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Mrs B

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  1. These are indeed scary times. Having yard sales is not safe anymore-- potential thieves read the yard sale listings too. Not only can they rob you while you're having it, but they will case your property and plan their future thievery. They'll know who you are, if you have kids, dogs, husband, alarm system, locked gates, etc. It's just too risky.
  2. From the JustGetThere blog. This link takes you to the 9-part movie. http://www.justgetthere.us/blog/archives/P...Full-Movie.html This blogwriter says: "Predictive Programming. TV movie shows riots, quarantines, and mass graves for pandemic flu. "The massive preparation of government for what they say is an imminent pandemic this fall, triggered my memory of images of riots, quarantines, and mass graves that appeared in a made-for-TV movie about a pandemic flu outbreak. My analysis of the film will contain detailed descriptions of the movie, so if you want watch it first. and then read my take here." http://justgetthere.us/blog/exit.php?url_i...p;entry_id=4642 Gave me some food for thought. Read his notes for interesting insights. I listen to Alan Watt at CuttingThroughTheMatrix.com who says movies are a form of predictive programming-- getting us ready for what the elites have planned & how they want us to respond. Good to be back here catching up with your posts.
  3. A small but already by no means negligible number of Americans is starting to realize what their future looks like: no retirement, no job, no savings, plus they are getting old. Their only possible means of support in old age is their children. And so, in the meantime, let's continue to mindlessly send our children off to "learning" institutions, where they will be properly supervised at all times, bored half to death, medicated into submission should they rebel, even by simply refusing to pay attention, not taught anything worth knowing by demoralized, underpaid public servants, and then spat out into the world with their spirits crushed. On second, thought, let's stop doing that. When thinking about making big changes, sometimes it's healthy to hear of places halfway across the world, which may have their own issues to deal with, but they are not the same ones we have here, allowing us to see past them. But the problem of institutionalization of children and emphasis on mindless discipline and rote learning is the same in all "developed" nations, being part of the worldwide legacy of industrialization and militarism, which we all have to deal with somehow. And a good first step is to starve this mindless suicide machine of fresh cannon fodder - by denying it access to our children. Here is the story of a Russian woman's experience with pulling her three children out of school that I thought would provide some valuable perspective to people in the States who are confronting the same decision, so I translated it. http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2009/07/you-...-to-school.html В школу можно не ходить (You don't have to go to school) Ksenia Podrova, St. Petersburg, Russia I have known this for sure for twelve years now. During this time, two of my children have received high school diplomas while sitting at home (since it had been decided that these could turn out to be useful to them during their lives). My third child passed exams for the primary grades without attending classes, and is not about to stop there. Honestly, I am unconcerned. And I don’t get in the way of them choosing whatever substitute for school they manage to think of. When my eldest was in secondary school, I started noticing that all too often he would recall situations of the following type: “I started reading a really interesting book during math class today;” or “I started composing a new symphony during history class;” or “It turns that Peter plays chess quite well – we played a few games during geography today.” And I started thinking: why is he going to school? Is it to study? But then he does completely unrelated things during classes. Is it to socialize? But then it’s possible to do that outside of school. Shift of consciousness And then a sudden shift occurred in my consciousness. And I thought: “Maybe he shouldn’t go to school at all?” For a few days we discussed this idea. Then I went to see the school principal and told her that my son will no longer be attending school. (Afterwards many of my friends told me: “You were lucky to have such a principal! What if she didn’t agree?”) But it had nothing to do with the principal. If she didn’t agree, this would not have changed our plans at all. It's just that in that case our further steps would have been slightly different. The principal (whom I remember with sympathy and respect to this day) was sincerely interested in our motivations, and I was quite open with her concerning my opinion of school. She herself proposed how we should proceed: we should write a statement requesting that my child be transferred to home schooling, and she will make arrangements with the Department of Education, so that my child (supposedly because of his superior talents) will, as part of an experiment, study independently, and take tests as an external student at this same school. And so we forgot about school almost until the end of the school year. My son was absorbed in all the things for which he had never had enough time. He spent entire days composing music and performing it on “live” instruments. He spent nights in front of the computer, building his own BBS (those of you who were fans of Fidonet know what that means). He also managed to find time to read anything he wanted, to study Chinese (just because he found it interesting at the time) and to help me with my work in translating and typing documents in various languages, installing email (still a difficult task at the time that involved consulting an expert), entertaining the younger children… In all, he was incredibly happy with his new freedom from school, and did not feel that he was missing anything. The Price of Freedom In April, we suddenly remembered: “Oh, we must prepare to take exams!” My son pulled out the dusty textbooks and concertedly read them for two or three weeks. Then we went to see the principal and told her that he is ready to take the exams. At this, my involvement in his school affairs ended. On his own, he caught up with the various teachers and arranged with them when and where they would met. He managed to pass in all the subjects in one or two visits. The teachers themselves decided on the form of the exam. Sometimes it was just a conversation, sometimes a written test. Curiously, almost none of them wanted to give him an ‘A’, although my child certainly knew no less than the others. Our favorite grade became ‘B’, but this was not the least bit upsetting: this was the price of freedom. Some time ago it had been considered that a child must attend school every day. If it turned out that someone doesn’t do this, one could get a visit from some special government agency (with something like “guardians of childhood” in the title, but I am no expert in these matters, so I could be wrong). In order for a child to gain the right to not go to school, it was necessary to receive a medical certificate that he is unable to attend school due to bad health. This is why I often heard confused questions such as: “What are your children sick with?” “Then why aren’t they in school?!” “They don’t want to be.” An awkward silence ensued. By the way, later I found out that some parents simply bought such certificates from doctors they knew. But in the summer of 1992 President Yeltsin issued a historic decree which announced that henceforth any child (independent of medical condition) has the right to study at home! Furthermore, the local schools must pay to the parents of such children, because they are spending the government’s education funds not on teachers and not on school buildings, but independently and at home! And then there were two When my daughter became old enough, I told her that she didn’t have to go to school at all. But she was a socialized child, having