Not the Monthly Post

What We Can Still Accomplish

One of the unexpected benefits of posting my reflections on the future of industrial society in public is that quite often I get advance warning of events on the horizon that others haven’t anticipated yet.  Sometimes, I’m glad to say, it’s because someone in my commentariat happens to have noticed an obscure news story or a little-known fact and brings it to my attention. Fairly often, though, the warning I get has a different and sadder source.

Years ago, a bunch of social psychologists did an ingenious study on the way that the human mind copes with anxiety.  They found a river valley with a large and aging dam at its head, and worked their way up the valley, asking people questions about their worries about the dam.  Up to a certain point, they got exactly the results you would expect.  Far from the dam, where there would be plenty of time for warning sirens to sound and people to get to high ground, anxiety levels were modest; the closer they got to the dam, up to a point, the more anxious people got.

“The dam is perfectly sound.”

It was when they got so close to the dam that there would be no time to escape the waters that the results spun into intriguing territory. In that part of the valley, and especially where you could see the dam looming up in the distance, people claimed that they weren’t worried at all, and insisted that the dam couldn’t possibly break.  Nor could they be swayed from that insistence. The psychologists concluded reasonably enough that the attitude in question was the way that these people dealt with the hard fact that if the dam broke, they had no chance of survival.

I found this reaction instantly familiar, because I’d seen the same thing at work in a different context: the history of speculative bubbles. Here the relevant factor is time rather than distance.  Those of my readers who watched the rise and fall of the tech stock bubble that burst in 1999 or the real estate bubble that burst in 2008 know that the closer the end comes, and the more obvious it becomes to an impartial observer that prices have lost all touch with reality and the boom will end in a disastrous bust, the more loudly people will insist that it’s not a bubble at all and prices really can keep on soaring to absurd heights forever.  It’s not just the brokers and salesflacks who are saying this.  Above all, it’s the people who’ve invested their entire net worth in the bubble and face total financial destruction when it pops.  They deal with their anxiety by convincing themselves that there’s no way the speculative dam can burst.

“The market still has plenty of room to rise.”

It’s a very common human reaction, and it shows up in many other contexts.  One of them yields one of the most reliable of the warning signals I mentioned earlier. After more than sixteen years of weekly blog posts, I’ve become well known in some corners of the internet for refusing to kowtow to either of the equal and opposite dogmas about the future that hobble our collective imagination these days. I don’t believe in perpetual progress, that is, and I also don’t believe in sudden apocalypse.  My take is that our civilization will follow the same long rhythm of rise and fall as every previous civilization; that we have in fact passed our peak and are half a century into decline; that the cascading crises and spreading dysfunctions of our time are equivalents of the crises and dysfunctions that forced all those other civilizations to their knees; and that our decline and fall will unfold in the usual fashion over the next several centuries, in a cascade of disasters interspersed with temporary respites and partial recoveries, ending in a typical dark age half a millennium long from which new cultures will rise in turn.

All through those sixteen years, I’ve had people showing up on my comment pages to insist that I’m wrong.  Pretty reliably, half of them insist that I’m being much too pessimistic and modern technology will surely triumph over all obstacles, and the other half insist that I’m being much too optimistic and modern society will surely be overwhelmed by sudden catastrophe.  It’s a source of quite some amusement to me that many of the believers in progress insist that I’m predicting a sudden apocalypse, and many of the believers in apocalypse portray me as a believer in progress.  It’s as though they just can’t bring themselves to admit that there’s any alternative to the Hobson’s choice between the two.

The number of people who show up in my comments page and my other points of public contact to make such claims, however, varies quite a bit over time.  I’ve noticed, furthermore, that quite reliably I hear from the believers in progress in greater numbers when real trouble is on its way, and I hear from the believers in apocalypse in greater numbers when the crisis du jour has bottomed out and things are beginning to stabilize.

If that indication is anything to go by, dear reader, you may want to brace yourself for rough times, because I’ve recently fielded a flurry of comments insisting that I’m being much too pessimistic and I ought to spend my time talking about rosier futures instead.

I want to talk about one of those comments in particular, which came in response to last week’s post on this blog. It was from a reader named Dani, and the reason I’ve chosen it as a launching point for this week’s post is that it was more thoughtful and interesting than most of the comparable comments I receive. Dani’s point, summed up briefly, was that I practice magic, and therefore I ought to be aware of the power of the human imagination.  Why, she asked, am I not helping people direct that power toward envisioning the kind of future that we all want?  She challenged me to stop talking about the hard-edged futures that I’ve discussed at length on this blog and instead paint a future inspired by my hopes and dreams.

Her question’s a valid one, but it’s not as rhetorical as Dani seems to think. There are good reasons why I don’t spend my time trying to get people to imagine shining, hopeful futures just now, and those reasons are worth discussing.

“What do you mean, that’s not real science?”

Let’s start with some basics. Magic, to cite my favorite definition of the subject, is the art and science of causing change in consciousness in accordance with will. It has nothing to do with special-effects tomfoolery of the Harry Potter variety.  (The Harry Potter movies have as much to do with real magic as Young Frankenstein has to do with real science.)  Because it works with consciousness, magic has enormous power to shape how we experience the world, and so it can also shape the results we get from our interactions with the world.  Success and failure, health and sickness, love and hatred, joy and despair—all these can be determined by the consciousness with which we encounter our lives, and so all of them can be influenced by magic.

That does not mean that magic is omnipotent. I had to remind a different reader of that fact a little while back in one of the day-long Ask Me Anything sessions I do for people who are curious about magic. The reader wanted to know if there was any simple magical working I could offer her that would help her get her two-year-old to sit still during dental examinations. My response was that I practice magic; I don’t perform miracles.

That was flippant, of course, but it also tried to make an important point:  just because you want something doesn’t mean that magic will do it for you. Causing changes in your consciousness, or that of your two-year-old, will not get the two-year-old to sit still for an hour of physical immobility and acute discomfort in a dentist’s chair, because your two-year-old has good reason to fidget.  She’s bored and uncomfortable; unless the dentist is more careful than mine ever was, the exam is going to involve quite a bit of pain; and at the age of two years, very few humans have the neuromuscular coordination and control needed to remain still for an hour at a time, even when they’re not being pinned down and jabbed and hurt.

So magic has limits.  The ordinary untrained human imagination—the instrument Dani wanted me to direct toward the goal of creating a future that we all want—has even sharper limits. Our current predicament is a good example of this.  Countless millions of people over the last couple of centuries have imagined a future of endless technological expansion, unhindered by mere material limits.  Their imaginations have been impressively detailed, and gave rise to an entire new genre of literature and visual media, in the form of science fiction.  If imagination all by itself was able to elbow its way into reality, we’d be on our way to the stars by now.  In the real world, by contrast, human beings haven’t gotten out of near earth orbit since 1973, and those limitless new energy sources imagined so vividly over and over again are still nowhere in sight.

“I’m sorry, your high tech future is permanently out of stock.”

The limits of magic can be understood in several ways, which all work out more or less to the same thing. From a materialist perspective, we can say that consciousness can affect physical matter only in certain strictly limited ways.  You can do a lot of things by changing the state and contents of your consciousness, in other words, but none of them will make dilithium crystals show up on demand.  From the perspective of occult philosophy, by contrast, all things are understood as patterns in consciousness—what we call matter is simply that set of patterns in consciousness that is most resistant to change—but the point that sometimes gets missed is that human beings are not the only centers of consciousness that matter.

In the worldview of occult philosophy, we are still early in the process of spiritual development.  Others have gone that way long before us.  There are vast centers of consciousness—call them gods and goddesses if you like—that create and maintain the conditions that we experience as a material world, and they, not we, decide what those conditions will be.  Nor, it probably has to be said, do they display the least interest in changing those conditions just so that our species doesn’t have to face, and learn from, the consequences of its own idiotic decisions. They have watched many other species and civilizations pass through their life cycles before our time, and they will doubtless watch many more go through the same arc long after we’re gone.

That may seem like plain common sense.  In some periods of history, however, common sense is far from common, and this is one of them. For the last three hundred years, our species has gone its merry way treating the Earth as nothing more than a source of raw materials and a dumping place for our wastes.  We plundered the planet’s store of fossil carbon and burnt most of it in a three-century-long orgy of absurd extravagance, and the mere fact that we’ve known for well over a hundred years that this was going to end badly didn’t cause more than a very few of us to take up less crazily excessive lifestyles.  Now supplies of fossil carbon are running short, the ecological consequences are showing up on schedule, dozens of other hard planetary limits are looming up on all sides—and of course, this is when people suddenly start saying “Oh, no, this isn’t what we wanted, can’t you come up with some better future for us?”

There’s an even harsher irony here because the benefits of that orgy of consumption have not exactly been shared equally among our species. Right now, the wealthiest ten per cent of humanity is directly or indirectly responsible for 50% of all the carbon dioxide being dumped into the atmosphere. (People who love to blame big business for the climate crisis don’t like to talk about the fact that most of what big business is doing with that carbon is producing goods and services, which are disproportionately consumed by the well-to-do.)  Nor is it the teeming masses of the poor who are begging me to dream up a better future for them.  No, it’s members of the comfortable classes of the industrial world, the same people who’ve benefited most from the joyride, who now want to find some way to avoid getting stuck with the bill.

There are good reasons for me to ignore such requests.  Imagine for a moment that you’re in the river valley I talked about toward the beginning of this post, and you happen to pass the dam just in time to see the first stream of muddy water begin to bubble up from a weak spot near its base.  You know that this means the dam is going to fail and will give way within hours.  You hurry downstream to the nearest town, and somebody looks up and says, “So how’s the dam doing?”  Here are your choices:  (a) tell them that everything is fine and there’s nothing to worry about, or (b) shout “Grab your family and get out of here, the dam is failing!” Which do you do?

Or let’s say there’s a speculative bubble inflating toward its inevitable crash. You’ve read John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Great Crash 1929, you note that the same slogans deployed to bolster that bubble are being used this time too, and you’re aware that sometime soon it’s all going to come tumbling down.  A friend who’s invested some money into the bubble calls you up and asks for your opinion about the state of the market. Here are your choices:  (a) reassure your friend that the market can keep going up forever, or (b) explain about speculative bubbles and urge your friend to get every cent out of the market as soon as possible. Which do you do?

In both cases option (a) offers a future that the listeners want, a future strongly appealing to hopes and dreams. In the first case, the people who live below the dam want to believe that the dam is safe and they’ll be able to stay in their homes in comfort and safety; in the second, your friend and the millions of others who’ve invested in the bubble want to believe that they really can get rich by riding the market upward.  In both cases, equally, option (b) offers the listeners a depressing prospect in which hopes and dreams have very little place.  If hopes and dreams are what matters most, shouldn’t you say the reassuring thing in both cases—maybe coming up with some vivid, imaginative way of claiming that all the water behind the dam will vanish harmlessly instead of crashing down on the houses and people below, or inventing some equally visionary scenario in which speculative bubbles really can inflate forever?

The problem with this attitude, of course, is that if the dam is breaking or the speculative bubble is already in full spate, there really is no question about what’s going to happen. In one sense or another, a lot of people are going to end up underwater in a hurry, and their hopes and dreams are going to be washed away. In both cases the unwanted consequences of past actions have piled up to the point that crisis is imminent, and the only hopes and dreams that matter are those that might just possible shake people awake and get them to flee out of the valley or cash out of the market before disaster strikes.

It’s a long, slow process.

Now of course it’s true that we’re not looking at a single disaster like a dam breaking or a market crashing.  We’re looking at the decline and fall of a civilization, a process that has already been under way for half a century and will take centuries more to finish.  The same principle applies, however, in at least two ways. First of all, there are plenty of things that can still be done here and now to cushion the process of decline and see to it that as much as possible of the best achievements of our civilization are handed on to the cultures that will build on our ruins.  Those things will not be done by people who are still fixated on hopes and dreams of perpetual progress toward a utopian future. (Nor, by the way, will they be done by people who have embraced the belief in instant apocalypse, which is simply another way of evading responsibility for the future.) They will be done, if they are done at all, by those who have shaken themselves free of those delusions, grappled with the harsh reality of our predicament, and aimed their imaginations toward envisioning the best available options in a troubled time.

Second, the process I’ve termed the Long Descent stretches out over centuries but its slope is not smooth. In every previons example of the decline and fall of a civilization, there have been periods of crisis interspersed with periods of stabilization and partial recovery, and there’s every reason to think that we’re facing exactly the same thing this time around, too.  Some of those periods of crisis in the past have been pretty extreme, furthermore, and here again, there’s no reason to think our case will be any kind of exception.

With that in mind, it’s worth pointing to two crises building here in the United States.  The one everyone is talking about these days is the extreme weather in the western half of the country:  yet another recordbreaking drought, this time amplified with stunningly high temperatures along the west coast. Those of my readers who know paleoclimatology will be nodding; the rest of you might want to pick up a copy of E.C. Pielou’s classic work After the Ice Age and turn to the section on the Hypsithermal, the period of high temperatures that followed the end of the last ice age. When the global climate is warmer than it’s been in historic times, you see, the desert belt that keeps northern Mexico and the American Southwest dry as dust shifts northward, so that the western Great Plains and the intermountain West all the way north into Canada turns into desert.

Nebraska looked like this in 7000 BC.

Thus there’s every reason to expect that the steady drumbeat of heat, drought, and fire that has been hammering the west will pick up the pace year after year, until large sections of the mountain west and the western Great Plains no longer have the water or the climate to support agriculture or, for that matter, human settlements. Over the decades ahead, millions of people will have to find new homes, trillions of dollars of real estate and infrastructure will become worthless, and the consequences of those shifts will shake our economy the way a dog shakes a rat.  Though those don’t mean the end of the world, they do mean that a lot of hopes and dreams are burning and there isn’t enough water left in the reservoir to put out the flames.

Meanwhile, unnoticed by most people, the price of oil continues to mount upwards. It was fashionable a little while ago to insist that renewables have become so economical that demand for oil would peak soon, leading to an easy market-driven transition away from petroleum.  That and a range of political pressures led major oil companies to cut back sharply on exploration and development of new oilfields to make up for the depletion of existing reserves. Unfortunately renewables have once again proven unable to pick up the slack.  With the world currently using well over 100 million barrels of crude oil a day to power its transport networks and keep industries supplied with raw materials, supply and demand has taken over in the usual way.

Remember this?

On schedule, we’re seeing soaring prices for food and spot shortages on store shelves. Those of my readers who remember the oil crises of 1973 and 2008 know that these are among the usual warning signs.  I expect to see the prices of petroleum products for consumers spike hard next year.  They’ll come back down, but not all the way, and by the time they do so, another large fraction of Americans will have been driven down into permanent poverty, to join those driven down by the last two energy crises. Since thirty-five years passed between the first two energy crises and we’re coming up on half that as the next one builds, the interval between crises appears to be shrinking steadily.  If that continues, the next few decades are going to be rough.

The human imagination is a powerful tool for confronting these crises and envisioning ways to cope with them.  The first step in putting it to work in that necessary task, however, is to ditch the fantasy that we can expect a miracle to bail us out of the mess we’ve made for ourselves. All of us, and especially those of us in the comfortable classes, are going to have to get by with much less energy and much less of the products of energy—yes, that’s spelled “goods and services” in plain English—than we’re used to.  All of us are going to have to deal with unfamiliar constraints and challenges.  That’s work that the human imagination is well equipped to handle, so long as it shakes off the overblown sense of entitlement that leads people to think the universe will cater to their cravings, and gets to work instead on envisioning what we can still accomplish with the time and dwindling resources we have left.


  1. “another large fraction of Americans will have been driven down into permanent poverty”

    One thing I’ve observed is that the lifestyle gap between the poor and “middle class” is actually shrinking if you think of it in terms of real life circumstances, rather than dollars. For example, you can be a nurse in a major city and all you can afford is a tiny apartment or maybe something slightly larger if you have a partner or housemate. In terms of square footage, it is the same as what someone in state housing would get (the difference in rental costs and quality aside). The poor family and professional healthcare worker might even exercise at the same YMCA, watch the same Netflix, and shop at the same supermarket looking for good deals.

    A lot of people in their thirties have experienced a downward quality in lifestyle. They might have grown up in a house with a backyard, but now they’re living in much smaller apartments, even if they make over 100k / year (especially in California). I grew up in small apartments, so I’m used to it, but my standard of living has remained exactly the same since I was eighteen years old despite the fact I make 2x the GDP per capita.

  2. I publicly, in print (well, web) predicted the financial collapse, right up to the month and year it would happen. I can tell you that almost no one (and I had a large audience back then, high 5 figures to low 6 figures) paid attention. Based on the rule that for everyone who writes you to say something good or bad 10 other people wanted to, I’d say a bit over a hundred people did anything to avoid the carnage. (A previous publisher, however, shorted the market at the right time and made a mint.)

    So, yes, it’s hard to tell people and even if you have a record, and I’ve been right about a lot of things, though obviously not all, it really doesn’t matter. In fact realizing that being right didn’t matter brought on a fairly significant crisis for me when I realized the point where “doing the right thing” could stop the oncoming train crash had passed—advice could only now help individuals and groups.

    All that said I think things are going to be rather worse than you, JMG, and that human extinction, while unlikely, is now a possibility. As a gamer I’m sure you appreciate that even a 1% chance of dying can happen. (I also used to play poker and blackjack, and both those teach you how probability actually works — just because there’s only one card some idiot can draw to beat your flush doesn’t mean he won’t.)

    But whatever, honest people can disagree based on differing sets of assumptions, just as you disagree with Brin on many things.

    The question of “should we save them if we could” is also interesting to me, and though I can’t save humans from the consequences of their psychopathic foolishness, I also spent a lot of time thinking about whether I should if I could—I find the argument for doing so almost entirely comes down to “a lot of other life forms are also getting it in the neck, and this isn’t their fault.”

    An acquaintance who was a very accomplished mage spent quite a bit of time on the role of the power of human imagination on what is happening and came to the conclusion that inasmuch as “magic” in the broader sense (where everyone is doing it badly) has a role, that apocalyptic belief was actually driving events enough to be noticeable. There are a large minority of people who want the world to end, after all, and they want it fiercely. (Left Behind, etc…)

    I don’t have access to the places where that can be confirmed directly, so I don’t know. But it seemed reasonable to me that it was at least contributing.

    We will all find out what happens soon enough. Be well and safe, if you can.

  3. So, would doing something at a personal level like what you sketched out with the tier system in Retrotopia be a good idea at this point in time? Looking at the past, and downshifting my life to match what was available in an earlier era? Obviously it’s not sustainable long term, but a lifestyle using the technological amenities and goods and services available in the 2000s would be sustainable longer than what we have now. It’s also close enough to what we have now that a) there are lots of people who remember what it was like; and b) it ought to possible to adjust to it reasonably easily.

    I think this will be my goal for the next few months: gradually getting rid of anything in my life my counterparts in the the 2000s wouldn’t have had access to. From there I’ll aim to shift further (first the 1980s; then the 1950s; after that the 1920s; and I’ll see if I need or want to go further from there), but for now, I think it’ll be a good starting point for this journey. This will also be phenomenal willpower training, so as an occultist in training I think it’s win-win.

  4. HI JMG,

    I’ve been watching the steady increase in petrol since I was a kid. I remember when the Irish Punt changed over to the Euro, and still the price of oil was around .90 euros/punts to the gallon. Today it was 1.50 euros. When I mention this, plus the fact that I don’t want to learn to drive, I get a long hard look from everyone around me, and then usually they become very serious. “You don’t want to learn how to drive?” Add to that that the pandemic, at least in Ireland, has seen a boom in my generation taking driving lessons, and you have additional demand but contracting supply.

    I like the reference of the dam experiment. It seems as if when danger, or the likehood of such, is present the human mind switches into some kind of, “Well, it better not happen cause I’m right in the flood zone” mode. I wonder could youapply this to Modern Monetary Theory which no matter how many times it’s explained to me makes me wonder why bother paying taxes in money can be created out of thin air? I mean like free money…but, mama told me there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

    Anyway, thanks again.

  5. Er, it’s 35 years between 1973 and 2008, and that means that we’ve gone from 35 years between crises to 14-16, based on the crisis happening in the summer of 2022-4. If you extrapolate, and assume the interval halves each time, then we get our next big crisis in 2030 or so, then 2034, then 2036…

  6. Hello JMG, Very interesting post as most often.

    I have had a few insights recently I want to share:

    i)I have been an Investor for some years, and the bubble can burst without most people realizing it, for instance if inflation is at 20% and the stock market rises 15% per cent each year then people are losing 5% per year. If the real estate market rises 10% per year then people are losing 10% per year. The site shadowstats shows that if inflation was calculated as it was in the 1980s, inflation is already at 13% and rising fast with all the money that was printed.
    I have been following rent rises each month on the site numbeo in different cities.

    Losing 5% a year means losing 60% of one’s assets within ten years , and losing 10% a year means losing 60% of one’s assets within five years … Boring calculations with real life impacts.
    Inflation is rising in places like Mexico city now. Some Asian locations have taken care better of their currencies and will suffer less.

    Another aspect of that is if the Western currencies get devalued 30% or 50% compared to Asian currencies this decade – a very possible scenario, then we will just have this much less buypower to access resources than these countries.

    ii)Less bad ‘solutions’ in my mind involve moving to a mid-size city – 20000 to 200,000 . They suffer less from inflation, and some of them have functioning communities with close ties to the land and some industry. I think it is more viable at this point than villages which are too small.

    iii)One thing that can work when going down to the village is instead of saying that ‘ the dam upstream is about to break ‘ , say something like ‘ There is a wonderful event on that other side of the dam, come with me, I will shall you ‘ , as people are more likely to move when there is something nice to see and more likely to be in denial when you warn them of something.

    iv)I notice more and more people are dysfunctional either because of their view of what is happening or because they are delusional, as you have pointed out repeatedly with your posts. It is becoming more and more important to select who you work with and who you spend time with, in order to get something useful done.

    Just sharing some thoughts. Any comments anyone?

  7. JMG, I plead guilty for accusing you of having too long of timeline in terms of centuries, while I was in the camp of “collapse” just around the corner when I first started following your posts about 14 years ago. Then I slowly came around to the idea the process of decline does take time, and thought the worsening effects would be well past my retirement age, and so back 10 years ago I thought Easy Street was still on the menu until at least 2030.

    But now the effects of higher energy prices, the pandemic and the artificial factors of human responses to a worsening economy have me thinking we’re back on the fast track for decline. The pandemic has exposed many of the frailties of our overly complex way of life. I also think that this time is different with the respect to fossil fuel consumption – and that the meteoric rise of the standard of living of millions that occurred in the last century, especially in the USA, is poised for a meteoric decline – and many of the world’s citizens outside the West and well off will be cheering for our collapse on the way down.

    While I’m still struggling with differentiating magic from self or mass hypnosis, I’m certainly very grateful for posts on the cultural and mental aspects we all must face as the changes related to decline take place, and certainly the next decade or so looks very bumpy. We each have our own definitions of reality, and many are just not capable of connecting the dots to understand even the general direction we’re headed. I hope to be able to continue providing sound explanations of current events for some of my friends and relatives who are freaking out, and communicating the advantages of adopting the LESS strategy.

    Tough choices ahead, and tough times outside our control as well. At least there’s a few sane people like yourself providing guidance. Thank you very much.

  8. Nice one, JMG.

    I heartily approve of you slapping both the gods of Progress and Apocalypse with this fat, wet fish.

    I encourage those that can to buy motorcycles and fuel sipping cars (the older ones are better than the newer) but NOT the EV or hybrid varieties. The battery packs are both problematic and short lived, even today. And as your income drops, it’s going to become more common for folks to fix their own items that break, including cars and appliances.

    If you haven’t yet pulled your money from the market, then you are all in on the game of musical chairs on the deck of the Titanic. I would hope, that after this last year, that people have had quite enough of “the experts” enlightening them. I had my money all-in the S&P until 5 years ago. I bailed then, as it was just too difficult to track the crazy, and put mine into tangible assets. Never been happier, and with the coming rise in commodities, you should do the same.

    There are so many ways to make your life more robust and ‘anti-fragile’. SWMBO told me I should open a school and call it “Existence for Dummies”.

    Internet, while still usable, has become so cluttered with BS and monetizing every possible item that its’ utility is rapidly declining. I had to order a part for a mower a few weeks back. I spent literally over an hour trying to parse gobbledigook to find a simple wheel for a push mower – everybody had the diagrams and drawings, but each one was a different part number FOR THE EXACT SAME WHEEL. I went to the local mower mechanic and bought a used wheel for half of the price online – and was told it would 150% fit my mower – which it did. I reckon that’s the difference between an actual ‘expert’ and an ‘internet’ expert’, eh?

    The internet is going to decline, so I suggest people start locating real world sources for things, and feeding these same folks their money, instead of Jeff Bezos. You will certainly get better advice and response than online sites. And as the trade wars continue, things will get more difficult to obtain from overseas suppliers. I already had to wait 6 mos for a part for one of my tractors, because the Japanese tractor parts were made in Korea, and they were in a pissing match…

    simplify. simplify. simplify. and that includes supply lines, btw.

    Make time to enjoy things you love – it’s the one thing everyone is limited by, time. Our sun will rise tomorrow, as always. Some will remain, but some depart. Same as ever…

    And JMG – thanks again for this little corner of free speech and friendly discourse.

  9. Self discovery, meaningful relationships, and creating change do not require the vacuum of space or a neon day glow cityscape. They do, however, require something shake us free of our comfort and complacency and compel us down the road to adventure.

  10. Dear Archdruid, I had a question regarding the rising price of oil and commodities. Namely, I heard it argued recently that the prices are going up due to the after-effects of pandemic money-printing, which is translating into inflation because of the printed money rushing into the economy due to the end of the coronavirus restrictions. According to this, the price change would be more indicative of money becoming more worthless as opposed to other effects, such as a lack of commodity supply. I believe it was also argued that this inflation can be viewed in other sectors as well, such as a housing bubble in some areas of the world.

    I would be interested to know whether you have heard anything of this theory and what your opinion on it is.

  11. Thanks John, two thoughts:

    We are at that place where many people can bear neither their vices, nor their cure

    For people who are lucky enough to weather the coming storms, the most important path forward is to accept the responsibilities that comes with survival. The future world will especially need whatever knowledge that can preserved

  12. Field report on the northern portion of the heatwave. It went up to 39C where I am. The previous record was something like 28C- though that depends where in Victoria, BC you are. Being outside in the late afternoon even in the shade for a few minutes felt like an oven, or maybe like the Fraser Canyon at the hottest part of the day in the hottest part of the summer. It was too hot for going for a walk to be much fun at about 8am. My landlady and her daughter moved downstairs where I am for a day or two, since none of us have air conditioning (most people round here don’t) and it was way hotter upstairs than down.

    All the people I know personally seem to be okay. A friend’s cat got sick and had to be put to sleep. That was in Alberta, not where I am.

    Haven’t had any wildfire smoke to notice here, though the interior of BC has severe wildfires. Lytton, which is now officially Canada’s hottest place at 49C, burned down the day after hitting that record and two people died. TIt happened so fast that people only had minutes to get out, and they scattered to the four winds and for days the government was trying to find all the unaccounted-for people. Most of the buildings are gone.

    My garden has done better than I thought it would. Everything survived, and my rasperries and redcurrants kept producing with enthusiasm right through the heatwave and out the other side. Even the lettuce and snap peas are still alive and producing food. Granted, I gave everything extra water, but still… I expected more damage.

  13. In our not so recent retirement, and as others of our generation die around us, I have become so very much aware that “inflation”, which is reportedly “temporary” by some PTB, is quickly eating away at our pensions. Tim Morgan, for one, shows in his SEEDS analyses that this is indeed happening, and has been doing so for the last quarter century and more. I watch as the price of “services” [derived from fossil fuels] and the price of groceries [derived from fossil fuels] eats away our ability to find those very things that are affordable. Hence, doing without is coming to the fore on both fronts.
    And as I keep track of what I can, I see that in making comparisons with others around with similar “lifestyles” are closing in on having to actually ‘reduce’ their life choices even more quickly since they did not make choices earlier that would mitigate, in small ways that could accumulate over time, the costliness of fossil fuel Energy Cost of Energy {Tim Morgan}, net energy, EROEI {Charles Hall, et al}, etc.. That individual choices about lowering energy use will not make a huge dent in overall energy use and concomitant waste is true, but at the same time making such choices is “necessary”.
    From Nate Hagens: “We need to navigate the pathway between Fantasy and Doom.” As with your work over the years, this kind of thinking and behaving has at least the advantage of ‘human agency’ withing the maelstrom of decline to which most people merely acquiesce or blindly swing at in rage and despair. (An American metaphor which in most of the world would involve ‘kicking’).
    Your descriptions of “magic” are much appreciated, and I still have the quote from a while back [forget the name of the person who came up with this!]: “magic being the politics of the powerless”.

  14. You returned to two of your consistent themes in this essay without using your catchphrases: The first was ternary thinking without writing “the opposite of one bad idea is usually another bad idea.” The variation on that I like is that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Speaking of which, the second is your admonition about a decade ago that “there is no better future.” That’s the one that set off Nebris, my friend through two incarnations. He’s both a magician and a believer in progress and he thought you were doing a working against it instead of giving helpful advice like your examples about telling people to flee the failing dam and selling their speculative bubble investments before either bursts. Since then, you’ve described what a better future with earlier levels of technology look like in “Retrotopia,” so there can be a better future without progress. That’s also ternary thinking of a sort.

    As for the upcoming oil price spike, that’s been associated with recessions in the U.S. since the country hit peak conventional production in 1971. At first, the current recession seemed to have severed that link, but now we are going to get it as a result of supply destruction because of lowered demand and prices (even negative prices for oil futures last year) followed by a spike in demand because of recovery. The causation between high oil prices and hard times may be reversed, but the correlation will survive. Now let’s see if it takes another six years like it did between 2008 and 2014 for high prices to prompt more supply coming online or if supply of petroleum and natural gas liquids finally has peaked.

  15. JMG, Thank you for this very clear sighted if frightening view of what is ahead. I remind myself, many have things much worse. I do have a home and garden, the book cancellers may be at work in the public libraries but they are so far not coming for private collections, and my neighborhood is not preyed upon by armed gangs.

    I wonder if the time has come to take up the arts of hiding in plain sight. Stay off social media except for a few sites like this one. Don’t talk about one’s garden or sewing projects or reading material.

    I suspect that many of the believers in apocalypse entertain the fantasy they can prevail–be important, have their own way–in chaotic conditions. Meanwhile the believers in progress, how will they react when they realize their god is dead?

  16. I would like to share two bits of information, one on a certain kind of decline, the other on tar paper shack stabilization.
    While loud and rather potty mouthed, we see here an absolute decline in participation in the labor force of the college educated that has taken place over the last six months. There are a number of possible causes for this, job destruction, vaccine disabilities, and voluntary dropping out. To begin with this last one, it appears that after last year’s period of personal re-evaluation and experience with the household economy, a number of households have made the choice that having one income with the distaff concentrating on the household economy is a better structure than the mad rush of a dual income household. An increase in the those on the disability dole could be either directly caused by the tacitly unacknowledged effects of the current vaccination drive leaving many profoundly unable to continue working, or it could be part of the household restructuring, with part of the household fraudulently claiming disability as part of the income strategy, leaving that person free to build up their household economy. Job destruction could well be the hidden rot that belies the actual state of the current economy, what would happen when employers realize how much of these salary class jobs are unessential and could be cut out without any real effect to their bottom line.!divAbstract
    Here we have a cleverly designed solar still that desalinizes seawater into potable drinking water using what amounts to a number of carefully made frames, panes of aluminum, and paper towels, with the exotic materials being a Teflon coating on the aluminum sheet, an antireflection coating on the collecting glass, and an aerogel insulator behind the collecting glass (in conjunction with regular insulation around the rest of the device). It appears that from the testing they have done with saline solution posing as seawater, that the collector prototype, despite its diminutive size can deliver a decent a decent amount of desalinated water compared to previous designs that use even more exotic materials and designs.

    The tar paper shack principle, in which highly useful technological artifacts are made in the simple conditions applies here as most of the items used in this desalinatior can be fashioned in a small workshop. Even the exotic aerogel was prepared using simple reagents (methanol, ethanol, ammonia) applied to the initial key chemical (tetramethyl orthosilicate), and cured at kitchen oven temperatures. It remains to be seen if the collector, built as a tiny 10x10cm collector can be scaled up physically larger, or operationally with large numbers of units working in parallel, or if the insulating aerogel could be replaced with much more cost effective transparent insulators. The operating principle of this still which recycles the heat released from the water condensing on the aluminum plate in order to evaporate the soaked paper towel sticking to the other side of the plate lends itself to a number of variations, such as preheating the seawater with a separate solar water heater, or concentrating the heat with reflector arrangements long familiar in the solar cooker world.

  17. Where you write ”
    “Since twenty-five years passed between the first two energy crises”,
    do you mean, the thirty-five years between the first two energy crises of 1973 and 2008?

    On the current path toward catabolic collapse, I suspect that this situation will resemble Rome, but faster, and will likely be worse than that crumbling, if no Diocletian emerges to assist a solid respite.
    Seeing as the prior 12+ reigns mostly ended in barracks coups, his ability to avoid that fate was all-but miraculous.

    Were he to have also been disposed of early, may not Rome have seen another 50+ years of strife, and could it have endured such a
    deluge, w/o entering into the Dark Age which he managed to delay by a few centuries?
    If we see no modern Diocletian, may we not enter such an Age, faster than Rome did?

  18. Thank you! One of the things that I try to do myself is to talk to people about this when I see fit and this gives me means to do so.

    I’ve also noticed that people here in the PNW have taken to hiking and other outdoor activities with an impressive amount of glee, however it is not the healthy enthusiasm I would expect from immersing yourself into Nature but the panicked flocking kind and I think it is due to two things. One of the things that I’ve learned here and from reading Galbraith’s book is that when people merrily start walking one way, I should probably start walking the other way. The first of the reasons along this mindset is that to me it feels more like they are desperately trying to get something to look away from their lives and it’s realities, which were put under the spotlight with the forced lockdowns. The second is that with this same attitude they are approaching the outside world as a “controlled” and fixed setting as they approach everything else due to how our society has taught us the world works. So camping sites have been closed due to trash for as much as two years. When people start treating such things like that it is a sign to me that for them the forest is a Disneyland and further spinning themselves into delusion. Maybe the “ecological” among them will start trying to put wifi on tree trunks and further deceive themselves into escaping reality. I even heard someone say, “why can’t we come here all year round?” When the alleged area will be covered in snow.

    I am amazed to see your point regarding the desertification, I am definitely going to read that book when I can manage as I was not aware of the climatological phenomenon. Perhaps the Red Ominous Abnormal Sky Trouble over the west coast last year was right. I can already imagine people wearing those electronic masks that have come out and claiming the ash is good for the skin as they walk outside to live their Martian wet dreams with Burning Man efigies all over the place. Hey, at least they will get a testing site for their space missions right in their backyards.

  19. JMG. One of my degrees is in environmental geography. Did a lot of reading and a presentation on the Ogallala aquifer for school ages ago. The depletion rate is astonishing and essentially permanent. Anyone interested can search that and San Joaquin Valley subsidence for a hint of the trouble ahead. These and similar issues will be more significant than peak oil. I’ve saved some 30-40 year old copies of National Geographic and World Watch Institute magazines writing about these issues years ago. Hugo Bardi and Gail Tverberg also reference old Club of Rome charts. I’ve always thought you were a little optimistic myself:)

  20. Many action-driven people have trouble digesting/internalizing the slow decay and decline of our civilization because it robs them of control. How can you fix something that will occur 50 years from your death? If you also have children, it only adds to the internal struggle. You want the world to collapse now so that you can contribute to the redress. It’s painful to know your progeny will have to deal with tougher times, especially if you have a hint you might have had contributed to it.

  21. Dear Mr. Greer,

    This is probably a hopelessly vague question, but given the manifest ongoing decline of our society and civilization, when do you expect to see an overall end and then reversal of the current and seemingly paradoxical trend (which I utterly loathe) towards ever-more complexity?

  22. Building off of what Adrian said, I’m noticing a massive change: until a few months ago, most people reacted with surprise whenever I said I don’t drive and plan on avoiding learning to do so. Learning to drive is something everyone is supposed to do, or at least want to do, and here I am bucking that trend. Until the price of oil started rising noticeable again, this was a cause for surprise, but that was it.

    I now get a ton of hostility for it. To my mind, this is a major change: it says that a lot of people are struggling to pay for gas, and/or have start to realize just how much of a burden their cars place on their lifestyles, and are lashing out at people who refuse to make the same sacrifices. Either way, this is a good sign that car culture as we currently know it is coming to an end.

    I don’t know what’ll replace it: too much of our built environment depends on them for it to be an easy transition, but if it starts during this oil crisis, that will be a good thing. The longer we cling to them the harder it’ll be to adjust.

  23. In other times, I would suggest that a good hard shake from reality is what we need to snap us out of our fantasies, but at the moment, and here in the USA, I fear that it will only intensify the paranoid fantasizing, and especially the scapegoating, virtue signaling, and circular firing squads, causing a vicious cycle of dysfunction that will end nowhere good.

  24. Oh dear gods, the utter refusal so many people have to learning how the technological systems they use function makes perfect sense: it’s a coping mechanism! I have zero illusions electric cars will be viable in the near future: the electric grid we have now won’t be, let alone one hammered with all that added demand. Most people can’t see this, but they know nothing about the grid and how it works.

    This is deliberate: it’s only possible to insist X will save us if you don’t bother to learn anything about X; and as you learn more about how the systems you rely on work, it’s clearer just how unstable things are. It’s rather scary to know just how much goes into getting electricity from the plant to my apartment, and how much work it takes to keep it all going. If I lived in a rural area I’d be getting used to having no electricity right now, because I can see quite clearly that the system we have right now is not going to last much longer.

  25. I buy the mid ground long descent scenario, I also buy the crisis points along the way,
    the financial system does look ripe for an epic crash,
    the extreme heat events are also particularily omnious, they go both ways, a while back runners in a Chinese endurance marathon got caught in a sudden cold snap and a bunch of them died of hypothermia,

    I found an interesting tool that lets you view an animation of Jet Streams,,57.59,712

    if you hover over the map and scoll out it becomes a globe, drag it around to look at the Southern Polar Jet Stream which looks pretty stable and regular,
    then drag it around to look at the Northern Polar Jet Stream and you’ll see a dogs dinner, it’s not surprising we are getting wacky weather with that sort of slowing and destabilisation,

    Paul Beckwith, who is the epitomy of a mad professor, has suggested that after the Arctic Ocean has melted the Jet Stream may shift to centring around the nearest large cold point, Greenland, 15 degrees south,

    it’s a wild idea but looking increasingly possible, the long term implications would be huge,

    I collect insane stories from the lunatic fringe, these might amuse you,

    but maybe on a more positive note I spotted this…

    I collapsed early to avoid the rush and am now “Lying flat” as a “resistance movement” to a “cycle of horror”
    having ditched the tv it’s easier to follow a “low-desire life.”

    all I need is a steady supply of popcorn.

  26. Does this mean…we are friends? Thanks so much for the wakeup call on BTC. Suspensions of disbelief may be useful when filling the plot holes of movies in order to have a good time, but they also regularly produce disasters in the real world.

  27. Re. Different part numbers for the same part; every company has its own inventory system, and they will inevitably use their own part numbers. Even worse, if they change inventory systems, it is often the case that the new system will find the old numbers unacceptable, so everything gets a new number. Been there, done that, it was awful. Even things that are totally standardized like a 4L-950 v-belt ends up with a new number.

    Extra complexity for no purpose.

    As to the heat wave in Eastern WA, at my particular location, 112, 113, 109, then cooling to 105, which was no longer record setting for that day. The grass went dormant, so less lawn mowing for me.

  28. Another interesting read, JMG.
    Writing this as I am in the UK, I do get a feeling that the success of the vaccination programme administration here has quickly swept through to become this month’s ‘poster-boy’ representing the achievement and superiority of our modern western society. Forget all the other questionable stuff that’s been happening alongside it all or the less than rock solid efficacy, victory will be ours.
    Don’t worry, I’m not quite believing that, and I’m imagining humble pie will be in short supply for quite a while yet. :-/

  29. I had to sit through some more anti-racism training at work today. Then we were put in breakout groups. I was in a group with a Director of Partnerships & Communities. She was talking about her white privilege, safe spaces and how she was a white ally. It was all going swimmingly until I burst her bubble and said that there was no safe spaces and that this was all window dressing and nothing in the government institution would fundamentally change. I told her that fancy words in policy papers didn’t change anything, but that’s probably her stock in trade. This startled and rattled her, hearing it for the first time, no doubt – and then what I said was backed up by someone else in the group.

    I think this is relevant to your post. The most privileged don’t know what is going on (and don’t really want to either). All the talk of “safe spaces” and “white allyship” seems to me to be fiddling while Rome burns. Someone in the group mentioned that all this was happening because of George Floyd but that she remembered Rodney King. It’s interesting that while LA had riots after that incident, it didn’t really affect the rest of the world. Now, things are considerably rougher than they were in 1991 and even in counties far away from the US, we can’t let the opportunity to stoke racial division go unused, lest we notice the class divisions. The intranet at work also posted this – because class in the elephant in the room.

    It’s like were are allowed to talk about everything except what is really going on. Race baiting is a massive diversion tactic foisted on us by the PMC. Thanks for bursting more bubbles JMG – I have had enough of the wishful thinking.

  30. Jeff, that’s an excellent point. One of the reasons that so many people in the middle classes are so stressed these days, I suspect, is that their identity depends on being better than the working classes, and yet they’re being driven down into those classes.

    Ian, you were doing better than I was — I predicted the crash repeatedly but didn’t try to time it. I know some people who took appropriate action and escaped trouble as a result, but yeah, it wasn’t that many. As for the broader picture, of course — like everyone else, I’m capable of being wrong. So far my personal strategy has worked very well despite some difficult curve balls thrown my way by circumstance, so I expect to stay more or less safe and well through the next phases of the mess — do the same, if you can!

    Your Kittenship, I suppose that’s one approach!

    Mollari, well, yes. That’s one of the basic strategies I’ve been discussing since the early days of The Archdruid Report, and it’s always worked for me.

