Monthly Post

The Laughter of Wolves

As I write these words, lean gray wolves are pacing through a rain-soaked landscape in eastern Europe.  Dim rumbling sounds in the far distance, like summer thunder that’s strayed into the wrong season, don’t bother them. Nor does it trouble them that the forest around them is dotted with the decaying ruins of buildings abandoned half a century ago. Something else doesn’t disturb them, either, but we’ll get to that. Keep the wolves in mind as we proceed.

Keep them in mind.

It may seem like an improbable leap from wolves running through the forest to a flustered speech by one of the pampered darlings of the Western world’s corporate aristocracy, but there’s a connection. The pampered darling is Yuval Noah Harari, the chief intellectual of  the Davos set these days. I hope I won’t be accused of setting up a straw man if I mention that he’s a gay vegan atheist who practices mindfulness meditation and writes the kind of big-picture history books that evoke adoring swoons from the corporate media and get eyerolls from real scholars. His most famous book is titled Homo Deus: A Brief History of the Future; in it, he takes it for granted that even the stickiest wet dreams of today’s internet-addled tech bros must surely come to pass. Intellectual hubris?  His picture should be next to the entry in your dictionary.

This is the guy who did a fine display of pearl-clutching in an interview a while back, insisting that if Donald Trump is reelected this year, that will be “the death blow to what remains of the global order.” It wasn’t simply the King in Orange who had Harari fainting on the couch in the best Victorian style, though that certainly played a role. The thing that seems to have shaken Harari’s world is that Trump and the people who support him don’t just disagree with the specific institutions and ideals that Harari’s friends at the World Economic Forum are pushing these days. They reject the entire concept of a planned global order.

Yuval Noah Harari. He’s not quite as clueless as the average WEF attendee.

Reading about Harari’s outburst, I found myself nodding and muttering, “He almost gets it.”  For all the mockery I’ve directed at him, the man deserves credit for an intellectual leap that most people of his class seem incapable of making. This inability to grasp the rejection of global order is quite a recent phenomenon, all things considered.  For that matter, the entire project of an international order planned and managed behind the scenes by an economic and political elite  only dates back a little more than a century.

Previous efforts to impose some permanent structure on the seething chaos of human affairs mostly took the form of imperial conquest, on the one hand, or of treaties woven via careful compromises between major political and military powers, on the other. It took the gargantuan carnage of the First World War to convince a great many people in the wealthy classes that these two older options wouldn’t make the world safe for plutocracy. That led to the creation of paired nonprofits in Britain and the United States—the Royal Institute for International Affairs and the Council on Foreign Relations—and thence to similar organizations, of which the Club of Rome and the World Economic Forum are perhaps the best known these days.

For some values of the word “improving,” maybe.

All of them follow the same basic template, bringing together top-level business executives and holders of hereditary wealth with politicians and bureaucrats to push events in accord with their shared interests. One consequence of this common heredity is that no matter what the problem is, the only solution these organizations can recognize is going further in the same direction they’ve been pushing all along. Global coordination by vast bureaucratic structures that erase the lines between government, corporate, and nonprofit sectors: that’s the one remedy they have to offer, and the mere fact that it hasn’t worked yet does nothing to slow them down.

The Club of Rome is a good example here. I noted several years ago in an essay here that The Limits to Growth, the one Club of Rome publication everybody’s heard of, was only the first of a long string of books, and the rest of these all pushed global coordination by vast bureaucracies as the solution to the problems delineated in the first book. What’s fascinating about this obsession is that the problems discussed in The Limits to Growth can’t be solved through global coordination by vast bureaucracies. They can’t actually be solved at all.

It’s embarrassing how many people still don’t know what this book said.

What The Limits to Growth showed is that if economic growth is pursued far enough, the costs of growth rise faster than the benefits and force the global economy to its knees. Global bureaucracies can no more change that than they can amend the law of gravity. In point of fact, as the costs of growth begin to bite, one of the few options that offers any hope for improving conditions is to cut back sharply on bureaucracies of all kinds, since bureaucracy consumes resources, energy, and other goods and services, and produces remarkably little in return.

A viable world on the far side of peak growth is thus not a world of global managers running vast bureaucratic systems. It’s less resource- and energy-intensive, and therefore a world where local, community-scale politics and economics replace the hugely expensive global systems that sprang up during the last extravagant blowoff of the age of unchecked growth. Yet you can read all those studies churned out by the Club of Rome and never see a word about this.

That the world of the future will inevitably have less room for global management is something that would-be global managers can’t even begin to conceive. Still, there’s another factor to take into account.  If there’s one thing our would-be global managers have demonstrated to a fare-thee-well, it’s that global management—or at least the kind of global management they prefer, with themselves settled comfortably at the helm—is stunningly incompetent in practice.

Take a look at the global climate change situation if you want a good example. For decades now, doing something about climate change has been one of the central projects of the Davos set. All along we’ve had an ongoing stream of protests and conferences and loudly praised international agreements which were supposed to do something about the rate at which CO2 gets dumped into the atmosphere. None of it has had any measurable effect, as the graph below demonstrates. If this is the best that global management can do, the world is better off without their efforts.

The great crusade to limit CO2 emissions began about halfway through this graph. No, I don’t see any results either.

There are plenty of other examples—the total failure of the economic sanctions that were supposed to stop Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is one I’ve discussed here already—but a broader view may be more useful. For a century now we’ve been told by the corporate press that global management by qualified experts will bring us a better world. For a century now, we’ve had no shortage of global management by qualified experts. Has it brought us a better world?  Not a bit. Especially over the last fifty years, as the grip of those qualified experts has tightened on the levers of control, conditions for most people in the industrial world have gotten steadily worse, and so have the crises the global managers claimed they would solve.

It’s become quite popular in some circles to insist that the panoply of cascading failures set in motion by the Davos set and other groupings of our would-be lords and masters prove that the global managers we’re discussing are evil masterminds who deliberately intend to cause the dismal outcomes their pet policies have so reliably brought about.  A somewhat less popular opinion, though arguably a more accurate one, holds that these same global managers belong to a decadent aristocracy so sheltered from the consequences of its own actions and so caught up in a world of vapid abstractions that it’s a marvel they haven’t caused even worse disasters. I’d like to suggest that another factor may explain a good deal more, however:  the world we live in happens to be far too complex for global management to be a viable option.

This is the kind of thing our brains evolved to do.

This shouldn’t be surprising, all things considered. From the perspective of modern scientific materialism, after all, human intelligence is not some kind of nature-transcending superpower; it is simply the set of cognitive processes our ancestors evolved through Darwinian selection as they pursued the tasks of finding food and mates and avoiding predators down the long ages of our prehistoric past—important tasks, to be sure, but not especially intellectually demanding ones. From the perspective of any religion you care to name, in turn, humans are simply one class of created beings, irremediably finite and fallible.  It’s only in the hubristic delusions typified by Harari’s book Homo Deus, which jumble misunderstood scientific and religious ideas together into a kind of crackpot anthropolatry, that these obvious realities get mislaid. The fact that our current caste of global managers have fallen into such stupidities goes a long way, I think, to explain the pervasive failures that result from their efforts to manage the world.

This is where the wolves mentioned earlier come loping back into sight. As some of my readers may have guessed, the landscape in which they spend their days is the Chernobyl exclusion zone on the northern border of Ukraine, abandoned half a century ago after the worst nuclear power plant disaster so far. Back when the zone was first evacuated, plenty of people speculated that it would become a radioactive desert, devoid of life or populated solely by a scattering of hideously crippled mutant life forms.

It’s remarkably green these days, in fact.

As we now know, that didn’t happen. Instead, the eastern European forest of an earlier time promptly reestablished itself in the exclusion zone, shouldering aside the crumbling remains of human presence and coping easily with the increased radiation flux. Deer found their way there promptly; horses abandoned by their owners shook off centuries of domestication, found mates, and gave rise to herds of wild horses. Where there are herbivores, there will be carnivores, and wolves slipped through the thickly inhabited countryside to either side of the zone, formed packs, and began keeping deer, horses, and other tasty prey animals from overpopulating the area.

Since they are at the top of the food chain, the wolves of Chernobyl necessarily absorb more radionuclides than anything else in the area. Under ordinary circumstances this would make them horribly vulnerable to cancer.  Wildlife biologists researching the wolf packs, however, recently discovered something unnerving:  the wolves have evolved robust resistance to cancer.  Nobody understands the biochemistry yet, and it’s possible that nobody ever will.  The fact remains that the wolves responded to a lethal danger by quietly evolving around it.  In the process, they have achieved something that modern medicine has tried to do for more than a century, without any noticeable success.

Perfectly healthy despite the radionuclides.

Impressive though this is, it’s by no means unique. Nature does such things all the time. There are bacteria and algae that thrive in the water that circulates through nuclear reactors, basking in streams of high-intensity gamma rays that would fry you and me on the spot.  There are living things that grow on the outside of spacecraft in orbit, handling the hard vacuum, lethal cold, and sizzling radiation of outer space with perfect aplomb. There are fungi that eat carcinogen-laced toxic waste and go back for second helpings.  We can’t do any of these things. Nature chuckles at our incompetence and shows us how it’s done.

Then there’s Ascension Island.  Most of two centuries ago, when HMS Beagle dropped anchor there, it was a barren little cinder of volcanic rock in the middle of the South Atlantic, so far from any other scrap of land and so devoid of water that the only living things on it were sea birds and a few species of fern whose spores were light enough to blow there across the ocean. On board the Beagle was the ship’s naturalist, a young man named Charles Darwin, then at the beginning of his career. While he’s most famous for his theory of natural selection, Darwin was interested in every other feature of biology and ecology; he’s the guy who figured out how tropical atolls form, and also the guy who first showed how earthworms create soil. He’s also the only person in history to invent a tropical forest, and he did it more or less by accident.

Ascension Island looked something like this when Darwin arrived…

It’s a remarkable story. After his visit to Ascension Island, Darwin wrote to the British Admiralty and suggested that if somebody got around to planting trees on the island, the increased water vapor the trees would put in the air would change the local climate enough to make it suitable for a naval base. The Admiralty, with the sort of bluff blundering enthusiasm for which Britain has long been famous, took him up on it in the stupidest possible way: they ordered any ship that meant to pass Ascension Island to pick up some plants at the last harbor they left and plant them once they got there.  British captains making port calls all over the globe obediently sent someone ashore to get a random assortment of plants, kept them more or less alive on shipboard thereafter, and then sent a second lieutenant and a longboat full of Jack Tars ashore to stick them in the ground as soon as they dropped anchor. So the island ended up with a dog’s breakfast of invasive species scooped up all anyhow from half the world’s coastal ecosystems.

In theory, that should have produced ecological chaos.  In practice, in just a few decades, much of Ascension Island turned into a green tropic paradise with lush upland forests. Current theory insists that this is impossible, and that a stable tropical forest requires millions of years of slow adjustments on the part of the living things that make it up. Nobody told the plants about current theory, though, so they just went ahead and did it.  Not only did Ascension Island get a tropical forest in an eyeblink of geological time, it got one of the more delicately balanced forms—a cloud forest, which thrives on water vapor condensing on the leaves of trees at high elevation.  Oh, and Darwin was quite correct; the forest changed the local climate, yielding adequate water, and Ascension Island became an important naval base.

…and its central mountain looks like this today.

Scientists have tried repeatedly to plan and create ecosystems. Those attempts reliably fail, because ecosystems are too complex to plan rationally.  It turns out that dumping random plants on a barren island and letting them sort things out for themselves works better. Scientists have also tried repeatedly to come up with some way to make people more resistant to cancer.  Those attempts have also failed, and I suggest that the reason is that the biochemistry of cancer is too complex to understand rationally.  Letting some wolves find their way into a radioactive exclusion zone, on the other hand, seems to work quite well.

I’d like to suggest that the same rule can be applied more generally, and that it explains the cascading failures of the managerial elite that claims just now in the teeth of the evidence to be able to lead the world to a better future. Those failures have happened, and are continuing to happen, because the world is too complex to understand rationally.  It is so full of unpredictable variables and intricate feedback loops that no degree of human expertise, no set of abstract principles, no concept of world order can provide accurate predictions and allow the creation of a viable and productive order on a global scale.

That doesn’t mean that human beings can’t co-create a relatively stable, successful, thriving order in the world. It just means that this project is best pursued on a local level, relying on personal experience, folk wisdom, and close attention to local conditions.  Those are exactly what the effete managerial aristocracy that thinks it runs the world can’t provide.  Thus the more tightly the would-be global managers try to grip the world, the more of it slips through their fingers, because the world isn’t simpleminded enough for them to be able to control it.

They can blow their own horns all they want, but that’s not going to change the fact that the world isn’t doing what they tell it.

This, in turn, is most of why Yuval Noah Harari is shrieking like an overwrought six-year-old.  The world isn’t just refusing to follow the abstract models he brings to it, it’s refusing to follow any abstract models at all. Raised and educated to think of the world as a passive medium that privileged intellectuals can shape at will, he’s being confronted with the terrifying discovery that the world literally couldn’t care less about him, his credentials, or his ideas. Admittedly, he’s not handling it very well, but then few people can deal gracefully with the flat disconfirmation of the beliefs that provide them with whatever status and privilege they have in the world.

There’s more to his gyrations than that, of course, just as there’s more to the equally silly antics of other members of his privileged clique.  Among the things the world contains, after all, is a great many ordinary people who are sick and tired of the pompous pretensions of the class for which Harari speaks. They know that when Harari talks about global order, what he means is that he wants them be ordered around by his rich friends according to some set of fashionable abstractions detached from local realities.  They believe that letting ordinary people live their lives and pursue their own self-defined goals instead—like wolves in the Chernobyl exclusion zone or plants on Ascension Island—will have better results than leaving in the world in the hands of an incompetent elite. What’s more, the evidence suggests that they’re right.

What gives all this teeth is that a great many of them are prepared to take matters into their own hands.  As Napoleon Bonaparte is supposed to have said, wars happen when the government tells you who the enemy is; revolutions happen when you figure it out for yourselves.  Quite a few people in the United States have figured things out for themselves, and  many of them seem quite willing to use Donald Trump’s monumental ego as a battering ram to knock some sense into a system that’s given them nothing but misery for too many decades. If that fails, in turn, they’ll simply reach for some other instrument, and it’s worth keeping in mind that their next choice may be even less welcome to Harari and his rich friends.

He’s not impressed, Mr. Harari. Neither are about eight billion of your fellow humans.

Meanwhile the wolves of the Chernobyl zone keep loping unharmed through a radioactive landscape.  Those wolves are laughing at you, Mr. Harari, and at the whole delusion of elite omnipotence on which you’ve staked your career and your life. You may want to listen to them.  Their laughter may be the only warning you get before they chase you down.


  1. It was Charles Darwin’s friend and botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker who was the one to suggest to the Admirality to plant trees on Ascension Island in 1843.

  2. If you are of hillbilly stock with “common heredity” you get slandered as an inbred. Sadly, the same doesn’t hold as true for our would be puppet masters!

    Just goes to show once again that what is posh for the jet-setters, is deemed trashy for the trailer park dwellers.

  3. This essay helps verbalize a lot on what I have observed and believe has been and will be the arc of our society’s path.

  4. For fans of the Andrei Tarkovsky movie Stalker, and urban exploration, I can recommend the following book:

    Stalking the atomic city :life among the decadent and the depraved of Chornobyl by Markiyan Kamysh ; translated by Hanna Leliv and Reilly Costigan-Humes. Originally title A Stroll in the Zone.

    “Since the Chornobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986, the area still remains a toxic, forbidden wasteland. But as with all dangerous places, it attracts a wild assortment of adventurers who climb over the barbed wire in the middle of the night to witness the aftermath of catastrophe in the flesh. Markiyan Kamysh, whose father worked as an on-site disaster liquidator of Chornobyl, works as a “stalker,” guiding people who dare to venture illegally into the disaster area for thrills. By turns lyrical and confessional, Stalking the Atomic City unveils the state of the site today and the unusual communities that have found a home in the desolate place known as the Exclusion Zone. Kamysh tells us about criminals who hide in the abandoned buildings, the policemen who chase them, and romantic utopists who have built families here, even as deadly toxic waste lingers in the buildings, playgrounds, and streams. An extraordinary guide to this alien world, Kamysh has unique access and expertise as well as a deep personal connection to this dystopian reality. Complete with stunning photographs by the author, Stalking the Atomic City is a haunting account of what total autonomy could mean in our growingly fractured world”

    This came out in English in 2022.

  5. Thank you for an insightful and articulate essay…impressive as always, sir! I love your choice of the picture of wolves at the top of the page…the raven is a nice touch.

    May I recommend the documentary “The Babuskas of Chernobyl” for a fascinating and inspiring story of human adaptation to environmental damage.

    “In the radioactive Dead Zone surrounding Chernobyl’s Reactor No. 4, a defiant community of women scratches out an existence on some of the most toxic land on Earth. ”

  6. This reminds me of Job from the Bible, how Job demanded that God come to him to answer for his suffering and then God took him on a virtual tour of the world to show him how complex the world really is and that he was wrong in thinking that he knows how the world should work, according to his ideas of what a just and fair world is. Now Job was a great guy, the Bible says, and even he didn’t have a clue about how the world should be run, let alone the WEF people. Nature is so awesome, and it’s humbling looking at it’s greatness.

    Awesome post Mr. JMG!

  7. In point of fact, as the costs of growth begin to bite, one of the few options that offers any hope for improving conditions is to cut back sharply on bureaucracies of all kinds, since bureaucracy consumes resources, energy, and other goods and services, and produces remarkably little in return.

    A minor point of disagreement: Bureaucracies exist to manage complexity, so as long as complexity is yielding significantly more benefits than detriments, bureaucracies manage to yield some benefit, though they do become increasingly inept one they reach a certain size. When the amount of benefit from increasing complexity no long increases in turn, tends to coincide with the point at which bureaucracies become ineptly large. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop the bureaucracy from further expanding, as such organizations tend to be a major source of employment for otherwise useless people such as yours truly. However, the benefits provided by bureaucracy certainly start contracting at this point. Once the detriments of complexity start outweighing the benefits, then bureaucracies bump into their own “limits to growth”, and may even have to start shedding its most superfluous members. That we probably reached this point at some point during the Clinton Era is probably why I am not employed by some public or private bureaucracy but instead pushing carts at the grocery store!

  8. Very good and provocative Mr Greer…I didn’t know there are wolves living in Chernobyl area.

  9. Ah, you see, that’s why the elites created AI – to deal with the complecity and rule wisely and benevolently over us puny humans.

    The irony is that in Star Trek, Kirk reliably destroyer those computer autocrats. Don’t know why they try to go off script on this one.

  10. Many thanks for the news about the wolves on Chernobyl. I have always suspected that something like this was possible, that nature can adapt to polution of all sorts much more easily than we think. The wolves lead a wild life, wich allows for darwinian processes to select among them the fittest to that particular challenge, wereas people in the industrial countries, by contrast, are partially sheltered from those, and are instead selected on the very diferent conditions that society imposes. You mentioned a couple of weeks ago, that dumb people has a tendency to get killed. However, in our present conditions, those same ones can reach reproductive age even if chronically sick. Thus, people in our countries, specially in the upper classes, are not the most likeliest to adapt to radioactivity, i think.

  11. People seldom realize that in the past earth (and the rest of the solar system excluding the sun) was more radioactive in the past. Life evolved with twice as much potassium 40 (half life 1.28 billion years) and more than twice as much uranium 235 ( half life 700 million years) as exists now.

    DNA repair mechanisms are quite robust to general radiation fields. It’s the internal exposure, especially by alpha emitters that cause the real damage. How the wolves are dealing with their dinner is a really good question. Are they simply repairing the damage fast enough to keep up, or has the biology changed so as to chuck out the radioisotopes faster?

    Even in humans radiation effects are more ambiguous than the news would have you believe. “the so called low dose radiation therapy displays beneficial, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties in chronic inflammatory and degenerative diseases.”

    In related news some group breathlessly announced there is no safe level of lead exposure. It made me wonder what planet they were planning to move to. Uranium and thorium both decay to lead, so the lead content of the earth has been increasing steadily since formation even as the radiation level drops.

  12. I was fortunate enough to spend my twenties working on various organic/alternative farms. One fact that always stuck with me was that in one spoonful of quality organic soil, there are more micro-organisms present than there are mammals on the entire planet Earth. Wowza!

    So whats going on there? What are all those micro-critters doing? How do they interact with each other? How do they interact with us? For the most part, we have no idea. And honestly, I take great comfort in that fact. All those little critters working tirelessly around the clock, just doing their thing ensuring that life continues for the rest of us-all this with ZERO managerial oversight. What a beautiful thing.

  13. If only the battering ran didn’t come with so many provisos. As much as I detest the Davos set (and I do), the world promised by the Trumpists is even worse. Aside from their arguments that I shouldn’t be allowed to exist, their plan seems to be to gain even more direct control, and to enforce a very rigid view of America. They don’t want to leave people alone to do their own thing. They want to institute their own system of norms.

    We seem to be at a point of choosing between harm and spicy harm. A grey corporate meatgrinder on one side, and the same on the other except the meatgrinder has some flag decals and the man in charge says people get to push us in first. Yippee.

    If another option does come to terrify the elite, I think it’s going to be one that captures the energy of the disenfranchised without alienating so many parts of it. THAT would be something to see.

  14. JMG, thanks for this week’s fine essay, and condolences on your bereavement this past winter.

    JMG, I wonder if some day you could as a follow-on to this week’s essay compare and contrast two large cyber projects, both of them operating systems suitable for running on common off-the-shelf home-office small-computer architectures such as Intel x86? On the one hand we have Microsoft Windows, centrally directed, and a source of financial inconvenience for the thousands of millions of people who have had to pay for a Windows licence. On the other hand we have what is generally called, in loose writing, Linux, but should in strict accuracy be termed “GNU/Linux”. Since the GNU/Linux developer community is large and varied, it might make sense for you to narrow your focus, should you undertake the envisaged writing, to one particularly influential GNU/Linus flavour, Debian. (From Debian are derived other, less geeky, flavours of Linux, notably Ubuntu. Debian is considered a fine GNU/Linux distribution from which to “fork off” other, potentially more popular, distributions.) The Debian project-governance model has traditionally been carefully documented, with one of the foundational documents a charter that formally relinquishes commercial objectives. Many, perhaps most, senior analysts of cyber will assert that it is Debian that wins over Microsoft in terms of quality, despite the light footprint of Debian’s governing authorities., in other words despite the large degree of autonomy granted by the Debian project leaders to individual Debian coders. Everything that has to get done does tend to get done, including (what is crucial) quality control.

    Debian might be thought of as a successful implementation of a principle in Catholic ecclesial governance much lauded by the clerical theorists, although not always put into practice, namely the principle of “subsidiarity”: if a decision can be taken both by the bishop and by the local parish, let an effort be made to delegate it to the parish; if it is the central Vatican curia and the regional bishop who have competing claims in a question, then let an effort be made to delegate the decision to the regional bishop; if it is a matter of Papal authority as against the authority of the episcopal “synodal process”, then let an effort be made (in the spirit, these days, of Pope Francis) to delegate to the synodal process.

    Anyway, here, in the tussle between Microsoft and GNU/Linux, is something to ponder, as a possible writing project!

    PS: Do note a bit of industry gossip from ten or fifteen or so years ago, which may or may not be true, but to my rather untutored ear has perhaps the ring of truth: it was said that the firewalls at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond were considered too sensitive, too mission-critical, to be run under Microsoft Windows. The gossip has it that they were instead run under GNU/Linux.

    PPS: Thanks for the Mauna Loa CO2-concentration graph. A quick check with a ruler shows that the graph is not only rising, but is concave upwards, in other words that the rate of increase is itself increasing.

  15. Civilisations are complex systems that follow a certain trajectory, and a subset of that system (ie, government) cannot change it. Bit like a steering wheel that thinks it tells the car where to go: cars only go on roads, which are laid down already.
    To paraphrase Masanobu Fukuoka, ‘the only thing left to do is nothing at all’.
    Also, if an alligator tells you it’s gonna drain the swamp, maybe don’t trust it…

  16. The RCMP came out with a, heavily redacted, paper recently stating that Canada has become an angry place where people do not trust those in authority. I no longer have a speck of respect for the RCMP because they illegally wire tapped my phone during Covid. They do a wire tap and then let you listen to them walking around the office and their radios receiving messages. They think this is intimidating.

    When they did it to me, I was talking with a friend who was also publishing articles against the Covid Mandates and other stupidities. I said, ‘Bunch of big hairy Mounties afraid of a couple of little old ladies.” Then, I told them to go commit incest with their mothers. There was a loud click and the line went clear.

    The erosion of trust in the various levels of Government in Canada was due to this sort of thing repeated thousands of times by Government functionaries and their disgusting bully boys in the police.

  17. I decided I wanted to read The Limits to Growth instead of settling for digests and commentaries, so I looked on The Limits to Bureaucratic Growth by Marshall Meyer came up along with the first title. Coincidence? Doubt it. And many thanks for pointing out the big picture. Keeping my morale up amid events as their effects flow through a disregarded corner of flyover country is difficult, but knowing that there is a why really helps. (And points to hope and opportunities.) I’d been wondering why an anti-globalist theme continues to appear in the emerging populism here. Additionally, while I’ve been looking at the supernatural possibilities around the emerging Gamergate II, your remarks today offer some avenues for investigation of the events and people driving the popularity of “alternative” videogame offerings like Helldivers 2 and Escape from Tarkov. I will keep you posted as the story unfolds here in my very own crumbling garrison town at the edge of a dying empire.

  18. While the latest generation of neural networks is a far cry from the super-intelligent AGI portrayed (usually, in a rather embarrassing way, as it is impossible for an author to write a character smarter than they are themselves) in science fiction, I’m afraid the technocratic elites believe in progress enough to try and throw them at this complexity problem. As usual, the territory (society) will be held at fault for failing to comply with the map (model). As a side note, it’s interesting how the word “simulation” had been abandoned almost overnight in favor of “digital twin” in tech circles. Something eerie about the latter.

  19. Just a slightly irrelevant thought. A friend gave me the Harari bestseller “Sapiens,” a potted history of mankind with “predictions” of our probable future. He wanted me to read it, knows I find the man rather creepy. Honestly I tried. It’s a magnificent example of the book designer’s art, lots of photos and eye candy throughout. The paper is nicely coated and quite heavy and the corners are rounded over to give the book some longevity. But I can’t bear to read it. The umpteenth repetition of bad ideas I’ve been encountering since I was a boy in the 1950s, no matter how current it is among the elite and their fans, just doesn’t appeal. I tried to give it back to him. He said to keep it. So I do. It’s a kind of reminder that this stuff is mainstream, whatever that means. Thank you for this post. It’s reassuring after a fashion. The chaos of the managerial class downfall will encounter the chaos of the rise of locally determined life. The resulting turbulence will benefit many in the long run, I have no doubt. But in the short run (at 75 my event horizon is perhaps shorter than that of many), almost everyone will have to scramble to manage some sort of life. Since I’m not as flexible at scrambling as I once was, I’m not enthusiastic, though I no doubt signed on to be here now, in this time, as a witness/participant (Gk: martyroi IIRC). I suspect the first big step into decomplexifying is imminent. I’m not calling it the eschaton, however…I just don’t have enough popcorn!

  20. Mr Nobody #9

    “A minor point of disagreement: Bureaucracies exist to manage complexity, so as long as complexity is yielding significantly more benefits than detriments, bureaucracies manage to yield some benefit…

    A minor point of disagreement to your minor point of disagreement.

    😵I feel bureaucracies exist to keep those-in-power in power. It is “the rich”—whose ancestors lucked out (aka militarily killed their opponents of the time🏴‍☠️) and had a good life for the past thousand years,—who set up bureaucracies so that they and their descendants have another (future) thousand years of holding onto what they have, insuring they continue to get what they want, when they want it,— no matter what, no matter who suffers.

    Spoken from the mouth of a true genealogist and family historian.

    💨Northwind Grandma😵
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  21. I would like to piggyback off of Ôl-ffitio Rhydlyd’s comment here, video games became popular and started surpassing movies the main form of entertainment in the late 1990s and the 2000s. Neptune entered Aquarius back in January 1998 and remained there till about April 2011. From my understanding Neptune is associated with the collective consciousness via dreams and fantasy, and the dissolution of the status quo. Neptune entered Pisces in 2011 and is staying there till 2026. The First Gamer Gate erupted soon after this Pisces transition and the Second Gamer Gate is erupting right after Pluto entered Aquarius.

    Also of note, one of the sub-genres of video games that was real popular during this time was real-time strategy games and what was generally considered the first real-time strategy game was Dune II, released in 1992 based on the 1984 movie adaptation of Frank Herbert’s book. A sequel to this game called Dune 2000 was released in 1998 right when Neptune entered Aquarius and the most popular movie in the world right now with Pluto entering Aquarius is Dune: Part Two. I find that to be an interesting coincidence.

  22. Mr. Nobody (#9): my experience is that when bureaucracies contract they shed their LEAST superfluous members, eventually resulting in a completely incompetent organization.

  23. What an utterly fitting post! I believe last night was the Aries Ingress, in a chart with Scorpio rising, and thus an angular Mars as chart ruler who squares Uranus! Jupiter-Uranus in Taurus may provide the celestial equivalent of a political earthquake, but it is red, bloody, 𝘸𝘰𝘭𝘧𝘪𝘴𝘩 Mars who will come out of the gates swinging. Trump’s Mars conjunct his Leo Ascendant may be the perfect aspect for one who wishes to ride a tide of boiling anger into the White Palace—er, house. to become kin– that is, President. His exact Jupiter Uranus trine suggests that he can avoid the worst of a fallen Uranus’ baleful energy. Lastly, Trump has a close transiting Jupiter-Sun Conjunction on the day of the election. Good gods the man has some awe-inspiring good fortune! It might even come close to the size of his ego!

    Neptune in the last degrees of Pisces heralds the beginning of the end of a full Neptune cycle which began on the beginning days of the American Civil War. The expansion of governmental capacity and private wealth in that war was unprecedented, and one could argue that it laid the foundations for managerialism, 20th century war, and the full expression of ideological progress-worship. In this gone Pisces season I have tried to focus on the ineffable and inexpressible, and to feel the appropriately blissful for the immense mystic gifts that Neptune in Pisces can grant; it isn’t only terrible, clownish madness, after all! But as the Sun rides into exaltation, I am reminded of the beauty of beginnings and the rejuvenating power of sheer shameless ferocity. I am no stoker of war or violent confrontation; I have Neptune conjunct the Ascendant and Sun conjunct Venus. But if there must be strife, let us rejoice and be cleansed by it. The winds of change bid fair to become a gale; let us face it squarely with all the dignity and grinning fierceness of a ranging wolf.

    Thank you as usual John, and may the gods bless you with a new beginning after your heartbreaking tragedy.

  24. Toomas Karmo, I read somewhere that there are about 5,000 functionaries living in the Vatican State. IDK if the writer was including support persons, but either way that would make the Catholic Church the world’s most efficient large organization. at least in terms of upper management to ordinary parishioner ratio.

    Allie001, I share your fears. I think some of us are going to have to learn the art of hiding in plain sight.

  25. One reason I have heard for animals in general adapting to radiation levels in Chernoble is that their generation time is much shorter than humans, and their lifespans shorter, thereby giving a quicker time to evolve, and less risk from a disease that tends to develop over years.
    Off topic, but Tim Watkins @ has also quoted your unfamiliar world post, It seems to getting around.

  26. Justin, all human beings are inbred. There’s less genetic diversity in our entire species than there is in the average bonobo troop — one of the side effects of being a very recent species that’s passed through some harsh bottlenecks over the last quarter million years. The hillbillies I know are generally much less mentally inbred, though, than their self-proclaimed betters… 😉

    Jessica, glad to hear it.

    Marlena13, hmm! Thank you — so it looks as though Darwin and Hooker cooked up the idea together.

    Justin, thanks for this.

    Goldenhawk, and thanks for this.

    Rafael, an excellent point — I didn’t even think of Job, and I should have.

    Mister N, bureaucracies claim to be able to manage complexity. In fact, what they mostly do is provide ample employment opportunities for bureaucrats. C. Northcote Parkinson was already writing about the hopelessly dysfunctional nature of bureaucracies in 1955.

    Chuaquin, I’d read about them a few years ago, then saw the press release when the study about their cancer resistance was released. I admit I cheered aloud.

    Athaia, of course! Mind you, “artificial intelligence” — that is to say, large language models (LLMs) — is rapidly proving itself to be another form of artificial stupidity, but then that’s par for the course.

    Guillem, I think part of the problem is simply that the upper classes are so good at sheltering themselves from selective pressures. Of course that may change…

    Siliconguy, interesting. I didn’t happen to know that — though of course it’s no surprise.

    Andrew, I’ve seen it stated that topsoil is the most complex biochemical substance in the known solar system — far more complex and interconnected than, say, human brains. Thus my question is simply this: what is it thinking?

