Fifth Wednesday Post

Slack! An Irreverent Proposal

For quite some time now, utterances from the elite classes of the industrial world have had a sidelong relationship at best to the reality that most of us inhabit.  Recent weeks have seen the surreal quality of official pronouncements slam into overdrive, however. I first noted some time ago that the most difficult job in the world these days must be writing satire for online parody websites such as The Onion and The Babylon Bee; the struggle to come up with stories more absurd than the latest official pronouncements has got to be appallingly stressful.

“I can’t be overdrawn, I still have checks left!”

At this point, though, I’m sorry to say the Onion and the Bee have been left behind in the dust. Here in the United States, we’ve got Nancy Pelosi insisting with a straight face that expanding federal expenditures without raising taxes doesn’t increase the federal deficit. Her argument is that the gargantuan spending bills the Biden administration is trying to push through, loaded as they are with trillions of dollars of handouts, will increase incomes and spending so much that tax receipts will exceed the expenditures. It’s a familiar argument for those with long memories, as it was made by the Republicans under Reagan.  (Do you remember the Laffer Curve?  I do.)

Democrats in those days still occasionally had the brains the gods gave geese, and pointed out the absurdity in that claim. They were right, too, as the exploding deficits of the Reagan years demonstrated all too well. Yet Pelosi, who got into politics during the years when that very topic was a hot issue, is busy channeling Ronald Reagan without the least awareness of that fact, and spouting a variety of economic malarkey that most eight-year-olds would find embarrassingly childish. It’s the kind of over-the-top absurdity that makes professional satirists stare in horror at the TV screen and gulp down that third martini.

Ah, but Europe has outdone Pelosi in the absurdity sweepstakes. In response to the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian war, pundits and politicians across Europe suddenly got around to noticing that most European nations are so weak in military terms that any good-sized country in Africa could invade and conquer a couple of them any time it had a mind to. In particular, a great many people noticed that Germany has a tiny, underfunded excuse for an army, navy, and air force. Now of course there are very good reasons why Germany is in this condition, stretching back well beyond the century of European history that ended so cataclysmically in 1945, and there are equally good reasons why Germany should be kept in that condition as long as possible. Fans of American comedic songsmith Tom Lehrer will doubtless think of certain lines:

“Once all the Germans were warlike and mean,
but that couldn’t happen again.
We taught them a lesson in nineteen-eighteen,
and they’ve hardly bothered us since then!”

I trust Paris hoteliers are getting ready for a new influx of German visitors.

Such cold considerations went out the window once Russian tanks rolled across the Ukrainian border. German Chancellor Scholz, to enthusiastic cheering from other European capitals, has announced a colossal new military budget that will give Germany an army larger than Russia’s, the third largest in the world, with naval and air forces to match. Why Germany needs so huge a military, given that in theory it will only fight side by side with the armies of all its European allies, is an interesting question. The logical answer should not exactly comfort Germany’s neighbors, several of which own large chunks of territory that used to be German. Yet here we have a Polish politician being quoted as saying, “I’m not afraid of a strong Germany. I’m afraid of a weak Germany.”  I hope he doesn’t end up learning the downside of that attitude the hard way, as so many of his ancestors did over the last half millennium or so.

So we’ve got a leading American politician insisting that spending even more money the government doesn’t have won’t add to the federal deficit, and we’ve got leading European politicians grinning vacuously as the most economically and strategically powerful state in Europe launches a campaign of breakneck rearmament, the way Kaiser Wilhelm II did at the turn of the last century and a funny little man with a toothbrush mustache did in 1933. It’s impressive, in a bleak sort of way. For several years now I’ve been writing about the collapse in basic reality-testing capacity on the part of the privileged classes in the industrial world.  I’m beginning to wonder if the privileged classes have been reading my essays and saying, “You think that’s blank-eyed, slack-jawed, foam-flecked delusion?  Hold my beer.”

Meanwhile, as we wait to see just how soon the United States forces itself into the unenviable choice between hyperinflation and debt default, and just how soon the nations of Europe decide to make my recent essay on the next European war a hideous reality, what is to be done?  Sure, there are plenty of rational responses, and I’ve talked about them here and in my books at quite some length.  Still, there are times when the best response to a frankly crazy society is to go even crazier, and leap in a single mighty bound to an alternative perspective giddy enough to make the whole steaming, fetid mess make some kind of sense. I think this is one of those times.

The Sacred Chao, the symbol of Discordianism. Yes, it’s pronouced the way you think.

No, we’re not going to talk about the Discordians again. Granted, I’m a properly ordained Chaplin (as in Charlie) in the Legion of Dynamic Discord—my noseprint has been filed with the California State Bureau of Furniture and Bedding!—and the head of a Discordian cabal so omnipotent and elusive that its very existence is a secret from most of its members. (You’re probably a high-ranking initiate already, you just don’t know it yet.) Granted, I’ve also written at quite some length about Discordianism already, noting among other things that the Discordians were responsible for the most profound and effective critique of Hegel yet proposed. No doubt I’ll return to Discordian themes in good time, for that matter.

But there are times when even the drug-soaked ravings of a bunch of giddy California beatniks just aren’t adequate to deal with the gibbering lunacy of allegedly sane and rational people pursuing allegedly sane and rational policies that are leading the world straight toward disaster. So set aside the love beads and the battered volumes of Robert Anton Wilson, break out the cheap bourbon and the blurry zines festooned with a smiling clip-art face smoking a pipe—

Yeeeee-HAAAAW!  Yessiree, “Bob,” we’re gonna talk about SLACK!!!

Praise “Bob.”

Those of my readers who know their way around the weirder crawlspaces of the American imagination know already that what we’re discussing is the Church of the SubGenius. Like the Discordian movement, it exists somewhere on the continuum that unites serious cultural and philosophical critique with absurdist put-on.  The difference between Discordianism and the SubGenius phenomenon is very precisely that between mellow mid-twentieth century California and raucous late twentieth century Texas, which is where the Church of the SubGenius was born.

I’m not a member of the Church of the SubGenius, much less one of the exalted Slack Masters. My Third Nostril is not yet open, for I have not contemplated the One True Pipe while smoking a certain mysterious Himalayan herb that grows only on beds of pure yeti dung. No doubt true SubGenii will look down on my comments here as utterances of some dreary middle-aged Discordian heretic (all Discordians are heretics) who’s probably a Pink Boy anyway. With that in mind, I’m not going to hold forth about the alien space god JHVH-1, the Yacatizma (or for that matter the Yacatisma), the Stark Fist of Removal, the Nazi Aluminum Hell Creatures from Inside the Hollow Earth, or any of the other oddities that inhabit the febrile imaginal cosmos of the Church of the Sub-Genius. No, we’re going to focus our discussion here on SLACK!!!

Slack is what the SubGenius hopes to attain through his faith in “Bob.” Slack is to the SubGenius what salvation is to the Christian, what nirvana is to the Buddhist, and what sprouting half a dozen writhing tentacles while screaming “Iâ!  Iâ!” through lips that are no longer human! is to the devout worshipper of Cthulhu.  What is slack?  Ask a bona fide Slack Master that and he’ll whack you over the head with his pipe, but we’ve already settled that I’m not a bona fide Slack Master. So I’m going to interpret it through my own mildly deranged lights, and reveal that it actually makes an absurd amount of economic and ecological sense.

The SubGenius must have SLACK!!!

Slack is what you’re being asked for when somebody says, “Hey, cut me some slack, okay?”  Slack is what slackers hope to achieve by slacking off.  If you’ve ever helped out aboard a sailboat or done anything else involving lots of rope—er, let’s all just pretend that nobody noticed the possibilities for off-color jokes here, shall we?—you already know that slack is the opposite of tension.  Slack is wiggle room.  Slack is the opportunity to stretch and take a deep breath. Slack is also room to maneuver. Slack is the condition in which you’re not going all out all the time, so you have the chance to kick back and enjoy life for a bit, or get up to trouble if that’s your thing, or extract yourself from an awkward situation. We can get painfully serious for a moment here by saying that slack is resilience.

That means, in turn, that slack is the opposite of efficiency. I created quite a little tempest in a teapot some years back on my old blog, The Archdruid Report, when I pointed out the resilience is the opposite of efficiency. Quite a flurry of people popped up to insist that no, no, it just ain’t so—but they were quite wrong. Consider a bridge. If you make it in the most efficient possible way, using as little steel and concrete as you can get away with and still support the expected load, it’s not going to be resilient, and someday when really heavy traffic hits at the same time as a bad windstorm, down it will go. If you want your bridge to endure, you have to be inefficient, and put a lot more steel and concrete in it than you think you need. That is to say, you have to be sure that it has sufficient slack built into it.

The opposite of one bad idea is another bad idea…

A lot of the people who insisted that efficiency and resilience can’t be opposites didn’t get as far as this kind of analysis, to be sure. They were responding to words like “efficient” and “resilient” as though they were simply synonyms for “good,” or maybe “doubleplusgood,” and the logic of Newspeak takes it from there:  good cannot be ungood!  (It’s this sort of thinking that makes it impossible for so many people to grasp the necessity of tradeoffs.)  Yet there are some smart souls who point out that being efficient in doing things means you have a lot more free time and a lot more available resources to make trouble with. They’re quite right, but they’re actually proving my point without realizing it.

You can use efficiencies in some places to increase the availability of slack in others. If you learn how to wash dishes efficiently, you can zip through a sink of dishes in a few minutes and go on to sprawl on the couch and put your feet up, while the inefficient dishwasher is still fussing with pots and pans. Your total supply of slack hasn’t changed—you’ve just concentrated more of the slacklessness in your life in a smaller amount of time, and so you’ve been able to stretch out the time in which you can enjoy slack.

In the same way, if you like to eat beans, you can annoy the bejesus out of Bloomberg, buy them in bulk, and cook them up in batches in a slow cooker—the beans, of course, not Bloomberg—rather than getting them precooked and half predigested in cans for a much steeper price. That cuts you additional slack in several different ways. It costs less, so you have more money to spend on other things; you don’t have to go to the store as often, which saves you time; and if you’ve got some ten pound sacks of beans in the cupboard, along with a good assortment of other bulk foods, you know you’ll still have something to eat when the shelves at the corner grocery are bare because the puppet on a stick who pretends to be leading the United States has made yet another stunningly inept economic decision.

You knew this already, of course.

As this suggests, slack doesn’t just have to sit there being slack. It can be used, and used in many different ways.  You can cut yourself some slack financially, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  You can cut other people some slack, too, in at least as many ways. To do that, however, you’re going to have to buck the concentrated pressure of the corporate media and the entire momentum of  life in the industrial world. Across the board, the structures of modern life are set up to demand that all the inmates of the madhouse we call industrial society ought to be running flat out all the time, without any time to catch their breath and think about what it all amounts to. You know what this means. THEY’RE TRYING TO STEAL YOUR SLACK!!!

And of course there are reasons for this, which aren’t limited to the arrogance, greed, and incompetence that our ruling class shares with every other ruling class in history. Glance back over the last seventy-five years or so of the history of any product manufactured for the mass market, from Cadillacs to chocolate bars, and what you’ll see—the steady decline in quality and quantity that has been summed up neatly as the crapification of everyday life—can be described just as neatly as the abolition of slack. The elite classes in the 1950s were just as arrogant, greedy, and corrupt as their present-day equivalents, but they somehow managed to bring much better products to market. Why?

Cast your gaze further back through the centuries to the declining years of every other civilization on record and you’ll know why, because exactly the same process has played out over and over again. It’s not just that you’re running out of slack. They’re running out of slack. Civilizations have a certain amount of slack—yes, we can describe it in less “Bob”-infested terms as stocks of untapped natural resources, social networks not yet degraded by market pressures, and many other good things as well, but we can sum them all up as slack. The longer a civilization lasts and the more shamelessly it steals from the future by drawing down the resources that support its existence faster than they can regenerate, the less slack it has left, until finally the rope pulls tight and the civilization is left to twist in the wind.

May I tell you a secret?  You don’t have to join your civilization up there on the wooden platform while old Father Time keeps busy at his day job as history’s hangman.  All you have to do is make sure you have plenty of slack.  You almost certainly won’t be able to do that if you insist on maintaining the lifestyle the corporate system wants to sell you, but let’s be honest, that lifestyle sucks, and one of the things that makes it suck is its utter slacklessness.

Millions of people have already walked away from that lifestyle.  The Great Resignation, as the media is calling it, is a far more significant shift in America today than most people realize. The Covid shutdowns of the recent past, while they gave the middle classes the opportunity to work from home in their pajamas for a while, threw millions of working class people out of their jobs and forced them to find other ways to keep themselves fed and clothed. This they accordingly did, and having found options that don’t require them to submit to the abuse that passes for management these days, a great many of them have zero interest in going back.

Meanwhile a significant number of those middle class people who got used to working from home have discovered that they’re happier avoiding the toxic politics and petty tyranny of office life.  A great many parents over a very wide range of income classes have also discovered how miserably inadequate a job the public schools do of teaching children, and how easy it is to manage something better via homeschooling. The foundations of American society are cracking apart as people discover that life outside the corporate asylum really is better than life inside it.

I’ve been talking about this in my various online forums for quite a while now. Most of my readers will probably know the catchphrase “Collapse now, and avoid the rush!”  It’s a good summary of what I’ve been suggesting, but, er, there’s one little problem:  if you really want to get ahead of the rush you may not have much time left.

I spoke at the beginning of this post about the drool-spattered idiocy that passes for political and economic policy these days. The costs of such vagaries are by no means abstract. For the last half century, the relative prosperity of the industrial world has rested on a strict if tacit agreement on the part of all major industrial countries that politics and economics were to be kept separate. No matter how sharply the United States and China quarrelled over the status of Taiwan, say, the flow of products and investment between the two countries was sacrosanct. Love it or hate it—and it had as many downsides as upsides—that agreement was what backstopped the dollar’s status as the global reserve currency and medium of international trade, and provided a great deal of slack for a global economy that tolerably often needed as much slack as it could get.

The countries in yellow have sanctioned Russia. The ones in gray have not. Who’s isolated?

Those days are now over. By turning the global economy into a military asset to use against Russia, the Biden administration and its European allies have given notice to every other country on the planet that they cannot allow themselves to remain dependent on the dollar, or on US-centric economic institutions, unless they want to be forced into subservience. That’s why nobody in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, or southern Asia has signed onto the sanctions against Russia; it’s why India is now negotiating with Russia and Iran to buy their fossil fuels using local currencies, leaving the dollar high and dry; it’s why Venezuela is talking about adopting the Russian Mir credit card and money transfer system, and why Saudi Arabia has signaled that it’s going to start pricing some of its oil in yuan. That means in turn that the era of economic globalization is over, and those countries that profited most from that era now stand to lose everything they gained.

Joe Biden’s sanction gun.

Yes, the United States is at the top of that list. This country was cut an immense amount of slack by the dollar’s status as reserve currency and medium for international trade: by some estimates, the equivalent of a trillion dollars a year in direct and indirect economic subsidies.  Unless something changes drastically, that’s going to go away in the near future, with consequences that will leave our economic and political system in tatters. You may want to cut yourself plenty of slack in your own life, dear reader, because we may be in for quite a wild ride in the months and years immediately ahead.


  1. Looking at the statement about German rearmament you reference, it mentions Germany buying 36 F-35 aircraft from Lockheed Martin, has anyone done the numbers on this and worked out how much of the additional budget taking Germany up to 2% of GDP military spending, is a straightforward tribute payment? I doubt our host plays the computer game Age of Empires but it very much sounds like someone said “Gold Please!”

  2. What would be your disaster avoidance recommendations for someone making the student-to-real-world transition right now?

  3. Hi JMG,

    Hopefully this is on topic enough, but part of our collapsing now has been saving extra money where we can. The intention is to have some slack in case times get tough, but with the state of the world being what it is, it feels like money itself is threatened. Currently we don’t have these savings invested, it just sits in a bank being reduced by inflation which is starting to look like a worse and worse strategy. We don’t have any debt, and are in Canada.

    In your opinion, is this money just toast? If it is, we can deal with it, as we’ve made arrangements so that our lifestyle doesn’t require a lot of money, but thought I would ask in case you had any recommendations.


  4. I’ve been a holy father of Discordia for quite some time apparently… And the only good engineers are the slackers.
    Currently reading: For Us, the Living.

  5. Thanks JMG, I now see clearly what I had suspected ever since I first heard them, namely, that the Church of the Subgenius is one of the most profoundly subversive ideas around. As well, it seems that its time has arrived.

    Praise Bob

  6. Well, I’ve been busy with providing myself with as much slack as possible over the past year or so. I no longer have the ordinary 9-to-5 job (Covid lockdowns destroyed my employer). I make my living through very nontraditional ways now, and so far, it has worked. I’ve also downsized as much as possible. I don’t buy new crap, I get what little I need at thrift shops, etc. I’m also quite fortunate in that, during the Great Recession, my sister and I pooled our financial resources and bought a home with no mortgage.

    My only real debt are some student loans but I’ve found ways to manage them, and I think I’ll be fine over the long term. I am preparing to plant one heck of a garden in my yard, and will have plenty of free time to maintain it. My only real problem right now is that I do not have a real skill that I could use in trade or whatnot with others in my small town. I’d love to find something that I could learn through an old correspondence course or otherwise be self-taught. If anyone has any suggestions on that, I’d love to hear it.

    I feel really bad for my best friend. He decided to do a mid-life career change, and is about to graduate from law school. I cannot imagine how bleak things could be for him, as I know he had to take out a lot of loans for a job that already has more new graduates than openings.

  7. In IT and many other businesses, the phrase “good, fast, cheap – pick two” is often used to describe various solutions. I’m not sure if there’s a corresponding trifecta to balance things out when it comes to efficiency and slack. Accessibility?

    I read a blurb the other day that stated “the majority” of those who quit their jobs as part of the Great Resignation regret their decision. I ain’t buying it. The relief from stress, at least for me, has been very welcome. I won’t have the discretionary bucks to buy some “wants” in retirement, if I actually ever retire, but should be able to get the “needs”.

    And if I can’t, then at least I can die knowing I got my fair(er) share of slack.

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  9. Funny start to a serious topic. As an example of Slack, I submit this from my career.

    ASME Standards Section VIII, Division 1
    For tensile strength, the code requires a safety factor of 3.5 for non-bolting and 4 or 5 for bolting. In addition, if the product form is welded tube or pipe, a joint efficiency factor of 0.85 is typically applied.

    So if the math says the force is X then you put enough steel there to handle 3.5X. Then add another 15% in case the welder had an off day.

    Aircraft are held to a lower standard in the interests of getting them off the ground.

    As for the Laffer Curve, you may have that confused with trickle down economics. The Laffer curve is what tax rate gives the maximum revenue. A tax rate of zero gives no revenue of course, a tax rate of 100% also gives no revenue because your population has just starved out, but where in between it should be is far from obvious. Adding in the complication of a progressive tax rate schedule and time lags in the economy and it turns into a mess.

    A top rate of 28% was too low, 70% was too high, even today’s Democrats don’t seem interested in going over 40%. Social Democratic Denmark has a top rate of 56%, and a 23% VAT which seems high, but I don’t know how broadly it applies. Does it even apply to a basket of apples or only to the most decadent of luxuries? A VAT does keep a whole lot of accountants busy tracking it through the manufacturing process.

  10. I’m wondering if the US and Russia between them have pulled the trigger on Mutual Economic Destruction (MED). Their economies sure look like they’ll need a medic after this.

    Unfortunately, there’s a lot of collateral damage to the rest of the world. Umm… who else is watching the food and fertilizer not allowed to leave Russia, or likely not to be planted in Ukraine, etc, etc? Yemen, lots of places in North Africa or the Middle-East like Egypt, Lebanon and Libya, plus assorted other low income countries with or without current hunger crises, and the World Food Programme sourced much of their wheat from Ukraine, and now all of them are scrambling. Ukraine sold a lot of other food products too. India is selling some of its stockpiles now prices are so high, but China had a bad harvest last year and that’s not helping anything. And then you’ve got things like the railway strike that is currently paralyzing fertilizer and food shipments in much of Canada and parts of the US, plus the impact of drought on western Canada last year, and bird flu destroying chicken flocks.

    Someone seems to have decided that starving various populations is an acceptable price for the economic war between Russia and the USA. A darker part of me wonders if this is considered a feature rather than a bug by those in charge in the Russia and the US.

    And while I’m not expecting developing world level hunger crises in the US or Canada this year, I’d be willing to bet the number of food insecure people here is going to rise substantially, and so will more serious hunger. I’m not sure how food banks would handle, say, a 20% increase in food prices and a doubling of people to feed at the same time. The government would have to step in and fund them. They did a bit of that during the pandemic, but they’d need more than that this time.

  11. @JMG, Do you really think globalization is over, or just the American ruler-ship over it? What about a Chinese-led global economy? That’s not something I’m excited about, but that’s what I thought would happen next.

  12. I’m looking at Europe and the UK and wishing certain relatives did not move back to the UK a few years ago. And I’m very glad I told them I wasn’t going with them and stayed here. Not that I would have moved. I had a lot of reasons not to go, and no reason to. I warned them they might not be able to visit back and forth by plane at the time, and I don’t think they took me seriously.

    At least they’re old enough that bad stuff happening 30 years from now is unlikely to affect them. But there’s plenty of bad stuff happening now, and likely in the near future. So I do worry.

    And about all the other relatives who just stayed in the UK the entire time. I’m glad they’re not in eastern Europe though, that would be worse right now.

  13. I totally agree with your analysis, JMG.

    Seeing the German, ostensibly left of centre, “traffic light coalition” commit suicide by surrendering its economy to their U.S. overlords has been a spectacle to behold. (Michael Hudson, I believe has written the definitive account of what happened:

    But regarding the announcement to rearm, notwithstanding its political repercussions, I think has to be analysed carefully. The reality is that the NATO military commanders (not their clueless political leaders) are waking up to the realisation that what they have always assumed – i.e. that Russia is a nuclear-armed nation, but a conventional warfare pushover – couldn’t be further from the truth and that the country now more technologically advanced is Russia.

    In these conditions, Germany can either rebuild its military force domestically, but that requires energy and minerals that in the necessary quantities can only come from Russia, or it can buy what it needs. In the latter case, however, it can buy from its overseas overlords expensive flying junk like the F35’s, but in the short term there is not much that they can buy to remilitarise, especially if the EU economy goes into a tailspin that destroys the euro.

    But going back to Germany, if the EU leadership is so deranged to push the Russians to close the gas and oil spigots, we’ll have a continent-wide Yellow Vests movement after which it’s not hard to imagine the ADF riding the wave and potentially even seizing the chancellorship in Berlin. That the leftovers of the once powerful German Social-Democratic Party could turn up to be those responsible for ridding Germany of all remaining post WW2 feelings of guilt (and associated military meekness) and present it to the German right is one of those great ironies of history.

    If this were to happen in 2023 it would be an inauspicious centennial indeed. Let’s hope reason will prevail.

  14. I used to characterize ‘civilizational slack’ as ‘civilizational margin of survival’, but I like ‘slack’ better.

    Ancient Egypt, Rome, Byzantium, Iran in its various historical guises, India, China all possessed, or possess ‘slack’ for quite lengthy historical periods. My question: what other civilizations now possess, or possessed, ‘slack’? Which ones didn’t/don’t?

  15. It’s a general truth that the more optimised a system is, the less resilient it is to external perturbation.

  16. Speaking of insane ideas by politicians…

    I’m sure you noticed that the U.S. has reiterated that a first strike nuclear attack is an option for rebuttal against a conventional attack. This seems crazy considering that Russia has developed unmanned Poseidon nuclear torpedoes that can hang out a mile off the coast of U.S. cities waiting to send in 100 meter high waves for years at a time, or that their new surface to air missiles can shoot targets out of the sky going as fast as 5 times the speed of sound. With that said I have to ask 1) do you think we are still in a state of mutually assured destruction or has Russian technology outpaced us and 2) do you think we will wind up in nuclear war because of this?

    I sure hope we get some serious slack in foreign policy before things escalate any further.

  17. I am quite aware that Olaf Scholz ordered a massive rearmament program, but, taking into account the current state of the West, I’m not sure how far he will get. But, regardless whether the EU falls apart or stays together, Europe is entering a rough time. It is interestjng that the shift in world economics you describe are happening so fast. Ironically, the West has triggered them itself through their inreasingly indiscriminate sanctions against countries who don’t toe the lkne.

  18. Thank-you for this.

    As a recovering perfectionist, I must say that the realization that helped me best “collapse now and avoid the rush” was to apply the Pareto ratio to everything. The first 20% of effort produces 80% of the results, after which we start experiencing diminishing returns. I’m all set to go deep and go long on this one.

  19. Thanks very much for this! Ever since learning more about The Church of the Subgenius than that they’re the guys who made the Bob stickers I saw around gaming stores, I’ve found “slack” by far the most valuable concept they have to share (the attitude to not take yourself or anyone else overly seriously is also sometimes helpful).

    For anyone interested, Zvi Mowshowitz has a pretty good discussion (with many interesting links) on what Slack means in your own life, including lots of examples of where you lose slack and what to do about it here:

    As a caveat, Zvi is one of the leading lights of the Less Wrong-derived Rationalist community, and comes with many of the prejudices and preconceptions you might expect, but I admire his willingness to take seriously things that make sense empirically, but are hard to justify explicitly (for example, despite being an atheist, his family practices the Sabbath because they’ve seen that it makes people who follow it better people).

    Also good for further research is Nassim Taleb’s “Antifragile”. His “Robustness” and “Antifragility” are not *quite* the same thing as “Slack”, but there’s enough overlap that both help cast light on the other.

    Oh, and less about Slack specifically, but for anyone who enjoys documentaries and wants to learn more about the Church of the Subgenius, this one was pretty good for getting the general vibe:

  20. As a german with far right leanings I can assure you that the poles can sleep safe and your germanophobia is an outdated reflex towards our countries potential which is slowly being chipped away at since some decades.
    When this country will reenter history it will do so with small steps and more prodded by its neighboors then by its own volition, you would have to life here to understand.

  21. The anserine-American community* wishes to disassociate itself completely from the Democratic party. Praise Bob!


  22. “You can use efficiencies in some places to increase the availability of slack in others” is no doubt the deepest wisdom ever mined from shallow seas of the human experience. And it was no doubt Bob who, in taking up the Pipe Of Slack became the iconoclast of all religion, or whatever, without effort or regret. In the seventies, I was not yet in my prime, and now, as they return, I’m in my steep decline. High pump prices, credit rates, inflation, risk of nuclear war, and now, Subgenii.
    But oh, where are the miniskirts? The Hotpants? Not that it matters, living way out in the sticks, in the back of beyond (Vermont) perving the Turkeys mating in my rocking chair, thinking to myself, “Itoldyouso” sipping Sake from the warm bottle.

  23. We all know how stupid the average person is. Now realize that, by definition, fifty percent of the population is dumber than that.
    ~ Rev Ivan Stang

    and more holy aphorisms 🙂

    As a longterm Doktor of Slack, I salute you! (from my lounge chair)

  24. JMG, 1. I have the greatest respect for you, as you are honest, knowing, & wise. However please do me a favor, I want you to read about something, on a site that respects you dearly: It’s Modern Monterey Theory. I’m not moronic and understand this theory perfectly. Debt as such is always covered by US Treasuries which are not debt in the conventional sense. We now do have a problem in that the the US dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency. As a sometimes Industrial Engineer (PhD), nah, the faster you can do something to the quality asked for the greater the resilience, cause any mistake can be fixed fast. Feedbacks a gift so please take it as such.

  25. Long an adherent to Bob Dobbs’ wisdom, I find much slack in having learned to see the value in the castoffs of this hyper-consumerist society. So many must have their belongings new-off-the-shelf, and when the shine begins to dull in the slightest, must replace it. I realized some time ago that new stuff becomes used stuff, quickly. I learned that I might as well skip the oh-so-short honeymoon of consumer bliss that characterizes new stuff, for it costs much in terms of slack. Much of my slack, and a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, comes from repairing or even just spiffing up a used bicycle, or used rototiller, or used car, claiming the 80% of utility remaining for myself, for 20% the cost. Pareto’s Law never sleeps!

  26. In engineering circles, the catch phrase is “redundancy is the key to reliability”, the exact opposite of “just in time” delivery systems.

    Thanks for a fun post, JMG! The “history’s hangman” part was especially edifying.

  27. This discussion of slack brings back some great teenage memories. My best friend in high school had a copy of High Weirdness by Mail, which gave me endless hours of entertainment just looking through it during my largely misspent, Asperger’s afflicted, socially inept youth. Speaking of High Weirdness by Mail and Rev. Ivan Stang quotes from the SubGenius fandom page, I loved this gem:

    If you sincerely desire a truly well-rounded education, you must study the extremists, the obscure and “nutty.” You need the balance! Your poor brain is already being impregnated with middle-of-the-road crap, twenty-four hours a day, no matter what. Network TV, newspapers, radio, magazines at the supermarket… even if you never watch, read, listen, or leave your house, even if you are deaf and blind, the telepathic pressure alone of the uncountable normals surrounding you will insure that you are automatically well-grounded in consensus reality.

    Truer words were never spoken…

  28. Thanks for this JMG!!!
    J.R. ”Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the subGenius really brings back good memories.
    I helped some friends put on the BoB Dobbs Radio Revival for WRUW in Cleveland during the middle 80’s from 2-5 in the morning one day a week. We recited the Brag of the SubGenius, played weird music, did bizarre skits and were genuinely amazed we did not get kicked off the air by management.
    ( I would post the Brag of the Sub Genius – but Ivan Stang has a potty mouth- look it up with a search engine, we found it to be so funny. It is sort of an anti-apostle creed by an irreverent, foul mouthed, braggart.)

    There is an economist who actually used the idea of slack. His name is Kenneth Boulding.
    He tells this story about how cool it is to be a tenured professor: He was having lunch out on the campus commons, and he started watching the behavior of squirrels. He noticed that most of the activities of the squirrels did not have much to do with “working” (gathering nuts and other food). So he and I think a graduate student started to do an analysis of how the squirrels spent their time. They studied them for about a year and found that squirrels slack off for most of the year, but for a short period of couple of weeks they are very busy gathering and storing nuts.

    He was able to do the study because he had tons of slack as a tenured professor, and he did not need a grant to do the work. And he became convinced that SLACK ( unused productive capacity) is a hall mark of stable systems. Systems that don’t have slack can’t handle environmental variability.

  29. Herr Dunkelkotze (#21),

    Could you explain the basic outlook and goals of the German far right? This is an honest question, not Nazi-baiting.


