Monday, July 20, 2020

Signaling Virtuous Victimhood

Assessing Situation,

  There is a process of abstract simplification in our primate brains. A thing we do that helps us multiply and prevail as a species is predictive-modeling of our world. Our models are never as complex as reality, but the better ones give us practical advice and direction as to acting today, to benefit ourselves in the future.
  Our cognitive models long for clarity-through-brevity, even if it's wrong. (Our target is slightly- wrong-but-useful.)
It's a setting we ALL come with, and to varying degrees, but it only works when it works, and when a lot of changes are happening at once, lots of interwoven complex processes, we can be more wrong than usual, just when it matters most for our survival.
  I posit that we are now in an epoch where more is changing at once than any of us can cognitively model, The global resources are running lower, and are more expensive to get. Economies are loaded with more parasitic debt, which is growing , while economies shrink, global heating, dying coral, plastic particles in oceans and our food, algal blooms, CIA/narco-terrorists have no boundaries as "American" dirty wars just keep growing as their own economy...
WE, in our relative remove and insulation, are having to face viral pandemic more personally than we are used to. 
  Viral pandemic is War-by-Fire, and whether the fire got out of Ft Detrick or Wuhan-IV lab, it is loose among us, up-close-and-personal. We are white-water-rafting through the rapids of history, and we do not know when the rapids smooth out.
We need to maintain immediate focus and paddle whatever direction at the bow that we need to avoid a big rock RIGHT NOW. 
  Our family did this in Thailand. It's a practice of immediate awareness in the moment.
In chaotic systems, the conditions at onset of chaos are one of the most important factors, and about all we can really consider in our simplified predictive models.
  A city where the service sector is already strained in business-as-usual, and that can't fund police, EMS, fire, trash, sewer, roads and pensions, is predicted to collapse in chaotic conditions. 
  That's the easy part. Picking your own best bet is much harder, because your human network is wherever you have been the last 20 years, and that is really important in chaos. We are wired to maintain our human network relationships. It's deep wiring. It informs the most fundamental form of human economy, "Gift economy".
  I've been seeking a safer homestead for the tumult since we traveled the world with bikes and backpacks 2005-2006. I wanted to protect my sons from the threat of a draft-resumption under Bush II.
I interviewed for a job in Christchurch NZ, as well as looking carefully at patterns of life, everywhere we went. Later I worked 4 times on the north tip of Hawaii (Big Island), and thought I had really gotten it figured out. I learned a lot about small community, where people work together and all have vegetable gardens. The local economy of cane plantations had a LOT of gift-economy in place.
  After the move there failed for clinic financial problems, and we moved back to Austin, I was determined to just start growing a kitchen-garden and fruit trees, wherever I was. That was summer 2013. It seems longer ago, when I say the year, 7 years ago.
  As I studied predictive climate change models, soil characteristics, ground water availability, population densities, land prices, and historical farming practices of a century ago, a few areas looked more likely prospects than others. The land in San Marcos was finally 3 times what we could afford, and went POOF! I had put a lot of planning into it, a lot of study, by then. 
  Nothing for a few months, then suddenly this place in Yoakum popped up with all the markings of fate. 
We were prepared. We jumped. We are working the project. 
  Jenny and I are still working in Austin, where we are known and appreciated in our workplaces, where we have social capital. We hope to build social capital in Yoakum, and we maintain social capital in our Texas family-relations, which are a bit more fluid than exact locations.
  I'm just saying that this is the path we are on as we enter this process of complex change. The complex societal and environmental reorganization is in the direction of less stuff, less energy, less hierarchy (unaffordable) and abrogation of the guarantees of the exhausted post WW-2 social contract.
  We are already all into the beginning of the white water rapids, but we also all have some agency, some ability to adjust direction, both immediately and knowing that we are in the rapids until further notice.