    Seaweedy, thank you.

    Allie001, if you want such an option, you might consider trying to create it — it’s not going to happen by itself, you know. If you do, please do keep in mind that ordinary working class Americans of all colors make up a very, very large share of the disenfranchised you talk about, and their interests — not just those of their interests that it’s fashionable to take seriously — will have to be addressed.

    Toomas, good to hear from you again! Er, I don’t have the technical background or, really, the interest to get into a discussion of computer operating systems. When I lived in Seattle, though, I heard repeated, well-substantiated claims that the Microsoft campus in Redmond used Linux for all their mission-critical functions, as Windows products were too failure-prone to do the job…

    Benn, that Fukuoka quote is a keeper!

    Maxine, hey, at least they’ve noticed that people don’t trust them! Maybe someday some rocket scientist in Ottawa will figure out that people wouldn’t distrust the government quite so much if it didn’t tell so many absurd lies. (The “big hairy Mounties” story is a keeper, btw — thank you.)

    Rhydlyd, hmm! I haven’t encountered Meyer’s book before, and it sounds as though it’s worth a look; thank you.

    Brent, of course! There’s a weirdly juvenile quality to the Davos set, and thus it’s inevitable that they should be stuck in the kind of excited gizmocentric fantasies that seem so convincing to twelve-year-old boys. As for “digital twin,” I suggest the good old English word “fake” might be even more better.

    Mark, thanks for this.

    Clarke, and that’s the other thing I find most remarkable about the current future-babble being spewed out by Harari and his equivalents: it’s so stunningly unoriginal. I wasn’t around in the 1950s, but I remember late 1960s comic books that included every detail these folks assign to their supposedly brand-new, cutting-edge, up-to-date future. I’m beginning to wonder if science fiction crippled our collective ability to imagine any future that wasn’t already old hat during the heyday of the pulp magazines of the 1930s!

    Andrew, thanks for this.

    Karl, and in 2026 Neptune conjoins Saturn at 0° Aries — a very rare event, astrologically speaking, and one that marks the dissolution of forms that have dominated the collective imagination for more than two thousand years. Hang onto your hat…

    Derpherder, thank you. I think you have to measure Trump’s ego in parsecs, but he certainly has extraordinary astrological luck. As for the time approaching, I think the Norse had it right: “A wind-age, a wolf-age, ere the world stumbles.”

    Stephen, I wonder if anybody’s examined the grannies who live in the exclusion zone to see if they’ve done any adapting…

  27. Dear JMG,
    I suppose frequent generational cycles help the wolves find solutions to the radiation. Maybe it’s an analogy that small social and technical adjustments are safer than big master plans, and if there are enough different attempts (i.e., variety) we can “evolve” solutions to our political economic and ecological challenges.

    Also thanks for the near (if unintended) Star Wars quote (star systems slipping through their fingers.)

  28. Agreed on breed

    I’m looking forward to your report on the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction. I’ll be at a wedding the day of, which now seems rather appropriate, with all the conjoining and all.

    That, and the Neptune conjunct Saturn seem like major ticks for getting deeper into the clock of the Aquarian age.

  29. Clarke aka Gwydion

    regarding book Sapiens by Harari (“Whozit Whutzhisface”)

    I thought, “Give away the book.” Then I said, “Uh uh, no way, that would simply perpetuate garbage in, garbage out.” That book has the attributes of being worth burning. Do you have a fireplace you can use the book as kindling? Page by page would be SOOO satisfying‼️

    💨Northwind Grandma📕🔥
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  30. @Maxine,
    that’s quite the story with the RCMP. I haven’t done enough to make them notice me, I think. Congrats on being the nail that sticks out on something important. I really don’t like how the Canadian and BC governments handled covid.

  31. Daniel, I was wondering if anyone would catch the quote — it was of course quite deliberate. (I watched the first movie seven times in its first theater run in Seattle.) As for the wolves, that’s certainly part of it.

    Justin, I’ll be talking about some of that, too, in my upcoming delineation of next month’s Jupiter-Uranus conjunction. They’re coming at us fast and thick at this point!

    Brunette, it’s the people who are busy figuring out how to do things for themselves, instead of relying on a crumbling technostructure to do it for them, who are following in the tracks of those wolves — and will doubtless succeed in much the same way.

    Mary, and the wolves laugh with him.

  32. Another “global order” man who might *just* be getting it, would be Irish-just-resigned-today-Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. Rumours are flying around, because his resignation, for which he had no specific reason to give, was relatively sudden, only announced to his colleagues in cabinet yesterday, and to the nation today.

    It may be that the massive rejection of the twin referenda we voted on a week ago last Friday is playing a rolel. People simply didn’t take to the government’s suggestions for reforming the constitution with more inclusive (and vague) language, signifying nothing.

  33. I think the local world will also be a far more interesting world. The world promised by the elites is boring, so people distract themselves with various electronic technologies. I’d much rather not know what’s on the other side of the world and go on an adventure to find out.

  34. Thank you for another excellent post. Your writing always helps me put my ideas and observations is better context. It’s helpful to see that what is happening around us is just people doubling down on their own bad ideas when things aren’t working as they want. It’s funny to note that this is happening at every level of society all at once. What a dramatic time to be alive.

    We are noticing it here in the building sector. Our state just passed legislation making new home construction more energy efficient. But the things they are requiring use a lot of energy and resources to produce and are just incredibly expensive. My husband estimates that adhering to these requirements could add $30,000 to a new home: one of the requirements is board insulation on the outside of the house which requires quite a bit of extra work to make that water tight, seeping the window opening to accommodate the extra layer, and not to mention the possibility of it trapping moisture in your walls if the temp drops low enough. We already know one young man who is just building a house without any permits at all.

  35. An interesting study on yeast:

    In summary, two identical colonies of yeast were allowed to reproduce for a while, one in standard conditions, one deep underground where there is much less radiation than here on the surface. Then both colonies were exposed to a toxin with radiation-like effects, and the surface level one did far better.

    The conclusion that one might draw from this is that DNA repair mechanisms have costs associated with them and therefore organisms that chuck theirs out have an advantage in a low-radiation environment over their surface-dwelling peers. You could extend this line of reasoning to the animals of Chernobyl, who possibly (and this seems likely considering the long reproductive cycles of mammals relative to the time since the meltdown) have just been selected to turn their existing DNA repair mechanisms up to 11 – it is not some novel biological process at work.

    Another example of the ability of strong selective pressures to make dramatic changes in the phenotype in a few generations are the Russian fox experiments, where foxes were selectively bred to either be as docile as domesticated dogs or unreasonably aggressive within relatively few generations.

  36. Thinking about this some more there are a couple of other odd things that occurred around 1998 Neptune into Aquarius transition. One was the movie Starship Troopers came out came out about month or so prior to it in late November 1997 and Helldivers 2 takes a lot of inspiration from that movie. Another was that one of the most popular video games ever made, another real time strategy game called Starcraft, came out in 1998 and there is a lot of interesting symbolism and plot points in that game.

    The basic plot is that a technocratic government called the United Earth Directorate, which is very much the kind of government Harari wants to create, commissions a space colonization program as part of a solution to overpopulation and resource shortages. Part of the program consists of exiling a bunch of dissidents from the American South on a colony ship called the Naglfar, named after the boat from Norse mythology that is supposed to carry monsters to do battle with gods during Ragnarok, to an area of space they are not supposed to survive in but they do and build a new nation called the Terran Confederacy. Over the years the Confederacy becomes a corrupt oligarchy and encounters two other alien races; the Zerg and the Protoss.

    The Human campaign of the game follows the story of an ex-Confederate Marine Corps colonel named Arcturus Mengsk whose family was killed and home town destroyed when they rose up in rebellion against the oligarchs. Now there is a lot of interesting symbolism around Arcturus; especially in regards to Rafael’s comment about Job. The name means the Guardian of the Bear and the star constellation Arcturus is referenced in Job 38:32. Job 38 is the chapter where God gives his answer to Job.

    Nor is this the only reference to the Book of Job in the game. Arcturus’s flagship is named the Hyperion after the Greek Titan who is the son of Uranus and the brother of Saturn; the name Hyperion also means The God Above. The ship is described as a Behemoth-class battlecruiser; after the Biblical monster from the Book of Job that God references in his answer to Job. And Arcturus is a very Aquarian figure, driven to succeed at his goals at any cost. By the way, Arcturus’s personal symbol is that of a wolf, he wears a golden necklace with a wolf’s head on it.

    Long story short he destroys the corrupt oligarchy that rules the Confederacy and when the technocratic United Earth Directorate sends out a force to subdue him. He proceeds to defeat them too. The Human campaign ends with him giving a victory speech over a city that seems modeled after the City of God from the Book of Revelations and the speech is very Aquarian in nature:

    Kind of funny how something like that came out when Neptune entered Aquarius or that it became one of the most popular video games of all time. Also funny the sequel to the game released in 2013 after Neptune entered Pisces, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm just happens to be focused on killing Arcturus.

  37. I had the opportunity to tour the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone a few years ago. It was a remarkable experience. Very eerie walking through the abandoned city of Pripyat, or standing on the edge of the Red Forest watching the numbers rise on the Geiger counter. I didn’t see any wolves, sorry to say, but I remember watching a YouTube video of a British man walking about in nearby Belarus. He walked from one village to another, and when he spoke to the villagers, they were alarmed that he would risk the wolves. Not the sort of thing the typical Western European or American will think about. I feel like Eastern Europe is the place where reality ensues.

    Christopher Kinyon

  38. Harari and Co forget we are running 21st century software on 70,000 year-old hardware.

  39. Nice piece as usual JMG. You are indeed a thinker, and an eloquent one at that.

  40. An even more minor disagreement. My impression is that bureaucracies are not created to “manage complexity,” but to manage *volume* and to attempt at consistent/standardized outputs. The Davos crowd is not a bureaucracy, although it may enlist them from time to time. Davos is a conspiracy.

  41. JMG, a recent posting by the Irish writer John Waters had me going “Now why didn’t I notice that before?” Here’s the relevent quote:
    “The motherWEFfers are the agents of the FEW (‘WEF’ in a mirror), which is to say the richest of the rich, which chiefly means people who have never shown their faces, even in Davos, because they do not need to: Their puppets go there and report back.”

    The FEW. Hmmm, resonates with what many of us here have noticed.

    At the inception of the Coof, I suggested a book title: Keep Your Distance – Why Borders Are Good, And Globalism Was Doomed To Fail. Your essay this week nicely starts to flesh that idea out. Hmmm, someone needs to write that puppy… 😃

  42. Hi JMG – excellent post. Indeed, many in the world along with the Club of Rome can’t seem to grasp the difference between a problem and a predicament. From my experience, it’s a major thought-stopper, or at least a thought-warper, when it comes to discussing what to do as our future unfolds. It is equally challenging for many to grasp a truth (limits of growth, climate change, political vapor lock) but not be able to process and accept the ramifications of that truth. Business as usual, indeed. Point to point thinkers, and binary ones at that.

    One of the big lessons I’ve learned following your work is hubris of mankind should not be underestimated. It is a complex world, and there’s no shortage of foolishness to the human actions and reactions, often making things worse. Our species will probably be replaced by critters with a whole lot more humility.

    @ #25 North Wind Grandma – nice post. Bureaucracies are not nearly as organic as the official narratives go. It was a “come to Jesus” moment in my life when I started looking more closely at the genealogies of the U.S. Presidents, and found all those branches are essentially on the same side of one tree. It certainly clarified for me how the world really works.

  43. Hi JMG,

    I hope all is well with you.

    I didn’t yet thank you for this rousing essay. I looked forward to it for two weeks‼️I loved it. Your twice a month essays keep me upright.

    Reading here, age 71, I am getting nervous. Ever so nervous-ner. Hmm. I am thinking I ought to invest in that low-end floor loom I have been hankering over during this summer (meaning, earlier than later). Looms are ex-PEN-sive-o.💸 (I bought a table loom a few weeks ago, and am learning ‘about it,’ but haven’t actually used it.)

    At 18-months old, I emerged speaking English in full sentences, having (so I was told) not having said one word earlier.👶🏼

    It looks like I am doing the same with weaving. I stare at the loom. I am in-gathering tons of info: reading, studying photos, watching weavers’ own UTub videos🎞️, and taking beginner video courses. I am having lots of fun🤸🏼‍♀️learning weaving with never having yet put yarn on the loom. I figure “I am afraid”🫦until I know everything I need to, at least, to make a violet-and-blue💜💙placemat. I am a purple-bluer. Every time I have anything to do with looms or weaving, my heart soars (not sours or sores). Weaving feels right,— a better match, even, than sewing.


    A related topic. Jo-Ann Fabrics declared bankruptcy this week.

    I have watched the worldwide glut of terribly cr_ppy cloths (no ‘e’) coming off humongous, warehouse-sized, industrial looms located in impoverished counties for at least twenty years. I go to Walmart just to sample the appalling glut of really cr_ppy clothes (with an ‘e’). I used to go to the local Jo-Ann Fabric store, walking up and down aisle after aisle witnessing horribly-disgusting-pathetic bolts of cloth,—no-one in their right mind would purchase the trash coming out of those above-mentioned countries. It isn’t Jo-Ann Fabric’s fault—they have no choice but to buy trashy cloth because that is what is being produced. It is no wonder that Western women are depressed—there is nothing f—-ing’ to wear‼️I am waiting on the edge of my seat to watch The Raunchy Fashion Industry collapse. The Fashion Industry has been abusing females at both ends (producing-end and consumer-end) for too long. Those industrial looms have to “be stopped” because they won’t stop by themselves.

    I am a “Fabrics’ Libber” (reference Liberation).

    💨Northwind Grandma🧵👚🩳
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  44. I just across an article of Harari’s in the Guardian from two years ago. If Harari’s predictions about the future are as accurate as the predictions he makes in this article about the outcome of the war in the Ukraine than the Davos set does not have much to look forward to. The article is titled, “Why Vladmir putting is already losing the war “. Here is a short excerpt to give you a glimpse in to Harari’s stunning insight in to the unfolding of history.

    ” With each passing day, it is becoming clearer that Putin’s gamble is failing. The Ukrainian people are resisting with all their heart, winning the admiration of the entire world – and winning the war.

    So it appears that this guy is less of an intellectual historian and more of a stenographer for the “establishment”. Nice work if you can get it I guess.

  45. The book Red Plenty retells, with sympathy, the moment when a brilliant mathematician, the inventor of a system for central planning in the USSR, discovered that no central planning system, in spite of all the theoretical advantages of market mechanisms, would ever be able to plan production for every item in the country. The book was discussed at a Crooked Timber seminar some years ago.

  46. Scotlyn, fascinating. I wonder what’s up — but then I’ve been wondering that since Jacinda Ardern, former prime minister of New Zealand, suddenly resigned in 2022 in much the same unexplained way.

    Asdf, me too!

    Tamar, I doubt anyone in your state admitted that the point of that law is to keep on propping up an already insanely overinflated real estate market, but that’s what’s going on, of course. When population contraction finally kicks the bottom out from under the housing market, the impact on the US economy will be horrendous — on the scale of the 1929 crash.

    Justin, yep. Evolution works; it’s had billions of years to practice, after all.

    Mark, nice! A fine crisp esoterically literate summary.

    Karl, ah, so that’s where the “Zerg rush” business comes from. I’d wondered.

    Christopher, fascinating. Not too long ago I was reading Sabine Baring-Gould’s classic study The Book of Were-Wolves, and he describes a similar experience in rural France — except that it was werewolves, rather than the ordinary kind, that kept the villagers from being willing to walk from town to town.

    Loon, the scary thing is that they only think its 21st century software. It’s actually refurbished 1930s software with a new coat of glossy spraypaint.

    Gerry, thank you.

    David, nah, Davos is an elite circle jerk. The real conspiracies are elsewhere.

    Bryan, write that book! It’s needed.

    Drhooves, oh, most humans know better than to behave with that kind of hubris. It’s the Hararis and their rich friends who have fallen into that bad habit, and it’s self-correcting; pride goeth before a fall — and sometimes the fall in question is that of a guillotine blade, or some equivalent.

    Northwind, my late wife had a table loom and did some very nice work on it, including the altar cloth I currently use for my spiritual practices. As for fabric liberation, I’m all for it — and the next US administration with a sane economic policy could do much worse than to slap high tariffs and quality controls on imported fabric. The US once had a huge and thriving fabric industry and could have that again.

    Clay, oh man. That’s even more vacuous than I expected. Thank you; I needed a chuckle.

    Aldarion, yep — and the fact that the Davos set has basically reinvented Stalinist economics as their vision of Utopia makes it all the more telling.

  47. This explains a lot, honestly. I stumbled upon an interview with this gentleman about 2 weeks ago, and I thought, “wow, is this what a real Noology professor would be like?”
    As a side note, Cancer-Proof Wolf Pack is a decent name for a hardcore punk band.

  48. Great essay! I enjoyed reading it. When I suggested a bunch of people plant so-called invasive species on the areas affected by the Palestine Ohio chemical spill in an attempt to heal the land over time, I was shouted down in this very forum. I still believe such a strategy would work. If I ever travel to that area, I’ll bring a bunch of hardy weeds and plant them on a blighted riverbank. As for Harari, he seems like a genuine misanthrope. I liked this quote from the Substack essay you linked: “These reptiles know, whether consciously or deep down in their amygdalas, that the world hates them, and increasingly so with the passage of time.” Yes. Recently, a documentary called Quiet on the Set revealed the nastiness behind the scenes at production houses for kids shows in the early 2000 era. Watch for this sort of exposé to become common; it’s all over social media. That which gets clicks and likes reigns supreme. If the elite manage to install another set of WEF-suckup presidential puppets again in 2025, I think they will have worse trouble on their hands than if they just let Trump win, and by trouble, I mean the modern equivalent of tumbrils and sharpened axes.

  49. @Goldenhawk re: Babushkas

    So… Babushkas and wolves in the scary (radioactive) woods? I think I’ve read this story! Is it the one with the hut on hens’ legs, or the one with the girl in the red riding hood?

  50. This calls to mind an essay I read years ago that I reference in my classroom regularly. It made a clear distinction between complex systems and complicated systems. Complicated is like a car or Lego building set; it may look like lots of pieces but it is sensible, you can make instructions, and assemble or repair it. Complexity is what we have with ecology or biology. Many parts and each one containing a microcosm of even more parts, and none of them static and waiting around to be made sense of. Many of the failings of modern society come from mistaking complex systems for complicated; that’s how we get a medical system that divides a body into parts each with their own specialist flailing around until they get their measurements back to standard.

    Returning to the aforementioned classroom, the same thing is plaguing modern education. Students are complex, the subjects they are learning are complex, and the society we are teaching them to participate in is complex. The one-size-fits-all models being forced upon teachers and students are outdated as soon as they are implemented, and before implementation they usually were only designed with 1% of the populace in mind. I’ve found what little success I’ve enjoyed within the school system through slow uptake and personal relationships. One, I delay to implement any top-down edicts, and quite often they are gone or replaced before anyone notices. Two, I treat students as people and allow rules and procedures to flex when needed, like your Chernobyl wolves, these kids are having to rapidly adapt to changing circumstances.

    Thank you for this post. I appreciate the encouragement to humility, particularly in context of a contracting civilization. This train of thought is one of the more hopeful I’ve ridden on in recent memory. Wishing you well.

  51. Northwind Grandma #51

    You and me both! I’ve just got hold of a small 4-shaft table loom & signed up for a workshop on “Weaving New from Old” – i.e. producing new fabrics from old bedsheets, clothes etc. – next month. I’ve been weaving on a small & simple scale for years, with a small rigid heddle loom, a couple of tri-looms and a big twining frame, mostly using reclaimed fabrics & handspun yarns, but very much want to take it a stage further. I can’t tell you how terrified I am of attempting to calculate a warp! Numbers skitter away nervously from my few remaining brain cells, as they always have. But I’m going to do this…

    I too have despaired at the quality of fabrics easily available over here (UK) and have found that I can find far better fabrics secondhand; old curtains, good quality old bedlinen (my great-grandmother’s linen sheets are still in great condition – but don’t fit any of our beds!) even old clothing, i.e. pre 1990s, when the rot set in. It makes me so sad to see people spending many hours and lots of money making beautiful quilts from poor-quality fabrics and polyester batting; they will only survive a few uses & washes before they pill and become “hard” rather than the soft, comforting warmth that a quilt should confer. Yet there’s a real feeling that it’s somehow wrong, maybe even unhygienic, to make or give a quilt made from “old” fabrics and blankets, as our predecessors did. And so we’re subtly pressured to buy, buy, buy & keep the New World Order in business…

  52. Another timely post from our host. A recent article in my local paper reported on a local former Representative who was just appointed an “Ambassador” to something called the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, based in Paris. It sounded suspiciously like the kind of global bureaucracy you are talking about in this essay. I quote the part that supposedly tells what the OECD does:

    The OECD, founded in 1961, “works to build better policies for better lives” by creating “evidence-based international standards and finding solutions to a range of social, economic and environmental challenges” such as job creation, improving education and fighting tax evasion.

    The group came out of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, which was created to administer U.S. and Canadian aid for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II.

    “Authoritarian regimes are trying to tell a story that their single-party systems, command economies and repressive security apparatuses deliver the best outcomes for their people,” Maloney said in a statement on Nov. 16 to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The OECD provides the objective research to expose that fiction and demonstrate the strength and benefits of a free society.”

    He added: “Modern small-town America needs a strong global economy, open/reliable markets, good infrastructure, affordable food and energy prices and an educated workforce. If confirmed by the committee, the needs of American families will always be my primary concern at the OECD.”

    This sounds like so much at best useless, at worst likely counterproductive, B.S. that I immediately wanted to write a letter to the editor, but wasn’t sure what tack to take. Your essay has helped me choose a path. But if any readers know more about this organization other than the boilerplate blah blah found on Wiki and the organization’s own website, please chime in!

  53. John–

    The past few days I’ve been toying with a research idea which your essay has convinced me to pursue. One of the members of our community in a prior open post commented that at one time s/he had wanted to study the economics of decline. In my industry (electric, water, and wastewater utilities), there’s a lot of analysis and research about optimal decision-making in a growth scenario (adding capacity) but precious little, if any, about optimal decision-making in a declining usage case, where one is retiring and removing capacity (and associated costs). Due to the nature of capital investment, it isn’t simply a reverse of the growth case. So I’m thinking of doing some research into the modeling of population decline and figuring how to translate that into a model for a network service industry (e.g. a musical electric grid and generation) to try to understand the nature of the solution-space for “optimal” decisions. I may even write it up as a paper.

    If anyone has any links to research on modeling economic decline, I’d appreciate pointers!

  54. So Harari is: ” a gay vegan atheist who practices mindfulness meditation…” ?
    Not a real classy putdown, JMG.

  55. Oh I see that I was two weeks early with my last comment: “In the meantime, life will push with all it’s might as it’s always doing and will fill every crack and every crater. It’s quite interesting that in the last weeks a few publications came out which described how life has adapted in the forbidden zone around Chernobyl. Today, you will find various species, from worms to wolves which have become radiation hard and immune to genetic damage by radiation. In less than 40 years. How long would it take us humans to figure this out?”

    In the rest of my comment I wrote something about individual events with an individual probability of happening forming macroscopic trends. I think the human mind is especially inept dealing with non-linearity and feedback-loops. And so is the mind of this Davos-guy and his lot (and quite possibly the minds of almost every other human being alive). We’re linear thinkers. “Doubling down” will yield twice the result. A large economy interacts with its environment in the same way a small one does, etc. This is of course not true and quite often non-linearity and strong feedback shows up when the disturbance of a system reaches a certain threshold – and then we often see that the size of those non-linearities doesn’t scale linearly, too.

    How many ideas can our mind think and test per day? How many trials and how many errors did it take to reach the level of understanding we currently have? Now the system has grown to such a size that non-linearity and strong feedback dramatically increase complexity. The rate of new ideas one can come up with is limited and quite possibly it has already reached its limits a while back. Peak-idea, so to say 😉 Doing those experiments in a virtual ivory-laboratory far up in the cloud probably doesn’t help, too. The only direction these people know is “to the stars!” but every idea that is being tested returns with a negative result. No wonder that they are a little bit off their rocker.


  56. You write:
    “… the set of cognitive processes our ancestors evolved through Darwinian selection as they pursued the tasks of finding food and mates and avoiding predators down the long ages of our prehistoric past—important tasks, to be sure, but not especially intellectually demanding ones.”

    Assuredly thou doth jest. Predators are smart; they have to outwit their prey, who are maximally motivated not to be outwitted. Finding food is no easy task for a hunter-gatherer, and farming is even more complex. And as for finding mates… _that_ task is not trivial at _all!_

  57. @Northwind,
    I do some weaving using a rigid heddle loom. Relatively small and simple looms are often easier to warp and learn on than I understand the big ones are, and you can do more on even a rigid heddle loom than a lot of people realize. I can do a lot more than just plain weave on mine. Table looms have a lot of options I can’t do on my rigid heddle. Just thinking that you might want to put some time into using and playing around on the loom you already have before seeking out a bigger one. Among other things, that’s a great way to figure out what qualities you want in your dream loom, and which you don’t really care about. And the warping should seem less overwhelming when you’ve dealt with a smaller loom already.

    But that’s up to you.

  58. About the Chernobyl wolves:

    The experiment has only just begun. It’ll be many wolf generations before we get good data. I suspect that later generations of wolves will display all sorts of interesting genetic diseases, which may take them awhile to evolve past.

    The wolves have inspired me to imagine the following fantasy tale. In a land inhabited by Humans, Dwarves, and Elves, the latter two species wage a magical war, which ends with the entire land contaminated with a curse fatal to anyone who resides there more than 200 years. The Dwarves and Elves must flee the land, but the Humans don’t care, as they didn’t live 200 years anyhow. In fact the Humans thrive in the absence of Dwarves and Elves. To the Humans, Dwarves and Elves were worse than a curse.

    Likewise, to the beasts of Chernobyl, Humans are worse than radiation.

  59. Allie001,
    Have you looked into Robert F Kennedy Jr at all? I don’t agree with everything he says but consider him to be a significantly better option that either of the major parties. He has more support than any third party presidential candidate since Ross Perot. I doubt he’ll be able to pull off a win this year, but I do think there’s a better likelihood that his campaign will do well enough to spread the ideas of an alternative to the two major parties in the collective consciousness which will have more success in the political realm later on.

  60. Human evolution did not stop with the Neolithic. In fact evolution never stops. We no longer must fend off lion attacks, but we must now defend against stress, diseases of crowds, and each other.

    I submit that evolution is running faster than ever. Note for instance lactose tolerance and alcohol tolerance. Illiteracy and innumeracy are now lethal genetic diseases. And so on.

    Somebody was the first to eat cheese. It was a desperation move; there was nothing else to eat for miles around. Perhaps in the far future Cheetos will be a health food.

    I like to joke that our far future descendants will be super-powered in stress resistance, sales resistance, toxin resistance, radiation resistance, and candy resistance. They will be superhuman in their intuition, emotional resilience, political instincts, business savvy, and readin’-writin’-and-‘rithmetic. That’s the _good_ news. The _bad_ news is that they’ll _need_ all those superhuman powers, and many more, to survive long enough to reproduce.

  61. The resilience of life makes me feel a lot better about things. It always finds a way to survive and thrive even in the worst of conditions. Over the long term, no matter how much damage we inflict on the ecosystem, it will find a new equilibrium and heal. (This is no excuse to be destructive. The ‘new equilibrium’ might have a notable absence of bipedal primates!)

    This resilience also extends to humanity itself. While our global systems and bureaucracies are brittle and weak, I think that many people are more strong and resilient than we give them credit for. Some communities and people are stronger than others, but I think that as we face the long descent ahead, most will rise to meet that challenge.

  62. One of the other problems that the Davos elite have ( in addition to all the others we have discussed) is the rise of the concept of the generalist manager. At least in the old days those with central planning dreams ( or at least dreams of running a large organization) were specialists in the field involved. Boeing was run by mechanical and aerospace engineers. Nasa during the Apollo programs was run by engineers and rockets scientists with an intricate knowledge of what had to be done to succeed. The army corp of engineers was led by engineers. The CDC was run by actual doctors who cared about medical outcomes and not political outcomes.
    The whole idea that “management generalists” could run important things was hatched at Harvard and other business schools in the 70’s and took off from there. This idea then grew to the idea that an ” elite cadre” of these management generalists could run the world.
    The fact that these management generalists have failed wherever they have taken over ( from Boeing, to Intel) to the IMF seems to be lost on them. The only thing they seem to be good at is creating failed states and asset stripping wealth from once productive entities.
    Back in pulp movies and kids cartoons all the way up to the 2000’s megalomaniacs who were planning on taking over and running the world were at least ” mad scientists”. Now they imagine they can do it with “mad portfolio managers, or mad big data analysts”.

  63. I’d say that a great many people are tired of an elite that orders everyone around according so some set of fashionable abstractions that have long since detached from *any* sense of reality.
    I know you can only stuff so much into one short essay, but I’d like to observe that one of the benefits of small, local communities that definitely deserves mention is how localized social norms and conditioning can collectively provide more ineffable knowledge about how to thrive than any carefully-thought-out plan or centralized instruction by the most intelligent clerisy. For example, the similarities of different cultures that arose in completely different parts of the world yet who have very similar climates, is quite striking, as they each adapted in the same way to take advantages of the same situations. Not all, of course, some cultures do not develop at all and the members eke out a bare subsistence even in otherwise potentially rich lands, but of the cultures that thrive, they do so in remarkably similar ways.
    However, one major downside to a very decentralized and localized way of living is that a lack of overarching political unity permits a great deal of local warfare and casual violence. Centralized nation-states reduce violence. To pick just one example, the tribes of Gaul before the Romans were constantly at war with each other whereas under the centralized Roman state it was a peaceful place. Within Charlemagne’s centralized empire people were relatively safe and prosperous. But once those entities dissolved, the local chieftains and warlords waged continuous local wars against each other.


  64. Hi John Michael,

    There’s an old farmer saying: “I don’t see anyone ’round here with dirt under their fingernails” It applies very much so to those WEFter folks.

    I know this land now pretty well, and am beginning to know the cycles and life here. Only 6km (4 miles) away off the mountain range in the elevated plains, it’s a totally different environment. I’m not qualified to speak about that area. I can have a good guess at how things work there, but experience is lacking. Dude, that’s how it is.

    I always read Mr Kunstler’s blog, and enjoy it. One of the things which tickles the back of my mind every time I read the words, is that the only reason that all those shenanigans are going on, is that your lot at that upper echelon, enjoys such vast unearned wealth – and every day they sup at that fat feed trough, is one less day they’ll be able to do so. A bit of moderation and common sense, and they could have kept that game going for a very long time. Of course that didn’t happen, and the outcome will cause vast pain in the population as well, but it will also reduce the burden of carrying such folks. There will be both costs and benefits. From my experience, such bureaucracy often goes in search of a task whether it makes sense or not. And the costs of supporting them for those of us who do work, is quite the burden. I won’t be shedding a tear for them.



  65. The powers that be certainly seem not to have a workable idea as to what to do with the current spiralling mess in Haiti. Haiti’s history suggest that previous interventions are a large part of what caused this situation, and doesn’t give me confidence in their ability to fix it. To be fair to the oligarchs, I don’t know what the least bad option there is either.

    I’m tempted to say leave well enough alone and let the Haitians sort it out, given the history of previous interventions, but that has its own risks for the USA, from yet another refugee crisis to a possible new regime controlled by a nation aligned against the USA uncomfortably close to the USA. But the USA is already looking overstretched to me in terms of involvement in other people’s quarrels, and I’m not sure how much more they can do before something breaks badly.

  66. Hi John Michael,

    I do wonder at what point natural gas for fertiliser gets priority over that of electricity generation. Warnings of gas shortages from 2028 as AEMO rings alarm on plunging production . The last 45kg bottle of propane cost me almost $200, because the supply in this state has already, or will soon, have demand exceeding supply.

    And the numpties in charge keep importing more people, probably to prop up the demand side of the real estate market. It’s tough out there with stupidity like that.



  67. It seems very simple to me, within our over-saturated population nearing the end of its stable carrying capacity we harbor the biological horror of the parasite (Elite-class parasites that is).

    In a population of a successful species, parasites will eventually emerge to take advantage of the species’s common collective traits as a means to use them as parasitical hosts to feed off. In our species the common traits are language and the developmental period of children, these traits effect our brains, how we perceive, and therefore how we act. But as they also make us intelligent, smart enough to exchange information in order to fend off nature’s parasites, who in turn would have to create new strategies in order to overcome human intelligence.

    The only ones who can keep up with us in this game of parasite counter-balance are our own kind, those who would develop manipulative social/power strategies in order to explore and target our common weaknesses.