    Lothar von Hakelheber

  30. Humm … So, whilst the Bobberatii of this floating orb slouch into their respective recliners of slackian give-n-take .. riding within the tsunami as it were .. the Rigiditers have yet to be nudged out of their grifting complacency, towards a reflective push – right until the BOING!-SNAP! moment of expediency hits them across their feckless faces ..

    In which case, for many of em, it’ll be too late to make amends. Hence the flapping and flutter of the ‘Nancyhands’ .. the uncharismatic symptom of a dying paradigm.
    Do I have that right?

  31. MawKernewek, that’s certainly one factor — I would imagine that the German government would have to hand over a lot of cash to the US no matter what the excuse. I haven’t yet seen figures on how much of the proposed expenditures are that kind of tribute, however.

    Ataulfo, find a job where you are actually making or distributing goods and services that people want or need. Anything else is vapor.

    Johnny, that’s a very difficult question right now, because what happens to your spare money — and mine, for that matter — depends on which bad choices (there are no good ones left) get made by bureacrats in a dozen or so countries, and how people in a much longer list of countries react to those. One piece of advice I can offer is that if you’ve been putting off any useful expenditures, make them soon.

    Piper, see? I told you a lot of my readers are already high-ranking initiates. 😉

    Raymond, I ain’t arguing!

    Brenainn, glad to hear it. I don’t have any specific suggestions, since what skill set works for you depends entirely on your talents and interests, but there are a lot of old correspondence courses and instructional books out there.

    Drhooves, the corporate media’s frantically trying to lure the Great Resigners back, because their absence is driving up wages (gasp!) and their example is reminding many other people that selling your soul to some sleazebucket corporate employer is not the only option (double gasp!). As for the third factor that balances efficiency and slack, why, that’s a fine theme for meditation. 😉

    Know Brainer, alas, ASCII art doesn’t work well on this blog.

    Siliconguy, thanks for this. As for the Laffer curve, the claim was that if you cut taxes, government revenue will go up. (It didn’t.) Pelosi is subject to the opposite delusion, which claims that if you increase government spending, the deficit will go down. (It won’t.) In both cases, the insistence was that you can whitewash a wall by painting it black; in both cases, the logic looked good on paper, but Reagan ended up running huge deficits. BTW, if you look back at the Eisenhower years, the maximum tax rate was well above 70% and the economy thrived…

    Pygmycory, basically, yes. The Russians are gambling that they can survive the collapse of dollar-centric globalism better than the US can. Now we get to see if they’re right.

    CS2, globalization is dead in a ditch. It was never more than a feeble echo of the globalized economy of the Victorian era, when the pound sterling was the irreplaceable reserve currency (until it wasn’t) and the free flow of money and products across borders was even more extreme (and caused even more crushing poverty for the working classes) than in our time. It’s quite possible that in the 2080s or 2090s, there will be a new push in the same direction using the currency of whoever’s the top nation then as its basis, but that’s a long way off, and we have a lot of turmoil to get through first.

    Jay, by all means. Have a hot dog while you’re at it!

    Pygmycory, I know the feeling.

    Bucintoro, that’s exactly the sort of thing that worries me.

    Eric, curiously enough, I dealt with that in my 2004 paper on catabolic collapse.

    Mark, exactly.

    Stephen, (1) we’re still in a state of mutual assured destruction, in that the Russian air defense systems can still likely be overloaded by an everything-at-once attack. (2) I think it’s unlikely, for whatever that’s worth.

    Booklover, exactly. If the US and its client states had set out to blow up the world economy and arrange for the rubble to fall straight down onto their own heads, I don’t think they could have done a better job.

  32. I woke up with a touch of a head cold, so I decided not to go out into the wind to prep beds at a farm I frequent. After a cup of coffee I recalled that this day would be the day for the slack post, this day that I had decided to slack from farming, what a fortuitous omen!

    I realize that most modern Americans have be taut that they cannot take a day off to forestall of cold, taut that they cannot do days of self care, lest bills or what ever might come up. Don’t be taut, but slack.

    By collapsing to LESS a decade ahead of the current rush I have accumulated slack. Little money or social titles, but really most day’s I just fuss on projects that seem appealing.

    As our falling civilization’s rope becomes taut, it draws from all of us slack. For that reason we are, at times, all called upon to hustle; especially if we wish to accomplish worth while projects, or to be prepare to care for loved ones. I am always learning to work better, and sometimes teaching it too. Being able to hustle is as good as needing to hustle is bad, the ability wisely applied prevents the need, preserving slack.

    There are many things I am tempted to be taut about, it is most helpful to focus back on slack.

  33. Bucintoro wrote

    But going back to Germany, if the EU leadership is so deranged to push the Russians to close the gas and oil spigots, we’ll have a continent-wide Yellow Vests movement after which it’s not hard to imagine the ADF riding the wave and potentially even seizing the chancellorship in Berlin. That the leftovers of the once powerful German Social-Democratic Party could turn up to be those responsible for ridding Germany of all remaining post WW2 feelings of guilt (and associated military meekness) and present it to the German right is one of those great ironies of history.

    Wouldn’t be the first time the self-defeating behavior of the Left has resulted in the ascension of the far right to power. The American Objectivist philosopher Leonard Peikoff pointed out in his book The Ominous Parallels that one of the major factors which fueled the rise of the Nazi Party was the excesses of the radical left in Weimar Germany, from the massacres and armed seizures of power by Communist revolutionaries in the wake of the Great War to the climate of decadence in Berlin and other German cities during the 1920’s and early 30’s. Millions of ordinary Germans ended up supporting the Nazis because compared to the far left, they appeared to be the sane ones, while the establishment had failed miserably to deal with the crises Germany faced during that period. The same thing happened in Spain in the 1930’s, where the atrocities and various other abuses of the Communists and other left wing radicals drove millions of Spaniards into the arms of General Franco and the Nationalist Party.

    I must admit that the thought of a far right German political party like the AfD having control of one of the world’s most powerful militaries is scary as hell, given Germany’s history. Heck, the thought of Germany with Europe’s most powerful military, including an army bigger than Russia’s, should be enough to terrify any rational person, regardless of which political party is currently running the show in the Reichstag.

  34. About learning a new, practical skill: I realized just a bit ago that I have been developing a skill, one that I learned from my father but which I let fall into disuse. And this is sewing. Over the past year, rather than buying new clothing, I’ve repaired my old clothes, made alterations to thrift store clothing, etc. I’ve gotten decent enough that other family members have been asking me to do the same to their clothing. I could acquire a few old books on the subject, and probably get even more skilled. In a world where shortages are becoming the norm and the cost of everything is rising, is there is a future as a sewing professional? Or is that too trivial?

  35. Seems to me there are different types of slack. There’s financial/monetary – your income is more than your expenses, and you have enough float to ride out some disruptions.

    There’s time – so if something unexpected comes along you can deal with it without dropping the ball on something else important, or burning yourself out.

    There’s energy and health – if you have to do something physically hard, can you handle it without crashing physically or getting sick?

    that overlaps with mental health – if something upsetting or stressful comes up, can you handle it without winding up with panic attacks or major depression and becoming dysfunctional?

    and JMG is right that you can move slack around from one category to another. A high-paying job might give you a lot of financial slack, but leave you with next to no time or mental health slack. If you quit the job, you’ve suddenly got lots of time and energy slack, but unless you’ve got savings you are suddenly extremely short of financial slack, and possibly mental health slack if you’re panicing over where your money will come from.

  36. “….Ah, but Europe has outdone Pelosi in the absurdity sweepstakes. In response to the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian war, pundits and politicians across Europe suddenly got around to noticing that most European nations are so weak in military terms that any good-sized country in Africa could invade and conquer a couple of them any time it had a mind to. ”

    Surely the point of NATO is that it’s a mutual aid organization. Attack one member and you have to fight them all. The few African countries with larger armies than Germany Or France, or the UK would have their work cut out for them if they attacked – they would have to fight NATO. That’s assuming that a particular African country had the ability to move it’s troops to the invasion point.

    I’m all in favor of the European NATO members doing a bit more and allowing the US some much needed slack. However it doesn’t apppear to me that the European NATO members are weak by world standards.

  37. The world seems quite short of energy slack right now. Of course, if there’s a recession and a lot of demand destruction, we’ll have energy slack again.

    There’s also a lot less slack in the food system than there has been in many years.

  38. Yo, JMG methinks the Barbie-Kens would FEAR your Public Rant if they saw it, they want leaders and priests as STUPID as they are.

    Barbie-Kens DENY that the miraculous Janor Device manifested today in a thousand ways will never be anything but that which is merely ILLUSION! And “Pils” too!

    The Plastic Doll attitude is a disease, a genetic ILLNESS! They exist only to consume and they will be CONSUMED!

    This is REALITY!

    Here is the link for anyone who wants to see what it was I was trying to post, the second one down:

    Praise “Bob”!

    Quit your job for “Bob”! So TAKE it! I’m here to tell you, the Superior Abnormal by sheer force of SLACK protects his exalted Weird Genes, and BECOMES himself the Slack he buys from “Bob”!

  39. JMG, this is wonderful. Praise “Bob” and Connie and send ’em both a buck!

    I rediscovered my Yeti DNA and moldering ministerial materials eight or so months ago and have subsequently incorporated old media barrages and new SubGenius literature (like Lonesome Cowboy Dave’s recently published novel Neighborworld) into my (ir)regular routines and rituals.

    As I said on Monday morning after I heard about “The Smack”: “Frack ’em if they can’t take a joke!” (edited for publication of course)

  40. Oh no… jokes that suck?

    “Dyson headphones come with air vacuum for mouth”

    ” The noise-cancelling headphones come with a motor, fan and air filters in each ear cup.

    And this purified air is then channelled to the nose and mouth via the visor, which is magnetically attached to the bottom of the headphones.

    Dyson Zone has been six years – and 500 prototypes – in the making

    Originally, a snorkel-like mouthpiece was paired with a backpack holding the motor and inner workings.

    The Verge called the finished product “bizarre”, stressing it was not an early April Fool’s joke.

    “While mask wearing has been normalised considerably over the past two years, we’ll have to see whether customers will be willing to embrace this extremely odd-looking product

    And tech website Cnet said it looked “like something you’d see in a dystopian sci-fi movie”.”

    Also comes with a
    “face covering comes that slots into the visor”

  41. Wer here very interesting post, although I must contest the point about German military.
    First modern day Europe seems more like a dying old man than a young one ready to fight and take the world.
    Talking about Poland, ever since the whole debacle started embarasing secrets came out of the woodwork, like the fact that Poland’s population is falling much faster than Russia’s and Ukraine (over 40 million at 2000s now less than 37 million at the end of the year) another thing that a year ago a survey come about that Poland’s young people had unfortunetly caugh up with American youth when it comes to obesity and diabieties numbers have exploded more than 10 times over the last 15 years (prediminately amoung young men),
    Many European countries have populations that had aged considerably, and the few young Europeans that remain are either too sick or obese to be accepted into the military.
    Or Lord in heaven forbid they are thinking about arming the muslim emigrants (because giving deadly weapons to an ethnic group that refuses to me assymilated and refuses to accept European “values” will “totally” not cause a disaster and internal wars years later)
    What I am going about is this that during I and II world war European nations have populations that constituted a large portion of the world’s population. In 1900 European populations counted for 25% of the world’s population, now only about 6-7% maybe and vast majority of that population was young. I traveled around Poland last year and let me tell you this there aren’t many young healthy men here (and they were not sick, obese or addicted)
    I myself grew up near a factory in Wielkopolska and as a result I have asthma and sometimes it is hard to breathe (thank The Lord for herbal tea extracts for inhalation, i wouldn’t be able to afford expensive medications). I know my english is not top and i don’t know how to wrtite Polish herbs name’s to english.
    Take care everybody I try to be an optymist despite everythign that is happening,
    The West and the East never cared for Poland and Ukraine anyway. I harbor no delusions we were only a launching pad for invasions and causing problems for other powerfull nations by other powers there never was any partnership involved only subjugation. But such is the reality of the situation.
    Cheers Wer

  42. I must admit that I always panic when I read these essays. I’ve collapsed as much as can be with regards to my lifestyle, but I live in a major metropolitan area (Seattle.) I really hope to leave by the end of May to a more rural part of the country. I also understand that this isn’t an Armageddon collapse, but another ratchet downward in our economy. Even so, I panic.

    With regards to efficiency, I’ve noticed that many decisions that are called efficient are really just based on self-interest. For example, the idea that it is efficient to build a building that lasts 30 years is really just an excuse to make something cheap and then, a decade or two later sell it off and make someone else do repairs or tear it down. A well-built building is resilient. You can say it has slack because it is reused in many different ways over the centuries.

  43. If Germany doesn’t get payment in rubles for gas quickly, this seems likely to cause quite a backlash:

    That said, the conflict is giving Europe an incentive to get off as much russian gas, oil, etc as they possibly can, as fast as they can. No one wants to be dependent for essentials on an unfriendly regime.

    And one way or another, no matter who’s in charge or what they’re policy is, we’re all going to be getting by on less energy in the future. I just wish it was happening earlier, in a more controlled and fairer manner.

    This is a fast-moving part of the overall situation. Watch this space.

  44. “You think that’s blank-eyed, slack-jawed, foam-flecked delusion? Hold my beer.”

    This, 100x this. It really is astounding and every week that goes by I think “it can’t get more absurd” but then it does. If it wasn’t for you and the others here, I’d think I was crazy one.

  45. Hi, thanks JMG,

    It’s quite a situation! I’m not even looking to grow what we have, I expect it to lose value, was just hoping it can lose that value as slowly as possible (if possible!). None of our illustrious leaders over in the Ministry of Bad Ideas are helping us make any calls where this is concerned! Will they crash the stock market before they blow up the concept of money itself? Will they crash the housing market before they start a world war? I can see what you mean too about all the cascading reactions.

    I can’t really complain, I suppose, as we are in a more fortunate situation than many, so trying to not worry too much about it. In the mean time we are using what we can spare to try to help folks in our area, many of whom are just hanging on. One way my girlfriend has gotten really into in the past few months is giving to a local community fridge and pantry. We donate to some food shares and soup kitchens too, but she seems to have become fairly invested in this, and this way gives us a sense of the general situation in the area when we go to add to it also. Recently it’s starting to seem a bit more desperate, as you can imagine, and there have been line-ups at them even (prior to that there might be a person at them, or people might show up when they saw a donation was being made).

    Anyways, thanks for the tip. We put in a lot of insulation into our attic, but I recently learned that in older houses like ours it’s possible to do insulation where they drill into the walls from outside and inject insulation in. Maybe we should move on that, since when it all hits, I’m sure every bit will help.


  46. As a German, I have to say that Germany could increase it‘s military budget ten times without becoming much of a threat to anyone. There are enough pockets to fill before anything useful will be done with the money. In addition to the corruption, the war mentality is is completely gone. At most, we support our masters with occupational troops after they did the dirty work.

    I Gould not say that this could not change in the future if resource scarcity becomes a more pressing problem, but even then I would think that this would be some NATO coordinated action, not one led by Germany.

  47. I read the news about Germany’s rearmament with some panic: disarming the Germans is the plotline of the past 100+ years of European history. The one advantage that the French and the British still have – nuclear bombs – is useless on such short distances. It’s one thing to nuke a country on the other side of the ocean, quite another to nuke one on the other side of the Rhine.

    Germany is taking advantage of the current crisis to escape the US-dominated system. The rearmament has nothing to do with Russia, the real enemy is the French, and through them, the Americans, who for 70 years have treated Germany like a poodle dog. The Germans have waited patiently, and now their chance has come.

    Up until now, Germany could always be bossed around because of their laughable army. 20 years from now (or 5? 3? It only took them from 1936 to 1939 to rearm last time around), when the German army is larger, better equipped and better trained, the Germans will be able to chart a more independent course, build their own sphere of influence, and say goodbye and au-revoir to their US and French “friends”.

    For now, though, my more immediate worries are the food, oil, gas and diesel shortages that are to hit us Europeans if we do not find a compromise with Russia pretty soon. Which the Americans will not us do.

    I have followed your blog for years, but until now the long descent has always seemed very long indeed. Now the road could get bumpier in a hurry.

    I have rice and beans aplenty, and my chicken coop is almost ready.

  48. Let’s add another dimension to this discussion by defining:

    Operational slack: The amount of actual slack in a system.

    Latent slack: The difference between the current level of X (work, agricultural production, oil production, etc.) and the level of X necessary to support the basic needs of a population.

    In the USA, for example, we currently have very low operational slack but quite high latent slack. Much of our grain is used for ethanol production and animal feed. Many of the jobs are unnecessary. Much of the oil is used to fuel vacations, shipping things unnecessarily long distances, excessive commutes, etc.

    In this case, catabolic collapse can be partially described as the process by which latent slack is reduced to accommodate reductions in resource availability.

    Furthermore, the policy aim of the majority should be to allow latent slack to be taken in when necessary to facilitate survival and a basic standard of living for all, against the interests of the elites who would like to continue using a dwindling supply of latent slack for their personal pleasure while imposing costs on those who already have no latent slack remaining (meaning that further reductions in resource availability directly decrease quality of life in the form of hunger, homelessness, etc.).

  49. My favorite term when it comes to resilience ( or lack or it) is “independently wealthy”. It is implied to mean someone who has enough assets at their command that they don’t need to work or engage in commerce to live a posh ” high energy” lifestyle. But as we close in on the precipice of catabolic collapse it really means exactly the opposite. In most case those who see themselves as Independently wealthy are really just in command of a bunch of digital “vapor”. And to make things worse they usually have little or no connection to actual commerce or people who engage in real work. Once upon a time one who was “independently wealthy” commanded lots of farm land, or a gold mine or something useful that could still produce income in turbulent times. Now they just own shares of Tesla and Bitcoin ( or something similar). The funny thing is such folks think of themselves as being immune from financial turmoil and think of it as something that only effects the working class. I guess we will see.

  50. Great post, the first dozen or so paragraphs had me wondering what I fell into. I have to say that I read “high-ranking initiate” as “high-ranking inmate”. Probably little difference.

    The (let’s use the word) dialectic between resilance and efficiency as a proxy for the crapification of materialism can also be viewed as a manifestation of the secular decline in the rate of profit as expansion zones are cut off.

    We are living in fast times at empire high and as they say collapse happens slowly then all at once.

    I’m buying beans (and lentils).

  51. John–

    Somewhat appropriate to this week’s post, I had an insight into my own mental slack (or lack thereof) in a particular instance.

    My grandson and I are taking taekwondo together and successfully tested for our yellow belts together about three weeks ago. I mentioned to my wife last night about how he got a bit upset last practice b/c I was already working on some elements for two belts ahead while he’s still trying to learn the elements of the belt we’re on. Well, among other things, he’s seven and I’d gotten it in my head that I’d like to make black belt in five years.

    It occurred to me, as I talked with my wife, that I’d allowed my (wholly artificial) goal to drive my natural inclination for overachievement. Instead of focusing on enjoying the process of working through the belts with him, I’d begun worrying about my timetable. In the context of this week’s discussion, I’d given away some slack in exchange for getting to the “goal” faster. After reflection, it is clear that the journey with my grandson–and the experience we both take from it–is far more important.

  52. Every post on slack deserves mention of Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord who has the distinction of having fought hard against the Nazis from within Germany. He is best remembered for his classification of people into categories of clever/stupid and hardworking/lazy, according to which it was the person who is both clever and lazy that “is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the mental clarity and strength of nerve necessary for difficult decisions.”

    Clearly we need more lazy people in positions of power (a bit of cleverness wouldn’t go astray either).

    Bertrand Russell’s great essay “In praise of idleness” is also mandatory reading for those aspiring to true slackness.

  53. AP Headline, 6/22/31
    Today Poland signed a treaty ceding half of its territory to Germany. Poland’s former foreign minister could not be reached for comment as he was detained by German occupation forces.

  54. On the topic of wage workers fleeing the system, the public schools in my small midwestern, land-grant university town are greatly affected. A few elementary schools no longer have sufficient recess supervisors, so kids sit in their classrooms instead of playing outside. Substitute teachers are very hard to come by. Support staff (reading/speech specialists plus some district-level workers) are filling in. At one school, the principal subbed for a class for an entire month.

    A friend that worked as an aide quit to go back to working at a big box store. Pay, plus benefits, was better and she wouldn’t get cussed out and kicked by kids. There is no chance of promotion at schools; teaching positions are filled by university grads. Aids need not apply.

    Thankfully we still have many gigantic-hearted teachers that are holding this together. For now.

  55. Thank you for this post. I was just recently reading some work by David Fleming and he often discusses slack as a component of alternative economic systems. I’m wondering he coined the term in regards to its usage in economics or if that was inherited from work of another earlier canon?

  56. Reagan increased the debt more than all Presidents combined. Not a day goes by they don’t criticize him for being too fiscally conservative.

    “Why Germany needs so huge a military”

    The EU has no foundation to their currency and no support from their people, who vote against their unelected bureaucracy whenever given a referendum (so no one asks anymore). So the way to keep the dream of United States of Europe alive (minus human rights and elections) is to add the violence of a long-dreamed of EU Army. Macron has discussed this, but as Armies are expensive – and who are you fighting beside your own people? – the people refuse to support one. Germany, being the majority share owner of the EU is now going to force one on Europe like it or not. Then they can finish off that pesky upstart Greece, who won’t close their last hospitals to pay DeutscheBank. (And close Mecklenburg to pay DeutscheBank)

    But that’s why they “need” so large a military. The German army is needed to attack French protesters, and the French army will shoot the German protesters. Ukraine who? We do the bidding of UBS and ThyssenKrupp. Any questions?

    Unfortunately, the F35s and other armaments they’re buying don’t work and can be beaten by goatherders with a pound of gunpowder and two cell phones. The Yellow Vests and Truckers nearly took down their respective government simply by claiming some slack with a bouncy house.

    We actually have a lot of slack here in the U.S. because nobody is working. Look at the all-population unemployment numbers. Just as the numbers would indicate, everything in the country is falling apart. …But we can fix it any time. Stop being jerks and we’ll start working again. They won’t so we won’t. Easy. And every day the slack increases as fewer people work. How is that not good?

  57. You wrote about Discordianism on TAR six years ago and I mentioned The Church of the Subgenius in the comments, writing “I absorbed their attitude, which is more misanthropic than the Discordians, but not much else of their beliefs.” I preserved our conversation, which also included your creation of Souther and Norther as companion holidays of Wester, which at least one Discordian has claimed for Eris. I still observe all three on my blog, thanks to you. May you enjoy ice cream with the Souther Wombat, hide your goodies from the Wester Squirrel before he hides them from you, and play pranks on Grizzy the Bear with the Norther Lemming!

    By the way, would it surprise you to read that Twitter suspended the Babylon Bee for calling a transgender woman in the Biden Administration “Man of the Year”? I guess Twitter and many of its users decided that joke wasn’t funny.

  58. Monastery, hmm! I like that. The Pareto principle as slack mantra — it works.

    Jeff, one of the reliable entertainments of the end stage of every age of reason is watching atheists rationalize their way back into religion. I firmly expect Mowshowitz to work his way around to keeping kosher, attending synagogue, and saying daily prayers — all because “it makes you a better person.” Plenty of Romans did the same thing in their day…

    Dunkelkotze, er, I wonder if you have any idea just how little words like this reassure anyone who knows the first thing about European history. Whenever Germany is united, that’s exactly the kind of talk you can expect to hear from it. Germany’s sole interest is in maintaining the peace of Europe, its rearmament is purely defensive, it just wants to change a few tiny little details — a border here, a policy there — and when it invades its neighbors, that always happens because the countries it invades are being hopelessly obstructive and unrealistic in refusing to see things Germany’s way. If the rearmament project goes through, I expect to see German troops surging across at least one of its borders within a decade or so.

    Card Geek, ahem. I said the Democrats once had the brains the gods gave geese. That was a long time ago!

    Chuaquin, funny. Stay tuned to having letters censored.

    Jerry, you’re most welcome.

    James, only a Pink Boy would disagree!

    Mark, funny. It’s never too late to slack off…

    Susan, ha! Thanks for this.

    François, I’ve already looked into MMT and was reminded forcefully of one of John Kenneth Galbraith’s useful rules: that “financial innovation” always amounts to the rediscovery of the same handful of gimmicks that have failed catastrophically every time they have been tried, and will fail this time just as disastrously. US treasuries are debt, and they’re the cornerstone of a fantastic pyramid of debt that currently supports the spectacularly overinflated lifestyles of the well-to-do in the United States and its inner circle of client nations. MMT is an attempt to claim that this doesn’t matter and the pyramid of debt can just keep on growing to infinity. I quite understand that you disagree, but you know, that fact doesn’t particularly induce me to change my mind.

    Selkirk, that’s two references to Pareto in one brief sequence of comments. Clearly “Bob” is sending a message, and I think part of it is “Salvage is Slack!”

    Helix, glad you liked it. The catch phrase is a good one.

    Sardaukar, I had the misfortune of growing up before the Rev. Stang was proclaiming his gospel of High Weirdness, but I got there anyway courtesy of the torrent of cheap paranormal paperbacks that flooded the market in the 1970s. Maybe it was the waning of that giddy phenomenon that made the advent of “Bob” necessary!

    Skyrider, hmm! I always knew I liked Boulding’s ideas…

    Polecat, sounds about right to me.

    Ray, hmm! Hustle works rather well as a complement of slack. Now to figure out the third factor…

    Brenainn, that’s a huge skill. Here in North America nearly all clothes are imported from distant continents and we have next to no domestic clothing manufacturing capacity. Knowing how to repair and patch garments, to make kids’ clothes out of worn-out adult clothes, and to create garments out of whole cloth when you can get it — that would be a serious skill.

    Pixelated, that’s about right.

    Pygmycory, nice. A slack taxonomy (slackzonomy?) to be used in slack management…

    Christopher, I meant that as a measure of the size of the military, not as a statement about who was actually going to invade whom. That said, if the US and Turkey decide not to backstop Europe’s defense, that leaves the entire subcontinent with only 1.2 million troops and a lot of frontiers to guard, so if Egypt, say, with half a million soldiers under arms, decided that it wanted to invade Italy, it would have a pretty fair shot at doing so.

    Pygmycory, no argument there.

    Know Brainer, oh, I know. I post things like this at intervals to chase ’em away.

    Monster, delighted to hear it.

  59. Last year, I was still able to participate in the German federal election. My votes went to the Greens, with the (at the time I voted) already very small chance that they might lead the government.

    They were a pacifist party until 1998. If a war had been on my horizon at the time of the election, I would still have considered them the most anti-militarist option, except for the Left party (ex-GDR). How things have changed in half a year… I can’t imagine how the Bundeswehr will recruit people to handle all that hardware.

    Personally, yes, we yearn and ache for slack and hope to have more of it by July.

  60. @ Brenainn: If I may, I think that you could do very well in mending, alterations and tailoring. Here in Australia they operate small stores and take in dry-cleaning as well. The skill required to tailor a pair of pants to a particular person (because none of the store-bought ones fit properly, particularly on women) is a rare one. The real gold mine seems to be if you can get a fancy department store to refer their customers to you, to get their clothing to fit properly after spending $$$ on it.

  61. Firstly, thank you for this post as promised. Interesting to see the take of others on it. We seem to put our job in pole position in our lives. My standard response to just doing my job is so are concentration camp officers. Luckily I didn’t use it the other day when I was picked up for speeding. That might not have gone well. This is efficient reminds me that concentration camps are too.
    On another note, Brennainn #6, you already have a skill in the works – your garden – and add sewing to this and you are flying. Good on you.

  62. Pixelated, that’s really quite bizarre!

    Wer, fascinating. European populations have been declining for more than a century now — in the 1920s many western European countries were already offering cash for parents who had more than two kids — and so it’s not surprising that the decline has continued. I should say that I wasn’t suggesting that Europe will try to conquer the world — au contraire, I expect the European wars of the near future to be entirely internal to Europe, as the nations of a dying and bellicose continent turn on each other — that’s one of the classic ways that civilizations end. As for nobody caring about Poland and Ukraine, I’m sorry to say that you’re right. I forget who it was that said, “Nations don’t have friends, they have interests.”

    Jon, panic is the least useful thing you can do just now. Take it a step at a time, stay nimble, and keep plenty of slack on hand, and you’ve got better chances than most.

    Pygmycory, one of the really odd things about the EU is that it seems to be convinced that it can tell the rest of the world what to do, and the rest of the world has to comply. Having sanctioned Russia so that Russia basically can’t use dollars or euros, they’re now insisting that Russia keep accepting payment in dollars or euros, and acting as though Russia can’t possibly shrug and turn off the spigot. It’ll be interesting to see what the Russians do in response.

    Denis, it really is a spectacle, isn’t it?

    Johnny, the extra insulation sounds like a good idea. Do you have insulated window coverings? You can hold in a lot of spare heat that way.

    Secretface, a lot of people thought that in the late 19th century, oddly enough. Germany’s a funny place when it comes to militarism; it goes through periods of complete disinterest in war, and then somebody figures out which buttons to push and away we go. I’m glad that I’m watching from the far side of the Atlantic…

    Discwrites, exactly. We’ve slid a certain distance down the slope of the Long Descent over the last sixteen years, but I get the sense the slope may steepen quite a bit in the near future.

    Mark, excellent! I foresee a future for you in slack analysis.

    Clay, oh dear gods, yes. “Independently wealthy” these days means “totally dependent on the financial system.” We’ll see just how independent they are when the banks start freezing up.

    Pebird, not much difference at all!

    David BTL, I get that.

    Simon, thanks for this.

    Phil, something very like that, yes.

    Chad, I hear the same thing from a lot of places. I’m sorry to say I expect things to get much worse before they improve.

    Mobanjo, I think he got it from the SubGeniuses!

    Jasper, I ain’t arguing. A lot of things that are falling apart need to fall apart, and so people walking away from them is a good thing.

    Vincelamb, yes, I heard about the Bee. “How dare you be funny!” seems to be Twitter’s rule these days.

    Aldarion, I’ve had my doubts about the Greens for quite some time now, after watching just how fast the comfortable classes here in the US sold out their ideals in exchange for power. I’m sorry you’ve got to witness the same sorry spectacle.

    Churrundo, thanks for this.

    JillN, I never understood the weird notion that your job ought to define your life, but I know some people cling to that. Bizarre.

  63. @Chuaquin , #23

    Oh, Zorro! Where art thou????

    May he slash and dash many a clueless politician derriere…

  64. Hi John Michael,

    A truly fine essay, which I reckon is right up there with the best that you have yet written.

