Not the Monthly Post

To the Shores of a Surging Ocean

I hope all of my readers who, like me, celebrated the solstice on Saturday had a grand time; that those who celebrated Hanukkah on Sunday did likewise; that those who celebrate Christmas are having a grand time today; and that those who celebrate other holidays around this time of year are feeling similarly blessed in prospect or in retrospect. Though the professionally outraged on all sides of the culture war are doing their level best to set all of us at each other’s throats, I’d like to suggest that it does no one any harm to wish someone else a good time on the specific midwinter holiday of their choice.

What’s more, I’m actually feeling just a little upbeat at the moment.  For more than a decade now I’ve commented late each December or early each January on the way that the traditional high hopes for the new year have guttered out, replaced by gritted teeth and a fading hope that the year to come might not be quite so difficult as the one just past. No doubt a great many people right now are bracing themselves for the new year in roughly the same terms. This once, though, I’m not among them.

Don’t misunderstand me.  The world, and in particular that small portion of the planet called the United States of America, both still face a bumper crop of blowback from the idiotic policies of an age of wretched excess, and the future looming up ahead of us is just as serenely uninterested in catering to our delusions of importance as it has always been. Those who put their hopes in a deus ex machina that will save us from the consequences of our own manifold stupidities can count on being just as bitterly disappointed as ever.  The fact remains that here and there, some changes I’ve long hoped to see are showing signs of getting under way, and some seemingly immovable follies of the recent past have started to crumble visibly around the edges.

All this is by way of introducing my predictions for the year to come. Before we get to that, though, it’s time for one of the reliable year-end activities of my blogging, a glance back over the previous year’s predictions. If you want the details, you can find what I said this time last year here, but the gist was summed up quite neatly in these paragraphs:

“A year from now, we’re not going to look back on 2019 as the year when Trump was driven from office and everything became either wonderful or horrible, depending on your political prejudices. It won’t have been the year that the economy rolled over and died, or the year when either the political correctness of the Left or the patriotic correctness of the Right finally swept all before it. It won’t have been the year when we finally started to solve the problem of climate change, nor will it have been the year when Gaia put on her hobnailed boots and gave our species the stomping we arguably deserve. As for the leap to a new level of consciousness that’s been pulling a no-show since long before December 21, 2012 became just another day—well, let’s just say that if you hold your breath waiting for that, you’re going to turn very blue indeed.

“As 2019 winds up a year from now, furthermore, the dollar and the Euro will still have value, there will still be products on the shelves of your local grocery, gasoline-powered automobiles will still be lurching wastefully down the streets, airliners will still be rumbling even more wastefully through the skies, and more Americans will be concerned with the outcome of the upcoming Super Bowl game than with the subjects this blog discusses. I can say that with perfect confidence, and not just because I’ve been right every other time I’ve predicted it.”

I did make a few more specific predictions in my last post of 2018. I predicted that the ecological news was going to keep on being bad—more fires, more floods, more climate-related disasters—but nothing would be done about any of it. I predicted that the chasm between Left and Right would remain unbridged, that the global hegemony of the United States would continue to falter, and that the economy would have a very mixed trajectory as money trickled out of the speculative economy and back into the productive economy.  All these things, like the ones included in the summary just quoted, should have come as no surprise to anybody.  The only reason everyone else wasn’t expecting exactly the same thing is that the conventional wisdom of our time has become hopelessly detached from reality.

All those things then inevitably happened, and believers in the conventional wisdom just as inevitably moved the goalposts so they could pretend that the things they’ve been expecting in vain for decades really are about to happen, just you wait and see!  Over the next two weeks or so, as one set of calendars comes down from the walls and another set goes up, we can expect to see the same thing again, as purveyors of the standard canned blather about great onward strides of progress and sudden apocalyptic catastrophes, the Tweedledum and Tweedledumber of the modern futurological imagination, hose off a year’s worth of failure from last year’s predictions and trot them out again. I suspect, though, that they’re going to find a rather less appreciative audience for the latest helping of progressive or apocalyptic pablum than they’re used to.

That’s the first trickle of running water, if you will, that I’ve watched cutting through the snows of the long winter of our collective imagination:  a growing lack of interest in the vaporings of the experts, pundits, and media talking heads whose job is to announce what’s supposed to be true even though it’s obviously not.  For a long time such figures could count on an attentive audience, but a glance at what’s happened to the viewership of the major news channels is one way of glimpsing the dizzying drop that’s under way. Granted, a good deal of that drop is due to sheer boredom with those channels’ obsession with Donald Trump; you can only listen to a  gaggle of plastic-faced media muppets shriek “Orange Man Bad!” so many times before the spectacle loses whatever entertainment value it might once have possessed.

Yet it’s more than that. Quite often of late I’ve seen concern trolls come shouldering their way into internet discussions to rant about how awful it is that people have stopped trusting the opinions of experts who’ve devoted many years to studying whatever topic is under discussion.  Of course they don’t mention and won’t discuss the reasons why so many people have stopped trusting expert opinions, which are (a) that those opinions so consistently turn out to be much less accurate than a flipped coin, and (b) that the inaccuracies in question so reliably benefit the professional class to which experts belong, at the expense of the working classes and the poor who are expected to take their word on faith. The trolls’ reticence on those two topics doesn’t really matter at this point, though; the mere fact that they feel the need to go stomping around the internet yelling about this issue shows that they’ve already lost.

So that’s my first prediction for 2020:  the conventional wisdom of recent years has gone far enough past its pull date that more and more people are going to notice the pervasive stench of decay that emanates from it, and back away in response. I’m not sure yet what combination of quiet disinterest and loud repudiation will be involved in that reaction, but I predict that by the end of 2020 the collapse of trust in those who claim the right to speak to, and for, the public will have become an unavoidable issue in public discourse.

Another thing I’ve noticed of late—another rivulet making its way undaunted through ice and snow, if you like—is the extent to which retro culture has left the realm of content recycling and begun to revive dormant technologies. Longtime readers will recall that that’s been a hope of mine for a very long time. It so happens that older technologies by and large require much less in the way of energy and resources to manufacture and dispose of than their more recent equivalents do; they’re also much more accessible to home repair; and crucially, they’re much less dependent on an overarching technostructure than the latest, hottest, shoddiest internet-enabled gimmickry being pushed on us by corporate culture. For a while there I felt like a voice crying in the wilderness, which is admittedly not that unusual a state to be in if you’re a Druid. But things have shifted, and seem to be shifting further and faster with each passing day.

The poster child here is the return of vinyl records. I can remember quite a few years ago when compact disks came on the scene, and the corporate media was yelling in chorus that vinyl was doomed and everyone had better climb aboard the digital bandwagon. Plenty of experts insisted that everyone who noticed the “flat” quality of digital music was just plain wrong—why, look at these studies paid for by the industries that profited most from CDs! Well, times change, CDs gave way to MP3s and the cloud, it became impossible for anybody but big name performers to make a living making music because file piracy was abetted by big internet corporations…and eventually people figured out that buying old recordmaking machinery on the cheap and putting out vinyl records again was a viable alternative.

For several years now vinyl records have been a fringe phenomeon, but no more. Department stores across the river in Providence have shelves full of record players for the Christmas trade, and 2019 is on track to be another record year, if you’ll excuse the pun, for the vinyl revival. That’s not the only old technology being dusted off right now and brought back into use, and I expect more to come; as the Trump administration’s deregulation and tariff policies bring manufacturing jobs back to the US, the easiest as well as the most lucrative way for companies to get products in the stores is to turn to designs and technologies that worked well in the past, and get them in production again. The reason? In a great many cases, older designs and technologies are less fussy to use, less dependent on an increasingly problematic internet, and better able to provide people what what they want: not, please note, what marketing departments try to tell them they ought to want, but what they actually want, which is something else entirely.

So here’s my second prediction for 2020: over the course of the year, the retro tech phenomenon will be a growing presence in the manufacturing and retail sectors and in people’s lives. It’s got a long way to go, and there will doubtless still be no shortage of heavily marketed technogimmicks being dangled before consumers as the year winds to an end, but the transition away from an economy of planned obsolescence and accelerating complexity has begun. Yes, I’m quite aware that that’s not the story the corporate media’s pushing; they’re still claiming that the internet of parasitic things is the wave of the future…but they’ve forgotten, if they ever knew, that sooner or later every wave breaks and heads back out to sea.

Speaking of waves of the future, Boris Johnson’s resounding victory in Britain’s general election earlier this month marks another significant change I’ve been waiting to see. The change in question isn’t the Conservative victory—the Tories won the last four British elections, after all—but the strategy Johnson used to deal out a savage defeat to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, which was exactly the same strategy Donald Trump used to win his come-from-behind victory in 2016. Like Trump, Johnson realized that his nation’s leftward party had abandoned its working class voters in order to pander to the comfortable classes. He went to the working class voters Labour had abandoned and spoke to them about the issues that concerned them—above all, an end to the open borders and free trade agreements that drove down working class wages in order to boost middle class salaries and investment class profits—and found them more than willing to listen.

To judge from his comments at the time, Trump stumbled onto that strategy by accident, and it took him a while to figure out what was happening and how to keep doing it. Johnson, with three years of hindsight to figure that out, didn’t have to rely on trial and error. His campaign was admirably precise; it focused on the issues that mattered to working class Britons—above all, on drawing a line under the delaying tactics of the Remainer minority and giving Britain the Brexit it voted for.  When the other parties protested “But what about the issues that matter to the comfortable classes?” he rolled his eyes and kept on talking about Brexit.

Now he’s sitting comfortably in No. 10 with a bigger majority than Margaret Thatcher had, and he’s doubling down on the same strategy;  discarding the austerity policies (austerity for the poor, that is, and kleptocracy for the rich) that came in with Thatcher, and gearing up to reorient Britain’s social welfare policies toward providing benefits directly to the poor and away from providing well-paying government jobs to the middle class. While plenty of pundits and media personalities are still busy duplicating the mistake of the Democrats over here, and doing their level best not to learn the obvious lessons of their loss, a significant number of writers and thinkers—some of them within the Labour fold—have grasped the implications of the election and begun to talk about it.

Those implications can be summed up neatly by saying that the era of bureaucratic globalism is ending and an era of populist nationalism is replacing it. After the Second World War, across the Western world, the managerial caste that played so important a part in winning the war cemented its authority and wealth by fostering a massive expansion of government, corporate, and nonprofit bureaucracies staffed by university-educated upper middle class managers, the new aristocracy of the postwar world. Across the board, bureaucrats took charge, and pushed a series of social, political, and economic policies that were loudly proclaimed as the wave of the future and the solution for all the world’s problems.

Did they solve some problems?  Of course.  Did they cause others?  Of course. As the era of bureaucratic globalism budded, flowered, and went to seed, programs and policies that started out sincerely trying to make the world better morphed inexorably into gimmicks to provide as many jobs as possible to salaried employees and make as few changes as possible to the conditions that guaranteed the ascendancy of the managerial caste. Corruption set in, modest at first and then soaring to dizzying kleptocratic heights—and eventually those who received none of the benefits of the managerial caste’s preferred policies and were burdened with much more than their fair share of the costs became a sufficiently large and outraged voting bloc to attract the attention of the Trumps and Johnsons of the political sphere.

Trump and Johnson aren’t the only ambitious politicians to catch the incoming wave, and they won’t be the last. That’s another lively little stream of water that’s splashing over the wintry landscape just now. The managerial caste retains a great deal of power, of course, and it also has a considerable body of expertise, not all of which has been completely corrupted by greed and lust for power.  The parties that cater to the interests of bureaucratic globalism—the Labour party in Britain, the Democratic party in the US, and so on—will doubtless pick themselves up eventually and figure out that they have to make a case for their policies that will appeal to people outside the comfortable classes they serve.

What has broken irreparably is the insistence that the interests of the managerial caste, and the policies that serve those interests, are the only options that the political system can consider. Margaret Thatcher’s famous acronym TINA—“There Is No Alternative”—has passed its pull date once and for all. For what has risen in its place, I suggest the acronym TAMA—“There Are Many Alternatives.”  If Labour and the Democrats don’t like the alternatives being offered by Johnson, Trump, & Co., or by their soon-to-be-added partners in other countries, why, they have every right to offer alternatives of their own…but of course if they do, they have to be prepared to show a lot of skeptical working class voters that those alternatives won’t simply result in another round of the miserable experiences of the recent past.  If history is anything to go by, it may take the parties in question a while to get the hang of this.

So my third prediction for the coming year is that the populist uprising against bureaucratic globalism will continue, as ambitious politicians elsewhere in the Western world realize that meeting the needs of working class majorities is an effective route to power, and as those same working class majorities realize that they don’t have to settle for whatever crumbs from the table the comfortable classes might be minded to throw their way. That promises a turbulent time ahead, no question, but it’s a time out of which some definite good might emerge.

And of course, the same points I brought up last year will continue to apply. As 2020 winds down a year from now, Donald Trump will still be the president of the United States and Boris Johnson will still be the prime minister of Britain; none of the currently fashionable crop of apocalypses will have shown any sign of coming to pass, and neither will any of the currently fashionable crop of sudden leaps to new levels of consciousness; the dollar and the pound sterling will still have value, the shelves of grocery stores will still be stocked with products to buy; here in the United States, more people will be interested in the outcome of the Super Bowl than in any of the subjects discussed on this blog; and the three trickling currents of change I’ve outlined in this post will continue flowing on their way, growing in size and force, without most people noticing them except in passing. There’s still a fair amount of time and distance yet to pass before those streams, roaring and turbulent with the meltwater they’ve gathered, plunge down the last slope to the shores of a surging ocean.

And with that, I’d like to wish my Christian readers a merry Christmas, my Jewish readers a happy Hanukkah, my Druid and Pagan readers a happy solstice season, and to all, a new year full of possibilities.

****************

It’s been a while since my last vacation and I have some projects in the works that need some concentrated attention. With that in mind, I will be taking the month of January off from blogging and most other internet activities. See you on February 5, 2020!

574 Comments

  1. Perhaps the sanest, least pretentious, most perceptive analysis of our current socioeconomic situation I’ve come across this year. Let this unorthodox Christian thank Druid JMG for a thoroughly delightful Christmas present.

  2. JMG, thank you for the Christmas greetings, and I hope your Solstice celebration was wonderful as well!

    On the retro technology resurgence, my personal project for 2020 is to start writing letters as much as possible for my personal correspondence. Those who are interested, besides writing to friends and family who may or may not ever write back, might be interested in letter writing clubs around the world or the directory of letter writing societies. If anybody is interested in corresponding with me personally, send me an email (ironic, I know, but this is the internet) to: roysmithedmonds(at)gmail(dot)com and we can exchange postal addresses from there. I am certainly interested in corresponding about most of the topics that appear in this blog, among many others.

    I also have been eyeing record turntables in the stores, but haven’t made the plunge, because I want one that is not designed with a USB cord to be plugged into a computer, which are most of the turntables currently to be found.

  3. The people of Reality have elected Fastleft’s mother as spokespriestess. With that in mind, the Reverend Mom offers her prayers that you all have a prosperous New Year that is as happy as a year can be in Fantasyland. She prays that we all have decent weather, no war [fat chance—Ed.], and sane rulers [slim chance—Ed.] and that our gods answer all our prayers with “Yes,” unless the prayer is something like “Are we going to have another skunk problem this year?” 😉. Closing, she wishes for you that the upcoming year is the best year ever in your life, and that each succeeding year is better still.

    JMG, do the shoggoths have anything to add?

  4. Indeed, a happy solstice season to you!
    This year, much may hinge, on whether Barr dares, to prosecute the top perps (e.g. Comey, Brennan) in the FISAgate etc. mess.

    If he dares, look for the Lefty pundits to howl with outrage, so as to inspire Antifa etc. to engage in “civil disobedience” vs. this “racist” persecution of Obama’s allies.
    If he ducks (thus vindicating fears, that the two-tiered justice system is Too Big to Fail), look for the working-class cynicism of which you’ve written (which ebbed, once Trump started to speak to working-class concerns) to start flowing again.

    A good place to follow this mess is at
    https://meaningInHistory.blogspot.com/ ,
    where ret. FBI agent Mark Wauck posts multiple times daily, on key developments in this titanic drama.

  5. JMG, How do you see corporatocracy fitting in with the revenge of the working class? On the one hand, corporations are benefitting a lot from the Trump administration’s deregulation activities, as well as their expanding exploitation of tax havens. On the other hand they are benefitting from their continued grip over the weakening bureaucracy through their usual tactics of lobbying and keeping open their revolving doorways into congress. It’s as if, while the left and right duke it out, the corps are avoiding the glare of the spotlight, and gaining more power despite the efforts of candidates like Sanders and Warren.

  6. I agree that the Republican and Conservative parties are representing the interests of the working class but I think the history is a little different.
    Reagan was the first Republican to attract the working class; Republicans before that represented the middle and upper classes as well as rural voters. The Reagan Democrats were the first to defect.
    The Democrats then lost the presidency for three elections until Clinton gave up on the working class and started to pitch to the middle class, which is also the bureaucrats. That’s why he signed trade agreements and liberalized banking laws. Tony Blair made the same switch in the UK.
    When globalization kicked into high gear with China’s opening, the profits flowed to the people closest: China, capitalists and bureaucrats who could handle the more complex world. The people farthest got cheaper goods and worse jobs.
    Each player responded to the opportunities and problems they faced. Trump and Johnson have too. The world continues to spin.

  7. Newtonfinn, you’re welcome, thank you, and a merry Christmas to you!

    Phil K, many thanks for this! I wasn’t aware of Blond, or for that matter of either of the two movements he’s contributed to — the “Red Tory” movement in politics or the “radical orthodoxy” movement in theology. Much to think about there.

    Roy, by all means. For what it’s worth, the Victrola turntables I’ve seen for sale here in Rhode Island have USB output jacks but can be used without them — they’ve got their own amplifiers and loudspeakers — and you can always squeeze a little tub & tile caulk or a wad of used chewing gum in the USB port… 😉

    Caldera, you’re most welcome.

    Dudley, thank you and you’re very welcome. I’ve got two projects in the works I’m excited about — a nonfiction book based on my Trumpocentric posts from 2016 to 2019, working title The King in Orange: An Essay on Magical Politics, and another roleplaying game project, this one with fewer tentacles. A month of pleasant hard work should have both of them well along.

    Your Kittenship, thank you. Shoggoths don’t use numbers — lacking fingers, they have a very hard time learning to count — and so don’t have a calendar, thus I suspect their response would simply be a flurry of notes indicating general benevolence and a wish for plenty of cheese polenta for all!

    Mouse, I’m watching that whole scene closely as well. Trump just doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who lets bygones be bygones, and his off-the-cuff comment a little while back about having caught the whole swamp is indicative; my guess is that beginning in the new year, we’re going to see some really lurid news stories, followed by an assortment of indictments — by no means all of them from Durham, or in relation to the Russiagate hoax. Trump likes to distract his opponents with one set of public actions while preparing something else that will hit them from left field; my guess is that we’ll be seeing that tactic get plenty of use in the months immediately ahead.

  8. Archdruid,

    I wish you happy and relaxing vacation and break from the Internet! May all your projects go well!

    –Changeling

  9. Sammie, one of the things Trump, Johnson et al. have figured out is that business interests and the working class can make common cause against government bureaucracies. While corporations benefit from populist nationalism as well as from bureaucratic globalism, it’s not the same corporations; one of the things we’re seeing is the beginning of a transfer of power and wealth back toward the manufacturing sector and away from the FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate) sector.

    Terry, I’d read that a little differently. By the time Thatcher and Reagan took power, both parties were pursuing the same basic economic agenda of free trade, open borders, and metastatic regulation to benefit large corporations at the expense of small businesses — Reagan’s tirades against government regulation were purely for show. The conservatives of that era figured out that since neither party was offering anything to the working classes in the economic sphere, working class voters could be convinced to vote conservative by appealing to social and moral issues. That’s what gave us the bipartisan economic consensus of the post-Reagan era, in which political campaigns were fought out solely over hot-button social issues while both parties cooperated enthusiastically in pursuing a neoliberal agenda. That consensus was what Trump overturned — which is why the political establishment lost it so completely when he took power — and BoJo seems to have decided to do the same thing with the support of a significant fraction of Tory leaders.

  10. JMG and all, here’s my little Holiday Season greeting and best wishes to you. It’s a bit hymn-like, touches on the eternal themes of spiritual hope and renewal, and it’s 3 minutes long. That’s 3 minutes you’ll never get back. But maybe you’ll think, okay, fair deal. (not available on vinyl yet, but coming soon!). The lyrics:

    PILGRIMS BY THE SHORE

    We are pilgrims by the shore
    Waiting for the sun to rise
    From the vault of heaven’s door
    Through the quilt of eastern skies –

    We are weary from the fight,
    From the fires of ceaseless war,
    Now we pray for morning light,
    We pilgrims by the shore –

    Now the sky is paling slowly in streaks of light,
    We can see each other’s eyes, how wondrous is the sight –

    Raise a prayer upon the wind,
    Let us sing so it may soar,
    May a kinder world begin
    For the pilgrims by the shore –
    We pilgrims by the shore-

    The moon was hanging low, as white as bone,
    She fades away at last in whispers of the dawn –

    Ah, the dark has almost passed,
    Soon the cold will sting no more,
    We will cross the sea at last,
    The pilgrims by the shore –
    We pilgrims by the shore –

    https://willmusham.bandcamp.com/track/pilgrims-by-the-shore

  11. Well, that explains the notorious reluctance of landlords to rent to shoggoths—the shoggoths never know when the rent’s due!

  12. Sage observers, e.g. Carl Bernstein & Pat Buchanan, are calling this situation a Cold Civil War.

    I must guess, that this situation will eventually bring the sort of MAD brinkmanship, which emerged in the U.S. – Soviet standoff.
    Each side may well have the horses, to threaten to disrupt the JIT system of delivery of food etc. (esp. to major metro areas).

    In the U.S. – Soviet standoff, both sides happened to be sane enough, to avoid actual MAD, until one side managed to get the other side to crumble internally.
    I can’t say I’m willing to bet, that both sides in this standoff are likewise sane enough to avoid actual MAD, before one side likewise crumbles.

    But, if Barr can thread the needle, the resulting discrediting of Obamaism-worship may well put the Left so far on its heels, that
    moderate liberals may concede that the Left has so lost its mind, that the Left must be treated like we treat David Duke & Richard Spencer, until the Left comes clean on the degeneracy of its conduct (esp. regarding what Lindsey Graham is calling the Obamaists’ “criminal conspiracy” vs. Trump).
    Recall, all along, the Dems / MSM had ridiculed Nunes’ charges about the Steele Dossier, until Horowitz’s Report totally vindicated Nunes’ charges.

  13. Good tidings to you, JMG

    I manage a record store, and I have been a witness to the vinyl resurgence. It is true, on the surface, that vinyl records have become more popular over the last decade. Plants are opening up in the US devoted to the manufacture of LP (long playing) records for the first time in decades. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of.
    However, the major labels are doing their level best to kill this business by gutting their supply chains and outsourcing physical media to firms who have no idea how to run a music goods warehouse, and how to pick pack and ship to numerous small suppliers (i.e. your local record store) with any sort of competence and care for the end user. They are afflicted with the kind of gigantism and scale obsession that most corporations are focused on. And, in their eyes, they would just like to ship a press run of the latest music phenomenom directly to Jeff Bezos, and be done with it. Meanwhile, small fish are allowed to wither and die, because we don’t scale enough. I predict that you will see a lot of stores call it a day in 2020. Which is the recurrent dream of the corporate mindset. And the labels also love their streaming revenues, which are bounteous. Mostly because of the fact, as you know, that costs for the internet are pushed onto other parties, and record company accounting being what it is and always has been (crooked) results in more money in their coffers.
    But, as you know, this gigantism offers opportunities for smaller fry to step into the void, and take care of the specialized markets that are uninterested in what everyone else is buying or listening to. The pendulum continues to swing around!
    Thank you for including a record store in Retrotopia. I can’t tell you how happy it made me when it made it’s appearance!
    And, thank you for this forum. I appreciate the effort you make to moderate this, and have much respect for the ideas you espouse and discuss here. It has really made a difference in my thinking.
    Have a great vacation. You have earned it.

  14. Aidan, if you want to see my ideal future, you might have a look at my novel Retrotopia. As a rule, though, I rarely get to comments posted on Wednesday morning.

    Changeling, thank you!

    Will M, thanks for this. Get it on vinyl — Sara and I are planning on picking up a nice Victrola in the after-holiday sales, and of course that means (re)building a record collection…

    Your Kittenship, and they also have no idea how much to pay!

    Mouse, over the last six months I’ve been watching an interesting divergence. People who are really deep in Trump Derangement Syndrome are doubling down, but a great many who aren’t that committed to it are starting to back away from the craziness — thus the plunging ratings at CNN and MSNBC. My guess is that this will accelerate over the next year and beyond, and so instead of a cold civil war, you’ll end up with a social landscape of a very familiar type, with a small and increasingly irrelevant TDS brigade retreating into its own subculture while the rest of society goes on its merry way. I saw the last scraps of that in the 1970s in Seattle, where the once-mighty New Left dwindled to tiny little Marxist parties going through the motions of political activism as though anybody cared any more; I expect to see the same thing on a somewhat larger scale in the years ahead.

    John, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see some shaking out of that sort — the vinyl revival is bound to go through such things. I hope that small labels look at finding ways to work together — it strikes me, for example, that a specialty distributor who focuses specifically on small labels and provides good customer service could, if they worked hard on keeping overhead down and refused to sell out to the big players, do very well indeed. But of course we’ll see. I hope your store thrives!

  15. Inspired by a commenter on this blog who pledged to give up his cell phone in 2019 (hope that went well), I have sharply reduced my smartphone use, and in the next month will be hopefully downgrading to a flip phone with the end of my contract.

    I have also made the first steps to back away from supporting globalism and instead helping my local economy. I’ve given up one global chain for six months, another since September, and a third since November. In 2020, I’ll hold those steady, and see if I can add one or two more. Finding local replacements for these chains has been very rewarding. Thanks to you and this community for fostering such ideas.

  16. Dear Mr. Greer, Thank you for the breath of fresh air which is this essay. An upscale bakery here in Utica is using refurbished 50s era baking equipment. I could see an old time slicing machine and a huge also old time enclosed dough mixing machine. Now is the time for mechanically minded folks to make their refurbishing skills available. You guys are needed and can surely make good livings doing good and necessary work.

    If I may respond to your response to aNannyMouse, the entirely of our involvement in Ukraine, going all the way back to the fall of the USSR and very much including involvement of international agribusiness, who coveted the famous black earth, needs to see the light of day. Every last deal, arrangement and payoff by whom to whom, with names named needs to be brought out. I doubt it will happen. The Clinton camp will threaten to expose what they know of the Poppy Bush era dealings, but one can hope.

    For me, my bottom line is that I need to see Gislaine Maxwell indicted. I don’t care whom a guy dates and marries–no business of mine–nor even who he hires and for how much, but equal before the law needs to mean what the words say. Nothing else. Cute socialite needs to be facing the same jeopardy as would some skanky street hustler for same or similar alleged offenses.

  17. George Parkin Grant is the “original Red Tory”, if anyone is interested in Blond and/or Radical Orthodoxy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Grant_(philosopher) He once quipped, when accused of being a pessimist, that au contraire, he was optimistic that technological civilization would falter, fail, and go the way of the buffalo. Of course, you could argue that Chesterton/Belloc started some of that stream with their Distributism. At least in the Anglo world. There is a really interesting theological essay by Milbank on Christianity here( in which he covers Hegel, Boehme, Schelling, and “the Russians” (Bulgakov, Florensky, and Soloviev).
    http://theologyphilosophycentre.co.uk/papers/Milbank_SophiologyTheurgy.doc
    “As regards its corporeality, here again it seems that Christian theology needs to have some recourse to the resources of pagan monotheism. For it is Proclus, and not one of the Church Fathers untouched by his influence, who seems to supply the radical answer which then gets remotely echoed right down to Aquinas. Human and daemonic (Christians would say angelic) intelligence, says Proclus, is removed by its constitutive doubling of being in the conceptual image from the absolute simplicity of the One and from the non-reflexive understanding of the henads or gods (Christians would say from the non-reflexive and intuitive intelligence of the Triune God). But material things, as non-reflexive, although lower than intellect, are also in a certain way simpler than intellect: automatically, in a kind of slumbering innocence, physical things have to praise the gods and God simply by existing and showing themselves forth in their integrity.[1]
    [1] Proclus, Elements of Theology, 57-8 and see Jean Trouillard, La Mystagogie de Proclos (Paris: Les Belles Lettes, 1982) 119-142
    Apologies for re-posting, but since “Radical Orthodoxy” was mentioned…the discussion on the Russians is really worthwhile too.

    If the best minds in Christendom are talking about theurgy, the winds really are a’changing.
    George Parkin Grant was at least a second, if not first order mind, and his writings on Hegel and Kojeve and others, are well worth the read. He described himself as falling “in the Vedantic wing of Christianity”.

    Happy Solstice, Twelve Days (all of them, it’s in the Zodiac), and New Year to everyone.
    JMG, thank you for such a lovely and congenial time over the years. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to buy more of your books to hoard. Because of your work, I am a better person and Christian as well.

  18. I’d like to make two predictions myself: this coming year will witness the continuation of a massive shift, with many of the social media companies clamping down on nearly all content (such as YouTube) posted by ordinary people and becoming more like broadcast media, and others will struggle with legal issues. Of course, this will be business as usual, but I expect the scale to be different.

    It’ll be interesting to see how far it goes, but if what’s happening on YouTube is any indication, we may see it go most of the way there this year. If not, I expect to see it over the next few years, but I fully expect there to be plenty of voices saying nothing has changed.

    The other trend I’m watching with interest is a growing number of people walking away from the internet entirely. I know a few people who are refusing to use internet except for where necessary, and who are quite actively trying to figure out how to reduce that to the absolute minimum, one of who managed to avoid using it for an entire month and said she’s not going back. I expect this trend to continue, and for more people to walk away from it more and more, but I don’t expect it to be something which is part of the collective discussion for a few years yet.

  19. On “where the once-mighty New Left dwindled to tiny little Marxist parties”:

    Back then, Righties went fairly easy on these Lefties (to the point of tolerating Carter’s amnesty for draft-dodgers), largely because of a widespread view that the Left’s main point, vs. the Vietnam War, had much merit.
    There was very little working class Consciousness, vs. the salaried class.

    This time around, I don’t see Righties being so flexible, esp. if Barr can establish the guilt of big fish (incl. in the MSM), in the plot to frame Trump.
    There’s now far more working class Consciousness, vs. the salaried class (as being, as Kunstler would say, stupendously dishonest brats).

  20. JMG, the landlord will find a way to make sure they know how much to pay!

    Any shoggoths who want to can live here in Castle Cutekitten for free. All I ask is they hang out in the yard often enough to scare away the skunks.

  21. JMG and Mouse,

    Maybe because I only go on the nutroots sites every couple of weeks (to see if anyone’s planning violence in my area), but I’ve noticed them doubling down for about a year. Going on the site once or twice a month is probably like seeing a person once every several weeks—a change, like weight loss or gain, will jump right out at you in a way it wouldn’t if you saw the person every day.

  22. JMG, thank you for another year of thoughtful, informative, and controversial essays. Happy New Year and enjoy next month.

    Mac

  23. The economy is in a bad shape and getting worse by the day. Interesting that you didn’t mention your prediction for a return to peak oil, which is also very likely to have some roots next year. The financial repo market printing hundreds of billions in new money daily suggests inflation might resurface, and even though stores will still be stocked the prices of everything could be exponentially higher.

    Good summary though, your record of predicting the near term future is a best bet proven success !

  24. Thanks for your predictions for 2020! That’s rather hopeful, more so than I might have guessed. My own year was just what my divination for the year as a whole suggested – mixed – and family business in this last month of so of the year has resulted in my paying even less than usual attention to the media, so your discussion was welcome. It’ll be interesting to see what my divination for myself for 2020 suggests when I make it a few days from now.

    Is it just me, or have you or anyone else noticed a distinct lack of Christmas decorating this year? Granted, my husband and I took only a very brief tour through nearby streets on Christmas Eve, so we might not have looked in the right places. Nevertheless, we saw a lower percentage of decorated yards and less dense decorations on average in the yards that were decorated than in past years. In particular, we didn’t see a single yard that was over-the-top enough to drive past slowly to get the full effect. I haven’t seen so little in the way of decorating since the late 1990s. My sense of it is a general dispirited mood, at least in this area.

  25. Also, we’ve now other diffs, from Carter’s day.

    Then, no Limbaugh or Maddow, to stir passions to a fever pitch.
    The MSM (esp. the WaPo & NYT) were nowhere near as shrill as nowadays.
    And, the Deep State institutions were presumed to be mostly non-Partisan.

    And, the two parties were as divided within, as between, each other.
    Now, the GOP is totally (at least publicly) behind Trump, and the Dems all-but totally (and ferociously) against him.

    Lefties equate Trump = Hitler, and Righties increasingly fear the Left (e.g Sarah Jeong) to aim for nothing less, than white cancellation/ extinction.

    Any pardon, of the sort that Ford gave Nixon, would spur deafening howls of rage.
    The battle-lines are so much clearer.

  26. “the dollar and the pound sterling will still have value”

    Should I read anything into your omission of the euro from this sentence?

  27. I know all about the managerial class as I have worked in local government a long while now (for my sins) in the UK. So many jobs are simply unnecessary and benefit noone except the employee – their main purpose is to feather the nest of the middle class.

    I worked in a team which dealt with the underclass in London. The underclass got the scraps but the real winners were the employees who were very well paid despite their results being abysmal. Funnily enough they could always produce reports and data to show what a wonderful impact they were having on the street urchins… It was also a way of making the Council look good, “See we do care about the poor!”

    Thank you for the excellent content over the past year. Solstice blessings!

  28. Mozi (Mo Tzu, circa 400 b.c.e): Whoever criticizes others must have something to replace them. Criticism without suggestion is like trying to stop flood with flood and put out fire with fire. It will surely be without worth.
    More recently, Buckminster Fuller said: You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

    In reading your blogs for many years now, the core that comes to mind for me (whether others think so or not) is the necessity for people of the working classes (and peasant classes in most of the rest of the world) for “agency” – of being part of the decisions that make one’s life meaningful in their social contexts.
    The advent of neoliberalism on so many political fronts (left, right, up, down, etc.) has taken that away from most of us who are not part of decision-making in our real world. The backlash that is currently working its way out in Chile, Lebanon, Scotland, (until recently) Rojava, Syria, Jackson, Mississippi, Cleveland, Ohio, so many Native Tribes of North America, and so many others, is obviously scaring the winners in the neoliberal lottery so much that they send police forces in army gear after these “crowds of miscreants”. (Wonder how many of those “peace officers” in military gear have come from working class families – the same families now wanting “in” again?)
    While I appreciate your admission that your focus is very U.S.-centric, there are many communities, peoples, and nations who are trying to regain their ‘agency’ who are looking to what you might call “left” organization, but what I would call more communitarian in many different articulations. Some of these are even labour efforts!
    But beyond the semantics, the struggle (real meaning of ‘jihad’) to regain ‘agency’ is what I see happening through many different guises, and for the most part is good news. (Despite the MSM declaring such movements and peoples ‘rebels’ or whatever other pejorative description they come up with. This only confirms for me that the MSM is really in favour of the status quo).
    Your time for other work shall be fruitful, and we will all benefit – thanks for that as well as your past contributions to ‘thinking’.

  29. Happy whatever to all. John, thank you for the work you put into this blog. I suspect I have been following you for longer than I realise at your previous venue(s).
    I have put your list for 2020 predictions in my diary so I can easily check through the year.
    I hope your January is fulfilling and enjoyable. But what am I going to do on Thursday mornings?

  30. Re: resurgence of vinyl – My son, with great good fortune, managed to interrupt his local mail carrier in the act of attempting to fold an LP to fit it into his mailbox! I guess maybe she thought it was a wall calendar, not noticing the large warning label: “Fragile. Do Not Fold.” on the package. I’ve noticed that my mail carrier is almost always in the middle of an earpiece conversation while walking down our street. The accuracy of delivery is so bad that the Postal Service now sends my wife an email listing of the mail which they expect to deliver to us, so we can promptly verify that it all got to our address.

  31. There’s a local record store that’s been around maybe five years now. They also sell reconditioned vintage turntables and tuner/amplifiers, and they seem to have quite a selection. Lots of vinyl, but last time I checked, they carried just about every genre except classical. That’s unfortunate because classical and vintage (before 1970) jazz are about all I can stand to listen to anymore. It’s ironic that the store doesn’t carry classical, because the owner told me she was concertmaster (1st chair violin) of her high school orchestra. That’s another source of old tech, by the way: live performance of unamplified instruments from the 19th Century and earlier, at least if you don’t count the synthetic core violin/viola/cello strings that have dominated (no pun intended) the string market for years now. .

    As for the Democrats, if it’s not Tulsi or Bernie, I just yawn. I have very low expectations of anything good coming from the DNC.

  32. I agree with you about the short term, Trump is likely to win in 2020. I’m curious about what you think of the longer term future of Trumpian populism considering that in the US and England at least, it’s more popular with older generations and less popular with the younger ones. There are the young conservatives on 4_chan and such, but overall Trump has been least popular with Millennials and most popular among Silents, with Boomers and Gen-X in between. For Brexit the generation gap is even greater.

    The only way I see Trump/Johnson’s brand of populism having a future beyond the next decade is if they have successors that can appeal more to younger voters. I think that’s possible at least in the US, the Democratic establishment isn’t particularly popular with Millennials either, even though those who voted in 2016 were more likely to view Clinton as the lesser of the evils. I don’t know enough about the British situation to have a strong opinion there, but if Brexit actually happens soon and doesn’t lead to dire consequenses, it will be interesting to see how that affects things in Britain and beyond.

    Whatever the outcome, I see generational politics as being a major driver of political change in the 2020s, I doubt that Boomers will have near as much of the power at the end of the decade. Whether the Republicans post_ Trump increase their appeal to younger generations, the Democrats reinvent themselves like the Republicans did under Trump, a third party gains traction in a manor way, or some combination of the above, it should be interesting.

  33. For this year’s Christmas gift giving, I did MY part to support domestic manufacturing. Both of my sons received Christmas gifts of “Made in USA” screwdriver sets, and one also got a “Made in USA” set of wire-cutters. I looked in vain for domestic-sourced socket wrenches it the usual big-box places, even though they sell two or three brands of Chinese or Taiwan imports (not that those are equivalent). But I was happy to see that a local major chain Home IMPROvement store had the US-made wire-cutters. They cost only about 10% more than the generic ones, but their web site wouldn’t disclose the price until I’d (reversibly) put the product into my on-line shopping cart. (Getting screwdrivers and sockets from a MAJor Industrial supply company, on-line, was substantially more expense, but I got gifts for the domestic workers, as well as for my boys.)

    (I still had some money leftover to go into JMG’s tip jar, as I have done for many solstices, summer and winter.)

  34. Hi JMG,
    Thank you for another valiation of your previous predictions, and an indication of the underlying slow but noticeable shift of politics worldwide.

    It’s interesting to note that from what I’ve seen, in India this shift happened in 2014 with the Modi election. Since then a minority section has been crying foul murder trying to whip up as much hysteria and violence to jam the rusty gears of government, sometimes with much success. Having been back to my motherland 3 times in the last 3 years, I notice a change in the air. Modi aligned himself with the traditionalist Hindu ethos of Indian society, and invoked a sense of pride in people who had been told for 70 years by their foreign-educated liberal rulers that their culture and traditions were outdated and irrelevant in the modern world.

    The shift to a new majoritarian consensus has been both swift and intense, and so has the backlash from the westernised elite. I struggle to find a single article outside a small section of India media (and none in international media) providing a frank and honest assessment of the government’s economic record. They ignore the fact that millions of working class and lower-middle class voters put their faith in the government after 5 years of governance – they aren’t stupid.

    What’s most interesting though is the BJP (usually derided as a right-wing party) embracing the creation of a welfare state, expanding its base from the middle-class aspirational Hindu vote to the working classes left out of a social security net. The same policies, had the Congress party adocated them, would have been hailed as ‘groundbreaking’ and ‘modernising’. Yet when the BJP went to election with this policy platform all the pundits (with the true derision of the word – most of the liberal class as self-loathing Brahmins, reminiscent of the champagne socialists) spewed vitriol at them – despite the BJP having a much better record in successfully rolling out policy as well as cutting out the middleman when it came to government jobs, administrators etc. (For all the shrieking about demonetisation, it was not more tumultuous than many policy decisions during Indira Gandhi’s prime ministership).

    I see two completely alternate Indias here: one is what I see and hear with my own senses, ranging from the taxi and rickshaw drivers I converse with to family friends senior government officials, where a new consensus has been built and citizens have a growing sense of belonging and pride in an age old civilisation that binds them together. The other exists as a figment of imagination in the minds of the elite, those who lost their privilege in preaching to the middle class of their caste privilege while abusing the loyalties of downtrodden and minorities for political power, where India has lost it’s “international image” and is “sliding into Fascism”. What’s even more false is that I don’t see any particular manifestation of this outside the op-eds, editorials and “analyses” that these people write for each other – the worldwide interest in Indian spirituality, art, culture and ethos continues to grow and nobody seems to reject it on the basis of this imagined “Fascism”.

    I really can’t seem to put these together. Are these people that blind to what is going on around them? Do they not talk to their drivers, maids, or bank tellers? They travel around the world – do not they talk to the average westerner off the street rather than hobnobbing with celebrities and professional activists?

    I don’t live in India, but on the most part when I clarify the recent furore in terms of the actual facts, most people seem to find it quite reasonable. I’m sickened by the extent to which lies are tacked on in the form of commentary and subtext to what should be factual reporting.

    If it’s any indication, this trend will continue in the US, UK and any country that tries to re-establish it’s national identity. First they ignre you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you… you know what comes next.

    Season’s greetings for the solstice festivities and new year!

    YCS

  35. I suppose it’s inevitable that some of us who are older will shake our heads at some of the retro tech having lived through that era. I for one have absolutely no desire to go back to scratchy vynil records when I can put a thousand songs on a stick and plug it into my computer. I had the heavy boards held up by milk crates taking up the lion’s share of my living room. I’ll pass this time around.

    That’s not to say that some of the retro tech might not be an improvement. Making appliances w/o circuit boards for example would increase their longevity. I don’t know if there are plans along these lines but I’d welcome it.

    I can do w/o the separate start button in the car – though that’s actually needlessly going back to a long phased out technology. The start button used to be a pedal on the floor.

    Photography has never thrilled me, film or digital. At least with digital I can send a picture of a repair part I need and save myself some time. And with digital I don’t have to pay to have the bad pics developed.

    I don’t know. For now I don’t see the move to retro tech as being embraced by the need to conserve resources as much as just a sort of longing for a simpler more connected life. I suppose it has to start somewhere.

  36. JMG,

    May you and Sarah thrive in this post solstice season and the new year. Enjoy the break and may your January projects be successful.

    DJSpo

  37. Hi JMG,

    Your point about the managerial class touches on some ideas I’ve been thinking of recently.

    It seems to me that most of what could loosely be called the “social issues” that are discussed today are too complex to be handled by the managerial class.

    To take just one example. equal pay as a law vs the “gender pay gap”.

    Without trivialising the political effort required to achieve it, I think we can see that the process to an Equal Pay law is relatively simple. A law is passed and it is then enforced by the relevant government authorities. The result is easy to understand and its effects easy to track.

    The “gender pay gap” is not easy to understand or track. It involves the individual decisions of millions of people, their interaction with the employers, their spouses, their life choices. Its complexity puts it beyond the ability of the managerial class to deal with.

    And, of course, a very strong argument can be made that the managerial class should not deal with it precisely because it should be left up to individuals to make their own decisions.

    I believe both of these are true and the interventions of the managerial class are a net loss on most modern social issues. If true, this explains part of the reason why the people are turning against that class.

    Thank you for another year of stimulating discussions both her and on the dreamwidth account. Look forward to more of the same in 2021.

    Cheers,
    Simon

  38. Briefly I will say this about your CDs v Vinly audio thing. On a technical level – CDs can produce fantastic audio quality if mastered properly and they can beat out pretty much any audio format – this relies on something called the Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem that when done at the level CD’s run at, it an recreate any sound that we can hear. With that said, Vinyl is still amazing simply because it doesn’t need a computer system and complex optics on the back end to run. You can put a piece of folded up paper in a Vinyl groove and still get the audio out, that is just downright amazing.

    Vinyl also has another advantage, that is while they may wear out with excessive use (hundreds-thousands of plays), they will still have a longer life time than most CD’s. Remember when CD’s were sold as “They will last forever”. Turns out forever is only about 20-30 years as the glue on the reflective layer begins to fail. Disc rot is routinely becoming a common feature of older disks. There are still Vinyl discs from the early 20th century that, while brittle, are playable and doesn’t have some obscure digital format/digital rights problem.

    It is funny watching the computer hacker community, I mean ‘Hacker’ in the original sense of people who worked on computers for fun. I have noticed a schism that has formed of the true believers on the AI/VR/AR/Machine Learning/Big Data/Web 2.0/HTML5 etc and future of endless progress. And the other slowly growing side of the disillusioned that have realized that the ‘Great and powerful Oz’ is just a guy behind the screen and that computers are really just fast-dumb-calculators and not something more poetic. A return to the ways of old is starting to make its way into this community and I love it. Simpler technologies, simpler living and for focused intent on what really matters in life. Just a few days ago I saw a big discussion within this community about the passing of ‘Ram Dass’ the spiritual leader – something like that would not have been conceivable even five years ago and yet nowadays it is front and center.

    A more direct way in which people are turning away is on “Smart” phones (nothing smart about them), I have linked a report below.

    https://www.extremetech.com/mobile/286114-report-consumers-are-getting-tired-of-expensive-phones

    I saw another story recently but cannot find a link saying that only about 10% of people with these devices are looking to buy the new flag ship models in the next 3 years. Compare this with only a decade back and that is a massive change. Devices are getting to expensive, people are sick of the upgrade cycle and they just don’t see the need for 4 cameras on a phone! The likes of Nokia are starting to do a decent trade in selling ‘dumb’ phones nowadays as people drop back to a more reasonable technology level – ones that don’t hassle them all the time.

    Every new gadget being pushed nowadays comes with a bold news lifestyle aspiration attached to it and an equally large price tag. The upper middle classes that generally dictate the media output can still get this stuff while everyone else turns away. Like a video game a month back that needs something like $3,000 of computer hardware to run because of all the VR stuff it needs. That is going to be an increasingly shrinking market to be focusing on.

    As for the Nationalism, this has been brewing for a long while now. Just look at Japan with Shinzō Abe – he came to power in 2012 on the slogan “Nippon o Torimodosu” translated “Take back Japan”. The rest of the world is catching up to this idea.

    With that enjoy your break. Much deserved. Been a lot to think about with this years writings – I look forward to seeing what lays ahead in 2020.