    I am certain about this, as the one thing I am sure parasites would love to enable is a stagnant, enclosed, passive environment, of which they would control every aspect in order to keep the feeding cycle going in their own favor. Does this not perfectly describe the creepy techno-psycho-paths: the killer-Clowns from the WHO (I liked the movie better, and as circumstances prevail I believe most people will share this opinion), to the masquerading-Jokers at the WEF?

    Parasites have to either overcome their host’s adaptions or stagnate their host’s ability to adapt through other means. But then a old problem comes around: the host animal becomes weakened, and the predator finds a ‘easy kill’, killing the parasite with it. Right now this whole globalist cabal is there to ensure the host’s demise will have to come before the parasite’s own eradication. Why do you think it is down to ‘every last’ Ukrainian soldier? If the war were to come home to the central USA empire, then the silver-spoons would have to enlist their own, and risk their own lives in a fight for survival. Legal draft dodging is a nice play, but we can see how that went in WW1, starting with it’s sequel, and even though the silverware-clad corporate media magic-duct-taped the Vietnam war, the blood stains still show through.

    Different parts of the host are being sacrificed in a strategy to deny the predator it’s natural full-course meal. Ukraine was first, western Europe may become second, till finally the USA has to show up and decide if parasite removal is more painful than nuclear war, IF we even get to decide and they don’t press the RED button on our behalf (the one labeled: “Great leap forward”).

    The rest of the world’s leadership were aware of what is going on and were willing to play along until the west’s incompetence and sinking economic ship made the world look for life boats (officially made clear back in the 2008 recession).

    The controlled, stagnated environment is the only thing keeping them in power, and something as simple as innovation can overturn them by finding (or returning to) the appropriate decentralized prosperity that made human civilization a longer term event than mere tribal alliances. The innovation I speak of is not a technocrat world of the martian imagination, but of efficiency taken to it’s roots as something self evident in the long term observation: the process is best known by its results. Nature is by no means efficient in terms of stability and energy management, but it is resilient and harmonious, and is way better at all four traits than our short chapter in the biological struggles of the apes.

    Well the parasites have painted themselves into a lethal corner.
    Crazy animals tend to bring out their nukes in these situations.

    I’d imagine there was a betting ring on whether we would go extinct first or the crocodiles might meet their fate before us.
    The smart money was on the crocs, and the smart money is still on the crocs.
    All we have done with the time between is play the game of monopoly, with the parasites making up the rules as they went along.

  68. If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask about Karl Grant’s insights (Many thanks for them!) regarding Gamergate II on Magic Monday. The appearance of Dune in the mix is probably not a coincidence. Or, as they say on Arrakis, “Wormsign!”
    Speaking of books, I wonder if There Are No Limits to Growth by Lyndon LaRouche – yes, THAT LaRouche – is on the required reading list for aspiring globalists. It, from the blurb, seems directly descended from the Golden Age sci-fi that won WWII, lost the peace and jams up our collective thinking today. I could, if you like, bring up those stories and their descent from wings to roadblocks on the next open post on this blog.

  69. Hello JMG,
    Thank you for the wonderful essay. “As I write these words, lean gray wolves are pacing through a rain-soaked landscape in eastern Europe.” When I read this sentence I immediately knew you were talking about Chernobyl. I remember very well the days following the explosion. It was some time before the news reached the official media in Russia. After that, it was all about worrying and watching the winds. Today the topic of Chernobyl is still in Russian collective memory. In Russia, it is something that happened to us, while in America it is something that happened to them. As I read about the wolves and Harari, I was thinking… To what extent and under which circumstances is radiation dangerous? Is it always? Are there any situations in which it is not? Is it something that is used to promote the expertise of our betters? Trust us if you get any exposure to it you die. The babushkas didn’t trust and didn’t die. Is it possible that radiation is used the same way as covid to scare the sheep and herd into compliance?

  70. This may be one of my favorite posts of yours ever.
    Which is really saying something.
    I felt this post was more than just your usual helpful offering of deep clarity. This post felt like a burst of contagious energy. (In the best sense of the word “contagious”).
    So thanks.

    And then to put the cherry on top, in the comment section, as your finishing line to your response to Andrew, you asked “What is it thinking?” [living topsoil, that is]

    Which may be one of my favorite responses you’ve given to a reader’s comment ever.
    Which too is really saying something.

    You probably already know all about the Soil Food Web, but just in case:
    “For those unfamiliar with the soil food web, I think the best way to describe it is to point out that for an average plant, 1/4 of all the sugars the plant creates through photosynthesis are “leached” out of the plant’s roots into the surrounding soil.  When biologists first realized this, they were astonished that a biological system could have evolved that was that leaky and inefficient. But then they realized that it wasn’t inefficient at all – that the plants’ leachate feeds huge populations of beneficial bacteria and fungi, upon which a whole microbial ecology – “the soil food web” – grows.

    Why would a plant trouble itself with cultivating a “soil food web”? It turns out that bacteria and fungi are experts at releasing organic acids that break down earthen particles and extract nutrients from them; that bind soil particles together and create the humus that gives soil a crumbly structure, and that magically allows for both good water retention and water drainage, both essential for plant health. 

    Bacteria and fungi are very nutrient dense, and all of the other microorganisms that eat them, like protists and nematodes, have to eat a lot of bacteria and fungi to get the carbo-hydrate energy they need, so then the protists and nematodes wind up “pooping” out the excess nutrients – in soluble form – right there by the roots of the plants – exactly what the plants need. 

    It has been pointed out that it’s almost like the plants are “farming” this microbial ecology – the soil food web – all around their roots, in order to achieve all these many benefits.

    What I want to ask, however, is:  Who is farming whom?”

    Maybe your question, “what is it thinking?”, is at least partly answerable by saying that the microbes are “thinking” into being all of visible life – what usually gets referred to as the “higher” life forms.
    They (the microbes) are farming us.

    This is from a blog post I wrote back in January 2014:

    Thanks again for all of your efforts.
    And condolences to you for such a loss of love, Sara, in your life.
    Take care,

  71. Thank you for writing an uplifting post. I needed some good news this week. The topics of discussion are getting pretty heavy of late out here in the dying empire.

    Hearing about nature exceeding our measly expectations for her restores my faith in the future! And the horn-blowing WEF photo and caption was just icing on the cake. Hilarious!

    It feels good to be laughing with the wolves.

  72. Since some cancers are caused by radiation, and others by pesticides/herbicides/fungicides, it would be interesting to know of the old women living in the Exclusion Zone maybe have increased radiation cancers, but decreased Roundup/glyphosate cancers in almost equal amounts…keeping the average lifespan the same? Roundup and its generic, glyphosate, cause breast, prostate, thyroid, uterine, fallopian, and testicular cancers. No glyphosate for 40 years could offset lots of radiation? ☢️

  73. Wow. I did not know the story of the Ascension Island ecology, but it is the exact opposite of what the current conservation and environmental elite (which I clash with in my own country, calling them “conservation club”) would do. It’s reminiscent of the character Pardot Kynes in the Dune series, the ‘planetologist’ whose ego and intellect started the process of terraforming Arrakis to return water, thus killing off the worms, but on Ascension it was just nature doing it itself.

    Oddly, I’ve been thinking of a book series loosely focused around a new forestry or silviculture, and true to the conservation heritage in my own country, there was more planning involved. I may rework it now.

  74. Sorry, I was going to add, the people using Trump as a battering ram, or perhaps more importantly, quietly quitting and letting Trump be Trump, lends substantial support to the hypothesis that Trump the Symbol is different to Trump the Man. Trump the Symbol is basically zero, letting nature reset itself to a certain degree. Probably makes your Changer archetype theory still spot on.

  75. Scotlyn/JMG, I have a bit of insight into the resignation of Jacinda Ardern, having known (and clashed) with that crowd for decades. I think Jacinda resigned simply because intellectually, her training and background wasn’t up to the task of making sense of the world, it exhausted her, and she resigned accordingly. It is half the mindset of the Davos elite, but without the great desire for control and order (because that requires real effort), so quitting and moving on is the logical decision when times get tough (rather than gritting your teeth and leaning into them). It’s the opposite, of say, a Churchill, or Roosevelt (both of them, but the first one especially).

  76. Human rational mind: 0 – Wolves: 1

    Wolves are good at solving problems. The deer population can be controlled by wolves entering the area. A cure for cancer? Wolves already have it. We really should let wolves solve all our other problems. Corrupt and incompetent elites in Davos? Release the wolves! Too many bureaucrats? Ditto!

    P.S. This comment was written in a humourous spirit.

  77. As to Linux;

    Debian begat Ubuntu, who begat Mint and Zorin.

    I use Mint on main computer. It also runs just fine on a 2014 Mac Mini you can pick up for about $100 now. The Cinnamon edition looks a lot like Windows 7.

    I’ve heard Zorin is very good for people familiar with Windows, but I don’t have personal experience with it.

  78. Indeed, many of he New Right I am friendly with on Substack are growing restive, tired of waiting for our betters to do more damage than they already have. When doors are falling off planes, it doesn’t really matter if that is about DEI, or a deliberate desire to get people to decide to fly no longer, to save the climate, that is late in the game of civilization decline. There is also a kind of derangement happening, the dead and maimed from covid policy we apparently can’t talk about.

  79. The problem with LLM’s, and other neural-net-based AI, is that it’s all based on probabilities.

    An LLM doesn’t comprehend what you’re asking. It doesn’t comprehend its response. It’s just throwing together phrases and sequences of phrases which are statistically-likely to correlate to what you asked for. The fact that there’s no comprehension, and no set of overriding / guiding rules, is why you have AI-generated images with three hands and / or six fingers. And why you can ask an AI who won the 2023 Presidential Election and have it name either DJT or JRB (ignoring the obvious fact that there was no Presidential Election in 2023).

    What do you call a person who spews statistically-probable-sounding phrases without comprehension?

    A con artist.

    Modern AI is nothing more than a digital con artist.

    My (former) employer had a lot of people asking the C-suite when they were going to implement more AI into our their systems. The C-suite (somewhat wisely) always stated that they were looking at such things and would use them, if / when / where they seemed appropriate. They had not yet seen such scenarios. Dunno if they tumbled to the “con artist” aspects or if they were just hedging.

    Back in the day (*spoiler* old man rant forthcoming), AI was primarily focused on building so-called expert systems. These systems had sets of rules, such that you could make logical inference (even if it was fiendishly complex) based on the inputs. Whether or not there was any actual comprehension is debatable but, at the very least, there was some recognition of various nouns, verbs and adjectives and how they interrelated, such that you could kinda-sorta approach comprehension (the AI may not fully comprehend what a corn plant was or how it functioned but, when told that a corn plant had a certain set of characteristics, it could theorize as to what was causing problems and suggest methods to improve its health; just an example). When I watch “Person of Interest,” it seems to me that The Machine is an expert system with some neural-net-based stuff used for parsing the inputs, providing the inputs to the rules-based inference system. You can’t ask an NN how it came to a particular conclusion. An expert system, you can. Finch could ask The Machine and get cogent answers, ergo expert system at heart.

    Not even The Machine, though, is sufficiently sophisticated as to be able to steer the world.

  80. @JMG RE: Jacinda Ardern’s resignation 2022

    Her Highness (PBUH) Jacinda St. Ardern left us not for any ulterior reasons. Oh, she’d long been rumoured to have a UN sinecure in her back pocket, being one of Helen Clark’s proteges, and she’s now living that reality safely in the United States.

    The real reason for stepping aside was more personal and practical. She couldn’t go out in public without being harangued by large crowds of protesters. Anywhere she turned up, there were protesters with signs and chants. They stopped announcing her appearances and they still found her. At one point someone attacked her electorate office with a samurai sword.

    In return for her adoration by the globalist elite she became a hated pariah in her own country. She’d lost any auctoritas as a leader, and in record time. A large segment of the NZ population were not fooled, or not for long.

  81. Kimberly Steele, Sunflowers are being used for soil remediation with good success. And they are among the easiest plants to grow.

  82. This is clarifying and pellucid. It’s pointing to the dagger through the heart of our known world. You can’t beat the original system. Systems only work that remember that. This could get wild. People are programmed to believe we control the world. I don’t think they can change. Only the ten percent can. Is it accidental that’s what our world population will go to? I think psychologically that’s as many as can get it. The rest are here to start the lesson, but won’t finish it. Reality like the Sphinx is kind of cryptic. I think it has to be this way, to meet natures way. Maybe we are lucky only a few get it because it’s easier to qualify.

  83. Elena Filatova has been documenting the marvelous wildlife reconquista of the Chernobyl Zone since 2003.
    Check out “Ghost Town” and “Land of the Wolves” links along the left side just for starters. Looks like she’s written a lot more since then!

  84. Hi JMG,
    The story of Ascension Island reminded me of the “dark earth” of the Amazon River basin.

  85. JMG, in terms of imagined futures, the images and themes from “Retrotopia”, “Star’s Reach” and “Adam’s Story” have been providing me with alternatives visions for many years now. Thank you for these gifts!

  86. Marlena13, that EarthDate article was a hoot! Deftly camouflaged within all of its interesting historic data was this somewhat erroneously over-extended conclusion — “similar efforts, in places with the right potential for rainfall, could regreen other barren landscapes—maybe even on other planets!” Or maybe even within whichever improbable orifices that website’s uncreative patrons over at the Bureau of Economic Geology are using to smoke themselves into hallucinatory stupors.

    I wonder, what exactly is “Economic Geology” anyway? Could it perhaps be the attempt to loot wealth using speculative boondoggles, flimsily propped up by dubiously applied geologic history, now that so many of the attempts to extract wealth the old-fashioned way through digging are failing to yield any discernible profits? Whenever Scientism’s cheerleaders finally resort to ejaculating about accomplishing their self-claimed miracles—”maybe even in other dimensions!”, then we’ll know that occultism has managed to go full-on mainstream. Won’t it be entertaining to hear tech bros desperately trying to flog some newly-minted virtual IP, taking place somewhere on the etheric plane, for their new game-changing techno-gimmick, which allows them to mine value out of the astral realm. Until then, I guess we’ll just have to endure their appending of codas everywhere breathlessly claiming their ability to magically terraform planets or mine asteroids. It would probably be more believable were they to simply claim they could only achieve those feats in other dimensions, since they obviously can’t achieve much worth mentioning here in this dimension.

    You know, at this point, I would consider it quite a miracle if they could just produce a fridge or an oven that would work reliably for a decade, but that is glaringly not in their profiteering interests. The bi-metal thermostat that allows the pilot to stay lit in my less-than-three-year-old water heater gave out this week, so, as you can imagine, my enthusiasm for our overlords’ planet-altering potency is a bit chilled at present. Still, I wish them the best in their extra-global Ascension project — maybe they’ll get the Darwin award for their efforts.

  87. Your essay made my day, JMG. I’ve been pondering wolves off and on while doing my chores today, considering what wolfish traits I may have and how to nurture them. I think the small stuff adds up: any activity, large or small, that says “No, globalists, I’ll do this myself” counts. The possibilities are endless!
    This truly is empowering.
    For those who watch movies, this one may be worth a look: The old ladies returned to their land after the initial mandatory evacuation from Chernobyl: gardening, foraging berries and mushrooms, living as they always had. Fear of radiation could not compete with fear of being cut off from their way of life.

  88. Noodles, I’ve added that to my collection of band names. As for Harari, I know — I didn’t know about him when I wrote my tentacle novels, which makes it all the more unnerving to see a Radiance initiate in the flesh.

    Kimberly, I think the invasive species will get there just fine on their own. As for the WEF, my guess is they’ve gotten so shrill of late precisely because they hear the distant rumbling of tumbrils.

    Methylethyl, probably both of them!

    Hearthculture, thanks for this — a very useful distinction.

    Markorolo, that’s classic elite doubletalk; by “free society” they mean the kind that’s run by bureaucrats, against whose dictates there is no appeal. I don’t know much about that specific organization but it sounds typically toxic.

    David BTL, you might want to look up the French work on Decroissance (“ungrowth”); that might have what you’re looking for. It’s certainly a direction that deserves discussion.

    Peter, it’s a simple statement of fact, not a putdown. If I described somebody as a straight white Southerner who goes to church every Sunday, would you consider that a putdown?

    Nachtgurke, yes, and I chuckled about that, since I’d already drafted this post.

    Paradoctor, but it’s not the same kind of intellectual challenge as creating a workable model of the cosmos.

    Gnat, thank you.

    Paradoctor, oh, granted. By all means write that story! As for evolution, maybe so, but we’ll have to see how that unfolds over the long term.

    Enjoyer, exactly. It really is comforting to know that nature can shrug and brush aside our stupidities.

    Michael, that’s just one of several similar things the folks at New Alchemy Institute did with systems that imitated nature. It was a fine direction — too bad it was abandoned with the rest of appropriate tech.

    Clay, that’s a useful point. Once management was treated as an independent science, rather than something that people already expert in a given field can do, the failures started piling up.

    Renaissance, granted — but it’s worth keeping in mind that internecine local warfare keeps the population in check, which may be one of its purposes.

    Chris, two very solid points!

    Pygmycory, I wish I knew what was actually going on in Haiti. The fact that the “gangs” (what are they, actually?) appear to have united and are seizing control of the country suggests to me that it’s something more complex and deeply rooted than anybody’s media is admitting.

    Chris, and there’s that…

    Eruption, that’s an intriguing metaphor, and potentially a useful one.

    Rhydlyd, curious. I’m not sure that I can say much of anything about that, though, since gaming is a subculture and a hobby with why I have basically no contact.

    Kirsten, those are questions I don’t have the information to answer — and they need to be answered.

    Chris F., thank you for this; I’m glad you enjoyed it. Me, I wonder if the plants and fungi are different types of cells in a complex brain…

    Blue Sun, just one of the services I offer. 😉

    Pat, hmm! That would be an interesting thesis to test.

    Peter, it’s an amazing story. Please do rework your tale, and get it published! As for Ardern, thank you for this. Yes, that makes sense.

    Ecosophian, a case could be made… 😉

    William, yes, there’s that too.

    Meower68, the con artists I know have a very clear idea of what their nonsense phrases mean. They have to know what motivates the marks! LLMs are, rather, idiots in the strict sense of the word.

    Matt, I didn’t know that Ardern had fled into exile in the US. I wonder if there’s something still to come out about her actions…

    Celadon, I hope that more than ten per cent can figure it out, but the history of falling civilizations suggests that you’re probably right.

    Cicada, thanks for this.

    Bird, if I understand correctly, terra preta was manufactured by the complex societies of the pre-collapse Amazon basin; it was a very subtle, clever agricultural technology well adapted for the local environment, but people did apparently figure it out and manufacture it in quantity!

    Russell, you’re most welcome and thank you.

    Ottergirl, glad to hear it. Owoo, or something like that. 😉

  89. One of your best essays. I have abstained from voting in the past two presidential elections. I know many Trump supporters and the great majority are good people you would want as neighbors. For the most part they have better understanding of the traditional American principles of free speech, religious freedom, localism, leave your neighbor alone in how they choose to live their life than American elitists and their counterparts in much of the media. Trump supporters have been unfairly portrayed as a huge mass of dangerous people. I remember how the Canadian truckers were regarded and treated by the Canadian progressive wing and that attitude echoed by their American counterparts. Yes, there are many who want to be not bothered and bossed by our Globalist betters.

  90. Any decades long study of certain weedscapes (often those in urban environments along water courses in relatively humid environments) shows clearly that extremely complex forests can form very quickly simply from different seeds being dumped by all sorts of animals, along with water and wind.

    I’ve seen it myself in Melbourne, and of course the local councils have these novel forests that provide amazing habitat, local climatic services and aesthetic value marked for extermination. It seems as though the species mix in the Amazon itself has the hallmarks of long term human influence, and many parts of it are an overgrown garden. Millions of years are certainly not needed for a complex rainforest to form, and this assumption seems to me simply to be the Western love of vast numbers at work rather than evidence based ecological analysis.

  91. Matt P.

    Jacinda Ardern hasn’t fled to the US. She moved out of Auckland to a rural part of New Zealand where her daughter attends a private elite green school (the only one of its kind in NZ). She does have some role with Harvard University which means she’s flying to the US and back all the time, and being criticised for it whilst talking about climate change. That might be where the relocation rumours come from, but she’s always been dead keen on her daughter being raised bilingual (Te Reo Maori and English) which you probably cant get in the US. From what I know from family also living in her part of NZ, she just lives quietly now.

  92. Kirsten #81: ” To what extent and under which circumstances is radiation dangerous? Is it always? Are there any situations in which it is not?”
    The Health Physics Society has a fact sheet on radiation sources in daily life; it points out that radiation is naturally present in soil, water, and air: Of course high levels are dangerous, but low levels have always been present in the environment (and we’re exposed to solar radiation whenever we go outside)!

  93. This is beautiful, just scathing! I’m going to share this widely. I’ll bet you pick up a lot of fans.

  94. Hi Everyone,
    I had an interesting day. I gave a talk on growing, harvesting and using herbal medicines. We had a tough retired GP in the audience and I thought she might rough me up because I explained several times that big pharma did not want cures. They want to make drugs that are almost useless so you need to keep buying them. I pointed out several times that I was able to help people while the conventional medicines the doctors prescribe did not work.

    At the end of the talk, an old guy friend said I was too cynical and I asked why. He said big pharma was keeping him alive with his cancer. The Doctor said, “Max isn’t cynical. She is clear eyed.” Then, the Doctor asked me to do a workshop on making herbal medicines. I was quite surprised.

    I was asked by someone else to teach a workshop for the resistance Group on both our little islands and one of the men at the talk asked me to write a book on my experiences with herbal medicine. I was not anticipating such a warm welcome but medicines are terribly expensive here in Canada. Sorry American friends; I know you thought medicines were free for us but it is not the case.

  95. I, just like Clarke (comment #23), was gifted a copy of Sapiens by a friend a few years ago. I did try to seriously read through the book, but I eventually couldn’t summon the willpower to do so. I found it very annoying how, whenever you’d think he’d bring up some insightful fact or idea, he’d inevitably keep coming back to point out that things like empires, corporations, religions, and other large human institutions don’t really exist and are just nice stories invented by people throughout history to enable massive scale cooperation.

    I mean, seriously. The Roman empire, the Catholic Church, the Peugeot company (among those he names) were or are totally real things that people did believe in and do real work for. Maybe *his and his friends’* agenda is the made-up story that they wish people would sign up for and cooperate with them en masse. Seems like there’s a bit of projection from the elites on this one.

    The funny thing is the friend who gave this to me is someone whom I can best describe as a professional-managerial-class junior elite who’s fully on board the global PMC agenda (and someone who REALLY wants their kids to join it too and go up the ranks). I consider it a compliment to have been gifted this book, though I’m too polite to actually say my mind to them about what I think. I’ve been given other books as well by the same person and had a similar reaction each time; as in, “have you actually read this garbage, or are all of you in the intelligentsia just passing around the same fashionable books to signal to each other that you’re the right kind of people with the right kind of ideas?”

  96. Now I am imaging one of the Davos planes making an emergency landing near Chernobyl, due to a software error in the navigation system. The rain is pouring and lightning flashes in the dark sky. The WEF members in their suits and gowns trudge through the mud and underbrush, seeking shelter. Before long, a chorus of howls echoes from the deep woods. And these are no ordinary wolves…

  97. This reminds me of a horticulture short course I once did. It was an evening class tailored to home gardeners. Somewhere in the middle of the course, we had a session on soil with a professor whose name I forget but who is apparently one of the world’s foremost soil experts. During the Q&A part of the class, somebody asked the obvious question, “How I can use soil analysis to figure out what will grow best in my garden?” The professor responded, “You can’t. You’re better off just planting a wide variety of things and seeing what works.”

    It was a refreshingly humble answer, although I suspect two more questions went through the minds of a few of the students, “what’s the point in studying soil science as a home gardener? and “why am I paying for this course?”

  98. @RenaissanceMan (#75):

    As a general rule, what’s good for a species as a whole is lethal for a considerable number of individuals of that species. Humans are no exception: our natural desire for a life without suffering is one of our most self-damaging traits. On the whole, the Charlemagnes of history have weakened humankind more than they have strengthened it.

  99. Happy Spring!

    To all those following along with the Ecosophia Prayer List posts, please take note that the changes regarding how long posts would appear for detailed at the beginning of the year, and detailed in the FAQ, will come into effect even for the older posts that had been grandfathered in at that time starting from April 1st. Now…

    At this link is the full list of all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared at and, as well as in the comments of the prayer list posts. Please feel free to add any or all of the requests to your own prayers.

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

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

    Tyler A’s wife Monika’s pregnancy is high risk; may Mother and child be blessed with good health and a smooth delivery, and be soothed and healed from their recent pains and discomfort in a manner that supports a positive outcome to the pregnancy.

    May Deathcap’s friend Mike, who has begun a 5 week course of radiation treatment after a nearly fatal surgery for a malignant tumor on his leg, be healed of his cancer and return to full health quickly and as completely as possible.

    May new mother Molly M recover quickly and completely from her recent stroke and the lingering loss of vision and slurred speech that ensued, and may newborn Lela and husband Austin be comforted and strengthened through this difficult time.

    May John Michael Greer’s wife Sara Greer, who passed away on February 20th, be blessed and soothed as she moves into the next stage of her spirit’s journey. And may John Michael Greer be blessed and lent strength in this most difficult time.

    May Frank Rudolf Hartman of Altadena California (picture), who is receiving chemotherapy, be completely cured of the lymphoma that is afflicting him, and may he return to full health.

    May Just Another Green Rage Monster‘s father, who is dealing with Stage 4 Lymphoma, and mother, who is primary caregiver, be blessed, protected and healed.

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

    Lp9’s hometown, East Palestine, Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people, animals and all living beings in and around East Palestine, and to improve the natural environment there to the benefit of all.

    * * *

    Guidelines for how long prayer requests stay on the list, how to word requests, how to be added to the weekly email list, how to improve the chances of your prayer being answered, and several other common questions and issues, are to be found at the Ecosophia Prayer List FAQ.

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

  100. It’s interesting to compare Ascension with Surtsey, which formed about 20 miles off the coast of Iceland in a volcanic eruption 60 years ago. Surtsey has been left strictly untouched so they could study how life establishes itself under natural conditions.

    “Mosses and lichens now cover much of the island. During the island’s first 20 years, 20 species of plants were observed at one time or another, but only 10 became established in the nutrient-poor sandy soil. As birds began nesting on the island, soil conditions improved, and more vascular plant species were able to survive. In 1998, the first bush was found on the island—a tea-leaved willow (Salix phylicifolia), which can grow to heights of up to 4 metres (13 feet). By 2008, 69 species of plant had been found on Surtsey, of which about 30 had become established. ”

    On Ascension, soil microorganisms would be brought in on the pots holding plant specimens, but I wonder about invertebrates. Would flowering plants be able to reproduce without dedicated insect pollinators? Would leaf litter be converted to soil without detritivores like snails and beetles to chew them up and poop them out? I think maybe 150 years is too soon to declare the experiment a long-term success.

    Surtsey, being close to the mainland, is more accessible for invertebrates.

    “Insects arrived on Surtsey soon after its formation, and were first detected in 1964. The original arrivals were flying insects, carried to the island by winds and their own power. Some were believed to have been blown across from as far away as mainland Europe. Later insect life arrived on floating driftwood, and both live animals and carcasses washed up on the island. When a large, grass-covered tussock washed ashore in 1974, scientists took half of it for analysis and discovered 663 land invertebrate specimens, mostly mites and springtails, the great majority of which had survived the crossing.”

  101. I hope you are better John
    What do you think of the idea of the new world order being initiated from behind the scenes by members of the great white lodge/aka white light brotherhood of the spiritual hierarchy in order to bring forth the new age? It is the mythic stuff of 20th century theosophy and occultism. Their actions may not as explicit or literal as your Davos contingent but it is very engaging!

  102. News from South Africa
    I work for a technology company, consulting for government so that they can use the software that we sell them. (I know, the question should be: do they actually need the software? Mostly the answer is ‘no’.)
    They have this weird idea that technology is going to solve their personnel issues (wonder where they got that from) , issues created to a large extent by illiteracy and inumeracy among the staff. Everything must be centralised an controlled (sound familar?).
    I’ll freely admit that I work in a b_llsh_t job but I have not been able to find a way to anything else that could keep me in a good enough state.
    Statistically, on the downslope, some of us are going to fall by the wayside. A contracting economy cannot provide alternatives for everyone. I’m probably going to be one of those who fell.
    The one thing that has intrigued me recently is the administrative system used at Bletchley Park. Apparently it was almost as efficient at retrieving infirmation as a computer. If anyone has any information / references about that I would appreciate you sharing those here.
    Perhaps I can become a consultant in de-digitising workflows one day. The circle of life.

  103. “qualified experts” To that point: It’s well known that our government has programs to delete massive numbers of social media posts. Besides the need to swing elections world wide, one of the justifications for the mass deletions/censoring is that people researching topics the Internet become inconvenient challengers to the “experts”, and we can’t have that.

  104. After a couple of decades of working with computational genetic algorithms – which are little more than a child’s crayon sketch in comparison to nature’s art – I am always amazed at the elegant solutions that they find. In comparison, a colleague’s matrix inversion approach to the same problem sets (which is very much a central planning sort of algorithm) regularly goes off the rails in bizarre ways. And yet I see this and related approaches used all the time, and with similar poor results!

    Coming back to radiation-resistant wolves evolving in just a few decades, I am somehow not surprised. Awe, yes, but surprise, no. Still doesn’t mean that I really understand it beyond a general “set it up and let it rip.”

  105. In the 1990s, I read a couple of books on Chaos Theory and Complexity. One of the conclusions that the mathematicians and scientists arrived at was that highly complex systems eventually collapse and produce a simpler, more stable order. This led me to the conclusion that, as you said, JMG, that the world was far too complex for us to handle.

    There are islands of stability in chaotic functions such as Jupiter’s Great Red Spot which can remain stable for quite some time, but they will eventually break up too.

    Ironically, our tech bros and other members of our scientific elite, supposedly steeped in superior knowledge of information theory and mathematics, are betting against the very predictions that complexity theory presents.

    And now, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is beginning to shrink, reminding us that even an object so profound as that doesn’t last forever.

  106. Allie001 I share you concerns. Our ex president and olympian in corruption (which makes him the ideal leader of a failing burocracy) recently opined that homosexuality is un-African.
    Then I go to queer book club to be lectured on how trans people used to be a regular part of African societies, only to be labelled as evil and bad by the evil and bad colonialists.
    Everything has gone too far. Don’t know which way is up or out anymore.

  107. @ David by the Lake #61

    Research into how to model a “musical electric grid”? 🙂

    Please, please do this!

    Joking aside, your proposal has a LOT of merit, and if anyone running these complicated (as opposed to complex) systems wants to help them chime with complex (as opposed to complicated) ecological, economic and resource availability cycles during their downswing periods, this might give them something to chew on! Best wishes!

  108. I would simply add the the Chernobyl exclusion does (or did when I had the privilege to visit a decade ago) a flourishing community of humans, mostly elderly who either refused to go or had nowhere else to go, and continued to eat locally sourced produce and in spite of all expectation, seemed to be getting in fine, and not succumbing (beyond normal expectation) to illness.

  109. Ah but Large Language Models are EXPERT Idiots. That’s totally different. We always believe the Experts. Does the fact they learned everything they know on Reddit come as a red flag to anyone? They’re as knowledgeable experts as Cliff the Postman on Cheers.

    “I had the opportunity to tour the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone a few years ago. It was a remarkable experience.”

    Why not just tour any of 100 American cities like Gary, or Detroit?

    “they were alarmed that he would risk the wolves. Not the sort of thing the typical Western European or American will think about.”

    I don’t know where you live, but we do. What is “Typical” American as reported is about are real as what’s on “Friends”: it’s all air-tight urbanites cross-texting each other and has zero description, or impact on the real world. Like the cities above you could drive 0.5 miles from there and see a forest with wild men cooking squirrels in a can. But “All America” is “He-who-must-not-be-named” now.

    “Red Plenty discovered that no central planning system, would ever be able to plan production”

    Not only is that proved every day (Capitalism) but same was true for AI: the need for more data always rises faster than they payoffs and profits of that data. Another chasing the horizon by the same people, failing the same lesson in the same way. As they also take no consequences of these failures either, they also won’t notice again. 100 years in a row.

    Each week it comes up I’m newly shocked by the references to essentially Maga intolerance. They’ve gone up 500% among black voters and more among hispanics, but that’s just statistics. At core principle the American “Right” isn’t a “Right” at all: that would be in French terms, a Statist, the King’s men, the government “Right or wrong”, vs a working class, the People, the “Left” in 1789. The American Right is the dead opposite of that and always has been, but never more than now. Fundamentally, they wish to have “A government so small you could drown it in a bathtub” – and that phrase goes back to Reagan in 1980, if not Rand in 1954. How the actual heck is a government too small to exist going to oppress you? How is a party and people who install such a government going to rule things? There is no possible more extreme principle of “We’re going to leave everyone alone” than dismantling every layer of power and privilege, every bureaucracy, and every funding for every man who can bug you, and handing your tax money back to you to spend as you will.