    Glad you mentioned The Great Resignation and how slack relates to that movement. Mate, you know I also had my own recent brush with this and would prefer more slack with which to apply my energy to projects which may be of use to me in the future.

    The joke, if it may be called that, is that people may one day be paid in tokens that are worthless. It is not as if such things don’t already occur elsewhere in the world. That amusingly is when you can use your slack to gain the more valuable tokens and then get on with your life. It is a shame that your elites fail to comprehend the path they are taking. It’s utterly bonkers, but I did predict a few months ago that they are going to royally stuff this up.

    Fun times, and we get back the lost hour this weekend. 😉 You’re on notice, I’m going to check the lost hour very carefully when it is returned, just to ensure that it is not worn, damaged or otherwise soiled. When we handed it to you around six months ago, I took very careful notes of the chips, dents and scratches. Although, hopefully the lost hour doesn’t end sitting at the docks for weeks or months waiting for a truck – any truck – to deliver it?

    My prediction is that diesel fuel will be rationed at some point this year.



  65. Well, all right then Mr. G.

    To totally butcher a Beach Boys tune chorus: “Sail On, Sail On, Slackers”.

    or this double entendre … ‘I’d rather a salty By-the-wind Sailor, then a salt-paid Man-o-War’.

    or: ‘Hail .. Slacker Tsunamians’!

    Apologies if I seem over the top – just tryin my luck at meme generation. Your post brings to mind a dispersal of like-beings, floating on the cold wreckage & jetsom of diminishing past prospects, patiently waiting for an opportune time to congeal into the warmer shallows towards something of lasting import.

  66. When I saw the Oscars slap it really upset me even though I’m trying to walk the path of an initiate.

    Part of it was the grand display of total moral failure of everyone involved, but also I was ashamed that I still care about what happens in that make believe land of narcissists, psychopaths, and child predators that used to pay my bills.

    The Critical Drinker did a great video about the end of movie stars and decline of motion pictures as an art form. Hmmm I remember a certain Druidical voice saying something about that a couple years back.

    Anyway it looks like we are going to be cut a little slack from the failing entertainment industry and get some of our valuable attention time returned to us. Will we be brave enough to put it to good use?

  67. JMG – Thank you. That does make sense. The last time I saw “made in USA” on a clothing article was probably some vintage item at a yard sale years ago. Since I already have the basic skills down, I’ll continue to work at it. It has the added benefit that I find that I truly enjoy sewing. This is actually a big worry off my mind. Now I have a skill/trade that I can use in the coming years of decline. And as it just so happens, today I discovered St. Homobonus, patron saint of tailors and clothworkers. I’ll see about developing a devotion to him as I work on my new skill. Many thanks to you!

    Kfish – Thanks for that bit of information. I’ll definitely take that into consideration as I work on developing my sewing skills and establish a business with it.

    JillN – Yeah, the gardening will probably be helpful. The last time that I tended a garden, I produced way more than I needed. And I couldn’t give the food away; people were just not interested. With the growing shortages and economic decline now well underway, I do not think that will be the case this time.

  68. JillN, I never understood the weird notion that your job ought to define your life, but I know some people cling to that. Bizarre.

    I’ve thought this more than once. The thing that you do to pay the bills and the thing that defines your “career” can be the same thing, but don’t have to be, It’s occurred to me to wonder if our society would be a lot less disjointed and schizophrenic if we encouraged that a lot more.

  69. This is hilarious, and sums up so elegantly a lot of what you’ve been talking about for years.

    Here I’ve been trying to hustle my way into resilience and collapse-readiness for most of the last ten years, and all along the key was just to cut myself from slack! The re-framing through humour is just so, so relevant to me right now.

    As it happens, after walking away from my longed-for job teaching at an alternative school several weeks ago (which turned out to be really too taut to handle), this morning I started a full-time year-round job on an organic farm. It’s been a roller coaster of a year, but if what I am now experiencing is the faint rays of the dawning of some much-needed slack in my life, well… I think I could get used to it!

  70. @François deStmaly, #28

    >the faster you can do something to the quality asked for the greater the resilience

    As a lifetime Demingnite I can only tell you: NO, Frack No, A Thousand Times No!

    Your average customer is dumber than dirt (with due respect to the dirt) so they could not recognize Quality if the lack thereof came and clubbed them to death (as many a time actually does). Then, some stupid lackey in accounting will figure you can shave off a few pennies of the unitary cost by underselling even such ridiculously inadequate expectations. After the committee approves it, the “quality asked” means little but “that which will not spontaneously combust before we collect payment from those poor soa..” souls, I mean souls.

  71. Good thing my house in the city will be up for sale in a month, so I can go on the road for a bit, finish my novel and move in with my folks in their rural home next winter, and plan for how to proceed in the spring with more slack than I have had in a long time. Maybe I will even take up smoking a pipe 🙂

  72. ON “BOB”

    As a product of “raucous late twentieth century Texas” myself, I share one of my favorite SubGenius-isms: that all propaganda is God-breathed, provided that you take it literally.

    Newcomers to “Bob” (aka “Pinks” or “Normals”) may appreciate this hypno-pediatric instructional video (“Arise!”):

    And if you insist on a kayfabe-free explanation, try this recent documentary (“J.R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius”):

    Have academics discovered “Bob”? Yes they have. Here’s NRM scholar Carole Cusack:

    (She also covers Discordianism.)

    I sat on a panel with her a few years ago. She talked about “Bob,” I presented on the Dalai Lama and the Baha’is. As she spoke, I placed a pipe in my mouth (borrowed from my father in law) and gave a big grin. Good times….



    The notion that Germans will soon be on the march is shared by Alexander Dugin, who at one point proposed to enlist their ambitions into his own, Russo-centric plans for the world:

    For the benefit of any non-YouTubing Amish around, here’s Dugin’s plan as described in this video (from “Foundations of Geopolitics,” 1997):

    (1) Offer the Kaliningrad exclave to Germany, in order to entice them into an alliance (3:18)

    To which I note: the Germans don’t want it back. Really.

    (2) Let Germany dominate Central and Eastern Europe.

    To which I note: they already do.

    (3) Create some sort of alliance which includes France, but excludes Britain.

    To which I note: okay, this part could work…

    (4) Give Estonia to Germany, absorb the other Baltics yourself

    To which I note: wait a minute, if Germany had to absorb a Baltic state, wouldn’t they prefer Latvia?

    (5) Take over Finland, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Ukraine; divide Poland with Germany again, or give it some kind of special autonomous status.

    To which I note: wait a minute, how big is Russia’s army in this timeline? Also: NOW he finally thinks about Ukraine!

    (6) Ally with Iran

    To which I note: Done!

    (7) Absorb Georgia and Armenia, divide Azerbaijan with Iran.

    To which I note: stay tuned.

    (8) Reincorporate the former Soviet Central Asian republics; annex Mongolia; get China to let you have Xinjiang, Tibet and Manchuria in return for Russian permission to take over Southeast Asia.

    To which I note: Okay, Central Asia might be do-able, but now I’ve suddenly remembered the name of that drug that members of the Church of the SubGenius smoke: it’s called “Frop.”

    Despite being a nutter, Dugin is required reading in Russian military circles–which, unlike the Germans, actually *are* on the march.



    These are opposite theories! They both aspire to grow the total size of the economy–Laffer by lowering taxes, and Pelosi by raising them. Laffer thinks there is a point (which the US had reached) at which more taxes would discourage economic activity. Pelosi thinks that total economic activity can be encouraged by giving people money to spend. There are important drawbacks to either approach–economies can’t really be steered like this, or else every government would do it (although it’s remarkably easy to mess it all up).



    Not all countries are equal; the ones in yellow (on the map) dominate the global economy. Out of the G20 countries, 9 plus the EU are yellow, while 10 are gray (and these include the likes of Argentina and South Africa, which really don’t belong in the club based on their economies alone).

    While global use of the US dollar is indeed declining over time, it is about 59 percent of global trade (down from 70 percent in 2000), and dropping about one percentage point per year. Presumably it won’t go to zero over the next 59 years; also, there is the issue of what other currencies might replace it. The euro is second-place with about 37 percent, the next few countries have only a few percentage points each, although the Chinese RMB could see a rise. Perhaps Bitcoin?

  73. When I read in today’s Washington Post that 25% of the US food supply comes from California’s Central Valley, and that the on-going drought has forced farmers to leave many fields fallow, I had two reactions.

    The first was “Backyard gardening is about to get a lot more profitable, in terms of avoiding market costs.”

    The second: “25%?!? Is that by market value, tonnage, calories, or nonsense?” So, I’ve done a bit of web browsing tonight, and found more credible estimates that the whole state of California accounts for 13% of market value. And since that includes high-cost items like wine, nuts, and fresh fruit, I’m thinking that the (dry) tonnage and calorie value is even smaller. (I’m most interested in calorie value, which is why I want to try to factor out the tonnage of products, like milk and canned tomatoes, that are mostly water.)

    It would be an interesting coincidence if the ability to grow fresh fruits and vegetables in California (due to drought) diminished along with the ability ship fresh produce to the rest of the country (due to shortages of diesel fuel). Either way, those of us here on the East Coast need to sharpen our gardening game.

  74. I am so loving this post! I keep reading some of the comments and then stepping out on the porch to ponder them. There is much to contemplate here.

    I guess I should be a natural at this slacking stuff. My age group was called a bunch of slackers back in the 90’s. I didn’t know it was a complement! But this post is also my first introduction to Bob and SubGenii. It seems I have some research to do.

    Thinking about it, I think I have a good amount of slack in my life. Probably a little too taut in the friendship/community part, but now that I’ve noticed it, I know where to apply some of my free slack.

    Slack is just such a great word/concept. Very versatile! I see this word becoming common usage on this forum, and hopefully spreading from there.

    And it doesn’t hurt that Slack is close to Slink. I guess I’m the resident Slinky Slacking Weasel. 

  75. @Brinainn, a long time ago my daughter dug out my sewing books and taught herself to sew. She kept bringing me projects and asking for advice on a specific technique. After a while, she got quite good.

    Her high school friends had clothing generous allowances from their parents. I did not even try. She started doing alterations for her friends, and then embellishments, and then refashioning whole garments. They gave her nice things that they had bought and lost interest in.

    She later asked me about a career, being a millennial and viewing the unstable economy with distrust. I told her that she would be fine, because she could cook, sew and garden and therefore always get by. And start a nano business at fifteen.

  76. Archdruid,

    This article sums up my current sentiment. I was pushed out of my job in January after 4 years of commitment to my company. I’m so sick of the tension caused by the 5-40 grind that I’ve decided to go independent, but everyone tells me that you can’t slack when you’re running your own business. I disagree.

    As you said you can cut yourself some slack financially, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Conversely you can also tense yourself when you needed. More importantly, who knows better when to and where to cycle slack and tension better than you do?

    I’m willing to give up the security that comes from being employed by others, because honestly I get very little security from being employed by them. I work so much that I’m too tired to invest it into becoming more resilient, so I just drag myself along doing bits and pieces where I can. Hoping that I’ll have the time to invest into the right project that will allow me to keep my head above water as our economy unwinds. As you said, THEY’RE STEALING MY SLACK!

    I know gas prices are high, the prices will climb, and the used car market is insane, but I need a truck to work. So I’m cutting myself some slack. I know I’ll have to work hard, but you know I get to choose when and what to work on, and who to work with. I get to control my slack. Praise “Bob!”

    Also, I absolutely love the weird sects american culture keeps producing. Bloody weird, so very cool.



  77. @JMG @here

    I love cities. I think walkability is a cornerstone of resilience. But in the US context, cities with any sizable urban core are associated with all manner of late empire tensions. Walkable urbanism has also become a luxury good. Affordable urbanism generally means living with high crime.

    The US resilience/prepper community response to this dilemma is to move to isolated small towns on marginal land and attempt to grow their own food, most of which is middle age cosplay, because if the trucks stopped running they’d be in far more trouble than an urban dweller.

    How to escape this binary? Move back to the Old World? Wait out the storm in a streetcar suburb? Where is Constaninople when you need it?

  78. The threat of hyperinflation scares the daylights out of me. Financial expert Catherine Austin Fitts has said that those in control of monetary and fiscal policy have basically two ways to deal with the unrepayable debt: default, or shorten life expectancy. It looks to me like hyperinflation, the extreme case of rationing by price, is a form of the latter; though I can think of others that are being put into practice right now. I expect my spiritual advisor will instruct me that I must pray to Bob for that tranquility of mind which only slack can bring.

  79. JMG, I agree, so much nonsense that you don’t know where to start. What got me in stitches was that preposterous Russia collusion/interference narrative, and even more laughable the claim that somehow Trump presented a threat to the US Constitution, or the use of the word “our” in referencing American democracy, as in ‘our democracy’, Trump’s assault on ‘our democracy’, which is what I heard over and over from news anchors,

    For years watching the news was hilarious, just side-splitting, no professional comedian ever producing such grave, dead serious delivery of supposed bombshell revelations every other night that would surely undo Trump’s presidency. The walls were closing in, indictments were being drawn up, Bob Mueller and his cracker-jack staffers would surely reset the clocks. It was too much.

    Remember the remarkable lack of leaks from Mueller’s team as they busily burrowed into Trump’s doings? Indictments? For what? Well, we’ll find out when Bob is damn good and ready. Mueller runs a tight ship they said, never mind that the rest of the Deep State under Trump leaked worse than the Iraqi Navy.

    And then poor old Bob produced a big fat nothing despite such a target-rich environment namely a businessman in two notoriously mobbed up industries, real estate and casinos. And two years and tens of millions and still they couldn’t find ANYTHING?

    But I suspect they found something, a lot really, the trouble being that the malefactors that they kept finding were actually Democrats or Democrat donors or otherwise connected. Beware of digging too much for fear of what crawls out. After all this time it still makes me laugh.

    And then the spectacle of Judy Woodruff whose contempt for Trump stood out like beads of sweat, incandescent with joy as were her on-air team, that Mueller’s findings were a roadmap to impeachment.

    But for sheer roll-on-the-floor, laugh-until-you-die entertainment I look to the Fed. Remember that dread deflation they kept talking about, that terrible threat that would sink the economy? Did you see any? I didn’t. Remember how they said that the ‘risk is contained’ in 2008? Remember Janet Yellen saying that they don’t understand inflation? All those economics PhDs and they don’t understand inflation? Really? Makes you wonder, does NASA understand Newtonian mechanics? Well, maybe Yellen was being honest because do you remember when they claimed that this inflation is ‘transitory’?

    And Zuck and Tim, those ludicrous suck-ups, with Tim asking if anyone felt the room shake when Xi JinPing walked in, and Zuck asking Xi if he would please name his unborn child. Jesus save us.

  80. US Fed is going to save the dollar by pushing the world into recession through monetary policy, forcing all the wayward children to come home to the US Treasury. We have already begun down that path. Wanna get away from dollar dominance? Nope sorry the Fed will shut off power to the building until you come crawling back. Don’t fight the Fed!

  81. Ryan, so noted.

    Chris, funny. I’m afraid the lost hour will be covered with graffiti and rather badly dented from having people walk face first into it. As for diesel rationing, we’re very close to that now…

    Polecat, also funny. Thanks for this.

    Aloysius, why did you bother watching it?

    David BTL, hmm! Yes, I could see that.

    Brenainn, glad to hear it! I’d never heard of St. Goodman, which is of course what his name works out to, but I looked him up just now and he sounds like a worthy saint to invoke. Remember that there are many different markets for sewn goods, and see if you can find some specialty items you like making that aren’t well provided in your area…

    Tlong, no argument there. I consider myself to be insanely lucky that the thing that pays my bills, writing, is also something I love doing, but it’s not the center of my life — that’s occultism, which I don’t do for money.

    Dylan, glad to hear it.

    William, likewise, glad to hear it.

    Bei, thanks for the SubGenius links. Thanks also for the material on Dugin, who now interests me much less than he did — he’s clearly smoking his shorts. (He also doesn’t seem to realize that any alliance with Germany will end the way the previous ones did…) Of course Reagan and Pelosi mark opposite ways to do the same thing — spending money you don’t have — but it’s still spending money we don’t have and pretending that this doesn’t boost the deficit. As for the relative wealth of this or that country, keep in mind that most of the wealth of the United States, and a good deal of the wealth of its inner circle of client states, consists of unpayable IOUs which only have value in the present, highly fictive economic system; exclude the so-called FIRE sectors — finance, insurance, and real estate — and the nations in question are a lot poorer. As the changes under way right now bid fair to chuck a lot of the FIRE sector into a burn barrel, that’s relevant…

    Lathechuck, well, Pravda on the Potomac never did worry much about getting its facts straight!

    Slink, the Slinky Slacking Weasels ought to be a band name.

    Varun, how much you can slack when you’re running your own business depends on just how much slack you can cut yourself. (Also on whether you can find a good niche market for your goods and services.) I’ve been self-employed now for just short of twenty-five years, and I slack a lot — but then I’ve developed a very distinctive market niche and personal brand, and that helps.

    Brian, you’re dead on target recognizing that the inner city/rural thing is a binary. Notice that like many binaries, it treats the two ends of the spectrum as though they’re the only options. How about small cities? Here in East Providence, RI, crime is relatively low, walkability is high, the local groceries and farmers markets have plenty of produce grown nearby, and housing prices are not too extravagant. We’re close enough to big cities that the trucks are likely to keep running and far enough away to avoid most of the downsides. There are hundreds of other midsized towns and small cities that are similar. Is that the only option? Not a chance — it’s one example out of many. Break the binary, recognize it as a spectrum, and see where on the middle ground you want to place yourself.

    Kevin, there are two ways for a nation to get out from under unpayable debt — default on it, or inflate the currency so that the debt isn’t worth anything. We’ll certainly see one and we may see both. Instead of getting scared about it, though, why not look into how people have coped with it. Hyperinflation has happened repeatedly in American history, and even more often in world history; there are plenty of dodges that can get you through it intact. Read up on some examples, learn from them, and be ready to dance with it.

    Roger, and even after the Trump years, the laughs just keep rolling in.

    DT, the rest of the world doesn’t have to care any more. Seriously, you might want to read up on what happened when the pound sterling lost its status as global reserve currency. The rest of the world can just shrug and make other arrangements, as they’re doing right now…

  82. Last Christmas, we met some relatives for the first time since the lockdowns began more than two years ago. My wife’s uncle was one of those people; he’s an old-school corporate manager type of guy. He asked me how I liked doing work-from-home, and I told him I was basically doing it in a limited capacity for five years or so, and targeted working fully remote within 10 years. I did not imagine the circumstances that eventually fulfilled that “dream” would be as such, but I’ll take it, I said. We’ve proven that it works, and I don’t miss the commute, the dirty breakrooms and restrooms, and the never-quite-adjusted-well-enough airconditioners that constantly made me sick.

    He asked me if it never bothered me that I didn’t have any “face time” with my bosses. Because according to him, the way his generation was brought up, you showed up and tried to get noticed so you can climb the corporate ladder.

    I replied back that my bosses are all the way across the world in America anyway, so for all intents and purposes I’ve already been working remotely; I just arrived at the logical conclusion of the arrangement in the past couple of years thanks to the lockdowns. And furthermore, I liked where I am at where I actually get to work 40-50 hour weeks instead of 70-80, the job is still pretty interesting, I deal with just the right amount of corporate crap that I can tolerate, and the pay while not top-market is still quite fantastic. Furthermore I have a great relationship with my Director, who is a great guy, and that actually gives me more influence than my salary and title would lead you to believe, so I don’t care much for doing the ladder climbing.

    (i.e. I like having some of the slack!)

    He said his son (a junior manager for a major US retailer) told him the same thing when he asked the same question. “It’s not my style, but I think I understand… you young guys are really different.”

  83. Brenainn Griffudd (#6 & #38):

    I too have been wondering what sort of work I should be looking into. A friend told to meditate* about it and to look into my heart-of-hearts.
    It looks like that you have been reflecting on this re sewing. I might suggest looking into upcycling clothes. Various resources online. A neighborhood shop owner makes upcycled clothing and accessories for a living here. Perhaps it is or will soon be a viable option in your area. If you have space and the means to do so, it might be a good idea to start or add to collecting fabrics and related items (thread, buttons, binding, needles, spare parts for sewing machines, etc.).

    *I have a feeling I would have received a similar response from our esteem Archdruid…

  84. I didn’t watch the awards show but all my favorite video channels covered it. But of course since you asked that question now I’m reconsidering their utility as well. Here we go again. Next thing you know you’ll be telling me I should stop passing out drunk on the train tracks.

    Seriously though it’s starting to look like a media diet is the next logical step. My other projects would definitely benefit. They say the first step is admitting you have a problem, yeah?

  85. Hey hey JMG,

    I haven’t read the comments yet, so apologies if this has alreay been mentioned.

    I often hear efficiency talked about as if it were a percentage, a dimensionless number, like 85% efficient, but it is not. Every efficiency is a ration of two quantities X and Y. Miles per gallon, dollars per hour, bushels per acre, etc. In some cases you have the same dimensions (or nearly the same) in the numerator and denominator, investments in present dollars and returns in future dollars.

    That means that every efficiency is optimizing for one metric at the expense of some other metric. Bridges per material expenditure vs bridge lifespan per material expenditure.

    So optimizing our economy into a just in time, finacialized, globalized, outsourced and offshored monoculture of corporations has made it very efficient in some terms and brittle or wasteful in other terms.

    You can call this resilience or slack or biodiversity as please, but if anyone starts talking about efficiency as if it were simply a dimensionless number it means they have forgotten Odum ‘s first rule of ecology “you can never change just one thing.”

    Excellent post! I liked it a lot.


  86. So much propaganda out there trying to convince everyone that Russia isn’t in the driver’s seat.

    Europe (foremost among the rest of the world) is the dependent drug user, Russia is the dealer and energy is the drug. This dealer also has a big enough gun that they can’t be compelled to surrender the goods on unfavorable terms. The G7’s “breach of contract” argument regarding transacting in rubles is truly hysterical.

    There are NO viable alternatives to buying energy (metals, etc.) from Russia — the world literally can’t live without it — at least peaceably — so they’ll pay.

    I don’t know that I have enough popcorn, and I have a LOT of it.

  87. Still trying to figure out how to make my own transition away from standard life. Sadly, due to my current position, it would require me to basically cut out friends and family (we live “nearby” in Midwest terms – drives of at least an hour), something I’m not willing to do. The biggest issue is housing, and the way the market is, it’s virtually impossible to find something we can afford.

    My fiancee and I have been discussing options on how to get by on a single income, though not sure how that might work out. Hopefully I’ll have good news soon.

  88. @ Brenainn – last comment on tailoring: making copies of a client’s existing clothing in new fabric can also pay well. My grandmother paid her seamstress to deconstruct a favourite blouse and make about six copies of it in fabric that Grandma supplied. She wasn’t very pleased with the one that came back made out of someone else’s parachute polyester, so just be sure to keep each client’s fabric straight!

    On topic: the conflict between resilience and efficiency is also shown in investment strategy. Cash in the bank is a form of slack – it gives you options and helps you to avoid constraints. However, it’s a very inefficient form of holding value since it’s subject to inflation – much more efficient to put your $ into shares or bitcoin, but there goes your slack!

  89. Give me some slack to do what I want.
    Give me a hustle to do what I must.
    And a groove to follow between them.

    Or instead of groove

    ‘And let me grok the difference.’

    Interestingly I hadn’t thought of hustle as a particular partner to slack. Taut was the only word play I was interested in that post.

    It is interesting, I basically took a slack day today, and yet my math hobby project of charting the sums of powers of phi which equal to whole numbers made more progress than ever, and my room is less than half as muddled. I note that for me organizing things takes much slack, if I am taut to make things ordered it never turns out very nice. But if I vaguely wander around a space going ‘hey, that don’t go there’ then moving it every thing is in place before I know it.

  90. Also to celebrate my slack day today I watched ‘True Stories’ a strange movie from the mid 80’s which is the by product of someone accidentally giving the autistic genius David Byrne from the talking heads complete creative control of a motion picture. In addition to generally being my favorite movie it features a scene where a pastor in a southern church gives a very Sub Genius sermon. It also features Papa Staples as a voodoo priest who is the most positive and realistic portrayal of a practicing occultist with a private practice and a day job. And it is the first movie to star Jon Homobonus, I mean John Goodman. Finally it ends on the song City of Dreams, which among other things is a reflection of the impermanence of our civilization.

    A good use of slack.

  91. About six years ago, I ran across a small book from the Church of the Sub-Genius that seemed to define “slack” at a more personal level. The basic idea ran something like this: In many ways we’re like marionettes with our inborn human nature and outside circumstances pulling on our very taut strings. But, a more self-aware person will lengthen those strings, and the resulting slack gives us a measure of free will. For example, we may be thirsty and have a sweet tooth, but the person with slack won’t reflexively reach for a Coke after watching a Coke commercial.

  92. Well I couple of points.
    Firstly the idea of an “European Army” will never fly even with the insanity in the news,
    Secondly if the same people who are screaming rearming are the same people who “bought” Abrams tanks in 2005 (never delivered to the army) in the Polish bureaucracy I wouldn’t waste my breath.
    Russia can easily destroy Europe if the just shut down the mineral ore supply (thought the Europe takes “only” gas from Russia),
    European industries rely completely on the stuff, if they want it to come from other nations (Brazil, Australia) they would have to compete with China and Korea (something tells me that they have more to offer than half bankrupt, LGBT+ Europe).
    It all comes down to this Europe was first to industrialize and as a result the first to “run short’ on all the important ores, coal and oil, and cheap easy to get mineral sources are no more in EU.
    For example Polish goverment is now ranting about getting all of it’s gas from Norway, the norweigian spokeperson quietly spoke not on mainstream media that Norway (past it’s peak of gas) cannot possibly supply on entire continent ( especialy on the amount needed) and all of what is left (of Norweigian gas supply) will go to Norway’s strategic partner aka” Germany”.
    JMG i never suggested that Europe will take over the world i said that when it comes to things like: industry, local young men population etc, europe is on it’s last legs.
    And the bureaucrats who will still steal what is left of the money and probably run away to bahamas when it gets too bad (there are jokes flying around about that already) Russia and China can crash Europe without much effort and the Us will just watch from sidelines as it’s expendable wasals collapse and go looking for new ones. We are in no position to regain our former power at best Europe will become a battleground between what is left of it’s original population and the muslim emigrant’s who are already making a rucus everywhere
    (they expected Europe to be a paradise of free stuff let’s just say the are now angry and disappointed, especialy when they find out about millions of pernament Ukrainian christian emigrant’s forcibly relocated just next to them)
    Cheers Wer

  93. A few points:

    Firstly, thank you for the intro into Subgenius. As a Brit I had never heard of it.

    Secondly, I’m not worried about the Germans increasing their military. They are a very different people to 90 years ago and while all things change, they are a very decent nation now.

    Thirdly, while I am not sighted on Pelosi’s stance, in the UK the austerity measures simply produced more austerity. Other nations invested in people and jobs, the UK cut them and the economy was weakened as result. While I have little problem with a smaller economy per-se, the way it was conducted in the UK also created a significant increase in inequalities.

    Finally, “In response to the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian war, pundits and politicians across Europe suddenly got around to noticing that most European nations are so weak in military terms that any good-sized country in Africa could invade and conquer a couple of them any time it had a mind to.” – you will note that Ukraine, a European country, is holding its own against the former superpower, just as many ‘weaker’ countries have done: Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc.

  94. Great post John!

    Here’s my take on Germany.

    On the one hand, the 100 billion announced is only going to get us to a barely functioning German military according to the sources I have read.

    That is still a massive shift and will make Germany a major military power in Europe. To make it a military superpower, the government will need to spend way more this decade, something I think is likely.

    The German export industrial model is crumbling and I wonder if, at some point in the future, the Germans switch from mass producing cars to tanks. Its the logical option if you want to keep the workers and factories going in an era of scarcity industrialism.

    For those who are dismissive of the risks of a revived Germany, I suggest you read the following article. Quite clearly the military considered it essential that Germany secure critical resources.

    My question to you John is where would those be in Europe? Poland has some coal reserves so they might be a target (although the Polish army is big and doubling in size).

    Romania used to have oil (but any more?), Ukraine has the vast and fertile wheat fields but struggling to think where Germany would go in the future.

  95. I know you’re not a great fan of space programs, JMG, but the slack-vs-efficiency concept can be applied (or adapted) to a comparison between the old Soviet Proton rocket, a reliable workhorse used for decades, and the American habit of repeated re-designing, which absorbs much more money and time.

  96. “Love me, love me, love me! Im a liberal!”

    Currently listening to The Vision of the Anointed, i must say it basically reads like King in Orange but with more statistics and economic jargon for us “common folk” to process. and while it goes into the more political and historical aspects of the situations, Sowell (89) brings up the increase of the discordian, slacker, deplorable, punk, mentality in response to the biggest danger and reality that there’s nothing more permanent than a temporary policy/solution to alleviate a percieved problem that was resolved or decreasing in severity already. Definitely something I’d recommend reading if you have the time and spoons (though I recall you saying you already have a stack of books to get through).

    Needless to say, I’m chuckling at the insanity of it all. Caring about it while simultaneously mastering the art of not giving a f***, either way I’d be considered a reactionary or “right wing extremist” or a brainwashed liberal twit when I’m more of a conservative libertarian than anything and I lose either way!

  97. Thoroughly enjoyed this – and can definitely relate. We’ve been building up our farm over the past decade, and slack (or lack thereof!) has been our biggest challenge. Either a lack of it financially or time-wise as I’ve continued to enter and exit my PMC career as circumstances (lack of financial slack) warranted. The final exit occurred this past January, forced out due to a certain mandate…

    The solution – now that I have some “time slack” we are partnering with those that have “financial slack” to shore up that side of things for us. We are fortunate that we have an asset that, with the right management, regenerates itself (a productive farm) and hence provides us with something of value to offer to others.

    We are trying to look at these partnerships with imagination, realizing the necessity of still needing to operate within our current economic systems but with an eye to something novel.

    Looking quite forward to regenerating some of my own slack in several areas as well – as the PMC career commitments stretched all of them well beyond their limits.

  98. New Week, New Green Wizards posts to check out.

    First, Ok, I was going to post a second update on the basement building, since I got two major pieces installed but given John’s hilarious take on resilience, I thought we would repost a past blog post on the same subject. Thoughts On “Slack”, looks at why you should consider his advice to “collapse now, and avoid the rush.” We’ll get back to the basement next week.

    Over on the Green Wizard’s forums, we have some lively discussions going on. First, “Does Gardening Save You Money” talks about whether you should grow your own or perhaps let others, like local farmers, grow your produce for you and then buy from them. The consensus is, not all things can be reduced to a balance book. Come add your observations and opinions.

