The new year now upon us has brought out the usual quota of predictions about what 2016 has in store, and I propose as usual to make my own contribution to that theme. I’ve noted more than once in the past that people who make predictions about the future really ought to glance back at those predictions from time to time and check how well they’re doing. With that in mind, before we go on to 2016, I’d like to take a moment to look back over the predictions I made last year. My post on the subject covered a lot of territory in the course of offering those predictions, and I’ve trimmed down the discussion a bit here for the sake of readability; those who want to read the whole thing as originally published will find it here. In summarized form, though, this is what I predicted:
The simple reality remains that here in America, we’ve poured nearly all our remaining options for constructive change down the ratholes of the future, and the one option that could still accomplish something—the option of changing our lifestyles now, in order to decrease the burden we place on the planet and what’s left of the industrial economy—is considered unthinkable right across the political spectrum. That being the case, those of us who are doing the unthinkable, while we insulate our homes, sell our cars and other energy-wasting items, learn useful skills, and pursue the other pragmatic steps that matter just now, might want to lay in a good supply of popcorn, too; it’s going to be quite a show.
“The first and most obvious [thing to expect] is the headlong collapse of the fracking bubble [...] Wall Street has been using the fracking industry in all the same ways it used the real estate industry in the runup to the 2008 crash, churning out what we still laughably call “securities” on the back of a rapidly inflating speculative bubble. As the slumping price of oil kicks the props out from under the fracking boom, the vast majority of that paper—the junk bonds issued by fracking-industry firms, the securitized loans those same firms used to make up for the fact that they lost money every single quarter, the chopped and packaged shale leases, the volumetric production agreements, and all the rest of it—will revert to its actual value, which in most cases approximates pretty closely to zero.
“Thus one of the entertainments 2015 has in store for us is a thumping economic crisis here in the US, and in every other country that depends on our economy for its bread and butter. The scale of the crash depends on how many people bet how much of their financial future on the fantasy of an endless frack-propelled boom, but my guess is it’ll be somewhere around the scale of the 2008 real estate bust.
“Something else that’s baked into the baby new year’s birthday cake at this point is a rising spiral of political unrest here in the United States. [...] Will an American insurgency funded by one or more hostile foreign powers get under way in 2015? I don’t think so, though I’m prepared to be wrong. More likely, I think, is another year of rising tensions, political gridlock, scattered gunfire, and rhetoric heated to the point of incandescence, while the various players in the game get into position for actual conflict: the sort of thing the United States last saw in the second half of the 1850s, as sectional tensions built toward the bloody opening rounds of the Civil War. [...]
“Meanwhile, back behind these foreground events, the broader trends this blog has been tracking since its outset are moving relentlessly on their own trajectories. The world’s finite supplies of petroleum, along with most other resources on which industrial civilization depends for survival, are depleting further with each day that passes; the ecological consequences of treating the atmosphere as an aerial sewer for the output of our tailpipes and smokestacks, along with all the other frankly brainless ways our civilization maltreats the biosphere that sustains us all, builds apace; caught between these two jaws of a tightening vise, industrial civilization has entered the rising spiral of crisis about which so many environmental scientists tried to warn the world back in the 1970s, and only a very small minority of people out on the fringes of our collective discourse has shown the least willingness to recognize the mess we’re in and start changing their own lives in response: the foundation, it bears repeating, of any constructive response to the crisis of our era.”
What I missed, and should have anticipated, is the extent to which the failure of the fracking fantasy has been hushed up by the mainstream US media. I should have anticipated that, too, because the same thing happened with the last energy boom that was going to save us all, the corn ethanol bubble that inflated so dramatically a decade ago and crumpled not long thereafter. Plenty of firms in the fracking industry have gone bankrupt, the junk bonds that propped up the industry are selling for pennies on the dollar to anyone willing to gamble on them, and all those grand claims that fracking was going to bring a new era of US energy independence have been quietly roundfiled next to the identical claims made for ethanol not that many years before; still, this hasn’t yielded the sudden shock I expected.
The ripple effect on the US economy has been slower than I anticipated, too. Thus, instead of the thumping economic crisis I predicted, we’ve seen a slow grinding contraction, papered over by the usual frantic maneuvers on the part of the Fed. In effect, instead of popping, the fracking bubble sprang a slow leak, which has played out in a muffled drumbeat of worsening economic news rather than a sudden plunge. So I missed on that one. The rest of the year’s predictions? Once again, I called it.
Now of course, as my critics like to point out, it’s easy to look at everything that’s getting worse each year, and predict that all those things are just going to keep getting worse in the year to come. What those same critics tend to forget is that this strategy may be easy but, unlike the alternatives, it works. Every January, with a predictability that puts clockwork to shame, people trot out the same shopworn predictions of game-changing breakthroughs and game-over catastrophes; one blogger announces that this will be the year that renewable energy reaches critical mass, while another insists with equal enthusiasm that this will be the year when the wheels come off the global economy once and for all; another year passes, the breakthroughs and the catastrophes pull a no-show yet again, and here we are, 365 days further down the long ragged trajectory that leads to the end of the industrial age.
Thus my core prediction for 2016 is that all the things that got worse in 2015 will keep on getting worse over the year to come. The ongoing depletion of fossil fuels and other nonrenewable resources will keep squeezing the global economy, as the real (i.e., nonfinancial) costs of resource extraction eat up more and more of the world’s total economic output, and this will drive drastic swings in the price of energy and commodities—currently those are still headed down, but they’ll soar again in a few years as demand destruction completes its work. The empty words in Paris a few weeks ago will do nothing to slow the rate at which greenhouse gases are dumped into the atmosphere, raising the economic and human cost of climate-related disasters above 2015’s ghastly totals—and once again, the hard fact that leaving carbon in the ground means giving up the lifestyles that depend on digging it up and burning it is not something that more than a few people will be willing to face.
Meanwhile, the US economy will continue to sputter and stumble as politicians and financiers try to make up for ongoing declines in real (i.e., nonfinancial) wealth by manufacturing paper wealth at an even more preposterous pace than before, and frantic jerryrigging will keep the stock market from reflecting the actual, increasingly dismal state of the economy. We’re already in a steep economic downturn, and it’s going to get worse over the year to come, but you won’t find out about that from the mainstream media, which will be full of the usual fact-free cheerleading; you’ll have to watch the rates at which the people you know are being laid off and businesses are shutting their doors instead.
All that’s a slam-dunk at this point. Still, for those readers who want to see me taking on a little more predictive risk, I have something to offer. There’s a wild card in play in the US economy just now, and it’s the tech sector—no, let’s call things by less evasive names, shall we? The current tech bubble. My financially savvy readers will know that a standard way to compare a company’s notional value to its real prospects is the ratio of the total price of all its stock to its annual earnings—the price/earnings or P/E ratio for short. Healthy companies in a normal economy usually have P/E ratios between 10 and 20; that is, their total stock value is between ten and twenty times their annual earnings. Care to guess what the P/E ratio is for Amazon as of last Friday’s close? A jawdropping 985.
At that, Amazon is in better shape than some other big-name tech firms these days, as it actually has earnings. Twitter, for example, has never gotten around to making a profit at all, and so its P/E ratio is its current absurd stock value divided by zero. Valuations this detached from reality haven’t been seen since immediately before the “Tech Wreck” of 2000, and the reason is exactly the same: vast amounts of easy money have flooded into the tech sector, and that torrent of cash has propped up an assortment of schemes and scams that make no economic sense at all. Sooner or later, as a function of the same hard math that brings every bubble to an end, Tech Wreck II is going to hit, vast amounts of money are going to evaporate, and a lot of currently famous tech companies are going to go the way of Pets.com.
Exactly when that will happen is a good question, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the next tech bust will be under way by the end of 2016. That’s specific prediction #1.
Another aspect of economic reality that’s going to hit hard in the year ahead is the ongoing deflation of the fracking bubble. Aside from the straightforward financial impact of that deflation, the failure of fracking to live up to the cornucopian fantasies piled onto it means that a lot of people who relied on it as a way of ignoring the harsh realities of planetary limits are going to have to find something else, so they can have new excuses for living the lifestyles that are wrecking the planet. There’s no shortage of candidates just now; no doubt billions of dollars, Euros, et al. will continue to be poured down the bottomless rathole of fusion research, and the government feed trough will doubtless have plenty of other corporate swine lined up and grunting for their share, but my best guess at this point is that photovoltaic (PV) solar energy is going to be the next big energy bubble.
Solar PV is a good deal less environmentally benign than its promoters like to claim—like so many so-called “green” technologies, the environmental damage it causes happens mostly in the trajectory from mining the raw materials to manufacture and deployment, not in day-to-day operation—and the economics of grid-tied solar power are so dubious that in practice, grid-tied PV is a subsidy dumpster rather than a serious energy source. Nonetheless, I expect to see such points brushed aside, airily or angrily as the case may be, as the solar lobby and its wholly-owned subsidiaries in the green movement make an all-out push to sell solar PV as the next big thing. The same rhetoric deployed to sell ethanol and fracking as game-changing innovations, which of course they weren’t, will be trotted out again for PV, as the empty promises made at the recent COP-21 meeting in Paris find their inevitable destiny as sales pitches for yet another alleged energy miracle that won’t fulfill the overinflated promises made on its behalf.
There’s still some uncertainty involved, but I’m going to predict that the mass marketing of what will inevitably be called “the PV revolution” will get under way in 2016. That’s specific prediction #2.
Meanwhile the political context of American life is heating steadily toward an explosion. As I write this, a heavily armed band of militiamen is holed up in a building on a Federal wildlife refuge in the deserts of southeastern Oregon, trying to provoke a standoff. Clownish as such stunts unquestionably are, it bears remembering that the activities of such violent abolitionists as John Brown looked just as pointless in their time; their importance was purely as a gauge of the pressures building toward civil war—and that’s exactly the same reading I give to the event just described.
That said, I don’t expect an armed insurgency of any scale to break out in the United States this year. The era of rural and urban guerrilla warfare, roadside bombs, internment camps, horrific human rights violations by all sides, and millions of refugees fleeing in all directions, that will bring down the United States of America is still a little while off yet, for one crucial reason: a large enough fraction of the people most likely to launch the insurgencies of the near future have decided to give the political process one last try, and the thing that has induced them to do this is the candidacy of Donald Trump.
The significance of Trump’s astonishing progress to front-runner status is large and complex enough that it’s going to get a post of its own here in the near future. For the moment, the point that matters is that a vast number of nominal Republicans are so sick of the business as usual being marketed by their party’s officially approved candidates that they’re willing to vote for absolutely anyone who is willing to break with the bipartisan consensus of what we might as well call the Dubyobama era: a consensus that has brought misery to the vast majority of Americans, but continues to benefit a privileged minority—not just the much-belabored 1%, but the top 20% or so of Americans by income.
Hillary Clinton is the candidate of that 20%, the choice of those who want things to keep going the way they’ve gone for the last two decades or so. More precisely, she’s the one candidate of the business-as-usual brigade left standing, since the half of the 20% that votes Democrat has rallied around her and done their best to shut down the competition, while the half that votes Republican failed to rally around Jeb Bush or one of his bland and interchangeable rivals, and thus got sidelined when the 80% made their own choice. It’s still possible that Bernie Sanders could pull off an upset, if he trounces Clinton in a couple of early primaries and the Democrat end of the 80% makes its voice heard, but that’s a long shot. Far more likely at this point is an election pitting Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump—and though Sanders could probably beat Trump, Clinton almost certainly can’t.
Granted, there are plenty of twists and turns ahead as America stumbles through its long, unwieldy, and gaudily corrupt election process. It’s possible that the GOP will find some way to keep Trump from gettng the nomination, in which case whoever gets the Republican nod will lose by a landslide as the GOP end of the 80% stays home. It’s possible that given enough election fraud—anyone who thinks this is purely a GOP habit should read Seymour Hersh’s The Dark Side of Camelot, which details how Joe Kennedy bought the 1960 election for his son—Clinton might still squeak through and get into the White House. It’s even possible that Sanders will claw his way over the barriers raised against him by the Democrat establishment and win the race.
At this point, though, little though I like to say this, the most likely outcome of the 2016 election is the inauguration of Donald Trump as President in January 2017. That’s specific prediction #3.
Then there’s the wider context, the international political situation that’s dominated by a fact next to nobody in this country is willing to discuss: the rapid acceleration of America’s imperial decline and fall over the last year. That’s something I’ve been expecting—I discussed it at length in my book Decline and Fall and also in my near-future political-military thriller novel Twilight’s Last Gleaming—but the details came as a surprise, not only to me, but apparently to everyone outside a few tightly guarded office buildings in Moscow. The Russian intervention in Syria has turned out to be one of the few real game-changing events in recent years, shifting the balance of power decisively against the US in a pivotal part of the world and revealing weaknesses that the illusion of US omnipotence has heretofore concealed. As a result, probably though not certainly before 2016 is over, the Daesh jihadi militia—the so-called “Islamic State”—is going to get hammered into irrelevance.
That latter may turn out to be a significant turning point in more ways than one, because the Daesh phenomenon is considerably more complex than the one-dimensional caricature being presented by the US media. The evidence at this point makes it pretty clear that Daesh is being funded and supported by a number of Middle Eastern nations, with Turkey and Saudi Arabia probably the biggest contributors; those iconic white pickup trucks aren’t popping into being in the middle of the Syrian desert by the sheer grace of Allah, after all. It’s also at least suggestive that the US, in a year of supposed air war against Daesh, not only failed to slow it down, but somehow never managed to notice, much less target, the miles-long convoys of tanker trucks hauling oil north to Turkey to cover the costs of jihad.
Something very murky has been going on in the northern Tigris-Euphrates river valley, and it deserves a post of its own here, since it will very likely will play a major role in the decline of American empire and the rise of a new global hegemony under different management. Regular readers may find it helpful to review this blog’s previous discussion of geopolitics, or even find a stray volume of Halford Mackinder and read it, keeping in mind that regions and continents have Pivot Areas of their own. Still, there’s a specific consequence that’s likely to follow from all this.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a fine example of a phemomenon all too familiar to students of history: a crumbling, clueless despotism which never got the memo warning that it couldn’t get away any longer with acting like a major power. The steady decline in the price of oil has left the kingdom in ghastly financial condition, forced to borrow money on international credit markets to pay its bills, while slashing the lavish subsidies that keep its citizens compliant. A prudent ruling class in that position would avoid foreign adventures and cultivate the kind of good relationships with neighboring powers that would give it room to maneuver in a crisis. As so often happens in such cases, though, the rulers of Saudi Arabia are anything but prudent, and they’ve plunged openly into a shooting war just over its southern borders in Yemen, and covertly but massively into the ongoing mess in Syria and Iraq.
The war in Yemen is not going well—Yemeni forces have crossed the Saudi border repeatedly in raids on southern military bases—and the war in Syria and Iraq is turning out even worse. At this point, the kingdom can’t effectively withdraw from either struggle, nor can it win either one; its internal affairs are becoming more and more troubled, and the treasury is running low. It’s a familiar recipe, and one that has an even more familiar outcome: the abrupt collapse of the monarchy, followed by prolonged chaos until one or more new governments consolidate their power. (Those of my readers who know about the collapse of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires at the end of the First World War have a heads-up on tomorrow’s news.) When that happens—and at this point, it’s a matter of when rather than if—the impact on the world’s petroleum markets, investment markets, and politics will be jarring and profound, and almost impossible to predict in detail in advance.
The timing of political collapse is not much easier to predict, but here again, I’m going to plop for a date and say that the Saudi regime will be gone by the end of 2016. That’s specific prediction #4.
I admit quite cheerfully that all four of these predictions may turn out to be dead wrong. That the current tech bubble will pop messily, and that the House of Saud will implode just as messily, are to my mind done deals—in both cases, there’s a reliable historical pattern well under way, which will proceed to its predictable conclusion—but the timing is impossible to know in advance. That something or other will be loudly ballyhooed as the next reason privileged Americans don’t have to change their lifestyles, and that the collision between the policies of the Dubyobama era and the resentment and rage of those who’ve paid the cost of those policies will set US politics ablaze, are just as certain, but it’s impossible to be sure in advance that solar PV and Donald Trump will be the beneficiaries.
The simple reality remains that here in America, we’ve poured nearly all our remaining options for constructive change down the ratholes of the future, and the one option that could still accomplish something—the option of changing our lifestyles now, in order to decrease the burden we place on the planet and what’s left of the industrial economy—is considered unthinkable right across the political spectrum. That being the case, those of us who are doing the unthinkable, while we insulate our homes, sell our cars and other energy-wasting items, learn useful skills, and pursue the other pragmatic steps that matter just now, might want to lay in a good supply of popcorn, too; it’s going to be quite a show.
I think Sanders has a good shot at pulling it off. He is raising a lot of money from a lot of people and drawing big crowds. People are excited about him and that has a good chance of getting them up to vote. As opposed to Hillary, the argument for her seems to be that she would have a better shot against Trump. Though the polls agree with you that Sanders has a better shot. We'll see.
One of the reasons I like Bernie is that he is pretty honest about what he can get done. He has repeatedly said that with out a strong movement behind him and a reengagement in civics no president can give us a kick in a better direction. I did not buy into the hype around Obama, I always saw him as a Clinton style establishment democrat. But Sanders seems genuine and is trying to walk the walk through his funding.
Happy New Year!
1/6/16, 7:32 PM
I think your political predictions are correct, although one can´t know the exact tempo of events. The collapse of Saudi Arabia will be world historical, and combined with the Russian intervention in Syria, it will shift the balance of power in the Middle East towards a Russian-Iranian-Shia axis.
A civil war in Turkey cannot be ruled out either, as Erdogan, the PKK and Daesh will confront each other in a three-way conflict. Turkey being a NATO member, this might be even more important in the long run than the collapse of Saudi.
If Trump is elected, it will be interesting to see his response - so far, he sounds friendly to Putin. A deal between Trump and Putin concerning the Middle East might be interesting (if that´s the right word for it). Trump takes Turkey, Israel and Egypt, Putin takes...what? The rest? Will this be our "best and last hope" for peace? And how will the Kurds fit in? Will they be betrayed again by the great powers?
As for The Donald, a scary possibility is that "They" simply murder him, in order to stop him being elected/taking office when elected. Then all bets are off, as they say.
My guess is that these things will take longer than one year to work themselves out (except a Trump presidency - or a Trump assasination), but I admit I could be very, very wrong in that - the world *is* obviously changing in a fundamental way right before our very eyes.
One of the few positive changes this will lead to, is that the pseudo-reality of the Internet (including Twitter!) with all its manufactured conflicts (left and right) will collapse, and real politics return. Although the brawls between neo-reaction pick-up artists and SJW slacktivists are weirdly fascinating (in the same way as the belief-systems of cults), they do tend to become rather annoying if taken as the real thing...
A question. When will you post the article on stagflation/demand destruction/price fall on oil?
1/6/16, 7:33 PM
On a related note, I had a pretty entertaining conversation at a bar the other day w/ an acquaintance of a friend who works at one of the fracking companies. He complained profusely about how the science linking earthquakes to wastewater wells was 'pseudoscience' and how a truly scientific study would vindicate his claims. My friend, who works on the pipeline side of the industry, pointed out that until he runs the supposedly more perfect simulation and can show that no, there is no link between wastewater disposal and increased earthquake activity, you have not proven a thing. The conversation made for good entertainment for me, watching someone who very clearly believes in the myth of progress squirm, when 'science' did not produce the results he expected.
More relevant to the predictions for 2016, companies here in Oklahoma have cut blue collar jobs to the bone (and into the bone), and are frantically trying to keep the white collar portion (that top 20% you mentioned) insulated from the consequences of their actions. The shale bubble is certainly popping, but I think the gods of history are shooting for symmetry, giving us financial bubble poppings in 2000, 2008, and this year. Just to keep politics interesting, I guess.
My money is on Sanders pulling the upset over Clinton. The rumblings on the Democratic side just aren't as flashy this year as 2008.
1/6/16, 7:35 PM
Lucius Cornelius Sulla said...
We've thankfully Gotten rid of the fool Abbott but he was really only a symptom of the deep malaise that is affecting our parliamentary democracy.
Ps: A few weeks back you asked if i could think of a worse boondoggle then the f-35 and to be honest i really can't. The closest is the Bradley fighting vehicle and even that project produced a decent machine in the end. All the other disasters came from the early days of jets before the Mig-15 set the design standard and no one was sure what design would be successful.
1/6/16, 7:49 PM
Speaking of China, have you seen the latest news coming out of the Middle Kingdom? It is starting to look like China might be headed for its own equivalent of the 1929 stock market crash. By historical standards, we are long overdue for another depression, so things could get very ugly indeed and not just in China. We may discover in the not-so-distant future why globalization, hyper-centralized supply chains and no-holds-barred speculation were probably not a good idea in the first place…
1/6/16, 7:55 PM
The first dot-com bubble in 2000 was the result of there being insufficient demand. But I believe that there is sustained demand for Internet-based business now, and there will continue to be even as the Internet infrastructure begins to weaken. Why? Because we are all getting poorer, and you can’t beat cheap in America. People will continue to want cheap, unregistered hotels at the touch of a button, and jitney cabs called to their suburban homes, and special deals on pizza delivery. The stock market may take a hit in 2016—it’s already dropped 5% in a week—but the big tech names are now valuable brands, and the ultra-rich (who were far less separated from us in 2000) will continue to prefer investing in Silicon Valley rather than Detroit. The Internet infrastructure is expensive but decentralized and tough, and the decay of Main Street has some ways to go before consequences boomerang back to the the tech world. The divided Retrotopia world is still decades, if not centuries, in the future.
I agree with you entirely that Hillary Clinton will be the Dem nominee and that keeping Trump from the nomination will take a Herculean effort by the GOP. I think that Hillary will be the next President, because my estimate for the people who are attracted to her message is not 20% but 50%. Remember that what keeps politics moving is not happiness already possessed, but the pursuit of happiness. A large number of Americans in poverty still believe that neoliberal globalism can make good on its promises of happiness. If Trump is the candidate, that may even include some crossover Republicans.
Even if Hillary is president, though, that only delays your Trumpageddon for 4 years, or 8 at the very most. Hillary is the perfect symbol of the elite of 2016. She is possibly the most insincere person who has ever run for office. I was a college student in 2008, and I think her upset loss to Obama at that time was due to such visible insincerity. This will have real consequences when she becomes the “leader of the free world”. Readers of this blog, JMG, should recognize in retrospect that your Twilight’s Last Gleaming was not a hypothetical future story, but a basic metaphor for this decade. Obama will be remembered for his 2012 “red line” in Syria and his upstaging by Putin over the following two years, and Clinton will have at least one moment like that, if not many more. If Trump is president Twilight’s Last Gleaming may well become a literal reality. But regardless of who wins, we who have studied Rome or China know what comes after failures like the “red line”. The Trumpization of American politics has just begun.
1/6/16, 7:55 PM
We think that this is not World War III because our sons (and daughters!) are not being drafted to the front. But we fail to see that this is not the 1930s, when the social bonds of the United States permitted such a draft. America’s Selective Service “contingency plan” only exists in the United States because if we acknowledged that a draft was impossible, it would be another “red line” moment. In reality, this is World War III. It is a war by the global north on the global south.
The global south, as a military force, will never be able to challenge the stability of the north with anything more than symbolic terrorist attacks. But there are enough Middle Easterners, Muslim, Christian, and others, to overwhelm Europe’s borders and resources if they are forced to flee their homes. Whether or not the current political authorities in Saudi Arabia fail, our parasitic relationship with the rich will continue; but growing instability in Europe will have much deeper effects. Again, this is not a prediction but a trend. This has already happened in 2015, and if we continue to think that radical Islam is a regime we can root out with bombs, it will continue to happen through the rest of this decade.
1/6/16, 7:55 PM
But we'll see. It's going to be interesting. More and more now it seems to me that the big themes of decline and fall are fully in motion and can't be reversed. But the tensions and reactions that they are bringing forth are so powerful that it's very hard to predict the details. It's like the forest is already on fire and it's impossible to try to guess which individual trees will catch next.
1/6/16, 8:01 PM
1/6/16, 8:02 PM
Solar PV: Check (seemed like a good idea at the time)
Good to go for another year.
1/6/16, 8:26 PM
Dennis Mitchell said...
1/6/16, 8:28 PM
James Eberle said...
1/6/16, 8:29 PM
I like the predictions. All of them seem basically sound, but the timing of these things is the tricky part isn't it? I'm not sure about Trump and Saudi Arabia though.
Trump because the election is a year away and the front runners this far out often disappear shortly into the primaries. I don't have any idea what specifically will change in the race, but I suspect neither Hillary nor Trump will get their party's nomination. Just a hunch, I don't have anything to back that up and I have to admit that I'm having a hard time separating my wishes from my thinking here... I hope you are wrong about this one and I'm not sure how much that is muddling my thinking.
Saudi Arabia because I think it is too soon. The House of Saud is a hollow regime with very little institutional depth in the country. And the monarchy walks a fine line between allying with the USA and supporting radical clerics who preach against it. But, the Saudis have been largely successful in exporting their radicals to cause problems in other countries. I think that internal religious turmoil and terrorist bombings inside the country will precede a collapse of the monarchy. The defeat of Daesh might redirect the focus into the kingdom or it could lead to a push against Russia. Hard to say. The KSA isn't long for this world, but I give it two or three years.
As always, fine work.
1/6/16, 8:31 PM
Moshe Braner said...
I thought the "quote of the week" in this week's installment from Mr. Whipple was rather astonishing, here it is:
“By our calculations it will require additional debt formation of $39 trillion over the next decade to keep petroleum production operating. Where that funding will originate from, when it is very unlikely to ever be repaid, will be of tantamount importance. It will take very strong-willed societies to make such sacrifices. If those sacrifices are not made, the integrated global production system will have disappeared by 2026. 2016 will be witness to the beginning of this event with dramatically increasing closures and bankruptcies throughout the world’s petroleum industry.”
- The Hill’s Group — “an association of consulting petroleum engineers and professional project managers”
Of course peak-oilers have said that before, but given the source of that quote, things must be coming to a head.
Also recently seen (I forget where) was the summary that the US stock market lost a lot of the value of most stocks, except for a handful of "tech" stocks which gained so much as to keep the S&P 500 about even for the year of 2015. The companies mentioned included Amazon, which sells things although it does not produce them, Netflix, which provides entertainment (a sure bet even in bad times), Google, which mostly sells ad space (dependent on the rest of the economy), and Facebook, which sells nothing at all. Castles in the air.
1/6/16, 8:35 PM
Joe Roberts said...
1/6/16, 8:37 PM
1/6/16, 8:40 PM
There are reports a Special Forces unit has been trapped and pinned down by insurgents in Afghanistan. The US military is desperately trying to get them out, while the Obama administration has been equally desperate to bury the story. It’s been difficult getting any information from the mainstream media about what is going on over there. Rather, the alternative media and bloggers like Solomon have been the main source of info so far.
As with the destruction of the Medicins Sans Frontiers hospital in Kunduz, there has been a lot of obfuscation and outright lying going on with the out-and-out complicity of the mainstream media. It’s disturbingly similar to the phenomenon you discussed with the fracking industry and the economy in general, where the mass media seems determined to cover up just how bad things are in the interest of protecting the status quo.
As an example of said lying and obfuscation, check out this story. The Obama administration is insisting these troops are not even in combat, even when it’s painfully obvious what a crock of manure that is. It’s almost as if the senile elites in this country are not only living in a world of illusion but are hell-bent on piddling away whatever credibility they still have left, which isn’t a whole heck of a lot at this point.
I think we are going to see a Middle East dominated by Russia and Iran in the very near future.
1/6/16, 8:43 PM
Shane W said...
Regarding Saudi Arabia, what are the chances of "boots on the ground" to prop up our "ally"? I would like to think that it is beyond the realm of possibility, but given senility of the elites & how much we stake our politics on Saudi oil, I'm thinking there's a good chance it might be our last military adventure.
1/6/16, 9:00 PM
1/6/16, 9:09 PM
Ray Wharton said...
Personally I hope you are right about the PV. Not that I believe that they would actually do anything for the large scale, but there are by products of such a bubble that might make for good scrap in the years to come. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmLRBIlEzdM
Besides, what's the next most likely thing to fill that niche? Nuclear maybe? I dare say that would figure worse in my book. Also solar needs alot of battery costs, and that is one place where green wizardry is progressing for me personally. I have made some (mediocre low grade) graphene in my bed room, and have plans to make a large better batch soon. By the end of this year I could very well be capable of using it to make energy storage devices that would be worth something if there were more people trying to get stuff done with solar. The most dangerous chemical I needed was lye, so fairly environmentally mild.
But all this I have been learning from the mad scientists on youtube make me worried about another issue. The tech bubble could make alot of information access that I have now go poof in short order. I have a stack of note pads next to me as I scribe down details of the experiments I observe on to paper so I can keep progressing if the machines stops, but frankly at the rate of study I can afford right now I am a long way off from having records of what I want. Granted, there are other ways to research, but frankly there is something nice about watching hick mad scientists, because they do things in a way that makes sense, quite unlike some of the more professional texts on the sciences.
Trump I think knows he can more likely beat Clinton than Sanders. That's the reason that he has been attacking her, to help her win the primary. Sanders, if he could get a big lime light on him could get into the race, but he needs to draw an Ace badly.
The House of Saud? Yeah, I feel like things are going bad for them, and the implications of that change shake my bones more than anything else. For the sake of spit I am going to bet against you on this one, just because big events often throw slow balls, and this one feels big to me.
1/6/16, 9:15 PM
About the tech bubble: I work in the tech industry as a designer/programmer, and yesterday I lost my job. The firm I work(ed) for wasn't doing well over the past year, and I was laid off because the firm is in financial trouble. I expected trouble, but not this quickly - I'm not the first to go. The details are still being worked out, I might be able to work significantly reduced hours, but if not, a combination of savings, no debt, a good unemployment insurance system here in Germany means that I should be OK for a while.
I asked my boss why the firm was in so much trouble, and there are variety of reasons, but a major one is that either no one was interested in the products the firm offers (the hype has quietly died down), another reason is that firms are starting to tighten budgets. I have a feeling there are a lot of companies that are about to go through the same thing...
In terms of my own situation, it happened so quickly that I'm uncertain as to what to do next: I now have to decide between trying to learn more programming skills in the short term and try to get freelance work, or to swiftly branch out into something more stable. If the tech bubble pops, and I already believed it would, then freelancing is not going to be viable much longer.
I've spent a few years learning how to do organic gardening, that's at least something, but I rapidly need to continue learning these sorts of skills... hopefully it's not too late.
1/6/16, 9:29 PM
1/6/16, 9:37 PM
Mark Rice said...
Some comments both counter to and in support of the end of the current technology bubble:
Amazon could easily have huge profits if they wanted huge profits. Instead they invest so much in expanding existing and new businesses they only break even in a profit and loss sense. And they have a lot to show for their investments. They have the Lab126 products such as Kindle. They have server farms and internet infrastructure for rent along with their traditional e-commerce business. That said, I am glad I do no work for Amazon.
On the other side, I see a huge amount of construction in the Silicon Valley. I see pile drivers, cranes etc. all over the place. Old one story tilt-ups are getting torn down and replaced with multi-story steel frame office buildings. However most of the new buildings are sitting empty while even more are being built near by. Some weird is happening. Sooner or later it will pop.
I would push out the time scale a bit. These things usually take longer to pop than what seems reasonable.
1/6/16, 9:45 PM
jessi thompson said...
wish me luck!!! :D
1/6/16, 9:47 PM
PVs have been hyped for a while, at least in some places, and whether your prediction will come to pass depends on what level of additional hype would count as a 'PV revolution'. I also do not see a 'revolution' happening this year because the reduction of demand for energy in Asia (due to worsening economic conditions) will help counteract the decline of fracking. Of course, a collapse of the monarchy in Saudi Arabia would change the conditions, but I think it would take time for that to push a PV revolution.