  39. Kind Sir,

    Thank you for another year of providing sanity.
    I do hope that your long term prediction about the turning tide is as accurate as your annual predictions were in the past, although I am aware that you speak for the USA.
    Things seem to be different in AUS. For one thing our timezone is roughly UTC-218990 (plus daylight saving in some of the non tropical states), so we still have to make a lot of the mistakes you might emerge from. Our politicians are certainly doing their best to make this happen. They seem to be working off a script that your lot used in the 80s and 90s. So in the future please advise your politicians, that if they need to discard some outdated ideas, to make sure they are properly shredded. Otherwise they seem to drift south and end up in in the hands of impressionable Aussies. This carelessness can do a lot of damage.
    There is one thing however where we are proudly ahead of the rest of the world. Nature has turned her attention to OZ and decided about a year or two ago to actually put on the hobnailed boots you mentioned.
    She’s been kicking us harder and harder ever since, and this year it is really starting to do some damage.
    After 3 or 4 dry years, 2019 will be the driest on record for most of the east coast. Keep in mind, this is the only part of the continent that gets any reliable rain in the best of times. Some parts of the country that used to be good farmland a few years ago, look like a desert now.
    Summers have been getting hotter. The last few years some places consistently recorded 4-5 degrees (proper brawny celsius, not wimpy little farnheits) above average.
    This is in places where in summer even the cold snaps are sweltering.
    Last week a few days broke the 40 degee mark; 41, next day 42 (thats in the 105 – 107 range), breaking previous records by a margin of 1 – 1.5.
    Now if you think that’s not too bad, you get that where you live, think again. This is averaged out over the whole continent, not just in some particular hot spot. Peaks were approaching 50.
    On top of that, about half the east coast is on fire. The area that is burning as we speak is about the size of a european country. Has been going on for about half a year now.
    So I guess you could say nature is kicking us, and she is kicking us where it hurts. The fires affect sydney and canberra, so they get some attention. This is the good news.
    She is kicking us hard and, given our environmental track record, she could not have picked a more deserving target.
    Now, nobody would say that aussie pollies are unduly burdened with intelligence, but even our prime muppet has admitted, that what we see is linked to climate change. Although he does not see any necessity to change our behaviour. He rather believes in going to his (prosperity gospel) church on sundays and let god sort it all out.
    There is nothing more I can say about him that would not get me permanently banned from this forum.

    So all you kind folks out there, if you want to know what the future might look like, look at Australia. The place where it has already arrived.

    All the best,

  40. @John Paul ONeil in regards to smaller players making inroads, I am seeing a lot of independent labels handle their own production and shipping nowadays.

    Here in Australia is a great example is flightless records.

    https://flightlessrecords.com/

    They have basically done everything against the rule book and are making huge inroads because the corporate world has ignored those segments of the market..

  41. Kind Sir,

    Two post in one day.
    Thats what happens when people have too much time on their hands with all those public holidays. My apologies.

    Re. analog vs digital.
    A move back to vinyl is certainly a good thing, although it is demonstrably possible to use digital to record great music.
    It seems to me that one of the problems in digital is, that it does away with a lot of the limits that analog sets. This is a good example of something that has been discussed on this forum in great detail: the value of limits, and what happens when those limits are suddenly removed.
    It led to a loss of musical direction on the one hand, arms races on the other and on the third hand a focus on technology instead of music, mistaking the means for the end.
    Google “loudness war” for an example.

    I hope that the trend “back to analog” also means the end of music that is entirely produced on a computer, without involvement of any musicians.
    This may offend trance, techno and other fans of computerised music, but one of the defining elements of music is, that it is performed in real time by musicians. Mind you, this does not mean that you cant record it or even multitrack and overdub it, as long as you have that real time element.
    But some guy sitting in his bedroom programming his computer to make funny noises is simply not the same thing.

    So “back to analog”? Happy days indeed for all musos out there.Tough times for DJs.

    cheers from a grumpy opinionated old musician.

  42. Archdruid and Company,

    Okay, so here were my predictions from last year.

    Over all the global scene will be pretty much the same.

    1) The global refugee crisis, currently at way above 60 million, will continue to rise and probably be slightly above 100 million by 2020. Keeping in track with UN estimates, but also going slightly above because the world is going to crap a lot faster than anyone expected.

    I was off by 30 million. Refugees only number about 70 million, so things have slowed down for a bit.

    2) People will continue to celebrate small and meaningless victories over pollution, like the prototype garbage scoop that is currently operating over the pacific garbage patch. Meanwhile another part of the press will continue to deride such small innovations, so overall the public will grow dull to any such events.

    Hit that one on the mark, lots of small “innovations,” no real progress.

    3) The world will continue to make big noise about climate change and the contraction of the global biosphere, but not much will actually be done.

    Yup got this one down.

    4) China will continue it’s steady advance to be the next hegemony, and Africa will continue to lose ground.
    This one is half and half. China is continuing it’s advance but the trade war and India’s rejection of certain key trade agreements has slowed them down.

    5) The flight from the dollar will continue, and be joined by europe.
    Flight from the dollar is continuing, but Europe isn’t really joining.

    6) Global trade will start to reshape away from the US.
    got this one.

    In India…

    1) The 2019 elections will prove a major ruckus, as the congress party attempts to stage a major comeback on the national scene and the BJP attempts to hold the center. The BJP will win, but by a small enough margin that they will be forced to form alliances.

    Waaayyy off on this one. BJP is dominating the national scene.

    2) The Hindu revival will continue apace, with increasing awareness that cleaning the rivers and healing the land are part of the Dharma of every individual.

    Yup, the environmental and green movement being linked to Dharma are popping up everywhere that matters in the Hindu sphere,.

    3) Rajive Malothra’s Muslim and Christian Swadesh movements (the recognition of nationalism among the other religions) will continue to grow quietly in the background.
    Yeah, quiet movement, but really bloody slow.

    4) The Monsoons will continue to be deficit, but the met will quietly make up numbers to support business as usual.
    Yes on this one.

    5) The BJP’s moves to clean the Ganges river will continue to pay dividends as the river ecosystem slowly revives.
    Also yes.

    6) India’s grand efforts to reassert itself in its near abroad will pause for the national elections, once again revealing one of the major flaws of the democratic process.
    This was actually a halfie. The efforts slowed down for the elections, and then boomed right after Modi and the BJP received it’s grand mandate.

    In the US…

    1) The election season will begin with Biden announcing himself as a candidate for president, so will cory booker, and probably at least two over establishments dou*hes.
    Yep, got this one although I missed the 2000 some other candidates that threw their hats in the ring.

    2) The seeds of a new federalist party will be planted, probably somewhere in the fertile lands of the northern midwest. 😉

    Nope.

    3) my cats will finally get along and become buddies.
    This one was 100%, but one of the cats passed just a month after they finally made peace.

    4) The blue collar revival will continue and the pay rates of trade labor will rise.
    If my pay check is anything to go by, then this one is right.

    5) Trump’s antics will make it harder for him to win reelection in 2020, since tactics have been studied by the establishment. However he will gain a narrow win.
    This one remains to be seen.

    6) More storms, more displacement, more people never to recover.
    Yup

    I’ll post my predictions for the upcoming year shortly.

    Regards,

    Varun

  43. Woot, my fav post of the year. I will by seeing how I did. In 2018 I predicted:

    1) The markets and the economy will be all over the map. We may technically slip into recession in 2019 but the real downturn will likely not come until early 2020

    I’ll give myself half marks until the end of 2020. The markets have bounced a good deal but have generally been on an incline. Time will tell.

    2) Trump will not be driven from office. He may not even be impeached.

    Half marks again. I was right that he was not driven from office, but only technically right about not being impeached. It looks like Pelosi will *eventually* hand over the impeachment to the Senate and make it official. Not that that will matter anyway.

    3) Biden, Corker, Harris, Warren and a number of lesser known democrats will throw their hats in the ring for 2020. Biden will be the front runner through 2019. Clinton and Sanders will not announce (but Clinton may get into the race very late if there is chaos among the democrats).

    75% – I got everything right except Sanders and, if rumors are true, might still get Clinton right (but I won’t make that a prediction).

    4) And now the best part – the dark horse prediction. A new social media/patreon style platform will be launched by a major figure on the dissident right. It will actually gain traction and be seen as threat by both the mainstream media and the new social media.

    Once again half right. Jordan Peterson has launched his social media platform “ThinkSpot” but as it only went live about a month ago it is too early to tell if it will have any impact.

    Okay now for my 2020 predictions.

    1) I have no blessed idea. Seriously, the world has really gotten weird. But hey, it is all in fun – right?

    2) I think the next recession begins in 2020 but does not happen fast enough, or large enough to impact the election (No Lehman Brothers type collapse, more like air out of a tire).

    3) I think Biden is the Dem candidate and a brokered convention is a possibility. I do not think Clinton joins the race.

    4) I think Trump wins in 2020, but he may, once again, win the electoral but lose the popular.

    5) Here is my darkhorse prediction. There is at least one serious assassination attempt on a major political figure. I am in no way advocating this action. I am merely pointing out that the discourse on the fringes of our political world have become so toxic that they may inspire someone whose attachment to reality is not all that it should be.

    Anthony Valterra

  44. Dear Mr. Greer,

    Despite his populist rhetoric, Trump is a billionaire and he is working for the vested interests of the billionaires. Especially, he has good relations with big companies in sectors like fossil fuel industry, construction and real estate business. Consequently, his anti-environmental policies are in line with his class and sector relations. How can you reconcile your support for Trump with your “ecological spirituality” perspective?

  45. I think this is yet another sign we have hit Peak Woke. A year ago the idea that an organization would suspend a Womyxn of Color would have been unthinkable. I should note that I have not followed this flap and cannot comment on the wisdom of their decision or the validity of Courtney Milan’s complaints. But what jumps out at me is that accusations of “racism!” are no longer a Get Out of Trouble Free card.

    https://www.thewrap.com/romance-writers-courtney-milan-suspension-racist-mess/

    As for old technologies, vacuum tubes have been making a big comeback. They are less precise than transistors (although a well-designed tube amp will have a distortion rating as inaudible as a solid state amp), but they add a bit of second-order harmonics to the signal which provides that distinctive “warm” sound people associate with midcentury audio. And while it can be hard to replace some of the transistors and OpAmps found in vintage solid state equipment most of the tubes used in midcentury equipment are still being produced.

  46. I have gotten the same feeling as well that something has shifted. After spending much of my life pushing back against what I considered to be unjust systems and getting frustrated and ostracized it seems the effort does not need my help any more. Now that the cosmic tides have turned it seems like an enormous amount of new opportunities to be creative and prosper just opened up. Seasons greetings and remember to take a break now and then.

  47. Hello John Michael, thank you for your predictions. What future do you see for Bitcoin and digital currencies ?

  48. Regarding how effective the Trump administration has been in bringing back manufacturing jobs, there have been many conflicting numbers thrown around on various websites recently, typically in a partisan fashion. So I thought I would go the the Bureau of Labor Statistics to see what the (presumably) authoritative source has to say. Here is a summary of the numbers for all manufacturing jobs from 2007 until today:

    The number of manufacturing jobs peaked at about 14 million in 2007 before the Great Recession hit, then started falling fast, finally hitting bottom in March of 2010 at about 11.45 million, a loss of over 2.5 million jobs.

    Then they slowly climbed back over the next five years to 12.4 million in July of 2015, for a gain of about 950,000 jobs. Those were, of course, all under the Obama administration. Then they basically flat-lined until Trump took over in January of 2016.

    Starting with the beginning of the Trump administration they started trending up again, adding another half million jobs, making a US total of about 12.8 million jobs, where we stand today.

    Adding Obama’s 950,000 gain and Trump’s 500,000 thousand gain, we are still about 1.2 million manufacturing jobs BELOW where we were before the Great Recession took its toll.

    There are many ways to spin these statistics, and they have been spun many ways, by both the Left and by the Right. But in any case, the BLS statistics don’t support the assertion that there has been a great surge in manufacturing jobs in the US since 2007, nor that the Trump administration has added millions of manufacturing jobs. In fact, even if Trump gets re-elected, and continues the trend of his first term by adding another 500,000 jobs during his second four years, we would STILL be 200,000 manufacturing jobs short of the 2007 peak.

    Here is the BLS website page where I got these numbers:

    https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/ces3000000001

  49. Hi Kenaz,

    Think you that dumb TVs, with tubes that can be replaced, will ever return? We pray for the survival of ours as if it were a dear friend in a combat zone.

  50. @JMG – have a good break, and thank you for all the blogs – both this one and the Dreamwidth one and now the astrological predictions. Happy New Year, and may all go well with you and Sara.

    Blessed be,

    Pat

  51. One thing I noticed in Sweden is that the official media has gradually adapted to the new situation. The newspaper Expressen sounds like the house organ of the Sweden Democrats, and while Dagens Nyheter and Aftonbladet still oppose SD, politically incorrect articles can be published there now and then – something virtually impossible during the migrant crisis and before the 2018 elections. Several leading pundits have even admitted that Trump will be re-elected, Brexit will happen and the “liberal” world order inaugurated in 1989 is stone dead (no less!). The gradual adaptation became a virtual stampede just the last three months or so. I think this is an attempt to avoid precisely the situation you describe, where people simply stop listening to the pundits and their propaganda. It´s interesting that a gradual adaptation and normalization is taking place in *Sweden* of all places – we are usually assumed to be completely brain-washed over here! In the US, I assume the show will go on until Trump is re-elected in 2020…

    I have no idea about the retro tech scene in Sweden (I get my music from a Chinese Huawei mobile phone, ha ha), but the populist surge is happening here, too. The Sweden Democrats (SD) are now bigger or tied with the Social Democrats (SAP) in the *official* opinion polls, while the Social Democrats have a close alliance with the neo-liberal Center Party and the “let them eat electric cars” Green Party. Working class voters in particular are abandoning the SAP in droves in favor of SD. And in Sweden most workers are members of SAP-dominated labor unions!

    Personally, I don´t think the SD have any real solutions to much of anything (they seem to be an anti-immigration version of the neo-liberal parties) but the phenomenon is obviously the same as in the rest of Europe. I wouldn´t be surprised if the SD eventually gets 30% or so in a national election…

    One thing that will be interesting to see is how Greta Thunberg and the climate protests will deal with the new situation. The Swedish establishment pretends to be super-Green (in reality, this means electrification and more copper mining), but something tells me the working class won´t like higher gasoline taxes…

    Hell, they might not want copper mines in their back yards either, despite all the employment opportunities!

  52. A little tiny drip coming from rural Pictou county Nova Scotia, Canada. A pulp mill (Northern Pulp) has not been given extra time to figure out what to do with its waste stream. Where the waste has been dumped (Boat Harbour) for 50+ years is being shut down. The environment has finally trumped the economy.

  53. Merry Christmas y’all. Having much cheer at my place, my Mom loves Christmas, but with aging and feeling overwhelmed we haven’t done a tree in a few years. But, happily on of my Jewish friends came over and helped this heathen decorate my Christian Mom’s tree. It was much fun and cookies and carrot beet bread was had by all. There was special joy in hearing my Mom share the stories of her hand made ornaments from her youth. She was a fantastic artist, but stopped practicing after discouragement by her first husband. Hand painted eggs, hair curler core glitter trees, plastic cookie trays decodated with glitter glue, and authentic 19th century tree ornaments from a European ancestor. I hope every body that gets to read this has had the best time recently.

    Any way on to the predictions, I see the same run off patterns as Greer is pointing out. Most important is that so many of the alternatives to the status quo are obviously gearing up for a feeding frenzy as the old guard closes rank. I was reading an interesting book this week borrowed to me by my tree decorating friend by Grace Lee Boggs, a Chinese American lady who was deeply involved in the Black Panther movement in Detroit during the hay day and since. The Next American Revolution, it is from a very revolutionary, Hegelian left, mind space, but it is refreshing that Grace, in her 90’s, could see right through the malarky of the psudo-left that took over the blue team, and I think many of her points on how change really happen are being seen today, though ironically King Boris is the clearest image of someone using the tactics she hoped the left would one day use. I really hope more factions get in on this change so we can have a vigorous new idea fest. That brings me to a sad point.

    I am super bummed to see the Blue team in America being sucked ever closer to becoming the anti-revolutionary faction. I wish so much to see more productive populism coming out of a new left, and I see hints of it some day, but at current rates the mutiny will happen after the ship sinks. For example, Tulsi, a fair enough example of the kind of populist the left could sport, and a person I would much prefer to have in office than other’s being considered. He shot for 2020 was always a pipe dream, but I am hoping to at least see her vision for the left start to manifest. And it is. But, boy howdy, after her ‘present’ vote at the kangaroo court the internet left is loosing their marbles going off on her. Probably I would have voted ‘no’ but only by a hair’s breath over the ‘present’ vote which I found tolerably clever solution to that Gordian knot.

    One thing I am trying to picture always is the brass tacks of the long term downward trend in American economic stature, like it seems our cooked books of wealth are brittle as heck and the society is always a bad dice roll from any number of substantial hits to our full wealth pump benes. Maybe we take a ding every few months, maybe get clocked real hard in 18 months or 4 years, who can say? The picture I am trying to get in my head is how that trend is going to shake out in my niche, my community. Can market gardening stay afloat in my region with out tourist dollars to get at? Can I get out of thumb of enough gubment suck to live off the food my county produces so abundantly before the flow of dumb dollars get rare?

    Let’s suppose 2020 has just a few standard decline dings, typical of the last decade sort of things. The figure we tilt the tables a touch so that some small things good for working class interests help maybe labor value, and that the folks I know living on manager scam, a few of them get got hard. Figuring those sorta things, where are opertunities going to be tightening up, where are they opening up? My buddies are homeless white bohemians who do the organic farm work around here and are hecking poor. How to secure things, cover vulnerabilities. And how serious a wallop is worth hedging against if 2020 has a bad roll?

    I’m thinking, after reading that book, about how much I would like to wok doing real education and community out reach with the youth. Thinking about scarce resources to make any venture work, and about the fact the the current school systems are an enemy to my hopes, I am contemplating moments of opportunity to get teens gardening, building bikes, generally adulting, and studying culture… and how the school laws in America are in my way.

  54. Mr. Greer,

    I can’t remember if I ever mentioned this on your blog, but in 2018 I was at Adepticon, the largest miniature wargaming convention in the U.S. There I attended the industry leader’s meeting, which basically meant I got to hear the leaders of the various companies talk about their businesses. I was impressed to hear them talk about how board game sales were surging, how D&D had grown at an incredible 37 percent for 5 years in a row, and how physical, person to person gaming was making a huge comeback. Considering that this convention and others like it are growing at incredible speed (Adepticon use to attract a couple thousand people, now it will certainly break 5,000 and maybe substantially more during its next session in March 2020) everything I’m seeing in the gaming world suggests we may have hit peak video games. This might be a small example of retro technology making a comeback, but its one of the most enjoyable one’s to watch unfold. Also, for whatever its worth, my local bike shop keeps expanding as more local people take advantage of old school transportation. Yes, there is reason to rejoice this holiday season. Enjoy your time off.

  55. Season’s Greetings, JMG. May you and all among the commentariat have a wonderful 2020!

    It heartens me to hear about the various recently developing cracks in the status quo. To stick with the LOTR reference from last week’s post, let us hope that the recent enfeeblement of the Saruman (reduced esteem of the ‘experts’) is a prelude to the demise of Sauron (the religion of Progress). Now, if we could only find a magic ring and a good Hobbit or two… 🙂

    BTW, I have uploaded a short story for the After Oil 5 anthology (deadline Jan 1, 2020). The story “Land of the Water Demons” is to be found here: https://rageagainstsauron.blogspot.com/

  56. CS2, delighted to hear it. Thank you for following Gandhi’s advice and being the change you want to see in the world!

    Nastarana, that’s excellent news, and excellent advice. Anybody who gets to work right now learning how to refurbish old appliances and the like is setting himself or herself up for a steady career in the future — and old books on small appliance repair and the like are easy to get on the used book market right now. (One of the things that delights me about living where I now do is that my apartment is halfway between a shoe repair shop and a TV-and-electronics repair shop, and both of them are still in business…)

    Arkansas, you’re most welcome and thank you much for this! “The Vedantist wing of Christianity” sounds like a fascinating place to be.

    Will J, I think you’re quite right to expect both of those. It was because I anticipated the first of them that my blog moved off one of the big corporate platforms and onto servers owned by a small firm I pay to host me. Other people who host or produce controversial content should plan on doing the same thing if they want to stay accessible.

    Mouse, I’m not talking about the groups that just opposed to the Vietnam War. I’m talking about the kind of New Left circles that spawned the Weather Underground and the Symbionese Liberation Army. You might want to look up how much forbearance was directed that way! Even when it became brutally clear that groups that engaged in actual violence would be on the receiving end of massive retaliation from the government, the same extremist ideas remained welded in place among the far-left groups I watched — the Revolutionary Communist Party, the Freedom Socialist Party, et al. — as they circled the drain.

    Your Kittenship, it’s quite possible that shoggoths would find skunk quite tasty. They can feed on anything organic, you know. They also make the best possible housecleaners and dishwashers, by the way, because they think dust is tasty, and dirty dishes are just dishes nobody’s bothered to lick clean…

    As for le craque potte sites, yes, they’ve been doubling down for a while now. Before this winds down, I confidently expect to see claims that Donald Trump will personally cause the entire Earth to be devoured by a black hole or something.

    Mac, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Workdove, my take is that the next spike in oil prices is still a couple of years off — 2022 or 2023 — though I’m prepared to be mistaken. As for inflation as a result of the spinning presses of the repo market, good heavens, no — frantic money printing is the only thing that’s keeping the economy from a drastic contraction in the money supply, because so much money is being pumped out of the economy via the various modes of corporate kleptocracy.

    Your Kittenship and J.L.Mc12, thanks for both of these.

    SLClaire, interesting. Here in very Catholic East Providence, we’ve had all the usual Christmas decorations on the street — that is to say, a lot of very modest displays of the wreath-on-the-door variety, one big massively illuminated creche scene with snowmen and Santa flanking the Holy Family, and one porch bedizened with white lights and snowflakes. Now I’m wondering what other people are seeing.

    Mouse, well, we’ll see!

    Hereward, once Britain leaves the EU and its economy starts to recover — as of course it will, once it’s no longer carrying a share of the costs from excess bureaucracy and an economic policy that only benefits Germany — I expect other countries to start moving toward the exit, and once that happens the Euro is doomed. It’s purely a matter of how much time passes before the EU falls apart completely and old Euros become collectors items.

    Bridge, of course! The whole point of the welfare state was to provide full employment to college graduates from the comfortable classes, and since lifting the poor out of poverty would have meant the end of all those jobs, the poor stayed poor. If BoJo goes ahead with his plans, he’ll be signing the death warrant of that whole scam, and he’d be an idiot not to, since the bureaucratic class comprises his most irreconcilable opposition.

    Bruce, that’s a very useful way to discuss the matter — and of course the partlcular political label being used for any given struggle for agency will depend wholly on local conditions. I speak, as you’ve noted, primarily for the specific country I live in; translation may be necessary if you live elsewhere.

    Yorkshire, thanks for this.

    JillN, you’re welcome and thank you. My suggestion for your Thursday mornings is that you take an hour or two to write the essay you think I should have written that day!

    Lathechuck, we have all our packages sent to our PO box precisely to avoid that sort of thing.

    Phutatorius, hmm. Do you know if there are any new independent labels recording classical music? If not, there should be.

    Kashtan, it’s early days yet. The generation to watch is the one that’s in high school right now; if they swing hard toward Trumpismo, it’s game over.

    Lathechuck, delighted to hear it — and thank you.

    YCS, fascinating — I’d had the sense that that was what was happening in India, but it’s good to have that confirmed by someone who’s spent time there. It doesn’t surprise me, given how well Trump and Modi seem to get along! On a related note, do you and/or other Indian readers have any good online sources for news from India to recommend? Having assessed the time commitment involved in my mundane astrology astrology projects, I’m planning on adding India and Australia to the list of countries for which I’ll be doing ingress charts, starting with the coming spring equinox; that means I need to start tracking the news in both countries as soon as possible.

    Christopher, well, you’re a member of one of the generations who left vinyl for CDs and the like, so it’s not surprising that you still feel the same way! Don’t worry; CDs and the like will still be available for decades to come.

    DJSpo, thank you!

    Simon, correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you saying that the managerial class has proven that the Peter Principle applies to classes as well as individuals? In effect, they’ve been promoted to their level of incompetence…

    Michael, exactly. That schism — the divide between those who still want to play the progress game and can afford to do so, and those who have either gotten bored with it or don’t have the money to follow the latest trends — is among the most important political facts of our time straight across the overdeveloped world. I’ll be fascinated to see how it plays out.

    Brigyn, thank you!

    DropBear, well, yes. I sometimes wonder if your Aborigines worked out the one effective way to live on your continent for the long term, and all other modes of human existence there will end up reverting to witchetty grubs. While that gets settled, can you and my other Australian readers point me to some good online sources for Australian news? I’ll be casting ingress charts for Australia as part of my mundane astrology project, beginning with the spring equinox of 2020, and so I need to get up to speed on the news there.

    As for the vinyl revival, I hope that a significant number of people take things the next step and start listening to music that’s actually being produced on the spot by musicians!

    Varun, excellent — thank you for being brave enough to do what most internet prophets won’t do, and discuss your misses and hits in public. By the way, what online sources do you recommend for news of India? As I noted above, I’ll be starting ingress charts for India with the coming spring equinox.

    Anthony, excellent also, and thank you also for doing this.

    Hanged Man, I’m curious about why you think I’m a supporter of Trump. Do you really not notice the difference between the statements “Trump is going to win reelection” and “I want Trump to win reelection?” Mind you, since the Democratic candidates who have any chance of winning the nomination are also multimillionaires — and yes, that includes Warren and Sanders — it’s not as though there’s a plausible alternative; the Democrats are great at mouthing environmental promises. after all, but not much at following through on them.

    Kenaz, interesting to see that romance fiction has now had its “Requires Hate” moment; it was going to happen sooner or later. Accusations of racism make too effective a tool for self-promotion to be neglected for long. I wonder if we’ll see, oh, “Sad Kittens” or the like emerging as the romance-fiction opposition to the social justice brigade. With regard to vacuum tubes, a lot of performers have insisted on tube-based amplifiers all along, since the sound from digital amplifiers always basically sucked. I’ll be glad to see tubes more generally in use — did you know that they’re immune to electromagnetic pulse effects? They’re simply more resilient.

    Aloysius, glad to hear it. I think the wind is definitely setting in from a new quarter.

    Tony, I haven’t studied the matter closely enough to have an informed opinion.

    Jim, funny. Yes, things get spun in quite a range of ways, and of course they’re being spun by both sides. Still, I’d be interested in what you have to say about this, this, this, and this, for starters.

  57. With John taking a well deserved break from posting here, I wanted to take a moment and invite everyone back to the Green Wizard website.

    We usual get a blog post up on Wednesday, so you can still get your fix of Greer related chat and discussion if you stop by. We have a couple of guest bloggers as well as me, posting. Then there is the good threads that people post in the forum. Many diverse subjects and information. Its a great community. Just click the link to the Forum once you are on the site. You don’t even have to log in to read the threads.

    As John mentioned in this week’s post, retro tech is hot now. Several members are into that, and post on their experiences. If you are too, come tell us about your experiences.

    If you haven’t registered a user name, the easiest way to do so is to send me a email at “green wizard dtrammel at gmail dot com”. Let me know your user name and email address you want on the account. I’ll send you back a first log in password and help you with any problems.

    The site sign up works BUT the site’s theme was written before the big push to go secure with https. The creator has one line of font code that says http, not https, so Google rates us unsecure and often dumps our notification of your account being approved email into your spam folder (or just doesn’t deliver it to you).

    Someone who knows how to code in Durpal 7 could make a quick $100US for fixing that and changing the colors of the site for me. Email me if you know how.

    Having said that, I can see that a lot of people signed up over the last year, yet never logged in. In the coming week I’m going to email everyone who has, from a secondary personal email account inviting you back.

    Spring is just around the corner and it will be time to plant vegetables in the garden soon. Plant a seed or two of your own at the Green Wizard site.

  58. Dear Mr. Greer – Your readers and you, may find the book “The Revenge of Analog” (Sax, 2016), interesting. It covers everything from vinyl to books. Cameras that use film to magazines (since advertisers are catching onto the fact that on-line advertising is very ineffective.) In an odd twist, it’s also available as an e-book.

    As far as turn tables, go, there’s still plenty of fine old machines available at some thrift stores. Or, head to our local auction. Another thing I’ve noticed about my local auction, is that once or twice a month, I see an estate auction, where there is a home shop clean out, but no household goods. I finally figured out that it’s a widow, selling off her old man’s stuff. Lots of really good old American made tools to be had, at not much of a price.

    Another thing that really burns my grits (and, no one seems to notice), that I’ve been complaining about for years is that in our small rural county, it seems like the people that “manage us”, no matter if retail, health care, teaching, etc. etc., all live in the big city, the next county over. And that’s where they spend their money. I don’t know if you coined it, but “wealth pump” is a term I first heard here, and when I get vocal about the situation, I use it. But, apparently, word is getting around. Someone took out a full page ad, in the local newspaper (remember those?) complaining about a local wind farm, that is going up in the west part of our county. Why? Out of state contractor and construction workers.

    EVen in the independent senior housing that I live in, management lives “up north.” This summer, the building was repainted. Painting contractor was from “up north.” Our grounds maintenance and janitorial? Companies from “up north.” We have all those things, available here. And, at competitive prices. Lew

  59. CS2 said: “Inspired by a commenter on this blog who pledged to give up his cell phone in 2019 (hope that went well), I have sharply reduced my smartphone use, and in the next month will be hopefully downgrading to a flip phone with the end of my contract.”

    Try Virgin Mobile CS2. I have used their service for 5-6 years now and never had any problems. My old flip phone cost me about $30 up front, and handles text messages and shoots decent pictures too. Its tiny too and I don’t feel like I’ve got a paper back book in my pocket.

    Service runs $20 a month for 400 minutes which I never get near the limit on.

  60. Nastarana said: For me, my bottom line is that I need to see Gislaine Maxwell indicted. Cute socialite needs to be facing the same jeopardy as would some skanky street hustler for same or similar alleged offenses.”

    BUT BUT BUT SHE’S RICH!

    Can’t have the Elite judged by the same standard as us prolies. Or face jail time (the horror!).

  61. To Hanged Man: Maybe I missed a memo, but from what I can recall JMG has never once said he supports Trump, not even when he predicted that Trump would win the 2016 election. He just reports on stuff Trump does and says things like “Trump is likely to do X because that seems to be his pattern, and the people who hate Trump will do Y because that is their pattern.” Correlation is not causation.

    To JMG: Thanks for this blog!

    To All:

    Happy and Blessed Holidays!!

  62. I think that’s a good way of looking at it.

    Having done the work to pass the laws for equal pay, racial equality etc, the managerial class should have made itself redundant and found something else to do. But, as you noted, due to past successes and having all the institutional power they decided to “promote” themselves beyond their capabilities.

    Who knows? If current trends continue and the left doesn’t get its act together, it’s quite likely some of these right wing populist governments will take the knife to the bureaucracy and we’ll have a bunch of hungry administrators roaming the streets looking for something to manage.

  63. JMG wrote: “Mind you, since the Democratic candidates who have any chance of winning the nomination are also multimillionaires — and yes, that includes Warren and Sanders…”
    John, I’m sure you’re aware that there are three orders of magnitude separating billionaires from mere millionaires. Last election cycle, in 2016, I made a joke that Bernie should go transgender and become Bernice Sanders to pick up votes from the LGBTQi demographic. Then after “she’s” elected, he could just switch back and become Bernie again!

    As to an indie record company going into classical, I haven’t heard of any. There are “minor league” professional orchestras around the country and community orchestras (like the one I play in) who might be interested in recording with a low-budget indie label, but probably chamber music would be a lot easier to accomplish.

  64. Hi JMG

    I’m skeptical of the claim that the Trump administration’s’ policies are bringing any jobs back to the US.

    My view is the economic bubble that some are experiencing has more to do with the fracking boom. A temporary and short lived event, but for now it’s keeping the lights on and powering rush hour. West Texas has had a fracking bubble (as some other locations have plateaued or declined). Gas fracking has also continued upward in Pennsylvania but downward near Ft. Worth and Arkansas. Physical resources “trump” most of the policies.

    As for retro tech, the last record / cd store near me shut down recently.

  65. Please send the shoggoths my way in spring, when the skunks emerge! All-you-can-eat skunk buffet!

    😴. Goodnight, all.

  66. Re: vinyl
    Here in NYC record shops have been appearing more and more often over the last decade. For a long time it was hipsters who made that possible (and it’s New York so of course there are lots of strange trends that need not apply elsewhere). Which made me doubt that it was anything more than a prop for a fashionable pose.
    But, I’m beginning to agree that there’s more to it. A friend of a friend opened a used record shop down in Red Hook and not only is it still in business, it’s thriving. Furthermore, it’s become a hangout spot, not among the gentrifying set but among middle-aged working-poor-class locals. There are always little events going on, concerts, readings, and there’s just always a few people hanging out and playing records.
    Teenagers are in there flipping through the old records, teens in general seem to think vinyl is purely cool, and the young musicians I know aspire to be able to put out real records. Meanwhile the established independent musicians I know pay out of pocket to get their music pressed on vinyl because it’s the one merch item they can count on selling out at shows or online by mail order.
    I haven’t asked the store owner how much the rent is being covered by actual record sales. Also maybe he’s somewhat anamolous–he’s the sort of charismatic social maven who can pull all these different sorts of people in. But even granting that this one shop is superlative, to me it’s noteworthy because the interest is so clearly about something more/other than fashion (though it’s also that, for many people).
    As evidence of a trend toward reclaiming supposedly obsolete technologies, vinyl is almost too good. It’s just a romantic technology, and it’s music so there’s a whole extra emotional layer. But if it is indeed an expression of a deeper impulse toward the older-and-better, there are plenty of similar trends I’d also rated at least partly superficial. Mason jars. Party games, board games. Straight- and safety razors (about which a twenty-something was quizzing the barber last week at the barbershop). What else?
    A happy winter holiday season and a wonderful new year to everyone here.
    Jonathan.

  67. Lady Cutekitten said: “Think you that dumb TVs, with tubes that can be replaced, will ever return? We pray for the survival of ours as if it were a dear friend in a combat zone”

    That’s a memory, going to the hardware store as a kid where there was a display that you could plug a tube into the appropriate socket and find out if it was bad, then select a new one from the shelf underneath it. All that assumed you could open the back of your electronic appliance, looked for a tube that seemed bad (discoloration), removed it, took it to the store and tested it.

    How many of us fondly remembered our Dads doing just that?

    Now when the TV stops working it ends up on the side of the street for someone to pick up and scrap because to open it requires some strange screwdriver the manufacturer won’t sell. If they do even that the guts are all printed circuit board you can’t tell if they are bad or even repair.

    I have a great old school computer tech locally. When the power cable plug on my laptop worked loose and I couldn’t get it to charge, he opened up the laptop, pulled the board and hand soldered the plug back to the board. Otherwise I would have had to buy a new laptop. Luckily I knew what the problem was and how simple the fix was too. Couldn’t do it myself.

  68. Regarding the four links you suggested I look at concerning alternate viewpoints on whether there have been millions of new manufacturing jobs under Trump, far surpassing Obama. Here is what I found looking at your links:

    ..Link 1: Market Watch reported that record annual manufacturing job growth of 264,000 happened in 2018, getting up to a total of 12.84 million, which was as high as 69 years ago. True, but this does not change that the total is still way under the 2007 high of 14 million, and Trump’s term-total is still 500,000 – not millions. (Beats me why Market Watch would use a comparison to 69 years ago, when the total then was actually much less than the 14 million in 2007, unless their motive was to make it look like manufacturing jobs were at their highest since the golden era of 69 years ago.)

    Link 2: CNBC reports basically the same as Link 1. So nothing new there.

    Link 3: Again, reporting on the 2018 growth in manufacturing jobs, another variation on Link 1.

    Link 4: Compares the recent 2-year ramp up in manufacturing jobs under Trump to the relatively flat rate of the last 2 years under Obama, and computes Trump’s recent ramp-up was 714% faster than Obama’s slump. True. I mentioned this in my first post – the flat line growth toward the end of Obama, and the new ramp up growth under Trump. But it’s also still true that Obama’s total gains following the Great Recession were about 900,000 while Trump’s total gains to-date have been 500,000. And if you compare the RAMP UP under Obama to the RAMP UP under Trump, the 714% statistic evaporates.

    Conclusion:

    There are no contradictions between my report from the BLS website versus these four links, also based on the BLS data. Obama had a big job surge after the recession, followed by a flat line at the end. Then Trump has had a big job surge since he took office. Will the Trump surge continue? Time will tell.

    This set of links illustrates how many ways one can look at the same data, and get seemingly very different interpretations.

    Bottom line, these four linked stories don’t contradict my points that:

    1. There has been no total increase in manufacturing jobs since 2007,
    2. Trump has, so far, added roughly half the number of new jobs that Obama added (500,000 vs 900,000),
    3. Therefore, Trump has not added “millions” of manufacturing jobs
    4. The US is still 1.2 million manufacturing jobs LESS than in 2007, despite the recent surge under Trump, and the prior surge under Obama. It’s been thirteen years since 2007, and we still have a long way to go before our manufacturing employment gets back to 2007 levels. Hopefully the current up-trend started by Trump will continue, and that will eventually happen, though we are very long overdue for another cyclical recession, based on historical data.

  69. Here’s a fine example of the sort of rigid anger I imagine is running through Labour right now:
    https://thebaffler.com/latest/necessary-anger-penny

    It features the recognition that Labour hit a brick wall, but no notion of where the brick wall came from. And the only acceptable response is to back up and charge again, and hope that your skull is harder than ten tons of fired clay and concrete and rebar.

    Also, I read this Matt Taibbi interview with Andrew Yang:
    https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/andrew-yang-freedom-dividend-matt-taibbi-katie-halper-useful-idiots-920375/

    I like that Yang is at least looking at the economic landscape of the United States, and trying to come up with some response to the employment situation in flyover country.

    But he’s locked into the “Star Trek/Mad Max” dichotomy concerning our future, and everything in me says that UBI is a dumb idea, a non-solution at best.

    For instance, Yang thinks that truck drivers are going to be automated out of their jobs in the near future. His response is to give them $1,000 a month, or $12,000 a year.

    According to Google, truck drivers make something like $40,000 to $80,000 a year. The UBI will still leave them massively impoverished. More than that, people in general want to work. They want to support themselves, take an active role in building their lives and establishing their families, and not be dependent on a government for a pittance.

    I tried to imagine myself as a truck driver, run out of work by the latest innovation from Silicon Valley. I’m sitting on my couch, watching daytime TV, depressed and furious because society has told me I’ve got nothing to contribute and I’m to tread water until I die. And the robot trucks are rolling by outside, doing the job I used to do, carrying the stuff that I can no longer afford to buy.

    And I realized that those robot trucks are targets. They’re perfect targets, because you can shoot them and not hurt a living person. And there’s a lot of anger and a lot of guns in Flyover Country.

    If politicians are worried about the negative effects of automating the work force, then they need to figure out how to push back against automation, rather than dole out these piddly little non-solutions.

  70. I never got rid of vinyl, and neither did my wife. I still have a perfectly functional 40 year-old turn table. I am currently winnowing three separate collections I acquired in the past few years. And giving away the good triplicates immediately… One thing that will hurt new vinyl sales is the plethora of widely available good used vinyl. Except the Beatles- it seems everyone bought their albums at a young age and played them to death…
    On another note, I curate the collected papers of a language expert who worked for the OSS and the State Department. You can clearly see the rise of a permanent bureaucratic state around 1947. One memo on ditto paper cracked me up; it started off with “Now that we have the ditto machine,” and proceeded to set forth policies and procedures for sending dittos. Instead of triplicate, dozens or even hundreds of copies were to go sailing off into the nascent postwar military, diplomatic, and corporate machines…. I’ve always seen that document as a landmark, so it gets it’s own file folder, and I labeled it such that it can be located in less than two minutes….

  71. Patricia M, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Tidlösa, thanks for this! I’ve been watching the news from Sweden on and off, but since I don’t know the language I know I’m getting a filtered version at best.

    Jim, interesting. Thanks for the data point.

    Ray, thanks for this. My guess is that the only thing that will force the Democrat establishment to get out of the way and let some genuinely liberal ideas reemerge is a really major defeat. It’ll be interesting to see if they get one.

    Stephen, many thanks for this! Since my first tabletop RPG will be published this May and I’ve got another product along the same lines in process right now, this is good news from more than a purely altruistic perspective. 😉

    Ron, thanks for this! You’re in the contest. Please drop me a message or email with your current email address so I can connect it to the story.

    Lew, thanks for this — I’ll check it out. As for “up north,” the more people get talking about that, the sooner the pushback can begin.

    Simon, the phrase “learn to code” has already become shorthand in the MAGAsphere for “learn to do an honest job” — right now it’s mostly being applied to activists and politicians, but I suspect bureaucrats are next on the list.

    Louise, thank you!

    Phutatorius, sure, but there’s a much greater social gulf between multimillionaires and ordinary Americans than there is between multimillionaires and billionaires. As for Bernie, well, there have been all kinds of jokes about Trump declaring himself female — he’d then be the first female president, the first lesbian president, and the first transgender president, and the Democrats would be forced to support him enthusiastically, right?

    Godozo, to misquote Public Image Ltd., “and it’s all falling to bits…gloriously.”

    Mark, well, obviously I disagree. The fracking bubble is a factor, of course, but the end of free market policies that subsidized the offshoring of jobs has had a significant impact on a lot of flyover country.

    Your Kittenship, if only they weren’t imaginary, they’d happily eat your skunks (“a very piquant fragrance!”) and leave the crawl space looking as though it had been polished.

    Jonathan, I wish I’d known about that in time to insert the store into The Weird of Hali: Red Hook!

    Jim, my point exactly. The economy’s a complex phenomenon, and trying to flatten it out into a simple statement of what is or isn’t going on always ends up reflecting the preconceptions and prejudices of the flattener. Since the vast majority of people I know in flyover country are talking excitedly about how many more jobs there are, the political reality — which of course is another kind of flattening — is that Trump’s policies have succeeded well enough to convince his base that the gamble they made in 2016 has paid off, and is also convincing a fair number of people who voted against him to change their minds. Stay tuned, but unless the Democrats figure out how to address those points — and brandishing numbers won’t do it; for reasons covered in my post, most Americans now automatically discount experts brandishing numbers — they’re going to lose badly in the upcoming elections.

    Cliff, that’s a classic: a privileged liberal rage junkie bingeing on hatred because the masses she claimed to speak for decided to vote for their own best interests instead of hers. I wonder if she realizes how she sounds to anyone who doesn’t already agree with her. As for Yang, he’s a smart guy but you’re right, he’s stuck inside the monomyth of progress, and until he extracts his head from a computer’s rectum and sees the world again, he’s going to be babbling about a future that does not exist.

    Berserker, delighted to hear it. Do you have any trouble finding homes for vinyl disks? As for that amazing memo, well, you know, the Discordians said all along that the fourth stage of the historical cycle, the stage of Bureaucracy, lasts for 72 permutations or until a paper shortage arrives…

  72. SLClaire wrote, “Is it just me, or have you or anyone else noticed a distinct lack of Christmas decorating this year? Granted, my husband and I took only a very brief tour through nearby streets on Christmas Eve, so we might not have looked in the right places. Nevertheless, we saw a lower percentage of decorated yards and less dense decorations on average in the yards that were decorated than in past years. In particular, we didn’t see a single yard that was over-the-top enough to drive past slowly to get the full effect.”

    Yes, I started noticing the lack of Christmas spirit when early dispiriting reports of orders and sales began coming in from the retail sector in October. I have to admit, the news made me strangely hopeful. Then the obsessive fixation on holiday plans never managed to take over every conversation this year. Signs of the impending non-holiday became marked enough by Thanksgiving that something inside me tripped, and I was finally inspired to “celebrate” Christmas for the first time in over a dozen years.

    I should explain. I have always loved caroling and midnight mass and swagging greens about the place to draw one’s eyes up hopefully during the darkest time of the year. But the shopping and presents and dead trees as a focal point to draw one’s eyes down upon the unfulfilled expectations and family resentments strewn beneath continue to leave me completely cold. What the larger culture’s embracing of non-holiday humbugism freed up in me was the ability to “decorate” with abandon. Be afraid, be very afraid!

    As any WASP could sordidly detail, a ridiculously large portion of our studied childhoods gets wasted learning precisely how our blue-blooded ancestors would have decorated with live greens and fruits on the windowsills, a pineapple over the door, and candles teetering on the brink of conflagration. Extra points can be earned for a live quartet to accompany English country dancing up and down the double parlour — mind the teetering candles! Of course, the proper snobby affect cannot be pulled off without first studying the tacky, kitsch decorating of everyone we so look down on for having actually enjoyed their childhoods and their holidays. I finally understand what purpose we WASPs actually serve — we have meticulously studied and memorized both what is most classically elegant and most vulgarly ostentatious all around us, like biased cultural anthropologists pompously archiving our own values above everyone else’s.

    So in this year of subdued Christmas decorating, I simply had to start preserving the fading folkloric tradition, which I could somehow never appreciate until it became an endangered species. There’s nothing like scarcity to make an art style more desirable. I cannot let this unsung folk art go softly into that dark night! Where are the preservationists when we need them? Any fellow folk-art lovers, wherever you dwell and whatever you believe, are invited to join this worthy preservation cause. If not you, who? If not now-el, when?

    It was quite an easy year to start what with everyone offloading tacky Christmas decorations at the thrift stores — a blinking angel holding aloft a deformed star, fiber-optic table-top trees, the holy family with a shooting star perched precariously over the new parents, light up presents with big bows, a cheery snowman flag, and a fat illuminated penguin. Have you seen the multi-colored LED plastic icicles that flicker in seizure-inducing rainbows? Wow! Or the light globes that turn your whole house into a projection screen? Yes, my little Victorian townhouse has become more lit up than my neighbors could have imagined in their worst nightmares. What hath God wrought?

    Being in a historic district, I am sure my neighbors will all applaud my preservation efforts, no? Actually, some person or persons have helped by anonymously adding lights and decorations on my shrubs and trees, turning my fledgling attempt into a community art installation. The wannabe taste police have, of course, started discussing my decorations on their Facebook bullying page, but no one has called me deplorable yet, so I assume that means I have not managed to fully meet the challenge this art form poses. Well, there is a learning curve to any new undertaking, and this is only my first year! What amazing wonders will I find at the thrift stores next year as all the upper-class aspirants insecurely chuck their beloved holiday kitsch to keep up with the Jones’ austerity? A giant flashing menorah, Santa rising in a hot air balloon, or an illuminated model of Stonehenge? The possibilities leave me breathless with anticipation.

  73. Kind Sir,

    Most Aboriginal people I know would agree with you. 50000 years are a good time to hone your survival skills to the point of perfection. Unfortunately that lifestyle was well and truly eradicated in the name of progress and it will take a long time to redevelop these skills.
    Although it wasn’t all grubs. Bruce Pascoe’s book Black Emu has a lot to say about aboriginal farming.
    About sources of news, this is a hard one for me. Most papers here were casualties in Murdoc’s war on journalism and are now just a waste of perfectly good electrons.
    For current news your best bet might be the Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au or The Australian (pay Wall), but you probably already know them.
    There’s also our abc https://www.abc.net.au/news/
    And there’s https://www.crikey.com.au/ but I don’t know what is behind their paywall these days.
    There is also the aimn, but I haven’t looked at it in ages. Very left from what I remember.
    https://theaimn.com/
    Hopefully some of my fellow aussies here have better suggestions. I just don’t use the Internet much anymore.
    I would certainly be very interested in what your chart has to say about Australia. Will you publish the results here?

  74. Many thanks for all your work. You make an unhinged world a lot easier to deal with, although from the sounds of things, the political end of it might be put on new hinges soon.

    You may find it amusing to see that the climate modellers have given up on even a passable attempt to put energy reserves into their models. Previously, they used the Special Report on Emissions Scenario numbers (essentially rewarmed 1960s-1980s energy reserve data), which has been criticised and found to be wrong. Now they’ve given up entirely, and gone with a thing called “Shared Socioeconomic Pathways”.

    No, it’s not a new form of cycleway that all ethnicities are allowed to use – it’s the sociology department’s replacement for the hard physics and geology of energy modelling. And yes, the IPCC will be using it for their next range of climate assessments…

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/cmip6-the-next-generation-of-climate-models-explained

  75. Bridge

    “I worked in a team which dealt with the underclass in London. The underclass got the scraps but the real winners were the employees who were very well paid despite their results being abysmal. Funnily enough they could always produce reports and data to show what a wonderful impact they were having on the street urchins… It was also a way of making the Council look good, “See we do care about the poor!” ”

    Recently in my community there was a referendum to raise a parcel tax on home owners to fund the local schools. Then there was an announcement that the school district had hired a “diversity administrator” at a six figure salary.