    Next, “Efficiency guru Amory Lovins” has made the news recently with his public stance that all the focus on electric cars and getting off of fossil fuels is misdirected. That money would be better spent on making homes, businesses, and cities energy efficient first. Here at Green Wizards, we say, “Well, Duh!”. Conserve first then increase the ways you make renewable energy has been one of our principles since John first wrote “Green Wizardry”.

    Then, a word of warning about a growing environmental pollutant, “Tip of the Iceberg – PFAS Chemicals”. This near-immortal chemical is getting into everything, including those foods labeled organic. Becoming aware is the first step.

    And finally, another great post for our Green Wizard writers, when Ken asks, can you do “Tarot readings for fictional characters”? We get into a discussion on the art of divination in stories, then the nature of the spirits and gods themselves, and how to add them as interesting characters to your stories.

    As always, to read the posts and comments on Green Wizards is open to the public, but to join in the discussions you’ll need a free account. To get one, contact me via email (green wizard dtrammel at gmail dot com) or on Facebook Messenger.

  99. Hi John Michael,

    I have been wanting to ask you for some time what internet sources you frequent to find anything that resembles real journalism/news but keep missing your ‘ask me anything’ post. Any scraps would be greatly appreciated. BTW, I have been enjoying reading the seemingly endless amount of books by dead people (which you suggest as a means of avoiding group think) available for free while the internet is still available to me and, meanwhile, building up my library of actual books. Thanks again for all you do and for giving us less intellectually endowed folks access to your wisdom and insight. You have helped me, and I believe numerous others, to make sense of these crazy times and navigate these tumultuous seas. Best regards, Eric in Canada

  100. Terrific post, fun read, thank you! After about four years, I recently left a mostly cubicle sales job selling quality assurance light booths that check for color accuracy, a purely aesthetic consideration and likely one of the first things to go. I got a job managing a small bike shop two minutes from my home. At 62 and with no real savings, I took a significant pay cut. I also have child support to take care of. Nevertheless, I see this as honing my bike mechanic skills, and also being more involved in the community, and therefore a better “long term” prospect, whatever that might end up meaning. I’ve even recently heard speculation that car manufactures may start buying bike makers (eg, Trek, Specialized) as electric assist bikes need less battery resources than electric cars, and due to everyone getting poorer, they may be the only real personal vehicles within reach of at least a few people in years to come.

  101. @Lathechuck #81 re: California produce and the drought – I say, East Coasters, despair not. Remember, the East Coast has Florida. And Florida has agriculture. And believe you me, drought is one thing we don’t have! So raise a glass of orange juice (Florida Natural, from a farmer-owned co-op, and unlike the organic orange juices available, in waxed paper cartons, not plastic bottles), order some fresh strawberries, now in season, and have a good breakfast.

  102. Thanks JMG,

    We don’t have insulated window coverings but this seems like something very do-able. You are thinking of something like cellular or honecomb shades?

    Thanks again!

  103. Lathechuck and everyone

    I am not sure of the figures but they are referring to market value. California’s Central Valley and other valleys produce lots of high value crops, wine, almonds, walnuts. Most of these crops can have ridiculous high value to a comparable volume of barley for instance. That really pushes up the market value of California crops. However California also produces a lot of regular food. I think ca is number 3 or 4 in milk and cheese production. A large portion of US rice comes out of the Sacramento valley. The thing that really started me down the decline way of thinking is California ag. It as almost all dependent on snow melt out of the sierras. When that snow goes away with a warmer climate then all the orchards and vineyards will be lost. I have worked a lot out there and really love it. So slowly watching it dry up and die is hard for me.

  104. How you know the FedRes and Steve Mnuchin were nuts when they gave out the PPP: should have been strictly limited to paying worker salaries and pensions. Oops. My slack is to know the dollar amount of monies that go to offshore tax havens 1 by name 2 by week 3 by dollar amount and 4 by county.

    I picked up a great book by Hazel Henderson who pointed out in 1988 that Mobil Oil had enough profits sloshing around they could diversify into real estate both residential and commercial. Gee, why is gasoline $4-6 an hour. Forget slack: when will the US middle class wake up and realize get off Big Oil All residential and commercial buildings should have been off Big Oil, Big Coal, and Big Utilities years ago. It was fun to drive by a gas station this morning and see all the pumps had yellow bags over them. The gas station was waiting on delivery; 2 blocks east and west are a community college with a defunct biofuels proglram and a defunct biofuels abandoned business concern. Maybe the US should base its energy creation on what’s best available by county.

  105. Hi John,

    The NYT has a interesting opinion piece on how the Russians may be more focused on securing the energy resources in Ukraine, which are mainly in the eastern half of Ukraine and the offshore waters of the Crimea.

    The the hyperlinked article above goes into detail the untapped potential of Ukraine energy reserves.

    Assuming the Russians do manage to secure the eastern part of Ukraine that will strengthen Russia’s energy superpower potential over the medium term.

    In regard to France, note the latest poll showing Le Pen reaching 47% versus Macron in a second round election. The political experts in France are starting to warn Macron doesn’t have the election in a bag.

    I still think Macron will likely will win, just, but its looking rather right, just as the cost of living is soaring in France and hammering the lower to middle classes.

  106. JMG – Thanks for the tip. I’ll see what specialty items are currently lacking in my area. I’m also now looking into buying what I think is called a “treadle.” That is, a foot powered sewing machine. I’m not sure of all the “technicalese” of the sewing world, yet. Anyway, I see no reason to be dependent on a decaying power grid. I’m actually quite excited about all this! Thanks for these thought provoking posts. They’re really quite helpful!

    Raphanus – Thanks for this. So far, I’ve found older instructional material online, plus some videos, and I’ve also ordered a few used books on the subject. The next thing for me to do is to expand my small sewing kit with more equipment.

  107. Praise Bob, I feel a Public Rant coming on. And I need not feel guilty about it either. Guilt is for PINKS! The inspiration is THERE if you just let up bubble up from the telluric currents that reside inside the donut hole of the Hollow Earth!

    It’s only the modern consensus reality of the NORMS that make you feel like a nut! Otherwise remember the wise words of David Lynch: “Keep your eye on the donut, not on the hole.” Yet I need another subgenii inspired rant like I need a hole in my head. Yog-Sothoth lurks in a reality we cannot understand and seeks OURS! It inspires sanity and is MADNESS and, worse, BOREDOM! Forever! Thanks for inspiring this Devival. It is a much needed tent under which to shelter when the Golden Arches give no respite.

    “No two countries that both have a McDonald’s have ever fought a war against each other…When a country reaches a certain level of economic development, when it has a middle class big enough to support a McDonald’s, it becomes a McDonald’s country, and people in McDonald’s countries don’t like to fight wars; they like to wait in line for burgers.”–Thomas Friedman

    Didn’t all the McDonald’s leave Russia? This bodes not well. I know Mickey-D’s did Russia a favor in terms of their health, as another commenter said in one of your blogs… but if the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention is true…

    …meanwhile the specdebacle of the Oscars remains in the forefront of the media amalgamated mind. I didn’t watch it. Yet, Russel Brand, whose youtube channel is an increasingly sane space in world of McDonald’s theory did a good gloss on it and pointed out how little the Oscars matter:

    I mean that was obvious, anyway. But now, with the Compound Celebrity Slap Effect in motion the girders of irreality are shown to be even more fragile than previous accounting for inflationary egoism already suggested. It’s kind of like their own special sauce.

    I too once had a copy of High Weirdness By Mail. We’ll say those days of mimeographed and ink stained brain glue cod paste return. I’ve been reviving my stamp usage lately with some friends who live in the same city and its been fun going postal trading articles, salutations, and ideas that way. Also, thanks for the tip about Postal Banking. I signed a petition with regards to that. It seems a fine idea to me. Low-tech retrovation.

    I hope too that any innovators leaving through the Musk-Gates, will, with enough slack, become retrovators. Detrivores and retrovators go well together. Pop has already eaten itself. Now it is time for other things to eat themselves. Book worms will do well to head to the stacks and reclaim the imaginarium of forgotten lore.

    In distributist cooperatives of social credit there is room to cut up a little bit without the management looking over your assembly line figures. Time to chill and smoke a pipe. Even Gandalf had time to smoke a pipe and he had his work cut out for him, what with Saurman and Sauron’s love of shire destroying machinery and all.

    If the Luddite’s join forces with the Fluddite’s we may be able to distribute some more high weirdness by mail to each other.

    Regime change is in order, but its the wrong order of regimes to change. The Order of Anti-Poke Noses is going to have to churn out some emissaries and diplomats who just kind of bum around in foreign countries and have tea with people, and smoke a pipe or two, without actually sticking their nose in. In this meddlesome chessboard of human affairs and foreign affairs, when the gods sometimes come along and rearrange the pieces without some noticing, it seems like we might do well to imagine other games, and how those might be played.

    Games require slack, and slack requires an absence of management flack, and an absences of management flack requires shifting over to retrovated tracks in space is the place. Will the Plastic Barbie-Ken Dolls melt in the face of their microwaved minds? Perhaps if those who possess the gnostic Dobbs initiations first change the plastic astral substance.

    Just remember You Can Be What You Won’t!

  108. Strictly speaking, efficiency and resilience are not opposites, as it is in fact possible to improve both by reducing a third factor: waste. To use the bridge example, perhaps the way to think about it is that it is more efficient and more resilient to build a bridge using concrete than (say) chewed bubblegum, and any chewed bubblegum in the bridge adds to neither efficiency nor resilience, so it is just waste. What that means though is that by reducing waste, it is possible to increase both efficiency and resilience.

    Of course, this assumes it’s possible to easily determine what is waste and what isn’t, but in some cases it’s quite clear cut. Of course, “waste” is subjective: all that money going to CRT and the like looks like waste to us outsiders, but it’s certainly not waste to the people who’ve livelihoods depend on it.

    And oh dear gods it’s just clicked: our entire economic elite is dependent on the creation of massive amounts of waste, for that is the source of their livelihoods. No wonder things are going so far off the rails!

  109. JMG,

    First, thank you kindly for helping me stay unpanicked.

    I grew up in midwestern farm country, and even just a few decades ago, there were cows aplenty in all of the fields. Ethanol/Corn subsidies changed all of that so now we have what James Kunstler calls, “corn porn.”

    So there is plenty of slack available for beef, provided the subsidies in corn go away.

  110. “Yet here we have a Polish politician being quoted as saying, “I’m not afraid of a strong Germany. I’m afraid of a weak Germany.” I hope he doesn’t end up learning the downside of that attitude the hard way, as so many of his ancestors did over the last half millennium or so”.

    One reason for that is the historical grievances Poland had with Russia/USSR, while forgetting for the moment their historical grievances with Germany.

    Another reason though is that most of those European countries are US and or Germany’s client states (Germany itself dragged along with whatever the other side of the Altantic decides, albeit reluctuntly), and their politicians well picked and groomed, so that’s when they hear jump they ask “how high”. But they don’t necessarily represent what the people in those countries think, or what they’ve have thought without equally unstoppable media manipulation.

    That’s one reason they are all for sanctions that will first and foremost hurt EU countries, but they never thought of asking for sanctions when the US, with or without them, invaded several countries to “bring democracy” and created hell-holes out of them – or at least, they never thought of not joining in or even protesting (Bush’s Iraq war being an exception, because that was also an exception in enternal US politics, the Dems against the Reps, not because the European politicians had any guts to think for themselves).

  111. In the safety and efficiency fields I’ve heard those words prefixed with ‘performative’ or ‘theatrical’ – doing things that symbolise safety and efficiency, but don’t actually improve them.

    An interesting example is pioneers in the army. Just as mortars are the infantry’s ‘organic’ artillery, pioneers are their in-house engineering. Pioneers are trained in engineering skills like fortifications and mines, to a higher level than the infantry but not like full engineers. They also know enough of construction trades like concreting, bricklaying, joinery and electrical to make themselves very useful.

    But in an example of performative efficiency, some militaries wound up their pioneer battalions, assuming the regular engineers could do all that better and more efficiently. Engineers had somtimes looked down on pioneers – “They do half of our indroductory course” – but they quickly found out just how much pioneers did. It was also work the engineers didn’t want. Things quickly ground down slower and slower, necessary things being left further behind. In peacetime that was just annoying military misjudgement, but it had previously had very serious consequences. There’s a theory that in WWI the German attack on Verdun could have broken through, or at least dug much deeper into the fortified region, if they’d had more pioneers.

  112. Hi All

    As one of the participants of The Great Resignation I wanted to share my experiences. Having worked in administration for more than 20 years for various companies I had an epiphany in Jan 2021…I loathed my job, but more than that I had come to loath working in an office.

    Thinking about the situation and all the things that had been holding me back from changing my life I realised that the majority no longer applied e.g. the children had grown up and moved out so a large house (and accompanying large bills) was no longer needed.

    I made a list of what I actually wanted, which turned out to be surprisingly short – I wanted to live near the sea and work as few hours as possible in anything other than an office.

    6 months later I had sold my furniture and the majority of ‘stuff’ that had been acquired to fill the large house, moved to a furnished 1 bed flat near a small seaside town I had never previously visited and immediately found a job working mornings as a cleaner.

    Its coming up to 9 months since my move and my slacker lifestyle has never been better, I work 4 hours a day and spend the rest pottering around doing little that is ‘productive’ in a work sense but am unimaginably happier.

    It was absolutely terrifying making that jump and I was wondering, is the fear of the unknown playing a large part in society as a whole refusing to try anything that differs from the norm?


  113. It seems to me that Slack and Efficiency are another representation of the Pillars of Force and Form. Finding that happy medium of slack and efficiency puts you back on the Middle Pillar.

  114. Johnny #50, we had the test holes drilled to see if we could have the bean bag bead-type insulation blown in. If you have any rubble in the cavity wall it’s a no-go. I think the companies will offer to do a test even if it’s almost certain it won’t work because they’re subsidised by the job and you don’t have to pay anything. If you can have it done and ever need a new window or door put in – it will make a spectacular mess. 🙂

  115. Straws in the wind – for ye who watch movies.

  116. Another thing regarding cognitive slack — I always make sure I have a coin with me whenever I go to a restaurant (I should probably swap it for a die). I’m not too good at avoiding analysis paralysis, so to solve it I’ll figure out which meal I would (probably) like and cast lots. Otherwise I’ll end up spending quite a few minutes figuring out what to do.

    I can use it in other areas too. This is also my answer to the trolley problem. It’s above my paygrade; I’ll cast lots and let God indicate the right choice.

    (Hey, hasn’t this been talked about in regards to astrology and almanacs? The important thing is to plant the crops around the right time, not waste valuable resources trying to think up the perfect time to plant?)

  117. Hi John,

    Don’t know if you saw the latest cybersecurity news coming out of Russia, but Russia’s civil aviation authority was hacked, crashing their network and losing more than a year and a half of emails and data.

    As a result, they are switching back to older technologies, such as paper documents. One major problem that Russian companies, government agencies, etc. are running into is that Big Tech monopolies like Microscum and the Big Slimy River are cutting off Russian access to their services, including software security updates, user licenses and the like, which is having a disruptive effect and making Russia more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

    I recall you said that a growing number of intelligence agencies were going back to typewriters and filing cabinets, because those can’t be hacked. I would imagine that in the short run, Russia, China and others will be working on alternative computer technologies (including alternatives to existing operating systems and other types of software) that are not beholden to Western Big Tech giants and economic warfare by the US government and its European lapdogs.

    In the long run, I suspect the future will be in what might as well be called Retrotopian technologies, such as pens and pencils, paper, typewriters, filing cabinets, slide rules, logarithmic tables, landline telephones and teletype machines, and shortwave radio, just to name a few. After all, it was those same technologies that put the Apollo astronauts on the Moon, while the world’s airlines and civil aviation authorities did just fine for decades without computer networks, email, spreadsheet programs and all the rest. Moreover, as the disadvantages of remaining dependent on what Dmitry Orlov has aptly called the Technosphere become increasingly difficult to ignore, I expect we will see those technologies proliferate.

    Retrotopia, here we come!

  118. One of my long-running projects is translating Werner Sombart’s Der moderne Kapitalismus into English. In the first volume, The Pre-Capitalist Economy, Sombart describes the economic systems that preceded capitalism (and he emphasises that economic systems never disappear entirely, today’s western world still has elements of the barter economy and the craftwork economy existing in it alongside capitalism). In a fascinating piece on what could be called the level of slack in the craftwork economy of the Middle Ages, Sombart points out that the number of religious feast days are a good indication of the number of days not worked in that period. He also gives some figures for different locations. A quote (p70-71 of the translation):

    However with pre-capitalist economic men the energy of the mind is now just as little developed as the energy of the spirit. It expresses itself in the slow tempo of economic activity. In particular and first of all they sought to keep it at bay as much as at all possible. When you can “celebrate”, you do so. They have mentally something like the same relationship to economic activity as the child to school teaching — they certainly do not undergo it if they do not have to. There is no trace of a love for the economy or economic labour. We can deduce that from no less than the known fact that in all of the pre-capitalist period the number of feast days in the year was enormously large. Hartwig Peetz gives a nice overview of the numerous holidays which still took place in the Bavarian mining industry during the 16th century. Accordingly in various cases there were:
    of 203 days 123 holidays
    of 161 days 99 holidays
    of 287 days 193 holidays
    of 366 days 260 holidays
    of 366 days 263 holidays
    And you did not hurry yourself with the labour itself. There exists no interest at all in that something was produced or accomplished in a very short time, or that very much was produced or accomplished in a defined period. The length of the period of production is characterised by two factors: by the demands that place the work on a good and solid footing, and by the natural needs of the working men themselves. The production of goods is an activity of living men who “find complete expression” in their work; they follow therefore the rules of these hot-blooded personalities just as the growth process of a tree or an animal’s act of procreation receives direction, goal, and extent from the inner necessities of those living beings.

  119. A great Buddhist genius of the 20th century, when asked how to properly apply his teachings, said: “Just relax.” When asked how to best come to some kind of understanding of the mysterious qualities of “emptiness,” he said: “Mind the gap.” A reminder for which appears often in the London metro.

    He worked harder and accomplished more by defying all the expectations everyone had for the behavior of a “proper” Tibetan incarnation by drinking to medicate his constant pain, stepping away from monasticism, having a boatload of consorts, and associating with hippies and malcontents as his principal students. On the one hand, he taught his students by just hanging out with them (well, along with all the classical Buddhist stuff he also made them learn). For hours, even days at a time, he would hang out with them. Or make THEM have to just hang out (which they were miserable at, for the most part). He created a whole quasi-military organization with rules seemingly designed to ensure that its members spent loads of time…just hanging out, and around.

    I never quite got on with his students, though, or many other Western students of Buddhist teachers. Most of them were paradoxically too ambitious and censorious for my tastes.

    One thing I learned from Keith Dowman’s “Masters of Mahamudra” was that affinity with one’s teachers was crucial to making serious progress in Buddhism. Not ability, ambition, time spent with the teachers or even (usually misapplied) effort. Affinity, or to put it differently, love. Results not guaranteed, though, at least not in one lifetime. So from that I conclude that my own ambition and censoriousness (a.k.a. judgmentalism) need to be put on hold, too, because I have no way of really knowing anyone’s journey but my own. I’m still working on that one.

    Oddly, that Tibetan teacher’s name was not Bob, though it should have been. He still rouses sputtering denunciations from the proper even today. I would say to that: “Job done!” I don’t think he was aware of the Church of the Sub-genius. He might have denounced it in order to get the more rebellious of his students to engage in slacking properly…

  120. @justme #118

    FEE has a few articles on “Unlearning” children and allowing them to hone the skills they want most through activity. Homeschooling without the required curriculum basically. Growing up in public school I’m glad i had the teachers that I did, but when I have kids, I’m homeschooling or putting them in private school if desperate.

  121. Further to my previous comment, in volume 2 of Sombart’s work (The Origins of Early Capitalism), which I am currently working on, he contrasts the speed with which work was done in different periods and notes how the development of a court culture and the accompanying taste for luxury led to an increase in speed of work. A quote:
    “The rule in the Middle Ages was the long production time — years and decades were laboured on one piece, on one work — they were in no hurry to be completed. You also lived so long because you lived in a whole — the church, the monastery, the borough, the family would certainly experience the completion, even if the individual person who had commissioned the work had long since rotted. How many families did building work on the Certosa of Pavia! The Milanese family of Sacchi had worked during three centuries, through eight generations, on the inlays of the altarpiece. Every cathedral, every monastery, every townhall, every castle of the Middle Ages gave witness to this bridging of the lifetimes of individual people — their origin stretched through families who believed in living for eternity.
    Once the individual had torn themselves out of the community which outlasted him, his lifetime became the measure of his enjoyment. The individual wants to live as if he himself experiences as much as possible over the change in things. Even a king became too much for themselves — he wants to reside himself in the castle which he began to build. And when even the lords of this world now transferred this world to the little woman, then the tempo was quickened in which the means for satisfaction of luxury demand were brought. The woman cannot wait. The man in love, however, not at all.”

  122. Thinking about souls and slack, I note that the idea has been broached that the increase in human population may have resulted in humans getting souls that weren’t as evolved as in the past. Or perhaps they have less slack on the other side for coming to terms with their past lives. This could potentially be the cause for the Spenglerian cycles – as a culture reaches its high point, its population increases beyond the norm and thus the loss of slack on the other side plays out in a loss of dynamism in the culture. Plausible?

  123. Justin Patrick Moore #120, I heard the McDonalds theory had long been disproved – Serbia had McDonalds and it didn’t stop them getting bombed in the late 90s.

  124. Bei Dawei @ 80, It occurs to me that what German rearmament, if that does happen, and at least some of Mr. Dugin’s 8 points aim at (in part) is control of the gas fields below the eastern Mediterranean Sea. There is a reason why Erdogan is offering himself as honest broker–oxymoron in his case?–to Russia and Ukraine. As for China being given carte blanche to take over Southeast Asia, has that not been tried and failed already? There are also reasons why Vietnamese hate Chinese, or so I have read, and why Myanmar made a sudden and unexpected turn to the West, giving then Secretary of State Clinton, making a fashion statement in turquoise pantsuit, a photo op in the capital city. Armchair speculation, but that does read like a war with India, which would be backed up by Australia, Japan and the USA. The American GI might, I only say might, perform a bit better than expected in such a conflict; decades of shoddy and getting worse by the month manufactured products and gaming of our immigration laws have given us Americans no love for China.

  125. Hello everyone this is Wer again, I didn’t know about this whole “Bob and slack thing” it is strange in a wry sense. But from what i understand the situation is very dire here in east Europe (I know because I live here)
    Poland used to have a lot of anthracite coal but most of it is gone or in czech hands right now. The vast majority of Poland’s power generation comes from brown coal (the stuff so poor in energy output barely anyone wanted to burn that stuff 40 years ago) For example there was a conflict over brown coal on the borderr of our country.
    Something that was discarded decades prior due how poor that stuff was. I don’t know the EROEI but it must be a let down considering that Polish power plant run decades prior on anthracite from Śląsk.
    It’s like shale oil in the US everybody knew that it brown coal existed here for a century but only after the good stuff started to run out we started digging up the poor stuff. there was a lot of noise about renewables but a lot of bureaucrats filled their pockets with money. and barely anything got done in 2 decades and all of it based on subsidies from the goverment. Ue didn’t help either with those ridiculous carbon taxes and laws.
    I think that massive inflation is now anavoidable, a lot of people are hoarding stuff now where i live, according to local rumor an local “oligarch” purchased the entire firewood in the area, either to price gouge later or to keep it all to himself, The locals will get the matters in our own hands if it comes to this. Some really nasty people live in Piła just 10km from here this worries me the most, gonna keep it together (fortunately here where i live we have good neighbours and help each other often so that is a plus).
    The goverment is saying they are going import gas from” somewhere not Russia” but are not going into details, i think this is in the same cathegory as Abrams tanks promised in 2005 never delivered. If this happens the current political pary Prawo I Sprawiedliwość will surely not stay in power ( their popularity took a nosedive during Covid when they advocated pro vaccine moves simillar to Turdeau in Canada…..)
    Keep save Everybody Wer,

  126. E.F. Schumacher had realized the importance of slack back in 1973 when he wrote in “Small is Beautiful” regarding the extravagant use of fossil fuels and the massive production of chemicals, many never seen before and with unknown long-term effects on the environment (emphasis in the original):

    “In other words, the changes of the last twenty-five years, both in the quantity and in the quality of man’s industrial processes, have produced an entirely new situation — a situation resulting not from our failures but from what we thought were our greatest successes. And this has come so suddenly that we hardly noticed the fact that we were very rapidly using up a certain kind of irreplaceable capital asset, namely the tolerance margins which benign nature always provides.”

  127. JMG, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but The Babylon Bee has repeatedly made fun of the task they have in outpacing the insanity that is the reality we live in. Here are just two examples:



    I’m sure their hyperawareness doesn’t make their jobs any easier, but it was hilarious to watch them enact a scenario along the lines you described in your 3rd paragraph.

  128. @JMG, on hyperinflation –

    “Instead of getting scared about it, though, why not look into how people have coped with it.”

    Could you suggest any sources where I might get started on that, or at least the best search terms to begin with? I tried planting a vegetable garden, very successfully in fact, about ten years ago; my landlords destroyed it with extreme prejudice. But maybe there are other tactics available to me.

  129. @Darkest Yorkshire #136: I never actually believed it! It’s as preposterous as the Oscar’s actually mattering. That’s why I juxtaposed those together in my stream of consciousness rant. (Whether it worked or not is another matter.)

    One more note on those dang Oscar’s: even though Hollywood films have long since stopped being art, I think the idea of “competition in the arts” is itself partially to blame. Same with Grammy’s, and others. Art shouldn’t be a popularity contest, but that is what these thing’s show. My interest in the incident is that it is in part spectacle itself, but also a breakdown of the spectacle & glamour, and a peek behind the curtain at how shoddy it all really is.

    Anyway, it’s cooled down here in Ohio again, after intense winds, and I could use a hot order of fries. But first I need to unbury myself in all this paperwork…

    …but perhaps the reason the McDonald’s theory is Bull Shale, is not because Friedman so much is a spewer of Bull Shale, as in the one and only future, all restaurants are Taco Bell. (Wow, that product placement is still work after all these years.)

  130. Carlos, fascinating. Quite a tectonic shift!

    Tidlösa, good heavens, no. Nothing so dull as that.

    Aloysius, not owning a television is the single most useful thing I’ve ever done. That extra four hours a day of time I can use opened the door to pretty much everything I do. Give it a try!

    Tim, excellent! A couple of characters in my novel Retrotopia make exactly that point, and it zings the narrator good and hard.

    J.L.Mc12, good heavens. That sounds like something stupid enough for Biden to say.

    TJ, I’ve got popcorn on as we speak. Today’s the last day for non-ruble transactions for gas, and Putin has signed the decrees necessary to shut off any nation that doesn’t comply…

    Gawain, congratulations on your survival and escape!

    Ezra, it’s always a leap. Best wishes for that good news.

    Ray, funny how that works…

    Greg, hmm! A valid point and one worth contemplating. I’ll have to find that book.

    Wer, that’s an excellent point about Russian exports — they produce a significant share of the world market in steel, aluminum, copper, platinum, wheat, and fertilizer, among other things. If they start demanding payment in rubles for all of those, or simply shut off the supply to Europe, you’re screwed.

    Stuart, lots of people said the same thing about Germany in the 1920s, and suffered whiplash when the national mood changed after 1933. As for austerity, er, I wasn’t suggesting that. I was pointing out that nations that spend money they don’t have tend to land in a world of hurt.

    Forecasting, Europe mined and pumped out most of its resources long ago. The elephant in the room that nobody’s talking about is that the only way for Europe to preserve anything like its current standard of living is to invade the Middle East, Africa, or both.

    Robert, au contraire, I admire space programs — I just don’t think they’re going to bring the future that was once predicted for them. Your point about the Proton is quite valid, and of course the Soyuz is another good example: still in production, and still a reliable spacecraft, long after the Space Shuttle (which supposedly replaced capsules once and for all) is gathering dust in museums.

    Copper, thanks for this. I’ll put it on the look-at list.

    James, delighted to hear it. May your farm bear a bumper crop of slack!

    David, many thanks for this.

    Nochoice, thank you! I like to pit competing sources against each other. BBC and RT are a great example: they’re both government propaganda mills, but they’re reliably on opposite sides of any issue you care to name. If you like news aggregator blogs, Zero Hedge and Naked Capitalism are another good pairing. I also like to follow specialty news sites such as, and English or French language news sites in countries well away from the industrial core — it’s worth taking the time to read the news from a Kenyan or Uruguayan or Uzbekistani perspective now and then, to get a sense of what the world looks like from outside our bubble.

    M, my guess is that this will turn out to be a brilliant move. Well played, sir, well played!

    Johnny, insulated blinds, shades, or drapes are all good options. Any kind of window leaks heat like nobody’s business — a standard double-blind window has an R value around 2, where even an uninsulated wall has an R value between 3 and 4, so if you put any kind of insulation in place over your windows at night, you can save a lot of heat. Back in the day, Rodale had a great book on the subject titled Movable Insulation — if you can find a copy it might be a good choice.

    Jenxyz, um, once again, you’re massively oversimplifying matters. Is greed involved? Sure, but there are also the hard limits of a finite planet — and getting back within those will require the middle class people you’ve mentioned to give up their preferred lifestyles forever. I’d encourage you to try to talk them into it, and see what kind of reaction you get.

    Viduraawakened, yes, I’ve been watching that closely. If India and Russia link up their interbank payment systems, as is currently being discussed, the era of dollar dominance is over — because a lot of other countries will have every incentive to join in, and give SWIFT the middle finger.

    Forecasting, yes, I’d heard that about Ukraine energy resources; it also goes a long way to explain NATO’s Drang nach Osten, of course. As for Le Pen, hmm! I had no idea it had gotten that close. One more idiocy on Macron’s part and Europe is going to be an interesting place…

    JustMe, thanks for this.

    Brenainn, did you know that treadle sewing machines are still being made? Lehman’s carries one popular model. Treadle machines are great, and not just because they don’t depend on electricity; your control of the movements of the needle is far more precise, since you power it with your own feet.

    Justin, yeeeee-HAAAW! Your point about the Golden Arches Delusion (as we may as well call it) is worth developing: if you let McDonalds into your country, you have fewer wars and more tyranny. An interesting tradeoff…

    Anonymous, good. The difficulty there is that waste reduction is very strictly subject to the law of diminishing returns, so once you get through the easy stuff, you’re up against a three-way trilemma — you can cut waste further only by decreasing resilience, efficiency, or both; or you can increase one of the others by decreasing one or both of the other two.