read many children’s books which stressed the idea that going to school was highly prestigious. Since I was in favor of a free upbringing, I wasn’t about to forbid it. And so off she went to first grade. She lasted almost two years! Only around the end of the second year did she get sick of this empty waste of time, and she announced that she is going to study at home, like her older brother. I delivered yet another statement to the principal. And now I had two children who did not go to school. Yet another statement Once in September I went to see the principal and give her yet another statement that this year my children are studying at home. She gave me the text of the presidential decree to read. (I didn’t think to write down its title, number and date, and now don’t even remember. If you are interested – search the Internet, and let me know.) And then the principal said: “Nevertheless, we aren’t going to pay you for not sending your child to school. It’s too complicated for us to get these funds. But, on the other hand, we won’t charge you for their exams.” I was quite satisfied with this. It would have never occurred to me to take money from her. And so we parted satisfied with each other and with the changes to our laws. Spelled out in black and white Last year I went to arrange home schooling for my third child. Imagine this situation: i come to see the head teacher and tell her that I want to register my child to attend school, first grade. The head teacher writes down the name of the child and asks for the date of birth. It then turns out that then child is ten years old. And now – the really pleasant part: the head teacher reacts calmly, and even shows me an official document that stated that any person has the right to come to any school and request to take exams for any grade, and is not required to show any documents regarding completion of previous grades. The school administration is required by law to create a commission to administer all necessary exams. That is, you can go to any school when you reach 17 years of age (by the way, along with my daughter, there were two bearded fellows who had suddenly decided that they wanted their diplomas) and directly take the exams for 11th grade. And you will receive that same diploma, which so many people consider to be so necessary. As they explained to us Once, after we moved, and more out of curiosity than need, I went to the school nearest to our new house, and asked to see the principal. I told her that my children have long since and irreversibly stopped going to school, and that I am currently looking for a place where they can take exams for 7th grade, quickly and inexpensively. The principal (a pleasant young woman with progressive views) was very glad to meet me, and I was glad to tell her about my children. But at the end of our conversation she suggested that I look for some other school. They were, by law, indeed required to accept my children, and indeed required to allow them to study at home. That would not be a problem. But, she explained, ordinary teachers, which are the majority at this school, will not agree to my conditions of home schooling: letting the child pass the entire annual course at one go. The child cannot pass the entire program in one visit! The child has to work a certain number of hours. That is, they have absolutely no interest in what the child actually knows, they are only interested in the time spent studying. They want the child to attend all quarterly exams. And, of course, the child is required to participate in the life of the school: wash windows on Saturdays, collect trash on school grounds, and so on. Obviously, I refused. We just do not understand But in spite of this the principal gave me what I needed, simply because she enjoyed our conversation. Specifically: I needed to borrow all the textbooks for the 7th grade from the library, to avoid having to buy them. And so she immediately called the librarian and ordered her to issue me all the textbooks free of charge until the end of the school year. And so my daughter read all these textbooks and, with no fuss or “class participation,” passed her exams somewhere else. Then we brought the textbooks back. After that, if only she wanted to, she could have gone to any school and studied alongside her peers. But somehow she doesn’t want to. Quite the opposite: she, just as her brothers, just as I do, considers such a suggestion to be pure nonsense. And we just cannot understand why a normal person would want to go to school.
  4. Definancialisation, Deglobalisation, Relocalisation http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/ This talk was presented at The New Emergency Conference in Dublin, on June 11, 2009. 1. Good morning. The title of this talk is a bit of a mouthful, but what I want to say can be summed up in simpler words: we all have to prepare for life without much money, where imported goods are scarce, and where people have to provide for their own needs, and those of their immediate neighbours. I will take as my point of departure the unfolding collapse of the global economy, and discuss what might come next. It started with the collapse of the financial markets last year, and is now resulting in unprecedented decreases in the volumes of international trade. These developments are also starting to affect the political stability of various countries around the world. A few governments have already collapsed, others may be on their way, and before too long we may find our maps redrawn in dramatic ways. 2. "Sustainability" -- what's in a word? In a word, unsustainable. So what does that mean, exactly? Chris Clugston has recently published a summary of his analysis of what he calls "societal over-extension" on The Oil Drum web site. Here is a summary of his summary, in round numbers. I don't want to trifle with his arithmetic, because it's the cultural assumptions behind it that I find interesting. The idea is that if we shrink our ecological footprint by an order of magnitude or so, that should make the whole arrangement sustainable once again. This is expressed in financial terms: here we are lowering the GDP of the USA from, say $100 thousand per capita per annum, to, say $10 thousand. Clugston draws a distinction between making this reduction voluntarily or involuntarily: we should make it easy on ourselves and come along quietly, so that nobody gets hurt. I find the idea that Americans will voluntarily lower their GDP by a factor of 10 rather outlandish. We keep the same system, just shut down 9/10 of it? Wouldn't that make it a completely different system? This sort of sustainability seems rather unsustainable to me. 3. My plan I would like to offer a more realistic alternative. Everybody should have one US Dollar, for purely didactic purposes. This way, all Americans will be able to show their one dollar to their grandchildren, and say: "Can you imagine, this ugly piece of paper was once called The Almighty Dollar!" And their grandchildren will no doubt think that they are a little bit crazy, but they would probably think that anyway. But it certainly would not be helpful for them to have multiple shoe-boxes full of dollars, because then thir grandchildren would think that they are in fact senile, because no sane person would be hoarding such rubbish. 