  76. Some Australian news sources:
    ABC News – State-owned Broadcaster, general appeal, center left leaning, urban focused
    SBS News – State-owned broadcaster, appeal to migrant communities, multicultural policy and the inner city managerial class, far left leaning, urban focused
    Seven-Plus, Nine-MSN, Network Ten – Commercial, appeal to working class non-migrants, center-right, urban focused. NineMSN owns center-left urban leaning The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.
    ABC Rural News – State owned, centrist, appeals to all the vast parts of Australia that don’t happen to be in the capital cities.
    News Corp Australia – follows the party line of the rest of the News Corp conglomerate. Owns the Herald Sun and the Australian.
    Financial Review – business and finance, premium.

  77. JMG: I generally find each of your posts and the comments afterwards give me a lot to think about. One idea I’ve come away with this time is the prediction of a shift to more local manufacturing. I must say, now that it’s been pointed out, in a purely UK context this does feel right. The move away from the EU regulatory framework is going to change the economics of actually making physical things here.
    My one personal attempt at manufacturing as a business failed about a decade ago and although that failure had many causes, one that particularly hurt was the endless interaction with the government to fulfil the various regulations and data gathering requirements that existed at the time. I don’t think there will be much enthusiasm, or the civil service manpower (sorry ~ can’t think of a better way of expressing that idea), for making life difficult for small startups if the country is depending on those businesses for their electric motors, tins, cellophane films, washing machines, etc. etc. It will take a few years to say for certain but I may have to start prefacing every comment here with “as you have no doubt foreseen“.
    I’ve been reading The Archdruid Report and it’s various successors since at least 2011, in fact it’s a little difficult for me to remember when I did start. Thank you so much for your ideas and advice over the years. I’m grateful.

    @Yorkshire, you mentioned a few weeks back that you had a gas? boiler that was connected to a solar water heater. In a few weeks I’m about to become the owner of an old boiler. Could you post a link or some comments on where I might get something similar?

  78. Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi a Sarah, Derwydd gwych. A diolch yn fawr iawn am eich holl waith rhagorol!

  79. I was thinking about how you said ethics of previous eras had no place for compassion, and that the gods, and how magic works, change over time. Could this mean the things souls need to learn and do in order to move on to Gwynfydd can also change with the ages?

  80. Hi John Michael,

    All the best for your digital holiday! 🙂

    I’m with Lew too about stuff, and it ain’t just perfectly good record players that are being turfed. Quality low end farm equipment perfect for small holders are being tossed aside by oldsters who appear to be slowly retreating from rural areas. Over the past few months I’ve scored some amazing quality second hand stuff that even five years ago I wouldn’t have been able to afford – but for some reason the market seems to have crashed for the stuff. Who knows what that even means? Rural areas down here could use some new blood, and I really wonder about how long the profitability side of agriculture can continue the way it has – there are signs of pressures building and I guess inevitably ecological realities will prevail and power will shift away from its current base.

    I heard an interesting thing the other day at a local farm gate. A tour group had allegedly descended on a local farm gate shop and the supply was wiped out for both locals and tourists – except the tourists were apparently getting into fights over the lack of supply with those who apparently didn’t want to share. Hmm. I was reminded of nothing other than the hectic scenes from Soylent Green. Who would let children watch such films! Far out.

    Anyway, I only heard the story after visiting the farm gate and telling someone to firmly but politely “go away” (not my actual words, but you know your rules and all that). The bloke was harassing the young girls running the farm store. After the third request if he and his family could go and pick their own produce, I stepped in and put my foot down. How many times does someone have to hear the word: “no”?

    Oh. Media for news. OK please keep us updated as you might have my interest there with your readings. Your politics mystify me, so I never really joined in discussions and feel no emotions one way or another about it. And the thing that mystifies me about your politics is that: I mean whatever else anyone can say about the bloke, he’s still your President and all, and as far as I’m aware there is a certainty dignity and respect for the office regardless as to people’s opinions as to the blokes character. And politicians are rarely elected based on an assessment of their character. And if people don’t like it, they should stop whining about it and instead get involved in the political process – but by my very nature I’m a pragmatic person.

    Sorry digression is also my thing! 🙂 The Australian Broadcasting Commission (the government’s news arm) is not too bad, although I have to read their articles about your politics and then compare them to what I am reading of Mr Kunstler’s fine blog. It makes a fascinating comparison. Anywhoo: ABC News

    If you’re interested in a youth perspective on news and discussing the topics that matter but rarely if ever get any media attention I can wholeheartedly recommend Hack: https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/

    If you want a truly oddball choice and can somehow look past the fluff, The Daily Mail Australia (it is a UK owned paper) provides what appears to me to be a lot of err, not sure how to put it articles, before chucking in a solid bit of journalism. Gotta pay the bills I guess and I reckon it’s a tough time to be in the newspaper gig. I’ve seen noteworthy news items reported in there that are not reported elsewhere for some strange reason. Not sure what is going on there.

    Anyway, good luck and enjoy your digital holiday.

    Cheers

    Chris

  81. Hi JMG.

    Re news sources for Australia. I am assuming you are looking for straight reporting rather than opinion pieces.

    Rupert Murdoch owns a lot of media here, most of it behind paywalls. But they do offer a free news site too, https://www.news.com.au/. Just be prepared to wade through wads of celebrity guff.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/australia/ is probably the most trusted source. It’s the government funded media organisation but remains fiercely independent. The Murdoch crowd hate the ABC. If you want to get into our culture wars this front is a fair place to start

    Fairfax are the other major commercial media organisation. They have newspapers, radio, tv. https://www.smh.com.au/ is one of their news sites.

    To get an outsiders view of Australia (which may be more instructive than our local news) try https://www.bbc.com/news/world/australia

    I know you dig into the obscure to gain your perspective. Not sure what to suggest but am sure you will find it.

  82. Hi JMG,

    I want to thank you for your thoughtful posts all through 2019! I wish you all the best for the new year and look forward to the essays in February.

    More specifically about the topic, I have to say that I am deeply suspicious of nationalist populism. Perhaps the most important origin of my skepticism is that my country – Hungary – has a nationalist populist government for 9 and a half years. It turned out to advocate the same well-known exploitation of little people and the countryside, only with different gimmicks and rhetoric. Moreover, it is sliding to the right continuously to avoid the imminent power vacuum in this country, and this exact process makes an even harder power vacuum inevitable. I think wars are born this way.

    I know relatively little about the US but the case of British nationalism seems to be problematic, too. The Scottish and Irish questions are coming back and the Tories won’t give up the unionist cause because it is a powerful issue that could divide the English Left even more permanently. It can probably also provide the much needed distraction to save most of the economic status quo. All to the delight of the extreme right.

    This is not a speculation for one year, of course. Temporary advantages might appear. But I think the overall consequences lead to an international crisis along the lines of 1914-54 as you suggested for years. And in some respects, peripheral lands like mine are leading the way. It is comical really. But not very funny.

  83. The idea of retro tech reminded me that last night I had a dream featuring a magnificently old-style firm called the Gas Light Chandelier Company. 🙂

    A significant part of retro tech is going to be the kind of equipment that enhances the power and versatility of human muscle. Things like the wheelbarrow, pulley, anything with pedals. Do you have any favourites of these?

    Years ago I made myself a strap yoke from a ratchet strap, duct tape, and an old towel. 🙂 It works like a regular yoke but instead of a pole across the shoulders, a padded strap around the back of the neck, with hooks at each end, set for my arm length. The hooks share the load with the hands and arms when carrying 40-litre builders tubs. Before the yoke, a day of carrying tubs of soil, rocks, rubble, or a stack of bricks balanced against my belly or braced against my chest, would leave me with a condition I came to know as ‘biceps hell’. With the yoke, I only feel the pleasant metabolic fatigue of a good day’s work, and no local muscle fatigue or soreness at all. Even after moving two or three tonnes in a day.

  84. While my seat-of-the-pants impression of the economy generally matches the BLS, there’s more to it. First, the DNC is now seen as the party exclusively championing NAFTA and offshoring — which isn’t entirely fair, since we had four administrations support it: two each — but particularly galling that 30 years of scorched-earth and a clobbered election later, they STILL support it as if nothing’s wrong and the working class are stupid animals that won’t listen to Brooklyn Experts. Second, these stupid animals of the working class understand that you can’t turn the Titanic overnight. The key point is that he’s TRYING something, despite world-wide resistance to the concept of humans having jobs. “Those jobs ain’t coming back!” “What does he think, there’s some kind of magic wand?” –Barack Obama, being a bit tone deaf. “I hope there’s a recession” — Bill Maher.

    Third, jobs HAVE left China, which means it’s working, however at the moment with the dollar too high and other structural factors, those jobs are just moving to southeast Asia, like Thailand. Americans understand this. Nevertheless, despite the most furious resistance to jobs and to the working class ever mounted, including impeachment (maybe) help wanted signs have finally been going up widely in standard, working-class storefronts.

    So yes, the economy, which was dropping 2% a year since maybe 1999 or 2008 has finally stopped dropping and is stagnant. The job-character has shifted from Brooklyn and L.A. to Ohio. The focus of industry has changed. But any sizable new jobs? Corporate planning and execution of new plants and products takes years: of course not. 30 years of legal and bureaucratic and tax-code doesn’t vanish overnight. Why is it the dumb people in the room can understand this while the smart cannot? Because only the dumb do THINGS and not THEORIES? Because they have skin in the game, their head on a block and have to produce results? I don’t know.

  85. JMG: I had not heard the Trump-transgender jokes, but I guess the point about the Dems is the same as my in Bernice Sanders joke.

  86. I think it was a couple of years ago that you predicted the fall of the house of Saud, while last year you said it depended on how the crown prince managed.
    I’ve just finished reading The Siege of Mecca, by Yaroslav Trofimov. I was surprised to learn that as far back as 1979 the stability and durability of Saudi Arabia were in question.
    I’m wondering if you have any thoughts/predictions about Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran etc? And yes I know that could take a book to discuss, not a blog post!

  87. @ Kimberly & @ Hanged Man & @ JMG (if I may)

    Re Trump and support of Trump

    I look at it this way. There is a strong likelihood that I will be voting for the man come next November–which, I’ll repeat, is an amazing thing to hear myself say. It is not so much that I “support” his approach, but rather than he has been the first candidate to break the bipartisan status quo economic platform which has been promoted by the establishment wings of both parties for nearly half a century. He ran, successfully, on a platform promoting economic nationalism–a platform component which in my judgement is vital for this country to more successfully navigate the post-imperial existence which awaits us as our global hegemony continues to wane over these next decades. I’ll note that in 2016, Sanders had a similar flavor to his campaign, running against TPP, for example.

    Trump is not my ideal candidate. His methods are crude, coarse, and he is an arrogant, conceited, self-important blowhard. Nonetheless, and despite his stumbling, bumbling, haphazard execution of policy, he has managed to more often than not stumble and bumble in directions which move us along a path I firmly believe to be necessary–a disengagement from empire and from this globally-integrated economy–and directions in which the Democrats have thus far refused to go.

    I would much prefer a methodical, environmentally-aware, de-centralizing, and generally civil libertarian approach. I lean leftward (in the older sense, not the “woke” sense) on social issues. I’d vote for a leftward candidate promoting economic nationalism and withdrawal from empire over Trump in a heartbeat. I’m still waiting for the Democrats to nominate one.

    I expect to be voting for Trump in November not because he’s a great candidate for President–he isn’t–but because a second Trump term would be far better for this country than a status quo ante Biden administration. When the Democrats withdraw their collective heads from their collective posterior, I’ll be more inclined to vote for them in the general election. Until then, and so long as it is available to me on the ballot, I’m going to vote for that alternative which the neoliberals kept saying didn’t exist.

  88. JMG, thanks for this article and for site. Enjoy your well-deserved break.

    Regarding your comments about Bernie, here is a good, detailed look at his financial situation:
    https://heavy.com/news/2019/06/bernie-sanders-net-worth/

    I would take issue with this comment:
    “… but there’s a much greater social gulf between multimillionaires and ordinary Americans than there is between multimillionaires and billionaires.”

    I don’t agree with this in regards to Bernie, especially if you consider his financial history. More generally, l don’t think that someone with a net worth of $1+M is closer to a billionaire than to an ordinary American. When you consider that much of that net worth is probably in real estate, an economic downturn would affect them greatly without even touching a billionaire’s lifestyle.

    Thanks for all the great topics you bring to us.

    -TG

  89. Live music produced on the spot by live musicians is one of the good things offered in this retirement village. As always, the quality varies, so far ranging between superb (the Victorian Carols duo) to abominable (the kid who chewed up songs and spit parts of them out in chunks and boasts of never having had a music lesson in his life.) A lot of the music is produced by residents.

    We also have a thriving woodworkers shop, and vendors selling handcrafts at our seasonal bazaars. I had the woodworkers make a dozen napkin rings for my daughter’s family, and her mother-in-law will paint them with animal totems according to their wishes. I could probably sell my hand-hemmed cotton hankies.

    Despite a management madly in love with the 21st century and all its tropes, old times here are not forgotten. I think because we have a very large contingent of seemingly immortal senior citizens.

  90. @David – thanks for the reminder. I’ll be back.
    @Lew – whereabouts do you live? I’m here in Gainesville, which is large enough that not *everything* gets managed from Jacksonville or Tallahassee. I think we may be contemporaries, in which case if you’d care to share some notes with me, I’d be grateful: I’m still adjusting to this place after an exact 6 months here. (Pat, in Florida, mathews55-at-msn-dot-com) I’m not always the opinionated loudmouth I am on blog.
    @Jonathon Roberts – my hairdresser uses scissors on my hair and a straight razor on the back of my neck. She has a very delicate touch with it that makes the buzzing electric razor look like the robot from Futurama by comparison.

  91. Interesting and insightful as always.

    Two related issues related to the timeline for these prediction though:

    1. How do you plan to gauge the progress of the predicted anti-expert sentiment? The anti-Vax movement has been picking up steam for 20 years, and it’s hard to think of a more stark example of crazed anti-expert hysteria even at the expense of ones own children’s lives. It seems to me that one could cite all kinds of news items to indicate waxing or waning faith in expertise in any given year.

    2. Similarly, the vinyl revival you describe has been going on for 15 or more years. Wikipedia identifies the trend as having taken off in 2007:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinyl_revival

    but I remember hipsters bragging about their vinyl collections and the virtues of vinyl since quite a few years before that.

    As always, long term trends are hard to pin down in an annual prediction scheme.

  92. @JMG: Leslie Fish has a take on an old song on her album “It’s Sister Jenny’s Turn to Throw the Bomb (with a hilarious cover ov a nun in full penguin rig sitting in a hippie pad with an old-fashioned round cast iron bomb -with fuse -in her hand)”

    “….To the grafters we will sing this refrain: Oh, you will eat (you will eat) bye and bye (bye and bye) when you learn how to cook and to fry. Chop some wood; it’ll do you good, and you’ll eat in the sweet bye and bye (THAT’s no lie!)”

    Search for “leslie fish the preacher and the slave” on YouTube

  93. @JMG

    I haven’t observed as much Trump obsession at the office as I used to. And the impeachment process isn’t generating the attention that something of its alleged calibre normally would. It seems the power to direct people’s attention with the new Serious Issue is waning, however imperceptibly.

    By comparison, back when it was in vogue to hate the Westboro Baptist Media Creation, the noise on that was bigger. CNN still plays in corporate lobbies but it’s no longer a conversation starter.

    That said we are a long way off from suppressed narratives coming forward, so the defensive power of mass media remains intact. I don’t see people discussing Assange or the false flag chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

    Vinyl-to-digital is one of the best examples of a technological regress, though from my view the vinyl resurgence still resembles a hipster affectation.

    @dropBear According to people like Bob Katz the Loudness Wars are over and sanity won.

  94. Cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes are making a huge comeback too. There are also a movement of electronic musicians inspired by a the legacy of Stockhausen who are getting into using test equipment to make music with. I’m a part of some of the forums they are on, and I’d like to see some of those same people get into ham radio, as some of the gear they are using could be used for both. I hope to see this retro lifestyle grow as well into other areas, and I plan on doing my part to live it, and encourage it.

    Thanks JMG & a happy 2020 to you & all Ecosophians. Looking forward to convening back here again in February after your break.

  95. JMG: Your post tracks my life a little too closely… 🙂

    1: My local public radio station is just replaying an interview with two of the economists who won the 2019 Nobel prize. Their basic message is that economists have known for years that their preferred nostrums don’t work, and pretended otherwise. Even in the ivory tower, (MIT, in their case) alleged trust in the conventional wisdom is challenged.

    2: 11 days ago, our power in the center of Providence went out with no storm to blame it on. In the power surge when it returned, our 25 year old oven died. It probably fried the electronic control panel. We went shopping for a new oven, and had to be careful NOT to buy a “Smart” oven, (which I could control from my smart phone, and which would be sure to need expensive parts within 5 years). Every single person I mentioned this to rolled their eyes at the idea that an oven would need to be internet enabled. It still has an electronic control panel, but it’s essentially the same as our 25 year old oven.

    3: Our washing machine stopped spinning a month ago. We called a repairman, and $100 later, were told that we needed a new motor, which he could do for about $500. I went to You Tube, found instructions to replace the brushes in the motor, and with a $56 set of brushes and an hour of my time, restored the machine to life (Some pixels on screens are very useful).

    4. TDS has morphed to include Tulsi Derangement Syndrome. At Christmas dinner yesterday, I was roundly criticized for her decision to vote present. I gave 3 reasons why she might, including the fact that a lot of people heard of her for the first time from all the screaming about her vote. I support Tulsi, welcoming the abuse from most of my (professional/managerial) class.

    5: The same public radio station ran a BBC report on the a raid on Alexey Navalny’s offices. Navalny is always promoted as Putin’s main challenger. That’s about the same as calling Joe Lhota as Obama’s main opposition (Lhota lost the NYC mayoral election to DiBlasio 5 years ago by about the same percentage as Navalny lost the Moscow mayoral election 6 years ago). The actual dominant opposition to Putin in the Duma, the Communist Party, never gets any mention in our media.

    Best wishes for all the many holidays celebrated at the turning of the sun. My wife finally noticed that I go out at the hour of the Solstices (11:19 EST for the winter solstice this year), and I had to confess that I was going down to the Providence River, to make an offering of thanks (sage and bourbon), and ask for her continued blessings in the months to come. Not quite a Druid yet….
    I look forward to reading what you’ll be working on for the next month, but I will suffer JMG withdrawal symptoms in the meantime.

  96. Thank you JMG for another year of enjoyable and thought-provoking posts. Happy Solstice to you and all the best for a productive and fulfilling New Year.

  97. This sounds exactly like the U. S. Dust Bowl of the 1930’s:

    https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/cattle-have-stopped-breeding-koalas-die-of-thirst-a-vet-s-hellish-diary-of-climate-change-20191220-p53m03.html

    You may learn about the Dust Bowl in The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan.

    The Dust Bowl was largely caused by soil erosion which was in turn largely caused by farmers eliminating the native plants of the Plains and then overplanting crops, compounded by drought.

  98. Dear JMG and commentariat,

    If I may; I’ve typed up some of my thoughts regarding “the culture war” which I believe to be effectively dead here: https://violetcabra.dreamwidth.org/10494.html

    I mention this because I think that this might be a point where the ice is melting and surging towards the ocean. While it may not break this year, I think that the proxy fighting around identity issues is rather obviously strategically unimportant terrain, and the fighting is shifting elsewhere.

    That said, my satirical Black Swan predictions last year turned out to score zero out of zero — to the best of my knowledge, so a mountain of salt is clearly indicated regarding my current set prognostication!!

    Last years predictions:

    * A member of the staff of Catland, the occult bookstore in Brooklyn, emerges as a major political contender for the 2020 elections.

    * In an act of almost unprecedented civility, the United States donates to China many important and strategic Naval bases.

    * The ongoing practice of the ritual human sacrifice of the homeless in southern California is finally publicly denounced and just as quickly forgotten in the news cycle.

    * Alex Jones gets woke, becoming the darling and mouthpiece of the tankie social justice left.

    * A religious craze based on Archie comics sweeps the nation.

    * Scientists finally learn how to decode the language of Dolphins and get an earful.

  99. Happy New Year Peter Van Erp! 🥂

    Many nice-weather power outages are caused by squirrels 🐿.

  100. I am surprised to say that this year I am feeling optimistic also, and for the 2020s in general. Mine isn’t based on any logic but I’m very highly intuitive. And for what it is worth I smell something sweet in the wind for this decade, like heavy things shifting and nice things coming in.

    And nobody is more surprised than me!

  101. Dear to my heart is this particular retro-technology: letterpress printing. Is anyone here interested in a print shop near the Harvard, IL area? It’s up for sale, or also being sold by-the-piece… http://www.briarpress.org/55391

    (p.s. Justin Patrick Moore, thanks for the AAPA link!)

    Best wishes to everyone for the year to come.

  102. A few days back, in a conversation with a self-described-progressive friend, I expressed support of the current trade restrictions aimed at China, she countered my brief mention (of the hearsay I heard here) of manufacturing jobs seeming to be increasing in the mid-west with her recent experience driving between Ohio and North Dakota and of seeing farming communities in utter blasted-out despair, with suicide-hotline billboards at frequent intervals, and people looking quite distressed. In her words – this was due to the loss of trade opportunities with China.

    I’d rather thought the farming crisis was older than that, but I don’t get out much from my own heavily-agriculture-dependent region where things are NOT that bad (some wineries and rice growers, and probably the almond-growers, are affected by lack of trade with China, but the tomatoes, wheat, corn, and alfalfa growers seem to be ok – in general, there’s no sense of despair and the local paper isn’t reporting anything like what she witnessed). For all I know, it may be older, but worsened by tariffs.

    I’d be interested to read both news on the subject and firsthand narratives.

    So, although I have other reasons to approve of pulling on China’s reins, would you or any readers here have a response to the notion that Trump’s tariffs are causing immense suffering in areas where agriculture rather than manufacturing is the prime economic mover?

    If this is off-topic, I’ll hold my question until the next open post in February, but I thought it might fit with your 2020 outlook.

  103. Hi JMG

    Thanks for the article and have nice holidays “unplugged”

    Some people make son funny predictions:

    a) Jeff Bezos said: “…building space colonies is the only way to ensure growth and dynamism in our future, instead of the stasis and rationing that would accompany remaining an Earth-based species. His colonies would allow the human population to expand to a trillion people…that would allow us to produce a thousand Mozarts and a thousand Einsteins.”.
    I suppose a trillion people could order a lot from Space Amazon…
    He should answer also the following questions: if now we are around 10 times more people than in 1756, why we do not have 10 Mozarts now? And if we are now almost 5 times the global population of 1900 why we do not have 5 Einsteins living right now ?
    Much more people than ever and more literate than ever but, where are our many Mozarts and Einteins?(Ok, Spengler had some answers to these questions)

    https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/jeff-bezos-foresees-trillion-people-living-millions-space-colonies-here-ncna1006036

    The Myth of the New Frontier (of course this BS “experiment” paid with tax payer money)

    b) Elon Musk: OK the prophecies of Elon are my favourite, here some of them (made in 2017):
    1.- 2018 = Humans will fly into the space by reusable rockets (failed, 2019 we still use 1960’s Soyuz)
    2.- 2024 = A.I. will posse a real threat to the Human Race
    3.- 2025 = Humans will set foot on Mars
    4.- 2025 = Tesla will be as valuable as Apple
    5.- 2027 = More than half of all new vehicles will be (pure) electric
    6.- 2033 = Solar will become the main source of (primary) power
    7.- 2037 = Cars will no longer have steering wheels in them
    7.- 2040 = We will colonize Mars with a complete city with thousands or ten of thousands people
    8.- 2040 = A.I. completely surpass humans in every task
    9.- 2060 = A million people living in Mars

    Futurism in pursuit of government largesse. He is the master in the ponzification of the space dreams of investors

    https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/302589

    c) Bill Gates is much more modest than Elon and Jeff (he is quite old fashioned now), but not probable for me (at least some of them):
    1.- In 10 – 15 years bioterrorism could wipe out 33 million people in one year
    2.- In 2030 Africa will be self sufficient in agriculture, the productivity will increase by 50% from now
    3.- Mobile banking will transform the lives of the people in poor countries, especially in Africa
    4.- By 2035 there could be almost no poor countries in the world
    5.- By 2030 the world will discover a clean energy breakthrough to power our world
    6.- In 20 years millions of jobs will be lost to automation, so we need tax the robots

    For Bill Gates the New Frontier is still in the Earth, in Africa

    I think your predictions are orders of magnitude more likely

    Cheers
    David

  104. Happy Solstice and New Year to the Archdruid and everyone here.

    And now to lay in a stash of beer, weed, and tequila, salt and limes to fortify myself against the next 5 weeks of Archdruid Withdrawal Syndrome.

    Antoinetta III

  105. @ David Trammel

    Weird screwdrivers. Harbor Freight (a tool chain) carries (Chinese-made, sorry) a WIDE variety of screwdriver sets in bizarre head configurations. I’ve bought Younger Son a number of sets so he can open and operate on all kinds of things.

    You know how phillips-head screwdrivers look like plus signs? With four arms? Harbor Freight carries three-arm, five-arm, and a sort of star.

    Thank you Mr. Greer for ‘sad kittens’! It may come in useful.

    Happy holidays to you and everyone.

    Teresa from Hershey

  106. A fine post solstice to Mr. Greer.

    Regarding vinal records e. i. .. ‘ok boomer’ sound, I happened upon an older sony receiver/record player combo a couple years ago whist checking out a neighboorhood estates sale. Bought it for 35 crisp quatloos .. + one matching speaker. Other then about 40+ years of stale tobacco grime (which took an afternoon of removal/detailing), it works great. Combine that with 2 matching RCA speakers AND the re-purposed cabinet they all rest on – courtesy of our local Goodwill outlet – I, after 18 excruciating yrs. of silence, now have a HiFi setup worthy of my nominal record collection ! The speakers themselves were small enough that I fabricated, using a combination of both used and some new materials, to creat what I call my ‘wings of sound’ whereby the speakers, mounted as they are on either side of the free-standing cabinet, swivel to whatever direcction is needed, depending on where I happen to be in, or near the room … all on the fairly cheap end of acquisition – say approx. $75 total.

    Yesterday, I unvailed my daughter’s present : a tea cabinet from Restore ($35) .. a chinese import knockoff in ‘Mission Style’ look, though a bit worse for wear. After a new paint job, complete with fabricate antiqued brass detailing and new glass fitted for the doors, its ready for use … the last task is to form, bisque, and glaze-fire the tiles that will be set within the top frame – so she gets both a Christmas AND a New Years gift within a span of weeks !

    Just a couple of examples of ‘repurposed’ family heirlooms that I’ve recently completed, to add to our humble domicile.

    Here’s wishing you and your’s a prosperous and pleasant new year.

  107. Picador wrote, “Similarly, the vinyl revival you describe has been going on for 15 or more years. Wikipedia identifies the trend as having taken off in 2007, but I remember hipsters bragging about their vinyl collections and the virtues of vinyl since quite a few years before that.”

    Wiki is definitely a few years too late on that trend — my cousin Jay Moore opened a vinyl shop in Baltimore back in the late 90’s. Now, Jay was a bit ahead of the curve when it came to embracing Luddite trends. Sometime around 2001 he found an old Thunderbird convertible, ripped out its cassette player, and installed an 8-track player to ride around in true seventies style. Some adventurous soul has to trailblaze a pathway back to Retrotopia, one discarded technology at a time.

    Of course, Baltimore culture is not exactly reflective of mainstream US behavior (It’s the birthplace of Divine and John Waters!), but any nascent trend will have experimental roots extending back long before any digital encyclopedia would label that trend a sure bet. Any city with sufficiently depressed real estate values probably had a vinyl shop long before 2007. Actually, that year, at the frothing peak of the real estate bubble, is just about the least likely for a counter-cultural brick-and-mortar trend to have started in the US. What are the folks at Wikipedia smoking?

  108. DropBear, many thanks for this. I wasn’t aware of Aboriginal farming! Over on this side of the planet most of what we learn about Australia prior to the Second World War or so focuses on witchetty grubs, Captain Cook, and the lyrics to at least a few verses of “Tie Me Kangaroo Down.” (Thus my interest in Oz news sources…)

    Karim, thank you!

    Peter, that’s a really curious thing for them to do. I’m left wondering if they found out that if they accept the fact that there’s a finite amount of fossil fuel, their models won’t produce the results they’ve staked their careers on getting…

    Synthase, many thanks for these!

    Andy, I’ve become convinced that the whole point of all that intrusive government regulation is to get rid of small businesses, so that big corporations can monopolize the market. I wonder — would you be willing to write up your experience with that as an essay and try to place it in an online magazine such as Quillette or Unherd? There’s enough of an appetite for change that it might do some serious good — and even lead to a change in policies that would benefit small businesses.

    Rhisiart, and a happy new year to you as well!

    Yorkshire, it’s at least possible. You might consider meditating on that. 😉

    Chris, many thanks for this. That’s fascinating, that the old timers are pulling out. I hope a wave of younger farmers catches on and comes in to replace them.

    KCS and Darren, many thanks for these!

    Sleiszadam, populist nationalism unquestionably has its problems. So does bureaucratic globalism, and of course so does any other existing or possible political movement. If we’re fortunate, the current shift can fix some of the worst problems caused by the old order, but I know it’s going to cause problems of its own. As for eras of crisis, which we can also spell “war” — well, you doubtless know Europe’s history even better than I do, and what I see as I look back across the entire recorded history of the continent is a sequence in which intervals of peace alternate with eras of war. It would be pleasant if that sequence could come to a halt, but I can’t see any reason to believe that. Once the EU goes the way of the Concert of Powers, the Peace of Westphalia, or any of the other arrangements that have imposed a few decades of peace on your exceedingly warlike continent, I figure it’s back to the battlefield again. (I wonder if this time the French will finally get around to fortifying their border with Belgium…)

    Yorkshire, excellent! A fine bit of appropriate tech.

    Jasper, true enough — and the political reality is that people in Ohio are seeing the beginning of the turn, and that’s enough to convince many of them.

    Phutatorius, yep. It’s a readily available target. I actually included the joke and the attached picture in a post in April of this year, though…
    Donna Trump

    MikeL, that was one of my howlers; I noted at the time that it was a bit of a long shot, but I was and still am surprised that the Saudi regime has been able to hang on as long as it has. That being the case, clearly I need to learn more about the Middle East before I make any more predictions about it!

    Thomas, er, so you’re seriously trying to claim that a multimillionaire celebrity politician has more in common with an ordinary working class American than he has in common with a billionaire celebrity politician? With all due respect, that seems bizarre to me.

    Patricia M, I wonder if there’s any way said senior citizens could teach what they know to younger people…

    Picador, I noted in my post that both trends have been in process for some time. What I foresee this year is a critical mass, in which both become unavoidable elements of the collective conversation of our time.

    Patricia M, good heavens — I had no idea Leslie Fish is still around. Back in the distant past, when dinosaurs stalked the earth and I went to science fiction conventions, she graced a small convention in Bellingham, WA with a rousing rendition of “That Minx from Pinsk.”

    Nothing Special, I’d noticed that the impeachment seems to have landed with a thud; if that continues the Democrats are even more doomed than I’d thought. As for the vinyl revival, when there are as many turntables for sale in a department store as there are Bluetooth-enabled boom boxes in a midsized, unfashionable city like Providence — and there are — it’s way past the status of hipster affectation.

    Justin, good heavens. Okay, I’m grinning now.

    Peter, okay, if the economists have started to admit that they were shoveling smoke all along, stick a fork in the existing order; it’s done. I’m delighted to hear of your Retrotopian successes!

    Helix, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Violet, don’t be too embarrassed. Your predictions were closer to the mark than those of quite a few famous pundits!

    Rose, thanks for this. Quite a few of the highly intuitive people I know have sensed something similar.

    Your Kittenship, by contrast, my shoggoths firmly believe in the reality of your little friends!

    Temporaryreality, I’ll have to look into that. Mind you, Trump has just worked out a trade agreement with China that involves China agreeing to sharply increase its purchases of US agricultural products, so things may be changing on that front as well. (China’s also just agreed to start buying Japanese beef for the first time since 2001, according to an article in the Asahi Shinbun; Chinese agriculture may be in much worse shape than anyone abroad realizes yet.)

    DFC, thank you for the bit of holiday humor! That was exactly the sort of thing I meant in my post when I talked about failed predictions being hosed off and recycled. (And your comments about Mozarts and Einsteins are spot on, of course.)

    Antionetta, you’re welcome, thank you, and it sounds as though you’re going to have quite a party in my absence!

  109. @ Lady Cutekitten

    Re power outages and squirrels

    Very true! Animal contacts (or as we say here, crispy critters) are the single largest cause of power outages in the Midwest, according to some analyses. Our guys in the line-crew have taken some interesting pictures…

    @ DFC (et alia)

    Re futurism (plus the opportunity to “David”)

    David–

    I don’t know if it is just a result of some recent content I’ve watched or if NASA is “pushing” stuff out there, but my Youtube feed suddenly has all these “promos” on the Artemis program, our coming permanent lunar presence, and the “next step” to Mars. Multi-national sponsors, the vaunted “Gateway” orbiting lunar station, and pre-staged supplies & equipment. Quite the high rah-rah factor, by my assessment.

    –David

  110. Something I was just made aware of today .. evidently, a Giant Asian Wasp was discovered by some resident in Blaine, Washington a few days ago … It’s not too hard to predict that that’s a problem in the making down the not so distant road. As a honeybee shepherd, I find that rather disconcerting, considering that the bees have enough pest/disease issues as it is. I lost my 2 backyard colonies last fall to curlywing virus via varroa mite transmission, which, according to recent research done in Hawaii, can also be ‘inadvertently’ passed on to bees by our local yellow jackets, through their own acts of predation !! … and now come these voracious, humongous bee-devouring vespids, that make the locals seem like poseurs ! I’ll bet, carts to horses, that these new lovelies were, uh, ‘imported’ via hitching a ride aboard some shipment of cheap chinese ‘bling’ having made it’s way to a westcoast port-of-call.

    “sigh”

  111. Dear David Trammel, Epstein was also rich, which did not excuse him from arrest and indictment. Or from possible assassination.

    Like I said, my bottom line. I don’t know how many others agree with me, if any, but I do know Trump has a serious problem with women voters. He can marry whom, or rather whoms, he likes, can appoint and promote idiots like smirking Kelly Anne if he wants, but there need to be some sort of limits to failure to use one’s brain for thinking.

    Dear Simon S, that is precisely my fear. What is to prevent some clueless “manager” from taking over the community garden or childcare coop?

  112. On the prediction side of things, it will be very interesting to see what happens in US politics in 2024.

    If Trump loses in 2020 and we have a President Biden, then his team will stay intact and who knows – he might even run again in 2024. That is a path toward continued polarization and maybe eventually insurgency. As much as I could never bring myself to vote for Orange Julius, I increasingly believe that a Trump defeat in 2020 would create more suffering long-term.

    If Trump wins in 2020, then all bets are off, and I foresee a major shakeup of the parties and coalitions. We’ve been stuck in Team Red and Team Blue – with fairly consistent and rigid platforms – for all of my life until 2016. I’ve always felt fairly comfortable with my membership in Team Blue and mildly annoyed with the antics and ideas of Team Red. Then Trump hijacked Team Red with his populist rhetoric and turned it into Team Trump. In reaction, Team Blue has allowed itself to become Team Anti-Trump.

    The thing is – Trumpism isn’t really a cohesive ideology so far as I can tell. It’s an uncomfortable blend of nationalist reforms, standard Team Red positions on social issues, blatant disregard for the environment, bellicose rhetoric, feigned Christian morals in the face of personal debauchery, and a gold-plated vision of making America great again all united in the personal brand that Donald Trump has nurtured into an eponymous multinational corporation. In response, Team Blue has morphed into the antithesis of all of those things, even when it contradicts the traditional platform of the Democratic party.

    It takes a fair amount of cognitive dissonance to break a person’s bond to their party, but that is happening now as folks such as myself walk away from Team Blue and Christians who take their faith seriously – among many others – walk away from Team Trump. Meanwhile the rest of society doubles down on their polar-opposite derangement syndromes, both of which are now more attached to the person of Donald Trump than to a specific ideology. It will be very interesting to see where this leads when Trump is no longer on the ballot.

    Have a good vacation JMG!

  113. Teresa, have fun with the “Sad Kittens.” The wars between the Social Justice Warriors™ and the Sad Puppies have added a fair amount of color to science fiction fandom, what’s left of it, for more than a decade now. I don’t know a thing about romance fandom, but I hope it can avoid the same sort of trouble.

    Polecat, excellent! You get this afternoon’s gold star for Retrotopian repurposing.

    Christophe (if I may), the folks at Wikipedia have a very specific set of political and cultural agendas, and it’s not at all surprising that they’re busily downplaying something as threatening to the myth of progress and the goal of corporate cultural domination as the vinyl revival.

    Polecat, ouch. Still, that’s Nature doing what she does best, getting adaptable species into new niches…

    Mark, I expect him to win, and yes, at that point we get a comprehensive shakeup of political alignments — and about time. If that results in the US finally getting authentically liberal and conservative parties again, I’ll be a very happy man.

  114. Andy, the best I can recommend are the people who did our system, and now operate nationwide – http://www.halifaxrenewable.co.uk/. They’ll do an excellent job for a very reasonable price. The books The Housebuilder’s Bible and The Green Building Bible give enough information that you can discuss the subject knowledgeably with any installers you decide to work with. While solar thermal isn’t as complex and fiddly to get right as heat pumps, it’s not something I’d ever want to DIY.

    On the subject of small-scale local manufacturing, these look like some very nice machine tools – https://www.sherline.com/.

  115. A holiday note here: in the lobby of the Tower Club there is an electric menorah in front of the posted calendar. The “flames” are not the rich yellow of an oil lamp or real candles – they are a cold white and “indicator-light blue.” I have seen a real menorah with real candles in it in an upscale home on Christmas Eve and the effect was as different as — as heaven or hell.

  116. JMG, I too expect Trump to win, but, given that massive vote fraud is likely, we may never know he won!

  117. Enlightening discovery after making like Donald Duck over one of the many slings & arrows today’s life offers – I have as much rage in me as anybody. I just don’t channel it through Orange Julius. (No, I seem to channel it through a real bodily channel, but that’s another story, being down with the current Gift That Keeps On Giving, and out of chicken soup. Everything above the neck also stuffed up, including, apparently, any remnant of brains. At least there is ginger tea in the house.)

  118. John, DFC, et alia–

    Also re futurism and progress Progress PROGRESS

    An article that appeared in a recent industry journal:

    https://www.smart-energy.com/industry-sectors/data_analytics/feeding-the-big-data-and-artificial-intelligence-information-appetite/

    I particularly enjoyed the embedded marketing in the section headers: “Big data and artificial intelligence is the answer,” “Smart grid is the answer,” Internet of Things is the answer.”

    Nothing about vacuum tubes, though 😉

  119. @Nothing Special: I gave up on music years ago, so my views may be a bit dated.
    the point I was trying to make however is still valid I think. Digital recording technology is incredibly powerful and we find it hard to control that power. Be it overcompression or the more recent overuse of autotune.
    The loudness war may be over, but the war on music waged by business and technology is still in full swing. And sanity is missing presumed dead. Just turn on the radio for a few minutes if you dare.
    The current back to vinyl is mainly a marketing trick to make people pay for the same old tunes for the fourth or fifth time.

    @JMG It is actually Dark Emu, not Black Emu. An interesting read, although it gets a bit repetitive towards the end.
    Australia is a place where the brand is very different from the product. This applies to history as well as current affairs.

  120. Cliff:
    Holy smokes! That article from the Baffler is incredible: nobody likes Boris Johnson (!), the people who voted Tory are complicit in a massive wave of deaths, of poverty, of austerity and the beleaguered Good People™ are forced to sit by and watch their wonderful country dragged into the gutter by the Really Bad People. Or worse. I’d say it sounds like full-on TDS: Tory Derangement Syndrome. I don’t live in Britain, but my husband’s mother was a war bride from England which means half his family still live there. If I believed this article, I’d have to believe that the husband’s meek, deeply religious cousins are in fact greedy, hateful sons-of-whatevers, but they’re not. There is, however, some small consolation in knowing that we in the US have no lock on the crazy.

    Tidlösa:
    Two decades ago I used to visit Sweden fairly regularly and studied Swedish in college so I could get around quite well on my own without relying on English. Although I have few opportunities to speak Swedish these days, I can still read it well and I try to follow the news there in my free time. My acquaintances in Malmö seem quite shell-shocked by the increase in bombings and random violence there as well as in other Swedish cities, and these people, who’d once had political leanings that would be considered very left wing in the US, are rushing to vote for the Sweden Democrats. I can’t say it surprises me; they all claim that the current government is unwilling to tackle the problems generated by massive, unassimilated immigration. If the folks in power won’t address what the populace sees is going wrong – and are hesitant even to admit it exists – ordinary people will find someone or many someones who will.

    In cleaning out my late brother-in-law’s house we happened upon a stockpile of opera albums which belonged to my late father-in-law, lots and lots of Enrico Caruso. These weren’t vinyl LP’s, they are shellac 78’s that are enormously heavy and we’ve got no idea what to do with them. Record stores gladly took the contemporary music LP’s (Dylan, etc.) but nobody wants the really old stuff. I don’t want to leave them in the garage for our kids to deal with when we’re gone, although I suppose they’ll be less affected by sentimentality than my husband is and will just dump them.

  121. @KCS–“Swaraj?” I thought that was a done deal when India got free from Britain.

    @JMG – LOL – I’ve actually seen women who look like your picture of TransTrump! And, yes, it would be really nice if we could teach classes to younger people. I’ll put that suggestion in to the Resident’s Council. And Leslie Fish has retired to Arizona and is trying to run an organic farm and raise polydactyl cats for their intelligence. (Phauz thinks that may be a bit premature) and is living off a handful of old album sales and GoFundMe donations. She has a taste for the apocalyptic, or at least shows it on Firestorm – or that may be a tribute to the Mad Max movies. Last I heard she was Heathen – Asatrur – but who knows by now? I used to have a complete collection of her tapes, and later, whatever CDs she issued. I love the song about the union man who organized the USS Enterprise, as totally off-the-wall as it was. (Hey. Leslie. The military is Different!)

  122. As I mentioned before, Oswald Spengler foresaw the early 21st Century divide in the West between global-city cosmopolitanism and provincialism. The former has wealth and numbers but the latter has more solidarity and cohesion. In the contemporary period, moral panics about white racism provide a degree of cohesion to the diverse, cosmopolitan denizens global-city politics. In the witty phrase of paleoconservative writer Steve Sailer , these paranoic moral panics are the KKKrazy Glue that holds the cosmopolitan together (https://www.takimag.com/article/the_kkkrazy_glue_that_holds_the_obama_coalition_together_steve_sailer/#axzz5Uya7zWSH)

    I’m pleased to see that you are a fan of Quillette and UnHerd. They are both middlebrow outlets geared towards what Michael Lind calls “The Radical Center”.

  123. Varun, there is a small alliance of state level parties that are very pro-fedralist (in the new, states-rights sense of the word) getting going. We’ve got five candidates for our presidential primary in my state, all of which are standing on other states’ ballots in other parties. It’s just a very, very, small movement, and I gaurentee you if the media takes any note they’ll pick the, er, individual from California who can be relied on for a predictably noxious rant. But we have no way to bar him from participating in the primary, and honestly, trust our voters to toss him out like dirty bathwater in favor of any of the other four.

    Kashtan, as a parent of Gen Z kids (home schooling mine, but they have friends from all walks) I can tell you both that they are very skilled liars and that they believe it a duty to lie to authority. They understand that data can be tied back to them and nothing is truly annonymous. Trust not the polls: the youth lie. The first bunch will be old enough to vote come November, and will probably lie to exit pollers just as credibly as they lie to the sex and drugs polsters in their schools. They have lived their entire lives within the War on Terror, and they do not know any of the pre-9/11 feeling of optimism.

    In regards to Christmas, many within my circle are sick and tired of Commercialmas. There’s a lot of talk of Christmas starting on Christmas, not before, and my family put up our decorations on Christmas Eve, and got very little pushback. There’s a bit more you-do-you, but there’s also an acknowledgement that Christmas means Something, Something much bigger than a celebration of consumption, and less desire to imitate Las Vegas for a few weeks. I’ve been plenty vocal in commenting that Christmas runs to Candlemas, Dec. 25-Feb 2, and I’m not the only one.

    I wish you all a joyous celebration of your holy days, and a Merry Christmas to those within my tradition.

  124. @David BTL

    “Very true! Animal contacts (or as we say here, crispy critters) are the single largest cause of power outages in the Midwest, according to some analyses. Our guys in the line-crew have taken some interesting pictures…”

    I once saw an ‘animal contact’ happen right out my window. I was at my desk when there was a blue flash at the transformer across the dirt road. Power went out. The crew came and tossed down the culprit – a squirrel had very briefly become One With The Grid, before he had all his fur blown off and became crisped. They attached a device that was supposed to prevent it in future.

  125. JMG,

    It appears that reality has caught up to my short story idea of building Mars colonies here on Earth.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/news/the-first-mars-inspired-village-on-earth-will-open-in-the-not-so-distant-future/ar-BBYjfIa?ocid=ientp

    Though to be fair it appears to be a “space-inspired” village rather than a full on colony. Like Disneyland for space nerds. My favorite part of the article is when they mention that each station will contain a science center, an art and music center and a hospitality center. What, no concierge dining options or valet parking? They fail to mention where the mechanics and janitors are going to work but given the aesthetic designs showcased in the promo images, I assume they’re going to wave their hands and say “robots” or something to that effect. Seriously, look at that bedroom. Yuck.
    It really illustrates how far the Future has fallen that they had to bring the space hotel to Earth to make it work (although they mention planned space flights to a real space hotel in the coming decade. Nobody hold their breath!). Reading this feels more like watching a religious commune being founded by devotees of Progress than the next big leap.

    Anyways, have a wonderul New Year and a brilliant New Decade everybody!

  126. I will add two independent and one rural news source for Australian Media.

    Michael West Investigative Journalism.

    Does show some bias at times but it usually pretty good at making any glaring faux pas. His bio is a good start for his background in the field.

    “Having worked for eight years investigating financial markets and big business for Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian and another eight years for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald at Fairfax Media”

    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/

    New Matilda

    Sometimes behind a paywall but offers a different point of view. Not a huge amount of content but worth having a look over.

    https://newmatilda.com/

    The Land

    Agricultural & rural news. Owned by Fairfax it is a little bit biased but generally does a reasonable job of reporting on the important stuff.

    https://www.theland.com.au/

  127. Ongoingly observant and perceptive Archdruid, I had an interesting experience about a week ago where a neighbor kid brought over a 33&1/3rd vinyl record, not LP-sized but smaller diameter, which had been his grandmothers’. He had seen our turntable previously and had asked if he could bring a record or two to play. It was Vivaldi, and we listened to most of the first side while his mother chatted with my wife. As the boy, about age 10, and I listened to the record, he told me how he’d been going with his parents to various antique stores with an eye peeled to try to find a wind-up non-electronic turntable. He further mentioned he liked the kind that have the speaker horn built into the base beneath the record platter, rather than the type with the speaker horn above the turntable. We discussed why the old gramophones like that have variable speeds to adjust for thermal and other variables. I was amazed at his knowledge of such arcane technology, which I saw a small bit of when I was growing up in the 1950’s but am no way an expert on. So this neighbor kid, I think, is a harbinger of what you mentioned in this week’s essay about reviving older technologies, not only in his interest in vinyl records but further in being interested in playing said vinyl with non-electronic mechanisms. Changing winds and waves indeed!

    Best wishes for the upcoming new year, and enjoy your well-deserved break!