    Jon, I’d be startled to see those subsidies last long once the dollar loses its reserve status. Stay tuned for cattle!

    European, that’s a valid point. I hope people in Europe are aware of this, and prepared to take evasive action.

    Yorkshire, thanks for this! I can see plenty of opportunities to apply those words…

    Dormouse, many thanks for this. I’m glad to hear you took your life back! May your example inspire others to do the same.

  131. Before I finish reading the rest of the comments, I want to comment on Brenainn Griffudd’s comment about sewing. I’m 77 years old and have always sewn, but it’s really getting rarer for people to learn that. And also mending, which it sounds like you’re doing. Mending is amazing! I get much more satisfaction from fixing up something old that’s ripped, than I do making a totally new thing. And there’s some really cool books on mending you can get in the library.

    I’ve had a really good time during part of this pandemic because an older friend of mine was
    clearing out her house and gave me boxes of old flannel. I ended up making about 20 little quilts for small children that were given away this Xmas. It was so much fun, and I learned so much. So many creative things that we can do get co-opted into just one more way that large corporations can profit. Keep sewing! Keep mending.

  132. Alice #129 Ive been using LLewellyn’s Moon Sign book for years. It has plant advice for every day. They have a lot of such books. They do have a website, and ship anywhere.

  133. A question to JMG and everybody else:

    Further above, you mentioned reading stories from/about people who survived e.g. hyperinflation and similar situations, and got through it ok, in order to learn from those stories.

    Do you (or anybody else here) have any recommendations?


  134. Hi John Michael,

    Certainly there was no graffiti on the lost hour six months ago. Hey, it is entirely possible that you might have failed to notice the ingenious use of bubble gum to hold the wonky thing together? 😉

    Mate, if you don’t have enough slack, it’s hard to be creative. The culture of constant busyness has always troubled me. And sometimes like a hungry vortex it sucks in people like my good self. I tell you what’s interesting about extricating yourself from the vortex: Few people are enthusiastic for that outcome, and some outright hate you for having that as an option.

    Had some of my best ideas in the mode of slack. Then there were other times when I thought creativity would flourish – Did the five day Great South West Walk many years ago, carrying everything on my back (the pack was up around 50 pounds). My mind was mostly blank during the walk as I took in the scenery and in the moment. You wouldn’t imagine that such a walk would be relaxing, but it was. Just not a creative experience. Dunno.



  135. The “slack” is where all the pockets, wrinkles, folds and meanders of reality are. I’d say a lot of us here are aware of them, while most people will deny they exist at all. It’s like the time a few of us were discussing ghosts, and one person said “Well I don’t believer in ghosts” using an “end of discussion” tone. I said to him, nicely. “Thats ok Kenny, they dont believe in you, either”. The shutdowns have allowed so many to get some slack back, and they won’t give it up.

  136. @Johny – Eight years ago I made roman style shades using Warm Window fabric. The material towards the window is water resistant, there is mylar layer, and then a quilt layer. I sewed a fabric to the room side to match the room color. It’s done quite well keeping the cold out in winter and hot direct sun in summer.

  137. Hi John,

    Interesting, any German led invasion of the oil and gas rich Middle East and/or Africa will be challenging to say the least.

    And, of course, climate and resource pressures will push those regions to move into Europe at some point in the future.

    Doesn’t look like a pretty picture geopolitically and ripe for clashes across region within a decade or so.

    The Russians seem to be in the best place, geographically insulated and energy rich to watch Europe implode.

    Regarding the French elections, agree, this is a sleeper one that I’ve been monitoring closely but everyone else wrote her off. She has been performing well for months, has softened her positions and campaigned hard on cost of living issues that are now the number 1 issue for French voters.

    Interestingly, 50% of voters would consider voting for her so she is, just, getting to the point where she could win the election.

    My hunch is if Putin shuts down the gas exports to Europe shortly, that will drive prices even higher and might be enough to drive a few wavering voters into Le Pen’s arms by the 24th April

    A Le Pen win will cause shockwaves across Europe. And will probably derail the anti-Russia sanctions drive.

    It will be Brexit and Trump repeated. Get the popcorn out!

  138. Jon, that works. Bring in the other terms suggested above, and we’ve got the Pillar of Slack, the Pillar of Hustle, and the Pillar of Groove…

    Patricia M, thanks for this.

    Alice, that’s certainly one way to do it. I like to suggest that as will training: pick an entree at random among the ones that are acceptable, and stick with it. One of the things you’ll discover is that making a choice is more important than which choice you make.

    Sardaukar, that’s the wave of the future. As computer technology becomes increasingly fragile, costly, and vulnerable, replacing it with more resilient, older methods where that can be done effectively is a good way to preserve the technology for those things where it can’t be so easily replaced.

    Kerry, fascinating. I like to irritate believers in progress by pointing out that medieval peasants had more days off, and kept a larger share of the product of their labor, than employees do today.

    Clarke, Chogyam Trungpa by any chance?

    Kerry, hmm. I’ll have to think about that, but it’s not immediately implausible.

    Wer, many thanks for the data points. The gas from “somewhere else” is indeed right up there with the Abrams tanks — there isn’t enough extra capacity anywhere else in the world to provide Europe with gas if Russia shuts off the flow. I hope you’re prepared for very intermittent power!

    Martin, excellent! He did indeed.

    Parched, I dimly recall one of those. It’s among the Bee’s best characteristics that it can laugh at itself.

    Kevin, stay away from search terms; the library’s your best bet. Read up on how people survived the hyperinflation in 1920s Germany, or the hyperinflation after the Revolutionary War — the phrase “not worth a Continental” comes from the overprinting of money to finance the Revolution. While you’re at it, books on how people got through the Great Depression are worth your while.

    Milkyway, well, if I recall correctly, you live in a country that had a classic example of hyperinflation in the 1920s — there are doubtless books chronicling people’s experiences with that…

    Chris, of course they resent you. People who don’t have the courage to follow their dreams always resent those who do.

    Marlena, funny. I use a variant of that on people who insist they can do malefic magic without consequences; I tell them, “You don’t have to believe in karma. Karma believes in you.” It makes them very uncomfortable!

    Forecasting, oh, I don’t think it’ll succeed, but I think the major European powers may very well make one last desperate attempt to plunder other continents for their resources, before they go down. As for Le Pen, no argument there. L’heure pop-corn!

    Jim, almost a mantra.

    Valiant, “Praise Bob from whom all slackness flows…”

  139. I knew a solid, orange cat named Bob. He was an excellent Slacker.

    Re. Sewing – because the modern day commercial sewing machines are made with the same quality as all other commercial products, consider training in sewing machine repair, if that sort of work aligns with you.

  140. @ Wer

    It’s probably to Poland’s benefit the Abrams tanks never got sent, given the likelihood of serious energy shortages in the EU in the near future. Those things are fuel hogs!

    There were reports of American tank battalions grinding to a halt towards the end of the ground campaign during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 because their Abrams tanks ran out of fuel and there wasn’t a way to get the fuel trucks forward in time due to the nature of the terrain. The HEMTT 10 ton truck (which is what the US Army mainly uses to transport fuel in the field) has pretty good off-road performance, but soft sand is hard to drive on, even for tracked vehicles. Attempts to replace the AGT-1500 gas turbine, which has really bad fuel economy, with more efficient and modern engines such as the LV-100 gas turbine or the MTU-883 diesel, have failed thanks to short-sighted budget cuts and malign neglect by the Pentagon and Congress.

    Poland is much better off with its current mix of modernized Leopard 2 and T-72 tanks. If the Franco-German program to develop a next generation MBT with a 130mm gun ever gets off the ground, that would probably be the way to go for the future, assuming Poland still has decent relations with both of those countries.

  141. Continuing my slack analysis (comment #53) (@Anonymous #121):

    “Latent slack” or “potential slack” can be further divided into “waste” and “excess”.

    “Waste” can be converted into slack (or eliminated to offset reductions in total available slack/resources) with no adverse impacts.

    “Excess” can be converted into slack without compromising anyone’s ability to live a fulfilling life, but requires a (voluntary or involuntary) change in lifestyle choices.

    And yes, we will quickly run out of waste and need to start into cutting excess as total available slack declines.

    Total available resources = Survival + Comfort + Excess + Waste + Operational slack. Allocate wisely…

    @Tim #94

    To me as a scientist/engineer efficiency *is* a dimensionless quantity, energy out divided by energy in, lowercase Greek eta. It can be expressed with units for convenience (e.g. miles per gallon), but ultimately this is still a measure of the amount of energy required to move a vehicle X miles (at a particular speed) divided by the amount of energy consumed in terms of gallons of gasoline.

    The word “efficiency” is used often to describe different concepts. An output per non-energy physical input is a *yield* (e.g. bushels per acre). An output per unit of time input is a *productivity*. An output per dollar spent is a unit cost, or something like that.

    Re: blown in insulation.

    I’ve considered doing it many times but have not done it yet because I think it would be a good idea to replace the original wiring in the walls first. Blowing in insulation will make running new wiring impossible, and running new wiring hasn’t been a leading priority yet.

  142. @Dormouse #125: OK. 20 years on the job, kids grown up and moved out. No dependents; nobody to answer to but yourself. Scary? As if you weren’t sure you had a right to do what you wanted at this point in your life? I know. Moving away from it all, changing regions, leaving everything you knew behind, is a huge jump, and I totally understand that! But, differ from the norm? Hardly! You’d be surprised how many people do exactly that at that point in their lives; Florida is full of them. Congratulations, and treat yourself to a Jimmy Buffett album and the libation of your choice, and imagine your former workmates thinking “Dormouse, that lucky beast!”

    My last day on the job, I cried out “Free at last, oh, gods, free at last!” The downsizing came later, but what a relief to have dumped all that Stuff to take care of. And – congratulations on being out of the rat-race.

  143. Hi John,

    I ransacked my memory, and I ran across the book back in 2011 at Rhino Records in Claremont, CA. FWIW : )

  144. JMG et al.,
    I can concur with European Reader’s assessment.
    Europe is a tiered system where the west is a colony of US and the east is a colony of west (mostly Germany).

    I would have thought that everybody remembers the history but there is a certain kind of dreamlike amnesia state in the educated classes, where people dissociate the 2 world wars where Germany destroyed Eastern Europe from the present state where Germany represents civilization and culture and most of all riches.
    Of course people a hundred years ago felt the exact same way about Germany and for a good reason. I talked to old granmas in the countryside that contrasted the behavior of the Nazi soldiers (polite, buying the food they needed) with the soviet soldiers (undisciplined, prone to bad behavior especially toward women and stealing everything).
    That does not change the fact that polite, civilized Germany tried to conquer the world and thought genocide is a great idea. Like you mentioned, this will happen again if given a chance.

    The poorer people in the cities and the countryside are much more wary of any “short war” with “weak Russia” but I don’t know if they will do anything about it. Part of the culture of Eastern Europe is a political passivity that maybe helped survival in the past but might be self-destructive now.

  145. Autobiographies of depressions: I liked Helen Forrester’s books about living through the Great Depression in Liverpool. Her parents were truly feckless, suddenly catapaulted into bankruptcy in the worst possible circumstances. Her family scrambled through it, in a large city, no ability to have any kind of garden, parents pretty useless at anything practical. Lots of lessons and little important details.

    To some extent, there is an aspect of ‘outrunning the bear’: you don’t need to be the MOST prepared and MOST skilled to survive. Just having a handful of practical skills, emotional resilience, a social network and some small stores of food and useful stuff will help you and your network to surf the chaos. Think flows and maintaining flows (of necessities, information etc) rather than building and guarding ‘stocks’. Diverse networks will be more resilient to flow disruptions and people who act as reliable nodes connecting networks will do best.

    Window insulation: stick dampened bubble wrap to window glass, then old fluffy blankets cut up and sewn together with silver foil, jammed into the window frame with a dowel rod top and bottom. Ordinary floor length curtains drawn in front and pool noodles or old stockings stuffed with newspapers, fabric offcuts or yarn balls jammed behind the curtain rods as a makeshift pelmet. It is somewhat inconvenient to have to remove it all each day to let light in, admittedly.

  146. Archdruid,

    A bit of creativity and a bit of magical practice should help with discovering what slack I can cut for myself. I have a niche in mind, but I’ll need to determine how viable it actually is…

    By the way, are you watching the goings on in New Delhi these last couple of weeks? Last week it was the Israelis and the Chinese, this week it’s US, UK, Mexico, Netherlands, and Russia. Something quite dramatic is brewing in South Block.

    If India and Russia tie up their interbank payment systems, I wonder how amicable the Russians would be to allowing Europe to tie back into the ruble through India?



  147. Harvard religious studies scholar J. Christian Greer has presented a paper “The Only Law We Live by is F*** ‘um if They Can’t Take a Joke: Material Culture Among the SubGenii” at the Conference on Lived Religion hosted by the Nederlands Genootschap voor Godsdienstwetenschap (NGG) at the University of Leiden, Oct.24-25, 2013. It concerns a 1989 incident in which a SubGenius mailed a firecracker-based IED to a former member, anarchist writer Bob Black, who had criticized the church in a book review:

    See Black’s original review here (p. 55):

    (No, none of this is a joke.)

  148. Climbing the corporate ladder has always been a ruthless affair, and nowadays there are more competitors and vying for fewer slots. Anyone whose goal is to be VP or Director or a C-suite position or whatever, will need to take out all the slack and pretty much dedicate their entire life to pursuing it. I’ve decided a long time ago, back in my first job, that I am not playing that game.

    The irony is I actually quit the big corporate world 7 years ago, but I found a way back in via my employer getting acquired by a multinational megacorp. It’s not actually impossible to find fulfilling, meaningful work in corporate. It’s difficult, but actively pursuing a climb along the managerial ranks is not the way to find it for most people. Doing that means it’s unlikely you get to find your niche, since you keep changing jobs so often. So folks like myself who luck into a milieu within a corporation where they are happy tend to want to preserve it as much as possible.

    One of my best employees, quite literally the happiest person I’ve met by a long shot, is extremely talented and loves his current job very much. He told me flat out that he’s so happy where he’s at, such that if we promote him, he’d quit!

    I’m glad I am not somewhere like Korea, Japan or Singapore, where there is still a strong cultural expectation and social pressure to go up the ranks in a prestigious large company. It’s no wonder a lot of young folks there are flat-out disengaged.

  149. JMG, Re the great resignation:

    I think that to appreciate how nuts the corporate life is, you have to live in it and then quit or retire. It’s like a cult, all-encompassing, and you don’t fully realize the insanity until you’re out.

    And it’s like swimming, you can read about it, watch it being done, but you really don’t know what it is until you’re in the water.

    Only after being immersed in the big business world for years with its many and varied frenzies and crises and attendant anxieties do your reflexes and responses and mindset fully adapt. Either that or you get spat out. What you learn and experience changes you physically and mentally. I saw myself transform within a few years from a raw university recruit, fresh and pink cheeked, into someone with a scowling visage, fully focused, jaw set, mouth turned down and pressed into a thin, grim line. I didn’t recognize myself.

    I had thought that university changed me and tested me and hardened me, but it was nothing, a four-year holiday compared to the intensity and regimen of the office. That degree was just the ticket to get in.

    For years after I retired my mind raced on at night while I slept, my dreams mostly revolving around deadlines and decisions that had to be made. Do or die.

    One company that employed me for years went belly up, first into creditor protection and then bankruptcy and then liquidation. Not a trace remains. All that work for naught, a pay cheque, nothing more.

    One day about 20 years ago, at another firm, in the midst of a beastly corporate merger, my boss and I were utterly exhausted and looking at an enormous collection of files and binders set on shelves and in cabinets in a storage room, all full of paper that we’d laboured mightily over. And I told him in my usual politic way that all this was for nothing, absolutely for nothing, that it would all end up in landfill.

    And it was true. After I retired, the company, a behemoth in its own right, was eaten by one even bigger. And all that stuff that we’d done didn’t amount to a hill of beans, not to anyone.

    I made a good living out of it so in that sense it was worthwhile. And most people would say that I had a long and challenging career. And it was so. And all that stuff had to get done. But it isn’t free because you need people like yours truly and we all cost a lot of money. How really necessary was it all?

    So do I grok this great resignation? You bet, particularly as working conditions worsen year by year. The trick is to still make money and make ends meet, a tough thing, especially with dependents.

  150. Kevin, about hyperinflation:
    There are a lot of more recent and better documented examples. Eastern Europe, Russia, Argentina etc.
    Here is my quick experience with it:
    – If you are a saver (like me) you have to quickly change your mindset. I remember one year when someone won a bank lottery for a car. Instead of getting the car they got the money. By the end of the year those money were enough for a TV.
    – Luckily the culture normalized the presence of farm animals in the city. A lot of the apartment dwellers had a leanto behind the building where they kept chickens and even pigs. Idk when that will happen in US but it’s worth remembering that eggs are a great source of protein that chickens produce from your chicken scraps and weeds growing on the side of the road.
    – Gold (bought from Turkey) or dollars were a good bet at the time. This time it might be something else, just keep an eye out.
    – Most importantly, you need a mentality that laughs at adversity. I am not talking about bravery or carelessness, just a deep understanding of human condition. Sayings like “you don’t take anything with you when you die” or “what we had and what we lost are the same” helped people keep going.

  151. JMG,

    I think some can keep reality at bay by seamlessly moving from one delusion to another (often a pleasant future state) and even when it doesn’t work out there is an apocalyptic delusion for them to slip right into.

    And things kinda of work or don’t for them based on luck.

    Is the luck factor what so many refer to as “exceptionalism” or “merit”?

  152. Greg, well, if I can borrow a time machine, I’ll keep that in mind!

    NomadicBeer, thanks for this. Interesting…

    Varun, yes, I have! It looks as though everyone realizes that India casts the deciding vote this time around. I don’t imagine Modi et al. are displeased by that. 😉

    Bei, thanks for these.

    Carlos, interesting. I’ve done my level best to avoid any kind of corporate involvement, since I have zero talent at office politics, so all this is new to me.

    Roger, the interesting thing is that everyone I know who’s genuinely thriving has left the corporate scene and is working solo. It’s not even the best way to a paycheck these days.

    GlassHammer, that makes a great deal of sense. It’s “merit” according to those that luck out, and blind chance to the rest of us.

  153. @ Milkyway: Benjamin Roth published “The Great Depression: A Diary”, which was a record of his experiences as a small-town banker in 1934 – 36. A fascinating look at the internal workings of the American banking system as it seized up, and how people dealt with it.

  154. What are some other examples of work or handicraft you think will need to be made or distributed along the steeper parts of decline? The sewing and garment work example was gold, although I’m trying to brainstorm something else I could do from home. I always love reading about cottage industries done out of the house involving whole families. Which of your books would best jog my brain toward coming up with some of my own examples?

  155. @Kerry Nitz

    “Thinking about souls and slack, I note that the idea has been broached that the increase in human population may have resulted in humans getting souls that weren’t as evolved as in the past. Or perhaps they have less slack on the other side for coming to terms with their past lives. ”

    Explanation for the NPC meme?

  156. I am terribly sorry,

    I was quoting from memory and the old grey matter let me down. I erroneously attributed a quote to H.T. Odum that properly belongs to Garrett Hardin. In ecology “you can never change (just) one thing” belongs to Hardin, of The Tragedy of the Commons fame.

    Odum did some fine work and his Fundamentals of Ecology sits on my shelf, but he didn’t coin that gem.


  157. Brenainn, the machine JMG linked to is the Janome 712T. It’s the only treadle machine being made AFAIK; it’s Japanese and was developed for the Amish market. From all that I’ve heard, it is an excellent machine. Having said that, I’ve read multiple accounts that it offers a lot of resistance to the treadle drive, so it’s pretty strenuous to operate, which may or may not be an issue for you.

    You may want to consider an antique/classic treadle machine. They do straight stitch only, but since 98% of sewing is straight stitch, you’ll want a good straight-stitcher, and many serious sewists rely on a dedicated machine for this. You can get a zig-zagger attachment. There’s a case to be made for starting off with a straight-stitch machine, then adding a multi-stitch machine.

    The most readily available Singer treadle machines are: Singer 66, 99, 15, 27, 28, 127 or 128. And even many that are motorized can easily be converted to treadle by removing the motor drive belt, swapping out the balance wheel for one that a treadle would use, and you’re good to go (if you want a reverse stitch, it’ll have to be a 66 made after 1941). For a conversion, make sure the treadle belt would either pass behind the bed, or there are slots in the bed to pass the belt. If you get real lucky and find a Singer 201, grab it if you can afford it; the treadle model is 201-1 or 201K1. They’re rare. (Note the motorized ones with gear-drive, the 201-2’s, can’t be converted, and I’m not sure about the belt drive ones.) They’re widely esteemed as the best straight-stitch machine ever made for home use. I got one for my wife 15 years ago, and she loves it. It’s easy to treadle, smooth and purrs like butter.

    White (the company) also made excellent treadle machines that aren’t hard to find.

    1940s-50s Singer machines were never made in treadle AFAIK, but like the 66, some permit conversion as they have a motor that drives a belt (as opposed to a gear-train), with slots in the bed that can pass a treadle belt. Several of the multi-stitch machines that I’m pretty sure allow this are the Singer 237 and 238, but clearly you (or your repairman) have to inspect them first.

    BTW, serious sewists really prefer the older metal machines. They run smooth, are stable- as in they don’t jump at higher speeds. They are durable, reliable, rugged, easy to maintain, and are easy repair jobs compared to the modern stuff for the sewing machine repairman.

    —Lunar Apprentice

  158. As part of my practice of improving my resilience (which I’d argue is a first cousin of slackness), I’ve been expanding my capability to cook and heat should utilities become too costly or unavailable for whatever reason. I have several Coleman stoves that burn Coleman fuel (hexane) or gasoline, or propane, but I don’t want to use the single-use bottles that hold a pound of propane as they are expensive, wasteful, and make you dependent on the sporting goods retailer. So I got a pair of refillable one-lb bottles, then a 20-lb tank of propane, with accessories, namely an adapter to fill bottle-from-tank, and a means of weighing the bottle; as weighing is how you ascertain that you’ve filled the correct amount of propane.

    The only scale (“Fuel Gage”) that the sporting goods store offered was electronic: it embodies an electronic sensor, micro-controller with LED display, and a mercury battery; all that technology just to weigh a bottle that is 1.5 pounds empty, 2.5 pounds full, and 3.5 pounds if maximally over-filled. I didn’t want to depend on such technology just to weigh a bottle. So I went to to the office store to get a 5 pound postage scale. But they were all electronic too. So I went to a big-box store to get a 10 lb kitchen scale, and while most of the scales were electronic, there was one small segment of the shelves near the floor that had mechanical scales half off for $7.50, so I grabbed one. Next I went to a thrift store, and bingo, I found a used mechanical 5-lb postal scale for $4. Now I’m freed from that $15 high tech gizmo. Those mechanical scales proved 99% accurate.

    BTW, I figure propane/hexane will be available as long as gasoline is available, as they are all products of the same refining process. I understand there is not heavy commercial/industrial demand for propane (unlike diesel), so it should should remain available to us consumers at some level even as shortages bite.

    I’ve also obtained several small wood-burning stoves. These include several 1-lb rocket stoves that are basically marketed to backpackers, which are very high efficiency, allowing one to cook a meal with a few handfuls of twigs and small branches. I don’t see why one couldn’t use them in the kitchen as long as you use then on a fire-proof surface under a kitchen hood with the exhaust fan on. I also obtained a “tent stove”, allows both cooking and small space heating; it is rather more substantial (30 pounds), and is basically a 16 X 9 X 9 inch horizontal steel box on legs, with a door, a grate for ashes to fall through, an adjustable intake vent, an adjustable flu/exhaust vent with piping, and a removable circular cover on top, which enables one to place cookware directly over the fire. While it’s marketed for use in tents, trailers, and tiny homes, I see no reason why I can’t use it in my basement apartment, which has a chimney with an unused 6 inch port that I can connect the exhaust pipe to. This stove is a high quality one, made of #304 stainless steel (in China), and tempered glass. I’ve also obtained/ordered small steel ovens that may be placed on a fire or Coleman stove, or are heated by the exhaust from the tent stove. A Dutch oven may also be used as an oven as long as the food is not in direct contact with the oven itself.

    —Lunar Apprentice

  159. Hi John,

    Zeihan latest is pretty dark stuff.

    Ukraine will become a food importer(!) as a consequence of the war, the impact will be a disaster for global supplies of fertiliser and the net result will be mass famine in the developing world.

    Whenever I mention these risks to people they seem to stare blankly at me. Nobody is registering the potential fallout of the war and our decision to impose crippling sanctions on Russia.

    I feel like we are sleeping walking to disaster.

  160. Don’t get me started JMG. My $5,000 lawyer is a step away from handing me the Quiet Title prize, making me the recipient of 100% ownership on a small house left for dead after 2008. Formerly my rental property, I now live here – going on 27 months; no electricity, hot water. Paid $15,000 in back taxes and weed liens to bring it current. Like something out of The Big Short, the banks all walked away and I have to clean up the mess, including the failed roof. The house was perfectly livable ten years ago.
    Thank you for all you do, much respect from a long time ADR student. Now I need to head out for a 5am shift.

  161. My pineal gland is telling me that slack helps balance the excess podge in the interfaces between bodies and thus preventing a hodge deficiency that usually manifests as Tourette-like fizzy delusional blabber.

    As we pass Bottom Slack (I think that was around when the cubicle was invented) it makes enormous sense as to why our industrial world is so grey. Slack per capita is inversely proportional to energy output!

    *waves arms in the air as if caressing a giantess*

  162. Synchronicity at the Gainesville Community Playhouse! since re-arming Germany, wokeness, and the cancel culture have all been hot issues in RL and on this blog, and laughter is the best cure for over-earnest pomposity –

    One of our local amateur theaters gives us Mel Brooks’ “The Producers.” Replete with send-ups of just about everything listed here, including “singing Hitlers, and “a chorus line of blue-haired, lascivious ladies strutting their stuff on walkers.” Just reading the review was like a pin in a balloon filled with toxic hot air.

  163. Your contrast of resiliency and efficiency reminds me of when I said that fascism and communism are opposites. I thought this would be met with applause since my audience generally loves communism and hates fascism, but it was not. People had to dive into an “Communism is more complicated than that!” argument, and clearly nobody read Kurt Vonnegut. Somehow, communism was supposed to create a lemonade-ocean world where there was plenty of slack to “do art” but a fascist/imperialist/capitalist world only created slack for the elites. There would be no slack for people who had not earned it, which I think is rubbish because in a fascist system the work is earned and the slack is the default unless there’s a war on. Besides, nobody likes communist art and that’s just a simple fact.

    Let me present to you an illusory slack-generator in the form of a nationalized electronic currency (NEC). This looks a bit like a cryptocurrency. It has no physical form. It’s probably on a blockchain. Transactions are fast and frictionless and value is based on real numbers rather than estimates. However it is owned and controlled by a nation-state and so is the opposite of a cryptocurrency.
    Crypto was created so that taxes need not be paid and the government could not simply say, “I deny you all access!” It was created so that the person spending the money could not be seen, other than that they did pay.

    The nationalized digital currency is the wet dream of totalitarian governments, and I daresay Nancy Pelosi likes it too, as long as nobody mentions China.

    It creates the illusion of slack because it is easy to use. No more calculating taxes because taxes are collected automatically. No more seizing the assets of criminals since this happens automatically as well. It’s a bit like being a gal in an earlier era and having no control over one’s bank account at all. But it would take care of that pesky problem of inflation, since the government could calculate how much money needs to be in circulation according to how many people actually need to have money. (Too bad the government is bad at math, such as when it tries to calculate how many people “want to work” and how many people are still alive to vote and receive social security.)

    The really funny part of it is that people think crypto and NECs are the same, then hear that NECs are controlled by the government and think that makes them okay. After all, a government can make the value of an anarchic cryptocurrency zero by declaration but it’s not likely to do that with an NEC. It can just seize NEC accounts or freeze them, which is what people think is happening with sanctions on Russian oligarchs.

  164. A great book on slack is David Fleming’s Surviving the Future. Lots of break downs and deep, detailed explanations.

  165. Thanks for the info, JMG and Darkest Yorkshire!

    We’ll look into both.

    And JMG, not sure if you saw this, but Canada is apparently committed to buying 88(!!) F-35s.


  166. JMG – I was not aware of that. Many thanks for letting me know! I’ll look into this Lehman model and probably order one ASAP. I want to get everything I need to set up a modest little shop. I’m not sure how bad the current economic crisis will get, or other factors that might impact my ability to get the equipment that I will need. My numerology forecast for this year indicates that now is the perfect time for me to start a successful, practical business like this. I really can’t thank you enough for your work and your generosity in interacting with the commentariat.

  167. Based on the economic murmurings of the last ten years, it seems possible to me that Biden decided America was going to lose its economic stranglehold in less than 20 years anyway, and just decided to use up the meat before it expires.

  168. JMG,
    In regards to the economic/political mix and fallout we can expect. Yup. I blogged about this as well recently, “Though American leaders now promise no direct involvement of American troops, we are but a provocation or two and step away from international peace-keepers gathering on the border and announced to be sent into Kiev. After that the Russians may decide to wait until the international forces are in Kiev, and hit the city Nagasaki and Hiroshima style. Kiev becomes Chernobyl-West. The flames of war in this instant may not reach these heights, but the road of conflict ahead are clear cut. Russia-China-Iran form a counter axis of economic integration and international transactions. The weaponization of economic integration, what Thomas Friedman calls ‘World War Wired’ ensures that global economic integration, the dream of neo-liberal economics as new world order, is dead. A slow smolder of electronified parallel networks of travel, trade and war await. All of this may be recorded as madness. ”

    As a foreign policy analyst was recently quoted in the NYT, “President Biden is now a wartime commander in chief waging four wars at once. An economic war, an information war, likely a cyber war, and an unprecedented indirect military war against Putin.”

    Most recently Biden was in Poland visiting NATO troops, demanding regime change in Russia. He has started 4 wars with Russia. And me I am wondering how we got so far from the intent of our Constitution for a declaration of war to keep monarchs from impoverishing the nation by getting entangled in foreign adventures.

    any thoughts on that aspect, or Biden’s continued escalations of this conflict?

  169. Hi JMG,

    Always love reading your blog even if the content can be very disconcerting. Anyway it may be a stupid question to ask but what’s your best guess as to how long we’ve got before the crap starts to hit the fan financially?