    Adrian, good for you, that you’re going your own way and not letting other people bully you into doing something stupid. People who let themselves become dependent on cars are going to be in a world of hurt as the price of gasoline/petrol goes up — and it will. As for Modern Monetary Theory, indeed you can — paying your debts by printing money is one of the standard ways that nations drive their economies into the ground. It’s Weimar finance, to be precise, and leads to this…

    …and to this way of taking your paycheck to the grocery to buy a few necessities.

    Justin, thanks for this. This is why my wife handles our books. 😉

    Tony, well, now you know why my wife and I live in a city of 47,000 people, and why for decades now I’ve had zero interest in accumulating financial assets — I also pay attention to Shadowstats, of course. As for trying to drum up interest in an event on the other side of the dam, trust me, I’ve tried that at length. At this point it’s pretty clear that quite a few people know what’s about to happen and they’ve decided that drowning is their least humiliating option.

    Drhooves, take that same insight and put it into context. Yes, we’re very likely on the brink of one of the sudden downward jolts that punctuate the process of decline, and yes, it’s going to be very rough, especially for those people who have done nothing to prepare for it. LESS really is more at this point!

    Oilman2, thank you! All this is good advice.

    Friday, very true. Sometimes the call to adventure takes the form of a boot in the seat of the pants.

    Sam, that’s unquestionably part of what’s going on. Quite a few countries have started playing spin the presses with their money supply, and that’s an important factor. It’s not the only thing driving price increases and spot shortages, however, and the other factors won’t go away if the presses slow down. (And I don’t expect them to slow down — frantic money printing is one of the ways that governments in crisis try to stay on top of their debts.)

    Raymond, well put.

    Pygmycory, thanks for the data points! I’m not surprised that the raspberries and currants did fine — my berry plants always thrived in really hot weather so long as they got enough water — but I’m impressed that you got your lettuce and peas through the heat intact. Well done.

    Bruce, inflation is always rough for people on fixed incomes, and I’m glad you ‘ve taken steps to mitigate the impact on you and your loved ones. It’s going to be a rough road but not an impassable one.

    Vincelamb, yes, I remember when Nebris lost his shale over that post. The two of you went off on a jag of amateur psychologizing after that, speculating about why I was so wrongety-wrong-wrong wrong; it was very entertaining. As for the broader question of the impact of the upcoming price spike on the economy, no argument there — and it’ll be interesting to see where the price settles after the boom and bust are over. My guess is around $75/barrel in 2020 dollars, but we’ll see.

  31. Mr Greer,

    I saw the above article and I was wondering if you could see a situation where slow decline became a sudden collapse in certain specific circumstances, such as a very destructive war affecting our food supply lines or/and an EMP and/or hacker event cutting off our electricity and/or water supplies across the country. I have seen estimates of 90 per cent of Americans dying in those circumstances.

    Also, do you have a personal opinion as to what “age” we might collapse to within the next 30 years (which theoretically could be my life-time), I do like myself to be properly pessimistically prepared (Thank you Lady CuteKitten for making me laugh)!

    Thank you.

  32. John–

    Just my initial musing coming off the first read.

    One of the most immediate obstacles individuals personally face when confronting our predicament and likely trajectory in the coming decades is fear–most certainly for those of us in the (over)developed world and in particular those of us in the (over)developed world who are among the more comfortable classes. Those who live high on the hog, as one might say, have so much further to fall as things come apart and crises strike. The fear of having our toys and goodies and status snatched away can be debilitating to the point that sheer denial is the preferred path. (Works in the short-term, though not so well in the long-term.)

    And the most significant fear these people face is one that you’ve touched on numerous times before: the fear of being poor. (Or, the fear of having others think that they might be poor.)

    Of course, when not dealt with in a constructive manner, fears tend to get magnified. I know this has been the case for me. When I’ve allowed a fear or an uncertainty to remain vague and undefined, for example, it grows ever larger until it dominates my thoughts. If, on the other hand, I sit down and visualize the fear, walking through the possible circumstances, and spend time actually reflecting on what might happen and how I might deal with those possible outcomes, the fear shrinks and in some cases disappears altogether. What comes out of this kind of exercise is a better understanding of how one might mitigate the “bad” things which might indeed occur and/or an understanding that those “bad” things may not be quite as catastrophic as one originally thought.

    Doing things like living well within my means, building savings, paying off debts more quickly (especially the mortgage), and cultivating additional skills can go a long way to buffering the blow of a major financial crisis. Modest living, in particular, does wonders for a budget. But this requires those very changes in lifestyle which so many people seek to avoid. I hardly live in a deprived manner, but my wife and I have trimmed our core expenses considerably over the years and that discipline (much of which was my wife’s rather than mine at the outset) has paid considerable dividends.

    Can we live good lives, contented and happy and joyous, without all the goodies? Absolutely. This is where the alteration of consciousness through an effort of will comes into play–viewing our lives in a different way whereby happiness is less dependent on the fading fruits of Progress. (And, truth be told, making one’s happiness less dependent on the external is a more sane path anyway…something I’ve been far too slow to realize myself.)

    Once we can see that, hey, we’re not “all gonna die” (well, we will, but you know what I mean) as industrial civilization wheezes and lurches and crumbles, then we can see more clearly what *can* be done to make the future a better place than it might otherwise be.

  33. It’s not only natural resources, but un-natural resources as well. I’ve been reading about banking and the way fractional reserves multiply the money supply like a ponzi scheme. The supply of rubes and the supply of trust has to run out sometime. Those who ask the question about when the house of cards will collapse are shouted down by those in cognitive dissonance. Why do cultures do this? Spengler observed the cycle but is largely ignored today because he just noted the pattern and not the cause.

  34. “Mollari, well, yes. That’s one of the basic strategies I’ve been discussing since the early days of The Archdruid Report, and it’s always worked for me.”

    I’m a new reader and haven’t gone over your older writings yet. I clearly need to fix that!

    On a different note, is it possible the entire point of the myth of progress is to pretend that the metaphorical dam of modern society won’t break? “They’ll think of something” could fit easily enough; the fantasies of technologies right around the corner (ex: nuclear power) fits too (ex: someone insisting that there’s this marvelous new concrete which can be put on the dam and fix everything, and the engineers will be installing it in about a week’s time); and the way that it’s impossible to talk people out of it seems to fit as well.

    The weird part here is that it implies that people have known, subconsciously, that our society was doomed since at least the 1950s, which adds a certain pathos to the entire post-war era. This is going to be something I think I need to brood over…

  35. JMG,
    thanks for the update!

    For those looking at the future of the west coast, I found one document about the hypsithermal.
    If anybody has more info, please share!

    “[During Hypsithermal
    Interval] In lowlands like the Puget Trough,
    forest succession was arrested or reversed as
    an increasingly xeric climate selected for
    brushier, more open forest stands.

    Present data suggest that the Hypsithermal
    Interval gave way to a period of generally
    cooler and moister conditions about 5000 to
    4500 14C yr BP — conditions that persist with
    shorter-term perturbations to the present ”

    So even on the wet west coast, we should expect savannah/prairie like conditions. That means a lot of forest fires until we get there.


  36. I haven’t played computer games since 2007 but watch videos occasionally of any that look interesting. I saw a new attitude to resourses I hadn’t seen before that’s relevant here. Normally in games you only have a few categories of resources and what they can be used for is largely fixed. It’s very different in Help Will Come Tomorrow where you control a small group trying to survive in Siberia in 1917 after their train is derailed by bandits. There are many types of resources that can be used for a lot of different things. A significant part of the game is using the lowest quality resource that can still do the job. That then frees up the high grade materials for what only they can do. It’s similar to the attitude towards labour during a total war where you use the lowest-skilled person who can still do a job.

    Sometimes people here ask for prayers for health. I’ve already lost a tooth to covid – by the time the dentist reopened it was past saving. Now another one is in trouble and I’d appreciate any help people can send my way.

  37. @ Tony C…

    You invited comments, so I will share my thoughts on iii)

    I live in a village below a dam. I cannot see the dam from my porch. Knowing that when it bursts it will release a wall of water equal to the volume and energy of a 100 year flood arriving NOW we have made escape plans and strategies just in case. I have family and friends that are in its inevitable path of life altering negative destruction. Many will die, most will never recover. Unless…..we are forewarned.

    Please do not come to my village and and say something like. ‘ There is a wonderful event on that other side of the dam, come with me, I will shall you ‘ . Because I will think to myself:

    i) Isn’t this the same guy who was trying to push annuities on us?

    ii) Something wicked this way comes.

    iii) There must be a cult on that other side of the dam, Boxer is already working too hard just to make ends meet, and doesn’t want to plow your CO-OP’s fields as well.

    iv) i must be in a horror movie.

    Please please please please say ‘ the dam upstream is about to break ‘ . We will tell the other villager’s, and most of us will grab most of everyone else and follow the flocks of seagulls up into the hills.

    In addition, before you pursue the needful things of qualifying and quantifying my comments, yes, I do indeed live in a village below a very tall and wide dam, and no, i cannot see it from my porch through the trees but it is often in my thoughts, as are the wise and wonderful folks who live here.

    Thank you for your time and efforts,

    Black Tuna and Hand…

  38. JMG,

    I know you said it (in different words) but it bares repeating. Nothing goes straight up, and nothing comes straight down. My family is in Walla Walla and are used to temperatures over 100 degrees in the summers. But they are stunned by temperatures over 110 on a day to day basis. My dad said, “it doesn’t matter how much you water, the crops are being burnt up above the ground.” Right now, they are all thinking, “this is the new normal, I guess we should plant with this type of weather in mind.”

    But that won’t work. Systems that are in the midst of a state change are unstable. Next year it might be below normal. The year after that there might be too much rain, or so much snow in winter that it floods in the spring. Then they might have normal temperatures, but no rain. And each year some people will think, “well, this must be the new normal.”

    Nothing goes straight up, nothing come straight down.


    The universe does not have eyes, but you do.


  39. @ drhooves RE: decline and energy

    Back in the olden days, when bearded sauropods roamed the earth, we had a blog called The Oil Drum. After much discussion about what was coming, between the oil drilling guys and service companies, we adopted the description of the back side of Hubberts curve as a series of “bumpy plateaus”, but the next one always being lower. We were strictly speaking of oil, drilling, production and the industry response to problems. Now, regardless of the relevant item, the oil patch has always had great response to downturns, crunches, price spikes and surfeits of oil. Even safety – before the government mandates anything, we are usually ahead of the curve and finished with revised ops and such.

    When you throw in the incredibly stupid, compartmentalized and compromised government, then toss in the average ignorance of the general populations, the sheer idiocy of “experts” in one particular field spouting their narrow views and then the dreaded social media loons – you have indeed an animal built by committee trying to lumber into a very craggy future.

    Based on my industry, where we have had numerous huge swings up and down in energy price and employment, we will indeed see a series of plateaus in things energy related. Many of these drops downward (or spikes upwards, take your pick) will have nothing to do with the business of finding oil. Instead some may be governments in the midst of various squabbles, wars, embargoes, etc. Some may be refineries breaking down, as most of them outside of China were built in the 1970s. Some may be sabotage by other countries via internet things, like Stuxnet.

    So we are likely to see energy go nuts whether it’s due to depletion and almost no exploration, or when the energy illiterate foist mandates for electric cars when we don’t have the grid juice or raw materials to make the switch. Thus it really is like a series of plateaus in production, where the oil pie is ever shrinking, technology makes more available and Jevons Paradox flexes its muscle to make sure whatever we do has near net zero effect. Series of bumply stops as we slide down a craggy slope is what I have held to be the most likely option since TOD days.

  40. Mary, that’s not a bad strategy. If you know any other people in your area who are making constructive preparations, network with them; otherwise, run silent, run deep, and let other people do the yelling and the fighting.

    Ighy, you know the comment at the beginning of my post where I talk about those readers of mine who pass on crucial data points most people haven’t noticed? You’re one of them, and many, many thanks. All three of the points on the Market Ticker article are important. I know people, and know of many more people, who have dropped out of the workforce after a year of enforced solitude and reflection made it clear to them that their lives really, truly sucked. There’s certainly been some job destruction as well, though the labor market is still booming. The point he made that’s crucial to my mind is that the number of people on disability has gone orbital over the last six months — 2.7 million new people on the disability rolls just in that time — and over the last month alone, half a million college educated people have vanished from the work force, at a time when there’s no recession and the labor market is tight. Denninger comments: “In a strong labor market this is an extremely strong signal of an externality that is not related to said labor market itself.” He also notes, of course, that the spike in disability started in January — and, ahem, what else started in January?

    As for the desalinator, that’s a very nice bit of appropriate tech. I’ll be interested to see if they can scale it up, because clean drinking water is going to be a major issue in the years ahead.

    Mouse, yes, someone else caught the math error. As for Diocletian analogues, one of the usual results of crisis is that talented, ambitious people rise to the top who would have been excluded in less unstable times. I expect us to get our share of Diocletians, as well as our share of Romulus Augustuluses.

    Augusto, fascinating. Yes, that sounds like a desperation move on their part.

    Dennis, in areas that are supported by those aquifers, no question, their exhaustion (we are well past depletion) is going to be more serious than peak oil, since it means that millions of acres of farmland are going to have to be abandoned to the spreading deserts. Peak oil is global, however, and it’s going to hit those of us who live in well-watered districts too.

    Roxana, that’s a valid point, and the ideology of our culture fixates on the notion that privileged individuals should be able to control everything in their lives — which means they’re going to have a miserable time coping with the reality that most of life is not subject to human control.

    Alan, I agree that it’s loathsome! What I expect to see is the rise of “complexity enclaves” where an ever shrinking fraction of the population has access to increasingly complex technologies, while more and more people live in a decomplexifying environment. Eventually the enclaves will collapse, but it may not be soon.

    Mollari, excellent! You’re quite correct that this is a good sign. Hang on, and try to be kind when the people who are getting angry at you have to cope with the economic impact of their habit.

    Slithy, well, we’ll see. It may be quite a shake.

    Mollari, have you by any chance read E.M. Forster’s brilliant 1909 short story “The Machine Stops”? If not, read it today — you can find a nice clean PDF of it here. The attitude of reverence for technology combined with deliberate ignorance about its workings was one of many things that Forster correctly prophesied.

    Matt, I could definitely see the jet stream settling around Greenland for a while, until the Greenland ice cap melts further. That would definitely produce some, er, remarkable effects! Thanks for the crazed stories; I’ll get some popcorn going.

    Hodl, apparently so. Glad to hear you got out in time!

    Siliconguy, many thanks for the data points.

    Jay, save the recipe. It’s going to be on the menu soon enough.

    Bridge, excellent! Got it in one. It’s no accident that the whole Critical Race Theory boondoggle was launched immediately after Occupy Wall Street was crushed — it’s clear that certain influential people decided there had to be some distraction to keep people from noticing the increasingly harsh and unfair class divisions in our society.

    Naomi, don’t confuse crisis with collapse. There will certainly be massive crises in the future, but we still have enough resources and disposable capital to prevent a complete collapse. Making sure you have some backup resources on hand personally is still a good idea. As for collapsing to an “age,” that’s one of the most common misconceptions these days. History is not a linear scale on which we slide back and forth. The era of decline ahead won’t be like anything in our past — that’s one of the lessons taught by other civilizations that have declined and fallen. It’ll be a mix of different options from different eras, mixed with brand-new creations cobbled together by inventive scavengers and backyard inventors.

    David BTL, many thanks for this. I hope that plenty of people read this and think through it!

    Bradley, oh, granted. The money system is usually one of the things that comes unglued in eras of decline, and I expect to see some of that as we proceed. (I put that into my tentacle novels, for what it’s worth, to try to give readers some tools to think with — in Red Hook and Yueh Lao, the vagaries of the money system provide some details for the stories.)

    Mollari, that’s a fascinating idea, and worth brooding. If the whole point of the Star Trek future was to pretend that we don’t have to decline and fall… Hmm.

    NomadicBeer, exactly. The same thing is true, but in a bigger way, in the inland west — they have to go from pine forest to sand dunes, and there again, forest fires are among the standard means of getting there.

    Yorkshire, hmm! That’s interesting, and might actually help. Positive energy en route!

    AV, thank you. It’s good to know that somebody gets it.

  41. JMG, I think it is sad that ‘ they’ve decided that drowning is their least humiliating option. ‘ . I am in Latin America now, and people are struggling much more than in the US, and they have not given up.
    I think a lot of hope and joy can be found in the study of consciousness and spirituality, such as with the teachings you offer. This only takes time of study and practice, and very little resources.

    For investment, there may still be opportunity with local businesses, and other sustainable ventures that one is connected to. It takes some time to learn to invest, and it can then be rewarding not just financially, also to help worthy services.

  42. My prepping journey kicked off in 2009 after seeing the Collapse documentary, and turned into more of a panic after the 2011 Japanese tsunami. Since then I have had a chance to calm down and realize that imminent doom is just the other side of the coin from eternal progress, and decided to focus on lifestyle changes rather than the preparedness equivalent of running down to the store and buying canned food that will eventually end up in the trash. What I discovered after my panic had subsided is that my life had been all about using people up to that point, and in a bad scenario I was more likely to succumb to loneliness than successfully defend my little patch of the wasteland.

    One of the lifestyle changes was to examine other cultures who manage to thrive despite coming from relative poverty. The biggest shock was realizing the importance of family structure, something that is increasingly en vogue for institutions to attack these days. There are very good reasons I moved thousands of miles away from mine, but the result is the same. Family is the foundational unit of culture and we are witnessing the results of what happens when you build on a faulty foundation.

    On the other hand many foreigners are still flocking to the United Sates to seek opportunity and a way of escaping poverty, oppression, and/or violence only to find more of the same, except now they are missing those important networks that they relied on before. Out of the frying pan…

    I really want to thank you for the idea of seed bearing, because it gives me a purpose and something to live for when confronting such predicaments. The questions I often ask myself now are what are the best aspects that we can collect from different cultures that will serve us in the years to come, and what do we want to preserve for distant future humans who we will never know? There may be little I can do to stop the wild swings of fortune during a tumultuous era, but if I act with dignity in the face of adversity at least my existence will be a little more meaningful.

  43. I spoke to a broker recently. He acknowledged that the market prices are insane, but is sure that there will be at most a 20% market correction.
    We’re spending some of our investments on major rebuilds around the house (rebuilding a 100 year old stone wall, handrails along the stairs that will be harder to navigate as we get older, insulation, replacing the oldest storm windows, etc.)
    Also, letting people know that I can sharpen stuff.

  44. To Darkest Yorkshire. I have a magic word for you – Pain. Closed dentist would see emergency patients only and the magic word to get in was ‘Pain’. It created all kinds of changes in consciousness with dentist who knew and cared about many of there patients and needed to make a living also. Even if the pain claim was exaggerated. I’ve seen many patients and families manipulate the health care system with key words that initiate mandated preprogrammed responses if for nothing other than to cover the responding clinicians ass and income.

  45. Mollari,

    I would say the reason the myth of progress came into existence is that it gives people hope that change is possible and empowers them to take control of their lives. It’s powerful and enticing, the idea that a solution exists to any problem, and it does lead to success and conquest up to a point. Believing the opposite, that nothing can be done, (“shou ga nai” as the Japanese often say), leads to a life of passive acceptance and deference to authority, and discourages the society as a whole from taking risks. That mindset has its benefits of its own (it’s easier to accept harsh reality), but it also means that problems that could be easily solved are not and the society’s influence is limited to its near borders.

    The main disadvantages of the myth, of course, is that it’s not possible to solve every problem, it’s not true that humans have complete control over their own destiny, and it leads people to believe that it’s possible to “have their cake and eat it too,” that is, that it’s possible to do horrible things and make poor decisions and completely escape the consequences. The myth of progress blinds us to these truths, and I think things like Star Trek and similar fantasies about the future are just continued extrapolations of that myth rather than indicating subconscious recognition of an impending decline.

  46. Let me start off with some surprising stats that show that the adaption process has already started.

    First multigenerational households … they are more resilient, and they have been growing in percentage sense ~1980 when ~12% of households were multigenerational (the low point) to today when ~20% of household are.

    Since 2007, US fertility rates look like this:
    • -63% for teens
    • -40% for ages 20-24
    • -24% for ages 25-29
    • -6% for ages 30-34
    • +9% for ages 35-39

    We are substantially below the replacement level of fertility.
    And sense the year 2000 the US has been bumping around the same level of total domestic energy usage.

    The bad news is that David Brin type thinking dominates our approach to our predicament. David Brin has the idea that the source of our current material prosperity is due human cleverness. He believes that humans have developed a type of positive sum interaction system using science, technology, markets, rule of law and democracy to deliver prosperity. And if you take this approach seriously, we should be almost at the point where humanity takes off to the stars. The only things holding us back are Zero sum thinking, feudalists, and maybe evil oligarchs.
    Cleverness begets more cleverness in a positive feed back loop until we get an explosion of cleverness known as the Singularity (10-20 years away).
    And if you think that cleverness has diminishing marginal utility….
    -you sir are an evil, zero sum, neo feudalist henchman for the oligarchs (and maybe even Russian)

  47. Dear Mr. Greer,

    Shouldn’t that have been “Romulus Augustuli”?

    On a more serious note, I have been once again confronted with yet another heaping helping of unnecessary and burdensome complexity recently, while shopping (for the first time in 25 years) for a new vehicle (yes, I know, internal combustion engines and declining oil reserves — might as well go out with a bang!). It was frustrating, appalling, and downright infuriating to me to see all the ridiculously frivolous-yet-expensive electronic hoo-hah that is being crammed into new vehicles nowadays, particularly non-optional stuff that would have been considered not just a “luxury” but outright dangerous (in a distractionary sense) in a vehicle 25 or 30 years ago. I think it is much more for this reason, as well as for all the ever-growing nanny state, government-mandated “safety”-related equipment, rather than currency depreciation or computer chip shortages, that the current market prices for vehicles in the USA are so insanely high.

    So, I have decided to go unconventional and old-school, with a Jeep Wrangler. The base-model Jeeps can still be ordered with manual transmission, manual locks, manually rolled-up windows, knob-operated climate controls, and with almost NO other electronic hoo-hah, aside from the government-mandated backup camera (the view from which can at least still be had on a suitably small 5″ screen). But rumors have it that all of the above, apart perhaps from the optional manual transmission, will be phased-out after this model year, along with the imposition of pretty much ALL of the frivolous-yet-expensive electronic hoo-hah as standard in the next model year — including mandatory internet connectivity (now why would anyone in their right mind want THAT in a vehicle?).

    But even with my new but fairly old-school Jeep, it is harder and harder for the backyard mechanic to work on and repair their own vehicles nowadays, so computerized and computer-dependent they have become.

  48. I’ve always liked the Spengler quote: “Optimism is cowardice…” It seems appropriate to this conversation.

  49. And from China, if true – their equivalent of NASA must be in serious trouble.

    From the very rah-rah-future-in-space S.M.Stirling literary list:

    On Tuesday, July 6, 2021, Chen-song Qin via wrote:

    Interesting that this hasn’t become bigger news in the west, but about a month ago the Chairman and Communist Party Secretary of China Aerospace Investment Holdings, which is a part of the main company supporting China’s aerospace industry, brutally beat two of the scientists at his company.

    The information wasn’t made public until recently.
    Here’s an alleged video of the event. Beating of the male victim continues throughout, and the female victim (85 years old, wearing red) can be seen shoved to the floor at ~6:00.

  50. #17 Ighy.

    A couple of e-mail accounts ago I did a deep dive into water desalination projects around the world, signed up for various newsletters. Why? You may ask. Well, my grasp on sanity is tenuous at best and I remember I was trying to monetize knowledge about water shortages. Or at least find penny stocks to invest in. Something about arctic ice, too. Whatever, the fit has passed. Now I have only the shreds of what I thought was a big picture.

    Desalination projects are the most coherent argument that I know of for the use of nuclear power. They just don’t work very well on a small scale. Something always happens, and then the population gets cholera or dysentery or whatever local thing there is. Long-term arsenic poisoning.

    Besides, our irrigation techniques even in the so-called developed world are garbage. Flimsy, fragile, inaccurate, wasteful! But it’s easier to build a water desalination plant than to change how people use that water once they get it. It’s easier to build more water treatment plants than to repair the water pipes that are leaking.

    Water desalination is too expensive because it takes a lot of energy. Wide scale adoption will happen with nuclear power adoption…probably along China’s Belt and Road. Mediterranean. North Africa. I doubt they know enough about nuclear to have that instant knee-jerk response that Americans still have to it.

    These off-the-grid bucket and filter things are cute but…they’re for the people who believe in the big apocalypse, not the slow-burn decline.

    Still, don’t put your money in utilities. Not a good investment. Not because it’s not valuable, but because the people who really steer the investment markets don’t like utilities at all. The market wants a solid rock to put its trampoline on top of, and utilities serve neither of these functions. Besides, the guys steering the new investment markets aren’t the old-timey New Yorkers who want to buy into banks, planes, trains, and power plants. They want systems. This is one of the reasons why biotech flops even when CRISPR is so interesting right now.

    Sorry, not trying to talk down to you. Bucket and filter is good tech, just not likely to be part of that infamous stock market bubble.

  51. Tony, a lot of people in the US have not given up, but there’s a significant fraction — especially among the relatively privileged and comfortable — who seem to have done so. The brittle insistence that everything is fine and we should all dream of brighter futures is hard to miss up here, not least because it dominates the news media and public discourse.

    Jake, thank you for this! I appreciate hearing from the people who got, and retain, a clue.

    Great Khan of Potlucks, all those strike me as very good ideas.

    Skyrider, I’ve been watching those same stats for a while. As for the Brin brigade, it’s quite understandable that they should feel that way, because their religion, the religion of Progress, is being disproved right before their eyes. That’s a traumatic experience and very few people handle it gracefully.

    Alan, in Latin I think it would have been Romuli Augustuli, and I could have made it even more colorful by referring to our quota of Romulorum Augustulorum! As for excess complexity, no argument there. If we actually had that mythical beast, a free market, someone would have come along years ago and introduced a cheap low-tech car for 10% of current prices.

    Trent, it’s a classic.

    Patricia M, doesn’t surprise me a bit. China is, ahem, a dictatorship…

    David BTL, funny! Thank you, and the Fed, for today’s comic relief.

  52. Re: that Market Ticker article

    Here is the chart upon which the disability claim is based. While there may indeed be a vaccine signal here, the numbers bounce around a lot (some sort of reporting issue?) and we are still a bit lower than March 2019. I say this as one who is firmly convinced that the vaccines are causing serious problems and persistent disabilities but who – as a scientist – can’t stand it when people cherry-pick a trend out of a messy dataset with some margin of error and then report it in terms of absolute numbers – like “2.7 million people.” Definitely worth watching to see if the upward trend continues and exceeds the previous high points.

    Thanks JMG for another insightful analysis. I’m looking forward to the market correction, if it can put an end to the crazy speculative valuation of land and housing in a way that makes it affordable again and concentrates the losses among the investment class. As for the western warming/drying, I’ll be watching to see if this year marks a shift to a “new normal” or if this is a “crisis spike” to be followed by some years of relative recovery.

  53. In general, I agree with JMG’s notion that the decline of civilization will take at least a couple of centuries to reach full collapse…But…I have to think that when major parts of the Western “elites”–who in fact are not of high intellect at this point–are teaching that the Math is racist, that our history should be erased, and that transsexualism, classified as severe mental disease for a century, is somehow glorious and to be taught to small children…to name but a few problems…I have to think that decline in the West may be accelerating at an alarming rate…

  54. I thought of throwing starfish back into the ocean again after a storm with this post. No, you can’t save every starfish, but you can save some.

    I’ll be manning my local ecology group’s community outreach booth tomorrow at our local farmers’ market. It’ll be hot, hot, hot. I’ll also be surrounded by charming, well-meaning people who talk a good talk but who have zero intention of reducing their expenditures, either energy or cash.

    Even more annoying will be trying to explain (again!) to one of my group members why so few of the vendors in years past are coming out this year.

    That is: “When you insisted on shutting down the entire economy last year for Covid-19, Dear Naomi, you also shut down that farmer’s business and they went into bankruptcy.”

  55. Mollari #4:

    Two books that might give you some insight or encouragement that I can highly recommend:

    1. “Better Off” by Eric Brende. He and his young wife move into a religious community which he does not identify (per the community’s request) except to say that they are stricter non-users of technology than the Amish.
    The Brendes do not become members of the religion in the sense that they are believers, but otherwise they have been given permission to live in the community by its elders. In the book, Brende describes learning to live without the support of pretty much any kind of post-19th century technology. The book is well written and very interesting; a lot of information, both practical and a little philosophical.

    2. “See You in a Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America”. In 2000, Logan Ward, wife Heather and 2 year-old son move to a 19th century farmhouse in Swope, Virginia and vow to live one full year with only those things a person in 1900 would have had. Unlike Eric Brende and his wife, they are not a part of an intentional community of like-minded people, but they are nonetheless surrounded by rural people who still remember and value the past. Ward describes learning all the skills that a person in 1900 would have grown up knowing, including handling horses for driving a wagon. The only concession made during the year was that neighbors told them about 9/11 when it happened, thinking that they ought to know the news.

    Happy reading!

  56. Black Tuna, somehow I think there was humor in your comment and I laughed though there are are serious things in it. I think you are one of the few who want to know the truth straight up because you have heard too many lies. I still think most people want to hear it with honey rather than a shock, though based on JMG’s reply not many at all will heart it.

  57. JMG, I see, it makes sense. In Buddhism there is a saying that the most painful state of mind is to fall from the ‘ gods realm ‘ of material affluence, and that it is even more painful than to be in the ‘ hell realm ‘ – i.e. extreme poverty . It also says that there is no refuge in the gods realm because it inevitably ends one day, while good states of consciousness can lack forever.

  58. Ighy and JMG,
    about the market ticker article on the increase of disabled people:

    I think the change is related to an ongoing economic crisis, not the vax.
    When I go to the source ( and compare all the way back to 2008, I can see the numbers of the disabled was even higher (and also fast rising).
    My guess is this is one way to fudge the employment numbers – allow more people on the group of the disabled when the economy is bad.

    Either way, this is something to keep our eye on.

    Thank you!

  59. Let me suggest, gently, that what thrives best in periods of long decline, may less be family (though that can be good, if it’s extended), but rather monasteries, nunneries and other such organizations, which come in very many different shapes and forms.

    Mutual aide associations are also a necessary bridge up from the family, and the Dark and Middle Ages were full of them. Best known to us are the guilds, but the fraternal orgs of which JMG is so fond were adaptations and survivals (my father was an Odd Fellow, and they took good care of him in his final decline, better, often, than his family, since it had collapsed to a single person: me.)

    Religious orgs can and often do operate this way. Whatever exists that already brings people together, which can survive withdrawal of most money and state aid, steps up. We saw it in Iraq, among many other places.

    The people who are most genuinely liked, even loved, are also more likely to survive. If many people, in bad times, want you to be well, and will do something about it, your odds go way up.

    If you’re not the joining sort, then JMGs advice of running silent and deep is excellent. More likely to be my mode, truth be told.

  60. I haven’t even read the whole post yet, but I just wanted to say that your theory of catabolic collapse is THE reason I’m no longer a nervous disaster. It’s the reason I feel an unreasonable affection and loyalty to you. You helped save my life by walking and writing your middle road. I’m a pretty conservative Christian, but I will always number you among the righteous pagans. Thanks, dude.

    PS – The King in Orange is great!

  61. JMG,

    This reminded me of Nietzsche’s “God is dead” passage. Notably, it was a madman trying to tell the people in the marketplace and who duly mocked him for his troubles. Then the madman realised he had “come too early” and the people were not ready to hear. I wonder, do you ever get referred to as a madman? It’s a common saying these days “so and so is insane” rather than “I disagree with so and so”.

    @ David, by the lake

    I saw an equally funny one recently but can’t find it again – “Seven graphs that show why inflation isn’t real”.

    Dr Pangloss is alive and well and we do indeed live in the best of all possible worlds.

  62. Hi JMG,

    My concern is that we are seeing CO2 concentrations, and predicted tempetature rises, above that of the hypsithermal. The Mountain West and Southern plains are already going to be gone, but could this take the southeast, Pacific Coast, and/or northern plains with them?

    I agree that renewables cannot do what fossil fuels can do, and cannot sustain our civilization indefinitely. But I still think we should be building them at breakneck speed. What they can do is extend the window to help us get our population down with relatively less misery. What we really need power for for the foreseeable future until out population decreases significantly:

    Food distributions systems: its going to take awhile to build sustainable, local agricultural systems.

    Cooking: forests are going to struggle and largely be replaced (either by grasslands or different types of forests). We have to cook without deforesting the planet.

    I see this all likely going worse than you do. But am still learning everything I can about gardening (but for my current climate zone, and warmer ones).

  63. Tangentially related to today’s post…

    I was out with my wife the other day and we came across a sign for “Rails to Trails.” If you aren’t familiar, this is an organization dedicated to building walking paths, mainly from former rail lines.

    Now, I like walking, and I like walking paths. We have a rails-to-trails path running through town, and it’s enjoyable to walk along it. We also have a museum in town which consists of an old railway car. It’s a great little museum.

    Taking a wider view, can you imagine any clearer picture of civilizational decline?

    Again, I like walking paths. But the walking path is a stone age technology, while the railroad is an industrial technology. Our country no longer builds railroads. We can’t do it. When I have asked people why we can’t build railroads anymore, no one seems to know. Partisans usually think they know, and it’s always whatever the other party is doing– for Republicans it’s corrupt unions, for Libertarians it’s government subsidies or regulations, for Democrats and Leftists it’s greedy capitalists. But we had unions, governments, and capitalists back when we were capable of building railroads, and we built them anyway. Now we can’t. None of the excuses in the world change that, and neither does the fact that hiking on walking paths is a really enjoyable experience. If you were an archaeologist, you would find, at Layer A, walking paths; at Layer B, railroads; and at Layer C, walking paths, again, and you could conclude that that you had discovered evidence of a complex civilization collapsing in a remarkably short period of time.

    And about the museums. I’ve also been in museums that housed decommissioned space shuttles, another advanced technology that we used to be capable of building, but now can no longer manage. The sacred shrine where primitive people look in awe upon a piece of advanced technology from an ancient age of wonders used to be a science fiction trope. Now there’s one a half mile’s walk from me, and more all over the country.

  64. @JMG,

    Now that you’ve mentioned it, that habit of panicking less the closer you get to disaster is pretty easy to spot all over the place.

    To begin with, you can see it behind both Space Shuttle disasters. In the original design, the O-Rings were not supposed to vent gas at all. Once the thing was built and they started venting gas anyway, most of the people at NASA convinced themselves that this wasn’t actually as big a problem as was previously thought. Redesigning the O-Rings wasn’t all that hard – the main change is that the later version had three rings instead of two for more redundancy – but it didn’t get done until after 1986 when the Challenger exploded and killed seven people.

    Another thing they noticed with the Shuttle is that, during launch, pieces of foam insulation from the cryogenic LOX/LH2 fuel tank would fall off and strike the heat shield. For obvious reasons the original design called for this to not happen at all. Once the people at NASA saw that it was happening anyway, they decided this that small “foam strikes” were OK. Fast forward to 2003, when a “big” foam strike damages the heat shield of Columbia, which later explodes and kills seven people.

    Here is another, non-engineering example. According to the Myth of Progress, life expectancies in industrialized countries are not supposed to decline at all. When they started declining anyway (at least in the US) around 2016 or so, the true believers in Progress started coming up with reasons why it didn’t matter all that much, rather than questioning and potentially giving up their preferred mythology.

    Also, one other thing: the last year that a manned spacecraft went beyond low Earth orbit was 1972 (during Apollo 17), not 1973. The Skylab missions which launched in 1973 used Apollo spacecraft but only went to LEO.

  65. Another excellent essay. One small quibble: you yourself, I think in some previous writing, pointed out that the peak of western industrial civilization, culturally at least, was not in the post-WWII era but actually should be identified as Western Europe before WWI. With this observation we are over a century past-peak/into decline, not about half a century.

    Digressing slightly, I have taken to dating the high point of western industrial civilization as 1895. I base this off the observation that starts Barbara Tuchman book “The Proud Tower”: “ The last government in the Western world to possess all the attributes of aristocracy in working condition took office in England in June of 1895. Great Britain was at the zenith of empire when the Conservatives won the General Election of that year, and the Cabinet they formed was her superb and resplendent image.”

  66. JMG – Re: fossil water for agriculture. As the western aquifers are exhausted, it won’t be a problem just for the people who live there. It’ll be a problem for all of us who import fruits, nuts, and fresh produce from there (and who haven’t developed local sources of supply). Preserve local farms! (That’s one reason that I volunteer to assist with the weekly farmers’ market here.)

    Energy and water, both essential, and tightly coupled. Thermal power plants (whether coal, gas, or nuclear) need water for steam and cooling. Hydroelectric dams need water for the turbines, but irrigation also has a claim against that water. Moving water up-hill takes energy, whether it’s up from an aquifer for use or up from a sewer for disposal. A story on NPR last week described construction permits being withheld from tract housing developers until they can identify a reliable source of water for their homes. They might be waiting a long time.

  67. Again, not going to make any predictions or give advice. Besides, to make market predictions, you need a functioning free market in order to make predictions of to begin with. Something that I don’t think really exists anymore. It goes up, it goes down – it’s not really a market anymore. Too many silly things have happened over the years.

    But if a “crash” is in the cards (something big enough for the MSM to flog it to you), they tend to happen around the equinoxes. Don’t ask me why. I’ve noticed lately that spring equinoxes tend to be favored over autumn for these types of events. I would theorize that TPTB are still so spooked over 1929 that they are super vigilant every autumn since and won’t let any high volatility event happen during that time. But I don’t really know for sure, all I know is what I’ve seen. And it’s only a tendency.

    These days, I try to find things to get bullish about and not bearish, mainly because it’s so much easier and braindead to handle a bull. I’d like to throw this out there and have you contemplate labor as a market, that’s been in a brutal grinding bear market for decades now and that I think, just maybe, might be in the process of bottoming out and going from bear to bull.

  68. Ever-engaging Archdruid, when I read the section of the text talking about the Hypsithermal, where Nebraska did a fair imitation of the Sahara Desert, I flashed back on a memory of a recent article in the ever-amusing Grauniad headlined “Yellowstone’s most famous geyser could shut down, with huge ramifications.” See:

    The real head-scratcher to me is the article explains that geysers like Old Faithful DID shut down about 800 years ago, during a warm spell. All sorts of hand-wringing is present in the article, but the authors entirely missed saying (or refused to even consider, more likely) “Hey, here’s a case where climate variability occurred and the Yellowstone ecosystems responded, like ecosystems always do. Look, they adapted and flourished.” The end of the article has an actually quite-pathetic assertion by one of the investigator scientists, who says: “What we do in the next decade is critical. We have new technologies, we can solve this. We just need the will to do it.” I think this poor scientist’s plaint perfectly illustrates points of your posting this week. Critical? Nope. New technologies: sorry, you’ve had too much to drink. Exert our will? (Head-shaking.)

    In my old job, there were occasions where users would make requests for system changes; occasionally (and often enough that it became one of the slogans of our software support group) we’d have to tell the requesters: “Can’t be done, simple as that.”

    Felicitations to you, esteemed Archdruid, and all the commentariat!

  69. Alan at #48 (and anyone wanting an electronics-free car)

    Check out the following web-site, Pre-war means World War II, of course, so no electronics or software on any of these.

    There are around a hundred makes available, from high-end Rolls-Royces to ordinary Model T Fords–and everything between. Mostly, they are makes of cars no one now remembers, automakers long vanished.

    And yes, these are all for sale.

    Antoinetta III

  70. I was a builder/remodeler in 2006-7, aware the market was over-inflated. Not understanding Wall Street shenanigans, I assumed the market would decline but stabilize. Consequently, I spent the next five years variously unemployed/working $10-12hr deadend jobs.

    The last few years I have been a self-employed remodeler builder, moderately successful, but much more keenly aware of economics (much thanks to you). Walking with the dog, I’ve noticed the extreme number of houses for sale, sitting much longer than the housing narrative would suggest. Looking at the MLS, it is clear we are at another peak.

    So I have taken a Parkkeeper position with our municipal parks and rec. It doesn’t pay much, but it is something like job security and opportunity. I also during the Great Recession, when that parks and rec was talking about closing one of their golf courses, wrote a prospectus on turning it into a nonprofit food forest, farm and restaurant. None of my immediate employers know about that. Who knows what will happen? I have not set any intentions around that.

    I would like to move to a remote 80 undeveloped acres my family owns, to build my sustainable last 1/3 of my life (I intend). But there is no money for that at this time, so I am doing what I can based on the knowledge I have, well aware a dam is about to break.

  71. @JMG — thx for the essay!

    I saw some other comments last week that I was not expecting. They were of the type “if for only one thing we’d be in the stars by now, or have tons of energy”. I remember one comment along the lines of “NASA leaders not holding vendors accountable” as an input to us not getting beyond low earth orbit since 1973″.

    I am sure there were weak leaders at NASA, but I cannot fathom that would have materially changed our trajectory. Only UFO’s will do that 🙂

    thx again

  72. Mollari

    “I think this will be my goal for the next few months: gradually getting rid of anything in my life…wouldn’t have had access to…the 1950s…”

    I lived in the 50s and remember them well. Life was pretty good, even allowing for the rose colored glasses of nostalgia. But you’re going to have to get rid of a lot of stuff, and unless society keeps pace with you, you’re going to be living a “creative anachronism.”

  73. I believe that the findings regarding resident attitudes towards large dams also applies to nuclear power plants: those who live some distance away are wary but prepared at least to some degree; while people whom I know who live with a nuclear power plant literally in their background are totally oblivious.

    Sound advice, JMG, re: speculation. I was fortunate in that my father’s life was literally ruined by the crash of ’29 (ambitions of going to university and becoming an engineer shattered; was forced to follow in his father’s humble footsteps instead) and so when I was a teenager one of the very few bits of advice that he gave me was to NEVER play the stock market. I temporarily forgot his advice in the late ‘90s and started an RRSP with mutual funds as per advice from my bank’s financial advisor… then lost my shirt in the dot-com crash and realized that these financial advisers are bloody fools. Followed my gut (I had no idea what I was doing!) and recouped all my losses in two years investing in mining companies and then pulled out quickly and have kept my modest savings in the most boring financial instruments so far invented by mankind. Meanwhile I watch so many salary-class people whom I know playing the market like there’s no tomorrow (likely one of these days there won’t be any tomorrow for their money!) and I just shake my head in wonder… their dads didn’t suffer terrible penury in the ‘30s on account of the family losing it all in ’29.