  128. Re: Australian history: well, that’s about what Australian kiddies get taught, too. There’s an Australian Aboriginal author named Bruce Pascoe who is dragging Aboriginal farming back into the national consciousness via a book named “Dark Emu”, which describes those farming techniques using references from the earliest European colonists. He’s fighting the good fight against the stereotype of Aboriginal people being rootless nomads, which made it perfectly okay to drive them off their ancestral lands.

    A few years earlier, Bill Gammage’s “Greatest Estate on Earth” documented Aboriginal landscaping techniques using the same European sources (because of course, the Aboriginal oral traditions have less mainstream credibility than the diaries of white settlers). Speaking of retro technology, the farming techniques from the oldest culture on Earth might be making a comeback.

  129. Patricia M, oog.

    Your Kittenship, election fraud is as American as apple pie, but since both sides engage in it with glad abandon, it rarely has a lot of effect on national elections.

    Patricia M, we all do. It’s just that us grownups can deal with it without having to scream insults at somebody…

    Your Kittenship, here’s hoping!

    David BTL, funny. “The end had arrived, but it was not yet in sight.”

    DropBear, so noted and thank you.

    Patricia M, well, I’m glad to hear that she’s still around.

    Aidan, oh, I know. That aspect of Spengler’s analysis is one of the places that he really leaps past Toynbee and Vico — though they have their good points too, of course.

    StarNinja, you know, that looks exactly like some of the ugly “futuristic” architecture that was being flung around in the 1970s. No surprises there — the interplanetary future is practically an antique at this point!

    Michael, many thanks for these.

    Bryan, excellent! If kids are beginning to apply their innate geekery to that sort of thing, the future is rosy indeed.

    Kfish, many thanks for this. Hmm indeed!

  130. I’ll give vinyl recordings this: not requiring lasers and microprocessors means they are more supply chain collapse resistant that CD. But I remember when I got my first CD player in 1990 (mid-end component) and plugged it into a pretty good amp and speaker set up. I marveled at the utter lack of distortion on the recordings and the clear sound. I’ll take a pass on returning to vinyl, too many sonic artifacts in the medium distorting the music.

    On the other hand, I rarely buy CDs anymore because most everything seems to mixed for MP3/MP4 files or worse yet streaming. So even paying more for the CD I’m getting MP3/streaming quality sound. The recent vinyl I’ve heard suffers the same fate, because like the CDs, the recordings are the same masters that were mixed for MP3/streaming. I assume this is because professional production is still expensive (I haven’t had any involvement in the music business since the early 2000s), so you are not going to pay for two or more masters of the same tracks. Add to this that I have high end speakers and a decent amp, and (read this part with maximal sarcasm) the production values of music mixed for streaming really shine through.

  131. JMG, er yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Bernie has more in common with the average American than he has with Trump.

    Bernie was not born with a $24M inheritance from Daddy, which was promptly scwandered when The Donald came of age. Nor did he receive multiple $1M “loans” from Daddy over the years.

    I am hoping that Bernie can somehow wrestle the nomination from the clueless DNC, because I think he truly would fight for the working class. It would make for an interesting election to have two oponents who have both snubbed the ruling elite of their respective parties.

    Interesting times ahead.

    -TG

  132. @StarNinja: EBios reminds me of Biosphere 2. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to pay for another grifter with the same grift…

  133. JMG, I think the last presidential election featured less fraud than most because our moral and intellectual betters were absolutely, positively sure Hillary would win, so they figured they didn’t need fraud. The 2020 election will probably go to the opposite extreme, disgruntling that portion of the citizenry that still cares.

  134. @Kenaz Filan As John correctly notes, tube amps never went away — in fact, the overwhelming majority of every recording you’ve ever heard of an electric guitar was made by close-micing a tube amp. They have remained the standard for decades because solid state amplifiers have never been capable of duplicating those sounds, probably due to the second order harmonics as you mention.

    Now that I think about it, what would be a lot more telling is if vacuum tubes start replacing transistors in other electronics (those not related to creating or reproducing sound). I don’t know of any relevant examples, but now I’m curious.

  135. One positive prediction I have for the year is that Joe Biden might not get the Dem nomination. If even my MSNBC-parroting mother and older brother agree with me that it really sounds as though the former vice-president is loosing his marbles from old age, that…doesn’t speak well of his chances at the primary ballot-box this February and March. Small wonder his campaign staff would like to minimize how often he speaks publicly!

  136. The Russians are in league with the Galactic Empire!

    https://www.cnet.com/google-amp/news/actually-half-of-the-last-jedi-haters-were-not-russian-trolls/?__twitter_impression=true

    Well…not really. But it seems a lot of people think they are. 😳

    (I haven’t seen the movie and don’t know if the Russians loved it, hated it, fell asleep in the middle, or said “I can do better than this!” and went home to start typing fan-fiction in funny-looking letters.)

  137. @ Beekeeper: FWIW, just a couple miles from me is a shop that trades in 78s and cylinder recordings, and also repairs antique record players:
    http://vintagemusiccompany.com/index.html I can’t imagine it’d be practical for you to ship your collection to Minneapolis, even if they’d buy it sight unseen, but perhaps they might have some useful advice.

  138. JMG, on “I’m not talking about the groups that just opposed to the Vietnam War.”
    In my view, these (violent) groups were doomed to shrivel, and be fought fiercely by the gov’t, when their MOST popular issue melted, quite quickly, late in Nixon’s first term.
    Their last chance to make major hay disappeared, when JC granted amnesty.

    By contrast, we’re already in a cold civil war, with the Deep State (and its Dem allies, e.g. Schumer on “six ways from Sunday”) in open rebellion vs. the Deplorables, driven largely by what you’ve called “the hate that dare not speak its name”.
    My sense of things is, that the Right is far more aroused now (incl. by Lefty agitprop about white “extinction” or “cancellation”), than it was in the 70’s.

    “a great many who aren’t that committed to it are starting to back away.”
    Yeah, they’re starting to, but until mega-events (akin to the end of the Vietnam War) quite weaken the buttons which the SJWs can push (within moderate liberals), the SJWs will likely still dominate the Dem Party, far more than they ever did in the 70s (when McGovern got the nod, but with much less than 50% of Primaries’ votes).
    Until an authentic Moderate (like JC was) gets the Dem nod, almost all of the Right will assume that the Dems are still dominated by SJWs.

  139. Tidlösa

    What is driving people from the socialist party to the democrats? Is it immigration?

    Are the stories of increased rape true do you think?

  140. Archdruid,

    I would second KCS’s suggestions, both Pguru and Swaraj are on my list. I’ve listed a few more.

    https://thediplomat.com/
    https://www.asiatimes.com
    https://www.thehindu.com/ (globalist perspective)
    https://www.oneindia.com/ (nationalist perspective)
    https://www.newsx.com/ (swing between globalist and nationalist)
    https://www.wionews.com/ (nationalist)

    Boysmom,

    Well then I’m counting that as a win, do you have any links to this new alliance?

    Patricia,

    Nope, we still have to deal with the globalists who have been in control for the past 75 years and who have been doing everything in their power to undermine the Dharmic roots of the country.

    Regards,

    Varun

  141. Jmg, regarding Australian news, the one I use the most is the Australian edition of the guardian news website.

    https://www.theguardian.com/au

    The new sources that most Australians use are the ABC, the Australian, courier mail, and various other local newspapers.

    However bear in mind that, as others have mentioned, most newspapers are owned by Rupert Murdoch, especially The Australian.

    Also, I’ve been told that most newspapers just report on whatever The Australian talks about so I’d just stick to that one.

    Something that must be neared in mind with the ABC, which a lot of people don’t like to think about, is that the government in power is the Liberal party, our version of republicans, and they have ties to Rupert Murdoch as well as being mostly neoliberals in economic thought.

    So our news sources aren’t as diverse as Australians think they should be.

  142. In terms of government regulation favoring large businesses at the expense of small I am reminded of remarks my ex, who spent his career in heavy construction, made. A small contractor he knew was heavily fined for having and un-shored ditch (not lined with boards or other material to prevent the dirt from collapsing) a few inches deeper than regulation. It was impossible to shore because of particular site considerations and NO ONE was injured or endangered in any way. The fine was several hundred dollars, enough to make the difference between profit and loss on the job. About the same time two workers died, and one barely survived when sent into an empty oil storage tank by Exxon. The company was fined, of course, but not enough to even cause the stock price to dip. He ‘joked’ that Exxon could pay the fine out of petty cash.

    The only solution I can see to this type of discrepancy is to write regulations to set fines as a percentage of company revenues rather than fixed amounts. I have a friend who also advocates a complete restructuring of the corporate law so that executives are not longer exempt from the results of their actions and to make it possible to execute a corporation, i.e. force the sale of assets and complete dissolution of the entity. His works may be found at http://www.dizerega.com/home/this-site/.

  143. DFC, Space Amazon can be very neatly shortened (and possibly improved by the contraction) to Spamazon.

  144. An authentic Moderate would be one who, for starters, emphatically admitted, that the whole RussiaGate and UkraineGate/ impeachment tantrums were the biggest disgraces in the Dem party’s history since Lincoln/ Jim Crow.
    To my knowledge, the only major figure who has come close, to coming clean in such a way, is Tulsi.

  145. I’m left wondering if they found out that if they accept the fact that there’s a finite amount of fossil fuel, their models won’t produce the results they’ve staked their careers on getting…

    BINGO!

    At least they wisely pivoted from “global warming” to “climate change” ahead of a potential looming Maunder Minimum.

  146. Leslie Fish is not only still around, she is married to my ex. Our daughter and her kids, and half sisters spent Thanksgiving with them.

  147. Just my anecdotes here: I guess a rising tide lifts all boats, because the elite, upper 20 percent I grew up with and dropped out of (which was partially my choice and partially not my choice, and is now completely my choice) did just fine in 2019. The latest thing for salary class families with children to do is to jet to exotic locales, take selfies at recognizable landmarks, and compile the results into the wealth-signaler’s version of the annoying Christmas letter. Luckily, a picture is worth a thousand words and there is seldom any gloating in text form. Even the Trump-deranged don’t seem to mind the prosperity the Orange One’s policies have bestowed upon their class. I see absolutely no shortage of funds among the airplanes and mandatory-college-education set.

    Retail in my area was booming this Christmas. Half-dead malls were jolted back to having a faint pulse. Crowded stores everywhere and everyone buying, and this is just what you saw offline. This particular Christmas season hauled in retail’s biggest profits ever in history, according to CNN. I find it depressing and grotesque that people in general are still so materialistic and I’m the curmudgeon who thinks that one shouldn’t buy what they don’t need aside from the occasional modest dinner out or in-state hiking trip — clearly the lessons of 2009 were not taken seriously — but nobody listens to me. They’re partying like it is 1999 out there in salary-class land. In my lower-middle class neighborhood, there are help wanted signs all over the place. Everyone here still works their tails off to barely afford to get by. As for Christmas decorations, there were quite a few in the Chicago suburbs; more in the poorer neighborhoods than the richer ones. It doesn’t make sense to decorate for Christmas if you’re spending three weeks in the Galapagos.

    JMG, I hope you enjoy the heck out of your Winter Break. I’m loving mine.

  148. @JMG
    I’ll keep my eyes open next time I’m in a department store.

    @dropBear

    “but the war on music waged by business and technology is still in full swing. And sanity is missing presumed dead. Just turn on the radio for a few minutes if you dare”

    One thing to consider is that what’s on the radio no longer represents what’s popular. In other words, media isn’t as consolidated as it used to be, so music culture is much more fractured than it’s been in a long time. There’s a lot of independent artists who reach the consumer directly without going through the big labels. It’s more like an age of extremes. People who use the technology well do stuff that stands on its own, and horrible music keeps getting worse – but the era of the big defining band that a whole generation identifies with – that’s largely gone. Bon Iver, for example, is great, and it holds up. But we’re not going to see it on MTV.
    .

  149. To Christophe: “Yes, my little Victorian townhouse has become more lit up than my neighbors could have imagined in their worst nightmares. What hath God wrought?” LMAO! Epic! Your post is nothing less than an inspiration! This informs me that I simply must up my Christmas decoration game next year, my little waving Frosty and the big wreath are nowhere near enough, despite the fact they light up. I need to get the inflatable polar bears that look like they’re humping from a distance. I will be on the lookout for the lurid and the oversized. You know those cascading snowflake projector beams? Yep, I’ll want two of those, one for my house, and one for my parents. Pink waterproof cascading meteor shower lights have become my new holy grail. My only issue is my neighborhood: it’s not a snooty or WASPy place, so everyone will probably just eat it up. Now my parents’ neighborhood, on the other hand…

  150. Happy holidays, a blessed new year and my best wishes for everyone.

    Also, JMG, thanks for all these years of effort in your blogging. Enjoy your vacation!

  151. @DropBear, I am always astounded to learn of the complexities of the Aboriginal culture. I live in Melbourne, Victoria and I hear almost nothing about the ways of the original settlers. I was born and have lived here for 35 years so far. The culture shock that came when I eventually went to New Zealand was amazing, that have at least in the last few decades tried to preserve the original culture and to integrate it into their modern life. It is strange and yet feels so right to see. Buildings that have their titles in English and Te Reo. To have magazines, books, radio and TV stations all in Te Reo and all the while without any legacy of atonement for past wrongs. Not because they ignored them but because they are mostly over them. Mileage may vary in various parts of the social space.

    In Australia you get a suburb, a street name and maybe a park with an Aboriginal name and thats about it. Most of the stories of the past, while not exactly lost, are basically put on the back of the dustiest book shelf covered with old rags so that nobody can find it by accident.

    But the more I learn about it the more I am amazed at what they achieved. About a year back I learned about the native story of “The three brothers” and how it turned out this story is used to warn of coming storms being at the time that ‘the three brothers’ rise in the morning.

    In modern astronomy terms, the three stars of Orions belt rise into the morning around the time of year when Cyclones are present. That was when I knew I was hooked on the power of native folk lore and have started down that rabbit hole of learning the ways of the past.

    There entire realm of Astrology is amazing – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Aboriginal_astronomy

    —-

    As for turning on the Radio… I am kind of impressed by what modern producers can do. They are stuck on a typical 4/4 time signature and they try their best to at least make it vaguely interesting. I mean I don’t like it at all but at least they are trying to make it seem interesting, in the same way movie producer load on massive amount of computer graphics to try and make up for a terrible story. Give me odd time signatures/poly-tonal/poly-metric music and I will groove out any time. That will give you a head start in being unique any time.

    As for the volume wars there is still the issue in recording of “Hot Audio” in which producers try to mix things for maximum impact but lose a lot of the subtle details in the process. Volume is one part of this, just merely overloading the soundscape as well with too many competing ‘signals’ if you will, is another.

    This is an issue in both Digital and Analog audio and has been for decades. Phil Spectors “Wall of sound” comes to mind and the likes of George Harrison eventually went on to regret ever using it. Technology can only dictate these things so far, eventually it is how people use it that also can ruin the perception of a technology.

  152. I’d like to make an out there prediction: someone will die in space during the 2020s, and this will not deter the true believers in progress, but will make them much more of a minority.

  153. Chris, fair enough! It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for the geekoisie to start moving toward mixing for vinyl.

    Thomas, I think you’re fooling yourself. As far as I can see, Sanders is just another rich politician, who’s learned to mouth a slightly different set of canned sentiments in order to make people like you think that he cares about anything but his own wealth and power.

    Your Kittenship, given some of the things that hit the news very briefly after the election — the precincts in Detroit that had 1/3 as many ballots in the box as there were votes counted, and so on — I’m not sure I agree with that.

    Mister N, if the Democrat establishment shove Biden down the throat of the electorate I suspect the results will be epic.

    Your Kittenship, when people start insisting that sinister Russian bots are responsible for the fact that a bad movie gets snarky reviews, I think we’ve reached the point where it’s reasonable to talk about, oh, paranoid schizophrenia or something of the sort.

    Mouse, well, we’ll see. I recall reading about the frantic hatred aimed at FDR, which was extremely widespread among Republicans and conservative Democrats alike, and which dwindled in the same way. And there’s Edward Arlington Robinson’s poem “The Master,” about Lincoln. The first stanza’s apt:

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

    Varun, many thanks for these! I should be able to get up to speed on Indian politics by the time of the Aries ingress chart.

    J.L.Mc12, we’ve got the same situation here in the US, so no worries!

    Rita, I didn’t know that you were a friend of Gus! Please say hi for me to him one of these days.

    Mouse, no argument there. I’m watching Gabbard and Tammy Duckworth as Dems who could begin the process of rebuilding something out of the rubble.

    Reece, thank you! I have a very spotty background in pop culture, but I have a (no doubt uttery futile) wish that Studio Ghibli will someday do the movie version of The Weird of Hali; they’re literally the only people I can think of who could do it right. (Hollywood? Oh dear gods, no. They’d make a complete hash of it.)

    TJ, we don’t yet know what caused the Maunder minimum and what signs might or might not indicate that another is on its way, so expecting one is about as reasonable as, oh, believing an IPCC forecast. As usual, the future we get will be somewhere between the quarreling extremes…

    Rita, good heavens. I hope my mentioning her wasn’t a source of discomfort for you.

    Kimberly, many thanks for the data points.

    Your Kittenship, well, the sooner Mall-Warts collapse in on themselves, the better…

    CR, you’re most welcome and thank you.

    Will, that’s not very far out there. Space is dangerous, and as long as people keep being sent out there, deaths can be expected.

  154. About the frantic hatred aimed at FDR and Lincoln, the former was evidently target of a major plot foiled largely by Smedley Butler, and the latter saw a Civil War in his tenure.
    The hate at FDR ebbed largely when we were attacked in WWII, and I’ll expect this hate of Trump to last until a similar cataclysm.
    In any case, I say, huge hatred of Presidents is a powerful indicator of system instability.

  155. Sorry to be vague, JMG. I was speaking only of presidential election fraud. I’m sure there was no lessening of fraud in other races.

    I used to live in apartments built by a company called Cardinal Builders, and knew a guy who’d worked for them. He said THEIR buildings were designed to last 40 years.

  156. @Chris Smith

    “I assume this is because professional production is still expensive…”

    Actually, professional production is dirt cheap.

    If I ever get the time, I hope to write a book or at least a long essay on the music industry’s demise. The amazing thing to my mind was that the golden age of music production (60s/70s/80s/early 90s) was a time when the music industry simultaneously ripped off both the producers (musicians) AND the consumers. Somehow this combination led to the best quality recorded music.

    Since around 2000, the cost of production has gone to essentially zero and so has the quality.

    Having been on both sides of the recording desk, I can say that the limiting factor is almost always musicianship and songwriting and not the mixing and mastering.

    If you were involved in the music industry you might already know this, but back in the day, the record labels and bands would engage in an elaborate dance to ensure that money was not wasted by allowing poor musicians into the recording studio (remember Pete Best?). Record label reps would come to live shows to meet the bands and try and scope out if they were serious enough to be worth signing. Then they would get hooked up with a producer whose job it was to protect the record label’s interests by ensuring a minimum quality of music emerged on the other side of the recording process. This often meant recordings that were not what the band wanted.

    None of that exists any more except in small pockets here and there. Anybody can record now but recordings don’t sell so there’s no incentive to put extra time and money into their production. Because the whole system has gone, there is less incentive and opportunity for musicians to master their craft as well. I suspect these are the reasons behind you noticing the inferior quality of recorded music and not the medium or the mixes.

  157. Jmg, I thought you would say that, and I cannot wait to hear what you think of Australian politics since it has become quite a mess.

    Also, regarding the book “Dark Emu” I strongly suggest you read it, the author has evidence, both written and photographic, that aborigines built automatic fish traps and made corrals to scare kangaroos into so they could hunt them easier, alongside other amazing things.

  158. @Michael Ian Grey,

    thanks for that link to aboriginal astronomy. Just a crying shame that we manage to destroy 50000 years of history in just a couple of centuries.
    I don’t know that much about NZ, but I guess they had the treaty of waitangi whereas we had terra nullius. If you ever end up living in banjo country, you’ll meet a lot of very nice people, who still cling to that dreadful idea.

    About music. I agree. A lot of todays producers and sound engineers are highly skilled turd-polishers. It is amazing what they can do with stuff that mere mortals would just flush down the dunny.
    That is precisely my point. Focus on packaging instead of content. I believe our obsession with technology and business (or maybe busyness) is a major driver in this process.
    Doesn’t just apply to music i guess.

  159. @Nothing Special: that sounds a bit like the “Long Tail” of the Internet about 15 years ago that never really happend.
    I don’t know where you live. Things certainly can be different there, but here in australia, i see only mainstream. The musicians I know that make a living, do so by staying as close to the mainstream as possible. Solo acts or duo with backing tracks is a big thing here, and you can make a living out of it, if you have your self-respect and taste surgically removed.
    That is from a performer’s point of view. I cant much say about the listener’s point of view, since when I look for good music these days, I look further and further back in time.
    People always tell me it’s all great, there’s plenty of good contemporary stuff out there, you just gotta look for it. However i think the signal to noise ratio matters.

  160. On peak oil, I was re-reading Matt Taibbi’s article on the ‘vampire squid’ Goldman Sachs, and noticed something that hadn’t really registered with me before.
    https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/the-great-american-bubble-machine-195229/

    When the price of oil shot up from around $60 in the middle of 2007 to a high of $147 in the summer of 2008, there was no real oil shortage. It was all based on speculation. “By 2008, a barrel of oil was traded 27 times, on average, before it was actually delivered and consumed.”

    And such speculation only became possible because in 1991 Goldman Sachs had wangled an exemption to the rules governing trade in commodities which previously had kept the markets well-regulated, and started selling oil futures while at the same time manipulating the price of oil upwards. When the music stopped the price dropped back to $33 and many persons and institutions lost heavily as their bets turned sour.

    I myself believed at the time there was a genuine shortage and the price could only rise higher. Now, while I still believe in Peak Oil, I am not nearly so sure how the price of oil will behave in the future.

  161. @ Patricia Mathews – I’ll send you something in the next 24 hours. If you see anything with “snapsht” on it, in your slag pile, it’s me. Lew

  162. @ Beekeeper – Might try giving your local auction houses, a call. Just ask if there’s any market for shellac records, and would they take them on. Might not make much, but, at least they’d go onto a new home. Lew

  163. et All – Really want to be irritating, next Christmas season? I discovered a secret, this year. There’s a tipping point. I was my usual, “Bah, Humbug!” self, but about a week and a half before Christmas, discovered that it was much more effective to assume holiday cheer, with a slightly manic edge. By that point, everyone is pretty tired of the whole thing.

    Re: Vinyl records. The book “Revenge of Analog” made an interesting supposition. Why vinyl and books are making a comeback. Not so much a matter of being “hipper than though” (tho, that can be at play.) But as a way of establishing a visible identity. Walk into an apartment with all the tunes on a device, and all the books in an e-reader. What does that say about the tenant? Well, nothing. A shelf of records and a shelf of books “says” something. Lew

  164. JMG, I certainly cannot claim to know European history better than you. 🙂 Anyway, I see there is no real factual disagreement between us, only our attitudes towards the perceived facts are somewhat different. Perhaps just the usual local differences.

    Western countries will possibly get better deals with nationalism. It is their native ideology invented for them, not for Eastern Europe where it is generally misfit and damaging. How we will deal with it here is our own business. This is probably just fine.

  165. HI JMG,
    Varun and KCS’s recommendations have covered most of it. I would recommend the ‘Indian Punchline’ blog by a former diplomat, MK Badhrakumar. Of late he has gone slightly bonkers, his recent predictions have been flat out wrong (predicting the end of a Trump presidency), and he tends to see everything as a diplomatic please-all win-all game where geopolitics, military etc. don’t matter (he seems to care more about India’s image abroad over what happens to actual Indians). But occasionally he is actually erudite about the diplomatic games being played in Asia. https://indianpunchline.com/

    I would recommend the following pro-India channel (some of these are videos – you can ignore the video aspect and just listen to the sound, the video is just someone’s face).
    https://upword.co/

    Unfortunately I have found no balanced or even-handed blogs or commentators – the battle line seems to be strong with both sides pitching for all-out war.

    YCS

  166. Same thing has happened in Australia, you can add Prime Minister Scott Morrisons recent shock victory against left liberal Bill Shorten to that listof Trump and BoJo.

    The hugely unpopular and bland pentecostal Christian Morrison proposed absolutely nothing other than that he was “Not Bill”. Bill meanwhile was proposing a dizzying array of liberal policies favouring big government climate action, pro refugee and pernicious identity politics, while scrapping numerous tax loopholes that benefit both the wealthy and the aspiring working and middle class.

    End result was that the uninspiring ScoMo as is he is known, romped it home and is now extremely busy carrying out his promise of doing nothing, opting for a quiet beach in Hawaii as enormous bushfires threatened the largest city in the country, killing many in its path. But i digress.

    My concern here is that for some time i have felt that the Anglosphere is reforming itself into a battle formation to take on the BRIICs in the hope of rejuvenating the unsustainable system , and that the support of the working classes is essential in order for this to happen, while the liberal elites are being cancelled, Weimar style. Hope i’m wrong.

    Have already seen a few pundits suggesting that the anti semitic accusations that were so successful in smearing the Corbyn candidacy will be rolled out against The Bernster. Anyone who questions Israeli policy or action will automatically be labelled a bona fide goose stepping Putin – Nazi.

    Happy Hannukah !

  167. JMG,

    A $1.5 million net worth is upper-middle class in most of the country, not outside of the realm of diligent saving over 30 years in the Senate just by living a relatively modest, austere two-income life. Also, if Sanders were such a celebrity, shouldn’t the media be celebrating him, instead of engaging in Stalin-esque erasure of the fact that he’s even running? Furthermore, shouldn’t the professional-managerial class celebrate him, if he’s just another machine politician who will hand out the promotions to petit-bourgeois toadies and malefactors of great wealth just like the others, rather than circling their neoliberal wagons around their office-politics leaders? Why is the status quo so scared of him that they can’t even say his name when he’s polling second or even first?

    Besides, if he really were out for himself first, he wouldn’t be the only Democratic Presidential candidate who has not had private meetings and fundraisers with those malefactors of great wealth. He’d just have private pow-wows and take their money. Yet, he is, and he doesn’t. Why do you suppose that might be?

  168. Seasons Greetings JMG

    Since the downward spiral of the press is going to be a topic for years to come I highly recommend “Hate Inc.” by Matt Taibbi for your reading list. I am only two chapters into the book and it’s provided some interesting insights from a longtime reporter who laments the press turning into an extension of the entertainment industry.

  169. Re retro tech, I don’t see it really taking off in a big way until it’s practical. Digital is just too convenient and most of us will use it until we can’t. It’s why you have a blog instead of a newsletter, for example.

    That being said, I do see momentum for “quality” going retro, and not only in tech, as people yearn for alternatives to expensive glowing rectangles spewing the opinions of so called experts and the latest space heroes in tights.

    Real books, vintage bikes, natural wines, vinyl records, minimal phones, live music, traditional manhood, the lost art of conversation… everywhere you look people are digging up the past and questioning the “Mars or Bust” narrative.

    For the time being, this trend is mostly limited to a subset of urbanites who have the disposable income to indulge in an idealized past whilst at the same time keeping their Netflix & Spotify accounts. But I’m hopeful that appropriate technology will become a normalized concept.

  170. Good morning JMG and hopefully this was an excellent holiday for you and your wife!

    Thanks for all of your writings and your responses to your readers over the years. Your time and perspective are always appreciated. Sometimes my mental health doesn’t allow me to have the headspace to read all your posts these days, but I do read when I can.

    I’m glad to hear the tone of optimism in your writing. Maybe you and/or your readers can help provide perspective for me, as I don’t feel it personally? Matt is working as a carpenter and is gaining decent skills, but is not earning enough of a wage where we can survive without him working side jobs. I am not able to get a decent wage, right now I am in one of the national volunteer Corps doing energy audits and weatherization but I’m not sure what kind of employment prospects there are for this (that being said, it felt really good last week to reduce a low income older couple’s air leakage by a huge chunk just by putting up rope caulk, window kits and spray foaming some holes in their basement!). Is the path to financial success these days really best found in having your own small business, do you think?

    Anyway, Matt was really glad to hear about vinyl coming back — he is starting to build quite a collection himself. He looks at the thrift and resale shops when he is able and loves finding good deals. The sound is fuller on vinyl and it’s just so much more fun to play.

  171. On the subject of analogue music machines, I feel it appropriate to plug my friend’s business – https://www.facebook.com/duncansaudio/ . It took him a while to develop the skills, but he’s now at a point where he can restore an awful lot of equipment older than himself to ‘good as new’ condition. I’m not an audiophile myself so I don’t get the full benefit of this niche, but it makes me optimistic that some beautiful gear can be made to last with the addition of a few easily-made components – if anyone in Canada’s capital region is into vintage audio gear, Duncan’s worth talking to.

    Cliff, you mentioned Andrew Yang, and while it’s true that his pitch centres around a former trucker building a better Stirling engine in his garage, I don’t think one needs to believe a better Stirling engine is forthcoming to make a pitch for the same solution. If you’re willing, I’d like to make an alternative pitch, and if you could tell me where if anywhere I lose you, I’d be most grateful.*

    The thing about UBI is, there is good and bad news about our current way of life. The good news is that we could do fairly well on about a third of the inputs we use today. One third of our inputs would still allow hot showers and cold beers, washing machines and more time to read instead of hours of labour over a washboard every week. One third of our inputs, with the right adjustments**, would make for a lifestyle that would be acceptable to most people, and while no one’s crunched the numbers, it seems achievable in terms of energy we could divert from natural processes. With perhaps 140 years of fossil fuel runway left, that seems quite achievable.

    The bad news is, that requires two-thirds less economic output, and that feels much less achievable. We’re talking Spanish levels of youth unemployment at every strata of society, plus another twenty percent, permanently. And we can’t just make a job program to solve the problem, because it’s economic activity itself that has to reduce by two-thirds. So long as ‘jobs’ are the only answer to poverty, people will need to be doing something to live, when in fact, we need to be doing about a third of what we’re collectively doing now. We all need to spend less time earning money and more time saving it.

    And that is what UBI encourages – a socially acceptable alternative to competing for the dwindling supply of useful work in a period of downshifting. It’s a basic bargain saying that while you won’t get to consume what your parents consumed, you’ll have more time to follow your muse, and if your muse leads you to a better water heater/ yeast strain/ washing machine, we’ll all benefit. Granted, to be happy taking that bargain, I and most people Yang appeals to would need to believe we have a shot at making something everyone benefits from, and if you really believe that everything of that nature is as mature as it can ever be, the bargain is less appealing. But as an answer to ‘two thirds of our economic activity must go’, it’s the best realistic one I’ve seen even then.

    [climbs off soapbox] On a completely different note, I wanted to get in the habit of sharing my predictions for the coming year here as well. I’m not sure whether to call this model of prediction ‘Coastal Wizards’ or ‘Five Tensions’, but I’m curious to see how it goes.

    -Fungi will continue to rise in prominence in the biosphere. Some humans will notice, but communication will be slow

    -The Abrahamic religions will have a quiet year, dominated by internal work and contemplation more than any overt show of action.

    -The great debate between ‘more moderation’ and ‘more free speech’ in public forums will see a swing in public sentiment towards the ‘more moderation’ side, which will happen hand-in-hand with a rise in analogue, curated communities as an alternative to the ‘public square’ model offered by the tech monopolies. Alternative voices like Jordan Peterson and Dave Rubin will grapple with technical issues as they try to create their own analogue alternatives to the big markets. Progress in this area will be slower when working against than working with the big players, but there’ll be enough pull that alternative media will be a net importer of talent.

    -Team Red will make gains against Team Blue, what defines the two will be more confusing than ever. Existing territory will be the biggest predictor of who shakes out where, but momentum will be reversed in key areas. It will still be unfashionable to be a woman on Team Red, but there will be more early adopters.

    -Globalist Environmentalists will agree more closely than ever that something must be done about the ecology, but find themselves unable to enforce any of the legislation they could pass. Ray Dalio will call them all idiots again and tell them they need to find a populist to sell their message. They’ll quietly agree, but their search for talent will be frustrated by the need for consensus.

    -Also one prediction close to home – the advent of peak oil in Canada will play havoc with the economy and make Alberta and the rest of Canada even more toxically codependent. The level of vitriol will surprise Canadians East of the Prairies and West of the Rockies. The Liberal government will appoint a committee.

    Well, there it is! Thank you everyone for your excellent writing and curation. A merry celebration to you all!

    *Yes, that means I’ll refine the argument for use in the future, and that might mean I convince someone of what’s largely a progress-based vision. It might also mean that someone who would follow Progress anyway will do so in a more clear-eyed way, perhaps you’ll find that’s worth it.

    **mostly through less commuting, fewer food-miles, less heating and cooling empty rooms and most especially, less buying things that don’t make us happy.

  172. Local observations from Ontario, for what it’s worth–

    Decorating was way, way down this year. A street I recall having every house lit up like, well, Christmas — more than 80% dark.

    More telling, I think, is that for the first time I can recall, nobody wished me “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Chirstmas” on the street, in a store, or… anywhere.

    The SJW types are comparatively stronger here than south of the border. My guess? The people who would have said “Merry Christmas” last year were keeping their mouths shut to avoid a scolding from the diversity and inclusion crowd… who couldn’t muster up a “Happy Holidays” because they are, by and large, not happy!

    We’ll see, but I expect New Year’s wishes to be similarly subdued.

  173. I think a fair bit of audio technology will survive the Long Descent. My current system (Klipsch Fortes built in the late 80s) uses horn technology that has been around since megaphones. Horn speakers are highly efficient and can give you all the volume you would ever want with a couple of watts. Today’s slender home theater speakers don’t have the resonance of a big speaker and they are power-hungry so you need big hot amplifiers which are nearly impossible to repair and wind up in landfills as soon as the next standard comes out. (“Your amp only has an HDMI 1 input and you need HDMI 2.2 for 4k… “).

    I don’t expect the flood of cheap LCD/LED technology to continue much longer: things heat up in the Pacific Theater and a lot of technology is going to be very hard to come by. But if you can read a schematic and get vacuum tubes and a few other easy-to-make parts you can build your own amp the way hobbyists did in the early-mid 20th century. Build a big box using plans from the 1950s, run a signal through the result and you’ve got music reproduction that was good enough for Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington. (And if you can live without stereo, and a lot of people can, it only takes half the work).

  174. Let me venture one prediction. AI is becoming more and more prominent. However, the closer AI mimics the human brain, the more chance that it will mimic human foibles as well.

    The learning algorithms are powerfully influenced by the early data that is presented to the AI. Once it settles on a certain concept, it tends to reinforce that concept. It finds it hard to change, in a process similar to De Bono’s jelly-mold model of thinking.* At least, that is how I assume AI operates. AI mavens, correct me if I am wrong.

    So my prediction is, in 2020 we will get the first AI argument where AIs trained on different data sets draw different conclusions from the same fresh data set, and refuse to concede that other AIs might be correct.

    *Edward de Bono created the jelly mold model of the workings of the brain. Imagine a jelly on a table. Then imagine pouring hot water on it, the water will carve grooves into the jelly. Then pour more water, it will tend to run down the existing grooves and deepen them. In the brain the neural flow will follow lines of least resistance. Creation of lines of least resistance is graphically illustrated in the Edward de Bono image of the brain as a jelly. — Graham Little, “The Origin of Consciousness”

  175. Couple of points.
    The number of votes cast for Remain candidates was higher than that cast for Brexit candidates. I am not a Remainer by the way.
    I have seen no evidence that he is going to discard the austerity policies and “gearing up to reorient Britain’s social welfare policies toward providing benefits directly to the poor and away from providing well-paying government jobs to the middle class.” I would be delighted if that was to be the case and perhaps you can provided some evidence that it is?

  176. A couple of comments from someone who went 0-for-2 on his predictions:

    1) While Kagan and Sotomayor are still alive, there’s much talk about RBG’s health and Breyer being over 80 and the coming 7-2 “conservative” majority. And while I wouldn’t expect Thomas to retire, his retirement (at least over the next year, probably over the next five years) would be an utter renewal for the right in the court.

    2) No earthquake, but Graffiti seems to be making a comeback. In New York subway trains seem to have again become favored for the art, in Chicago I’ve seen graffiti radiating from the Circle/Byrd interchange up and down I-90/94. Having clear memories of both cities making war against the art form, it’s revival is worthy of notice.

  177. Loren: everything sounds better coming out of vacuum tubes. My stereo amp is solid state, but my dad still has an early 70s tube amp (complete with glowing green FM and AM frequencies and hardwood cabinet). We got a consumer grade Sony 6-disk changer connected to it in the 1990s and got the best sound out of it.

    Michael Ian Gray: LOL on “Wall of Sound.” My understanding is that Spector was mixing music specifically for mono AM radio, on which it may sound good (I don’t know) but it definitely sounds “blurry” on FM stereo or anything else.

    Which goes back to my earlier point about music getting mixed to optimize it to an inferior medium. The Walkman gave us pop songs mixed to a near constant volume. Imagine playing “More than a Feeling” or “Bohemian Rhapsody” on a Walkman, where you are forced to turn up for the soft parts only to turn down again for the loud parts. Now we have music mixed for lossy compression so that it can be streamed. Maybe that will lead to a new “Wall of Sound” technique fit for that medium. This will of course play at a constant volume for all the people who think the peak music experience is listening to streaming music on their phone through earbuds.

    Now get off my lawn!

  178. Rita: you’re Rasty’s ex? Small world! How are they doing? And how was Thanksgiving in Arizona? Dying for news,

    Pat

  179. Sez Cliff

    “If politicians are worried about the negative effects of automating the work force, then they need to figure out how to push back against automation, rather than dole out these piddly little non-solutions.”

    Hear, hear.

    I also think UBI is not likely to be a good idea.

  180. Sister Crow:
    Thanks so much for the tip! Maybe the proprietors will have some helpful leads for us.

    Yorkshire:
    What an interesting contraption you created for moving heavy things; got me thinking. Our vegetable garden is not all that close to the rain barrels we use to collect water in the summer so I fill large watering cans and shlepp them out to the beds which takes a great deal of time and effort. I console myself with the thought that I’m getting a lot of extra exercise. Maybe something like yours will make the job a little less onerous.

    Lady Cutekitten:
    I will second your recommendation of “The Worst Hard Time” by Timothy Egan as an excellent book about the Dust Bowl era.

    Polecat:
    Three cheers for restoring/refinishing old furniture!
    My kitchen is what realtors charmingly describe as semi-modern. Besides a refrigerator and gas oven/range there are no other amenities and a desperate shortage of cabinet space, which has the small bright side of making us think long and hard before acquiring any kind of kitchen implement. However, there is a blank wall between the two doors that open from the kitchen to the living room and it occurred to me that a Hoosier-style kitchen cabinet would be perfect for that spot and would not clash with the semi-modernness of the rest of the room. Hoosier cabinets (so named because the first and largest manufacturer was the Hoosier Manufacturing Company of New Castle, Indiana) have become very pricey of late, well beyond my budget, but luck was on my side when one of the husband’s coworkers gave him the top half of a Sellers brand cabinet for free, noting that ‘your wife likes to refinish furniture’; it was yellow and had those awful mid-century kitchen stickers on it. Some months later I happened upon the bottom half of a cabinet at a resale shop for $95. It took me almost nine months of careful work to strip the paint off the top (immensely time consuming because red oak really soaks up paint in its pores), replace rotted wood on the bottom, re-stain and lacquer, and install the new hardware (exact replicas are still made, by the way, and a full set was a Christmas gift from my sons), but now my beautiful Sellers brand, Hoosier-style cabinet is the pride of the kitchen. If I had any cyber photo skills at all, I’d attach a picture, alas I do not, but this one for sale on eBay looks exactly like my restored cabinet, right down to the stain color. Best of all, besides the $95, my biggest investment was only sand paper and obscene quantities of 0000 steel wool.
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Oak-Antique-Hoosier-Roll-Top-Cabinet-Kitchen-Pantry-Cupboard-Sellers-32282/113945827465?hash=item1a87b35889:g:E1wAAOSw5uddvKTM

  181. Re the Sanders discussion

    Just to toss my tuppence into the mix.

    There is much about Bernie’s approach with which I disagree. (I think it would be difficult for a politician to check off *all* of my boxes–unless I were running myself, of course. And if there’s anything I’ve learned from my foray into politics, it’s that that ain’t happening…) While the platforms he suggests are worth exploring, the scope of implementation is problematic. I’d take many of his national programs and have them implemented at the state/regional level (by regional, I mean a cooperating group of states). This would better reflect 1) the federalism inherent in the original framework of the Constitution and 2) have a better chance of success by allowing differing regions of the country with differing values and priorities to disagree. One of the things which keeps hobbling us as a nation is this insistence on a “one size must fit all” approach, whether one is coming from the left or the right.

    I’d also shift from making college free for everyone to making college less necessary in the first place by encouraging the re-establishment of apprentice programs and the like. I’d also get the federal government out of the education business, jurisdiction over which plainly belongs to the states.

    But I was impressed by his opposition to TPP back in the 2016 primary fight. And as I mentioned, I felt that his campaign had a similar economic nationalistic flavor and a more domestic focus. I’d prefer to see a more explicit policy program regarding a withdrawal from empire, of course, but that would be difficult for any politician (including Trump) to pull off yet…we as a nation have not yet become sufficiently disillusioned with our imperial prospects to take the kind of proactive steps we need to be taking.

    All that said, I’d probably vote for Bernie over Trump, but I’ll vote for Trump over Biden.

  182. @dropbear

    “However i think the signal to noise ratio matters.”

    Complain about gatekeepers.

    Refuse to seek out creators.

    Pick one.

    I have no idea what a long tale is but I do know there are plenty of musicians who make great music who who dont have multimillion dollar marketing budgets. Daniel Bennet is great. Bon Iver is great. David Lang is great. Noah Preminger is great. Joe Morris is great. Cuddle Magic is great. Lake Street Dive is great. The Minnasota Symphony Orchestra is great. The American Composers’ Orchestra recordings are great. The Boston Modern Orchestra Project is great. Maria Schneider is great. Ben Prunty is great.

    Here we are, on a blog of a druid, and you’re telling me you don’t know how to find obscure material.

    There are literally thousands of jazz artists, classical composers, indie rock bands, and folk musicians who are great. Put in 40 hours finding great music, and you will find great music. It’s not that hard.

    Or let corporations do the work for you. But don’t complain the results reflect the common denominator, which, in a planet of 7 billion people, is pretty low.

  183. Re: Andrew Yang and UBI — interesting thoughts that Cleric had on it paving the way for economic reduction. I’ve seen concerns though about inflation and where will the money come from, etc. So I was thinking about some alternate program focused on housing and land.

    One of my biggest financial concerns is the price of land and housing. Housing is so expensive, and I can’t figure out why, and who is able to afford all these 250k+ homes. Something has to give! So many people are struggling, so why on earth is housing so expensive? I wonder about programs that would be designed to offer incentives or ownership of housing or land based on certain criteria, somewhat like the homesteading thing of the 1800s, but more designed towards reinvigorating blighted rural and urban areas. I don’t know what such a program would look like, but could be worth thinking about.

  184. I was just listening to NPR after my shower. This guy was talking about cars that can run on grass. The stuff lawns are made of? Seems there are lawn mowers which take the clippings and
    convert them to hydrogen to fuel them. His idea is to make cars into grass eating lawn mowers to use the clippings to fuel the vehicle.”Kind of like cows” His words. Then the host goes into this paean about sun light, and how much there is, and how it can “power our future” The sub text being “We wont have to give up our upper middle class life style!!” I could imaging their eyes spinning in their sockets. There is so much wrong with this.
    Happy New Year, all. And have a restful and rewarding month, JMG 🙂 Thanks for all you have done.

    also ADR Completre Set… https://www.foundershousepublishing.com/2017/07/founders-house-exclusive-adr-bundle.html

  185. Like you, I believe the Super Bowl stands as a good proxy for the status quo in America. So here’s my question: When do you think the last Super Bowl occurs? I think the event will cease sometime during the 2020s. My best guess would be that the last one takes place in 2024. (or at least takes a long hiatus.)

    My rationale: 1) By that time almost the entire Boomer generation will be on Medicare while the oldest of them will be entering nursing homes. 2) The fracking fields will be on the steep downside of the depletion curve. 3) Russian & Chinese military tech will be even further ahead and a tipping point maybe reached where they decide it’s not worth taking crap from the Empire any longer.

    I don’t doubt the authorities ability to deceive and paper over problems to maintain a fake economy. However even our fake financial system has to exist within the confines of real world limitations. At some point there will be no more conquest, not enough energy, and too many old people living off a government that has too much debt.

    Have a splendid January!

  186. A $1.5 million net worth is upper-middle class in most of the country, not outside of the realm of diligent saving over 30 years in the Senate just by living a relatively modest, austere two-income life.

    Actually $2.5M, three (3) modest homes, annual income recently ranging from $500K to $1.1M plus free congressional healthcare. That practically makes him a monk in Congressional terms, but it still puts a huge gulf between him and most Americans working paycheck-to-paycheck.

    I personally think Bernie’s one of the most honest and sincere politicians out there and his heart is definitely in the right place. Unfortunately, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  187. Hi again to all you sad kittens!

    It will be interesting to see what RWA does. According to this morning’s email from RWA, the board voted to oust Courtney Milan, then rescinded its vote, and half the board resigned en masse. The membership is in an uproar, including members of my own local chapter.

    RWA has over 9000 members world-wide as compared to SFWA with about 2000 members. We’re a big group and probably the most diverse in terms of writers and what they write. As long as there’s a romantic relationship of some kind with an at least happy ending for now (alien cyborgs and their true loves), it’s romance. Setting, era, gender, species, and number of participants is up to you as long as everyone is over the age of consent.

    The fans can be rabid. The writers even more so.

    We’ll see what happens. As for me, I plan to stay out of it.

    Teresa from Hershey

  188. “The anti-Vax movement has been picking up steam for 20 years, and it’s hard to think of a more stark example of crazed anti-expert hysteria even at the expense of ones own children’s lives.”

    I’m curious, Picador, how many really good videos by experts on the antivax side you have watched and do you have good answers for the issues they see with vaccination, issues which, if you have not heard of them, you would never guess?

  189. @ Peter Van Erp

    Biosphere 2 may have had plenty of grift associated with it, but the project demonstrated just how hard replicating a fully functional biosphere will be.

    Those scientist learn a LOT from the project. I think the reason we don’t hear much about it in the media (I check occasionally for books on the subject) is because Biosphere 2 shows so conclusively that space ships with huge hydroponics arrays won’t keep their crews alive forever, nor will those wonderful hydroponics arrays on Martian colonies.

    Teresa from Hershey

  190. Nastarana,

    I agree about Maxwell, although I don’t know that she alone would be my litmus test, as there are others deeply in need of restricted living quarters.

  191. RE: Vinyl… + Communtiy Radio + Cassette Tapes

    Okay, jumping back into the frothing vinyl fray here (as I’ve got a groove to scratch!)

    I just wanted to point out, how, as the internet falls apart, all the independent musicians who can currently reach their fan base via the net, will have another option in addition to playing live in living and breathing venues: start sending their music to the community and college stations (again). What is left of those college stations anyway. That is another question / predicament: How can independent radio thrive after colleges -and their stations- get shuttered? -One way is to have a community station, not attached to a college, such as the non-profit I’ve volunteered at. It still has a big spread in the Greater Cincinnati area. Another option is Low Power FM & AM… which has less spread across a region, but is even more dialed into the local community.

    In my neighborhood there is a micro-brewery built into an old church. Besides the beer & appetizers/limited menu, they are a fine music venue for local, regional, national, and even a few international acts (For instance the Italian prog band Goblin played there back in November.) They also sport a Low Power AM station. That station gets most of its listeners off its internet stream, but that will probably change as costs to provide a streaming service go up. The Low Power AM will still be there. (Shout out to Urban Artifact: https://www.artifactbeer.com/ )

    The radio can still be a way to reach a lot of listeners. Currently most, and what I mean by most is big corporate, radio is just the “hits” that have been paid to become hits -and the nauseatingly boring “formats” that are used on the medium by those who need to cater to the tastes of their commercial/advertising landlords more than to the taste of those who would like to listen to the radio.