    How do you think hyperinflation/debt default in the USA will effect the Pound here in the UK where i live?

    After reading The Long Descent I’ve had an allotment up and running for a few years but i still have various domestic projects to complete etc.



  170. @Brenainn Fwiw there are Bernina sewing machines that run off of DC current like from battery. The Amish and Old Order Mennonites use them. We have a mid-range Bernina, not very fancy but just up enough in levels that it is made in Switzerland and not China, bought in 2008. My kids learned to sew on it which meant putting things in the machine that should not go through a sewing machine (cardboard with glue and fabric for instance). And it still runs great and doesn’t drop any stitches. My daughters both sew extensively, mostly following historical pattern methods. Have a machine that does button holes is nice and essential if you want to do them. Otherwise you’ll try to avoid them, just like in the pre-Industrial age.

  171. Re: practical skills for an era of decline

    It occurs to me that those skills which will be most needed are precisely those skills which are most devalued in our global industrial economy: sewing, small-scale farming, paper making, etc.

    This also means that it is impossible to make a living at present with these skills *unless* you sell at above-market prices to an elite audience for whom cost is not a deciding factor.

    That’s OK from a business perspective, but from a social perspective it means that most of your business interactions will be with professors and real estate agents and not with truck drivers and retail stockers. That tends to situate the craft revival within the “blue bubble” echo chamber of thought with its distorted view of reality and contempt for the “red bubble” who are largely participants in the industrial scale economy.

    I’m not sure how to get around this but it is something to keep in mind.

  172. Thanks for the informations,
    Well I don’t understand why so many people stay tunned to the mainstream, even when the have been shown to lie and misrepresent the data. A lot of people don’t understand is the long cycle of civilisations.
    Every nation has it’s day but eventually it will happen, The United States is in my opinion very close to this point in history EU is too. On the media is chaos and madness a fraction of Russian troops broke of the siege of Kiev to encircle the Donbass and finish off the Ukrainian Army there (Ukraine is running out of everything at this point, someone proposed to send 30 year old Soviet era equipment there 85 APC and thing that this will destroy the Russians there, the same people claimed Russia will collapse yesterday) a fraction of Russians leaving one place is being claimed as a “ultimate victory”. It is so stupid it is beyond belief. On the resource front the goverment is now concerned that ” Russian Agents” Marie Le Pen will take over France, some people are laughing at this. I remember a story about Atlantis where at the end of their civilisation the Atlanteans started behaving like maniacs and anyone who said something that made sense was attacked and threathened, it seems more and more like this situation is playing out in UE, there will be a reckoning only when.
    I was perplexed about the “Potemkin Nation” post. Are many Americans really like that nowadays?
    Because anti-goverment sentiment in the US seems powerfull but disssolving the nation entirely?
    Commenters from America what is the situation there? What are your thoughts on the matter?
    Cheers Wer

  173. Yes, JMG, Chogyam Trungpa. Master of upsetting apple-carts wherever he found them. Not sure if he always had a didactic purpose in doing that, either. He just did it with evident enjoyment. I think it’s the enjoyment that really got people’s goats. I have access to several unpublished biographies and it seems that even before he threw over being a monk, he was upsetting expectations. Don’t envy him his “childhood.” Phew. Such hard work. But plenty of slack time, I’m pretty sure, given the preindustrial life in Tibet of the time. Donkey and horse rides over vast swaths of terrain (often at the pace of a leisurely hike) for many days at a time being a significant feature of life in those times.

  174. Hi John, do you have any recommendations of books for understanding the global economic regime of the past 50 or so years? I am thinking, in particular, some thing that could help me understand fiat currency, central banking, and US dollar hegemony. I am by no means economically illiterate, but I am also not very economically learned. I do understand most of what is necessary to analyze a business or real estate investment, but have little macro economic grounding.

    The goal is to arrive at a working understanding of the system that would let me understand the implications of events like the recent set of sanctions.

  175. @ NomadicBeer re #169

    Here in northern New Hampshire in the small town I live in, chickens are showing up here and there. A few streets over from me are two family homes with chickens, one pen right out in the open with about four or five hens and one rooster. The current rooster replaced an earlier one who crowed loud enough to be heard over the entire neighborhood (including my house). There must have been complaints as he was replaced with the newer rooster who sounds like a parrot imitating a rooster. He’s also smaller than the hens so he may not be long for this world if the ladies get annoyed with him.

    Local town ordinances don’t address the issue of farm animals intown (as least as far as I could tell) which may be a legacy of the rural nature of the area. In fact, there’s a farm on the outskirts of town which offers CSA and supplies eggs & meat to our local co-op store. Other areas having zoning rules which prevent livestock being kept within town or city limits but if a food crisis emerges, some arm twisting should be able to change that.

  176. @ Brenainn #38 et seq:
    There many sources online for information on older sewing machines. Most people who sew swear by the older machines, and swear at the new machines. In our house, we have a ’60s Kenmore, an ’80s Singer, and 2 Brother machines from the teens (one is a serger) The Brother machines need far more maintenance, especially the serger. One interesting Utube blog on sewing is the Jason of all trades. He shows many of his projects, and reviews older and newer machines.

  177. @Wer,

    Just fyi, in case you were still in doubt, I can confirm that the general madness is strong here in Germany. And you’re right, amazingly, even a lot of people who don‘t trust the government very much still listen to the media.

    It‘s interesting to read your take, though – I spent ten days in Poland last summer, and got the impression that people there were a lot more „normal“. Maybe that was just a case of the grass on the other side being greener… 😉

    @Kfish and @TamHob:

    Thanks for your reading suggestions, will check them out!


    Yep, I suppose there should be some German literature about inflation and the like. 😉 I was just wondering if people here had any particular recommendations which are worth reading in that regard. I‘ve found so many great books through people‘s recommendations here… 🙂


  178. “When I saw the Oscars slap it really upset me even though I’m trying to walk the path of an initiate.

    Part of it was the grand display of total moral failure of everyone involved, but also I was ashamed that I still care about what happens in that make believe land of narcissists, psychopaths, and child predators that used to pay my bills.”

    Yeah. Metoo.

    Fortunately we have brave satirists willing to take moral stances others seemingly cannot (sing it with me now “one of these things is not like the other, other of these this things just doesn’t belong…”)

    “Razzie organisers said they reached their decision after “much thought and consideration”.

    “If someone’s medical condition is a factor in their decision making and/or their performance, we acknowledge that it is not appropriate to give them a Razzie,” they said.”

  179. Funny how raucous Slack! is a distant descendant of classical schole and otium, when free-born men thought it beneath their dignity to take orders and receive a salary from another private man. Jane Austen’s novels show Slack! at its height – a gentlewoman can decide to spend a few months with relatives just to recover from an emotional exertion, where of course neither the gentlewoman in question nor her relatives will move one little finger to maintain the household! The other supreme literary example of slack I can think of is Genji Monogatari, though its hero does have to suffer through endless court rituals – possibly the equivalent of contemporaneous planning meetings.

  180. @Bob re: useful skills

    I like to think of the Rule of 3 when determining what’s genuinely useful:

    Humans can survive 3 minutes without air to breathe, 3 hours without proper body temperature regulation (shelter, clothing, heating/cooling), 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food.

    What skills can you learn, what can you learn to make, that will provide people with better air quality, shelter, clothing, ways to heat or cool themselves, or access to clean water and food?

    Hope this helps you get started brainstorming!

  181. My solution for the Ukraine crisis is for the European nations to tell Ukraine to accept Putin’s terms, and everyone goes back to the status quo ante.

    America won’t like this. It is to America’s benefit to have European nations squabbling among themselves. Europe should tell America to take a hike and worry about China.

    NATO could then become the North East Atlantic Treaty Organization — NEATO. It has a nice ring about it, n’est-ce pas?

  182. @Milkyway
    Thanks for reading, well what can i say.
    Due to our history Rusophobia and Germanophobia had always been strong in my nation.
    Can’t deny that and many people (not all) went crazy like flipping the switch. On february 25 there were fuel lines forming at every gas station in Poland and shouting matches began. The goverment placed fine to thoose who taken more than 50 liters of fuel per one visit. There was a guy who was puring explosive kerosene to a (what the plant watering thing called-konewka)
    Some people in the east of the country apperently even attacked Russian tourist there.
    I don’t know where you were staying in my coutry i live in Wielkopolska and where I live the crazyness is not that high but people are very uncertain of the future. The behaviour of some local rich people didn’t help matters
    why that rich guy is holding up the firewood (greed, panic etc.) the general consensu is that something is very wrong and bad times are here. For example in Poland fuel is still cheap (by german wages standards)
    But for ordinary folks like me? (In 2020 I could afford to buy 576 liters of fuel, with my entire salary of course now it’s just 320 liters so you get the idea)
    As to behaviour of our elite’s hahaha (A Polish joke “Only the fish don’t take in this country” as in a bribe)
    The schemes the goverment did to “rearm the nation” have been many like The Abrams tanks which were never delivered, F 16 that took a week to fly across the Atlantic (which had rusted fueselages).
    recently the doubling of the army (some of the first candidates were overweight and failed the entry process)
    And the begging for “Uncle Joe” to finally man up and come fight thoose “RuSSians” over and over again.
    Some folks are just scratching their heads…. A few generals are more level headed and expressed scepticsm of the goverment and EU when it comes to national security and behaviour (future coup???)

  183. Bob, the book you want isn’t one of mine. Go down to your local public library and find a book about life in the nation you live in before the industrial revolution really sank its teeth in — in the US, that’s any time before the Civil War. Pay attention to what people needed and wanted, and what they did for a living. If you can’t come up with half a dozen options you can pursue right now, make sure you still have a pulse. 😉 Oh, and there’s always my guaranteed surefire survival trick: learn to brew good beer. If the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse come to your door and you can offer them each a cold one, you’ve got four friends.

    Tim, the funny thing is that I suspect both of them would have been tickled pink by the mistake, since they were talking about the same things in the same terms.

    Apprentice, excellent! Those are all good steps.

    Forecasting, I think he’s laying it on a little thick but he’s basically not wrong. We’re going to have some serious food shortages globally over the next couple of years, and that’ll cause unrest in quite a few countries. Whether it will amount to mass starvation or not is a question I don’t think is settled yet, but that’s a possibility.

    Shiela, congrats on this! I know it must have been a rough road, but you’ll have the house.

    Augusto, I think that makes you a heretic in terms of both traditions. Congratulations; that’s a high honor.

    Patricia M, funny. That’s definitely a play worth reviving…

    Pesci, funny. Fascism is Communism’s kid brother — look at how many important fascists, from Mussolini on down, got their start as Marxists. In Germany after the Nazi takeover, they used to call them “beefsteak Nazis” — brown on the outside, red on the inside.

    JD, Fleming is always worth reading.

    Johnny, hey, they’ve got to hand over tribute to their masters somehow!

    Brennain, delighted to hear it. Keep the list posted!

    Nicholas, if by “Biden” you mean the circle of political hacks that use him as their sock puppet, I won’t argue. Biden himself? I doubt he’s had a coherent thought since 2009 or so.

    Jastin, “Biden” — meaning the clique that does his thinking for him — seems to share the great weakness of the entire American ruling elite; it’s never occurred to them that they could lose. The age of American global hegemony is over, but they can’t let themselves even begin to think that, so they’re trying to exert power they no longer have, and marginalizing themselves in the process. Russia and India — the latter being the fifth largest economy in the world, and far and away the fastest rising of the big economies — have just concluded an agreement to sidestep SWIFT and the US dollar and handle all trade in rubles and rupees; other countries are signing similar deals; the end of the dollar’s reserve status is in sight, and the US is on its way back to being just one nation among many — but the current US elite can’t imagine that, and so they’re behaving as though their power is secure forever. I don’t envy them.

    George, that’s impossible to say. Here in the US inflation is already going at quite a clip, so to some extent it’s already here — but when the disruption will pick up, and how soon that’ll impact Britain, is anyone’s guess. That said, I wouldn’t delay too much on finishing those projects.

    Mark, that’s an excellent point. I’m not sure how best to deal with it, but there ought to be several options.

    Wer, yes, many Americans are like that these days, and for good reason. Our government makes yours look competent.

    Clarke, fair enough. Tibetan Buddhism never interested me so I haven’t read any of his writings, but of course I heard plenty about him.

    Jake, I wish I had a good list! E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful and my book The Wealth of Nature explain a fair amount in the process of suggesting alternatives, but most of what I know I’ve picked up here and there over forty years or so of reading.. Anyone else?

    Yorkshire, funny. Yes, that works!

    Milkyway, I don’t happen to know of any, but doubtless my other readers will come up with something.

    Aldarion, I have to admit that the idea of the Genji Monogatari rewritten as the bio of a modern midlevel executive is one of the funniest things I’ve heard all week. Thank you.

    Martin, I wish!

  184. Joel Salatin says for chores “No more than four hours. So we try to keep it at three, maybe two hours in the morning and one hour in the afternoon for chores. And the reason is because you need time between chores to make progress. Whether it’s to read, to plan, to construct, to build new, to repair, to maintain.”
    He also says right now keep a pantry and learn to cook from it.
    The chores quote is from (scroll down and hit the transcript button) and I remember the pantry quote from his talk at the Front Royal Homesteaders fair.

  185. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah, that makes sense. My slack genuinely was under attack. Does anyone sell those images you showed as posters?

    You may have missed this: ‘Historic’ trade agreement with India will allow Australia to reduce economic dependence on China, says government. Interestingly, neither side gets all that they want, so that probably indicates that a balance was reached.

    Rats (who can swim very well from what I’ve observed over the years) are abandoning the sinking ship. Sorry mate, but from this distance you guys look like the Titanic and you’ve hit that ol’ iceberg and are taking in water. On the other hand, at this stage, you’re still afloat. 🙂

    We’re taking in water too. The fertiliser and diesel woes (which we’re both very short of) are going to hit agriculture hard down here. At the start of all this I bought a truck load of compost and another of mulch. Haven’t yet got around to getting the other fertilisers, but due to the high margins on that stuff, the home market looks well supplied – at this stage. I’m keeping an eye on that issue though, but a lot of it is sourced from down under. That stuff is really only economic because I have to pay top dollar for the stuff. Farmers can’t really afford to do so. Dunno.

    I’m getting on today with the project of expanding my greenhouse by a factor of four (a very handy building – I recommend them).



  186. Jake #193: Books explaining the global economic regime: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. does a good job explaining how the system works to impoverish the subject countries and enrich the few. Available here.

  187. JMG,
    “they’re behaving as though their power is secure forever. I don’t envy them.”
    Agreed. I don’t envy us either.

    Yup. I saw that on the economic network alternative to SWIFT. We will live with the consequences of their blow out. One thought – The world will be tranched into economic-political networks of access. The west – the United States and EU, the nations highlighted in this post. In a slow death spiral of remaining wealth and fossil fuel dependence. The ‘east’ Russia-Iran-Pakistan-Opec. China and India serving as nexuses with functioning access to both networks.

  188. OT but related to last week – I finally managed to get in touch with the pastor, and it sounds like there was some misunderstanding on the part of the person I spoke to with regard to the fire at the church. He said that it was caused by a homeless person trying to burn something in a flowerpot and managing to scorch the building and remove some paint. He doesn’t know why the poop was there this week, though. So we probably don’t have anyone actively trying to burn down the church, which is a relief. Even if they could have managed it by accident.

    I suggested we mention what happened in church, with thanks for the building still being standing so that there isn’t any further confusion and rumors.

  189. @ Bob:

    Two big categories of jobs are ‘repair’ and ‘maintenance’ jobs. If a thing is necessary for daily life, there used to be a person skilled at keeping it running.

    Tool sharpening – scissors, knives, saws, chisels, other wood tools need regular sharpening.
    Small motor repair – pumps, generators, every machine has a small motor in it that will seize up or break down. You can start with learning which parts to oil and clean, move up to replacing parts and if you’re really into it, machine lathing your own replacement parts.
    Appliance salvage and repair. There are books and Youtube videos all over about how to fix your X appliance.
    Furniture repair and restoration. Pick up broken things for free, fix ’em and sell ’em.

    A lot of these trades will have to wait until people are willing to fix a thing rather than throw it out and replace it.

    @JMG: The lockdowns and work from home period introduced a huge amount of Slack into middle class life, hence the screaming now that our betters are trying to take it away again. Our household gained 2 hours / day from eliminating one person’s commute. Funnily, a corporation that isn’t constrained by the need to rent a giant office building suddenly has more Slack itself with its employees working from home.

  190. I guess we have too much slack in our oil supply, huh?

    I don’t know how big the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is, but it must be huge if we can release a million barrels a day for six months (180,000,000 barrels) just because people are whining about high prices. I’m hearing this may drop gasoline prices by as much as 10 cents per gallon!

    I guess I’m too young to remember the reasons why the SPR was created, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t so politicians could score political points in an election year.

    Anyone know how large the SPR really is? How much slack are we losing?

  191. @ Mark L RE: timing of next ventures…

    For many ‘niche’ things, the government has its foot firmly planted in your way…

    My daughter took up weaving, got good at it and then bought a room-sized loom. She was making and selling “baby wraps” to carry infants around. When her business got to the point of making decent money, she was turned into the feds by a larger competitor. Now she can make her wares still, but every time she changes the dye or material, she has to send it away to the USDA for “stress certification”, which takes 90-180 days.

    Note this also explains why there are limited options for cloth domestically, as imported wares do not have to provide these same certs.

    So rather than making the baby totes, she went for insulated custom curtains.This was even worse, as she had to get the material tested for fire resistance, which takes the feds nearly a year to do.

    So, she provides the “how-to” for making babywraps and sells her cloth by the yard.

    I envision this as a problem for most anything one makes that involves humans due to the overbearing weight of “safety” foist on us by our government. Try making gym equipment or most anything that involves a human utilizing your product – you run into the same “safety” nightmare.

    Food is even more difficult, as your local health folks proscribe 5-7 different sinks all required for food prep, tile floors, continuous counter surfaces, minimum hot water temps and water heater sizes, cold storage, etc. Now add in the FDA regs and even the method for prep is dictated – which is why you can no longer by true salted pork except at your local renaissance or similar fair – they get a waiver from the feds.

    These things are going to be lost in our race to 1890, but for now we are stuck with them. There are lots of people who could and would, but at this juncture they cannot. The government cannot go broke fast enough for me – they only get in our way most of the time trying to appease irate minority factions or pleasing their donors. Very little comes out of congress these days that isn’t virtue signaling – which is fine because we have more than enough laws on the books. Bankruptcy may be the only way to get the rats to leave the ship, TBH…

  192. Clarke aka Gwydion (no. 192), I’m afraid that Trungpa is the reason I avoided association with any Kagyu (and especially Karma Kagyu) groups for decades. I finally encountered Garchen Rinpoche (Drikung Kagyu), who emphasizes bodhicitta–roughly speaking, love and compassion–rather than any “crazy wisdom” shenanigans. I’m sure that Garchen Rinpoche would speak highly of Trungpa, though, just as he does Sogyal Rinpoche and other controversial lamas.

    When I finally become an enlightened being, I promise not to be like the other crazy wisdom practitioners. Instead, I plan to defy conventional expectations by speaking rationally and behaving ethically and politely. That’ll confuse everybody!

    Seriously, though, what we have here is an issue of authority (and authoritarianism). Tibetan Buddhism comes with powerful ideological assumptions to the effect that certain people identified by the tradition are enlightened beings whose teachings are true, and whose suggestions ought to be obeyed (at least, by those who have accepted them as their spiritual teacher). The suggestion that they are just ordinary people like you or me, and their opinions derived from their cultural setting or personal idiosyncracies, rather than direct perception into the true nature of reality, would call into question the whole structure of lamaism, since their opinions would then be no better or worse than yours or mine, and the whole notion of identifying reincarnations would be thrown into doubt.

    In retrospect, I suspect that I belong to the last generation to find Tibetan Buddhism attractive. Younger people are less likely to entertain romantic fantasies about Tibet or its lamas, or to find Tibetan Buddhism appealing as an alternative to Judaism / Christianity / the Chinese folk religion (to name the three religions converts are most likely to come from). Anyway, interest in such things rises and falls over the decades, like fads–I understand that we’re now seeing the decline of neo-paganism, for example. Export forms of Tibetan Buddhism had their heyday between the 1960s (the US counterculture) and the 1990s (end of the New Age). When the Dalai Lama dies and the exile community disintegrates, and Western practitioners die off, it’s hard to imagine the remnants having anything like their former vitality. And that’s not even considering the effects of global economic collapse! Meanwhile, China is not getting any less repressive, and young Tibetans everywhere tend to be more interested in jobs and emigration. There’s been a revival in Mongolia, though.

  193. Mr. Greer, you’ve totally cracked my upness..

    Just when I’ve pegged you as a total square (spectrum accepted ‘;] ) .. with all the acute 90° hirsute-lined inner edges to get hung against .. you suddenly – and without warning, throw out some major, slickery, SLACK!

    So yeah, I see that I can stand back in complete acquiescence to the crazy-of-the-moment .. and just .. CHILL ..

    I’ll sub ANY day .. for the so-called bogus geniuses that are running things into the ditch – on my own terms, of course!

    polecat piping out.

  194. Jon, two pieces of excellent advice.

    Chris, you’d have to check with the Church of the SubGenius — their current site is here. No, I didn’t miss the India-Australia trade agreement; I’ve been watching the growing rapprochement between India, Australia, and Japan for a while now, as it’s clearly one of the emerging power blocs in the post-American world — and a major factor turning China’s attention westward toward Russia as it looks for allies. That compost and mulch sounds like a very good plan just now…

    Justin, bingo. Remember that until Europe rose to temporary world domination, the center of gravity of civilization was a band of great empires reaching from China in the east to Ottoman Turkey in the west. India was the richest country on earth in 1600 — it was one of the poorest by 1900, but that’s because the British stripped it to the bare walls, and European powers did the same thing to all the civilizations of the old Asian core. Now the wealth pump has stopped running and the world is recentering toward Asia again; expect Europe to decline toward its former status as a bleak, mountainous subcontinent inhabited by bellicose tribes with few of the graces of civilization.

    Pygmycory, okay, that’s good to hear.

    Slink, it’s got a little under 600 million barrels in it at present, and so Biden’s draining about a third of it to prop up his party’s fading chances in the midterms. To be fair, it’s not the first time that sort of gimmickry has been done.

    Polecat, messing with people’s expectations is just one of the services I offer!

  195. I had a friend send me to this author:

    Lots of essays about the coming WEF/Globalist stuff, and this latest about global, centrally controlled digital currency had me thinking of how slack has absolutely zero place in the WEF universe, outside of their bubble existence.

    Unbeknownst to the WEF crowd, resource depletion is really a thing – pick your resource and simply map it forward – from water to oil to uranium. The folks all involved in the WEF are simply believers in their own rectitude, regardless of facts on the ground.

    I am thinking that outside of the EU, North America and other 1st world places, the internet still remains something that not everyone has. I got Musknet at my farm last week, but the geostorm kicked it out and we have yet to get it back up. We did get 4G though, with the installation of a new tower 10 miles away, so there is that. But how long can the internet exist in current breadth and form as energy become centerpiece in peoples lives? And the WEF wet dream relies 100% on everyone having internet.

    If they (whoever controls the global central bank system) decide to deny a purchase – there will be no online recourse. Looking at the glorious backfire that are the current Russia sanctions, what I imagine happening should the WEF global blockchain madness actually get into play is simple: the largest black market the world has ever seen will simply sprout up all across the globe.

    I have no idea how that system will work, but this whole global currency thing under central control is doomed to fail if for no other reason than human nature. Longer term, the expense of it all cannot be borne with declining energy and associated REAL income. Imagine the computing power it takes to handle blockchain, and the resources it uses expanded globally. Imagine if they decide tobacco is no longer for sale – anyone recall a little experiment in the USA called Prohibition? Butterfly effect is a thing…

    I think the entire globalist WEF thing is a ham handed attempt to steal any remaining slack they can get their elite arms around. And it isn’t going to work out the way their “models” say it will. If they do roll it out, I see silver and copper instantly stepping in as real peoples money on the burgeoning black market. The globalist elites still do not grok that people are simply ceasing to play their game and are unlikely to ever understand due to lack of any reference points within their elite bubble.

    Bob wins in the end… slack on!!

  196. About SPR oil slack…

    and the reason for this?

    Hydrogen sulfide is not only a deadly gas, but it is extremely corrosive to steel. So while the salt domes are a good storage spot, the wells and piping and surfce tanks have shortened lifespans, and they are 1970’s vintage facilities.

    It requires special alloys (inconel) to maintain service (valves, pumps, etc.) when running hydrogen sulfide contaminated oil over long term. And 300ppm is toxic to breath…

    FYI :

  197. JMG, re your reply that people you know are thriving after quitting the corporate world.

    I’ve seen people get turfed in downsizings, and one heart attack and one divorce later they’ve gone from flush to down and out. And I thought to myself, but for a toss of the cosmic dice, there go I.

    But what you’ve seen is encouraging because that shows adaptability and that’s a trait that people will need. It’s cause for optimism.

    It’s no secret except maybe to the intelligentsia running things that what we have are economic arrangements that are unworkable. You don’t need a degree in economics to know this, in fact, I think it’s better if you don’t. You just need to see what’s plainly visible. And so there’s going to have to be a transition to viable ways of doing things.

    I saw your reply to Carlos and I hope you don’t mind my two cents. On the one hand the corporate world isn’t for everyone. Sometimes it’s just plain unendurable. But you don’t necessarily need to be politically adept because lord knows I’m not. The essence of business is getting things done and so what matters most is delivering the work on time and on budget and in good shape. Just make sure you get what you can from the company. Personal fulfilment blah blah but you have expenses. The business is there to make a profit but unless you’ve taken a vow of poverty you need a cut of the loot. In the end it’s about money.

  198. @JMG

    > expect Europe to decline toward its former status as a bleak, mountainous subcontinent inhabited by bellicose tribes with few of the graces of civilization.

    How much do you expect to be lost, ultimately? I’ve been working on the assumption that we’d be back to something like an early 20th century level of tech in my remaining lifetime (optimistically 25 years). Perhaps to the 15th century within a few hundred years but not much further. The Tudor period in the UK had a set of customs and techniques that seemed to keep a substantial portion of an admittedly much smaller population fairly comfortably. There was enough of a surplus for various public works and they lived more or less within their natural solar energy budget I think.

    Granted, being poor or inept at such a time would be no fun but there was a certain amount of social mobility. Given luck and a following wind, it might have been possible to escape such a background if the individual understood that it was an option and chose to pursue it.

    The absence graces of other civilisations might annoy the local petty kings, but the life of the Emperor of China wouldn’t bother most of them.

    Are you thinking something more like the dark ages as an end point? More Stars Reach than Retrotopia?

  199. “Expect Europe to decline toward its former status as a bleak, mountainous subcontinent inhabited by bellicose tribes with few of the graces of civilization.”

    It would have be interesting to think about Europe and European Colonization without all that Coal and Oil in the first place. Wonder how history would have been different.

  200. The king of the jungle is a master slacker. He will snooze under a thorn tree while his lady friends hunt down the next meal, rousing himself only to amble over and chomp on the choicest morsels before returning to his tree for a post-prandial nap.

    Driving through Etosha Pan game reserve I saw three lion sleeping on the sandy bank of a waterhole. They were sprawled in utterly relaxed abandon in the midday sun. I stopped to take a photo. While watching them I noticed an ear flick here and a tail swish there, and eventually identified another four lion blending into the surrounding bush and grass. Later, on examining the photo closely, I spotted another two lion I hadn’t noticed at the time. Their camouflage was so perfect I can only conclude that they were designed by Nature to slack off undisturbed in the dry grass of the savannah.

  201. @ Copper #133 – what is “FEE” and do you have any links to an article about “unlearning”?

  202. Dear JMG:

    This is fantastic. So much to digest here. I know another has noted this, but combining Slack and Will would be a great tool. How to get more slack, don’t waste your slack, etc. However i am depressed at the waste of my misspent youth. Never heard of Discordia, never heard of the Church of the SubGenius, Oh The Horror!

    Also, Malcolm Kyeyune has linked to this article in his Twitter feed!

    And finally, this may be a bit off topic, but an article on ZeroHedge stated the California Reparations Panel is divided on which blacks would get reparations. All blacks, descendants of slaves?

    Just when you think we can’t get any stranger!


  203. Hi John Michael,

    It’s interesting isn’t it? I expect that we’ll be stuck between the US and India and their competing views on recent events and try to do both. It is not as if that didn’t used to happen with the US and China. Hey, I noticed that the Ukrainians are hitting us up for a supply of the locally produced Bushmaster vehicle. Hope they can pay for them? How weird is that we no longer build passenger vehicles down here, but we produce trains and military vehicles?

    I noticed the release of the strategic reserve. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. The release drives down the price, buys a bit of time, but reduces the incentive for increasing extraction. Sometimes everywhere you look, your slack is under attack.



  204. So the testament written on the console of our student radio station was divinely inspired: “I’d work at Waffle House, but I gave up my job for Bob!

  205. >The government cannot go broke fast enough for me – they only get in our way most of the time trying to appease irate minority factions or pleasing their donors.

    And every time someone calls for “deregulation”, somehow all the MegaGovCorps get the rules relaxed for themselves but everyone else gets even more rules. Or they somehow manage to just plain screw it up and relax all the wrong rules which then incentivizes everyone to become bad actors.

    Yeah, once you get above a certain size of business, you need to have political connections, someone you can call to make things go away. How does that bumper sticker go? “You don’t hear anyone saying ‘this is a free country’ much anymore”

  206. You write Germany doubled its military budget and you expect a huge German army. I’d like to offer an alternative explanation. Germany’s military budget is mostly payments to US suppliers. Currently the US is in a position to ban imports of Russia’s natural resources. That would inflict massive economic damage on Germany. Germany’s increased military budget might be an incentive to prevent these bans. The US demand for more defense spending is nothing new, but now it’s backed up by a credible threat: a US ban on Russian imports.

    One piece of good news is that Russia decided last week to follow the regular conscription process. The spring draft will consist of 135,000 men and last year’s conscripts will be released. This suggests they’re not gearing up for World War 3.

  207. Jake #193: I’ll second Peter van Erp’s recommendation (#206) of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (by John Perkins) and I’ll add one more to that list. Regarding US Dollar hegemony, I would recommend Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of the American Empire (by Michael Hudson). That book was first published in 1972 but he published an updated and expanded edition last year.

    If you find his work helpful, he’s a prolific author and speaker … he’s written other books on related topics, he publishes articles on various websites as well as his own, and you can also find some of his presentations on YouTube.