    Bumpy road ahead (maybe a few washed out bridges too)… best to make good use of our imaginations to figure out how to realistically navigate it.

  74. I have read your blog for many years and have been living more sustainably by never owning a car, biking every where, owning my small home and lowering my expectations of contentment. I worry about my 15 year old computer programmer and game designer son who believes he will be able to make a wonderful living never leaving his room. I am looking forward to his discoveries in high school and learning about the realities of making a living and a life. I hope my lifestyle choices now and in the future will enable him to weather the storms that are coming and that he wont be left behind. One thing that i have learned as a single parent, i can help him but he has to do the work.

  75. The Machine Stops is remarkable. I don’t know if I’ve ever read anything which felt so prophetic….

    On the topic of the myth of progress, a few things have lead me to a rather remarkable hypothesis, one which I think is going to be worth a lot of thought. The first is that the myth of progress functions as a way to avoid dealing with reality, to pretend the obvious problems we as a society face are not happening; the second is that it became a major cultural force in the 1950s, shortly after the first wave of crises which will eventually bring down Faustian Civilization; the third is the seemingly unrelated fact that the frantic panic around death also got started at the same time.

    There’s an important element to that latter point, which is that in many circles, since the 1950s it’s been considered not just reasonable, but morally obligatory to put people through immense suffering if it will prolong their life by even just a few months; and even if it means destroying the future of the family (ex: burning through all of the money saved for grandchildren’s college funds in order to keep grandma on a life support machine for a few months). This is a remarkably odd thing for people to say or do, and

    I’m now wondering if both of these are reflections of Faustian Civilization being unable to come to terms with the fact that it has started to die: and the post war economic boom, the toxic chemical stew built up in the environment since the 1950s, among other things, are how it’s metaphorically placed itself on life support, desperately clinging to life; the myth of progress is its way of pretending everything is fine; and the panic around death many feel is Faustian Civilization’s fear of dying filtered down to human beings.

  76. JMG – I’m currently reading “The Age of Deception: Decoding the truths about the US economy”, by J. D. Davidson. It was published by Delray Beach Publishing, about which Google can tell me nothing. There’s a web site contact inside the cover which offers financial advice (not books for books sake). So, we both know where this is coming from. The great thing about this book is the way it analyzes recent history and “current” government policy to explain why catastrophe is just around the corner… and the copyright is 2015. Yep. Obama’s going to ruin EVERYTHING! I find it comforting to see obsolete forecasts of imminent danger, while I seriously consider the Long Descent.

    But, he’s got some interesting facts. Such as, one man with one gallon of gas in a chainsaw can cut about the same amount of wood in a day as 20 men with manual saws and axes. I assume that the same ratio holds for plowing, sowing, harvesting, threshing, and grinding. Plan accordingly.

  77. All – Pandemic-wise, the situation around here (mid-Atlantic USA) is looking pretty good now. But, it’s summer, and respiratory diseases always decline in the summer (likely due to ample Vitamin D levels). So, if you think (as my wife and I do) that the situation may not be quite so pleasant when the days turn dark and cold in November, this might be a good time to take inventory of your pantry. Lumber prices are coming back down, in case you have the urge to build more shelving. Rotate out the oldest items, and restock as necessary.

    “Hoarding” is when you grab what you can when the shortages are already apparent. “Preparing” is when you set stuff aside, when supplies are good, for use when shortages and/or lock-downs appear. We have a few months to prepare.

  78. Re: The “Star Trek Future”

    Star Trek is often mocked here for its rosy future but even that franchise has, accidently, no doubt, accepted that’s not coming. In Star Trek Picard, one of the characters lives in basically a trailer park. No, I’m not pulling your leg, it’s true.

  79. JMG, responding to your reply to Bridge (“It’s no accident that the whole Critical Race Theory boondoggle was launched immediately after Occupy Wall Street was crushed — it’s clear that certain influential people decided there had to be some distraction to keep people from noticing the increasingly harsh and unfair class divisions in our society.”)

    Nearly 60 years ago, Bob Dylan described this tactic in his song “Only a Pawn in Their Game” (

    A South politician preaches to the poor white man
    “You got more than the blacks, don’t complain
    You’re better than them, you been born with white skin,” they explain.
    And the Negro’s name is used it is plain
    For the politician’s gain as he rises to fame
    And the poor white remains on the caboose of the train
    But it ain’t him to blame; he’s only a pawn in their game.

    Divide and conquer – works every time!

  80. I saw Rome mentioned in the commentary which brought to mind a tour of Italy my wife and I went on in the 1990s. We were just outside of Rome on an ancient road (amazing how Romans built roads that still exist after 2,000 years) to the port of Ostia. And the tour guide pointed out that right in front of us is a well dug right in the middle of the road. And, he asked, what did this mean? And someone answered that the well was dug because the road was obviously no longer being used.

    So what had happened after the collapse of the western Roman Empire was that trade dried up and much of Rome was abandoned and so was Ostia. And so the road fell into disuse.

    I’m in the middle of reading a book about the beginnings of England called The Anglo Saxons. In it is a passage about the abandonment of London and the building of a trading settlement just downstream on the Thames called Lundenwic at the end of the sixth century. Much of London had long reverted to swamp, its buildings had collapsed and for a long time the Angles and Saxons appeared uninterested in the mysterious old city. Enta geweorc, – the work of giants – they called it. So maybe now we know where Tolkien got the word “Ent”.

    This establishment of trading posts just outside the ruins of the old cities happened all over England over the generations and centuries after these places had been abandoned and I assume a similar thing occurred in other places in the old territories of the Empire as the Dark Ages bit down.

    I mention this in reference to our own situation, particularly that in the US. In the process of collapse you can foresee coastal places like NYC and Washington DC and others going back to swamp, cities in or on the edges of deserts getting blown over and covered by sand and dirt. The reason for a lot of these places is as trading or transport hubs, without which they’d have no reason to exist, just like Rome and a multitude of other places in previous civilizational collapses.

    I don’t have a crystal ball so I hesitate to say that swamp is the future of some coastal urban areas whose current inhabitants are really not famous for their humility, their modesty, their selflessness. But it just seems that they go out of their way to get the gods’ attention, if there are gods up there, pride and arrogance being a sure way to do it.

    We have enough problems as it is and for my part I don’t want to end up as collateral damage because of some spiteful deity.

  81. I know that this is a reality check and not doom and gloom, but my reactionary brain just wants to go out and buy as many avocados as possible. I expect I live closer to the dam than I want to recognize.

  82. JMG, regarding disability, at least in Canada, there’s usually a long gap between applying for disability and being approved for it. For me it was 6 months, on a second attempt three years after being denied the first time (Long story, a very dark time in my life. Just because you really need help doesn’t mean you’ll get it). I wouldn’t expect disabilities due to vaccines to show up in the data until at least July 2021’s data, if not next year, because next to none of them would have been approved yet.

    What you might be seeing, assuming a similar lag time to Canada, is a lot of applications early in the pandemic when people lost their jobs being accepted starting in January. If you have a disability, it can make it very, very hard to compete in a difficult job market. Plus a substantial number of people with disabilities were especially terrified of the virus because they figured they were especially vulnerable, and I bet a bunch of people who were struggling along with chronic conditions quit and applied for disability rather than risk catching the virus.

  83. I want to share something with those who may be reading this and falling upon hard times. Today I woke up to my bank account being overdrawn by over a thousand dollars. There are a bunch of reasons why this happened: a couple of my clients of my small business have not paid me, I took a week long staycation during my slow season, there was an accidental charge related to my now-defunct corporation, and my cat was sick and racked up $800 in veterinary and pet meds bills over the course of a month. I made the mistake of putting my only credit card on autopay balance in full and whoops.

    I grew up upper middle class. This is the sort of thing that would have had me freaking out a decade ago. Not so much anymore. Nowadays, I understand it’s just a normal part of being lower middle class. Most people in my neighborhood have it far worse. At least I am in good health and I don’t have children! My strategy will be to negotiate with my landlord, to ramp up some of my side projects (right now I’m trying to sell a midcentury modern desk I found in a parking lot), and to eat a lot of creatively-prepared beans and rice until I get out of the hole. And no more autopay, it’s paper checks from here on out.

    Moral of the story is financial insolvency isn’t the end of the world. I do have to be better about living within my means, but some things, like the vet trip to buy my cat a few more weeks, are worth being broke and waking up to an epic bank overdraw. In my opinion, financial stress is not a good enough reason to leave a devoted lifemate unless they have a compulsive gambling, hookers, and blow situation. It’s not even a reason to get upset. Being sort of poor isn’t a big deal. I have clean, potable water and a roof over my head. There are at least a billion people on this Earth who don’t have that.

  84. Mark, so noted and thanks for this. What’s your take on the apparent disappearance of a lot of people from the university-graduate class end of the work force?

    Pyrrhus, I think what we’re seeing is the imminent downfall of the elite class in question. Societies take their time falling, but history shows that an elite class can lose its way and fall from power very suddenly indeed.

    Teresa, all you can do is keep trying.

    NomadicBeer, so noted. Definitely something to watch.

    Ian, these are all good points.

    Nell, I’m really glad to hear this. You’re welcome and thank you!

    Simon, oh, I’ve been called crazy a few times. Yes, that bit from Nietzsche has been on my mind now and again over the years.

    Dave, we don’t have year-by-year data for the Hypsithermal, and the possibility that there were transient temperature spikes can’t be dismissed. Another parallel period, a good deal warmer, was the Eemian, and you can also look back at the Toarcian and Cenomanian-Turonian greenhouse events, when vulcanism dumped colossal amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, causing oceanic anoxia. I’m keeping all these in mind as I draw up predictions.

    Steve, that’s an excellent point. Since we’re heading into the deindustrial era, the fact that we’re acting accordingly is no surprise!

    Athelstan, thanks for the examples. Of course you’re right about Apollo 17 — I garbled the date.

    Roy, a case can certainly be made for that.

    Lathechuck, granted. The process of adaptation is already under way, and it’ll accelerate as the droughts become more severe; of course there will be dislocations and shortages. As for those tract houses, I’m glad to hear somebody’s being sensible…

    Owen, duly noted! A bull market for labor would be a very, very welcome thing. The fact that I’d have to pay more for some goods and services doesn’t change that in the least.

    Bryan, thanks for this. What a splendid example of the clueless hubris of scientism!

    William, smart. I hope it works out well for you.

    Jerry, when the facts don’t support the myth of progress, the excuses fly fast and thick!

    Ron, my grandfather was extremely clever with money, which is why he started out as an impoverished orphan and ended up very comfortably well off in a Sun Belt trailer park. One of his rules was that you never invest anything in any speculative investment unless you’re perfectly fine with losing every cent. He saw the Great Depression up close and personal — he and my grandmother had the only two steady jobs in their extended families, and they used to put on Sunday dinners for 25 or 30 people so everyone got at least one good meal a week. What he’d say about the recent speculative frenzies would violate my rules about profanity in a very, very big way.

    Madeline, your son will have to figure it out for himself. I suspect he will — fifteen is a great age for dreaming impractical dreams. (I had quite a few.)

    Mollari, hmm! That’s plausible. I’d encourage you to develop it further.

    Lathechuck, that seems about right. My favorite anecdote along the same lines is to imagine pushing a compact car for thirty miles along the road, and remember that one gallon of gas will do that.

    Lincoln, interesting. The only product of that franchise I ever watched was the original series.

    Siliconguy, fascinating.

    Pythia, exactly. Using racial issues to drive a wedge between white working class people and working class people of color has been a standard gimmick of the privileged classes since colonial times.

    Roger, that’s why I recommend polytheism, and not living in a city that’s built on former swamp. 😉

    Candace, true, but you may also be realizing that you should enjoy them while you can.

    Pygmycory, okay, so noted. I’ve had no contact with the US disability scheme. Anyone else?

    Kimberly, that’s one of those rites of passage, like suddenly finding yourself out of a job with no immediate way to pay your bills. I’m glad to hear that you’re weathering it well.

  85. @ Ighy, NomadicBeer & JMG RE: disabled

    Guys, don’t forget the Boomer bubble is here. I have several friends who have become disabled due to various reasons in these last few years, SS also pushed retirement age back, and disability is the only way to get it earlier and not take a big hit. Lawyers are doing the legwork for 15-20% of the disability payment. Nobody feels bad about doing this, considering we have paid in for a half century at least to even get close to retirement via SS.

    @ Steve T RE: rails

    Combination of sunk cost of existing road system, return of right-of-way to landowners in the 1970s and 80s, NIMBYism and massive legal costs. Would have to be a federal project at this point, and thus unlikely to happen. How would we fuel a steam locomotive today, with most of our anthracite gone? hmmm.

    Some things will remain, but most of what we have is based on fossil fuel tech – so buh-bye.

  86. @Steve T re: railroads

    It’s pretty impossible to build *anything* anymore – new roads, new railroads, new dams, etc. – given the inflation of land values and the proliferation of regulations. But the progression of rails to trails does not really reflect civilizational decline per se. We are actually moving more “stuff” these days than in the heyday of American railroads, but it is moved less efficiently (and burning far more oil) by trucks on the highway.

    The decline of American railroads serving every small town parallels the rise of American public highways, and is entirely due to the fact that the government decided to cover the cost of paving and maintaining roads and freeways – on which trucks could freely drive – while railroad companies were stuck with the bill for their tracks. This gave trucks an artificial cost advantage for all of the smaller and shorter hauls. It also resulted is a massive pruning of the rail network, with the remaining lines carrying enough tonnage to pay for their upkeep at truck-competitive rates. The vast majority of rail traffic these days is either bulk commodities (oil, coal, grain) moving long distances in 115-car trains (equivalent to ~400 trucks) or else truck boxes and shipping containers double-stacked on rail cars – again with a single crew moving the equivalent of 300-400 trucks.

    I’m hopeful that the upcoming rise in fuel costs – perhaps coupled with a breakdown in highway maintenance – will lead to a revitalization of railroads. Perhaps we won’t see a trails-to-rails movement, but existing lines at least can be better utilized. It’s one way to use an older, more efficient technology to accomplish the same thing with less energy inputs.

  87. @JMG

    “What’s your take on the apparent disappearance of a lot of people from the university-graduate class end of the work force?”

    There is a wave of resignations and early retirements underway, enough that the phenomenon has a name, e.g.

    In part I suspect this is due to companies ending work-from-home policies and office workers deciding not to return to their cubicles, and in part it is also probably due to the booming stock market and real estate prices, leaving a number of people in the upper classes with a viable option of leaving the labor force.

    And somewhere in there are some people who have been disabled by the vaccines or by long covid, but I don’t think this is yet a large enough number to be a clear signal in labor statistics.

  88. Here in Taiwan, I suppose you might consider us the first village under the cracking dam. I think just about everybody understands that an invasion can happen (they disagree as to how likely), but it’s been like this for decades (noting that China has been gaining in strength all this time–making us the fabled boiling frog?). I look at the prospect in much the way I view my own death–a shame if it happens, but not much I can do to stop it!

    Gail Tverberg expects “collapse” (driven by resource limits), but we probably need to define exactly what is meant by this. It could be that JMG and Tverberg have similar expectations, but use different language to describe them. Here’s something Tverberg wrote last January:

    ‘The examples examined by Turchin and Nefedov occurred in the time period before fossil fuels were widely used. It may very well be that the current collapse takes place more rapidly than those in the past, because of dependency on international supply lines and an international banking system. The world economy is also very dependent on electricity–something that may not last. Thus, there seems to be a chance that the crisis phase may last a shorter length of time than 20 to 50 years [as described by Turchin & Nefedov]. It likely won’t last only a year or two, however. The economy can be expected to fall apart, but somewhat slowly. The big questions are, “How slowly?” “Can some parts continue for years, while others disappear quickly?” ‘

  89. @JMG: You raise a lot of really good points in this article and I do find myself partially agreeing with a lot of them. Still, allow me to offer a counter-argument.

    Let’s say there was a remote possibility, even if it was just a 1% chance, that a very skilled engineer would be able to repair the dam before it burst. Given how many lives could be saved, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to convince that engineer to give it his best shot, even if the odds of success were extremely low? I’m not convinced that the possibility of industrial civilization surviving is LITERALLY ZERO; there really is a chance, however slim, that we might discover some new source of renewable energy that would allow us to sustain our current levels of energy use without ever running out of fuel. (I know you’ve argued that a lot of desperate believers in progress often fall back on that idea as a crutch, and correctly pointed out that all attempts at finding a new energy source have failed or proven inefficient, and I think you’re right on both of those points. I just don’t think they prove that the idea is a hard impossibility.)

    So, if there’s even potentially a small chance that we can save industrial civilization – thus saving billions of lives and ensuring a much higher standard of living for humanity – shouldn’t we do as much as we can to try? That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also prepare for the worst, just that it’s absolutely worth hedging our bets and not simply resigning ourselves to our fate.

  90. @Jerry,

    I was the reader who made the commebt last week about “NASA leaders not holding vendors accountable,” and I’m pretty sure you misunderstood it – I certainly didn’t mean that mankind had barely missed being “in the stars.”

    What I was trying to say is that I think the reason NASA never followed up the Apollo Program with a similarly great achievement in the form of a moon base or manned Mars landing is that (a) NASA’s real budget has been declining since 1966, and (b) weak leadership didn’t make good use of what resources remained.

    I have little doubt that, with more funding and better management, the space program would have accomplished more than it actually did in the period from 1973 to the present day. At the same time, there was never any way to change the fact that space exploration is expensive and doesn’t pay for itself, and that the keeping a single man alive in space requires the industrial output of thousands of laborers here on Earth. Had NASA reached Mars rather than stopping at the moon, the whole program would still be retreating now that the Long Descent is cutting in.

  91. I have a question you said your generation ( baby boomers) should never worry about retirement and having kids to take care of them , also that you will be long gone before that become the norm again. But what about people born in the 80s and the 90s ? Should they worry? Also when you expect serious life expectancy decline across the planet ? Currently they try to blame covid for a year life expectancy decline in usa and few months in Europe while there is no mention of japan or korea or china . And when you expect serious population decline to occur by your estimate?

  92. While global rapture is unlikely for all the reasons you have expressed, the concept of collapse is surely real at an individual level. Just as you talk of bubbles bursting and the impact that has on the life of the investor with his entire wealth vanishing, collapse has just happened for him; and for the family in Lytton, Canada who lose their home and way of life through repeated drought and heatwave, collapse is real.

    The long descent will be experienced as a collapse when it comes to our turn to lose, so isn’t that key to the narrative, after all the personal / individual experience is all that we have?

  93. Dennis G #45, in the depths of lockdown dentists weren’t doing drilling at all. Claims of pain would have just got teeth pulled out.

    CLR #78, I’ll give them a look. One of the things I tried was dental water jets. They did a lot of good and blasted some truly foul-smelling stuff out from under the gum line. But once the problem is inside the teeth or in the jaw they can’t help.

  94. What forms of organisation do you think will do well in a decline? The history of royal courts is interesting. They changed from being full of nobles who had the right to be there, to absolutist monarchs who surrounded themselves with favourites running things for them. Then in the closing days of monarchies, courtiers would spend time away from the formality and structure of the court and go to salons to drink absinthe and talk about art in an egalitarian atmosphere.

  95. A new poster here, have been reading for few years.

    JMG wrote “What I expect to see is the rise of “complexity enclaves” where an ever shrinking fraction of the population has access to increasingly complex technologies, while more and more people live in a decomplexifying environment. Eventually the enclaves will collapse, but it may not be soon.”

    Population living in those “complexity enclaves” would be the people at the top, including the people in charge. That means that decision makers (politicians, bureaucrats) will able to maintain their faith in progress longer than the rest of society. As would (big) business-leaders, cultural elites etc.

    That doesn’t bode well for out civilization’s ability to adapt to changing situations. People at the top will keep making plans for space colonies while rest of us become literal peasants.

    This century will continue to be weird.


  96. @Kimberly

    It sounds like you have things under control, but just in case you want more tactics: I had a similar thing happen several years ago, and the credit card company was sympathetic and cancelled the payment with no difficulty. I even was able to get the bank to reverse the overdraft fees (the gods of finance were feeling beneficent that day). In my case it was several thousand dollars overdrawn, so I really didn’t have any other options than to beg for mercy.

  97. @ Lady Cutekitten of Lolcat says: No 3

    It was George Carlin who said it best “Inside every pessimist is a disappointed idealist”.

    The difference between an optimist and a pessimist is more information.

  98. Just to clarify – the bear market in labor is in the process of ending, I’m not saying it has ended yet. Old market saying – the best antidote for low prices, are low prices. Price (rate) for labor may have gotten low enough that it’s beginning to affect supply. With money printing, that may be obscured but if you back out inflation, wages still may be going down.

    Will make one prediction (notice how reluctant I was to make predictions before) or something that’s likely to happen – even when the unenjoyment ends, you are still likely to see a reluctance and shortness of supply into the labor market. Mainly due to the rate offered not being enough to cover the costs, which keep going up.

    In a deflationary depression, there are no jobs. In a hyperinflationary depression, there are plenty of jobs but none of them are worth taking. I guess the second situation gets the politicians off the hook, as they can point to all the job openings and say “If only those lazy workers would get off their butts, why I remember in my day…”

  99. It just occured to me that a lot of JMG’s work is like spiritual versions of Where There Is No Doctor and Where There Is No Dentist. Sending help to spiritually underdeveloped countries. Down to showing people how much they can do for themselves, and what can be done by specialist technicians as well as fully trained professionals. It’s just none of the books are called Where There Is No Shaman or Where There Is No Magus. 😉

  100. JMG, I’m frankly very pessimistic we can accomplish much of anything at this point.

    Seriously – this bunch of ignorant politicians is going to bore an underground roadway in a state which is built on Karst? I think this was an option in the “Build Your Own Disaster” Lego kit, wasn’t it?

    Just holding your own against the current tide of crazy/stupid is difficult enough. I am very much happier ignoring things going on outside of my immediate area of influence. I had tried that last year, then went back to reading the news again. Maybe it’s time for another break? Or am I just expecting too much from people?

    Musk is like a Pied Piper for politicians – he leads them all down to their banks and charms their money away effortlessly….

  101. I have memories of the oil crisis in the 70’s. I did a lot of work related driving and I had a diesel car which got great mileage on a tank full of diesel. It was an old company car with lots of miles on it, I had purchased from the company. I had a ration card. Two fellows in suits showed up at my house to ensure that I was not using my fuel oil for my car! I was shocked and dismayed to have that invasion of suits for sure, and frightened. At the time I had a house with balloon construction, completely uninsulated, and a very limited budget, four kids and a wife, and fuel oil prices sky rocketed. My budget projection indicated I’d have to start using my credit card to make ends meet. I was the sole provider.
    A friend had an Axeman Anderson Anthratube furnace he installed in his house. I was enthralled at the prospect of being able to reduce my heating fuel costs by about 1/5th as compared with fuel oil, and my current furnace was huge and old. We had great big radiators in every room. Still the house was cold in winter, the absolutely beautiful shellacked, walnut, original window weight sashes leaked so much that the curtains moved when the wind blew! So I attacked the problems. I went out and borrowed an insulation blower and took my 1954 chevy truck and filled it up with what I estimated would be sufficient cellulose insulation to cover the attic floor and the exterior walls. Since I could almost look down to the basement foundation from the attic except for some fire stops, I knew intuitively that blowing the insulation from the 2nd story high attic would fill most of the voids and do a 50-95% insulation coverage on the exterior walls and the entire attic. Meantime, I came into some cash, luckily, and I placed the order for the 130K BTUH smaller version of the Axeman Anderson furnace. I then researched fuel availability. It turned out that I could purchase bulk coal and I estimated that one load would last me about 3 years. It cost less than one year’s worth of Oil at the current prices, and prices for oil were rising rapidly. I had no time to lose! It was mid fall. I contacted an anthracite mine company in Pennsylvania, became one of their dealers, and ordered up my coal! I then installed the boiler after dismantling the old furnace that had huge cast iron parts, and removed them from the basement and lowered the new furnace into place and built a coal bin in the optimum spot to accept the 33 tons of coal I ordered. The truck arrived! It was one of those huge tractor trailer rigs that had its exhaust pipes led to heat exchange pipes in the trailer so in winter, when freezing temperatures could solidify a newly washed load of coal, the trailer heater eliminated that problem. I was cutting this close, getting the plans in place to coordinate this entire project, and have my family safe and warm. We had a tiny wood fired kitchen stove and an ample supply of wood so our pipes wouldn’t freeze, and that was part of the plan. The neighbors on our little street came out to see the hugh truck backing down our drive and tilting to dump that 33 tons of coal through the casement foundation window into the coal bin. Wet coal is not dusty, but it is dirty! My bin was only 8 feet deep and I had to enter the bin with a big shovel, and move the coal to where the feed tube of the furnace would contact the coal. I was swimming in coal! Paddling like mad to move the coal from the end of the chute to the other end of the bin. When I finally emerged from the coal bin, I looked like those pictures of coal miners with their coal stained and streaked black splotches of coal staining every part of their bodies! I was wet, cold, and successfully got that coal into place. I fired up the furnace. In a few minutes an iridescent blue smokeless flame appeared and the furnace started cranking the automatic ash rake, and continued working. The entire house was up to temperature in what seemed minutes. I was astounded. This furnace heated the entire house to uniform temperature as never before. The first coal delivery actually lasted 4-1/2 years. It was responsible for getting us through the oil crisis, the ash filled the pot holes in our driveway and helped numerous people out of snow bound ditches when they slid into them with their cars. When pushed into problem solving and survival mode I ratcheted technology back to when my grandmother shoveled coal into the furnace of our 3 family home. Her coal bin was filled by men carefully rolling big barrels of chestnut and pea coal the length of our Brooklyn basement into the coal bin by hand, chute, and shovel. The chain drive coal truck parked at the curb. When it drives off, the entire house shakes and the windows on all three floors rattle. It is solid steel and solid rubber bound “tires” vibrated like a subway train. Grandma was the coal stoker, and made hot water once a day.
    Amazing, one can still purchase the automated and effective kind of furnace.
    In retrospect, since I am now armed with choices like, burn fossil fuel, or heat with wood, I choose wood. Our house now has a wood fired kitchen stove. I have a wood fired 100 year old wood stove in a summer kitchen I built from wood harvested from our little farm. I balance my use of fossil fuel with my ability to substitute renewable energy sources. I am frugal and thrifty. My toys are designed for utility and not beauty. I use fossil fuel to build infrastructure when I need it. We raise our own food, raise sheep for wool and meat, have a solar powered well to water our sheep and drip irrigated gardens. I think our family successfully moderates our use of fossil fuel, one of us is vegan, buys only used clothing, and used shoes. We practice discipline and have a will to pass on our lifestyle to others. We shop locally if possible. We are as ready for the vicissitudes of the long decline as we can possibly be. We are a resource to others in time of crisis. We create community whenever possible. We are very privileged.

  102. @Lathechuck #79, that calculation on chainsaws matches a figure I used in some speculations ten years ago, regarding the shape of the long-term (e.g. ecotechnic) future. If it takes the full-time efforts of ten people to keep a single chainsaw in operation (growing and distilling crop fuels, making charcoal for the forge, crafting new chainsaw parts as needed and one entire new chainsaw per two years) that’s still a competitive option (for, say, a forestry business manager) compared to sending twenty people into the forest with axes and saws. That’s a deliberately unrealistic scenario, for the purpose of allowing a more direct comparison than talking about the more likely viability of e.g. a more tooled-up regional manufacturing center that makes chainsaws and light motorbikes. That’s how I justify odd juxtapositions of technologies in some of my deindustrial fiction. A logging operation where the haulers use horse teams after the cutters use chainsaws would be par for the course.

    Similar comparative scenarios can be used to examine tractors for plowing etc., except that the portion of production channeled into fueling (for tractor manufacture as well as operation) becomes a more significant part of the equations. I think it’s possible to have tractors used for cultivation, seeding, and reaping (but likely not e.g. combine harvesting) with no fossil fuel or high-tech alternative energy inputs at all, but of course I can’t prove it (and we’ll never see it in our lifetimes).

  103. Every time when I read these type of posts, I want to lay out on the New York Times and die. Having a traumatic brain injury affects how I cope with the world. I keep thinking that I should just go off screaming into the sunset.

    Anyway, I think I am better off than others. I can’t use technology – I have a landline for a phone. Etc. I have to problem solve things that technology is supposed to make better. How do you use Zoom when you have sensory problems? You don’t. You write letters or see people. Or not. Make it known to people that they have to get off their technology to interact with me.

    Yes, I know I am using technology by typing this. I have chosen some things that help me, that I can work with.

    What I have noticed is that people’s choices are becoming limited. Whether it is food at the grocery store or a phone, there are limits to selections. As I write this, I realize that maybe I am ahead of the game in that I learned to live with less and learned to choose and adjust.

  104. I was reading a blog spat between two Neo-Pagan atheists or atheopagans as they call themselves. They find inspiration in science and nature but no Gods. One who was into climate change protests decided to stop and just live in the decline of the world. He regarded his efforts as an exercise in futility. The other was heavily into environmental action to the point of railing against other Neo-Pagans who did not join his causes. That person railed at the first one for quitting the fight— That we have to save the world, we have to fight, we will win was his thinking.

    I guess in the small, this spat could be the sign of people adjusting to the new realities versus those who can’t. Both individuals are brittle people who rather rail at those Neo-Pagans who believe in Gods, than to let it go. However the first one seems resigned to what they see.

    The second guy reminds me of the UFO religions where technology will save us. We just have to learn more from those pesky alien visitors to become Gods ourselves.

  105. JMG, just thought I’d rely a data point I’ve observed. At least 4 coworkers over the last week have reported problems with power outages. Normally I hear nothing about power outages. YMMV but I thought it was interesting in light of your predictions of hard times ahead.

  106. @ Beekeeper #57 and Mollari.

    I second the recommendation for both books. I’ve read them and they are excellent.

  107. @ Pygmycory re disability

    I have a mentally and (thanks to several small strokes) physically disabled older brother. When I took over his care back in 2012 when my mother passed, I signed him up for SSI and for medical coverage under the State of New Hampshire. Why my parents never did this I can only guess. My late father being a product of the Great Depression as well as a WWII vet, scorned any public assistance as being ‘welfare’, convinced in the back of his mind that my brother could be independent if ‘he just tried hard enough’, so that is my thought. Signing my brother up wasn’t too hairy back in 2012 though I had to present documentation for him such as driver’s license (how he managed to get that I’ll never know, though it hadn’t been renewed in forty years) and birth certificate. I do have to have him recertified through New Hampshire health services yearly as well as requalifying for SSI.

    What it is like to start off the process now is hard to say. As long as I stay on top of the paperwork, all is well. His meds and doctor/hospital visits are all paid for by the state. A small payment from SSI gets dropped in his savings account every month but I need to keep the account itself under $2500 for him to continue to qualify for the payments. Now my brother is showing signs of dementia and his physical health is declining so a nursing home is on the horizon. This likely will be paid for by the state since I don’t have the funds to pay for nursing home care and of course neither does my poor brother. I will have to wait and see.

    What people in other states need to go through, I don’t know, as I think it varies state by state as to what kind of coverage you can get in terms of public assistance.

  108. Dave @ 64 Localized food production and distribution is building and growing right now. The fact that organic food and farmer’s markets are a kind of elite fashionable accessory helps protect the farmers from the wrath of corporations losing market share.

    As for firewood for cooking, look up the practice of pollarding. Species of fast growing, usually leguminous, trees can be grown as nurse trees for other more delicate species and then annually cut for poles, firewood, etc. Bill Mollison’s huge book on permaculture is still worth reading, whatever one might think of the contemporary permie movement. I suspect it will eventually get its act together and become useful.

  109. @ Mollari #4. It’s easy to give up stuff but it isn’t always easy. Friends and relatives look at you funny.

    I suggest starting with your cable hookup. (And no, don’t substitute online streaming services for your TV). We haven’t paid for TV since 1996 and my God, the money I’ve saved on cable bills. Also, all the money I’ve saved because we’re not subject to Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).

    Do we still have a TV? Yes, we do. We have one set (given to us by the god of Mongo) that has a DVD player and a Wii gaming platform attached. The TV is in our finished basement so it cannot receive signals and we don’t have any kind of antenna or dish. It’s also plugged into a power-strip so we don’t pay for electricity to the beast unless someone has made the conscious decision to turn it on and watch something.

    Thus, we are able to watch movies and shows that we choose to, by getting DVDs from the library. Otherwise, we remain unaffected by the constant drumbeat of noise and stimulation. I also don’t use a radio anymore, for similar reasons. So what do Bill and I watch? We’re working our way slowly through all the movies and shows made from Agatha Christie novels and short stories. No adverts and we control the pace.

    Once you control your TV, a lot of the PUSH making you upset, wanting things, needing things, being dissatisfied with perfectly usable things you already own goes away.

    I wrote a book on the subject of paring back and controlling TV made a chapter all its own. That’s how important it is.

  110. For country people it’s been all the same, not different. They do all the same things. Keep the roof on, grow a garden, can in the fall, get deer from friends. What’s the dif? Family and church have fallen apart, and drugs have moved in, but really, for the people who do the same, it’s the same. Not much going back to 1940, or with a few adjustments, 1890.

    For those who say “I can only afford”, I mean, really, look. You can buy rural houses for sub-$60k, prices that with a base in the city you can cost-shift on a credit card. Therefore the house cannot be foreclosed. The problem isn’t that, although they claim it is. It’s that psychologically they don’t want to adjust to country life. Poor, quiet, constrained, with low expectations. Netflix is glamorous, to get rich is glorious, rather than turning off all the lights and sitting on the dark porch in the rain, or in a cold house by the fire, knowing you’ll go to your bedroom and see your breath.

    You don’t just get in the car and buy gum because you WANT it, and you’re not going to see the doctor, and someday you may die because of it instead. Now that you’re talking about pre-paring for collapse and returning to 1940 Retrotopia how does that sound? That’s what real 1940 was. Only in this case, with your door locked tight, your neighbors stealing everything and NOT helping you when you’re down.
    Which would you prefer? At $6/gal in L.A. you’re not driving either, or rather your prosperity changes suddenly, while in the country it is painfully stable. People believe they will have it both ways and leave the day before the dam breaks.

    Wouldn’t it be wiser to learn to drive and then not own a car? In an emergency you are now helpless, can’t borrow a friends, and can also rent nothing, not a hardware or moving truck. Now when you have the time, skill, and youth, isn’t it best to know? Why constrain your real and practical options to make a moral point? Do you have that kind of wealth and security to burn? I don’t. Pride is a luxury my area doesn’t have time for. We don’t have cars the honest way: lost a job and can’t afford them.

    Inflation is “Too much money chasing too few goods” then we’re cranking feverishly on both sides of the equation. And the reason and goal of inflation is to devastate the poor and transfer their lives to the rich. That said, you can get just as rich by acting on disasters. Selling rafts and moving vans in the floodplain. That’s a help, not an extraction.

    Brin is completely right but he discounts human nature. All the coal and oil existed right under the feet of every man from Augustus to Watt. With perfect certainty we will have that revolutionary energy technology in the human future, but today is not that day. It’s a different thing to say we CAN do it, from convincing Atilla and Charlemange TO do it. Nor is it inevitable as the 2000-year gap of Roman tech to Tesla shows. It only happens if WE work and WE make it. And a lot of people don’t. Either want it or actively prevent it, as barons halted windmills because it might change things or block their view. For 2,000 years. They happen IN cycles, and WITH cultures. A guy focused on the power of human nature should know that.

    But probably, a guy who just saw unlooked-for technology culminate in human society of year 2000 should also know technology can and will happen again just as inevitably and unpredictably.

    Faustian civilization, 1950, and burning all money…that’s the time when America in general lost it’s connection to life itself, as seen on the farm. Leaving that, life and death are a mental abstraction. So it’s far more tangible than mystical or theoretical. Get people back to living and dying with deer, chickens, or defending their lives at gunpoint, and you’ve re-attached to life, and therefore death. Poisoning your own nest is the same thing: life is gone, leaving only the inside of your mind.

  111. @ Yorkshire and everyone else WRT home dental care.

    Prevention is your best friend! Your teeth, like your eyes and ears, will NEVER get better.

    So. For maximum effectiveness, after every meal and again before bed:

    Rinse (to remove large particles) Floss (so scrape clean) Rinse (to remove what the flossing scraped off) Brush (to finish cleaning and apply fluoride to the freshly scraped surfaces).

    Follow this regimen faithfully and you’ll make your teeth last longer.


    Quit drinking fizzy brown sugar water (terrible for your teeth)
    Don’t chew ice! Ice chewers make boat payments for dentists
    Cut way, way back on the sugar

    And finally,

    Get your teeth sealed. Tooth sealants saved my kids’ teeth. Between the three of them, all past 20 now, they have 1 small cavity. Sealants did that, not all my admonishments about oral hygiene.

    If I had practiced what I preach today, I wouldn’t have the dental and gum issues I have today. But I didn’t and so at 61, I’m paying for it now.

  112. LawrenceE #105, the 1970s were the time of the most ambitious plans for the development of the British coal industry into the far future. There were plans that in 80 years Thorne Colliery would reach the North Sea and keep going. It was the ‘dig to Norway’ era. It was also a time of ridiculously over-optimistic projections of the demand for coal. The National Coal Board’s 1974 Plan for Coal included the infamous words ‘homeowners and industry are reconsidering coal’. And you think it’s 1974, natural gas has arrived and people are getting central heating for the first time, industry can have gas boilers and furnaces – no-one is ‘reconsidering coal’. Looks like you were one of the very few who did…just in the wrong country. 🙂

    When you became a dealer for the coal company, how did that work? Did they give you any problems for only buying one load every four and a half years? Or did you actually deal for them and push their product to other people?

  113. I’ve been thinking about this issue recently from the perspective of Greek mythology. When Pandora opens her jar, all of the evils escape into the world except one: Hope (a.k.a. Expectation, elpis). In my most recent blog post, I suggest that part of the reason why hope is still in the jar is that each of us has the choice of whether, and how, to release it: either as a force for good (when aligned with the wider world around us), or, as being itself the greatest of evils (when misaligned with that wider world).

    False hopes, false expections, are the perfect curse. In the words of Zeus (as given by Hesiod): “an evil thing in which they may all be glad of heart while they embrace their own destruction.”

  114. Hi JMG, many thanks for the post,

    I think the Covid-19 response, specially the massive vaccination campaign is another non-linear phenomenon that will erode much quicker the legitimacy of the ruling class and their $cientific minions (health agencies, “experts”, academia, institutional medicine), but also low level physicians and nurses that support the strategy without blinking or asking any question.

    Denninger raised the case of disabilities related to the vax-campaign, and I do not know if the problem is so big, but it seems there is a big health problem from january for example in UK:

    And also in Israel, two of the countries where the vaccination campaign has been more “successful”:

    The israeli article says:

    “We have never seen anything like this,” said Dr. Tal Brosh, head of Infectious Disease Unit at the Samson Assuta Ashdod Hospital. “We’ve been monitoring viral infections in the hospital, which of course is just the tip of the iceberg of what is going on in the community, as for each hospitalized patient, there are many more out there. Since the spring, we have been seeing an increasing number of respiratory diseases, and since May there has been a surge in RSV cases.”
    RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, usually appears in the winter together with the influenza, and is especially serious for very young children and older, vulnerable adults.”

    Few Covid-19 hospitalization but huge surge in many other hospitalization from respiratory virus and many other problems of “poor health” in the population, I don’t know what could be JMG: could be the climate change?, could be a change in diet?, or as you said “something that start in december 2020 and january 2021”?

    Ok, but this is changing, now in Israel where severe Covid-19 cases are surging again:

    And they say is the “Delta variant”, “the unconscious egoists young, adolescents and kids”, and all the rest of lies they have been saying from the very begining, instead of saying the vaccines were not tested properly and the report to ask for the EUA is a bulk of garbage so they do not know literally nothing how they will behave from efficacy and safety in the general population.

    To solve this problem they are preparing, in UK and Israel, the third dose, the “booster” (to the stars), but of course they will not test it, everyone knows is “more of the same” even if you could see how the toxicity and letality of the jab increases with the dose:



    I called before the vaxxination an “experiment”, but no more, because in an experiment you look for data, analyze the results, evaluate costs & benefits, take conclusions, in this case is all a great leap into the void, a misadventure, all what they do is a huge cover-up, censoring any critic, attack the proven alternative treatments (as Ivermectin and others) and name the critics lunatics.

    They are completely crazy, out of control, I do not know of any historical parallel of another ruling class ruining their legitimacy in more absurd way.


  115. A recent blog post on our local (PDX) cycling blog was about how our recent record heatwave was a harbinger of climate change. But an interesting thing happened in the comments section. The first comment was from a regular poster and member of the cycling community who said that she could not think about such things right now because she was too busy worrying about the safety of herself and her children in the new era of increased crime, traffic lawlessness and homeless camp blight and she would have to wait untill things improved before she could worry about climate change. This ignited a firestorm in the comments section with the replies following in to 3 categories. The first ( and fewest) were the realists who commented with variations of ” how do you know it will improve”. Then there were loud voices of outrage denying that crime had changed in Portland, that people were still moving here in droves, and any reports to the contrary were the work of right wing media. The third group admitted the increased crime but blamed in on a work slow-down by the police union protesting lack of increased funding and respect. This group was confident that once traditional law enforcement was replaced with community assistance and the prison complex was removed in some kind of unicorns and skittles future things would be dandy. In general the tone (except for the realists) was that this would be solved as we moved toward a future of equity and fairness. The voices accepting this as a harbinger of decline were few.

  116. Hi John,

    Great post as always.

    A few data points from my world:

    1) seeing more and more references within the mainstream media to demographics and how major markets like China are now seeing a contraction of working age population. This does not bode well for future economic growth – ignoring the other issues like peak oil etc – and this is starting to sink in in the fringes of the mainstream economic elite.

    2) Regarding financial markets, I agree with you that it has morphed into a “everything bubble”. What I usually find, from experience, is that there is s manic phase, when the biggest price rises occur, when it pulls in the “dumb money” who usually avoid financial speculation, who rush in and briefly enjoy bumper returns. Naturally, these people tend to boast about such things at dinner parties.