    So, if you are in a band now, or are a solo artist, get in touch with the community stations, and even more, specific programs on those stations to create/re-invigorate the network. It was really community and college radio that helped spread all the various forms of underground music, whether punk or hip-hop, or whatever. That, and live music and cassette tapes. These community stations are also the places to tune in to for various ethnic musics and musics from different nationalities. Since the FCC doesn’t grant enough licenses for Low Power FM & AM… it is also where you tend to find pirate radio scenes in the bigger cities like Boulder, New York, Miami -where there are also large immigrant populations. Those populations don’t have access to democratic media for their communities, so there ends up being a lot of pirate stations serving up the music & news related to those specific ethnic communities. The FCC could turn those pirates legit if they granted more low power licenses.

    So what about cassettes? Yes, there really are tons of little labels springing up and putting stuff out on limited edition cassette. This might be part of what JMG has described (to very roughly paraphrase) as a kind of investment in trinkets that don’t matter that the bougie engage in as real investments disappear). But beyond that the cassette has re-emerged as a way that people can share music with each other beyond the internet. CD burning technology pretty much killed the mix tape for awhile. Yes, they also fostered mix CDs of which I’ve made plenty, but those mix CDs lacked a certain kind of magic that a mix tape had. The time & effort to make a killer tape for someone -usually a one off tape for a friend or lover or someone you wanted to be your friend or lover- was special.

    The tape is also a very democratic medium in that cassettes are cheap, and they could be produced in quantity, even if to do so was painstaking. This allowed underground bands who couldn’t afford to get a record pressed, to put out homemade tapes instead. Also tape recording equipment was easy to come by and cobble together by bands with pulled funds, or by an individual who was willing to save for it. Cheap 4-tracks are what I’m talking about here… As computers gradually become too expensive to repair, it will move homerecording back into the analog realm, and the cassette tape will once again be a medium to record and distribute on.

    Tapes are also nice as it’s pretty hard for the surveillance state / silicon valley googlemeister ad men to get an algorithm based on your physical cassette trading habits.

    Anyway, I look forward to a rich media ecology over the next ten years as the dumpster of the past gets dived and its rich compost added to our lives. As we return to older vintage & proven techs. There are many gaps left behind from the internet focus for the enterprising individual to move into and begin to use again for fun, freedom & even profit.

    And for anyone who is interested in the test, cassette & reel to reel music stuff just check out a guy named Hainbach’s youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeovElJP0n0i8ADaPsRSd8g

  192. I have three other predictions:

    1) 2020 will be an ordinary year. Whatever events happen which historians of the future look back on in awe and wonder what it was like to live at that time (Trump’s reelection or election loss will probably make the cut), it’ll be another normal year.

    2) The reduction of the services which used to make life without the internet viable and enjoyable will continue to be gutted. This will likely pick up force as the push to get away from being online gathers steam as well.

    3) Political tensions will remain high in the US, and it’ll likely be a while before they settle down. It will happen, but not during this year. No matter who wins in 2020, there’ll be protestors.

  193. Australian media sources – for daily news reporting, the ABC has no equal. For corruption & political analysis (mostly with cultural-left lean) The Age/SydneyMorningHerald are good. For long form in-depth reporting & analysis, The Saturday Paper & The Monthly are best. The Guardian’s Australian website deserves a mention if only for Gabrielle Chan’s superb rural reporting – things are pretty bloody crook in the bush, and most city reporters never get further than cliches.

    I wouldn’t waste too much time on (Murdochs rightwing) The Australian/Daily Telegraph/Adelaide Advertiser/Courier Mail, Stokes’ West Australian, TV channels 7/9/10. The Right in Oz love Trump & BoJo for winning, but are still welded onto neoliberalism and mostly relying on culture wars to beat the Left.

  194. Hi Beekeeper,

    The Worst Hard Time was so gripping I couldn’t put it down. Finished at oh-dark-thirty, thought about it a couple of days, and then reread it.

  195. Mouse, I’d suggest rather that intense hatred of presidents is a common marker of the replacement of one ruling elite by another; the losing side has someone to blame.

    Your Kittenship, I was speaking of the presidential race, too.

    J.L.Mc12, I’ll put it on the to-read list. Meanwhile, your politics may be a mess but your newspapers are frankly a lot better than ours…

    Martin, of course the spike was speculation — but the speculative bubble happened because there was a (much more modest) shortfall in production that drove prices upward in the years preceding trhe bubble. The boom and bust that followed was froth; the bidding up of prices before and the demand destruction afterward, not so much.

    Lew, ha! I like that.

    Sleiszadam, do you think there’s any hope that some kind of eastern European conglomerate nation like the Austro-Hungarian Empire might be an option? That’s the one thing that more or less seemed to work — the Dual Monarchy managed to keep the peace tolerably well in its share of eastern Europe, and the Ottomans in theirs, for quite a while.

    YCS, many thanks for these!

    Gersang u.s.w., my working guess is that it’s less about confronting the BRIICS nations and more about defining an Anglosphere independent of them, but we’ll see. One way or another, managerial-class liberalism — aka bureaucratic globalism — is being shoved into the trash chute; it remains to be seen whether some more authentic liberalism can take its place.

    Jonathan, $2.5 million, not $1.5 million — and even if it were the latter figure, ordinary Americans can’t expect to save anything close to that much in a lifetime under current conditions. Those who can do this are ipso facto members of the privileged classes — and yes, the upper middle class deserves that label. One of the core rhetorical strategies of privileged progressivism these days is to pretend that the well-to-do are “ordinary Americans,” in order to erase the existence of the vast majority of Americans who have done so badly under the consensus policies of the last forty years. More broadly, it fascinates me that the cult of personality around Sanders is so intense. None of the other candidates have followers so thin-skinned about criticism of their hero that any mildly disparaging remark I make gets a flurry of criticism…

    GlassHammer, thanks for this.

    Brian, I’ll be transitioning promptly from a blog to a magazine once the retro revival hits that sector; it simply hasn’t gotten there yet. If I was a recording artist you can be sure I’d be issuing my records on vinyl!

    Jess, thank you and you’re most welcome. I understand things are still hard for a lot of people; the wind may be changing but it’s going to take a while to blow some good to those who need it.

    Cleric, so noted! Those seem sensible enough.

    Dusk Shine, thanks for the data points.

    Kenaz, I certainly hope so!

    Martin, I’m waiting for the first AI to go hopelessly insane. That’s when we’ll know that they’ve gotten something close to consciousness…

    Yossi, er, did you read the article I linked? And do you happen to know how well it worked out when Democrats over here obsessed over the popular vote totals and insisted that the winner was not going to do the things he said he was going to do?

    Godozo, thanks for the data points.

    Versling, well, yes.

    Phutatorius, apologies for any PTSD I might have caused! Yes, there’s a certain marked similarity to that album cover…

    David BTL, not unreasonably! One doesn’t have to define someone as a plaster saint to consider that person the best of the available options.

    Marlena13, thanks for this. It’s a good sign that an energy crunch is on its way when media that panders to the privileged classes starts spouting obvious absurdities along those lines!

    Nate, I have no idea. I don’t claim to be able to predict dates — I simply trace out trendlines.

    David BTL, yep. They don’t have to mention that it’s in need of rescue — it’s like the Soviet Union in the 1980s, everyone knows what the problems are even though nobody talks about it in public.

    Teresa, hoo boy. Staying out of it sounds like a very good idea.

    Justin, did you know that tape cassettes smuggled from hand to hand were a core means by which Iranian revolutionaries evaded the Shah’s secret police and built support for Khomeini? That is to say, I think you’re on to something.

    Will J, so noted!

    Liamj, many thanks for this. (Though I’ll have to go to my bookmarked Australian slang dictionary to find out whether “bloody crook” means “good” or “bad”…)

  196. Lady Cutekitten,

    That article you linked about Todd the journalist blames only Republicans for our current level of propaganda, and even mostly exonerates the press.
    I’m not sure I see a positive development here.

  197. Hi John,

    Here is another sign the US is backing away from the burdens of being an imperial power: the US Navy announced it plans significant cuts, including retiring most of its guided missile cruisers within the next year and major cutbacks in its next generation destroyer, frigate and attack submarine programs.

    One rumor that has been making the rounds in military circles for this rather surprising proposal is that the admirals are finally waking up the reality that advances in Russian and Chinese missile technology (such as the 3M22 Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, Kh-47 Kinzhal aeroballistic missile and DF-26 Guam Express anti-ship ballistic missile, to name a few) have made large surface warships obsolete.

    If so, you called this one right on the money. The US Navy needs to get cracking on developing guided missile corvettes similar to the ones the Russians have been mass producing, along with next generation submarines and long range strike aircraft loaded with advanced long range missiles. Personally, I think the US should be ramping up submarine production, including cheaper AIP and diesel-electric boats to supplement its nuclear subs, rather than cutting back production of them. The Block V Virginia’s will considerably improve the USN’s ability to conduct long range cruise missile strikes with ships that can actually survive a modern naval war, so I am at a loss to explain that one.

  198. Sleiszadam, do you think there’s any hope that some kind of eastern European conglomerate nation like the Austro-Hungarian Empire might be an option? That’s the one thing that more or less seemed to work — the Dual Monarchy managed to keep the peace tolerably well in its share of eastern Europe, and the Ottomans in theirs, for quite a while.

    I wonder if the Visegrad Group, an alliance of Eastern European EU members headed by Poland and Hungary, might evolve into such a structure. I understand that several other Eastern and Central European countries, including Italy, Austria and Ukraine, have aligned themselves with the Visegrad Group without becoming formal members. If the EU comes unraveled in the wake of Brexit, I would expect regional power blocs like that to come back with a vengeance (but hopefully not a literal vengeance, considering Europe’s blood-soaked history).

  199. Predictions, predictions:
    I don’t think Canada is going to get very much productive done at the federal level towards addressing climate change. Too many of the provincial governments, especially Alberta and Ontario, are dead-set against that.Things may be better nearer the very local levels, or so I’m hoping.

    I think that the current round of climate activism may have peaked. I’m hearing some things suggesting the people heavily involved are getting exhausted and discouraged with the lack of the responses that they’d hoped for at national and international scales. If that is the case, I hope they’ll aim at local on-the-ground changes rather than just giving up. Because climate change is both dangerous and very real.

    The Conservative party seems to be trying to rethink itself. If it tries to go more populist, especially anti-immigration, the rest of the political parties will start screaming at them at the top of their lungs. So will CBC news.

    BC housing may go down in price. But I’ve been hoping for that for years, and it hasn’t really happened yet. Vancouver’s down a little bit, but it is still crazy expensive. It’s got so go down at some point, but I can’t be sure 2020 will be the year of the housing bust.

    I didn’t make formal predictions last year, and therefore can’t do an accuracy check of them.

  200. So many people are struggling, so why on earth is housing so expensive?

    Excess government involvement, just like with Education & Healthcare. That’s why proposing broad new assistance programs with ever greater spending is doomed to failure because it simply feeds the existing beast without addressing the underlying issues. Political power is a function of controlling ever greater sums of money, which is why none of the candidates is the least bit interested in “saving” any.

  201. Varun, a lot is in internal party communications, of course, but you can get some ideas of who’s allying here: https://lifeandlibertyparty.com/coalition-partners

    My own party http://cpidaho.com is not listed there, but many of those who share our candidates are. Find our facebook page and you’ll see public communications on the subject.

    The national Constitution Party, you may notice, has had itself a rather messy breakup, which it is trying to not admit to. The parties that split and other new state parties haven’t yet organized into a cohesive whole, and I suspect are better off not so organizing.

    Loose alliances between state parties will probably serve us better, being disinclined to central control, than the traditional top-down national committee structure. The downside of this is that there are one or two key people in each state carrying the majority of the organizational burden with minimal support.

  202. More rage-head rhetoric from the privileged, comfortable classes:

    Michael Moore: “White People Are Not Good People…You Should Be Afraid Of Them”

    Well, Mr. Moore!? You look like a white male to me!

    So! Why don’t you swallow a cyanide pill or take one pistol with one bullet and blow your own brains out, and help “solve the problem”, eh?

    Why! I’ll tell you why! It is because you are a hypocritical, lying sack of filth, that’s why!

    Enough said!

  203. Dear Cleric of Progress, if I may quote from your post above: a socially acceptable alternative to competing for the dwindling supply of useful work in a period of downshifting. It’s a basic bargain saying that while you won’t get to consume what your parents consumed, you’ll have more time to follow your muse, and if your muse leads you to a better water heater/ yeast strain/ washing machine, we’ll all benefit. Granted, to be happy

    The same could be achieved simply by imposing price controls, especially rent controls, and the money wouldn’t come from the public purse, but from the profits of folks who can well afford it.

    I think Yang is the candidate of the East Asian diaspora–nothing wrong with that, every group has the same right to avail itself of the political process to advance its’ interests. But, I think some of Yang’s friends, or friends of his relatives who might happen to be in real estate or retail were lamenting how they can’t keep tenants or sales are down because folks have less money to spend, so Yang, a bright fellow, came up with the notion of $1,000 per Mo. in everyone’s pocket which can then be spent on rent and retail goods.

  204. Dear Brian, what do natural wines, minimal phones and so on have to do with “traditional manhood”? I seem to recall that belief in Science and Technology was an essential part of the mental outlook of traditional manliness.

  205. Yes i hope you are right too JMG.
    We had Trump adviser Steve Bannon out here addressing a strategic advisory conference
    that confrontation against China would most certainly become “kinetic” and that Australia would be “the tip of the spear” in the conflict. Charming, wonderful, I can’t wait.
    Problem is, when we get our butts kicked , the US survivors will go back to the Appalachian doomstead in newly shrunken USA, and i will be a rickshaw driver showing wealthy Chinese visitors the ruined Opera house and radioactive Bondi beach.

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/11/28/auch-n28.html

    https://strategicforum.com.au

    If on the other hand we are somehow ‘victorious’, i wonder would the Anglo-Saxon war band again dissolve and normal neo liberal smashed avocado gender fluid free trade resume ?

  206. Just remember that all Australians do not have the same political views, although we mostly agree that politicians generally are a pretty dangerous breed. You really will have to find your own way through the news sources but you wouldn’t expect it to be easier for yourself than everyone else.
    GlassHammer, everything is an extension of the entertainment industry these days. When celebrity events are publicised my husband never know who the people are and certainly don’t go trying to find out.

  207. I repeat myself: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders would be 78 and 79 if elected next year. One is widely regarded as possibly in the early stages of dementia and the other just had a heart attack.

  208. I was going to take the month off, but I decided I’d better get back to the most complicated part of the plot before even I forgot what it was. So everyone have a great New Year, and may all your predictions come true, except the really bad-for-everybody ones.🥂

    Do you suppose the reason George RR Martin gave up on Game of Thrones was because it got too complicated even for him? About half the plot lines at the end of book 5 were undone by the end of that book.

  209. Navy Matters on the proposed cuts to the fleet:

    https://navy-matters.blogspot.com/2019/12/dod-revamps-navy-force-structure.html?m=1

    While it’s not at all clear what is really going on, what is abundantly clear is that the US Navy is in serious disarray, thanks in large part to the last few decades of bad decisions coming home to roost. I could very easily see the American fleet going the way of the once proud Soviet Navy and then having to painfully rebuild whatever capabilities it can over the next few decades, much like the Russian Navy is doing right now.

  210. @Yorkshire. Thanks for the link. I spent an informative half hour going through their pitch and then through the UK government documents they linked too. I had no idea this was still subsidised! It’s now 3rd on my list after replacing all incandescent bulbs with LEDs and getting the insulation sorted out.

    @Yossi. What will Boris do? I’m guessing a lot of voters have a very good idea of the general character of the PM, his personal and professional history is an open book. The question I’ve been asking myself is ‘what is he motivated to do?’ He’s in power because the Red Wall* turned blue. He can’t take that for granted, and 5 years is a very short time. My guess is that he will not only do exactly what he’s promised, he will make a very great effort to be seen to be doing what he said he’d do. There will be symbolic as well as actual gestures. For example, the physical structure of Parliament needs a fortune spent on it to be made fit for purpose. Parliament itself will have to be moved while this is going on. I’m guessing it will be moved to somewhere like Manchester for the duration. (Oh dear, that means HS2 is almost certainly going to carry on too).

    *Anyone out of the UK who has not been following the UK’s political convulsions as closely as JMG may not have heard of the Red Wall before. It was a band of traditionally labour constituencies across the centre of England mostly post-industrial, that dramatically switched sides during the election. In the UK, red represents Labour whereas Blue is the colour of the Tories. This is the precise opposite of the US colour scheme of course which is why the ideas of Red and Blue States in the US always make my eyes water as I try to understand what’s going on.

    @JMG. Write an article? It’s not impossible; but it was a difficult and painful time both for myself and others who suffered because of my mistakes. There are many bad memories. I spent a restless night thinking about it and then took a handful of leaves from your books and performed a divination. I’ve been practicing Geomancy irregularly for 2 years now and it’s by far the oddest one I’ve seen. I believe there’s one remaining MM remaining this year so I will put together a description and ask for further advice there.

  211. My wife suggests a somewhat plausible hypothesis for this year’s decline in home Christmas light displays (which we also noticed here in southeastern MA): “Since only old people can afford houses any more, maybe they’re getting too old to put the lights up.”

  212. Dear Onething, Agreed. Quite a number of the high and mighty of both parties ought to be on trial at the Hague, IMHO. Maxwell for me is personal because I have two daughters. I would like to think I would have not been impressed by the charming socialite taking an interest in my child. Favoritism for the rich and beautiful is something I can live with up to a point, but that is some serious predation with which she is charged. Let her answer in court like anyone else would have to do.

  213. Jacurutu, here’s hoping. Exactly; the successful naval service of the near future will use small, expendable guided missile corvettes, ultrasilent diesel-electric submarines, long range drones both above and below the water, and a lot of cheap smart hypersonic missiles. If the US wants to get a leg up on its post-imperial navy, that’s the way to go, while China sinks fantastic amounts of money into carriers that will be sitting ducks once the shooting starts.

    As far as the Visegrad group, yes, that’s a good start. I know it’s probably a non-starter, but if they could turn that into a Quadruple Monarchy — a federation where each nation handles its own internal affairs but there’s a common military and, oh, let’s say Karl of Austria, the current Habsburg, as a constitutional monarch with no power whatsoever to be the figurehead — it could work very well indeed.

    Pygmycory, so noted! Those sound plausible.

    Michael, for heaven’s sake, calm down. He’s just going through the usual virtue-signaling display of class bigotry expected of a member of his caste; any time someone who makes more than $100,000 a year says the phrase “white people,” remember that they’re silently murmuring the words “working class” in front if it. (Though I admit I sympathize with the suggestion that all the white people who insist that white people ought to be eliminated, like the human beings who insist that human beings should go extinct, owe it to the rest of us to demonstrate their sincerity by offing themselves.)

    Gersang u.s.w., Bannon is a slack-jawed moron. What we need to do with China is exactly what we did with the Soviet Union: wait for their economic system to implode. It will, too. The PRC’s current frantic efforts to import food — they’ve even agreed to start buying Japanese beef, for the first time since 2001 — are straws in the wind. If Australia and the rest of the Anglosphere simply bide their time and use delay, a slow increase of trade barriers, and a steady hand on the military front to dissuade stupid actions on the part of Beijing, it’s a sure thing.

    JillN, good heavens, of course I know that. You have more than one political party — yes, I’m aware of that! — and disputes over politics loud enough to be heard on this side of the planet from time to time.

    Your Kittenship, I have a fixed rule never to read a long series until it’s finished, so I have no notion what Martin was up to!

    Jacurutu, the blogger seems to be missing the point — not surprisingly. The Navy is being much smarter than I’d expected. It would cheer me no end if my novel Twilight’s Last Gleaming were to become old hat because our military got a clue…

    Andy, I know it won’t be easy, but I hope you will. More people need to find out what the bureaucratic state means for those who have to deal with its impact directly.

    Walt, a case could be made!

    Darren, good heavens — wind is changing indeed. If he’d written those things ten years ago nobody would have believed him.

    Varun, so noted and thank you!

  214. @Beekeeper in Vermont: I can buy, to a certain extent, that racism is getting mixed in with the populism. It certainly seems to have been the case through much of American history. I don’t know a good solution for it, but it seems like something for Labour to work on, if they want to adapt to the 21st century instead of scrabbling to preserve the 20th.

    But that author’s whole explanation for the loss seems to be, “the Nazis won.” If she’s correct, she is in far worse trouble than she realizes. If she’s incorrect, then there’s a whole universe of experience that she is refusing to see.

    TDS sufferers on both sides of the pond seem unable to recognize just how awful the neoliberal regime has been, and trying to explain the populist reaction against it strikes them as clinging to the past in the face of Inevitable Progress.

    @Cleric of Progress: I could understand a program to help shift people into economic low gear, like you’re describing.

    But that would also involve a massive change in the common understanding of what it means to be American, what with our manic Protestant work ethic and our conspicuous consumption. You can lay some incentives out, but you can’t really legislate away cultural factors like that.

    But done right, under the right circumstances, maybe such a program could do some good.

    AFAICT, that’s not what Yang is talking about, though. To me, he seems to be offering UBI as a desperate way out of the double-bind we find ourselves in. Technological progress has to continue in order to keep all of our social games going. But if it continues, we’re faced with massive unemployment as the machines take over.

    And I can’t see how the UBI resolves that. It looks like a way to paper over the dilemma, rather than address its roots.

    I think what you’re saying is, get rid of some of the social games, and we’ll find ourselves freed up to a great extent. I agree with that, but I don’t really hear any politicians saying that.

  215. The same could be achieved simply by imposing price controls, especially rent controls, and the money wouldn’t come from the public purse, but from the profits of folks who can well afford it.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/venezuela-quietly-loosens-grip-on-market-tempering-economic-crisis-11568718002

    https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/oct/20/venezuela-ditches-price-controls-201910/

    Without publicly acknowledging it, President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government has ditched a decade and a half of price controls. It’s hard to put a precise date on the liberalization, because it never officially happened. However, in recent months supermarket shelves have been restocked and severe shortages of goods such as toothpaste and toilet paper have eased — though they are sold at prices most Venezuelans can’t afford.

    Valencia, a city of perhaps 1 million residents, bore the brunt of the government’s ruinous industrial policy. Today, business people there are making the most of the new atmosphere — as long as it lasts.

  216. Winston Churchill:

    “Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.” —Perth, Scotland, 28 May 1948, in Churchill, Europe Unite: Speeches 1947 & 1948 (London: Cassell, 1950), 347.

    AND

    “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” —House of Commons, 22 October 1945.

  217. John,

    One the great ironies is that advances in missile, drone and submarine technology may finally make Brigadier General Billy Mitchell’s prediction come true a century later. The only survivable platforms in a near future naval war will be submarines, small stealthy warships, drones and long range missile firing airplanes.

    I recently saw a picture of a builders model of the Russian Navy’s newest guided missile corvette, the Karakurt-M class. Two eight cell vertical launchers capable of firing all of the latest Russian cruise missiles, including the Kalibr and Zircon, two dozen medium range SAM’s fired from vertical launchers buried in the aft superstructure, a 100 mm gun able to fire up to 90 RPM, two 30 mm Gatling guns for short range anti-missile defense, two Paket-NK anti-torpedo and anti-submarine defense systems and a couple of drones that can be launched and recovered from a small pad on the stern. All of this on a 1500 ton hull and the Russian Navy plans to buy dozens of them. We need something along those lines. It’s worth noting the Russians have 3 other guided missile corvette classes in production, each designed with a specific role in mind.

  218. @patricia:

    swaraj was used with a broader meaning than just physically ejecting the british. A significant portion of the ruling classes, academia, experts, media etc. work within a colonized framework even today and its a long journey from there to swaraj used in a broader sense (e.g. http://swaraj.org/whatisswaraj.htm )

    An example of what I am talking about – one of the IITs refused to have a panel discussion on “Indian mind sciences” on the grounds that it was bigoted and unscientific. They accepted it once it was proposed by western practitioners 🙂 :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEAGlXJGtng .

  219. JMG and Jacurutu

    The Dual Monarchy was a comprehensive attempt to create a locally feasible political system in Eastern Central Europe. Perhaps the first of its kind in modern times. I think there was another attempt: the cooperating socialist states after WWII (after 1956 in Hungary). Considering the baggage of Soviet occupation and the civil war terror of preceding years, it is worth noting that there are popular nostalgic feelings about this period even today. So I agree that cooperation of different peoples and cultures is the way to go around here. The details are difficult to tell.

    However, we are not there yet… If Brexit allows France to break the German hegemony in Europe (it looks like to be the case now), this region will probably be the first to blow up. Poland and Romania do not want the departure of the US and closer ties to Russia. And the demise of German colonial politics can leave Hungary ungovernable for anyone. Faint echoes of Sarajevo and Gleiwitz… I don’t expect the Visegrad format to survive the turmoil but nobody can know for sure.

  220. @ Picador

    “The anti-Vax movement has been picking up steam for 20 years, and it’s hard to think of a more stark example of crazed anti-expert hysteria even at the expense of ones own children’s lives.”

    My take on this particular theme is that it is a case of expertise vs science. Because experts often claim “Science(tm)” as the ground they speak from, it can be difficult to appreciate that there is a fundamental conflict between expertise and science.

    The stock-in-trade of the expert is that which they already know. The stock-in-trade of the scientist is to venture into and explore what is unknown.

    Clearly, the expert does not have any interest in the knowledge base expanding into new territory (via the efforts of scientists), because that reduces the territory in which their own stock-in-trade is applicable and relevant, reducing their value as purveyors of knowledge.

    You may not have taken the time or the trouble to notice this, but the sort of “misinformation” that is current among those known to the experts as “anti-vaxers” mainly consists of scientific evidence that contradicts the expert narrative, and which the expert narrative is not equipped to fight on its own ground. Under the pretext of removing “misinformation” Google and others are busy expunging scientific research from the public square – where ordinary plebs might read it without the benefit of official interpretation.

    Why is this the case? you may ask…

    Well, the “anti-vax” suspicion of the value of expertise has arisen from the many parents who have discovered that listening to experts cost them their own children’s lives and health. This shook them out of the ordinary dreamy state in which it seems like a good idea to uncritically accept what experts tell you, and into a wide awake state in which you start to research and learn. You research the science. And you find that the edifice the expert was standing on, supposedly built on science, is shaky. You read the science. You share the science. The expert edifice shakes more as you see the cracks. Experts take issue with you sharing the science.

    Please take time to follow an online argument these days about informed consent, about vaccine mandates, about sickness and health. You will find that the people who come to those debates armed with actual research are the “anti-experts”. Those who argue on behalf of the experts are those likeliest to run away from any discussion of actual evidence.

    Now you tell me, why this might be the case? How can expertise continue to stand against science?

  221. Popping in one more time to let JMG know that after a week of the banishing ritual, the house feels better. Brighter (very helpful when it faces north and the previous durn fools—er, occupants—put awnings over all the windows!). Happier, if that makes any sense.

    By George, I believe TSW! Thanks, JMG!

    See you all in February!

  222. Just two quick data points from Michigan: in the course of my morning coffee, I saw to adverts on television that immediately made me think of this essay. First, was an ad sponsored by Families against Narcotics, in which the ending message was, word for word, “just because it’s prescribed, doesn’t mean its medicine”. This was aired on a mainstream network; talk about rising doubts on expert opinion!

    The second was a cold/flu medicine, again aired on a mainstream network, advertising traditional homeopathic medicines.

    Not sure how much can be gleaned from this, but I think is a good example of JMG’s points.

  223. @Michael Martin on Michael Moore – totally agree with you, but what a trivial tempest in a teapot. Heinlein had a comment about the likes of him. “….puppies in a basket. Let them yap.”

  224. Yet another data point – this one hits a bit more because:

    1) We’re talking about the two universities that my two most successful degreed relations went to.

    2) These are 2nd tier universities – meaning the effects of declining enrollment are reaching up.

    3) With a two million person drop-off in enrollments over the decade, it sounds like a combination of people choosing not to attend and a physical lack of students. In short, some of the decline was already going to happen, and the rest is people turning their back on universities.

    Western Michigan and Central Michigan dealing with enrollment declines.

  225. @KCS — shakes head — talk about a colonized mindset! Yes, indeed! And I agree that swaraj – self-government, as we’d call it – can be broadened beyond political independence a lot, if that’s the prevailing mindset.

    And to all – the one quibble I do have about nationalism is how many nations historically, and in the news today, seem to serve it up with a side dish of ethnic cleansing. Nobody my age or older, for whom the Holocaust was news that blazed across the sky like a comet, can swallow such a dish.

  226. Beekeeper, a strap yoke should work for carrying water, whether it’s watering cans, jerrycans, or any other container, as long as the hooks fit round the handles. With a container on each side so it’s balanced, the hooks would act like two very strong extra fingers and take the weight straight to your spine. 🙂 The only thing that might not work so well are regular open buckets – they’d brush against your legs as you walked, so be prone to splashing.

    Andy, I haven’t kept track of the subsidies because our cavity walls can’t be insulated and without that you’re not eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive. It was still well worth doing though. Both the RHI and a lot of the renewable energy literature say you should insulate before getting solar thermal. If you can do both, insulation will probably save more energy. But the comparison isn’t really fair. They do different things. Most solar thermal systems aren’t connected to the central heating, and ironically if you do you lose the subsidy. But even if you lived in a superinsulated house that didn’t need any space heating, you’d still have to heat your bath water somehow. 🙂

  227. So many people are struggling, so why on earth is housing so expensive? Excess government involvement, just like with Education & Healthcare.

    I would argue the opposite. People that own houses don’t want more housing built, it lowers the value of their homes. There is also very much a Not In My Backyard mentality too.

    https://www.vox.com/2019/12/27/21039043/ibrahim-samirah-virginia-single-family-zoning

    I live in a community which has a mix of duplexes and single family homes.

  228. Our two positions, on this stuff about markers, aren’t incompatible.
    A marker, of the replacement of one ruling elite by another, may well often coincide with (or be part of) powerful indicators of system instability.

  229. John and commentariat–

    John, I don’t know if it is your intention to put through comments during your break to permit continued open discussion among the commentariat here, but if that is indeed the case, I have a question for my fellow Ecosophians, particularly the writers among our happy (or at least respectful!) community.

    I am still drinking form the firehouse of story ideas which began gushing with the first Vintage Worlds contest and trying to bring some of them forth into being to best of my still-developing abilities. While I very much plan to return to the de-industrial landscape I’ve begun to chart in a several tales, my focus right now is on this alternate Old Solar System timeline with its nineteenth-century era of space exploration. I’ve completed one series of tales that has been compiled into a novel manuscript, with a sequel series nearly complete. A parallel series is well underway, a gritty crime noir narrative set on Venus with some interesting character elements to it.

    I have an idea for another story/novel, but the crazy notion has come over to me to write it as a romance. For my crime noir series, I immersed myself in the pulp stories of Raymond Chandler, who very much helped me to get the feel, cadence, and voice for that kind of story. Does anyone have a recommendation for a romance author who might serve a similar role? I’m partial to complex characters, obstacles which are more than token and which may or may not be fully overcome in the course of the story, and actual character development of and between the main actors.

    And yes, I am a romantic sap at heart, as my space sagas continue to reveal 🙂

    Many thank in advance.

  230. Simon S:

    I concur that all the production in the world can’t fix poor musicianship, but the sound of the end product is highly dependent on how it is mixed.

    Back in the late 1990s, one of my friends, Dustin Stroud, was in a band called the Ritalin Kids (later changed to ‘Riddlin’ Kids’ by their label to avoid lawsuits). Search “Riddlin Kids I Feel Fine” on YouTube for their big hit.* Their label insisted that the final album be produced by one of the handful of elite producers of the day (I think it was Lord Algae but I’m too lazy to dig out the CD and verify that). This producer took 4 or 5 points on their album for his services. However, almost every pop punk song on the radio at that time had been produced by him, so to get airplay they had to have that producer’s sound to that their song would mesh with everything else.

    Before Dustin told me about this, I never really noticed at the conscious level that songs on commercial radio had that uniformity in the way they were produced. It is really easy to notice if you listen to commercial radio for about an hour and then flip over to a college station.

    But yeah, it’s comedic-tragic that the best quality recordings were made when the music industry was set up to exploit everyone in the worse way. I hope you write that book.

    * I note that the video for “I Feel Fine” involved spending way too much money to reference an obscure 80’s move “Loverboy.”

  231. Cliff said: “AFAICT, that’s not what Yang is talking about, though. To me, he seems to be offering UBI as a desperate way out of the double-bind we find ourselves in. Technological progress has to continue in order to keep all of our social games going. But if it continues, we’re faced with massive unemployment as the machines take over.”

    Oddly enough this is part of the premise that helps drive the drama of the Amazon SF tv show The Expanse. The earth government, ruled by giant trans-national corporate elites co-exist with a global populace with little hope for jobs and thus the masses subsist on a planet-wide UBI dole. One ep seemed to imply Earthers occasionally have their own rebellions against their planetary corporate-elite caste but never have any success. The corporate-elite class have a solar system of war band mercs and pirates willing to come in and take out any Earthers staging an insurgency for a price.

    Mars colonists staged a successful rebellion against earth to finally become a competing planetary society but the result is a constant state of Cold War on the brink of Hot War with Earth. Much is made about how Mars military tech, marines and tactics are equal or in some cases better than those of Earth.

    But both Earth and Mars need the Belters for a constant flow of resources.

    The Belters are the solar system “deplorable” working-class caste treated and disliked as low-brow, dumb, exploitable chattel (with their own creole language no less!) by both Earthers and Martians. The Belters see little difference in being treated poorly whether by an Earther or Martian and call both “Inners” (for anyone who lives closer to the sun than the mined belt.

    I have not gotten around to reading the novels from which the show came yet. Too many other books on TBR pile I want to read more.

    But the Expanse tv show does have a few episodes showing how the elite caste of earth keep their own population in poverty via UBI and the Martian marine who first encounters some of these UBI earthers is startled to realize the Martian gov agit-prop about the awfulness of all Earthers doesn’t extend to the mass of impoverished Earthers themselves.

  232. It seems to me that one of the defense mechanisms of expert narratives under challenge is to ramp-up the false binaries. For example, with vaccination we either unquestioningly inject ourselves with whatever we are told to by infallible experts, or we abandon vaccinations altogether. The wiser path is more likely somewhere between the two – a few vaccinations may be helpful, surely, but it’s unlikely that everything a pharma company wants to sell me is always good for me. But to explore that does require sticking a pin in the more extreme options, thus puncturing the narrative.

    The same pattern with neo-liberal economics (abundance or starvation), college attendance (success or failure in life), space exploration (human advancement versus the end of the species), empire (protecting our way life versus skulking away in defeat) and on and on.

    If I’ve learned one thing from these hallowed pages these last ten years it’s to watch out for binaries and look for a better mid-path. So maybe one reliable sign of change breaking through is when the popular discussion rejects binaries as obviously silly and focuses more on what can be practically achieved by taking a different path. By that marker it seems to me that change is really picking up steam on several fronts. Maybe an annual burning of tired binaries is needed as we enter the 2020s.

    Happy New Year to all and best wishes to JMG for a well-deserved winters rest.

  233. That Navy article was interesting. As I read it, they are going for drones, hence all the talk about unmanned ships. The Navy has always been whining about the manpower requirements of its ships. They did sleep research for decades trying to figure out how to keep a crew functional without letting them sleep. One-third less people on board, no berthing spaces taking up space, smaller galley, less food storage or longer mission duration. Smaller crews are the way to go. Except when your exhausted crew starts plowing into everything else in the ocean. Oops.

    And add in that warheads are basically unstoppable now. No amount of armor consistent with floating can stop a modern antiship missile. And the missiles just don’t fly in straight lines any more. They twist and turn and dive. The anti-missile missiles have to match them, and hypersonic makes that job exponentially harder. What are you going to do to defend? Something like the Dwarves anti-elf-arrow spinners from the Battle of the Five Armies? A torpedo net in the sky is what you need.

    And one more thing, all the electronics needed on a modern warship don’t do well when sprayed down with the saltwater needed to put out the fire caused by the missile that got through. Unless the missile happened to hit the anchor chain compartment, your ship is dead. It might keep floating, and it might be fixable, but it’s functionally useless. The old days of a ship fighting on even while most of it is on fire are gone. (See the Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors for some examples.) Now when a ship gets a dent in the side they have to put it on a barge to bring it back to port. (See USS John McCain) And no, I don’t understand that one. Even if they had to bring it home on one shaft it should have been physically able to return on it’s own power.

    If I was a Navy planner I would not be sleeping well at night.

  234. @JMG: No I did not know about the use of tapes in Iran to build support for Kohmeni. I am almost done reading the excellent book “Burning Down the Haus: punk rock, revolution and the fall of the Berlin wall” by Tim Mohr. It is about the punk rock scene in East Berlin and all the trouble the punks there got into being trailed by the stasi. Tapes were one of the ways the bands there were able to spread their messages… which were very much against the way East German society had everything planned out for each individual. In England the punks said they had “No Future” due to the tough economic times for working class folks in the ’70s-’80s there. In East Berlin they said they had “Too much Future” … everything was planned out for them. It is really a fascinating book and a look at how threatened East Germany was by the punk rock movement. I think this book would also be necessary reading for the current crop of kids who don’t know much history and are really fond of communism. But yeah, they used tapes too, and also since they didn’t have access to things like photocopiers to make flyers for their events, they used homemade dark rooms to make photo flyers. Reading about how the punks also worked with people in the Lutheran churches there was also fascinating, and showed how people of different philosophy and belief worked together towards a common goal, in this case the end of a dictatorship. I will look into the tape use in Iran too! Thank you!

  235. Dear Nastarana, I’ve heard the argument that UBI would just end up subsidising landlords but it doesn’t make much sense to me – no new tenants would be bidding up housing, so at worst I would expect it to be similar to a wage increase – and unlike a wage increase, there would be less need to pay for housing near major employment centres. Since it doesn’t stack with means-tested benefits, UBI wouldn’t increase the amount of money available to the welfare class, so the cheapest housing stock wouldn’t be affected, and that would make it hard for everyone else to simply raise their rent or mortgage payments by 1000/month.

    Cliff, I think a downshift is certainly not what Yang is *talking* about, but I’d be surprised if it isn’t quietly on his mind. He wants to pay for most of the program via a sales tax on discretionary spending after all, I think it’s more a case of environmentalism being a turn-off for voters and particularly swing voters who voted for Trump in 2016.

    Something I find hopeful about the American work ethic is that there’s some pushback developing against the idea that anyone who has a work ethic is owed a job by the system. That attitude has certainly led to the creation of many useless administrative jobs, with the results we can all see. Much as the current manufacturing boom has undone a bit of the inequality associated with that, it won’t be any help at all in dealing with the necessary downshift. A bit worse really, because an unnecessary service job is a pure waste and could hide the need for less consumption in the inflation rate, while a manufacturing job needs someone to buy what’s being produced and can’t really cope with decreasing public consumption. But there is also a growing idea that anyone who wants a job needs to create one. The kind of slow-payoff muse following or local-needs cottage industry that this approach fosters would be much better suited to the lower inputs we all need to put up with, and that kind of self-directed work is central to the pitch for UBI.

  236. All—

    Okay. So this might be better filed under “changing winds” or perhaps I’m just terribly late to the party, but I discovered something today of which I’m still trying to digest the possible cultural implications.

    Earlier today, my wife and I were over at her daughter’s house (we are a blended family of alternating generations) for the birthday party of my stepdaughter’s youngest of three children (a girl and two boys) who was turning five. Toward the end of the visit, I was chatting with the eldest, my step-granddaughter, who’s twelve, and she was showing me her room, her new ukulele she got for Christmas, and sharing some of her writing. While we’re chatting about her stories (which to be honest were pretty good for a preteen), a music video came on her TV. It took me a minute to process the sounds I was hearing and I look up to the screen to see this white guy in a full beard out in a rural setting *rapping*. And I’m like, “Ciara, what is this?” She looks at me and says quite matter-of-factly, “That’s country rap, Grandpa.”

    Ok then. I’ve seriously, seriously been out of the loop.

    Not sure what this might mean, if anything, but my first thought was that we now have a common communication and art form joining the urban inner city and the rural hinterland. If these groups have a bridge over which to engage in dialogue—holy potential political realignments, Batman!

    Country rap. My poor Gen X brain is sparking and popping just thinking about it.

  237. Dear JMG,

    Thank you for mentioning Ghan-buri-Ghan the other day. I started reading from there and realized again how beautiful the prose is.

    “Then, whether Aragorn had indeed some forgotten power of Westernesse, or whether it was but his words of the Lady Eowyn that wrought on them, as the sweet influence of the herb stole about the chamber it seemed to those who stood bye that a keen wind blew through the window, and it bore no scent, but was an air wholly fresh and clean and young, as if it had not before been breathed by any living thing and came new-made from snowy mountains high beneath a dome of stars, or from shores of silver far away washed by seas of foam.”

    You can’t get that from movies.

    Thank you. I wish you and Sara good tidings in the new year!

  238. Dear TJandtheBear, Winston Churchill might be your hero. To me, he is the person who didn’t want to share information about German troop movements with his closest ally.

    Dear Cliff, I was intrigues by your characterization, “manic work ethic”. Now I was raised in WASP culture, and it seems to me that the great virtues of Protestantism, virtues such as industry, thrift, self-reliance, use it up do without make it do, everything that is comprehended in the phrase ‘plain living and high thinking’ are long gone from our contemporary life.

  239. The journalist William Greider, author of Secrets of the Temple and The Soul of Capitalism, among other works, died this week. May he rest in peace. God must have wanted someone who could explain what is going on down here.

  240. Re: the revival of retro-tech

    Despite the push from administration toward more digital services, I am heartened by the high physical book circulation at my library.  At the branch I work out, we staff often feel worn out at the end of the day from the amount of book check-outs, holds processing, and shelving we’ve had to do. People are reading too much, we joke.  It may be a small subset of the population that is reading lots of books, but the whole idea some once predicted that books would become obsolete has definitely not come about. Our e-book & other digital circulation is a small percentage of total circulation, and growing very little despite all the marketing for it. Physical books are definitely the future.

    Every few months I pick a theme of my choice and promote books under this theme on our library website.  Some of you might be interested in one I wrote earlier this year on the Retro-Tech Revival, which includes one of JMG’s and also a book on the revival of vinyl: https://www.dclibrary.org/node/59269  (A co-worker of mine, decided to promote it via our library system’s Twitter account too, noting the irony of that. I also chuckle because one way you can access it is through following links from the go digital tab.)

  241. Another data point from Wikipedia: since 2010 (inclusive), ten light rail or streetcar systems have started operating in the US, along with five commuter rail systems. And, hard to believe for someone who remembers the 1970s, privately-owned intercity passenger rail service has returned to the US, in Florida.

  242. @ David Trammell

    The US Navy may want 12 carriers, but since they’ve decided to double down on the absurdly expensive and overblown Gerald R Ford class, they won’t be able to afford it. Hell, they can’t even afford to maintain the carrier force they have right now. Not to mention they have carriers putting to sea with seriously under-strength air wings because they don’t have enough operational carrier based planes left and they’ve retired many of the specialist aircraft types that made American carriers such formidable warships back during the Cold War. And since they are talking about deep cuts in the number of cruisers, destroyers and frigates, how would they be able to find enough escorts for those 12 carriers on the USN’s current wish list?

    On paper they have 11 carriers now, but only 9 are actually operational and there are only 9 air wings, none of which is anywhere close to full strength. By contrast, at the of the Cold War, the Navy had 15 operational carriers with 17 full strength carrier air wings (they had two spare air wings so they could replace combat losses or even entire air wings quickly in the event of a major war, which speaks volumes about the level of attrition the Navy expected to suffer in a war with the Soviet Union, even if it didn’t go nuclear) and even during the post Vietnam nadir, they could still muster 13 and 13.

    The American carrier force is in a classic death spiral and given the USN’s tendency over the last few decades to double down on the disastrous mistakes that got them into the mess tbey are in, I don’t see that changing.

  243. Hi JMG,
    when I was 14 I wanted to buy my first record player with the money I had earned working half of my summer holidays (I was still a pupil then) at a brick factory. It was a top of the range model then and therefore rather pricey and I had an argument with my father because he thought it was too expensive, whereas I argued that I worked for that money and so it was my decision what to do with it. In the end he gave in and I was allowed to buy it. I´ve moved house countless times in my life (including moving to Scotland with just a carload of stuff) and I always carried it with me, along with my record collection. Almost 40 years later I still got it and I´m still using it; it still works like a treat.The only repair that was necessary in all that time was to replace the audio cables because of a loose contact. I also had many CD players throughout my life; they only lasted a few years each before they broke: so much for the superiority of new technologies.
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  244. Hi JMG,

    Great to hear that you will start doing ingress charts for India. Political astrology does not get as much traction as personal astrology here these days, so it would be interesting to see your predictions.

    If you want to follow just the major news in India, I suggest timesofindia.com, indianexpress.com, thehindu.com and hindustantimes.com. These are the biggest English language newspapers, and they cover pretty much all sides of the political spectrum. (Interesting fact: The Hindu has communist political leanings. Names can be misleading!)

    There are some up and coming internet news sites as well. They write stuff that tends to go below the mainstream radar. thewire.in, scroll.in and theprint.in cover the leftward end while swarajyamag.com and opindia.com cover the rightward end. (The occultist side of you may be interested in Swarajya, which is attempting a revival of traditional religious thought).

    I want to add two points here. One, the European-American political divisions don’t strictly apply here. You probably know this. The “right” here believes in climate change, supports environmental preservation, is comfortable with evolution, and doesn’t support unrestrained free trade. Actually, these have never been issues of debate, as long as I can remember.
    Two, the news you would read in these newspapers covers only topics of interest to the well educated cosmopolitan class, which would constitute the top five percent, at the most. Many more things happen beyond the cities, which are regularly covered only by the regional language media in more than a dozen languages. The second set of news sites I mentioned above report a slice of such stories. Even then, the happenings in the Indian equivalent of flyover country does not reach the mainstream until it is too big to ignore.

  245. @Patricia,
    Indian economic, political and cultural thought has been dominated by Western imports for roughly the last two centuries like Marxism, capitalism, Keynesian theory, the Washington consensus, concept of secular state and church-state divide etc (we can call it our own pseudomorphosis). Slowly a group of people are trying to revitalise the traditional thoughts and practices from centuries ago. That is the swaraj they want, when India is governed not merely by Indians but also by original Indian political, economic and cultural systems. For example they criticize the shaky fundamentals of modern economics, and the secular policy that has stripped the people of their spiritual moorings. It is a motley collection of diverse views, but that is needed in a time of uncertainty.

  246. Mark,
    I think you are right about the “whipping up the binary” tactic as being a sign of the failure of a prevailing social force. But, note, too, that it may not be that there ARE two extreme positions being embodied within people thinking about the issue (or, that the number of extreme position holders at either end encompass many people), but that the extreme positions are the only ones that ever get airtime in public, in order to reinforce the sense that there can be no alternative other than complete acceptance or complete rejection.

    It seems to me that the “pro-choice” position is the one that resolves the binaries, because it encompasses the possibility that every permutation will continue to exist (some will vaccinate, some will not, some pregnancies will be aborted, some will not, etc), but that the actual determining conditions centre on the decisions made at the individual or family level, by people closest and most concerned with the issue, and who carry most or all of the risk themselves.

    If discussions of Age of Aquarius themes on this blog are anything to go by, the “pro-choice” position would seem to be the one that lines up best with the age we are in, and may ultimately prevail, despite the fact that some of the choices individuals may make will be destructive ones.

  247. Re Europe’s relative peace – don’t you think that’s because these states are now democracies? Won’t democracy have to die first before European nations wage war on each other?