    Once those are gone, how would anyone be able to oppress anyone? By giving you funny looks at the grocery? That sounds way less oppressive than rounding up every Assange and Manning and wiretapping every reporter of the AP, while paying to bend every word spoken on line or in person like they do now. Your mileage may vary, but I cannot conceive of how those two things could not be more opposite. …Aside from how demonstrably the Right is NOT after anyone, and picked up e.g. “Walk Away” by a gay hairdresser, and elected the first President that was openly pro gay marriage. Yes, that guy. It’s okay, I know it’s reported that way every day for decades: just think about it. How would that work?

  110. Yes, that is where the term Zerg Rush comes from and the strategy it refers to of using cheap mass produced units to quickly overwhelm the enemy’s defenses is quite common in RTS games. RTS games were very popular from the mid-90s till about 2011; showing up just before Neptune entered Aquarius and disappearing almost entirely shortly after Neptune entered Pisces. Now that Pluto has entered Aquarius they are suddenly showing back up again with many RTS games from the Neptune/Aquarius era getting sequels and spiritual successors. Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun is getting spiritual successor in Tempest Rising; Total Annihilation is getting two in Beyond All Reason and Sanctuary: Shattered Sun; Homeworld is getting Homeworld 3. Even Dune got a new RTS game in the form of Dune: Spice Wars.

    Total Annihilation, which was released in late 1997, is also rather interesting game from that time period as it seems to foreshadow the coming drone revolution as most units in the game are robotic drones with the exception of the commander unit being the only human on the battlefield; if he dies you lose the game. The gameplay of it and its 2007 sequel Supreme Commander is very much a high-tech version of World War I attrition warfare were cheap disposable drone units are constantly fed into a meat grinder with long-range artillery duels and air raids supplementing it; much like what is going on in Ukraine right now. Energy management is a big part of the game too, as you can speed up production of units by pumping more energy into the robot factories at the risk of running out of energy to supply power-dependent structures such as radar towers, mines and defense systems; causing them to cease to function. The story of the game is of a technocratic elite trying to force cyberization of the populace on them against their will and the populace rebelling against it, unwilling to transfer their brains to robots and lose their humanity.

    The story of the Command and Conquer Tiberium games also has rather interesting themes about ecology and technocratic elites trying to control the world and is pretty heavy on Biblical allusions and imagery. Video games are a very interesting way of changing or influencing public consciousness. Unlike television, radio or novels they force the person experiencing the story and the setting to be an active participant in it; having to take action to advance the story and often making decisions that decide the story’s outcome as many video games have multiple endings and branching story paths. Part of the reason Gamergate is such a big deal is that many people who originally ignored video games belatedly realized how many people were playing them and what messages these games were imparting into the minds of a lot of young men.

  111. At 63, I recently finally read Jurassic Park after having seen the movies when they first came out. And as with the movies, my favorite character was Ian Malcolm, the chaos theory mathematician who tried in vain to explain that complexity is unmanageable, because the more complex the system, the more unpredictable it gets. The unfolding of events in the story proved him tragically correct, as does also today’s real-world chaos. And like the fictional megalomaniacal billionaire John Hammond, who concocted the greedy Jurassic Park project and dressed it up as a visionary benefit to society, the Davos set pushes their same greedy delusions on the rest of us.

  112. BeardTree, I also know a fair number of Trump voters; the town in the north central Appalachians where I lived for nine years, which usually voted Democrat, went 70% for Trump in 2016. It was the immense gap between what they said when they talked about the elections and what the corporate media insisted was in the minds of people who voted for Trump that clued me in to the depth and bizarrerie of the disconnect between the official narrative about the election and mere reality.

    PumpkinScone, I’ve seen solidly documented arguments that the Amazon rain forest didn’t exist in 1492 — that the Amazon basin was a thickly inhabited agricultural region at the time, and only after the cataclysmic dieoff of native people due to smallpox and other Old World diseases did the rain forest come into being. If that turns out to be true, yeah, the entire fantasy of rain forests as delicate, slow-growing systems has to be chucked — and that also raises some interesting questions about what’s going to happen in, say, the American South, when population decline and rising global temperatures intersect in our future…

    Patricia O, glad to hear it.

    Maxine, fascinating. I already knew that there were a few doctors who hadn’t cashed in their ethics completely; good to hear of another one.

    Carlos, it’s a great line of drivel if you want to insist that theWEF is just a nice story…

    Christopher, I like it! Please write that story.

    Simon, ha! A fine and useful tale.

    Logan, thanks for this.

    Quin, many thanks for this as always.

    Martin, insects can be blown for thousands of miles by big storms. Ascension doesn’t have a large insect population — 53 native species, 80 that definitely arrived via human means, and 45 more that nobody’s sure about — but it’s apparently ample to keep the pollen moving.

    Aidawedo, that’s in flat contradiction to everything I know about the Inner Planes. They don’t force people into rigid political and economic mold — quite the contrary, they work with individuals, one by one, to keep the light of occult wisdom available for those who seek it. I know of no reason to believe that a “New Age” is coming — quite the contrary, occult tradition holds that now that our fifth, Eurasian cycle has peaked, we can expect catastrophes, followed by a long period of decline and unraveling, and then an even longer interval (like the one that separates the twilight of Atlantean civilization from the rise of Egypt and Sumer) before the next, sixth cycle gets under way.

    Luddite, if you can identify the Bletchley Park system and figure out how to teach people how to use it, you may just have your next career.

    Bradley, I wonder if it’s ever occurred to them that if they delete posts on social media, people will just find another way to communicate. I recall that in the runup to the 1978 Iranian revolution, when the Shah’s SAVAK secret police kept a tight grip on every official means of communication, supporters of the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini used cassette tapes of Khomeini’ speeches, smuggled into the country, duplicated, and passed from hand to hand, to get the word out.

    Dr. C, of course you don’t understand it. Neither do I, and neither does anyone else. That’s the beauty of it.

    Jon, I hadn’t heard about the Red Spot, but that doesn’t surprise me.

    Booklover, yeah, I saw that. The same old tired fantasy that extreme top-down control will force people to act like angels…

    Nicholas, I wonder if anybody’s tested them for cancer resistance. As a fantasy writer, I’m also wondering if they’ve all become radiation-resistant werewolves, but I’ll refrain from suggesting that seriously… 😉

    ZanniBoy, “The Expert Idiots” has just been added to my collection of band names. Thank you!

    Karl, interesting. Thanks for this.

    Fedora, so noted. I haven’t read it (or seen the movies), though.

  113. Here is a pentacle for consideration:

    In the Sacred Geometry Oracle when when a dodecagram is upright it is completion. When it is reversed it is complexity. Too many lines on the tracing board lead to entanglement. It’s sort of like the practice of making string figures with the hands: when a mistake gets made it results in a knot. When there are mistakes on multiple strings you have to look for slack elsewhere to make it right, but that requires unravelling, and unravelling can loosen some chaos before things settle back down again to redraw the figure.

  114. Christopher Kinyon, #108, I love it!! Please continue writing that story.
    And Northwind Grandma, I so agree with you about modern fabrics. It’s one reason clothes don’t last nearly as long as they used to. That and shoddy workmanship. I have a beautiful Robbing Peter to Pay Paul quilt that my great grandmother made, it’s close to 150 years old. And it’s in quite lovely condition, given its age. The binding is falling apart a little, but the quilt squares and the quilting stitches are all holding up nicely. My grandmother, may she rest in peace, and whom we all loved dearly, had many quilts her mother had made.

  115. My take on Haiti is that the incredibly corrupt government put in place after the big earthquake with the assistance of the Clinton foundation has utterly failed. Haiti has had corrupt governments ever since they threw off French Colonial Rule ( violently) and have been punished by the Western Power Structure for it. But the Clintons set the poor ( half and island) up for more misery than usual by making things as friendly as possible for foreign owned sweatshops to exploit the islanders even more than usual. One of the scariest sentences to anyone living in the third world is ” We are the Clintons and we are here to help you.”
    The old governments were corrupt and violet ( Papa Doc, Baby Doc) but had the common sense that most dictators have for keeping the population at a bare minimum of satisfaction. The foreign directed Junta that ruled the place since the Clintons ” came to help” did not even do that so they failed.
    Now, with no credible or useful government in place power is being taken by local warlords ( gangs), as you have pointed out is the natural ( but not pleasant) of things. Once upon a time the US would have stepped in and installed a new puppet government and supplied a bit of aid to give them a bit of popularity. But the US is now fare enough down the curve of a failing empire that it can’t even do that.
    I would guess that chaos and suffering will continue in Haiti until the Chinese move in to that part of the Caribbean and sort things out with the help of the Venezuela.

  116. @Northwind Grandma
    It’s a great shame about Joanne, but it isn’t the fault of the company. Like many companies these days, they get bought out by private equity groups who get cheap loans from the Wall St banks, and then saddle the company with debt as they strip the assets. They did this with Sears and Cabela’s among many, many others. Our elites are not smart. They are just callous and greedy.

  117. I’m not sure what’s going on in the world right now. But in the past couple of days I’ve noticed a lot of people posting about nuclear power plants, on Twitter. A lot of them claim that it’s only expensive because this ecological group or that green party imposes plenty of unnecessary taxes on the construction of nuclear plants. Or that waste can be cheaply thrown into space towards the sun or burnt into some sort of reactor. And there’s this one picture about how Nixon wanted energy independence by building 1000 NPPs, the image is doing rounds. What do you think about this? Can we expect in the future a post detailing the situation with NPPs? Or if you’ve already done one such post, can you link it?

  118. Thanks for a very insightful post. This is one of the best dismissals of the “powers that would like to be” I’ve yet seen.

    I didn’t comment at the time, and would just like to say thank you for your words about Sara. You echoed my thoughts about friends (people and animal) I’ve loved and lost. Speaking of which, your bio “About JMG” seems a bit out of date.

    Thanks again, and regards!

  119. Speaking of problems an elite class has imposed upon itself, here’s a sticky one: Although the people-killing industry is perhaps the most profitable one on Earth (seeing as so much money for war comes from taxpayers), how can economic growth be sustained when populations begin dying faster than they can reproduce?
    When such a scenario presents itself, what’s a billionaire warmonger to do?

  120. JMG,
    Speaking of vacuous drivel spewed by the scribes of the establishment, I just this morning stumbled across a video put out by the New York Times. The title says it all, ” It turns out the Deep State is actually kind of awesome.”
    In it they travel around the country interviewing functionaries within bloated and dysfunctional agencies like NASAs and the EPA. They depict them as cuddly and well meaning crusaders who are saving the world.
    The Davos set must be getting worried if they are now upping their propaganda campaign from denying the existence of a Deep State type perpetual leadership class to reforming their image from sinister men in smoke filled rooms to kindly versions of Mary Poppins and Mother Theresa.

  121. We must remember that just as wolves evolve, so does the hubris of the centralists. There is a constant Steve Jobs-like shifting of realities and transmutations of perception through the layers of abstractions. These are powerful forces. “Let them eat cake”, comes to mind.

    After all, the policies they talk about are never about themselves. It is always “we must” as in “we must get the plebs to do it for us”. How else can they fly across the globe talking climate change, or talk about owning nothing, while not giving away everything themselves.

    So just as the wolves eating the herbivores, these carnivores eats the brains and emotions of the general public. Think of them as the old ones in Doctor sleeper / Shining II.

  122. @JMG,
    “As a fantasy writer, I’m also wondering if they’ve all become radiation-resistant werewolves, but I’ll refrain from suggesting that seriously… 😉”

    OMG, is the world ready for the Attack of the Killer (Radiation-Resistant) WereBabushkas? 🙂

  123. I believe the ideas of Hari Seldon and the ‘psychohistorians’ from Asimov’s Foundation series who sought to model and influence the world through mathematics had an influence on our modern-day technocrats like Harari. Those types of dreams of the future just don’t seem to want to quit.

    Sure, they might be able to swing a few elections, psychologically profile people based on their facebook data, and influence the entire web of social media communications through machine learning, but there’s a big gap between being able to do those things and ‘Homo Deus’ or Man-God. You did point out that Harari is an atheist, and I think that is the only possible position for someone who thinks that by using technology to manage the world they can elevate man to God-like status.

    In the Cosmic Doctrine, Fortune discussed the complexity of the world as it relates to the movement of ‘atoms’ through space:

    “The final complexity of these atoms, when the complete circuit has been described, though it is capable of mathematical expression cannot be conveyed to the finite intellect; but could you grasp the geometry of these atoms, could you know their numerical calculus you would hold the key to the explanation of the Universe.”

    A foray into sacred geometry presents a concept of a world with a deep and complex underlying order.

    Heck, even the simple act of planting a seed and watching it grow and develop into a complex living organism that is capable of reproduction should hopefully convey in the observer a feeling of an underlying complexity and unfathomable intelligence.

    But to think that we as humans are somehow capable of hacking into that order and controlling it…just no. The word ‘sacrilege’ or ‘stealer of sacred things’ comes to mind. That is a role best left to the gods.

  124. There’s a hobbyist programmer whose progress I’ve been following for a few years, who’s been training neural network AIs to play a particular car racing sim game. (That probably sounds like the least promising start to a comment imaginable, but please bear with me. Also please note that in this context, AI doesn’t imply any claim of actual intelligence, it just means a computer program that plays a game.) In his latest update, he describes his attempts to get his AI to excel at weird custom race courses where the car drives on top of narrow round pipes suspended in midair. He recorded record course-completion times outperforming those of human players on such courses, which is no surprise considering the inherent advantages such an AI has, including instantaneous reaction times and no fatigue or lapses in attention. But even the best-performing AIs, no matter how extensively evolved and trained, still fell off the pipes more than 99% of the time instead of completing the courses. (The record times achieved were the rare exceptions where the AI made it to the end.) The problem was chaos, in the mathematical sense. The game’s mechanics are deterministic, but its simulated interactions between the car’s wheels and the pipe are so sensitive to the precise conditions of the contact that for all practical purposes there’s an irreducible and effectively random chance that the car will go flying off the track at each moment even when the AI makes optimal choices.

    It’s a case where one adaptive system is competing to outperform another. Learning genetic algorithm versus human gamers. But in this case, hard limits on predictability that arise from the chaos of causality in the real world (or even, of a reasonably detailed simulation thereof) sometimes defeat both.

    What I’m realizing is, that phenomenon generalizes. Adaptive systems (human brains, artificial neural networks, bureaucracies, cultures, markets, microbes, cells, organisms, species, ecosystems) coexist and compete with other adaptive systems on roughly comparable levels of capability. Where different types are in direct conflict, one might typically dominate in a given situation, but even then, there’s never certainty. Chaos can defy adaptive systems and can tip any balance between competing adaptive systems. The immune system will clear a virus most of the time; the hunters equipped with human brains and Stone Age weapons will kill the sabertooth tiger most of the time; City Hall will defeat the reform candidate most of the time. But no immune system, hunting band, or bureaucracy will win every time.

    Evolution never reaches a static equilibrium, not only because the environment changes (the usual reason given) but because chaos within the process itself is inevitable. Medicine will never prevent or cure all cancer because cancer isn’t a competing adaptive system, it’s chaotic perturbation of the organism. A hypothetical mastermind who’s a hundred times better than present experts at manipulating economies or orchestrating cultural shifts might still not be able to actually do it.

    This is one small part of the reasons there’s a cloud forest in the South Atlantic and wolves in Chernobyl. We like to tell the stories of how adaptive systems arise to overcome chaos. But they do so the way an alpinist “overcomes” a mountain: the mountain is still just as steep afterwards.

  125. I wonder… Is it possible that part of the reason that the elite governmental class in the West hated Russia so much was that they wanted to implement the Communist package, but simply could not, given the other power centres in the Western World? It certainly explains a lot…

  126. @JMG: Upon rereading The King In Orange, I wonder if Trump is still going for programs that benefit the wage earners? Or is he now more interested in hanging onto his money and power? Though (full disclosure) I’m sitting this Presidential race out unless I learn differently. i.e. that he’s still pursuing the agenda noted in K in O.

    P.S. The latest word is that he has Florida in the bag.

  127. Scotlyn #121

    Re electric grids, musical and otherwise

    %&@#! autocorrect. Municipal. Municipal electric grids. (Although “musical electric grid” does sound rather glass-bead-gamey, doesn’t it?)

    Thanks for the encouragement. My thinking at this point is to begin with a simplistic, stylized model (which will very likely produce trivial results) and then gradually add in layers of complexity and nuance. I have access to some reasonably-powered software that I can use for running simulations and I’m quite curious to see where this will lead.

  128. @Clay Dennis #74: I watched a few episodes of the TV series Brave New World some years ago, before the excessive partying went on my nerves. It surprised me that the highly qualified lab scientists were betas, while the alphas basically only knew how to smile and dole out soma. I can’t now remember if that was already the case in the book, or if the TV series adapted the alphas’ qualifications to the times. In Huxley’s times, an Oxford graduate might at least have been expected to read Thucydides fluently in Greek, or something like that, and I think private companies might not usually have been led by Oxbridge graduates.

    In any case, the management generalists may be particularly prominent in the Anglo world. I think in German or Japanese enterprises, there is still a tradition of rising from the ranks, or at least moving only within the industry.

  129. Justin, a very evocative metaphor.

    Clay, okay, that makes sense. If those “gangs” can get their act together, they may be able to impose an effective if autocraticgovernment, which would be a considerable improvement on the Clintons.

    Rafael, it’s been a long time since I’ve discussed the vast white elephant of nuclear power in a blog post; I’ll consider doing it again.

    Damian, thank you — and thanks for the reminder about the potted bio, which I’ve corrected.

    Dog, it’s a familiar problem in falling civilizations, and the solution is the collapse of the elite class. Sometimes that comes sooner, sometimes later, but it always comes.

    Clay, my jaw just hit my chest. This suggests that the establishment has fallen into the grip of the other side’s narrative, and are just trying to play reverse-the-value-signs on it. If that happens more generally, the existing order of society is doomed, and not in any long-term sense, either.

    Detlev, ah, but the difference is that the wolves are exposed moment by moment to Darwinian selection, while the plutocrats have done everything in their considerable power over the last century to make sure that nobody in their class ever has to suffer the consequences of even their stupidest decisions. Thus the wolves evolve toward increased cancer resistance, while the plutocrats evolve toward increased detachment from reality. That’s why more and more people are losing faith in the official narratives, and in the system as a whole. Here in the US, at least, it’s fair to say that we are well into a prerevolutionary situation.

    Sgage, yes! In fact, I think they’re the heroines the world needs right now!

    Stefania, that’s a good point. The entire Hari Seldon fantasy was disproved by science fiction itself — the future we’ve gotten has turned out to be nothing like the future that science fiction mapped out in Asimov’s time, despite Herculean attempts to make the SF future happen — so Har(ar)i is barking up the wrong stump anyway.

    Walt, fascinating. That makes sense to me, for whatever that’s worth.

    Anon, so basically you think they were consumed with jealousy? I could see that. As for the band name, it’s a keeper.

    Patricia M, it depends entirely on what he and his inner circle think will win them the most votes. I don’t think Trump ever cared particularly about working class Americans, but in 2016 he grasped that they were his ticket to the White House. If he makes the same gamble — well, we’ll see.

  130. @hearthculture #58 and @Clay Dennis #74 re: Complication, Complexity, and Management

    These are some topics near and dear to my heart as someone trained in “generalist management” in complex fields who has become quite skeptical of the whole concept! If you will, I’d like to share a couple of works and thoughts I think might be interesting to both of you, but I’ll separate them by being most-relevant to each of your comments.

    @hearthculture: The distinction between complicated and complex systems has been an enormously useful mental model for me, I’m so gald to hear that someone is teaching it to young people fairly early on in their lives. For a nice complement, consider Carl von Clausewitz’s concept of “friction” – the idea that little things add up to make even seemingly simple activities actually complex. For example, imagine telling 100 men to walk a mile north as a group. Easy, right? Well, unless that mile is knee-deep mud because it’s been raining for weeks, the men are exhausted because they have been marching over 20 miles a day for a week, and on the other side of that mile are hundreds of men with guns shooting at them. Not easy any more!

    One of the most pleasant reads I’ve found on the subject of complex systems and their behavior is Emergence by Steven Johnson. He and the academics he interviews might be a bit overly confident in how well we’ll be able to come to understand complex systems and their emergent properties, but it does a good job of laying out many of the concepts and showing them with simple examples, like a flight of starlings.

    There are a lot of books on “systems thinking,” which, fittingly enough for the subject, seems to be something you have to learn by inference and doing and is not very amenable to putting down in plain, easy-to-understand language. That being said, my favorite is Systemantics by John Gall, in no small part due to its acerbic wit and wealth of facepalm examples of folks failing to account for how complex systems are different from simple or complicated ones.

    Lastly, though it is firmly in the pop business category, which means there’s not a whole lot of meat to it, the admirably brief Simple Rules by Donald Sull and Kathleen Eisenhardt gives a counter-intuitive answer to how to deal with many complex situations: craft a small number of very simple decision rules, and then apply them. It turns out this approach is way more flexible and responsive to complexity than trying to match complexity with complication by coming up with big, fat manuals of processes and procedures. Of course, this requires leaders with knowledge, judgment, and a sense of ownership, so easier said than done (more on this below for the stuff I recommend to Clay!)

    @Clay Dennis: While I 100% agree with your conclusion that “management” as a separate, transferable skill has been taken to some ridiculous places and gotten way out of hand, I have a couple of minor quibbles. The first is that the process goes back a bit farther than the 70’s – there were some hints of “scientific management” in the late 19th century, but it really started taking off around WW1 and immediately after, just as our society decided that academically trained experts could solve a wide variety of problems that no one would have considered letting them touch not long before. Frederick Taylor was one of the earliest and most vocal exponents of “scientific management,” so much so that it came to be known as “Taylorism.” He’s the reason UPS drivers take routes that maximize the number of right hand turns and have trucks that don’t have doors on them.

    My second quibble is that one reason everyone went nuts for “management” as its own discipline is because early on, there really was some low-hanging fruit to be had by just paying attention to how you ran things. Now, very likely, much of that early success came on the back of the fact that anyone in “management” positions in those days almost certainly had subject-matter knowledge of what they were managing, since you didn’t have companies hiring MBAs without a lick of experience in their field just yet, but there is something to the concept of “management” as a discipline – it’s just that it has quickly diminishing returns in folks who don’t know the subject area of the actual work well.

    For more discussion on the above, one of the very best articles on management that I’ve read in years is “Review: Scaling People by Claire Hughes Johnson” by John Psmith (the p is silent, like in “pseudonym”). Basically, the book they “review” is a wholesale endorsement of management as its own thing divorced from the content of the work, and the review is an extended meditation on how wrong-headed and ineffective that is. It’s fantastic.

    Though the above review brushes up against some political topics, if you want a more explicitly politically-oriented article (that is quite long), “The China Convergence” by N.S. Lyons has been making the rounds among folks skeptical about the global managerial approach. It talks about how the US and China, despite their seeming ideological differences, are actually both moving toward states that privilege a “managerial” approach above all else, with more and more of life being “managed” by the state along planned, scientific, expert lines. It shares many of the conclusions of ultimate hopelessness of such an endeavor that our host outlines above, but is maybe more pessimistic in how far they’ll be able to take it before it collapses on itself.

    Anyhow, sorry that was quite a long comment, but hope you find at least some of those sources interesting and worthwhile.


  131. @Luddite #115 re: Bletchley Park

    This likely isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, but the one in-depth discussion of Bletchley Park and its operations that I’ve encountered is Neal Stephenson’s description of it in Cryptonomicon. It’s a novel, not a history book, but Stephenson is known, especially in his earlier work (including this), for long, detailed rambles into technical tangents. One of those in Cryptonomicon is a main character following an intercepted German transmission from where it is brought in by motorcycle courier through each station in the process of breaking the cipher and getting it into human-readable format to be shared with relevant intelligence officers.

    Perhaps checking that out could give you some leads to follow. Also, it’s a fun book that weaves together WWII history, 90s startup culture, proto-cryptocurrency, and philosophical speculation. It’s also the first place I encountered Jungian analysis of myths, so I’ve got a soft spot for it.


  132. The talk and so far only talk about nuclear reactors is heating up again because it’s become painfully obvious that renewables are not going to keep the lights on, not to mention the data centers and heaven forbid the Augmented Idiocy server farms.

    Yes, certain nuclear reactors can use reprocessed fuel, see here. It’s been built and tested long ago.

    Excess hysteria about radiation is part of the cost problem, but a bigger one is the cost of money. It takes a decade to build a reactor station and there is no income until it’s running. You can look up the saga of the Vogtle power station easily enough. One advantage of wind farms or solar installations is that you can bring it on in stages so the first completed section generates an income stream to partly pay for the next stage.

    Note that the Navy does not have a problem building nuclear reactors on a schedule. Every submarine has one, and the aircraft carriers have two. The Navy has standard designs and they stick to them. My boat was one of just over a hundred S5W reactor plants in operation.

    The modular reactor notion is an attempt to duplicate the economics of small scale easily built reactors for the civilian market. It hasn’t caught on yet, to say the least. Small reactors have the same labor and regulatory costs as a big reactor, but produces less power. There are some savings as physics is easier on smaller reactors, (two of the terms in the six factor formula involve neutron non-leakage, so maintaining a negative temperature coefficient is more difficult on larger reactors) but this doesn’t save much money.

    I could go on, but it’s lunchtime:-)

  133. The wolves of Chernobyl are not only a metaphor for natural ecological selection but also Geopolitical/ cultural selection. In most cases when empires try and occupy, dominate and rule a less developed region they usually fail in the long run ( with the exception of when introduced diseases wipe out the locals for them. Examples would be the US in Afghanistan or Iraq, or the Romans in Ireland.
    During these periods the locals are under intense pressure to evolve in skills, stamina, toughness and organizational efficiency because when they are sloppy or lazy the invaders kill them. Over time as the kids who grow up under occupation take they reigns they bring a kind of ruthless efficiency, toughness and adaptability that the invaders can’t match.
    During this same period the invaders find their tech and tactics to be less and less effective and begin to suffer larger losses. But the wounded leave the country and don’t contribute much to improved knowledge while the remote leaders double down on dumb strategies because they are not forced to evolve. Eventually the clever members of the imperial forces figure out ways to avoid such a thankless graveyard and the quality of those deployed there goes downhill along with their moral.
    Finally the locals evolve to be much more effective than the invaders even despite a gap in technology and send them fleeing the country like we saw in Afghanistan, or Vietnam and soon in both Ukraine and Iraq. Thus these highly evolved wolves of invaded countries get the chance to laugh at the invaders as they drive them out.

  134. Dear JMG, thank you for this thoughtful essay. And my condolences too, I’m sorry for your loss.

    I would like to suggest that the right-left false dichotomy instead be replaced in our imagination and discussion with a centralised power/less centralised power spectrum. For example we’d look at administrations and markets from the perspective of how decentralized they are, and how far is power equitably distributed.

    To avoid the pitfalls of binary thinking, it might be wise to acknowledge that there are moments where centralization of power is a good idea, like bulk purchase of drugs – but that mostly centralization and abuse of power go hand-in-hand.

  135. I can’t recall if this has been mentioned in a comment thread before, but there’s an interesting technique for “tree planting” (or rather, maybe “forest creation) that seems awfully much like what happened on Ascension Island, and ultimately, well, like nature.

    “Miyawaki Forest” refers to something Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki came up with to reforest bare areas using very (very!) densely planted natives to effect rapid growth to near-mature-forest within decades rather than centuries.

    Here are some places to find more information:,, and

    Likewise, Ernst Götsch, a Swiss former-plant-genetics researcher now working in Brasil, has a similarly dense planting method that follows and supports plants’ natural tendencies toward succession and mutual enhancement. Most of his work is tropical, but others have moved his methods to temperate regions. His method is called Syntropic Agriculture – as he suggests that there’s a quality of syntropy involved in the way something greater than the parts results. He’s reforested some 400 hectares in about 40 years and seen tremendous results even in the first 20.

    More on his work here:, and (this one has before/after photos prominently displayed).

    Both methods, it seems, involve humans positively (set up some few conditions, inject randomness, stand back and see what happens) and are far, far removed from monoculture agribusiness, commercial silviculture, etc.

    Disclosure: I have only theoretical knowledge of these, have not seen the results in person, but will experiment along these lines in the years to come and will report back. Small experiment in a garden with cover-crop annuals (as previously mentioned) was fantastically productive and abounding with life and energy. We’ll see how it goes in our limiting season (the dry one), but I intend to keep doing the same basic thing with summer-suitable annuals in a mix called “Milpa mix” from the company Green Cover:

    Looks like the world knows what to do – just that we humans are a bit slow on the uptake. Thanks for reminding us readers where the real deal is to be found and just how puny and insignificant the attempts by the WEF/Radiance et al. really are, ultimately.

  136. John, I wonder if trees and plants are evolving to survive in a highly radioactive area? There was a large swath of forest near Chernobyl that died right after the accident. It was called the Red forest and the trunks of the trees were cut and buried by a mitigation crew.

  137. “When I lived in Seattle, though, I heard repeated, well-substantiated claims that the Microsoft campus in Redmond used Linux for all their mission-critical functions, as Windows products were too failure-prone to do the job…”

    More likely unix than linux.
    “Microsoft continued to use Xenix internally, submitting a patch to support functionality in Unix to AT&T in 1987, which trickled down to the code base of both Xenix and SCO Unix. Microsoft is said to have used Xenix on Sun workstations and VAX minicomputers extensively within their company as late as 1988.[44] All internal Microsoft email transport was done on Xenix-based 68000 systems until 1995–1996, when the company moved to its own Exchange Server product.[45]”

  138. @Anonymous, I think the elite class hates Russia and Putin so much because they didn’t kowtow to their vision of the future where the Russians are compliant citizens of the global Davos order with correct social views. and were choosing instead to be an indepedent power center. and maybe working towards the end of dollar dominance. (remember follow the money) Perhaps there was also an unconscious racism where the elites were shocked that the white skinned Russians weren’t going for globalist enlightenment and so obviously must be retrograde fascist, nazi types and therefore worthy of defeat and destruction for the good of all. This reaction reveals the stupidily of the western global elite as they should have respected Russia’s sphere of influence and chose benign co-existence to keep Russia as a counter weight to China instead of driving Russia and China together to be in cahoots against our western elite.

  139. To add to Rafael’s comment, it isn’t just talk about about nuclear power making the rounds. The first new nuclear power plant in the US in 40 years went operational a few months ago in Atlanta, Georgia. Japan just lifted its operational ban on world’s biggest nuclear plant, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa. China started up world’s first fourth-generation nuclear reactor about 3 months ago. Russia’s nuclear power company just also inked a bunch of deals for nuclear power plants in various African nations such as South Africa and Burkina Faso. Fincantieri, the largest shipbuilder in Europe and fourth largest shipbuilding company in the world announced a program of small modular nuclear reactors in cargo ships. A lot of interesting developments are happening right now in nuclear power.

    There seems to be something of a parallel to last time Pluto was in Aquarius as James Watt’s steam engines went into production in 1776 and the first experimental steamship, the Pyroscaphe, was launched into the Saône river in France in 1783. Richard Trevithick also started work on developing the world’s first steam locomotive, successfully completing the Puffing Devil in 1801. John Baber designed the first gas turbine 1792. The first internal combustion engine was also developed by Robert Street in 1794.

  140. Chernobyl had its radioactive wolves while I’ve heard that Germany and Austria are troubled by herds of radioactive boars. They are aggressive and if you do manage to kill them you can’t eat them; the bodies are difficult to dispose of because of the radioactivity. It’s not really very clear how they reached this state although rooting in the search a few inches down would certainly uncover contamination from the ‘86 accident. Unlike other wildlife the boars are not getting less radioactive over time.

  141. Maxine,
    Your course sounds amazing! If I were closer I would sign up. I just got a raised garden bed in our local community garden and will start experimenting with what grows well in it. My small, in town lot just doesn’t have enough full sun and I’ve only had partial success. I plan to start with a variety of vegetables, but if there are any herbs that grow well here that you recommend (I am just south of the border from you), I will add those too!

  142. The incompetence and limited understanding of the managers is on full display down under. Our housing crisis rages on, with rapidly increasing homeless populations and tent cities popping up all over. Based on the more or less true assertion that owning a home makes for a secure and comfortable retirement, governments have spent a couple of decades pouring public money into schemes to make owning a home easier. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, parly because some of the schemes have incentivised investment for profit and partly because at the same time, they’ve been bringing in record numbers of migrants. Housing prices and rents have simply skyrocketed over the period with only limp recent attempts to directly address the problem because it can no longer be ignored in public.

    There is no way out except through painful restructuring and/or crisis, because without the incoming waves of people, our economy would be in a deep recession, if not a depression. They know this, I’m sure, but are not smart enough to solve it, so the great population and property ponzi rolls on towards the inevitable days of reckoning.

