perhaps in some way this possible attribute of Russia is eliciting the fury of the Atlanticists

  336. That news about fusion power just has me having a hankering for a T-Shirt

    “Fusion power is just
    twenty years in the future!”
    for [ ][ ] years and counting

    with the numbers in those spots looking like old school sports ball manual score numbers, and currently sitting at 72 going on 73

    The modern worship of “experts” induviduals who know more and more about less and less, until they know everything about nothing and have no actual use to the rest of us.

  337. Dear JMG,

    Thank for another great article. We now look forward to every Wednesday with a lot of enthusiasm.

    I would like to cast a vote for past lives and psychosis.

    Kind regards,

  338. From Asia Times this week:

    Ballyhooed LK-99 neither superconductor nor even a metal
    Hopes fade for South Korean reseachers’ ‘room temperature superconductor’ LK-99 but quantum zero-resistance research continues.

    “However, while this particular avenue of research may be a dead end, the dream of a room-temperature superconductor is still very much alive.”

    Hope springs eternal.

  339. Not that I trust the IMF very much, but they have a similar take to when things went wrong.

    “By the early 1960s, the U.S. dollar’s fixed value against gold, under the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates, was seen as overvalued. A sizable increase in domestic spending on President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs and a rise in military spending caused by the Vietnam War gradually worsened the overvaluation of the dollar.

    The system dissolved between 1968 and 1973. In August 1971, U.S. President Richard Nixon announced the “temporary” suspension of the dollar’s convertibility into gold. While the dollar had struggled throughout most of the 1960s within the parity established at Bretton Woods, this crisis marked the breakdown of the system. An attempt to revive the fixed exchange rates failed, and by March 1973 the major currencies began to float against each other.”

    The “alt-right” economists are always going on about the 1971 end of “real money” as being the point when things went wrong, (along with the creation of the FED), but again, going off the gold standard was a symptom of rot already in the system.

  340. Once again, I’ve tabulated everyone’s votes; thank you all.

    Patricia M, the glitch story is seriously funny. The concept of “elite panic” — hmm! Thank you for this; I see I’ll be reading some sociological papers shortly.

    Cugel, I know! My childhood science books had “when we achieve fusion power” right next to “when man first lands on the Moon.” Nobody saw the difference.

    Sam, I saw that and was delighted to see it. Talk abour white pills!

    Northwind, you may well be right. Apparently a lot of people took to cooking their own meals during the Covid hysteria, and found they liked the results.

    Clay, and of course that’s also a crucial factor that nobody, but nobody, is taking into account.

    Andy, I’d wear that shirt!

    Asdf, or in this case, hope springs infernal.

  341. My vote: Future of slavery (It has been practised since time immemorial, as a source of very cheap labor)

  342. >So I would put the marker at LBJ’s guns AND butter program

    Can you tell me who was the prez before LBJ and what happened to him?

  343. Dear Northwind Grandma, (at comment # 372), you don’t even need to buy a cookbook. Local libraries have an abundance of them. I take a picture or write down the recipes I like from those books. Also on internet, I list the ingredients I have at hand to find a dish that looks good. Also you don’t need even the frozen pizza. Kingarthurbaking dot com has many recipes including pizza crust with many tips to adjust for a home kitchen. I made many pizzas at home with improving results. I started cooking at home before Covid because I realized I can actually prepare any type of food the way we would prefer as family and friends: saltiness, spice, etc. plus the joy of doing it ourselves.

  344. One more vote for karma…especially as I’m working my way through RFK, Jr.’s book “The Real Anthony Fauci,” peeking out periodically to read the next sentence from underneath the hands covering my eyes…

    Or will TPTB just skip it and spin that sorry excuse for a soul on out to the Ring Pass Not?

    Great post, btw. Made a fine P.S. to my recent reread of “After Progress.”

  345. M r.Greer,

    I just viewed .. 36 hrs.ago worth …. with ……. ok.. ‘corpserate crickets’ ……… on what REALLY occurred that day, at Lahaina, Maui…???

    “@ • MY • J’a’ • A’ques”

  346. My take on All thing$ gaslit’ from Lahaina, Maui.. so far …….is………..

    Just to state exactly .. what the”frack” type of Authority figure …. is spewing what’s going on over there ….??? I see j-a-c-k
    -Sheet!! .. explainIing exactly WHAT occurred pre FED$!!!