    Also do you see Catalonia becoming independent eventually?

  248. Happy New Year, everyone!

    About retro culture: I’m not sure if this counts, but fountain pens are in the midst of a revival. I have quite a nice collection myself. And it’s not just a “collection” (pretty objects in a glass case); I actually use my pens on a daily basis.

    Re: “The parties that cater to the interests of bureaucratic globalism—the Labour party in Britain, the Democratic party in the US, and so on—will doubtless pick themselves up eventually and figure out that they have to make a case for their policies that will appeal to people outside the comfortable classes they serve.”

    This is far from obvious to me. It’s possible, of course, but it’s just as possible that they’ll simply go out of existence, and that new parties will pop up, filling empty niches. We’ll see.

    I do wonder who the Democratic nominee will be next fall. Now, I’m not American and I no longer live in the United States, but the US is a global superpower (in decline, granted, but still), and so I am somewhat interested. My guess is that the Democrats will choose someone bland (Biden?), and that Trump will win a reelection by a comfortable margin. I did watch Joe Rogan’s interviews with Bernie and Tulsi. Tulsi seemed level-headed, but it seems that she has no chance at all of being the nominee. Perhaps she’s hoping that Bernie will win the nomination and then select her as his running mate? Who knows. Bernie seemed like a mixed bag. He made a lot of sense on health care, he engaged in vacuous moral posturing on climate change (no tangible policy proposals, as far as I could tell), he advocated for $15/hr minimum wage (let me guess: it would send automation into overdrive) as well as free college education because a BA is now supposedly a necessity (cue in JMG: training people for jobs that don’t happen to exist will not make those jobs magically appear).

    @Nastarana

    Depending on circumstances, industriousness can be adaptive or maladaptive. In a chaotic environment, keeping your head low and just waiting for the storm to pass can be a much better strategy than insisting on doing something “productive” at all times. You could argue that there’s “always something to do,” but that something need not be productive in the usual sense of the word (and even if it is, the wider culture might not recognize it as such). Unemployment (a common feature around the world at the moment) is particularly hard on industrious people. If not having a job causes you to off yourself, either directly (e.g. via firearms) or indirectly (e.g. via alcohol), well, that’s a problem isn’t it?

  249. @JMG & commentariat

    I’m somewhat surprised to see a discussion of whether Bernie is more “like billionaires” or more “like ordinary Americans.” Why does anyone care? The relevant question is surely what policies he’d push for (and push through), and whom those policies would benefit. Perhaps I’m misremembering, but I believe our host made a very similar point about Trump some time ago.

  250. On “whipping up the binary”:

    What really “whips up the binary” in politics, now and always, is the model of professional sports championship contests, where is every major sport each game has two and only two teams, of which only one can win at that level of the contest. Politics seems to me to be presented by the media as a very similar sort of contest between two and only two teams, one from the “Red League,” one from the “Blue League.” Far from being a harmless diversion, professional sports seem to me to have become a toxin in the body politic–but a toxin that has its uses, if someone wants to cripple the unnecessariat’s capacity to look out for its own interests,

  251. Picador,

    I am still educating myself on the topic of vaccination and there are plenty of sane voices and concerns in the anti-vax crowd.

    I am convinced that censoring discussion on the topic by tech/pharma companies or enforcing vaccinations using the power of state are both moves in the wrong direction.

    The following can be good starting points for your research if you are interested:

    https://blog.nomorefakenews.com/2019/11/12/two-huge-vaccine-scandals-press-is-ignoring/
    https://blog.nomorefakenews.com/2014/09/24/there-are-2-other-mmr-vaccine-whistleblowers/

    http://www.dissolvingillusions.com/

  252. The anti-missile missiles have to match them, and hypersonic makes that job exponentially harder. What are you going to do to defend? Something like the Dwarves anti-elf-arrow spinners from the Battle of the Five Armies? A torpedo net in the sky is what you need.

    Have you seen the Hellfire missile variant with sword blades?

    https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/31310/this-photo-proves-how-the-hellfire-missile-that-uses-blades-instead-of-explosives-works

  253. On Catalan independence:

    My wife’s maternal grandparents were born in Catalunya; her mother and aunts grew up in the USA speaking Catalan at home, and she is still in occasional touch with Catalan relatives back in Europe–who are fiercely in favor of Catalan independence. When we talk about it, she always says that the Catalans and the Basques are the only economic communities of any significance in all of Spain, and that if they were both to win their independence, the rest of Spain would quickly become a failed state, the poorest of the poor in all of Europe–and Spain knows it, so Spain will stop at nothing, absolutely nothing (however horrific), to thwart the Catalan and Basque drives for independence.

  254. Dear Cleric of Progress, what I am trying to get at is that the same result, more money in the pockets of especially the poor (so that they can spend in the shops owned by immigrant businesspersons, but we won’t go there), could be obtained not at taxpayer expense but by simply imposing rent controls. My suggestion would be no more than 25% of the take-home pay of a fulltime worker earning minimum wage, or some similar formula. The “welfare class” doesn’t normally live alone. Partly this is for security reasons along with the sharing of expenses. Typically, Mom lives with kids and babydaddy plus often at least one indigent relative. So that would be two or even more $1000 monthly checks coming into a household, and that means the family might very likely be looking to upgrade it’s housing, maybe even combining resources to buy a house. I am not necessarily against UBI, if only because the legion of non-productive social workers would have to find useful work like teaching, but I don’t think it is an alternative to rent controls.

  255. Poking about the retro electronics scene, there are a lot of places that recondition reel to reel tape decks. Yes you can get them on e-bay, though you dont know what condition they are inside. Best to buy from a re-conditioner, many of which list what they have done. Yes, they are expensive. They are 20-40 years old. The main problem is audio equipment has no way to plug a tape deck in. Yes,there are workarounds, with dongles. However, there is the Yamaha R-N803, which has not only phono, you can plug TWO tape decks into it. It also can also do a CD. Which brings me to the other tape format making a comeback, the cassette. There are new ones being made now. The best being the Tascam 202MKVII Double Cassette Recorder Deck. Again, expensive, like the Yahama. And we can always go the reconditioned route. Both blank cassette and reel tape are still being made. There are still the old style portable cassette recorders being made ,too. Good hunting!!

  256. Not sure if this qualifies as an example of the ‘not trusting the opinions of experts’* mentioned in JMG’s post, but I came across this article by Kevin Williamson today regarding celebrities who champion extreme measures to combat climate change while continuing their own energy-hogging lives and why we should be suspicious of their personal motives. As has been discussed here on many occasions, it’s possible to believe climate change is a serious issue and concurrently believe that the popular movements to combat it are of mixed motivation.

    “And what does the global-warming gang want? There isn’t any mystery about that. You can ask them. They want political power. They want the power to reorder economic and social life along the lines they see fit, rewarding their friends and punishing their enemies, and they want to enjoy the ultimate pleasure that they can imagine — self-righteousness — while they are doing it.

    I myself have more or less conventional views of climate change and believe that adapting to it will be a challenge that imposes real costs. But I’ll believe that the celebrity activists believe in it when they start acting like it and the general-aviation section of the Pitkin County Airport looks like Rick Husband Amarillo International (!) Airport. I’ll believe they think we’re in an emergency when they start acting like we’re in an emergency.

    What they act like is people who want power. Because that is what they are.”

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/12/climate-change-celebrity-activist-hypocrisy/

    *It is fair to question whether or not celebrities are actually experts on much of anything besides being a celebrity. I certainly wouldn’t look to them for any expertise in climate science, but some may have convinced themselves that they know a good deal more than they actually do.

  257. To David BTL who asked about romance writers – I have enjoyed Jill Gregory’s writing for decades. They’re consistently enjoyable, IMO.

    To Daniel, who posted the Country Rap video – THANK YOU! That really was delightful 🙂

    To JMG and all the commentariat (is that truly a word now?) Blessings of the season be upon you. May 2020 be healthy, safe, and fun for everyone.

  258. FYI everybody: http://historyunfolding.blogspot.com/

    Scroll down to “What the decade meant.” I forwarded this to my friend in Oregon with a long history-laden comment on Casearism and Greek Tyrants and when they arose and why and why it’s happening today. That because of a single sentence about “the liberal international order” as a good thing.

    For those with a bad case of TDS, there actually is a thought-stopper you can use. “Trump is the symptom, not the disease.” I used it on her. We shall see if it worked.

  259. Jacurutu, exactly. If we want a 350-ship navy, 200 corvettes of varying types, 100 submarines ditto, and 50 big clunky capital ships just in case we get one of the rare situations where a carrier group could survive in combat, would be a good rough sketch. Did you know that the Japanese surprise attack on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur that began the Russo-Japanese War was carried out by torpedo boats? It’s still an effective strategy: deploy small fast ships against big slow ships.

    Sleiszadam, granted — a Quadruple Monarchy or some similar thing would only really be an option after a war or two convinced everyone that they had to settle for such an arrangement. I hope it can be a short war, and not especially bloody.

    Admin, delighted to hear it! That’s very much the wave of the future at this point — small specialty cargoes at first, working up to bigger things as bunker oil becomes more expensive and wind stays cheap. I hope all goes well.

    Your Kittenship, delighted to hear it. Yes, TS really does W — and “happier” doesn’t surprise me at all. A lot of the pervasive, poisonous depression of our time is a function of noxious influences on what occultists call the lower astral plane; another part is a function of, shall we say, equally noxious entities on that level; both of those can be driven off by regular practice of a banishing ritual, especially when combined with the practice of the religion of your choice.

    JMA and Godozo, wind is changing indeed! Thank you both for the data points.

    David T, the Navy is as usual in the middle of a power struggle between various sub-branches, with careers and vast amounts of money on the line. Carrier jockeys typically stay in the carrier service throughout their careers; their goal at the top of the line is to command a carrier group, and so they want as many carrier groups as possible. People in other sub-branches are always looking to find some way to cut the carrier jockeys down to size, and that usually involves expanding some other bunch of ships and the like. Press releases to the media are one of many weapons in that war.

  260. Hi John

    Great post. Largely agree with your comments on the British general election and to be fair I have suggested on this blog for a few years that Tory-land might recover its position vs v vs Corbyn.

    I would add that the British working class/lower middle class rejection of Corbyn went beyond Brexit. Corbyn’s historic association with IRA terrorists and Islamist extremists was widely disliked among patriotic voters in Britain’s heartlands.

    In 2017, this was also the case but was counter-balanced by 1) a pro-Brexit position from Corbyn 2) a disastrous Tory campaign and 3) a fairly credible and popular economic policy agenda. I also think that the British sense of fair play kicked in as well – people wanted to give Corbyn a chance but he blew it over the last 2 years.

    This time popular views on Corbyn had hardened and his flip flopping over Brexit only added to that wider impression that Corbyn didn’t love his own country and national institutions. Patriotic voters from the working classes don’t like leaders who despise their own country.

    It’s really that simple.

    Matthew Goodwin, one of the few academics who writes well on this type of stuff, has a good post on why the Tories win.

    https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/12/nine-lessons-from-the-election-boris-was-lucky-but-he-also-played-his-hand-right/

    Regarding your wider predictions, I would broadly agree with them. My understanding is that you are forecasting a Trump re-election in November – is this correct?

  261. JMG, due to the difficulties in Chinese agriculture and their emphasizing of aircraft carriers, do you still think that China will the the next global hegemon or will things be different? I’m not sure that it is a given that there will be a next global hegemon. China is since quite a few centuries the first non-Western country and culture with the ambition to become a big empire, and I’m not sure how well this ambition will work out outside the East Asian cultural sphere.

    Regarding your comment to Cutekitten about banishing rituals, I have observed a similar effect of them warding off depressing moods.

    Regarding Bernie Sanders, I found the personality cult around him puzzling. In the aftermath of the presidential election 2016 I more and more got the impression that he is rather weak; he says some of the right things, but he seemed as if he would have caved in on them,, if he had been elected President. Quite a few politicians from the left have made caving-in to the demands of the neoliberal order a prominent art form.

  262. Hi JMG

    Re: carrier goups

    I think carrier groups are mainly the way the US Empire maintains the $ as the reserve currency “protecting” KSA and the Gulf Monarchies, so they only sell their oil paid in US $, that is the way an empire collect taxes from the rest of the world.

    Today US “need” the $ as reserve currency, to maintain the skyrocketing current account and public deficit without wiping out the economy and the social fabric of the country (and the many millions living in the FIRE economy and in rich suburbia).
    As all the empire centers in history, US give fiat $ (debt) to the “pro-vincae” = provinces = “for the defeated” in exchange of real goods, in order to maintain liquidity of his area of influence (empire). If not, the economy/society will suffer a huge crisis by liquidity crush (at least in the short term) and with some hundred millions weapons in the hand of civilians (in the case of US) and a lot of desires to blame somebody for the crushing crisis, it could be a dangerous experiment “to retire from empire” voluntarily.
    This was the case in the Spanish Empire in XVII century, the liquidity of the silver from the America conquest increase the internal prices and made uncompetitive the industries of Spain (as it is the case of US now), the society concentrated in the military, government largesse and speculation.

    In the beginning of XX century many people thought that the torpedo (submarines and torpedo boats) was the end of the battleship and in the russian-japanese war there were some success in surprise attacks (it was a japanese tradition to attack without a war declaration), but the navies quickly learn how to manage those risks with their escorts and maintaining the torpedo boats far away. So in the Jutlandia battle still the more effective ships were the battleships and above all the battle-cruiser (as those of Von Hipper). I think they will change the way they will use the carriers, that will became some kind of transport ships to deliver airplanes to “unsinkable” places like islands or allies (Australia or NZ) to attack, in the case of a war with China, the merchant fleet (supply routes mainly of oil, the blood of the war machines today) and prevent landings.

    The corvettes and frigates are very good to defend your shores, but if you want, as an empire, to “project force” to the other side of the world, specially to deliver large amounts of soldiers (an then planes to protect them), you (still) need carriers groups at least as a logistic system.
    The chinese understand this because they want (need) to have the yuan as reserve currency quickly because they are achieving the debt ceiling, and to sustain growth (to maintain the legitimacy in the eyes of their people), they need to exchange fiat money (debt) in exchange or real goods (raw mats or products), but they cannot provide a reserve currency to the world without a global force projection capability, and that means (still) carrier groups.
    At the end the reserve currency is maintained always by force, or as Alfred Thayer Mahan said about military superiority, “the capability to maintain your supply lines open and deny them to the enemy”

    The russians are the clevest player here and are waiting the other two (USA and China) to destroy themselves, mainly economically in the arms race; they now perfectly what is the price of that.

    Cheers
    David

  263. I just want to pop in and wish John and everyone a Happy New Year. I’ve been absent for quite awhile, starting back (I think) in October when I was helping someone pack up and move. It just seemed like other things from work to the holidays interfered with my online presence, and I am just now starting to catch up with the Ecosophia posts! I thought I’d wish everyone holiday cheer today, as I have to return to work New Years night and might not have the time to do it then.

    Also, a prediction for the city of Providence (and a heads up for John): a major progressive and “woke” religious denomination will have their yearly national convention in Providence and cause headlines with their superior ideas for society, their protests du jour, and their condemnations of anything perceived as against progressivism. They are “Rooted, Inspired, and Ready!” https://www.uua.org/ga Is this going to be anywhere close to you, John?

    Joy Marie

  264. I would argue the opposite. People that own houses don’t want more housing built, it lowers the value of their homes. There is also very much a Not In My Backyard mentality too.

    Trammel,

    You’re making my point, since overly restrictive zoning laws are one of the leading causes, and those restrictions are imposed through government. As is typical, the Virginia Dem has identified the correct problem but is off target on the solution.

    Nastarana,

    Churchill’s quotes simply reflect truisms proven throughout recorded history, and your sentiments certainly reflect envy of other people’s money. Why do you insist on repeatedly pushing policies that are proven failures? Existing rent controls are another leading cause of high housing costs, since they remove both the capital and incentive to build additional housing. Free markets balance supply and demand through price signals, and interfering with those price signals almost always has the opposite effect of what was intended.

    The discussion on “binaries” is a worthy one, since the politicians target those as so-called “wedge issues” to motivate the troops… and distract them from addressing real issues that would ruffle the feathers of the politicians monied patrons.

  265. I worked at the mail-order stereo company (Crutchfield) about thirty years ago when the Great CD Switch happened. Tech company sales reps brought in their high-end equipment to train us, and I can absolutely vouch for EVERY listener in blind tests preferring the sound of records to any CD player. Records are just better.

    So I held on to a couple of boxes of records even after I no longer owned anything to play them on. Then about fifteen years ago I got a portable turntable. It’s one of my favorite possessions. I like it much better than all that high-tech stereophillic hullabaloo of yore, and it fits neatly in a corner.

    Along those lines about a year ago I switched from a smart phone back to a flip phone. The flip phone itself is not great, but I still like the experience of owning it much more than the smart phone. It’s small, simple, does what’s needed, holds a charge for days–and all without the distractions of the smart phone screen. The only thing I miss from the smart phone is the maps.

    To me, some technologies have a lasting quality. Heck, the one thing I miss from a decade ago when I was a smoker, is the Zippo lighter. I can still hear the click in my dreams.

    Happy New Year to everyone!

  266. Predictions, for let us say, the next 5-10 years.

    The Chinese will come to realize that resource intensive Chinese civilization cannot flourish in Tibet, Mongolia or most of western North America, and establish a program to remediate their contaminated farmlands. I hope they don’t wait too long.

    The eventual successor to Pope Francis will be a conservative black archbishop from Africa. Probably not Peter Cardinal Turkson who is becoming too old, but some younger man very like him. This man will double down on traditional teachings regarding sexuality and the family while at the same time disentangling the American Church from its’ ill-advised alliance with the GOP. That papal election could very well set off a major political realignment in the USA. The GOP relies heavily on Catholic votes and will have to put up or shut up about reversing Roe vs. Wade. American Catholics will be reminded of our social teachings and that they are to be taken seriously. The Church, always in need of clergy, will give a warm welcome to African-American pastors, even if married. The Church does now permit married ministers who convert to become priests.

    Americans will finally, I am hoping, remember who we are, that we are builders and makers, citizens, not consumers, not gladhanders and wheeler dealers, AKA, Trump’s real base.

    Scotland will achieve independence with some sort of face saving for England formula and become, I would imagine, effectively a part of Scandinavia.

    The sensible portion of our upper classes will finally realize that the atavistic hatred for Russia harbored by the East European diaspora community, whether Jewish, Catholic or Orthodox, is no business of ours and understand that the American people have no further intention of going to war over someone else’s ethnic resentments.

  267. @ marlena13 – “This guy was talking about cars that can run on grass…”

    Somebody should tell him grass-powered transportation has already been
    developed. It’s called a horse.

    re records: somewhere in the house I still have the old shellac 78 rpm
    records I used to listen to as a child. I think the one with skinny
    minnie fishtail was played a million times. Probably drove my parents
    crazy.

    Predictions for 2020

    1: Trump will stumble slightly at a photo op. Pundits will immediately posit
    an incurable neurological disorder. Although he will show no further symptoms
    it will remain a topic of fevered discussion until the election is over.

    2: A long period comet will come slicing through the solar system and pass very
    close to earth. The debris in its wake will impact satellites and trigger a kessler
    syndrome effect. Somehow this all gets blamed on Trump.

    3: A volcano somewhere on earth will have a major eruption causing many problems
    for airlines trying to fly through the ash. Much will be made of the fact that
    the volcano’s name rhymes with Trump’s middle name.

    4: Locust swarms will devastate many areas in SE Asia. Those with TDS will spare no
    efforts in pointing out how this all coincides with Trump’s birthday.

    5: Finally Donald Trump will go down in history as the first president to get
    shot by his own wife. He will make a complete recovery and win by a landslide in
    spite of Democratic efforts to have Melania run as a dark horse candidate.

    Hey, it could happen, right?

  268. @ Michelle

    Re romance authors

    Thank you for that suggestion! There’s a lot of *ahem* stuff out there in that genre and I appreciate any pointers towards the higher-quality work that I can get.

    Some two decades ago, I dabbled in slash fan-fiction and wrote a three-part series under the pen-name Marcello that was reasonably well received within the small circle of Daria-otica to which it was submitted (“QED,” “Status Quo Ante,” and “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”). I have no idea if those stories are still out on the ‘net or not, but they were along the lines of the kind of complexities I enjoy. Similarly, there’s a *lot* of poorly-crafted crap on Literotica.com; however if you search for the stories “Heart’s Fall” or “Just Like In a Song,” those would other examples of the sort of thing I’m striving for.

    @ Daniel

    I echo Michelle’s thank for that video. It made me feel much better about our society’s future.

  269. @ David, by the lake

    You’re looking for romance writers? I like Mary Balogh. She’s a long-time writer, specializing in regencies. She really focuses on emotion rather than exciting duels and runaway carriages.

    One of my favorites is ‘A Summer to Remember’.

    If you’ve got a good used bookstore nearby or, even more amazing, an indie bookshop with serious readers working as clerks, tell them what you want and ask what they recommend.

    There’s so much to choose from.

    Enjoy your reading!

    Teresa from Hershey

  270. Hi again

    Quite off-topic but could be important for the next year: Pentagon said that today the USAF has attacked five positions of the PMU’s (KH units), three in Irak and two in Syria, it seems there are a scores of people killed and injured in those air strikes, some of them seems to be senior PMU commanders

    Pentagon said they attacked weapons depots and command centers in those five targets

    https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Report-US-forces-launch-attack-on-Kataib-Hezbollah-base-in-Iraq-612478

    https://southfront.org/u-s-announces-strikes-against-iranian-backed-forces-in-iraq-syria/

    Could be the start of the Third Iraq War? or may be the First Iran War? nothing at all?

    Cheers
    David

  271. “Michael, for heaven’s sake, calm down. He’s just going through the usual virtue-signaling display of class bigotry expected of a member of his caste; any time someone who makes more than $100,000 a year says the phrase “white people,” remember that they’re silently murmuring the words “working class” in front if it.”

    Even if that is true, it is a dangerous game they are playing. It almost amounts to a kind of pre-terrorism. And what should the working class do about it? I’d like them to fight back, especially as it is slander to suggest working class whites are more prejudiced than middle class ones. It manifests differently but that is all.

    If you’ve noticed, nearly everything that comes out of the left’s mouth is projection, and this race prejudice stuff is no exception.

  272. @Nothing Special
    It was the long tail, not the long tale. And if you are interested, you can google it. If you want to understand what i am trying to say, you probably should.
    Funny how the big thing that is gonna change everything for everyone is completely forgotten after just a few years.
    Talking about signal and noise…

  273. Robert Mathiesen–history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes, as someone said–politics in the post Constantine Roman Empire polarized around actual sports teams–the Blues and the Greens in the chariot races. Not sure why the Whites and Reds did not have as much influence.Then on the international end, remember the hurrah when US team beat Soviet Union in hockey at the 1980 Olympic games–you would have thought actual territory or trade concessions were at stake. People are strange. re: Catalan independence, sounds similar to Indian determination to hang on to productive Punjab.

    Beekeeper–can hardly blame celebrities thinking they know more than they actually do on important issues when they are treated, not just by populace and the media, but even by legislators as if this is true. Back in 1985 three actresses who had portrayed beleaguered farm wives were invited to testify before Congress on the plight of the American farmer. There was criticism at the time, but one can’t help but be amazed that anyone thought this was a good idea.

    JMG–have a pleasant secular New Year’s celebration and a productive month off from the blog. Few things feel better than completing a writing project. BTW–my grandson (who has been DMing since the age of 10) is eagerly awaiting a view of the Weird of Hail RPG.

  274. Today’s (Sunday) San Francisco Chronicle has a guest editorial with the heading “Choose hope over optimism.” The author is Kevin O’Brien, a Jesuit priest and the president of Santa Clara University. The message of this editorial fits in with advice that JMG has given from time to time. Since it may be paywalled, I’ll quote at length.

    “Optimism is naively believing that everything will be all right . . . [Hope] insists that even if things do not turn out as we want right now, there is meaning in working for good with a community of people around us. While optimism may flee in the face of defeat, hope persists even in suffering. . . Optimism is like a sugar high that quickly fades. Hope fuels our mind, body and spirit for the long haul, whispering or shouting when we need it: ‘Take heart! Keep going! The journey is worth it!’ . . . hope is a choice that we make each day, a commitment that endures even when we don’t feel so hopeful. Grounded in hope, we are less susceptible to daily highs and lows, to demoralizing critiques and temptations to run away and forget it all. ”

    “Where do we find hope? Surely ideas–both religious and secular–can inspire. Plans and policies crafted by candidates can chart a way forward. But in the end, hope resides in people.”

    This kind of hope seems different from the “hopium” that JMG rightly scorns. Since it takes the long view, I can square it with the conviction that “There is no brighter future ahead.”

    I know that many people do not have many good memories of the year that is ending and dread what 2020 may bring. I don’t usually traffic in uplift, but this might be the right moment.

  275. At Beekeeper re Celibrities

    It seems like we have a paradox here. First, I believe climate change will result in any number of serious problems unfolding in the decades ahead.

    So let me play the Devil’s Advocate for the celebrities for a minute. The celebrities are right about this. They are also accused of “wanting power.” This is also true. However, this is where the paradox comes in, for if you want to see serious changes in the economy, culture and lifestyle, you NEED power.

    And I suspect that the celebrities rationalize their own extravagant energy useage with the idea that they are so few in numbers, that whatever they contribute to climate change is but an infintesimaly small percentage of the total emitted by the global economy at large. This undermines their credibility of course, but we are left with the fact that climate change is a serious problem, and political action to change thinge will require political power.

    If the celebrities did achieve the level of power they seek, would they actually make the necessary changes. I consider this unlikely, as it seems to meaningfully address climate change, the world economy would have to abandon around 90% of industrial activity in the next few years. And since the planet cannot support a population of 7.6 billion (and growing) people (never mind the billions of people wanting to expand their energy and resource footprint so they can have lifestyles commesurate with the West) this won’t happen.

    Serious change will have to be forced, not by people, but by events, political decisions responding to immense meteorlogical changes will not happen until we are staring some disaster in its face.

    Antoinetta III

  276. Sometimes the oldest technology isn’t the right one for everybody. I just acquired a second hand basic plasticy sewing machine to replace my 1950s? metal sewing mchine. The old machine is probably much better objectively, as it is sturdier and much more longlasting. But I’m getting rid of it. Why? Because it is too heavy for me to safely move it up or dwn from my dining table, which is the only place in the house I can use it. The old machine is too heavy, and as a result it hides in the back of my living room behind the armchair, where it is never used. The newer machine may be objectively inferior, but at least I can use it. The best equipment is the stuff you actually use.

    I have no desire to join the vinyl renaissance. I don’t have a huge amount of space, and vinyl records and record players take up more space than CDs, let alone streaming stuff on the computer I use for many other things.

  277. p was actually pygmycory, sorry.

    Due to hand issues I tend to find that a lot of heavier-duty older stuff is difficult or even impossible to use. And for those of us with low incomes leading to small or shared apartments, lack of space places a premium on smaller items whenever possible.

    We may end up seeing more diversity in people’s technology choices, as people pick the one which is actually best for them, rather than what advertisers and the media think is best for them. And the technologies chosen won’t be identical from person to person. That would be a very good thing.

  278. @ Teresa

    Re romance writers

    Thank you! I’ll be checking her out as well. From your description, that sounds like the sort of thing I’m looking for. And regency would, ironically, be about the right time period for the story I have in mind.

  279. Archdruid and gang,

    My predictions for the coming year.

    World
    1) More storms, more ecological damage, still no action anywhere in sight.
    2) Oil prices will continue to fluctuate and the global economy will continue to stagnate, with governments everywhere continuing to paper over the problems.
    3) The global refugee crisis will continue at a slow trickle, but with conditions calming down in the middle-east. A few of the Syrian expats will start to return to Syria as the political environment in Europe starts to turn hostile.
    4) Alliances in the Mideast will continue to shift like sand in the wind, but Turkey will lose ground in a new axis forms around Russian backed Syria.
    5) The Saudi Regime won’t do anything outstandingly stupid without US backing, which they won’t get while Trump is in power.

    Europe
    1) Britain will leave the EU
    2) Scotland will begin its separation from England to rejoin the EU
    3) More states realizing its possible to leave the EU will eye the exit, and reach out to England to form trade alliances.
    4) More parties in the EU will start to march toward nationalism, a subtle but firm anti-Immigration, anti-muslim sentiment will settle over Europe.
    5) England will strengthen diplomatic ties with the common-wealth, but exclude some states
    India
    1) The BJP will lose ground in state elections, but start reorganizing state units to gain ground.
    2) The Christian expansion, supported by dangerous use of occult methods, will continue but be met by increasingly fierce and organized resistance.
    3) The BJP will more to repeal government control over hindu temples and return them to trusts set up for the devotees. Opposition lead state governments will attempt to retain control over the temples and their revenues.
    4) The expat diaspora scattered across the world will strengthen their ties with right wing governments across the world, and start to turn again globalist parties in all countries.
    5) Reforms of the state security forces will start to be discussed
    US
    1) Donald Trump will win the election
    2) Tulsi Gabbard will start organizing a run for senate, and a strategy to gain the presidency in 2024 or 2028.
    3) The economy will do okay, with money flowing back into the Midwest.
    4) There will be riots centered around college campuses after Trump wins reelection.
    5) It will be mostly uneventful year otherwise.

    Personal
    1) People who haven’t received a letter from me in sometime will receive regular letters
    2) I’ll break my internet addiction.

    Regards,
    Varun

  280. Scotlyn,

    I am going to be so bold as to give you tonight’s gold star from me for the clarity of your post on December 28, 2019 at 7:17 am about expertise versus science. It was just excellent.

  281. Re: Aircraft Carriers and the planes they carry:

    I just took a trip to, amongst other places, Key West. The thing that impressed me about the island was its military presence – something with a long history that continues to this day.

    Which makes sense – the island acts as a forward base towards Cuba and much of Central and northern South America.

    Extend that to an Aircraft Carrier – an island with the ability to be floated wherever needed or wanted, and with proper support it can act as a forward base of operations.

    Now I see the Aircraft Carrier’s day coming to an end for various reasons we’ve talked about. And as that day comes, don’t be surprised to see Key West and certain other islands – the original Aircraft Carriers, so to speak – remilitarized.

  282. If anyone is in need of a New Year’s “ballast,” I submit our host’s fine sentiment from two years ago that still has a year of life on it:

    “…the next three years will be a fine time to build things that endure, to pursue practical matters in a disciplined fashion, to accept limits, and to work the soil.” -JMG, in a comment on Jan. 26, 2018

  283. Along with the other planned cuts to the fleet, funding for the US Navy’s next generation fighter program just got slashed.

    https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2019/12/22/amid-a-heated-aircraft-carrier-debate-the-us-navy-sees-funding-slashed-for-a-next-generation-fighter/

    So even if the Navy wants more carriers, what are those carriers going to fight wirh? The F/A-18 Hornet/Super Hornet series has been successful, but that family of aircraft is getting to be a bit long in the tooth and even the newest models would be outclassed against the latest Russian and Chinese fighters. The F-35 has proven to be an expensive failure and the USN has sharply cut its procurement of F-35’s in favor in favor of more Super Hornets, which is a sensible move for near term, but just kicks the can down the road and saddles the Navy with an increasingly outdated design that has some serious shortcomings along with its undeniable merits.

    Meanwhile, Russian president Vladimir Putin recently unveiled the true capabilities of their latest hypersonic cruise missile, the 3M22 Zircon, revealing that it has a cruising speed of Mach 6, a top speed of Mach 9 and a maximum range of 1000 km, much greater than Western intelligence agencies had estimated. Russian sources are also reporting that an upgraded model of the Zircon capable of speeds in excess of Mach 10 is already under development.

    They also revealed that smaller, lighter, shorter ranged versions of the 3M22 and the Kh-47 Kinzhal aeroballistic missile are being developed for use by fighter planes (as an example, a Su-57 stealth fighter will be able to carry two internally and two more under the wings) and for carriage on the rotary launchers of heavy bombers like the Tu-22M3, Tu-95MSM and Tu-160M2, which will permit each bomber to carry a large number of hypersonic missiles during a single mission.

    Clearly, the USN needs to rethink its strategy and force structure, especially since the Chinese aren’t standing still either.

  284. Hello JMG

    Some economic data from the UK courtesy of the BBC Today programme this morning. Retail shop closures in 2019; 16,000, with the loss of 140,000 jobs. Significantly, boarded up shops are starting to appear in the very prosperous areas, god knows what its like in the rural and ex industrial areas. My local anecdotal evidence; I’m in the outer commuter belt of the home counties around London, we have persistent retail black spots around the town, but high street stores eventually get re-filled, usually by independents, but they often don’t last long. Chain stores are steadily disappearing. Nationally the level of shop closures would normally indicate a major recession, but the government figures say otherwise (?). Interviews by my local press with local owners of stores that are closing indicate either that so much of their business has moved on-line that it is no longer worth maintaining a high street outlet (this includes art galleries, second hand book stores, high end furniture and furnishings outlets), or margins have got so narrow that it is not worth the risk or hassle of carrying on and retirement beckons. Most of the shops just close with no reason given. The retail black spots are gradually being converted to housing, and thus disappearing.

    From the BBC; Jobs sectors that are increasing are van drivers, care workers, and programmers. Those that are contracting are retail workers and government workers.

    PS. My town though prosperous has no Starbucks or McDonald’s. We had a Starbucks for six months some ten years ago before it closed down to be replaced by an independent mobile phone accessories shop (which is still there). The McDonalds we had for some twenty years before closing down about five years ago. I over heard the local college kids counting down the days till it closed with glee! Both I think were considered to be too down market to be patronised by the towns prosperous class, which form a large part of the population!

    Regards Philip

  285. TJand Bear
    “Free markets balance supply and demand through price signals”.

    This statement is so abstract and theoretical as to utterly obscure its actual workings in practice – ie where people do things that have effects on other people who do things.

    I wonder can you rephrase the statement in whatever way you see it working itself out in terms of what people do?

  286. Re: vinyl vs CDs… I suspect that the problem lies in the “aliasing” phenomenon. Wikipedia has a good article under that title, with a short audio clip that helps illustrate the problem. In a nutshell, aliasing can reflect ultrasonic harmonics down into the audible range, where they are no longer harmonically related to their fundamental pitch. Ultrasonic harmonics can be suppressed between the microphone and the digital sampling recorder, but there are tradeoffs between cost, bandwidth, and effectiveness which have not always been chosen wisely. Analog vinyl recording doesn’t have this issue.

  287. Re the Dem nomination

    Taking a quick look at the latest *national* level polling for the Democratic primary on FiveThirtyEight and doing a bit of analysis on the more recent polling numbers (various weightings and averagings), I come up with the top three contenders as follows:

    Biden at ~28%
    Sanders at ~20%
    Warren at ~15%

    Of course things can change quickly as the dynamics of the actual primaries begin to play out and one candidate potentially gains “momentum” (or no one does). As it stands, this looks like a long slog. Bernie’s support is unlikely to go to Biden unless and until Bernie drops from the race. Warren’s support I’d guess might be half-Bernie, half-Biden should she drop out. But no one has anything close to a majority as yet and the fact that the sum of the #2 and #3 candidates surpasses the #1 candidate is telling. Again, I suspect we’ll see a replay of 2016, with Biden=HRC. Fascinating stuff in terms of social and psychological dynamics, even if a bit depressing…

  288. Happy New Year to everybody, and may 2020 be good to you all. [Note: the South is one of the few parts of the country that actually has both a 2nd person singular and second person plural. The only other places that do are the ones where “Youse guys” is the plural.]

  289. Onething,

    Every adult citizen, but the version Yang is proposing would not stack with means-tested welfare, one would have to choose one or the other. Someone who is versed in dealing with the system could presumably make more via the various existing programs, but UBI wouldn’t go away if that person found paying work instead. In that way, it has many of the benefits of the existing social safety nets without the ‘poverty trap’ element – and without spending a lot of the money in the program on administrators’ salaries.

  290. Hi John,

    Can you delete my last comment please. It’s too acrimonious and not contributing anything.

    Dropbear – I think we said all there is to say on this.

  291. Data point on mixing for vinyl. I run live sound for a local prog rock band that has released seven or eight CDs. This time they paid for separate mastering for vinyl as well.

    JMG-to answer your question about giving away vinyl- so far I’ve been giving away the triplicates, which tend to be be good stuff. (Sidebar-my wife and I have both similar and divergent tastes. Back in the day you could tell how well you might get along with someone by looking at their vinyl stash. Can’t do that if it’s a pile of 1s and 0s….) Who doesn’t want Black Sabbath or Steely Dan if they’re trying to build a record collection? The winnowing is going to take a long time, because I intend to listen to everything, unless it’s an obvious “toss”-and that’s usually due to damage. If I intend to keep it, I want to listen before I integrate it into my collection. Likewise, if I might possibly keep it, I want to listen before I integrate it into my collection. For instance I acquired 15 Gentle Giant albums, and I really don’t know anything about the music, except that I’ve heard good things. So. This will take a while…. The thing is I have co-workers in their 40’s trying to build vinyl record collections; they would have come of age right as CD madness took hold -archivists do know what is enduring…

  292. David by the lake:

    Not sure I’d swear by those numbers remaining stable. I just read moments ago a comment Biden made in New Hampshire yesterday:

    “Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told miners they need to look for ‘jobs of the future’ when he spoke about moving away from the use of fossil fuels during a campaign event in New Hampshire on Monday.

    ‘Anybody who can go down 3,000 feet in a mine can sure as hell learn to program as well,” Biden said. “Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program, for God’s sake!'”

    OMG. He told people in need of a job to learn to code. The meme is not dead, it’s real.

    I have a modest suggestion for the Democrats vying for the nomination: stop making it so easy for Republicans to mock you.

  293. Cleric of Progress,

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t really understand your answer. So, everyone gets it except those who are on welfare?
    When you say UBI would not go away if that person found a job – it isn’t clear what sort of person you are talking about.
    I don’t know what the poverty trap is unless you mean people not wanting to get off welfare because in many ways they are worse off with a minimum wage job without the extra bennies you get on welfare, such as medicaid.

    To me it continues to sound like a really bad idea that will solve nothing, just make everything cost more and make life even worse for those who are really poor.

  294. Re Beekeeper’s last post,

    There are several reasons why the “learn to code” meme is stupid. A one-size-fits-all solution. Is it really the case that all our employment problems will be solved by everyone learning to code? Are there really that many coding jobs going unfilled? So our economy has room for only a few types of jobs? The very people who might like to go down into a mine would likely find coding in a cubicle stifling.

    And how incredibly unimaginative of Biden to just regurgitate this stuff.

  295. @ David, by the lake

    One of the great things about historical romance is that social mores were so, so, so different. They could be much, much stricter. That is, a female really could be compromised by being in the company of an unrelated male. This matters more the higher up the food chain you are, of course.

    These days, at least in the Western world, that doesn’t happen so much.

    Intense class structure with plenty of rules makes for a more interesting plot.

    Teresa from Hershey

  296. Someone, thanks for this.

    Mouse, no, they’re not incompatible, but they’re also not identical. In the year or two ahead, we’ll get to see whether one or both of them are correct.

    David BTL, I’ll be putting comments through during the break, though I won’t necessarily do so every day.

    Mark, excellent. Yes, that’s a core strategy these days for a great many pressure groups — and it’s one of the things that makes the ability to think in ternaries even more crucial than usual just now.

    Siliconguy, that is to say, the modern warship has passed not only the point of diminishing returns but the point of negative returns when it comes to complexity. In military history, that normally leads to a sudden revolution in military affairs, and usually to the catastrophic defeat of a supposedly invincible force. I hope it isn’t ours.

    Justin, hmm! Well, I didn’t know about the use of cassette tapes in East Germany, so it’s a fair exchange. Many thanks!

    David BTL, that’s excellent news. What we need most right now in the US is a shattering of established allegiances and a flurry of new alliances and cultural and intellectual cross-fertilization, and country rap is a great example — as well as a sign of certain specific connections (a rapprochement between African-Americans and working class white people) that I’ve hoped to see for a very long time.

    Adam, you’re welcome and thank you! No, you can’t get that from movies.

    Nastarana, thanks for this. I enjoyed Greider’s writing and his ideas a great deal.

    Beneaththesurface, very good to hear. Thank you.

    Simo, I do podcasts pretty much whenever a podcaster contacts me, so I’m certainly open to the idea. As for the missile boats, those are definitely heading in the right direction — small, stealthy, missile-armed, and not too expensive. They should do a fine job if it comes to war, and I suspect they do a fine job already of dissuading neighboring powers from thinking too lightly of Finland’s capabilities.

  297. Onething,

    The poverty trap is exactly as you describe it – in my country at least, most of the existing ‘bennies’ as you call them were designed to make up for a temporary inability to work, with the assumption that someone will use employment insurance until they find work, or disability until they get well, or something similar as the case may be. A good solution when entry level work paid so far above the poverty line that getting off these programs to return to work was a no-brainer. But wages didn’t keep pace with inflation nearly as well as the bennies and nowadays, after paying for child care, commute, and less energy to spend on other things, getting off these programs to begin working again is often a no-brainer in the other direction. Taking an entry level job becomes unaffordable, so eventually getting a better job becomes impossible. That’s the poverty trap. UBI is intended to help bridge the moat.

    If you have any further questions I’d be happy to answer them – I believe UBI is a great idea because of what happened in pilot programs where it was attempted. The results there seemed to be that while it wasn’t much help to the idle poor, it was a huge help to the working poor – consider, to someone working 200 hours a month, the UBI would be the equivalent of a 5$/hour raise. That’s substantial to someone on minimum wage, especially given how few people on minimum wage are able to scrape together that many hours. That’s one reason why I think it would be particularly good for the US – all those temporarily embarrassed millionaires who would be too proud to live on the ‘dole’ would probably be quite happy to live simply off their dividends until their next venture takes off.

    You’re right about one thing though – it would make everything more expensive, that’s the point I was originally trying to make. Everyone’s already paying for food and shelter, but whatever minimum wage workers buy when they get a 5$/hour raise would see a huge jump in demand, and if that weren’t enough, the transfer is to be funded by a sales tax. Yang’s not talking about that, for obvious reasons, but among people who agree a downshift in consumption is necessary it seems like the best sacrifice we could make.

  298. Brother K, more good news. Many thanks!

    Frank, and now that record players are coming back in, you’ve gotten ahead of the crowd by standing still. I suspect that’s going to be a very common experience in the years ahead!

    Ramaraj, many thanks for this. For what it’s worth, the political astrology we’ve got mostly focuses on the things that interest the wealthiest and most influential 5% or so — back in the day, that’s who could afford to hire the astrologers! — and of course our newspapers here in the US are no different!

    Bridge, not at all. Democracies also go to war — consult the military histories of the US and modern Britain if you have any questions about that. Of course it’s easier to get a war started if you’re a dictator, but you can do the thing as effectively if you’re an elected head of government with plenty of popular support and the people are riled up about the actions of some other country. As for Catalonia, I have no idea; if it does win independence, Spain generally will look like the Balkans within 20 years at most.

    Irena, I’ve also started using fountain pens of late — they’re simply more pleasant to write with, as well as wasting less resources — but getting fountain pens that are not too expensive and still of decent quality is not easy. The most readily available brand here, Zebra, has serious quality control issues — about 1 in 3 of their pens simply doesn’t work. As for the fate of the Democratic and Labour parties, here in the the US the two main parties have made it extremely difficult for a third party to get any traction, so it’s much easier for an insurgent movement to take control of a floundering party, the way Trump took over the GOP. Britain may be another matter, of course.

    As for Bernie, his people are making a lot of noise about how he’s an ordinary American because nobody believes that he’s actually going to follow through on his campaign promises — one of the things that sets Trump apart from nearly everyone in US politics is that he actually did what he said he was going to do — so his supporters are trying to sell his personality to the voters.

    Beekeeper, if that’s starting to get some traction, the climate change movement is dead. Good riddance, to some extent, since it wasn’t actually doing anything about climate change — but its well-earned collapse is going to make it more difficult to get anything more useful going as anthropogenic climate change begins to bite. (Here again, people are arguing about catastrophes when slow steady change is already under way…)

    Forecasting, thanks for this. As for Trump, he’s not quite a shoo-in, but it’s getting close. His approval rating is above 50% in most polls, constituencies the Dems can’t afford to lose are beginning to break his way — his approval among African-American voters has gone from 9% to 34% in three years, and similar shifts in the Jewish vote and the gay male vote are in process — and he’s got a gargantuan war chest for the election and a nearly unlimited supply of eager and enthusiastic volunteers waiting for him to call them into action. Nor have the Dems managed to find a candidate who appeals to more than a narrow slice of the electorate. My working guess is that he’s going to take between 315 and 330 electoral votes — say, 34 states — and a clear majority of the popular vote.

    Booklover, I’m much less confident of China’s rise to global hegemon status than I was. They may still do it, and they’ve made some important steps in that direction, but they could also fail. In that case we get a multipolar century, with India becoming the dominant force throughout the Indian Ocean littoral, Russia stabilizing its position and expanding its influence in the Middle East, and either Brazil or Argentina — or just possibly both — beginning a rise to world power status.

    DFC, the war that mattered where battleships are concerned was the Second World War, in which they served mostly as targets for air strikes. (The Arizona, the Prince of Wales, the Tirpitz, the Yamato — need I go on?) That’s why nobody builds them any more. (Here’s a good article on that.) As cruise missile and antiship ballistic missile technology continue to develop, force projection by sea is going to become very difficult for a while, and it will become essential to have substantial forces based overseas again for any country that wants to be able to act on the far side of an ocean.

    Joy Marie, good to hear from you! Fortunately I’ve got the Seekonk River between me and the UU convention. I’ll be careful to stay clear of downtown when they’re meeting. Thanks for the heads up!

    Joel, and now you’re on the cutting edge again! Well played.

    Nastarana, I hope you’re right. I’m not going to bet on it, but here’s hoping.

    Jeanne, funny. The thing that strikes me is that the Dems are perilously close to portraying Trump as an omnipotent being, causing volcanic eruptions, locust plagues, and frogs raining from the sky by his merest whim…

    DFC, with any luck, nothing at all. I suspect that we’re seeing another attempt to drag Trump into a war, since that’s one of the few things that could cost him the election.

    Onething, of course it’s projection — if Jung were alive today he’d be taking notes as fast as his pen would move, for a new book on the shadow archetype and how colorfully and absurdly it can be projected. It’s also dangerous, as you suggest. We’ll just have to see how it plays out.

  299. Here’s one projection of the year 2040 that you may be interested in Mr. Greer related to such a multipolar world: https://www.deviantart.com/rvbomally/art/2040-from-2017-698229279

    I must say the idea that I find the idea of a GOP candidate of any kind, let alone one with as much racial baggage as Mr. Trump, winning Eisenhower-Nixon levels of African-American support to ASTONISHING. If that statistic is real, it would be EXTRAORDINARILY embarrassing for the Dems to lose not only the white working class but African-Americans too (especially with the 1619 project going on)! After all, since the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, blacks have been the most tenacious, loyal, and captive of Democratic constituencies.

    On the other hand, Trump’s rolling back of occupational licensing and, especially, Third World immigration, may change a significant number of minds. One should keep in mind that since the end of the civil rights era, the two biggest series of black race riots have been at least tangentially related to cultural and economic concerns over immigration: the 1980 Florida riots (related to Cuban immigration especially in the aftermath of the Mariel boat lift), and the 1992 Los Angeles riots (related to East Asian immigration). To me, the biggest (but least understood) tragedy of African-American history is each of the two most significant events of emancipation, the end of slavery in 1865 and the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, were succeeded by periods of mass immigration that undermined upward mobility, the Ellis Island era and the 1965 Hart-Cellar Act. Did you know that KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest was in favour of Chinese immigration just to spite the black man’s demands for higher wages!

  300. @Chris Smith

    Thanks for that story. The timing of your anecdote (late 90s) couldn’t be more fitting cos that’s when the wheels really started to fall off for the music industry. Here’s what happened:

    The music industry used to work bottom up. The record labels saw their job was to find and nurture new talent that was coming up from the grassroots. They did this because there were enormous sums of money to be made from hit records.