    Do you know of any examples from history where nations haven’t ended up with charismatic lunatics running the show when the decadent elites finally get it in the neck?

  143. @Siliconguy
    @Karl Grant
    Thank you for the responses!
    Mr. JMG says that NPPs still are a non-solution to our upcoming energy crisis so I’m thinking that the new wave of nuclear acceptance is simply a desperate move. How useful is an NPP? The industial age is built on cheap energy specifically from coal and oil, if those are gone then NPPs will follow shortly certainly. Hopefully we’ll get a new essay about nuclear energy.

  144. Siliconguy, thanks for this. The one thing I have to keep bringing up about naval nuclear reactors is that navies don’t have to make a profit; economics, not physics, is the Achilles’ heel of nuclear power.

    Clay, even when introduced diseases are involved, imperial adventures fail in the long run; it’s just that the long run is longer and the causes of failure are different.

    Justin, no question, we’re generating some great band names. 😉

    Boy, the difficulty there is that so many groups insist they want to decentralize power until they get it; then they’re all about centralized power, since it’s theirs. The left is especially notorious for this, but it’s common all across the political landscape.

    TemporaryReality, interesting. As time permits I’ll take a look.

    Peter, keep in mind that the intensity of radiation from any radioactive material tends to fall steadily over time due to the physics of radioactive decay. It’s possible that trees are adapting, but equally, the amount of radiation they have to contend with has decreased. Also, of course, since trees are at the bottom of the food chain, they don’t have to deal with the same kind of bioaccumulation that apex predators do.

    A Reader, interesting, but that’s not what the claims said; they specified Linux.

    Karl, I predicted that fifteen years ago. It’ll end the same way the last great rush into nuclear power did, in a flurry of disastrous cost overruns, bankruptcies, bond defaults, and soaring energy costs, because nuclear power is technically viable but economically disastrous. So long as the myth of progress stays in place, though, people will keep trying it.

    Andy, so what you’re saying is that it’s not just the Big Bad Wolf who glows in the dark, it’s also the Three Little Pigs. 😉

    Patricia M, I think the Wonky Experience is a preview of the AI-enabled future. As for the Harpers article, many thanks for it — I’ve been waiting for something like that to appear for a while now, and now it’s here. Fun will be had. Heh heh heh…

    Patrick, nope. Giambattista Vico even made it central to his theory of decline and fall — the barbarism of reflection, he called it, happens when the elite classes move so far into empty abstractions that they literally can’t notice that the foundations of their power (and of society itself) are collapsing beneath them.

  145. @Tamar,
    I’m on Vancouver Island, where I grow oregano, chives, garlic chives, mint and rosemary as perennials. They are very enthusiastic. My varigated sage also does decently as a perennial, though it doesn’t grow fast. These are all very worthwhile and easy to grow – the main problem with all except the sage is preventing it from becoming a weed. The chives sometimes gets rust later in the year, but by that point I’ve harvested piles of fresh chives for months on end so it’s not the end of the world.

    Lemon balm grows well, but I realized I don’t like the taste so I’ve almost managed to get rid of it. Thyme doesn’t seem to like my garden and has twice not survived the winter. Parsley is a biennial that you can pick from in the winter and that usually reseeds itself. Basil needs to be grown every year, and prefers more heat than I have – I’m going to try it in the polytunnel I just built. I am trying summer savory this year, but right now they’re teeny tiny sprouts indoors.

  146. @Patrick,
    sounds a lot like the west coast of Canada where I live. You have my sympathies, and best wishes for saner policies and functional housing in both our countries as soon as possible.

  147. I think your basic analysis is spot-on, and that news about the wolves is the best thing I’ve heard this year. However, I think you may be missing something.

    Firstly, implied but not said is an opposition between the gay vegan atheist manager and Trump’s base. Fair enough. But the global management class is bipartisan. Ask the Sandinistas if they think Reagan’s global management was a left wing project. HW Bush spoke of the New World Order, and his son’s record speaks for itself. I think you’d also agree that opposition to Harari’s project is also bipartisan. Not many future Trump supporters at the Battle in Seattle. So what we’ve got here is not a binary between global and local, but a quaternary.

    But I think it’s a ternary as well, and that came to me near the end where you suggested Trump’s base are the oppressed future revolutionaries. Trump’s base is not the wretched of the earth, and the majority of Americans who voted against him twice are not the jet set. The latter, for example, includes 90% of black people, and it’s possible they know something about a candidate who communicates in winks and nudges that you’ve missed.

    Oppression, exploitation and privilege are not functions of scale. Ask any battered wife. In my experience, there’s no privilege so petty its beneficiaries won’t commit violence to defend it. So back to the binary: is it really global v. local, or something else?

  148. Excellent post! Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that a bureaucracy will begin with two kinds of people…those who are solely focused on bureaucratic power, and those who work to achieve the purported goals of the organization..The law states that the bureaucratic types will always take over the organization, leaving the actual workers powerless, and often will exterminate them in the quest for power… Ultimately, all the resources will be expended to promote the bureaucrats and none to achieve its function…Yuval is a prime example…

  149. Damn, what a great essay – one I will be sending to a lot of people.

    I have no doubt the push back is coming, I can feel it all around me.

  150. Hi JMG,
    Great essay! Also I never thought I’d see mention of zerg rushes on here! I think actually there is something relevant to what you are discussing here. I used to play StarCraft (in my misspent youth as you might say) and was big on ‘ling rushes (zergling rushes). In those games people want to build big armies with huge flagship vehicles of awesome destructive power, essentially something like flying aircraft carriers. But you could subvert the game by building zerglings instead, the lowest grade zerg troop, and skip any attempt to get more complex and sophisticated. Zerglings looked like dogs, and I think you could say even a little like wolves… I was big on this strategy at the time.

    Your opponents would work to build this complex arsenal as fast as they could, but you could focus instead on just making a set-up that could just endlessly churned out these dogs that you were indifferent to (at least at an individual level), and relentlessly swarm all their stuff. If you did it right that swarm would just never end so you could wear them down . It was very frustrating for players who wanted to “play correctly”, which just made it very fun.


  151. JMG

    That would make sense regarding the Amazon Basin given what we know about agricultural societies and where they from; one would expect that along the biggest and highest energy river in the world a settled human society would develop.

    As always though when civilisations develop in humid tropical regions the energy from sun and rain is so great that if the weeds are not constantly chopped back the forest takes over very quickly. The homelands of the Maya were most likely far less timbered in their heyday too.

    I would gather places like Florida and Louisiana would be reforested very quickly if humans were to depart.

  152. Hi John Michael,

    It’s unsurprising that nuclear energy is once again in the newspapers being touted as an option. For your info, there is a lot of talk about it in the media down here right now. Dunno. Don’t you reckon it’s weird that when forced to do so, we’ll chuck anything in the tank to keep things going? I certainly didn’t imagine that would happen when I first learned of the actual future we’re most likely to have when writing for the hippy press way back in 2004. Did you?

    Man, I dunno what else to do, but I had to laugh about the expert opinions in the news today extrapolating that just because that big state in your country off to the south west managed to run off wind, water and solar for between 0.25 and 6 hours per day for some period of 10 of 11 days, means that the system could be scaled to 24 hours per day. I say to people about this subject: sometimes it’s night, the wind isn’t blowing and you’re in the middle of a drought, so what are you going to do then? I’ve observed that one of the most awesome side effects of enjoying the electrictiy from the mains grid, is that you can be entirely oblivious to how the thing actually works.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, but from my perspective, any conversation about this subject which doesn’t begin with the premise: Now imagine having access to less energy than now, and sometimes even then it won’t be available, is just, I dunno, that’s where the choices are leading us. Beats me why few people notice.

    Better run, got some re-wiring of one of the solar panel arrays to do today in the hot sun. Happy equinox, for the other day. 🙂



  153. @Noodles re: Cancer Proof Wolf Pack (!)

    I dig it. Also mulling over the sound of:
    Rad Grannies
    Chernobyl Werewolves
    Wolves and Babushkas

  154. The Western elite class’s hatred for Russia: When the only tool you have is a Cold War military industrial complex and propaganda apparatus, then everything looks like a demonic enemy superpower.
    Even more so if your supposed experts on the enemy were part of your propaganda apparatus not real scholars.

  155. Tulsi Gabbard just declared for Trump. The news article about it threw in the fact that she’d quarreled with her father, a lifelong Democrat, over his anti-gay-marriage stance; not sure whether that’s relevant or not, though the writer’s intention of throwing it in is pretty transparent. (Gaaaahh)

  156. I confess that I’m not up to the level of the Davos people. I don’t understand how they would enforce a global system of governance where you have elites that really don’t seem to buy into Davosian precepts and who have their own bases of power . Think Beijing for instance. Are those billionaire communists on board? Or Moscow or Teheran. Or, for that matter, New Delhi. I’m sure there’s more.

    I really don’t think that Davos values are Muslim values. That said, Muslims are to an extent ‘globalists’. For instance, I read that ISIS leaders were saying that they won’t be satisfied until their black flag flies over Alaska. You can never have too many Muslims after all.

    So I doubt that Davos elites can impose their ways on guys that run madrassas or on firebrand militia leaders who get depressed if they’re not planning a truck bombing or on their followers who can live on a cup of rice and a mouthful of dirty water a day. Real hard cases IOW, not inclined to take direction from godless degenerates. But we don’t need to speculate as it’s been tried – on Afghanistan for example – and it failed spectacularly. More than once.

    Anyway, these Davos guys baffle me. These preach a borderless world, and apparently disparage the idea of the nation state. But they’ve appropriated legislatures and investigative and law enforcement and surveillance organizations (which are creatures of the nation state) for their own use, to protect themselves and to enforce their claims on money and assets and resources. And what is Davos without money?

    Do civil rights exist outside the context of the nation state? Is there a passport that says ‘citizen of the world’? They think of themselves as chess masters but they fail to understand the nature of the chess pieces who seem to have minds of their own. In my humble opinion that is.

  157. @Jeff Russell,
    I stopped reading Stephenson after his Baroque Trilogy, which was terrific BTW, but I have always wanted to know who Enoch Root turned out to be. Did Stephenson ever go back to that character?

  158. JMG,

    Have you ever heard of Davos folks saying “I am moving my home and business to a location where air conditioning isn’t requured.” or “I moved out of the gated community into a small rambler on the edge of forest/farmland.”

    They never wanted anything but slight changes to their opulent lives.

  159. #139 It could be that the reason is the elites of neoliberal capitalism are aware that the previous system of communism in the USSR (which could perhaps be more accurately called state capitalism) was a bureaucratic system different from but also with some similarities to capitalism itself. It collapsed for whatever reasons – whether it was because under Communism you don’t get enough slapping around by the Invisible Hand of the Market, or just excessive military spending being a drain on the economy.
    This gives the elites of capitalism a fear that something similar could happen to them and the system ending up being replaced by something different that may not be as profitable for them.
    In the meantime, the consolidation of businesses into oligopolies that often have government connections, and attempts by the establishment to promote ideological conformity in various ways, perhaps shows convergent evolution to something not too different from the old style state capitalism.

  160. @Michael #72

    I can’t sing the praises of beavers enough. They did something similar with their ponds. They moved into a stream that was basically dead from acid mine drainage and built a series of ponds. The upper one was super acidic (2 pH?). I’m beyond impressed that a beaver could tolerate that kind of water long enough to build a dam! Anyway, by the time you got to the fifth or sixth pond the stream was back to a pH of 7 and full of life again. Go beavers!

    @ Kimberley Steele

    I mentioned Fred Pearce’s book The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature’s Salvation on a comment a few months ago, but I’ll recommend it again. It had a profound effect on how I see the botanical world. As you may guess from the subtitle, one of his main theses is that “weeds” can often thrive where others don’t, and in so doing, change the soil into something tenable for the “natives” to move back in.

    Ascension Island has it’s own chapter. As does the new island off Iceland. Fascinating stuff, but very heterodox. My botanist friends don’t want to hear it.

  161. Jiminy, it amuses me that all I have to do is mention Trump and people start reading all their own preferred notions into my words. He really does have a remarkable capacity to scramble people’s thinking! I didn’t say that Trump’s base is “the wretched of the earth,” to borrow your quote from the Internationale. What I said was simply that a great many people who have no time for Harari’s concept of global order are willing to exploit Trump’s ego for their own purposes. By mapping that statement into a generic Marxian model, in which (in flat contradiction to historical experience) all change inevitably comes from the proletariat, you gave away your hand a bit — and given the way that black voters are turning toward Trump, it’s possible that they’re aware of something that you haven’t noticed…

    Pyrrhus, while I’m not generally a Pournelle fan, his law has certainly proven itself.

    Twilight, thank you.

    Johnny, so noted! I doubt I’d ever have learned about zerglings if not for this blog. 😉

    PumpkinScone, you’re quite correct about the Lowland Maya, as it happens – and yes, the small portions of Florida that remain above water will be quite the jungle in a century or two.

    Chris, oh, good gods, yes. I’ve been saying for years now that before this is over the Sierra Club will be loudly insisting that we ought to strip-mine the entire national park system — and they’ll insist, too, that this can be done in an ecologically sensitive way. As the fracking boom finally winds down and the writing on the wall becomes brutally apparent, I expect even the most absurd energy technology to get frantic funding.

    Jessica, that would certainly account for a good deal of it.

    Patricia M, no surprises there. It wouldn’t startle me if he picked her for his running mate.

    Smith, you’ve got to understand European elite ethnocentrism to grasp that. An astonishing number of rich people from Europe have never adjusted their thinking to the end of Europe’s age of empire; they’re serenely convinced that what happens in their little crowded subcontinent really is the most important thing in the world, and everyone else will inevitably snap to attention when they clear their throats. That they’re the decadent remnants of a fallen imperial system and will soon be wiped off the historical record by less effete rulers has never entered their darkest dreams.

    GlassHammer, of course! They want everyone else to change so they don’t have to.

  162. Speaking of Augmented Idiocy, the power demands of all these new compute data centers is raising eyebrows,

    And they don’t turn them off at night. Or they don’t want to turn them off at night. Physics may have other ideas. And as for wind, we just came off three days of near calm under a wonderfully warm blocking high pressure system. Lots of sun, no wind during the day. At night, no sun and no wind.

    There was a blurb on the radio this morning that during the next 25 years we have to mine as much copper as was mined in all of history up to now. Presumably without fossil fuels.

  163. @Jon G @175 re: Stephenson and Enoch Root

    I can’t really blame you, as I’ve lost much of my taste for Stephenson since becoming convinced that JMG’s view of the future is rather more likely than that in The Diamond Age. Still, Anathem is very good, and it introduces a lot of physics and metaphysics without messing up a good story.

    That being said, he does come back to Enoch in Fall: Or, Dodge in Hell, which I will reveal below this


    Okay, everyone here cool with spoilers? Good. So, the plot of Fall revolves around digitizing human consciousness into a simulation. As you might imagine, this gets into the whole “simulation theory” of our own universe, and along the way touches on some interesting ideas about archetypes, ages of myth, and so forth. The book heavily implies, but never quite comes out and says, that Enoch is a representative of the reality “above” ours. That is to say, that is simulating ours, but the fact that our own reality is also running a more and more realistic, complete simulation implies that there may be an arbitrarily large number of “layers” of simulated realities. Which, of course, raises the question of just what “simulated” even really means. Given all that, Enoch is functionally an angel – a messenger from those who created and control our reality.


    The story was fine, but in terms of philosophy and concepts, I found the modified Platonism of Anathem far more interesting and compelling. Since Fall, my worldview and tastes have shifted, and Termination Shock didn’t do much for me at all, and at this point, I’m far less excited about future Stephenson books than I’ve been since I first read Snow Crash when I was 13.


  164. Kind Sir,
    Re. regrowth rainforest.
    There is a historically documented case of rainforest regrowing in less then a century here in Australia.
    Just a bit south of the Queensland border there is a village called Uki. Pronounced to rhyme with “blue sky”(not Aky and definitely not yuckie.).
    The first settlers cut down the forest in the surrounding hills for the red cedar which was sent to the UK (actually that is where the name comes from: UK1 = first class timber for the pommies).
    Many of the hills were completely bare at the start of the 20th century.
    I am not quite sure when the loggin stopped but now the surrounding area is covered with dense subtropical rainforest dominated by palm trees, evergreen broadleaves , ferns and, this being Australia, critters that can kill you just by looking at you.
    This was not in the distant past and is reasonably well documented by photographs. Not just for Uki, but much of the surrounding areas too.

  165. Chris @ 170. many of us here in the USA are making do with less in the way of electricity and heat because we simply can’t afford the expense. If the left ever decides to make itself useful, it could do worse than publicize the composition and decisions of utility boards.

  166. Only two things I have to say to this.

    Firstly, if anyone at Davos managed to assemble a tent – that will be a greater achievement and more benefit to society than anything else they have ever done.

    Secondly, when it comes to adaption I have for a long time used the phase – ‘Follow the Wisdom of the wild’. In both scale and form. The wild world is far more intelligent than almost anything we would consider traditional intelligence. The flow of a river and how the life around it adapts and flows with it is the closest to real intelligence.

    Also like Darwin, in my back yard I just collected all manner of plant clippings and have let them figure out what works best. Very quickly the place is greening up into a sort of tropical paradise that has tomatoes growing in-between everything else.

    I am sure many here are like me and keeping a close eye on the flows of society that are poping up much more organically. Things that start as a little trickle, turn into a stream and flow into the greater ocean. Many of them go nowhere and that is fine, but some of them are getting bigger and fast. No grand scheme but at least a vision to vaguely shoot for. To use a utopian image not so much as something that will really happen but more as a guiding light. Unplanned without a grand scheme but willing to explore possibilities.

  167. @BeardTree #154
    That’s all true, but it’s a little more. What the West wanted was Russia to be part of the imperial periphery, an exploited colony, a giant gas station to fuel our SUVs going to-and-fro suburbs to the stripmall and back on the cheap. The western elites LOVED Russia when we backed Yeltsin, backed and sponsored a direct coup to keep Yeltsin illegally in power (shelling of the Duma and everything).

    The elites loved Russia while we were plucking up every resource like daisies and privatizing all the industries left and right, stripping the copper wire out of the country until there were only bricks left, and then selling the bricks off too. Seriously, the things America did to Russia under Yeltsin was just absolutely depraved, sick, and criminal. We wanted our profit and pound of flesh, and hoo boy did we get it. A little known ex-KGB colonel was handpicked by Yeltsin and America to be his successor, and we thought we were secure in a good little toady who would play ball with neoliberalism. For some years, he did; however, call it old age and a nostalgia for when times for better, call it love for his country and seeing how there was no future if the neoliberal unipolar status quo, and he eventually realized it was now or never that’s when it all changed.

    USSR/Russia’s downfall and their main problem for many decades (even under Khrushchev and Stalin) is they’ve always been enamored with America and the idea of it. They’ve always been huge Amerophiles. They always thought American elites were truly acting in good faith (cue Reagan’s State Secretary promising Gorbachev that we would not expand NATO one inch past the Berlin Wall) and…. like the absolute buffoons they were, Russians actually believed us! Everything even up to Minsk 1-2 was all about Russia believing the Western elite were being honest and acting in good faith. Unfortunately, decades of just flat out lying and trying to turn Russia into a giant impoverished gas station for US to suck dry has put all the cards out on the table naked for all to see and Putin has decided it’s time for Russia to regain some dignity and backing out of the neoliberal order.

    And I hope between Putin and Xi do succeed in de-petrodollarizing and breaking the unipolar world order as America continues to throw impotent temper tantrums like a spoiled 3 year old. It’s long overdue.

  168. JMG if this dives to close to the subject of AI just delete it. Your blog, your rules. 🙂

    @Athaia regarding elites making AI for elites to rule. I would recommend this article from Robert Evans “The Cult of AI”. Some are getting to the point of thinking this stuff is the only way to control society. I will quote a little taste for you

    “But what I saw this year and last year, from both excited futurist fanboys and titans of industry, is a kind of unhinged messianic fervor that compares better to Scientology than to the iPhone.

    I mean that literally.

    “We believe any deceleration of AI will cost lives. Deaths that were preventable by the AI that was prevented from existing is a form of murder.”

    MARC ANDREESSEN IS THE CO-FOUNDER of Netscape and the capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz.”

    The only thing I will say to this is. Failure is an emergent property of complexity.

  169. JMG: you said ‘write that story’, and your wish is my command. Look:

    Worse than a Curse
    an Underfable

    Once upon a time, the Elves and the Dwarves waged magical battle upon each other. The war ended when the combatants branded the land with this deadly curse: that anyone who dwells there 200 years shall die in agony. The immortal Elves and Dwarves dared not stay on the cursed land, so they all fled.

    But mortal Men had no fear of the curse, for they died before 200 years anyhow. The Men stayed on the land, and thrived even better than before the war, due to the absence of Elves and Dwarves.

    To the Men, Elves and Dwarves were worse than a curse.

    Moral: You might not be missed.

    Comment: I write this with the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in mind. It is now too radioactive for human habitation, but it’s home to a thriving wildlife population. They’re radioactive but they’re free from humankind. To them we’re worse than radiation.

  170. @Siliconguy
    It seems that people no longer have to fear AI since it might be a non-player in the next 10 years, at least in the public sector. I suspect that the managerial class will remove certain players from the power grid in order to sustain AI which will most likely spew it’s mass produced propaganda, those certain players will definitely be, first people from rural areas then suburban people. Very good links, thank you.

    AI seem to be the last hurrah of the dying digital and industrial civilization.

  171. Excellent read, thank you. Also, you included syntropy in this article (that was my quasi request in my last comment 😉).

    Best wishes to you,


  172. It’s a bit embarrassing for Harari that he didn’t predicted the COVID pandemics, if I remember it well, he was very busy with the “from animals to gods” mantra…
    Another nowadays (post)modern guru, though I think he’s a different style, is Byung Chul Han. Maybe I’m wrong, but I like him a lot more than Harari’s. JMG, what do you think about him? Do you have read his books? or maybe you aren’t interested in his essays…

  173. Not sure if this is topical, but it is another signpost to the content of elite panic.

    Personally I would not call hinting that there may be alternatives to hormonal whole-body-transforming contraceptive products “misinformation”, although in my own practice, I do regularly find that women of all ages are terribly ignorant of how their own bodies work. So, personally, I direct the “misinformation” fingerpoint straight back at the educational/medical domains that have worked so hard to keep people ignorant.

  174. JMG – what do you make of the American Redoubt movement? Does it offer a potential future model, or is it a doomed attempt to hold on to dying patriotic and religious values?

  175. We’ll see. There seems to be something of a connection between Aquarius and nuclear power. The first confirmed instance of mankind using Uranium is from 79 AD, where the Roman Empire used it to add a yellow color to ceramic glazes. Pluto was in Aquarius from 60-85 AD. The Hapsburgs started mining uranium in the form of pitchblende in Bohemia in the mid 1500s, Pluto was in Aquarius from 1532-1553. Martin Heinrich Klaproth named the mineral Uranium in 1789, the year of the French Revolution and when Pluto was in Aquarius. He gave it that name because Uranus had been discovered a mere 8 years earlier. Eugène-Melchior Péligot isolated the first sample of uranium metal by heating uranium tetrachloride with potassium in 1841. Interestingly Neptune was in Aquarius from 1834-1848.

    Also interestingly from that 1834-1848 period the first electric motor is invented by Thomas Davenport in 1834 and Charles Babbage develops his analytical engine, the world’s first computer, in 1837.

  176. Oh boy, Twitter is really going at it, I get people arguing about nuclear energy even on my main timeline. Really looking forward to that post about NPPs!
    I find it weird that people think nuclear will save us, if there is no oil and coal, how will people transport materials to and from Plants?

  177. About Jiminy’s post. Having just finished the King in Orange reread, I immediately thought “Jiminy’s talking about the Welfare Class.” Whose interests have not been mentioned much in the discussion of the election, and probably won’t be, but which could start emptying out if – or when – jobs start picking up. Or we could fire all the flunkies who administer the system and hand out the money to the recipients and have our own class of cancer-proof wolves develop.
    Recommended listening: Leslie Fish’s song “Paper Sea,” based on her own experience as one of those flunkies. She has a very sharp tongue.

    I now return you to the topic we were discussing first.

  178. Stefania,

    I can confirm that it was Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series that inspired me to study Psychology and Asian Studies (you can read that as history) at university, and I well on my way into that elite class that tries to run the world but fails until I went to Cambodia in 2005 and realized that the Khmer Rouge leaders were inspired by the exact same authors that I had studied in college (Frantz Fanon in particular) and created a society based on ideas found in those books. And it was horrific. That’s when my Seldon dreams died.

  179. Siliconguy, thanks for this. I wonder where they think they’re going to find all that copper, given that pretty much every known commercially exploitable source is being mined full tilt…

    DropBear, what is it with British colonial place names? There’s a little town in the forests of British Columbia named Damfino, which is pronounced as though it rhymes with “sham rhino.” (Somebody in the surveying party asked, “Where are we?”) But I’m delighted to hear about Uki and its basilisk-infested surroundings; that promises well for the future.

    Michael, that’s an intriguing idea — utopian fantasy as a source of inspiration rather than a source of fixed plans. Hmm. I’ll want to brood over that for a while. Thank you also for the piece on AI, which I put through because it doesn’t read like it was written by an AI, and because that article is a keeper. I’m reminded very forcefully of William Catton’s description of late 20th century technofetishism as a kind of cargo cult.

    Scott, you’re most welcome.

    Chuaquin, I’m not familiar with him at all. Can you suggest a brief introduction?

    Scotlyn, ha! Yes, that’s another fine example to add to the list

    Logan, in human societies, every attempt to move back toward older values inevitably morphs, for good or ill, into a move forward toward something new and unexpected. I’ll be interested to see how this example unfolds.

    Karl, sure. And this cycle might see an unusual number of utility bankruptcies due to nuclear power, which would fit your model just as well. All you’ve shown is that uranium has a significant social impact when Pluto is in Aquarius, and a cascade of disastrous bankruptcies would count.

    Rafael, such reasonable concerns go out the window when people place all their faith on a talisman in the hope that it will save them from the consequences of their own actions.

    Patricia M, exactly — Jiminy was talking about the welfare class, from the perspective of those people who claim to be interested in helping them. (And who always benefit much more from the “help” than the welfare class does.)

  180. On British colonial place names, a lot of the strange ones – for instance we have a town in Nova Scotia called Economy – are anglicizations (and in Canada’s case, francophonizations) of the Indigenous people’s names for places. In Economy’s case, the Mi’kmaq name for the place is Kenomee, which the Acadians called L’Économie. Then the Acadians were expelled and Anglo/Scots/Irish Nova Scotians called it Economy.

  181. @Rafael #194, Yep, battery operated electric semi-trucks, logging trucks, heavy earth moving and digging equipment, chainsaws wielded by loggers powered by a pick up truck load of back up batteries, and electric farm tractors, airplanes, jets, ocean freighters, freight trains, armored vehicles, military tanks! No way! Our industrial civilization is utterly dependent on these big fossil fuel powered man toys, and I don’t think biofuels will come to the rescue except in a small way. An adjustment in how things are done is coming our way over the next 100 years as fossil fuels are used up.

  182. Speaking of “The Deep State Is Actually Kind of Awesome” Matt Taibbi of Racket News has just put out a contest
    offering a $1000 prize for the best humorous / satire / spoof version of this video. I am sure there is someone in the Ecosophia community who has some video editing talent, so give it a shot! Full details here and below.

    “The New York Times this week published a video editorial so unintentionally funny as to be nearly spoof-proof, titled, “It Turns Out the Deep State is Actually Kind of Awesome.” Walter Kirn and I do a full Mystery Science Theater treatment in the new episode of America This Week, so I won’t spoil the suspense, but it’s inspired, a combination of Paul Verhoeven, Orf, and Goebbels.

    If video humor were my bailiwick I’d do this myself, but since it isn’t, I thought I’d offer a prize for the best alternate version of “The Deep State is Actually Kind of Awesome.” Meet Ted McFriendly. He likes Star Trek, Cocoa Puffs, and drives a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper Drone. He can shoot the testes off a Chinese disinformation agent from space… You should follow your own heart, but ths is the kind of rich material with which you’d be working.

    I don’t want anyone spending a ton of time on this. It should be doable with found footage and voice-over. Submissions to Prize of $1000, and we’ll publish the winning entry here on Racket with a write-up and a Q&A. I’m not going to paywall the results and I’m not trying to make money off this; I just thought it might be funny, and a way to coax out some lurking talent in the Racket community. If no one feels like bothering, that’s okay, too.”

  183. @Clay Denis, #134
    > … perpetual leadership … reforming their image from sinister men in smoke filled rooms to kindly versions of Mary Poppins and Mother Theresa.

    Now, you made me think of the piano teacher from my childhood! I am no longer able to play, but I inherited from her the dubious skill of instantly recognizing (and getting upset about) slight deviations in pitch or rhythm. More than once I have pictured her vengeful ghost (or perhaps her zombie), crawling out of the grave to strangle, preferably with a rusty piano string, those performers that have the gall of showing up in public without the harsh benefits of perfect practice to perfection. And her blood freezing cries: “Filthy! Feculent! Disgusting!!!”

  184. On second thoughts, can we add “Vengeful Teacher Ghosts” to the list of indie rock bands?

  185. Im working so intensely right now and I’ve missed chatting with you. (Re: chapter10, hooray for Belief Itself!) I wanted to add this in to the mix tho; have been studying holistic management, it’s a land management tool very deeply situated in local context. They have a standard practice of differentiating between complicated and complex. Here’s an example blog from New Zealand
    And here is early holistic management thinker Alan savory who ran into his own face palm trying to restore desertifying lands and tried killing elephants before he realized the problem was not too many animals but how the animals moved on the land (with fences and without predators rather than the reverse). Here is Alan saying that global institutional management is the root cause of global problems. Not what COP26 expected or wanted to hear from him! Why couldn’t he just say that we can sequester all of the worlds carbon emissions in ag soils by developing a global plan for grazing differently?

  186. Or it could mean some other things. The last remaining nuclear arms control treaty, the START treaty signed in 2011 right about the time Neptune entered Pisces, is set to expire in February 2026 very close to a certain Aries conjunction. Russia and China both announced plans to move nuclear power and nuclear weapons into space. In fact, Russia and China both announced they were jointly planning to put a nuclear power plant on the Moon two weeks ago.

    Saturn-Neptune conjunctions seem to be pretty special for Russia. One occurred in 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution. Another one in 1703 had Saturn Neptune in Aries square Uranus in Cancer and this is when Peter the Great built the city of St. Petersburg in 1703. St. Petersburg is home to some interesting stuff in addition. In addition to being named after the Apostle Peter, the first Pope, it is home to the Church of the Savior on Blood, restored and reopened to the public in 1997 right around Neptune entering Aquarius.

    It is also home to the headquarters of the Russian Navy and Power Machines, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of machinery for power plants including nuclear power plants. In fact, Putin just gave a speech a couple of months ago on the deck of Russia’s newest ballistic missile submarine the Imperator Aleksandr III, a Borei (Arctic Wind) class sub, named after the monarch who ordered the construction of the Church of the Savior on Blood and was commissioned into the Russian Navy 3 months ago right when Pluto reentered Aquarius.

  187. Justin, whereas here in the US we just do a rough transliteration and let ’em stand. That’s why I grew up in a state with towns named Humptulips, Sequim (pronounced “squim”) and Puyallup (pronounced “pyoo-allup”), and now live in a state with towns named Pawtucket and Quonochontaug (not even going to try to pronounce that one).

    Justin, okay, I’m laughing now. They misted the NY Times video? Oh, my aching sides. I hope the satire competition goes viral — and orbital.

    CR, duly added. I could see “Ghost of My Piano Teacher” too — I imagine them as a weird duo playing exotic jazz on clarinet and theremin.

    AliceEm, thanks for both of these.

    Karl, sure. It could mean almost anything — which was of course my point.

  188. Hi JMG,
    Another great post! I wonder if there’s an analogue to the emergent properties of successful ecosystems vs. the complete failure of “expertly” planned ecosystems in what passes for “diversity” in contemporary academia. Go to so-called elite universities (and their slavish imitators) and you’ll find countless administrators whose sole task is to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (or the like). The result of course is that academia is a completely exclusive monoculture–or, perhaps, more accurately a wasteland of conformity, intellectual stagnation, and endless grievance competition (as opposed to real competition). In other words, the environment is utterly artificial.

    Contrast this with the reality of any local community college (the sort of place I went to at the beginning of my academic career). The low cost and, frankly, low admissions standards mean that virtually anyone with even a passing interest can attend. So you get real and robust diversity : young people, middle-aged people (often career changers), and retirees as well as genuine ethnic diversity–as opposed to the manufactured (and very fragile) pseudo-diversity of the Ivy League places and their ilk. Furthermore, some students come from very wealthy backgrounds, some from very poor backgrounds, and everything in between. Lots of people drop out, of course, but for many the experience is the start of a wide variety of successful paths: trades like construction, HVAC repair, and so on; or general credits for a bachelor’s from another institution; or, as in my case, a PhD eventually. Or, as with retirees, the joys of learning for its own sake after decades of labor.