I do not know enough about what is going on in Saudi Arabia to make an educated evaluation of that prediction, however based on what I do know my gut feeling is that they will hold out in 2016.
As far as Trump ... he definitely has a significant minority who strongly support him. If most of the rest of the population had a 'meh' feeling about him, I would see him winning. However, there is also a significant minority who strongly opposes Trump (including, for example, Latinos - 44% of Latinos voted for Bush in 2004, but I do not think they will do that for Trump). I see this significant minority voting for Hillary, even if they do not like her, simply because they do not want Trump to win, and combined with the (albeit) small group which sincerely supports Hillary, I think Hillary may be able to win against Trump without electoral fraud. Of course, if she wins, then a significant portion of people are going to completely give up on the electoral process, and the results will not be pretty...
1/6/16, 9:53 PM
Bill Pulliam said...
1/6/16, 9:56 PM
1/6/16, 10:31 PM
Peter Wilson said...
I also note with interest attempts to discredit the EROEI study of the large-scale Spanish PV installations. Quoting that study (like peak oil) is a great way to get people spluttering with indignation.
My country's (New Zealand) regulatory authority for our electricity industry is actively considering how to bring solar PV into NZ in a fair way, as its analysis shows that the benefits don't stack up, and it may amend pricing and regulations to ensure we don't over invest in it.
Of course, NZ is one of a very few countries where renewables (wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro) exist and are growing without subsidy, and where the EROEI is clearly demonstrated, and commercially viable. For that I remain very grateful.
1/6/16, 11:04 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Greg, well, we'll see. I think he has a chance, but he's trying to buck the entire institutional weight of the Democratic establishment, and that's going to be an uphill battle all the way.
Tidlösa, I don't see any likelihood of a Trump assassination -- the guy's a member of the moneyed elite, after all, and the other members of that class can work with him. I don't see him as any kind of real change -- what matters is that a great many people think of him in those terms, and he's clever enough to have caught that and figured out how to use it. More on this in an upcoming post. As for the post on hyperstagflation, it's in the queue -- I've got a bunch of things to cover as we proceed.
Ben, thanks for the view from ground zero of the fracking bust! That's what I'd heard from other sources, but it's good to have that confirmed by somebody on the scene.
Sulla, Australia's going to be hammered, no question -- so much of what's driven the bubble has been Chinese money from investment and resource purchases, and now that China's in 1929 mode, that's a thing of the past. Maybe your air force can have a half-price sale on F-35s to get some ready cash... ;-)
Blueback, I've noted before that China is playing the same role in this economic and political cycle that the US played in the last one, so a massive crash and a big depression make sense at this point. Things could get really ugly as that plays out.
Avery, no, the first dot-com bubble didn't happen because of insufficient demand; it happened because the vast majority of the speculative favorites of that time had never figured out how to make a profit off their operations, and so crashed and burned once the supply of fools willing to invest ran out. (I was in Seattle at the time and got to watch the whole thing from close up.) The same thing is true this time around -- most of the current crop of "unicorns" don't make money and have no way to make money, except by selling stock and slurping up venture capital. Once the inevitable downturn starts, the classic rush to the exits will follow on its heels, and Tech Wreck II will follow the inevitable course. As for your other points, though, no argument there at all.
Mark, oh, I don't expect the broader stock market to implode; as I noted in the post, it'll be managed so it stays more or less even, no matter how much financial jugglery is needed to do that. The tech sector, on the other hand, is toast -- it can be allowed to crash and burn without taking out the rest of the market.
Jean-Vivien, true enough. A good stock of handkerchiefs would be worth picking up, and will probably have more uses before the year is out.
GHung, I'll pass on the Obamacare; even if we got the subsidy we're supposed to get (as millions of people found out last year, the subsidy figures given on websites are very often inflated), a plan with a $6k deductable and 40% copay (that is to say, not enough to prevent bankruptcy) would cost my wife and I more than our house payment each month. The fine's a lot cheaper, thank you.
Dennis, of course it had to be a game show host! I forget who said this, but while Trump isn't what America needs, he's arguably what America deserves.
1/6/16, 11:17 PM
deborah harvey said...
1/6/16, 11:29 PM
Earlier today I was talking with an MSM-watching friend about the Middle East and was surprised to hear him say that Iran is being isolated by the international community and is looking weaker and weaker. When I tried to explain to him that Saudi Arabia's and Turkey's recent actions (sponsoring ISIS included) look like the desperate behaviors one would expect from collapsing regimes, he seemed to have no idea what crazy things over-extended empires have done in the past. Chop down all the trees to build an Armada in the hopes of plundering a new colony? Torture and kill revolutionaries in the Casbah in the hopes of continuing to plunder an old colony? Get mired in an unwinnable war in the Graveyard of Empires in the hopes of plundering a new colony? How many times will some idiot have to try that last one?
Of course, the axis-of-evil boogeyman that is Iran prevented him from being able to honestly consider the House of Saud's or Erdogan's prospects at all. Iran -- evil; Saudi Arabia -- gooood... soft... fuzzy... me like! The American psyche is so polarized and childish. We cannot accurately predict which peoples will prevail based upon whom we like best. We can read as much history of a region, of warfare, of religion, of empires, etc... until we have enough patterns saved as stories in our minds to see whether today's situation fits into one of those stories better than the rest. Then an informed prediction can be postulated.
John Michael, thanks for doing all the work and reading you have done and generously sharing your conclusions with us. President Trump -- Good Lord, these are dark times! Mordor awakens.
1/6/16, 11:37 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Tim, as I noted in the post, I'm quite prepared to be proved wrong. Of course Trump could be edged out in various ways; of course the Saudis might cling to power for a little longer -- but the latter reminds me of all the pundits and politicians who, well into 1917, insisted that the Tsarist government would collapse someday but surely it would hold on for some years more...
Moshe, exactly. The thing that's got its hands around the throat of the industrial economy is that it's no longer possible to produce fossil fuels at a real (i.e., nonfinancial) cost low enough to make them affordable energy sources for the kind of hypercomplex societies we've got. That $39 trillion is a proxy for a fantastic amount of energy and other resources that would have to be poured into scraping the oil barrel, and those resources aren't available for that task -- not without gutting every other part of industrial society. More on this as we proceed!
Joe, it's simple, though it requires paying attention to the real (i.e., nonfinancial) costs of energy extraction. Right now, because of the sky-high real costs of getting oil out of tar sands, fracked shales, ultradeep offshore wells, etc., etc., the amount of real wealth that has to be extracted from all other economic sectors to keep the oil flowing is so high that it's gutting the rest of the economy. That means that a lot of people who would otherwise be able to afford to buy petroleum products can't, and so the price is dropping. It'll be up again -- the declining price will render new drilling uneconomic, old wells will run dry, supply will decrease to meet demand, and so on -- and the result is that we can probably expect oil prices to swing through wild arcs every few years for the rest of your life.
Unknown, of course they're risky predictions -- I said as much in my post. I also said that at this point more climate disasters, worse climate disasters, and plenty of wild swings in climate generally are baked into the cake.
Blueback, thanks for the heads up! No, I hadn't heard -- but I'm not surprised. The Obama administration doesn't seem to have noticed that war is not the management of appearances.
Shane, I think it's quite possible that a fair fraction of the social media firms will either go out of business or end up as pay-to-play sites. As for boots on the ground, it's possible -- and you're right that that could turn into America's last imperial adventure.
Jim, then why are they floating bonds on international markets to pay their bills, and gutting the subsidies that keeps the population passive? $650 billion ought to cover that -- which suggests to me that the legendary corruption of the Saudi royal house may have left a lot less in there than is presently claimed. Of course the political dimension is also crucial, which is -- ahem -- why I mentioned it in my post.
1/6/16, 11:43 PM
Bike Club Vest Prez said...
The bust in oil prices is not driven by a dramatic expansion in production. Oil production has made some gains, but is mostly flat, worldwide. Currently all liquids production is at about 95MMBbl/yr up from 88MMBbl/yr in 2010 (Source US EIA website). It amounts to about 2%/yr increase. This is more than predicted by Colin Campbell et al, but a dramatic slowdown in production rate gains from, say, 2000. I don’t think anyone in the Peak Oil community saw the shale production surge coming. Also, demand has softened quite a bit, and OECD consumption is just plain flat for the last few years. But there is an interesting financial dynamic in oil. All of your costs are essentially upfront costs -- exploration, drilling, and completion. You sink millions to get the first barrel. After that, paying the electricity to run the pump motors is decimal dust compared to the finance charges. Whether you are a fracker making loan payments or a nation state subsidizing your unhappy population, when the price of oil goes down, you really have no other choice than to minimize expenses and maximize revenue. The fixed loan payments must be made, and the citizens need their bread and circuses. So stop exploration and expansion, and pump at the absolute maximum rate. Then hope you can keep afloat until the price increases again. In the mean time, people are starting to rearrange their lives, by choice or necessity – via bankruptcy or buying that Prius, to live without so much fossil fuels. I think the Peak Oil movement may have fallen prey to confirmation bias (me too!) but the Peak Oil dynamic is very much alive. I am not in the oil industry, but it seems like continued growth in oil production cannot continue much longer. 2020? 2025? Probably no longer.
1/7/16, 12:05 AM
John Michael Greer said...
Jbucks, ouch! That's definitely on the up close and personal end of things. You know your own industry better than I do, but if you want to do freelance work, it might be good to find something you can do that people (as distinct from corporations) actually want and need; that's the sort of thing that can keep you gainfully employed in hard times.
John, there's a narrow window between the time that everything gets put on sale for cheap and the time that it stops being available at all. Dawdling may not be a good idea.
Mark, even if Amazon could make a profit -- and I have my doubts -- that profit won't justify the fantastically overinflated price of its stock. Nor, of course, is Amazon the only tech firm with stock prices in full bubble mode...and where there's a bubble, there will soon be a bust.
Jessi, luck! Thanks for the heads up -- I'm not at all surprised.
Notes, I didn't claim that there will actually be any kind of "PV revolution" -- rather, that's the inevitable slogan under which massive investment in PV will be floated, just as the "fracking revolution" used old technology on known fields but presented itself to the clueless as a revolutionary new blah blah blah. As for Trump, I'll leave that for the upcoming post.
Bill, that's why I predicted a tech stock crash rather than a general market crash. By historic measures, most stocks aren't that overvalued -- another parallel with the first tech stock bubble.
Quercus, you're welcome.
Peter, that's good to hear about New Zealand. You've got a good location for renewables, and hopefully less extravagant appetites.
Deborah, stay tuned!
Christophe, I wish I could argue. When Gore Vidal referred to this country as the United States of Amnesia he wasn't kidding. As it is, we're pretty clearly going to learn history the hard way.
1/7/16, 12:10 AM
Bike Club Vest Prez said...
1/7/16, 12:13 AM
Peter Wilson said...
The appetites are more extravagant than they once were, but conspicuous consumption is still frowned upon, and I think NZ will somehow get through. The trick will be ensuring we don't jettison much of our sensible policies and infrastructure in any inevitable bonfire. That's where the work lies, that and electrifying the transport system.
1/7/16, 12:24 AM
I can sort of see the appeal in trump. In a broken system you might as well vote for the entertaining option.
1/7/16, 2:06 AM
The current drop is unlikely to get much below the August September low initially. About a 10% correction which is barely worth mention in the history of bear markets. Crashes don't happen from tops they come from failures to hold recent lows. A real crash would likely come later.
1/7/16, 2:13 AM
I agree with JMG's analysis of trends, but there is at least one wild card affecting how and when things happen: major natural disasters.
For example, the next 7.0 earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area. Geologists give it a two thirds chance of occurring in less than thirty years. I think it will destroy the regional economy and about six sevenths of the people currently living here will have to move somewhere else, because they will have no job or housing or way of getting to work, or can't deal with the health effects of all the toxic residue from the fires (think of twenty or a hundred fires on the scale of the World Trade Center).
I don't expect the Next Big One to resemble Hurricane Katrina, because I think our emergency services are more on the ball. But earthquakes cause fires. If it's dry and windy, the fires might merge into an uncontrollable firestorm. Or if there's a temperature inversion, all that burning plastic, petroleum and industrial chemicals might form a lethal layer of smoke over vast areas.
So much of our infrastructure (gas, water and power lines, sewers, pumping stations, highways and railroad tracks, hospitals and housing) is right over the faults and is going to need repair or be totally laid to waste. Clearing the rubble is going to be a huge task. Quarreling over what's going to be rebuilt and who's going to pay for it will take forever.
It won't destroy California, only kick it in the stomach. The ports of Seattle and Long Beach will be happy to take Oakland's business. A lot of Silicon Valley's activities can relocate. The farmers in the Central Valley probably won't be greatly affected. But our tech centers are currently the growth engine of the state, and if this region suddenly goes from boom to the other kind of boom, troubles will spread.
1/7/16, 2:14 AM
1/7/16, 2:30 AM
Mean Mr Mustard said...
Over here in the UK, taxpayer subsidy to solar for the middle classes is steadily declining, step by step...
Happy New Year to one and all.
1/7/16, 2:48 AM
Hubertus Hauger said...
Trump, quite likely.
The Saudi fall? I have no troughout analysis, but my gut is saying, could be rather three years or if their sceaming goes well even more. That bad Iranians could be a very helpful. Such a comfortable enemy, to blame for all the bad bad things in the world. In particular that squezzing economy and the followup reduction of goodies. The only privilege I consider absolutely neccessary ... no no, not fat chickens ... immunity from the furthermore ever expanding persecution. That´s, what broke Roberspierres neck.
1/7/16, 4:13 AM
"The era of rural and urban guerrilla warfare, roadside bombs, internment camps, horrific human rights violations by all sides, and millions of refugees fleeing in all directions, that will bring down the United States of America is still a little while off yet, for one crucial reason: a large enough fraction of the people most likely to launch the insurgencies of the near future have decided to give the political process one last try, and the thing that has induced them to do this is the candidacy of Donald Trump."
This, maybe we can call it a side prediction, is frightening. By "one last try," is that to say if the Donald does not get elected, this violence and suffering will begin forthwith? Or just that his candidacy may encourage "them" to form another party, or rally around another, similar (but probably much worse) candidate in four years?
Either way, at 55, I have had a decent enough chunk of life not to complain too much (though would certainly like to stick around and see what happens in the next 20-25 years.) My main concern at this point is my 6 year old boy, who is of course an amazing human being, and a very ordinary little boy.
His mother and I no longer live together, so that adds a layer of difficulty when attempting to "collapse now." But I do what I can. I have not owned a car for the past 3 years, and get around almost exclusively by bicycle, renting or borrowing a vehicle when I absolutely must, and he goes with me everywhere in that mode. I do not have a smart phone or TV. I belong to a local farm co-op. I am heavily involved in the community on an activist level. I try to keep him from the two S's in LESS, though this time of year reducing Stimulation and Stuff is more of a challenge!
I am trying to plant the seeds in his mind that might help him deal with the kind of future we are headed for, in a way that I hope is appropriate for a young child. Nothing heavy, but more concepts about general consumption habits, not taking anything for granted, learning to do things with his hands, helping repair or tune his bicycle.
It's hard sometimes to keep at bay thoughts of the kind of society where a young person will be considered little more than cannon fodder to those in power. There is not much by way of example or advice to prepare him for that. I don't really want to teach him to be an overlord or gangster, even if I could. I pray there will be other options in his future, but no matter what, it won't be the life his father has enjoyed. Meanwhile, collapse forward, fellow Archdruid readers!
1/7/16, 4:19 AM
Phil Harris said...
I am glad you are keeping cheerful about possibly being dead wrong. I see you have Amazon and the Saudi Royal s in the same frame?
One of your long term suggestions from way back IIRC was the rise again of socialism in USA. And a guy using the very name – it truly is amazing – I did not expect to appear in my lifetime. But as you say, still a long shot
Back in the day British middle class and working class always were divided up differently than in the USA. As de-industrial Thatcherism embraced new financial structures (what our Tony Blair still calls modernisation), our working class – used to be the large majority of Brits - got divided up, some of them distinctly relegated downward and some into something like the lower-middle class with a car and wife earning enough to cover it. It looks as though USA has more recently seen your traditionally much broader category American middle-class (socio-economic majority) similarly divided. I see that a significant proportion has been elevated up the income scale, while perhaps more numerous others take the strain of poverty. But like in Britain, ‘never having had it so good’, if it happens, must feel distinctly insecure.
The Bible likes to talk in terms of eras and before and after The Flood and so on. Well, I’m still waiting for it to stop raining where I am. I think you are dead right about the Solar PV sales pitch even if the Saudis and Amazon.com are not quite the same animals in a year or two.
1/7/16, 4:36 AM
Dan Mollo said...
On a slightly unrelated note, I was re-reading your posts from 2009 and came across your deindustrial reading list. I purchased the books I didn't already have (used at dirt cheap prices, I guess no one else wants to read them) and plan on changing my current reading projects to that. It's fun to have homework again!
1/7/16, 4:49 AM
Tony f. whelKs said...
I find #3 the scariest proposition. The prospect of President Trump sends shivers down my spine, not entirely regarding him personally so much as what it says of a nation that could elect him in the first place. My thought when Obama was elected was that all the 'change' we're going to see has already happened, in as much as I thought it said something about the nation that it had finally elected its first black president. That was the beginning and ending of the change.
When it comes to Trump, he's such a wild card, I can't help but feel that *something* will happen; maybe a helicopter will experience a technical fault, or a picure of him breaking the legs of kittens in a kindergarten will emerge, or... well, you get the picture. It might be wishful thinking on my part, but I really doubt he'll be in the Whitehouse... but time will tell, and my vision is necessarily blurred from this side of the Atlantic.
I couldn't help thinking, in the wake of his latest diatribe, that if he really wants to prevent American citizens from being killed by violent extremists he shouldn't be trying to stop Muslims coming to America, but stopping white men joining the police, until the authorities "work out what the heck's going on".
On to #4, and the scariest thing I could imagine happening in the Middle East any time soon would be a 'Saudi Spring'. The al-Saud family represent a particularly ugly lid on a pressure cooker, but that doesn't mean that it will be pretty when the pressure cooker blows. Succession by agnatic seniority results in a gerontocracy in a country with very low average age, and the Royal Family is so fractured that some princes are openly calling for regime change.
I don't think anyone can have missed that Sunni-Shia tensions are at about their worst since the Battle of Karbala, and the gloves are now off in the proxy war with Iran. Whether there's a palace coup or something blows up from 'the street', events in Saudi Arabia will surely be significant this year. As they say 'it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing', and Saudi doesn't seem to have the swing any more, or at the very least they're not using it to shore up the oil price. Is that despeation for revenues, or a move to force other producers towards bankruptcy? Either way, Saudi Arabia is being a lot more miltant in the spheres of economics, politics and diplomacy than they have been for decades. Almost as if they've slipped the leash of their handlers...
Oops, a longer screed than I had intended... anyway New Year's greetings to one and all.
Now roll up, roll up, git yer popcorn futures here!
1/7/16, 4:55 AM
Leo Knight said...
Regarding Hillary vs. Trump, the situation reminds me of two recent gubernatorial races here in Maryland. Some years ago, lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was anointed by the Democratic party machine as Our Next Governor. The electorate proceeded to ignore her. Even faithful liberals refused to support her. A Republican named Bob Ehrlich, trounced her in the election.
In the last election, the Democrats anointed lieutenant governor Anthony Brown as Our Next Governor, to a chorus of yawns. Predictably, Republican Larry Hogan trounced him. Perhaps this might play out at the national level?
1/7/16, 5:02 AM
Right now Acxiom's data is used for marketing and selling you things. But that data lives on servers and what happens when it is used by ______ (insert nightmare scenario here).
Which is the thing that confuses me about this right-wing militia groups......if they care so much about privacy and liberty, why don't they go occupy one of this corporate schmuck office buildings or server farms holding all of our personal information?
1/7/16, 5:03 AM
Eric Backos said...
Cleveland, Ohio: There is NO meeting of the Green Wizards’ Benevolent and Protective Association, Tower Number 440, and Ruinmen’s Guild, Local 440 this week.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
Splendorem Lucis Viridis!
1/7/16, 5:16 AM
Zachary Braverman said...
Seems like not too long ago people would look at things that are getting better and assume those would continue on the same upward trajectory. Now the valence has been reversed. Irreversibly, it seems.
1/7/16, 5:23 AM
I agree with most of them, on the other hand I do not "buy" your idea that the actual economic crisis is all related to the oil (or more exactly about the decrease in its EROI), because I think we live in a Ponzi World where the bubbles were formed almost two decades ago with the oil at 20-30$/bbl and higher EROI
For me the root cause of the economic crisis is the de-coupling of the producers and the consumers due to the globalization; and then the huge amounts of benefits and wealth concentrated in fewer hands, were recycled in form of assets bubbles fed by cheap credit that floods the market. Once the "credit anesthesia" start to vanish, the real deflation-trap happens
Here in Spain I was enable to explain people in the begining of 2000's that we will have a huge crisis in the near future that will last decades, becauses houses cannot increase in value 20% allways, but everibody was convinced that "houses never lost value"....This crash would happen anyway with 5$/bbl and with an EROI of 100:1, no doubt. In Spain we do not have industry nor another sector to maintain the economy growing enough to pay the debts, and, of course we will not pay them in the future. We are all dead
Mrs Gail Tverberg has "discovered" The Debt quite recently and buil a theory about the reasons of the low oil price and the decrease in "affordability" and EROI, but history shows that the debt crisis are a very old thing, and arise normally every generation, due to concentration of wealth through compound interests (exponentially growing), that was the reason the 3.000 years old civilizations have a "jubilee" everytime a new dinasty come to power
Our civilitation lack of any institution to solve the Debt Problem and everytime it is "solved" in a bloody way by world wars, revolutions and huges bankrupcies, we are less clever than the Sumerians (they learnt also through bloody lessons, will we?)
I am not saying we do not have others "limitant factors" for the PIB growing, as the oil EROI, but now, the clear limitant factor are the "contracts" ("paper chains" call them Keynes) due to wealth concentration
Once we burn the "contracts" we will have your crisis
Sorry for my english
1/7/16, 5:30 AM
Mr Sunshine said...
1/7/16, 5:37 AM
Don Plummer said...
Or will the whole thing blow over after a bit of sabre-rattling and posturing from both sides? Already the Saudis have suspended diplomatic relations with the Iranians and Bahrain, as I understand, has followed suit.
1/7/16, 5:51 AM
Odin's Raven said...
1/7/16, 5:55 AM
Hubertus Hauger said...
This year I contiunue and enlarge my barter club work, want to do more in the community-garden and do enter this year a preperation group in order to found a living community. Hoping to enter the transition town movement full scale at the far end.
For me its time to gather at the life-boats and build a safe haven afterwards.
1/7/16, 6:05 AM
As to what effect the fallout will have on the wider EU, it’s hard to predict. The planned departure of a country that was never all that committed to the project, even a major one, may have less of an impact than the loss of somewhere like Greece to financial chaos; but if the UK goes, then it will seem less outlandish for Greece, Spain et al to do the same. While I won’t go so far as to say the loss of the UK would trigger the EU’s implosion – though something almost certainly will – it won’t do the EU any favours either.
Closer to home, Scotland also has an election in the works, but that’s far less interesting because at this point it would take a major upset to prevent the SNP from walking away with it.
I’ve just had a glance at the most recent polls, and I know it’s a long time to the US election and a lot will change before then but the numbers would suggest that it’s anybody’s to play for – at least, given the strength of Trump’s momentum within the GOP, between Trump, Clinton and Sanders. I’m not going to call it, though it’s fair to say I hope you’re wrong. What’s notable is that over here – but I think this applies to large parts of the US media too – Trump is still seen as something of a joke, and the official line is that he’s not *actually* going to win, don’t be silly… Much like Jeremy Corbyn six months ago. (The silver lining is that this also applies to Sanders.) Your other predictions seem reasonable enough, give or take precise dates.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a fairly large climatic upset – rapid melt in Greenland, for example – and perhaps more recognition of the fact that the Paris agreement is not so much shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted as wandering over and promising to do so at some point in the near future. I've also seen rumblings about the possibility that total liquids production peaked in 2015, and if the numbers back it up then that discussion may edge back into the frame, among the sort of people who've been quiet on the subject for a few years thanks to the fracking "boom" even if the general media manages to ignore it.
1/7/16, 6:11 AM
Eric S. said...
One detail that you didn't address, that I'm very curious about your thoughts on, is the rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the line in the sand that's being drawn as Saudi allies cut off diplomatic ties one with Iran one by one. It seemed significant to me, because the US just got itself tied up with Iran diplomatically, and we've been depending on Russia to do the dirty work against Daesh in Syria has also thrown us in with Russia and Assad, and Iran has been asking the US and the UN for aid against the Saudis. Do you see the Saudi economic crisis, and the failure of legitimacy that comes with it cause domestic issues to overtake foreign ones there? Or could that situation still lead to messy fireworks? It seems significant, because the rising tensions right now are directly between national governments, rather than between various groups of rebels and insurgents (who may or may not be funded by national governments). Also, are there cases in which going to war might actually be a move that could be made to rescue a failing economy (especially one resulting from supply routs and demand destruction), since the costs of warfare have historically had a tendency to raise demand and get the market moving again?
1/7/16, 6:24 AM
This latest transparent attempt by SA to spark a wider sectarian conflagration smacks of scorched-earth desperation. It seems likely to damage SA and it's allies more than anyone.
1/7/16, 6:31 AM
Robert Carran said...
I'm surprised at your prediction of Trump's election and that Sanders has a chance for two reasons. One, I wouldn't expect you to care that much about the complete clown show that is our election process. Two, it's my understanding that whomever the 1% wants to be president, becomes president. And who else could they possibly want but Hilary? She's perfect! A WOMAN Yay! First a black man, now a woman. A perfect distraction. And of course she's exactly the right choice to continue the Dubyobama course. I guess I'm just surprised at your faith that our election process would still possibly allow an honest man like Sanders to break through the firewall of the 1% owned media. So far, the dismissal and downright blackout of Sanders has been phenomenal.
And I'm also curious what your take is on the potential collapse of the US dollar, considering all the maneuverings of China and Russia in that realm. Not to mention the Fed's complete ineptitude and shenanigans.
1/7/16, 6:32 AM
Donald Hargraves said...
1) Amazon's present (over)valuation has little to do with its "core business (sending packages around the world)" and everything to do with its true present business (Impoverishing governments all over the nation. Every road turned from asphalt/concrete to dirt or abandoned, every bus service cut or shut down (hi Hammond, IN), every sewer pipe break that leaks for two months before anything happens, every strip mall with a nail and hair salon/massage parlor, used items shop, payday loan store of some type, liquor store and third-rate sports bar chain keeping it half-filled is a testament to the present-day intent of Amazon.com). Profit has nothing to do with it, as long as they can pay their bills (and avoid paying sales tax, which I'm betting it will always be able to do), the people who benefit take their benefits from the continuing weakening and gutting of the American Governing Infrastructure.
Twitter, however, may die an ugly death if news of its expanding posts up to 10,000 characters proves to be true (I actually like it, as forcing people to post under 140 characters makes for sharp, witty, brief comments. But then I'm a fan of Haiku, so...).
2) Saudi Arabia used to profitably export a lot of wheat before all their ground wells started drying up. Now, they don't even grow it. (Google it, if you don't believe me). To me it explains a lot of the cratering of oil prices, even to the point of making this "Jihad on American Fracking" a secondary outcome out of necessity. (and don't be surprised if Obama's peace with Iran is an American reaction to this.).
3) Don't be surprised if Trump is paired with someone competent and able to run Government as his VP – and that Trump already knows whom that will be. Bush/Cheney, and Reagan/Bush (and, if a certain source is correct, Eisenhower/Nixon) beforehand come to mind. The Radical Rightists will be reminded that they've gone a long way towards their wishes through the states, and will vote in step on the Federal level to gain what they want through the states.
For the Democrats, if History doesn't repeat (Hillary cut off during the primaries, Dems win the General Presidential Election) it will rhyme (Republicans win the General Election, and not just at the Presidential level). Either way, if the TTP passes the Presidential Election may prove shockingly fruitless as the TTP will make it impossible for government to act in any way possible.
1/7/16, 6:38 AM
Robert Waldrop said...
Reads like something from Pravda in hmmm 1987 or so.
1/7/16, 7:02 AM
Howard Skillington said...
It’s hard to imagine an American president resisting large-scale military involvement on the Arabian peninsula in a desperate effort to maintain the greenback’s exorbitant privilege. Given the inefficacy of our efforts elsewhere in the Middle East, it would be easy to imagine a scenario not unlike what you have envisioned for us in Twilight's Last Gleaming.
1/7/16, 7:17 AM
".. a very compelling argument insisting that all democratic nations engaged in global empire building ultimately face a crisis whereby they must choose one of two roads: either shed the empire in order to preserve their democracy, or preserve their empire and lose their democracy."
Certainly the current trends are toward shedding our democracy. Will that turn around as we lose our hegemony? It seems doubtful. Rather, efforts at maintenance will redouble.
1/7/16, 7:17 AM
Mister Roboto said...
However, we probably won't have any clear idea until what I have affectionately come to call "Stupor Tuesday" has come and gone, which will be in a mere two months.
1/7/16, 7:18 AM
Karl K said...
First, in the area of wild speculation, can you suggest a possible running mate for Trump?
Second, any thoughts on higher education? As a teacher at a community college (in NY where we don't have a lot of trade-type things being taught), I was astounded that students still showed up at our doors this past Fall. In addition, I was also expecting a lot of crying and whining from the administrations of more expensive private institutions when students willing to accrue additional debt failed to appear. But, I was disappointed in this expectation as well.
My conclusion is that the popping of the higher ed bubble may still be a ways away.
1/7/16, 7:20 AM
Brian Chadwick said...
Buying anything from amazon contributes to the downfall.
The el nino / el nina weather patterns determine the planet`s weather as much as any other single contributor.
Cannabis will become legal in Canada,(2016-17)and it`s cultivation will reinvigorate the world`s economies, eventually.
The LA gas leak will be the worst disaster of 2016.
1/7/16, 7:21 AM
George Coles said...
Another outstanding post! It is so rare to
hear, read, or witness common sense in today's world
that when one is confronted with it - it is jarring.
On the matter of Mr. Trump, I believe (like you)
that he is a man to watch. I don't follow him
out of admiration, but rather, as an historian
would follow any woman or man who is symbolic of
the age in which they live.
His American followers (and I daresay the many
non-Americans throughout the world who hold
him in high esteem) are likely attracted to
the belief - right or wrong - that his candidacy
will cause damage to the two-party system which
any thinking person can see has corroded the
basic ideas of "real democracy".
In a sense, Mr. Trump's specific policies are
beside the point. But is that so new in American
politics? Isn't style, personal trust, rhetoric,
and character more essential to the electorate?
It is certainly possible that he becomes the next
President, and perhaps likely that his policies
would be a net-negative. But the system that
surrounds us has led to so many feeling alienated
that it is perfectly understandable that he
is finding support from rational people. He is
promising an escape from the technopoly of
American society (as Neil Postman might have meant).
As Eric Hoffer once wrote: "We feel free when we
escape - even if it be but from the frying pan
to the fire."
1/7/16, 7:35 AM
Bill Pulliam said...
It's a safe bet in September that colder weather is coming. But how cold, and when, and whether it is stormy cold, dry cold, snowy cold, and will a once-a decade crippling storm will hit.. you can't forecast these.
1/7/16, 7:36 AM
There are also numerous pending investigations, not only the private server/FBI, but also into the Abedin relationship and a new lawsuit re: pay to play via the Clinton Foundation, all of which probably have legs and could blow up at a most inopportune moment.