    In 2007/8, I “knew” the housing market was going to collapse on the basis of a certain friend who told me that house prices never go down when they were rushing to buy into a new development. I stayed out of the housing market and went in in 2014, when it bottomed where I live.

    Bitcoin, in December 2017, also had its manic moment and I exited just before bitcoin peaked and crashed! Anyway, all the signs are that whilst we are in the late stage of this bull market/bubble, I don’t think we have gone though that final crazy moment when prices skyrocket.

    One analyst who has a good track record, is predicting that based on elliot wave theory, that this current long-term bull market will peak by 2023 and we go into a long-term bear market, with a near 80% collapse in the US stock market by the end of the 2030’s.

    With inflation factored, in the real term loss will be even worse! Naturally, bondholders will be wiped out given the rising risks of stagflation this decade. Until I get that gut feeling that we are close to the peak of the bubble, I will remain invested in the equity markets for now.

    However, I am planning to gradually start selling my profitable positions and build up my cash levels.

    3) we have been trying to “collapse first” lifestyle strategy for a while now. Been brewing my own lager, growing food in the garden and generally trying to cycle, walk and bus wherever we can.

    We also have a rule to not buy anything unless it is absolutely needed! the big challenge is finding passive income streams, particularly if we are facing a major market crash within the 2 years, so looking at local sustainable businesses to invest in, good quality reits and local hobbies that I can develop side skills in.

    4) seeing a wave of restructuring/resignations within the world of financial services. Finance firms are getting rid of the finance/IT teams and offshoring to places like South Africa where workers are cheaper (if not better quality!). Others, usually middle aged, are now retiring early as they have received large inheritances from their parents and can afford to get out of the rat race.

    Regarding vaccine side effects, a young lady I know is about to find out if she has a auto-immune disease (6 months after getting the Pfizer vaccine). Coincidence? Maybe, but I suspect this is a delayed response to the vaccine. Also heard stories about a healthy pregnant lady who had a miscarriage shortly after getting jabbed.

    The good news is that the signs are that now that the majority of people have got jabbed, they are starting to think that the worst is over and they will (hopefully) leave us unjabbed alone! We will see…

  117. Some people believe wokeness is the Second Religiosity. It does resemble Christianity in its destruction of the pagan world for its alleged immorality. What makes you think it’s just the last gasp of the current elite class?

  118. Oilman2, hmm! Okay, that’s a good point. If we’re past peak boomer, that could have an impact.

    Mark, fair enough. I hadn’t encountered the term “the Great Resignation” yet — thanks for this.

    Bei Dawei, thanks for this. I’m glad to see Gail grappling with timeline issues this way. She spent a lot of years insisting that we were going to get a fast collapse very soon, and it’s good to see that — unlike a lot of others — she’s learned from the failure of those predictions.

    Ashara, I’m not doing anything to keep the engineers from trying to fix the dam. I’m noting the fact that their chance of succeeding is dropping by the minute, and that if they fail — as they seem to be doing — the only way to survive is to get out now. If I’m wrong, the worst that will happen is that people will get out of the way of the flood and, when the engineers fix it, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief and go back to their homes. If I’m right — well, you can do the math yourself. The problem with your logic is that most people use it to justify sitting in their homes as cracks spread through the dam. Are the words “I was sure they’d think of something” the epitaph you want for yourself and your family?

    Emily, er, where did I say that? Because I don’t recall ever doing so.

    Stuart, oh, collapse on a personal level happens all the time. It happens to all of us, in fact — that’s what dying amounts to. It also happens on larger scales, as those poor souls in the condo in south Florida found out the hard way. My point is that entire civilizations take their time to fall.

    Yorkshire, depends on the stage of the decline we’re at. What works at this relatively early stage is not what will work later on.

    JAS, exactly. It’s very typical for elites to isolate themselves from the society they rule so they don’t have to deal with the conflicts between their ideology and the facts on the ground. I expect to see a lot of that in the years ahead.

    Owen, I get that. We’ve got significant labor shortages in some parts of the US and in some industries right now, so the stagflationary depression I expect may be fairly close.

    Yorkshire, ha! I like that. Thank you.

    Oilman2, it depends on what you mean by “we.” Nations, or industrial civilization as a whole? Not gonna happen. They could fix things, but they won’t. Individuals, families, and communities? There’s a vast range of possibilities open to them.

    LawrenceE, now there’s a blast from the past. Thanks for this.

    Neptunesdolphins, good heavens, there’s no need to get newsprint all over yourself. You’re actually well ahead of the game — “collapse now and avoid the rush,” as you know, is one of my mantras — and you’ve already done that, so you will be less impacted by the unraveling of excess complexity. As for the “atheopagans” aka entryists, no surprises there. The circular firing squad phase has begun.

    Youngelephant, interesting. Thanks for the heads up.

    Jasper, I know. Eight years in rural Appalachia taught me that. As for Brin being right, do you have any evidence for that claim, or is it another faith-based sermon on the omnipotence of the great god Progress?

    CLR, I wonder if it’s ever occurred to the people who wrote that just how stunningly absurd it is.

    Barefootwisdom, I’ve always understood that to Hesiod, hope was the last and nastiest of the curses Zeus put in the jar: the serene conviction that things will get better when they won’t. But then I talked about that at some length back in the day.

    DFC, hmm. The business with respiratory diseases is really quite remarkable; thanks for the heads up.

    Clay, sometime when you have a few spare hours go look up some old newspapers from the Rust Belt cities dating from the 1970s and read what people were saying in response to the collapse of urban life in those once-booming towns. The rhetoric was almost identical. When I predicted that the west coast would become the Rust Belt of the 21st century, I didn’t expect it to follow the curve quite that exactly!

    Forecasting, the population bust is picking up speed, and as it does so it’s going to add more downward pressure to everything dependent on growth. I’ll be doing a post about that fairly soon, because it’s a huge issue — our current economies literally can’t function without growth. Getting out of investments and collapsing ahead of the rush strikes me as a good move just now.

    Dot, because its prophecies are entirely focused on this world. The Second Religiosity always has a focus on the transcendent, because it’s what people turn to when decline is impossible to ignore and a great many this-worldly goals go out of reach for the long term. It’s also relevant that wokesterism is entirely a fixation of the privileged — the Second Religiosity in a culture always picks up first among the poor and disenfranchised, the deplorables of their era.

  119. Using the dam analogy I see parallels with those closest to needing to work interfacing with the general public in order to survive day to day as most likely to deny any risks associated with contracting Covid. Those with the buffer of working from home or so comfortable as to not have to work have much higher anxiety around contracting Covid. Along with the introduction of vaccines at least in the former empires of the US and UK in January there was also a high prevalence of Covid in community at the same time. Having watched colleagues navigate what they call long Covid I am suspicious of any presumed exclusive correlation to adverse events with vaccines and the employment exodus from January. There are indeed adverse events with all the Covid vaccines (in fact all vaccines ever) and alongside that UK stats indicate one in three who contracts Covid develops varying levels of disability with long Covid persistence of symptoms. It is wise I think to see it as a dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t scenario (absolute word play intended there).

    It’s always the others who are delusional and crazy. I say work on figuring out where your own delusions lie and don’t worry about the others. Just don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you have none.

  120. Funnily enough a program happened this weekend with a mystic I follow and he mentioned that there will probably be a big crisis happening between 2022 and 2024… He seemed pretty serious about it.

  121. Couldn’t wokesterism survive among the elites for longer as a part of the religion of progress? Since now even the corporations are embracing it. Wokesterism has the “great” benefit of all radical ideologies of justifying all actions taken for the cause, no matter how horrible. People generally want to believe they are good and wokesterism might survive as a tool for rationalizing oppression. Also as tool for divide and conquer.

    I hope wokesterism will disappear even among the elite but I do worry.

    Another thing about elite belief in progress. Some people in the elite have noticed that their god hasn’t quite provided. But they tend to think it’s because of mistakes of others. David Graeber believed it was because of too much capitalism and I think Peter Thiel believes it’s because too little capitalism.

    Even the people who see that things aren’t going like they were supposed to go, think that they could fix it if they just had enough power over others.

  122. Hi JMG

    One of the many many problems with the mRNA vaccines based on the Spike protein is that it reprograms both the innate and the adaptive immune responses, so it affects the way our immune system fight other infections:

    This article says:

    “Here we confirmed that BNT162b2 vaccination of healthy individuals induced effective humoral and cellular immunity against several SARS-CoV-2 variants. Interestingly, however, the BNT162b2 vaccine also modulated the production of inflammatory cytokines by innate immune cells upon stimulation with both specific (SARS-CoV-2) and non-specific (viral, fungal and bacterial) stimuli.
    The response of innate immune cells to TLR4 and TLR7/8 ligands was lower after BNT162b2 vaccination, while fungi-induced cytokine responses were stronger. In conclusion, the mRNA BNT162b2 vaccine induces complex functional reprogramming of innate immune responses, which should be considered in the development and use of this new class of vaccines.”

    Also they say:

    “Inhibition of innate immune responses may diminish anti-viral responses. Type I interferons also play a central role in the pathogenesis and response against viral infections, including COVID-19 (Hadjadj et al., 2020). With this in mind, we also assessed the production of IFN-α by immune cells of the volunteers after vaccination. Although the concentrations of IFN-α were below the detection limit of the assay for most of the stimuli, we observed a significant reduction in the production if IFN-α secreted after stimulation with poly I:C and R848 after the administration of the second dose of the vaccine (Figure 1H, 1)This may hamper the initial innate immune response against the virus, as defects in TLR7 have been shown to result in and increased susceptibility to COVID-19 in young males (Van Der Made et al., 2020). These results collectively demonstrate that the effects of the BNT162b2 vaccine go beyond the adaptive immune system and can also modulate innate immune responses.

    The effect of the BNT162b2 vaccination on innate immune responses may also indicate a potential to interfere with the responses to other vaccinations, as known for other vaccines to be as ‘vaccine interference’ (Lum et al., 2010; Nolan et al., 2008; Vajo, Tamas, Sinka, & Jankovics, 2010). Future studies are therefore needed to investigate this possibility, especially the potential interaction with the influenza vaccine: in the coming years (including the autumn of 2021) COVID-19 vaccination programs will probably overlap with the seasonal Influenza vaccination, so it is crucial to perform additional studies to elucidate the potential interactions and effects of the COVID-19 vaccines with the current vaccination schedules, especially for immunosuppressed and elderly individuals.”

    So the jab affects strongly how the immune system reacts to OTHER infectionsand VACCINES, probably this epidemic of RSV virus in Israel is a consequence of the “re-programing” of the immune system of the population, and we have to see what happens in fall and winter with the influenza and other viruses, combined with the loss of the antibody protection (it seems the specific antibody protection is very short lived in the case of vaccines, compared with the natural immunity, that is not based in the S protein).

    You have to add the many unknowns to the vaccines’ equations, as: what happens with the blood-brain-barrier with the spike protein, the impact of fertility (the nano-lipids+mRNA concentrates in the ovaries), etc…

    People should start to understand why the mRNA vaccines have never been approved on animals (as far as I know) and not on humans

    Crazy times indeed.


  123. In my teens and University years dufing the early 70s my wardrobe was limited. So was everyone elses. We patched, darned, even made new clothes, wore second hand. We males could sew. We had no phone, no calendar, we made arrangements and turned up. Life was just dandy. My cellphone and apps are nice, so is my wardrobe BUT they are just that… nice to have.

    We humans do what we do within the means of the day. Life will be what it is and we must cope with what we have. This is neither good nor bad. It just is.

  124. @ JMG RE: “we”

    I was using the royal “we”, as in countries and such.

    I agree that families and small groups can still make a difference, but once you reach school board level, everyone is already on the grift…

  125. Minor aside. I have a left wing Catholic friend (there are a lot more left wing Catholics than most people realize) with very strong ascetic tendencies, and I’ve been gently suggesting monastacism as a good way to ride out the problems we know are coming. Wouldn’t suggest it for all, but he has the temperament.

    The last 60 years has been crap for people with genuine monastic or hermit style spiritual vocations, at least in the West, but I expect to see a return of both that and variations on the lodge systems.

    Much will be lost, but new and interesting ways to live will open up, so long as we don’t blow it way bad.

    Really most of my mourning is for the plants/animals/climate. Grew up in the pacific Northwest. My default hypnagogic imagery is temperate rainforest, rivers and lakes.

    The forests that are burning right now.


  126. #14 Mr. Turton: I remember Steinbeck’s version of King Arthur has a comment on Morgan le Fay and “magic is the last resort of the powerless.” The quote annoys me a bit. Wouldn’t prayer be the last resort of the powerless?

    @Oilman in general. I think I’ll take my chances with an electric car anyway.

    @everyone talking about people going into debt. Credit cards don’t have collateral. They work when the economy is somewhat good but…not so much in 2008.

    Look, we talk about the government printing money, but this bad debt just gets written off after a few years and the money? Same as what’s on gift cards. It kind of goes poof. Money is not like gold. Think of modern currency as water. If the USA (and Canada, I suppose, since I see some Canadians weighing in here) sent more foreign aid overseas then there would be less at home causing the flood. It’s completely do-able. There are other ways for the government and banks to reel it in by playing with exchange rates, but they’re slower and less sure.

    I am watching with some interest as the OECD members make it more difficult to avoid paying back debts and avoid paying taxes. With inflation on the horizon, they don’t want the flex because they think they’re set to get rich, and they’re probably right. Richer. But it’s especially funny to see when certain politicians don’t want police to wear cameras, and want police records to be erased, and no national databases for faces allowed. They’re working against themselves just a bit! But it’s only on the surface. They’re rooting for the fox and not the hare, you mark my words! Voters though, voters always root for the hare…Though with current politics maybe it’s the raccoon and the frog? Nahh. Kek is back under the mud for another millennia. Right?

  127. Ashara, JMG and all. Another renewable source of energy? I don’t think we’ve ever found one that meets those standards of infiniteness in the same way that perpetual motion machines are impossible to build. Honestly, even if I were to be the engineer that finds a different source of energy like that, I wouldn’t tell anyone. If I can offer a different perspective on the issue however. Wouldn’t such talented engineers be put to better use by making smarter machines that don’t require an infinite source of energy to work? I mean, nuclear reactors are basically still a hot-thing you pour water on to make something spin with the steam produced… It is just a very complicated way of doing it and that signals that all the other options of making something spin have been ruled out.

    On the contrary, making a building such that only during a specific time of the year, through a tiny slit, the sun hits a particular spot, as some of the temple technology did in accordance with the life around the area, seems much more advanced and elegant to me. I know this might sound crazy, and it is, but such ways of using technology in accordance with the cosmic clockwork, for example for the benefit of growing crops and the development of people around powerfully placed and charged buildings does seem to work. I’ve lived next to one and could tell the difference.

    It can be uncomfortable to think about it but I honestly think the standards of living will improve in the long run with less energy. I am convinced our civilization is one of the most miserable in terms of human well-being, perhaps we won’t have as many commodities but I also consider that a good thing. Have you noticed how weak people have become because of that?

  128. Thanks, JMG and all commentators. As long as there are people with their eyes open, hope remains.

    Although I do not have much to say, I would like to put two minor thoughts onto this growing public record.

    (1) The Internet in its present form will not last longer than the present infrastructure of intercontinental fibre-optic cables. Cables are not mere passive runs of fibre, but are intricate systems with multiple subsea repeaters. A cable brought into service today is said to have a life span of twenty years. I imagine the limitation as stemming from those high-tech repeaters, operating on ocean floors. In the longer term, such engineers as remain will need to cultivate radio instead. One of the radio classics is Aisberg’s “La radio? Mais c’est très simple!”, which I have read with care this year in Estonian translation. It is not a drawback, but on the contrary a merit, of this book that it discusses only valve (“tube”) technology. Aisberg does have a companion book, likewise excellent, on transistors. This most remarkable of popularizing authors, one of two or three best popularizers I have found in any branch of the hard sciences or of engineering, can be researched in various ways, for instance via (Google Translate can turn the Wikipedia French into other languages), or again via the various book-dealer Web sites.

    (2) Formidable though monasticism is, it may ultimately prove important (as one of this week’s commentators has already said). There are ways of easing into monasticism part way, gently, even without taking on a full Catholic theological commitment. As useful as anything at the welcoming fringe of monasticism is saying the Office of the Hours, as at . The no-fee interface offers a bottom-of-page link to a parallel-columns display in Latin and English. Working on Laudes and Vesperae and Completorium from day to day, week upon week, one eventually finds the Latin of the Psalms becoming easy and welcoming, in other words morphing from imposition or duty to recreation or solace.

    People some day needing to discuss radio or monasticism can reach me as toomas [dot] karmo [at] gmail [dot] com.

    PS: I am writing this from a big workroom, which I recently purchased from my landlord (it is safer to buy than to rent), on the edge of the Tartu Observatory dark-sky campus. The workroom was once a post office of the late, unlamented, Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. Heh-heh. 🙂 🙂

  129. @ Tony C
    I am reflecting on what you wrote. Thank you. Be well.

  130. Yes, there are good psychological reasons for many irrationalities like avoiding thinking about certain kinds of disasters. A great unknown is how much “progress” we can yet make in understanding human psychological quirks and whether there will develop any forms of “magic” that aid in the mass psychological adjustments necessary to cope with the coming decades.

    Initial evidence seems to be that little advancement and much degeneration has occurred in mass psychology in the 30 or 50 years since the modern post-broadcast communications revolution began. However, I would argue that we may be moving past peak insanity in regard to the kind of irrational expectation that a glittering future is there if we can only imagine it. Trump and Putin are happy to use the rhetoric of an emperor, but they seem to employ it more as self-serving strategy than as an actual plan to create a dominant empire. The social justice warriors are happy to use the rhetoric of righting all the wrongs of the past and they employ impressive feats of moral posturing, but they usually do it more as another round of the rescue game rather than an actual plan for crushing the economic winners and creating rule by the under-privileged in the way of Mao Zedong. And the dreams of scientific revolutions creating our glittering future seems to be more widely understood as escapist entertainment than actual plans that someone is going to discover super-luminal transport or free energy.

    If we are moving past peak insanity in our expectations, the great question is what comes next. The massive problem is that ideologies and mythologies that have united nations and political parties are losing their plausibility and that makes our world very unstable. I guess that is usually the situation in the later stages of an empire.

  131. re hope: thanks for the link to your older article. I like this quote: “most people realize that hard work and prudence, the road to a better future in past generations, are merely a slightly slower road to impoverishment than the one everyone else seems to be taking.” I think taking the slower road is a worthy goal, myself, but it is indeed a long way from “infinity and beyond.”

  132. The wildfires caused by the heat wave have damaged the rail infrastructure in BC and are leading to logistical snarls and major delays. It’s a temporary problem, but… as if supply chain issues and transportation snarls weren’t enough of an issue already this year. Sigh.

    Interactions, interactions.

    It’s usually not one factor alone that takes down a civilization, it’s multiple factors and the interactions between them.

  133. JMG,

    I am trying to get out of the Seattle area, but family obligations still keep me tied here, for the time being.

    Do you have any tarot spreads that you would recommend for determining a part of the country to move to when the time is right?


  134. I’ve been thinking of this as the “summer of denial”. I recently was visiting family. They live in a blue-leaning college town in a blue-leaning midwestern state. The state I saw was one of exuberance, although it sounded like just a few months ago it was doom and gloom. I expected from some of the stuff I’d been hearing that there’s still be a lot of people wearing masks, but actually only a small minority were. Some in my family had been fixated on COVID for a while, I hadn’t seen them at all since before it hit. That all changed over the last few months, the view now is that progress has conquered or at least is in the process of conquering its twin nemeses of COVID and Trumpism. When I realized they were out of the doom and gloom mode and willing to see me despite that fact that I haven’t gotten the vaccine, I knew I had to see them as soon as I could make the time to, because I see the bubble as likely to burst this fall/winter, possibly even earlier, whether by issues with the vaccine becoming too much to sweep under the rug, an economic crash, an oil price spike, or political events make it clear that Progress isn’t back in control.

  135. “I think it’s possible to have tractors used for cultivation, seeding, and reaping (but likely not e.g. combine harvesting) with no fossil fuel or high-tech alternative energy inputs at all, but of course I can’t prove it (and we’ll never see it in our lifetimes).”

    I saw a link long ago that is still up (!) that has the following tidbit.

    “Agriculture requires 1.4 million tons oil equivalent for motive power. Around 500,000 hectares are currently devoted to growing rape as an agricultural product and around 1,500,000 additional hectares would be required for rape and beet cultivation for the processing of sufficient bio-diesel to make agriculture self-sufficient in motive power. This represents around 8.5% of the agricultural land in current use.”

    It’s from

    That prompted me to attempt to find out how much land had to be devoted to horses. To my initial surprise, it was 20 to 30%. There are exceptions if you have land suitable for grazing but not for tilling, but in general the horses took more land to support than a biodiesel powered tractor. The reason is that the horse eats every day, the tractor only while it is working.

    Tractors also last a long time. You can still see a Farmall H or M quite often in the midwest. The gas tractors stayed popular in Wisconsin for a long time because you could actually start them in the winter. My Father had a John Deere diesel for awhile, one of the two cylinder models, but traded it in for a gas 3010 because no force available could start the diesel when it was below zero F.

  136. AV,

    Regarding your comment about nothing going straight up or straight down: one of my favorite financial bloggers is Wolf Richter at

    His motto: Nothing goes to heck in a straight line!

  137. Reportedly an anonymous BLS insider has stated that the CPI due out tomorrow(?) will be a stunner.

    Got popcorn?

  138. @Clay Dennis

    I live a bit south of you in the Valley. The homelessness problem won’t get better, it will continue to get worse. As the Southwest gets hotter and drier, many of those folks will come to the Willamette Valley looking for more friendly climes. I am closer to Salem, and it just seems like every bit of empty land is a homeless camp.

    Of course, we’re slowly becoming the new central valley climactically. Just hope it doesn’t get worse than that this century.

  139. Pyrrhus said

    I have to think that when major parts of the Western “elites”–who in fact are not of high intellect at this point–are teaching that the Math is racist, that our history should be erased, and that transsexualism, classified as severe mental disease for a century, is somehow glorious and to be taught to small children…to name but a few problems…I have to think that decline in the West may be accelerating at an alarming rate…

    JMG replied

    Pyrrhus, I think what we’re seeing is the imminent downfall of the elite class in question. Societies take their time falling, but history shows that an elite class can lose its way and fall from power very suddenly indeed.

    I am rather forcefully reminded of that ancient Greco-Roman proverb; “Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad”…

  140. Another sign of the times: I was at my dentist’s today (ouch!). He has a loud voice, and I overheard his side of the conversation with the patient in the next chair over.

    They were discussing clenching and grinding (usually due to stress), the damage they did to one’s teeth, and the necessity for using a teeth-guard at night if one clenches or grinds in one’s sleep. He said that these used to be rare problems, but now almost every patient he sees shows severe wear and tear from clenching and grinding. “The world seems to be going to [the hot place] in a handbasket for all my patients,” he said in passing, as they continued their discussion.

    So … just one more datum.

  141. If responding to cyber intrusions has thought me anything its that people are not very good at environmentally novel risk management; It seems that everyone I help has to pass through some form of denial on their evolution to more functional stages of grief. All to often even doomsayers who successfully predicted an event thought they could choose the specific terms of their disaster/collapse, and then failed to make resilient or effective preparations even while the predictions slowly came to fruition.

    The cyber security industry has repeatedly proven successful when predicting the long term outcomes of policy decisions or large scale group behavior (within their professional domain); but notably being correct about things hasn’t made them very effective in correcting the trajectory of said predictions. Even when the influencers aren’t rhetorically impotent, market forces usually drive near to mid term risk management decisions in the wrong direction. Tragedies of the commons are tragic, but we all need to play the hands that fate and game theory deals us.

    Optimists and pessimists alike are great at arm chair philosophizing and Monday night quarter backing; The problem I have with both camps is individual agency, specifically that neither camp wants to admit that we have any. The individual can still choose to prosper when the odds are against them or squander any single opportunity the universe provides them. Occultists would do well to remember just how much of this world we’ve willed into existence. Agency is something we have even when we want to pretend like we don’t.

    Mortality and entropy will always conspire for our mortal demise but we need not to capitulate to the ideological demons of our age or hasten our fates. My garden is doing great this year and I’m generally to busy canning home grown goods to follow the riff raff on the instawitters or face toks. Our whole neighborhood might be in the suburbs of a major metro area but the community is becoming more low key self reliant every day.

    @JMG I enjoy it when you criticize the cult of progress, but would love it if you spent more time blogging about green wizardry and things that might inspire a generation of pagans to do more than hide in their hobbit holes and disagree about the apocalypses in the comments section.

  142. @Ashara

    See that mountain to our east, leading down into our valley and shadowing the cracking dam?

    Beyond the crest of that mountain is another valley. It does not have a dam – cracking or otherwise.

    Rather than chase the “slim chance” of a brilliant individual solving the problem of the cracking dam, let’s just move to the next valley.

    The journey will be even more important than the destination.

  143. RE, the subject of religion getting challenged, the subject of mass graves at Canadian residential schools has been in the news lately. For those who haven’t heard, in the late 19th and 20th centuries, various churches-the largest being the Catholic church-ran schools on Canadian Indian reseverations in which children were forcibly separated from their families and made to learn Christianity and European culture, while forbidden to speak their native languages or practice their religion. Recently, an examination of the grounds of two residential schools-Kamloops in British Columbia, and Marivel in Saskatchewan-with ground-penetrating radar found the unmarked graves of, respectively, 250 and over 700 children. And today, one of the editors of the American Conservative-a traditionalist Catholic in a traditionalist Catholic-dominated magazine-decided to write about this issue:

    So, how does our devout Catholic writer deal with the fact that his church was complicit in the deaths of hundreds of innocent children? “It didn’t really happen, and to the extent that it did, it was worth it to bring their souls to Jesus. Oh, and here’s some gory martyr’s accounts to guilt-trip you for even being concerned about this issue.”

    As someone who at one time strongly considered becoming a Catholic, and who loves the beauty of liturgical Christianity, I find this article utterly revolting. And yet…”the church is the Body of Christ on Earth. From time to time, those within it fail it, but the Church itself can never, ever fail.” A sentiment I once believed, and which led an obviously intelligent, pious man to stridently defend what amounts to (at a minimum) egregious child abuse rather than admit his church screwed up.

  144. Jeanne, thanks for your story. I don’t know much about the disability systems in the USA.

    The feeling in the back of the mind that he could be independent if he only tried hard enough… ouch. That one can be hard to cope with. Back in the 5 years between it getting hard/impossible to work enough to survive and actually getting disability (2007 work injury to hands, followed by long argument with workers comp I lost, medical EI, new job that lasted 3 weeks and hurt hands 2008, living on savings while moving back home to live with parents, welfare and 1st applic disability in 2009, denied 2010 diagnosed with fibromyalgia, managed to find 12hr/wk low wage work that didn’t make things worse but wasn’t really enough to live even very frugally on, moved to Victoria to try to find job I could actually live on using money given me by my grandmother 2011, failed, welfare and 2nd disability application accepted 2012) I had this near-constant circle of ‘I have to – I can’t’ going through my head and it was absolutely corrosive to my mental health. Didn’t stop until I could answer ‘I don’t have to’, and even then it took a long time.

  145. I have been crunching some numbers, and I don’t think any of the new renewables can pay for it self in energy. Solar panels big no, wind mills barely not counting with the disassembling (mainly because mot of that electricity can’t actually be spent, and reliable thermal power must be running to ensure the stability of the network). Hydro and geo is all we have really, not everywhere, and not unlimited though…Can anyone Challenge this?

  146. Why would a two year old have to visit a dentist in the first place? Don’t they still have their baby teeth at that age?

  147. I am still expecting things to change fairly rapidly within my lifetime, although perhaps more in some places than others.

    One example is personal computing. Many years ago, I got a NAS/RAID device to back up all my important files, after experiencing more than one hard-drive failure. Hard drives have a fairly short lifespan. Between the computers and the backup RAID, I have to replace one every couple of years. At that rate, I figure that if hard drives become unavailable or prohibitively expensive, I have at most four to six more years of personal computing after that.

    Another one that stands out to me is infrastructure maintenance. I understand that ferro-concrete structures have a lifespan of 50-100 years, depending on their quality and environmental conditions. The country I live in is full of ferro-concrete structures that were built in a tremendous building frenzy just about fifty years ago. So I expect to see a lot of them falling apart in the coming years. I also watch with some trepidation as the roads connecting this little mountain valley with the rest of the country get washed out by floods with increasing frequency. There are an awful lot of bridges and tunnels (some of the afore-mentioned ferro-concrete structures) connecting us with the outside world, too. If/when the national government decides that rebuilding the road to this little town one more time is not a high priority, we will be back to carting salt from the sea in pack trains within five or ten years, max.

    I’m actually looking forward to this town becoming isolated. I hope it will be a good place to weather the storm.

  148. Perhaps its for the best. Lost in phones, tv, computers, maybe we’ll find ourselves again when its all gone.

  149. Isanthrope, well, we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

    Augusto, a lot of people seem to be sensing that right now.

    JAS, the elite will discard wokesterism the moment it no longer helps them maintain their power. As for the bargaining stage of the death of progress, yes, that sort of thing is typical.

    DFC, interesting. Thanks for this.

    Nick, I ain’t arguing. I’ve been very poor and relatively well to do at different times in my life, and if I spent more time being poor it’s not especially a problem.

    Oilman2, how large of a community you can influence varies, of course. I’d steer clear of school boards at the best of times!

    Ian, we’re definitely moving into the kind of era when monasticism makes much more sense. I hope your friend begins the transition to that sort of arrangement.

    Toomas, thanks for both of these. You know my opinions about ham radio with homebrew gear!

    Ganv, I hope you’re right. A little less insanity would help.

    RPC, you’re most welcome. I’ll be talking at rather some length about life in an era of decline in some upcoming posts.

    Pygmycory, yes, exactly. It’s been a while since I handed out a gold star but you’ve earned one.

    Jon, start by doing your research and get an idea of possible places. Then deal out three cards for each of the places you have in mind: card 1 is the character of the place itself, card 2 is the advantages of moving there, and card 3 is the disadvantages of moving there. That should give you a good sense of the options.

    Kashtan, we’ll see, but that seems very plausible to me.

    TJ, I’ll get some popping!

    Galen, bingo. The gods must be planning on using the Stark Fist of Removal with unusual verve this time…

    Robert, ouch! Many thanks for the data point and I hope you’re recovering.

    Void, so noted. I wrote a lot about that during the last round of peak oil activism, and will doubtless cycle back to it once the price of oil rises to the point that people might pay attention.

    Tolkienguy, because of course he did. The Catholic church has become astonishingly good at shooting itself through all four cheeks of late, and that kind of tone-deaf drivel is a great example. I recall a book titled The Cruelty of Heresy, loudly praised by a trad Catholic essayist, that seriously defended the claim that letting people make up their own mind about religious issues is so horrible — I mean, some of them might be wrong! — that it was perfectly justifiable for the church to torture all those hundreds of thousands of people to death to try to stop them from doing so. I wonder if any of these people realize what their rhetoric looks like from outside.

    Elodie, I think you’re quite correct.

    Weilong, that seems quite plausible to me. When I say that I don’t think that an apocalypse will happen, that emphatically does not mean that I think things will stay unchanged…

    Dennis, what’s stopping you from finding yourself right now? You can always turn them off…

  150. Dear Mr. Greer – Here’s what I know about SSI (Supplemental Security Income), aka Disability. First, some background.

    A few years back, in an effort to keep my small business afloat, I got a job through my social network. I did janitorial work and paper filing, for a local lawyer. As with a lot of lawyers, she specialized. In getting people SSI.

    As with health insurance companies, SSI rejected applications, out of hand. Often, several times. The one case that sticks in my mind, was a woman in a wheel chair, who had had both feet amputated. The lawyer I worked for, never lost a case. Her payoff came, when the client got their payment. It was retroactive, so, often, it could be quit a large amount.

    My advice would be, if you’re going to apply for SSI, get a lawyer who specializes in it, from the get go.

    Another topic, I wanted to mention. Many states have “estate recovery”, for any Medicaid programs, you might enroll in.

    Even the very blue state I live in, has it. When offered goodies (as a senior citizen), I always inquire if it’s a Medicaid program, or not. As I don’t have heirs, I want anything left in my estate, to go to a non-profit, of my choice. Lew

  151. Slightly off-topic

    The University of Calgary is suspending admissions to its oil and gas engineering program. Current students can still finish their degrees. Demand for the program has dropped to historic lows. They may regret this when oil prices spike.

    Of course, even if the program produced huge numbers of graduates, they aren’t much use if there isn’t the oil available to extract.

  152. Canada wasn’t the only place where the Roman Catholic Church was involved in horrific human rights abuses well into the 20th century. And no, I’m not talking about the RCC’s well documented collaboration with the Nazis, Fascists, Falangists and other far right dictatorships. I’m talking about the infamous Magdalene Laundries in Ireland and elsewhere.

    As usual, the Catholic Church and the religious orders that ran the laundries still refuse to take responsibility for what happened. And as with the Indian schools in Canada, Catholic apologists continue to make excuses and deny the church did anything wrong.

    But then again, considering how the church systematically covered up the sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy for the gods only know how long, is anyone really surprised? If there was ever a religious organization that deserved to be prosecuted under the RICO Act as an ongoing criminal conspiracy, it would be the Roman Catholic Church. Talk about a tainted egregore!

  153. @Mollari:
    “The weird part here is that it implies that people have known, subconsciously, that our society was doomed since at least the 1950s, which adds a certain pathos to the entire post-war era. This is going to be something I think I need to brood over…”
    Hm. Well, I wasn’t alive then, but while I don’t know whether people might have already started subconscious grappling with resource depletion and pollution buildup, from what I’ve read and heard, most Americans in the 1950s believed that war with the USSR was _inevitable_. Just a question of when, and of whether the United States might manage to avoid being _completely_ destroyed in nuclear fire. Of course, that’s the apocalypse side of Progress, but it occurs to me to wonder now: is the Cold War actually when Apocalypse came into being at all, in the popular consciousness? Progress itself dates back at _least_ a century earlier, as I understand it, but I don’t recall any mass-felt examples of Progress-twinned (As opposed to just something coming from the side, as it were; doomsday prophecies also have a long history, but I’m thinking here of an apocalypse resulting directly from Progress.) Apocalypse before nuclear weapons.

    …Actually, doesn’t the Star Trek future in Star Trek itself canonically take place _after_ massive unrest and multiple global wars, at least one of them nuclear? I _think_ recall something like that, though I’ve never followed it that closely. So that could definitely fit with viewing the Star Trek future through the lens of “No, no, even if we actually do have dysfunctional governments and global thermonuclear wars and mass death and poverty, we’re still on a course to a utopian future in the stars!”.

  154. @ womensatlasrc RE: elec car & debt

    Honestly, if electric could do most of my daily stuff, it might be worth considering. But you can’t pull a trailer and go more than 100 miles, which doesn’t even get me to the beach or a decent lake. My farm is 90 miles away and no charging anywhere nearby, so that means I could go to my farm, but not anywhere else. SWMBOs commute is 120 miles every day, and often more depending on where they send her.

    For me, electric is not feasible, without even considering the price. But…everybody is not me!

    As for debt – you are 100% right – credit cards are not collateralized UNLESS you have your checking account in the same bank – then they have a legal mechanism to grab your money, and you have to sue to get it back.

    I used to pay my medical bills, but when they started the super grift years ago, with hidden pricing and outright lying about costs, I threw in the towel. I get what I need, but I always let the bill go to collections. They bundle them up every 90 days and sell them off, so if you wait until the collections people call you, they are quite happy to settle for a lot less than 50% of the bill. I had a trip to the ER this year, and never saw a doctor or got an x-ray – yet I had 3 different ER docs bill me and they charged me for an x-ray. Took me 60 days and a registered letter to get detailed billing. These hospital bills are as padded as lawyer invoices. I feel absolutely zero guilt about letting these bills go to collections, because they are egregious.

  155. @JMG: I didn’t mean to imply that you were getting in the way of the engineers finding a solution. I largely agree that we need to prepare for the worst-case scenario instead of idly waiting to be saved by a technological breakthrough that might never come. I just also hope that you’re wrong, the worst-case scenario doesn’t happen, and we figure out a way to maintain and maybe even improve upon what we have. And honestly, you should hope you’re wrong too, because things will be very bad for a very large number of people for a very long time if you turn out to be right. The prospects for our future – even if we do abandon the dam, evacuate the valley, and settle elsewhere – are almost unbearably bleak.

    @Augusto: The amount of “weak people” who exist in our society is a feature, not a bug. The alternative is not that those weak people would otherwise be strong, it’s that most of them would perish. That’s what happened to most people with severe illnesses and debilitating conditions in the age before modern medicine and modern infrastructure: they died, plain and simple. The fact that we can keep them alive is a sign of our moral and intellectual success. Would you prefer that people in wheelchairs simply starved to death?

    Prior to the industrial revolution, the child mortality rate was literally 1 in 3! Now it’s all the way down to 1 in 100 in the U.S., and even lower in many other developed nations. And even in very under-developed nations like Haiti, Laos, and Pakistan, it’s down to 1 in 20; in Afghanistan, which literally has the worst infant mortality rate in the world, it’s 1 in 10. Yes, on average, people may have been stronger and fitter in the past, but only because every third person you know would’ve been dead. Is that the kind of world you want to return to?

  156. @ SiliconGuy RE: tractors

    We just planted about a quarter acre of castor beans this spring. Currently, due to the rainfall we are enjoying, they are about 7 ft tall. The goal is to let them take over a couple acres, and then harvest, squeeze oil and make biodiesel. We have mostly diesel equipment, except chain saws and such, but they can burn ethanol/castor oil mix anyway.

    We are going to get a work horse, but haven’t seen one that was priced decently – ranchers get them to show off, and the prices reflect that here in Texas. We also have taken to mowing tracks and paths and letting the native grass and wild flowers go to seed. It doesn’t look manicured, but the bees need the flowers and the native grasses are struggling against bahia and other imported hay types. This also reduces diesel consumption a lot.

    I wonder how many people realize that 2-stroke engines used to burn castor oil when I was a kid?

  157. This is another VERY timely post JMG, and the comments are awesome!
    Ighy #17 and JMG – About scaled-up solar water distillers–
    This is comparatively easy, old technology. Here’s a link about the solar water distillers that supplied a community of miners in Chile for 40 years;

    I have a rectangular pane of glass that used to be a shower door, and plan to frame it on top of a shallow box. I need a gallon or two of distilled water each week, and a device like that should be able to provide it with passive sunlight, at least for 6 months a year.

    @Pygmycory #86
    What I notice about the medical system in British Columbia is something I call “The Refusal to Evaluate.” You may know you are sick, and may suspect it is something serious. To get evaluated by a competent doctor or (heaven forbid) a specialist, we must run a gamut of practitioners that delay the appointment, explain away the symptoms (ex., “your chest pain is probably just indigestion”), refuse to refer you to a specialist. When they do refer you, it can take a year or more to be seen, then more time to be treated.
    I know a 36-year-old young man who waited a year to be diagnosed with a degenerative deterioration of the hip bone on one side. He could only walk on crutches, and was in constant pain for another year and a half before his turn for a hip replacement came up. He has a new hip joint now, but his disability makes it unlikely for him to get a job, and he is also unfortunately dependent on prescription narcotics.
    Physicians, at least in our part of Canada, have quotas for the number of people they can diagnose and refer each week. When they diagnose something and prescribe a treatment, it costs the Government health system money, so they are limited in the numbers they can prescribe.
    Before COVID, it was possible to drive across to the US, if you had the money, get evaluated for cash, and then take your diagnosis back to Canada. This closed the loop a bit.
    Not sure how to make this better, except to advise people to stop racing motorcycles, quit hang-gliding and take care of one’s own health. Our insurance and government benefits are getting crappier…

  158. SiliconGuy #143, according to The Off-Road 4-Wheel Drive Book by Jack Jackson, the solution to starting diesels in the cold is a large battery in good condition, and in extreme cases mixing petrol into the diesel at a 1/15 or 6.6% ratio. Though the latter might be risky on newer engines.

    Phutatorius #154, as I understand it baby teeth still need to be looked after or they can cause problems with adult teeth later. Plus you wouldn’t want to spend possibly years of your childhood with manky or missing teeth.

  159. I know we had some discussion about disability. Does anyone have informed opinion about social safety nets or debt forgiveness in the future? I worked to pay off my debts and I have my own personal safety nets so it is not out of fear for my well being. I imagine those saddled with student debt as the decline continues are going to believe less in the system and not see a reason to hold themselves back anymore. I also see a lot of anger about the elite class hoarding all the wealth while basic goods like housing health care and food are unreachable. I could see a weaker government responding more to the needs of the people around those desires.

  160. Elodie #153, a few things about renewable power.

    In order to work well, any renewable energy programme has to be designed as an integrated system. You can’t just throw subsidies at it and hope for the best like Germany did. It’s a different concept of operating a power grid that requires moving away from the concept of ‘baseload’. As long as the power is on, the customer doesn’t care where it came from.

    There are four basic soutions to renewable intermittancy:

    1. A massive grid that can move electricity a long way from where there’s too much to where there’s not enough.
    2. Demand management where flexible users can ramp up consumption when there’s a lot of power in the system and cut back when there’s less.
    3. Energy storage systems such as liquid air, flywheels and other kinetic storage systems.
    4. On-demand power generation, particularly from emergency generators that need to exist and be tested frequently anyway.

    All these have possibilites and limitations, and integrate in various ways. Energy storage can take strain off grid wires that aren’t really up to the job, preventing power from being wasted. Industries chargeng their compressed air systems with excess power could count as demand management and energy storage.

    Another difference of renewables is they trade a massive expenditure of energy and materials up front for free energy without fuel from then on. A 10 MW wind turbine is the size of a skyscraper – somewhere between the Gherkin and the Shard. A 10MW gas engine and generator is slightly bigger than a shipping container. But with the wind turbine you don’t have to worry about the drilling rigs, pipelines, LNG plants.

    There are also a few psychological tricks at play that shape the narrative. I’ve described the ways around intermittancy, but how often do you see them discussed? Or only in a limited way, such as implying batteries and pumped hydro are the only storage options. I suspect it’s a divisive strategy because of how insulting it sounds to engineers who work on these technologies to suggest it never occured to them that the wind doesn’t blow all the time and the sun doesn’t shine all the time.