    The ethos is basically let pretty much everyone in and things will sort themselves out. Compare this to the rigid status-mongering and grotesque managerial-class striving of students at so-called elite institutions . . .

  189. @Liquifaction (#185):

    Your account of Russia’s alleged love affair with America and Putin’s motivation doesn’t jibe at all well with that I have been hearing all my adult life from all the Russians I have known and worked with here in the US. One of the earliest lessons I learned, back in the early 1960s, was that every educated Russian regards England and the English as being the most dangerous and ruthless of all Russia’s foreign adversaries, who had been systematically working as far back as the 1600s to keep Russia from developing any overseas trade (which was based on the port of Arkhangel’sk in the 1600s). When Peter the Great built St Petersburg on the Baltic Sea, he did it primarily to create a less ice-bound port for Russia’s overseas ambitions.

    So any foe of England’s was thought to be a potential friend of Russia, worth cultivating. Now the foremost foe of England back in the days before WW1, was precisely the US — the one and only large and successful rebel against the British Empire as it was back then. (Did you know hat all through the 1800s US military exercises were conducted under the model of a coming major defensive war against English attempts to retake the former colonies that had formed the US? We, too, regarded England as the most formidible enemy of the US back then.)

    In the US, however, Russia was entirely off most citizens’ radar back then. The up-and-coming mighty European power in whom we might find an effective ally against England was the united Germany that Prussia’s Otto von Bismark had created out of well over 100 minor German-speaking mini-states. German (and to some extent Dutch and Scandinavian) immigration was encouraged by US policy back then, and German industry and science were our valued role models for a desirable future. (And the Monroe Doctrine assuaged any worries we might have had back then about Germany as a potential enemy of the US.)

    All this changed slowly during the so-called Gilded Age, when the East-coast American wealthy élites began to seek status by allying themselves — and intermarrying with — English nobility out of sheer vapid snobbery. We saw a lot of this here in Rhode Island, where these same wealthy intermarrying élites liked to summer in Newport, and built the enormous mansions (which they dismissively called “cottages”) for themselves on Bellevue Avenu,ethat have now become the city’s major tourist attractions. That was the class that sent its youth to the Ivy-League universities, where Woodrow Wilson, not yet President of the United States, was Presdident of Princeton University — a rather more prestigeous position back in those days.

    (The quip here in New England still is that when a member of Boston’s élite speaks casually of “the President,” he does not refer to the nation’s Chief Executive in Washington, but to the PRESIDENT OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY, a far more consequential personage in upper-crust Boston eyes. It was a telling quip 50 years ago, but it has become dated now.)

    It was during Wilson’s presidency that the US began to pivot from seeing Germany as its natural ally toward seeing England in that role. (In the beginning it was mostly the upper East-coast élite who made that pivot, but eventually the rest of the country’s élites began to follow them.) And that is when US hostility toward Russia began to take shape, nurtured by England’s centuries-old foreign policy.

    Russia was relatively slow to recognize the importance of that shift for its own foreign relations: for them, it was six-of-one, half-of-the-other, since neither Germany nor England was Eastern Orthodox in religion, and thus neither was a natural ally. (In most Russian eyes, the boundary between Orthodox nations in the East and Catholic or Protestant ones in the West is still the most significant Western boundary in Russia’s history and foreign policy — and will continue to be the most significant one for the forseeable future. )

    As for Putin himself, he was not just any old “little known ex-KGB colonel,” but one of the more highly respected upper-level KGB operatives, since he had been assigned to a high-level post in a foreign country, and indeed in no lesser a post than in East Germany. And — this is significant, in light of my last paragraph — Putin was also a devout Russian Orthodox Christian (which, of course, he had to keep secret in the days of the USSR, but no longer needed to keep secret now that Russia had come into its own again). This, stupidly enough, seems never to be taken into account by our own foreign-policy establishment, which seems blissfully unaware of the huge importance that religion has in many countries’ foreign policies — including Russia’s. Our idiots in Washington hold that foreign policy is always and everywhere only about wealth- and power-games. It isn’t. Dummköpfe!!!

    And, like most Russians of the post-WW2 generation, Putin is very strongly anti-Nazi. Moreover, as an élite ex-KGB agent, he has long known how heavily indebted to Nazi expertise our own CIA has been since its very beginning, which has influenced our foreign policy as well. So of course he has never been disposed blindly to trust the US, either. The Russian in the street was indeed (until quite recently) an enthusiastic Americanophile, as you say, but Putin and the Russian foreign-policy establishment definitely were not.

    I suggest that anyone who has a low opinion of Putin’s knowledge and competence read his official speeches, which are available online both in Russian and in English translation at the official website of the President of Russia: He is no fool.

  190. A major study published in The Lancet has found that the global population will start to fall within decades due to vastly reduced fertility rates and may never recover.

    Thus it proves JMG’s thesis about the population decline. However, it may happen even faster than the Lancet predicts if we factor in resource shortages.

    The population of radioactive wolves, however, will grow. I propose to name the 21st century the century of the wolf.

  191. JMG, Canadians certainly don’t turn all our Indigenous-derived place names into literal English or French words; Economy NS is a fun outlier where the Indigenous word sounds like an English and French word. Generally, if a place isn’t named after something or someone from Europe and its name is not descriptive of the place, it is usually a rough transliteration of what the colonists thought the Indigenous place name was.

  192. @BeardTree #199
    I think going in the direction of having everything on batteries is a fantasy.
    How much energy will be required to have such a civilization, maybe it requires more energy to put in than what you get out.

  193. Coincidentally (ha…), newspaper Die Welt is publishing alarmed artickes about the coming global depopulation catastrophe. It’s kinda funny to watch the panic, after decades of promoting politics for population control. Seems like some people hadn’t really thought through the consequences of having fewer people.

    It’ll be interesting to observe how the social consensus will be managed regarding things like abortion, contraception, and transgender surgery.

  194. Hello Mr Greer, it has been some time since I commented here but have never stopped reading. Haiti came up in the comments and you mentioned a dearth of believable information. Kim Ives has been on the ground and reporting on Haiti for decades. He and Dan Cohen were interviewed by The Duran yesterday. They’ve also made a documentary on events in Haiti.

    As a measure of the difference from the approved narrative, they tell us that Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Cherizier, reportedly so-called because he likes to cook his victims, in fact got the nickname as a child in a neighborhood with a lot of Jimmys were his mother had a street barbecue.

    He seems to have united neighborhood cooperation groups with street gangs against the ruling elite. That seems to fit with the idea of people figuring out who is the enemy for themselves.

  195. Quite the synchronicity to see so many references to Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” in this week’s comments, as it sits next to me with a bookmark in it! I enjoy sci-fi, I am just reading it to round out my knowledge of the classics in the space opera subgenre. Another recent synchronicity related to this book is stumbling upon Peter Turchin (JMG do you have any familiarity with him and his ideas?) by a comment in Aurelian’s fine Substack blog. Turchin’s “cliodynamics” sounds veeeery similar to Hari Seldon’s psychohistory in the book. I find a blooming understanding of how common, and how seriously, this fantasy of taming the complexity of existence is in academic and intellectual circles. Then to have Dennis’s anecdote…much to ponder about the influence of this book. BTW, love this essay, it has an edge, I imagine a sparkle in your eye as you hit the “post” button!

  196. @Rafael # 211, for clarity’s sake I was wholeheartedly agreeing with you. I am a teacher of high school students and I have a custom of assigning homework due in 30-50 years. First time I did that was in 2005 and the assignment was to watch China. Current ones are will fusion power come to pass, will nuclear power vastly increase in use, the state of fossil fuel production, will there be moon bases galore, settlement on Mars, loading human consciousness into electronic reality, will the Gulf Stream shut down, will the Cascadia fault release and more. I keep adding to the list and on the last day of class this year students will get a copy with instructions to burn the finished homework document in 30-50 years and throw the ashes into the Pacific Ocean where my ashes by that time will likely reside.

  197. Synchronistically enough, Starship Troopers came up in Walter Kirn & Matt Taibbi’s takedown of “The Deep State Is Actually Kind of Awesome” video… “Join the mobile infantry and save the world… Service guarantees citizenship.”

  198. @allie001 I also share your concerns and agree with JMG’s response that we need to create this solution ourselves. One piece of advice I’d give is forget about national politics and try to figure out local politics. I was a co-op board member for a while, about as local as you can get, and saw the best and worst of humanity. One of the apt owners was involved in a superfluous years long lawsuit against us (never understanding being one of 20 residents they were partaking in self harm) and several other owners stepped up with me to help right our sinking ship. Can’t say it gave me much hope, but if our lot in life is to rearrange deck chairs on he Titanic, I’m at least taking pride rearranging the deck chairs closest to me.

    @jmg this article reminds me of the quote “all models are wrong, some models are useful.” I’d expand it by saying models that are useful one day can break down the next. Taking a page from nature, one could imagine an “ecosystem of models” that we use to understand the world depending on how the world is feeling that day.

    This approach takes humility though, and that humility is hard! While I’m not attempting to manage the globe, In my personal life I constantly bang my head against a wall because the world “should” be a certain way. It can stink to realize all the work you’ve taken to understand something needs to be trashed because you’re in a different era.

  199. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah exactly. I’m sure you’ve heard of Green Hydrogen? 😉 Oil to put it simply, is the best of the best. There is no like for like replacement anywhere, and so civilisation will go broke. I’ve been broke before, it’s not all that bad. I’m sure you also know the feeling? I’m uncertain how my fellow countrymen will cope with that feeling, certainly they don’t seem to be chasing it, despite cheering it on. Your lot may have a giant foot stomping hissy fit epic tantrum as well, then settle down and get on with living life again.

    There are also dogs living in that industrial wasteland where the wolves you wrote about roam. Life is amazing and tenacious. Give life an edge and a niche (not necessarily unoccupied) and things will happen. At least the experience there suggests what is possible in the future at other such sites around the planet – there are plenty of those. It’s actually a very hopeful note for the future. And also the wolves have become more effective predators because they’re doubly dangerous to humans. Who knows what new and interesting industrial pollution may be contained in a bite? Some critters aren’t poisonous, but their bite is so full of nasty stuff that the resulting infection will surely be a bad thing to experience.



  200. Re discussion of psychohistory, etc.

    It is likely my mathematical background talking but I always saw the psychohistorians in a heroic light, rather like a gardener tending his/her plants, if only in a loose, probabilistic manner. But then my human ideal is something of a blend of Hari Seldon and Francisco d’Aconia (as misguided as the latter’s creator was on so many other fronts).

  201. Hi Mary Bennet,

    Seek ye not a political solution, for all dodgy eggs smell bad, no matter which bird laid them. 😉

    Unfortunately, unless the extraction and supply of energy increases in line with that of the population, someone is missing out. Sorry to say, this is what looks to me like a self correcting problem which will play out slowly over the next few decades. I’ve been broke before, and it’s not so bad, although it does take some adjusting. It’s not lost on me that when I was a child, and then a young bloke during the recession of the 1990’s, people were more social – it being a cheap form of entertainment. There are some benefits in the future we have to have.

    In the part of the world where I live, the demand for natural gas (a significant input for fertiliser, hmm) has, or is near to exceeding supply. This situation has been openly discussed in the media for a number of years, it’s not new information. Anyway, Australia is a massive exporter of natural gas, and so experts in the media are pointing this out and saying: Redirect the exports to the domestic market. Sounds like a no-brainer, except this country imports 90% of it’s oil products. If we don’t export the gas, coal and iron ore (and other minerals), we probably aren’t going to be able to pay for the oil we do import. Makes a person wonder if the experts have any brains? It’s possible, but I have some reservations there. 😉



  202. Dear JMG,

    Great post, as always. As other comments said, it’s a relief to think the evil sorcerers of our time will eventually fail.

    While I was reading it I couldn’t help thinking about a directive recently approved by the EU Parliament on the energy performance of buildings. They want to force us to apply heavy -and really expensive, I fear- renovations to most existing buildings, including all homes, so as to meet certain efficiency standards. I haven’t found the time to read it yet -I want to know how it could affect my family- but I have a bad feeling about it.

    Compare that to the Appropriate Technology approach to the same issue, which I learned from your book Green Wizardry, and the differences are striking.

  203. Thank for the post John!

    I think all revolve around the Vico’s “Barbarism of Reflexion”, be the behavior of the plutocracy or the sinking fertility rate of the population, the “Barbarism of Reflexion” is, in fact, other name of the War on Life.

    All the anxiety and depression epidemy, drug overdose, hikokomorism, lack of sexual desire, plastic surgery, etc…all are symptoms of the same “syndrome” that destroy the societies from within in the late period of civilizations when, following Nietzsche, the society start to forget the “Dyonisian side” of life and fall in love only with the “Apollonian side”, after the arrival of the “socratic men”.

    Spengler (in 1918, many decades in advance of the low fertility rate we see today):
    “The last man of the world-city no longer wants to live — he may cling to life as an individual, but as a type,
    as an aggregate, no, for it is a characteristic of this collective existence that it eliminates the terror of death. That which strikes the true peasant with a deep and inexplicable fear, the notion that the family and the name may be extinguished, has now lost its meaning. The continuance of the blood-relation in the visible world is no longer a duty of the blood, and the destiny of being the last of the line is no longer felt as a doom. Children do not happen, not because children have become impossible, but principally because intelligence at the peak of intensity can no longer find any reason for their existence. Let the reader try to merge himself in the soul of the peasant. He has sat on his glebe from primeval times,! or has fastened his clutch in it, to adhere to it with his blood. He is rooted in it as the descendant of his forbears and as the forbear of future descendants. His house, his property, means, here, not the temporary connexion of person and thing for a brief span of years, but an enduring and inward union of eternal land and eternal blood. It is only from this mystical conviction of settlement that the great epochs of the cycle — procreation, birth, and death — derive that metaphysical element of wonder which condenses in the symbolism of custom and religion that all landbound people possess. For the ‘‘last men’”’ all this is past and gone. Intelligence and sterility are allied in old families, old peoples, and old Cultures”


  204. Hi JMG,

    I worked with a young man from Ukraine maybe 6 or 7 years ago. He told me his dad had reason to go very near to the radioactive area (I forget the line of work he was in now), and he said that the rivers were just teeming with fish. More fish than water is what I remember him saying.


  205. Great essay JMG, very nicely done. I hope you expand on this theme going forward.

    One of the realities of the current stage of decline we are in is having to cope with more and more layers of dysfunctional bureaucratic and administrative control. Nasim Taleb calls it “lecturing birds on how to fly”. For a while I would inveigh against it, but I’m not aware of any modern government that has ever purposefully reduced control in order to allow an ecosystem—economic or otherwise—to flourish on it’s own without interference.

    The Ascension Island story is a very useful one. It’s interesting that one of the aspects of true wisdom is an acknowledgment of the limitations of the intellect. It’s too bad that this concept seems to be almost entirely verboten in our culture, but I like what you are doing to change that.

  206. Bravo. I was going to mention fungi, but I see Chris Farmer already beat me to it. What I was going to mention was that mushrooms seemed to have served as the pioneer species on the cleanup crew at Chernobyl. Not that that’s unusual.

    Bags full of mushrooms collected by traditional foragers (like some of us) after the accident tested as extremely radioactive, and plenty of them were discarded, but they seemed to be quite adept at bioaccumulating and metabolizing the radiation in a fairly short amount of time. Not to mention giving the rest of the cycle of life their usual gifts.

    Which reminds me that I saw dogwoods coloring up a little south of here this morning on my weekly drive to metro Atlanta. Tonight’s rain might just provoke some really decent morel hunting this weekend.

    Thanks for such a nice piece.

  207. I agree that the globalist attempt to impose their precious rules-based order on a disorderly world is a fool’s errand for the common sense reasons given; a great mass of unpredictable variables and unfathomable feedback loops that no intellect, human or mechanical, could ever grasp or grapple with. You know, billions of uncooperative people with minds of their own, their own agendas, their own ways, sometimes acting in concert, sometimes not. .

    Those Somali skiffs had to be the world’s most cost-effective naval force given the mayhem they caused. And look at the mess the Houthis made in the Red Sea with some easy to assemble and use missiles.

    And now I’m reading that ISIS just conducted a real wild west shoot-em-up in the Moscow area, killing and wounding dozens. Predictable? If I remember right Russia spent substantial resources pounding ISIS to prop up middle eastern regimes under serious threat.

    Maybe I’m defective in my understanding, but it never seemed to me that the ISIS types were ever much for stiffly worded diplomatic notes but rather favor somewhat more kinetic measures such as what just happened.

    So, if it really was ISIS, did anybody see this coming? Was it predictable? Could ISIS threaten global order? I don’t know. Do they have the numbers or the weaponry? I wonder what the geniuses at Davos think.

    And the Taliban? Those guys infest Pakistan. Could they upend the regime? I only ask because Pakistan is nuclear armed.

    Never mind all those bearded crazies, what about the multitude of ransomware attacks on businesses and governments as of late? Are foreign powers behind them? Are they practice drills for more serious main events? Or am I just a crazy old man imagining things?

  208. Robert Mathieson,

    I found it quite confounding that when I mentioned, after Tucker Carlson’s interview with Mr. Putin, that I could live under a president like that, the response from people I knew was always and only about how evilly evil the guy was… evil incarnate. How naïve I must be!

    No, I thought, that’s what we’re living under here in the U.S. Putin is something different. Not like what I’m used to at all. RFK, Jr. is probably about the closest thing we have in the U.S. I think.

  209. @robert m #208…as an esteemed teacher of mine put it, anyone who assigns his governors summer reading of Ivan ilyin and Vladimir Soloviev, whatever else he is, isn’t a thug

  210. Nature is amazing. Years ago at a mushroom course run by Paul Stamets I learned that a mushroom know as “hideous Gomphidius” (Gomphidius glutinosus) had been found to bio accumulate cesium 137 in it’s fruiting body at a rate 10,000 times the background levels in the landscape contaminated by the Chernobyl disaster.
    Apparently just months after the meltdown radiation and heavy metal levels in all kinds of mushrooms spiked in the areas downwind of the reactor. This has lead to massive research in using fungi for bio-remediation. I have no doubt fungal networks encompass an intelligence beyond our ken. We would do well to pay attention and try to learn something.

  211. Scotlyn #191: ‘Personally I would not call hinting that there may be alternatives to hormonal whole-body-transforming contraceptive products “misinformation”, although in my own practice, I do regularly find that women of all ages are terribly ignorant of how their own bodies work. So, personally, I direct the “misinformation” fingerpoint straight back at the educational/medical domains that have worked so hard to keep people ignorant.’

    Well, neither Big Pharma nor insurance companies profit from fertility awareness, aka “natural family planning,” so there’s that. Women who know how their bodies work may become healthier and less dependent on medications, and we can’t have that, can we? (What would happen to my Pfizer stock??)

  212. The elite management class is showing their competence in good old Blighty just now. The Princess of Wales hasn’t been seen in public since early December. The Palace announced that she was recovering from an operation in mid January. Then …… crickets.
    A couple of weeks ago, they released an obvious Photoshop picture of her with children. Speculation went into overdrive, from she’s deceased to she’s doing a Princess Diana. A couple other obvious faked sitings followed. Finally, today, they released a video by the Princess explaining that she had been diagnosed with cancer.
    Had the Palace bothered to be slightly in touch with the public who subsidizes that exhorbitant life, they would have announced it within days of the diagnosis. The British Monarchy has had a pretty good long run, but they’re reaching a new low.

  213. James, that’s a useful comparison. It’s especially relevant that “diversity” in the eyes of bureaucrats is a quantitative abstraction, not unlike the models that have failed so repeatedly to make the world work.

    Ecosophian, yep. I expect it to go much more quickly than the Lancet expects, partly because of resource shortages and partly because of the disintegration of social systems. As for your name for the century, I like it.

    Justin, so noted!

    Athaia, I think it’s finally sinking in just how self-terminating the current system is…

    Rob, many thanks for this.

    Selkirk, yes, I’m familiar with Turchin; I think some of his ideas are good but his overall system has a bad case of premature quantification. As for the twinkle, nah, it was more of a wry chuckle.

    Justin, synchronicity strikes again.

    Jack, that’s a valid approach! Models are tools rather than truths, and just as a hammer makes a very poor saw, no model works well for more than a modest subset of situations.

    Chris, I suspect that the Chernobyl area is going to be one of the most interesting areas in Europe ecologically for the next century or so!

    David BTL, like so much in science fiction, it was a heroic portrayal of an illusion.

    Hispalensis, I wish I could say I was surprised. For the EU, the answer is always a matter of funneling more money to their corporate pals.

    DFC, I’ve been thinking repeatedly of that passage in Spengler of late…

    Johnny, good for the fish! I hope there are enough bears left in that end of Europe that a breeding population can find its way there; the fish would help keep them fat and happy.

    Samurai_47, you’re quite right that no modern government has done that voluntarily. The question is how much pressure it will take to make them do that involuntarily.

    Grover, you’re welcome. I figure the mycelial brains have it all figured out anyway.

    Smith, that’s just it. At this point it’s much easier and more cost-effective to disrupt the global order than it is to defend it. When that happens, the global order is on its deathbed.

    Claire58, no surprises there! Mycelial mats are arguably smarter than we are.

    Great Khan, and of course the question on many minds is whether they’re telling the truth this time.

  214. @dropBear – well I wasn’t expecting that. I live in Uki. We bought a property that was logged and has spent that last 100 years or so as pasture for dairy and meat cattle. Upon taking possession we kicked the cattle off and have been restoring sections of the land back to it’s pre-logged state (with also allowance for various “invasive species” to assist and co-exist). It’s been a fascinating process to grow more and more in tune with what the land here is happy to encourage and support.

    Our house looks out at Mt Warning National Park (aka Wollumbin National Park) which has numerous gullies which were not possible to be logged (too steep) during the free-for-all logging of the late 19th century. Pockets of primary rainforest such as these in the area have been vital resources to assist with the human and other animal driven restoration work of the logged areas. One thing that takes my breath away regularly is watching the rainforest seed rain clouds out of nowhere.

    If anyone is interested to see some of amazing creatures we have in the forests around Uki, here is a short preview clip from a documentary fully shot in Mt Warning National Park:



  215. JMG,
    Excellent essay.
    It helped me contextualize something I’ve been trying to articulate for some time; that the First World War was an immensely traumatic experience for the affluent and intellectual classes. Not that they much cared about the millions of men they sent to be made into hamburger on the fronts, but that their models of the world unified by commerce and enlightened by technology were shattered and they’ve been scrambling ever since. Rather than face it they fled further into delusions of control. You’ve helped me find the thread to write an essay I’ve been meaning to write for some time! Thank you!

    Cheers, JZ

  216. Can’t remember who posted the origin of the name Uki, but thanks. I have been there lots. I doubt most people living there know the origin of the name.
    There is a town in Cali named Coalinga. Most people think it is a Spanish name, but it was coaling station A on the Union Pacific or Southern Pacific rairoad therefore coalinga. Elephant and Castle in London was originally Infanta De Castilla for the Spanish princess who passed through there on her way to marry the English prince/king.. One classic is a town in Pennsylvania in the US named Intercourse. When asked the standard answer as to why it is called that is because they weren’t allowed to call it Fracking.

  217. It’s always heartening to see how nature adapts. It’s also heartening to see how people adapt – I imagine that’ll be somewhere down the article queue for JMG next!

    I was just looking at a post online where a woman was talking about how in 2020 there were grocery store shortages due to supply chain interruptions and everyone trying to stock up at once. She was recommending freeze-drying and the like so you could have a good supply at home, and had some guide to this she was selling.

    What interested me was the hostility she got from this. People were denying there were any shortages, and if there were shortages, “nobody starved, they were only inconvenienced!” and they were quite distressed when she said, “I’d rather avoid being inconvenienced, if I can.” People asked, but what about water, what about cooking, and so on – all legitimate questions, but posed with the comments, “conservatives desperately hoping the world will collapse tomorrow.”

    But absolutely no harm is done by a person who pickles some vegetables and has a large pantry. It’s a completely innocuous activity. Why then be hostile to it? I think what’s happening there is people being absolutely terrified by the idea that the whole supply chain is vulnerable, and react aggressively to anyone suggesting it. If it really were so invulnerable then there’d be no need to deny it. We don’t argue with Flat Earthers, we just laugh. It’s only when the matter is in doubt that we get emotional.

    But to me it’s like the Chernobyl wolves, it’s a hopeful sign – people are adapting to the problems in the various systems we have by developing their own systems – or in this case, returning to older systems. Today this woman is an eccentric. Among Italian and Greek communities in Australia or the US she’d just be considered as “copying nonna/yaya”. And in a generation or two it’ll be much, much more common, if not normal.

  218. “One piece of advice I’d give is forget about national politics and try to figure out local politics. I was a co-op board member for a while, about as local as you can get, and saw the best and worst of humanity. “

    I can confirm Jack’s observation @#217. I’ve been a trustee of a Body Corporate for more than twenty years, and it’s depressing how bloody-minded people can be, as long as they are not the ones doing the dirty work of confronting offenders or enforcing regulations. Although I have to say most people are decent and cooperative if you can give them good reasons for any particular circumstance.

  219. I came across this article which I think ties into this week’s theme. Although purportedly about similarities between the governments of China and the United States, it contains an interesting summary of the birth of the professional managerial class, and also, in some ways, the birth of the religion of Progress itself. Or, more precisely, how the religion of Progress serves the interests of the PMC.

    I really like how it identifies an intellectual framework of seven managerial values that undergirds the faith in the “scientific” and/or “expert” management of society. I am not sure what defines where the Davos Elite ends and the PMC begins, but it makes sense to me that this intellectual framework is the ideology they both share in common.

  220. Hey JMG

    If wolves can evolve radiation resistance, then it is likely that at least some humans could evolve that trait as well. If this is so then maybe the dangers of nuclear waste and decaying reactors will not be as severe or as enduring as we expected.

  221. “The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.”
    ― Oscar Wilde

  222. From JMG: “Grover, you’re welcome. I figure the mycelial brains have it all figured out anyway.” Throughout this conversation I’ve been thinking maybe it’s the Lords of Form and the Lords of Mind who have it all figured out: Or am I being too literal? Or am I just being a troll? Or does this comment belong in Magic Monday?

  223. Dennis Michael Sawyers (#196)

    Yikes…that does sound horrific! I was similarly inspired in my youth – not by any specific book but science fiction in general. Back then I had some smarts in math and physics and was on my way to study aerospace engineering. For me, math had always been a comforting bulwark against the world’s craziness – there was only one right answer to life’s problems, and it could be expressed numerically and objectively in a neat tidy formula. Right before I was about to head off to university, the realization finally dawned on me that life was not actually like the mathematical formulas – it was much stranger, complex and subjective than the numbers could ever describe. (It also helped that right around that same time, Rick Green, aka Commander Rick from Prisoners of Gravity, gave what was for me a bizarre yet prescient talk at my school cautioning us science students that there were evil corporations waiting in the shadows to exploit our scientific discoveries). So, I changed programs. Now I joke to my kids that I’m a ‘Terrospace Engineer’ (that would be organic farmer for all the laypeople out there) and am much better off for it. I shudder to think of the alternate future in which I wound up designing missiles for some military defense contractor…

  224. Wolves do it.
    Plants do it.
    Why not let people do it?
    “Despite these obstacles, the potential benefits of bottom-up localisation are immense. Harnessing diverse communities’ collective wisdom and creativity can foster inclusivity, promote cultural understanding, and drive sustainable development. In a world of complexity and interconnectedness, bottom-up localisation offers a pathway towards a more equitable, resilient, and culturally vibrant future.
    It is a natural evolution. It’s not a plan. Without admitting it, the present political powers that want to be are in a state of no planning. Which is OK.
    The future doesn’t have a plan. It evolves and emerges naturally. It is localisation.”

    Great push-back this week on those-who-would-be-kings. Thank you. I am so happy to be seeing it in every area these days – financial, educational, political, ecological, medical. So heartening to see. I needed this hope and please, sir, may i have moar?

  225. Re: “Andy, so what you’re saying is that it’s not just the Big Bad Wolf who glows in the dark, it’s also the Three Little Pigs. 😉”
    “Patricia M, I think the Wonky Experience is a preview of the AI-enabled future. As for the Harpers article, many thanks for it — I’ve been waiting for something like that to appear for a while now, and now it’s here. Fun will be had. Heh heh heh…”

    The tone of the Harper’s piece vexxed me to no end! I see the comments align and I send its author to the land of the radioactive Boar Metal! Behold, Valentin the Mad! (My name websitelink goes to my ape**** playlist instead of my Substack in honor of the musical tone the Harper’s author inspires in me)

  226. JMG,

    A superb thrashing of Charlatan-in-Chief Yuval Noah “Your Dog Will Use Facebook In The Future” Harari with nuclear-enhanced wolves roaming the lush tropical jungle of former-Chernobyl thrown in for extra flavour. This is your best post yet. Thank you!

  227. Dear JMG:

    Is there a reason that the techno-fetishists are so desperate to become gods, have such unnatural ideas, and so terrified of death? Nothing lasts forever. If you want to see the Rocky Mountains in about 300 million years, visit the Hudson Highlands, the eroded roots of the Appalachians/Alleghenies, once on the scale of the Rockies.

    Maybe someone should introduce Mr. Hariri and friends to H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction and deathless Chthuhlu). Maybe someone should introduce them to Peak Oil, as well as Physics and Chemistry.

    Finally, if Hariri thinks that Trump, on his own, threatens the entire global order, then the global order is really a house of cards.


  228. John, that’s an intriguing concept, and I think a useful one; I’ll look forward to the essay.

    Warburton, I’ve seen the same hostility, and found it both fascinating. I think you’re right that it’s driven by the terror people feel at being dependent on a disintegrating system.

    Blue Sun, thanks for this. I think part of it also is China envy — a lot of Western elites have got to be watching the PRC with poorly concealed envy these days, since (a) China has been so much more successful in recent years than the West, and (b) the Chinese managerial caste doesn’t have to put up with the annoyance of elections and the facade of democracy.

    J.L.Mc12, in the long run, quite probably not. In the short run? My guess is that there were a lot of dead wolves early on, as Darwinian selection weeded out the nonresistant majority, and if human beings have to go through the same process, there will be a lot of dead humans.

    Sandy, ha! I like that.

    Phutatorius, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Lords of Form have mycelial brains as their local representatives!

    JustMe, well, it’ll depend on where my mood takes me, but yes, I plan on discussing things like this in posts to come.

    AliceEm, I look forward to seeing “radioactive boar metal” as a recognized musical genre. 😉

    Paul, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Cugel, if Great Cthulhu waved even the smallest tip of one of his tentacles in Harari’s sight, they’d find the poor man huddled in a corner babbling, “The socks! The socks were of no human shape!” It’s precisely everything Cthulhu represents that Harari et al. are frantically trying to hide from. Physics, chemistry, peak oil, and the rest of it — those are more of Cthulhu’s tentacles, signaling to us in the dark hours of the night that human beings aren’t anything special, that we’re just one more life form creeping on the wet film that covers the third rock from an ordinary star, and that pretending to godhood simply makes us look stupid.

  229. Hi John,

    This is such a brilliant article. It genuinely fills me with hope. Thank you for writing it John. Your work continues to inspire me to view the world in a more positive way.


  230. @PumpkinScone #102:
    Millions of years are certainly not needed for a complex rainforest to form, and this assumption seems to me simply to be the Western love of vast numbers at work rather than evidence based ecological analysis.

    Western science doesn’t like sudden change in environments, I believe, in short because fast = Creationism = BAD. This bias toward long term change also creates problems to figure out stuff in Geology too. That field strongly favors landscapes molded by gradual change, although stuff happens suddenly. You can look for information on the floods that sumberged a zone called Doggerland. The many floods at the end of the Younger Dryas period might be the basis for the legend of Atlantis. JMG wrote a useful book on the scientific aspect of it, that you might appreciate, called Atlantis: Ancient Legacy, Hidden Prophecy, but it is out of print now. Look for it on used bookstores.

  231. @jeff russel, thanks for the recommendation. I found Cryptonomicon in our library, will definitely give it a go.

  232. I recall the words, I think from Lovecraft; “The horror! The horror!” It pertains to what we find ultimately wonderful and horrible of course, and how that changes. The efforts of the PMC wherever it exists to control EVERYTHING is what causes these words to spring form from my lips. The recent proposals in Oregon to completely eliminate vegetable gardens, small farms, and any kind of self-sufficiency whatsoever not only make me roll my eyes but give me reason to utter those words. “The horror! The horror!” Insanity on such a scale fairly boggles the mind. But they are not alone, these worthies. It’s a race, I think between those who would control (with what? how?) and we little people who don’t imagine we have any power, but do, and must exert it eventually. Excuse me for saying: “God(s) help us!”