4. An unpalatable alternative Clugston offers an alternative to the big GDP decrease: a proportionate decrease in population. In this scenario, nine out of 10 people die so that the remaining 10% can go on living comfortably on $100 thousand a year. I was happy to note that Chris did not carry the voluntary/involuntary distinction over to this part of the analysis, because I feel that this would have been in rather questionable taste. I can think of just three things to say about this particular scenario. First, humans are not a special case when it comes to experiencing population explosions and die-offs, and the idea that human populations should increase monotonically ad infinitum is just as preposterous as the idea of infinite economic growth on a finite planet. The exponential growth of the human population has tracked the increased use of fossil fuels, and I am yet to see a compelling argument for why the population would not crash along with them. Second, shocking though this seems, it can be observed that most societies are able to absorb sudden increases in mortality without much fuss at all. There was a huge spike in mortality in Russia following the Soviet collapse, but it was not directly observable by anyone outside of the morgues and the crematoria. After a few years people would look at an old school photograph and realise that half the people are gone! When it comes to death, most people do in fact make it easy on themselves and come along quietly. The most painful part of it is realising that something like that is happening all around you. Third, this whole budgeting exercise for how many people we can afford to keep alive is a good way of demonstrating what monsters we have become, with our addiction to statistics and numerical abstractions. The disconnect between words and actions on the population issue is by now is almost complete. Population is very far beyond anyone's control, and this way of thinking about it takes us in the wrong direction. If we could not control it on the way up, what makes us think that we might be able to control it on the way down? If our projections look sufficiently shocking, then we might hypnotise ourselves into thinking that maintaining our artificial human life support systems at any cost is more important than considering its effect on the natural world. The question "How many will survive?" is simply not ours to answer. 5. What's actually happening Back to what is actually happening right now. There seems to be a wide range of opinion on how to characterise it, from recession to depression to collapse. The press has recently been filled with stories about "green shoots" and the economists are discussing the exact timing of economic recovery. Mainstream opinion ranges from "later this year" to "sometime next year." None of them dares to say that global economic growth might be finished for good, or that it will be over in "the not-too-distant future" -- a vague term they seem to like a whole lot. There does seem to be a consensus forming that last year's financial crash was precipitated by the spike in oil prices last summer, when oil briefly touched $147/bbl. Why this should have happened seems rather obvious. Since most things in a fully developed, industrialised economy run on oil, it is not an optional purchase: for a given level of economic activity, a certain level of oil consumption is required, and so one simply pays the price for as long as access to credit is maintained, and after that suddenly it's game over. François Cellier has recently published an analysis in which he shows that at roughly $600/bbl the entire world's GDP would be required to pay for oil energy, leaving no money for putting it to any sort of interesting use. At that price level, we can't even afford to take delivery of it. In fact, at that price level, we can't even afford to pump it out of the ground, because the tool pushers, roughnecks and roustabouts that make oil rigs work don't drink the oil, and there would no longer be room in the budget for beer. And so, the actual limiting price, beyond which no economic activity is possible, is certainly a lot lower, and last summer we seem to have experimentally established that to be around $150/bbl. which is something like 6% of global GDP. We may never run out of oil, but we have already run out of money with which to buy it, at least once, and will most likely do so again and again, until we learn the lesson. We will run out of money to pump it out of the ground as well. There might still be a few gushers left in the world, and so there will be a little bit of oil left over for us to fashion into exotic plastic jewelry for rich people. But it won't be enough to sustain an industrial base, and so the industrial age will effectively be over, except for some residual solar panels and wind generators and hydroelectric installations. I think that the lesson from all this is that we have to prepare for a non-industrial future while we still have some resources with which to do it. If we marshal the resources, stockpile the materials that will be of most use, and harness the heirloom technologies that can be sustained without an industrial base, then we can stretch out the transition far into the future, giving us time to adapt. 6. Key points I know that I am running the risk of overstating these points and oversimplifying the situation, but sometimes it is helpful to ignore various complexities to move the discussion forward. I do believe that these points are all true, roughly speaking. Global GDP is a function of oil consumption; as oil production goes down, so will global GDP. At some point, the inability to invest in oil production will drive it down far below what might be possible if depletion were the sole limiting factor. Efficiency, conservation, renewable sources of energy all might have some effect, but will not materially alter this relationship. Less oil means smaller global economy. No oil means a vanishingly small global economy not worthy of the name. We have had a chance to observe that economies crash whenever oil expenditure approaches 6% of global GDP. Attempts at economic recovery will cause oil price spikes that break through this ceiling. These spikes will be followed by further financial crashes and further drops in economic activity. After each crash, the maximum level of economic activity required to trigger the next crash will be lower. Financial assets are only valuable if they can be used to secure a sufficient quantity of oil to keep the economy running. They represent the ability to get work done, and since in an industrialised society the work is done by industrial machinery that runs on oil, less oil means less work. Financial assets that that are backed with industrial capacity require that industrial capacity to be maintained in working order. Once the maintenance requirements of the industrial infrastructure can no longer be met, it quickly decays and becomes worthless. To a large extent, the end of oil means the end of money. Now that the reality of Peak Oil has started to sink in, one commonly hears that "The age of cheap oil is over". But does that mean that the age of expensive oil is upon us? Not necessarily. We now know (or should have learnt by now) that once oil rises to over 6% of global GDP, the world's industrial economy stalls out, and as soon as that happens, oil ceases to be particularly valuable, so much so that investment in maintaining oil production is curtailed. The next time industry tries to stage a comeback (if it ever does) it hits the wall much sooner and stalls again. I doubt that it would take more than just a couple of cycles of this market whiplash for all the participants to have two realisations: that they cannot get enough oil no matter how much they pay for it, and that nobody wants to take their money even for the oil they do have. Those who still have it will see it as too valuable to part with for mere money. On the other hand, if the energy resources needed to run an industrial economy are no longer available, then oil becomes just so much toxic waste. In any case, it is no longer about money, but direct access to resources. 7. A reasonable set of objectives Now, I expect that a lot of people will find this view too gloomy and feel discouraged. But I feel that it is entirely compatible with a positive vision of the future, so let me try to articulate it. First of all, we do have some control. Although we shouldn't hold out too much hope for industrial civilisation as a whole, there are certainly some bits of it that are worth salvaging. Our financial assets may not be long for this world, but in the meantime we can redeploy them to good long-term advantage. Secondly, we can take steps to give ourselves time to make the adjustment. By knowing what to expect, we can prepare to ride it out. We can imagine which options will be foreclosed first, and create alternatives, so that we do not run out of options. Lastly, we can concentrate on what is important: preserving a vibrant ecosphere that supports a diversity of life, our own progeny included. I can imagine few short-term prerogatives that should override this - our highest priority. 