    Another linguistic trick is that renewables need to be ‘backed up’ by fossil power. If you can go 100% renewable that’s not true, but even if some fossil fuels need to stay around, how bad is that? We already have the entire infrastructure built. Our house has a solar thermal system and a gas boiler. The boiler hardly has to turn on through the whole summer. I don’t think of the boiler backing up the panel, but the panel taking the strain off the boiler.

    Even if renewables’ prime contribution was taking strain off the fossil fuel plants, they’ll still burn far less fuel and last longer because they’re operating less. One of the worst case scenarios is six straight weeks in winter without renewables. If gas power plants only have to run six weeks out of the year, the gas will last a very long time.

  161. Robert #148:

    I have heard the same thing from people in the know: that those who manufacture dental appliances worn at night to prevent tooth grinding are flooded with work this past year.

    Phutatorius #154:

    Things can go wrong with baby teeth and, even though they are destined to fall out in childhood, problems in early years can portend continued, or even additional, problems when permanent teeth replace them. I had a neighbor years ago whose three children inherited a combination of all the genetic dental abnormalities from both sides of the family – there were many – and who needed specialty dental care from the moment their very first baby teeth erupted. Their permanent teeth were equally compromised and all of the children will probably end up with implants or dentures by the time they’re in their late 30’s. The point of the early care was to prolong the useful life of all their teeth, both baby and adult.

  162. Ashara, if you’re still reading (though I’d also like to hear JGM on this): do we really WANT to save the dam? You say that saving industrial civilisation would mean “saving billions of lives and ensuring a much higher standard of living for humanity”. The way I see it, although of course I won’t deny the suffering involved in the alternative, is that continuing this way, with as much energy as we’re using now but only with a difference source, would be an even bigger disaster than we’ve witnessed so far.
    We’re using the energy we have available to destroy mountains and landscapes, pave over the world with asphalt and concrete, drive species to extinction, wipe out habitats, exhaust mineral sources, uglify the world and kill and maim each other with more and more lethal weapons… all the while still working way more hours than we need to because we haven’t even learnt to enjoy having the same things with less effort, but are conditioned to want more things with more or the same effort.
    What’s worth saving in this? A few things, sure, but not the whole system and even less where it’s headed (this system needs to keep growing just to stay alive).
    I HOPE we don’t find a new energy source. I will do my best, as small as my part is, in making the transition a bit less painful. Still, I hope we do not continue this way. I hope the dam crashes – I hope everyone gets out in time, but I want the river to be flowing freely again.

    JMG, by the way, for what it’s worth this is what I always think when you talk about people being upset that progress has ended: who even wanted flying cars and going to the Moon? Not me!

  163. @SiliconGuy #143,

    Yes, that’s along the same answers as I was finding. Good work finding that link. It can be difficult to find answers to questions like that, whose answer anyone directly engaged with that process (e.g. in this case a 19th century farmer) would immediately know.

    There are two pitfalls to watch out for when doing that kind of analysis. (Okay, not so much pitfalls as the basis for 95% of the work.) One is leaving out significant factors, like the inputs needed to build the tractors at the necessary replacement rate, while horses replace themselves. (I don’t think that changes the conclusion in this particular case, but you have to take it into account to have a valid conclusion.) The other is taking “x requires y” figures for granted regarding current systems. Current processes are designed to minimize cost within the current resource price structure. If preparing a widget part for finishing by flushing it with 1,000 gallons of fresh water costs a penny less than hiring an employee to wipe it with a damp rag, that’s how the widget factory will do it; and then you’ll read “Did you know it requires 4,000 gallons of water to make a four-part widget?” With the exception of some processes that already run close to their theoretical limits (such as metal smelting and fertilizer manufacture), assessing what x really “requires” can be difficult to impossible. Even experts in that precise area of x production rarely ask “how else could it be done?” and in many cases, being invested or employed in maintaining current methods, might not even want the question answered.

    In the real world, of course, we don’t get to redesign industries from scratch to weather scarcity, nor are producers free to adapt flexibly. The widget factory manager would say, “sure, the damp rag would work just as well, but we’re not certified/licensed/insured to do it that way.” Or, “that extra four cents it would cost per widget is our profit margin, locked in by contract, so we’re better off shutting down than changing it.” Or “the production line goes right through the water-flushing unit and there’s no place to put a man there instead, unless we rebuilt the machinery which would cost two million dollars.” Crops can rot in the field for want of properly labeled cartons to ship them in. Rules can be suspended or changed to respond to a crisis, but never, it appears, to avert one. That’s why I file such scenarios as self-sufficient biodiesel tractor farms as concepts for the farther future, rather than a solution to any present predicament.

    What does work (getting back to closer to JMGs topic for this post) is seeking that same insight and flexibility in things in your own life that you can have control over. If x = “living” and y = some number of kilowatt-hours per day, every part of that “x requires y” equation should be on the dissection table for closer examination.

  164. @Mollari Rather then picking arbitrary dates in time I would focus on deciding which technologies make you more dependent on complex systems and which technologies make you more self reliant. Consumerism, globalism, and widespread energy dependence was still a thing in 1950’s. It will be easier to wean yourself off of distraction technologies, when you stop out sourcing some of the labor necessary to existence. (Depending on your goals of course, era based cosplay can be a lot of fun).

    There are some pockets of excellence in modern implementations that are far more sustainable long term then historic counterparts: compare your dollar store LED flashlight to a 1950’s bargain bin flashlight and you’ll find that it sips energy from a rechargeable cell and doesn’t need seemingly constant bulb replacement. The general reliability of the modern flashlight seems to have ended the horror movie trope of your flashlight flickering off at the worst possible moment (now days we drop our flashlights out of reach just before the boogie man gets us). Some 1950’s tech is indeed more serviceable but they also required constant service. A 1930’s car lasted about 7 years or 90k miles where a modern cars are designed to last about 200k miles or 12 years. If you actually need a car (note the if) your better off with something modernish with lots of after market parts in circulation. In any case avoid the extremes and you should be fine.

    PS: Its about appropriate technologies, you can rapidly become 100% self sufficient in rushlights but they are still a poor choice for cave exploration

    cc: @Oilman2

  165. @ JMG – I’ve got a couple of points I’d like to discuss:

    1 – you wrote: “People who love to blame big business for the climate crisis don’t like to talk about the fact that most of what big business is doing with that carbon is producing goods and services, which are disproportionately consumed by the well-to-do.”
    I think big business, and, by extension, government, really do bear a lot of the blame. As you’ve pointed out before, big business, and yes, everyone that’s ever driven or rode in any vehicle using an internal combustion engine, treats the planet’s atmosphere like a giant, free, open sewer. The difference between individuals and big business, is that, at least here in the US, big business can easily bribe the politicians to keep that externality free, where the individual cannot.
    So yes, some of the people blaming the crisis on big business want to have their planet and eat it too, but a lot of us use that example to point out that some people have much more to do with perpetuating the crisis, than others.

    2 – In mid-May, my employer, the city of Tulsa, had our computer systems ransomware-attacked. The attack was not entirely successful, and as a result, to keep a long, dumb story short, we’ve been working without access to our servers for almost two months. While our desktop computers are back up and running, the servers with years of data and work programs, are still not accessible. There has been a great deal of back and forth amongst those of us not of the 15th floor (where the mayor’s office is located), about whether we even want to go back to using the work programs we had before. While opinions are certainly divided, the fact that going back to the computer based work programs, rather than sticking to pen and paper, is even up for debate, speaks volumes.
    Unfortunately, the mayor is committed to returning us to the overpriced, don’t really work quite right work programs being sold to us by an outside vendor. To be fair to the mayor, he’s not a bad leader, he just really buys into the idea that more tech, especially computer tech, is always better.

    3 – I hope you get around to writing an essay or two about the baby bust. My wife and I decided to adopt through our state’s DHS system, rather than having bio-babies. Our decision was driven in part by hereditary health concerns, but also by the knowledge that there are plenty of people on this planet already, and more of us is not what the moment calls for.


  166. Thanks for the image of getting dirty with newsprint.

    I read newspapers. That is how I get my news. The Wash Post. people who deliver the papers in my area have several side gigs of other newspapers they deliver at the same time. So, newsprint may be less these days, but there is still a demand for it.

    Pondering that, I realized that people are still relying on books (printed). One group I belong too prefer reading print to electronic books. Another group will buy electronic only if they think the book is going to be bad.

    People are doing things out of sight of the TV media / internet folks. All sorts of people are still staying with old things like books. Our library system (which is vast) provided electronic books during the lockdowns. However, once they allowed people to order print books on line and pick them up curbside, they were overwhelmed.

    Then when they allowed people into the libraries for 15 minutes at a time, again there were lines.

    One thing though that the library system ran into was the restriction of the publishers for copies of electronic books. Print copies of popular books are in every branch (about 30 branches). However, only one copy of an electronic book per system is allowed by several publishers like Harper and the like.

  167. About limited choices.

    I order groceries locally to be picked up. I can’t go into stores because of my brain injury – too stimulating. I have noticed that everything is now hit or miss. Macaroni and cheese cannot be ordered by brand anymore. You have to do scatter shot and order several brands. Then maybe you will get some mac and cheese.

    I do the box delivery services as well such as Hello Fresh. I have discovered that they have supply systems set up to ensure that what they say will come, will. They work with farmers and ranchers directly to ensure a supply. The cost of these services have remained the same. The choices of vegetables is seasonal, and varied. I have learned to cook many different kinds of peppers, depending on what is available.

    I do believe that a system of direct working between the food producers and consumers is probably the future. Seasonal choices such no strawberries in winter, and the like.

  168. David by the Lake “Can we live good lives, contented and happy and joyous, without all the goodies?” In other words, It’s a good life if you don’t weaken 😉

    My grandmother always said “Never look forward to anything good, because it will only be taken away” and I eventually thought that wasn’t terribly helpful advice (that “because”, it’s a doozy) so I’m looking forward to the fact that today at 11 am all of the First Nation Chiefs in the Capital Regional District of Vancouver Island are signing a joint statement, live, on the Songhees Wellness Centre steps condemning the violence and vandalism in the region over the past few days.

    The statues the clever folks tore down had already been under agreements with the Nations to move or recontextualize them, so the Nations took it personally as disrespectful to the reconciliation process (they also already had processes in place with the Church diocese that were painted). Then, some clever folks vandalized the Queen at the Legislature, which was the last straw, as the Treaties here were with the Crown (via the HBC). That’s why her portrait sits behind the gallery in council chambers – not behind the Councils – to represent The People. Symbolically, they painted their own faces red. They invited the Mayors and Councils of the local governments to sign as well, though the invitation went out quite late, I’ve heard at least a few can make it.

  169. JMG, you wrote (in response to Tony C), As for trying to drum up interest in an event on the other side of the dam, trust me, I’ve tried that at length.

    Those attempts haven’t been entirely unsuccessful. As you said elsewhere, there’s not just one dam, and there are countless examples of individuals here who have moved individual aspects of their lives above the metaphorical dam, not out of fear but because they find it better there.

    I may never take a hot shower again, and that’s not because it’s become an unaffordable luxury or because not doing it saves resources, but because you introduced the concept of cold bathing for the etheric benefits, and I tried it and liked it. Now that does save resources, and I’m prepared for hot showers becoming an unaffordable luxury, all as side benefits. Quite a number of other commenters have done the same.

    By all accounts a larger number (though for various reasons I’m not among them) have entirely given up TV, and that’s certainly not out of fear or expectation that TV is going to go away any time soon. (A TV blaring in an otherwise bare room is iconic of any number of well-known future dystopias.) It’s because you encourage them to try it and they find they’re better off without.

    Every time someone starts gardening, or keeping livestock, or takes up a craft or a repair skill, or learns to cook or sew or brew or teach or heal, that’s moving one tentacle of our lives at a time to a firmer grip on the world above the dam. Though there are exceptions, it’s not immediate need nor fear that motivates us the most. (Those of us who need to know how to cook to make ends meet, already know. It’s the co-workers and relatives who can’t make ends meet, and eat a $6 Meal Deal every day for lunch, we despair of. This blog doesn’t reach them and we haven’t been able to either.) It’s helping to find or make the path to that rebalanced world far upstream in time*, even though we don’t know its shape, it’s far from promised, and it’s unlikely any of us will ever see it.

    My apologies for speaking collectively in that last paragraph. Anyone who feels misrepresented there, please correct me.

    *I don’t mind reversing the usual metaphor, because I prefer it that way anyhow.

  170. Dear Phutatorius,
    Baby teeth can rot, they can break, they can become infected, they can grow with flaws . . . most folks know not to let a kid sleep with a bottle in his mouth now but that doesn’t mean all, and getting whomped in the mouth by playground equipment, balls, or the wall of the swimming pool (dentist was quite impressed), is entirely possible.

    My kids may have gone above and beyond in breaking teeth, now that I think about it. So I can tell you that a broken tooth has to be examined to see if it is badly enough broken to require pulling or capping to prevent infection, even if the kid is six months old and it’s his first baby tooth. They prefer capping for the purpose of keeping the other teeth alligned properly when they come in. There are, in bigger areas, dentists that specialize in pediatric patients.

  171. Hi John Michael
    Yes .. well
    “The problem with all those people who don’t believe in Dilithium crystals is that they refuse to buy the bridge that I desperately need to sell so I can put all of MY money into this new TRIlithium startup.”
    Which remind me
    Some years ago you predicted the start of a new tech bubble. Right on cue I started getting letters from investment flacks promoting their new high tech tip sheets.
    The best was this;
    “Everyone alive today can expect to live to the age of two or three hundred due to new advances in Biotech. Children and those yet to be born will live forever ! Immortality is the logical outcome of Capitalism. ”
    Isn’t that just …. just… darling!
    Speaking of medical
    I’ve recently found that in some circles “The Virus” is said to be the sign of the new upcoming transformation of planetary consciousness. Yes it’s back to 2012 !
    One last thing – I’m also in touch with a lot of conspiracy theorists (about Covid and etc) and they manage to combine both ends of the Progress/Apocalype binary;
    They want to destroy Us (Apocalypse) so that They can have everything (Progress Utopia). Neat isn’t it ?
    all the best

  172. @ Augusto # 135 and JMG

    Since this is the most advanced, prosperous culture on the face of the earth in all history, shouldn’t we also be the most happiest group of people ever?

    Yet we are not. Stress and mental illness and isolation have never been higher.

    I know correlation is not causation but you know? Perhaps, just perhaps, our modern way of life is NOT making things better for humans.

  173. This is a bit off topic for this week, but I came across this exchange on the issue of manipulating public consciousness this morning.


    Viviane Fischer: I have one last question. We have the impression—and it’s maybe connected to what you said about neurolinguistic programming—that people are under some sort of spell. We’ve discussed this with a lot of psychologists.

    Brian Gerrish: Well, we also believe this. This is [the conclusion] we’ve come to. We can say that people are under a spell, and the best description, we believe, is that they’ve been mesmerised.

    Viviane Fischer: Yes, mesmerised. But how do you think we can break through this spell? Is there a way?

    Reiner Füllmich: Information. We have to get the information out, because knowledge is what kills the illusion. Real knowledge kills the illusion that they’ve created.

    Brian Gerrish: This is true, but we also have to be realistic: if you look at what happens when you attempt to hypnotise a group of people, then you get a bell curve distribution. Some people are very susceptible to it and will be extremely hypnotised; some people might be slightly affected; and some people it’s very difficult to hypnotise.



    This of course reminded me of discussions here that much of humanity is under some sort of malign enchantment.

    You have often defined magic as “change in consciousness in accordance with will”. Does that hold true if the folks causing the change have no occult knowledge/involvement but are instead using neurolinguistic programming or some other tool of experimental psychology? If so, then we effectively have a large cadre of powerful, self-righteous, untrained, unprincipled mages at work attempting to drive changes in public consciousness with the open collaboration of mainstream media and tech companies, which I suppose could be the cause of the malign enchantment…

  174. JMG
    Why is it that only the Right (by and large) is willing to accept the reality of decline and question the narrative of Progress and the Left (mostly) is cheerleading for the mainstream elitist status quo and the “technology will save us” mantra? Wasn’t it the other way around, not so long ago?

    re teeth – you’re right but fluoride is a neurotoxin. There are better toothpastes out there.

    I clicked on one of the links you posted re the surge in hospital admissions / A&E. A doctor said “The essence of emergency medicine is identifying the needle in the haystack.” A bit of a Freudian slip I would say.

    I have noticed in work that there is sudden death syndrome occurring – a rash of middle aged people dying but the latest was only 33. They don’t say why they died of course, but I smell a rat. Also a curious upsurge in the number of people I hear of having heart attacks and strokes. One FB friend got a serious stroke right after being jabbed but funnily there is no mention of a link by her or the FB friends. Cognitive dissonance much?

  175. WRT Infrastructure and pixie dust. I read a writer blog on business every Thursday. KKR is very good when it comes to intellectual property, contracts, and the like. She’s definitely part of the PMC (wealthy indie author division) although she’d deny it.

    Other times, I roll my eyes.

    This Thursday’s post is an example. She’s amused that her Spanish teacher thinks the internet is a physical thing as is the cloud. Hee, hee, hee, how silly of that silly Spanish teacher.

    I checked with Dear Son, computer geek. He had plenty to say, reinforcing what I knew that the internet is indeed a physical thing.

    Huge server farms, each using as much electricity as a small town.
    Cables, routers, modems, hard drives by the truck load.
    Server farms located all over the world, wherever the electricity is cheap.
    Backup batteries for when the power goes out and how long do the backup batteries run before the generators kick in? Generators that use immense quantities of fuel.

    The cloud which is actually huge databases running on computers in huge server farms.

    So is the internet a physical object? You bet it is. Yet plenty of people seem to think it’s all run by pixie dust and floats around in the air, unseen and completely self-sustaining.

  176. Mr Greer,

    I have just seen a news item to the effect that “Cyber Polygon” – a simulation exercise of a “global cyber pandemic” (what does that even mean??? ) by Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum” starts today.

    I have become very cynical since Covid. I cannot help thinking how a national shut down of internet connected services might help some issues that our ruling classes might be facing shortly..

    No ATMs and presumably bank systems would be working so people would have difficulty withdrawing their money (that would help the banks if there was a financing crisis). The stock market would also presumably be suspended. All water and electrical utilities might be down and gas would not be able to to be delivered, so that would save more oil. Social security, pensions etc would not be paid out – and all this against a background of “everything would be fine and working normally if it wasn’t for X – such a pity” – and the government ostensibly riding to the rescue again possibly with public food deliveries and curfews and troops out on the street for our own safety and the public good.

    Perhaps a good way too to avoid national elections going forward….

    I think I maybe need to take your advice of personal backups fairly seriously, bearing in mind the powers that be did a similar exercise regarding a possible pandemic before Covid struck.. It does make me wonder how much of my assumptions about my future life-style are based on things which can be literally taken away overnight. The fact also that I might not be connected to this particular hive mind either in any way shape or form is distressing to me. I think we all need to consider getting ham radios!! It’s going to be another item on my own personal list anyhow…

  177. @ Siliconguy #143. All quite true but horses can make more horses out in the back pasture, something tractors cannot do.

    They need factories, with resources, labor, power sources, etc.

    I’m sure tractors will be used as long as possible, held together with hope and baling wire, but eventually they’ll wear out into heaps of rust. How will they be replaced?

  178. If I talk to one more computer today, I will run amok. A kitten running amok is a fearful thing, so beware, corporations!

    Speaking of corporations, my brother informs me Kemba Credit Union has been hacked. That’s a pretty big outfit so I figure sone of you may need to know.

  179. @ Roy Smith – I recall our host making that point about the height of Western civilization occurring before the First World War.

    FWIW, I think of the European branch of Western civilization as analogous to the Hellenic branch of the Greco-Roman world. The Hellenic branch was involved in endless internecine struggles after Alexander the Great, and probably would have collapsed (with the help of outsiders, of course), had the Latin branch not come along and imposed order. The wider Greco-Roman (Hellenistic) world lasted some four hundred years after that (depending on where you set your time markers.
    Continuing the metaphor; I think of the post-World War Two world in which the North American branch of Western civilization occupied Europe and imposed order on the European states, as an analogous event. Who knows how much longer the fusion of European and North American branches will last?
    As for the wider, fossil-fueled ‘industrial civilization’ of which the West is one part, I think the oil shocks of the 1970s were the first signs of trouble, but that the first of several rounds of real ‘collapse’ for the industrial world, started in 2008, and are just now truly getting under way. What do you think?

    PS – ‘the Proud Tower’ is an excellent read.

  180. Teresa from Hershey #185, I once looked up ‘how much does the internet weigh?’ All the answers were just the weight of the electrons in it at any one time. Nothing else. So they claimed a tiny number.

  181. For Kimberley, Mollari, and others subject to a fluctuating income, one way of anticipating trouble is to prepay utilities. I used to send an extra $20 a month with my bill when I had the money, until I had accumulated a couple of months ahead. One company would skip billing me when I got a month ahead, so I would put that payment into the “oh-rats” fund.

    The nature of being self-employed is seasonal and project oriented, and sometimes it takes months to get paid even when things are going well. When you do get paid, put aside the taxes and a contribution to the “oh-rats” fund off the top, then pay everything you can and give yourself a wee reward.

    Mollari, as you are new to champagne living on a beer budget, be sure to invest in human capital. In addition to being routinely nice to people, be helpful and generous where you can. I start a couple of hundred heirloom tomato seeds every spring. This costs me very little. I give away the tomato starts, which lets me do some good in the world and also generates all kinds of contacts.

    Interest in neighborhood networking was keen for a few years after 2008. By 2012, the shale was on line and the formal economy picked up. I gave a series of gardening and homesteading classes in 2012. The first three were standing room only, then a switch flicked and a half dozen people showed up to the last one.

  182. To Darkest Yorkshire #97.
    Our experiences may be good examples of the importance of relationships in tough times. We’ve been going to the same dentist for 20 years. True there were no cleanings or basic maintenance. He let us know that he would see us and was still seeing anyone for emergencies if people were calling him with ‘pain’. He wasn’t advertising it but that was the word getting them seen. The combination of his compassion with our established relationship meant for us that we never worried about needing essential dental care during the lock downs. Working in healthcare I also know many of the ‘magic’ words that get people to respond in that field or challenge a bureaucratic decision. Every field is like that. I apologize to to you, my dentist, and JMG for my glib light hardheartedness about the situation. I am actually very angry about how people were and are still being treated including at the ‘non-profit’ hospital I work.

  183. @ SiliconGuy #143

    A farmer told me he never had trouble starting his diesel tractor. His secret? He would get diesel delivered in bulk, and transfer it to 44-gal drums (55-gal US) stacked on their sides and fitted with a tap at the lowest point. He would leave the barrels in storage for at least six months.

    When it came time to use the barrel of diesel he would open the tap. Pure water would gush out at first, and then diesel, whereupon he would close the tap. (Water being denser than diesel, it would gradually sink to form a layer at the bottom of the barrel.) He told me that all diesel contains water which affects the performance. He would often see his neighbours battling to start their tractors while his tractors started first kick, every time, using his de-watered diesel..

  184. Magic Words
    ‘The King in Orange’ is wonderful for showing how we, yes we, not always, but, to often are moved like sheep to the barking of dogs. Dogs really shouldn’t be disparaged that way.
    When I was young with an old Jeep that needed brakes I asked for the rear drums to be turned instead of replaced to save some money. Unfortunately I made the mistake of bringing my girl friend with me. The mechanic said he could but recommended against doing that. Turning his head toward the person who would become my future wife he added, “after all, what price can you put on safety?”. The inside of my head literally felt like someone had reached in and spun it 180 degrees around as I watched my mind change and agree to the new drum set even though I fully realized he was manipulating me and the old drums would be fine with a turn and new pads. Laughing about that during and ever since.

  185. In the gardening department, I still have some envelopes of the magnificent Racing Stripe Cabbage seed left to share with the commentariat. True to type specimens have lightly savoyed blue green leaves with a magenta racing stripe. Harvest the loose top and side shoots appear. Cold hardy, but it bolts in warm weather. The florets make “the best broccoli ever”, to quote a satisfied recipient. Will survive a moderate freeze and keep going to feed you in the miserable early spring.

    Plant in August in the northern hemisphere and keep watered until the rains start. I like them gently sautéed (to break down the sturdy cellulose of winter vegetables) with a little onion and garlic. Break an egg over it for breakfast, or add a little wine vinegar for a side dish.

    Contact me at screen name below 2013 gmail.


  186. @ Bridge – “Why is it that only the Right (by and large) is willing to accept the reality of decline and question the narrative of Progress and the Left (mostly) is cheerleading for the mainstream elitist status quo and the “technology will save us” mantra?”

    The ‘right’ accepts the reality of decline? They just voted for a man whose campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again” and “Keep America Great”. While they may acknowledge the reality of decline, based on their voting choices, I would say they don’t accept it at all.

    As for the left, as JMG has pointed out, a huge chunk of the left traded Christianity for the religion of progress. As someone who grew up in the bible belt, I very rarely see people give up on their church or faith. Why would people who believe in ‘Progress’ be any different?

  187. @ Void RE: cars, etc.

    The modern automobile has literally thousands more points of failure than older models. The ECU and sensors involved in it controlling and monitoring are a wholly new subsystem for ICE. And yet MPG has stayed the same since the 1970s, or moved backwards in some cases.

    Other than suspension, fancy cabin features and a radio, a tractor is not much different than a 1970s era car. Now, compare that with the current state of affairs, and we have the ECU system, internet comms and digital everything; further, the cabin modifications now include such things as seat heater and coolers. EVERY single one of these is another item to be replaced on failure.

    From where I sit, the last year for a relatively uncomplicated ECU is in the early to mid 00s – after that, the number of sensors and widgets has exploded. Each is something to be replaced at some point in time. Each makes the warning lights on the dash light up, and unrelated systems get related in the software – which is why I just had to reset my computer when I changed tires – the wheel speed sensors detected that the back tires were rotating 0.02 less than the front, which screwed up my ABS and my traction control systems.

    Electric: I am not against electric cars IN PRINCIPLE…but they are never going to replace ICE simply because there are not enough resources left in lithium, cobalt, etc. to build a global fleet to replace ICE. The grid is also old and creaky – throwing the energy load for all electric on top of our creaky grid is simply not going to work – it cannot handle the current draw on top of what we currently have. I’ll just toss out what happened in my state (TX) during this last winters colder than normal spell…

    Another point is simply cost. I bought my current burb home in 1992 for $80k. The current tag for a truck here in the US is around $45k – more than 50% of what I bought my house for. Yea, we can argue depreciating dollar, but the price tag remains exorbitantly high, and yet the MPG is nearly identical to the same truck built in 1975 – in fact, they did away with the gas sipping inline 6 cyl for this new gen of engines, without improvement in MPG or usable power – the only thing that changed markedly was the complexity.

    I’m not talking out my backside. I currently own two 70s era tractors, a 2013 Jeep Wrangler, a 1972 El Camino, a 2001 F250 Super Duty and a 2006 Toyota. The Toyota has 370k miles on it with normal maintenance averaging $175/mn. The Jeep just had engine replaced at 150K miles due to poor component wear internally due to Jeep using lowest cost components. The tractors are all still going strong. The El Camino has 210K miles and is still going strong. The F250 has 223K miles and still blows out most other trucks in performance. My car payments are $0…

    People need to do what they want while they still can, so I am not going to try to talk people into following what has been good for me. As always, YMMV, and you are not me.

    But I will stand by my claim that in general, efficiency has remained the same or gone backwards; curb weight has increased and complexity and repair costs have skyrocketed when compared to cars built prior to 1985 or so, model dependent. I replaced the Jeep motor because I did not want to buy new, and the rebuilt engine has the bugs worked out and has 100K mile warranty.

    People need to do what is best for them. My needs, owning a farm 90 miles away and working in the oil patch, are different from Marge the soccer mom, or Gertrude who only goes to the doc or the grocery. Look at JMG, who doesn’t own a car IIRC…

  188. @ Walt F RE: above the dam…

    Well said, and from where I perch, accurate. I think there are two things involved in creeping into another valley that isn’t dammed.

    One is to try new things, such as your cold shower. I alternate, because I like to, but cold showers are as soothing as a good warm soak – they just hit different parts of the brain, perhaps. Decide to take a nightly walk; go adventuring on a bicycle or even just cut your own grass.

    The other is to actually embark on a new thing, rather than simply talk about it. There are too many that have decided to avoid risk at all costs, and both industry and government further this mindset. Just doing something outside your bubble of existence is, more often than not, a good experience.

  189. Before we go on, a question to those of my readers who understand petroleum engineering. I’ve recently read a theory — the “bubble-point death” theory — that argues that the unexpectedly steep drop in oil production from old fracked wells and the corresponding rise in gas-oil cut from those same wells is a sign of a serious problem in current estimates of how much oil fracked wells will ultimately produced. I’ve posted a link to articles on the subject on my Dreamwidth journal here. I’m not a petroleum engineer or a physicist; I’d like to ask those of my readers who have the necessary technical knowledge to check out the papers linked there and let me know whether this theory makes sense. Thank you!

    Lew, many thanks for this — that helps clarify things. So we’re definitely looking at disability cases that will have been set in motion quite some time ago.

    Pygmycory, thanks for the data point!

    Galen, I know. My wife grew up Catholic here in the US, and everyone in her neighborhood knew about the Magdalen laundry in town and what they did to the young women who were interned there.

    Ashara, when you say “prospects for the future are unbearably bleak” you’re buying into the central lie of the promoters of progress — the claim that prospects of the future are not bleak if we continue down the current trajectory. We got into this mess by pursuing limitless growth on a finite planet, and we can’t get out of it by doing more of the same! Progress is the cause of the problems we’re facing. One way or another, we’re in for it; the sooner individuals begin disconnecting themselves from the machine and learn to function without it, the less will be lost as things unravel. As for child mortality, most of the decrease was brought about by knowledge of the laws of basic sanitation; those don’t have to be lost again. On the other hand, they won’t be preserved by people who cling to the fantasy that more of what got us into this mess will get us out of it. They will be preserved by people who look the future square in the face, and decide to commit themselves to saving as much as can be saved.

    E. Goldstein, glad to hear it!

    Daniel, I expect to see student debt become an explosive political issue in the near future, since millions of people were conned into taking out predatory loans by universities and ended up with worthless degrees. The GOP could cut its opponents off at the knees by the simple expedient of shutting down the federal student loan program and changing the laws so that existing student debt can be cleared by bankruptcy; once that’s done, the university industry will contract to the level that will provide only as many graduates as the economy actually needs, one of the central power bases of the extreme left will be eliminated, and millions of grateful former debt slaves will be more likely to vote for the GOP. My guess is that this will happen promptly as soon as the Democrats lose an election.

    Gaiabaracetti, I have zero interest in the flying-car future myself, of course. The fact remains that a lot of people have mistakenly anchored their dreams of the future in that hackneyed fantasy.

    Cicada, good heavens. That’s startling. Thank you for this.

    Ben, 1) I’m not saying that big business is innocent. I’m saying that the people who want to blame it exclusively for the climate crisis are usually trying to evade their own responsibility. 2) I wonder if it would help for the employees to write out a two-page summary of why abandoning the programs would be a good idea, and send it up to the fifteenth floor; it the mayor realizes that he could save the city a lot of money that way, which I suspect he could, he might be interested. 3) I’ll consider it.

    Neptunesdolphins, my wife and I have about 3000 books between us, and I’m one of those people who kept using the library straight through the virus panic, so I hear you!

    Walt, I know. My point is that it takes both — and by and large, people won’t embrace a positive unless you can point out that they’re also evading a negative. The etheric crud you’re washing off yourself is a good example!

    Lurksalong, thanks for this. Too funny!

    Mark, that’s fascinating. Maybe they’ll figure out one of these days that if they want to know more about how spells work, they should learn something about the last 5000 years of magical tradition. Of course you can do magic without having a decent knowledge of magical philosophy, and the tawdry sorcery of mass media and advertising are good examples — you can just do much better, saner, and more beneficial magic if you know what you’re doing, and occult philosophy can teach you that.

    Bridge, the left and the right have swapped places, of course — they do that from time to time. These days the Democrats are the real conservatives, trying to maintain a status quo from the mid-20th century, and some Republicans are beginning to move forward into the post-progress future.

    Teresa, oh dear gods, that’s funny. Your son the computer geek is quite right. I wonder what KKR would think about the wonders of the internet if the very material hardware that connects her to it were to break down.

    Naomi, a lot of people have been talking about that. It’ll be interesting to see what actually happens. In the meantime, you should certainly make sure you’ve got personal backups in place.

    Your Kittenship, do you by any chance recall the comic book Magnus: Robot Fighter from back in the day? Maybe it’s time to resurrect him as an icon for those of us who are sick and tired of the robot world.

    Dennis, good. Now work out a counterspell!

  190. Ashara@164, sigh. When you have a biological-sciences background with special interests in animal behavior like I do, what you’re describing with “…things will be very bad for a very large number of people…” is PRECISELY how biological systems work. Many many species go through boom-and-bust cycles of population. It’s a consequence of said species being in an environment where it suddenly has lots of resources, breeding far faster than any predators can, and then ending up in overshoot with most all the resources consumed. Humans are a species of animal, and we find ourselves in an overshoot situation right now. There will be far fewer humans on the planet in a couple of centuries.

    Per your statement “The fact that we can keep them [the weak and the sick] alive is a sign of our moral and intellectual success”, well, I am gobsmacked. Darwinian “Survival of the Fittest” theories do not get up on a hobby-horse and berate species who do not succeed in maintaining their weaker and sicker members; quite the contrary. Evolution in Action looks exactly like killing off weaker and sicker members, especially when resource limits have loomed. Killing off the sick and the weak improves the health of the species, and makes more resources available for those remaining members who will ensure that species’ survival. There is no special dispensation for humans from physical reality.

    Sorry. This is how biology works on this planet.

  191. “First of all, there are plenty of things that can still be done here and now to cushion the process of decline and see to it that as much as possible of the best achievements of our civilization are handed on to the cultures that will build on our ruins. Those things will not be done by people who are still fixated on hopes and dreams of perpetual progress toward a utopian future.”

    Neither will it be done by those fools who are doing everything in their power to cancel those best achievements of our civilization for being the work of “racist, dead white men”. I find it ironic that the people shrieking the loudest about “climate change” are doing everything they can to blot out of history anything that might offer some wisdom for a future world affected by said “climate change”.

  192. @ Darkest Yorkshire #190. That’s like asking how much does a thought weigh, without considering the big blob o’fat and the bone and meat sack surrounding said blob that originate and support the thought.

    No brain and body: no thought.
    No physical infrastructure: no internet.

    It is truly amazing that this is a hard concept for some people to grasp when we’ve all got our own sweet selves as an example.

  193. Oilman2, er, if your seat heater breaks, just leaving it broke is an option. The rest of the car still works. But point taken about the rest of the complexity breaking down in a cascading fashion after one thing goes. Investing in a non-bluetooth OBD reader is quite cheap relative to the costs of owning a car and if you intend to have a car newer than 1995 you should get one now. My OBD reader makes the rounds at work, because somehow the guys with the $45K USD pickups can’t afford a $50 reader.

    Once you have a car with a non-critical problem that lights up the check engine light, unless you can rectify the root cause, you’re gonna need to use a reader to keep an eye if something that can and needs to be fixed also goes wonky. For instance I have a coworker with a low voltage warning on his hood closed sensor (and here I thought the hood open sensor was that big glass thing on the front). For now he can afford the hundreds of bucks for a new sensor and the sensors are in stock. But once that isn’t true, the check engine light is effectively broken.

    @Naomi, yeah, Cyber Polygon is super spooky. I don’t really know what to make of it, but without the internet we’re back to the very easily centrally controlled media of the 1990s.

  194. @Bridge @Ben

    My take is that within the framework of grieving the end of progress, the left is mainly composed of people in the denial phase and the right is mainly composed of people in the bargaining phase. This is largely a result of the differing lived experiences of different groups, i.e. working class Americans can no longer pretend their lives are getting better while the professional-managerial class can still pretend, and their pretense is propped up by wokeness and social justice “progress.”

    I think it worked out this way because the ascendant PMC took over the left, while both the industrialists and the blue collar workers saw declines due to globalization, and hence blue collar workers abandoned by the PMC left found common cause with the wealthy industrialist leadership on the right.

    Importantly, the bargaining phase acknowledges the reality of decline while not yet accepting its inevitability, hence “Make America Great Again.”

    The right may be moving toward actual acceptance, while the left is moving toward its own bargaining in the form of the Green New Deal and the Great Reset.

  195. I do remember Magnus! I bet he’s working overtime these days.

  196. P.S. Right now, I’m seeing “Mozilla Firefox is not responding….” as punctuation to the times it comes up, and MSN Outlook is taking forever to load. Whether that has anything to do with post-tropical-storm conditions locally, or with problems elsewhere, I have no clue, although The Village control center was hit by lightning last Sunday- on the 4th – which knocked out several vital functions here which Maintenance is still working to repair. Then yesterday, we had a partial power outage in The Village. Lake House merely got two flickers, then back on. On Wednesday, we had winds 35-50 mph with well over 4″ of rain, a tempest in a teapot compared to what was predicted, but it was suspenseful.

    I do want to thank the incessant teaching I’ve been getting here, plus the current meditation themes on the Nine Noble Virtues, with commentary, for my ability to keep my head during most of this, and to accept the internet troubles as (shrug) more Long Descent/hurricane season stuff. Meanwhile, my daughter and her family will be flying into Gainesville on a puddle-jumper, if there are no problems, very late Saturday night, and coming home to a neighborhood that had serious flooding and downed trees etc. They’ll be having it a lot rougher than I did, unless they have the sense to call the local hotels and make reservations for Saturday night instead of trying to cope with all that. I’ve been emailing them the relevant local newspaper reports so they’ll have enough data to go on.

    Welcome to the 21st Century, where “Regress is our most important product.” And asset.

  197. Speaking of The American Conservative, here Rod Dreher on the flustered cluck that is the US led war in Afghanistan:

    He writes

    Our military is led by liars. Our civilian leadership for the past 20 years? Liars. Close to one trillion dollars, down the rat hole. Over 2,300 dead American soldiers, and 20,000 wounded US troops. For what? So Afghanis can loot our abandoned bases, and the Taliban, whom we could no more defeat than the Soviets could defeat their fathers, can have nice new weapons?

    There was no reckoning after the 2008 financial collapse. There will likely be no reckoning after this disaster. Who in the military will be forced to answer for the lies that kept us there for so long? Who in the civilian leadership?

    From 2006:

    Coalition and Afghan forces hunting a Taliban commander said that they killed an estimated 30 extremists Tuesday in a raid on a hide-out in southern Afghanistan as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, visiting Kabul, expressed confidence that the insurgents would be defeated.

    The firefight came a day after a U.S. warplane bombed another militant hide-out in southern Afghanistan, killing more than 40 Taliban fighters, the military said. Wounded Afghans from Monday’s raid said that women and children were killed.

    The renewed violence came as Rumsfeld made an unannounced visit to Kabul on Tuesday for talks with President Hamid Karzai on the escalating violence.

    At a joint news conference with Karzai, Rumsfeld said that militants “don’t want to see a country like Afghanistan have a successful democracy.” He added: “They won’t succeed.”

    Rumsfeld is dead. The Taliban are about to be the next government of Afghanistan.

    And while we’re at it, check out this video comparing current Chinese, Russian and American army recruiting ads that has gone viral all over the Internet…

  198. Ben,

    “The ‘right’ accepts the reality of decline? They just voted for a man whose campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” and “Keep America Great”. While they may acknowledge the reality of decline, based on their voting choices, I would say they don’t accept it at all.”

    As somebody who is part of a community of people who voted for Trump, I would say that for the religious sector that language really is a sort of code for maybe something quite different that you might think, although both Trump’s and Pence’s speeches over their terms of office give a clue. But the bottom line is if you asked us when America was “Great”, we would think in terms of morality, rather than technological progress.

    So, in our view, America was “Great” even when she was only 13 colonies hoisting a tattered stars and stripes over a battered fort, in the face of the greatest (and most ruthless) army on earth at that time..or when a bunch of red neck rural American farm boys stormed a beach far away from their homes in a place called Normandy.. and kept on going.. all the way to Paris. Or when in the face of certain death..civilians stormed the cockpit of a plane to prevent another Two Towers type event and to save their fellow countrymen. I am an immigrant to America – but I swore allegiance to THAT America with a very emotional heart. And that America is completely compatible with a low technology society. (although you may need good border controls and a tariff on imported goods whilst you are at it.. see John Greer’s book Retrotopia or…. even Trump?!).

  199. JMG RE: BPD Theory

    This will be argued for years, so my 2 cents is that it will be important just due to the difference in the way shale produces oil versus conventional reservoirs. They only ever had conventional reservoir models, which make fairly accurate assumptions of permeability and flow through reservoirs.

    There is no reservoir flow through shale, as it is impermeable. Formation pressure drives the oil out of the fracks. Gas is always in solution in the oil. When the pressure drive depletes enough, this gas comes out of solution. That makes the oil more likely to get left behind in favor of the highly mobile and smaller gas molecules now exiting the oil. Essentially, the gas leaves and the oil just goes pfft, and sits there.

    In traditional reservoirs, we inject water, CO2, steam and many other things to drive the oil to the production wells. We can do this because the reservoir rock is permeable. Shale is not, and is usually the main rock marking the upper and lower boundaries of trapped oil in a traditional reservoir. Injecting into rock that cannot flow fluid is not gonna do much.

    Production in these wells is from high pressure propagated and propped-up cracks. The collection mechanism is the oil taking the low pressure way out of the rock and into the wellbore – same as in traditional production. But the rocks are not the same.

    Your takeaway ought to be that for whatever reason, the EUR in these wells is NOT matching the data assumptions they made before they drilled the well. Thus the predicted recoverables and revenue are not going to match what they thought it would be.But these wells were always “forward looking” in terms of their EUR – because the only thing available to base that on was traditional permeable reservoir data. Thus the oil from these wells will ultimately be more expensive until they figure a way to drain them more effectively.