On oil prices, I would add that in past recessions, KSA (within OPEC) would agree to cut production to support prices. This time around, KSA can't afford to cut production; the financial damage from the misadventures you described means they have to sell more oil to maintain their cash flow. And of course, the more oil they sell, the more the price drops. Classic death spiral.
On solar, I read recently (forget where) that federal solar subsidies have just been extended to 2020. So the groundwork has been laid for that push.
Through all this I remember the single useful thing my mother ever said to me. On the great depression, "At first it was great because everything was so cheap. And then it was awful because there wasn't anything to buy. The shelves were empty."
On a personal note, sadness here at Magical Thyme Farm, as a new baby monitor confirmed I was deluding myself regarding my kitty. Rest in peace, my beautiful little Oaksley. Among the most affectionate and loving beings I have ever been privileged to know.
1/7/16, 7:40 AM
Adrian Ayres Fisher said...
A few ancillary observations:
1. Here in Illinois, much of the corn grown is still for ethanol. This continues to exacerbate environmental difficulties caused by mono-cultural farming practices, including loss of pollinator habitat and increased vulnerability to drought. Also, a new study in Nature shows that, in modern times, crops in "developed" countries have been more harmed by drought than those in "developing" nations, in part, the authors say, because industrial mono-cropping leads to less resilience than crop diversity. ("Duh!" I want to respond, "if it's true for ecosystems, it ought to be true for agricultural systems;" however, combining crop data with weather data for some serious crunching hasn't been done in quite this way before to show evidence of large-scale historical patterns. It could prove useful.)
2. Half of Iran's provinces will be basically uninhabitable within 15 years owing to drought and groundwater depletion.
3. I participate in community planning (and action) for resiliency in my town, which, among other things, is working on developing a community solar project. This is the town government as well as citizens. Everyone involved is pretty clear-eyed about what solar can and can't do and future climate/energy impacts on our admittedly middle-class lifestyles. I continue to believe that, regarding de-carbonizing and resiliency, what we see happening and being discussed in the national media and the national-level legislature and political parties doesn't fully capture the serious efforts being made at the (in some cases) state and (especially) municipal levels.
1/7/16, 7:46 AM
Bill Pulliam said...
1/7/16, 7:49 AM
(from erika in san francisco)
oh my god! that the tech bubble would pop by the end of the year! this reads like the most head-blowing erotica EVER. thank you! san francisco's flush with so much MONEY, but they've been giving so many tax breaks to these raping and pillaging shmucks, there's still a 200 million shortage in the budget and so ed lee's telling city departments to raise or devise new FEES. lovely.
happy new year, John Michael Greer, and thank you for that news. we're watching the stock market over here like a football game.
and happy new year to John Michael Greer's READERS. i just love coming back through the week and reading comments.
1/7/16, 7:58 AM
1/7/16, 8:10 AM
Another is in full-blown denial that global warming is even occurring, but also insists that it will be beneficial rather than harmful. The others immediately pounced on this, dismissing his concerns as illegitimate, when in fact his concerns *were* legitimate, but were *not* sufficient to warrant status as a 'disproof'.
It's demoralizing; these are the select few people in my social circles who have proven over the years to be the *least* susceptible to wishful thinking and cultural illusions; it's worse with everyone else. I feel we're engaging in a rear guard action with possibility of general success being inversely proportional to its necessity.
1/7/16, 8:21 AM
Joe Roberts said...
But if the rest of 2016 unfolds as it has thus far, it and the last months of 2015 -- daily large declines in the stock market (another 7% down in China this morning, on top of Monday's 7% fall), even more geopolitical uncertainty, random terrorist attacks from all sorts of terrorists -- then unfortunately I agree with you that Trump could be elected in November. I'm not sure that Obama could have been elected in 2008 if, well, 2008 hadn't been 2008; if it had been a regular year, an outsider like him wouldn't really have stood a chance, but "Hope" and "Change" resonated in ultra-uncertain times the way that Trump's own empty phrases do now, for different reasons. Very scary period we're living through.
1/7/16, 8:27 AM
It's interesting to also read about the collapse of the French empire (especially the disaster in Algeria) and the strains that placed on the French governing system. People forget that they had what was effectively a military coup as recently as 1958!
Collapse of Empires really is a fascinating subject and I'd be curious if there are books you like that specialize in the subject.
1/7/16, 8:39 AM
— Energy deflation to take hold in 2016
— The Kurds will destroy the Islamic State in Syria in early 2016.
— Turkish strongman, Recep Erdogan, man of many blunders, to be removed from office by military coup.
— The China economy will crash … who could have guessed?
— The ‘Widowmaker Trade’ finally unravels.
— Migrants will flood into the US as Puerto Rico defaults leaving millions of US citizens with no means of support.
— War between Iran and Saudi Arabia …
— Economic uncertainties will cause world-industry leaders to shelve ambitious plans to combat climate change
1/7/16, 8:43 AM
Clay Dennis said...
1/7/16, 8:48 AM
Ammon Bundy's body lies a'mouldering in the grave;
Ammon Bundy's body lies a'mouldering in the grave;
but his soul is marching on.
Has a catchy ring to it, don't you think?
1/7/16, 8:48 AM
The biggest effects so far have come from fracking, which has ended fears about peak oil and could, if properly regulated, be some help on climate change: Fracked gas is still fossil fuel, but burning it generates a lot less greenhouse emissions than burning coal. The bigger revolution looking forward, however, is in renewable energy, where costs of wind and especially solar have dropped incredibly fast.
[N]ow we can see the shape of a sustainable, low-emission future quite clearly - basically an electrified economy with, yes, nuclear power playing some role, but sun and wind front and center. Of course, it doesn't have to happen. But if it doesn't, the problem will be politics, not technology.
That's what the leftward edge of mainstream economic thought has to say about the subject and a lot of his readers on what passes for the left in the U.S. will buy it. Of course, the mainstream economists invented the idea of externalities, but they meant it as "someone else's problem."
As for ethanol, it may have been neither the great savior of automobile fuel in the U.S. or a great speculative investment, but ethanol production has consumed every additional bushel of corn the U.S. has produced during the past decade and then some. This is despite corn ethanol having at best a 15% EROI and is in many places a net energy loser.
As for Trump, the leading betting market gives better odds for Rubio and Cruz to win the nomination than Trump. The participants don't seem to think that the interest in Trump will translate into votes. Maybe, but it certainly yields page views. Four of the five most shared stories I wrote about elections had Trump as a subject. As long as that's the case, he'll get covered by the media.
1/7/16, 8:50 AM
1/7/16, 9:01 AM
Trump is, I believe, a creature of Wall Street, who will protect their puppet while he remains useful.
1/7/16, 9:16 AM
That written, you're right that the plight of the oil workers and those dependent on them isn't getting much attention. In fact, it's going to get less attention, if only in fiction. The TV series "Blood and Oil" was supposed to be a 21st Century version of "Dallas" and "Dynasty" set in North Dakota during the shale boom. The show went ten episodes and is likely to be cancelled. People switched over from the fractured fairy tales of "Once Upon A Time" to the zombie apocalypse of "The Walking Dead" then back to the national security theater of "Quantico," which is "Homeland" meets "How To Get Away With Murder." Viewers would rather watch Rick Grimes kill zombies than a soap opera about oilmen and their women.
So the collapse of the fracking bubble didn't turn out to be the next popping of the real estate bubble, which did damage the wider economy. The movie "The Big Short" turned that tragedy into a comedy. In fact, it's such a good comedy that it got nominations for Best Movie Comedy at both the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards. The protagonists cried all the way to the bank as millions cried their way to bankruptcy, foreclosure, and eviction.
I'll add that film to the ones I recommend to my students, along with "Inside Job," about the real estate crash. Very few students are likely to watch either. Instead, my students are still looking for good news from technology, just like Krugman in my previous comment. Last summer's class was particularly enamored with self-driving cars, which they voted their favorite student presentation. The feedback was that they'd had enough of doom and gloom and wanted something hopeful. "They'll think of something" lives!
1/7/16, 9:24 AM
Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...
Here comes a string of five logically unconnected comments.
(1) Jbucks, sorry to hear of your job loss.
(2) I am dealing with some emotional fallout here, having been troubled in yesterday's daylight hours by Mr Hitler, and having been awake thinking of him again in some of the wee small hours. (The fallout is unending: one notes now, e.g., that whereas the senior Albert Speer designed facilities for the 1936 Olympics, his son, the still-living architect Albert Jr., did some of the corresponding work for Beijing's 2008 games.) So I am a day late in sending e-mail to the crew of our envisaged Catholic catabolic-collapse blog. What I promised for yesterday I hope to deliver today. Sorry.
(3) In last week's crop of blog comments, correcting a previous error, I at UTC=20160105T161415Z introduced a new error: for 'françcais' read, now, 'français'. This correcting of errors is assuming the aspect of a pleasant and dignified parlour game, like the composing of haiku. - I should also remark, again today, that at 20160105T161415Z I drew to the attention of this readership a small, two-minute, painless thing that anyone can do for Ontario forest conservation, while in the same context commenting on a camera-carrying drone and a property developer. And I may as well add now, as a follow-on to 20160105T161415Z, that I have given our local municipality an approx 25-page PDF report on our whole wretched David Dunlap Observatory conservation case (32 hectares out of 77 destroyed; rump park planned for the remaining 45 hectares; we in this municipality have been asked for feedback ideas regarding the rump). Anyone in this ADR readership wanting the report - one or two ADR people MIGHT find a use for it, as they analyze conservation and municipal failure and climate change and the like - should e-mail Toomas(dot)Karmo(at)gmail(dot)com, with subject line "plse e-mail me DDO park-planning-draft feedback".
(4) To JMG's list of unsuccessful predictions we should add, for completeness, his forthright second-half-of-2014 prediction that Ebola would in the 2014-2015 timeframe spiral out of control. I joined him in this, forthrightly, I think in the autumn of 2014. We can rejoice to have erred. :-)
(5) House of Saud: oh yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. JMG is right to underscore and stress this sad matter now, as he formulates New Year's predictions. Those of us over the age of 40 or so (JMG himself, and others among us) will recall that we have been pondering the Saudi exposure for decades. If the end of the House of Saud does not occur in 2016, it cannot at any rate any longer be too far off. Kinda-sorta like the Romanovs, minus such positive things as Tchaikovsky and Mendeleyev-Lobachevscky-Popov and Tolstoy-Dostoyevsky-Gogol and Ilya Repin and basso profundo vocalists and Byzantine spirituality and samovars. - It is worth remarking, for the benefit of readers without ready access to mainstream Canadian media, that the Canadian government coolly remarked, upon the unjust execution by Saudi Arabia of non-violent cleric-cum-dissident Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr a few days ago, that Canada would continue with its contracted sale of military hardware to the Kingdom. This kind of thing damages Canada's contemporary diplomatic reputation, which back in 1956 stood high. (Lester Pearson stood up for peace in the Suez Crisis a little north of Saudi Arabia, thereby distancing Canada in a courageous way from the deficient foreign policy of UK Prime Minister Anthony Eden. Mr Pearson's effort earned him a Nobel Peace Prize. I've seen the medal displayed in a lobby at the Canadian foreign ministry - in Mr Pearson's day, 'External Affairs' - in Ottawa.)
(municipally in Town of Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto)
1/7/16, 9:40 AM
You can look at this: http://peakoilbarrel.com/all-roads-lead-to-peak-oil/#more-10761
Fact is, demand and supply are just not that far apart (about 2m/bbl per day). When you look at Saudi and most every other oil producing nation pumping all out to garner necessary revenues in this market, it has future oil shock written all over it. If Saudi implodes, and oil supply is interrupted, then there is an immediate economic shock.
It takes 60 months for an oil price change to work it's way through global economic cycles, so the good side of low prices is later, not now. Oil price jump is instant, as financial players immediately factor it into their data.
Don't lump in crude with "all liquids" - that implies a fungibility that different grades of oil do not possess, and is a cornucopians' trick. Refineries are designed to crack heavier oil, not amend lighter oil, like the condensate from shale wells. Traditional Crudes are at or past peak at this juncture in most producing countries. Fracked "light crude" needs about $70/BBL to even be worth contemplating. ( http://peakoilbarrel.com/bakken-single-well-economics/#more-10980 )
The real issue in global ability to respond to this is the amount of demand destruction occurring in the oil patch today. @Ben above is the tip of the iceberg. I have been doing non-oilfield work and independent consulting in the oilpatch to survive for almost 3 years. This decline started for me when the Gulf of Mexico reached diminishing returns, as my expertise is offshore. That was in 2013.
If oil jumped to $200/BBL today, the response would be 12-24 months later, as financing is not there and will not appear until price is stable. They (financiers) just got their fingers singed playing this bubble, right?
A price jump will hammer non-oilfield next, in the cycle of demand destruction. Remember, it is not a thing most people can visualize because it happens seesaw fashion and incrementally.
Yes - I have all but collapsed completely. All that remains is when the income peters out and I walk away from my suburban house and to my farm.
1/7/16, 9:41 AM
I said that on several occasions.
I no longer have any Republican friends.
1/7/16, 9:56 AM
Grid-tie solar is not up to par in my experience. I have had inverter, battery and switching issues yearly. Charge controllers are fine, but not if in same box with inverter. IMHO, the equipment is not robust enough due to excessive digital components and multi-function chips. For this reason, we are switching this to 12V system in the house to obviate the inverter and losses with a simple double master switch to run on line power or stand-alone PV.
All the grid-tie gear is fabbed in Asia. Every year they obsolete one and pop out another - parts are not available due to the compounded chips and transistors, and micro-soldered connections on the PC boards.
Real problem is hypercomplexity bound up with planned obsolescence - does not make for robust systems that last. Looks like grow-your-own is going to be the only way this survives for 30 years.
1/7/16, 9:57 AM
John Dunn said...
If anything is different this time, it is the role of radicalization (regardless of flavor) via the internet. I guess people radicalized through pamphlets and other propaganda, but the web feels like propaganda on crack.
1/7/16, 10:15 AM
Clay Dennis said...
1/7/16, 10:22 AM
Greetings from the SF Bay. I have noticed two trends relevant to your predictions.
First, house prices in the Bay Area seem to have crested in that last 4-6 weeks. I've been following actual sale prices pretty closely for the last couple years and for the first time I've started seeing the sale prices of average homes outside of SF start to drop. Some houses are staying on the market a few weeks longer and dropping in price by a few percent while others are simply being taken off the market when the owner can't get their asking price. In other places this might seem normal, but it is a significant change for this market. It's only recent and could be a blip, but I think it's a sign of things to come.
On a related note, many of the "average Joe" tech workers out here are getting serious about doing the practical work of crashing now. It's small things, but front yard veggie gardens, grey water systems, homemade everything has become a point of pride and seen as quite cool.
1/7/16, 10:35 AM
Shane W said...
(Being tech ignorant, what html tag do I used for a link?)
Speaking of an implosion of social media, I'm thinking this could affect the sites that host JMG's blogs. Anyone know the financials behind the company behind blogger? I'd like to offer my services immediately in case this tech bubble bust darkens these sites or makes them cost-prohibitive for JMG to maintain. I'd love to help w/making these available hard copy by postal mail. I can be reached on green wizards.
Regarding Saudi Arabia, JMG, others, what do you think are the chances that an implosion of the KSA will lead to fewer terrorist attacks? Most coherent observers link Islamist terrorism to funding of Wahhabist extremism by the Saudis. If this funding dries up, does a lot of the terrorism associated with it dry up as well?
JMG, I've never heard you mention I'll Take My Stand before, and I was wondering why, as it seems like the Southern Agrarians/Fugitives were discussing issues you discuss here eighty years ago, and seem very in keeping with your ideas on progress & industrialism. I must admit, the book is having a powerful impact on me as it clearly lays out something I've felt, but could not articulate--that the agrarian South had a role to play in opposing the dominant American industrialism, and that the South's unique role was not as scapegoat/other, but as an agrarian alternative to the myth of progress and industrialism. I now realize that the rich culture that the agrarians lived in was dying out as I was growing up. I wished that a copy of Limits to Growth could have been spirited back in time to the Southern Agrarians so that they could see that industrialism was self-terminating. I can see a substantial minority of young people in the South, after failed experiments in industrial & finance capitalism, picking up the text as a manifesto for a different future, albeit with serious asterisks around the more problematic racial passages.
1/7/16, 10:49 AM
Shane W said...
1/7/16, 10:56 AM
Greg Belvedere said...
In any case, I agree with your other predictions. Having tried to start a tech company myself I'm still amazed that so many companies that have no way of making money have stayed afloat so long. The fact that so many companies got funding despite this fact probably kept me pursuing this goal longer than I should have. The news coming out of Saudi Arabia lately makes me think your prediction about that kingdom's fall could come to pass this year. Both are a matter of when, not if. Interesting times. Gotta go, the oil for the popcorn is ready.
1/7/16, 11:00 AM
Did you happen to read Barry Lynn's article in Harper's magazine titled the "New China Syndrome"? Mr. Lynn wrote that the American moneyed class, by transferring the industries they control to China, effectively gave control of those industries to the gang of nasty men that control China. And, IMO, control of the vast fortunes of the American moneyed class.
Not only all that but also the ability to influence legislation in America. As Mr. Lynn said, it never occurred to Americans that another power would challenge America inside the world trading system.
The eminently foreseeable result of this transfer is that corporations now do what the Chinese say. Or else. As Mr. Lynn said, Atlantic published an article titled "How WalMart Conquered China" and apparently in response and very quickly, the Chinese showed WalMart exactly who's in charge.
IMO American oligarchs made the seriously boneheaded error of thinking that non-Americans think like Americans think. They don't. They thought that if you educate the children of the elite in American universities the kids would come to follow the same rules as Americans. They didn't. They thought that American values are universal values. They aren't. They thought that money equals power. It doesn't.
What the American moneyed class learned (again) is what Mao said, long decades ago: that power comes from the barrel of a gun. Knowledge is power? Hah. Money is power? Even funnier. Money is just paper with pictures on it. A high velocity projectile has the ability to compel that money doesn't. What power does the CEO of WalMart have? To fire? To write a cheque? To build a store? So what, what's that compared to the power to kill?
The Chairman of Ford may think he has power. But, in China, power rests with the men that command infantry regiments. And in China, the power to compel sits not in Ford's boardroom but rather with those Mandarin speaking men in Beijing who command police and soldiers.
Tell the Chinese what they don't want to hear and, just like that, the foreign exec in Shanghai finds himself in jail. Right or wrong, it makes not a whit of difference. You do what the Chinese say, their way.
In a country with effectively no rule of law, property and liberty can be taken away at will. Legal ownership of industry that Americans brought to China can change with the stroke of a pen.
A huge geo-political shift by the looks of it, thanks to American oligarchs. Stock melt-down or no the consequences will keep unfolding next year and on after.
1/7/16, 11:14 AM
#1 Economic trouble in the form of at least 3 of the following:
a)housing crashes in at least one of the following: Vancouver, Toronto, San Francisco, New York, London, or Sydney.
b)a global recession
c)a true stock market crash in the USA
d)more bankruptcies in US/Canadian oil and gas
e)China's economic problems get worse
f)unspecified major economic problem (count as 1 each time it happens)
g)other N. American bubble burst, such as US education or auto loans.
#2 Trudeau will break more election promises to the middle class than to wealthy ones/corporations.
#3 Canada will run a deficit
#4 The refugee crisis will continue and will cause worse problems in europe this year than last.
#5 I honestly don't know what will happen with the wars in the middle east, other than they aren't over yet. I think the US will lose influence there over the course of the year and Saudi Arabia's problems will get worse.
1/7/16, 11:20 AM
1/7/16, 11:27 AM
Of course, if most of the people in these populations don't bother voting because there's no one worth voting for, and his base turns out in high numbers, it's possible he could win. Or if a lot of people in the insulted groups decide any change at all is better than the status quo.
1/7/16, 11:35 AM
Eric S. said...
1/7/16, 12:03 PM
Bill Pulliam said...
If he does manage the nomination, he has huge "negatives" for the General. For every person who is motivated to go to the polls to vote for him, there may be 1.2 motivated to go to the polls in sheer horror of the idea of him. Clinton has plenty of "negatives" too, but I don't think they are as visceral overall.
And if he somehow manages the General and gets innaugurated, hey, we'll survive. Italy survived Berlusconi who is pretty much the Italian version of the same character. He did a lot of damage from which they have not fully recovered, but they are still there.
And then what happens? His approval ratings plummet, his policies get blocked in congress and the courts, and in 2018 there is a wave election against him returning congress to split or democratic control. And so on and so on while the macro forces continue dragging the global economy in exactly the opposite direction from that which every politicion around the globe promises it will go.
1/7/16, 12:04 PM
My sense overall is much like yours. If Clinton wins the nomination, I won't vote for president. If Sanders wins the nomination, I could stand voting for him, though I'd feel sorry for him if he wins. Being US president from 2017-2021 isn't going to be easy for anyone. I wouldn't wish it on anyone I respect. A big part of that will be the fallout from the fall of the House of Saud.
I only set personal goals rather than make predictions. So here are a couple goals for me in 2016: that Mike and I have a screen porch added to the north side of the house so we have a bug-free place to sit outside in warm weather, and that I redesign the yard and gardens based on what I've learned in the 14 years we've lived here. I have more goals, but they are personal. As for the 2015 goals, we do now have a woodshed and I had the best garden year ever, and achieved most of my personal goals as well. I'll be reporting on the 2015 garden results soon in my blog.
1/7/16, 12:09 PM
Re your predicted Tech Bubble: I read somewhere that Foxton, the huge Chinese company that makes most Apple "devices", has started to slow down production and is sending large numbers of its workers home during the Chinese holidays. The days of double and triple overtime are gone. Apple investors are nervous and Apple stock has fallen.
The "smart" phone market is glutted; some countries have more smart phones than people! "Innovation" is down to little geeky geegaws like smart watches and fridges that tell you your milk's out of date.
1/7/16, 12:09 PM
August Johnson said...
I'm working very closely with the ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) groups here and we're making sure that we have a robust communications "system" that in no way depends on massive, delicate infrastructure. Yes, we have to support computer communications to work with the Local, State and Federal agencies that we work with, but we're making sure that we all have the equipment and know how to communicate even if all that dies.
I just gave a used 2 Meter mobile radio to a High School student who has had his license for a couple years now and is also into Search & Rescue. He's a part of our ARES group and making great contributions.
I can't say this loudly enough, "collapsing now" includes learning how to communicate without using the Internet, just as much as growing some of your own food, using less, etc. Preparing for emergencies and "collapsing" have many skills in common.
I'm very interested in the idea of a written ADR, I'll subscribe as soon as it's available.
1/7/16, 12:13 PM
What do you need when the chips are down?
A drone of course!
1/7/16, 12:16 PM
Hubertus Hauger said...
For the material part resources get more difficult to be harnessed, than we can afford. One limit.
For the metaphysical part death an birth are another limit, where there is a break. Which we cannot avoid. Death disperses our existence and birth is foccusing it into being. In both cases its normal to resist its coming. Also its painful.
By going we leave space, for the ones following after us. By coming we conquer space for our time being. Living while we exist and leaving an impression after us.
These limits in life, I fear them. Sometimes I am paralized. Sometimes I run off. Yet the limits do not define me. As a catholic a great question is, what is our purpose in life. One impressive answer I got, was, change something, do something, live!
Change is inevitable ... not that we have a choice. So, let´s carry on!
1/7/16, 12:30 PM
1) Hilary Clinton is elected our next president. In more detail - Donald Trump does not win the nomination. He is either forced out in some manner by the GOP and runs third party undercutting the GOP nominee or he gets to the convention with enough delegates that the convention is brokered and he is forced out there. In any case whoever the eventual GOP nominee is Trump supporters don't back him (likely him as I don't see Fiorina pulling it off) and Hilary walks to victory.
2) Saudi Arabia does not collapse but the beginnings of its collapse are evident before year end. Wide spread unrest and protests put down brutally, economic collapse and military embarrassments. More evidence of Saudi Arabia's involvement in world event will come out but now they will actually get attention by the media and the public. Iran's stand off with Saudi Arabia which looks foolish now will look strategically smart in hind sight.
3) The markets (bond, stock, housing) stumble and bumble and herk and jerk all year long with an overall downward direction. There are a few sharp sell offs with some relief rallies. The end of the year closes down. The serious sell off does not begin until next year or very late this year.
4) After many feints and false starts at least one European country finds themselves with a slight majority of its population favoring one of its radical parties. The backlash against immigration builds momentum all year long with more attention getting events like the one that occurred over New Years in Cologne.
5) The Oregon stand off sputters to an end and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. What most won't see is that there is a growing number of American's who agree with the sentiment of those men (not necessarily their ideas but their anger). A much more serious version of this event occurs somewhere in the US with much more serious actors. However, this time the actors in question will adroitly use legal loop holes, sharp arguments and social media to position themselves.
6) And here is my hail Mary prediction. An actually serious politically motivated act of violence (homegrown) occurs on American soil some time in 2016 with serious loss of life and/or property and/or serious political consequences. I will not predict which faction this will come from (because it could come from any of them).
1/7/16, 12:43 PM
1/7/16, 12:50 PM
While Trump runs with his anti-immigrant rhetoric, his _wife_ is a legal immigrant. I think that'll keep matters from getting too out of hand. I may be wrong, of course, but almost everyone who's dealt with the legal immigration process has little sympathy for illegals, in my experience: no one likes cheaters.
Belief being a powerful force: if enough Americans believe that Trump will Make America Great Again, could he succeed? He'd have to change the narrative about what makes America great, but I think he's already done some of that with his anti-free-trade stance. There is a strong Isolationist strain in the Republican party: that's what Pres. George W. Bush ran on and won his first term with, if you don't remember. Could we get an economic boom out of isolationism and protectionism? Or something near enough for the poorer classes of America to feel that it was 'Great'?
1/7/16, 1:06 PM
Shane W said...
regarding the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, when I lived in SoCal, they were saying that SoCal was overdue for a major quake, on the magnitude of Sylmar/Northridge. So perhaps both the Bay Area & SoCal are overdue for 7.0s?
Hmm, if Twitter goes belly-up before the election, how will Trump maintain his stranglehold on the MSM? :P
Regarding establishment candidates, Rubio's now calling for a Constitutional Convention for term limits & a balanced budget. What makes this so interesting is that an idea that is all but foreclosed by the the talking heads/tame intellectuals as "too dangerous" is being endorsed by an establishment candidate. Strange times, indeed.
I have a theory I want to throw out there and see what others think. The US first brush with limits to growth and economic trouble/stagflation related to oil problems also coincided with a sharp uptick in crime, which continued into the 80s. It provoked the "war on drugs", mandatory minimums, and a ballooning of the prison population, which continues to this day. However, in, I'm guessing either the late 80s or early 90s, crime rates plummeted and have continued to stay bottommed out, defying expectations--normally, an increase in youth, like the millennials & generation Z, which are as large as the Boomers, and economic decline correspond to an increase in crime. My theory is that digital technology, starting with PCs & video games in the 80s, working up to the internet/online services in the 90s, culminating with "dumb"phones and other digital saturation products, are responsible in large part for anesthetizing the population to a large enough degree to account for the anomaly in crime rates, and that, without digital crutches/fixes, the crime rate would be much higher, more reflective of the demographics/economics. My guess is that if a Tech bubble bust was strong enough to actually impede screen addiction, there'd be a corresponding increase in crime. Of course, other factors, such as psych meds & marijuana & other drugs (see above) could also contribute to the crime anomaly.
not sure if you live close to the Toronto Waldorf School, but it is in Richmond Hill. There's a nice little farmers market there every Saturday, and a nice little farm from Hastings Co. has a stall/booth there. Not sure if you ever make it there.
1/7/16, 1:18 PM
1/7/16, 1:24 PM
I am going to disagree with you on Trump. I think he will lose in Iowa, thus opening the label of loser. He will become more and more strident and implode with his rhetoric. Cruz will win that first one, but so did sweater-vest Santorum last go around. I'll go with Rubio for the eventual GOP nomination. The establishment will hold their nose and support a good-looking young 'one of theirs'. He will be their Kennedy. Sanders? Can't see it. I like him except for the 'free university for all' pledge. The US is way past being able to afford that one on the books. I expect Hillary will get the Dem nomination with 'the fix' behind her. I think she will lose to Rubio as he takes the Hispanic vote...(one of theirs). I find it hard to imagine coloured folks of any flavour voting for Trump. All he needs is a rope in his hands to complete the picture.
2: Saudi days are numbered.
3: The economic plunge continues.
4: Stock Market implosion (led by Shale industry) with a protest refrain of, "oh, this is terrible, but the Stock market is not really the economy so everything is on track as planned. USA USA USA".
(Our loonie is down, but it is worth it to be Canadian as far as I'm concerned)
Continuing with Ghung's list:
Insulation and windows...done
Chickens......are laying, meatbirds....ordered
Tool crib and stores.....growing
Health........excellent, plus single-payer BC med for backup
All the best to you all for 2016. Good luck and keep smiling.
1/7/16, 1:27 PM
Re solar: The first big wave of NZ solar energy was hot water production in the early 2000's. That was stimulated by government grants direct to the property owner. I was one of the first to get a system for my house, and I worked closely with a guy who established one of the more successful solar hot water companies. That market has now gotten saturated, and the Gov’t ended the grants about 5 years ago.
My guy has since gone out of the solar hot water business and heavily into the PV market, both grid-tied and battery systems. He's recommending that people NOT install hot water systems, but just use PV to power their existing electric water heaters. His selling point is that PV based hot water is simpler (no pipes with possible leakage problems) to install and to run, and that you only need one system to cover both electricity and hot water.
There is no Gov’t grant for PV, and there is no legislation requiring electric supply companies to pay the property owner for his grid-tied electricity generation. Some companies pay for your power, some don't, but those that do pay much less for your power than they charge for their own power.
I did the math for a small grid-tied system that would only produce slightly less than I use on average during the day (to avoid generating excess for which I'd get paid very little). Based on the energy costs I would save, the pay-back period was between 10-15 years, so it was a no go. I have the feeling that the take-up of residential PV systems is based in part on people wanting to appear green.
One problem is that in residential use, often a lot of energy is used at night (lights, heat, computers, etc) and that can't be offset directly by sun shine. You need to use the grid as storage for your excess generation, and you don't get paid much for your energy. Getting paid at parity with electricity suppliers' charges would of course change the economies of the situation.
Kiwis buy/sell their houses at a lot as there is effectively no capital gains tax and "getting on the property ladder" (working the property bubble/scam) is seen as the easy way to get rich. As a consequence, many people are reluctant to put out the $ for solar hot water or PV since the pay-back period is longer than the time they actually own the property. There's also a perception that a solar system doesn't raise the selling price of a house more than the system costs to install.
On the other hand, industrial PV systems make more financial sense as the energy use is mainly during the day when the sun is shinning. In that case, the system can be sized to cover the majority of energy use.
1/7/16, 1:35 PM
Varun Bhaskar said...
I was wondering when your round of yearly predictions would be posted. I look forward to seeing how things turn out.
My paper is going to print this year. How likely do you think it is that a community newspaper can survive and grow in the coming storms?
1/7/16, 1:54 PM
Oh, wait! There's a couple of dozen books in the library on printing, printing presses, lithography, paper making, inks, etc. Seems we can save some knowledge after all.
1/7/16, 1:55 PM
1/7/16, 1:58 PM
Renaissance Man said...
Thing is, overall, in the past many years of reading predictions for the coming year &c. most are wrong more than they are right, about both the details & general trends, whereas you have been right more than not. So, as cheery as your predictions are, I'll put money on them.
1/7/16, 2:22 PM
William Lucas said...
I'm particularly interested in your predictions about solar power. In the almost 5 years since I relocated to Japan with my family (yes, just after the earthquake) I've observed a massive growth of that industry here, since the nuclear industry has come to a grinding halt (is that metaphor apt?). Just locally I can point to dozens of sites that have had rows and rows of angled panels erected. They range from village plots the same size of a traditional graveyard to areas that cover acres. Every time I see them Joni Mitchell's 'Miles of Aisles' comes to mind.