8. Managing financial risk It will take some time for these realisations to sink in. In the meantime, we will no doubt keep hearing that we have a financial crisis on our hands. We must do something to shore up the banks, to deal with the toxic assets, to shore up our credit ratings and so forth. There are people who will tell you that this was all caused by a mistake in financial modelling, and that if we re-regulate the financial sector, this won't happen again. So, for the sake of the argument, let's take a look at all that. Financial management is certainly not my speciality, but as far as I understand it, it is mostly about assessing risk. And to do that, financial managers make certain assumptions about the phenomena they are trying to model. One standard assumption is that the future will resemble the past. Another is that various negative events are randomly distributed. For instance, if you are selling life insurance, you can be certain that people will die based on the fact that they have been born, and you can be reasonably certain that they will not all die at once. When someone dies is unpredictable, when people in general die is random, most of the time. And so here is the problem: the world is unpredictable, but classes of small events can be treated as random, until a bigger event comes along. It may seem like an obscure point, so let me explain the difference in a graphical way. 9. This is (pseudo)random Here is a random collection of multicoloured dots. Actually, it is pseudo-random, because it was generated by a computer, and computers are deterministic beasts incapable of true randomness. A source of true randomness is hard to come by. Even very good random noise generators can have higher-order effects. Small events are frequent, and therefore we can treat them as random, larger events are less frequent and rather unpredictable, and some of the really large events put an end to the careers of the statisticians trying to model them, and so we never find out whether they are random or not. To a layman, this is random enough, but eventually you run out of randomness and hit something very non-random. 10. This is not random but predictable Like this. Now this is not random, even to a layman. This is like oil expenditure going to 6% of global GDP. That certainly wasn't random. But was it unpredictable? We had a few years of monotonically increasing oil prices, and the high prices failed to produce much of a supply response in spite of record-high drilling rates, investment in ethanol, tar sands, and so on. We also have some good geology-based models that accurately predicted oil depletion profile for separate provinces, and had a high probability of succeeding in the aggregate as well. So this is definitely not random, and it is not even unpredictable. So, at a higher level, what sort of mathematics do we need to accurately model the inability of our financial and political and other leaders and commentators to see it, or to understand it, even now? And do we really need to do that, or should we just let this nice brick wall do the work for us. Because, you know, brick walls have a lot to teach people who refuse to acknowledge their existence, and they are very patient with students who need to repeat the lesson. I am sure that the lesson will sink in eventually, but I wonder how many more full-gallop runs at the wall it will take before everyone is convinced. 11. His models mostly work One person I would like to have a close encounter with the brick wall is this fellow, Myron Scholes, the Nobel Prise-winning co-author of the Black-Scholes method of pricing derivatives, the man behind the crash of Long Term Capital Management. He is the inspiration behind much of the current financial debacle. Recently, he has been quoted as saying the following: "Most of the time, your risk management works. With a systemic event such as the recent shocks following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, obviously the risk-management system of any one bank appears, after the fact, to be incomplete." Now, imagine a structural engineer saying something along those lines: "Most of the time our structural analysis works, but if there is a strong gust of wind, then, for any given structure, it is incomplete." Or a nuclear engineer: "Our calculations of the strength of nuclear reactor containment vessels work quite well much of the time. Of course, if there is an earthquake, then any given containment vessel might fail." In these other disciplines, if you just don't know the answer, then you just don't bother showing up for work, because what would be the point? 12. We love their lies The point certainly wouldn't be to reassure people, to promote public confidence in bridges, buildings, and nuclear reactors. But economics and finance are different. Economics is not directly lethal, and economists never get sent to jail for criminal negligence or gross incompetence even when their theories do fail. Finance is about the promises we make to each other, and to ourselves. And if the promises turn out to be unrealistic, then economics and finance turn out to be about the lies we tell each other. We want to continue believing these lies, because there is a certain loss of face if we don't, and the economists are there to help us. We continue to listen to economists because we love their lies. Yes, of course, the economy will recover later this year, maybe the next. Yes, as soon as the economy recovers, all these toxic assets will be valuable again. Yes, this is just a financial problem; we just need to shore up the financial system by injecting taxpayer funds. These are all lies, but they make us feel all right. They are lying, and we are buying every word of it. 13. Fastest way to lose all your money Let's face it, these are difficult times for those of us who have a lot of money. What can we do? We can entrust it to a financial institution. That tends to turn out badly. Many people in the United States have entrusted their retirement savings to financial institutions. And now they are being told that they cannot withdraw their money. All they can do is open a letter once a month, to watch their savings dwindle. We can also invest it in some part of the global economy. I know some automotive factories you could buy. They are quite affordable right now. A lot of retired auto workers have put all of their retirement savings into General Motors stock. Maybe they know something that we don't? (Actually, that's part of a fraudulent scheme perpetrated by the Obama administration, to pay off their banker friends ahead of GM's other creditors.) Well then, how about a nice gold brick or two? A bag of diamonds? Some classic cars? Then you could start your own personal museum of transportation. How about a beautifully restored classic luxury yacht? Then you could use the gold bricks to weigh you down if you ever decide to end it all by jumping overboard. Here's another brilliant idea: buy green products. Whatever green thing the marketers and advertisers throw at you, buy it, toss it, and buy another one straight away. Repeat until they are out of product, you are out of money, and the landfills are full of green rubbish. That should stimulate the economy. Market research shows that there is a great reservoir of pent-up eco-guilt out there for marketers and advertisers to exploit. Industrial products that help the environment are a bit of an oxymoron. It's a bit like trying to bail out the Titanic using plastic teaspoons. Another great marketing opportunity for our time is in survival goods. There are some web sites that push all sorts of supplies to put in your private bunker. It's a clever bit of manipulation, actually. Users log in, see that the stock market is down, oil is up, shotgun shells are on sale, so are hunting knives, and if you add a paperback on "surviving financial armageddon" to your shopping cart you qualify for free shipping. Oh and don't forget to add a large tin of dehydrated beans. Fear is a great motivator, and getting people to buy survival goods is almost a matter of operant conditioning: a marketer's dream. If you want to help save the environment and prepare yourself for a life without access to consumer goods, then doing so by buying consumer goods doesn't seem like such a great plan. A much better thing to do is to BUY NOTHING. But that is not something you can do with money. But there are useful things to do with money, for the time being, if we hurry. 