    I recommend NOT getting roped into BPD because it only clouds the issue you are trying to address. The jury is still out on this theory, although on the surface it makes sense. The production numbers compared to the EUR will tell a much more accurate story – regardless of the reason that EUR is off. And yes – if everyone has to write down their reserve estimates, that means less oil coming. But then, it’s not like it takes a genius to see that no exploration in the face of constant depletion means trouble ahead.

  200. A number of things at the moment seem to me like a kind of attempt to push a ‘revitalization movement’ for Progress, in different ways, but all of which are trying to recapture the feeling of the perceived heyday of Progress in the mid-20thC.

    The Space billionaires, Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin and Elon Musk with SpaceX. The emphasis focusing on shiny new rockets, and what that can do for their egos, rather than what use of space can do for humanity, in a way that evokes the early Space Race of the 1950s.

    The above mentioned hype about flying cars, hydrogen cars, self-driving cars. All of which take the adoption of mass motoring that was coming in in the 1950s-60s and bringing that to the next level.

    Following on from the self-driving cars, another peak in the Artificial Intelligence hype cycle, both about how strong AI we really manage to engineer, and how transformative that actually is for people who would otherwise do the same thing in a less convoluted way, and a way that helped them build their knowledge, rather than require a smartphone app, internet access, The Cloud and a machine learning algorithm.

    Pushing all of this could be an attempt at some deliberate or subconscious level to compensate for the faltering of what Progress was supposed to deliver.

  201. @Oilman2

    Some good nuance and valuable perspective there which is why I copied you on my reply to the other thread. My point there was: its important not to oversimplify decisions like that down to mere manufacturer date (like some of the old Nuclear war preppers who may have never done their own oil changes but claimed EMT resistance pre electronic ignition cars were the only things that would work after the bombs fell).

    The 1982 DeLorean or 1962 Chevy Corvair are not in practice more reliable cars than a 1990 Honda Civic because it they were made in the USA and “they just don’t make them like they used to”. Parts are scarce and there are some manufacturing issues that are well known. If you just said my newer jeep wrangler broke down before my old Toyota pickup nobody with any experience with those vehicle makes would be surprised. The question is whether the 2018 Toyota truck is on average less reliable then the 2006; The resale values seem to indicate they arn’t but I’ll concede to your point that a lot of those mid 2000’s toyota trucks have good years of use ahead of them for a much lower price tag. (Note: 40k is sadly a bit of low estimate for a heavy duty truck which are rivaling the full cost of your home at the moment)

    Your points about overall complexity, interdependent systems and sensor availability are well received. Merging the planned obsolesce world of computers into onboard vehicle systems is going to have a predictable impact on the future of these units. I just wanted to flag that keeping a “classic” car daily driver road worthy isn’t mathematically competitive with a modern, boring, but reliable commuter that has warehouses full of aftermarket equivalent replacement parts: unless you factor in things like the irrational love we probably share for an El Camino cruising down the road with a cooler and fishing pole in the back. Caveat emptor

  202. @Mollari. “There’s an important element to that latter point, which is that in many circles, since the 1950s it’s been considered not just reasonable, but morally obligatory to put people through immense suffering if it will prolong their life by even just a few months; and even if it means destroying the future of the family (ex: burning through all of the money saved for grandchildren’s college funds in order to keep grandma on a life support machine for a few months). This is a remarkably odd thing for people to say or do”

    *coughing fit*

  203. Hi John Michael,

    The future world takes a lot of practice! 🙂 Years ago on the old Archdruid Report website and really early on maybe 2008 or 2009 (it’s been a fun ride!), someone once commented that their personal plan in the future was to just take what was needful, with a dark hint that what was on their mind was a working farm / small holding. It’s an option I guess, but blathering about plans on the interweb kind of gives people on the other end of that story the time to consider and implement appropriate responses to such foolishness. It would have been far smarter had they kept their big mouths shut, but you know appreciate the tip, thanks guys. 🙂

    Anyway, the future sure does take a lot of practice. The small stories here and there are what alert my mind as to what is going on in the background. Like the shortage of timber or firewood. Both of those stories suggest that an appropriate strategy is to get in early. Firewood is a complicated heating fuel which at first glance seems simple enough, yet isn’t. And bizarrely enough one technology we seem pretty good at producing and manufacturing down here is portable timber mills.

    Every aspect of the future is like that, and each step back and away from the current life of ease requires a fair amount of personal energy, resources and the time to learn – which can just as easily be summed up another way: the time to get things utterly wrong and then be able to do something about the error. Not so easy to do when choices, resources and time are limited.

    As to the economics of the situation, well I noticed about two years back that a very wealthy family down here sold up their interests in shopping malls to some Europeans. I expect that like the Kennedy’s, they’ll buy them back at some point in the future for cents on the dollar.

    But the problem for the average peron on the street is that they are held in thrall by the need or fear to pick the very peak of the market. Just sayin that the early lifeboats on the Titanic (which has been a topic of conversation of late over at my blog) went away half empty, because you know, unsinkable. How’d that work out?



  204. Teresa and all #182. Regarding what has clearly not worked in our age.

    Yes, exactly. It has not worked nor will it work. Sadhguru makes an excellent point based on that. As human beings we seek always for a little more and he argues, that a human being is not seeking for a little more, but for all. That primal desire of rising cannot be satisfied with limited things, it can only be satisfied by the limitless quality to be found within and how we handle our earthly desires consciously, but as a society we are obsessed with the outside and material gain. It’s the same desire, but misplaced. I argue on an essay I wrote last year on dreamwidth that the cause of that is because we have been isolated from our own realities and since Spirituality is a human need in a way, it latched up to its closest impostor simulacrum that are massive cities, consumerism, closed environments and detachment from Nature. Because there is an intrinsic need, but our societies do not provide for a way to satisfy it, so it corrupts itself and makes us blindly follow whatever promises to achieve satisfaction are thrown at us.

    Ashara and all, at #164. Regarding our barbaric past Vs our modern “civilized” societies.

    You didn’t really address my point regarding our supposed technological superiority.

    Regarding your point of weak people. Of course it’s a feature, of a very corrupted society, which would be a bug in the one I have in mind. I am speaking from a different perspective, but here in Mexico you don’t see the same amount of general weakness as in the U.S and life expectancy is still quite high, so I would say that yes, those people would be stronger if they weren’t so comfortably wasting their lives away. I am not speaking of the illness-weak but of people that would be otherwise more resilient.

    Regarding your other point, though not precisely directly. I think our attachment to only our material bodies and to material reality is the culprit of why so many people try to desperately cling to it, because they have been bullied out of experiencing the rest of it. How could they not cling if they think that is all that exists? Even if continued and forced stay within our physical body, when it’s clearly deteriorating is suffering. People on (I am not going to say life-support because I think it is the other way, Life wants to continue moving but it is us our debased desires that don’t allow it) are making a waste of resources in my opinion. We really should learn from the chinese or the hindus (or for that matter the animals, they know when time is up) how to die gracefully. That is better for the person dying and for their family members. I also think that in a society that is not twisted and power hungry the ones in need and the weak are treated better. For example, how elderlies were regarded as wise in Japan instead of an economical liability as it is today.

    I see you are also falling for one of the binary fallacies mentioned in the article above. Just because I am saying that our societies are decadent, does not mean that we are returning back to the caves, you know? That notion of the “uncivilized and barbaric” past is a marketing scheme, it’s a blatant lie to keep our illusions alive –and the ones that benefit from our slumber rich. Consider that your notion of the past might be heavily influenced by pop-culture and companies trying to sell you high-tech stuff. Has life expectancy improved because of our advancements? No question, but also see all the other stuff that is latching into that, besides the cure for polio or a handful or other changes which make that possible. I am not saying throw away penicillin and basic sanitation! That would be falling in that simple dichotomy mentioned above.

    Taking a close look at the ancient architecture, poetry, literature; medicine that actually heals instead of making you an addicted numb; and to their spirituality. Yes, I really want to return to a place where a city is placed harmonically with the rest of the cosmic machinery as for example the Pancha Bhoota Sthalams in India are, (or the shrines for the Shinto Kami) and were medicine, such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on the individual well-being, physical and physiological strength and healing of the person instead of the enrichment of a few arrogant yerks who think that poison should go inside the body at the knock of simple headache. Or were agriculture and community is actually rich (did you know that our food is about 40% less nutritious than 50 years ago?) instead of fluffed paste and our acts of devotion towards being alive and the world aren’t rerouted into acts of veneration to the capitalist god in their shrine of the Shopping Mall. Getting back into that, with as much as we can salvage from what we’ve learned from our age that does not require ludicrous plundering, because we’ve also done some good, is what I think is the point we should work towards, instead of clinging to a crumbling dream of imposed desires.

  205. It is a record breaking heat in Western Colorado today, though not by the margins the PNW just went through. Happily, we’ve had some monsoon rains, so irrigation will last at least until August in my district. Unfortunately that means it is humid heat, which those of us born in Western Colorado are biologically incompatible with, I feel sticky, like I am being blanched in molasses. Grumble.

    I hope you will pardon a slightly off topic thought, topical to the more general theme of the blog. I may see evidence of nasty magic in some of the strangeness of contemporary attitudes about policing. Many poor white folks I know who have had minor legal problems get stuck in a pattern of paying money to the courts, and them having to pay more for the slightest error in obscure rituals, sometimes more than half their income. It figures poor folk of other races do a similar dance. So there is a omni-racial cohort of folks getting pinched by the legal system. Lots of this money goes to ‘therapists’ and other white collar flunkies, or funds the middle class jobs that hang on around the court, or to be candid gets cut into lines and goes up somebodies nose in the nicer offices around. In sum it supports well to do interests. We witness there is the constant efforts to use racial squabbles to keep the pinched in a pinch, by turning groups against each other who have common cause to object to the current implementation of justice. What would raspberry jam look like in this situation? Simple; if groups that have common cause to benefit from the current Justice system were to find themselves at each other necks. Say the policing systems and the managers who rely on them like sheep rely upon so many guard dogs.

    A fig leaf to tie this back to the ongoing themes in the comments, I was looking over a friend’s bills in this regard. They are steep, but I was thinking what the equivalent situation in the 90’s would have been. With the relationship between pay and cost of living at the time such fines would have been a heavy burden, but certainly manageable. As it is now even working more than full time and living in conditions most of the third world would turn a nose at the debts go down and the late fees go up, and I don’t see it letting up. A therapy session costs half as much as I make in a week, and my friend doesn’t get as good a wage, though more hours. What right have a therapist to charge so much for platitudes worth half the musings of an average street bum tarot session? I say a space is missing from his title! As economic inequality between blue collar work and titled work has gone up policies like assigned therapy have gone up several grades of injustice.

    So it is that multiple folk I know who are keen and inspired to act to accomplish much for making the best of the future are bound to labor for the source of the problem, and the system is obviously crooked, but lawyers are too costly and alien to consult, and the laws are opaque, even to the well educated unless specialized in education.

    Meanwhile the sympathies of one side are not spared to white trash, more infuriatingly the thin blue line folks speak of folks living responsible for their mistakes, made most infuriating by the fact that legally crooked dealings support those lifestyles causally enough to joke about it in public spaces, crooked to two magnitudes beyond the petty stupidities that get their lessors bound to servitude. My friend even received advice to simply borrow $X0,000 on credit cards, pay the court, and declare bankruptcy from middle class allies who would certainly know how to surf the waters from a dam break, or at least might make an entertaining show trying.

    Hope that venting stayed close enough to this weeks themes. Anybody know where a person can go to find option for affordable legal advice if us public defenders in an area don’t inspire great confidence?

  206. Dear Mr. Greer – A quick Gargle search and a trip down the rabbit hole …

    “Why do disability claims take so long,” search, is an eye opener. Lew

  207. To all to responded to my remark about a two-year-old going to the dentist: I guess you can tell that I didn’t raise any kids! All the same, I’ll have to ask my 99 year old mom how old I and my siblings were upon our first trip to the dentist. Fortunately, we didn’t grow up drinking fizzy brown sugar water and (in general) had good teeth until we were in our twenties, at least.

  208. JMG,

    Thank you very much for your help. That will be a huge help for deciding.


    How does one strike a deal with a collection agency? I suggested your tactic to a friend and all he gets is an automated system. He had unnecessary 3D x-rays and now has several hundred dollars worth of bills. Do these companies purposely hide behind their automated systems? Thanks.

  209. JMG, I started reading the book you recommended to me on your post past. The Gate of Remembrance . What a wonderful read. It got me wondering if the method he used to obtain information through automatic writing can be modified to a more meditative and conscious way of accessing the information. Probably that could be a way of accessing some of the ancient, or not so ancient in some instances, knowledge that could enable us to rebuild? Perhaps there are still the memories of some good architects, farmers and wise people in the Greater Memory and those could be great fodder for the imagination.

  210. hee hee, Oliman2 @#163 I saw not one, but TWO Teslas towing RVs this week at the lake! That lake is nice and close to charging facilities, though the lake itself, not so much.

    Those Salt Springers, I do like their unintentionally hilarious road signs.

    Also, re: extended families or monasteries – simply neighbours are fine, too. Once I was doing a food security-related volunteer project when I was in university, and the organizer was very earnestly (rather heatedly) informing us that part of the reason poor people couldn’t afford enough food was that rich people had chest freezers, and they just hoarded all the food. Out of the group, one other guy and I were like “but, without a chest freezer, where do you put your quarter of the steer?” My neighbours also gave us a portion of all the meat and fish they hunted when they had enough, and I don’t think what my stepdad traded in electrical work or I did in babysitting was remotely on par for exchange. I think it was because he threw the best parties and invited everyone he’d worked for, worked with, played softball with, or generally exchanged pleasantries with to the Boxing Day party each year. He also knew everyone at the neighbourhood bar for being a regular (though he was not a big drinker), to the point he had his own button on the till since he ordered the same thing each dart night (a slightly lower effort social outreach that doesn’t involve preparing food for a couple hundred people and a 12 hour party).

    When passing through my hometown on the way to a conference, I took two political colleagues in a carpool to that neighbourhood bar, and it was the best thing I’ve done in politics, hands down. One of the good old boys sidled right up to the one who was a mayor – former engineer – and had a good earnest chat about The Problem With the People Running the World Today to his enthusiastic nodding while he ate his wings, and the other one looked like she was trying to touch as little of her body as possible to the barstool… but had to admit it was the best oysterburger she’d ever eaten. The mayor guy still tells everyone about that bar, and she no longer invites me to the carpools.

  211. As for the discoveries at the Catholic boarding school in Canada, and similar expose events highly aired in the media….

    Yes, it’s horrendous that children died while in care of that facility. Yet, many questions are simply not being addressed: of what did the children die? Was it actual physical or mental abuse, or is there evidence of disease? It’s prudent to keep in mind that children in boarding conditions or foundling homes during the same time periods were often victims of childhood diseases that we think of as being vanquished today. From the early 1900s to the mid 1950s, for example, there were no antibiotics. A simple case of diarrhea or a pneumonia that is easily treated today, could have been fatal then.

    In similar settings, what was the death rate per population? This would let us know if the rate was high, low, or typical. Did the children enter the facility in excellent health, or in undernourished condition?

    Reports are now indicating that perhaps 700 remains have been found. If the facility operated for 70 years, that’s an average of 10 deaths per year — out of how many students? 10 deaths out of a thousand students is still sad but likely an expected rate, and 10 out of 300 is worse — so how does that compare to similar boarding schools or the general populations of the area?

    You see, I’m sure, what I’m doing here — taking this from the emotional issue that the media is trying to gin-up to a level of understanding of what actually took place. I’m not trying to justify or excuse any child deaths. Yet, the fact that the media is not putting any context to this is suspicious to me.

    The Catholic Church has been targeted for a number of years. Yes, scandals DID occur, and deserve attention and appropriate exposure and punishment….but they also happened in Boy Scout troops and Baptist youth camps and at public schools. We don’t hear about that so much at all.

    Effectively, this is a hot-button issue — anything where indigenous kids are involved, especially kids who died, is going to be Big News *because it serves someone’s purposes*. Twenty years ago, the same info was known about this particular school (I did a paper on it), yet the media ignored it.

    Why now? Why is it important now to inflame people over events that happened a half-century or more in the past?

    Could it be that there’s something else they don’t want us to look at?

  212. re: the roman catholic church and the residential schools. There has been a very strong backlash against mostly the roman catholic church in the aftermath of the discovery of the unmarked graves. Also against anglican, united church and one or two others. By my count, about 7 churches have been burnt to the ground, 5 of them in BC. 10 churches in Calgary vandalized with paint, a cathedral in saskatoon vandalized with paint, a couple of churches set on fire but not burned to the ground. It took two weeks from the burning down of the first two churches for any politician to say anything about the issue. Then the premier of Alberta, the Prime Minister, and a group of residential school survivors spoke out publically.

    It looks to me like the Roman Catholic church has become an acceptable target. And that other churches, only some of whom were also involved in running the residential schools and all of whom have behaved better in terms of apologizing and paying large sums of money to people who were abused at the schools than the Catholic church, are getting caught up in it as well.

    Full disclosure, I’m a Christian, grew up in the Anglican church, which was involved in running the residential schools but at least apologized and paid up. It has still had churches burned, in at least one case to the ground. I am currently attending a Salvation Army church. Nothing has happened to my local church, but I am not happy right now.

  213. @ Naomi – I’m honestly confused by your answer. You make a statement that military prowess equals greatness, and also that the greatness of military prowess equals morality. So, how about industry, or civics, or culture, or any of the other things that did, and I would argue, still, make America ‘great’?

    As a side note, I grew up in the bible belt. I currently living there. I’m well versed in the ‘coded’ language of the Mike Pence types. Please excuse my vitriol, but I cannot stand their brand of two-faced morality. Their claims they, and they alone, are privy to spiritual salvation. That their notion of morality should govern the public conduct of all… The notion that someone like Mike Pence should function as a gatekeepers of America’s ‘greatness’… I would go on but I’m sure our moderator would delete my post.

  214. I’m not a linguist, but I will venture a translation of the Army recruitment films. Chinese–Join the People’s Army and kick buttock. Russian–Join the Russian Army and be too tough for the world to kick around. US–Join the US Army and find a purpose in your over privileged life.


  215. Ethan, throwing around words like “fools” is unhelpful, and shows that you’re underestimating the people in question. Do they care about climate change? Of course not — if they did, they’d be changing their own lifestyles to cut their carbon footprints, which you’ll notice is the one thing they won’t do. Similarly, whipping up mutual hatred between working class white people and working class people of color is how the privileged classes have stayed on top here in America since colonial times, and the woke industry is simply the latest form of that gimmick. Don’t fall for it.

    Patricia M, oh, it’s not cluelessness. It’s propaganda. They’re trying to keep people from doing the smart thing and getting ready for the inflation that’s coming.

    Your Kittenship, maybe he’s been in suspended animation in that dome under the sea. “Bring Back Magnus!” might be a worthwhile slogan.

    Patricia M, glad to hear that you’ve come through the latest storm in good shape! We had the remnants of the storm come through this morning — very wet, but nothing more than that.

    Galen, the sooner we get out of the empire business, the better. If our departure from Afghanistan was an embarrassing mess, at least we’re out.

    Oilman2, thanks for this. That makes sense — and the fact that shale companies aren’t expanding operations even though the price of oil is soaring says something that has to be listened to.

    Mawkernewek, yep. It’s all very reminiscent of the attempts in the last days of the Soviet Union to rekindle fervor for Communism…

    Chris, I remember that conversation — and I also remember the early boats from the Titanic. There’s a lovely Spanish phrase, sal si puedes — it means “get out if you can.” Good advice!

    Billie, many thanks for the data points. The “justice” system is another way in which things are rigged to maximize the profits of the salary class at the expense of the wage class — thanks for pointing this out!

    Lew, duly noted!

    Augusto, it’s worth trying, though information from such sources always has to be tested against material evidence.

    Elkriver, all these should be answerable. Have you looked up the answers?

    Pygmycory, many thanks for the data points.

  216. I understand the point you are making regarding the study of people downriver from a dam. However, the study may have overlooked key possibilities such that the people within sight of the dam moved there because they had no fear of a dam failure and the real estate prices were really low. Or, they are more educated about the potential failure of that particular dam and realize that other life dangers are much greater. Fear is often rooted in a lack of knowledge so the less educated downstream folks have developed exaggerated fears. Or, it could be exactly as the study concluded. Hard to say.

    I live within a few miles of an operating nuclear power plant and have zero fear from that plant. I do fear an intersection where drivers often greatly exceed the speed limit.

    Agreed that collapse will be a series of ups and mostly downs. However, there is no reason to think that the collapse must be global. Indeed it is becoming apparent that several global blocks are forming with shrinking interdependence. China, Russia, Iran and a few other know what is coming to the Western economies and are disengaging accordingly although China will have the most difficult time doing such.

    Regarding magic, my experience in changing personal reality can be done to a certain extent along magical principles but otherwise we are all swept along by a larger reality. The fun part is understanding that larger reality.

  217. A couple comments. One, the other day my sister posted a meme on Facebook accusinng various corporations of being responsible for global warming. I replyed that it might have more to do with the 5 or more car trips a day she makes, and the goods and services that she purchases – which is, of course, what keeps those nasty corporations clanking along. She agreed but it made me realize how easy it is to blame someone else for what boils down to our own behavior.

    Two. I’ve long been puzzled by the attitudes of different classes twoards electric cars. My salary class freinds and family members are absolutely entrhallled with electric cars. My working class freinds and family have attitudes ranging from outright hatred of electric cars to casual indifference. You comment on “complexity enclaves” seems to provide an answer. The working class know darn well that the electerics -and the shiney green techno future they represent- will only be available in the complexity enclaves and that they willl not be members. OTOH, the salary class either doesn’t know the green tech future will only be for those in the enclaves, or they expect to be in the enclave themselves. I suspect many salary class people are going to be sorely disappointed.

  218. Re: the student debt “crisis”.

    One wonders if the Democrats are aware that student loan forgiveness is deeply unpopular with much of the working class. They are actually advocating a debt jubilee for the salary class – or salary class wannabees, while offering nothing to those who didn’t buy into a 4 year degree proram. It’s easy to tell who is and is not represented by the Democrats.

  219. To all discussing horses vs tractors (Walt, SiliconGuy, Oilman, Teresa): horses replace themselves, but the equipment they use does not! So you would still need to manufacture that. The horse should be compared to the engine, not the tractor.
    Other things to take into account when doing these calculations: how many people you would need to work with a tractor vs a horse / mule / donkey, water consumption, horse size and therefore feed needs (it seems to me some American horses are seriously oversized compared to the work they need to do, but I could be wrong), whether you’re working on flat, steep, or irregular land, what type of horse management system you use (pasture, stall, shoes, no shoes, eat them at the end of their life…), safety, training, how you’re gonna move them around (they used to be means of transportation, now you need to buy trailers to load them onto), whether they are useful for anything else except farm work (transportation, getting rid of plants other animals don’t eat)… animals working the land tend to compact it less and fertilize it as they walk, but at the same time they compact the land their are kept onto as pasture if not rotated enough, and horse poop can be a problem when moving around.

    We always try to quantify and standardize everything but I don’t think an issue like that can be settled just looking at land use or even reduced to numbers. Some people (including myself) use animals in agriculture because it’s just more pleasant and fun and less lonely. It’s better for the environment too, but only if done in a certain way. For that matter, we use an enormous amount of land to keep horses just for pleasure, so if some of those were put to useful work, the extra amount of land needed would be…. zero.

  220. @Elkriver these are good points. And former employees, priests and nuns who worked in residential schools contributed a lot of information to the Truth and Reconciliation Comission in the 1990’s. The Anglican Church and United Churches have, as pygmycory says, put decades of work into redressing what was done at their schools, after extensive cataloguing efforts (available online, if you have the stomach for it). For starters:

    On what the distraction is about, for starters:

    “There has been a significant shift in forestry operations and forestry – Indigenous relations since those dark days of disregard for Indigenous rights and environmental protection. According to the January 2015 BC Forest Industry: Economic Impact Study prepared by MNP LLP:

    “The forest industry is a world leader in sustainable forest management. BC has more land certified to internationally recognised sustainability standards than any other jurisdiction in the world. This certification has helped to differentiate products originating from BC forests as being environmentally sustainable products.

    The forest industry includes First Nations participation. Since 2002, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has signed forest tenure agreements with 175 of the 203 First Nations in BC. These agreements provide $324 million in resource revenue-sharing and access to 63.2 million cubic metres of timber.” (this is a great case study of what a community can do for itself)

    At the other end of the country, it’s fish and lobsters:

    “For the past 20 years, it appeared, superficially, as though a lasting and fair rapprochement had been achieved. Indigenous fishing and commercial activity expanded dramatically. Strong business relations formed between indigenous and non-indigenous people. A significant measure of prosperity extended to First Nations communities for the first time on a sustained basis. It was a legally based Canadian and indigenous success story.”

  221. I have several missing teeth. This is how you do it: Go to the dentist only when in pain; never see a hygienist; don’t floss; skip brushing your teeth if you don’t feel like it; use a hard toothbrush and brush quickly; never check your teeth in a mirror; keep amalgam fillings till they expand and crack your teeth; eat carbs and drink eight cups of sugary tea a day..

    My dentist got very upset when I told him the reason I had bad teeth was because he was a bad dentist. He said it was all diet, and explained that back in the ’50s and ’60s they used to recruit rural Africans to work on the mines in Johannesburg, and they all had perfect teeth. But after a couple of years in the city on Western diets their teeth were as bad as everyone else’s.

    One thing I learned recently is that it is bad to allow your mouth to dry out. This kills the beneficial bacteria that keep the teeth mineralized and combat the bad bacteria. My mouth tends to fall open when I sleep and dry out. I had no idea how to combat this until a functional dentist’s website recommended taping it shut. It worked. I started with 2″ paper surgical tape, now I use a product called perforated tape. My mouth is much healthier nowadays.

  222. Thank you for this “wet fish slap” (in Oilman’s apt phrase).

    What I wonder about is this: “frantic money printing is one of the ways that governments in crisis try to stay on top of their debts.”

    There is such an obvious flaw in the middle of the idea that one can stay on top of debts by creating…. ahem… more debts (which is the basic mechanism of “money printing”) that I can only imagine governments allow themselves to think this is possible by cultivating a logic gap in their thinking.

    OTOH, when you consider that every debt = a creditor claim on some piece of debtor property or effort, the system of money printing ends up being an accelerating system of consolidating ever more creditor claims on the property and effort of all the rest of us, and the hope of remaining within the net creditor class (the legally entitled property and effort claimant class) is the reason that cultivating such a logic gap makes “sense” (or “cents”)…

  223. JMG

    Did you get your rejection slip for the short story you sent to that Progressive magazine? Any chance you will publish it soon as I would really like to read it. I read your short stories on the ADR re Christmas in the future and it really brought home to me what we can expect at a very visceral level. Sometimes fiction reaches places that non-fiction simply can’t.

    Ben & Naomi & Mark L

    I think “Make America Great Again” was a brilliant slogan because it acknowledged that America is not great for a lot of its citizens. There is no point debating what “great” means as it covers many things for many people. The key thing was the implicit recognition of decline for many and it offered millions hope that Trump would be able to reverse some of that decline with tariffs on China and a clampdown on illegal immigration.

    In contrast, Killary had “I’m with her” like the narcissist and egotist that she is. It was all about her and her overwhelming sense of entitlement. Also, the logo she used had an arrow going sideways. Even that was a giveaway that things won’t get better but it was an implicit promise to the PMC that they could maintain their level. Biden used the WEF slogan “Build Back Better” which means sweet FA to me. I doubt very much he could explain what it means. Interestingly so did Johnson in the UK. It’s like they both got the memo from Klaus Schwab or something.

  224. Hi John Michael,

    It’s funny how you can go through a life full of conversations, and then you find yourself in the middle of an otherwise innocuous conversation and the little light bulb in your brain flicks on and you get the message. I’ve mentioned this to you before, but it is worth recalling all the same, the conversation I once had long ago with a charity mugger from Greedpeace was a bit of a turning point for me. The guy declared to me that: ‘I feel sorry for you’. I’m not sure what my crime was, but I may have upset him by sweeping my hand in the air, taking in the activities of the city and declaring: ‘Not much of this stuff is sustainable’. Incidentally he wanted money for the Great Barrier Reef, although he was unclear what they were going to do with the money. Coral reefs have been on this planet longer than humans, so my gut feeling suggests that they’ll be OK, just like the sharks and crocodiles will also be OK.



  225. Ashara @164, if I may:

    Regarding child mortality.

    The average number of the ‘1 in x’ sort hides a more complex reality, which I will attempt to briefly describe.

    Prior to industrial revolution, non-violent deaths were driven mostly by bad harvests. The logic was simple and brutal: the adults are needed to carry out the next harvest and so get their fill, the children and the elderly are not and so become expendable. The resulting malnutrition then causes some of them to die of diseases that they would be able to recover from in times of plenty.

    The elderly, being elderly, were already inevitably approaching death anyway. But a spell of malnutrition could well stunt a child for years if not the rest of their lifetime, even if they survived. As a result, a cohort of children who had to endure a string of bad harvests would be greatly reduced, and will produce a smaller number of children in their collective adulthood.

    At present, even with negligible child mortality, the fertility in First World countries has fallen below replacement level some years ago and stays below that level, in some cases even keeps falling lower still. There are fewer deaths involved, but the effect is the same as if we have spent some decades being hammered by bad harvests. Basically, we are no longer cutting down children because we have cut down *on* children.

    The thing is, these are both two different ways in which an extreme and widespread impoverishment expresses itself. And that impoverishment too is a feature rather than a bug, except that it is being presented as a virtue.

    Migrant Worker

  226. @ JMG – 1 – Yes, considering the source never hurts.

    2 – Dropping those work programs, and the tech ‘support’ that goes with them, would save the city a considerable sum of money. I’m going to shop the idea around and see if others would be willing to put pen to paper (along with myself, of course).

    3 – I only mention it because I saw some talk about a ‘baby bust’ post earlier on in the comments somewhere. Maybe it could be a 5th Wednesday post?

  227. Naomi #209:

    Beautiful comment.

    Elkriver #222:

    Good points.

    There are plenty of horrendous events that happen all the time, but that do not pique the interest of our overlords because they do not support the preferred narrative, which now includes bashing western religions as Evil. The corporate media rarely report on those things that don’t further the preferred narrative either. For proof, one need look no further than the media behemoths’ silencing of any non-official information about Covid.

    Therefore, it’s important to keep this in mind whenever listening to regular news reports. There are many important stories to choose from; it’s good to think about why some events are reported and others ignored and why, in the stories that make the news, certain aspects are trumpeted and other equally important information is left unreported.

    Ben #224:

    I thought it was pretty clear in Naomi’s comment that she was not equating military prowess with greatness. She wasn’t praising generals for their strategy, nor was she reveling in the deaths of the enemy or the morality of solving crises with guns, but rather honoring the courage and determination of ordinary Americans who stepped up and did what needed to be done in the face of absolute horror and great danger to themselves.

    As for your distain for Christianity, I could have written exactly the same thing five or ten years ago. I spent my childhood in the RC church, my teens/twenties in a Pentecostal denomination and came out of the experience with a burning hatred of all of it and an unhealthy dose of self-righteousness about the hypocrisy, which I saw everywhere. Over the intervening years I have come to understand – still imperfectly, but better – the core of Christianity (as opposed to the doctrines of particular churches), have reconsidered my opinion of it in light of these new (to me) revelations, and now consider myself a Christian, although with a very different view of it than I had as a youngster. Be careful what you despise! Things have a way of coming around again.

    JMG #226:

    Don’t get me started on the ‘justice’ system. I didn’t have any reason to interact with it until some siblings were mistreating our elderly father; thereafter I learned very quickly that, while we have a large, very expensive, legal system in this country, ‘justice’ is not necessarily the operating principle, but instead an occasional outcome.

  228. Ben,

    The cockpit stormers of 9/11 all died. Many patriots died in the hulks of British ships. Half the pilgrims died that first winter in New England. In my own husbands family, one of his maternal ancestor’s was scalped and partially disemboweled by Indians, before going on to survive and have 10 children. Another fled first from France and then England and then to America to find religious freedom. Nothing to do with military strength. Bravery. Heros and men and women of valour built this nation. And on our side, we are still singing about them and telling their stories. And we are telling our children to emulate them.

    Yes, we don’t rate the same things as highly as you do, you are right. You are really making my own point for me and arguing against yours. Your own emphasis on the value of “culture” indicates a last stage of a civilization, not the first.

    That’s why it’s a majority of my side of the political divide, (certainly in the rural Trump supporting areas) who, whilst overwhelmingly chopping wood for their fires and hunting deer and going to church like their ancestors did this fall, will have far less issue with reconciling their myths and societal values with a decline in technology.

  229. As someone with multiple disabilities and have worked as a disability activist, I have been pondering “collapse now, avoid the rush” and how the Powers that Be try to make saving people with disabilities a hobby horse.

    I actually have ancestors who survived with various disabilities. What I have learned is that if there is a will survive, they will at least try. The community and families are the ones who have to deal with the person.

    The Religion of Progress actually ignores us. We are trotted out as gee see how technology makes our lives better. However, I know people who live in housing that have narrow hallways and stairs. They have to keep their wheelchairs outside and hope the chair doesn’t get stolen. In the grand marches – i.e. women’s, etc, they really did not know what to do with any of us. So they didn’t. Since we are not profitable – it costs money to have ramps and wide aisles in stores – and not easily resolved by technology, we will be ignored in the coming decline.

    I tend to think that we will be able to teach those who the Religion of Progress have failed to cope with loss.

  230. @ JMG RE: no shale expansion

    Other reasons for no shale expansion: 1) leases all bought up over the sweet spots 2) no drillers are awash in hot money looking for a home 3) loan facilities shrinking due to the impossible ‘zero carbon’ baloney 4) BoDs are being bought off (think BP, Shell, etc.) and these companies gutted from their main focus to play their stocks

    I haven’t looked but it might be beneficial for you to see how Argentina shale is doing – that has been the other hotspot. I haven’t been trying to follow that. I have been working conventional stuff and geothermal.

    @ Void RE: autos
    Amazingly enough, I just helped a guy slide a 2007 chevy V8 into a 1992 Jeep. If you go with something as venerable as the chevy small block, the parts circulating are mind boggling for the small block. With other car companies, they switch engines too often for whatever reason. You ave to check the volume of production for engines to see about availability. That’s why the FJ was on my radar before it even got released – the 1GRFE motor has longevity…

    @ John Goddard RE: collections

    You have to answer and wade through the phone BS until you get a person, or you respond with a certified letter and an offer to settle the outstanding balance they bought.

    They buy this debt for pennies on the dollar, and the companies selling them use it as an offset to their profits. Unless the bill is huge, they will never sue you trying to collect. Just envision what their $250-500/hr lawyer would tell them, and then look at the amount on your bill. Lawyers get paid 1st, after all.

    In addition, there are stipulations about medical debts and collections – they basically can’t sue you or many estates would get bankrupted upon death of eldest after ER or long hospital stays.

    Additionally, hospitals do not want to go to court, because the discovery phase would destroy them – you could actually request documents that exhibit how egregious and predatory their billing is – they do not want that. They want a black box that sucks cash from people, and the collections guys want to talk you into paying your bill using whatever they can – because you don’t really have to with uncollateralized debt and they can’t make you with medical debt.

  231. @ gaiabaracetti RE: animals

    you remind folks of a good point, but the horse IS the same as a tractor, actually. The horse powers the tools you attach to it (plow, rake, chain, etc.) and the tractor does exactly the same. The tractor engine is useless without the tractor drivetrain and PTO.

    Even if you go the horsepower way, you still have to buy the farm implements (plow, seeder, rakes, harvester) for the horse(s) to do the work, and those are not free and require maintenance just like modern versions for tractors. At this point, all those horse-drawn implements are “yard art”, and are no longer made.

    If you want to start a business for your great-grandchildren, making farm implements, wagons, etc. might be a thing and now the drawings and pictures are out there so you could rathole them for your progeny!

    As for horse size, you need to imagine that a tiny hobby farm is usually 80 acres or more here in the USA. You need more than a single Percheron to handle that amount, because you can’t work horses hard all day – if you are tired from working them, they are triply tired. So to put in a days hard work, you need a relief horse or two so you can rest the one you started with.

    If you have just one, then you basically get a half day from them if it is hard work (think pulling logs and stumps) , full day if light work (raking).

    @ Justin RE: cars

    I run a thing called ScanGauge on all my vehicles. It’s OBD2 reader/writer that has lots of gauges available and other functions. My only qualm about ECUs is that they aren’t cheap, but lots better than replacing the battery pack on a hybrid.

    But from my experience, the majority of people can no longer change their own oil, and don’t wish too. They want to get in, turn the keys and go. Which is why there are so very many crappy used cars still floating around, and why electric seems to be a great thing for them – simpler vehicle and less parts and it just goes. They just don’t go very far without sitting and charging…

  232. @ Chris at Fernglade RE: apocalyptic rovers…

    Mate, I got no doubt that should the descent get steeper quicker, you will have something long buried to protect you and yours. I know we have that here at our farm set to go. But most likely, those guys talking out of their backsides about “resupply from locals” have never been shot and most likely never even spent a few weeks away from their video consoles…

    Thanks for reminding me of those idiots…LOL

    Phrase of the day: “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.”

  233. About collection agencies: It might be a good idea to always, always have the alleged debt verified. My daughter took me to the emergency room for a minor problem–swollen elbow–for which I was given a steroid shot. Never again! Medicare 2 covered most and I made a payment arrangement for the rest of the outrageous bill. I missed a payment around Christmas, and then simply paid off the remaining balance after the New Year. Around the end of December, I received a bill from a collection agency in Florida, and another plus phone call after I had paid the balance. I sent a notarized letter to the hospital billing dept. about this. The answer thanked me for settling the account and stated that the Florida company was an agency they never use. My guess is that someone in the hosp. staff picks up a little extra cash feeding names to the Fl. people.

    About defund the police: I believe elite groups are pushing this idea for, I would suggest, two reasons:
    1. Evil ain’t necessarily stupid. Should this idea be implemented what will be defunded will be what is not visible, in other words, investigation and prosecution of fraud and other kinds of white collar crime. One can easily understand why wealthy people love that idea.

    2. The activists, the (disposable) street warriors are being bought off with promise of nice, PMC jobs as peaceful intervenors or advocates, or some such. We have seen this movie before, and most of the jobs go to the less competent graduates from the upper and upper middle classes.

  234. Elkriver @ 222, To answer your question, why now? One idea which comes to mind is the very real possibility of a conclave within the next 5 years. I suspect Pope Francis’s health might be a lot worse than the Vatican admits. There is a strong possibility, I think likelihood, that a black cardinal from Africa will be elected, encouraging the influx into the church of large numbers of African diaspora Christians with politically liberal and socially conservative views. TPTB do NOT want to see that happen.

    Reporting about the graves has (deliberately) overlooked and or obscured the fact that while contracts were given out to church groups, the policy of separating native children from their parents and communities was decided at government level. Someone also seems to have decided that no oversight was needed. That is what happened in the US, and I suspect also in Canada.

  235. Observer, collapse is always local. The broader decline is another matter. Since our species is busy using up all the nonrenewable resources that make an industrial society possible, industrial society as such has no future. There may well be future societies with relatively advanced technology — my book The Ecotechnic Future is about that possibility — but they will have to get by with the trickle of concentrated energy you can get from renewable sources, not the flood we’ve drawn down from fossil fuels. Thus every society that’s currently dependent on fossil fuels is facing a rough transition to a much less affluent future. As for magic, have you studied and practiced traditional magical methods? If not, you might be surprised how much flexibility there is.

    Christopher, two direct hits. I’m quite sure the salary class members aspire to be in those enclaves and won’t let themselves think about the very high likelihood that they’ll be on the outside looking in. As for student debt, that’s why it’s a better strategy to simply make student loans subject to ordinary bankruptcy. That way it’s not a special handout to the privileged — and if you combine it with an end to the federal student loan program, a lot of working class people will be sufficiently delighted by the steep contraction in the university industry (with critical race theory programs leading the way to the dumpster) that they’ll put up with the rest of the program.

    Scotlyn, of course. Since governments can best be seen as instruments used by elite classes to maintain their power and privilege, money printing simply moves the locus of control more firmly into the hands of said elite classes.

    Bridge, the Grist cli-fi contest won’t officially make its final decision until next month. Once I get the rejection slip, I plan on placing the story somewhere else promptly, and I may be putting out a call for other stories to make an alternative anthology.

    Chris, that’s a classic. So is “Greedpeace,” by the way.

    Ben, (2) please do consider it! (3) No, it’ll be a first Wednesday post — it’s an important issue, and since I can weave it into several other important issues, it’s worth moving up the stack.

    Beekeeper, I’m very fortunate that I’ve managed to stay out of it so far. Still, it’s worth noting that this is another of the reasons why barbarian warlords become very popular among the people of the empire they carve up into fiefdoms. They may be crude and unfair, but you can get a bad decision from them without having to through the kind of endlessly elaborated absurdities that a complex society uses to make its equally bad decisions.

    Neptunesdolphins, thanks for this. I once reduced a true believer in progress to spit-slinging rage by using my (now late) brother-in-law’s favorite phrase for that sort of rhetoric. Bob was in a wheelchair from age 19 until his death more than forty years later, and his phrase for the rhetoric of saving people with disabilities was “pity porn.” I’d be interested in hearing more about your take on this, and also hearing from other people with disabilities; it seems to me that they might be able to provide a very good critique of the “but we have to save the disabled people!” pity porn rhetoric.

    Oilman2, many thanks for this. I’ll see what I can find.

  236. Oilman, fair enough about the tractor 🙂 Good news though: some people *are* still making horse-drawn implements. They’re probably not that easy to find but they’re out there – thank the Amish for that..
    I recommend the magazine Rural Heritage for the US, but there’s something happening in Europe too. We don’t have as much land as you do (getting into agriculture in Italy makes you understand why the mass migration out of here happened in the first place…), so we probably need smaller horses. As in other parts of the world, oxen were used as well. They are slow but calm and strong. Agree about the need to have more than one horse, for company as well as they don’t like being alone.

  237. Regarding student loan debt, aside from making it dischargeable in bankruptcy, you should have to be 21 to sign up for it, leaving high school graduates four years to start doing productive things in real life before taking on six figure debt loads to learn critical race theory. Someone who decided they really wanted to go to university could live with their parents until 21 and have quite a lot of money saved up even with a fairly low wage, then take out a much more modest loan to cover the rest.