1/7/16, 2:23 PM
1/7/16, 2:32 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Peter, how much of the electricity is hydro? That's always been the one renewable that consistently breaks even, economically as well as energetically -- falling water has a lot of energy density.
Damo, what I suppose we might call the punditariat -- the officially approved talking heads of the media -- always misses the potential of an Abbott, a Berlusconi -- or a Trump. More on this in an upcoming post.
Rapier, er, in what imaginary world don't crashes follow tops? The 1929 crash came a few months after the market hit an all-time high; so did the crashes of 1987, 1999-2000, and 2007-2008. I'd recommend any good book on the history of market panics for the details.
Unknown Deborah, three comments. First of all, I know it's popular in San Francisco and environs to think of the Bay area as the center of the world, but a catastrophic earthquake that leveled the entire region would be a local problem -- even more so than the destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, which messed up shipping all the way up the Mississippi watershed. Second, they've been predicting a big quake any day now in your area since I was born, so it's not exactly relevant to a post attempting to predict next year's news. Finally, I've noticed that every single time I make predictions that talk about preventable disasters that wouldn't be happening if some hard choices had been made over the last thirty or forty years, somebody -- and usually, as in this case, several somebodies -- pops up and tries to divert the discussion into random natural disasters for which nobody can conceivably be held responsible: a rather revealing pattern, don't you think?
Kfish, hang onto your land -- depression and war is pretty much a given for the future ahead of us.
Mustard, yes, I'd heard. How about subsidies for big corporations that want to go into renewables?
Hubertus, nah, the Saudis aren't Robespierre -- they're Louis XVI. Stay tuned...
M, I wish I knew. It could be either one -- and much depends on how the Trump campaign ends, if it doesn't end with his inauguration. Either way, we -- and your son, I'm sorry to say -- have a rough few decades ahead.
Phil, I've always been fond of the labels "antediluvian" and "postdiluvian." Wishing you a quick arrival of postdiluvian times!
Dan, glad to hear it. As for the folks in Oregon, exactly -- it's not what they do but what they represent that matters.
Tony, agreed about the Saudis. As Russia in 1917 (among many other examples) demonstrates, just because a government is corrupt, clueless, and incompetent, it does not follow that its replacement must be better...
1/7/16, 3:14 PM
“But autumn ends, and a civilization becomes a culture gone frozen in its brains and heart, and its finale is anything but grand. We are now far into what the Chinese called the period of contending states, and the collapse of Caesarism.
In such a period, politics becomes an arena of competing generals and plutocrats, under a dummy ruler chosen for low intelligence and complete moral plasticity, who amuses himself and keeps the masses distracted from their troubles with bread, circuses, and brushfire-wars. (This is the time of all times when a culture should unite — and the time when such a thing has become impossible.) Technology flourishes (the late Romans were first-class engineers) but science disintegrates into a welter of competing, grandiosely trivial hypotheses which supersede each other almost weekly and veer more and more markedly toward the occult.
Among the masses there arises a "second religiousness" in which nobody actually believes; an attempt is made to buttress this by syncretism, the wrenching out of context of religious forms from other cultures, such as the Indian, without the faintest hope of knowing what they mean. This process, too, leads inevitably towards a revival of the occult, and here science and religion overlap, to the benefit of neither. Economic inequity, instability and wretchedness become endemic on a hitherto unprecedented scale; the highest buildings ever erected by the Classical culture were the tenements of the Imperial Roman slums, crammed to bursting point with freed and runaway slaves, bankrupts, and deposed petty kings and other political refugees.”
1/7/16, 3:37 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Leo, exactly. The Dems have lost track of the fact that the candidates that appeal to a self-referential circle of political hacks (i/e., the Democratic party) may not have the same appeal to anyboyd else. I see Hillary as the natural product of that process.
Grandmom, no doubt there'll be social media in the future, as long as the internet holds out. That doesn't mean that companies such as Twitter, which has never earned a profit and survives by burning through ever-expanding helpings of investment funds, will be around to provide it.
Eric, so noted!
Zachary, why, yes, and of course that's part of the point!
111DFC, don't fall into the trap of assuming that there can be only one problem with only one cause. Of course the debt cycle is also at work, and so are several other economic cycles that tend to amplify boom-and-bust cycles. The decline in net energy is another factor, big and slow, and it's one of the core reasons why so many of the things that used to work don't work any more. More on this in an upcoming post.
Mr. S., the transformation of the internet from its current free-for-all to a bland, advertising-heavy, corporate medium is something I've talked about here more than once in the past. Trust me, I've got backup plans already under development.
Don, good question. One lesson history has to offer is that in the last days of a clueless, crumbling despotism, you never know which way the clueless and crumbling despots are going to jump.
Raven, it matters purely in that whether Crassus or Catiline becomes Consul this year gives you a clue of the relative strength of the parties for which they're the sock puppets.
Hubertus, I just hope you haven't waited too long.
Chloe, yes, I'm watching British and European politics as well. Lots of turmoil ahead, one way or another.
Eric, I'll be discussing the entire Middle Eastern imbroglio in an upcoming post. With regard to the Saudi situation, though, foreign and domestic policies can't be separated here -- as I noted in my post, the quagmires in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq are very important parts of the picture, and Saudi military failure in those wars will doubtless play a core role in the denouement.
1/7/16, 4:50 PM
Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...
Once the new Catholic blog is launched, quite likely toward the end of January, all and sundry, whether favouring Catholicism or opposing it, will be very welcome to participate as **COMMENTATORS**.
I reiterate that the present call is simply for people (whether Catholic or simply Catholicism-interested) who want eventually to write as members of the rather special, rather high-profile, **ESSAYIST** collective in the emerging blog venture.
1/7/16, 4:54 PM
:If you owned a commodity in the ground that had to be sold for paper currency in order to realize value what would do? Yes, the oil in the ground may last another 50+ years but will the bonds and currencies of other governments last that long? One thing you don't do is buy gold outright, it would cause it to stop trading as a commodity and start trading as money! You learned that in the late 70s. Nor do you acquire "real gold money" in any fashion that would allow a comparison of price trends ( graphs ) ! There must be a way to convert the true wealth of oil into the outright wealth of gold. We know that oil is a consumed wealth of a momentary value that is lost in the heat of fire.
The stars blink and it is oil wealth no more!
It has become "the debt of nations " now owed to you. Gold on the other hand is not a commodity as many assume, as it is truly "the wealth of nations " meant to last thru the ages! A wise oil nation can strike a deal with the paper printers and in doing so come out on top. Go back a few years to the early 90s. Oil is very high, you offer to lower the US$ price in return for X amount of gold purchasing power. You don't care what the current commodity price of gold is, your future generations will keep it as real wealth to replace the oil that is lost. Before the future arrives gold will be, once again valued as money and can be truly counted on to appropriately represent all oil wealth!"
You will think long and hard on this in the future.
1/7/16, 4:59 PM
1/7/16, 5:00 PM
Iuval Clejan said...
1/7/16, 5:10 PM
Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...
Thanks for your pointer, in a posting earlier today, to a farmers' market here in York Region. The market is a little distant from my own residence, being approx 5 kilometres away. 3.0 or 3.5 kilometres is max feasible pedestrian distance between desk and grocer, if grocery bags are in the equation. Your info is nevertheless of importance, and it reminds me that I have to investigate properly our own local Richmond Hill farmer's market - apparently held on some Saturdays, but perhaps not all year round, on Yonge Street, not too far north of the Richmond Hill Public Library central branch, and therefore perhaps 2.2 km or 2.4 km from this desk.
(in Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto)
(PS: I also posted a few minutes ago and FORGOT to include the UTC timestamp which my duly configured Linux box so accurately generates, ultimately on strength of Network Time Protocol, to precision of plusminus 100 milliseconds or so. UTC timestamp makes sense. The blogger.com programmers' timestamp, giving time without timezone, is a bit deficient. In general, timestamping norms have
been promulgated at ISO in Geneva, and we may hope they come into increasingly wide use.
On blogspot.com, we note note only failure to specify timezone, but also a potentially
dangerous month-date ambiguity, in defiance of ISO norm: is "1/7/16" 2016-01-07, or is it, rather, 2016-07-01? - seems kinda-sorta like Peter Carr, not thinking that his diplomatic
mission requires a duly thoughtful choice of shaving tackle....!)
(PPS: JMG: Maybe you will some day be clarifying Peter Carr's role in public administration? He seems too clueless to be a career diplomat or a career intelligence officer, even from a bad country like the neo-Soviet Atlantic Republic. My best guess at the moment is that the poor lad is from a family with connections, and that this family has to be placated by giving its occasionally dim son some kind of important duties - even over the conceivable protests of professionals in the Atlantic Republic diplomatic and intelligence communities. I imagine some Atlantic Republic case officer eventually giving him an hour's reprimand, for over and over again calling undue attention to himself.)
1/7/16, 5:16 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Robert, the group you're calling "the 1%" isn't a unity. It's a tangle of squabbling factions, each clawing for a larger share of power and wealth, and presidential elections are among the venues where that struggle works itself out. Trump wouldn't be where he is today if a substantial faction of the very rich hadn't decided to back him; of course there's another faction backing Clinton (Freudian slip: I nearly typed the name "Clingon," and you can take that as a Star Trek reference if you wish), and others with their own favorites; then there's a large subset that's hanging back, waiting to see what deals it can strike with whoever comes out ahead and needs additional support.
As for why I pay attention to it, well, some people enjoy women's roller derby, some people like watching lawn bowling, I find presidential politics entertaining. No accounting for taste!
Donald, I agree wholeheartedly with your points #2 and 3. #1 -- well, that's part of it, but like other big name tech companies these days, its primary product is hype -- that's what enables it to suck in investment money to make itself look successful.
Robert, why, yes, I'd been noting the resemblance as well. ;-)
Howard, yes, that's certainly one of the options. On the other hand, watching the way the US jerked its carrier out of the Persian Gulf the moment Russian cruise missiles started flying, I think the Pentagon knows full well just how badly the US would lose in such a situation, and that might guide US action in Arabia, as it's arguably done in a number of other trouble zones of late.
Mister R., obviously I disagree -- but that'll have to wait for explanation until we get to the post on the Trump phenomenon. Here I'll simply say that respected analysts who usually get it right nearly always miss the sort of shift that's in process here.
1/7/16, 5:28 PM
Hard to know what effect that might have on the prospect of a PV bubble. I could see it going either way.
As far as the election is concerned, I think it is only a small bubble of a different kind that imagines Bernie Sanders as more than a minor hindrance to The Anointed One. Past Iowa, which is all about mobilizing the fanatics, and New Hampshire, which is mighty close to Vermont, the primaries turn to the Southland, where he will be lucky to come out with his skin intact. I believe after Super Tuesday, he will be too far behind to recover, but I am often surprised where humans are involved.
This same dynamic only helps Trump. Nevertheless, I do not see him besting TAO in the general. It's possible that some of the "Feel the Bern" echo-chamber might stay home in November, but that should be more than made up by a pretty big plurality in both parties genuinely horrified by Trump.
Which, all in all, and like the current president, is probably about as good as we could hope for. Trump is not a fascist, despite what is being said all across the so-called spectrum, and Sanders is not much of a Socialist. But either would be a pretty big disaster nonetheless, just from a governance point of view. In Washington, DC, either would be a party of one.
The older I get, the less I care for the idea of a revolution. That may just be me, but I am part of the largest, and only getting older, cohort.
1/7/16, 5:34 PM
It's very disconcerting to read your belief that he will win. Then I was almost relieved by your comment that he's really as much of an oligarchy pet as any of the others. I wonder, though, what is going to be most upsetting to the Angry Right? Having their poster boy trounced by the evil Hillary, or getting him elected only to discover that he's just another insider?
This armed insurrection in Oregon is much the same. For all of those not on Social Media, shortly after the takeover, one of the militia men posted on his FaceBook page asking his friends to send care packages. This, while Ammon Bundy was assuring the media that they were armed to the teeth, settled in for the long haul, and ready to die for the cause. It has set off one of the most creative meme blitzes in memory...#SendSnacks, #Yallqueda, #Yeehawd. Then there are the Brokeback Mountain references to a group of lonely men sequestered in a cabin together.
They are a national joke, and it really is hilarious, but as I posted yesterday, "It's all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out." In the past year, the number of known militia groups has increased 30%. There is no way to determine how much existing groups have grown. Not all of them will be as quixotic and amateurish as this bunch in Oregon. The Tea Party already has a hugely disproportionate influence in congress. If these people turn into actual terrorist cells the results on the national psyche will be catastrophic and the Feds have already demonstrated that they have no clue how to manage it.
1/7/16, 5:35 PM
Bruce E said...
Some other specific predictions I've read this week that stand out:
Jim Kunstler predicts the S&P collapses below 1000 by June.
Gail Tverberg predicts oil storage will fill up and oil prices will drop below $10/barrel.
Steve Ludlum does a great job describing energy deflation and predicts Kurds will destroy IS in Syria in early 2016.
Crazy times. I'm finding it more and more difficult to creatively but still credibly imagine a "soft landing" non-crash scenario for the next After Oil fiction challenge...
1/7/16, 5:43 PM
1/7/16, 5:44 PM
1/7/16, 5:47 PM
Martin Larner said...
As for Amazon, it always seems to me that they do in fact make profit, but they're hiding it with offshoring, which is how they get away without paying any tax. If push comes to shove, they're hardly going to admit that there's plenty of money being made - instead they'll declare a chapter 11 and hope they're "Too big to fail". In the event that doesn't happen, the Executives will do a runner with all the cash just like their contemporaries at Enron did, leaving employees, customers and shareholders to carry the can.
1/7/16, 5:59 PM
Denis Landry said...
That bit I didnt get from canadian media but from US
It affect price of housing:
It also affect confidence in further investment:
Now with economic crisis comes political crisis:
notes first comment:It could be worse. You could be in Ontario.
Speaking of Ontario:
The situation is much worst in the suburb, commuters have to choose between gas or food:http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/food-bank-report-1.3236620
Me, I am related as i work in supplies to the construction industry...
Ready or not, here it is
Its Gonna hurt like a b*tch...
1/7/16, 6:20 PM
Andy Brown said...
1/7/16, 6:21 PM
Robert Carran said...
1/7/16, 6:28 PM
Those are some dire predictions you have. Still, not much we can do. The die was cast long ago.
I just arrived in the United States two weeks ago and am shocked at how quickly this country is heading towards collapse, and how completely ignorant people here are of it. I thought my fellow brethren in Australasia were in lala-land, but they seem realistic and onto it compared to the people in America!
I'll be glad when I get out, to (temporarily) safer lands. I'm still worried for loved ones who still stay here because of the vast facade this country's middle and upper classes have erected between themselves and reality. What else would you expect in a place like Silicon Valley though?
Talking about predictions, I've issued one of my own - but it's not for this year. I've written a bit on what I think the year 2050 will be like in some ways. I might be around to see it if all goes well for me.
With you safety in the tumultuous times ahead,
1/7/16, 6:29 PM
1/7/16, 6:30 PM
IIRC you owe someone a bottle of bourbon regarding your Ebola prediction.
1/7/16, 6:32 PM
Patrick DeBoard said...
As for the predictions - maybe, maybe not. I think that the scammers who are getting rich in all this will keep everything going as long as possible - as long as they continue to get fabulously wealthy. I'm taking steps to have a homestead up and running in two years time, and I imagine things will keep running for a lot longer than that, although not in a good way. Still, I love watching Russia and China and Iran and others getting weaponized for that day when the world finally does smash the US in the mouth. That will be a good day in the world. Actually, every day that the US gets exposed is a good day. Every day US fighters in Syria get "lit up" by Syrian radar and decide to boogie out of Syria is a good day in the world. I'm probably one of a handful of Vietnam veterans who are happy to see the US confronted by an equal military force and turn tail and run. That's what bullied do when confronted. They run. They're cowards who only fight those who are unable or too afraid to fight back.
1/7/16, 6:33 PM
Shane W said...
you do bring up a good point about Trump being a member of the moneyed elite, and having some elite backing to make it this far. So your point about them not being afraid of his presidency is valid, though he is a loose cannon, to say the least. I look forward to your post on him.
I'm wondering since tech is supposed to be the thing that "saves us", that explains the repeated tech bubbles? If the tech bubbles are just repeated fiscal demonstrations of the religious faith in digital technology. Also, JMG, I'm wondering what you think the chances are for a bailout if tech gets too threatened? Will there be an appetite to "save the information superhighway" via bailout? I'm thinking that the government may value screen tech's ability to anesthetize and pacify the population to let it implode too much.
1/7/16, 6:54 PM
Unfortunately, since I'm writing this on coal-produced electricity, there's a limit to how far I can resent them without being a complete hypocrite. If I went without electricity, I could hate them freely, but so far my love of comfort and middle class status outweighs that. It's something I'm working on.
I have a lot of green friends who are vocal about our need to stop burning coal, but mentioning that this might require a downgrade in living standards tends to kill the conversation. This irony is not lost on the miners and other primary producers here, who tend to regard environmentalists as ignorant, ungrateful and spoiled. You really can't blame them for thinking that way.
1/7/16, 6:56 PM
Shane W said...
pundits have already mentioned that polls may be underestimating his performance due to a "reverse Bradley effect"--that people are reluctant to admit they support him when polled, yet would be more than willing to pull the lever for him in the privacy of the voting booth.
1/7/16, 6:57 PM
Peter Wilson said...
EROEI of hydro is one of the few concentrated energy sources in nature. The EROEIs on hydro are consistently high. However, in NZ, the EROEIs here for wind and geothermal (and some biomass, due to short transport distances) are good as well, consistently above 1:10. The trick is working wind into the transmission system, because of daily and weekly inconsistency in power flows.
NZ has lots of hydro, probably around 70% of the renewable total. It's been consistent and reliable for over 100 years, although we don't have a lot of storage in lakes, which causes issues at times if it doesn't rain. There aren't a lot of new appropriate sites left for new large hydros though, with most of the remaining rivers being protected or valued, and a flat future market for electricity. Lots of scope for smaller ones though. The country invested heavily in thermal generation from the 1950s onwards (coal, then gas, and now, geothermal) because of this. The last coal plants are soon to be retired because the new (deep) geothermal is more cost-effective, not to mention vastly better on the environment. The gas will last a bit longer.
As I've said for years, I think NZ can run something of an industrialised economy on renewables. The numbers stack up, with a lot of system changes. The challenge, with all things, is the political and cultural will required to make that happen.
1/7/16, 7:06 PM
War, maybe, but not depressions. They hit the farm sector hardest and last longer than any other part of the economy. The Mississippi where I grew up in the 1960s had still not recovered from the Depression of the 1930s. I grew up listening to stories of farmers plowing under their crops because there was no market. It was the end of farming for a lot of people.
1/7/16, 7:30 PM
Moshe Braner said...
1/7/16, 7:52 PM
Agent Provocateur said...
Allow me to take a stab at answering your question.
As annual production of a commodity passes it peak due to resource depletion, it is a common expectation that the price will spike upward and then continue to rise. The only documented examples I am aware of (whale oil and whale bone) suggests otherwise (see an old “Oil Drum” post by Ugo Bardi in 15 May 2008 at http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/3960).
One of the most relevant sections reads:
“But the historical data for whaling tell us that an exponential rise of the prices is not the only feature of the post-peak market. The prominent feature is, rather, the presence of very strong price oscillations. We can attribute these oscillations to a general characteristic of systems dominated by feedback and time delays. Prices are supposed to mediate between offer and demand, but tend to overcorrect on one side or another. The result is an alternance of demand destruction (high prices) and offer destruction (low prices).”
When the buying/selling of oil reaches about 5% of the world economy, that economy stalls. Oil prices immediately drop due to drastically reduced demand (and relative glut of oil due to high prices). The more marginal producers of oil (whose costs are high because it takes more energy to produce oil from such sources as fracked rock, offshore, tar sands etc.) cut back production / go out of business first and fast. Production drops sharply and so price rises until the world economy stalls again. Rinse and repeat.
Another way to think of this is in terms of yea olde supply and demand curves. Plot Price (vertical axis) against Quantity supplied (horizontal axis) and you generally get an upward sloping curve because the more something costs, the more people will produce it. Plot Price (vertical axis) against Quantity demanded (again horizontal axis) and you generally get an downward sloping curve because the more something costs, the fewer people will buy it. The intersection of these two curves (so the theory goes) determines the price (sold and bought) and quantity (produced and consumed). An increase in supply moves the supply curve (the first one) as a whole to the right with a corresponding drop in set price and quantity. An increase in demand moves the demand curve (the second one) as a whole to the right with corresponding rise in the set price and quantity.
When quantity (per year) of production/consumption is limited by resource depletion, the first curve becomes more and more vertical as it reaches the vertical wall of what is physically possible to produce. Supply is said to be “inelastic” in this case. Under the condition of resource limits , the supply curve can be thought of a vertical and each year on the downside of the annual production curve (Hubbard's curve) sees the supply curve walk left to lower and lower values.
Both supply and demand curves can be thought of as “jittery” (constantly moving to left and right). With the supply curve vertical, small movements to left and right of both curves (representing normal small variations in say monthly supply and demand) can lead to huge swings price with little variation in supply.
That fact that high oil prices stall the world economy means the demand curve will tend to walk to the left each year as well. Parts of the world just stop using oil at all. I think this will tend to follow the “last on first off” principle. This permanent loss of demand will tend to limit a generally upward yearly average drift in prices that we saw with whale product prices. The overall long run average drift in oil prices may even be relatively flat as both (vertical) supply and demand curves walk to the left together.
1/7/16, 8:29 PM
Agent Provocateur said...
As a wild guess, I'd say we will see three very big spike/drop pairs in oil before we see the beginning of indeterminate or “chaotic” (in the mathematical sense) monthly oil prices i.e. random dots ranging wildly about a relatively fixed annual mean with no meaningful curve to connect the dots.
The peak of annual conventional oil production was 2005. Since that time we have had a spike/drop in 2008/2009 and another spike/drop in 2014/2016? (http://www.macrotrends.net/oil-prices/historical-chart-data/). That gives me very feeble grounds for assuming a weak periodicity of about 8 years. The grounds are even more feeble given I'm guessing any periodicity will become entirely undone/chaotic past the third spike/drop.
The slow rise from the first drop shows how difficult it has been to get the world economy firing on all cylinders after the first spike/drop of 2008/2009. Let me guess between 8 and 16 years to the next big spike/drop. That puts the chaotic phase starting no later than 2032 and as soon as 2024.
Chaotic monthly prices mean no ability for producers to plan so they wouldn't. No oil exploration or investment in oil production, refining, and distribution would take place after (and possibly well before) that point. The system would rot out from that point forward accelerating the decline of industrial civilization.
1/7/16, 8:32 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Brian, I'm far from sure you're right about the gas leak. That's not to say it isn't a disaster -- quite the contrary -- but I suspect we may see some much bigger things in the coming year.
George, thank you! That's exactly why I pay attention to Trump; it's not who he is or what he does, but what he represents, that's important.
Bill, I engage in the annual guess-the-future contest for two reasons. The first is that I find it entertaining. The second is that I'm usually right.
Mary, I'm very sorry to hear about Oaksley! Rest in catnip, etc.
Adrian, quite a bit of the planet is going to be uninhabitable within the next couple of decades due to those same processes. Why should Iran be left out?
Bill, very possibly yes -- but 62 is one heck of a long way from 952! It may simply be that investors are looking for something else unnoticed that might undergo the same wild increase in fictive value.
Erika/Hello, and a happy new year to you too! If predictions of tech-bubble implosion count as erotica, maybe I ought to try writing something really steamy about real estate values crashing... ;-)
Tidlösa, vocabulary expansion is just one of the services I offer. ;-)
Hewhocutsdown, I know. I've watched any number of apparently intelligent, well-educated people undergo sudden brain cramps and find themselves unable to think when someone brings up a concept that hasn't been prechewed and digested for them by the media. It really is scary.
Joe, understood, but I think enough people are finally sick enough of business as usual and its cascading failures that they're ready to embrace the greater evil, so long as the latter is willing to do something different.
Whomever, the UK is unquestionably an exception, because it let go of its empire deliberately, rather than clinging to it until the empire was pulled out of its cold dead hands. That's vanishingly rare in history, and traumatic as it is, it does seem to have major advantages in the long run. As for books on the decline of empires, I haven't found any I really like -- I prefer to read detailed histories of what happened to actual empires, and then do the comparative work myself.
Donalfagan, those are plausible, for the most part.
Clay, it'll be interesting to see what Germany does. If it breaks from NATO and allies with Russia -- far and away the smartest thing it could do, all things considered -- the EU will come apart promptly, and things may get very messy in short order. If it doesn't -- well, that's a topic for later.
1/7/16, 8:47 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Pinku-Sensei, Krugman is a fascinating spectacle. Watching him insist at the top of his lungs that doubting the omnipotence of renewable energy resources is tantamount to climate denialism is an object lesson about the ways in which an otherwise intelligent person can end up babbling the crassest sort of propaganda.
Donalfagan, exactly. We'll be talking about that in an upcoming post.
Nastarana, I think anyone who expects any of the current candidates to be assassinated has lost track of the fact that all of them are either professional politicians or rich businessmen. Yes, that includes Sanders. Despite their rhetoric, noen of them is going to overturn the system; they are the system.
Pinku-sensei, that's why I no longer do speaking gigs at colleges and universities. It's like talking to members of a cult: you get the same thousand-mile stare from them, and any words you say just vanish into mist as they repeat their mantra: "I'm-sure-they'll-think-of-something..."
Toomas, of course. I said at the time that there was still a real chance of stopping the thing, and fortunately, enough resources got committed to that in time to make the difference. I can only hope we'll be as lucky next time.
234567, that's what I hear from most of the people who've actually had to rely on them.
John, I dunno. Read up on the way people radicalized in the US in the years leading up to 1860 -- Bruce Catton's The Coming Fury is a good readable history -- and you'll find that it happened just as dramatically without benefit of internet.
Clay, got it in one. A society trying to support itself on a energy resource with steadily rising costs per unit of energy has two choices: let the users bear the costs, in which case prices soar and use decreases, or turn the costs into externalities that have to be borne by the economy as a whole, in which case income stagnates, economic sectors contract, and use of the energy resource decreases. Our society is flinging itself back and forth between those twochoices.
Carmiac, thanks for the heads up! Let's see what happens to housing prices as we get into the prime moving months.
Shane, I haven't read I'll Take My Stand -- the South might as we be a foreign country out in the Pacific Northwest where I grew up, and I'm still not as well educated as I probably should be about Southern history and culture. As for your other questions, those will want to wait for further posts.
Greg, I'm guessing that the problem was that you were trying to provide some actual good or service, rather than simply manufacturing hype, the way the big dogs do.
Roger, good. It's almost universal for plutocratic ruling classes to lose track of the fact that money is an abstraction used to manipulate wealth and power -- in itself, it's not wealth, much less power -- and this is one of the common ways in which they end up being tossed into unmarked graves by more muscular hands.
1/7/16, 9:15 PM
John Michael Greer said...
RPC, good question. I don't know to what extent the prolonged hiss was deliberate, and to what extent things simply happened that way.
Pygmycory, that is to say, a vocal minority of each of the groups you've named is either upset at Trump, or are being told by the media that they ought to be upset at Trump. It's easy but often inaccurate to jump from that to the conclusion that most the voters in each of these groups will vote against Trump.
Eric, no, that sounds about right. The tech stock bubble will be on top of another round of contraction in the real economy, papered over as usual by the mass production of fictive wealth by the financial sphere; a lot depends on just how much pretense goes into current economic statistics.
Bill, of course we'll survive. I see Trump as maybe a Berlusconi, maybe a Mussolini, and Italy survived both of those.
SLClaire, excellent! No question, if it comes to a choice for the presidency between Clinton and Trump I'll have to vote third party; which of those is the lesser evil strikes me as a theological question rather than a political one.
Nuku, thanks for the data point!
August, I second the motion. I'll get details on the printed version of the Report up here once it's in process.
Mick, well, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Hubertus, one of these days I hope I understand why people find limits frightening. Me, I find them comforting. I like to know that the chair I sit on is going to limit the tendency of my buttocks to descend toward the floor; I find it comforting to know that my immune system is busy limiting the tendency of microbes to make me sick; and as for death, I know my own limits well enough that I have no desire to stay permanently cooped up in this body and personality, so it's good to know that my life has a limit, too. Maybe that's why I find industrial society's fantasies of omnipotence and perdurability so dreary.
Avalterra, did you make predictions last year? If so, how did they do?
Nick, Gail has been predicting total collapse every year since her blog first appeared. She's been wrong every single time, and she'll be wrong this time, too, because she's forgotten that every system adapts to change to try to preserve its own existence -- and modern industrial societies have a vast array of tools that can be and have been used to stave off the kind of sudden collapse she wants to believe in. I'm sorry to have to say this, but when I talk about the people who keep on rehashing the same failed predictions of doom every single weary, dreary year, she's one of the people I have in mind.
1/7/16, 9:36 PM
Here's my quick and dirty summary of Herbst's interpretation of the transits, for anyone who can't access it (though it is well worth reading in its entirety if you are into astrology):
-Continued economic contraction, probable continued inability to face up to it and make necessary changes; no recovery in sight.
-We start to reap the whirlwind of disappointment as our hopes for the future prove unfounded. The shine starts to come off technological progressivism, a process just beginning but which will be felt more strongly beginning in the 2020s.
-Doubt and confusion around the election and/or its result; tendency to be seduced by political demagoguery and difficulty discerning "hucksterism" from real leadership.
-Increasing urge toward reform, social justice activism, and rebellion against authority, with corresponding reactionary backlash from authorities/institutions. When the powers that be do finally get around to enacting changes, "With the difficult Jupiter–Saturn square setting a secondary tone to the more basic Uranus–Pluto archetype, the likelihood is that the policies undertaken toward reform will probably not be visionary or forward-looking. Instead, protocols will be put in place based on expediency and the intention to address existing issues in the easiest ways. In this case, however, 'easy' is unlikely to equal 'wise.'"
All of these astrological predictions will ring familiar to regular readers of this blog, of course, but what really struck me was how your prediction that Trump will win the election unless Hilary buys it seems to line up perfectly with the dynamics Herbst is describing.
I'm not confident enough to issue my own predictions, but I am sad to see that the astrological transits seem to be backing up a nagging intuition I've had for a long time now, viz. that the popular efforts toward social reform are based as much on illusion as the elites' senile policies are--just different illusions. I have always had issues with progressivism (as an archaeologist, I always say there's no such thing as progress) but I've been particularly dismayed to see it taking on a nasty, authoritarian, censorial tone even more on the so-called left than on the right. At least that's how it's playing out in my real world interactions. Thought- and speech-policing seems to be very high on the agenda at the moment.
1/7/16, 9:42 PM
Bill Pulliam said...
More thoughts on the Tech sector. Amazon and Twitter are extremes. Facebook currently has a P/E of 91, still pretty high but not as freaky. Apple, Google, and Microsoft are all in the 20 or below range. Given your monastic way of life, I think you also might underestimate the extent to which services like Twitter and Amazon have thoroughly inserted themselves into the cultural and economic DNA like a bunch of retroviruses. They are beyond "too big to fail." They are more like AT&T than pets.com. Society will keep them or their equivalents up and running someway, somehow, until it becomes actually impossible to prop them up any more.
I think rather than a bubble collapsing we are more likely to see increasing fees for services, via some structure, directly or indirectly, somehow. The fact that these services are not actually productive of anything tangible will be overlooked, and a larger share of our dwindling *real* GDP will get sucked into these black holes in the name of "convenience." Not positive, but very different than a bubble collapsing. For one thing, it just goes on and on draining its host forever, like that retrovirus does. No dramatic illness followed by recovery, just a long-term decline that continually drags down every function and every system. AIDS, not Ebola.