  233. “that the First World War was an immensely traumatic experience for the affluent and intellectual classes. ”

    Walter Lord pointed out that the loss of the Titanic was a shock to the elite as well. A triumph of technology and Progress sunk on its first trip.

    WW 1 shot down the idea that modern technology made war too terrible to occur at large scale, certainly any war would be quickly settled one way or the other.

    WW2 was ever so much more so. Although torpedoes existed in WW1 they got a lot better in the later war and are really the first drones, followed soon after by guided missiles of all sorts. And now we have arrived at drone wars. They aren’t at the level of the seekers in Dune, or in the movie Runaway, but you have to wonder how much further it can go.

  234. Thank you JMG for this excellent and moving post. I am inspired. If the wolves and grandma can survive then we have a chance.
    My family moved into a neighborhood in suburban North Georgia two years ago. I dreamt of being farther away from civilization, but my children prevailed and we found a compromise -a house in a neighborhood that is on a flood plane and is zoned for agricultural purposes. We have chickens and a massive garden. My two favorite parts of the gardening season are spring and fall. Summer is brutally hot and organic pest management can be deflating. In the fall I throw the seed heads of various plants around my two acres. In the spring I look to see what has spread and where it has decided to grow. My volunteer gardens are as rewarding as the intentional one. This morning I moved a yarrow plant, noted that my stinging nettles are making themselves comfortable in the neighborhood, and transplanted a number of mint family herbs to the edge of the forest where poison ivy and oak prevail. I will let the ivies and the mints fight it out.
    I regularly field visits from lawn services who come to my door to tell my that I have clover in my yard. My response, “I know. I planted it for my bees.”
    Thank you again.

  235. Smith @ 226 It is being reported that the American embassy in Moscow warned the Russian govt. that it had reason to believe a terrorist attack was imminent. The embassy also put out a warning for American citizens to avoid events like the one targeted. Also, the president, Mr. Putin, had warned his counter intelligence people , so the incident to which you referred was not altogether unexpected. Russian news is reporting arrest of some 11 persons, all from Tajikistan, I gather, 4 alleged perpetrators and 7 other helpers.

  236. The effects of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on those who survived is worth considering here. See here.
    “Cancer rates among survivors was higher compared to rates in those who had been out of town at the time. The relative risk increased according to how close the person was to the detonation site, their age (younger people faced a greater lifetime risk), and their sex (greater risk for women than men). However, most survivors did not develop cancer. Incidence of solid cancers between 1958 and 1998 among the survivors were 10% higher, which corresponds to approximately 848 additional cases among 44,635 survivors in this part of the study. However, most of the survivors received a relatively modest dose of radiation. In contrast, those exposed to a higher radiation dose of 1 Gray (approximately 1000 times higher than current safety limits for the general public) bore a 44% greater risk of cancer over the same time span (1958-1998). Taking into consideration all causes of death, this relatively high dose reduced average lifespan by approximately 1.3 years.

    Although no differences in health or mutations rates have yet been detected among children of survivors, Jordan suggests that subtle effects might one day become evident, perhaps through more detailed sequencing analysis of their genomes. But it is now clear that even if the children of survivors do in fact face additional health risks, those risks must be very small.”

  237. Side note… did you see that the “definition” of DEI has now become “Didn’t Earn It”? Absolutely brilliant.

  238. “The great crusade to limit CO2 emissions began about halfway through this graph. No, I don’t see any results either.”

    What matters is the extraction of MONEY from the herds of MMS/3i’s into the usual Gang!

    “Our estimates show that a carbon tax levied on all energy-related carbon emissions at a rate of $50 per metric ton and an annual growth rate of 5 percent would generate $1.87 trillion in additional federal revenue over the next 10 years.”

  239. Smith re. ISIS attack. Apparently, the US knew something was coming down. According to network news the State Dept. issued a warning to US citizens in Moscow a couple of weeks ago to avoid crowded areas such as malls and concerts. If our intelligence knew _what_, i.e. an attack on a mass gathering of some sort, they presumably knew _who_, as well.

    Yavanna re chemical vs. natural birth control. Natural birth control, such as observation of cycles, prolonged breast feeding, and even the old-time method of “pulling out” or coitus interruptus, are all useful for spacing children and reducing total number of births for a couple. However, they are not as efficient as hormonal methods for actual prevention. Sort of post office vs. Fed Ex–“when it absolutely, positively has to”. There are also surgical options for persons who are sure they don’t want any, or any more, children–easier for men than women. It is complicated. I remember a discussion by a sex advice columnist who pointed out that “correctly and consistently used” condoms and contraceptive jelly were as effective as the pill, which is around 99%. But the “correctly and consistently” is the problem, especially when passions are high and inhibitions are lowered by booze or drugs. The pill also put the control more in the hands of the woman. On a darker note, I will add that for groups with a strict need to limit populations, such as islanders and hunting and gathering tribes, infanticide was frequently permitted.

  240. @Siliconguy

    Look at what these people say, that basically we need a miracle to continue Progress. It truly is a religion, belief that a miracle will happen to get us to Utopia. This is from your link.

    This is from a recent New Yorker piece on the subject:
    “‘There’s a fundamental mismatch between this technology and environmental sustainability,’ de Vries said. Recently, the world’s most prominent A.I. cheerleader, Sam Altman, the C.E.O. of OpenAI, voiced similar concerns, albeit with a different spin. ‘I think we still don’t appreciate the energy needs of this technology,’ Altman said at a public appearance in Davos. He didn’t see how these needs could be met, he went on, ‘without a breakthrough.’ He added, ‘We need fusion or… radically cheaper solar plus storage, or something, at massive scale—a scale that no one is really planning for.’”

  241. Dermotok, you’re most welcome and thank you!

    Clarke, no, that’s from Apocalypse Now, but it’s a very Lovecraftian moment! Oregon — well, that’s Oregon, and is part of the reason why Sara and I fled from that state and the west coast as a whole. Elsewhere, right-to-farm legislation is in the ascendant, and that includes right-to-garden.

    Siliconguy, that’s an excellent point. Thank you for the article.

    Rooby, you’re welcome! Glad to hear that you’re carrying on the good fight.

    TJ, ha! That’s very good indeed, right up there with AI = artificial idiocy (or the several other changes rung on that acronym).

    Voza0db, everything comes down these days to finding ways to extract unearned wealth from productive economic activity. I’ll have a name for that in an upcoming post. Can you give me the source for your quote? I’d like to cite it.

    Rafael, that would be sad if it wasn’t so hilarious. “Sure, this requires more energy than any known source can provide — let’s go ahead anyway and expect some unknown source to pop up and save us all!”

  242. Clarke @ 251. do you have maybe a link to any site or article which explains the attack on farms, etc. The superficial articles I have seen only mentioned small farms; nothing about home gardens. Would vineyards also be affected?

    John Zybourne @ 234, I also would like to read your forthcoming article. Will it be posted online somewhere?

  243. Haven’t commented yet because I kept refreshing and reading all the new comments– you really got us going this week, JMG!

    When I was a young man, I thought the story of Ascention Island proved Darwin’s absolute genius, because of course I assumed he’d planned the whole thing out the way we would today. Especially after the flop that was Biosphere II, it seemed like an amazingly impressive feat. Now I’m older and I can recognize that getting out of nature’s way and let her solve the problem is a sign of a greater and more subtle wisdom… one that actually works.

    A datapoint on Haiti: CBC, Canada’s state broadcaster, is airing the sentiment this current mess is, in fact, the fault of the last few western interventions and we ought to step back for once. I’m not sure, but I think it’s the first time I’ve seen the entire western NGO-industrial complex skewered so completely in our media. It gets no more “mainstream” than CBC in Canada. Hopefully the Haitians they had on get their wish and the islanders are left alone to sort things out for a change.

  244. @Clarke aka Gwydion,
    what proposals in Oregon to ban home gardens, small farms? Can you give me a link? It sounds the height of insanity. Certainly not what’s been happening where I am. Boulevard gardens got legalized, and during the pandemic food plant seedlings got handed out for free by a municipal organization.

    I had some dumped on me by a church friend- though that may have been a year or two prior. When I say dumped, I mean that literally. I came home to find a large flat of tomatoes and zucchini seedlings on my doorstep with no visible explanation. Fortunately she’d encountered my landlady, who explained. I then had to find homes for everything. I think I gave some away, planted others at church, decided the yellow cherry tomatoes now growing at the church were unusually productive and saved seed from them. I’m still growing their descendants at home in my garden, though I don’t know what variety they are.

    The mayor previous to this one owned chickens while in office. Rainwater harvesting and hanging laundry to dry is encouraged by the city. There’s a lot Victoria isn’t doing right, but there are some things where they’ve solidly got the right idea. Now if they could only figure out that not prosecuting shoplifting and letting people shoot up drugs wherever makes for a miserable urban environment and stores going bust and leaving they’d really be away to the races. A lot of our sky-high housing price issues are caused more by federal and provincial levels, plus some previous municipal governments than by this one, I think. Though I might be wrong there.

  245. JMG,
    I have to disagree with you a bit re D. Trump’s not caring about the American lower classes. He might be a late bloomer in that regard following his riotous, money-happy younger years, but it seems to me that, at very least, he sincerely *admires* working class folks, understands how the country depends on them. And there’s his natal chart – yup, big, bloviating egomaniacal Leo rising, but a stellium in 11th house in Cancer …. and moon in 4th house.. The guy definitely has his mothering instincts and very possibly a sensitivity to and caring for other people’s suffering.. Granted the Leo rising is the first thing you’re gonna see.

    “The horror, the horror”, first written by Joseph Conrad, in Heart Of Darkness, which of course inspired Apocalypse Now.

  246. @JMG,

    This is a fine essay. I was aware of the Chernobyl ecosystem already; I hadn’t heard about Ascension Island but it sounds like a really neat story.

    It seems that all the really successful complex systems are the ones that nobody’s planned – a single mind just isn’t smart enough to do it. Ecology, economics (why command economies do so poorly), religion (none of the really long-lasting faith traditions emerged full-fledged from the mind of their founder, whatever the orthodox narrative may be) and so forth.

    Heck, if even applies to AI. I’m not going to start saying that artificial neural networks have anything like a human sort of intelligence (they don’t) but they do show that if you want a software that can do something like play chess really well, or translate a text, or sort between pictures of dogs and cats, then the best way to get it is just to define a bunch of artificial neurons using linear algebra, give it a big pile of training data, and let it run autonomously through a few thousand cycles, and tweak the matrices each time to “grow” the neurons that contribute positively and “shrink” the ones that don’t. The programmer has no conscious awareness of how the resulting pile of math works, but in the end you get a program that can solve a lot of problems that have always stumped algorithms planned out in advance, and written by a programmer the old-fashioned way.

    @Noodles, ZanniBoy, etc.,

    Thanks for sharing those band names. “The Expert Idiots,” especially, is a keeper. (For what it’s worth, I first thought of the name “Thrown Sandwiches” when I was contemplating good names for a racehorse. I don’t think I’ll ever be wealthy enough to actually own one of those, but in the meantime, I do have this web handle, so…)

  247. Mary Bennett 262 and Pygymycory 264 (I think). I’m sorry. Memory doesn’t serve, but your own questions confirm at least one of the things I remembered, the Oregonian crackdown on small family farms. I remember seeing something served up by a strange site called Newstarget, part of the Brighteon News Group. They tend to be a bit radical in many senses of the word (and often in a kind of panic) but I get news there that I get nowhere else, served up fairly often with a healthy does of evidence for even their wildest claims.

  248. “Global coordination by vast bureaucratic structures that erase the lines between government, corporate, and nonprofit sectors: that’s the one remedy they have to offer, and the mere fact that it hasn’t worked yet does nothing to slow them down.” Simply put, our ‘global leaders’ are insane (“doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” – Einstein).

    This fact hit home very hard today after reading the a recent article about my government’s brilliant fiscal policy: In essence, the Government of Canada is buying $30 billions in Canada Mortgage Bonds (CMBs), in the vain hope of stimulating more borrowing. The government is essentially borrowing money to buy the investments they guarantee, with bonds they also guarantee. Kinda like using a payday loan to pay off a credit card. This is a blatant sign that Canada is unable to find global investment to support its credit markets. A few weeks ago, Canada saw a record outflow of investment capital. Now, why would that be happening? Oh yeah, that would be because of the lack of growth due to the economic stagnation resulting from an economy based largely on real estate. Meanwhile, our Moron-in-Chief, Justin Turdeau (who has publicly declared that he can’t do basic math), backed up by the former third-rate journalist and Ukrainian spy who now larps as our Minister of Finance (Chrystia Freeland), is increasing the federal carbon tax by another 30% on April 1st. That’ll really stimulate economic activity and put more money into the peoples’ pockets! Talk about a bug looking for a windshield!

    Regarding the climate scam, a nice 70-minute documentary called simply ‘Climate: The Movie” was released online a few days ago (it can be watched here: It gives a concise analysis of the scam from the view of ‘the science’ (in essence, creating a narrative by cherry-picking data from increasingly urbanized terrestrial stations and ignoring not only long-term data but even data within the past century) as well as social factors (i.e., bullying by powerful organizations and getting the grotesquely servile academic community to censor themselves) and economic factors (Oh, no ‘climate change’ angle in your research on the love life of cockroaches? Pity! No funding for you!). According to these researchers, the whole thing goes back before the days of The Limits of Growth to the good old Rockefellers in the 1950s.

    Glad to hear about the wolves who haunt the ruins of Pripyat and the red forest: may they live long and prosper! And thanks for the story of Ascension Island (which, I am ashamed to say, I knew nothing about). As per my favourite lines from Crichton’s Jurassic Park: “Because the history of evolution is that life escapes all barriers. Life breaks free. Life expands to new territories. Painfully, perhaps even dangerously. But life finds a way.”

  249. “Apparently, the US knew something was coming down. According to network news the State Dept. issued a warning to US citizens in Moscow a couple of weeks ago to avoid crowded areas such as malls and concerts. If our intelligence knew _what_, i.e. an attack on a mass gathering of some sort, they presumably knew _who_, as well.”
    Russian media is claiming that those potential attackers were all arrested, that another group was arrested/killed in Ingustia shortly after, and that the March 23 attack was by a different set of folks.
    They are portraying the four actual attackers at least as being hired guns from Tajikistan (and of not having a fraction of the smarts that would be required to pull off the attack). So definitely not the usual ISIS MO. The real question will be who hired them.

  250. In defense of the Foundation trilogy, Seldon’s schemes rely on the fictional science of psycho-history, which allows you to precisely calculate the actions of large populations over time. Armed with such a fantasy science, the machinations of the First & Second Foundations could be successful. Since there is no such thing as psycho-history, any attempt to replicate this in the real world would obviously crash & burn. Not only that, but (spoiler alert), the Second Foundation uses mind-altering technology on key individuals to keep the Plan on track, which is even further into the realm of fantasy. While this Plan does work for the most part, it is seriously disrupted by the Mule, a mutant wielding psychic powers who can bend large numbers of people to his will. Of course, psycho-history works en masse, it cannot account for an individual variable with radical influence like the Mule. (spoilers mostly end here) Ultimately, the Mule, who is one of my personal favorite antagonists, keeps things interesting, so that the books are not just a predictable series of Seldon Crises; more importantly, the Mule also demonstrates that nature and reality can throw curveballs at even the best-laid plans.

    If our erstwhile lords and masters fancy themselves as the two Foundations, they would do well to read the entire trilogy and heed its warnings. They have more in common with the collapsing Empire than the Foundations, the former of which refuses to accept its fate or change its ways out of hubris, and eventually disintegrates.

    Overall this was a great think-piece as usual, another derivation of the main theme of working with Nature rather than against it. The failure of top-down scientific governance is one example of many. Another is the crusade against “invasive species” which actually serve a valuable role; even I was deluded on this point until I read your past articles on this topic, although I always had doubts (but aren’t invasive species fit and adaptable? I thought). Still another is our foolishness about forest fires, which likewise serve a vital role in the natural order of things; it was our attempts to suppress forest fires that led to excess deadwood and thus raging infernos which destroy even fire-resistant trees. The Native Americans on the other hand did regular controlled burns, since they understood this better.

    There are many good things about modern society, such as the Internet I’m using, and the meds I take everyday to keep my condition at bay. However, its hubris and defiance of Nature may well be its undoing. I hope that the future can preserve the best of current society while discarding the worst of it, as Medieval Europe did with its Roman inheritance.

  251. Apart from cancer, there are social effects resulting from the atom bomb. One of the saddest people I ever saw was a middle-aged Japanese lady who had been a schoolgirl in Hiroshima at the time of the bomb. Interviewed many years later, she said that ever since she was a child her dream was to get married and start a family. But after the war the men didn’t want to marry women from Hiroshima because they were afraid their babies would be born with defects. So she remained single all her life.

    Incidentally, at the time the first single-cell creatures evolved, radiation levels on Earth were much higher than now. After three billion years a lot of the most radioactive isotopes have decayed. Which leads one to speculate, do we still have the same robust defense against high levels of radiation?

    “Cells have mechanisms to repair damage caused by exposure to ionizing radiation. These mechanisms appear to have evolved to contend with radiation levels that were nearly an order of magnitude higher than today. Has this ability been retained by life through geologic time? Even if in the geologic past there was no threshold for “safe” exposure to radiation, falling radiation exposure levels over geologic time suggest that there should be a threshold at the present, as suggested by the recent work of Kondo . Is it not possible, if not probable, that the threshold is equal to the background radiation levels that existed at the time when this repair mechanism evolved?” —

  252. @ Clarke #251 and JMG #261,

    Apocalypse Now was heavily influenced by Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness and borrowed “the horror, the horror” from the book.

    Clarke, off topic to how you originally referenced the phrase but talk about pentacles, Apocalypse Now is very pertinent to the late empire and Heart of Darkness offers much to think about on many levels. For example, many criticize Heart of Darkness to referring to central Africa (i.e. away from civilization) as the heart of darkness but that only makes the meaning(s) of heart of darkness in the novel more poignant.

  253. Will M. “I have to disagree with you a bit re D. Trump’s not caring about the American lower classes.”

    Perhaps you could enlighten us a bit here? I can, right off the top of my head, think of at least three things which would better the lives of working and underclass folks right now, within the next year.
    1., Extension of existing public transportation. If a bus line operates from 7am-7pm, let those hours be extended. If the line goes to the edge of town, let it go a mile or two further into the suburbs. If security is a concern, let vets be hired for security, helping of frail passengers, and so on.
    2. Bring down the cost of housing. Do I need to remind anyone here that investment in RE is NOT a productive activity? It is fine to be pro-business, but there is business which makes and markets useful stuff, and ‘business’ which merely extracts wealth from fellow citizens.
    3. Our host has many times referred to the maze of local laws and regulations which serve to discourage local entrepreneurs. It seems to me that an allegedly “pro-business” faction would want to see those removed or modified.

    I am not aware of any policy proposals from the Trump campaign which would in any way improve the lives of the working and underclasses. Granted, Biden is little better; as of right now, I don’t intend to vote for either one.

  254. Hi John Michael,
    I hope that you’re doing OK.
    A very heartening essay, thank you.
    Whenever I read about the latest plans and action of our rulers I’m reminded of a line from one of Robert E Howards comic western stories in the mouth of his wonderfully dumb hero,
    “It was a long way down and I might have been hurt ‘cept I landed on my head, which broke my fall.”

  255. Clarke,
    I am going to push-back on the idea that we have or have planned any laws in Oregon restricting gardening or small farms. We have had right-to-farm laws on the books since 1983, that have been updated ( and made stronger) several times since then.
    Most recently we have had Senate Bill 437, which makes it illegal for HOA’s ( homeowners association) to prohibit or restrict gardening. The only ridiculous news regarding this was a lobbyist for some golf course retirement communities lobbying against allowing bee keeping in such communities. Apparently the reason was the risk of bee stings to old people.
    Oregon may be a bit blue For many peoples tastes, and Portland is certainly run by nutcases, but even urban Portland allows you to keep chickens and goats in your yard. Oregon is still very much an agricultural state and it will take a lot more Californians moving in than we have now before we start banning small farms.

  256. Tyler, thanks for this. Darwin’s genius — and he was a genius, one of the supreme intellects of our civilization — was precisely that he understood that nature isn’t an artifact and doesn’t have to be micromanaged, or even managed. He had a profound grasp of organic process. To use his own religious metaphor, once God said “Let there be light,” everything else unfolded step by step with perfect grace across billions of years, the way an acorn sprouts and grows into an oak.

    Will M, well, we’ll see. I want to see what his second administration actually does.

    Thrown, I won’t argue. It’s been many years, but I back in the day I read an account of an analog computer that was designed to predict the weather in some California city. I don’t recall the mechanism, but it was fairly simple, and all they did was enter every day the temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, percent of cloud cover, amount of rain, and so on. After a year it gave better predictions than the weather service — not because it “understood” anything, but because it had extracted subtle patterns from all that data and followed them. AI might be able to do something similar if the geeks just stop trying to make it intelligent.

    Ron, fasten your seat belt. The global residential real estate bubble may well be the biggest bubble in history, and when it pops — and it will, as population growth falters if not before — most of the notional wealth of the middle classes as well as a great deal of the equally notional wealth of the financial sector will go away. I note that the RCMP is already worried about the possibility of a rebellion —

    — and if the entire Canadian middle class loses all the money it’s “invested” in homes, that rebellion is going to make the French Revolution look tame.

    Xcalibur/djs, but that’s exactly the point. Asimov’s fictional science of psychohistory assumes that it’s possible to predict the future of society. I argue that it’s not just that we don’t have such a science, but rather that such a science is impossible; it’s as though Asimov wrote a science fiction novel in which a future society generated electrical power by having rocks fall straight up into the sky. Of course the hubristic insistence that science can potentially know all things, even if it hasn’t gotten there yet, is hardwired into our culture — but that insistence is one of the things we need to outgrow.

    Martin, the Japanese word for such people is hibakusha — more or less “bomb-affected people.” They and their descendants form one of a number of groups in Japanese society that suffer unofficial but pervasive discrimination — people of Korean descent and burakumin, people who are descended from the eta and hinin classes, Japan’s “untouchables,” are some of the other. We’ll be meeting a hibakusha‘s granddaughter in an upcoming Ariel Moravec novel.

    Lurksalong, ha! Thank you for the reminder. I wish Howard hadn’t committed suicide; he was on the way to becoming one of the great comic writers of the era, and if he’d lived into the postwar era his Westerns would be up there with Zane Grey’s and Louis L’Amour’s.

  257. @hearthculture #58 where I could read that essay on complexity vs complicatedness…I’d love to dig deeper into that notion!

  258. Thanks for the BNN article about the RCMP report, JMG. At least they are not 100% ideologically captured (just 90%). Of course, they are more focused on chasing goat figurines than the real terrorists who reside in this country or the hordes of illegals being allowed into Canada (including Swift fights courtesy of the US gov’t) from countries that have big axes to grind with us. But at least they can still put two and two together regarding middle class discontentment/rage. Oh, well.

    Agreed regarding the rough road ahead for the Canadian middle class. Canada’s real estate bubble never really burst in 2008-09 like it did in the USA; instead, it has just continued at 15-20% per year on average, while the number of new houses being built each year is a tiny fraction of the number of immigrants being allowed into the country. Those who have mortgages – and especially those who have decided to ‘get rich quick’ by buying and renting out additional houses for investment purposes – are heading into a world of hurt. Most still seem oblivious about it. But not for much longer, I wager. There are those who can see the writing on the wall and are practicing their skills in making a very particular knot, if you catch my drift (though that’s not my cup of tea).

  259. JMG, the section from the RCMP report that many sites are editorializing into “Canadians may revolt” reads as follows (from the unredacted portion of the report, available here: ):

    Popular Resentment

    “The coming period of recession will also accelerate the decline in living standards that the younger generations have already witnessed compared to earlier generations. For example, many Canadians under 35 are unlikely ever to be able to buy a place to live. The fallout from this decline in living standards will be exacerbated by the fact that the difference between the extremes of wealth is greater now in developed countries than it has been at any time in several generations”

    I suspect what we will see a lot of as the boomers die is investors buying up their properties and cutting them up into apartments.

  260. One might view the Communist Party of China as a test case for comparison with Western globalist forces. Although the party is not trying to take over the whole world, it does have to hold together a nation that over the course of its history has spent much time not unified*. I think the party does about as good a job of this integration while moving a large modern economy forward as anyone, so what they can and cannot accomplish may show what are the inherent limits of globalization itself and what are the narrower limits arising from the weaknesses of the current Western globalizers.
    China’s advance in recent decades has been accomplished under the leadership of a very top-down technocracy.
    “Rise of the Red Engineers: The Cultural Revolution and the Origins of China’s New Class” by Joel Andreas does a good job of portraying the origins of the current Chinese technocracy.
    *For the past millennium or so, China has been unified much more of the time but also conquered and governed by outsiders much of the time. There is a theory that the structure of the elites was deliberately altered by the emperors in a way that made separatism (warring states periods) more difficult but weakened the empire as a whole, making conquest from the outside easier.

  261. @JMG,

    I think you’ve misunderstood my last comment. “Stop trying to make it intelligent,” is pretty-much what good AI researchers have been doing for the last thirty years – the basic idea behind “deep learning” is that if you model the AI as an artificial neural network and just tweak the neuron strengths, over and over, across thousands or millions of cycles without any sort of top-down design or a conscious awareness of how the resulting machine will work, then tolerably often, you get a network that can do whatever task it was trained for. Of course there are far more details you have to learn if you’re actually going to implement it, but this sort of hands-off, blind-evolution method is why AI today can do so many things that the AI of the 1990s couldn’t.

    And when famous AI’s like ChatGPT don’t live up to the hype that surrounds them, I don’t think its because the researchers behind them are trying too hard, or even doing the wrong things – I think it’s because real intelligences, like you and me, exist on more planes than just the material plane, and there are hard limits to what a material-plane-only “intelligence” can do.

  262. Planted 4 little grafted pawpaw trees today, in a line right down the middle of the space between our house and the neighbor to the NE. I love their fruit, and don’t get it often enough for my liking. I’ll shape them as they grow to form a nice “roof” over that 30′ wide space, and create some separation between us and a neighbor we’d like to be more thoroughly separated from…

    In the process of reading up on them, though, I came across an interesting article from the National Park Service that reports that pawpaw has become the dominant understory species in many regions, especially in PA and the DC area. My dad has a lot of them around him too, in the Missouri Ozarks. But the reason for this is that deer don’t like them, so they survive the shrub layer more effectively than species that deer prefer, like oak, pine, and the taller maples. Beech is apparently in 2nd place, for the same reason. I see a lot of young beeches growing in our woods here for sure.

    It’s interesting to think through the sequence of events here. Colonists cover N. America, creating lots of new forest edge with their farming, and their town and road building. Deer thrive in the forest edge. Deer browse down the species they prefer to eat – the forests we’re used to in this country – giving the species they avoid, like pawpaw and beech, improved survival rates. Beech canopy with pawpaw understory becomes more common as time passes, deer numbers dwindle, and critters that eat pawpaws and beechnuts increase in frequency, further spreading their prominence. Deindustrial America eats more turkeys, squirrels, pigeons, and whistle pigs than deer, the hunting of which may eventually become prohibited. Hunting weapons change from 30/06s to .410 shotguns and wrist-rockets. Et cetera, usw..

    It’s kind of a fascinating process to contemplate.

  263. Ron, oh, I think they’re ideologically captured, all right. It’s just that they’re so much closer to the realities on the ground that it’s become impossible for them to ignore the fact that they and their bosses could end up dangling from lampposts if current trends continue.

    Justin, I suspect it’s going to be considerably more forceful than that; my guess, from the way it’s being spun, that a select few media figures were allowed to see at least some of the redacted portions. Leaks like this are one of the ways that the overseer class can put pressure on clueless elites.

    Jessica, good. Have you ever read Machiavelli’s The Prince? He explains why autocrats so often make that choice, cementing their own power by measures that make their countries easier to conquer.

    Thrown, thanks for the correction and so noted.

    Grover, fascinating! I could also see people deliberately planting deer forage to increase the population and maximize hunting opportunities. That said, I’ve heard pawpaw fruit’s pretty good; I’ll see if I can arrange to try some one of these days.

  264. Mary Bennet,
    Not saying your proposal aren’t all good and that DT wouldn’t be wise to showcase them. But I do recall that under DT the middle and lower classes were walking around with a couple of extra grand in their pockets, DT’s deregulations lowered cost of operations so that more businesses entered the market, not to mention that prices for common essentials weren’t sky high, illegal immigration was at a moderate rate, and we were on our way to an end of our forever wars. This wasn’t all that DT could have done, but it wasn’t nothing.

  265. Mary, Rita, Jessica, thanks for the feedback. But now I’m wondering (and this is probably yet another deplorable and unworthy thought) if any US agency (of the dirty deeds variety) had anything to do with the Moscow attack. I mean, seeing as the embassy apparently knew ahead of time. Say it ain’t so. I know, it ain’t so. It can’t be. And I know what you’re gonna say, whatsamattawityou, more of the crazy, wheels-within-wheels conspiracy theorizing. Too many spy novels. And, yes, you don’t need to tell me, it makes for bad digestion.

  266. That reminds me of an old metal sign I saw hanging on the wall of a colorful local and very rural gas/lunch stop out among the apple orchards. It read:

    “This pile of corn is for squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. Any deer seen eating it will be shot on sight.”

    Hehe. Yeah, pawpaw flavor/texture is unique, but I think very delicious. I’ve found them on my forages about as often as I’ve scored morels. Which is to say, they are elusive, and lots of animals are apparently watching and waiting for them to ripen. Definitely worth tracking down though, if you can!

  267. re: Canada’s housing market, and the view from the ground.

    Something in the news that ticked me off:
    -a subsidized housing development aimed at middle income people locally was recently discovered to be full of people who already owned other home(s), and some of the subsidized ones were being rented out to other people at high prices. There’s now lawsuits afoot to recoup some of the money. This really annoyed me because a) if you have to subsidize middle income types housing, the housing market is completely dysfunctional
    b) why are middle income buyers being subsidized when low income renters are in far worse straights?
    c)and having decided to fund middle income buyers instead of low income renters, they didn’t even manage to do that right!

    Not in the news: -money of a community group supposed to be for affordable housing that hadn’t been spent, and then someone wants to redirect it to refugees. There followed a short discussion on how to do that, given that the funds were restricted for use on housing, with no real opposition to the idea ‘we could use it to fund housing for refugees’ was about as far as that went.

    And they wonder why people are turning against high immigration on grounds that it is fueling the housing crisis! When the money supposed to be helping poor Canadians find a place to live is persistently being siphoned off for the benefit of others, what other option are we left with but reducing the number of people coming into the country?

  268. The comments about levels of radiation reminded me: some time ago I read some article about all the conditions required not necessarily for life, but for the kind of life that’s evolved on Earth. A sun a certain size and age. A moon to give more than daily tides, so that certain fish when beached would be forced to evolve lungs, that sort of thing.

    One of the things they mentioned was a certain level of radiation. Too much like (say) Io and everything gets cooked. But too little was a problem, too, they said. A certain amount of radiation was needed to knock the DNA around a bit and bring about lots of random mutations, some of which would be advantageous and thus be passed on through the generations. With no radiation, there’d be little or no evolution possible. We say “reproduction”, and this implies a perfect copy. But we don’t actually want a perfect copy of the parents, we want something which is fairly close but has a few small differences, some of which may prove advantageous.

    If that’s correct, then a somewhat higher level of radiation – as in Chernobyl – contains the solution within the problem. Nature is neat that way.

  269. “I could also see people deliberately planting deer forage to increase the population and maximize hunting opportunities. ”
    The Dawn of Everything mentions that the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) did exactly that. Sit outside your dwelling and wait for dinner to deliver itself. They could not understand why the Europeans worked so hard with cattle instead. Or expected them to not take advantage of cows that wandered into a Haudenosaunee village.

    “Have you ever read Machiavelli’s The Prince? He explains why autocrats so often make that choice, cementing their own power by measures that make their countries easier to conquer.”
    The current US duopoly pseudo-democracy way well turn out to fit in this category too. I am sure that that is not news for you.

  270. So, the world is too complex for global management to be a viable option. Which makes me think of that most farcically faceplant-prone profession: economics.

    I used to read Economist magazine and a Nobel prize winner (no less) in a prominent east coast publication, just for laughs. Actually, truth be told, there is no Nobel prize for economics. You can look it up.

    Somebody said a while back that you can tell who an economist works for as soon as he opens his mouth. Shills, IOW, promoting various interests, mostly monied, but also ideological, Left, Right, business economists, labor economists, feminist economists. Is there any such thing as LGBTQIA+ economists? There must be. Every one else has economists, why not that gang?

    It seems to me that economics isn’t in the business nowadays of objective and dispassionate scholarship and research, if it ever was. And it seems to me that the profession isn’t merely useless, but actively harmful, given the utter balderdash that comes from its practitioners. They cover themselves in disrepute and disgrace on a daily basis.