14. How to lose all your money (but have something to show for it) Most of the wealth is in very few private hands right now. Governments and the vast majority of the people only have debt. It is important to convince people who control all this wealth that they really have two choices. They can trust their investment advisers, maintain their current portfolios, and eventually lose everything. Or they can use their wealth to reengage with people and the land in new ways, in which case they stand a chance of saving something for themselves and their children. They can build and launch lifeboats, recruit crew, and set them sailing. Those who own a lot of industrial assets can divest before these assets lose value and invest in land resources, with the goal of preserving them, improving them over time, and using them in a sustainable manner. Since it will become difficult to get what you want by simply paying for it, it is a good idea to establish alternatives ahead of time, by making resources, such as farmland, available to those who can put them to good use, for their own benefit as well as for yours. It also makes sense to establish stockpiles of non-perishable materials that will preserve their usefulness far into the future. My favourite example is bronze nails. They last a over a hundred years in salt water, and so they are perfect for building boats. The manufacturing of bronze nails is actually a good use of the remaining fossil fuels - better than most. They are compact and easy to store. Lastly, it makes sense to work towards orchestrating a controlled demolition of the global economy. This calls for a new financial skill set: that of a disinvestment adviser. The first step is a sort of triage; certain parts of the economy can be marked "do not resuscitate" and resources reallocated to a better task. A good example of an industry not worth resuscitating is the auto industry; we simply will not need any more cars. The ones that we already have will do nicely for as long as we'll need them. A good example of a sector definitely worth resuscitating is public health, especially prevention and infectious disease control. In all these measures, it is important to pull money out of geographically distant locations and invest it locally. This may be inefficient from a financial standpoint, but it is quite efficient from the point of view of personal and social self-preservation. 15. Beyond finance: controlling other kinds of risk Coming back for a moment to the poor bankers and economists, it seems rather disingenuous for us to treat economics and finance as a special case of people who generate a lot of unmitigated risk. Do we have any examples of risks we understood properly and acted on in time? Are there any really serious systemic problems that we have been able to solve?... The best we seem to be able to do is buy time. In fact, that seems to be what we are good at - postponing the inevitable through diligence and hard work. None of us wants to act precipitously based on what we understand will happen eventually, because it may not happen for a while yet. And why would we want to rock the boat in the meantime? The one risk that we do seem to know how to mitigate against is the risk of not fitting in to our economic, social and cultural milieu. And what happens to us if our entire milieu finally goes over the edge? Well, the way we plan for that is by not thinking about that. 16. The biggest risk of all The biggest risk of all, as I see it, is that the industrial economy will blunder in for a few more years, perhaps even a decade or more, leaving environmental and social devastation in its wake. Once it finally gives up the ghost, hardly anything will be left with which to start over. To mitigate against this risk, we have to create alternatives, on a small scale, that do not perpetuate this system and that can function without it. The idea of perpetuating the status quo through alternative means is all-pervasive, because so many people in positions of power and authority wish to preserve their positions. And so just about every proposal we see involves avoiding collapse instead of focusing on what comes after it. A prime example is the push to develop alternative energy. Many of these alternatives turn out to be fossil fuel amplifiers rather than self-sufficient resources: they require fossil fuel energy as an essential input. Also, many of them require an intact industrial base, which runs on fossil fuels. There is a pervasive idea that these alternatives haven't been developed before for nefarious reasons: malfeasance on the part of the greedy oil companies and so on. The truth of the matter is that these alternatives are not as potent, physically or economically, as fossil fuels. And here is the real point worth pondering: If we can no longer afford the oil or the natural gas, what makes us think that we can afford the less potent and more expensive alternatives? And here is a follow-up question: If we can't afford to make the necessary investments to get at the remaining oil and natural gas, what makes us think that we will find the money to develop the less cost-effective alternatives? 17. How long do we have? It would be excellent if more people had these realisations, and started making progress toward making their lives a bit more sustainable. But social inertia is quite great, and the process of adaptation takes time. And the question is, is there enough time for significant numbers of people to have these realisations and to adapt, or will they have to endure quite a lot of discomfort? I believe that people who start the process now stand a fairly good chance of making the transition in time. But I don't think that it is too wise to wait and try to grab a few more years of comfortable living. Not only would that be a waste of time on a personal level, but we'd be squandering the resources we need to make the transition. I concede that the choice is a difficult one: either we wait for circumstances to force our hand, at which point it is too late for us to do anything to prepare, or we bring it upon ourselves ahead of time. If we ask the question, How many people are likely to do that? - then we are asking the wrong question. A more relevant question is, Would we be doing this all alone? And I think the answer is, probably not, because there are quite a few other people who are thinking along these same lines. 18. It's always personal I think it is very important to understand social inertia for the awesome force that it is. I have found that many people are almost genetically predisposed to not want to understand what I have been saying, and many others understand it on some level but refuse to act on it. When they are touched by collapse, they take it personally or see it as a matter of luck. They see those who prepare for collapse as eccentrics; some may even consider them to be dangerous subversives. This is especially likely to be the case for people in positions of power and authority, because they are not exactly cheered by the prospect of a future that has no place for them. There is a certain range of personalities that are most likely to survive collapse unscathed, physically or psychologically, and adapt to the new circumstances. I have been able to spot certain common traits while researching reports of survivors of shipwrecks and other similar calamities. A certain amount of indifference or detachment is definitely helpful, including indifference to suffering. Possibly the most important characteristic of a survivor, more important than skills or preparation or even luck, is the will to survive. Next is self-reliance: the ability to persevere in spite of loneliness lack of support from anyone else. Last on the list is unreasonableness: the sheer stubborn inability to