1/7/16, 9:43 PM
Bill Pulliam said...
Tennessee has an open primary, and there's likely to be no meaningful action on the Democratic side. So I may actually have to decide which one of these Republican Bozos to vote for!
1/7/16, 9:46 PM
das monde said...
The other question is, really, how sustainable is the fracking production. Financial (if not physical) limitations seem to be in sight to many, but appearances of any "normalcy" are kept as long as possible. Smart big players are possibly preparing for an inescapable downturn rather than really playing for expected profits. 2016 might be the year of the Big Whimper, after all.
1/7/16, 9:59 PM
Bill Pulliam said...
1/7/16, 9:59 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Kristofv, I think you're off base here, but again, this should probably wait for a detailed explanation in an upcoming post on the Middle East.
Paulo, well, obviously I disagree about Trump, but I'll get into that in due time.
Nuku, interesting. Now of course your PV guy has an incentive to get people to buy PV now, since that's what he sells!
Varun, if it finds a loyal audience, I think it has a very good chance of making it.
Ghung, I'd say get going on it!
Scotlyn, now that sounds like a useful prediction.
Renaissance, as I noted, I'm far from sure about the four specific predictions -- all four seem a good deal more likely than not, but we'll see. The core predictions, though -- that the things that have been getting worse for the last decade or so will just keep getting worse, and nobody will do anything meaningful to fix them -- that's as solid as a rock.
William, Japan tends to be an early adopter of technology, so I'm not at all surprised that it's ahead of the curve!
Blueback, thanks for the sound track! Also for the Blish quote, which is priceless. The Beat poets back in the Fifties used to read Spengler out loud at house parties, though I'm sorry to say it didn't help Ginsberg's poetry much.
Jeff, I've already thought long and hard about that, with the benefit of historical hindsight -- one thing that a lot of gold bugs don't seem to be willing to take into account. Gold is not wealth, it's just one of many commodities that has been used as a set of arbitrary tokens to facilitate the exchange and storage of abstract wealth, and in times like the ones we're entering -- as I've discussed at some length here already -- gold is a ticket, not to prosperity, but to a shallow unmarked grave.
Ed-M, the mere fact that Trump outrages the narrow clique of political hacks who currently run the GOP does not mean that the actual holders of wealth and power in this country find him equally offensive. It intrigues me to listen to people come up with reasons why someone, somewhere, has to stop Trump -- there's a reason for that, of course, which I'll discuss in due time.
1/7/16, 10:07 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Toomas, hah! Stay tuned...
Hal, remember that the people who anointed Clinton represent a small though influential faction of the American political class -- a faction that's almost completely out of touch with realities on the ground -- and polls suggest that their chosen candidate is profoundly disliked and distrusted by more people than dislike and distrust Trump. The aura of inevitability with which Clinton's flacks have tried to invest her may not last long into the primary season. Stay tuned...
Btidwell, exactly. Trump and the newly declared Oregon Cow-liphate are symptoms, and the way that so many people are heaping on the ridicule -- though admittedly they're both easy targets -- suggests that a lot of Americans are aware of this, however subliminally. Humor is one of the ways we deal with things that make us acutely uncomfortable.
Bruce, Jim and Gail have both made those same predictions over, and over, and over again, and apparently have learned nothing from the repeated failure of each year to meet their expectations. I haven't followed Ludlum, so don't know what his score has been -- does he discuss the accuracy of his previous predictions, by any chance?
Ceworthe, I'd encourage you to make your plans in advance, as the flood of refugees might just force Canada to close its borders!
Martin, I admit to wondering whether they're doing an Enron on the other side of the balance sheet as well, and parking debt in offshore subsidiaries. All that vast rickety empire of corporate structures would make a great way to conceal a Ponzi scheme.
Denis, I've been hearing the same things from friends in Canada. I hope you're out of debt and have a good backyard garden in place...
Andy, excellent! It takes a certain courage to admit that you made mistakes, and learn from them.
Robert, to my mind, the problem with your analysis is that you assume that somewhere in the 1% of the 1% of the 1% there must be some inner circle that makes the decisions. My study of history, including the history of the American political class, leads me to think that this isn't the case -- that the decisions made by the US, overt or covert as the case may be, are the product of temporary alliances among viciously competing power centers, no one of which has more than a temporary ascendancy over the others. It's all a brutal game of palace politics, in which poisoned daggers have taken a back seat to more refined ways of sidelining rivals -- well, for the most part! -- and the presidential circus is as much an arena in which different power centers compete for spoils as it is bread and circuses for the masses. That's my take, at least, and there are clearly important factions that are backing Trump against all comers. But we'll see what happens.
YCS, I'd like to see you write something detailed on your blog about how you see this country collapsing around you. Please consider it -- a pair of eyes sharpened by time spent elsewhere might well see things that are missed by those of us who live here.
Glenn, nah, I promised a signed first edition. I've got it ready -- I've been waiting for the person in question to contact me.
1/7/16, 10:30 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Shane, I'm sure the government will keep the internet intact, but content providers? Those are a dime a dozen. If Google or Netflix or Twitter implode, someone else will float something else to keep the masses supplied with little colored shapes jerking across glass screens.
Kfish, I don't blame them at all. The environmentalists I respect are those who cut their carbon footprints significantly, and there are too few of those.
Shane, I find that all too easy to believe.
Peter, many thanks! This is grist for the mill.
Moshe, that's a complex issue, which I'll discuss in the upcoming post on the Middle East.
Agent, that seems very plausible. I'm curious -- did you get the three-cycles-and-then-chaos from Toynbee?
Alexandra, fascinating; I'll have to spend some time reading Herbst's work. (My own background in mundane astrology has focused so far almost entirely on classical ingress charts.) May I commend you, by the way, for learning the obvious lesson from your archeological studies? I'm amazed, and not in a good way, by how many people who study the past still manage to buy into the mythology of progress.
Bill, I don't claim any particular gift as a forecaster; I've just noticed that assuming the continuation of a trend gets better results than insisting that the trend is suddenly going to give way to one of the emotionally satisfying but historically improbable events that so many other forecasters like to predict. As for the coming tech bust, I don't disagree at all; a bunch of fantastically overpriced content providers will lose most of their market value, the useful ones will be bought up, the useless ones allowed to go broke, but the internet itself and some of its less inflated content providers will continue to chug along for years to come. Buying tech stocks at the bottom might be a wise strategy.
The thing about Trump is that he's not an idiot. He's extraordinarily canny. Have you noticed that whenever he says something "stupid," his poll numbers go up? He's figured out how to exploit a massive and almost completely unmentionable fault line in American society, and is doing it with nearly surgical precision. More on this in a week or two.
Das Monde, the fracking bubble was quite a phenomenon, no question. Just as both tech bubbles put astonishing amounts of free content onto the internet, the fracking bubble put astonishing amounts of more-or-less-petroleum onto the market, and in both cases the fact that this was a temporary effect doesn't change its impact on the economy and public life.
Bill, which is one of the reasons I don't disagree with you anything like as much as you apparently think. Outsiders do get into the presidency at times when the mainstream is suffering a serious crisis of legitimacy -- Abraham Lincoln comes to mind here -- and I won't be surprised at all if Trump's presidency has an effective lifespan of two years, until the 2018 elections fill both houses of Congress with candidates sworn to oppose him tooth and nail.
1/7/16, 10:53 PM
Eric S. said...
1/8/16, 1:10 AM
ed boyle said...
Thousands still cross the border daily and they are being distributed everywhere in Germany. I hear that they are mostly young men, as in cologne. If so the young male population in 20s, military age, could quickly double in Germany. These men have no training, are war traumatized, sexually frustrazed, have no future, nowhere to go back to. This is a time bomb for crime, terrorism here. Current events just keep getting worse. In 2014 it was Ukraine mass murders by nazis which were PC ignored in the West as Russia is evil. Now PC thought says only European whites can do wrong, due to colonial past, nazism. Freedom must be redefined by every generation. Religion, race, etc. is no excuse. Women's roles are defined by society. We should not let theses roles be imposed by a combination of PC denkverbote and muslim stone age attitude meeting together to form the politically strange bedfellows that says gang rape in public places is ok as long as it is liberal young women, who presumably are experienced sexualy and worldly wise, so they don't mind and their male relatives and friends have no sense of honour, despising their women flok as domineering feminists, who had it coming anyway. As in 'finally someone putthem in their place, I have been emasculated for generations, would be great to be a real man'. So these sly immigrants play off the differences in the war of the sexes to have their jollies. Feminists have aa attitude that equals jesus words and dominate career and political leaders and voter rolls and their men at home and dictate the tone in society. Merkel is typical. Like Hillary. However to fight an enemy we must become like him, change from inside. Our hard won civic freedoms of the 19th century must be rewon against islam and PC denkverbote. Men must be men if they are to protect their women, who regardless of power structure and social status, remain second class animals to many from non european cultures.Machismo forgotten as a right wing racist nationalst sexist trait must be reawakened in the soft western male heart, full of love for the female goddess that gives true meaning to his life. Otherwise he will lose her, her freedom, which is his soul, his freedom.
1/8/16, 1:16 AM
Cherokee Organics said...
Well done on the scores for last year’s predictions and respect for reviewing those past predictions too. The public review process makes one’s mind sharp doesn't it?
Geology and the realities of the well decline rates for fracking aside, which certainly makes for an unsustainable position and industry, no doubt about it. However, given your predictions in relation to the Middle East and I note that you have been quite consistent on the Yemen affair for a while now, has it not occurred to you and others that perhaps the fracking industry is being sustained for strategic reasons? The people at the top of the food chain in your country may be in la la land on domestic matters, but external affairs, I doubt they are so foolish and muddleheaded about them.
As to the Trump issue, I'll note that one of our past five Prime Ministers (Kevin Rudd who spoke fluent Mandarin too!) - that's in five years too by the way - was the most popular Prime Minister in recent history. One of the interesting things that I noted about his campaign was that there was a dirt story on him that surfaced during the campaign. At some stage in the past he visited a strip club whilst in the US. Do you know what happened next? The smear campaign failed abysmally and his popularity actually increased as a result. Of course it would work for Trump to say stupid things, because it is a clear indication to my mind that enough people are absolutely sick and tired of the standard meat and potatoes they are being fed and they may seek to use Trump as a method of sticking it to the man. Dunno.
The other thing that I've noted in our politics down here that may be of interest to you is that parties and politicians doggedly pursuing the strategy of "opposition" as distinct from the more difficult skill of "diplomacy" are actually not much good at the actual job of governance - and our recently deposed Prime Minister (don't worry about them too much, we've got plenty more where they came from!) Tony Abbott is a prime example of that species (he certainly loved the brawl, but was an abject failure at leading the team which is a whole different skill set).
As to Australia, I’d have to suggest that with the way the exchange rates are going, the decline in export income and the sheer fall of the stock market in recent weeks – we’re fracked! ;-)! Seriously. I’m just waiting for the inevitable fall of the housing market – that is sure gonna hurt some.
PS: I’ve got a new blog entry up: Frog in hot water where the recent heat and lack of rain has seen my watering of the garden go from a quick daily task to a much longer task without me even being aware. The tomatoes are absolutely jumping out of the ground though. I’m also showing how I’m converting the old chicken shed into a super nifty and very strong firewood shed. I show a photo of the biggest diameter tree in this mountain range that I am aware of (it’s huge). Lots of cool fruit photos, an Echidna and a massive stick insect.
1/8/16, 2:38 AM
Odin's Raven said...
1/8/16, 3:07 AM
A little more about NZ energy from Wikipedia:
"Hydroelectric power accounts for 11% of the total primary energy usage in New Zealand with imported oil and oil products making up 70% of the primary energy. Hydroelectric power accounts for 57% of the total electricity generation in New Zealand"
As you can see, at present hydroelectric power still accounts for a pretty small fraction, 11%, of the TOTAL energy usage. As Peter said, most of the easy hydro sites are already developed and there is a lot of ecology-based resistance to dams on any more of the significant rivers. On the plus side, one of the biggest hydo sites, the Manapouri in Fiordland, was developed in part to supply electricity to a huge Austrialian owned aluminium smelter. This smelter may very well get closed down in the near future releasing a large amount of electric generation to industrial and residential uses.
Still IMHO its going to be a big ask to provide ALL of NZ's energy usage, not just electricity, with renewables, WITHOUT cutting way back on the total of energy usage, in other words people's 1st world lifestyles. As usual that's the one thing Joe Average, and the politicians he elects, will not contemplate.
1/8/16, 3:33 AM
One of my co-workers is a 60-somthing lady whose husband has been in the oil business for over 45 years. Owns his own company and sometimes works for other companies (as some sort of consultant/analyst - she didn't say clearly what he does). He is currently working for someone, and she said the owner of that company has warned him he will probably be let go soon. I said to her: "Oil business has always been cyclical - how does this downturn compare to previous ones?" She shook her head and said (in a worried voice) "There has never been this much debt before, EVER! The problems have not even begun to bubble up." I wonder if the "bubble up" will be like the methane fizzing in the Arctic ocean, or more like the craters in Siberia.
Last week in the comments someone wrote about a lack of Christmas cards - people neither sending nor receiving them this year. I can add two more points: at work (mostly evangelical Christians) AND in my bi-weekly discussion group (a wide range of beliefs, NONE evangelical Christian) the same phenomenon was noted. And no, I did not bring up the topic in either case.
1/8/16, 4:18 AM
I confess I haven't been paying close attention this last year, I've been focused on setting up a new homestead and small scale herb farm. Compared to where I was in 2007, I've cut household expense by 60%, my home is about a third of the size as well and I make my living mostly on the land, rather than an office. Even if the world pulled out of economic decline and found some magic energy doughnut to keep it all going, I'm very glad I made the changes. If nothing else, working with plants and animals versus working with corporate persons makes for a much happier life. Thank you again for the inspiration and insight along the way.
1/8/16, 5:10 AM
Modeling can be useful – close the windows now because it is going to rain tomorrow – and some is essential – better to migrate and avoid ever-increasing climate-change fueled storms. For complex systems the second type of prediction gets rather, shall we say, interesting since bifurcation or state change is both rapid and extremely sensitive to conditions (chaotic).
For example, even a “simple” model of mechanical loading on an assembly or fluid flow in a system can be useful as long as one avoids transiting the zones of one regime (elastic versus plastic or linear versus turbulent). If the model even comes close to the transition then it can be “all bets are off”.
However, there is a lot of utility to examining how close systems are approaching the regions of bifurcation. Certainly if multiple systems are approaching (or even within) these zones then one should be prudent to allow for the distinct possibility of a major shift.
All this rambling is lead into a bit of a discussion about a couple of your predictions. And some discussion on a prediction that you did not make but that I see as highly probable.
Trump is certainly an interesting character but, as you point out, it is not the man but what he represents that is much more relevant. I agree but I think his emergence and popularity represent much more – and that this bears very close watch. Anyone remember Ross Perot? How about the way he suddenly dropped out?
I think the people predicting bad things will befall Trump have some merit. As empires collapse a hallmark is an “overpopulation of elites” to borrow from Turchin. Keeping them in line is important to slow the progress of decline; I think it is highly likely that a very strong message will be sent via events that befall Trump. Third-party participation needs to be avoided at all costs for BAU for the puppet masters…
On a higher level the election year is also a time when there is a lot of jostling and attention moves from external to internal. I think there is a strong element of “don’t rock the boat for Hillary” that weighs down the current administration. This already seems to be making problems in areas such as the middle east and I expect it to only get much worse.
In my view we are in a few state transitions with regards to politics and, therefore, the warning bells are ringing for making good predictions. All bets could be off over the next several months and, depending on outcome, 2017-2020 could really be impacted.
You also made a prediction regarding the Saudi regime. The events in the middle east, on many levels, point to several phase transition regions. Certainly, if your prediction were to come true, the ramifications would be enormous and the collateral reactions and events would likely be significant. A definite bifurcation…
One prediction that I will add is that 2016 marks the true emergence of AI – not “strong AI” but certainly very useful technology that greatly exceeds anything available at the moment. I’m not going to put all the details here but I will say that there will be significant impacts starting this year. Lots of jobs will be lost since the new deep learning systems are very versatile as well as simple to teach. More importantly are the military applications. There is very good chance that we will be at another “we have the atomic bomb and they don’t; we should attack now” kind of bifurcation moments.
The final point that I will say is that when we watch the weather we really want to know if the storm is going to bring some rain or whether there is high likelihood of tornadoes. With the high probability of significant phase transitions I think people should be doing more than closing a few windows…
I would be very interested to hear if see this as well.
1/8/16, 5:23 AM
Dau Branchazel said...
I have just published a rather small piece in relation to the Oregon wildlife refuge takeover and how it has been handled by media and authorities alike. It can be read at my blog or at the The Australian Independent Media Network website where it was originally published.
1/8/16, 5:26 AM
Seb Ze Frog said...
John Michael, and Pinky Sensei... I occasionally give speaking gigs in high schools about "The Energies of the XXIst century". This was initiated as gigs where us physicist would demonstrate all those great new energies that we would be using in The Future. But some of us seem to have made their homeworks and present things more along the lines of "Let me tell you about what energy is in physics. Now, let's speak a minute about thermodynamics. Now, let's have a look at all those "new energies" and compare it to oil. Finally, let's talk about what a closed system is. Good. Now, what conclusion do we reach ?"
While I haven't done it in Universities, both friends who do this gig and myself have a fairly good success with it in schools. There is of course the occasional pupil (and more often than not teacher) who mentions the "they will think about something" but this usually ends up in a productive discussion.
I thought you might like to know that some times there is more than blank looks...
And yes John Michael, before you point it out, as you inevitably will: being among the "They" people have in mind when invoking "they-will-think-about-something" might give us a little edge on this one ;-)
PS: as for predictions... To me, using a trend extrapolation or an other method to predict a departure from a trend are differences in method, not in the accuracy of the prediction. The accuracy of the prediction gauge is how facts end up matching with it. I have been predicting that the Sun will rise the next day for more than 20 years now. Some might not find it impressive but the fact is that I am, so far, 100% right.
If I was to guess, I would say that at least some portion of why you find this game entertaining is because you are shooting fishes in a barrel. Matching your prediction of the rising of the Sun against those of people who keep coming up *night after night* with a scenario of why, this time, it won't. But that's not a prediction, just a mere guess ;-)
1/8/16, 5:39 AM
Bill Pulliam said...
1/8/16, 5:53 AM
Great post, thanks for predictions.
We just now returned from Cuba. Fascinating place, perhaps a peek into USA's future as we continue down current trajectory?
That said, people were well dressed, well fed, seemed healthy. Cubans have free education with high literacy rate, free health care, 75 year life expectancy, very low rents, most have very low incomes. Over 97% participated in electing their "people power" neighborhood representatives.
Many Cubans I spoke with are proud of their country, hope for a quick end to USA blockade - perhaps as the empire winds down?
Feliz ano nuevo!
1/8/16, 6:02 AM
Sherril Bowman said...
more here: http://www.billherbst.com/
1/8/16, 6:25 AM
Shawn Aune said...
1/8/16, 7:21 AM
1/8/16, 7:25 AM
1/8/16, 7:34 AM
1/8/16, 7:38 AM
They occur to me just as whiny and self entitled as most of American society, demanding things they claim they deserve and refusing to do the basics, like pay taxes.
1/8/16, 7:56 AM
Shane W said...
serious busts in the Alta. oil patch are nothing new, and this one may not be the worst. Seems like there was a very severe one in the 80s. Of course, this is not unique to Alta., Tex., Okla. & maybe Alaska have experiences oil booms & busts, too. Just comes with the territory. Though the populism mentioned in the article is a concern--western Can. is the source of probably the most politically active populism in North America, and the Notley government seems to be pursuing some pretty boneheaded & clueless policies in light of the recent economic implosion.
I'm so surprised you haven't read I'll Take My Stand, as it dovetails so nicely with what you expend upon here on this blog! A background: it was written in 1930 @ Vanderbilt as the Great Depression was picking up steam by 12 distinguished intellectuals, all from the South. At that time, the South was still primarily agrarian, but the New South idea, whereby the South would be industrialized, had started to take root, and it was this nascent Southern industrialization that they were writing about. Although it was directed towards the South, the authors noted that its ideas could be taken more generally as an alternative from capitalism & industrialism. The essays touch on themes you discuss here, such as overproduction, cycles of civilization, the way that industrialism through technology destroys traditional community cohesiveness, industrial destruction of the land and soil, and the external costs of higher and higher levels of technology on production. One of the essays is even titled "A Critique of the Philosophy of Progress". And this was all written in 1930! They were all very well educated on Spengler and other contemporary writers. Considering the similarities, I felt almost certain that it colored a lot of your thoughts. I know that I'll Take My Stand was a strong influence on Wendell Berry.
JMG, Canadians I've spoken with are VERY ADAMANT that their border with the US cannot be secured...
1/8/16, 8:23 AM
My dear dear John Michael GREER!
oh, your words make me SWOON! now you're dangling an actual real estate crash in front of me? ah! i'm going to drag my sick self out today to do the over-flowing laundry at one of the laundromats that plans to demolish itself for more condos, and dance to music OUT LOUD.
the new business owner of a cafe calls the cops on me when i dance with my earphones on (the cops MOSTLY leave me alone because ...what am i doing illegal except SCARING him with my joy and lack of feminine self hatred? it downright CONFUSES the white folks here that there isn't SOME LAW against this kind of unrestricted happiness without a permit from the city).
but i still fear that one of the cops who harrasses me will have me getting touchy, saying something wrong, and i'll end up with a creepy posthumous mug shot like Sandra Bland. the new folks here call the cops on us colored folks because they think we're all in gangs. and scary. Alex Nieto and Mario Woods. if you shot dogs, you'd get in more trouble. Ugh.
in fact, Nieto was reacting angrily to a guy whose big wolf dog had tried to get his burrito twice, and the guy ignored his dog to watch a female jogger. i know bernal hill dog walking culture well and people don't feel they need to control their dogs much so there have been many tiffs up there. but Nieto was wearing a 49ers jacket, and so he MUST be a gang member...
a few years ago, i myself, was ushered out of my YMCA of 20 years, by three cops who were called on me for CRYING when a white woman was upset at me for challenging her right to block the handicapped parking for her casual unloading. i cried to her and she raged and complained and the cops were called and i was escorted out and told to "calm down."
so i will dance for this tech bubble to burst, i will pray for the real estate insanity to STOP. everyone's EVERYONE's turning into a jerk because it's turned into a free-for-all now.
and anyone who defends amazon and the internet. you all, it has killed EVERYTHING. sure, it's convenient. but so is acid when you wanna burn something away.
art and books and PRIVACY is dead. privacy is needed to birth special beautiful things.
and those of you who're so PROUD to buy books dirt cheap? yup. love it now for that's what's made only wealthy people able to write and make spare change on making art.
we're in an age of regurgitated karaoke bull. what's NEW? remember music scenes, y'all? REMEMBER? it used to be FUN being human. more fun than now.
there's no proverbial "girl" at the end of this current american dream. no love. only money and more...WHAT?
the internet has killed everything. sure i use it. but i admit that i'm loving rediscovering the things you CAN'T FIND on the INTERNET. and that takes magic. magic of paying real attention. in a different way.
can't explain it. but i'm getting ready for the other side of a human scream to all this.
more later. i love the comments on here as usual. i've been 3 different kinds of sick over the quiet holidays. much time to THINK. i'll be back for sure.
bear with me.
1/8/16, 8:50 AM
Always enjoy your annual forecast, and your willingness to revisit past mistakes and successes. Bang up job so far, by the way! I sometimes wonder if you don't throw in a misguided prediction now and then just to keep the witch hunters at bay...
Fall 2015 was for us one of building shelter - improving the house with finished floors where they were missing, more insulation, replacing a couple of broken windows, installing a more efficient back-up heater, building a new one cord woodshed, alternative ways of cooking, more reliable roofing, more pantry storage, and so forth.
If anyone is interested in seeing a few pics of our recent work, I'm glad to share my blog link with you all. http://smallbatchgarden.blogspot.com/2015/12/sneak-peak.html
Cheers! And here's to a productive and joyful new year for all.
1/8/16, 9:03 AM
1/8/16, 9:08 AM
Phil Harris said...
"Holy cow, fracking, biofuels added almost a whole Saudi Arabia to the supply?!"
Well no, not quite. Saudi Arabia has continued producing more than 10 million barrels per day and exporting something like 8mmpd for many years. http://mazamascience.com/OilExport/
Hat tip Joe at Ugo Bardi's blog:
"According to the EIA, [USA] net imports of crude and refined products was about 5 million bbl/day in 1991, which gradually increased to about 13 million bbl/day in 2007 and is now about 5 million bbl/day. The drop of 8 million bbl/day [imports] since 2007 was due to about 3 million bbl/day less [lower] consumption and about 5 million bbl/day in increased production, mostly from tight oil."
I have not checked out biofuels, ethanol, in the comparison
1/8/16, 9:16 AM
i don't know whether i'm writing this because i don't know what to "do" with it, but i can't help but feel it's also a sign on par with the militia takeover in oregon. (i can't help but think of philadelphia's bombing of MOVE and the burning of osage avenue in the 80s when i lived there. how INTERESTING the different treatments of white/black rage. i'm not saying they should BOMB oregon. i'm saying... "daaaaaamn...")
but i'm in the mission and we've seen a few of the earlier tech guys snap mentally. however they usually just get evicted and are kind of oblivious about the brutal reality of san francisco and LIFE.
but this young guy downstairs, only 32, Matt. he had a psychotic break and walked into the presidio and shed his keys, wallet with cards/cash, and his coat. they haven't found his body in the water or in the presidio.
his ex-girlfriend/roommate also seemed to go mad, and she haunts the tenderloin and the many growing homeless encampments in this city searching for him. she says he's not made for the street life.
that angered me a little, but i hid it as i said, "Tess, but WHO IS?" like there's always SUPPOSED to be a class of poor and homeless so puffy people can have fluffy lives.
he comes from orange county and his parents are equally oblivious about how to even HANDLE this. they are passive and count on this also young girl to LEAD the "investigation" of their missing son.
it's over a month now. she's a little mad now, too, and bangs on the drums wildly downstairs until i stomp on the floor.
Matt didn't come to trust her anymore. she said his job wasn't the problem. he said they were watching him. messing with him.
TRACKING HIM on his iphone.
i smiled that she "thought" he was paranoid.
because even in crappier little jobs, they DO track you, film you, harass you, watch you, mess with you. and he's IN TECH: he KNOWS what you CAN do. and what they DO DO.
and tech workers are already complaining about how insane the culture is to their humanity. they are mentally messed with to get them to work crazy hours.
i was wondering when the dissonance of this "utopia" would mess with their own humanity. i was so confused about how this entire city could die so FAST, with a WORSE dream that never ends with the proverbial girl. without love, even a FANTASY of love on the other side of all this working hell, what is there???
what do you go home to?
it sounds all woo woo... but really???...
1/8/16, 9:19 AM
so in the end, Matt felt his own ex-girl/roommate was in cahoots and there was no one he could trust.
suicidal TENDENCIES and snapping doesn't tend to scare us artists. i don't believe in humanity-killing meds that block the red lights we NEED to go off.
most of us artists have already long been institutionalized or told we're messed up and wrong from jump street. our lives are about trying to be ourselves in this world so we've got different muscles from NOT fitting in that regular folks let get flaccid.
but Matthew was out of touch as a lot of them are here. they never look UP. they never look at EACH OTHER. they are hungry ghosts of the most naked magnitude. the death is obvious.
i am sorry Matt felt so, so alone and that there was no other option or world to retreat into.
see, THAT'S what san francisco used to be for: the lonely crazy misfits.it's the opposite now when you outlaw nudity in the castro because ONE MAN insists on sitting nude in the sun. how SILLY! (it's allowed for parades, though. you can only be nude if everyone else is doing it at certain times of the year... whaaaat?)
now we oddballs and colored folks get shot, evicted in new crazy mean ways, or politely take ourselves.
i used to be a runaway and see wild things that'd make regular bougie white folks look at me like an alien. so i learned to stay quiet.
now they are dealing with the same wild energies but aren't equipped to handle the darknesses. they are snapping left and right. some more quietly and loudly than others.
artists jobs are to turn poison into medicine. but we're floundering en masse.
so most folks are on their own to rant screeds and troll endlessly on the internet.
i'm COUNTING on a new underground and black market.
it's the only way we CAN survive. surviving isn't just food and safety. it's spiritual.
and Alexandra--thanks for the astro link. if that was you. i love that site and ruminate on their ideas and offerings every time i step up to myself out in the world. it helps me focus on a bigger "reason" or the energies. i don't feel so... confused.
1/8/16, 9:19 AM
Amen! I used Tainter's Collapse of Complex Societies as a textbook when I taught the Rise of Civilization years ago. My advisor, who started that course at my university, always lamented that the departmental administration wouldn't allow him to teach a regular course on Fall of Civilization--and doesn't that just tell you a lot about our society's approach to...well, everything? Only upward and forward trajectories allowed. United States of Amnesia indeed! I just wish I had known more about collapse then, and been better at articulating the cyclical nature of civilization; it would have been a much more interesting--and I dare say--useful class for the students. But we live and learn, right?
1/8/16, 9:36 AM
Quos Ego said...
I think you are being quite unfair to Gail Tverberg, since her first real prediction dates back to 2014, when she predicted a brutal collapse starting in 2015-2016, which might still happen.
For what it's worth, I think she's wrong, because she's obsessed with the financial system as it currently is, and cannot envision any other form of managing labor and resources, but I think you are being a bit dishonest when you say that she's been predicting a brutal collapse since her blog started: the shrill tone of her articles started only in 2014. Her predictions, however, haven't been proven wrong yet.
Jim Kunstler, that's a different story altogether: he's been predicting a S&P at 1000 points since 1954. Every single year.
1/8/16, 9:49 AM
Agent Provocateur said...
In reviewing my own comments I've come to the conclusion my predictions are vastly superior to yours. I see no need for false modesty. I'm here to help.
You see I've extended my deadline well beyond any time anyone will remember (16 years) and I've made the bracket of fruition similarly broad (8 years). Further the “thing to happen” is so wildly broad I can't really be wrong. Indeed I'm arguably already right. So far ahead no one will remember and so vague no one would bother with trying to hold you to account: that's the ticket.
I'm guessing the boldness of your predictions are informed by some occult philosophical technology: an oracle of tested and reasonable reliability, some “aletheiometer” of sorts. One would expect no less of an operative mage. Nonetheless, no matter how finely tuned, no transmission is certain to be without error. Indeed in this field, as most others, certainty is never assured. So we are in the realm of statistics.
Let's keep it simple and say that each of your four predictions have at best a 84% chance of being correct. Clearly I hold your clairvoyant abilities in high esteem. So the chance of all 4 predictions being correct is (0.84)^4 = 50% max. OK, I reverse engineered this number, but it does work out to a nice percentage doesn't it? Let's set this as our upper bound.
Now, despite there generally being far more ways of being wrong than right, a reasonably well informed unbiased opinion should give a better than 50% probability of being right on each item. Lets say, without applied philosophic tech, one should have a 67% (2 out of 3) chance of being right. For 4 predictions this gives (0.67)^4 = 20%. Let's set this as our lower bound for all predictions being correct.
Basically these numbers suggest you have a 50% to 80% of being wrong in at least one prediction when making 4. Had you made only one prediction, you would have had only a 16% to 33% chance of being wrong. So the lesson here is make fewer predictions for a better track record. No one remembers your successes. Failure is always more memorable.
To summarize: when making predictions, go long (don't make the deadline this year, #3 sort of fits), go vague (only #2 could fit … who calls it a “PV revolution” anyways?), go few (three tops). Please note these methods and try to do better next time! ;-)
Nah, I'm completely joking. Keep up the good work!