  347. Hi John Michael,

    Clay made a great point. Respect. 😉 It’s worthwhile noting that economic returns don’t need to be in the negative for there to be much wider consequences. All they need but do, is not rise. Stagnation will produce the exact same effect as negative returns. Mate, it’s a brutal equation, and few people notice. But I tend to believe that this is what is behind the extraordinary co-ordinated support of the ever rising house price. From what I’ve observed, we’ve been in decline my entire life span, and only a hand full of people, such as yourself, notice. There are good reasons for that state of affairs.



  348. @The Other Owen #392 – the president before LBJ was JFK. Kennedy, assassinated in Dallas.

  349. To all the readership: I consider the Kennedy assassination to be one of the turning points of this century, post-WWII. The next one, of course, was Reagan’s “Morning in America!” Followed by 9/11. which in turn was followed by COVID-19, or as I refer to it, The Lockdown. In each case, the kids who grew up in one era brought a different worldview and expectations and sense of what constituted normal.”And each one brought a sense that the world wasn’t going to be the same after that. Frex, the flood of assassinations that followed Kennedy’s.

    For 5th week: In times ahead, as we lurch downhill, what happens to people no longer physically fit due to age, disability, or illness in times to come? I mean, apart from “Bend over, kiss your butt goodbye, make your peace with your gods, because, sister, brother, you’re toast?”

  350. I agree cooking at home has lots of benefits, but I think that would lead to restaurants going out of business rather than looking for more workers.

  351. “Can you tell me who was the prez before LBJ and what happened to him?”

    JFK and he was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald and the guy on the grassy knoll, the latter got away clean. 😉

    As to why, pick the theory you like. CIA, FBI (Hoover), Castro, Mafia, etc.

  352. Once again, everyones’ votes have been tallied. Many thanks for the enthusiasm!

    Chris, there are indeed. Patricia M’s comment about “elite panic” has me up to my elbows in sociological papers; it’s becoming increasingly clear that the elites know that we’re in accelerating decline and they’re terrified, because they don’t know what to do about it. Yes, there’s a post in the making about that.

  353. JMG comments, “I look at the idiocy that passes for environmentalism these days and shake my head.”

    Here’s a recent news article from here Down Under warning us of the dangers to the natural environment if we… take a stick to walk with.

    This is an example of what I’ve long called the Museum Green view of the world: “Nature” (emphasis on the capital N) is something sits behind plate glass that nobody’s allowed to touch. You go look, then go home presumably to Unnature.

  354. Your posts on climate change are always thought provoking, and I look forward to reading another in the coming weeks. I am personally grateful for the time you threw cold water on Guy McPherson’s predictions of near term extinction, and for the realization that most climate policy is a scam, but that this does not imply that climate change is not happening.

    That said, the CEI climate science chronology you linked in the post is not very good. I chased down a couple of the claims made, and found them lacking or misleading.

    Exempli gratia:

    “Prepare for long hot summers.”: the article claims that Washington DC would go from an average of 35 days over 90F to 85 such days by 2038-2048 (50 to 60 years). The website claims the number has peaked in 1911 and have since gone down instead, linking an unsourced chart for “Lincoln, VA” that leads back to a spreadsheet.

    I found wildly different data, and a write-up:

    “The number of hot days per year in D.C. has increased in recent decades. At the turn of the 20th century, the annual average of 90-degree days was about 25. In the mid-1970s, D.C. might have expected about 33 days so hot. From 2010 to 2020, the 90-degree average is about 49 days.”

    49 days, with 15-25 years still on the clock. Not a failure yet, and probably not a spectacular one.

  355. Dear John, I do not usually vote for 5th Wednesdays, but this time, if that’s not too late, I would like to vote for a post on what you think may/will happen in the West when the belief in Progress will clearly start dying, when the faithfuls will start circling the bandwagons against the rest of us (we are probably already close to that).