surrender in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, opposing opinions from one's comrades, or even force. Those who feel the need to be inclusive, accommodating, to compromise and to seek consensus, need to understand the awesome force of social inertia. It is an immovable, crushing weight. "We must take into account the interests of society as a whole." Translated, that means "We must allow ourselves to remain thwarted by people's unwillingness or inability to make drastic but necessary changes; to change who they are." Must we, really? There are two components to human nature, the social and the solitary. The solitary is definitely the more highly evolved, and humanity has surged forward through the efforts of brilliant loners and eccentrics. Their names live on forever precisely because society was unable to extinguish their brilliance or to thwart their initiative. Our social instincts are atavistic and result far too reliably in mediocrity and conformism. We are evolved to live in small groups of a few families, and our recent experiments that have gone beyond that seem to have relied on herd instincts that may not even be specifically human. When confronted with the unfamiliar, we have a tendency to panic and stampede, and on such occasions people regularly get trampled and crushed underfoot: a pinnacle of evolution indeed! And so, in fashioning a survivable future, where do we put our emphasis: on individuals and small groups, or on larger entities - regions, nations, humanity as a whole? I believe the answer to that is obvious. 19. "Collapse" or "Transition" It's rather difficult for most people to take any significant steps, even individually. It is even more difficult to do so as a couple. I know a lot of cases whether one person understands the picture and is prepared to make major changes in the living arrangement, but the partner or spouse is non-receptive. If they have children, then the constraints multiply, because things that may be necessary adaptations post-collapse look like substandard living conditions to a pre-collapse mindset. For instance, in many places in the United States, bringing up a child in a place that lacks electricity, central heating, or indoor plumbing may be equated with child abuse, and authorities rush in and confiscate the children. If there are grandparents involved, then misunderstandings multiply. There may be some promise to intentional communities: groups that decide to make a go of it in rural setting. When it comes to larger groups: towns, for instance any meaningful discussion of collapse is off the table. The topics under discussion centre around finding ways to perpetuate the current system through alternative means: renewable energy, organic agriculture, starting or supporting local businesses, bicycling instead of driving, and so on. These certainly aren't bad things to talk about it, or to do, but what of the radical social simplification that will be required? And is there a reason to think that it is possible to achieve this radical simplification in a series of controlled steps? Isn't that a bit like asking a demolition crew to demolish a building brick by brick instead of what it normally does. Which is, mine it, blow it up, and bulldoze and haul away the debris? 20. Better living through bureaucracy There are still many believers in the goodness of the system and the magic powers of policy. They believe that a really good plan can be made acceptable to all - the entire unsustainably complex international organisational pyramid, that is. They believe that they can take all these international bureaucrats by the hand, lead them to the edge of the abyss that marks the end of their bureaucratic careers, and politely ask them to jump. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not trying to stop them. Let them proceed with their brilliant schemes, by all means. 21. Simpler approaches: investment There are far simpler approaches that are likely to be more effective. Since most wealth is in private hands, it is actually up to individuals to make very important decisions. Unlike various bureaucratic and civic bodies, which are both short of funds and mired in social inertia, they can act decisively and unilaterally. The problem is, what to do with financial assets before they lose value. The answer is to invest in things that will retain value even after all financial assets are worthless: land, ecosystems, and personal relationships. The land need not be in pristine or natural condition. After a couple of decades, any patch of land reverts to a wilderness, and unlike an urban or an industrial desert, a wilderness can sustain life, human and otherwise. It can support a population of plants an animals, wild and domesticated, and even a few humans. The human relationships that are the most conducive to preserving ecosystems are ones that are in turn tied to a direct, permanent relationship with the land. They can be enshrined in permanent, heritable leases payable in sustainably harvested natural products. They can also be enshrined as deeded easements that provide the community with traditional hunting, gathering and fishing rights, provided human rights are not allowed to supersede those of other species. I think the lifeboat metaphor is apt here, because the moral guidance it offers is so clear. What has to happen in an overloaded lifeboat at sea when a storm blows up and it becomes necessary to lighten the load? Everyone draws lots. Such practises have been upheld by the courts, provided no-one is exempt - not the captain, not the crew, not the owner of the shipping company. If anyone is exempt, the charge becomes murder. Sustainability, which is necessary for group survival, may have to have its price in human life, but humanity has survived many such incidents before without descending into barbarism. 22. Gift-giving as an organising principle Many people have been so brainwashed by commercial propaganda that they have trouble imagining that anything can be made to work without recourse to money, markets, the profit motive, and other capitalist props. And so it may be helpful to present some examples of very important victories that have been achieved without any of these. In particular, Open Source software, which used to be somewhat derisively referred to as "free software" or "shareware", is a huge victory of the gift economy over the commercial economy. "Free software" is not an accurate label; nor is "free prime numbers" or "free vocabulary words". Nobody pays for these things, but some people are silly enough to pay for software. It's their loss; the "free" stuff is generally better, and if you don't like it, you can fix it. For free. General science works on similar principles. Nobody directly profits from formulating a theory or testing a hypothesis or publishing the results. It all works in terms mutuality and prestige - same as with software. On the other hand, wherever the pecuniary motivation rises to the top, the result is mediocre at best. And so we have expensive software that fails constantly. (I understand that the British Navy is planning to use a Microsoft operating system on their nuclear submarines; that is a frightening piece of news.) We also have oceans full of plastic trash - developing all those "products" floating in the ocean would surely have been impossible without the profit motive. And so on. In all, the profit motive fails to motive altruistic behaviour, because it is not reciprocal. And it is altruistic behaviour that increases the social capital of society. Within a gift-giving system, we can all be in everyone's debt, but going into debt makes us all richer, not poorer. 