P.S. On the bright side, these number suggest your chances of being completely wrong are not more than about 1% i.e. (0.33)^4. In reality I'm guessing this is way too low. I should have stuck with the “way more ways to be wrong then right” idea. This statistic does drive home the contrary point that the more predictions one makes, the more likely at least one is to be correct. Thus, if you don't mind some errors, you can compensate going short (of necessity … it is an annual prediction after all) and going specific (damned objective criteria for being correct) by making lots of predictions. Its up to you of course to find your sweet spot.
1/8/16, 9:52 AM
Martin B said...
His blog is worth a look if you're interested in oil. He knows his stuff.
What's wrong with Trump as President? I remember Reagan's campaign. An actor for President?! My God, the clowns are taking over the circus! the commentariat spluttered. He turned out all right, IMO.
I have no quibbles with JMG's predictions. I'm surprised Europe didn't get a mention. With refugees, Syria, Ukraine, Greece, etc, I think European unity and NATO will be severely tested.
And Dmitry Orlov has given me my nightmare scenario for 2016. He points out that western Ukraine is heading for failed state status, and it has 19 Russian nuclear power station manned by inadequately-trained personnel with shaky grid power supplies driving the cooling pumps. I'm holding thumbs.
1/8/16, 10:08 AM
Michael Kalk said...
@Dan Mollo or JMG--As a somewhat newish follower of this blog could you point me to the 2009 deindustrial reading list? I poked around in some of the 2009 posts but could not locate it.
1/8/16, 10:35 AM
Anastassia Makarieva said...
I have been reading your blog with much interest. My colleagues and I have been working to develop the biotic pump concept, which highlights the role of forests in transporting atmospheric moisture. I thought that you could be interested in our recent publication
What can we learn from natural ecosystems to avoid a civilization breakdown?
Sorry for being off-topic. Please feel free not to post this comment.
1/8/16, 11:24 AM
Ahead of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland in June of 2013 bureaucrats spent £300,000 to paint fake storefronts on closed down businesses to present a bustling economy for the news cameras that would be reporting from there. A more recent paint job, for example, the Swiss National Bank began purchasing U.S. stocks to the tune of $100+ billion by the spring of 2015. Other central banks invested in the U.S. and their own markets in 2015, and have done so at an alarmingly increasing pace. The Fed has admitted to direct intervention in the market. In addition, they've purchased much of the bad housing derivatives off banks in an effort to prop them up. Despite this, as well as banks having access to nearly free money, seven years on from the 2008 crash and most of the banks are still flailing along in the red. But you wouldn't know this from the black ink of their quarterly profit statements. Due to subsidies and clever accounting we are led to believe that everything is rosy. I know that no one here believes that, but still, last week a reader apologized for his prediction of a crash in 2015 not playing out. I happened to think that he had no real reason to apologize. While maybe not a cataclysmic end of all things occurred, neither was it a benign continuation of business as usual - even though that is what has been reported.
The rate and scope of intervention steeply increased in the second half of 2015. One headline a few weeks ago spoke about how the government has committed to go into debt at a quicker pace in 2016 and beyond. China has dramatically increased its level of QE throughout 2015 and into the new year, and Japan was a poster child for mountainous intervention in 2015. All of this intervention has achieved little growth. (Most would argue, based on indicators such as electrical generation and the dry bulk index, that there was a decline instead.) I ask myself what the market and economy would look like without printing trillions of dollars, trillions of renminbi and more than a quadrillion of yen amongst other currencies. If you were able to view the economy sans propping wouldn't it be represented by a line on a graph heading due south. We might get a glimpse of the very real decline that dominated 2015, but disguised by all this borrowing from the future. What is all this intervention after all but putting off into the future having to experience the actual decay that is occurring around us today.
A harder to measure metric, but just as indicative, is the quality of things. Which took a big dive in 2015. Quality loss can often be missed unless a person is regularly involved with a system and happens to be paying attention. If a company is struggling and delays maintenance, replacement, repair and reduces staff quality declines but the company may report higher earnings because of money saved from reduced costs. (Looking at revenue will often unmask these tactics.) Almost everywhere I looked in 2015 I saw lower quality and reduced choice.
Personally, I think 2015 was a bleak year in general, but if the health of the economy and the accuracy of predictions are being judged on a cursory inspection of this Potemkin village we live in, instead of peeking behind the scrim to examine the empty storefronts and crumbling ruins, then the crash might not be noticed until long after it has passed and the flimflam has crumpled and blown away in the wind. Predictions for 2016 need to be accompanied by criteria for measuring outcomes since the governmental narrative has completely digressed into the genre of fantasy.
1/8/16, 11:35 AM
Shane W said...
regarding a Civil War, who is going to fight for the Feds? In our most recent imperial adventures, morale has been at an all time low, and that is against an Other that has been properly demonized (terrorists). How are already jaded & demoralized troops going to be persuaded to fire against their neighbors? Aren't they likely to stand down, like you outlined in Twilight's Last Gleaming? Or are you assuming that the fighting will be amongst factions that come into the void once the Federal government implodes?
1/8/16, 11:39 AM
1/8/16, 11:48 AM
#1 Trouble in oil-producing countries, especially high-cost oil producers.
#2Trouble in Canadian tarsands and US shale oil - likely leading to some bankruptcies, a burst bubble, lots of delayed or cancelled projects and production likely to peak and/or start decreasing.
#3 a) Canada will have an election during this mess
b) Conservatives may get less funding from oil patch than normal, may be able to unseat them
c)likely means Trudeau Prime Minister (hello plastic figurehead #2)
d)my riding definitely won't elect a conservative
e)if elected, Trudeau will not be a very good PM, and I doubt all the conservatives' damage will be undone
f)Elizabeth May will be re-elected; the greens might gain seats
g) if re-elected, Harper will be insufferable and will make lots of really bad decisions wildly against the evidence, and he will get significant pushback from citizens (not necc. 2015, may be later)
#4 Poor economy stagnant or recesiion in western Canada
#5 The illusion of endless growth being possible will be seen through by more people as the system becomes more tattered.
#6 A world recession is a possibility, the US is/will get a nasty shock re shale oil and other bubbles probably cause recession definately cause problems
#7 The ebola epidemic won't be over by Febrauary and may give another nasty fright to people who've nearly forgotten about it.
#8 The refugee crisis will become even more heartbreaking as aid falls further short of need
#9 We have not heard the last from the people protesting police killings of black men, and it will likely get messier than it did in 2014 given people are still protesting outside in December. Though it could go quiet for a while, then flare up again in a big way later than 2015.
#10 Russia's troubles aren't over.
#11 There will be a revolution or a breakout insurgency somewhere in the world.
#12 The bombing of Iraq won't lead to a stable democracy any time soon.
#13 California's water problems will continue, and various areas will run out of groundwater.
#14 Greece may leave the Euro or change its policies and default drastically within the Euro. They're having an election in January and the situation is getting rediculous.
1/8/16, 11:56 AM
I haven't caught up on the last 100 or so comments, so others may have already made note of this -- but some confirmation of the plausibility of your presidential prediction:
Frankly, when I first read your post, I was somewhat surprised that you saw him as viable in the general, but I am beginning to understand your reasoning.
1/8/16, 12:06 PM
I overestimated the amount of political trouble there would be in oil producers. So far it has been mostly economic trouble, with political scandals in Brazil and the ongoing wars in Syria etc.
I overestimated the effect of the deflating oil sands bubble on the USA (I think there is more of that to come, so I was more early than wrong).
While I'm sure some more people figured out endless growth isn't working, I'm not sure all that many more did.
While I was right that Greece tried to make major changes, it didn't succeed.
In California, groundwater did run out in some places, but they were small and overall it was more a case of running really, really low. And now they're getting some winter storms, so hopefully next year will be a bit better for them.
I'm pretty happy with how my guesses went. I thought I'd probably get more outright wrong.
1/8/16, 12:06 PM
Hubertus Hauger said...
Last time I made a future prediction I won. For the world did not go under in 2000. However I lost the bet I mad. A bar of chocolate which I didn´t get. What a pity. Now we could make a bet! Do you love chocolate?
Furthermore me making great plans to enter the transition movement and now you start discouraging me, by darkly hinting it may be too late. Uuuuuh .... ! Not nice of you!
For the anxiety you are the enlightened fearless hero we adore you for. While humble frightful little beings as we are, we might once follow your footsteps, becoming brave and bold as you are. Until then we stay in the dark, shivering and with chattering teeth. Klak klak klak klak ...!
1/8/16, 12:40 PM
More echoes of Twilight's Last Gleaming:
1/8/16, 1:02 PM
Phil Harris said...
Some good comments on digital technology as it became big. I have been searching for some summary of the ‘rationale' or the 'role' for the ‘digital revolution’. It was supposed to make a lot of economic activity more ‘productive’. To a modest extent it has done that – but … actually the ten-fold increase in the industrial use of coal in China over the last 20 years seems much more likely to have been the basis of continuing world economic growth. What ‘digital’, however, seems to have created is a very large ‘virtual reality' ... one still needing vast inputs from the ‘real’ world. Virtual reality seems a contradiction in terms.
I'm lost ... no 'future' can be 'digital' can it? What can we be thinking of?
1/8/16, 2:55 PM
Daniel Najib said...
Just found out that the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott has called for a Constitutional Convention and is angling to introduce nine amendments that would increase state power at the expense of the federal branch. This is reminding me of Twilight's Last Gleaming. Who knows, maybe the convention, if called, will become just as sidetracked...
1/8/16, 3:24 PM
Ray Wharton said...
1. A third party candidate will get enough votes to get blamed by the losing D/R for their defeat.
1.1 Unlike the past where this successfully marginalized the third party, this time it will actually invigorate it. I confess that the consequences of this prediction might not be easy to measure in a years time.
2. As noticing that climate change is happening in private conversations expands, noticing in public conversations will contract.
3. China's government will reject substantial elements of its pseudo market economy. Their market instability will reach a point where the Government will simply exercise executive power over the system and begin revealing an alternate structure.
4. Craigslist will prove relatively resilient to the rest of the tech sector, because it is not publicly traded. Further down the line its simple 90's like layout may prefigure future trends in the internet, being far lighter on servers and transmission systems.
1/8/16, 3:44 PM
Doctor Westchester said...
To add something to your response to BoysMom, I'll add this opinion piece by the clueless Rick Newman - Donald Trump wants you to pay more for smartphones, TVs and a lot else. The Donald doesn't even have to talk about peak oil or the end of growth, simply mentioning the idea of putting tariffs on Chinese goods so that our working class might have even half-decent jobs again turns him into a very disgustingly attractive candidate even to me.
And then you go and mention that you think he might fall somewhere between being a Berlusconi or a Mussolini on a Fascist badness scale, i.e. not that bad. He definitely starts looking like the lesser of several weevils.
I think I'll end this comment with a quote from your essay on Weimer America:
"And you, dear reader? At what point along that trajectory would you have decided that for all its seeming promise, for all the youth and enthusiasm and earnestness that surround it, the National Socialist German Workers Party and the folksy, charismatic veteran who led it were likely to be worse—potentially much, much worse—than the weary, dreary, dysfunctional mess of a political system they were attempting to replace? Or would you end up as part of the cheering crowds in that last scene?"
1/8/16, 4:04 PM
That last would be only fair, as this is exactly what happened to Obama's people. Maybe after that, both parties will be well and truly fracked and more people will find common ground.
1/8/16, 4:35 PM
Agent Provocateur said...
r.e. your "Agent, that seems very plausible. I'm curious -- did you get the three-cycles-and-then-chaos from Toynbee?"
Not consciously. I haven't read Toynbee though no doubt I would benefit from doing so. So I'm guessing he is not an unconscious influence either.
I have no solid logic based reason for picking three cycles and then chaos. Its a guess based on a gut feel of how most complex and somewhat resilient systems tend to responds to shocks. The global economy is resilient but this resilience has limits.
In more detail, this is how I envision it:
The first time cracks the system and it self repairs somewhat. Stunned but not down. Second time brings the beast to its knees but it still functions. It can still respond somewhat. She's really struggling to get up and almost there when bang! The third blow hits. She's now down in the dirt and can no longer resist/adjust. She is still conscious but helpless. She will then be disembowelled and dismembered at leisure.
The third cycle would be occurring just when it an no longer be denied that industrial civilization is in deep deep trouble due to the contraction of annual oil production.
Right now we are on a bit of an overall (not just conventional oil) production plateau. The redefinition of oil to disingenuously include "all liquids" from all sources is a symptom of denial/obfuscation that suit the interests of those so engaged. But by the third bounce (whenever it happens), such tactics won't work since all liquids will be in obvious decline.
1) After the first cycle, the response by the powers that be was likely more or less: "Woa! That was interesting. Must have been due to (insert and reason that seems reasonable). Well lets get this puppy (world economy) back on track"
2) After the second cycle, the response will be likely more or less: "Damn again! Not interesting. Very annoying as this should not have happened because we did (insert thing that was done last time). Oh well, stuff happens whatever the cause. Best keep doing (insert thing that was done last time) because its all we know and gosh it really should work. It is troubling though. Oh, things to do, can't waste time mourning the past"
3) After the third cycle, the response will be likely more or less: "Crap! We really don't know what we are doing and darn but to be honest, this is pretty clear to everyone else too."
This clear and unequivocal loss of legitimacy of itself should create chaos in not just oil prices but pretty much everything else.
Just a guess mind you.
1/8/16, 4:47 PM
James Bodie said...
1/8/16, 5:55 PM
I shall try and separate all the different conceptions I have from different places (mostly from fringe American commentators like you) from what I see around me and made a clear-minded post on that when I leave.
1/8/16, 6:30 PM
Adam Dresser said...
All I see in the media and everywhere else is divisiveness. Republicans vs. Democrats, Pro-Abortion/Anti-Abortion, pro-gun/anti-gun, blacks against whites, Christians against Muslims (and pretty much everybody else who's not Christian), and on and on. Forget about common culture, common values, or common goals. There is no United in the States of America. To whose advantage is it to divide us up like this so we are all at each other's throats? It certainly seems deliberate.
Somehow tolerance for diversity has morphed into all these groups that feel entitled, and chauvinistic and antagonistic to every other group. How did this happen? It can't end well.
1/8/16, 6:36 PM
Kevin Warner said...
A recent minor example of this here in Australia is how in the New Year, stamps for a regular letter from Australia Post went up from 70c to $1. The kicker here is that mail will now take two days longer to deliver. If you want your mail to go at the same speed that it has the past few decades, you will have to pay a new special priority service of $1.50. Need I say that the bloke in charge use to be a corporate banker with a present $4.8 million salary?
I have had to amend this line of thought recently, however, due to what is being forced on many countries i.e. austerity policies. In spite of all empirical evidence that these policies cause massive unnecessary damage to the economy and the lives of it people, there is a sheer bloody-mindedness in the relentless pursuit of this policy.
It occurred to me then that if you wanted to enforce a major ramp-down of people's expectations of both the economy and governmental services, what better way than to use the excuse of a financial crisis to say, There Is No Alternative and to consequently downgrade expectations wholesale for a whole population? A brutal piece of social engineering but it would not be the first time something like this was done.
1/8/16, 8:13 PM
Dennis D said...
On the European refuge crisis, it has all the hallmarks of an act of war, as the affected countries will have so many internal problems that they will be unable to act outside their own borders.
On PV, as an owner of non-subsidized PV, I can say that it is a better investment than any stock market gamble. At least the owner of the panels has a chance to stop the attempted theft of their investment, as compared to reading that their supposed stock or bond is now worthless, and the persons with inside info are safe on a private island somewhere. Physical control of a income producing (or more correctly offsetting) asset will become more important as more ethereal investments are "Corizined" into the ether.
As to the Tech bubble crashing, I would predict the the current big names can be allowed to crash, and the anointed insiders will pick up the best parts for pennies on the dollar, then get out-sized profits on whatever the new company is named (possibly the old names will be recycled),and all the little investors will once again be fleeced.
In other words, I pretty much agree with you
1/8/16, 8:42 PM
Kyle Schuant said...
The first is to kill off shale oil and other competition. One supermarket chain in Australia got in legal trouble for selling bread below cost to squash the local baker, after which they raised prices again.
Further to this, there may be a sense of "sell it before people stop wanting it." This has motivated my own home state of Victoria to try to export brown coal to India. It's widely-said in the coal industry that in 20-30 years people may no longer want anywhere as much coal as they do now, so there's a rush to export and lock in long-term contracts rather than be left with a resource people no longer want. Whatever our arguments on eroei of pv etc, the fossil fuel companies certainly see them as competition and feel their own days are numbered. Something similar may motivate KSA. If a few fracking companies collapse we may see big oil price rises.
Secondly, they may be trying to destroy Russia and Iran as they did USSR in the 1980s. Russia like the USSR before it relies on oil exports for much of its foreign income. In the 1980s they exported oil to earn cash to buy Western food, opec didn't like their invasion of Afghanistan so decided to hurt them with the oil price. The US encouraged this since cheap oil was good for the US (net importer in the 1980s) and bad for the SU.
Russia and Iran are both helping fight the people KSA support - radical Sunnis. And again the USA isn't too sad to see Russia struggle militarily (in Ukraine rather than Aghanistan) and economically, and they're definitely not fond of Iran, either.
1/8/16, 10:17 PM
Genevieve Hawkins said...
A bad stock market is good for Sanders so prediction wise I'll hang my hat on him the people want bread and will understand if there are no circusses. Nobody ever wants to change until they have to change. Bigger problem is how much borrowed/fake money is being spent to bring this new oil into the world. But is it really a problem if the numbers are digits on a screen?
1/8/16, 11:32 PM
The post you are looking for can be found here:
A Deindustrial Reading List
1/8/16, 11:44 PM
Martin Larner said...
I fail to see how the small amount of advertising they do could possibly fund all those servers, offices and employees. So I expect Facebook & Twitter to be around some time yet, but it will be increasingly murky (yet simultaneously obvious) where the money is coming from as time goes on.
1/9/16, 12:56 AM
Cherokee Organics said...
Tomorrow afternoon is set aside for writing the barn-burner. I'm really riled today as a guy on a horse trespassed on the edge of the orchard and then had the cheek to threaten me with the horse. Where is a good pike or staff when I need one?
Solar PV is really great stuff, it just doesn't make economic sense. None at all. Really. None. And I tell people over and over again that it costs me something like $0.85/kWh to be on off grid solar and power the house with 100% solar energy (no fossil fuel generators either). And that means living with only 3.5kWh/day energy for 3 weeks either side of the winter solstice.
And you'd think they'd say something like: Wow, that's expensive and how do you get by on such a small energy usage in the depths of winter?
But no, they say the system must be not set up right, and I have this friend who has this friend who gets 25kWh/day on average over winter from their 5kW solar power system and they're exporting more energy to the grid than they use and they get cheques from the energy companies for supplying unicorn flatuence, and why don't you export your excess power back to the grid, you're selfish. Honestly!!!!! Grrrrr!!!!
I feel much better now, thanks for this forum to have a really good rant.
Seriously, the dead giveaway for me about these grid tied solar photo voltaic systems is that people only ever discuss two things about them:
- What is my return on investment for this solar power system? Note the use of the word "my"; and
- How much the system generated on the very best day of the year? - which is usually a cool day around the summer solstice.
It is a dead give-away, because I have never met another person in the flesh who has said to me: You know, I'm really worried about the future. I'm worried about the kind of future that my kids are going to inherit. I'm worried about the fact that my kids and their kids might hate my guts for destroying this beautiful planet and making the whole climate so unstable, that they're probably going to know what true hunger is. You know what, I think I might buy me some solar panels and put them on the roof and simply live with the energy that they provide me - and no more - because I'm genuinely worried about that future.
But no, they're usually worried about how much money they're going to make and this subsidy and that rebate and this export tariff. Honestly, it's not a good look.
Oh, I think I've slipped into ranting again. Oh well.
Ohhhh! Now I remember the other bit too. If one more person says to me: Look phone batteries have come down in price so much in recent times that surely home deep cycle battery systems will come down in price too. It’s just a matter of time and you just have to wait you’ll see, they’ll be everywhere. I heard from this guy that knows this guy who reckons that he knows an insider who reckons that battery prices will definitely come down any day now. By the way, he’s offering stock options on a battery company… Anyway, if they do say such, I think I’ll scream! Seriously, they’ll hear it all the way up in winter land that is the northern hemisphere!
It was a good rant wasn’t it? :-)! If only it wasn’t all true. The situation is a bit sad really.
PS: I'm enjoying the Merlin book too. Very thoughtful and a quirky read too and he has a truly delightful writing style.
1/9/16, 3:54 AM
Patricia Mathews said...
Meanwhile, David Kaiser over at Time Magazine, suggests that ISIS's real target is neither Israel nor the West, but those diabolical, infidel, non-Arab,etc ... Shia!
And the crappification of all things in 2015 is no news to me. I ordered another batch of the support hose I've been wearing for a couple of years, and noted I was getting the same quality as last year's - after the latter had been worn for a year! And it's harder to get good quality vintage clothing at my local charity thrift shops, formerly an always-reliable source. But the FDA is assiduously protecting my cat from receiving the organ meat that actually helps with his condition, may the inspectors be forced to try to pill him every morning - without gauntlets or other armor. Merrily we roll along .... and Happy New Year!
1/9/16, 7:44 AM
Shane W said...
1/9/16, 8:19 AM
Dear Ed Boyle, as you may have read or heard, the incidence of violent crimes has declined in the USA in recent years. I can't prove it, but I nevertheless suspect that one factor which has helped bring about that decline is the ubiquity of hand held recording devices. I have heard of organized groups of citizens making video camera patrols in high crime areas, not excluding recording the license plate numbers of "Johns" seeking services along the stroll. Maybe German and Austrian citizens might want to try something similar?
1/9/16, 10:13 AM
I work for a food wholesaler, recently the quality of some produce items has declined noticeably; leading to almost daily complaints by our customers. It's clear that many people really do believe that food comes from the store, not from nature. Recently, English cucumbers as a real example, are now 2 inches shorter on average, and half the width as they were last year, and people don't understand that it is a crop failure. That this is not a deliberate way of cutting corners. We had one customer so annoyed by this, we had to send someone out to pick through boxes and boxes of English cucumbers to pick out only the largest ones to send to this one customer to keep them happy. I can't imagine what would happen if one year the crops actually do fail?
Excellent post as always!
1/9/16, 10:47 AM
I'm not sure you will have some posts to spare so as to advance your Retrotopia narrative. It seems that the news is now catching up with us faster than we can comment it.
There is a point to churches after all... those candles are hard to light up in the Parisian climate ! Here we commemorate our victims by lighting candles on attack locations. Closing symbolically a year of consternating news both from the Middle-East and from my own country where I live, which presses me/us to reflect on the past year before even trying to contemplate what 2016 could bring. Now I (maybe We ?) listen to the news a lot : when I hear of terror attacks in Kabul or the Middle East, mentioned briefly in passing... I can't help but think, it's been such a great deal for us, but it's only a tiny fraction of the horrors happening there, what will be the impact, wars for generations to come... what a sad, frigging waste.
Other than that, here in our lovely capital city, automated cashier machines have made their entrance in the supermarkets. Big or small, remote or central, all the supermarkets generating enough revenue to afford the technology have jumped into the bandwagon. Ah pesky human nature, if thou did not have in ye the compulsion to steal, we could thence afford completely unmanned supermarkets... in the meantime,
everybody is defending laicity, basically freedom of speech, of thought and of spirituality all guaranteed by keeping religious practice in the private sphere and away from state representation or activities.
What nobody articulates is that laicity is just one of many possible arrangements regarding the integration of spiritual activities in the public sphere. As much as I do support this particular arrangement, the fact is, it comes bundled nowadays into a package of other social arrangements, one of which is the set of arrangements and exchanges we call "the economy". Nowadays, "the economy" constantly creates more arrangements removing meaning from our daily lives in one place, with outsourcing, deloacalizations, automatization... Gone are the heydays of the Trente Glorieuses.
One of the unmentionable reasons behind the success and now endurance of ISIS is that it succeeded in creating a less wasteful set of economical arrangements, which give practical meaning to their people's daily lives... even if that comes along with enforcing so many other totally unacceptable arrangements whose horror largely exceeds the trivial benefits of a daily life that somehow works.
In the media, a report came out that the number of women joining ISIS was increasing... when we know what joining that so-called "state" means for women. It would unfortunately tend to support my analysis above.
I can see several stages in dealing with a fluctuating state of world events : the first challenge is to actually identify and articulate the important questions, the second one is to come up with possible answers, the third one would be to discuss and verbally compare those answers, and the fourth one would be to confront answers to the actual march of the world around us. The fifth one for now still belongs to the realm of speculative social fiction, and it would be the comparison, adaptation and selection, of answers that actually work. There might be some intermediate steps along the way, like refing the feedback mechanisms that we would use to test the answers against reality...
But the fact is, here in Ecnarf, we are only starting to collectively grapple with the first stage, while all the other stages are unfolding just among a tiny minority. When I can see what it has taken to get us to stage one, all over the course of one mad year of violence and intolerance from all involved parties, I shudder to infer what it will take to get around to seriously get started onto those other stages.
So, to take a twist on the usual worn-out phrase, happy new dealings with 2016 !
1/9/16, 4:56 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Ed, I put this comment through because I want my American readers to have some idea of what the situation looks like on the ground in Europe. Generally, though, please minimize the off-topic heat-generating comments.
Cherokee, the thing is, the fracking industry isn't actually being sustained -- the bankruptcies are piling up, production of crude oil is down, companies are pulling out of fracking zones, and so on. The only thing that's being sustained is the illusion, generated by the US media, that fracking is a revolutionary new whatsit that's going to solve our energy problems -- and even that's being quietly relegated to the back pages now. In another year, you won't see a whisper on the mainstream US media that fracking was ever described in those terms.
Raven, thanks for the link.
Nuku, thanks for the perspective. It interests me how many people talk about grid power as though it's the only power that matters, when it's a small fraction of total energy use.
Mirela, fascinating. Thank you.
Mark/Yupped, no, things haven't slowed back down. What happened as 2015 dawned is that it became very clear to me that we've, ahem, progressed far enough down the curve of decline that serious consequences are beginning to pop up all over the place, and plans that presuppose lots of time to make things happen are pretty much past their pull date. I'm glad to hear you've made those changes; you may have gotten to them just in time.
Zentao, the problem with that approach is that most people are only willing to think about sudden phase transitions, and many of them misunderstand what "sudden" means in historical terms. Meanwhile massive changes, including phase transitions, are happening all around us, but the pace -- being that of history, rather than Hollywood -- is just slow enough that nobody's noticing. Nor, may I point out, am I just suggesting closing some windows -- quite the contrary, one of the reasons so many people like to ignore the kind of predictions I'm making is that they often amount to "abandon your home and move to higher ground before the rising waters drown you." It's a lot more comfortable to sit at home and wait for the sudden changes that don't happen...
Dau, thanks for the link!
Seb, that's very good to hear. As for shooting fish in a barrel, why, yes, that's half the fun -- not least because so many people take the same shot and hit themselves in the foot instead.
Bill, oh, I figured -- but it looked as though you thought I was predicting something far more drastic, particularly with regard to tech stocks, than I was.
1/9/16, 5:28 PM
Moshe Braner said...
"Hackers likely caused a Dec. 23 electricity outage in Ukraine by remotely switching breakers to cut power, after installing malware to prevent technicians from detecting the attack, according to a report ... [which] also said the attackers crippled the utility's customer-service center by flooding it with phone calls ...
... The utility's operators were able to quickly recover by switching to manual operations, essentially disconnecting infected workstations and servers from the grid, ..."
- what I can't understand is why would anybody set up critical infrastructure in way that can be directly manipulated remotely from the internet at large? Oh well, I'm just out of touch with "progress". I don't understand the reasons for the push towards self-driving cars either.
1/9/16, 6:36 PM
It also anticipates the frequent response to any local action in response to a global problem: "But your choices are utterly insignificant compared to (your neighbor, your military, the Chinese, ....). You're bailing the ocean with a teaspoon! Why exert yourself for nothing?" Then, I can say "Well, it's not 'for nothing', it's so I can collect the subsidies,(as Denis said, above) put some idle cash into a tangible investment, something that won't evaporate with the whims of The Market, and to isolate myself from future rate increases."
In fact, my grid-tied home uses about 12 kWh/day (winter), which breaks even with the output of my 5 kW solar system on a SUNNY day in early January (mid-winter in Maryland). We've had some sunny days lately, and we've had some dark ones. It looks like we'll come close to breaking even for a full year. I know that I'm burning coal and splitting atoms to type this message, but I think the main demand factor here is electric cooking appliances (incl. refrigeration). I'm sitting under well-dimmed LED lamps.
1/9/16, 6:55 PM
The Tesla T-2000 sounds like it needs 3 awful sequels (well I didn't mind the third so much I guess). It could be worse. They could call it the 6000-SUX!
I sometimes (when I try to discuss it) have the some problem in my circle of friends (most of them very intelligent). Thought stoppers galore, or they agree with me to shut me up. Once I tried to find a sensible place on the internet to discuss EROEI issues with the aim of having a bunch of smart people try and convince me "they will think of something". Unfortunately, while it was easy to find smart people who like discussing technical issues. It is very hard and time consuming to weed out the thought stoppers and deliberate obtuseness. I might try again one day as I think it is important to have ones opinions and assumptions tested.
"lesser of several weevils"
It is a shame that voting often ends up this way. No doubt it has always been this way. Fictional naval captains would know what to do!
re: whats in it for me with solar PV
Remember a few years back when the (apparently world ending - irony!) carbon tax was introduced. The newspaper front pages and TV spots were literally just spelling out the financial benefits for individuals. Whats in it for me writ large. No mention of the environment, the importance of at least trying to reduce carbon output etc etc. It was all rather disgusting.
1/9/16, 9:05 PM
Re grid electric power as a fraction of total energy use: My understanding of why many people, including Greenies, are unaware of this fact (and its significance) is that so many people are completely out of real physical touch with the gritty industrial reality that undergirds their lives. Food comes from the supermarket, and almost all other commodities come from sanitized shops in a mall. The dirty, sweaty, mostly oil-powered heavy industry behind all this is hidden, for the most part, from the middle class. Its either off-shore or in some out of the way part of town.
The heavy-duty industries like ship-building, steel making, auto making, agribusiness, mining, oil production, commercial transport, etc, which use lots of nonelectric energy are mostly out of the consciousness of the average Joe, who only thinks of energy in terms of what he uses in his house, nice clean job, and personal car. Most people work in "service" or finance or IT jobs; they don't make anything. The personal and job related energy use that they see everyday is electricity coming out of a socket in the wall to power a computer, kitchen appliance, electric lights, heat pumps, etc.
Running a small car or bike on grid electricity via batteries, or maybe short range urban public transport is all he thinks about when he talks about "electrifying" transport. Try running an 18 wheel articulated big rig, a huge open pit mining machine with tires 10 feet tall, or a D8 bulldozer on batteries.
This is why I have to laugh whenever I hear folks talking about how all we have to do is electrify everything, generate the electricity with "alternative" sources, and Industrial Civilization (and their current lifestyles) can continue on its BAU merry way.
1/9/16, 9:22 PM
And then if your interested arguably the greatest blog post ever made.
1/10/16, 3:42 AM
Mean Mr Mustard said...
Apropos the Lakeland drone shoots and projecting basic but effective military force not hollowed out by Lardbucket budgets, here's a very interesting summary of the Força Aerea Brasileira.
Your long term forecast for Brazil being covered in Retropia and all...