    Even if it wasn’t as squalid a line of work as it is, the world economy is far too intricate a mechanism, a morass of unknown, unknowable, unfathomable variables and human behaviors that defy study and quantification and explanation.

    Which raises a question, why is economics not banished from the ivy-covered campuses as a line of scholarly inquiry? What good is it? If it’s going to be practised the way it’s being practised then this is a fraudulent ‘science’ that we’d be better off without.

  271. Chris, or any Australian, or anyone actually.
    I have just started a book called Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe. It deals with aboriginies having extensive agriculture of yams and grain at the time of the white arrival, and the whites destroying the land with their sheep, cows and horses, hooved animals in general. It may also be about a lot more, but I have just started it. Would anyone please comment on that theme for me. I have heard for years of the destruction of the land by hooved animals, but never before of the extent of pre -colonial agriculture.

  272. Since pawpaws were mentioned, I highly recommend them as fruit trees for homesteads from personal experience, though they have some quirks that need to be kept in mind.

    First, I have planted multiple grafted pawpaw trees. Every one of them has died young. However, I have had no problems growing them from seed and planting seed-grown pawpaws I’ve obtained from the Missouri Department of Conservation.

    Second, they spread by means of suckers as well as by seed. The suckers are genetically identical to the parent plant. This is a problem because pawpaws need to cross-pollinate to produce fruit, plus the suckers can spread into places where they affect the growth of other plants. Sometimes whole groves of pawpaws don’t fruit for this reason. Planting at least two trees grown from seeds or at least two different named varieties will ensure cross-pollination.

    Third, the skin and seeds of pawpaws are poisonous; eat only the flesh. Fortunately the seeds are huge and hard so they are easy to avoid eating. The easiest way to eat pawpaws is to cut them in half and scoop out the flesh from each half with a spoon.

    Having said all that, I love pawpaws, and our trees produce them in abundance. My husband Mike and I are still eating pawpaws we froze from last year’s crop.

  273. Grover, I’ve seen the same sign. Funny.

    Pygmycory, subsidies for housing always turn into slush funds. Getting rid of the barriers to market forces, so housing prices have to fall to match demand, tends to be more effective.

    Warburton, it’s a valid point.

    Jessica, yep. They were one of the nations that practiced the system of “garden hunting” I mentioned in an earlier post. It was a very efficient alternative to livestock raising. As for the impact of the current duopoly, why, yes, I’ve been thinking about that rather a lot. Mind you, I first read The Prince when I was 11…

    Smith, there’s a joke that claims that economics exists for the sole purpose of making astrology look respectable by comparison. As an astrologer, I resent that. No astrologer ever claimed that tomorrow the sun would rise in the west and that all the malefic planets would set permanently and never rise again if only the country adopted the right policies. 😉

    S.T., hmm! The other Yuval Harari sounds like someone I’d be interested in reading; of course I’m sure you knew that.

  274. Even within Asimov’s stories psychohistory only worked on a galactic scale. It’s similar to turbulent flow in pipes. Where any particular molecule will go is unknowable, but the behavior of 100 gpm of water through a 2 inch pipe is knowable.

    In the story the Mule showed up and knocked all their fine calculations into the waste basket. The Black Swan in modern parlance.

    In other predicable news,

    “French utility EDF on Tuesday again pushed back the start date on its long-delayed 3.2-gigawatt (GW) Hinkley Point C reactor plant in Britain to at least 2029, with a new estimated cost of between 31 billion and 34 billion pounds ($43 billion) based on 2015 values.

    The project in southwest England, Britain’s first new nuclear plant in more than two decades, was at the last update expected to start operations in June 2027, with an estimated cost of 25-26 billion pounds, which also was a revision of a previous 2025 start date at a cost then estimated at 18 billion pounds. EDF had initially said it would be powering British homes in 2017.”

    So 12 years late and 16 billion pounds cost overrun.

  275. SLClaire,

    Thanks for the pawpaw wisdom! Missouri seems to be a favored region for them. And for morels. Coincidence? I have wondered if I’m just being called in. . .two of my favorites, and my father has a huge spread in the Ozarks.

    We planted 3 different named varieties (2 of the ‘Overleese’), and the grafts look sound. But we’ll see how they do. I had the option of getting seedlings instead, but I thought I was getting a steal when my friend offered me the grafted ones for the same price! I only paid a silver half dollar for each. Reckon we can replace them with seedlings if the grafted ones don’t succeed.

    I knew about their tendency to sucker and form colonies, and that could get interesting between the houses. It is a regularly maintained area, though, so I guess they could always be lopped off if we don’t want them where they pop up.


  276. JMG, I knew about the eta but not about the hibakusha. It goes to show you learn something new every day, especially if you read ecosophia.

    All this talk of pawpaws reminds me of my student days. Our pawpaws are not the same as the American variety. Ours are bigger, bright yellow, and have lots of round seeds about the size of a match head lining a hollow interior.

    News broke that Groote Schuur hospital, site of the first heart transplant, was using pawpaw skins to treat wounds. This totally grabbed the public’s attention and for a while the whole country went pawpaw mad. All sorts of stories were published touting the miracle properties of pawpaws and how they were used in various cultures.

    One of my housemates was a music student who often said he wanted to try psychedelics but didn’t know which or how to get them. We decided to play a trick on him and started talking amongst ourselves, in his presence, about how pawpaw pips gave one a fantastic high. Then we bought a pawpaw, scraped out the seeds, dried them in the oven overnight, crushed them and mixed them with tobacco, and rolled a zol (spliff).

    I handed him the zol while we all crowded round pretending to be anxious to have a drag before it was all gone, saying me next, me next. The music student hesitated, then handed me the zol and said, “You first.”

    Gulp! I had no idea what pawpaw pips would do. They might be deadly poison for all I knew.

    But, as the instigator of the prank, I felt obliged to go through with it. I lit the zol and took a deep drag. Eeeugh! I felt an acrid burning sensation in my lungs and rushed out into the fresh air and breathed as deeply as I could.

    Luckily there were no after-effects, but that was the end of the prank. And it turned out that Groote Schuur hospital wasn’t using actual pawpaw skins, they were using conventional bandages with a bright yellow antiseptic which the nurses had nicknamed “pawpaw”.

  277. Hi Stephen,

    It’s a good book, and hope you enjoy the read. Like any area, where you can’t grow grain crops, you can probably grow tubers. A few years ago I trialled growing the yams, and they look like a very large dandelion to me. The grain crops were a variety of millet I believe, but collected varieties of wattle tree seeds also provided grains and I have no doubts there were plenty of other edible plants. Mate, I’m probably surrounded by food in the forest, that I can’t see or ever know.

    My understanding of sheep, is that they can survive on marginal land because when the season is bad for that animal, they can consume the roots of plants. Probably not good, plus the soil compaction problems – which aren’t hard to see on hilly country. The soils were pretty good down here prior to colonialisation due to a tens of millennia of land management, but regardless, phosphate deficiency is a problem on this old continent. I’m of the opinion that a lot of the soil was turned into sheep for meat and wool, then exported back to Britain for the textile mills. And here we are today with impoverished soils. The land mass of the entire UK, is about the same size as the south eastern state where I live, but they seem wealthier somehow and there are fifteen times the people. There’s probably a reason for that… 😉

    If you’re interested in the subject, Bill Gammage’s book: The Biggest Estate on Earth, is a better read and historically based description, if you can ignore the sheer duplication of examples required by the academic sector.



  278. #276 JMG — Now I see your point, which I hadn’t fully absorbed before. It’s not merely that psycho-history is a technology that doesn’t exist yet, rather it’s a tech that inherently CANNOT exist! Instead of trying to build a steampunk internet without transistors (my initial take), it’s more like trying to give ourselves the psychic powers of the Mule by building devices for it, which is an impossibility. This means our technocratic overlords are committing an even greater folly than I realized at first.

    I too have to get over the attitude of rationalism and science-worship, which has residual effects on my thought-process. Science, logic, & rationalism may be useful tools in the right context, but tools have their limitations. A couple of the things that broke my blue-pilled conditioning during the ’10s was the fedora attitude of dogmatic scientism (which clashes with the original scientific method, no less), and the chaos unfolding in my society, which no amount of rationalism could grapple with. In fact, many self-styled “rationalists” were among the most ideologically subverted! But ultimately, I’m hoping all this change will work out for the better eventually.

    To elaborate on my last point (from the earlier post), one of my favorite books is Origins of the Medieval World by William Carroll Bark. It combines thorough scholarship, eloquent prose, and an entertaining narrative. It’s from the 50’s, so a few points are outdated (mainly the disproven ideas about inefficient Roman animal harnesses; he also spends time on the then-popular Pirenne thesis in the early chapters) but for the most part, it’s as relevant as always. The central thesis is that the collapse of the Western Roman Empire was not all bad, that those events allowed the new & better society of Medieval Europe to grow out its ashes. Living through a cycle of destruction & renewal can be disorienting, but I’m hopeful that this is a natural process that needs to happen.

  279. Ok, I doubted it when I heard it, but after looking into the laws as written and court cases, yes, it looks like overreach to small market gardens and small animal operations in Oregon. Pretty crazy.

    Although all that I saw so far was the water/market garden cases all being in one district, which is the crazy Eugene area district, and the wording of that law seems to obviously say that under 5, 000 gallons a day is exempt, so that the people hired in that district are doing some kind of word play mis-interpretation to shut people down for market gardens. This is a huge problem because even if it gets shot down in court eventually, people have to make their mortgages and property tax bills now. There is a contingent of people who dont seem to see that they need food and want everything to go back to native plants or such who are obviously heading that department in that district, but since they have not been fired by the state management above them, we have to assume that this is being done with their approval as a test case for the state. One of my offspring lives in a different Oregon county not to far from that county, what was a politically “red” county, now of course “purple” and I have seen the market gardens, small farms in that area, so far they have not been served papers, but I just cant imagine — got to shut down that stay at home mom selling blueberries and baked goods on that roadside stand to cover some of the household expenses… cant have the property taxes being covered by income from the actual property !

    As for the CAFO definition under the 2021 law, oh my, that is a crazy law and definition ! That law was obviously slipped in by the vegan anti-animal farming at any level people, which you do find in certain Oregon areas, I can name 2 highly populated counties…. But, now that the missapplication is seen, are we seeing the Oregon Legislature having emergency sessions to change it — crickets so far — so yes, looks likethey are in the pockets of big animal operations, prove us wrong ORegon legislaturers — If you dont do something, maybe the people will wake up and the Ranchers and small organic growers of milk and produce will see their common ground and get vocal ( or kinetic ? )

    As to what the Oregon guy in the video link showed as California news headline in regards to trout. Notice that this is a “main stream media” headline, a pushed narrative of people with power and influence, completely different from what is goin on in ORegon. We get these all the time, but what it realy is is the very large, very corporate farms in californias central Valley, Imperial valley etc.. types who have the money and clout to get that story and headline out to further their business interests. Those big canal systems only serve those large players and southern california cities at the expense of environmental destruction in Northern California. Northern California wants healthy rivers, streams and fish. Northern Californias homes and farms and ranches are not getting water from those canal systems, that is all water sent away. So, there is a natural tension there. Northern California in general, in tandem with large central farm corporations, would like southern California cities to figure out their …issues…. maybe stop growing tso many people added, so many houses added in an area with effectively no water, and stop lawns and swimming pools…. Northern California homeowners and farmers and ranchers like the natural environment of the rivers, they want to kayak on them, fish on them, look at them, whatever,. The farms in my county, which is a huge, huge agricultural area, we get our own water and have our own local water woes. Other northern Ca counties the same. Why would they wan the river to be dead or unheathly , more than they are, by moe water taken ? SO, California is not stupid, and does not nessesarrily put fish in front of people, it is just that it is a very large state and part of the state doesnt like being impoverished by another part getting rich off their river.

  280. JMG, regarding your response to Karl:

    “…in 2026 Neptune conjoins Saturn at 0° Aries — a very rare event, astrologically speaking, and one that marks the dissolution of forms that have dominated the collective imagination for more than two thousand years.”

    Would those be the forms laid down in the ‘axial age’?

    Regarding Karl’s comments on rts games, it’s rather interesting that such games would become popular given that aquarius is the most common sun placement for military leaders and politicians. MacArthur, Bradley, Stonewall Jackson, Sherman, Jeb Stuart, Lincoln and FDR are some American examples. Of course a person’s sun sign isn’t enough to determine their career, and there are definitely great leaders throughout history without the placement, the trend is there though:

    It’s rather fitting that games with real-time battles and resource management along with a ‘gods eye view’ of the battlefield would take off during a Neptune aquarius transit.

    I wonder if the subtle connection with military and political leadership will be one of the factors to contribute to the ‘dissolving’ aspect of the age of aquarius. A ‘too many chiefs, not enough indians’ effect. You can sort of see something like it already in the various culture-war echo chambers online, although that might just be due to the nature of the current version of the internet.

  281. JMG, as someone trained and rewarded to try to find an analytical model and technical solution to any problem, it’s a relief to realize the world’s so called best and brightest can’t succeed at that either. All because the drive itself comes from failed premises and indoctrination about human intelligence, progress, and how someone needs to be in charge around here!

    The Chernobyl wolves and Ascenscion Island forest are fascinating natural history! I didn’t know about either!

    I think Trump’s detractors don’t get how many of his supporters say, “Of course he’s a loose cannon on deck, a bull in a china shop! He’s the only one we see promising a giant shake-up, which is actually what we want.” Further warnings shouting that he’s a loose cannon on deck won’t change these votes.

    Toomas # 17, I think you won’t find a conversation about Debian to get very far here. Before I came along, JMG was already saying that he expects de-industrialization to accelerate. He expects reduced availability of electricity, reduced ultra complex manufacturing and supply chains, cracks in availability of Internet infrastructure, reduced spare parts and fix-it know-how, and thus reduced use of computers in general.

    Also, he’s mentioned he’s not interested in computer engineering as its own reward, only in using computers for his writing work.

    As for Debian, I think it’s one of several wonderful examples in technology of decentralized cooperative teamwork, for the common good, on a nonprofit basis.

    There were some years when Microsoft engineers had a hard time scaling up Windows to support large server setups. Microsoft bought the Hotmail free email service and tried to run it on Windows, but had to use Unix instead. I wouldn’t be surprised if firewall scalability was a similar difficulty.

    Microsoft executives were terrified of Windows losing out in the big server market. I had a job as a software engineer, in a bank that was testing Windows and Unix based large servers. There were serious engineering questions about whether Windows was up to the challenge.

    Microsoft had some aggressive marketing and publicity denigrating Linux, with what some critics labeled “fear, uncertainty, and doubt,” or “embrace, extend, and extinguish.”

    Things are a lot different now. Unlike the World Economic Forum, Microsoft has shown an ability to adapt to changing times. Windows is much more capable for large servers now. In addition, their current CEO has loosened the company’s dependence on Windows.

    Microsoft is now happy to rent you a server running Linux in their data center, to provide much of their software in versions that don’t require Windows, and to provide excellent programmer tools for Linux, including a well integrated Linux subsystem within Windows. A company as famous as WEF for rejecting “not invented here” ideas, is now a more effective collaborator. Unlike WEF, they respect that others can make some good decisions which go in a different direction.

    I’m partly, maybe largely, to blame for further distaste on these topics around here. In JMG’s other blog, the topic of Linux came up as potentially useful for him. I provided comments, and wanted to engage others familiar with Linux in some detailed discussion about particular recommendations to make. Unfortunately this quickly spun off in a too geeky direction for JMG’s themes and audience.

    What was worse is that another commenter put in what I thought was an excessively naive hagiography, praising one particular individual as the Great Man of History who’d made Linux possible. I objected to overstating this one individual while not respecting equally vital leaders, and trivializing the work of many unsung quiet contributors. I was also concerned about the praised person’s extremely controversial history, which in the “me too” movement has led to many expressions of concern about his alleged sexual predatory ways.

    Unfortunately and to my later dismay, I expressed these concerns in a way that came across as extremely contentious, hostile, angry, and lacking graciousness. My timing for this was exceptionally terrible. It was right after JMG’s loss, when more kindness in conversation would have been especially suitable. Not interested in hosting a flame war, JMG declared the whole topic of Linux and the controversial individual to be off-topic on the other blog, and told me to back off. I don’t blame him for doing so.

    So, we probably won’t see too deep a dive into Debian around here. Meanwhile, the technical wolves are not quite as much at Microsoft’s door as in the time of Chernobyl.

  282. Ok, Oregon, it looks like Oregon has rescinded the expanded CAFO regulation as of a few days ago ! And, this article says it was being used by large dairies to bludgeon small raw milk producers with a few cows. Which, is an unfair application under the law, in addition to it being a bad overly broad law. The federal lawsuits against Oregon are still pending

    And, the other law about the water use, now saying that agricultural irrigation is not a commercial or industrial use under the water rights laws, I have more conformation it is real, and that it is not just a lower level employee, the Oregon Northwest Regional Manager is all onboard with the new interpretation of an old existing law. Article from OPB, which is Oregon Public Broadcasting, kind of the political opposite of Natural News and is a mainstream media outlet, so coming from both places, Im gonna say yes this is happening.

    ” “It’s a finite resource,” said Mike McCord, the Northwest Region Manager with the Oregon Water Resources Department. “The system of appropriation has been in place since 1909 in Oregon. It allows us to better manage the resource by having a permitting system.”

    There are some exemptions, as those without a water right can use up to 5,000 gallons a day for commercial or industrial purposes. However, this doesn’t include irrigation, McCord said. ”

    So, now he is saying organic small farms are not commercial operations, a very new interpretation, and this does make alot of small operations now illegal and will shut them down. Cant find anything on legal challenges yet, Oregon people, you need to talk to your state reps.

  283. If I may, I’d like to add a time sensitive update to the Prayer List .

    Erika’s partner James has recently had new tumors appear, and he is currently being detained in a hospital, trapped by bureaucracy. May James’s wishes be respected so he can return home.
    May he be blessed with divine healing energy to grant him strength and lead him to recovery.
    May Erika’s service of love and care for James be strengthened and supported by all.
    May their hindrances be swept aside and may none harm them.

  284. @JMG “that’s an intriguing idea — utopian fantasy as a source of inspiration rather than a source of fixed plans. Hmm. I’ll want to brood over that for a while. ”

    I can help in the brood. The biggest issue with this idea is that a lot of the more stupid ideas nowadays are because of utopian inspiration. Elon Musk is vaporizing Boca chica one rocket at a time with people hoping to recreate Star Trek. The USSR and all its problems came from the idea that they could set the world straight.

    The concepts of utopias are fine for inspiration but many need to be put into context for those acting on them. They can point the ship in a different direction but will it be thrust forward with coal or the wind of nature?

  285. @ John of Red Hook,
    The story about the garlic farmer in the video is a bit simplistic. The first thing to know is that the West has a very different system of water rights than the east does, and this system of water rights is enshrined in common law and can be enforced by individuals as well as the state and county based irrigation districts.
    Any plot of land in Oregon ( or almost anywhere in the west) has to have some kind of water rights to use subsurface or river water beyond what is needed to irrigate a 1/2 acre garden. I grew up on a farm in the Willamette Valley that had a patchwork of water rights on it ( yes different fields had different water rights). During dry times we could only irrigate those fields with the oldest water rights and the water master would fly around in a helicopter looking for scofflaws. At the time everyone in the agricultural community knew which farms or parcels had good water rights and which ones and young ones or none. The farms with no water rights could be obtained for a small fraction of the price of the ones with water rights. Typically the places with no water rights were used for winter wheat or horses. From time to time some fool from back east would buy a place cheap farm thinking they were clever and find out they could not irrigate. That is clearly what happened with the poor garlic farmer lady, the biggest issue is that the irrigation district in Lane county was so slow to act.
    We have a saying in the West, ” Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.”

  286. @grover 298, a guy told me where a patch were last year. In time to get seeds and a few fruit. They definitely like river bottom I can tell that. The whole stand had a lives in don’t take our fruit feel. I’ll remember that when going back.

  287. Hi Chris
    thanks a lot for the info. I am enjoying the book. Will read bill Gammage’s book too. My daughter may have a copy. Back in the day I worked some with a Yuon tribal elder, Gabboo Ted Thomas: bit of a rasscal but a great bloke. He talked a lot about the damage that hooved critters had done, not that the evidence wasn’t there for all to see.
    I barely know Victoria. the only place in Oz i have worked on the land is in SEQ and NE NSW, more in the former. the soil wasn’t too bad for the first 50cm, if you composted and mulched it enough, but below that it was like concrete.Of course you had to be sure Joe Blake hadn’t taken up residwnce underneath the mulch.
    It looks like Britain may be being presented with its karmic bill about now, a short step ahead of the US and others Do you ever read Tim Watkins’
    Thanks again, mate, for your prompt reply.

  288. Stephen Pearson, bear in mind that Dark Emu is a literary fraud written by Bruce Pascoe, who has no more legitimate claim to aboriginality than Elizabeth Warren.

  289. #297 BeardTree wow that is a really poignant piece by Spengler. I haven’t seen him so worried before. He will never be invited again to such an exclusive meeting, but he had to get this message out. The final paragraph says it all:”They are accustomed to running things and they will gamble the world away to keep their position. “. I think he has come to the realization that the fall of the West is all but unavoidable.

    The attitude of denial goes further than just the upper echelons. As our host mentioned often, most of the 20-30% of our society that has a university degree and an office job manipulating abstractions are just as much in denial. Losing a lifestyle without physical labor and flying to other countries when you want it seems worse than a death sentence to them and they do everything they can to deny that horrible future.

  290. @Boccaccio #312, yes, our elite couldn’t pull off a realpolitik accommodation with Russia, choosing to be content with the achieved, despite promising not too, expansion of NATO and letting Belarus and Ukraine be in Russia’s sphere of influence. They also transferred the west’s manufacturing and technology to China pursuing cheap labor and created a competitive and not benign power center independent of their control. A saying I think applies to our leadership elite “those whom the gods wish to destroy they first drive mad”. Unfortunately we also get to experience the consequences of their ineptitude. Their ineptitude also extends to not managing a transition to a society in balance with the earth’s resources and biosphere. Sigh.

  291. First of all, thank you to everyone who brought it to my attention that my Dreamwidth journal is down. According to, the entire Dreamwidth site is down. Server problems? Quite probably. This has happened before; if it follows the usual pattern, it’ll be up and running again within a couple of hours at the most.

    Siliconguy, the irony is that Asimov based most of the first volume of the trilogy on a very simplistic reading of late Roman and early Byzantine history, down to fine details — Bel Riose is the Byzantine general Belisarius, for example — without bothering to check whether identical things happened in the twilight of other empires. He really wasn’t as smart as he liked to think he was — and in that, of course, he was similar to utilities that buy nuclear power plants. 😉

    BeardTree, that’s the blowback from Stormtrooper Syndrome — having convinced themselves that they’re the notional Good Guys, it literally never entered their heads that their plans might fail. Now they’re stuck in an untenable situation with no way out. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Russians slow-walk their conquest of Ukraine so that US diplomats have to be airlifted out of Kiev in September, humiliating Biden just before the election…

    Martin, the Japanese have been fairly good about covering up their society’s seamier undersides.

    Xcalibur/djs, exactly. The conception itself is fatally flawed, and reflects a fatal flaw in modern thinking.

    Jason, very probably yes.

    Christopher, exactly. The fact that Trump will disrupt the current system is both the system’s greatest fear and his supporters’ greatest hope.

    Quin, thanks for this.

    Michael, my question is simply how to make use of the utopian impulse without running the risk of having people take it literally, with disastrous results. Hmm…

  292. Water rights in the west are indeed interesting.

    My domestic water comes from a system that has a defined water right. My irrigation water comes from a different system with a different water right.

    A few years ago The Dept of Ecology had a new and novel interpretation of existing law that said you could not drill a new well unless you first did an impact statement to prove your well would have no effect on any salmon-bearing stream in the area. It was only going to apply to the West side at first, but everyone knew it was a precursor to shutdown all new wells in the state.

    In a rare event West side real-estate interests and East side agriculture unified for long enough to strong arm the legislature to shut down that power grab. Ecology wants full control of everything, after all, only their enlightened brilliance can save the planet.

    It’s sad really, the environmental movement did so much good early on, but then they went feral in a fine example of power corrupting the institution.

  293. About the Oregon right to farm being allegedly under attack:
    Atmospheric River, thank you for the news report in 305. I am glad that the lawsuit is not being halted.
    The Lane County situation sounds to me, not being there, like a land deal. Do some deep pocketed RE people want to build luxury housing around Eugene? Has anyone set up a fund to help with small farmer’s taxes and fees?
    Also, it is known, as a matter of fact, that the GMO industry wants to use the Willamette and Rogue valleys for growing and testing of their seeds for obvious reasons, which include dry summers, relatively dry but fertile soils, and the cachet of cities like Eugene and Portland to attract the more expensive scientific personnel.
    John @ 296 and Clarke @ 275, 308. Decisions are made by human beings, not by “the State”, or “boards” and “commissions”. Those human beings have names. Activists and concerned people who are not willing to name names are, IMHO, wasting their time. One of the best and most effective activists seems to have been the late Saul Alinsky. You may, probably do, disagree with his views, but the man knew how to publicize injustice. He used to send delegations of all Black peaceful picketers to slumlord’s nice homes in the nice, upscale residential areas.
    Some folks are going to have to decide. Do they want to redress wrongs, or do they want to be invited to the Jaycee barbecue? Decades of propaganda have convinced many folks that anything pro Big Biz is “nice”, and “respectable”. Functionaries making the decisions as to CAFOs and water do what they are told, Woke ideology not withstanding, AND are allowed to hide behind anonymity because they are “just doing their jobs”, and besides they are related to people we know, etc.

  294. Synthase @311
    Do you think it possible that the contents might be true, even if the author has faked his credentials? It would certainly be a poor recommendation though. Aside from the destruction of the soil by the colonists animals, the whole thesis of large scale aboriginal agriculture is new to me.

  295. JMG, are you still interested in trying Linux? If so, maybe you could make a post on your other blog whose one and only allowed topic is, “Exactly what steps will get JMG up and running with Linux today?” History, personalities, politics, semantics of “free” vs. “open” and any other controversies, could all be declared out of bounds.

    You have enough Linux enthusiasts among your readers that any of us could give you steps that would work, and help with any installation gotchas. All the software you’d ever see, in all the specific recommendations anyone made in the old discussion, comes from respected, friendly teams of software engineers. These teams’ only disagreements are minor technical details, which you’d never notice. Or maybe you would feel they are weird quirks that substitute for the annoying parts of Windows, since nothing digitally manmade is perfect. If you later wanted to try something else, since it’s all free software with compatible backups, you could do so.

    The controversial programmer is still respected for his coding skills. His current code projects are only relevant to other programmers. Assuming you still don’t aspire to a retirement career as an Artificial Intelligence Architect, you’d never need to use anything from him. If it’s somehow useful behind the scenes, it would arrive already integrated for you by the friendly distribution packaging team anyway.

    If you’d like your readers’ help with something like this, I could sit this one out. It’s unlikely anyone would accidentally give you a command to delete all your work. Or I could make my one concise suggestion (try MX Linux, a variation of Debian) and see where others want to take it.

  296. I really, really like how you portray Nature giving cold indifference to our tantrums instead of the fragile thing that can’t even handle a banana scrap buried on the side of a trail (I got scolded by someone about it because apparently they think local flora and fauna follow our own dietary concerns and can’t handle it) and it was specially weird to me since back home thousands of people leave fruit offerings at the feet or summits of mountains and the ecosystem is just fine –quite happy actually, since the mountain often grants permission to dense areas following that.

    This mindset I’ve also noticed is increasingly growing too, for as much as it doesn’t get air time. I really cant wait for the moment when it is acceptable for it to air and for the people in power to realize they’ve been living a delusion all along. The shrieking though… I should start getting some noise proof headphones.

  297. I think your subscribe by email option is broken. I’ve tired a few times and keep getting an error saying “Oops! There was an error when subscribing. Please try again.” I’ve tried over the course of a few days, on different computers and browsers, with two different emails, and have gotten the same message every time.

  298. @JMG #314 re: Harnessing the Utopian Influence

    Not to stoop to flattery or anything, but if I may, I think maybe you’ve already hit on at least one healthy way to do that, which is to intensely focus on the personal and local as the relevant zone of “utopian” improvement. Retrotopia might well represent about the “widest” you can go with such a project, but I could imagine other stories that feature individuals and communities trying things out that seem better to them, keeping what works, rejecting what doesn’t, all while the world around them continues to be frustratingly stupid, venal, getting worse, and so forth. Heck, even the Ariel Moravec stories do a bit of that.

    It seems to me that the chief problem with the utopian impulse is not the desire to feel your agency and make the world a better place, it’s to express it on as grand a scale and impose it on as many others as possible where you start getting into the danger zone.

    Anyhow, I’ve found your emphasis, in both fiction and non-fiction, on such things a good curative to my desire to grapple with big, societal/global scale problems without first focusing on what I can do for me and mine.


  299. @Stephen Pearson and @Synthase

    Pascoe is just going off the early records of explorers and squatters (same with Gammage) and extrapolating from there, whether or not he has Aboriginal blood or not is a separate issue and to me is irrelevant to the content, although it may have some importance regarding the grants he gets for his farm. Then again the whole issue is soaked in 19th century racial claptrap that is tedious and tiresome. White and black Australians after multiple generations here are fused together, the landscape and epigenetics works swiftly.

    The best thing to do is to go and read and the early accounts and decide for yourself. A notable Victorian one to start with is EM Curr’s ‘Recollections of Squatting in Victoria’. The most apt for Pascoes work is anything to do with south west Victoria, and the millet growing areas of the northern Murray Darling Basin. It is beyond doubt that many had a staple carbohydrate crop, and whether this was called ‘agriculture’ is up to the reader I suppose.

  300. I came across a BBC article about Ascension Island. Their take is rather different than yours.

    “As you can see by the vegetation surrounding us, this plan was spectacularly successful,” says biologist Dr Sam Weber, standing wreathed in fog amid a mini cloud forest of dripping ficus trees, bamboo, ginger and guava that envelops Green Mountain today. We are a few minutes’ drive from the sweltering lava plains, but up here it’s mild and breezy.

    “Whether he was right is another question. Judged by today’s standards, many scientists would argue this is a disaster. On a superficial level it looks like a tropical paradise – it’s humid, there’s lots of plants – but if you scratch the surface it really doesn’t go a lot beyond that. There’s none of the complex interrelationships you’d expect in a real tropical cloud forest – and all of the species that were here are vanishing.”
    “I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point we could call Green Mountain a fully functioning ecosystem, at least not in the short term – that would take thousands of years,” says Weber.

    “At the moment it’s a completely unmanaged mess of invasive species – one after another rises to dominance, others die back, those species crowd the footpaths, reducing the value of the mountain for walkers.”

    It’s really awful when Nature won’t do what it’s told! The hubris.

  301. Stephen Pearson, What Bruce Pascoe writes in Dark Emu is very, very fashionable. It bears little resemblance to the truth however. He panders to, and is representative of a very unfortunate trend in Australia’s political class which I could call “we wuz aboriginals”. It is wish fulfillment for such people. He is a protected person to this day because of this.

    You might enjoy this eye opening discussion of Dark Emu at the Sydney Institute between actual Aboriginal Warren Mundine and actual historian Geoffrey Blainey:

  302. Synthase and Weeping Willow,
    Thank you both. The talk with Geoffery Blainey and Warren Mundine was fascinating.: a bit like the little kid finally saying that the emperor had no clothes on.. Scarey how a person or an idea can become so fashionable that it can be career or reputation threatening to challenge it. I’m afraid one sees a lot of that these days.

  303. I knew I could find refuge in your words. Canis lupus the focal point of my academic stint at the Ivy Tower at the top of the hill. By far my favorite predator for every reason one cares to observe and observe I did; from Ely MN to WA to NM and AZ where I worked reintroducing the Mexican wolf. I watched how government agencies are more than capable of epic Fails. Scale that up globaly and the Epic fails will be spectacular. As The Duran says, regarding our western Atlantic crowd “they have no reverse gear”.

  304. It’s hilarious and also infuriating the pearl clutching the BBC does for Ascension Island. ‘No hope to return to it’s desolate native environment’. ‘Chaotic mess’… These people wish everything was just frozen in time, so they could understand and manage it.

  305. Dear JMG,

    LOL, thank you. I’d guess this glib contempt is also beyond their grasp.
    As others already said: Gaia will have no problem to overcome this sapiens plague. To quote Emile Cioran , almost a century ago: “Homo Sapiens – what a pretension, what an indulgence “.

    I really like, that you conduct your year of mourning so sincerely. But please don’t leave things behind before time. If only because of curiosity.

  306. Mr. Greer,

    I adore your writings and am content to silence most times. However, The Fukushima nuclear disaster far exceeds Chernobyl in terms of damage to the environment and the Japanese, seemingly as corrupt as any given Biden, is doing as little as possible to address the ramifications.

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