23. Barter as an organizing principle Gifts are wonderful, of course, but sometimes we would like something rather specific, and are willing to work with others to get it, without recourse to money, of course. This is where arrangements made on the basis of barter. In general, you barter something over which you have less choice (one of the many things you can offer) for something over which you have more choice (something you actually want). Economists will tell you that barter is inefficient, because it requires "coincidence of wants": if A wants to barter X for Y, then he or she must find B who wants to barter Y for X. Actually, most everyone I've ever run across doesn't want to barter either X for Y, or Y for X. Rather, they want to barter whatever the can offer for any of a number of the things they want. In the current economic scheme, we are forced to barter our freedom, in the form of the compulsory work-week, for something we don't particularly want, which is money. We have limited options for what to do with that money: pay taxes, bills, buy shoddy consumer goods, and, perhaps, a few weeks of "freedom" as tourists. But other options do exist. One option is to organise as communities to produce certain goods that the entire community wants: food, clothing, shelter, security and entertainment. Everyone makes their contribution, in exchange for the end product, which everyone gets to share. It is also possible to organise to produce goods that can be used in trade with other communities: trade goods. Trade goods are a much better way to store wealth than money, which is, let's face it, an essentially useless substance. 24. Local/alternative currencies There is a lot of discussion of ways to change the way money works, so that it can serve local needs instead of being one of the main tools for extracting wealth from local economies. But there is no discussion of why it is that money is generally necessary. That is simply assumed. There are communities that have little or no money, where there may be a pot of coin buried in the yard somewhere, for special occasions, but no money in daily use. Lack of money makes certain things very difficult. Examples include gambling, loan sharking, extortion, bribery and fraud. It also makes it more difficult to hoard wealth, or to extract it out of a community and ship it somewhere else in a conveniently compact form. When we use money, we cede power to those who create money (by creating debt) and who destroy money (by cancelling debt). We also empower the ranks of people whose area of expertise is in the manipulation of arbitrary rules and arithmetic abstractions rather than in engaging directly with the physical world. This veil of metaphor allows them to mask appalling levels of violence, representing it symbolically as a mere paper-shuffling exercise. People, animals, entire ecosystems become mere numbers on a piece of paper. On the other hand, this ability to represent dissimilar objects using identical symbols causes a great deal of confusion. For instance, I have heard rather intelligent people declare that government funds, which have been allocated to making failed financial institutions look solvent, could be so much better spent feeding widows and orphans. There is no understanding that astronomical quantities of digits willed into existence and transferred between two computers (one at a central bank, another at a private bank) cannot be used to directly nourish anyone, because food cannot be willed into existence by a central banker or anyone else. 25. Belief in science and technology One accusation I often hear is that I fail to grasp the power of technological innovation and the free market system. If I did, apparently I would have more faith in a technologically advanced future where all of our current dilemmas are swept away by a new wave of eco-friendly sustainability. My problem is that I am not an economist or a businessman: I am an engineer with a background in science. The fact that I've worked for several technology start-up companies doesn't help either. I know roughly how long it takes to innovate: come up with the idea, convince people that it is worth trying, try it, fail a few times, eventually succeed, and then phase it in to real use. It takes decades. We do not have decades. We have already failed to innovate our way out of this. Not only that, but in many ways technological innovation has done us a tremendous disservice. A good example is innovation in agriculture. The so-called "green revolution" has boosted crop yields using fossil fuel inputs, creating generations of agro-addicts dependent on just one or two crops. In North America, human hair samples have been used to determine that fully 69% of all the carbon came from just one plant: maize. So, what piece of technological innovation do we imagine will enable this maize-dependent population to diversify their food sources and learn to feed themselves without the use of fossil fuel inputs? I think that what makes us likely to think that technology will save us is that we are addled by it. Efforts at creating intelligent machines have failed, because computers are far too difficult to program, but humans turn out to be easy for computers to program. Everywhere I go I see people poking away at their little mental support units. Many of them can no longer function without them: they wouldn't know where to go, who to talk to, or even where to get lunch without a little electronic box telling what to do. These are all big successes for maize plants and for iPhones, but are they successes for humanity? Somehow I doubt it. Do we really want to eat nothing but maize and look at nothing but pixels, or should there be more to life? There are people who believe in the emergent intelligence of the networked realm - a sort of artificial intelligence utopia, where networked machines become hyperintelligent and solve all of our problems. And so our best hope is that in our hour of need machines will be nice to us and show us kindness? If that's the case, what reason would they find to respect us? Why wouldn't they just kill us instead? Or enslave us. Oh, wait, maybe they already have! 26. The need to evolve Now, supposing all goes well, and we have a swift and decisive collapse, what should follow is an equally swift rebirth of viable localised communities and ecosystems. One concern is that the effort will be short of qualified staff. It is an unfortunate fact that the recent centuries of settled life, and especially the last century or so of easy living based on the industrial model, has made many people too soft to endure the hardships and privations that self-sufficient living often involves. It seems quite likely that those groups that are currently marginalised, would do better, especially the ones that are found in economically underdeveloped areas and have never lost contact with nature. And so I would not be surprised to see these marginalised groups stage a come-back. Almost every rural place has its population of people who know how to use the local resources. They are the human component of the local ecosystems, and, as such, they deserve much more respect than they have received. A lot of them can't be bothered about fine manners or about speaking English. Those who are used to thinking of them as primitive, ignorant and uneducated will be shocked to discover how much they must learn from them. 27. Beyond planning So what are we to do in the meantime, while we wait for collapse, followed by good things? It's no use wasting your energy, running yourself ragged and ageing prematurely, so get plenty of rest, and try to live a slow and measured life. One of the ways industrial society dominates us is through the use of the factory whistle: few of us work in factories, but we are still expected to work a shift. If you can avoid doing that, you will be ahead. Maintain your freedom to decide what to do at each moment, so that you can do each thing at the most opportune time. Specifically try to give yourself as many options as you can, so that if any one thing doesn't seem to be working out, you can switch to another. The future is unpredictable, so try to plan so as to be able to change your plans at any time. Learn to ignore all the people who earn their money by telling you lies. Thanks to them, the world is full of very bad ideas that are accepted as conventional wisdom, so watch out for them and come to your own conclusions. Lastly, people who lack a sense of humour are going to be in for a very hard time, and can drag down those around them. Plus, they are just not that funny. So avoid people who aren't funny, and look for those who can laugh at the world no matter what happens.