1/10/16, 3:57 AM
JMG, that is probably reason why Trump is doing so good in US right now. He attacks against those PC fortresses, that actually are status quo and the Man right now. Liberal leftist want to be seen as heroic counter-cultural revolutionaries, but there is nothing revolutionary in being feminist, multiculturalist, environmental activist or some other cultist of rainbow flag variety. Those "revolutionaries" are the staus quo today, the spearhead of liberalism. In the West, victory of generation of '68 is total. People who actually have to pay price for failures of that grandiose secular religion established by flower generation are sick of it, because it does not work on grassroots level. It is as simple as that. It does not work, as Marxism or radical nationalism did not work before this new secular religion of flower power. It must fall, and Trump is first ray of hope for bringing it down in US. He is first person in your internal politics who resembles vaguely the New Right of Europe. There are differences, his flamboyancy and moneyed status being most prominent, but still now you have had first breeze from New Right blowing to your face. And we who are its voting base, mostly native working classes and lower middle classes, for us they are our only and last hope.
1/10/16, 5:12 AM
Phil Harris said...
I love America, truly, when as in this case in the person of Jada Thacker, it can look itself squarely in the eye. Hat tip TAE for this dissection of history https://consortiumnews.com/2016/01/08/how-debt-conquered-america/ Any comments on accuracy?
Colonial atrocity is even getting a look-in (a bit) over here in Britland.
1/10/16, 5:52 AM
I also have been feeling a vague feeling of unease and urgency. That and two dollars will get you a cup of regular coffee at one of the local sole proprietorships around here.
1/10/16, 7:07 AM
The divisiveness is real, and has been fostered by the MSM. They can sell more newspapers, get more eyeballs, etc., by lining us up into two warring factions. Additionally, many news outlets now have a distinct slant, so that if you get all your news from one particular provider, you can live in a dreamworld where everybody agrees with you, demonizing everyone who does not agree with you. This is true on both sides of the divide. In olden days, reporters tried not to take sides, but to present issues in a non-partisan way so that people could understand them and more or less agree.
Finally, I see that anything that is not absolutely mainstream corporate thought is relegated to the wild-eyed fringe. So, for example, if you think mercury has no place in your mouth, you are lined up with the chem-trail people and other "science-denying" conspiracy mongers.
1/10/16, 7:27 AM
Hubertus Hauger said...
Yet working together will keep us florishing and most of the agression in check. Just as it is today. So future will be as past has always been. Mostly labour, often feast, sometimes fight. My prediction for the eternity streching out in front of us.
1/10/16, 9:28 AM
richard b said...
It's shocking that all this will happen this century and in the span of a human lifetime.
But long before this process concludes must come the crash of stock markets and the collapse of the banking system.
Many people out there have the sense that the next big crash will bring the system down. Let's hope that this doesn't go down in 2016.
1/10/16, 1:47 PM
Shane W said...
the peoples of the Nation States of Europe do not date to the last ice age, they date to the fall of the Roman Empire, where they trace their lineage to the barbarian tribes and where they settled (Franks-France, Anglo-Saxons-England, etc.) Nobody today lived where they lived before the fall of the Roman Empire, if I recall correctly, the people that now inhabit Spain came from roughly Ukraine.
1/10/16, 2:13 PM
If you suspect that current systems of civil and criminal justice will break down with "Collapse", it might be a good idea to see how people maintain social and trade relations who never had such systems.
It's also entertaining to see how exotic "primitive" behaviors are still around us, whether the status symbol is a throwing a pig roast in the jungle or a blowout anniversary party with open bar at both dinner and breakfast.
1/10/16, 2:57 PM
William Church said...
I've said for years that if a man or woman was willing to attack immigration and trade policy he could form a political consensus that would last for decades. It isn't immigration or trade per se that has people so enraged. It is that both have been used as economic and political weapons against an ever growing slice of the populace.
Both parties have sold them out relentlessly on these issues for decades now. They are mad and why not? I'm mad about it myself. The fact that an imbecile like Trump can exploit these issues to rocket to the charts shows their potency.
The fact that 95% of pundits can't crack this code tells you everything you need to know about the circles of people they never encounter.
1/10/16, 3:41 PM
August Johnson said...
This was done by the system provider themselves (who shall remain un-named, but they are a major player) so that they could do remote software support. Every utility that uses their systems will be done that way. I saw NO intrusion detection software on their servers. Nobody would listen to little old me since Management wanted the most up to date system! I'm sure every other utility is the same!
1/10/16, 3:54 PM
A friend in Germany tells me that non-white immigrants in Germany often have a hard time integrating and don't get treated very well even after they've been there many years, or if were born there but are non-white. Might this be aggravating Europe's problems?
Between the attacks on asylum seekers in Europe and the mass sexual assaults with asylum seekers as some of the accused, and marginalization of earlier immigrants Europe has a problem. When you add that to Europe's many other problems, such as the EU bureaucracy's determination to steal from the poor and give to the rich, economic inequality within and between states, and its usurpation of democracy in Greece, it looks like a potentially explosive situation to me.
1/10/16, 3:56 PM
Jason Panno said...
"JMG, that is probably reason why Trump is doing so good in US right now. He attacks against those PC fortresses, that actually are status quo and the Man right now. Liberal leftist want to be seen as heroic counter-cultural revolutionaries, but there is nothing revolutionary in being feminist, multiculturalist, environmental activist or some other cultist of rainbow flag variety. Those "revolutionaries" are the staus quo today, the spearhead of liberalism. In the West, victory of generation of '68 is total. People who actually have to pay price for failures of that grandiose secular religion established by flower generation are sick of it, because it does not work on grassroots level. It is as simple as that. It does not work, as Marxism or radical nationalism did not work before this new secular religion of flower power. It must fall, and Trump is first ray of hope for bringing it down in US. He is first person in your internal politics who resembles vaguely the New Right of Europe. There are differences, his flamboyancy and moneyed status being most prominent, but still now you have had first breeze from New Right blowing to your face. And we who are its voting base, mostly native working classes and lower middle classes, for us they are our only and last hope."
As a 27 year old working class white male living in 'middle america', who is almost certainly going to vote for Trump, I'd say this is spot on the reason he is getting so much support. The economic angle is certainly part of it, but I'd say this is far greater.
One of the subjects you've covered at length on this blog is how humans behave when the stories they've been telling themselves to explain the world stop matching the reality around them. That they double down on what used to work in the past, or what is 'supposed to work' according to their narrative, to the point of absurdity and eventually the 'story' in question is abandoned. I cant help but notice that this process is well into motion for the narratives underlying the social mores of the contemporary west. I've been wondering for a while why it hasn't been brought up here...
I look forward to your analysis of the 'Trump phenomena' Mr. Greer, both for your unique perspective and to see how it stacks up with my own motivations and those of other trump supporters I've talked to.
Anyway though, since everyone else in the comment section is making predictions for the year, I'll make my observation into one. I consider it to be of the slam-dunk variety:
'The narratives of equality that make up the social mores of today will continue to die. Activists for 'social justice' will continue to pursue strategies that actively hurt their own cause, and generally look more and more absurd to the general public. An increasing number of people will find that they cannot identify or agree with some part of the social mores of the day and will find themselves labeled as haters. With this 'hater' label they will find themselves far more open to the arguments of other 'haters', and the number of people who want to throw the entire edifice into the compost heap will grow.'
1/10/16, 7:38 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Sherril, many thanks!
Shawn, quite the contrary. Ownership of Saudi Aramco is the sole basis of the wealth and power of the House of Saud, the thing that keeps them from being just another set of minor Third World despots; if they're prepared to sell off even a minority share, they must be absolutely desperate.
Avalterra, it's certainly worked for me!
RPC, and we're going to get the immense wealth needed for such a buildout where? As for Trump, stay tuned.
Grandmom, of course not. In 1856, when he was causing trouble in Kansas, nobody thought of John Brown the way we now think of John Brown.
Shane, so noted. One thing a lot of Southerners don't realize -- and it's surprising, given their general awareness of the ways that Southern culture has been erased from the broader American consciousness -- is that outside the former Confederacy, Southern political thought is by definition flattened out into a bedsheet-bedecked caricature, and a book such as I'll Take My Stand that doesn't fit that caricature is simply ignored. I'd heard of it, dimly, but if you'd asked me what it was about before you'd posted that explanation, I'd have been at a loss -- and I'm tolerably well informed, for an American, about the history of political thought in this country. I'll scare up a copy as time permits.
Hello/Erika, I'm delighted to hear that I've inspired a dance! I wish I had something useful to say about the spiraling mess in the Bay area, and everywhere else the tech bubble and its associated electronic addictions have taken root, but I fled that world a long time ago. Stay safe.
Tripp, delighted to hear that things are still moving ahead in your world.
Alexandra, that's our modern taboo. You can talk about sex, you can talk about death, you can talk about any bodily function you want, but if you try to talk about the simple realities that civilizations fall and progress is subject to the law of diminishing returns, you'll get the most frantic sort of reactions.
Quos Ego, hmm. My memory may be at fault, then -- I recall discussing the whole fast-crash fantasy with her some years back, without much result. I'll doublecheck.
Martin, I didn't get into the future of Europe because, as I never tire of saying, I've never lived there and don't know the facts on the ground. The only reason I'm discussing the Middle East at this point is that, due to decades of stupid decisions in Washington DC, the fate of the US is hopelessly entangled with what happens there.
1/10/16, 11:02 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Anastassia, many thanks for this! The article's useful enough that I've posted the link here -- I think many of my readers will find it as interesting as I have.
Daergi, well, that's why I noted that readers would need to track the acceleration of the economic downturn by watching layoffs and store closings, because the official statistics are pure propaganda. Fortunately, all four of my specific predictions are fairly hard to fake.
Shane, some soldiers will follow orders; others won't. Once the second category becomes big enough -- well, the US has been hiring a lot of mercenaries these days, and I would expect that to play a major role in the Second Civil War, too.
Pygmycory, that's pretty good.
Buddha, thanks for the link. Trump is easy to underestimate; I'll be discussing that in much more detail as we proceed.
Hubertus, the future is under no obligation to wait for us to get ready for it. I've been pointing out for years that time is short and any constructive action needs to get under way sooner rather than later. At this point? If we're lucky, it's now or never; if not...it's just too late.
Buddha, yes, I'd heard. Expect much more of this in the future.
Phil, no, you're not lost, they are. I propose we start calling it "vicial reality" -- vicial is to virtual, after all, as vicious is to virtuous...
Daniel, yep. Stay tuned.
Ray, hmm. Well, we'll see.
1/10/16, 11:14 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Agent, fascinating. That's fairly close to Toynbee's reasoning, curiously enough.
James, I'd rather see Sanders than Trump get the office, for that matter, but I gave up waiting for Americans to get a clue a very long time ago.
YCS, thank you. I'll look forward to it.
Adam, unfortunately this kind of divisiveness is standard for a society on the way down. A growing economy makes most people willing to be patient and share out the wealth, since everyone gets a bigger slice; a contracting economy -- and if you cut out the financial hallucinations of Wall Street et al., the US economy has been contracting for years -- makes everyone cling to their own slice like grim death. As for hope, well, hoping that things will get better is not a strategy. What do you, personally, propose to do?
Kevin, I'm pretty sure that's much of what's behind the neoconservative fetish for austerity for everyone but the rich.
Dennis, agreed. I'm very much in favor of non-grid-tied PV, when it's paired with the sharp reductions in energy use that are necessary to make it function.
Kyle, I'm pretty sure that Saudi Arabia started producing all out to try to crush the competition from fracking -- that is to say, they bought into the propaganda, and didn't realize that all they had to do was sit tight and cut their production a bit until the bubble popped. The problem now is that if they cut their production, other oil producers can keep on pumping flat out and make more money. It's a real Prisoner's Dilemma situation!
Genevieve, it's a problem because the money is a proxy measure for real goods and services that have to be diverted from the rest of the economy to keep the oil flowing. Economists have forgotten that, which is one of the reasons their predictions are always wrong.
Martin, that's an interesting hypothesis. Once the bubble pops, we'll just have to see what happens.
Cherokee, it was indeed a good rant! I wish I could take all the people who like to insist that their comfortable middle class lifestyles can be powered forever on sun and wind, herd them into an auditorium, and make them listen to your explanation of why they're smoking their shorts. Oh, and I'd like to do this in high summer somewhere near where you live, and the air conditioning for the auditorium is powered solely by PV panels! Glad you like the Merlin book -- it's a classic.
Patricia, and a happy and hopefully less crappy new year to you and yours. Thanks for the links; the first one may just be the funniest piece of unintentional comedy I've yet read in 2016.
1/10/16, 11:32 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Nastarana, as I'm not privy to the internal machinations of the current elite, I won't try to guess what factions among the wealthy and powerful have decided to back Sanders. It's not a strong faction, clearly, or he'd have more media presence; it'll be interesting to see what happens if he scores an upset in the early primaries, as he might.
Repent, thanks for the dispatch from the front lines! I've seen the same thing in other contexts; sudden collision between the American middle classes and reality in 3, 2, 1...
Jean-Vivien, thanks for the news from Ecnarf! That more women are joining Daesh -- this doesn't actually surprise me at all. It's only in the fantasies of the privileged that all women everywhere form a single voting bloc that shares the values and ideologies of Hillary Clinton's supporters.
Moshe, I don't know. Why would anyone connect their refrigerator, their home security system, and -- gods help us, this is real -- their toothbrush to the internet? It seems fantastically stupid to me: "Hey, let me surrender every last scrap of privacy, security, and autonomy to a global network riddled with theft, espionage, sabotage, corruption, and the distilled essence of human nastiness -- what could possibly go wrong?" Some things just beg for a response from Darwinian evolution.
Nuku, exactly. It's precisely the same logic that leads computer geeks to insist that the internet must be affordable because they can meet their monthly internet service fees by posting cute kitten pictures.
Rapier, thank you. With regard to "change you can suspend your disbelief in," I;m reminded of JRR Tolkien's acerbic comment that sometimes disbelief has not so much to be suspended as hanged, drawn, and quartered.
Mustard, many thanks! That'll feature in a future post about the past as the wave of the military future.
Juhana, yes, that's an important part of it. I'll be exploring that in much more detail in the upcoming post I've mentioned.
Phil, from my perspective, it's a bit one-track but not enough so to be inaccurate. The conquest and ongoing subjugation of this continent is not a pretty picture -- and there will, all things considered, eventually be a reckoning for it.
Dfr2010, if your sense of unease leads you to take constructive action, all to the good.
Hubertus, you're aware, aren't you, that I've been saying that for decades now?
Richard, many people out there also had the sense in 2007 that the next big crash would bring the system down. It didn't. One of these days, I hope that those people will learn from their mistakes and recognize that waiting for an imaginary sudden collapse is a waste of everyone's time.
LatheChuck, I'd be more interested if he'd taken the time to study how these things work out in dark ages, because the aftermath of a fallen civilization makes for very different conditions from those in areas that haven't recently been through decline and fall. That said, it's a step in the right direction.
1/10/16, 11:51 PM
John Michael Greer said...
Jason, thanks for the input from the front lines. The self-defeating bullying of so-called "social justice warriors" is, to my mind, only one facet of a much broader phenomenon which has a great deal to do with the chasm in American society that Trump's figured out how to bridge -- and that bridge may well lead him straight to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, not least because none of his opponents are willing or able to see the chasm in the first place. More on this soon!
1/10/16, 11:55 PM
I am also waiting to read something in that direction. I've recently had a look (as language permits) in the direction of the New Right. If you have the time and inclination (at the moment a pretty Euro(asian) phenomenon) you could maybe loose a few words on Aleksandr Dugin, or perhaps Strasserism. Maybe Slavoj Žižek for balance on the fringe. Would perhaps a look at Erdogan's Turkey be instructive for a Trump USA? Sometimes I think that people (including me of course) can have difficulty differentiating discussion from endorsement (bug or feature?), just saying.
As a rainbow flag variety of liberal leftist(?) here are my 2c. I do agree with you that this is a very, very urgent issue. And will probably become even more pressing as the region heats up further. But please, try making an effort and fight the out-group bias (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out-group_homogeneity) once in a while. Perhaps the majority of my friends are in mixed nationality (or gene) partnerships, and I find it sad that the demographic dynamics are the way they are. However (in my sober moments) this is for social and not genetic reasons. By the way skin color or facial features are probably among the least stable of the genetic make up.
People who want to be heroic counter-cultural revolutionaries are currently buying tickets to Istanbul, target my crowd of people predominantly (in Europe anyway), and sure have their own ideas about gender roles. I've personally been involved in booting 1-3 young and not so young male immigrants out of the EU, because I was instrumental in apprehending them for violent or property crimes they committed. This is not necessarily difficult to do, and there needs to be neither heroics nor polemics involved, but you do need a somewhat functional legal system (admittedly may have been lacking in one case in Germany in the 90s). What Germany (and other EU countries) should do now in my opinion is to ramp up the legal capacity to do "the good into the pot, the bad into the crop (actually into the pidgeon)".
Of course all this is not going to be for free, and there is a limit even when it comes to so called human rights, of what a society can realistically provide. Though it would probably be fair to give Jordan an honorable mention on this point first. As for the US role in this, I can't refrain from looking with at least one eye at the red states and say: "You break it, you own it." I wonder if Europe could just put them into a container and ship many of them west. For those who want some more numbers to get a feel for the magnitude so far, there is some detail in the link below. 12k$ per year times 1M buys a lot of tickets.
https://soundcloud.com/ecfr/ecfrs-world-in-30-minutes-the-political-economy-of-the-refugee-crisis-in-germany#t=6:30 , in my perspective there is an ever so slightly problematic point mentioned in passing at 10:40 which illustrates some more of the fundamental issues I can see here.
@Ed re New Year's Eve
I think these events had enough momentum to puncture the bubble of reality of sufficiently many media outlets. Some establishment heads are starting to roll already, and some of the liberal lefties are beginning to point out difficult to resolve inconsistencies in their lines of argument.
Also a large percentage of the people with who are/were welcoming immigrants had the opportunity to see the whole phenomenon in the trenches up close by now. Take the Left politician from Saarland who moved his office into a camp for quite some time. Those people don't have a hole lot of illusions is my impression. The EU equivalent to the main US employers of Mexican sans papiers are a different story of course.
The population genetics of Europe probably aren't so simple (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_history_of_Europe#European_population_sub-structure). I am afraid much of what is popular opinion may be influenced by a simplified or PC notion of this complicated topic.
1/11/16, 3:15 AM
Where could I read what people in the 1850's thought of John Brown? I'm really trying to understand your comparison and just not getting it.
1/11/16, 5:12 AM
1/11/16, 5:13 AM
This migration northwards happened during Stone Age, so people living in Finland actually have lineage from Ice Age onwards, from 8000-7000 BC onwards. It is not only lineage of course, but the descent is there, among other, newer arrivals. Our roots are deep, among deepest in Europe, Basques being other tribe rivaling us with sheer immensity of history behind them. Our land is ours and we belong to our land.
It is quite funny that you tried to teach me about history of my own roots all the way from America. It is peculiar trait of your culture, by the way. Most Americans I have met have tended to insist they know what is happening in certain place better than natives living there. Even if they do not speak a word of native language, which is always portal to the soul of any given culture. Language is the vechile by which ideas and narratives are carried from generation to generation, and without knowing other's language you do not know his soul. Language is like road leading to fixed position, which leads thinking and doing into pre-destined directions, because there are hidden structures in language guiding you to that peculiar direction. Here I am, writing for you by your native language; not fluently but still doing it. What if we switch that preposition other way around? Let's try:
Omasta mielestäni yhdysvaltalaisten taipumus uskoa, että he tietävät paremmin kuin paikalliset mitä mainittujen paikallisten tulisi maailmasta tai sen tapahtumista uskoa, on melko ylimielinen. Samaan aikaan uskon, että maanne on historian saatossa tehnyt runsaasti hyviä tekoja ympäri maailman, mukaan lukien materiaalinen apu omalle maalleni toisen maailmansodan aikana. Kuinka mielestäsi nämä kaksi mielikuvaa ovat yhdistettävissä toisiinsa; toisaalta röyhkeys tietyissä asioissa, toisaalta suuri sydän ja halu tehdä hyvää, joka on mielestäni kulttuurillenne tyypillistä?
I asked you a question there, hope you answer some day ;). No insult intended here, by the way. It has been pleasure to exchange thoughts with you.
1/11/16, 6:25 AM
Bill Pulliam said...
I've noticed a particular pattern in men's perceptions of the future as we go through life. Young men tend to see a future of rapid change; the revolution is just around the corner. Moving into adulthood, though, and getting a better sense of the pace of historical change and teh inertia of social institutions, they tend to settle in to a feeling that the world is more stable/stubborn than they thought in their youthful exuberance. We've seen the revolution fail to happen over and over, after all. Then after 50 or so, the perspectiuve of the future begins to shift, realizing that there are likely only 2 or 3 more decades that we will personally experience in a meaningful way, if we are lucky. I think this creates an urge to rush the time frame. It's no accident that the Occupy movement is mostly young (men), and the Militias and 3%ers are mostly old (men).
Take Trump -- There is some analogy here with Reagan. At the national level, Reagan was a joke in 1972, he was a contender in 1976, and he was elected in 1980. Even by this analogy, Trump does not get elected until 2020 (perhaps in an electoral landslide throwing out a massively unpopular Clinton?). And Reagan already had executive experience with success winning statewide elections in California before 1972; plus he had Nancy and her astrologers stage managing him and hiring the best script writers available.
1/11/16, 6:59 AM
Noni Mausa said...
But whence comes the idea that Trump is in danger of assassination? From his own mouth and PR machine, I would guess. In the grand tradition of Screwtape, who said: "we love to see them warning of flooding in the midst of drought, and running around with fire extinguishers when the deck is awash and sinking," he may easily be claiming mortal peril for himself, though never mentioning the actual mortal peril facing hundreds of thousands of Americans per year via firearms, poor health care, poverty, suicide and so on. But never mind, he can represent his sorry ass to be heroic when appearing before his adoring, and carefully vetted followers.
Oh, he could be assassinated, sharing that risk with any personality on the public stage in the US. But in scanning over lists of US political assassinations, the vast majority are progressives, not conservative or faux-populist demagogues. I would say without fear of contradiction that Mr. Sanders, especially if nominated or elected, would be the most likely target of an apparently delusional cats paw with a gun.
1/11/16, 8:04 AM
I wonder if you would mind expanding on what you see as the *particular* difficulty you have with "narratives on equality" by considering these questions...
1) if there is a person who is your superior, rather than your equal, does this person therefore have the prerogative to rule you, and/or to enjoy a larger share of earth's resources than you?
2) if that is the case, does it not follow that the people who DO rule you and DO enjoy a larger share of earth's resources are, in fact, your superiors?
3) and if THAT is the case, then, why would you not be content in whatever station and/or ranking you currently find yourself in?
1/11/16, 8:06 AM
1/11/16, 8:14 AM
Mister Roboto said...
Hillary Clinton's lead over Bernie Sanders nearly vanishes
1/11/16, 8:42 AM
Mister Roboto said...
1/11/16, 8:58 AM
Robert Mathiesen said...
1/11/16, 9:13 AM
Shane W said...
In Servitium Libertas!
1/11/16, 9:19 AM
Dear Jason Panno, I can understand and share some parts of your point of view, but please recall that folks on the right have seen fit to criticize Mrs. Obama, Mrs. Heinz-Kerry and other liberal politicians' spouses, so perhaps you can understand that I, as a white female descendant of nine generations of American farmers, homesteaders, teachers, carpenters, longshoresmen and other working folks, and the proud possessor of quilts made by my mother and grandmother, not to mention the skills of cooking, gardening and basic frugality taught to me and my sisters by those same women, consider the installation into the White House of an idle Slovenian socialite to be a deadly insult to me, my ancestresses and all other non-gorgeous, hard-working American women. And, I think you know perfectly well that I use the word 'socialite' out of politeness only.
Folks who are cheering the impending demise of the KSA might want to remind themselves just how much American, and European, real estate those royals and their associates own.
1/11/16, 9:55 AM
Within approximately the past year I have bought 4 clocks. I had one of those little square plastic travel alarm clocks that was given to me almost 15 years ago by a room mate, so I don't know how old it was, but it finally gave out. I bought a $3 clock at Walmart (only store unless I go very far). It works fine but it is nondigital and has a fairly loud ticking noise to have next to my head. So I consigned it to the windowsill in the bathroom and bought another clock, this time digital but whose box advertised that it does not have one of those annoying light displays. I paid a lot more for it, perhaps $12, thinking I needed to pay more if I wanted a decent clock. I bought digital for the silence. It was great for just a couple of months and then the alarm began malfunctioning. Sometimes I couldn't turn it off and it would alarm at odd days, unpredictably. It took a long time before it stopped going off, with me never using the alarm again. I gave the clock to my husband for a bedside clock, as he never uses an alarm. So, I went back to the store and this time I bought a very nice nondigital that advertised its quietness. I also paid more for this one, willingly. It was a lovely clock for a couple of months and then it began making a steady grinding noise in its operation, which I couldn't tolerate next to my head. So, I now have two alarm clocks on the bathroom windowsill (and I use them) but I like to have a clock where I can see it from my bed. So, I bought a 4th clock, digital, no light display, and it resides near my bed, but I will never use the alarm.
So in the end, the cheapest clock is the most reliable, paying more did not increase quality at all, and none of them worked for long except the first, which at that price can be loud it if wants to.
I ran into this when trying to buy a kitchen timer as well. One that looked visibly better made, metal not plastic, costing more -- but when I read the customer reviews it was terrible, and there was not one at amazon that had good ratings.
1/11/16, 10:19 AM
Hubertus Hauger said...
I say, plus we want to eat the cake and still have it.
Plus we fear that unhappiness and misery we result in getting rid of all that material overflow.
Plus the inertian force will drag us along for some time, before the motivation for fatreduced live will become a overhelming drive.
Live is like a wirlhwind.
1/11/16, 10:41 AM
1/11/16, 10:56 AM
regarding a Civil War, who is going to fight for the Feds? In our most recent imperial adventures, morale has been at an all time low, and that is against an Other that has been properly demonized (terrorists). How are already jaded & demoralized troops going to be persuaded to fire against their neighbors? Aren't they likely to stand down, like you outlined in Twilight's Last Gleaming? Or are you assuming that the fighting will be amongst factions that come into the void once the Federal government implodes?"
Don't confuse discomfort with "imperial adventures" with taking care of the citizens of the US should a civil war occur. If, G-D forbid, Trump or some other...defective...ends up at the head of this country and then throws the Constitution and everything else that is the heart and soul of this country into the gutter, I suspect there will be plenty of real citizens and real patriots ready to stand. And no, I don't mean the camocosplaying crowd trying to incite an insurrection in Oregon.
MSgt, USAF, Ret
1/11/16, 10:59 AM
For background when you write your Trump analysis, I offer these excerpts of my comments on a private online discussion group as of last July:
Response 412 : 10971 Tom Parsons (madtom) Jul 23, 2015 16:25
Sorry to re-inject Trump here, but this morning's radionz feature on (of all things) cookbooks gave me fresh insight.
They interviewed a prof from Uni of the Pacific in Sacramento, who made the point that cookbooks are very poor communicators because humanity has always (except for a very brief couple of centuries) learned by personal contact and demonstration, not by reading the printed word.
AHA - the same is true of determining leadership in our groups!
Chimpanzees have an alpha male who gets and maintains his position partly by show - by demonstrations of what he thinks he's worth and where he believes he fits into the pecking order. Though there is some need for him to be big and tough and to occasionally beat up on others, there is less actual need for him to fight his rivals than to out-display them.
A chimp who wants to display his claim to dominance will make a lot of noise, do energetic things, posture, and shake branches forcefully to show his strength and his power to make things happen. All this is a challenge for anyone else to outdo him at showmanship - and ultimately maybe at fighting.
But Trump doesn't need to physically fight anyone. Just to do all the other things that signal dominance. Trashing rivals, being loud and defiant, acting strong and laughing off attacks.
The idea that dominance depends on being logical or having good ideas is a very recent addition to human behavior and emotions, evolutionarily speaking. It is still a superficial notion, felt deeply only by the intelligentsia. The more that elections are decided by the lower half of the intellectual bell curve, the more our leadership contests will resemble those of chimps. Seriously.
I'm suddenly seeing Trump as a real contender, and I understand better how the weirdly screaming Hitler managed to excite the crowds.
Response 412 : 10973 Tom Parsons (madtom) Jul 23, 2015 18:14
That's what stopped me from seeing this before, [name removed]- *I* did not think of him as an alpha male because thinking and responding emotionally are so different. I *respond* to music on the radio, but I *think* about politics and decision-making. And I think badly of Trump based on the abstract symbolism and poor models of reality that he uses so badly. And that colors my response to him by discrediting his posturing and winner's style, making him look even more ludicrous for failing to understand what a clown he appears.
But if you don't (or can't) care about the validity or consistency of what he says, and see only that he's out there loudly defying and sneering at the top guys in the Republican Party, and not showing any harm from their comebacks, well . . . if you're as unhappy with the status quo as most of us are, including Tea Partiers, he looks like the new Numero Uno.
1/11/16, 11:04 AM
Shane W said...
The "neoconservitization" of the South, exemplified by the switch of the "Solid South" from Democrat to GOP, is possibly even more recent than the "redneckification". The benefit of the South is that it had a strong alternative culture to the mainstream industrial American culture of exponential growth that it can easily pick up, dust off, and modify once it tires of the New South of minimum wage factories, coal mines, and half hearted attempts to emulate other "progressive" regions. And we can confront head on the racist passages in I'll Take My Stand and the defense of segregation. The reality is that people of color make up a larger percentage of the population in the South than most anywhere in the country, and it probably has the highest rural population of people of color. Unlike other parts of the US, black people of the South are an indigenous part of the culture. Anyone who wants to roll back equality gains here must think long and hard about what that will do to society. I'm not sure what the other parts of the country will do when the US falls apart because they have no alternative culture to fall back on besides mainstream American industrial growth. Their culture is pretty weak IMHO, which is why they demonize Southern culture so much.
Tying in to this, regarding the PC/"social justice" patrol, we've locally descended to covering up "offensive" murals @ the state university and are discussing removing Breckinridge and Hunt Morgan statues at the local courthouse. What erasing the past has to do with any of the serious and meaningful problems bearing down on us escapes me.
Honestly, I don't know what relevance California, and, by extension, Nevada & Arizona, has on 21st century America other than as a source of poorly-adjusted climate change refugees. Climate change has pretty much written their death warrants. To me, the myth of California is one of a mirage/the phoenix--it quickly arose out of nothing to become the embodiment of American/Western pop culture and technology and looks set to just as quickly descend into chaos. I really don't know if it holds any more cultural relevance other than that of the phoenix/mirage.
1/11/16, 11:06 AM
1/11/16, 11:25 AM
Grid-tie solar is not up to par in my experience. I have had inverter, battery and switching issues yearly."
You hit a number of valid points but missed the root cause: the grid is a very hostile environment for electronics, and the rooftop under a PV panel is also a very hostile environment.
Keeping all of your alt-power equipment off the grid (and off the roof) is a good thing. Here’s an oldy-but-goody from one of the off-grid ‘gurus’ at HomePower magazine on inverters (Source: Solar 5, Midwest Renewable Energy Fair, Wisconsin, 1999). He reports testing portions of the US west coast grid and seeing massive brownouts, over-current spikes, and total harmonic distortion in excess of 22%.
I’m using off-grid inverters from Outback and charge controllers from Midnite Solar (made in US) and have spare parts on hand. I’m expecting at least 50 years of electricity from the PV and 15-25 years from the easily repairable inverter and charge controller. Falling back to DC remains an option should the need arise.
1/11/16, 11:25 AM
"The fact that 95% of pundits can't crack this code tells you everything you need to know about the circles of people they never encounter. "
I'm sure the insiders know very well how they have used these two - immigration and trade policies - to the detriment of the middle and lower classes. It's just that they don't want to acknowledge it publicly, and no pundit or newsperson is allowed to speak of it (or many other forbidden topics for that matter).