  208. But Progress HAS to be true, John Michael! And we’re willing to destroy history and do it all over again to prove it… /s

    Bless you for this essay,

  209. JMG, it would seem that war making capability and military adventurism is a “nation level” measurement of slack. This process of “start a war” to distract from economic troubles seems to be in direct conflict with the capability to make war. You’ve described numerous times how the U.S. should retreat from the world stage from a military perspective as the American Empire declines, allowing those resources to be used more wisely and back home. From a historical perspective, are there examples of empires falling so fast from resource depletion and economic contraction that war(s) were abandoned or never started?

    RE – future skills, intermediation . I would predict a transition skill would be for repair work involving electronics. I recently spilled an ounce or so of water on top of my A/V receiver, and created a little smoke and crackle. Now increasing the volume causes distortion, and a repair shop is going to charge big bucks ($150 or more) to identify and replace the $3 transistor or capacitor that’s been blown….(sigh). Being able to test voltages and find and replace burned out components on a circuit board should be quite useful – and would be pretty handy for me right now. As for Oilman’s comment about the government getting in the way – yes, that’s a problem. As the Long Descent continues, I expect unapproved, un-inspected and hair-brained “home improvements” to become common – that is unless the local inspectors get enough clout to mandate inspections on private property…..

  210. Dear JMG -at last we agree and your article was simply brilliant on its own merits. My addition is that Russia, now largely free of imported Western ideology, will lead the overthrow of Western hegemony. The free nations of the world know this and may be collectively holding their breath as Russia take on the Empire of Lies (Putin’s description of the West).

  211. “The elephant in the room that nobody’s talking about is that the only way for Europe to preserve anything like its current standard of living is to invade the Middle East, Africa, or both.”

    Hmmm, Was that not what we already tried to do a couple of hundred years ago? Perhaps this is the century of deja vu… ;

  212. Oilman2, I expect the internet to break down over most of rural North America in the years immediately ahead. Did you notice that Ida Auken’s “I own nothing and am perfectly happy” fantasy makes room for people who’ve dropped out of the system and don’t play the WEF’s game? I think they may realize already that they can’t make the Not-so-great Reset work for everyone even in the industrial world, so the goal now is a two-tier society in which the bubble residents live in the kind of corporate-Stalinist hellscape Auken seems to fancy, while a lot of other people live entirely outside it. (Come to think of it, I read a lot of science fiction with that theme back in the day, before the One True Interstellar Future became such a monopoly…)

    Roger, it’s absolutely crucial to leave the corporate mindset behind when you leave your corporate job. One of the toxic gimmicks corporate culture uses to keep their disposable “human resources” mooing obediently on their way to the slaughterhouse is to convince said resources to let their identity be held hostage to their status in the corporation. Recognize that this is a lie, that the boss is the enemy and all the drivel about teamwork et al. is window dressing covering ruthless exploitation and contempt, and the exit door becomes the route to freedom.

    Andy, I expect Europe to descend into a dark age, complete with mass migrations from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa which will erase the historic nations and cultures of Europe and replace them with new nations and cultures. You might want to pick up a good book on what happened to Britain in the wake of the collapse of Rome; that’s a pretty good model for what I expect Europe to go through. Tudor Britain was born after a long age of rebuilding under the Plantagenet kings — it was part of the rising arc, and the falling arc will have a very different shape. Sorry, but that’s how I see it.

    (Did you by any chance read the historical novels of Rosemary Sutcliff when you were young? If you have access to them, you might want to reread The Lantern Bearers, Sword at Sunset, and Dawn Wind, in that order. Sutcliff was exquisitely careful in her historical research and she caught the flavor of the post-Roman collapse in Britain brilliantly.)

    Info, look at the history of Southeast Asia. It would have been comparable.

    Martin, a snoozing lion would make a nice emblem for the Masters of Slack!

    Cugel, fortunately, You Can Always Go Back, to SLACK!!! 😉 As for the reparations business, I think they ought to hold a competition for the Most Oppressed Individual in California. Let all the competing guilt trippers go all out, televise the whole thing, and let the watchers vote. The winner will be given a milion dollars and a gold watch, which must be given back under penalty of law if xe whines about being oppressed ever again.

    Forecasting, thanks for this! I’ll read it when time permits.

    Chris, oh, doubtless the Ukrainians will get someone else to pay for them, or promise to pay for them. Hang on tight, it’s a wild ride to the bottom!

    Brother K, indeed it was.

    Turtle, the thing to watch is whether Germany starts conscription or otherwise increases its troop levels. If that happens, the rearmament is for real.

    Grover, fortunately, the lunatics in that particular asylum no longer have as much control as they think.

    Viduraawakened, I’m pretty sure that what’s going on is a fine bit of arbitrage — Indian firms are buying Russian wheat at a discount for domestic consumption, and selling Indian wheat on the international market at a premium price. I bet they rake in money by the crore.

    Drhooves, there’s always a lag time between when a country loses the ability to fight a war and when its elites realize that it’s lost the ability to fight a war. That’s why so many failing empires get into wars they can’t win, and go down in flames. That’s what I see happening here. Your suggestion about electronics repair is a good one.

    Observer, that’s certainly one way to look at it. I’ll be discussing this in much more detail in later posts.

    Scotlyn, of course! Ever seen an aging guy try to recapitulate the feats of his youth, and crumple over with an injury?

    Jon, funny.

  213. Jake at #193
    Johnathan Levy in “The Ages of American Capitalism” does a nice job of laying out what has happened to capital and money up to 2020. It is an interesting read and provides great background for your inquiry.

  214. If you think good cannot mean doubleplus ungood, you don’t understand doublethink 🙂 I re-read 1984 recently, and for me, one of the best parts of the novel was the extracts of Goldstein’s “Theory and practice of Oligarchical Collectivism”. Orwell gave a pretty coherent and plausible account of history, before applying this history to his imaginary dystopia. The middle using the low by using radical arguments to displace the high seems pretty much correct to me.

    As far as slack goes, it seems to me that economic growth erodes slack. To keep growing we have to work harder and faster. Horrible treadmill. I need a break far more than I need more stuff right now.

  215. Hi JMG and fellow commentators,
    I didn’t live through the 1960’s and 1970’s and so I missed the heights of the Space Race. How exactly did the ‘man across the stars!’ future become so dominant in genre fiction? Even Gene Rodenberry cheekily admitted that Star Trek was just a way to talk about 1960’s social and political issues in a science fiction framework to get around network TV censors. Yet after the 1970’s or so it seems like all of science fiction took Star Trek at face value and everything had to conform to the ‘one true space future’.
    The discussion of slack got me thinking about this (praise Bob) because the space future seems like the most slackless arrangement possible. Even the air you breathe has no slack. The margins for staying alive are incredibly thin. Yet it became so dominant in science fiction circles, and so quickly, while all the more colorful stuff fell away or was actively pushed out by the ‘skeptic’ crowd. Was it a reaction to the Moon landings not bringing the space future about, so the faithful had to double down in their fiction?

  216. @ JMG RE: own nothing?

    I did notice that, and it made me think that the very definition of ‘nothing’ is markedly different for the elites and the ROW. Nothing is renting everything from the PMC, and people are already leaving that scene in droves. What exactly is ‘nothing’ to a billionaire anyway?

    Housing is the single biggest expense most of us plebes incur, specifically mortgages. These mortgages are being bought up by corporations en masse lately as a potential source of income in the declining future. I might ask your readers to pay attention to the thousands of RV parks situated near metropolitan areas – you don’t have a car, and are unlikely to see the RV parks springing up across the country. Over the last 5 years, there have appeared no less than 65 of these just in the area around north Houston suburbs. Now corporations are trying to buy those out as well through proxy companies.

    Landowners (like me) are likely to put in a few units just to offset the coming increase in property taxes as things progress – and unlikely to sell. I have 2 neighbors whose adult kids have moved back to the ‘old home place’ and put in water, power and septic to utilize RVs as their homes – because as long as the RV is registered as a vehicle, it cannot be levied for property taxes.

    I think the Amish pioneered what you describe here for the 2nd tier, and they get on quite nicely. We get on well without the niceties of suburban living, the only real difference is we make trips to the city to get long term things like nails, screws, welding wire, etc. that people don’t utilize in the suburbs for the most part. Yes – medical care is tougher, but then again, the state of medicine in the US is beyond abysmal.

    And as you often relate, feudalism was not a bad thing in its original form. We are taxed more for far less currently, and you cannot see your local “Lord” unless you make a fat contribution. Instead, you can send an email which goes to File 13 and is answered with the same form letter extolling all the wonderful things your local ‘Lord’ has done for those who pay him extra (baksheesh, LOL).

    I wonder what telecom will morph into in the coming years, since we have (mostly) ripped out the old copper wiring? With the proliferation of smartphones, this is the main vein in that last leg of the internet. I guess when streaming services begin to become unusable and Blockbuster video makes a reappearance, that might be interesting…

  217. The thing with militarism in Germany from the 17th to the mid 20th centuries was that a career in the military had high status. Right now my understanding is that a career in the military is relatively low status in Germany (you only need to look at the numbers who opted for the non-military option in their year of compulsory service). A renewed militarism in Germany will be more dependent on the transformation of that social status than how much money they throw at it. Comparatively speaking I would say that Great Britain has the stronger military culture and is better positioned in that respect. The French armaments industry will be looking very much to make a killing off any German rearmament and will do its best to shut the US MIC out of the action – how successful they will be at that remains to be seen.

  218. JMG – thank you for talking about ‘slack’. Certainly another theme for meditation!

    I have realized that freedom is an element of slack. Yesterday evening, as my husband and I were leaving to go to a restaurant for dinner (my birthday), a friend dropped by. Because I had assumed (based on previous episodes) that my husband had invited our friend to join us for dinner, I felt resentful. When I understood that our friend had not been extended an invitation I welcomed the friend to join us. My resentment had been replaced by a welcoming attitude because of ‘slack’. Slack in this case meant a easiness of mind.

    For years, another friend has been in and out of therapy for mental health issues. This friend had been told by a previous therapist to stop having ‘certain repetitive thoughts’. This approach was harmful as it resulted in the friend not seeking help during a bad spell and resulted in a hospital stay. Fortunately, the most recent therapist said that ‘certain repetitive thoughts’ were okay, who also gave coping strategies. As a result, this friend successfully dealt with the most recent bad spell and sought help when needed. All because of ‘slack’ and not having to try to over-control thoughts.

  219. Hi John Michael,

    Mate, I am hangin’ on! Far out, it’s crazy out there. Is it just me or are you picking up a really weird vibe in the broader community? When reading about the Great Depression – and John Kenneth Galbraith’s book captured the sense – but I noticed that as a background, the events of 1929 sounded as if they were manic. And I use that word in its most literal meaning.

    I know you don’t do films, but the cultural themes of film releases might be of interest to you. Had you noticed that the Top Gun sequel is due to be released next month? I was a young bloke when the original film was released, and at the time I heard a weird story originating from your country that recruiting stations had been set up outside theatres. Hmm.



  220. Jeff P. – I followed the link to the Subgenius schwag site, and noted that one category of merchandise from Bulldata Time Control Laboratories includes “stickers, pins, condoms, gizmos”. I’m not in the market for any of those things, but nothing good can come from the juxtaposition of “pins and condoms”. 😉

  221. Oilman2 (#217) There’s something screwy about the H2S figures quoted in the Popular Mechanics article. It says “testing revealed H2S numbers running up to 600 parts per million (ppm), according to the Dutch-British company’s emails to the department. OSHA says that levels that high could reduce a a grown adult to staggering and collapse within 5 minutes.”

    I have to assume that if the sour oil has 600 ppm hydrogen sulfide, then the rest is, umm.,… OIL. The OSHA limit, I have to assume, is for H2S in otherwise clean AIR. And that if you try to breathe oil, you’ve got bigger problems than a little H2S mixed in with it!

    Maybe there’s some gas-exchange equilibrium between H2S in oil and in air, but I’d be surprised if it was at equal concentration. More likely, I think, is some journalist just looking at numbers without bothering about the context.

  222. Martin Beck – #221 How do male lions earn their day of slack? It took the development of night-vision video cameras to reveal that they spend the dark hours fighting off the hyenas, and the occasional challenging male lion. The do earn it.

  223. Slack and resource use: here in Australia, there are old gold mines that left behind heaps of rubble, that had insufficient ore to be worth extracting at the time. (Usable ore was about 10 grams / ton, and the rubble had about 2 grams / ton.) In the current age of better technology and lower-yield ores, miners are now turning to the old rubble heaps and extracting the ore from them.

    The Slack of the previous era has become the resource of the current one. No Slack left for the next round.

  224. Hi Oilman2,

    If the WEF folks were serious, they’d be backing fossil fuel powered electrical generators. The last I checked some company down here wants to shut down a 3000MW coal plant which I believe is the largest on the continent. Sure it’s good for the environment to do so, but the good folks of the nation, let alone the WEF folks, might not like the outcome. The delusional braying from that lot relies on an electrical grid which is up in the high 99% range. There is no way at all that renewable energy technology can provide that sort of reliability at current usage rates.

    And I’m a huge fan of renewable energy systems and have been using a solar off grid system since 2009. The technology is good, it just isn’t good enough. Like the hydrogen sulphide problem you mentioned, every single component in an off grid system has limits which have to be respected. And entropy eats everything so you have to be super gentle with the system. You can’t just keep adding to it without eventually encountering problems. Like batteries: they can only take in so much charge at once. Definitely not like a fuel tank, but more like a balloon.

    Yesterday due to the horrific storms ripping down the east coast of the continent, the farm was socked in, in thick fog and I recorded 20 minutes of sunlight for the entire day. That means a 100W solar panel produced only 33Wh for the entire day. Good luck with that on an industrial scale. But here’s the joke about it all and it’s related to the previous paragraph: At low voltages on sunny days, you’re dealing with the sort of currents that arc welders produce so you can’t necessarily just keep on adding on more solar panels. Get it wrong and….



  225. John Zybourne (no. 239), Star Trek didn’t originate this theme–Buck Rogers goes back to 1928.(*) After the moon landings, I remember how the (reusable) space shuttle was supposed to revolutionize space travel and make it more commonplace (which I suppose it did, though not to Buck Rogers levels).

    (*) Noting that the original pulp novella was not about space travel, but more of a Yellow Peril themed apocalyptic future which Buck wakes up in after 500 years of suspended animation. The comic strip, and later the radio show, was where all the space stuff came from, and launched a big space craze among boys of the era. “Flash Gordon,” a sword-and-spaceship adventure strip with a premise borrowed from “When Worlds Collide,” came a few years later, and was by far the superior strip.

  226. PS. “How exactly did the ‘man across the stars!’ future become so dominant in genre fiction?” It was prominent in science fiction since the 1930s, but this was pretty niche. Star Trek attracted attention for its prominent fandom (moreso after the original series ended), while Star Wars (basically similar to Flash Gordon) helped transform the film industry, making it more “blockbuster” oriented. So what was once nerdy is now mainstream.

  227. Oilman2 (#211) – The regulatory burden might be a little easier to bear if you and your daughter look at it this way: once she HAS the safety approvals she needs, potential competitors will face the same hurdle. By meeting the safety regulations, she can be assured (…ideally…) that her prices for a safe product will not be undercut by a cheaper but unsafe product. Regulation prevents a “race to the bottom”. This is not to say that regulatory rent-seeking isn’t a factor, but it’s not the only factor.

  228. JMG, what you say is true and the key is knowing what the corporation is, namely, a legal artificiality, but one that keeps ownership of assets and liability for debts within that legal structure and away from the shareholders of the company.

    If any garden-variety shareholder truly believes that company money is shareholder money, like the talking heads on business shows insist it is, he should try to scoop some from company bank accounts. Local law enforcement will have something to say about it as will the taxman, not to mention creditors.

    As far as the corporate mindset goes, that is a cultural thing, a set of learned behaviours, a set of rules, formal and informal, that participants internalize, something based in networks of people.

    And with the passage of time the formerly wet-behind-the-ears employee figures out that what is of value to himself, besides his paycheque, isn’t the corporation but rather the people he gets to know while employed and who get to know the employee.

    But, as you say, to that collection of people working in the corporation, the individual is also utterly disposable. When you cease being of use, you are gone. And how many people are there that can’t be replaced or turfed? This notion isn’t something unique to the modern corporate world because didn’t Bismarck say that graveyards are full of indispensable men?

    For that matter, so is the corporation disposable. Once it loses its utility it goes bye-bye. And what of the employee? My own experience is an example. The company may have gone out of business but later on I would get offers of employment from people that I worked with at the company or based on their recommendation.

    Human networks exist outside legal structures and survive legal structures and If you accept certain rules of conduct, if you can be of use to somebody, you will get offers.

    But that’s just some elaboration. What of modern corporate culture?

    The last year my dad worked was 1994. It was in a non-union dairy, in the warehouse. He earned 44,000 Cdn dollars. I figure that 44 grand in 1994 is equivalent to about 80 grand in today’s money.

    How many warehouse workers make that kind of dough nowadays? Maybe roundabout none. Those simple numbers illustrate the problem with modern day corporations. What they fail to get through their thick skulls is that it’s all about money no less for the ordinary labourer than it is for the PMC and capitalist shareholder. Just as importantly, without a robust consumer base, that is, one with disposable income, the corporate sector has no market.

  229. @JMG, in re: “I expect Europe to descend into a dark age, complete with mass migrations from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa which will erase the historic nations and cultures of Europe and replace them with new nations and cultures. You might want to pick up a good book on what happened to Britain in the wake of the collapse of Rome; that’s a pretty good model for what I expect Europe to go through.

    This reminds me of something St. Justin Popovich said in his essay “Where Does Humanistic Culture Lead” (from which I have quoted before). He says:

    The structure of European culture, erected without Christ, must crumble away, and crumble away very quickly, prophesied the insightful and astute Dostoyevsky one hundred years ago, and the mournful Gogol over one hundred years ago. And before our very eyes are the prophecies of these Slavic prophets coming to pass. For ten centuries has the European Tower of Babel been building itself, and now a tragic picture meets our gaze: what has been constructed is a huge nothing! … The idols of Europe are crashing down, and not far distant is that day when not a stone will remain upon a stone of European culture …

    For a long time, I thought that was a bit hyperbolic. I, too, had thought that Faustian culture might fossilize as the Chinese and Indian cultures have done. Besides, St. Justin often “spoke in headlines” in his writings, to get and hold the attention of his readers.

    However, I now think that Faustian culture may very well disappear with hardly a trace, exactly as he said. The process seems to be happening even as we speak.

  230. @Peter the Great Khan,
    Could I trouble you for that potluck signup again? It just puked some internet stuff which amounted to “this is not working.”
    Thank you, Raphanus

  231. Paul, I’ll have to reread Orwell sometime soon. Thanks for the reminder.

    John, that’s a fascinating question. As I recall, it happened in synch with the rise of dogmatic pseudoskepticism of the CSICOP variety, another consequence of the failure of nerve at the end of the 1970s — that’s when the fantastic elements got chucked out of science fiction and it settled down to dull technobabble. You may well be right that the space program was responsible, but if I had to guess, I’d say it wasn’t the Moon landings, it was the Viking 1 touchdown on Mars. I remember the sense of profound letdown when it turned out that Mars looked like an unusually boring corner of Nevada, and Barsoom went wherever wonderful dreams go to die.

    Oilman2, the thing that occurred first to me when corporations started snapping up real estate is that they’ve just made expropriation the hot political issue of the 2030s. More broadly, the frantic quest to impose more costs on everyone for the benefit of the absurdly rich is guaranteeing a colossal blowback — and of course the rich have no clue.

    Kerry, that’s a valid point. Keep an eye on salaries for the German General Staff, then.

    PatriciaT, thanks for these two fine parables of slack!

    Chris, clearly I have to reread Galbraith’s The Great Crash 1929 sometime soon!

    Roger, exactly. The corporate C-suites have lost track of the hard fact that they have to give employees and consumers some reason to want to put up with their antics, because there are always alternatives.

    Michael, the difference between my view and the saint’s is that I see the waning of religious faith as a normal part of the historical cycle. Every civilization has its age of reason, when the slow shift from sensory and narrative modes of thinking to reflective and abstract modes of thinking renders its traditional religion unconvincing, first to the intellectual classes, and then to the majority; every age of reason negates itself, because rationalism — any rationalism — is simply the mistaken notion that abstract notions drawn from language are better guides to truth than concreate narratives drawn from mythology; and the self-negation of the age of reason usually arrives about the time that the civilization runs face first into the consequences of its own mismanagement, resulting in a bitter time of troubles and very often the fall of the civilization. That said, I think you’re probably right about Faustian civilization. A culture that defines its destiny as infinite dynamic expansion is going to have a hard time settling down to stasis, and may choose self-immolation instead.

  232. Regarding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, it has always mystified me why people fret so much when they decide to sell from the SPR. Not only does it stabilize prices (a little) but filling it when supplies are adequate and emptying it when supplies are tight is practically guaranteed to net the government a tidy sum of money. Its a real profit center for Uncle Sam. How much else do they do that manages to raise money so painlessly and provide a service besides? And yes, I imagine this provides us all just a tiny bit more slack.

  233. @Lathechuck @Oilman2 re: regulatory burden

    Even if it’s possible to clear the regulatory hurdles, the fact remains that they are designed for a system of standardization and mass production.

    So one particular design of baby carrier made with one particular yarn might be approved, but what small-scale creative crafter wants to make the same design with the same specs over and over and over again?

    Some other parts of the world are worse. In Europe, to legally sell a variety of seed, it has to be on the list of approved varieties, and to get on that list it has to pass certain yield, uniformity, and disease resistance tests. That means no heirlooms, no diverse mixes, no seed-breeding-projects-in-progress for sale there. A few seed companies have found loopholes or have gotten authorities to turn a blind eye, but that really puts a damper on the seed revitalization movement there.

    Most of these silly bureaucratic regulations can’t go away soon enough.

  234. @Michael Martin

    “Where Does Humanistic Culture Lead” (from which I have quoted before). He says:

    “The structure of European culture, erected without Christ, must crumble away, and crumble away very quickly, prophesied the insightful and astute Dostoyevsky one hundred years ago, and the mournful Gogol over one hundred years ago. And before our very eyes are the prophecies of these Slavic prophets coming to pass. For ten centuries has the European Tower of Babel been building itself, and now a tragic picture meets our gaze: what has been constructed is a huge nothing! … The idols of Europe are crashing down, and not far distant is that day when not a stone will remain upon a stone of European culture …”

    Humanism is the crumbling remaining edifice of the more exalted concept of the “Imago Dei” or Image of God. That mankind is created as.

    To be God’s representatives and Priestly Race who ministers in God’s Sanctuary “Garden of Eden” “New Jerusalem” and who reigns over all creation as its Royal Class.

    Priest-Kings as you will. Which in Ancient times that Kings of olden days were both King and High Priest all at the same time. The roles synonymous with with other.

    Who who partakes of the “Divine Nature” through Theosis as a result of God’s work.

    “God became man that man might become God,” -Athanasius (ca 298–373)

    Western Humanism unlike Eastern Humanism owes its debt to Christianity. Which infused the culture in which the Humanists formulated their Philosophies.

  235. @JMG

    “That said, I think you’re probably right about Faustian civilization. A culture that defines its destiny as infinite dynamic expansion is going to have a hard time settling down to stasis, and may choose self-immolation instead.”

    I think Christianity would provide an outlet for that Faustian impulse among those remaining of that surviving culture. Growing towards the Infinity of God and advancing his Kingdom on this Earth.

    And advancing in the Quality of Art and Architecture as its own form of worship as much as musical harmony is when it is properly done.

    So if they are going the Spiritual route. It would be an alternative to self-immolation.

    Of course there are those also going the DMT route too. But personally I think that it is quite dangerous.

  236. Salient points as always. However, I would note that our current system is extremely wasteful of energy and resources – and waste is slack.

    Many people have reported how countries often import things they also export, like the UK both importing and exporting potatoes. Not even raw potatoes returning as potato chips, but ordinary raw potatoes, the ships passing each-other at sea. At some point the price of marine diesel, artificial fertiliser or the like will rise enough that this sort of nonsense will diminish and eventually stop.

    We can consider also cars, where 3-5% of trips are under 500m, 8% less than 1km, and 50% less than 5km. Which is to say, distances easily walked by any more-or-less healthy adult. How expensive does petrol have to be before people stop this? And for those who almost exclusively do those very short trips, at what point do they get rid of their car?

    Look further on to all sorts of goods and services, and it’s plain there’s vast waste in the system. And this waste acts as some slack in that system, so that it will prove more long-lasting than we might otherwise expect. And this is both good and bad for many reasons which JMG has laid out for us many times.

  237. When it comes to the global politics there is this book called Decline And Fall: The End Of Empire And The Future Of Democracy In 21st Century America. Author is something like Don Nichael Sneer or something like that. 😉

    JMG I don’t think you need to read it.

    @drhooves I plus a few others are a part of the great resignation – have never been happier – at least when it comes to employment. The media will say a lot of things…

  238. @JMG

    As a matter of fact, I’ve not read any Rosemary Sutcliff although I’ve heard the stories are good. I don’t need any encouragement to buy more books, so I’ll look out for them. I have the Ken Follett ‘Evening and Morning’ which covers the period of emergence up to the Norman invasion on my shelf waiting. His ‘Pillars of the Earth’ covering the Plantagenet Cathedral building period was well researched and I’d recommend it were it not for the fact that I suspect you’ve already read it.

    As for a fall of the UK to invasion from the global south, there’s no need to be sorry about it. It’s been several hundred years since a war was fought on this soil and the current crop of leaders are not notably deep thinkers. If they carry on ignoring the early signs and the demographics keep shifting then yes – it could easily happen. Does that inevitably lead to a dark age? I’m not so sure, Moorish Spain was quite a pleasant place for a few hundred years for some.

    From a personal perspective though, it doesn’t matter. If something overt happens during my current incarnation, we will retreat to the far north where we have family connections and both the lore and a genetic advantage in coping with the climate of a dark and cold land. If it happens during a future one I may witness it on one side or the other! The conviction that you can certainly die but will probably not end tends to give a distinctly detached attitude to historic shifts.

  239. Oh well, until we get to slack, we need more traceability and accountability. Pippa says it at the world government summit just a few days ago.

    Get ready for a new world order with digital government backed blockchain currency.*

    Welcome the Atlantic Republic!

    *(and refined allmighty surveillance)

  240. Seriously, I would not be surprised if a French Revolution style revolt happens against the Baby Boomers… for not cutting everyone born after 1969 any slack.

    Like there is a difference between a group of teenagers coming into where I work and making a mess, I don’t mind that. I mind the boomers who look you down like a cobra and tell you everything you’re doing wrong.

    On the topic of Slack. At the end of every month where I work the Baby Boomers/The soon to be retired come in by the hoard to return the **** from China that they bought over the month because they can’t afford the credit card payment. This March was rather memorable.

    I had one Boomer Woman come through my register and complain how no one is working. I then told her, where one of my friends live there is no public transportation and she, my friend, doesn’t have a car. The Boomer Woman I was talking with then said “Well your friend is just lazy then.” I then switched the topic to the weather outside.

    I’m sorry but I have no problem watching these boomers go bankrupt because they jacked housing prices and rent to asinine levels, to fund their STUPID retirements because they were such miserable people that their own families don’t want to take care of them.

  241. Lathechuck #246, That burst my bubble. If even the majestic lion cannot guarantee slack 24/7, I guess we have to be grateful for any slack we can wrestle from the daily grind.

    Incidentally, that reminds me of a friend who was stranded overnight in the bush in Malawi. They thought it was a bit of a lark until they heard a lion growl nearby. They promptly locked themselves in the car and wound up the windows. They said they could hear lions growling all around them the whole night, although none came close. I always wondered what the lions were doing. Now I know — chasing off rivals and scavengers.

  242. Oopse! Ignore last comment. Hit the wrong key and did not include the link.. here it is:

    Every grade school teacher should have this one posted on the classroom walls. For the history, not the tail-end sermon.

  243. Dear Mr. Druid

    You have a commenter that consistently quotes neoconservative Peter Zeihan. May I offer some balance?

    Naked Capitalism today has a link to an Ian Kummer ( article concerning how the neocons believe the Russian Military is a paper tiger, they have poor logistics and limited force projection. In other words stuck in the 1990’s.

    Mr Kummer’s article fits in with what you have been saying about progress. The west believes Russia is not up to 21 century warfare. Meanwhile, back in reality on the ground in Ukraine the Russians appear to be holding their own using 1970’s technology and 1700’s tactics.

    We have 200 million per plane F-35. They are supposedly invisible to Russian radar. It is reasonable for every American taxpayer to wonder where the no fly zone is. After all, we have invisibility cloaks.

    As to Ukraine starving – nah – Russia will get the Russian harvest in and Ukraine will be part of Russia and Russia has enough surplus to feed Ukraine. Now the middle east and Africa will be another story.

    The neo-conservative movement appears to be a very dangerous cult of progress. I am more worried about Peter Zeihan and his ilk going to nukes before the Russians or Chinese.

  244. Oilman2, I’ve long thought that Starlink would kill rural internet – it is so much faster and cheaper than existing rural internet infrastructure (which is highly subsidized here in Canada) that I can see governments dropping the subsidies and letting the telecom companies stop service. It would be way cheaper for the government to just get everyone a starlink dish than to try and build fiber out to dying small towns. Then, when Starlink ends, whether by Kessler syndrome or not, no more rural internet other than the cellular network.

  245. @ Lathechuck RE H2S – that’s in solution in oil. The PPM for airborne is what is in the page I posted.

    RE: Reg burden – in these days of twitter, Facebook, etc., a faulty product doesn’t make it for long. Similarly, my personal feeling is that most regulations are an attempt to replace common sense with a rule. And finally, people do not need most of these rules to survive and even thrive – they weren’t here until recently and people did just fine.

    So we disagree on regs – they have cost me too much money and prevent people getting into a business in a small way. They make you hunt for investors before you even open the door due to costs and legal risk.

  246. @Breniann comment #6
    The one skill I have been consistently offered money for is sewing: repairs, hemming, making simple curtains etc. Older mechanical sewing machines are frequently available for low prices in the thrift stores. They don’t tend to be great quality but you can always upgrade to something better if you like the work.

  247. Chinese Millennials have their own countercultural movement called “Lying Flat.” Increasing efficiency is not leading to better lives, so don’t as hard as the corporate overlords tell you to. Take time to actually enjoy life. What a revelation! Lying Flat is much more blatantly anti-corporate in its messaging and spirit, but it feels very much in the same vein as the Church of the SubGenius. Similar movements are popping up all over the globe. It’s a very heartening thing to watch.