    Either way, the sooner we abandon the absurd pretention that universities contain some sort of intellectual vanguard of plucky rebels who are leading the fight against the power structures of our society the better.

    @oilman2, I know you know what you’re doing, I just wanted to put that out there for the broader community. I have a cheap reader with its own screen and controls that so far has saved me hundreds of dollars and gotten some good will from coworkers. I don’t really see ECUs as being the main failure point in a car – I’m more worried about sensors and various rubber bits – I’m planning to hang onto my middle aged 40 mpg compact for a while – if I’m ever going to manage to buy any property it is not gonna be anywhere with bus service or a reasonable human powered commute. Of course therein lies the assumption that I’ll have a job in the future – but that’s a separate issue. It doesn’t cost me much to keep the car insured, and I own it, so it’s always going to have a monetary value north of zero.

  238. @ Bridge – I mostly agree with you. Make America Great Again was a brilliant slogan, and way better than either Hillary or Biden’s. I just wish Trump had governed as the populist he pretended to be on the campaign trail.

    @ Beekeeper – I can see how my comment about Pence would have read as being broadly anti-Christian, though that was not really my intent. I reserve my vitriol for politicians. I think Mike Pence is a A+ example of a politician who uses the levers of power to enforce their own view of morality on others. I also think that culture war issues are used by the wealthy to pit Americans against each other so they can continue looting the country, but that is a bit of a tangential issue.
    As a tree worshiping polytheist, I’m no stranger to spirituality, and I certainly don’t despise anyone for having religious beliefs. I just wish they would live their values, rather than trying to impose their values on others. As for Naomi’s comment, see my response below if you like.

    @ Naomi – There’s a lot to unpack in your comment:
    1 – Thanks for clarifying what you meant. Yes, a great many Americans have done things that could be considered ‘great.’ My own family’s history here goes back to the mid-1700s (in one branch, at least). I find it, odd, that you seem to think that because I hold different political views, I would automatically reject, or not value, bravery and self-sacrifice. I also value other things that America has contributed to the world, including our continuing adherence, however imperfectly, to the rule of law, representative democracy, and yes, our cultural contributions to music and literature. . Indeed, valuing bravery and self-sacrifice is not mutually exclusive to valuing other American endeavors. Do you view them as separate, competing values?
    2 – Speaking of ‘culture’, I don’t really get the point you are trying to make. From a theoretical point of view, both Toynbee and Spengler viewed ‘culture’ as a prerequisite for civilization. Spengler specifically identified ‘civilization’ as a mummified form of a once vital ‘great culture’. Keeping that in mind, how, by valuing ‘culture,’ am I valuing something that comes at the end stage?
    3 – Ok, I see what you mean. I would add, though, that there are plenty of people on the ‘blue’ side of the political divide that are getting very used to doing more and more with less and less. You might have more in common with us than you may suspect.

  239. RE–student loans. Not all student loans were to students majoring in critical race theory or gender studies at elite universities expecting to step into salary class jobs. Some of the worst abuses were in for-profit vocational schools: auto tech, culinary arts, cosmetology and hair dressing, business skills and so forth that working class people attended to acquire job skills that could lift them out of retail, food service or unskilled labor. Some of these schools went out of business before people graduated, others offered over-priced programs and little help in job placement, little screening of students for aptitude. Many naïve working class kids were set up for failure. Doesn’t matter; they still owe the money. There have been some government programs to address the cases of outright fraud, but there are still people struggling.

    On the other hand, the 4 year colleges are also in recruiting students into programs that have little chance of employment. Liberal arts graduate programs could close tomorrow and the colleges would not run out of applicants for English, history, philosophy, or sociology professorships for years. And the colleges know it. I have a friend who teaches English at a small college in the South. Good students say “I want to be an English professor like you.” She firmly tells them not even to consider graduate school in her field. I have told people the same thing. Oh well, then major in STEM–become a computer programmer, etc. Sure, and watch the people come in on special visas to take those jobs–high end indentured servitude. Or watch the jobs be off-shored. With current technology an X-ray can be sent to a radiologist in India to be read as easily as it can be sent down the hall.


  240. @Augusto

    Regarding: your reply to Ashara on Progress and the situation of today’s industrial society.

    I agree with you; the most constructive thing to do would be to salvage what we can from the present and pass it on. As a person interested in applied mathematics, I would argue that, for example, mathematical statistics (as opposed to data science and other number-crunching intensive methods) in the empirical modeling domain and the qualitative theory of ODEs, PDEs, DDEs in the mechanistic modeling domain need to be conserved. Perhaps, future ecotechnic civilizations will come up with low-tech ways of crunching numbers to supplement the insights offered by the these tools. Differential equations, for one, are incredibly powerful; and it’s interesting when one sees that they were developed to tackle the neat-and-clean world of physics, for example, but are used in ‘messy’ fields like biology and provide interesting insights. It would be interesting to see how such tools are used by the societies of the far future.

  241. Oilman2, Now that your oilseed groves are growing, are you seeing a decline in rodent population? A CA gardener advised me to plant a castor bush for gopher control. I had small children and didn’t want to take the risk, but it occurs to me now that plantings of gorgeous runner beans in a climate where they perennialize might serve the same purpose. The beans are edible, if not very tasty, and the roots are quite toxic.

    Would it make sense for you to buy colts and fillies and raise your own work animals? I have heard country people say that horses kill snakes on sight, and some old time farmers kept a horse or two in pasture with their sheep for that reason.

    The response to I will just take what I want thinking is formation of citizen militias and I think we can see the beginnings of those right now. Eventually, the CMs will get it right, and realize that public safety does not include interfering in folks’ private lives.

    Two tactics I have found that can work when dealing with petty and intrusive officialism: One is get someone on your side who outranks the official. Try to get a letter on letterhead paper from that person, nevermind what it actually says, because the official either won’t read it or won’t understand if he or she does try to read it. The other is show up at court, the meeting, whatever, with family, nicely dressed and polite demeanors, in tow. Various immigrant groups use this tactic with great success. Grandmother or uncle can ask questions that make the official uncomfortable, with no blame accruing to you, the designated victim.

  242. OK, JMG, you may expect us to get our share of Diocletians, but I’m wondering how many of them will live long enough to do any good, in light of the number of bullets the first Diocletian likely had to dodge, to be able to make his reforms stick.
    Today’s elites are showing a striking amount of determination to keep their power, regardless of the cost to others.

  243. JMG – Do you have a backup plan for the Tarot course if the web goes down for a period, becomes intermittent, slowed down or restricted in some way?

  244. More on the Diocletian analogue: had he been disposed of, like so many precursors were, it may’ve been another 50 years before the next Diocletian appeared, and that may’ve been too late to prevent a earlier emergence of the Dark Ages.

  245. Re: inflation? People confronted with rising prices can always find an explanation for one category or another going up. But without an increase in the working money supply, an increase in price in one category would have to be balanced by a falling price in another category. Weather, technology, oil-supply disruption … they can change the balance between categories, but for the whole basket to go up requires more money to go around. But, the money indeed needs to “go around”; money at rest might as well not exist. And with more money being pumped into the economy to “rescue” us from the pandemic disruptions, how can ANYONE be surprised at rising prices?

    If student loans could be discharged through bankruptcy, then declaring bankruptcy would be just one more item to check off at graduation: return the rented graduation costume, return all the library books, pack up the car, file for bankruptcy, and hit the road. If college students had tangible assets, they wouldn’t have taken out the loans in the first place. So, they mortgage themselves (and their future earnings).

    Naomi – If you’re interested in ham radio, see the forum topic at Thinking that ham radio is a substitute for a cell phone is as unrealistic as thinking that your 1/8-acre backyard garden will feed your family, or that a few solar panels will replace grid-tied power. I’ve been an Extra-class ham for about ten years, and have had a lot of fun with it, but the fun part is the struggle, not the success.

  246. JMG – Not just the course of course. That won’t be the concern. Just keeping something going at a lower level of activity? I’ve thought the same for other sources of info and sanity. Interesting note by Naomi – I have started to look at ham and radio in general also.

  247. I appreciate you not telling us what to do. Allowing us to look around our own areas and use our imaginations seems crucial to adapting to whatever is next.

    Btw did you see the news from Wells Fargo? Copied and pasted the highlights of the article here. I feel a cold chill when I read this!

    “Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf has been forced to make difficult decisions during the coronavirus pandemic, offloading assets and deposits and stepping back from some products because of limitations imposed by the Federal Reserve. In 2018, the Fed barred Wells Fargo from growing its balance sheet until it fixes compliance shortcomings revealed by the bank’s fake accounts scandal.

    Last year, the lender told staff it was halting all new home equity lines of credit, CNBC reported. Months later, the bank also withdrew from a segment of the auto lending business.

    With its latest move, Wells Fargo warned customers that the account closures “may have an impact on your credit score,” according to a “Frequently Asked Questions” segment of the letter.

    Customers have been given a 60-day notice that their accounts will be shuttered, and remaining balances will require regular minimum payments at a fixed rate, according to the statement. When it was offered, the credit lines had variable interest rates ranging from 9.5% to 21%.

    The move is a strange one given the banking industry’s need to boost loan growth.

    In fact, last year big banks experienced the first aggregate drop in loans in more than a decade, according to Barclays bank analyst Jason Goldberg. Of the four largest U.S. banks, Wells Fargo saw the worst decline.”

  248. Afghanistan isn’t the only place in the Middle East that the Biden administration is pulling back American military forces from. The US military has been quietly withdrawing its air defense umbrella from Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries, including pulling out all of the remaining Patriot SAM batteries and THAAD ABM systems it has stationed there, while reducing the number of fighter squadrons deployed to the region.

    It seems to me that Biden and his handlers have come to the realization that the era of the American Empire is rapidly coming to a close and that the US government needs to focus on America’s truly vital national interests, such as China, America’s “near abroad” and dealing with long-neglected problems here at home.

  249. @ Justin RE: sensors

    I had one of my local younger burries come by today. He is a former Jeep mechanic. We finally got the last issue resolved with the Jeep – it’s an ECT sensor that is “iffy” – makes the temp gage run up but the temp isn’t actually up – so it sets off the computer alarms.

    The sensor is only $50, but to install it is $450 because they have to pull the inner fender and then replace it and redo the rivets holding the inner fender.

    So, while I diagnosed the issue that the dealership couldn’t with a buddy, the cost to fix it makes me cry. All I truly need is an analog temp gage and….aaarrrggghhhh!!

  250. I’ve got to imagine that one of the signs of impending doom will be the self-deportation of the salary wage class immigrants in the U.S. These are folks who have the means to leave and still maintain citizenship in their home country. Start to see them going home in droves and you know the hammer is coming down.

    I wanted to say too that a few years ago I felt sad/angry that we didn’t have more competent federal government to manage to decline. I kept hoping we’d vote in better politicians. Now after Covid it is glaringly obvious that it isn’t an election problem, but a bureaucratic problem, and there is no hope for solutions from the federal government.

    However, I’ve been blown away by how many people were able to think for themselves and go on with life in many positive ways. The media destroying the people’s trust is a welcome development too. Allows fringe voices more space in the collective conversation. Fanning the embers of books these developments seems like a good idea.

  251. 1) Re historical/archeological/philosophical observations about climate change and drought in the Four Corners region, I recommend the following 2008 book by author Craig Childs: ‘House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest’. He writes about the lost culture of the Ancestral Puebloans (monumental architecture, sophisticated astronomical observations, finely engineered straight roads, etc.); he also relates it to the precarious state of modern times and gives a sense of the scale of time.

    2) Didn’t see the full television* interview, which aired today on PBS (7/10/21). Interesting views of a contrarian investor that I did not expect to see expressed on MSM – for example, he believes that the ‘carbon bubble’ of the last 250 years is about to end, and, that without exception market bubbles eventually burst. I didn’t get to see what he said about ‘green’ investing, so I don’t know how much of these views are realistic, but, hey, nobody is perfect and he does have some worthwhile things to say. The interview on the wealthtrack website also has an audio-only version. Wikipedia has an entry on Grantham with references to older articles (hopefully these will be available for a while. The one I glanced at, from 2011, is archived on the waybackmachine).

    * hubby ‘needs’ the boob-tube. Otherwise I wouldn’t have the beast in my house.

    JMG – Thanks – so much food for thought, as always! BTW – just purchased ‘The King in Orange’ and the local B&N.

  252. Looking forward to read the baby bust article, we are following Spengler’s playbook about civilizations.

  253. @ Mary Bennet RE: stuff

    Rodents – when we first cleared land on our place, we had a rodent explosion. The following spring we had a snake explosion (getting fat on mice and rats). The 3rd spring we had red tail hawks literally dive bombing us taking the snakes! So things even themselves out if you let nature rebound after you change the scenery.

    We planted far from our buildings wrt the castor bean plants – no gophers were around where we planted.

    Runner beans could help, but if you have ever opened up a gopher run, you can see quickly they love acorns and hoard them – so if you have oaks that drop acorns, then you are fighting a losing battle. We just let the gophers do their thing – coyotes seem to be a limiter for them as well, so when their runs get big, we leave the big gate open for a couple of weeks.

    We aren’t ready to buy draft animals yet – we have more fencing to put up before that happens. As for horses and snakes – the best animal to pair a single horse with is a jackass. They are very territorial, defensive and are great alarms – as good or better than a dog. They will run off wild hogs, kill any snake they see and have no problems with other large animals penned with them. My grandparents had a few, so this was something I saw myself.

    Bless you Mary, but I do not have your patience for the officious bureaucrats. That is why my farm is in a very poor county (can’t afford inspectors or even many LEOs) and also 20 miles from the nearest city limits and outside of cellular range. It’s also why I love Texas, where you can carry a pistol on your hip. Just seeing that makes 90% or the nosy people and bureaucrats simply look away.

    I had problems with nosy neighbors taking pictures of things they believed were local code violations in my driveway. Eventually, one of them posted a picture of my backyard on Facebook, which incensed SWMBO. She replied that the pic could only have been taken by someone in tresspass…LOL To make people steer clear, I invited my son down and we cleaned all our rifles and pistols on a table in the front yard, starting at 6pm when the “nosy folk” go walking.

    We haven’t seen or heard any more from the nosy folk…

  254. Hi John Michael,

    Forgot to mention as to your earlier observation about the Titanic, but it has proven itself to me several times over the past decade or so, that it is better to be wrong and overly prepared for a possible eventuality, than to be caught out by something that you considered possible, but took no action to avoid. 😉 Others may feel differently and I respect that choice.

    🙂 This here interweb thing is one giant relational database, which is why so many want to mine the data. Misspelling adds an additional layer of complexity to the indexing of their data, and that’s probably no bad thing. And word games are also sometimes a great way to possibly reveal hidden truths.

    Hi Oilman2,

    Yeah, well they can try can’t they? 🙂

    Mate, it wasn’t lost on me that most people basically aren’t fit enough (from an endurance of activity perspective) to attempt what they were talking up anyway. The recent epic wind storm about three weeks ago now, showed just how easily the location could be cut off. So if they made it up here after all that, I’d probably give them a feed and put them to work! History of the Great Depression suggests itinerant farm workers were mostly trying to get some food, get cleaned up and have somewhere to put their swag where they weren’t hassled. By and large the vast majority of folks stuck to what they knew – and that was the city. History is probably a really good guide to the future.



  255. Re: The Armed Forces commercials (Post 208):

    I’m actually reminded of a photography book about a Nazi propaganda magazine. I want to say Signal, but I know it’s wrong because Signal started in 1940 and I believe there were pictures from before that date. Also, I can’t remember the name of the book, just that it existed and I spent fifteen enjoyable minutes looking through it before it went out to the University book stacks for the first time.

    Anyway, the way they placed the advertisements reminds me of how the pictures (and articles) went in said magazine:

    Chinese: We Are One Nation, Ready To Fight! (In the Magazine: Before the actual fighting. Lots of pictures of German Armed Forces in uniform and war machinery.)
    Russian: We Are Marching, We Are Fighting! (In the Magazine: From the Start of War to the Start of Barbarossa. Various scenes, including many staged for the photographers.)
    American: We Are Many, Come Together! (In the Magazine: The first two years of the Russian Offensive, before the Stalingrad encirclement.). Note that the cartoon sections seem to hint as the dissolve from the “We Are Many” to the fantasy mode, even as the commercial fades back into reality mode for the final shot (Interesting note: the magazine went into fantasy mode as things fell apart after the Stalingrad encirclement.).

    Many people saw the video as a remark about the weakening American Readiness, and while a lot of the response looked like people were looking for affirmation of their beliefs (and I have my thoughts about who put the video together) I remembered that book in the Library and how the imagery changed from beginning (nation rising again) to strength to collapse, and that collection of videos in that order was EXACTLY that. They may have been predisposed to see what they saw, but what they saw was true.

  256. Re: Student Loans:

    And let’s not forget, it’s not just the Liberal Arts Degree’d (those deserving of debt slavery) or people who went to “Private For-Profit Schools (aka scam colleges)” (the foolish and desperate) that suffer from unforgiving Student Loan Debt. There’s also people who went for their dream job, went into debt because they had neither the money nor the family support, and did very well in school only for the Job “Market” to pick up on their student debt level and turn them away specifically for that reason. Lots of companies (and lots of government departments, let’s not forget) don’t want their newly minted hires to consider theft or graft because of debts owed, so they look at student debt and, if the debt is large enough, they’ll let the person hang in the breeze. (Graft is, after all, a fringe benefit for the C-suites and those high enough to be protected from below).

    And while I’m a fan of bankruptcy protection for student loans and across-the-board student loan forgiveness (from Scam Colleges to Ivy League, I say), let’s also not forget the necessity of making the Colleges and Universities responsible for the loans themselves. I wouldn’t mind making the Colleges and Universities responsible for the loans – if their students can’t/won’t pay back, maybe the Colleges and Universities should suffer. Add in 10-20 years before bankruptcy can be declared for student loans, and we have a start. At least something better than giving Sallie Mae access to people’s social security and retirement checks just because the job market turned on them when they graduated.

  257. >Good students say “I want to be an English professor like you.” She firmly tells them not even to consider graduate school in her field. I have told people the same thing. Oh well, then major in STEM–become a computer programmer, etc. Sure, and watch the people come in on special visas to take those jobs–high end indentured servitude. Or watch the jobs be off-shored. With current technology an X-ray can be sent to a radiologist in India to be read as easily as it can be sent down the hall.

    You’ve outlined some of the drivers of this bear market in labor. I’d estimate it’s been in a bear market since the mid-60s or so, just loss after loss after loss. I’d like you to think about the bear market in labor ending, although it may take it another 10 years or so to bottom out.

  258. Oilman2:

    A grateful thanks. I will pass on this info.

    Regarding student loans, I’ve always thought the best plan, at least to start with, would be to force the university or school to pay the loan for the student. This way, those who didn’t go to college won’t feel cheated. I realize that state-run colleges would be using taxpayer money for this, but maybe it would be they eye-opening shock the taxpayer needs regarding their colleges.

    I know there are a lot of problems with this idea, but it seems to be the most fair for everyone involved, and rather just punishment for the greedy colleges.

  259. Justin, that’s also a good idea.

    Rita, of course. Here again, though, permitting those debts to be discharged via bankruptcy would help a great deal.

    Lathechuck, thanks for this.

    Mouse, elites always cling to power with everything they’ve got. That’s why Diocletians, when they take power, usually start by killing a lot of people.

    Dennis, I’ve got two backup plans. If the internet starts getting balky my plan is to launch a quarterly magazine with a small publisher, which will carry that course among other things. If something gets in the way of that I’ll finish the course as quickly as I can and get it out in book form.

    Reader, that’s a common belief, but historical analogues don’t really support it. People usually turn to authoritarian governments not because they’re frightened, but because the existing government has become so inefficient that they get desperate for someone to cut through the red tape.

    Lathechuck, er, you’re old enough to know better than that. Before all student loans were guaranteed by the federal government, banks that offered them required you to have your parents cosign them. My wife’s student loans were on those terms, and you can bet that she paid them off.

    Denis, I did indeed. The question on my mind is whether they’re doing it because they realize the economy is going to tank, or if they’re doing it because their illegal behavior has gotten them so bad a reputation that buyers are refusing to take their packaged loans.

    Galen, another piece of good news. Once we refocus on our near abroad and our domestic issues there’s a chance we might be able to fix things.

    Denis, that’s an excellent point!

    PatriciaT, well, I’ll pass on the video, but the book sounds interesting. Thank you.

    Quinshi, we are indeed.

    Chris, that suggests some very interesting angles of attack…

    Godozo, since colleges and universities these days are in effect marketing departments for predatory lenders, yes, I could see that.

  260. @oilman2 yeah, the cost to do this stuff is pretty steep because it requires pretty deep dives into the engine compartment. My biggest fear with keeping a car running on the cheap is not the unlikely but costly “your engine blew up” but the “you’ve got a weird electrical bug and we’re going to need some time to figure it out”. For instance I had an ignition coil go which put the engine into limp mode because the ECU assumed that the real problem was an O2 sensor, but because my sketchy spark plugs were old too, it all ran incredibly poorly because the ECU’s open loop controller made a bad (but drivable) fuel-air mix that the worn out spark plugs couldn’t handle. The car had maybe 30 hp in this condition. An untrustworthy mechanic could have taken me to the cleaners. Instead a $50 OBD reader told me I had a multi cylinder ignition issue, and a relatively cheap spark plug + coil replacement fixed it in the parking lot at work. As a plus, I found out what coil was actually bad, and gave the three good old coils to a cowworker with a compatible engine so he could limp along to his family that long weekend.

    One of my ideas for how I’m going to support myself once software developer isn’t a job anymore is to fix e-whatevers. I know precious few people who have the complete set of skills to work on them, and we’re all friends.

  261. More cracks in the dam.
    My wife and I are in Dublin Airport, waiting for a connecting flight to visit her family in Italy. A long while after we arrived at the gate, the Captain announced that the jetway was unable to connect to the plane, and we were to exit via stair. The only other time I was in Ireland in 1962, we exited the plane by stair.
    After exiting the plane, I went to use the restroom. After soaping my hands, the touchless faucet dispensed no water.
    The future sure ain’t what it used to be.

  262. My impressions of the 3 military commercials:

    China: “Blam! Blam! Blam! Pew! Pew! All ur base r belong to us!”

    Russia: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna…” oh wait. no, this looks like a prison exercise yard.

    USA: “He’s a real American hero, G.I Joe is there….!”

  263. This just in, on NPR, in a story on Richard Branson’s upcoming tourism trip into space: “We must come to grips with the fact that, if we don’t industrialize in space, we are absolutely screwed on this planet.” We may accept the likelihood of this being true without also accepting its logical inverse: “If we do industrialize space, we are not absolutely screwed.” That is, the outcome (“we… are screwed”) may not be conditional in any way on space, tourism, or any combination thereof.

  264. JMG – Re: parents co-signing on student loans… I hadn’t realized that was prior practice. Thanks for clarifying that.

    When I went to college, my parents didn’t have anything substantial to contribute (and three more kids in the pipeline), so I covered my costs with grants, summer work, part-time work (as a research assistant and resident manager in off-campus housing), and thrifty living. College fees were a lot lower, relative to wages, back then (late 1970’s). I recently discovered that I had even forgotten to close out my student bank account; I guess there wasn’t enough left in it to bother with (<$50).

    Living next to a major public university, I got a hint that costs were out of control when I saw them tear up the concrete of the sidewalks outside the new performing arts center to replace it with slate slabs.

    Perhaps screening the credit-worthiness of families, or the threat of bankrupting the entire family, was found to be so discriminatory against students struggling to escape poverty that reasonable people decided that individual debt-slavery was preferred? (In fact, though, bankrupting the family is still an option, since many student loans are still co-signed by relatives. )

    from "": "Feb 6, 2020 — Pros of parents cosigning your loan … Approximately 93% of private student loans for undergraduates were cosigned by parents last year, …"

  265. Dear JMG,
    Renewables are not renewable as they are driven by nuclear fusion reaction in the core of the sun which will continue, by human terms, for a very long time but certainly will end. So, the question about sources of energy can be restated as how long can a given energy source provide useful amounts of energy at an affordable price.

    Fossils fuels don’t cut it and controlled fusion is far in the future and may never provide economical power. However, closed fuel cycle nuclear fission is here now using fast neutron reactors with colocated fuel reprocessing. Radioactive materials never leave the site.The process can use spent fuel rods sitting in storage pools around the world. Such a reactor can extract over 50 times more energy than was originally generated by those rods. Simple math indicates that those rods would power nuclear capacity at the present level for over a thousand years generating nuclear waste far less harmful than generated by current reactors. I don’t want this post to be a lesson on nuclear engineering (nor am I qualified for such) however these reactors are passively safe in that natural convection is sufficient to cool the reactor in the event of an emergency shutdown (i.e. no pumps, generators, control valves, etc. needed). Lets say that this technology can meet global electrical energy needs for 10,000 years. Is that enough? Perhaps by then, fusion may be ready:)

    The West has had its run and is out of ideas. Asia may likely be the new center of human civilization. If so, the collapse will begin in the West, wash up on the shores of Asia and largely dissipate. What happens to Western populations? I don’t know but the standard of living will be sharply diminished except for the financial elites who will always be calling the shots and livig large regardless of the degree of collapse. The collapse is well underway with money printing mitigating the worst aspects. That could work for a few more years. After that?.

    Regarding magic, my understanding is a mishmash of books and personal experience. My practice is derived from that mishmash and consists of random meditations and paying attention to dreams. Rules that keep me out of trouble include ZERO tolerance for any intention leading to narcissism, greed or harm to others. Being mindful of nature (the sky, animals, water, plants, etc,) keep me from wandering from a path that seems to be working. I deal with al of the garbage learned growing up by being aware but not obsessing over it. I have a long ways to go in that regard.

    Your posts and the commentators are wonderful resources and provide hope for those with open minds and open hearts. Thank you.

  266. It’s been amusing reading all the comparisons for this decade to the 1920s. It’s as if subconsciously, everyone knows the ship is sinking but let’s have one last hurrah. People do still learn about the Great Crash that culminated in the Great Depression don’t they? It is some interesting magic at work which makes one choose going out with a bang and then whimper versus leaving seeds. This was one of the better Roaring 20s articles I read.

  267. @Denis – you said “I’ve got to imagine that one of the signs of impending doom will be the self-deportation of the salary wage class immigrants in the U.S. These are folks who have the means to leave and still maintain citizenship in their home country. Start to see them going home in droves and you know the hammer is coming down.”

    I’m starting to see some of that here. I wouldn’t call it droves yet, but there’s a trickle… (Europeans at this point; haven’t noticed it yet with others.)

  268. OT: re: book offers. Books have found good homes; anything else I find will probably go to Kimberly Steele for her library. If anyone has any requests and something they want is in my library and available, please email me at mathews55 at msn dot com. Note spelling: anything other than “m-a-t-h-e-w-s” with one “t” will go astray.



    P.S. T.S. Elsa and a couple of power failures and a lightning strike have interfered with this effort any several others; and storm season has just begun. Bear with me. And Methylethyl, I hope you’re all right up there in the Panhandle, which has been hit hard, repeatedly, in the 2 years I’ve been here.

  269. Pixelated, thank you for the sound track.

    Peter, that sounds very Irish, somehow. Many thanks for the data points!

    Lathechuck, a fine bit of logical analysis! As for the co-signing issue, fair enough — I thought that was fairly common knowledge back in the day.

    Observer, every nuclear fission technology is cheap, safe, and clean until it gets built. That said, thanks for the heads up; doubtless closed-cycle fission will be the nuclear boondoggle du jour during the approaching oil crisis, the way that thorium reactors were the last time around. For what it’s worth, I think used fuel rods are a significant energy source for the simple reason that they produce a lot of heat; if small numbers of them, carefully spaced, were to be put in sealed containers and hooked up to thermoelectric generators, you’d have a modest but steady supply of electricity for the insanely long term, and it would be much safer and far more durable than any kind of reactor. Still, I don’t expect anyone to do that until we go through another few decades of fission projects that can’t pay for themselves.

    As for magic, that’s a very good start, but it’s only a start. If you ever decide you want to try going further, I can recommend some books. 😉

    Prizm, I’ve been noting that too, with a great deal of interest. I don’t think we’ll make it to 2029 before the crash hits!

  270. Just a quick comment on Sir Richard Branson’s ego trip to space – I was surprised to see that the interior of his space ship did not feature lava lamps and shag rugs. Why can’t these billionaires pretend to be philanthropists and quietly fade away? They done enough damage already!

  271. @Justin

    I’m hoping that the whole software gig lasts for a few more decades; it’s been such fun!

    That said – astrologer for me; until this year getting a firm grip on working with an ephemeris was a seemingly impossible barrier. Then round about my own Saturn return, something just seemed to click. New worlds have opened.

    @jmg Next drop eagerly awaited.

  272. Hi JMG

    Here is a fragment of a 1979 German pro-envirommental film called “The Hamburg Syndrome”, I think it nail it:

    I fact, for example in Australia they are showing this ad to promote vaccination in youngs, even if they have not started vaccinating people under age 40!:

    They can make a video of a young dying of myocarditis or of blood clots from the vaccines.

    Crazy times


  273. JMG,

    True believers in progress are ensuring that we progress faster to the crash that is coming!

  274. @Scotlyn:

    All we owe the world are fiat US dollars, because we are the reserve currency. Print money, find social programs, debase the dollar, and BLAMO all those dollars we owe countries X, Y, and Z become easy to pay back. It’s why Russia’s government is getting out of the dollar, not because they think they won’t get paid back, but because they know pay back will be worthless.
    Every country who does business with the US is on the bad end of this deal but there is no alternative because the current system of the dollar being the reserve currency is political. That will eventually change but it will take world war to do it. But who can really be considered a winner of total global war when the age of cheap energy has already gone away?
    The US is too big of a market to ignore but if you engage it you’ve got to befriend the dollar… this limits how far any country, including Russia and China, and get from the dollar system at this point in time.
    TL;DR we are the bankers of the world and can do what we want. Until we can’t.

  275. Thank you to our gracious host for inspiring and curating what is by far the most interesting commentariat.

    Slightly off-topic, but following up on a previous internet rabbit hole, on the subject of anthracite coal. Buried in a fluffiness about Indiana, is a tiny chart with US coal usage by type.

    Notice that anthracite (the good, hot, clean burning stuff best for steel) production hits a bumpy plateau in 1915 and falls off it in 1929. Cowabunga. Bituminous production takes a hit at the same time, recovers during the war, takes off again in 1965, peaks in 1990 and fall off a cliff in 2010. Anthracite never recovers from its plateau in the 1920’s. So no amount of oil money was able to bring anthracite production back to 1920 levels. Instead, we took to buying Chinese steel.

    Paging John Kenneth Gailbraith, the Great Depression is not such a mystery after all. The money to mine the coal had to be put up years before it was mined and delivered and counted in the production figures. The availability of capital had to have been quietly failing in the lead up to the crash in 1929. Afterwards, it must have been clear that the mines were played out.

    A search for the author of the graph (Plazak) turns up the interesting information that U.S. coal BTU peaked in 1998, ten years before the tonnage peak in 2008. Cue renewable energy and shutting down dirty coal plants.


  276. @JMG, re your comment to Patient Observer, do you have any sources regarding how much energy can be usefully recovered from spent fuel rods? Based on my (admittedly limited) knowledge of nuclear engineering, it can’t be much, since fuel that’s been out of the reactor for just one week will only give off 0.2% as much heat as when it was in use, and the output just keeps on going down with time, leading to a very diffuse energy source that (to me) seems not to be worth the danger of handling it. Though if someone else with expertise on the subject has said otherwise, I’m all ears.

  277. “Once we refocus on our near abroad and our domestic issues there’s a chance we might be able to fix things.”

    United States refocusing on the near abroad could mean really bad times for the near abroad, given how US elites operate…

    Do you think the recent events in Haiti and Cuba are connected to the US withdrawal from the Middle East?

  278. Prizm,

    A while back I made by prediction re: the “Roaring Twenties” idea:

    While there may well be a modest recovery from the pandemic, I suspect it’s more likely we’ll look back on the Howling Twenties — howling from the pain of economic contraction, and also from a Lovecraftian descent into madness as the PMC’s comfortable worldview is dramatically contradicted before their very eyes…

    I only hope that, just as the good times are not likely to roll quite so hard, the crash will also not be quite as bad as last time. While I’m in a better part of the country than most to weather such a collapse, I admit I keep wondering if those of us with serious illnesses and conditions need to look at emigrating soon to somewhere whose healthcare system has a brighter future.

  279. @ Denis – More and more I get the feeling that the big banks, don’t want to deal with the “little people,” anymore. I first noticed it back in 2004.

    I needed to buy a small truck. I’d done my research, and decided on a 2004, Ford Ranger. No frills, except for the feed for the squirrels, under the hood. I needed a loan for about $12,000. Gone are the days. So, I went into my local B of A, to inquire. I had a very good credit rating, and had had a loan back in the days, when they hadn’t acquired Sea-First.

    So, there I am, trying to be all thrifty and prudent. They told me they didn’t “do” auto loans for under $22,000. I also noticed at that time, that there was a horrendous line of people, and one teller on duty. The drive through was gone. The night deposit welded shut. I really did have an epiphany. “They just don’t want to deal with the little people, anymore.”

    Luckily, the dealership was happy to finance my vehicle. Probably not so happy when I paid it off in less than two years. I still have it. Since then, I have switched to a credit union, and, so far, they’re very affable, no matter how small your needs.

    The B of A and Wells Fargo, have left our small town. “You can bank on-line! There’s an ap, for that!” No thanks. Lew

  280. Hi John Michael,

    I reckon I’ve figured out one possible flaw that the Modern Monetary Theorists may not have considered. Wrote about it yesterday, but thought I’d mention it here for consideration purposes. I’d prefer if people poked holes in my analysis of the economic situation. Here I lift the two paragraphs in question from my blog. I’d be curious as to your thoughts in the matter as I respect your opinion as a historian of economic ideas:

    It is quite likely that this nightmare scenario (added some explanatory text here – “the Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression”) won’t play out this time around (added some explanatory text here – “the same way”) merely because of the belief systems of the Modern Monetary Theorists. Those folks appear to be in control of the economic policy levers and they are happy to print as much money as possible. As a result, financial asset prices (equities, bonds and property) seem impervious to corrections. I believe that the theorists stated position is that it all doesn’t matter.

    Yet there is a built in flaw to their arrangements. Property is not just a financial asset, it is also something that keeps the rain off peoples heads and warm during the winter months. As prices go up, many folks are going to have debt on their purchases of properties, and with interest rates about as low as they can go, the amount of mad cash required to service the debt becomes more and more over time across the population. So if the government takes a cut of a persons income via taxes, and the banks seek to continuously extract ever more of the same persons income due to the unfortunate need to service ever greater levels of debt, and incomes remain fairly stagnant, then over time people will have less money to spend on other goods and services. Eventually the flow of money in the economy will most likely seize up because people won’t have much spare mad cash. What will happen then, well history gives us a guide but really. It is worth noting though that some predicaments have no answer, all they require is change.

    Thought it may be of interest to yourself and your readership. Of course it is entirely possible that someone else has already posited this theory, but I believe that it holds up to some poking.



  281. @ Lathechuck – Back in the late 1960s, I needed a small student loan, to get me over a hump. Didn’t want my folks, to know. So, when I came up against that parent co-signing, I just told them I was an orphan. 🙂 . Got my small loan and paid it off in less than a year. Lew

  282. Dear Grand Masson, Druid, JMG,

    I think you idea regarding the spent fuel nuclear rods as a fuel source is sound however fails for the same reason Roman steam engines did. Who is the power going to go to? The elite or the masses? How often are the elite going to be over thrown while those fuel rods cool down.

  283. @JMG
    “It’s very typical for elites to isolate themselves from the society they rule so they don’t have to deal with the conflicts between their ideology and the facts on the ground. I expect to see a lot of that in the years ahead.”

    I understand the desire to escape to paradise given how actually doing it properly is pretty high pressure. Especially if their ideology conflicts with complex reality which for any believer is pretty stressful.

    Ruling well does require taking on a Godlike burden. But that being said.

    If they just give up on reality in this way then they should be left in their little bubbles in retirement whilst stripped of their Authority as soon as that happens.

    While the hardnosed realists dirty their hands with reality. I wish there was a way to make that transition more speedy than usual.

  284. Oilman2 @ 241. Regarding letting exorbitant hospital bills go to collections, and the hospitals not daring to sue. Here in WA about 2 years ago, the Seattle Times ran a front page story on how hospitals were sometimes going to court rather than collections (it was never explained how/why this was decided). The story highlighted how they went to court, got rulings in their favor for 100% of the charges, late fees, interest, penalties, hospital attorney’s fees, and court costs. The indebted patient never heard of the court case until AFTER the court hearing, after which he/she is notified that he “lost”; and pay up NOW. Some of these hospital debts have been as small as $500 (5 hundred dollars), but the patient is ordered to pay over 10 times that, at least for the smaller claims. Personally, my family and I have had countless medical bills go to collections, and have never been sued. I’ve only able to settle for less when the collection agency offered up front to settle, which was not often. I’ve made several attempts to negotiate, but the collections agents said they were “not authorized to negotiate”. I’d demand to speak to the supervisor or to someone who could negotiate. Agent: “I can’t do that”.

    I understand that the way hospitals handle their billing and collections is a matter of state law, and that Washington State law is one of the most egregiously pro-hospital states in the nation. Here, you can lose before you know you were ever taken to court; and God help you if you are notified, and can’t afford a lawyer… I don’t know what state you live in Oilman2, I might want to move there. This is one instance where your mileage may vary.

    And if JMG or anyone else has any helpful tidbits, please say something. I’ve got a another round of bills coming in for my daughter’s repeatedly dislocated shoulder, 4 ER visits in the last several months, with $3500 per visit out-of-pocket (OOP) for EACH ER visit, plus separate charges for the doctor, anesthesiologist, x-rays, meds, labs, etc… The OOP for the MRI will run about $3500 (at least my April foot MRI did…) I’d love to negotiate this crap down.

    I have the cheapest ObamaCare ‘bronze’ plan for my family I could find, and it costs $1800/month.

    –Lunar Apprentice

  285. DFC,

    The Australian government is not showing that ad to encourage vaccination of the young. They are showing that ad cos Sydney is currently in a lockdown that looks like it will last for months due to a combination of government incompetence and our continuing pursuit of the Quixotic goal of ‘eliminating covid’ which we were so proud about in 2020 and which is quickly turning into one of the all time great sunk cost fallacies. Expect more crazy stories from down under in the next little while. I don’t think we’ve hit bottom yet.

  286. Raphanus #290, anthracite is a domestic smokeless fuel. It may have been used for early iron production instead of charcoal, but modern steel plants use mainly bituminous coal that’s been through a coking plant. Blacksmiths also prefer bituminous over anthracite.

  287. Anyone interested in energy from nuclear waste can look at radioisotope thermoelectric generators for ideas about possibilites: I’ve thought if one of the ‘perfect cycle’ reactors ever works, the waste could be loaded into shipping container sized ‘heat blocks’. Especially useful providing heat and electricity to remote areas, or just adding into the regular system. The waste from those processes has a different composition (high proportion of strontium-90 if I remember right) that would work well in that role.

  288. Hi John and friends,

    Looking at the current system in place in the West, I would say that the West is one military disaster or economic crisis away from some form of collapse that is going to leave it ending up splitting into smaller states. This then leaves the BRICS…

    I once chatted to a guy in South Africa about this and he told me quite simply that it was “the time of the BRICS, that the Wests goose is essentially cooked and that economically speaking, the BRICS would go on to dominate the West quite naturally.”

    I think that this is pretty much the future we are looking at. I expect that during the 21st century, the West will suffer a century of humialiation in a similar fashion to what China went through in the 19th century. Their systems will be reliant on Chinese finance, their businesses owned by India (already happening in the UK) and what have you.

    In a similiar guise, I suspect that if this is the BRICS century, then obviously we are going to see a return to 19th century politics. We have seen a taste of this already with China in Africa, the tensions between China and India on the border, how Russia and Turkey pretty much dealt with Armenia-Azerbaijian without the UN or U.S, etc.

    I suspect also we will see new powers emerge in this line up that are not beholden to US restrictions anymore (such as Iran, Cuba maybe).

    In fact I absolutely bet the BRICS are conspiring against the West over the whole electric car buga-baloo. Its going to hurt Russia, Iran and every other oil producer badly. I am sure that a sympathetic China and India wouldnt mind continuing to prop up the oil and gasoline economy if it suits their interests…

    In fact, the BRICS are even worse for the environment then the West. In their eyes, its quite simple. “Why save the planet when the West has been enjoying a good quality of life and we cant?”. I know this is how the Russians think so it wouldnt surprise me the Chinese feel the same way.

    So yeah, I expect Europe to eventually just become a wealthy tourist destination for BRICS tourists later on down the pipe line. However there is a potential silver pipe line for Europe and that is Russia.

    Russia is the weakest in the club. They are still more European then the rest of Asia. In order to gain influence and the upper hand, I could quite easily see Russia offering more the hand of friendship to Europe when America is out of the picture. “We give you our gas, you be good friends ,ok?”. I think Europe would accept…

    So John, what is your take on the BRICS and the de-industrial future ahead? Do you think that is likely to end with a great power bang akin to early 20th century Europe or something else?

  289. “Ethan, throwing around words like “fools” is unhelpful, and shows that you’re underestimating the people in question. Do they care about climate change? Of course not — if they did, they’d be changing their own lifestyles to cut their carbon footprints, which you’ll notice is the one thing they won’t do. Similarly, whipping up mutual hatred between working class white people and working class people of color is how the privileged classes have stayed on top here in America since colonial times, and the woke industry is simply the latest form of that gimmick. Don’t fall for it.” – JMG

    John, I couldn’t agree more. However, since a “fool” is the opposite of a “wise man” (or woman), I feel that I can can objectively label the systematic trashing of the collective wisdom that Western Civilization has learned over the past 2500 years as pretty foolish, no matter how cunning or aware of their own motives those in power may be. I honestly don’t feel as though I’m underestimating anyone. I am well aware of the destructive capacity of those who hold power and yet are caught up in the materialistic illusion of separation. In the grand scheme of things, there is no wisdom in it, especially when one interprets true Wisdom in an esoteric or occult sense. As a society we will have to learn from our own foolish mistakes like all humanity always has to, and I don’t see that being an easy karmic lesson for anyone.