    Although there were manufactured bands and manufactured music beforehand, in the mid-90s the paradigm shifted and manufactured music became the norm. The music industry became top down. The record labels realised that it was cheaper and less trouble to just get the producer (in alignment with the mixing/mastering) to create the sound. Once the quality of digital recording technology had caught up to analog, the floodgates really opened as the ability to manipulate the sound became effortless and dirt cheap.

    The 90s was also the era of the “Loudness Wars”. Take any commercial recording at the start of the 90s. It’s probably mastered to around -17rmbds which mastering engineers had learned was the sweet spot for compression. By the end of the decade, the same recording would be -10rmdbs. Old school mastering engineers talk about that period as the time when their profession was destroyed. The record labels ordered them to brick wall everything. You either complied or you stopped getting work.

    For a good decade before the internet broke their monopoly on distribution, the record labels had been serving up manufactured garbage to consumers who might not have consciously realised it, but would have known at some level. Paying $30 a pop for a CD that sounds like every other CD in that genre ain’t fun. I think that’s why so many people were happy to sink the boot in and steal music when the opportunity afforded itself.

    Now that I think about it, this music industry case study is a nice example of some of themes that JMG covers in this blog. Maybe I should write that book 🙂

    Cheers,
    Simon

  301. Watch out John! We’re already getting a foretaste of the UU Convention over here on this side of the Seekonk. I’m a long time member of First Unitarian Church of Providence, but I don’t intend to subject myself to the coming General Assembly.

  302. For a cheap, reliable fountain pen, might I suggest the Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain Pen, $24.50, from JetPens. (The Goulet Pen Company is another business to look at.)

  303. A belated merry Christmas/Hanukkah/Solstice to everyone but especially our gracious host, and all the best for 2020. I spent Christmas eve in the home of a few late 20’s hipsters and successfully petitioned to get Spotify (an internet based music streaming service) turned off for the night and the record player exercised. I have no ear for sound quality – I can’t tell the difference between a record, a high bitrate MP3 or a lossless digital format.

    What I like about records is the pattern of recorded music consumption they enforce, especially in a social setting. As the evening went on, a few minutes after the last record ended and we noticed the music stopped, someone would be elected to go choose another record and put it on the turntable. We were then treated to 20-30 minutes of one artist’s music.

    Contrast this to Spotify, which would go on blaring an algorithmicly selected blend of music even if we all died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Sure, its easy, sounds fine to a philistine like me, but it is completely ahuman.

  304. I’ve about come to the conclusion that the vast majority of the internet has been written by people who followed Joe’s advise – after they failed as a pizza delivery driver.

  305. Onething:
    I agree with you there: if I had to sit at a desk all day my eyes would glaze over, I’m just not office material. Given the choice of being indoors fiddling with a computer or outside mucking out the stalls in the barn, I’ll take the manure handling any day. Not everyone has the personality for an office job.

    JMG and commentariat:
    Outstanding article courtesy of Acres, USA, about “the soil carbon sponge and its crucial role in reversing and mitigating climate change” in an interview with Australian soil microbiologist Walter Jehne. He has a lot of really interesting things to say about climate change, the disruption of hydrological cycle, and the once-acknowledged but since forgotten effect of atmospheric water vapor on climactic warming. Maybe our celebrity overlords ought to listen to people like Jehne instead of a Swedish teenager.

    https://www.ecofarmingdaily.com/supporting-the-soil-carbon-sponge/?utm_source=Acres+U.S.A.+Community&utm_campaign=2ef16aa862-EFD+12-30-19%3A+Supporting+Soil+Carbon+Sponge&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65283346c2-2ef16aa862-167792301&goal=0_65283346c2-2ef16aa862-167792301&mc_cid=2ef16aa862&mc_eid=e8df18c6c5

    If this sort of thing piques your interest, it’s worth getting on the email list for Acres USA even if you don’t subscribe to the print magazine. Their articles and interviews are tremendously informative.

  306. Rita, delighted to hear it! The Weird of Hali RPG will be officially released at the UK Games Expo in Birmingham, England May 29-31, 2020, and will be in stores and online venues immediately after that. I’ll be posting advance ordering info once I get it.

    Deborah, thanks for this. That’s a message a lot of people need to hear right now.

    Sven, no doubt! Cue the sappy Seventies music: “Everything is ra-a-cist, in its own way…”

    Pygmycory, did you think I was suggesting a technological monoculture in which only the oldest option is available? That would be as bad as a technological monoculture in which only the latest option is available — which is not far from what we have now. TAMA — “there are many alternatives” — is a better strategy.

    Varun, all that seems very plausible. I was intrigued, speaking of your India point 4, to hear that a Hindu temple in New Jersey just did a Homatmak Laghu Rudra ritual to help Trump get reelected. I’m familiar with the Japanese esoteric Buddhist equivalent of that ritual — it’s called goma in that tradition — and it’s potent stuff. So your prediction is already happening.

    Godozo, yep. That’s also why Trump is so eager to make a mutually beneficial trade agreement with Britain…

    Temporaryreality, I still consider that good advice!

    Brad, hmm! Yes, that’s another straw in the rising wind.

    Jacurutu, I was looking at your comment and the penny finally dropped. In what world does it make sense that the US is allowing its carrier-based aircraft force to dwindle away to nothing, cutting its fleet of big surface ships, and all the while making a big to-do about the unworkably gizmocentric Gerald R. Ford class of carriers, loudly proclaiming that there will be 12 of them while the first one continues to flounder from one technical failure to another? A world in which the US Navy has already realized that the aircraft carrier is obsolete. Of course they’re not being public about it; instead, they’re encouraging the Chinese to fling vast amounts of money into carrier groups that will be sitting ducks for cruise missiles and antiship ballistic missiles, while quietly readying a next-generation Navy of small corvettes, submarines, and drones, under tight security.

    That would also explain why the Navy is busy trotting out UFO reports these days. Since 1947, UFOs have been the Pentagon’s preferred camouflage for any secret aerospace project, which is why UFOs looked like little silver balls at high altitude when we were testing spy balloons, black triangles when we were testing stealth planes, etc. The Navy’s got something secret in the testing stage, or just possibly in the early phases of operational deployment. A family of naval drones? A next-generation naval blimp for antisubmarine warfare? An up-to-date version of that terror of U-boats and naval vessels generally, the long-range patrol bomber? Or something else? We should know in a decade or so.

    Philip H, no surprises there. On the one hand, online commerce is a major factor; on the other hand, it would be worth knowing if wages have started to tick upwards and joblessness rates to tick down in Britain’s equivalent of flyover country, the former industrial regions of the Midlands and the north. One of the things that’s causing steady retail contraction here in the US is that money is flowing out of the hands of the comfortable classes, for whom shopping is an entertainment activity, and into those of the working classes, who have been schooled by forty years of very hard times to save rather than spend. If things follow the same pattern in the UK, expect to see a lot of high-end retail establishments go under in the years immediately ahead.

    Lathechuck, that may well be part of it.

    David BTL, this is looking more and more like the 1972 presidential election by the day, and I doubt the new McGovern will do any better than the old one did.

    J.L.Mc12, hah! Funny. Thank you.

    Patricia M, in Pittsburgh there’s also “yinz,” which is a second person plural pronoun and started as a contraction of “you ‘uns.”

    Michael, very sensible of them. The fuel’s renewable and the manufacturing process requires no high-tech inputs…

    Berserker, thank you. Glad to hear it.

    David T, many thanks for this.

    Walt, got it! You’re in the contest.

    Scotlyn, yep. Wind is definitely changing.

    Aidan, Trump’s “racial baggage” is mostly an artifact of the other side’s publicity — the man received an Ellis Island award in 1986 for community service in the cause of tolerance and diversity. (Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali were among the other awardees that year.) I’m not at all surprised that he pursued policies that benefited the African-American community — or that the African-American community, which has been getting so much mouth music and so few results from the Democrats, is willing to deal with him.

    Simon (if I may), please do write that book!

    Peter, I hope it doesn’t get too difficult. So many groups these days are being torn to pieces by outrage junkies…

    Someone, thanks for this! I’ll check it out.

    Justin, hmm! You’re quite right, of course.

    Beekeeper, fascinating. Thank you for this.

  307. I just finished reading The Weird of Hali: Arkham. I loved the series so much I atarted rereading the series again beginning with Innsmouth. First rate stuff and as an avid RPG and tabletop miniatures gamer, I can’t wait for the Weird of Hali RPG.

  308. The “Silent Majority” certainly comes to mind regarding the revolt against cosmopolitanism this decade. It is largely forgotten that the Dems did relatively well in the 1970 midterms, comparable to the 2018 midterms in the US or the British Labour Party in 2017 UK general election. This, in turn, lead to hubris.

    Preview of coming attractions?

  309. @JMG,

    Again, thank you for your post. A lot of insightful things to digest, and as usual I’m inclined to agree with most of your predictions.

    I’m sorry I’m so late getting back to you – holidays and all – though I wish you and Sarah a happy new year. At the same time, I’m happy to say that finding your work, and getting acquainted with the bigger picture of the fragility and transience of industrial civilization, was for me one of the highlights of 2019.

    I have written a story for your contest for After Oil 5: It is here: http://www.wesleystine.com/subpages/strangerinwarsaw.pdf.

    I appreciate your consideration – writing for the contest was a lot of fun!

  310. Much to my surprise I found this piece this morning – an Australian journalist who has decided that the meaningful solution to dealing with the climate change crisis involves personal sacrifice and changing his own behaviour rather than waiting for some top-down solution. He has started very small, but I hope he will continue his momentum. I do like this quote:

    “I’m sure critics will call this approach naive. But we are not as powerless as we choose to believe. The carbon economy, like all economies, operates on the principles of supply and demand. And we control the demand.

    If there’s one thing that has made climate change seem intractable, it’s that we removed ordinary people’s ownership of the problem.

    Individual sacrifice won’t alone be enough; of course it won’t. But it can give us purpose and direction. It can make this all seem real. And it can upend the self-interest narrative once and for all.”

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-01/a-new-type-of-resolution-for-the-new-year/11823666

    Here’s to more of us finding this kind of purpose and direction in 2020.

  311. @Philip Hardy

    A friend of mine ran a board game shop in the south of the UK that he shut down in 2018; he told me that there were three main factors. First of all, Kickstarter as well as Amazon were his most significant online competitors. Many new board games are now crowdfunded allowing enthusiasts to balance the low risk of non delivery by established names against Kickstarter only rewards and the chance to support creators by paying a little or a lot over the odds. Creators are then free to push a game out via conventional channels after the Kickstarter campaign is completed and fulfilled, having completely de-risked the effort and potentially having made some margin. A crowdfunding failure is an excellent sign that a project should not be pursued.

    Secondly, the absolutely terrible and completely standard terms of his lease in a prominent position in the town. My impression was that he was paying a substantial amount for his unit and he was on the hook for the final year of his lease when the sub-let he had arranged fell through. Landlords are still finding punters willing to take the risk, but there has to be a diminishing supply in the current environment so maybe this will change.

    Finally, business rates which are substantial and charged whether or not the business is in good health or not by the local council. I think the situation is under review by the new government who are probably becoming alarmed by the figures. I live on the High St. of a village and of the 20 or so retail units, at least a third are now charity shops – which are exempt from business rates.

    Crowdfunding creative efforts seems like a genuinely new business model for content creators and there’s no reason why something like it couldn’t be moved into a catalogue style format if (when?) the Internet becomes unsustainable. A monthly magazine highlighting new campaigns, and letting me know which campaigns in the last issue succeeded or failed – yes, I could see something like that doing quite well.

  312. Regarding UK and US cooperation, one very interesting trend is how deeply integrated both nations’ defence industries are becoming. There is a typical example here:

    https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/rolls-royce-breaks-ground-on-new-facility-to-support-us-navy-projects/

    and here:

    https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/us-navy-awards-bae-contract-for-thousands-of-apkws-laser-guided-rockets/

    and here:

    https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/defence-firm-cobham-sale-to-us-firm-a-national-security-risk-say-critics/

    There are countless examples of this. I think the line between the UK and USA as military powers is going to become increasingly blurred as to be almost invisible in the decades ahead.

  313. Hail Ecosophian community and John Michael Greer. Best of the season to one and all. I have been reading this blog and predecessor for four years now and during that time have read most of the postings made- but not all the comments alas. I have only made a couple of comments myself in that time. It is safe to say that my world view and perspective has been thoroughly and completely shaken up in the process. I think the most important and priceless gift has been learning to think for myself, to follow and weigh arguments and to have emerged from the fog of disordered thinking. This is an ongoing process and actually quite tough but it has enabled me to emerge from an unquestioned world view to one alive with possibilities. I owe a debt of gratitude to our host and also to the many wise and kindly commentators here. I have made it my determination not to continue with this blog unless I join in the community and take part more, so here I am. It is also a way of addressing my overuse of the internet as I have allowed my browsing habits to take over with the effect that I am saturated with data and not really any the wiser. I live in Devon in South West England and while browsing in a second had shop in a seaside town came across Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism. I have decided that I shall do some daily reading while JMG is not blogging as a way of bettering myself (publication date of 1911 so its more than 100 years old) and of cutting down internet time. Good productive wishes for your break JMG and for the richness of this forum.

  314. Wishes for a happy, safe, and (de-industrially) productive 2020 to all my fellow Ecosophians!

  315. @Aidan re:Deviant Art article. Ugh! White print on black background! For people with perfect vision, perhaps, but I’ll take black or white, thank you. So the content is lost to me in the presentation.

  316. @JMG – “A world in which the US Navy has already realized that the aircraft carrier is obsolete. Of course they’re not being public about it; instead, they’re encouraging the Chinese to fling vast amounts of money into carrier groups that will be sitting ducks for cruise missiles and antiship ballistic missiles, while quietly readying a next-generation Navy of small corvettes, submarines, and drones, under tight security. ”

    Two can play that little game of course. The Chinese aren’t idiots and are probably already doing their own R&D (as well as spying on ours). Rather than speaking softly and carrying a big stick, it’s now bellow at the top of your lungs while hiding a small stick with a long nail poking out of it behind your back. Lots of shouting and bellowing while the nails get sharpened. At some point the bellowing may stop and the sticks come out. Who will get their eye poked out? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. 😛

    Please have a peaceful New Years everyone.

  317. A completely random question for any dream-symbol interpreters in the group.

    What might it mean when one dreams of reading literary erotica/porn, but that material is written in cuneiform?

  318. About “managerial-class liberalism… being shoved into the trash chute”, I’ll not bet ranch, but I’ll grant that it is starting to seem the trend.
    At https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/12/29/nyts_dean_baquet_and_wps_marty_baron_alternative_facts_inside_the_weaponization_of_disinformation.html ,
    the WaPo and NYT wheels are quoted as telling NBC that

    “we have to do a much better job, I agree with what Marty said, understanding some of the forces that drive people in parts of America…. that maybe are not as powerful in New York or Los Angeles. We have to do a better job understanding why some people support Donald Trump.”

    Before this, I was betting that the Lefty elites would continue, to dare to ratchet up the HATE of all of the Deplorables.
    In my view, the Republic’s survival hinges on moderate liberals following guys like Dersh, in his defying the drift of this Lefty hate (e.g. as shown in the film “No Safe Spaces”).
    For Baron and Baquet to both imply, that they’ve not been understanding of why some people support DJT, makes me hope that powerful folks, who respect Dersh etc., have been giving these MSM elites a juicy earful!

  319. Falling Tree Woman, I too am starting the year’s reading with Underhill’s book, so my cup of tea is lifted in salute to your endeavor. 🙂

  320. Re wars among European nations, while I know it’s not impossible, wars tend to be unpopular amongst the masses who may die in them. Therefore politicians who want to get reelected tend to go down the diplomatic route rather than start wars with other democracies. I know there have been plenty of wars but they usually involve fighting a dictatorship a long way away so people don’t care as much as if it was with people they can relate to, like fellow Europeans and democrats.

    It always makes me laugh when the EU claims it has kept the peace for 40 years. Eh what about Northern Ireland… But in terms of major wars in Europe I don’t see it happening even if the EU completely fails for the reasons stated above.

  321. “[Johnson]discarding the austerity policies (austerity for the poor, that is, and kleptocracy for the rich) that came in with Thatcher, and gearing up to reorient Britain’s social welfare policies toward providing benefits directly to the poor and away from providing well-paying government jobs to the middle class.”

    I can guarantee you that this prediction will fail. The Tories are the party of the rich. The “more money for the NHS” promise was retracted *immediately* after winning the Brexit referendum, and no benefit will be realized for the poor without taking away ten others behind their back. Even privatizing the NHS is being talked about.

  322. Say Mr. Greer, given that the early 21st Century Caesarism forcasted by Spengler seems to be coming true, do you think the “second religiousness” of the late 21st Century and early 22nd Century will still appear on forecast. In “Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?”, Canadian-British scholar Eric Kaufmann views closed fundamentalist sects who reject the modern world and grow through high retention and birth rates such as the Mormons, Amish, Hutterites, Mennonites, Ultra-Orthodox Jews, and Quiverfull Protestants as being the best model for success in the modern world as long as they are tolerated. Here is a map projecting the growth of Mormons and Amish over the next century:

    https://www.unz.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/map-usa-population-mormon-amish.gif

  323. Cleric of progress,

    OK, that was a good explanation. But I don’t think it would be just discretionary shopping items that would become more expensive. Rather, housing would be. I think in the end the extra income would be absorbed and we would still be in the same boat.
    And where was this tried and for how long?

  324. Aidan,

    You might consider that Trump’s racial baggage is mostly democratic propaganda. Also, some blacks have discovered, and are repeating as loudly as they can, that the democratic party was never really their friend. The KKK was a democrat phenomenon, the emancipation a Republican one. Most all the early blacks who were elected to government were Republicans in Republican districts.

  325. “As for Bernie, his people are making a lot of noise about how he’s an ordinary American because nobody believes that he’s actually going to follow through on his campaign promises — one of the things that sets Trump apart from nearly everyone in US politics is that he actually did what he said he was going to do — so his supporters are trying to sell his personality to the voters.”

    If the Democrats are to take any lessons from the UK Labour’s debacle (which they probably won’t) , it will be that a big part of what sank Jeremy Corbyn was simply that many voters didn’t believe he would follow through with his promises (Even if many the policies he advocating were quite popular). He appeared to be pretty much being held hostage to the affluent urban liberal classes, especially towards the end of 2019. Johnson, by contrast actually followed through with his pledge to do everything he could to get Brexit over the line by October 31st 2019…

  326. Blueday Jo,
    Re the Australian journalist who has decided to cut back himself and seen that ordinary people have some power.
    I have long thought that those of us who live in Western countries have more freedom and responsibility than we realise or will accept. If it is all the government than we can walk away from any individual action but if we acknowledge our own power we are back on the hook.
    Actually when things start to really bite we are going to have to choose our own actions or have them visited upon us anyway.

  327. JMG: “Irena, I’ve also started using fountain pens of late — they’re simply more pleasant to write with, as well as wasting less resources — but getting fountain pens that are not too expensive and still of decent quality is not easy. The most readily available brand here, Zebra, has serious quality control issues — about 1 in 3 of their pens simply doesn’t work.”

    Ah! Another fountain pen “convert”! If you don’t mind ordering online, then something like Pilot Metropolitan or Lamy Safari might be worth looking into. They go for about $20 each (if you also want a converter – the little device that allows you to use bottled ink, rather than the much more expensive cartridges – you’ll need to add a few more dollars to that). Or, as Someone said, you can indeed try Kaweco Classic Sport. Pilot and Lamy (especially Pilot) are supposed to have better quality control, though. As for retailers: Goulet (already mentioned by Someone) has a very good reputation, though I personally haven’t bought any pens from them, since I live in Europe.

  328. Hi JMG

    I consider DJ Trump a very intelligent man, so I am sure he now knows for sure that the oil fracking “miracle” is a financial Ponzi scheme that is crumbling quickly, and the “real” cheap oil remains, as always has been, in the Middle East, so if he really wants MAGA he “need” to be there, controlling the countries that produce or border the oil flow, otherwise I think USA could have a soviet style collapse if the dollar lost his reserve currency status.
    Trump wants MESS (More Energy Stuff Stimulation) for the people, not LESS (Less Energy Stuff Stimulation). So to (try) to maintain the empire he needs carrier groups (many of them), but he wants to be paid by foreign countries for their “protecion” (an increase in the imperial tax).

    I think the carriers are mainly an imperial tool, and they have a very successful track record in the wars of Straight of Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq I, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq II, Lybia, etc… From the point of view of “full projection of air power” there is no alternative (TINA), no other system can “stone -age” a “roge” country far away from USA (without resorting to nuclear weapons, of course)
    OK, they have to adapt their tactics to the new weapons (anti-ship missiles), considering that small countries (those USA always attacks), lack complete integrated systems to use them with enough power and precision (to sink a carrier, as in your TLG essay, probably requires dozens if not hundrends of cruise/ballistics missiles to pass the escort protection and make many hits in a carrier, and few countries have them, guided by satellites and with strong enough electronic jamming protection)

    I think the USN planners know (from the soviet times) they cannot send a carrier group near the shores of a peer adversary. For peer adversaries I think the carriers will be used to attack the enemy supply lines from far away with their air wings, and mainly to deliver planes to the allies and forward bases (Oz, NZ, Europe). On the other hand I do not discard the USN will resort to tactic nuclear weapons against the delivery platform/base in the case they loss 5.000 men in a sunk carrier.

    Knowing that wars between nuclear powers are not exactly very probable and the imperial dynamics will last many more decades (oil is soooo important!), I think the carriers group will still last many decades in the future.

    I agree with you with the obsolescence of battleships in WWII
    In WWII US used a lot of battleships, but they change their tactics and use them with air cover, US end the war with 24 battleships, and US an Japan lost many more carriers than battleships in combat in the war .The obsolescence of the battleships was due to they cannot project power as far away as the carriers do, but I do not consider them exactly “sitting-ducks”, simply the carriers are a better tool (the airplanes were the real game-changer in the WWII)

    I wish everyone a Happy New Year
    David

  329. Here is another point to how Trump is perceived as helping the little guy (aka Farmers) which will factor into the up coming election.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2019/12/31/790261705/farmers-got-billions-from-taxpayers-in-2019-and-hardly-anyone-objected

    “In 2019, the federal government delivered an extraordinary financial aid package to America’s farmers. Farm subsidies jumped to their highest level in 14 years, most of them paid out without any action by Congress.

    The money flowed to farmers like Robert Henry. When I visited in early July, many of his fields near New Madrid, Mo., had been flooded for months, preventing him from working in them. The soybeans that he did manage to grow had fallen in value; China wasn’t buying them, in retaliation for the Trump administration’s tariffs.

    That’s when the government stepped in. Some of the aid came from long-familiar programs. Government-subsidized crop insurance covered some of the losses from flooding. Other payments were unprecedented. The U.S. Department of Agriculture simply sent him a check to compensate him for the low prices resulting from the trade war.

    ” ‘Trump money’ is what we call it,” Henry said. “It helped a lot. And it’s my understanding, they’re going to do it again.”

    Indeed, a few weeks later, the USDA announced another $16 billion in trade-related aid to farmers. It came on top of the previous year’s $12 billion package, for a grand total of $28 billion in two years. About $19 billion of that money had been paid out by the end of 2019, and the rest will be paid in 2020.”

  330. @David btl:

    Could it mean that when it comes to literary erotica you’re a stick-in-the-mud? 🙂

    More seriously, all kinds of things go wrong when I try to read written text in dreams. I don’t think the parts of my brain serving up the dream content can actually handle creating original written prose in real time, any more than I can when awake. So all kinds of “excuses” happen instead. The print is blurred, or it’s too dark to see, or the writing is in a foreign language, or the text is only a stream of familiar clichés, or is total nonsense.

  331. Hello JMG

    and @ Andy Dwelly

    I don’t know personally how the fly over equivalent parts of the UK are doing as I live in one of the remaining (Yes, they voted remain) prosperous areas, and I travel very little due to health reasons, but the news is not good. Yes, the internet is part of it, so are the high private rents for housing that much of the working class below age forty and younger graduates have to pay, which is siphoned off into the FIRE sector and not spent in the high street. Yes, business rates are high, but the rises in business rates followed the rise in rents and leases from the 1980s on, a milch cow the government saw it could follow. Would the internet be competitive with the high street if business costs had not been driven up so much? How many years was Amazon a loss maker? My father had a building firm with a yard in the poorest part of town, by the time he packed up in 2005 the leasing costs were shocking, and the landlords never spent a penny on the property. The FIRE sector has been a significant factor in the decline of the high street, and the rise of on line shopping.

    As for high end shopping getting hit, well there aren’t that many high end shops in the town, but those we have, have been around for years, its the mid spend level that is taking the hit, chains as well as independents, though we have a big new Waitrose (very big!). If you want high end shopping central London is only one hour away by train, and many of the prosperous work there.

    Increasing wages? Don’t know, but the National Living Wages i.e. minimum wage is due to rise from £8.21 to £8.72 in April 2020 (6.2% rise), that is $11.42 for the over 25’s, less for those younger (Dollar at 1.31 to the Pound). A lot better than the US’s. Unemployment is supposed to be low at 4%? The real problem is in work poverty, wages that don’t pay enough to cover essentials, hence the recognition by most political parties that the minimum wage needs pushing up. It may effect a transfer of wealth from the prosperous regions to the poor regions (where much of the on line warehousing is located) but we will see. Personally I got hit very badly by the Tories Austerity years as a part time government employee, so did the poorer regions due to their heavy dependence on better paid government jobs. In my current job when I started I was on about twice minimum wage, by the time the current programmed rise in the minimum wage comes to an end in the early 2020s I will be on minimum wage!

    Other anecdotes; the number of charity shops in the town centre have contracted, some of the charities got together and rationalised the number of shops, moving their main outlet to an industrial unit on the out skirts of town. The number of estate agents (Realtors) have similarly contracted, on line is hitting them now it seems.
    Its getting harder to find items off line. Retailers are increasingly rationalising their stock I find, stocking only that which sells regularly, and not that which sells occasionally, which forces me back on line!

    Missed from my initial comment on Radio4 economic data; bank clerk/teller and hair dressing jobs are also decreasing.

    Andy, thanks for the comment. My town had a board game shop close down last year, maybe the same one? The name was Battlequest Games, run by a chap called Andy. The American local sales tax would be a better retail space tax than Business rates, but would still let off the on line businesses and would conflict with VAT. As for high rents/leases, while the FIRE sector owns so many retail properties or are agents for the owners they have the retailers over a barrel. There would need to be a change of law like right to buy to change the situation, or an asset price collapse that ruins the FIRE sector. Can’t comment on kickstarter as I have not used it, but Amazon is a robber Baron. I use it a little as possible.

    Dear JMG, many thanks for your work over the past year. Enjoy your break and I look forward to reading your next essay sometime in the new year.

  332. @Nastarana

    How did you figure that? Traditionally it was wimps who were into Science and Technology (nerds, geeks) and men were into sports, cars, drinking, hunting, women, business, playing guitar, making stuff with their hands, war, and such. Science and technology might have been part of 50s and such society values, but it was not exactly a part of traditional manliness.

  333. If Landlords in the US can simply raise rents any time their tenants make more money, it sounds like the issue isn’t really how much tenants make but how few houses are available. I’d tend to expect that with a UBI more people would start their own contracting businesses if houses are that sure a way to print money, but of course, that’s just speculation.

    As for where it’s been tried, a Municipality in Canada tried it for 5 years in the ’70s – hospital visits went down 8% (though they were already free in Canada by then, so that likely wouldn’t be the same in the US), and High school graduation rates went up – the only negative effect was an increase in the divorce rate, though it got nowhere near what it is today. More recently, there were a couple year-long programs in India last decade, the details of that experiment are here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income_in_India#Pilot_programs.

    There have also been some less successful experiments, Finland tried it recently but found no increase in hours worked like in the other two I mentioned – not sure why, but I would guess it’s because Finland has more welfare class citizens compared to the number of working poor in ’70s rural Canada and present day rural India.

  334. @ Peter

    Re cuneiform

    Thanks. I’ll take a look at that.

    @ Walt

    Re cuneiform erotica

    Probably! The stuff I’ve written (and prefer to read) barely qualifies as erotica anyway, being more focused on character development. But that kind of tension (love, sexual attraction, particularly when impeded by some obstacle) often lends itself to the scenarios wherein that development can occur, so there you go…

  335. My impression of the 2019 Labour manifesto was that individually, most of the policies suggested were quite popular, but together they seemed a bit like a shopping list that wasn’t really argued for properly.
    Perhaps there is a bit of a double standard here, whereby the electorate needed to be convinced that Labour were going to deliver on their promises, whereas Boris Johnson and the Conservatives may not be trusted to either, but this was already ‘priced in’ by those who voted for him.
    All his voters expected was that a majority Conservative government would at the least ‘get Brexit done’, which if it happens under the Withdrawal Agreement on 31st January 2020 as planned, then puts us into the transition period which is supposedly going to finish at the end of 2020. I wouldn’t be suprised if it gets extended repeatedly in a series of fudges for the remainder of Boris Johnson’s time in office. Meanwhile Scotland will be planning a second independence referendum, and if Westminster attempts to obstruct this, this will only increase the likelyhood of the independence referendum having a clear Yes majority when it does happen.

  336. Back on the fountain pen topic, Goulet and JetPens sell syringes made for fountain pens. One can use them to fill converters or cartridges. I use document or archival ink (which doesn’t wash away in water). I also use fine or extra-fine nibs (one needs to read reviews to see what’s what, since one maker’s fine is another’s extra-fine), which means less ink used per letter written, hence less environmental impact.

    I own several Lamy’s. I tried Kaweco because a co-worker told me that they had compared them to several higher-priced pens and found them comparable, “plus, when you lose them in the couch or something, you’re not out all that much; you can just buy another.” Right now I’m using a TWSBI, which I asked for as a gift for Christmas, but if JMG is looking for a good, affordable fountain pen which he wouldn’t mind losing in the couch or something , I figured the Kaweco would be a responsible recommendation, based on my co-worker’s and my experience. Another co-worker bought one seeing mine and has had a good experience as well, and a stranger at an airport saw mine and recognized the brand approvingly. I have heard good things about Pilot. For years I wrote with a Waterman. I think the bottom line is, on a limited budget, the question of where one finds the intersection of low price and decent quality. The fountain pen of my dreams I’m sure I cannot afford. Both the Kaweco and the TWSBI, unless one has small hands, require that they be “capped” to be used, which might be a drawback to some, but for me means that they can easily be hidden in a shirt pocket, and so begins the rabbit hole of fountain pen ownership.

  337. After first seeing the news about the airstrike on Soleimani this forum was one of the first places I wanted to hear from. So what does everyone think?

  338. @Jill N, some years ago (I don’t have the exact reference), JMG made a comment about living in ‘the interstitial spaces’ – a phrase which stuck with me. Finding those spaces between the monolithic institutions which try to direct our lives has been surprisingly easy. I now live on a tiny income, mostly within the gift economy, and I find that living with LESS is increasingly attractive and that I have more individual power than I imagined. First I discovered that I don’t have to buy stuff, certainly not any new stuff, then I discovered that living like my grannies is more satisfying. I have learnt all sorts of interesting things, am gaining skills in simple living, and am finding ways of opting out of various aspects of modern life that I’m not even terribly keen on. And the really fun part of it is that I have a long way to go and so much left to learn. Obviously I still use the internet, but I am certainly not now in a place where it is using me..

  339. Dear all,

    Any USians with knowledge of alt medicines scene willing to make a prediction as to whether the FDA’s current ambush will succeed in the coming year? I understand it looks like they are moving to outlaw possession or mixing of most common natural ingredients, by anyone, under the guise of regulating compounding of IV medicines. However it is hard to judge the credibility of the reports as someone located in Oz. I ask since our own dear medicine regulators in Oz have a strong history of following the FDA’s lead in such things.

  340. @JMG

    If you need to research old newspapers as primary sources for Oz then our National Library has many old issues of local, regional and city papers digitised and available online: .

  341. Spotted in the NYT:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/28/us/mississippi-ice-raids-poultry-plants.html

    ICE rounded up 680 illegals from MS poultry processing plants: exactly the sort of jobs open-borders folks like to claim we need immigrants for, because Americans don’t want to work there. Job openings filled the very next day by the poor local population. You can tell it pains the NYT to say it, as they put all their focus on how bad these folks feel about their hispanic neighbors being rounded up and out of those jobs. And yet…

  342. David,

    What to think ? .. nothing good, that’s for sure !

    Trump, a 1-termer ?? This has put the kabosh on my vote for his continuance as CnC. Sanders, so far, has had the only rational response of all the Democrat candidates .. with Warren, Biden .. spewing out the typically shallow jingoistic pablum … though, at this juncture, I don’t think the 20 election will make a bit of difference either way !

  343. Okay, another general question for the group, though one tangentially related, as it turns out, to my previous question re cuneiform erotica (with respect to the cuneiform part, not the erotica part).

    So, I’m an analyst, among other things. I work in the utility industry which, like many industries these days, is awash with “data-driven” this and “AI” that. Automation, analytics, and (I)IoT are common terms. My utility just rolled out an AMI (automatic meter infrastructure) project, enabling wireless electric meter reading at a much more granular level. Now from the perspective of my job, this is good. I have more data with which to work. I can analyze patterns, better develop forecasts, more precisely match rate design to cost of service. Plus, I enjoy doing math, so swimming around in a sea of data to analyze is a joyous experience.

    However…

    I cast my eye ahead, particularly in the context of the Long Descent, and I ask myself: “Is this what an organization should be striving for?” Is a data-driven organization going to be in a good position to manage the bumpy back-slope we’re all tumbling down, particularly given the inherent complexity and energy requirements of computing technology? Are all these whitepapers I’m reading about analytics and data management and data-driven processes simply wasted space?

    And then I wonder, is this analytic/IoT/AI/whatever focus really all that new? Were, perhaps, the clay tablets of ancient Sumerian scribes not the Hadoop and data architecture of that time? Is what we think of being so shiny and techo-gizmo-sparkly merely a difference in degree, rather than in kind?

    And, finally, is there some other way, some other direction from which we might approach this issue of information and information management in terms of human civilization? Are we always going to be working on some various of this single theme, whether clay tablets or cloud servers, or is there some entirely other manner by which a society could manage itself?

    Apologies for the ramble. A whitepaper and the previous discussions just sparked off this wandering chain of thought.

  344. methylethyl:

    NPR is forever beating the sympathy drum for illegals with tear-jerking stories about their bravery and resolve, yada, yada, yada. One of those stories concerned a young Mexican man making his way over the border and through Texas to Dallas, where he hoped to pick up construction jobs. I guess the NPR snobs think construction is the kind of work no American would do, news to all the Americans who build stuff. Meanwhile, union tradesmen like my husband see contractors sneaking in undocumented labor after hours more and more often and the guys know that they’re going to lose hours and overtime to these cheap, expendable workers; eventually they may lose their jobs entirely. That’s a story I don’t expect I’ll ever hear on NPR, certainly not one that would be told with much empathy for the displaced Americans.

  345. Hi again JMG – I noted the premises to this prediction you made:

    “as the Trump administration’s deregulation and tariff policies bring manufacturing jobs back to the US, the easiest as well as the most lucrative way for companies to get products in the stores is to turn to designs and technologies that worked well in the past, and get them in production again.”

    At the same time I was reading the ISM’s latest report on manufacturing activity:

    “Economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in December, and the overall economy grew for the 128th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®… The report was issued today by Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., Chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee: “The December PMI® registered 47.2 percent, a decrease of 0.9 percentage point from the November reading of 48.1 percent. This is the PMI®’s lowest reading since June 2009, when it registered 46.3 percent.”

    [Note: anything under 50% = contraction and US PMI has been on a downward slope since March of 2019, dipping below 50% in Aug and trending lower since]

    So I guess I question both premises – that manufacturing jobs are in fact coming back to the US and if they are, whether Trump’s policies are responsible. The former seems to lack evidence to back it up in light of PMI data – unless jobs being added are very low wage jobs, as overall sector economic activity is decreasing, and that activity would necessarily need to be *increasing* in order to provide jobs worth having to more and more folks. As such, I think # of jobs is a necessary-but-not-sufficient metric, and overall sector activity must be considered as well.

    As for the latter premise – to me, this looks to be a matter of faith for folks – those who support Trump insist his policies ‘work’ while those who oppose him insist they do not, and the reality is sufficiently complex as to render certain conclusions dubious at best.

    Meanwhile, certainty can be found as to the benefit of his policies for the affluent, and especially the very, very affluent. Enough for me to continue to vastly mistrust Trump’s ‘for the working class’ bona fides.

    After all, even if manufacturing jobs and activity were to increase, a continued accumulation of wealth among the top 0.1% allows them to dominate in terms of political influence – which reality Trump appears to be abetting. To be persuaded that things were moving in the right direction, I’d want to see some evidence showing that wealth (not just income!) inequality was in fact shrinking, the game of musical chairs at the top were reversing, concurrent with evidence that working class/precariat/working poor/lower middle class/call it what you will were in fact benefiting in real terms from Trump’s policies, and after 3 years, it seems clear this is not where we’re headed.

  346. @David
    re: Airstrike on Soleimani.

    The supposedly deceased General (his death had been erroneously announced many times before) is responsible for MANY deaths mostly of Middle Easterners but also of a fair number of Americans.

    He is also one of the most admired people in Iran. From an American, Saudi, Sunni, or Israeli perspective he is an ‘evil’ killer who richly deserved to die. From a Shiite, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or Hezbulla (spelling?) perspectrive he will be missed.

    The real question — at least the most important one now, is where will this all go? Iran is certain to retaliate in some way, and they have quite a few options: through proxies, by mining the strait of Hormuz, awakening terrorist sleeper cells in the US, Israel, or Europe, an attack on Israel by their proxies armed with Iranian riockets from Syria, Gaza, Sinai, or Lebanon, another attack on Saudi oil installatiuons, building nukes ,cyberattack on American military, financial instritutions, or electrial grid etc. Biological and chemical attacks cannot be ruled out a priori.

    Very pertainent is ascertaining what Europe, NATO, Putin, China, India, Japan, and Turkey will do.

    I recall that the murder of an archduke by a sickly adolescent ignited WWI. No one, really no one, knew the hell that that would unleash. Entangled systems of alliances created an unstopable avalanche that no participant wanted.

    So could this present assination lead to WWIII???

    US, Iran, France, Germany, Turkey, Libya, China, Lebanon, Israel,Syria, Russia, Saudi, Yeman, Quatar, India, Japan, all havie a large stake in what happens e.g. (Europe, Japan, India, China etc.all depend on Persian Gulf oil). Turkey— a NATO member who is cozying up to Russia, is now sending troops abroad to Libya, and Syria (neo-Ottoman agenda?) and is claiming the Eastern Medeteranian waters as belonging to it (Greece, Cypress, and Israel are VERY concerned about this). Russia has an alliance (at least a temporary one of convenience) with Iran and Syria. China is dependent pushing the limits in its surrounding waters, and is engaging in what appears to be neocolonialism throughout Africa and central Asia.

    So what happens next, and then next, and then next????

    The only thing that seems clear is that Trump has shaken the kaleidoscope and all the pieces are moving into some unforseen arrangement. It will be bloody, but no one knows if it will be regional war, a proxy war, or a global one.

    It looks like 2020 will be “Interesting” in the sense of the Chinese curse “May you live in Interesting Times”

  347. Perhaps too late, but just in case:

    On the vinyl discussion: Thank you, all! You reminded me I had an old suitcase-type player stashed in the attic. I dragged it out, picked up a couple of dollar records at the thrift store to test the thing out… and my kids are in love. We have tons of music on our computer, that they are not remotely interested in. But that little record going round and round? Mesmerizing! One of them was a dumb old “silly songs” collection, and their first encounter with “On Top of Spaghetti”– My 7yo listened up to “out of the door” and then (recognizing a pattern) announced: “I know how this one goes: it escapes all the other animals and then the fox eats it!” (ala Gingerbread Man)… Back to the thrift store tomorrow… we could use some variety.

    On fountain pens: again, thanks! I had honestly forgotten how much I loved those. One of my very first jobs was in a stationery shop, where I developed expensive taste in letter-paper, a love of stitched memo books, and a collection of fun pens. I had a series of Shaeffer fountain pens, all of which stained my fingers. But they were inexpensive enough that I felt free to experiment with ink– I particularly liked changing ink color right at the start of a letter, so that the ink still in the pen’s channels would be gradually diluted by the new color, and the letter would shade from, say, green down to gold. I’ve collected your recommendations and put them on my birthday list, to make a more grown-up foray into fountain pens 🙂

    May the new year bring you all many blessings!

  348. Seriously disappointed in Trump. Will probably refrain from voting in next election, or vote 3rd party.

  349. Blueday Jo, What a lovely expression interstitial spaces is. I first heard the word interstices in my last year at high school. Don’t think I have ever used it but really like it. Good for you for finding your own way in life. We all expect far too much and are consequently disappointed.
    Adults really need to chart their own course.

  350. I’ve always had the opposite reaction to the vinyl revival. To me compact discs were the sweet spot, one of those points in time that industrial civilisation had the right idea – and we’ve left it behind for more complex computer-based gimmickry because that’s what progress demands.

    In CDs we have a medium where both the players and media are trivial to manufacture by modern standards, and the sound quality can only by surpassed by the most expensive equipment observed by the most discerning ears. Fans of the “vinyl sound” may just as well apply some filters to add the distortion that their ears favour. Like records, CDs will degrade, but I expect the already-produced players and discs to last through the turbulent coming years until electricity becomes an irregular phenomenon.

    As for vinyl… well as an analogue medium you have theoretically unlimited fidelity, up until you play it, at which point the needle damages the groove and the subtleties are increasingly lost. To avoid this problem more sophisticated vinyl players use lasers to read the audio, which sounds an awful lot like a CD player. Records are larger and more fragile items to ship, consuming more fossil fuels in the process. No, vinyl is more of a hipster plaything than an example of appropriate technology.

    “Music on the spot produced by musicians” – yep that’s where we’re heading. If my musician friends are anything to go by, it’s a struggle now, but as the decline continues I like to think these talented creatives will start to find some of the appreciation and paid employment they deserve.

  351. Blueday Jo, I’d love to hear more about how you are living, maybe get you to do a guest post over on the Green Wizard site. Could you contact me via email?

    green wizard dtrammel at gmail dot com

  352. Dear capricon, What I was thinking of was spending habits. Feminism, IMHO, always has been fundamentally about money, not sex. What I was thinking of was pickup up trucks, sports cars, riding mowers, always the latest gadgets, heat and air conditioning turned all the way up and never mind what it costs because personal comfort is a “right”, and so on.

  353. DFC, with any luck, nothing at all. I suspect that we’re seeing another attempt to drag Trump into a war, since that’s one of the few things that could cost him the election.

    dragged? haha, learn something for once-

    — In the chaotic days leading to the death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most powerful commander, top American military officials put the option of killing him — which they viewed as the most extreme response to recent Iranian-led violence in Iraq — on the menu they presented to President Trump.

    They didn’t think he would take it. In the wars waged since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Pentagon officials have often offered improbable options to presidents to make other possibilities appear more palatable.

    After initially rejecting the Suleimani option on Dec. 28 and authorizing airstrikes on an Iranian-backed Shia militia group instead, a few days later Mr. Trump watched, fuming, as television reports showed Iranian-backed attacks on the American Embassy in Baghdad, according to Defense Department and administration officials.

    By late Thursday, the president had gone for the extreme option. Top Pentagon officials were stunned.

    Mr. Trump made the decision, senior officials said on Saturday, despite disputes in the administration about the significance of what some officials said was a new stream of intelligence that warned of threats to American embassies, consulates and military personnel in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. General Suleimani had just completed a tour of his forces in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and was planning an “imminent” attack that could claim hundreds of lives, those officials said.

  354. @Darkest Yorkshire and Andy
    Re thermal solar hot water systems: My own experience with these systems is totally positive and I encourage anyone with basic handyman skills to do some research and then do the installation yourself saving heaps of $.
    It is not rocket science.

    The only complication to these systems is if you live in an area with freezing temperatures. Then you need to have the solar heated loop filled with antifreeze and isolated from the potable water in the tank with a heat exchanger coil in the tank. For an advanced handyman, designing and installing these type of systems is not a big deal, but the cost will increase and they may not be very cost effective.

    First, research hours of sun available both summer and winter in your location, and then do the simple calculations which will tell you if the system is going to be cost effective with a less than 5 year payback time. Some locations are simply not going to be cost effective.

    There are some plumbing skills involved, but nothing you can’t learn to do, with minimal outlay for specialized tools. I use copper tubing for my systems because (unlike plastic) it lasts forever and, if the joints are brazed, will never leak. The collectors (glass tubes or flat plates), the pump, and its controller can all be bought on-line.

    For non-freezing systems, it is possible to do a retrofit on your existing hot water tank, but I recommend buying a new stainless steel inner-lined solar-ready hot water tank which is available from any plumbing supplier. If you are not confident about doing the electrical hookup of the tank, any electrician can do it.

    My own system is going strong for 20 years with zero maintenance other than washing down the tubes after the summer pollen season here in N.Z.

  355. @David, by the lake:

    Some decades ago Denise Schmandt-Besserart showed that cuneiform writing was invented to serve as a sophisticated bureaucratic data-management and accounting system, and only later took on the functions of recording other things, such as history and ritual. All this happened some 5500 years ago.

  356. @Philip Hardy

    It was Battlequest. It was more than just a shop for many of us – because of regular games nights it was a meeting point and a social space too. Very much missed. I don’t have any particular reason to visit the town now and I suspect there was a small but measurable loss of trade in the area from all the board game players who came in for a meet up got food, haircuts, shoes etc. while they were there.

    I do use Amazon, and ironically – so does Battlequest Andy. If I need a commonplace item I can get it in my village or give up my lunch break to get it at the retail strip near work. Both of these options cover high turnover items of course. In the last few days I discovered a second book from @JMG on Geomancy, and a new bit of the Shogoth Concerto. Both of these are best acquired through Amazon. I’ve decided that I need some more long term cast iron cookware (why do we not use this stuff in the UK?) That will be Amazon too. In all these cases it is not even a matter of pricing, it appears that for the moment Amazon is the only possible source.

    As for Kickstarter, I use it for an occasional game now that the shop is closed down, but mostly as a way to support content creators. In fact there’s a Weird of Hali RPG campaign that has just gone up. I’d post a link in this comment but I’m typing this on a phone and it’s more phone-fu than I can manage. I accept that my notion of ‘content’ is a broad one – there’s some exotic technology purchasing there too.

    Both of these companies are deadly competitors for standard retail, but the feedback loop of less or no choice from impoverished retail is very real. Not sure what, if anything can be done about it.

  357. This is a rather odd way to prevent a war, rather than start one. It reminds me of the reasoning back in Vietnam that they had to destroy that village in order to save that village. Oooook. I guess it takes a big brain to come up with that kind of thinkin’

    In any case, the ball is now in Iran’s court, until they respond, there’s no real way of telling where this will go next. It’s literally in their hands right now. How smart are they, and whether they will do what’s expected of them or not will make all the difference in the world.

    For us peasants, expect a heaping helping of chaos no matter what – but will it be chaos caused by Iran – or the Deep State? And will you be able to tell the difference? I guarantee you though, if the lights go out or things go boom, the MSM will be there in what is it JMG called it? Four part harmony? They’ll be singing in four part harmony that it was the fault of Iran, whether it actually was or not.

  358. > vote 3rd party.

    Look. Voting, is pointless. If the Orange Man has demonstrated anything to us, it’s that anyone can be president. Anyone. Anyone at all. Your dog could be president and nothing that matters will change. In fact, the government would probably run better with your dog as president, as the Deep State wouldn’t have to come up with elaborate schemes to manipulate your dog. They’d just feed him treats and he’d do whatever they’d say. Good doggie!