    If History could guide us, I believe we may see strange and devious cults emerge, from death cults of various forms (“scientific” ones, maybe) to destructive transhumanist deliriums to reach eternity/planet conquests/totalitarian control/whatever, in a last push to get the promises of the cult of Progress whatever could be the horrific cost. I fear the appearance of self-destructive mass hysteria phenomenon, similar to the Ghost Dances, or to the great auto-destruction of the Xhosa under the spell of prophetic figures. I fear the emergence of dangerous prophets like the young girl Nongqawuse, who called and convinced the Xhosa to kill all their cattles and food reserves, inducing a huge famine which nearly destroyed them. The appearance and promotion by the PTB of similar young would be prophets (Greta T. ?) in our time is not reassuring; neither is the manufactured mass hysteria about you know what for the last 3 years. I would be happy to know your opinion on that.

  356. Speaking of climate change predictions, how about that guy, Guy? According to Guy McPherson we have about a year and a half left before humanity is “extinct.” By 2026 he said, unequivocally, IF we had that long. I’m willing to contemplate he may have modelled some things the rest of us have not, but i’d put strong odds on us being still around in 2027 – obviously, and woefully still around, as we are now.

  357. Hail!

    It’s been a while. Been a bit busy navigating the niggling details of trying to surf the Decline gracefully. The universe clearly has not gotten bored of trying to keep my workin’ class a** …entertained.

    But to the point, I did indeed observe the news of yet another fusion development and room temp superconductor with sort of a casual, “okay then” and not the least bit of excitement. I am of an age where I grew up in the sixties, and recall the Buck Rogers future that was coming “any day now” during the era of atom powered electricity “too cheap to meter”. I currently reside in an all electric house built in the 1960s with baseboard electric heat. We heat with a pellet stove, and I am looking into replacing our living room fireplace with a more efficient wood stove insert. My favorite exhibit for my six-year old self at the 1964-65 Worlds Fair was GM’s Futurama with it’s gleaming promise of a shiny techno-future, and I was a severe Space Geek.

    I am still waiting for my personal jetpack and flying cars. I really was disappointed that MY 2001 did not include an orbiting Hilton in the Big Space Station with regular commercial shuttle service, but Pan Am didn’t even last that long. We got ripped off. Instead we got Pong, Cell Phones, and The feckin’ Internet – some of the most corrosive artifacts to representative democracy ever invented since the word “propaganda” made it into Websters.

    So even as a bit of a technocrat… (Graphic and Web Desiger and tech dependent… ) I no longer give much weight to the blathering in the Media about either the Next Huge Thing or the Comping Apocalypse. Mind you, Climate is a thing, just ask my forsythia – that pops in February now – I haven’t seen a winter with consistent Below freezing temps trough January-February since the 80s. Before many of you may have been born – this bulls**t is your “normal.” But I have next to zero expectation that the next major breakthrough if it’s at all legitimate, will benefit me or people like me, or that we could afford it.

    I am reasonably convinced that Decline – driven by population pressure, unsustainability, environmental degradation, resource depletion, economic instability – all made worse by climate change is baked into the maths. But the political, corporate, and managerial classes – committed to the sustaining of the Status Quo that provides their power and privilege – are cognitively incapable of the taking on the sort of changes that could make any effective difference. But the realities of the tightening Age of Limits will do it for them, but won’t be through choice or planning, but the grim business of coping with a march of crises till their power is dissipated or tossed in the scrapheap (torches and pitchforks… or AR-15 and AK-47s?) by a population that they no longer serve in any meaningful way.

    But neither Techno-utopia or final Catastrophe await. But a slow (if acclerating) grinding decline of increasing crapification of everyday life, punctuated by ever more frequent local and regional disasters and crises that will kink groups of people further down the slope depending on one’s circumstantial fortune.


  358. I have to take exception to some of what you say here, although I think your overall point is well made.

    First, Al Gore cited ten years ago for an ice-free Arctic as the most radical prediction. He usually goes with sometime after the middle of this century as the likely date.

    Second, atmospheric CO2 levels have not been this high in 3.5 million years, at which time the planet was 3-5 degrees C warmer, sea levels much higher, and ice levels much lower. You wrote of the decline of states “a system that has been hollowed out by a string of cascading failures runs into one more crisis than it can tolerate, and implodes under the weight of its own absurdities.” I submit that we may well be in the same situation with climate.

    I tried to submit this comment yesterday, but it got hung up in your verification system–wouldn’t recognize my WordPress web addy, and then gave me an error message when I tried to verify my ID through Facebook. Hope I make it through this time!

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