  290. About pity porn. It depends on the disability.

    The mental illnesses are the crazy aunt in the attic or the uncle in the basement. They don’t get touched. Only John Nash received any sort of notice because of Russell Crow but he was a brilliant game theorist. They didn’t touch his x-rated life though. (People with any kind of disability are supposed to be sexless. (Little does anyone imagine real crip sex.))

    The Down Syndrome folks always are presented as heroic – the up syndrome. However, no one ever talks to the families of these people. And the Downs folks are always presented as young. (forever young). I imagine that the autistic and those on the spectrum get the same treatment. A pat on the head, and a one down relationship.

    About the only folks that get the full pity treatment are the ones who are missing limbs or unable to walk. However, they have be heroic survivors of the disability. A sense of nobility. Heaven help the person who gives up or decides enough is enough.

    Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Tx) uses a wheelchair. He had an unfortunate encounter with a falling oak tree when he was a young man. However, no one seems to push him as being heroic or anything. They treat him as normal. That is because he has power to fight back and to tell the do-gooders what he thinks of them.

    The pity is for those unfortunate souls who have to sit there and take it. It is like the “evil eye” for the able bodied. If they have the pity porn, then nothing bad will happen to the able bodied folks. And if something does, then technology will bail them out.

    We call the able bodied – crabs – currently able bodied (s).

  291. A small straw in the wind? Or just another gentrification story?

    At first glance, the review I found in the Gainesville Sun made it seem she’d opted for downward mobility. Now I’m not so sure. And the “sharp social commentary” mentioned in in the Sun’s review of it may just amount to more anti-Trump stuff. Yet, when I was quite young, and my parents took the Reader’s Digest, I remember a postwar story about a woman who moved to “the slums” and found to her surprise, that she was among good, hard-working, honest people. I now gather that her definition of “slums” was “blue-collar immigrant neighborhood. The more things change, etc?

    I am sensing a vague whiff of Recovery (possibly false dawn) in the air, especially when Florida passes a strong police use-of-force law banning chokeholds, regulating use of force, and making it a lot harder for cops with a record of misuse and downright crime to find other law enforcement jobs elsewhere. It was supported by Florida Republicans, passed both houses unanimously, and was quietly signed by Governor DeSantis, whose post-2020-election record has been that of fixing that which worked perfectly before, i.e. the election process.

  292. JMG & all, glad you asked about specific numbers related to the deaths at the Canadian boarding school. This is long and has too many numbers, but sheds some interesting light on the issue.
    According to the article:
    The school in question was open for almost a century (1899 to 1997). It was one of more than 130 compulsory boarding schools funded by the Canadian government and run by religious authorities (including non-Catholic denominations) during the 19th and 20th Centuries.

    An estimated 6,000 children died while attending these schools, “due in large part to the squalid health conditions inside… Students were often housed in poorly built, poorly heated, and unsanitary facilities…. Physical and sexual abuse at the hands of school authorities led others to run away.”

    Between 1863 and 1998, more than 150,000 indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in these schools throughout Canada.

    So, 6000 deaths out of 150,000 students over the course of +/-100 years at 130 schools. If each school had more-or-less the same number of students, that means each school had 1,153 students in 100 years, about 12 students per year on average. Over 100 years, about 46 students died at each school, or an average of one student died at each school every two years, a mortality rate of 4.2%. That is, ASSUMING each of the graves is that of a student, and not a burial from elsewhere in the community; there is some question about that.

    I wasn’t able to readily locate the death rate among other types of boarding schools, but did find infant mortality rates among an indigenous community: about 25% of infants died during the 20th century among some indigenous groups in Canada (

    Contrast that with the risk of kids today going into foster care. They face a 42% increased risk of death over kids not in foster care (JAMA Pediatrics, 2020,

    Finally, my own experience at a public grammar school in Los Angeles, mid 20th century, about 300 students. During my 5 years there, 4 students died: one from appendicitis, one from motor vehicle accident, one from an overhead lamp falling on him at school, and one girl from “they didn’t tell us” causes.

    Given these too-many-numbers, the death of kids at the boarding schools was reflective of Canadian indigenous conditions overall. Poor care, diet, health on entering the facility, stress, disease, and mistreatment undoubtedly contributed. The death rate (4.9%) was certainly lower than the infant mortality rate (25%) in indigenous communities, but higher than Canada’s 1950’s rate for kids under 5 years old (3.8%) across native/English/French populations there ( Canada’s overall 1999 rate was 0.6%.

    Today, we have a hard time imagining kids dying in schools. In the previous century, especially before antibiotics and the drive toward hygiene and an understanding of diet, child mortality was a sad but not uncommon occurrence. According to the original article, the indigenous and the boarding schools have been cooperating for over a decade. These aren’t “mass graves”; they are simply unmarked. In my area, a lot of older cemeteries don’t have grave markers, either — it’s a sign they’ve been forgotten and overgrown, not that they hold remains of genocide victims.

    So, back to my previous question: why so much media attention and amplification on this hot-button now? Who or what is served by the focus? What are we not supposed to look at?

  293. @ Simon S, #300, July 12, 2021 at 12:47 am

    The ad says: “Covid-19 can affect anyone. Stay home. Get tested. Book your vaccination”, and the person that cannot breathe is a young woman probably in her 20’s or early 30’s, and also the ad ends with the message: “COVID-19 Vaccination”.

    I think It is all around vaccines, and they perfectly know who are more hestitant to take them, so the fearmongering, that is happening in your country and around the world.


  294. Dear JMG,

    Yes, recommended reading on magical practices would be much appreciated! As mentioned earlier, I found the teachings descried in the Carlos Castaneda books to be very powerful and relavent but they certainly do not describe the full spectrum of human awareness or possibilities.

    Time will tell if the fast neutron reactor with colocated fuel reprocessing will be economical over the long term. Russia is in no hurry having ample fossil fuels and hydro-power. As a guess, they may have a 20-30 year time frame to fully roll out the technology on a national level. That is a freedom that profit-driven companies seeking quarterly results to satisfy the stock analysts do not have. Here is a link describing the Russian project:

    Harvesting the heat of decaying fuel rods would produce some power as suggested. As mentioned by Athelstan, the amount of heat drops off quite rapidly as the intensely radioactive, short half-life materials, decay. Likely overly simplified, a nuclear reactor release the energy in a few years of a given mass of uranium that natural decay would release over hundreds of millions of years.

    Russia and many other nations seem better suited to pull off big projects without massive cost overruns. Think High Speed rail in the US versus China or France. Having some experience in large project finance and management, “soft costs” add enormous and otherwise needless expenses to the project. When money reaches a critical amount, the layers, consultants, financial advisors, risk mitigation specialists, environmental activists, etc. swoop in for the kill. Few of them are interested in a successful project and many actively sabotage such effort but they all want as much money as they can grab.

    Elkriver commented on recent media stories of 6,000 deaths at Canadian boarding schools. If the topic is related to religious aspects of this school which is certainly the case in the popular media, I can cite an example orders of magnitude greater in numbers and within living memory involving the same religious connections. But the media and Western governments have done their best to sweep this genocide under the rug. This is not the forum to discuss this topic other than to illustrate the complicity of governments and media in shaping the range of permissible discussions. It’s a chuckle or two when I hear the US or Western countries preach about human rights.

    Thanking you in advance for any links or suggestions on how to learn more about magic.

  295. Ksim (#303) said: “I expect Europe to eventually just become a wealthy tourist destination for BRICS tourists later on down the pipe line”. Might be sooner than we think: yesterday my wife told me that India’s federal politicians were talking about how this year India was expecting 2 million tourists from Europe, but Europe was expecting 10 million Indian tourists (if the borders are opened up again).

  296. @ Lunar Apprentice RE: bills n bills

    There are manifold reasons I chose to reside in Texas. It’s not all good, but mostly it is, even under democratic governors. Now that everyone can carry pistols openly, I envision things getting better just out of the fear being on the other foot.

    We went without insurance for a long time. That is hard to do these days, as the medical bunch has roped most practitioners under hospital corporations using obscene malpractice insurance rates. 90% of docs operate under a hospital corp these days. However, you can find docs that are independent with due diligence.

    When we had no insurance, we ratholed what we would have paid as premiums anyway, and used that for docs. With 4 children, it was enough that we had carryover year to year.

    Catastrophic? Well, it was medical bills from one of my kids getting cancer that precipitated this entire snowball – I owed $300k plus by the time he reached remission. I was in another state, and the lawyers were sharpening the knives. So, bankruptcy ensued, medical bankruptcy. I paid that off and we moved to elsewhere ASAP, because I didn’t want to walk that road again.

    Medicine has become a racket, and the insurance outfits love it because they work together, ostensibly to provide better care and reduce expense. Crockery at it’s finest…
    Everybody needs to do what is best for them, but honestly I try to avoid the medical establishment here in the USA. To that end, a plane trip to Latin America will get you a much better price and identical doctoring. Medical tourism is booming – bit surely that’s just some internet BS, right?

    Not having insurance is an eye opener, but most people are so risk averse they will not even contemplate it – which is exactly why the insurance companies and their actuarial tables are making so much bank…

  297. @Darkest Yorkshire #301, thank you for that.
    I remember reading some decades ago that the U.S. steel plants that had not closed were processing recycled steel and specialty grades. The big plants making steel from ore were long gone, and the little guys were trying to hang on with niche products.

    You gave a great description of using anthracite for heating with an old furnace.

    The yuppies who renovated my house took out three generations of heating technology. They remodeled the long disused coal storage in the basement into a TV room for their kids and they plugged the oil tank with concrete and buried it under a new asphalt driveway. They also removed the fireplace, the chimney and the massive brick foundation for the chimney, which is difficult to replace because the main level is the upper story.Then they installed a gas forced air furnace. It worked great for 20 years. I replaced it with a new one but the city passed a law requiring that we all convert to electric by 2030.

    When the power fails, I have the only house on the street which is not puffing wood smoke. What can I say, the yuppies were from California, and they had other priorities than resilience in one of our famous multi-day winter power outages.


  298. A couple of data points that may be of interest: in the UK, the public limited company, The Daily Mail and General Trust, behind the Daily Mail (right of centre tabloid) that has been listed on the stock market since 1932 -is considering going private again. This accords with Martin Armstrong’s Socrates analysis of a coming private wave -full disclosure -I’m a total layperson here, but nonetheless felt it worth pointing out.
    Also concerning ‘activists’ merging with the corporate mainstream: while reading the programme for a UK summer festival, I found one workshop presenter’s bio describing his journey from XR activist to UK government civil servant in the Foreign office, planning Cop26 in Glasgow. ‘Building bridges between negotiators and activists’. Quite a transformation really!

  299. @Dave #64
    But I still think we should be building them at breakneck speed. What they can do is extend the window to help us get our population down with relatively less misery.

    I used to think this way, but since learned that’s far *more* damaging overall and will actually accelerate the decline.

    @Ashara #93
    there really is a chance, however slim, that we might discover some new source of renewable energy

    Do you realize there haven’t been any real “renewable” discoveries in a very long time? Most “progress” has simply been complexity-driven refinements of old technology:

    * Hydropower: 9 AD – First electricity generating dam 1882
    * Windmills: 644 AD – First electricity generating windmill 1887
    * Nuclear: Discovered 1789 – First fission reactor 1942
    * Photovoltaic: Discovered 1839 – First commercial solar cells for space use 1950’s

    @Darkest Yorkshire #169
    Even if renewables’ prime contribution was taking strain off the fossil fuel plants, they’ll still burn far less fuel and last longer because they’re operating less.

    No, the total EROEI isn’t even close, partially because (outside of hydro) they don’t last a fraction of the time.

  300. >In fact, last year big banks experienced the first aggregate drop in loans in more than a decade

    Credit dries up during a hyperinflation. Put yourself in a banker’s shoes – would you want to lend in those conditions? Typically banks turn to speculation to make their numbers when it really gets going, even though they’re really not supposed to. Typically they’re stuffed with previous rounds of printed money given to them to make them whole again and it all comes out to frolic freely in what’s left of the real economy.

    Zimbabwe bailed out their banks with printed money too – and it worked – until it didn’t.

  301. @JMG – yes, I think a downward jolt is certainly in the cards, but because of “planned demolition” and the dependency of our way of life on fossil fuels, I think the end point of the decline may not take centuries this time. My best guess is that by 2060 or 2070 or so, things will be very different for most citizens on the planet. And I believe I’ve read where during the decline of the Roman Empire, many never noticed the decline during their lives. Needless to say, even teens are now getting an idea of what it’s all about.

    BTW – interesting that you’ve commented on the Market Ticker – I’ve followed Mr. Denninger for many years, and while he’s been lagging behind in the concepts of decline, he does show up with most of his arguments based on numbers – which is more than 90+ percent of the financial pundents do these days.

    @oilman2 # 40 – yes, the bumply downward trend for oil is well underway. And it’s my opinion that among all the other factors you’ve mentioned, that the lack of exploration is planned, and not just a mistake. Between higher prices, rationing and the economic collapse, I think the end of the “suburban model” of driving is coming to a close very quickly. The elites have given us a hint of the timeline with the major manufacturer plans of full implementation of electric vehicles – which, we know is not possible for the masses. I for one won’t be planning to ride my motorcycle past 2030.

    @pygmycory #160 – wow. I’m surprised that the petroleum engineering program would be ending due to low demand. When I was attending a Big 10 school in the spring of 1981, Mobil Oil came on campus and interviewed 140 students for 4 jobs. I decided to change majors after that….needless to say, there should be some demand for experts in this field, but perhaps this just reflects the planned/forced decline of our standard of living.

  302. When I try to talk to people who are in the PMC cultural current about the looming financial trouble, I get a curious response. I’ll say something like, “I’m expecting big economic trouble this fall or winter.” They’ll say, “Yes, we have no idea what will happen with Covid.”

    I don’t argue with them, because it seems close enough that I can consider them fairly warned.

    Regarding the looming climate trouble, High Country News recently had an article concerning land developers in Phoenix. The two main views expressed by developers seemed to be “We may have to slightly alter our behavior or we’ll run into trouble in a decade,” and “Everything is fine, there is no conceivable problem with what we’re doing.”

    I think they’re all going to wind up unpleasantly surprised, but then I’m terrible at predictions. Phoenix does seem to keep lumbering along.

    Also, I recently read Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, by Anne Helen Petersen. She presents a mixture of valid complaints (tracking technology is making the workplace nightmarish; mothers get no support for childcare; the economy doesn’t create prosperity like it used to) and complaints that strike me as irrelevant (Millennials feel compelled to exhibit their lives on Instagram; Millennials are desperately trying to avoid slipping into working class status).

    It will be interesting to see if any of them feel relief at being forced to ratchet down to simpler methods of living, or if they’ll slide further into mental illness.

  303. I’ve always loved cars, trucks, motorcycles etc., but gave them up a decade ago due to overcrowded roads, rising and usurious costs (insurance, taxes, licensing and so forth) and of course the cost of fuel. I’m fortunate to live within comfortable walking distance of my work and most of the shops I need to frequent.
    I encourage others to find a way to live without automobiles. Avoiding the frustration of commutes and traffic jams alone is worth the slight inconvenience (and even the loss of driving pleasure).
    Of course, when the dam just north of here breaks, I probably won’t be able to out-walk the onrushing waters. 🙂

  304. If I may, Lunar Apprentice, one thought, I have heard of non-medical people learning a method for reducing a dislocated shoulder, so I looked around and I found this tipbit on a medic’s site, don’t know if it’s something daughter would consider: “Adduction of the upper arm toward the body, with simultaneous flexion of the arm at the elbow joint at a 90° angle, is the first step in what’s known as the external rotation method for reduction of a dislocated shoulder joint. With little or no traction, the arm is then slowly rotated externally, with reduction occurring almost immediately. Care must be taken during the external rotation; the operator should stop every few degrees for the muscles to relax again and allow the motion to continue. This is one of the simplest methods known for shoulder reduction, and in patients who dislocate the joint frequently, this maneuver may be taught to their caretakers or friends or family so that they can perform successful reduction themselves.” I am sure you’d need to find an instructor but it might be possible to find an elderly family doctor who remembers being taught such things back in the day? And I don’t know whether you might also be able to find a sympathetic family doctor who could provide a package of pain killer plus muscle relaxant for home use during incidents of dislocation, similar to patients who get frequent infections having antibiotics prescribed ready for when they get ill?

  305. JMG – Getting this in before we move on to Ch. 2 ‘Magic’ tomorrow.

    Rereading ‘King in Orange’. It goes so far past Chomsky’s ‘Manufacturing Consent’ and similar writings. I just want to comment for now that on p46 you say, ‘… the overlapping subcultures that appealed so strongly to me were in their last autumnal days before the coming of a bitter winter.”

    The words ‘bitter winter’ stopped my casual reading. They struck as deeply personal. I kept coming back to them and the word ‘autumnal’. Up until those words you were describing events but those words hit me with your feeling.

    I’ve seen the current recent period as the beginning of a ‘winter’, and I am bitter about very much of it. If we place winter at your point and not more recently, maybe we are farther along than I think.

    Your time frame is much longer than many of ours.

  306. @Lunar Apprentice er dishwasher@320: if you can’t find a doctor to teach this method, I was taught this method in a wilderness first aid class.

    I haven’t used that company for years since work wouldn’t pay for a private company, so I don’t know if licensed first aid is generally still allowed to teach that – the St John’s Ambulance course wasn’t anymore, since they were supposed to focus us on lifesaving only, and getting to medical care for anything else – but it may be worth calling around outfits in your area.

  307. A large part of the reason I want to go through ‘King’ more carefully is to help form a response to the increasing pressure at work from newly forming and highly empowered ‘Diversity’ departments and committees forming at my major and per diem employers.

    I don’t want to give in and buckle. I do want to give careful resistance to the false woke agenda narrative. I can’t find anything I disagree with in ‘King’.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve decided to leave a well paying job of over 2 decades if forced to choose between that and an mRNA ‘vaccine’ if it comes to that.

  308. Observer, I was hoping that some friendly aliens would scoop him up and haul him off to a zoo on Zeta Reticuli III or something. Oh well…

    DFC, I’ll pass on the video, thanks.

    Prizm, Robinson Jeffers put that in one of his best poems: “You who hasten, hasten on decay.”

    Raphanus, many thanks for this.

    Athelstan, there’s enough heat that they have to be kept in circulating water ponds for decades to keep them from spontaneously combusting; as with all logarithmic curves, decay curves do most of their dropping off early on and then slow way down. The result is ample heat for a thermoelectric system to harvest — the same technology has been used to power space probes for decades now, you know. Since the rods have to be dealt with somehow, why not make lemonade out of glow-in-the-dark lemons and get some power out of them?

    Ecosophian, yes, very likely.

    Chris, that seems quite reasonable, as it’s the same phenomenon that has reduced many third world nations to even more abject poverty than they faced already.

    Wizard, I don’t know who this “Grand Masson” is that you’re addressing, but it ain’t me. The elites always end up in control of any power source in a society. (Who do you think owns the power plants that put electricity into your wall sockets?) Yes, elites get overthrown all the time; the people who overthrown them become the new elites, no matter what rhetoric they used before they took over, and maintain the power sources because it’s in their advantage to do so. So? That’s business as usual, and it’s what you live with right now.

    Info, I’m not sure the transition is going to be all that long delayed.

    Yorkshire, that’s basically what I’m talking about. The fuel rods we’ve produced already wll be generating a considerable amount of heat for thousands of years; since we’re stuck with them, we might as well treat them as a resource.

    Ksim, Europe hasn’t been a significant factor in global politics since 1945 — well, except as a potential battlefield between the nations that matter. The US has finished its century of empire and is on its way into the usual post-imperial crisis; we’ll see if it get through that as a single nation. (I have my doubts.) All that unites the BRICS alliance at the moment, of course, is their opposition to the US-backed status quo; when the US crashes and burns, the knives will be out among the BRICS and we’ll see who comes out on top. If I had to guess, I’d say a Russian-Indian alliance — China is very strong right now but brittle — but we’ll see. Either way, it’s back to politics as usual. If you’ve read my novel Retrotopia, you’ll have some idea of the future I expect.

    Ethan, so noted, but it’s still unhelpful. Fools they may be in the deeper sense, but for the time being they’ve got all the tactical cleverness that money can buy, and their abandonment of the heritage of the West is a deliberate and carefully thought out tactic on their part, not just stupidity.

    Neptunesdolphins, yeah, I’ve watched that dynamic at work. People on the autism spectrum — well, it varies. Those of us with Aspergers syndrome or similar high-functioning autistic syndromes tend to get a more nervous reaction from normal people, since we’re socially inept but, on average, smarter than they are — all the brain cells that function as mirror neurons in them, letting them read other people’s body language and emotional states, are free for general processing in us, with predictable results. So the reaction we tend to get is contempt laced with fear. (Lovecraft, who was one of us, talks about that very elegantly in his story “The Outsider.”) Annoying as it can be, it beats the stuffing out of being patted on the head.

    Patricia M, thanks for the data points. That’s most interesting.

    Elkriver, thanks for this. “Due in large part to the squalid health conditions inside” can also be applied, of course, to all those Catholic orphanages and Magdalene laundries of which we’ve heard so much in recent years. Did you by any chance go to a Catholic high school, by the way? I ask because everyone else I know who has the verbal habit of trotting out a whole string of arch questions, as though they proved something, came from that background.

    Observer, I normally field questions about magic on Mondays on my Dreamwidth account, so if you want to post something there we can discuss what kind of magic interests you and what resources you might find helpful.

    Falling Tree Woman, hmm! Many thanks for these data points.

    Drhooves, people keep insisting that we’re going to have a faster decline, and yet it continues to take its usual course. I stand by my prediction.

    Cliff, fascinating. So the virus panic has become their default dumpster for all fears. That’s worth knowing.

    Karalan, delighted to hear it. I’ve never had a driver’s license, so I’m definitely with you there.

    Dennis, yeah, there’s personal feeling there. I got to watch way too many members of my generation, including quite a few people whom I’d respected until then, cash in their ideals the moment the grants ran dry and abandon everything they claimed they believed. It was quote Morning in America unquote, greed was good, and the future we’d all been talking about was somebody else’s problem. Me, I was nobody who mattered in the appropriate tech scene at the time; I just wasn’t willing to sell out, and so ended up twenty years later as one of the few people who would admit to remembering any of it. I’m glad you’re finding The King in Orange useful!

  309. Raphanus #313, if they’re recycling scrap it’ll be in electric arc and gas furnaces, only adding small amounts of other metals like chromium or manganese to get the best metallurgy. Only the blast furnaces need coal and coke.

    You may not need a masonary chimney to have a wood-burning stove. You can use a metal flue all the way up. If it goes through other floors before reaching the roof, then it acts as a radiator in those rooms too. You would need insulation where it goes through tthe floor and against the wall, so floorboards and wallpaper don’t start smouldering. You may also want to enclose the pipe in some kind of insulated cabinetry so it doesn’t transfer heat out of the interior when the fire is off, but can be opened when the fire is on to let the heat circulate. You’ve also got an advantage that American law requires all stoves to have a pipe fitting at the back so it can draw combustion air from outside the building. If you use that it stops the stove drawing already warm room air up the chimney to be replaced by cold air – it just burns cold outside air and leaves the warm room alone.

  310. TJ #315, everyone seems to have different estimations of the EROEI of renewables. I asked the company who installed our solar thermal what the EROEI of the biggest wind turbines was. They said it’s two years, and everything generated after that is pure energy profit. And if it does have to be decomissioned, it’s an easy recycling job. Their business was domestic installations so they had no motive to lie about it.

  311. A couple news articles came across my desk today. I think they are on topic, so I thought I would share them here at the last minute. I have not read them completely, so I have no comment, except to say I am a bit skeptical about the results implied by the headlines:

    Natural gas plant replacing Los Angeles coal power to be 100% hydrogen by 2045: LADWP | Utility Dive

    Cliff Mass Weather Blog: Was Global Warming The Cause of the Great Northwest Heatwave? Science Says No.

  312. Another data point. I just came back from an errand and saw the new shopping cart canopy in the Weis supermarket parking lot.

    It was big, bold, full color and emblazoned (with lots of stars and stripes) something along the lines of Weis: American owned and proud of it.

    Hershey is liberal compared to our surroundings (central PA). I hadn’t seen one of these before.

    Local is good (in terms of farmers’ markets) but that emotion doesn’t seem to scale up into being proud of an American-owned company.

    A change, perhaps?

  313. Despite the fact that it looks at much smaller 80-100 year cycles of ebb and flow, as opposed to centuries, what are your thoughts on the Strauss–Howe generational theory?

  314. Reading your descriptions of middle wage earning Americans in ‘King’ reminded me of someone – Joe Bagent. Just thinking of him:) I bet you knew him. I have his ‘Deer Hunting With Jesus’ and read every single one of his blogs right up to and including his, can we say, ‘Late Mexican Period’:) He and another blog writer who passed in the earlier 2000s, who I hate to say I forgot his name, he was a WW2 tank gunner, opened my eyes to the ugly and ungrateful Cosmopolitan attitude towards salt of the earth Americans that coastal limousine liberals hold. No reply needed. Just sharing a warm memory you caused.

  315. DFC,

    Vaccination is not available here to the under 40s. There’s barely enough for the over 40s. The government promised everybody who wants the vaccine can get it then botched the vaccine rollout. That’s the root cause of the political crisis here at the moment and the reason why the government is now funding such ridiculous ads. They chose a young woman for maximum emotional manipulation.

  316. @Darkest Yorkshire,
    Thank you, a good thought. Pointing out the fact that the stove has to bring in outside air is very helpful, as that further constrains possible locations.
    This place isn’t very large. I have considered the fact that the largest obstacle to future proofing is not undoing the yuppies’ renovations, but my reluctance to upend my comfortable existence. There are only two spots for a wood stove, the old location of the coal stove over the now missing masonry base, now occupied by the refrigerator, and a corner of the living room against an outside wall. Both locations have issues. I have yet to get my mind around living with either set of issues.


  317. Re the current talk about inflation. I won’t be surprised at all if history shows several manipulative oligarchs, Big Tech and their Financiers, are publishing all the inflation-mongering headlines. To my mind, the lock downs and missed sales revenue are being made up for by manipulating the Price of Almost Everything higher. Who would do that? Big Corporations, Big Tech Oligarchs and Big Banks, for one.

    It’s phony and strange how all the screams about “free health care for illegal immigrants” and “Socialism” fell right off the table. Zip, nothing, nada has been heard about “free health care.” It’s been replaced by “Inflation.”

  318. @Drhooves
    “I believe I’ve read where during the decline of the Roman Empire, many never noticed the decline during their lives.”
    This is a matter of no small controversy among historians.
    In almost all parts of the (western) Roman Empire, the decline would have been quite noticeable, but at different times. Britain and northern Gaul suffered intense decline by the very early 400s. The **** didn’t really hit the fan in Italy until the 540s or so. In Italy, the empire disappeared altogether for 60 years, but the replacement barbarian kingdoms (especially the first one) used the same old bureaucracy and personnel. When Justinian invaded in the 530s to restore Rome to the Roman Empire and the barbarians counter-attacked and a plague hit too, then the decline was visible to everyone. I have read claims that for many of the slaves/peasants who survived the 530s-540s, life improved greatly because so many of the parasitic landowners died in the fighting.
    Guy Halsall in Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376–568 makes the point that the designs of prestige goods even in Scandinavia veered away from Roman styles right after 476. This suggests that even that far away, folks realized that something had happened. Not so much that the empire had fallen, but that it wasn’t coming back.
    On the other hand, in the books I have read about the decline of Rome, only in a few areas did the elites seem to care. They made out fine under the new regimes. At first. The main exception was Britain, where the elite had always been dependent on what amounted to a huge security subsidy from the empire.

  319. Just learned from my oldest grandson that the generation from 1996-2000 or so sometimes refer to themselves as “Generation F**ked”

  320. @ Raphanus @Darkest Yorkshire

    I’m only aware of an outside combustion air source being a requirement for manufactured homes, though perhaps it has changed recently or is different in some states. It was not a requirement when we installed our wood stove in 2017.

    There are also good reasons for *not* bringing in outside air – primarily that it assists with necessary air exchange. See

    Also, I don’t recommend heating upper floors with your chimney pipe. You don’t want the gases in the pipe to cool substantially, as this condenses creosote (necessitating frequent cleaning and potentially causing chimney fires) and also reduces draft leading to less efficient burning. The pipe from the stove to the chimney can be single wall if you have enough clearance, but the chimney itself needs to be well insulated (double/triple wall metal, or lined masonry) and will not be hot on the outside.

  321. @JMG

    “Info, I’m not sure the transition is going to be all that long delayed.”

    I don’t like this speed of that transition though. I wish it were more quick. And I think the next elites must find a way not to isolate themselves from the commoners.

    Like some kind of initiation ritual where the up and coming Young Men start impoverished despite the riches of their Parents. And where they learn manhood and humility from the experience. The school of hard knocks to keep them grounded in reality.

    Not unlike the humble coronation of Christ from the Garden of Gethsemane and the resulting crown of thorns.

    And stop treating the body politic as if they weren’t part of a whole body. The head needs even the littlest of toes.

    Therefore to despise the humble. They might as well despise their own bodies.

  322. @JMG

    “Mouse, elites always cling to power with everything they’ve got. That’s why Diocletians, when they take power, usually start by killing a lot of people.”

    Usually the case when conquerors come to power and to keep power against the rebellion that would be typically led by rival elites. The males were killed and the women and children sold into slavery.

    I think Caesar killed off the Aristocracy of the Celts in Gaul in the same way. The Druids were given the same treatment especially in Britain by General Gaius Suetonius Paulinus who would later go on to defeat Boudicca and the Iceni.

    When one gets into history and counts the mass murders especially after people get sufficiently stressed. The dark side of human nature truly comes into view.

  323. As our predicament becomes clearer, it seems that the cultural techno progress fantasies gets stronger.

  324. On the point of how warped and childish idealism can destroy self-proclaimed movements for change, here is some somewhat recent news of a chapter of the “Fridays for Future” movement finding itself racist against the “BIPOC” acronym and disbanding.

    There are also rumors that this is currently happening to the German national group as well.

    Personally, I never had any faith in “Fridays for Future” whatsoever, but it is still stunning at how quickly organizations such as this undermine and discredit themselves.

  325. @Dana Wright – Not JMG here, but I think the S & H cycles are actually parts of a fractal system of ebb and flow. I’ve been able to track megacycles within the civilizations I’m most familiar with: Medieval England, and Rome. Haven’t really tried to track the barbarian North, though that was my specialty in Medieval Studies, because things moved so fast with them. Those longships went *everywhere*.

  326. CNBC, the Marriott Hotel CEO just made my point on inflation versys manipulation: average Marriott hotel room price up 10% from 2019; luxury hotel rooms up 30%. Does that mean inflation is 30%? No. It’s manipulated. Same for food prices. If you’re buying food from Big Box Stores/Corporations that have offshore tax havens, I don’t call inflation, I call Big Box/Corporations/Wall Street are manipulating prices to offset the lock down.

  327. On debt, again.

    In certain circles I say that my career is that of a debt collector. This is very much like saying that I’m a tax collector, and people sort of shy away when (I think) they ought to have a lot of questions and opinions about it.

    Debt is a social contract. (Not a social construct! Well, maybe that too.) People treat it like a religious thing though. They get very emotional about it. I’ve had people say that they wanted to go to debtor’s prison to pay off their debt. Like it’s a stain on their very soul! Original Sin given monetary form? It’s insane. Especially in these modern times when collateral isn’t that much, and bankruptcy isn’t punished as much as eviction in the long term.

    “What happens if I don’t pay it?”

    – For debts owed to businesses, that business may not want to do business with you anymore. As in, if I ran an ad in a magazine and didn’t pay for the ad, the magazine is likely to just write it off as a bad debt. They may put me on a list of people they don’t want to do business with anymore.

    -For personal debt it’s a bit harder. I think we’re edging back toward a society where something happens to people who don’t pay their debts. It’s still not as bad as being evicted just once. A person can let credit card and medical debts get written off as bad debts, and their credit score will take a hit. Well, let me let you in on a little secret: credit scores are garbage and anyone who pays attention to credit scores is grasping at straws. They’re doing business with strangers. Credit scores weren’t fixed after 2008, and credit scores were largely to blame for the falling economic dominoes that happened in 2008. It might be hard to get a loan. It might be hard to get financing for a car, or if there’s a housing shortage it might be hard to get into a snazzy apartment. It might be hard to get another credit card with similar terms.

    Not paying the debt makes it harder to go back into debt.

    If “how much” isn’t disclosed before the service, that breaks the social contract. That’s all medical debt. The social contract isn’t just on the one side, though people act like it is. The number might as well be arbitrary.

    Some states in the USA are more debt-friendly than others, and it usually corresponds to how much privacy citizens expect, and what sort of citizens the state has as a majority. The worst states go after a person’s paycheck before it even hits the bank, and they won’t give a notice of it, so you can imagine what sorts of identity theft bonfires happen. A lien can be placed on property in bad states too. There are criminal gangs that do that to police in some areas as a form of harassment. Being in debt can keep a person from being able to get certain jobs, like government jobs. Student loans and child support are the worst debts to hold. Politically it looks good to go after people who don’t pay child support. Bail bonds are a particularly vicious animal, worse than payday loans in some ways, with their veneer of officialdom (and captive audience.)

    I’m surprised the system wasn’t reformed after 2008. I suppose certain reforms have been made but…more the feel-good type than the ones that really do anything. A bit of student loans are getting forgiven here and there, but I see it as largely symbolic. The cities were on fire in 2020 and people were talking about communism. If all college graduates obeyed the rule that they would not pay off their student loans until they got a job as a result of their college education/knowledge…well that would be interesting! Or give the Sallie Mae’s of the world the option to collect from the college if certain circumstances are met. Ahh, such dreams I have! My college career office was such garbage. I steer people away from the school whenever I can.

  328. @Darkest Yorkshire #326

    I don’t have opinions, I have data, and your source is wrong. If you want the data I’ve got plenty of links. The claim about recycling is particularly egregious as those massive blades can’t be recycled.

    There are so many subsidies present in the system for so-called “renewables” that it totally colors their perception of what’s truly economic.

  329. @JMG, you wrote: “Did you by any chance go to a Catholic high school, by the way? I ask because everyone else I know who has the verbal habit of trotting out a whole string of arch questions, as though they proved something, came from that background.”

    LOL, no I didn’t. I’m a graduate of Los Angeles’ public high school system. That means I can read, mostly, and cypher a little. And still have PTSD-inspired “school dreams” about missed classes and projects-due-today-that-I-didn’t-do.

    Actually, I was asking the questions because I wanted to know the answers. At this point in life, I’ve come to understand that most of what I’ve thought was true/correct, is nothing but “somebody’s” planned disinfo, including much of what I believed to be accurate medical information. It’s pretty disturbing to realize that virtually my entire life was the handmaiden to a faceless someone’s programming. Yet, there it is.

    Trying to see beyond the obvious now.

  330. Dear JMG,

    This says it all:

    “What is magic?

    The art and science of causing changes in consciousness in accordance with will.”

    I will chew on that for awhile.


  331. Darkest Yorkshire #326

    Many claims on the economic efficiency of renewables are based on nameplate ratings. For example a 2 megawatt wind can produced 2,000 kW of electrical output under rated conditions. However, in the field the actual output is much much less:

    “The average capacity factor for 137 U.S. wind projects self-reporting to the Energy Information Agency in 2003 was 26.9%. In 2012 it was 30.4%. The total capacity factor for EU-27 countries in 2007 was 13%, according to the EIA. ”

    You mentioned a 2 year energy payback. I need to research what that means. However, apply the load factor corrections yields 8 years in the US and 15.4 years in the EU.

    Wind turbine blades are made from composite materias:

  332. Sorry, somehow hit the post button too soon:(

    “Wind turbine blades are primarily made of composite materials that combine high-tensile-strength fibers with polymer resins to form glass- or carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers.”

    – per the internet

    These materials are land-fill ready with no potential for recycling.

  333. Hello Oliman2, and re older cars: Here in NZ, auto insurance used to include free windscreen (windshield for you in the USA) replacement. For new cars with sensors in the windscreen, replacement costs are somewhere around $5,000! The windscreen has to be put in with <2mm tolerance for the sensors to work properly (as they were calibrated with the old windscreen in place). If the tolerance is not met, then ALL the sensors need to be re-calibrated at even more cost. Needless to say, new insurance policies do not offer free windscreen replacement. So I’m subsidizing all that fancy gee-whiz useless crap.

    I’m driving a 1996 Toyota wagon with 230,000km on the clock and no major maintenance issues. I can work on the engine, brakes, etc myself. I’ll keep it going for as long as I can get parts; when it dies I’ll get another used pre-2000‘s wagon.

    For a semi-rural person like myself (12km outside a small town) who has a ¼ acre section with garden and 30 fruit trees, and a 10 yacht down at the local marina, a bike is completely useless as a working item of transport. Fine for city apartment people who just go to work in an office and bike to the local cafe for their $5 coffee (we grind and brew our own), go to the market every day for a few groceries, and do “recreational” biking on weekends.

    Bikes don’t haul 4ftX6ft trailer loads of compost, building materials, used pallets that we break down for kindling to burn in the woodstove that heats our house, 10 days worth of food, boat gear, etc. And biking to town in a driving rainstorm into a 30kt headwind in winter is my definition of “hell on wheels“.

    Electric cars, as other than expensive virtue signals, don’t make any sense to me. I fall down laughing whenever I hear some earnest greenie talking about “saving the planet” with electric cars. I’ve done the math and I know about physics (unlike a lot of pie-in-the-sky cargo-cult greenies who think the Universe will change the basic laws of physics for them just because they want it to).

    I try to do my small bit for the environment, live a pretty frugal life, didn’t have kids by choice, but hey, “saving the planet” just ain’t my responsibility. Humans are an interesting cosmic experiment, but we are just animals with big brains and not a lot of wisdom. No big deal at all in the cosmic picture and just a very short stop in the cosmic evolution of life forms.

  334. Even as a Space Nerd and SF Fan, I’ve come to a place of not being all in on either “infinite progress” or the “Apocalyptics”. The two principles that seem at hand are “Infinite growth within a finite system (the earth) is neither sustainable, or even possible.” One of the reasons why Capitalist Economists and Scientists don’t seem to get along.

    I have explained EROI [Energy Return on Investment] to people who tend to recoil in disbelief, and insist there are plenty of exploitable fossil fuel reserves to go after. Not so fast, monkey-boys. But simply put, you could walk into any piece of stinking desert in West Texas with a length of pipe, chunk it in the ground, and half the time, Oil come bubblin’ up. In the 1920’s. Now in the 21st Century you have to use far more costly fraking technologies, deep sea oil rigs, or rip up a hundred acres of Canadian Tundra to get the next barrel of Oil that doesn’t compare favorably to Texas #2 sweet. There are fossil fuel reserves out there, but it costs a LOT more to get at them. Eventually it will take more ENERGY to extract, than the ENERGY extracted. When those lines cross on the Excel spreadsheets – things will start to get interesting and uncomfortable.

    As for sustainability, it’s been estimated that for a more sustainable future that denizens would have to make to with roughly 70% less EVERYTHING. Despite their green mouthings and activism, the Children of Empire, especially the affluent and powerful, have shown less than zero interest in doing so. We’ve been downsizing and minimizing our own lifestyles, but are nowhere near close to thirty percent of or former urban lifestyles. But we do grok it.

    We were uncomfortable passive-agressive participants in the last real estate bubble. And I did perceive it as an unsustainable bubble. The house I grew up in – a two story brick tenement in Coney Island, my father purchased for $5000 in 1960. We bought the place next door in 1967 for $1200 out of anti-slumlord self-defense. In 1975 NYC condemned our entire neighborhood in the name of the spectacularly ironically misnamed “Urban Renewal.” We moved into a three story 1901 Queen Anne house in neighboring Sea Gate. It was an upgrade, and on a quarter acre, but $50,000 was still within reach of a middle (mixed wage/salary) class family of the time. We suffered a house fire in 2000, and relocated to the NYC Suburbs. That house, smaller place, larger lot, was $340K. In 2007, it’s street value was in excess of $600,000. As an Art Director, I likely make more at the peak of my career than My father did as a NYC Taxi Driver…. but not a hundred times more. A year later, the place was worth less then $200K.

    Insanity, and clearly could not be infinite. But the “people who knew better” were very happy to shush my abject heresy. Don’t spoil the party.

    We eventually bailed, and in 2014, relocated to the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. And a significant downsizing. I also now make less than half of what I earned as a Corporate Art Director. So we are trying to gracefully surf the decline, yes, very much already in progress.

    I have little time or patience for the Apocalyptics. Their eagerness for the abrupt doom collaspe of civilization brings with it an utter abdication of any responsibility to change their bahavior one unicorn fart’s worth. “Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1999!” Well, shit didn’t come to an end in 2000, EITHER.

    I’m sixty-two. Old enough to notice Climate Change. Also old enough to recall actual prosperity, more functional government, and more rational views of the world. But the social and politcal structure that produced the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, The EPA, The Environmental Protection Act, Clean Air and Water Acts, and Strategic Arms Reduction treaties no longer exist.

    But for younger people, this is their NORMAL. And teaching truth in History, or the capacity for critical thinking has come under attack. Decline is here, you can see it if you pay ATTENTION.

    And “Be Attentive” is among the first rules of both Zen Buddhist and Shamanism.

  335. Your example of the dam dwellers self-censoring reminds me of Watership Down where the refugee rabbits made their way to what appeared to be a bucolic, perfect world. A large warren of rabbits lived in a cozy valley in apparent peace. It was an ideal spot for them to flourish and fresh vegetables appeared every day, conveniently located for them to gather up and enjoy. Predators like foxes and dogs were never to be found and they had all they wanted. Except that the whole beautiful world was managed by a farmer who periodically culled rabbits in a cruel and random way. They were well fed and happy until the trap sprung.

    The rabbits who lived there had developed a culture and art form of nihilism and denial that left them wholly dependent and subconsciously terrified. Any thought that something was terribly wrong was unthinkable. Literally. Their cultural language and narrative had made such thoughts impossible to surface in their visceral, collective mind.

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