  248. Great Khan of Lesser Potlucks, towards the end of 29 years dealing with DOD contracting, I finally read Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man and thought “This is news?” Turned out, to many it was. The author did give off sort of a reformed-smoker vibe in his prescription for what to do about it, and I’m not sure I believe Claudine really existed. (“PUBLISHER: “This is pretty dry material—can you jazz it up a little? Like, the short fat bald guy who trained you and with whom you’re still friends—can you make him a sexy lady spy who mysteriously vanishes?”). Other than that he was quite credible—and I didn’t even deal with classified stuff.

  249. Oilman2 – re: H2S. There’s no disagreement between us. But it doesn’t make any sense for the author of the PM article to try to equate the oil contamination with the airborne hazard, does it?

  250. What’s silly about Germany and many other countries using the Russia-Ukraine War as a reason to significantly increase military spending is the fact that during this war the Russian military has shown itself to be quite weak, unable to conquer a much smaller country only 20 miles from its border. Russia seems to be no real threat to NATO. Yet the military spending continues to rise.

  251. Wer here
    Well the truth is that everybody comes sooner than later to the realization of the mess we are in.
    I always knew something was of with the mainstream narative. For example I was a 11 year old kid when when Poland joined the EU, we were sold on that idea as a “Light of progress” after the Soviet Time and that we will become as rich as Japan in it (don’t laugh Lech Wałęsa claimed this seriously in public).
    Instead we got bureacracy, increased taxes on everything, were forced to retool our economy to “suit the needs of Western Europe”, got millions of young men and women to leave the country in search of a livehood and all the “white slave” treatment in it. Everytime someone says something agains this arrangement, he/she is shouted down as “not thinking right” or “being pro-RuSSia” (sadly not a joke). This is the main reason i found this blog and forum, you can only go so far before disillusioment sets in. The Faustian civilisation was an arrangement without a future, sadly i think in the future Europe will be divided agains different factions and in the end it will be what remains of European white populations united under a Marie Le Pen like character, against a massive internal Muslim insurgency.
    And here is the kicker the cheap, easy to dig resources to revitallize Europe (large army, bringing back manufacturing .ect) are no longer there, along with a young population and with ever sliding standar of living for everyone. We were all unlucky to make thoose bad choises in the 1970s but now the cat is out of the bag.
    Stay safe everyone Wer

  252. Bradley, keep in mind also that “productivity” in modern parlance means labor productivity, i.e., how little can they pay out in wages to produce the same profits?

    Koyaanisqatsi, the notion was that it’s a strategic petroleum reserve, not a political convenience (and make a quick buck on the side) petroleum reserve…

    Info, the problem, of course, is that the Christian narrative stopped being convincing to most people in Europe as the age of reason set in. As the Second Religiosity builds, you’ll see people turning back to the narrative — that’s already happening, of course — but that’s a matter of building bulwarks against inner chaos, and it rarely works indefinitely.

    Hackenschmidt, sure. A great deal depends on how much turbulence is involved in the transition, because a system can go to pieces even when there’s adequate slack, if the slack’s not in the right place.

    Michael, funny. I think that’s Don Nigel Sneer, and I’ve just adopted him as my evil doppelganger!

    Andy, the Moors rescued Spain from Dark Age conditions; they were part of a rising civilization, which absorbed part of the territory of a fallen one. As far as I can tell, there’s no rising civilization available to invade and absorb chunks of Europe — give it a couple of hundred years and that’ll change. That said, it’s good to hear that you’ve got a plan. Retreating north and west to the mountains has been a standard and successful tactic for the inhabitants of Britain for a good long time now, which is why the Welsh and Scots exist as distinct nations…

    Dan, in the immortal words of one of the holy Discordian prophets, whadda maroon.

    Anger, I get that. Seriously, I get that. It didn’t surprise me at all when the Covid outbreak started, and it turned out a lot of teenagers were holding let’s-catch-Covid parties and calling the disease “Boomer remover.” There’s a lot of resentment against my generation, and quite a bit of it is well earned.

    Patricia, the history is great, but the temperature curve is garbage. Somehow he managed to leave out a dozen or so really sharp temperature shifts — the beginning and end of the Younger Dryas come to mind!

    Anon123, thanks for this. Yes, I saw it! Kummer makes an excellent point — and of course we already knew that they way you tell whether a neoconservative is wrong is to see if his lips are moving.

    Info, all I can say is that you must have a very bland and shallow notion of the ordinary human capacity for evil.

    StarNinja, I’ve read about it. Yes, it’s an excellent sign.

    K, Russia currently holds around 30% of Ukraine’s territory, and of course it’s had to hold quite a bit of its forces in reserve in case NATO decides to intervene. (Check out sometime how much of the Russian army is currently poised in Belarus for that eventuality.) War isn’t as fast as a Hollywood script!

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

    Patricia M, thanks for these.

  253. As an example of living differently and having slack of a different kind, I’ve run across some folks on Utube who show daily life in the early 19th century, including a number of cooking episodes. With apologies to those who don’t care for videos, here’s one example:

    Working class supper in 1820s America, winter

    Open fireplace cooking, with illustrations of actual recipes from the era.

  254. If I may, I recently had an encounter with a boomer coworker who asked why I was renting then seamlessly transitioned into bragging about how much his house is “worth”. I did remind him that nobody in the company I work for who owns a home, including him, could afford to buy their own properties these days without the equity from what they’ve already got. The only young homeowners I know live, as a couple, with their parents, and rent out the house they own while living in one of their parent’s basement. Anger is the right sentiment, and lets hope that the MRNA injections he was so enthusiastic about don’t work out.

  255. @Lathechuck RE: PPM H2S

    I have worked around this stuff my entire life – a tiny bit and you are gone. I just wanted people to know what it was, nd how it affects steel…

  256. “a lot of teenagers were holding let’s-catch-Covid parties and calling the disease “Boomer remover.” ”

    That doesn’t say much for their math abilities. The oldest boomers are 76. The plague’s death rate didn’t get noticeable until they were over 80.

    Then again, they keep calling Biden a boomer. He was born in 1942, and is therefore the Silent Generation. Obama is a boomer, not Biden.

  257. @JMG

    “all I can say is that you must have a very bland and shallow notion of the ordinary human capacity for evil.”

    Evil spirits supercharges human evil in my opinion.

    It has historically been a mistake to attribute evil solely to the disembodied spirits. The Devil doing everything bad somehow.

    But I think its also a mistake that human evil didn’t have a substantial helping from malignant spiritual forces.

    Am I mistaken?

  258. As we seem to be moving from an age during which infinite expansion ruled to one in which our current betters will attempt to switch from extensive to intensive methods of wealth-pumping, slack will become a serious danger to society.
    After all, people need to be actively taxed to stay on the couch, breathe slowly (less CO2) and work less, to fuel the lifestyle of the shrinking upper classes.
    Having them do that voluntarily removes the guilty conscience our leaders need to make it taxable.

  259. “I expect Europe to descend into a dark age, complete with mass migrations from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa which will erase the historic nations and cultures of Europe and replace them with new nations and cultures…”

    I would like to comment on why this scenario, which I, too, see as likely, does not fill me with angst or despair.

    1. Europe is a peripheral backwater, and has always been the “farthest shore” of the Eurasian continent where waves of people running from the troubles caused by some civilisation somewhere else, crashed and broke up. The peoples of Europe are descended of these waves after waves of peoples from somewhere else, each wave both erasing older nations and cultures and bringing new nations and cultures.
    2. Underneath all of this crashing and breaking of successive waves of people, beats the heart of the land itself. Which will speak, and strongly influence, whoever lands and makes a life here on this “farthest shore”.
    3. There is only once, that I know of, where Europe’s own peoples, thinking themselves civilised, sent waves of their own misfits and malcontents to crash and break on other people’s shores across the world, and this wave is now fairly well spent.
    4. I know that my descendants will include many who are darker of skin than I, and whose cultural orientation is Muslim in framing, and yet, if they live here, they will be Irish, and they will have a little bit of me in them, along with all the other ancestors who will have brought them into manifestation along with me.
    5. For me to worry about “erasure” is a nonsense. I am here, I am alive, and I do not fear having no descendants. To worry that my descendants might differ from me in appearance or cultural bearings is to refuse the future permission to be. It would be akin to trying to hold on to THIS breath, and refusing to take the next one.
    6. If I extend, as best I can, my ways, and knowledges and competences and attitudes and virtues to those of my descendants within my reach, I will have done what any ancestor can do, what any ancestors of mine have actually done. The rest I leave to the land, the gods, and the spirit of the future.

    We are at the periphery, the place where those who run from other civilisations, run, in waves, to crash and finally to break. That is what it means, and what it will go on meaning, to be European.

    In my very humble opinion.

  260. Obama is an early-wave Xer with the personality of a Silent. He was raised by his mother and his grandmother, IIRC. Temperamentally, he’s an anomaly among his contemporaries, and would have done very well indeed if he’d presided over a recovery period, like the Eisenhower years, rather than a crisis like our own. I remember thinking that at the time, and have seen nothing to change my mind since. And of course, he and his wife are PMC to the core.

  261. >The last year my dad worked was 1994. It was in a non-union dairy, in the warehouse. He earned 44,000 Cdn dollars. I figure that 44 grand in 1994 is equivalent to about 80 grand in today’s money.

    >How many warehouse workers make that kind of dough nowadays? Maybe roundabout none.

    And then they wonder why they have all these open jobs but nobody wants to show up for them. Or as another poster obliquely mentioned, the cost of just showing up to the job is higher than what they are getting in pay. There are a few degenerate cases where people will buy a job but most jobs are so miserable nobody will ever buy one in a million years.

    A lot of these corporate business models depend on tomorrow’s wages being lower than today’s. In nominal terms, that’s no longer true, but because their business model depends on it, they have no choice but to keep bidding lower even though it makes no sense. At some point something’s going to give, not sure what.

    It certainly is a hard circle to square for sure. A real economic paradox.

  262. >My only real problem right now is that I do not have a real skill that I could use in trade

    Every locale has some sort of trade school, er, community college somewhere nearby. Or you can just apprentice yourself to an electrician or plumber or carpenter or mechanic. Look up the phone number of every local plumber and ask. Go to your local airport and ask where the aircraft mechanic is, walk over and ask him if he needs an apprentice. Odds are very good he probably does.

    Beware the Snap-On tool truck.

  263. Oh, JMG, I just meant that in communism everyone is supposed to be equal (and made to be equal if they’re not equal) while in fascism everyone is acknowledged to be not equal (and their inequality is magnified and celebrated.) More Vonnegut than realpolitik.

    So I don’t disagree with your take that one tends to lead to the other. I should’ve said the above before, but I guess I got distracted.

    In regards to Russia, I think it comes down to, the “How much do you hate terrorism?” game. Remember that game? We played it a lot after 9/11 but Russia’s been playing it much harder, more major leagues for YEARS more. We kinda like terrorists in the States. Call them Freedom Fighters or Activists or whatever. And, well, if they’re just writing stuff and not blowing things up and spouting manifestos then we give them a pass. Russia doesn’t.

    Russia will invade a country for harboring terrorists, as Russia defines terrorists. Too bad terrorists are everywhere. For Russia, I’m probably a terrorist. Most of my friends and relatives are definitely terrorists by Russian standards. They write things and go to protests.

    Russia under Putin is kind of like a faerie court: polite, but weird and easy to offend. And they’ve been offended. They may refuse to export wheat and try to starve all of the “terrorists” and…this is a problem that spawns more problems.

  264. Funny how the more things change the more they stay the same. I am a bit old to be a Boomer but I can remember Boomers from when I was young complaining about the raw deal they had inherited from their parents and how awful life was and how their parents had stuffed up so badly. I used to look on in amazement as I thought we had it pretty good compared with our parents.
    When they reached working age the Great Depression struck. When they were householder age they had to fight a war. Happy days.
    Accommodation has often been problematic. None of my grandparents owned their own home until they were retired. Relatives who didn’t manage well were somehow fitted into the family’s houses, often shared around. In the 70s my husband and I were out to dinner in a grand old house in the town where we lived and we commented on the difference between this house and the more modest homes of the workers. The 70s saw fewer great differences. Many of those homes had been cut up into flats and were then restored. When a couple got married they usually moved in to the husband’s parents’ house till they could find something of their own.
    However things are more extreme now with the rich living in mansions and the poor living on the streets. How could this happen during a time of enormous material prosperity? Well I won’t go into that as we all know the answers. Implementing solutions is a bit more problematic.

  265. Owen #292 “Beware the Snap-On tool truck.” – valuable advice, that, though they ARE good tools. One of my kids is in the midst of a college search; we were amused to note that the Pennsylvania College of Technology bookstore has an entire aisle of Snap-On tools, probably at college bookstore prices. (We didn’t check.)

  266. Fair point, JMG. The war is far from over. That said, particularly with their abandonment of Kiev, I still think it’s hard to deny that the Russian military has greatly under-performed everyone’s expectations. IMO the new funds that will now be used to build up European countries defenses against Russian could be put to far better use for other things.

  267. Greetings all!

    Lunar Apprentice, what brand of tent stove do you have/recommend?

    We do have 2 rocket stoves and a solar oven. We used the rocket stove to heat our lunch soup twice this week, also making quesadillas in a skillet. The plan is to use both as often as we can. My 5 year old loves helping with the fire making! Next up will be baking some bread in a cast iron pan on the rocket with a bowl on top to create the steam effect.

    We gather firewood on our walks through our scrappy suburban woods. And I am so glad that we are modeling this way of living now for our son, so he grows up knowing it is possible.

    Scotlyn, #289, I loved this! Very wise words. Who cares what our descendants look like? And, no matter where our genes originated, if we listen to the land, take care of it and let it take care of us, we will be from where we live.

    Oh, I am one of those folks faced with our 3G cell phones becoming unsupported. I think I may have mentioned, perhaps on the corona open post, that my husband and I are sharing his flip phone. It’s working. So, one cell for the family, plus one landline. Baby steps but we are trying to break out of the notion of everyone having their own individual fill in the blank.


  268. More .gov intervention, attack on slack. 2026 model year vehicles to average 49MPG.

    With the popularity of pickup trucks and large SUVs, and with the short timeline to implement, it ain’t gonna happen. This will not be well received in rural America, or those who love driving. One commenter on Denniger’s site mentioned that if the government really cared about vehicle mileage, they would lower speed limits (again) to CONSERVE fuel.

    I’m not entirely opposed to government standards and surcharges being used to promote more environmentally friendly modes of transportation. But electric vehicles and impossible mileages dictates ain’t gonna get it done. It’s almost as .gov wants to make sure the Democrats are tossed aside in the next two election cycles, to make sure the kinder, friendlier and saner authoritarians are allowed to come to the rescue. Rhyming with Germany, circa 1930.

  269. @Mawkernek, the first comment–at least one person here gets your Age of Empires reference 😉 11

    It looks like the next step in the long staircase of the descent, indeed the whole Rush, is approaching sooner than we had thought, and in this case it’s not just due to natural shocks and ripples from declining energy, but due to the discussed self-defeating actions of the US & EU with the boycotts and sanctions on Russia over a geopolitical issue. Out of curiosity (for JMG or any other commenters), and I know counterfactuals and hypotheticals are never clean, but if the West hadn’t fired Joe Biden’s sanction gun against Russia so stupidly, how much longer could the dollar have remained the world’s reserve currency? Would it just have been a longer, more manageable decline instead of the sudden drop that we’re in for now?

    Also, you mention the tacit agreement of keeping politics and economics separate, with other countries now realizing that they can’t remain dependent on the dollar or be forced into subservience. But didn’t they already realize this, since the US has weaponized the global economy before? Throughout the Cold War and post-Cold War eras, the US has sanctioned and embargoed small countries it doesn’t like for various reasons, like Cuba, Chile, Zimbabwe, Iran, North Korea. The only difference now is that in its ultimate hubris, the US (and EU) are doing it to a major power like Russia.

    In any case, the post’s real theme about Slack was a great breath of fresh air, even with all these developments being so alarming. I’m sure I’m not the first to notice that it’s ironic how we were supposed to be in an “age of leisure” by now, with a fully automated luxury communist or capitalist society, yet even still our Slack is Under Attack more than ever.

    And Dunkelkotze’s comment trying to reassure us as a German with far-right leanings that we don’t have to worry about a re-arming Germany–oy vey. Makes my shtetl senses tingle

  270. @Ellen: refresh my memory. Your husband’s flip phone is what brand? And are they still available today?

  271. This month’s discussion has mentioned the ragged, used-up, end-of-the-road feeling people are getting, and people pushing the last mile or millimeter all the same. Today’s sports column in the Gainesville Sun has the perfect example of that (JMG, you’ll be getting a print copy, since it’s local.) Headline: “If Tiger plays the Masters, it’ll be hard not to cheer.”

    Some choice observations: “The suspense seems to be killing some people for the wrong reason. They’re tired of Tiger’s act and can’t believe he’s at it again. I admit, part of my hopes he stumbles into Rae’s Creek in the first round. The other part hopes he trudges up the 18th hole on Sunday with a sixth green jacket in sight.”

    The rest details just how used-up the former golf superstar really is. “Fifteen majors, 125 mistresses, two career-altering car crashes. The last one had doctors considering whether to amputate his shattered lower leg.” And finally, “Winning? No way. Cheering for him. But if he does tee up, I might not be able to help myself.”

    Yes. Because it takes either courage, an obsessive love of the the sport, or a high level of self-delusion to do what he’s doing. I’m reminded of Kipling’s old warhorse (in the song “The Press”) who smells the battle from afar and wants in on it one last time. but can only snort. And, oh, yes, his was a very self-destructive course after the talk of all the mistresses came out and the values crowd went berserk.

    Endgame. How many others in every field of endeavor are stumbling their way, worn out, used up, bearing the consequences of their own mistakes (as opposed to those in that condition from being slave-driven all their lives and only want to quit) to one last score, one last victory, one last deal, one last presidency, one last….you name it.

    It’s Endgame. And I think on some level he knows it. But can’t accept it. Yes. You wish he’d see the light and retire. But still….

  272. I see that there are some comments in this thread about rural internet. So, I’m going to post a comment that I typed up a couple of weeks ago and then never bothered sharing.

    Folks were talking about rural fibre-op in lieu of cell phones. Last summer, it being a fine and sunshiney day, I was in front doing some yard work, and lo and behold, a cherrypicker truck comes down the lane stringing up fibre-op cable. I approached the lads who were doing the work and asked them what they were about, and they replied that the province has implemented a program to supply fibre-op to every last home in the province, no matter how remote.

    I said to them, “Gee, I bet you’ve been on some interesting roads.”

    They laughed and said, “You have no idea!”

    Now I have no idea what sort of future-oriented cost-benefit analysis the province has performed, with respect to this project. But I do know that there’s a phenomenon in this backwater province, of people selling their homes in more expenses burgs, and moving here expecting a tranquil life by the sea. But they are oft disappointed that we don’t have the same amenities they were accustomed to.

    I guess my point is that when you’re trying to predict what is likely to happen, it can be hard to account for the whims or political pressures of human nature. “Society running low on oil” isn’t a one-dimensional picture. I wouldn’t be surprised if this province continues to fund rural infrastructure, specifically to cater to people moving from wealthier provinces in search of quiet “country life”. This might seem “wasteful” from a certain perspective, but if those people bring their money with them maybe the math works out.

  273. To OilMan2 (post #211),

    You have an excellent grasp of the truly small-business-suffocating nature of governmental ‘safety’ and other standards. I have owned and operated a small cottage food (i.e., home-based) business for 20 years, and while as a cottage food operator I am exempt from many of the truly outrageous and insane rules and regulations that other food-related businesses must conform to, I have enough contacts with the owners of such businesses to see and know how utterly crushing all those (mainly FDA) rules and regulation can be and are in practice. It is beyond debatable that most of them are, in fact, expressly designed to inhibit, discourage and crush small and nascent businesses.

    It all reminds me, once again, of one of my all-time favorite quotes: “Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure.”

  274. “at least one person here gets your Age of Empires reference”

    Hey now, I’ll have you know I’ve been playing the heck out of multi-player AoE with my kids this winter.

    Playing older games on older devices might, uhhhh, not exactly be the kind of “collapse now and avoid the rush” that is intended, but, it does go to show that older forms of entertainment are just as fun as anything else.


  275. Info, that may be a difference in our traditions. The occult teaching is that evil spirits simply mirror back our own capacity for evil at us; they are unable to create anything, you know, and so the worst they can do is provide a feeback loop. The thing that made me chuckle, of course, is that you see supernatural evil at work in an ordinary if repellent example of obsessive sexual deviance. I know that to Christians, that’s the evilest evil that ever eviled; to the rest of us, there are a great many things that rank far, far higher on the scale.

    Michaelz, I’m by no means sure the elite classes have that much of a clue. As far as I can tell, it has never occurred to them that they can’t find some other gimmick to allow infinite expansion to continue.

    Scotlyn, fair enough. As I recall from Ireland’s own legendary history, it has been completely depopulated at a couple of points in the past: the folk of Cessair were annihilated by a flood, the folk of Partholon were exterminated by a pandemic, and the folk of Nemed were nearly wiped out by war, plague, and flooding, though a few flee overseas to become the ancestors of the Fir Bolg and the Tuatha de Danaan. As an island not high enough above sea level to avoid catastrophic post-glacial flooding and not far enough from a continent to avoid invasion, that’s par for the course. Your comfort level with the future is probably wise — but I admit I wonder what the people of Cessair, Partholon, and Nemed thought when they saw the doom of their people looming up above them…

    Pesci, that’s one of the things about fascism that most people miss: it’s just as fixated on equality as Communism is, it just limits the equality to the bounds of one nation or ethnic group. The absolute subordination of the individual to the state results in equality in each case — it’s just that the fascist excludes some convenient Other from that equality. (So does Communism, in practice — there’s always got to be somebody to be labeled as a lackey of imperialism and sent to a gulag — but in fascism, it’s included in the theory as well.)

    Sim, thanks, but I don’t do video as a performer either.

    K, it remains to be seen whether the move back from Kiev was a retreat or a strategic withdrawal. We’ll see when the rubble stops bouncing.

    Drhooves, has the US government had a single new idea since 1971? If so, I haven’t seen it.

    Chuaquin, yep. Stand by for more of that.

    Gray, yes, I think the decline of the dollar could have been prolonged for at least another decade, and handled in a way that didn’t kick the US economy in the gut quite so hard. It was one thing to use the dollar weapon against weak little countries in exceptional circumstances — the rest of the world could shrug and say, “It’ll never happen to us.” Now that it’s happened to Russia, everyone in the world knows that they could be next, and away we go. As for Dunkelkotze’s reassurances — well, despite the neo-Nazi a while back who insisted I must be Jewish because I disagreed with him, I don’t have the advantage of shtetl senses, but I do have enough historical memory to remember when Herr Schicklgruber said the same thing in nearly the same words!

    Patricia M, not even end-of-the-road so much as “haven’t we seen this rerun enough times already?”

    Bofur, thanks for this. That’s a valid point.

  276. “I wonder what the people of Cessair, Partholon, and Nemed thought when they saw the doom of their people looming up above them…” Indeed. And I, too, wonder (or, do not even have to wonder, but can mostly guess) what people everywhere think when they see their doom looming above them.

    But, if a person believes they, or their people, should somehow be especially exempt from the regular workings of the universe, they might find themselves mistaken about how many hoots the universe gives to that belief… (an insightful WOH-adjacent view I myself have found persuasive… 😉 )

  277. Mr. Greer, All ..

    Is it me (as he puffs his peacepipe..) or does it seem that the current king of richie-rich e-slack has released his tensioned band of billions into purchasing a major share of @Jack’$ (former??) domaine.. thereby causing the big social bird to flutter aimlessly into a spiral of NOOOOOOOO! .. as they squwaaak their collective angst at being thwarted from continuing to pound their packets of dirty digi-dominion??

    Could this mean that an imminent grand molt is about to occur .. with naked twits scattered in disillusionment across the digi-space?

  278. Are the comments still on? Good if yes Wer here.
    Most people are tired at this point, people at the top here in Poland had recently outcrazed everyone.
    The Quatar minister of energy openly said that they are at peak capacity and already sighned contracts up to 2026 when it comes to LNG so no gas from there (the response of Polish elites “he is just joking” since the video of him speaking is online they cannot claim it is a “Russian scam”), It is bizzare what happened or when Zelensky announced to the public that the UN must disband because it allows Russia and China there.
    i facepalmed UN was created after 1945 for the purpose of maintaining US power (why else the “global headquaters” are situated only on American soil) so Zelensky just announced the he wants to get rid of the prized possesion of the American Empire (at this rate CIA will find “a replacement for him”).
    And to anwser some questions about. If the Russian military is so weak as some claim why the insane and hysterical reaction, The media claimmed the “RuSSians” will be kicked out of Ukraine in one week, but they took over village after village and the main priority seems to destroy Ukrainian military supplies and infrastructure.
    German and Polish military quettlly announced that the are running out of anti tank weapons etc.
    because the already gave entire warehouses of ammo to the Ukrainian Army.
    There are problems with manufacturing new missiles and intelligent bombs because of the sanctions and chip shortages (sheer stupidity in order for your country to build weapons you have to wait until components arrive from an another nation, did no one took this in consideration that the Chineese can simply not send the supplies needed for construction of these weapons???)
    In my opinion the Russians will wait until the Ukrainians are deprived of fuel, ammo etc. and then launch a massive attack.
    The claim that Russian military will collapse any day now is being parroted for over a mounth, just like the sanctions that did nothing. The Chineese are happy the all of that cheap russian gas will now flow the their nation, and soon Ukrainian fertilizer.
    In this game of “who collapses first under strees etc. I would sadly say that the EU is so unprepared for dealing with everything that has happened that is not even funny (what did they except that this attempt at launching a color rvolution will succed after all previous had failed??)
    Mister oligarch who stole the firewood was arrested today for his practices yay some good news, his behavior was atrocious from the beggining.
    But unfortunetly some really bad news, I mentioned some nasty people from Piła, well long story short as a result of our membership in the UE Piła’s industries were shut down (it was claimed that they were too poluting but in reality their competitors in Germany could continue their operations, an unmentioned fact of our local area) which led in turn to the rise of Polish ultranationalism in the city. Not everybody by a long shot but rampant in the places in the city were most of the workers that were laid off from these companies live (anti UE, anti Russia and anti Ukrainian)
    And Ukrainian refugees are forcibly relocated to the city…(a lot of un Druidly words are flying, and 3 women were “taken advantage of”) personally I am not anti Ukrainian me and my brother had worked in Germany for 3 summers to help my familly with extra money (inflation in Poland is no joke now) and I had my share of comments about my nationality when I was working there. People of Poland and Ukraine are being held hostage by everything in the EU, it cannot be helpped we had to figure out something else.
    Stay safe everyone Wer

  279. @Andy says:

    > How much do you expect to be lost, ultimately? I’ve been working on the assumption that we’d be back to something like an early 20th century level of tech in my remaining lifetime (optimistically 25 years).

    For the next 25 years don’t expect anything other than the same level of technology we have now, but with things getting more expensive, the majority having difficulty to find jobs, and more government and corporate control.

  280. Patricia M,

    His phone is an Alcatel through Tracfone he got a few years ago. I’m not sure if it’s still available. However, one of my mom’s care aides recently got an Alcatel (I think) at a Verizon store here in Maine. I forget what carrier she uses.

    Hope this helps!


  281. This whole discussion of Slack reminds me of the “buffer time” episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks (Season 1 Episode 3, ‘Temporal Edict’).

  282. Scotlyn, of course the universe doesn’t care. I’m thinking now of the human beings who have had to face the end of their families, their communities, and their culture. In the great and tentacled scheme of things, that’s unimportant, but it’s like the old story about the kid throwing starfish back into the sea: to those starfish, it matters a great deal.

    Polecat, I’ve been watching the squawking with immense amusement. Elon Musk is a blowhard’s blowhard, but I can’t help but smile, watching him buy a seat on the Twitter board of directors and cause panic among those who can’t stand the thought of being disagreed with.

    Wer, ouch. What a ghastly situation. As for the Russians, we’ll see, but it doesn’t look to me as though they’re especially worried.

  283. @Ellen – thanks! The miracle is in getting a Verizon Store salescritter to give her anything but the very cutting-edge latest in hot power-hogging technology! Will look into this one for sure.

  284. @info

    ‘“Expect Europe to decline toward its former status as a bleak, mountainous subcontinent inhabited by bellicose tribes with few of the graces of civilization.”

    It would have be interesting to think about Europe and European Colonization without all that Coal and Oil in the first place. Wonder how history would have been different.’

    It shouldn’t be too hard to imagine. Ancient Greece and Rome were, after all, European, and made no use of coal or oil. Nor did any part of Europe much until about 200 years ago. Maybe you’re conflating industrial civilization with Europe and European civilizations?

  285. Late in the cycle, but this tweet encapsulates the essay themes.

    “If They are trying hard to steal your Slack, it’s ’cause They have run out.

  286. Perhaps I missed it in these numerous comments, but there is a good discussion of Slack in David Fleming’s Lean Logic (Chelsea Green, 2016, page 419). He agrees with JMG: ‘Slack is central to the ability of a system to recover from shock.’ He cites Juliet Schor’s example of medieval society where one third of the year was taken up with holidays and festivals. He says: ‘as the economy now begins to decompose, we have to build a slack society to take its place.’ I just wanted Fleming and Lean Logic to get a mention here as a comment on this post. Thanks as ever JMG, so glad I shook your hand some years ago in London!

  287. Everyone has probably moved on to the next article. But Sim #296, if you’re reading this, thank you for the roasted onion link. I’ve never roasted an onion before but it looked easy so I tried it. Then I cut it up and added it to (lumpy, buttery) mashed potatoes. It’s soooo good.

    TPTB don’t want us peasants eating meat anymore but surely they will still allow us onions and potatoes?

    JMG, thank you and Sara for the lentil recipe. I lost my favorite lentil soup recipe years ago and decided to give this one a try. I cooked this one last week and it was very good.

  288. I was referred to this essay by a friend, and really enjoyed it. I’m not a long-time reader and I’m very late to the party, but I was compelled to comment because reading this reminded me so distinctly of another favourite essay of mine, “Survival of the Mediocre-Mediocre” by Venkatesh Rao. He goes into rather deep detail on the structural features of the concept he calls ‘mediocre’ and you and the SubGenii call ‘Slack.’ From what I can tell this idea has been discovered independently multiple times, yet we still don’t have a common understanding of it in our culture and we really should!

    The essay in question:

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