  5. ‘Accidental’ Contamination Of Vaccine With Live Avian Flu Virus Virtually Impossible
  6. WARNING: Anyone in Vermont or wherever these are offered-- RFIDs can be read by home-made machines anywhere, anytime! All data can be harvested and cloned! (ID THEFT) Low Cost RFID Cloner on Ebay
  7. Congress Seeks To Authorize & Legalize FEMA Camp Facilities Published on 01-26-2009 http://www.roguegovernment.com/Congress_Se.../13/13/Y/M.html By: Lee Rogers A new bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives called the National Emergency Centers Act or HR 645. This bill if passed into law will direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish national emergency centers otherwise known as FEMA camp facilities on military installations. This is an incredibly disturbing piece of legislation considering that the powers that be have already set in motion an agenda to setup a nationwide marital law apparatus through U.S. Northern Command and the Department of Homeland Security. Apparently, the fusion centers, militarized police, surveillance cameras and a domestic military command is not enough. Even though we already know that detention facilities are already in place, they now want to legalize the construction of FEMA camps on military installations using the ever popular excuse that the facilities are for the purposes of a national emergency. With the phony debt based economy getting worse and worse by the day, the possibility of civil unrest is becoming a greater threat to the establishment. One need only look at Iceland, Greece and other nations for what might happen in the United States next. With this in mind, it appears as if these so called national emergency centers will be used in a national emergency but only if the national emergency requires large groups of people to be rounded up and detained. If that isn’t the case, than why have these national emergency facilities built in military installations?
  8. Thank you for this link. I switched to liquid Stevia for coffee and tea. It has a whopper of an aftertaste but it's just stevia leaf extract in glycerin. You only need 1-2 drops for a very sweet taste. About $6 for an 8-oz. bottle. Will last me a year at this rate.
  9. Originally Posted By: ScrubbieLady Well, my eyes crossed before I finished but it seems to be something that keeps us from suing over side effects of anthrax treatment, vaccinations, etc. And the timing is very odd. HHS Declares 'Health Emergencies' to Limit Legal Liability for Anti-terrorism Vaccines, Drugs I agree, Scrubbielady, the timing is very odd. Combined with the bird flu vaccine company immunity, it looks real fishy. It's stuff like this that real crime investigators SHOULD BE on the lookout for if/when outbreaks of these diseases occur. But I betcha a thousand to one, if bird flu or anthrax breaks out, nobody will investigate. No media, no gov't agency, nobody. And that will tell you who the REAL perpetrators are...
  10. Just found out metal garbage cans are galvanized tin, not steel. Thank you Pure Cajun for all those links.
  11. Experts doubt al-Qaeda link in Mumbai attacks Mumbai Attacks Blamed On Al-Qaeda As Pretext For U.S. Military Response Be prepared for any & all types of false-flag terrorism during the transition & early term of this presidency. Things are not what they seem. Our gov't & gov't-controlled media want us to believe al-Qaeda is behind every explosion. It's a trick.
  12. What a great week! I'm a real prepper once again & I have all you Inspirers here to thank. Hubby has a big forklift on rent for the long weekend to move stuff around including a metal shed for gas storage we bought from a neighbor. He brought home shelves from an office space we rent (free) and they're the heavy-duty kind from grocery stores. I emptied the prep room, cleaned & sprayed for bugs, he put in the shelves then I spent 12 hrs. sorting & stacking & listening to podcasts of Lew Rockwell and Corbett Report Two of my favorites. What a BLESSING to have a place for preps. I've fumed & fussed for 14 yrs. about the unfinished dream house we designed / started buiding with his cashed-out 401(k) in '04-05. Glad to have the money 'invested' in something tangible that is now perfect for storing preps. (We live in a doublewide next door) Hubby put up this nifty clothesline-- Cord-o-Clip made in Canada. It's a double-pulley system that automatically clips the items as you feed them onto the line. When it's time to take them down you just pull and vroom, here they come and they fall off into the basket. I have another clothesline at the other house, too far to walk with wet clothes. This one has a high fun-factor. Local Walmart on Tues., southern AZ: 5# sugar $2; black beans .62/can; 3 kinds of Campbell cream soups .60/can. Last week Costco had 20# huge potatoes 8.99. Hubby said he saw folks buying sugar like crazy & the store was as packed as he could remember. Note: Costco baking powder is aluminum-free. Still to do: donations to St. Vincent's, fill up rented dumpster, make tile area for the woodstove; get woodstove into house; buy chest freezer; rake rocks from new 40x70 garden, till, plant garlic, prepare rest of soil. Gardening is a nightmare here I gave up in '02 after an 8-year battle with everything, the last straw being bermuda grass, which adores irrigated soil and is impossible to completely get rid of. It will wrap around soaker hoses, climb fences, grow from seed or root bits, it never gives up. I dread gardening for that reason & I used to love it. Oh well, must try again. Idea: Using greywater to fill ponds that have duckweed growing, then feed the duckweed to tilapia (fast-growing tasty fish) & recycling that water back to the duckweed or garden. In some countries they use blackwater & agricultural runoff to fill the ponds & have to harvest fish twice a week, they grow so fast. Yields up in the 100,000 lb./year range from half-acre ponds. Everything eats duckweed-- chickens, cows, probably goats too. Needs to be kept warm in winter, harvested daily. A solar hot water system / pump would keep things toasty in a greenhouse... grow more stuff... hmm.
  13. Thoughts On Disaster Survival This is a long collection of emails from a man who offered to let friends stay with him during Hurricane Katrina. He had over 30 people at his place and was in contact with law enforcement in New Orleans. One of the best insights I've found for this situation.
  14. Quote: At a news conference earlier Friday, Nogovitsyn had reiterated Russia's frequently stated warning that placing missile-defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic would bring an unspecified military response. But his subsequent reported statement substantially stepped up a war of words. U.S. officials have said the timing of the deal was not meant to antagonize Russian leaders... ...but frankly we don't care if it did. http://www.nezakladnam.cz/en/ This is the No Bases Initiative in the Czech Republic. Tons of info about how Czech citizens feel. The majority don't want US radar, missiles, or anything else in their country. Most citizens of sovereign nations do not want our military 'aid'. We do not offer more protection, we instead make them targets. But their governments have other ideas & often override the will of their citizenry & pretend to speak for them.
  15. Quote: I followed Cowgirl's advice and bought myself some aluminum trash cans with lids. I washed and dried them well and then put the grain bags in them. She would have opened and dumped them in, I figured why not use the sturdy easy to handle bags? Is this safe? I don't think the garbage cans are aluminum-- I think they're galvanized. Anybody know about this?
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