1/11/16, 11:58 AM
Shane W said...
One thing I would love to see once the US collapses into different countries is a total reevaluation of history from at least the Civil War onward. I'd love for the Lakelands, Confederacies, et al to teach that the Civil War marked the beginning of the end of the Republic and the beginning of the American Empire, and that the Civil War marked the beginning of Federal overreach and overextension. Of course, I know this will be popular in the Confederacy, but I think its popularity BEYOND the Confederacy is underestimated. Lakelanders, New Englanders, and other new Republics in areas that existed during the Civil War can pick up, dust off, and resuscitate the reputations of their own Copperheads and other opponents to Lincoln and the Civil War. Support for the Republicans and maintaining the Union was far from uniform outside the South, and I'm hopeful that new nations besides the Confederacy will see fit to reevaluate the mainstream story once the US comes apart and Union is no longer a reality.
Regarding crapification, I'm reminded of Soviet products teachers would bring to class in the 80s as an example of the poor workmanship and quality of Communist goods. The products of global capitalism today remind me of those goods, if not, worse.
Regarding social justice movements, JMG covered this in his posts on empire, which I think were incorporated into Decline & Fall, if I'm not mistaken. Basically, the efforts for equality are structurally limited by the system itself. The West, through industrialism based on the myth of progress, created an Empire and a wealth pump that enriched it at the expense of those on the other end of the wealth pump. By design, it was unequal, particularly regarding people of color both at home and abroad. The inequality was structural. Equality cannot come about via a political but by a structural solution. Any efforts this late in the game amount to halfhearted scraps. By the time racial equality ever arrives, the races as they're known now will have ceased to exist during what normally happens to racial distinctions during a dark age. While I'm heartened by the effort for GLBT equality and marriage, I'm also totally aware at how late in the game it came, and how little it matters regarding the decline and fall of industrial civilization. Coming this late in the game, for me, it doesn't change the fact that at its heart, Western industrial civilization is a very sex phobic, and, by extension, homophobic, civilization, as evidenced by its treatment of sexual minorities during the height of its power.
1/11/16, 12:28 PM
james albinson said...
1/11/16, 12:32 PM
If person has fused into traditions and narratives of his/her new country, skin colour is not important factor. But multiculturalism is a lie. Multiethnicity is possible, multiculturalism is not. There can be only one narrative ruling, or there shall be blood. There can be no competing laws ruling behavior of masses, and law code is only reflection of it's mother culture. Without homogenous culture, there is no rule of the law.
Time of secularism is over. Sunni revival of Arab world was the first instance when secular humanism and it's varied ideologies (socialism, capitalism, liberalism) were fought back and beaten into oblivion, then the same thing happened in areas culturally descending from Orthodox Christianity. Then old Sunni-Shia division line flared up for good. Twelver Shias and Fiver Shias, their theological opinions have direct impact on world politics. Now the wave of future, that is age of religion and unraveling of Enlightnement project, has come to old Catholic West, including it's rebellious offspring, Protestantism. Ways of the yore are here again. That's just the way it is.
Precession of the equinoxes grinds on, and night falls on Age of Reason.
1/11/16, 12:34 PM
" As for the US role in this, I can't refrain from looking with at least one eye at the red states and say: "You break it, you own it." I wonder if Europe could just put them into a container and ship many of them west. "
Wait a cotton pickin' minute. Do I understand you aright? I don't for a moment deny the incredible immorality of the US interference in the middle east, but it seems to me it is all about colonialism, and Europe isn't innocent. Why are France and others always right there with us? Look at the colonialism and neocolonialism in Africa, India and etc. throughout the past century.
1/11/16, 12:36 PM
Raymond Duckling said...
I have taken a look over the weekend, and I notice a significant climate shift from even back in November. Back then, any sentient soul that pointed out the obvious fact that the current economic arrangement of SV makes no sense unless you take buble dynamics into account could be fairly certainly shut down by an angry mob. Or perhaps - if his argument was particularly clearheaded - have her words twisted in meaning, turned into a strawman, and argued into oblivion. Now, within the discussion regarding Yahoo's implosion, the grey-beards are coming out of the closet and exchanging war stories on how this all begun like that back in 1999; that and a side serving of unrequested advice that would have been wonderful 12-18 months ago.
The audience is in full bargaining stage now: corporate drones claim that if your employer delivers actual goods and services to actual customers you will most likely be OK. The startup workers debate how if you are experienced you will land an - admittedly lower - position elsewhere and it is the newly grads who will be thrown to the wolves. The studends due to graduate this summer console themselves with the thouthg that some folk in the previous generation was able to weather the torm out in graduate school and are already eyeing subjects for a PhD dissertation.
This demographic is mostly employees and wannabe entreapreneurs. I suspect the actual IT insiders have been well positioned by the nearest exit for months, quietly moving as big a fraction of their assets out as fast as humanly possible without causing an stampede.
Me, let's just say I had the one discussion that matters - e.g. with the Wife - in November, and plans had already been set into motion by then. Seeing it unravel though leaves me with the impression that it might have been too little, too late. Not that it should be a surprise to any of the readership here.
1/11/16, 12:54 PM
Shane W said...
1/11/16, 12:57 PM
Adrian Ayres Fisher said...
Your website looks very interesting. Thanks for posting the link.
1/11/16, 1:03 PM
Shane W said...
you have no one else to thank but the US for setting the refugee crisis in motion, and Russia is about the only ones who could stabilize both the Middle East and Europe.
1/11/16, 2:34 PM
Cherokee Organics said...
They were good rants weren't they? :-)! Yes, it would be good to do that too wouldn't it? The resulting question and answer dialogue would be a whole lot of fun - whilst also being highly informative. Shame I won't get the chance. There was a slight chance of the opportunity to talk on national radio down here on this particular subject, but my gut feeling was that they were a bit scared about the actual message. It is an interesting feeling to know what it is like to be a hot potato!
Incidentally I salute yours and others efforts to bring this whole discussion off line onto a more sustainable and long term footing. ;-)!
The book finally turned up yesterday and I'm looking forward to reading it.
I suspect fracking will get another look in if the Saudi's decide to ignite their wells upon departure? Such an event will also accelerate global warming, no doubt about it. It isn't as if such a tactic hasn't been tried and tested previously?
The rant wasn't directed at you in particular, you are collateral damage. Sorry mate, it is very hard to have a stance against nuclear energy when you benefit from it personally. That sort of thinking is what destroyed the environmental movement. I know what the answer is; you’re just not going to like it.
Well, yeah, grid tied solar PV people are like gamblers in that they only ever talk about the wins. One winter’s day down here, the system generated only 0.375kWh for the entire day! That is when the argument circles back to the coal and nuclear question. It is complex no doubt about it.
Exactly, it is not a good look. From my perspective I haven't seen much in the way of price reductions for electricity despite all of the rhetoric. Incidentally, the Tasmanian situation between the drought and hydro and the damage to the Bass Link cable (which supplies power from Victoria across one of the roughest stretches of water on the planet) is quickly coming to a head. I read yesterday that the dams are down to 21% full and hydro is the primary source of power for the state. The farmers are screaming for that water too. I thought the hammer would fall here well before Tasmania, but your state is facing some tough decisions on electricity very shortly.
The book is Nikolai Tolstoy's "The Quest for Merlin" and I thoroughly recommend reading it. The author's enthusiasm is infectious.
1/11/16, 3:00 PM
Bill Pulliam said...
1/11/16, 3:40 PM
Here is a recent example of just how insane the post-modernist Left has become and here is another.
The Saker has a couple of really good articles about the attacks in Cologne on his website, one by a leading Russian political analyst and the other by the Saker himself. I still regard myself as an old fashioned conservative and an American patriot, but over last couple of years, I have definitely become one of those “pro-Russian conservatives” you were alluding to. Many of my friends on both the right and the left have also become very pro-Russian within the last few years.
The West really seems to be in free-fall, morally, spiritually, socially and culturally, while Russia has been rediscovering its heritage and its spiritual and cultural roots. I think Spengler was right when he predicted that the next great civilization and the next great world religious movement would come out of Russia and that Russia’s “Springtime” would not come until the Motherland shakes off Western ideologies that have been imposed on it, such as Marxism, liberalism and capitalism. I think we are beginning to see that process unfold before our very eyes. When Mother Russia truly awakens and begins to embrace its potential and its destiny, it’s going to be a world-changing event comparable to the rise of ancient Greece, Islam or Western civilization.
If European civilization is to have any hope of survival, it will be because a revived Russian Empire steps in to put things in order and fight off the Islamic Volkerwanderung flooding into Europe. I think your prediction that Europe’s destiny is to become a battleground between a revived Russkiy Mir and a revived Dar al-Islam was right on the money. Alexander Blok’s poem "The Scythians" was rather prescient, to say the least.
There was a headline that appeared in the Russian press that sums things up pretty well in my view:
“The West no longer has any balls or morality left, Russia still does. That’s why they hate us.”
1/11/16, 3:58 PM
There was a tiny (approx 2%) increase in the minimum wage, and social assistance and disability allowances haven't gone up at all, so you can imagine how this type of thing affects people on the lower end of the income spectrum. Especially in Toronto and Vancouver, where housing prices are still going up pretty rapidly. I see advertisements on the Vancouver Craigslist now not just for shared apartments but shared bedrooms... that bubble has got to end in tears at some point in the next few years. Expletive-deleted speculators. My entire family left the lower mainland years ago because it is so expensive.
I may have missed noticing quality decreases because a lot of the stuff I buy is second-hand anyway.
1/11/16, 4:23 PM
The other thing that always goes AWOL in these discussions is wider industrial energy use. The arguments are always focused on domestic use. Particularly in Australia - will we run zinc smelters or mining equipment on solar power? What about the 18-wheeled trucks that currently carry goods across a country the size of Europe? I think a solar-powered rail car could be an excellent thing, but no-one's building one.
1/11/16, 5:51 PM
Thanks for posting the link to that cover of 'Sounds of Silence'. that'a pretty much how I heard it badk in the 60's when it first came out. It was powerful then, it's powerful now...
1/11/16, 5:53 PM
Shane W said...
1/11/16, 7:51 PM
Great comments. I have nothing more to add to last week's posts, except a few observations: the same contempt for "rednecks" and Trump supporters and non-liberals that is driving the rise of Trump is visible in a large percentage of the comments here. Kind of ironic. I hate to break it to some of you: but not everyone finds modern, liberal "democracy" leavened by consumerism, individualism, multiculturalism and narcissism to be a system worth preserving or defending. The fact is that multiculturalism is deculturalism: it destroys the host culture, as well as the invading culture. Does China really need to be "enriched" by multiculturalism? How about Japan? Isn't it odd that the least diverse cultures are the most stable?
Anyway, expect liberals and SJWs to become increasingly strident and alarmed and frothing as the culture they have helped to undermine continues to unravel, with the help of peak oil and general decline.
1/11/16, 9:46 PM
You are of course right there. What I tried to get at is the brass tone, and often drastically reduced complexity of argument we got to hear when PNAC folks were discussing such things. Think "freedom fries".
I do agree with you. It is more a situation of the biggest bull in the used china shop (with a drunkard owner, perched on a precipice in a seismically active area). The distribution of fallout is still not exactly correlated to the degree of misbehavior, if you want to call it that.
We have much agreement there, but I tend not to see things as definite yet, at least regarding some of the aspects. On the other hand, it also depends on what "days of yore" means exactly.
Where we have some disagreement is that it is almost exclusively Muslims causing the trouble. Some of the 4.5M people coming to Germany from the East, especially in the early 90s, meant trouble too. However, many had very different legal status (jus sanguinis), skill (language), and family networks (not only in large cities), and similar looks to the autochthonous people. So things went differently. In my impression there was extremely little press coverage of the issues that were there. Partially because appealing narratives were more difficult to make here. Still in cities you'd hear of the Russian mafia on the streets, while in rural areas unassimilated Russlanddeutsche were a force to be reckoned with on many rural festivities. Later in the 90s there were the Yugoslav wars with about 50% of the refugees ending up in Germany (0.35M) vs e.g. UK with 0.02M. Those were the ones I personally had the most serious trouble with on an individual basis, and by word of mouth. But these people aren't visibly different to a large enough degree in everyday life that one could take the community in "Sippenhaft" for the crimes of a few. That is different with many Arabs and muslim women now. This being said, what I do miss is seeing some serious coordinated effort on the part of the already established and integrated migrant community to alleviate the strains (not saying it may not be happening in places). They ought to understand that it won't be for their benefit if things don't pan out right.
Oh, and another group where there is considerable trouble with integration (or assimilation in e.g. France) are the Romani. On top of that they don't appear to play by your rules and don't seem very homogeneous.
1/12/16, 4:20 AM
1/12/16, 6:24 AM
Hubertus Hauger said...
When I was young I had that insight too, but put it partly behind. While the last years that shows up to me with full gear. A shock that was. I had to cope with first. While all the developing perspective are a revelation to me. To you old chestnut, I know.
1/12/16, 7:28 AM
Mean Mr Mustard said...
Drone wars are coming...
Reminds me of a very obscure ground launched spiders web for defending high-value fixed sites.
Daresay it works on hideously expensive low flying jets too.
1/12/16, 9:28 AM
Robert Mathiesen said...
1/12/16, 11:13 AM
Now, if you put some of that cash into a PV solar power system, or other local upgrades (high-efficiency heating system, home insulation, etc.), they may have enduring value. But maybe not.
1/12/16, 12:10 PM
Shane W said...
1/12/16, 12:39 PM
"The "neoconservitization" of the South, exemplified by the switch of the "Solid South" from Democrat to GOP, is possibly even more recent than the "redneckification". "
I don't live in the old South, but its close cousin, Appalachia. About 15 years ago when Bush the Younger was running, I was talking to a local guy who runs a tire shop. He sadly mentioned that although he and all his family for generations had always voted democrat, he no longer could do so. He just thought the democrats had become too far away morally, supporting homosexuals and perhaps some other stuff, probably abortion. I thought about that, and it seems to me that certain topics, like those two, are being used to wedge people out of their normal demographic. It kind of leaves them in an impossible bind when the GOP plays the Christian card that way. Also, by having only 2 parties, which is not enough to represent this huge and nonhomogeneous country, it means that each party has to divide up the voting blocks even though it forces them to cast too wide a net. It's one reason our politicians are dishonest -- they have to pretend to represent a bunch of disparate groups. I don't think that most actual politicians feel all that strongly about those issues along exact party lines, but at times they have to pretend, or the more fanatical rise to the top. But somehow, I don't know if it is a nefarious plot or just Christian preachers looking to draw a crowd, but those topics are whipped up to a frenzy so that conservative Christians almost can't vote democrat.
I didn't understand your other post -- "Once the Black Lives Matter crowd wakes up to Mao's truth and adopts the Cowliphate's tactics, it will be a game changer."
Who are the cowliphate? The ranchers who held up the Fed building? You think blacks don't realize power comes from a gun?
1/12/16, 1:07 PM
1/12/16, 1:11 PM
Bill Pulliam said...
That is *my* prediction for 2016...
1/12/16, 1:23 PM
Bill Pulliam said...
These III%ers etc. are to me another instance of people (mostly middle aged and old men) trying to rush the future. State and Local control is coming, no matter what. The Federal government will shrink, no matter what. It does not have the resource base to continue existing in anything like its present form. But it will not be brought down by Goateed Guys in Cowboy Hats with Firearms. It will be brought down by macroeconomics.
We see every year in the US many examples of what a reversion to local control in the absence of a higher government looks like. It happens after every flood, tornado, hurricane, etc. in the first days. It is not based on goateed guys with guns. It is based on existing community networks, neighborhoods, churches, other service groups, local police and emergency responders, even the bars and apolitical motorcycle clubs (granted, many of whom do have goatees...). It is self-organizing without the need for agitators and outside influences. I expect the same process to play out on a grander scale and over a much longer time frame as we plod through the 21st Century. But I do NOT see its roots in the Bundys, or even the III%ers. More like the Food Bank and the Volunteer Fire Department.
1/12/16, 2:17 PM
Re the fantasy of running current day industrial transport (not electric bikes and small cars): About 3 years ago I spent a few hours during a hike here in NZ talking with a nice young couple from the USA who worked at Boeing. The girl worked some admin job and assured me that "they" were working on a solar powered commercial airplane. I went home and did the math using best efficiency data for current PV panels, batteries, and electric motors. The end result if I remember correctly was that just for steady flight at cruising altitude (NOT for take off and climbing which uses many times that energy) you would need wing area about 60-100 times that of a 747. This of course is a consequence of solar energy being diffuse compared concentrated sources like oil. So, IMHO solar trucks and trains which generate and carry their own power (not electrified rails or very long extension cords) are not feasible due to limited area available for the PV panels. Comments from engineers out there?
Lastly another plea/suggestion to those addicted to acronyms, please spell it out at least once in your post so the rest of us know what you're talking about.
1/12/16, 2:54 PM
Patricia Mathews said...
Blogger Robert Mathiesen said...
Others have probably already sent this to the ADR, but just in case they haven't, here it is:
****Well! That should bring one on, if nothing else does! Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy?***
1/12/16, 4:15 PM
Of course, most people don't have any desire to do this, myself included. I have some interesting relatives.
1/12/16, 7:34 PM
Shane W said...
I disagree about the power of the religious right. Their political power has already peaked and they're on the way down, even here in the South (I'm in KY, so am familiar w/Appalachia) I think the rise of Trump indicates that. Richard Land, of the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) and other prominent evangelicals have openly worried about Trump's evangelical fundamentalist bonafides on key religious right litmus tests, and it hasn't affected his polling numbers. So I don't think evangelical fundamentalism still carries the same political weight it once did, even in the South. Millennial and younger evangelicals are way more accepting of same sex marriage & GLBT people than their elders.
Well, no, I don't think that ethnic minorities realized that power comes from a barrel of a gun, since everything they've achieved has come through non-violent protest and petitioning the government, starting with the Emancipation Proclamation. In some ways, I think it would've been better if slavery had ended via violent slave rebellions, as it did in some countries. Possibly, if it had, the races would have long ago blended and mixed and we wouldn't have the legacy of segregation, and, barring that, communities of color would be more certain of their own inherent power and stronger than they are. It's not like they don't use violence (rioting, crimes), just that they don't use it effectively in an organized fashion to achieve political ends. I don't think that the doctrinaire commitment to political nonviolence starting w/Dr. King is helping them anymore.
1/12/16, 7:55 PM
Shane W said...
wow, just wow (shaking head), that has to rate up there with "let them eat cake". I don't know what to say, really, but that you've just embodied totally what JMG says about the tin ears of the elite. I don't know if you realize just how suspect your loud defense of the status quo comes across.
1/12/16, 8:02 PM
Ozark Chinquapin said...
As JMG has mentioned in the past, Ancient Greece featured a level or religious diversity more than even the most "multicultural" areas in the west, where each locality had local deities and practices that went with them, as well as the larger pantheon shared be the Greeks in general. China has a decent amount of cultural difference within its borders, and has had many religious movements over its long era of relative cohesion.
That doesn't mean that all diversity is good, increasing the numbers and representation of axe murderers doesn't work in any society. There's a lot of hypocrisy involved in the leftist advocacy for diversity and tolerance. It doesn't seem to me that the average leftist is any more tolerant overall than anyone else, it's just a tolerance for certain types of cultural diversity and an intolerance for others. Has anyone else noticed the irony of how US regions that lean left and supposedly want diversity and tolerance often tend to have more restrictive laws and regulations about how individuals can live their lives. The nanny state is in the most overdrive in liberal, supposedly tolerant areas.
The issue of Muslim immigration brings out that polarization even more, a simple question or observation can bring venom from many leftists without a real response. The vast majority of Muslim immigrants don't become violent jihadists, but it's also true that when compared with the US Vietnamese population, which also has plenty of reason to be angry with America but doesn't seem to produce many terrorists, a higher proportion of the Muslims do cause trouble. I've talked to several people from Thailand that say the southern part of that country, with a significant Muslim population, has higher tensions. By saying this, I don't mean to say I hate Muslims, if you're a Muslim and I meet you in person, I'll be just as willing to get to know you as anyone else. It does mean that I don't think it's unreasonable to question what negative effects mass migration of Muslims into the western world might have.
1/12/16, 8:08 PM
Ozark Chinquapin said...
What those who want cultural homogeneity in America have to face is that, besides the whole discussion of whether it would be desirable, the level of homogeneity found in a European nation (until recently) is simply not going to happen anytime soon, it won't ever happen on a national level because of sheer size, and even on a regional level it won't happen anytime soon. Europe has its own history of migrations but also has generally had significantly longer periods of relative culture continuity before the modern era than America has. Even if we reduced immigration to nil, we still have all the diversity the country has now. Perhaps in five hundred or a thousand years there will be nations in parts of what is now America that have that sort of homogeneity, when cultures have had centuries to develop after the coming collapse.
To all who want more homogeneity in American culture I ask, what would be your plan to pull that off? Restricting immigration is feasible and there are other good reasons for doing so as well, but that still leaves us with all the diversity of American citizens right now. Are you proposing to use force to silence all that are of the wrong culture or race? Do you know the history of what those sorts of attempts to "purify" a culture have led to? If you have cultural values that you believe are superior, why not just try to live them the best you can and set an example for others to follow if they see fit.
1/12/16, 8:09 PM
Bill Pulliam said...
1/12/16, 9:20 PM
Cherokee Organics said...
Enjoy your discussions for the entertainment that they actually are. The only people that believe in the abundance of the recurrent energy from nature are those that have never quite gotten around to testing their theories. ;-)!
Two words - good luck! Hehe!
The renewable energy community down here does not really think too highly of those Tesla power wall batteries. They don't store a huge amount of electricity and it isn't all immediately available. They are a thought stopper and need a whole lot of additional kit to be able to work correctly - from my understanding.
Oh, I don't even know where to begin with such foolishness. Solar panels are great, but what happens when the sun goes down and the moon comes up? My gut feeling is that plane goes down... They've had problems with lithium batteries in planes from my recollection - something about over charging them and those same batteries catching fire.
1/13/16, 2:21 AM
Patricia Mathews said...
1/13/16, 8:24 AM
I think more important, though, is the question of how any of it is relevant to the topic at hand. This is my take: The fact that people feel their *cultural identities* threatened by mass migrations is obviously going to be a factor in social changes we see going forward. But those identities are going to contract along with the economy, education, and technology. People's in-groups will get smaller and smaller, and fear and hostility toward out-groups will increase proportionately. In a nutshell, sensitivity to other people's needs and feelings (and abstractions like "social justice") wanes as the focus turns toward survival. Local strongmen will take advantage of such sentiments to advance their own power, further whipping up anti-Other sentiments ("vote for me and I'll protect you from them," "vote for me and I'll make us more powerful")--there will be blood, and when it flows we would do well to ask Cui bono? It seems a little ironic, when you think of how much bombast is invested in self-protective, Other-demonizing rhetoric, that ultimately the identities that are being defended today--nations, ethnic groups, political and interest groups--will not only be dissolved but indeed irrelevant in the not-terribly-distant future.
In other words, no amount of Donald Trumps can save "us" from "them" because in the long view, "they" are "us". Collapsing now to avoid the rush would, arguably, entail turning our focus toward protecting and supporting our immediate families and communities as opposed to worrying about, say, whether the "Americans" or "Europeans" of 2100 are a little darker-skinned, speak Spanish (or Arabic, or Turkish...), or have a greater proportion of Muslims. And if genetic purity really is important to you, then move to the Arctic circle or a mountain refugium where you can isolate yourself.
What do you know, I guess I have made a prediction after all, just not one that's specific to 2016.
1/13/16, 8:46 AM
Janet D said...
Um, are you sure you are actually reading the comments here? I think the vast majority of commenters here don't find modern "democracy" worth preserving and the comments over the years have reflected that regularly. Many of the commenters are quite conservative and JMG ensures things stay balanced.
Methinks you are displaying the hypersensitivity of some of those who claim to be on the Right - where either everyone agrees with you 100% 100% of the time, or they are some multicultural commie leftist.
1/13/16, 11:10 AM
What I find interesting and scary is these reports of harassment of family members of police and church ministers http://www.oregonlive.com/oregon-standoff/2016/01/residents_near_oregon_occupati.html#incart_big-photo
If these militants are tracking down local people's families, its a great reason to stay off of social media. I've never understood why people post pictures of their children regularly. No matter what your privacy settings, anyone can see it.
1/13/16, 11:13 AM
Janet D said...
You nailed it. I live a few hours from Mahleur & we know people there. The local populace is NOT happy and they do NOT support the Bundys. The Bundys are more like war lords than they are folk heroes. One of the local leaders there has talked about how they (meaning the state & the county) can not afford to have the federal gov't hand over more land....they need the federal funds for fighting wildfires, among other things.
Privatizing large amounts of Western land also limits hunters, fishermen, outdoor recreationalists & can greatly reduce tourism, one the main lifebloods of local economies for smaller western towns.
I agree as well that the fed will shrink more by handing more and more financial responsibilities to the states. And it ain't gonna be pretty.
A frustration I have with living in a inland Western rural-ish area has been my observation of the complete blindness some of my fellow community members have about their own dependence on the federal gov't. From Social Security to Medicare to maintaining dams (the only thing that allows modern life in the arid West) to farm subsidies to highway maintenance to prison support to Superfund monies, etc etc, the list of federal dollars flowing West is truly endless. All this support for the Tea Party is rather mind-boggling, given how many hands are stretched out for their share.
1/13/16, 11:20 AM
"Solar PV is really great stuff, it just doesn't make economic sense. None at all. Really. None. And I tell people over and over again that it costs me something like $0.85/kWh to be on off grid solar and power the house with 100% solar energy (no fossil fuel generators either). And that means living with only 3.5kWh/day energy for 3 weeks either side of the winter solstice."
Chris - you're absolutely right. I suspect, though, that the message that truth will send to most here will is along the lines of: "while some people like it, this PV garbage doesn't make economic sense, and therefore there is no way for renewable energy to power an industrial society." At least, that's what I think I'm seeing here, and have seen out in the 3D world, and that's unfortunate.
Fossil fuels only appear to make economic sense because none of the externalities are counted - there's no 'cost' associated with the damage done by mountaintop removal mining, or the emission of carbon, arsenic, uranium, or lead; and no costs associated with maintaining the resulting toxic ash waste or of trying to clean up after ash cascades into rivers. Adding insult to injury, those worshiping at the altar of EROEI too often don't realize that while the EROEI of PV (along with the lifecycle energy/materials analysis) begins with raw materials in the ground, the same isn't done for oil. "But wait," some might say, "you're wrong - they're both in the ground!" Yes, sorta. With PV and other alternatives, we're scooping up raw materials and cooking silicon cells. With oil we're basically digging up fully charged storage batteries that have been sitting there for millions of years. If we want to use oil as the standard by which to evaluate the EROEI of renewables, we should start with the plant matter that stored the solar energy.
Yes - 196,000 lbs (about 88900 Kg) of plant matter to make a gallon of gasoline. (Only human-applied sources of energy are used in an EROEI calc...EROEI calcs are biased towards fossil fuels from the start.)
Even if we ignore externalities (pollution, especially) and the fuel cycle that renewables don't have, PV and even ethanol has a higher "real" EROEI than even the $4/barrel crude still in the ground in Saudi Arabia.
TL;DR: Economics is broken, not renewables. Mother Nature doesn't care about economics.
Cherokee Organics said:
"...because I have never met another person in the flesh who has said to me: You know, I'm really worried about the future. I'm worried about the kind of future that my kids are going to inherit. I'm worried about the fact that my kids and their kids might hate my guts for destroying this beautiful planet and making the whole climate so unstable, that they're probably going to know what true hunger is. You know what, I think I might buy me some solar panels and put them on the roof and simply live with the energy that they provide me - and no more - because I'm genuinely worried about that future."
Chris - while still not "in the flesh", here's a handshake and man-hug ;) - My name's Andy - I bought PV and other gear to go off-grid because I'm genuinely worried about my present, and the future my 13 year old son is going to inherit. While he rolls his eyes fairly often today, he knows (not 'thinks' - knows!) that PV, passive solar, and solar thermal work, he's helped turn fermented sugar water into ethanol, and has helped grow vegetables.
Additional note - on the PV and building energy front... US buildings are some of the lease efficient on the planet - and not just by a small amount. Here's another example of what we can do if we choose: http://joshshouse.com.au/ Note the costs of construction, building comfort, and the condition of utility bills.
1/13/16, 12:34 PM
Shane W said...
methinks the lady doth protest too loudly... sheesh...
1/13/16, 1:18 PM
James Williams said...
1/13/16, 5:17 PM
Patricia Mathews said...
1) Kodak is talking about bringing back the Super* camera, film and all,presumably for the hipster-retro market.
2) Since Scotland and Wales have their own 'national' anthems, there is talk in England of picking a uniquely English one rather than the old "God Save the Queen"m which for everybody. Leading the pack is "Jerusalem." If ever there was an anthem for a post-industrial society, surely that one qualifies! OF course, you can always count on William Blake.
1/13/16, 7:01 PM
Bill Pulliam said...
I don't recall hurling any personal insults at you or anyone else here. Why are you hurling them at me?
1/13/16, 9:32 PM
A paean to the great god Progress.
1/14/16, 5:29 PM
Bennett Smith said...
Like many others, I appreciate your insight on the Trump phenomenon. What I find fascinating is the "wage class" hanging their hopes on him... he's not one of them. Never has been, never will be. Other than tapping into their confused rage by using speech, which, occasionally dips into shades of racism against the "other" (non-white populace) and rhetoric that can border on inciting imminent violence, what policies has he put forth that would ACTUALLY benefit their class as a whole? We would all find him more palatable if he came up with some strong ideas other than, "Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it." Which is so reductionist it makes my head hurt.
I believe this is where the derision towards their class comes from. Because other people, the "salary class" as you call them, see folks buy into a false narrative that rings so hollow it almost feels like a pitch to play the lottery.
Furthermore, I'm curious why you didn't address Sanders more fully... is he not attempting to tap into the same "wage class" rage?
2/2/16, 8:48 AM
Baba T said...
First time poster, been lurking for a week here. I live in India which is boiling in turmoil right now. I have been following developments in America with some interest, and also because the Indian economy is inextricably tied up with USA, so when good ole Murica bites the dust, we are going to really third world it up here. Also relevant to India were your tech bubble observations - I am seeing cases here where companies that have never made a profit are getting absurd valuations and funding from Blackstone, Sequouia etc. Businesses that make no econommic sense are being wilfully and happily set up and being lauded as "the great start up entreprenurial culture of India". These include among others - the food delivery business, the online retail business, the cab sharing service business which is wreaking havoc on the local transport service providers etc. I am unable to wrap my head around the fact that even if you don't see the prospects of a profit, you can still set up a company and call it an exciting new opportunity. Nothing about the economy makes sense anymore. So it is with relief and contentment oddly enough that I read your posts about the degrading environment, because that makes all the sense in the world.
No derivatives can obscure the fact that if you pump greenhouse gases into the air, its gonna get hot and disturb the natural ecological equilibrium optimum for supporting all kinds of diverse life on the planet, which coincidentally happens to be the only habitable one for many many lightyears around. Now that I can understand.
I just wanted to know though - are you absolutely sure that "they are going to come up with something" is not going to happen? Solar? Wind? Nuclear fission or fusion? Magical meteorites? Ocean thermal power? The Force?
More specifically could you point me towards research which can show that nuclear power is not going to replace the conventional sources of energy? Because there is a lot of hype and hoopla around those here, people are ready to believe anything. There is also talk of building a Artificial Super Intelligence that will be able to think of something because apparently it will be more intelligent than Einstein by a 1000 times.
Thanks man, your blog has really helped.
The T all the way around the globe from India.
2/21/16, 10:43 PM