    You. Don’t. Live. In. A. Republic. I don’t know what you call this. Adhocracy? Soviet Union 2.0? Whatever it is, it’s unaccountable and secret. At least you know who’s the head of the deep state in Russia or China or even the UK. Here, you have no clue.

  359. @ David

    Re Trump, Iran, and my reaction

    Disappointed, though not terribly surprised. Iran has always been something of a blind-spot for him and an exception to his (apparent) general tendency to want to withdraw from Middle Eastern conflicts. At this point, though, I’d still choose him over Biden. We’ll see what unfolds.

    @ Oz

    Re jobs, etc.

    In no way objective data, however, I look around my corner of the Midwest and I’ve seen “Help Wanted” signs that weren’t there three years ago. And a demand for tradespeople that one hasn’t seen in a while (signs saying “Carpenters Needed,” for example). Trump’s economic nationalism isn’t the one I’d deploy nor has he deployed it as I would have, but any economic nationalism is a superior policy choice to economic globalism, which is all the Democrats have offered so far. Trump sets an incredibly low bar—very true—and yet the Democrats have failed to clear even that. At this point in time, I have no issue giving Trump another term if that is what it takes for the former party of the working man to pull its head from its posterior.

  360. Regarding the consequences of the attack on Suleimani, my first thought was, “So much for Trump’s supposed secret agenda to pull the U.S. out of foreign military commitments.”

    Now, I’m reading that as a result of the attack, the Iraqi parliament is demanding the expulsion of 5200 U.S. troops that are in Iraq by agreement. Which, if it ends up happening, would be a significant step in pulling the U.S. out of foreign military commitments.

    Was this “unexpected consequence” actually ingeniously planned for, or even pre-arranged? Or is it just a random effect of random blundering around? Or is it that we’re so deep in the realm of revenge effects that doing the opposite of what seems sensible in every case is the most likely way to actually get the desired results?

  361. Perhaps following in the footsteps of the vinyl record revival, a movement toward retro film photography seems to be very slowly picking up steam. The latest development (pun intended) is the reappearance of the Polaroid instant camera in close to its original film format (2″ by 2″ images) following about a decade of popularity of the smaller-format “Instax” instant photographs.

    Part of the original impetus for those self-developing instant photos was said to be the ability to take casual personal (i.e. erotic) photos safe from the moral scrutiny of sometimes over-zealous film processing companies and local prosecutors. That’s never been an issue with digital photography. So what’s the appeal? Perhaps it’s the photograph as an immediate tangible artifact. (One can print digital photographs easily, but viscerally, such prints seem more like inferior versions of the bright glowing images on the screen. People rarely bother with them.) Also, there’s less concern about such photographs ending up online. It can be done, but it’s much more of a hassle than simply uploading an existing digital image to somewhere, and the relatively low resolution of the photos makes it less of a temptation.

    Instant self-developing photos, especially color ones, are still quite high-tech; the crucial technology being chemistry rather than electronics. I don’t see rolls of film coming back into general use (except by the professionals still using it, usually because they’re either very demanding artistically or have very specific technical needs) any time soon. But, we’ll see.

  362. This statement is so abstract and theoretical as to utterly obscure its actual workings in practice

    Hi Scotlyn,

    Abstract? This is economics 101. You see it every happening every day and you actively participate in the process.

    * If you have excess supply / insufficient demand then prices drop accordingly, wherein the margin compression/destruction leads to a decline in production accordingly, wherein the margin expansion leads to an increase in production until the supply increases to match demand.

    [A great current example is SUVs. The demand is so great that virtually every auto maker has gotten into the game. OTOH, the corresponding decline in cars has Ford discontinuing all models save the Mustang.]

    If the government interferes with price signals then production can’t adjust, thereby exacerbating the very conditions that interference was intended to address. Wage & price controls sound good superficially but are ridiculously counter-productive in practice. Notice how the most outrageously priced housing markets tend to be those with rent controls?

  363. @David BTL, Oz,

    re: job markets: In the past year, I have started hearing, for the first time in my life, local “help wanted” radio ads. Local companies are so desperate for workers, they are advertising on the radio (and everywhere else!) for oil-change techs, mechanics, welders, truck drivers, pipefitters, machinists, etc. at very competitive wages and full benefits that include vision, dental, 401k… and some of them offering OTJ. Our local shipyard is so pinched they have installed RV hookups right on the yard, and are letting employees live there rent-free while they sort out more permanent housing. Don’t know about other places, but the job market for no-college-degrees here is hot!

  364. TJ & the Bear: I don’t want to speak for Scottlyn; he can speak quite well for himself. But possibly he’s criticizing that which is taught in Economics 101, Heaven forbid! More students taking that course should be asking more questions about the neo-classical economic theories being taught there. I have the classic textbook by Samuelson & Nordhaus sitting at my side — Fifteenth Edition. From what I remember there is little mention in it of David Ricardo’s so-called “theory of comparative advantage,” let alone any critical discussion of its assumptions and whether or not they actually hold true in our modern world. Econ 101 will assume that limitless growth is possible and desirable; this should always be questioned. Neo-classical economics, taught in Econ 101, has erased the distinction between earned and unearned income. Students should question this also. Finally, markets and what the public desires or imagines it desires, are profoundly influenced by marketing and PR, paid for by the auto companies. The public wants SUVs? I guess all that aggressive marketing has paid off – at least until oil prices go through the roof again and the public begins to desire less wasteful ways of getting around. If Ford has left the small car market, then I suspect that Honda & Toyota will be quite happy to step in and fill the void.

  365. JMG – Re: Donald Trump sharing an award with Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali… I found the New York Times report which says that the Ellis Island Award was indeed shared by these three, but 77 others as well, including Andy Williams (singer), Barbara Walters (broadcaster), Glen Seaborg (physicist), Victor Borge (musical entertainer), and so on. Each of these people was identified with a nationality (including Native American) apparently with the intent of proving the “melting pot” character of successful Americans. Trump was described as “German, developer”. So yes, he was in good company on the list, but it doesn’t look as though there was any particular inter-racial component to the award.

  366. Well, folks, tomorrow is our first Magic-less Monday. Are all the grief counselors ready to man the phones?

    On the late general, I looked him up and found he was anti-Isis, which I’d have thought a Good Thing, but then again the U.S. president has access to information which I don’t have, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume a priori that killing an efficient anti-Isis guy was an even Better Thing.

    One thing I have noticed is that, perhaps because American organizations have become so dysfunctional, is that our betters don’t seem to understand how a normal organization works. They seem to think Iran is in big trouble because this one guy is gone.

    Someone mentioned Trump threatening to destroy cultural sites. The U.N. has a nice civilized list of war crimes, to which I pray all nations will someday subscribe, but as it stands now, “war crimes” are whatever the winning side says they are. Trump MAY have said this just to annoy Democrats, but he may also have meant it, so if there’s an historical site over there that you really like, you might want to collect pictures of it in case it’s suddenly gone. (Although not as a result of war, this happened to me with New Hampshire’s Old Man Of The Mountain, which I’d always hoped to see One Of These Days. Oooops!)

    At times like this I am happy to be able to retreat to Reality. See you later!

  367. David (by the lake) – re: smart meters and thermostats. It seem to me that home automation components (like the “smart thermostat”) which has the ability to be remotely controlled by the home-owner also have the potential to be regulated by government authorities. Climate activists are agitating for governments to “do something”; one of the things that could be done, technically, is to impose temperature limits on thermostats, and consumption limits through the smart meter. Maybe they’ll be introduced as “incentives” (like the discount I get on my electric bill for allowing the power company to temporarily disable my air conditioning during hours of peak consumption), but the difference between “incentive” and “control” is one of policy, not technology.
    I heat with natural gas, so if we were directed to keep our thermostat set to, say, 65F during the day, and 55F at night (which was the rule in the Carter White House), the most likely reaction would be to put an electric-resistance space heater in a separate room, and spend most of our time there. Having a few years of smart-meter data as history would reveal a jump in our electrical consumption, possibly resulting in a sternly-worded letter or on-site inspection.

  368. Speaking of fountain pens and other retro pens – a friend of mine gave me, for my 81st birthday, a baroque silver feather pen with 6 steel nibs, ranging from ultra-fine to at least 1.0 broad nib. It now graces my desk, which also holds laptop & keyboard. Last year she gave me one of those fashionable journals which are a fat sheath of good-quality unlined paper covered with a piece of soft leather. The perfect book in which to use the pen and brush up on my calligraphy.

  369. @Blueday Jo – yes, “interstitial spaces” – lovely! I tend to be a crepuscular person, in love with dawn and sunset & twilights, equinoxes, etc, and yours seems to be the exact equivalent in space of mine in time. Thanks!

  370. Owen predicted “if the lights go out or things go boom, the MSM will be there in what is it JMG called it? Four part harmony? They’ll be singing in four part harmony that it was the fault of Iran, whether it actually was or not.”

    I’m afraid not, Owen. I think they’ll be blaming Trump in full operatic choir counterpoint. “Fugue in TDS-major.”

  371. TJandBear

    Thank you for your thoughtful answer.

    Sadly, is not quite an answer to the question I posed. Perhaps if I clarify?

    The statement that I called abstract was this one:

    “Free markets balance supply and demand through price signals”.

    That is to say you imputed a specific action, “balancing supply and demand” to a non human abstraction, “free markets”. “Supply” and “demand” are also abstractions in themselves.

    (For example, there is a great deal of “demand[need]” for housing, but as a portion of those those who need housing cannot afford the housing that the market supplies, their “demand” for housing is, in market terms, inaudible, and therefore, in market terms, impotent. They sleep on streets instead, their housing “demand” unbalanced.)

    Your answer does not make it any clearer, to me, how the abstract entity you call the “free market” (what is it? How does it come into the agency you impute to it? How does it act?) creates balance (what kind of balance? How is it measured? How is such balance experienced by a human being, such as yourself and myself?).

    And when this “supply” and “demand” are “balanced” (presumably via “price signals” expressed by those who can afford to offer a price, while those who cannot offer a price cannot “signal”) what relates that kind of “balance” to the sum of human happiness and well-being?

    I’d appreciate your further explanations, because what you call “Econ 101” has never had much explanatory power for me, due to its selfsame reliance on speaking in abstractions that appear to have so little to do with what actual people do and what actual people experience.

  372. @David BTL
    Ref the role of scribes (aka professional managerial classes) and data, you may be interested in the concept of “legibility”.

    I’m not sure if James C. Scott coins the term, but in The Art of Not Being Governed, he expounds on it. It seems that governments need to render subjects’ taxable/extractable goods and services “legible” (see also Domesday Book), and grain crops are particularly suited to this on a large scale, as the crop size can be easily estimated, its harvest date fixed as a taxable date, and it can be collected and stored en masse. And of course you need scribes to track this “legible” data.

    Scott describes how those in his historical study area who ran away to marginal lands, to resist being governed, changed their cropping habits (“illegible” underground tubors you could store in the ground, invisibly, until you needed them), and also, interestingly, often *purposefully* gave up literacy, among other things.

    An interesting history.

  373. Hi all

    May be the JMG’s TLG essay could really take place in the Persian Gulf instead of South West of Africa, and may be it does not require a foreign power (the chinese) to shoot the missiles, but the result could be, at the end, quite similar: the end of the US Empire.
    I do not think now there is many probabilities, but things could spiral out of control quickly.

    I still have a question: with so many risks for the US troops in Iraq, where are the CSG’s (carriers)?, there is only one (CV-75) in the Indian Ocean. Why 3 or 4 more are not steaming to the Gulf to protect the US garrisons and/or to deliver a heavy blow to Iran if required? Are they thinking to use nukes as some people say?(I think this will be suicidal for the USA)

    This could be really a black swan in 2020

    Cheers
    David

  374. re: Iran and Trump,

    A good chunk of his base is thrilled by the show of strength (the comparison I keep hearing is that Obama sent palettes of cash, and Trump sends drones). So I’m not sure this will hurt the man the way we think in the heartland. On the other hand, I was really hoping he’d be the first POTUS since Carter not to start a new theatre of military operations. (As of now, though an Iranian official was targeted– it was in Iraq. So not a new theatre. )

    Will he, though? As other commentators have stated, that’s up to Iran. The US media seems to have gotten the meme that we’re looking at WWIII to stick, which I find bizzare. Iran doesn’t have any treaties of military alliance. With anyone. Yes, they trade with the Russians, and the Chinese, even in the face of Western sanctions– but that has more to do with Russia and China not caring about western sanctions than caring about Iran! Nether has even performed military exercises with Iran as far as I know.

    (Not that this is proof of alliance: US has engaged in exercises with former-Soviet Russia, for the record.)

    Iran, vs the USA, one on one. Mano-a-mano. Do you really think they want that?

    Imagine you’re in Iran, somewhere in power– and the guy chomping at the bit to have it out with the Western Imperialist Dogs is… very much out of the picture. The war hawks are in need of leadership. That gives the doves a moment, I should imagine. A moment they’d want to seize. I know, I know– the media is convinced Iran is united in its desire for war, but that’s just fake news.

    For one thing, Iran is very much not united– a very large segment of their population wants the mullahs off their necks, and a long war is just the thing bring those tensions back to a boil. (Sure, a short, victorious war is just the thing to diffuse those, but is anyone in Iran stupid enough to think they could fight a short, victorious war against the USA unaided? )

    For another, the balance of forces is… not good. I mean, Saudi Arabia could probably achieve air superiority all on its lonesome, before you add in the Israelis. (both have been pushing the US to take on Iran for decades, so I assume they join in.) Never mind the USN and USAF, who can be trusted to join the party. (Note: Iran does NOT have the Russian S-400 antiair system, as I have seen some report. They do posses some S-300 units– 8 batteries, to be specific. We can expect losses, possibly heavy, before air dominance is acquired.)

    So what would the Allied strategy be, counter Iran? Easy. Trump has telegraphed it with his “52 targets” tweets. We expend huge amounts of standoff munitions that are reaching their cold war “sell by” date. (As the Russians did in Syria.) Eventually, so I can image the plotters in the Pentagon saying, the Iranians, tired of their limited ability to strike back, give up– or are forced to give up by their own population (US troops currently in Iraq are going to have a very, very bad time of it long before that happens.) . It never worked before, but it isn’t going to stop the USAF from trying!

    Iran’s only hope is that they have the stomach to take more hits than the USA has to dish out. This is not at all unlikely… but why would they bother? What could they expect to gain? Influence in Iraq? Iraq is slowly becoming their puppet anyway. If they wait past the current crisis, they seem to be clearly able to cement that. The smart move is to be the ‘bigger guy’ and gain on the global diplomatic stage. My bet is that they’re smart. Another year or five, and they’ll be a nuclear-armed power, and nobody will want to mess with them. Why fight now?

    … and if that’s all true, why the hysteria? Honestly, I don’t get it. Trump is taking a really hard line because he doesn’t have much else to bargain with. He’ll take a deal, if Iran offers it.

  375. Bridge

    Iam a Spaniard, and I don’t think that there will be a secession of Catalonia. The word “independence” is not proper here, because Spain is an unitary (since five centuries) and seamless state (since three centuries). We are speaking about a peculiar case : the rest of a failed project of a world Catholic imperium, wich was a response to the Islam.

    For the secession of Catalonia there will be necessary to destroy the Spanish State and , yes, I agree with our dear Archdruid, this would mean a Yugoslavian scenary for my country.

    The years of international peace that we are enjoying in Western Europe are because our countries belong to the “American Empire” , that displaced to the Third Reich and save us from to be integrated in the Soviet Union.

    Democracy is not a magical word, is only a way for to change the leading political group in a state, and only results necessary if there is a market and full of products economy.

    Democracy is not a guaranty for peace, but it demands the exigence of to “convince” the people of the necessity of war .

    The risk for the peace that I fear in Western Europe (specially France) comes from ethnical issues due to failed immigration politics. Ethnical issues hardwired with social class separation, that can drive to a civil war in the circumstance that the French welfare state would interrupt the gift of “panen et cirquenses” to that social groups.

  376. Re: improvement for working people under Trump

    This is not really my beef, since I have never lived in the USA, but I am kind of professionally interested in life expectancy, and it seems to me that the most important fact about the USA in the last years was the drop in life expectancy: 2015, 2016 and 2017 had lower life expectancy than 2014, and the reason was an enormous increase in mortality due to intoxication and suicide among the 40-60 year olds. The problem is older, of course, and had been noted and described for subgroups of Americans since the 1990s, but in 2015 it became strong enough to drag the average for the entire American population downwards.

    I have told JMG before that I was waiting to see if this downward trend continues or reverses. The official data for overall mortality in 2018 should have been released in November or December 2019, as in all the preceding years, but this has not been the case – I have no idea why they have still not been released today (Jan 6, 2020). I got interested in seeing preliminary data, and according to the Society of Actuaries, in their data (which are a bit different from the CDC’s), age-adjusted mortality for 2018 finally dropped below that of 2014 (which means approximately that life expectancy should rise above the value of 2014) – see p. 6 in this report.

    These are preliminary data, and one should wait to see if the trend stabilizes in 2019 and 2020. Furthermore, the interesting part will be to see which part of the population enjoyed better health in 2018. However, in spite of my great disgust for Trump as a person and my instinctive dislike for the policies he proposes, I have to admit he may have improved life at the most basic level for a large enough number of people to matter. Furthermore, it seems to me that economically, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Trump in the USA may be more different than they are similar.

  377. Here is a good article as to why I don’t expect Iran to immediately respond to the assassination of Soleimani but play a waiting game and do something much closer to the election.

    https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/04/middleeast/trump-iran-revenge-analysis-intl/index.html

    If I was a high ranking general in the US military I’d be watching my back pretty carefully for the next year. A Iranian hit squad takes out just the general and some aides, either abroad or better domestically, they could claim its proportional. Be hard for Trump to go all “52 shades of bomb”.

    We all assume Russia will try and throw the 2020 election Trump’s way again but why would they? He’s a loose cannon sure but does his advantage out way his disadvantage?

    If I was Putin I’d throw my trolls behind Sanders. If he were to win, the Dems would probably take back the Senate too. So Sanders would probably be so focused on domestic spending and green deal stuff, and certainly wouldn’t be in favor of overseas military adventures, Russia could expand its influence in the Middle East, Iran would get back its nuclear deal and the sanctions would be lifted.

    If domestically, Trump supporters caused civil unrest it would be the icing on the cake for them both.

  378. Matthias Gralle, you shouldn’t underestimate Americans’ capacity to ignore an ongoing tragedy, like the opiate epidemic. If a blue collar worker gets a raise because of the difficulty of finding workers (which happened at my last job) he’ll be happy all week, but if he hears the brother of some co-worker died of an overdose, he’ll be sad for a moment.

    A minor uptick or down tick in the life expectancy isn’t a good indicator of support for Trump or the impression he is helping or hurting the working class.

  379. “I couldn’t “quit” Facebook, as I only used it once for 5 minutes and quit, and never used Twitter at all. Have any of you given up either or both? If so, what was the result?”

    I have never gone to twitter, and my facebook presence has always been minimal, checking in a few times per year. Lately, I am on facebook more due to participating in a couple of cancer sites and my funding campaign.

  380. Hi Scotlyn,

    Seriously? Okay, I’ll entertain your little dance for a moment.

    Your answer does not make it any clearer, to me, how the abstract entity you call the “free market”

    Abstract doesn’t mean complex. Every time you voluntarily engage in a transaction of goods, services and/or currencies with one or more other parties that is the essence of “free markets” in action. I’m certain you willingly (and knowingly) do so daily.

    For example, there is a great deal of “demand[need]” for housing

    This is where you go entirely off the rails attempting to conflate simple economics with some sense of social justice. Demand and need are two entirely different things, but you already knew that as well.

    If you want to explore that rabbit hole then please do so directly.

  381. Since John Michael Greer has put up a new chart for the lunar eclipse in January, it seems important to me to note that the astrological effects of that eclipse are clearly relevant to the consequences of the killing of Soleimani, in that the forecast is for conflict and for economic difficulty (something to do with the Strait of Hormuz, for example), but probably not war. I myself don’t believe that there will be war; it is difficult for many people to fathom that Russia and the Iran may be less reckless than the West, and are not interested in war as a purpose in itself. But the Iranians will certainly strike back in one or the other way; and history shows that bullying governments into capitulation simply does not work with certain countries, for cultural reasons, among others.

    Even if Donald Trumps decision to have Soleimani killed earns him brownie points in flyover country, I cannot see how the consequences of all this will be anything different than bad for the United States. Among others, the consequences will surely be that the Iranians will acquire nuclear weapons in the next five years; the North Koreans will be more wary of the United States and chances of denuclearization will further go down; their traditional military winter drills are already more intensive and different than usual.

    And about the military capabilities of Iran, there is much propaganda afloat, in the sense that they don’t have an alliance with Russia, don’t have much anti-aircraft weapons, and so on. My impression is that the writers of these pieces dangerously unerestimate the resolve of Iran, and possibly Russia, their military capabilities and their resolve and ability of carrying out forms of asymmetrical warfare.

  382. @Sandy Fontwit

    We do get an occasional bit of frost on the UK’s south coast, from recollection – about a week’s worth of morning ice scraping off the car window last winter season. I’m sorry to tell you though that the technical skills needed to put together a solar part of a solar augmented heating system are well beyond my current ability. Just establishing a vegetable garden is going to be a challenge, and I’m told the plants actually grow themselves! I am planning an early collapse in the next decade so I’ll have to pick up the necessary skills – but it’s going to be a long road given my woefully ignorant starting state.

    In the meanwhile:

    40 year old tractors now a hot commodity.

    http://www.startribune.com/for-tech-weary-midwest-farmers-40-year-old-tractors-now-a-hot-commodity/566737082/

  383. @Tom Keer

    Due to the technological limitations of the 1980’s, CDs standardized on a sampling rate and bit width that don’t quite achieve proper audio fidelity, but weren’t quite bad enough to spur the appearance of a viable replacement (save for the unlamented DRM-encumbered abominations DVD-A and SACD) until flash media and broadband internet rendered the issue moot.

    The technology to read single-layer DVDs is almost as commodified as that for CDs now. A single-layer DVD would easily accommodate raw 5-channel 24-bit audio at double the CD sampling rate with a runtime comparable to a classic audio CD, and lossless FLAC encoding would nearly double that.

  384. @Lady Cutekitten – I gave up Facebook some years ago and haven’t looked back. I also stopped obsessively reading news sites of all stripes and don’t engage in any form of social media, except for Instagram which I use only to post occasionally (for my e-commerce business).

    The less social media I have in my life, the better off I am it seems. I read the article you linked to and I would echo the author’s sentiment: let go of trying to fix the world’s problems, especially through social media. It’s a fool’s errand and leads to burnout and depression.

    I am almost embarrassingly out of the loop when it comes to world news but you know what? I have never been more content in my life. I focus my energy on where I can have meaningful impact and it’s made all the difference in the world.

    Tim

  385. JMG – “Since 1947, UFOs have been the Pentagon’s preferred camouflage for any secret aerospace
    project, which is why UFOs looked like little silver balls at high altitude when we were
    testing spy balloons, black triangles when we were testing stealth planes, etc. The Navy’s
    got something secret in the testing stage, or just possibly in the early phases of
    operational deployment.”

    Now they look like – well – drones.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mysterious-drone-swarms-3-states-fbi-investigation-latest-updates-today-2020-01-06/

    https://www.fastcompany.com/90449380/mysterious-drones-are-flying-over-colorado-and-nebraska-and-nobody-knows-why

  386. First thoughts on Trump’s response to Iran missiles: Far more belligerent than I had hoped. Totally ignored Iran’s ‘measured response’ message and offer to draw a line under the Suleimani killing. More sanctions and threats that missiles will be the next step.

    – 20 minutes late and stony-faced generals:
    Some dickering behind the scenes. My guess is Trump wanted hostilities and they talked him down, but not far enough for their liking.

    – Very first statement: “Iran will not get nukes on my watch.”
    This is clearly for the benefit of Israel. It is their biggest fear.

    – “We are energy-independent. We don’t need no steenking Middle East oil.”
    America doesn’t need to be in the region. We are only staying there because Israel dictates our Middle East policy.

    – “I will ask NATO to get more involved.”
    Those leeches have sucked at the American teat for too long. Time for them to come to the party.

    – “We have glorious missiles, hypersonic ones too.”
    You know what to expect if you don’t comply with our demands.

    – “We have a magnificent military which I built up.”
    …and I’m itching to use it.

    – “Iran has a wonderful, marvellous, amazing future.”
    Do what I say and I’ll build a Trump Tower in Tehran.

  387. Hi JMG, I hope you are well

    I want to share my thoughts about the recent Iranian crisis after the killing of Suleimani (for the moment):

    a) Trump dares to do what at least 3 former administration did not dare to do: kill the first “terrorist” on the list (as ex-admiral William J. Fallon has said Suleimani was the Nº 1 in his list for 12 years), so for the American people is the more resolute and brave POTUS of at least 10 administration (somebody says from Lincoln). Obama, then, was a “coward”.

    b) The fact that Suleimani was a national hero for a nation of 82 million people and also for 150 million of shia around the world, mourned by millions in the streets, for the american people and the world, make a bigger Trump “victory” over the Iranian “regime”, and it is a powerful advice to the others leaders and commanders in the world that try to fight or oppose to USA.

    c) People say that after killing Al-Bagdadi, Suleimani and Muhandis, the next in the list is Nasralah (pure wishful thinking but right now, why not thinking that?)

    d) The USA did no use their AA system to shut-down the incoming missiles to not give a clue to the Iranians of their real effectiveness in combat situation and because the Russians have many SIGINT platforms following the events to capture the signals, methods, tactics and technolgy of the US anti-ballistic missiles systems. So now the Iranians are blind of the real effectiveness of their missiles in a real combat situation and the Russians do not have a clue also. For sure USA can take down at least some modified SCUD C missiles, simply it was not worth to do so.

    e) The fact that Trump did not retaliate is not a symptom of weakness, simply no American was hurt after killing Suleimani (an act of war), only some holes in the sand.

    f) In the speech of today Trump is defiant about the killing of Suleimani and with more economic sanctions to Iran. He does not want to escalate (more). There will be a deal in the future, but much less good for the Iranians than the Obama’s JCPOA (it was Trump an electoral promise).

    g) The retaliation of the PMU, they say, “will be similar than that of Iran”, translating it : “lob some katyusha rockets in the backyard of few US bases giving advice to the Americans do not go out”. It seems not too much risks at all, the de-escalation seems complete.

    h) Trump is defiant about not leaving Iraq, I think at the end the US will go, but he think after they have a very good deal. Of course it is all about the Iraqi oil, “in exchange for the American blood and money” wasted in Iraq. Iraq has the biggest oil reserves in the world and USA want a good chunk of this, they never ever leave “giving” all of them to the Chinese or Iranians or anybody else. Trump does not want US soldiers in Iraq, but he wants the oil above anything else (it is condition “sine qua non” to maintain the Empire)

    i) Trump has now the full enthusiastic support of the AIPAC and all the others powerful Israeli lobby he will have more money than required for the election. He has demonstrated he is the best possible POTUS for Israel

    j) In the short term USA will leave Syria and in the medium term Iraq, OK, but they never ever leave “all the region” (as Iranian asked), they need to be there to maintain the “American Way of Live” (US $ as reserve currency)

    If nothing dramatically change, I expect a crushing victory of Trump in the coming US election, he has all the cards now in his hand, and he will not waste them. He has outmaneuver many people, inside and outside his administration.

    We have to wait if this kind of Iranian retaliation is enough for the hard line of the Iranian government and institutions (specially the IRGC), if not we could have a very different scenarios (i hope not an all out war).

    We miss your thoughts about all of that

    Cheers
    David

  388. @david trammel: I certainly don’t expect people to pay attention to life expectancy statistics. I see it is an indicator of economic and psychological well-being that is harder to fudge and fiddle around with than GDP growth or opinion polls.

  389. @ Lady Cutekitten

    Re Facepalm

    I deleted my account and walked away something like eight years ago. One of the better decisions I’ve made in my life, the quality of which improved dramatically thereafter. JMG’s blog here is one of the few places on the internet where I engage (although I am in the process of putting together an author website as I’m trying to get a bit more serious about my writing).

    I have much better things to do with my life than obsess over some random person’s latest tweet on the media-circus du jour 🙂

  390. Martin Back wrote, translating Trump:

    – “We are energy-independent. We don’t need no steenking Middle East oil.”
    America doesn’t need to be in the region. We are only staying there because Israel dictates our Middle East policy.

    —-

    My view is the US has always wanted to dominate the oil supplies of our competitors – first Europe, then Japan and now China. These places are even more dependent on OPEC than the USA.

    Trump may or may not know that fracking is a short term bubble, but presumably some of the smarter people in the shadows understand. In 2018, fracked shale gas was 63% of what’s called “natural” gas, and the early fields (Barnett in Texas, Haynesville in Louisiana) are in decline. We’ll see which geologists – if any – are correct. I recommend the reports from David Hughes at postcarbon.org. He got the USGS and Dept of Energy to radically scale back estimates for frackable oil in the Monterrey Shale in California.

    As for Israel, they usually are in alignment with the Pentagon & CIA but not always. Netanyahu and Cheney really wanted to go to war on Iran in 2007 but were fortunately blocked by the Pentagon for practical reasons, not morality. Israeli militarists usually get what they want but not always. I see them as being symbiotic with the US in the Middle East, but the US is top dog in that relationship.

    Iran’s “response” yesterday was shrewd. Firing missiles without hurting anyone. The target was precise. It showed they can hit anywhere in the region, including oil installations. It allowed the theocracy to show their public that they didn’t take the attack lightly, while doing it in a way that maybe reduced the risk of escalation. Hopefully the Ukrainian plane crash was just a terrible coincidence.

    I just watched an impromptu press conference (on line) with Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, expressing his disgust at a secret briefing he just got from the spies. Nice to see someone I normally radically disagree with recognizing how dangerous the situation is and vowing to scale things back. A search on his name will find it.

  391. JMG predicted it, and now it’s happened. High-tech tractors have become too high tech to justify the cost.

    Kris Folland grows corn, wheat and soybeans and raises cattle on 2,000 acres near Halma in the northwest corner of Minnesota, so his operation is far from small. But when he last bought a new tractor, he opted for an old one — a 1979 John Deere 4440.

    He retrofitted it with automatic steering guided by satellite, and he and his kids can use the tractor to feed cows, plant fields and run a grain auger. The best thing? The tractor cost $18,000, compared to upward of $150,000 for a new tractor. And Folland doesn’t need a computer to repair it.

    “This is still a really good tractor,” said Folland, who owns two other tractors built before 1982.

    “They cost a fraction of the price, and then the operating costs are much less because they’re so much easier to fix,” he said.

    http://www.startribune.com/for-tech-weary-midwest-farmers-40-year-old-tractors-now-a-hot-commodity/566737082/

  392. Hello JMG

    A bit more economic news from the Uk. From BBC Radio4 Today programme this morning. British Retail Consortium (an Industry lobby group) reported retails sales down by 0.1% for 2019, the first time that their has been a fall in retail sales since they started collection figures in 1995. The figure includes most on line sales as well, but not Amazons. Sales in November and December were down 1%, and Black Friday sales were better than Christmas sales, a first. Reports on toy sales and digital games sales also bad, as much as 20% decline for some retailers (Argos). Not a good year, expect more chain stores to go bust or contract their branch next works as lenders lose faith in recovery. Credit card retail purchases indicated 1% growth, but not in the sales of goods, rather eating out, leisure, and experience.

    The slow contraction continues. Near tipping but not quite there yet.

    Regards Philip

  393. For the new year and your edification, an example of a new low point of understanding about our world, which the left and the Greens have achieved:

    https://thecorrespondent.com/214/in-2030-we-ended-the-climate-emergency-heres-how/28330740746-6b15af77

    Terrifying is the total lack of understanding of energy, complex systems, human behavior, the laws of energy, among other things, not to speak of the pablum about the “global community” at the beginning.

  394. Hi Tim,

    The propaganda—I mean, the news—is the same every day anyway.

    —Celebrity does something silly
    —Item or activity no one ever heard of is the latest fad
    —Salary-class writer wants Trump out of there yesterday!
    —Something something trans
    —Something minor has salary-class women in a positive tizzy about oppression
    —Economy’s great even though it barely exists
    —Cure-all medicine or diet that’s been heavily advertised for X years will kill you if you have so much as clipped a coupon for it
    —American troops are doing something, no one’s sure what, in some country few Americans can find on a map
    —Review of a super-hero movie
    —Something something climate change
    —Something something the markets

    You can probably fill in the rest. Zzzzzz… 😴

  395. Hello JMG

    A little bit of good economic news from the Uk. From the BBC Radio4 Today programme this morning. The numbers of independent book shops have been increasing for the last three years and have reached a total of 890! Amazon has not killed off everything.

    Something for the commentariat to think and comment on. I have noticed what with Brexit and the independence movements around the UK that a lot of people have stopped calling themselves British. Most of the Irish never called themselves British, and those that do, do so for political reasons when it suits them. The Scots were once very British, outside the elderly and the members of the unionist political parties they don’t call themselves British today. The welsh still vote mostly for unionist parties, but call themselves Welsh, well in my hearing they do. I have one friend who calls himself Cornish and definitely not English. As for the English, most (not everybody has said) of my English friends i.e. they refer to themselves as English and not British, voted for Brexit. They are not though of the Liberal classes. The liberal classes of the media, academia, big business, most of the political class, law, and finance still refer to themselves publicly as British, sometimes quite enthusiastically. My thinking is when the periphery of a polity starts calling itself by a different identity, that polity is on the way out. The English, making up most of the population of the UK would think it nonsense to vote for independence from themselves, but logical to vote for independence from the EU, which the “British” liberal classes very much wanted to remain part of. This has a long way to run yet. An anecdote, my “English Friends” for various reasons very much support Scottish, Irish, and Welsh independence! I think the process of changing identities is very much tied into the end of the British empire. It formally ended in the 1960’s, and Scottish and Welsh independence movements started in the 70’s and the latest round of Irish independence got very violent then. Why? Because the Uk’s ethnic regions moved from being at the centre of an empire to the periphery of a capital region (London and the south east of the UK) i.e. they went from one end of the wealth pump to the other, the sucking end! The same process has occurred in the English regions, but has only got up steam politically since devolution to Scotland and Wales. I think this was a minor factor in Labours defeat in 2019, they are seen by many in the English regions as London centric, of the liberal classes and centralisers. They will have to change that if they want back into power.

    Has anybody else seen this process occurring in their polities?

    Regards to all Philip

  396. @ DFC
    “he will have more money than required for the election… If nothing dramatically change, I expect a crushing victory of Trump in the coming US election”

    Sometimes you need more than money, ask Hillary.

    I thought two of the main reasons Trump beat Hillary was that A) he was going to end the endless wars, and B) he was on good terms with Putin, and it was expected that with Trump as POTUS, tensions with Russia would ease, and global tension generally. Well, prospects for war and global tensions have suddenly got dramatically worse, and the downing of the Ukrainian airliner shows what unplanned events can happen when anxious fingers are on triggers.

    It could be that war-weary voters will give Trump a big thumbs-down, not that I expect it. I know Americans rally round the flag when required. But sometimes I wish they would build a great big beautiful wall and stay behind it.

  397. This from Paul Craig Roberts on Jan 10: ” Before long, truth will have to rely on mimeograph machines and people to hand out fliers in areas where there are no spying cameras if any such areas will exist in the future.”

  398. Hi JMG,

    In my last comment I have described that, in the short term and for the US population, the Trump strategy on Iran could work, but I am much more pesimistic in the longterm.

    I have been also wargaming in the case of an all-out war between Iran + PMU vs US, so if I were the Iranian Chieff of Staff I would impose the following strategy (script), for the best possible use of resources and forces at hand:

    1) The absolutely first priority of Allies (Iran & PMU) should be the US air bases, specifically to deny US the use of their air bases in the Middle East for their jets as much as possible, making them depending of long range bombers (which they have in much less numbers) and cruise missiles (long range bomber and cruise missiles fired from far away cannot give close air support to the surrounded bases and troops).

    2) Other critical strategy for the Allies(I&PMU) is to maintain far away the Carrier Strikes Groups, using some shots of long range ballistics and cruise missiles (Soumar&others) to maintain them far enough from the Iranian shores. If the CSG’s are more than 2.000Km away from Iran in the Indian Ocean, the distances between the CSG’s and the west part of Iran, where the main Allied Missile Forces are allocated, will be around 3.600Km or more, so out of range of the Tomahawks missiles (1.700 Km), so only the US subs could fire them approaching the Iranian coast, but may be the Allies could have some surprises for them (in the form of mines or destroyers). The US could try to put the CSG’s in the Mediterranean Sea to strike the West of Iran, but they could be targeted also by the Allies, and the ruskies in Syria will not be glad to have some hundreds Tomahawks flying above their heads. Not easy

    3) To deny the use of the air bases with the better use of resources the Allies have to make a division of labour:
    a. The air bases in Iraq will be attacked almost exclusively by the PMU using a hell of MLRS and mortars. The first step is to cut all road supplies to the bases (gasoline is the most fundamental material to be cut).
    b. In Iraq the first priorities of the barrages of rockets and mortars should be the fuel storages, second the airstrips (to prevent jets from landing and taking-off), third the ammo storages, and fourth the command and communication areas.
    c. The barrages must be “Hezbollah style”, massive and almost non-stop, to prevent them repairing of the airstrips to be used again by the jets. The PMU have to assume they will have many casualties, but it is a war. The commander in the US bases have to choice if the maintenance teams will be exposed to the barrages to repair the airstrips, or remain in the shelters but then the jets cannot use the base. If the PMU are resolute, any jet will land or take-off.
    d. To combat the helicopters the Allied need to have in Iraq many thousands on MANPAD, and to prevent the rescue teams of the US to rescue some “Blackhawk Down”, they will use the Hezbollah tactics: modern tandem warhead ATGM’s, modern tandem warhead RPG, modern anti-material rifles and modern MANPAD, they should have now in the thousands in Iraq. After some good ambushes the US bases will not recue anybody and remain locked in their bases trying to survive under the barrages and asking to be airlifted from the hell in helicopters, of course under the fire (by rockets, mortar and MANPAD when in air).
    e. Just in case the rockets of the PMU are not enough, Iran could lob in to the more close US base the heavy unguided rockets they have: Fajr-3, Fajr-5, Zelzal 1-2-3 (600mm diameter)

    4) For the air base in Kuwait (Ali Al Salem), the distance to Iraq is 62Km and to Iran 117Km, so is close enough to be targeted again by heavy MLRS (not by mortar or small rockets) to repeat the same strategy than the case of Iraq, in this case the Allied cannot cut the road supplies and they have to shot from longer distances, so the degrading process will take much longer to put the base out of service, in this case the heavy Zelzal 2 and 3 MLRS will be the weapons of choice to destroy the airstrips and fuel storages, probably some help for more accurate missiles will be required (they have thousands of un-guided missiles but much less guided, so the priority will be to use the un-guided, the war could last longtime)

    5) For the US air bases in the Southern shores of the Persian Gulf the task to KO them will be exclusively for Iran, and they have to use the Zelzal-3 MLRS to smash the airstrips and above all the guided missiles, again to strike in the first priority the fuel storages, second command and control centers, third ammo storages, fourth hangar and spare parts storage. The distances of the US bases are in the range of the heavy MLRS of Iran (Zelzal-3 and Fajr-5C): Al Udeid is at 265Km from Iran, Saikh Isa at 240Km and Al Dhafra at 245Km, somebody did not thought some 50 years ago that these bases could be used to confront Iran, which is just in front of them all along the coast. All of them will burn.

    6) For the air bases in Jordan and Turkey, the long range missiles should be used, but the distance, again, matter a lot, the airplanes cannot be too much time in the Iraqi and much less in the Iranian airspace (to refuel) and they need, before attack the Iranian soil, to take down the Iranian air defenses, but probably they not have enough fire power to do that, and also the political resistances from Turkey and in less degree Jordan could be quit hard to avoid. Erdogan could decide to not allow more attacks to the Allies from Incirlik, and them the war is over for the US (at least the conventional war…).

    7) Secondary targets will be the ships in the Persian Gulf, above all that armed with Tomahawks (frigates and destroyers) that can shot to Iran, but it is expected they will run out of them quickly and without re-supply they cannot continue fighting, but if you cannot land a single big transport plane, because all the airstrips are damaged, and you cannot have a ship passing the Strait of Hormuz, how in the hell could you re-supply your troops and maintain them fighting to a more numerous and close to his land enemy?

    In this strategy is very important the Allies focus in the air bases, and not deviate to attack other perceived as “good” targets (“normal” military bases, naval bases, oil refineries, oil platforms, Israel, etc…) even if US destroy the oil refineries of Iran. The Allied should avoid the error of Hitler in the Battle of England when after Churchill ordered the RAF to bomb Hamburg, the Lufwaffe started to bomb the English cities when they were wining attacking only the British air bases. The Lufwaffe lost the Battle of England because they forget the strategic priority targets and focus in other political and tactic targets.

    Could this strategy works? and what can USA do to avoid it works? (in this game the ICBM and the nukes are forbidden)

    Cheers

  399. Hi again

    If you allow me I will continue a bit more with the actual Iran-US possible war scenarios:

    As Alfred Thayer Mahan once said: “you can achieve victory if you denie your adversary the supply routes while maintaining yours” (or something like that). Well this is the same Mahan that in 1890 said: “Well OK the US frontier is now over, so from now on whether the American people want it or not, United State will be an empire”, and then eight years later (1898) USA declared war to Spain (after Maine false flag attack), the rest you know…

    Supersonic anti-ship missiles are a bitch, especially in a “lake” like the Persian Gulf, where you cannot hide from them, and good luck retreating through the Strait of Hormuz passing close to the Iranian shores hundreds and hundreds of kilometers…

    What the Allies (I+PMU) had to do is to sink every transport of supply and troops if they try to move then, at first, forget the hard targets, because what you need to achieve is to strangle the American war machine of fuel, ammo, and men in the theater; and this must be made now that the US pieces in the chessboard are in a very very weak position. With only 5.200 troops in Iraq and 10.000 in Kuwait and they think they can win an all-out war with Iraq & Iran? Crazy!

    The US has started the chess game in a very poor position, with the pawns and horses deployed too forward in the chessboard, and the USA military leadership are in a very bad situation, if they try to send massive troops and equipment reinforcement Iran will not sit iddle seeing how US is preparing to destroy them as the stupid Saddam did in 1991 and again in 2003, no, Iran will start the war with any pretext before new troops & equipment is deployed in significant amounts.
    On the other hand, if Iran escalate, the CENTCOM cannot support the “lost” garrison in Iraq and Kuwait, they do not have enough forces deployed in the theater, and an rotor-airlift operation of this magnitude under fire is very dangerous, and a road ride through hundreds of miles through hostile terrain under harassment from Iranians and PMU troops “Hezbollah style” (as IDF suffered in 2006), and without heavy armored scort and close air support will be almost suicidal.

    Iranian have been preparing for a war with USA from 1979, but now the situation is better than ever, I do not give a cent on USA now if they do not retreat quickly from Syria and Iraq (if Trump is enough intelligent it will order soon, but I am afraid he wants to play poker once more), and stop to make threats and provocations.
    But they “cannot” retreat, you know, is an electoral year and Trump want to be re-elected above all.

    Then I would say = Checkmate!

    Cheers
    David

  400. I think Trump has realized that if he begins another war, especially in the ME, he looses in 2020, unless the Dem. nominee is Hillary, heaven forbid. If we had such a thing as an opposition party, that party would now be indicting Trump for murder, surely a high crime and misdemeanor, for which “Pompeo and Netanyahoo made me do it” is no excuse.

    Meanwhile, I think govt. officials in Iran are getting panicked phone calls and emails from their relatives in the USA and Europe, which might account for the very modest scale of the rocket strike.

    I am likely going to excise internet from my life, as it has simply become more costly than it is worth. The last straw came when the technician at Staples told me I would need to purchase a new computer because of Microsoft no longer supporting Windows 7. That in addition to Norton demanding an exorbitant fee for all sorts of features I didn’t order and don’t need, which fee they will apparently deduct at will, whenever the mood strikes them. The only reason they didn’t take it out already is that I had to close and reopen my account. And then there is the monthly bill; only one provider because the free market conservatives in city and county govt. thought letting one company have a monopoly was right in line with their conservative values. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with internet having to be paid for, although I think Norton’s business practices are dishonest.

    I now thank everyone here, our gracious host and all contributors, for about a decade now of intelligent and civilized conversation on matters of the greatest consequence.

  401. @ Philip H.

    Re national self-identification

    I see the UK as a leading indicator of a likely path for the US, with its slow-motion break-up of empire and gradual dissolution into component parts. It will be interesting to see how long it takes before we over here are openly referring to ourselves as “New Englanders,” “Texans,” “Midwesterners,” and the like, rather than “Americans.” My guess is that we’re some decades out yet, perhaps two or three.

  402. Hello JMG

    Data from BBC Radio4 Today programme yesterday morning. The first chain store branch closures have been announced. Dedbenhams, a mid range women’s fashion store is closing 19 branches in the next few days, and a total of 50 branches by the end of 2021. Mothercare, a baby and toddler goods store, is closing all 79 branches in the UK over the next few days. This is a business that has been in very long term decline, the Mothercare store in my town closed at least fifteen years ago, its former location is now a Poundland store. I will keep my ear out for more. The decline grinds on.

    Regards Philip

    PS, Tim Watkins at Conscious of sheep has put together a good article on the Labour Parties loss of the working class vote. He also links to your book “The long Descent”.
    https://consciousnessofsheep.co.uk/2020/01/09/labour-needs-much-more-than-a-change-of-leader/

  403. Nastarana, you can still upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 for free.

    https://www.zdnet.com/article/heres-how-you-can-still-get-a-free-windows-10-upgrade/

    I just did this past week so it still works. It takes a bit of time though to do the download and install.

    Norton has tried to automatically renew and bill me two years in a row now, after I canceled them. Call their billing service, tell them you canceled and want a refund. They have like a 90 day window where they will refund charges for any reason. I’ll see if they try this again next year.

    Once you’ve upgraded to Windows 10, enable Windows Defender, its free and updates.

    Can’t do much about your local internet.

  404. Hi All

    Again some thoughts about possible US – Iran conflict

    There are serious doubts the Patriot System EVER destroy any single missile:

    In a deep House Committee about the performance of the Patriot System against the Iraqi Scud in 1991 they said:

    http://www.turnerhome.org/jct/patriot.html

    “Summary.-The Patriot missile system was not the spectacular success in the Persian Gulf War that the American public was led to believe. There is little evidence to prove that the Patriot hit more than a few Scud missiles launched by Iraq during the Gulf War, and there are some doubts about even these engagements.”

    Nobody, never and ever has any proof ANY Patriot interceptor has knocked-down ANY ballistic missile EVER, nor in 1991, nor in any other year, nor recently in the ballistic missiles used by the Houthies
    against KSA recently:

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/03/28/patriot-missiles-are-made-in-america-and-fail-everywhere/

    It seems that the performance of the Patriot Systems is the military equivalent of the Boeing 737Max, they do not work well, and then all the USA troops in ME are un-protected from ballistic missiles (ballistic missiles have an speed of around 3 – 4 Mach, some of then 6 – 7 Mach).

    The corruption of the US MIC seems to be stratospheric, and as USA routinely only fight COIN and very weak adversaries, they do not need to prove in a combat with nearly peer adversaries, and as American Army has fought all the wars with overwhelming air superiority, they think they do not need to prepare to any onslaught by the air, but that is the weak point many potential adversaries will exploit

    US Army does not have a mobile multilayered air defense, as Russia, China or even Iran, they are totally confident they will not suffer air attacks with precision, but that has changed with the improved technology of short and medium range the ballistic missiles.

    On the other hand, as could be seen in the war on Serbia (Kosovo) in 1999, the NATO forces (mainly USAF) after 78 days of continuous b