Charles Hugh Smith:  Welcome to the Crazed, Frantic Demise of Finance Capitalism
  The cognitive dissonance required to ignore the widening gap between the real economy and the fraud's basic machinery--speculation funded by "money" conjured out of thin air--has reached a level of denial that can only be termed psychotic.
  When scams start unraveling, the scammers become increasingly frantic to maintain the illusion of legitimacy and the delusion of guaranteed gains that are the lifeblood of every scam. One sure sign that the flim-flam is about to collapse is the manic rise of FOMO, fear of missing out, as the scammers jam the Ponzi scheme's stellar returns to new extremes...
  Unfortunately for everyone invested in the scam, all the "wealth" created by financial engineering / legalized fraud is fictitious, i.e. phantom. All Ponzi schemes collapse once the supply of greed-blinded marks dries up, and so the "solution" in our finance capitalism fraud is for the central bank, the Federal Reserve, to become the mark with an infinite checkbook: the Fed is busily conjuring "money" out of thin air to buy corporate junk bonds and other "assets" (ha-ha, as if these are actually worth anything--the joke's on you) to prop up the Ponzi scheme.
This works until it doesn't, of course.

 Help, I've fallen and I'm out-of-practice at crawling on the floor!
Why a Great Reset Based on Green Energy Isn’t Possible
, Gail Tverberg
The economy isn’t really like a computer that can be switched on and off; it is more comparable to a human body that is dead, once it is switched off...
​  ​Modelers of all kinds would like to think that there are no limits in this world. Actually, there are many limits. It is the fact that economies have to work around limits that leads to cycles such as these. Some examples of limits include inadequate arable land for a growing population, inability to fight off pathogens, and an energy supply that becomes excessively expensive to produce. Cycles can be expected to vary in steepness, both on the upside and the downside of the cycle.​..
​  ​Many people have been concerned that we might “run out” of oil. They expect that oil prices will rise to compensate for the shortages. Thus, many people believe that in order to maintain adequate supply, we should be concerned about supplementing fossil fuels with nuclear power and renewable energy.
​  ​If we examine oil prices (Figure 2), it is apparent that, at least recently, this is not the way oil prices actually behave. Since the spike in oil prices in 2008, the big problem has been prices that fall too low for oil producers. At prices well below $100 per barrel, development of many new oil fields is not economic.​..
 Prices were very low in 2015 and 2016 for both coal and oil. China stimulated its economy, and prices for both coal and oil were able to rise again in 2017 and 2018. By 2019, prices for both oil and coal were falling again. Figure 2 shows that in 2020, oil prices have fallen again, as a result of demand destruction caused by pandemic shutdowns. Coal prices have also fallen in 2020​...
 The low prices since mid-2008 seem to be leading to both peak crude oil and peak coal. Crude oil production started falling in 2019 and can be expected to continue falling in 2020. Coal extraction seems likely to start falling in 2020.​..​ investment in new oil wells is being reduced, and unprofitable coal mines are being closed.
​  ​Modelers missed the fact that fossil fuel extraction would disappear because of low prices, leaving nearly all reserves and other resources in the ground. Modelers instead assumed that renewables would always be an extension of a fossil fuel-powered system.​..
 Thus, modelers looking at Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI) for wind and for solar assumed that they would always be used inside of a fossil fuel powered system that could provide heavily subsidized balancing for their intermittent output. They made calculations as if intermittent electricity is equivalent to electricity that can be controlled to provide electricity when it is needed. Their calculations seemed to suggest that making wind and solar would be useful. The thing that was overlooked was that this was only possible within a system where other fuels would provide balancing at a very low cost.​..
 The low selling prices of commodities makes it impossible for employers to pay adequate wages to most of their workers. These low wages, in turn, feed through to the uprisings we have been seeing in the last couple of years​...
​  If electricity is only available when the sun is shining, or when the wind is blowing, industry cannot plan for its use. Its use ​​must be limited to applications where intermittency doesn’t matter, such as pumping water for animals to drink or desalinating water. No one would attempt to smelt metals with intermittent electricity because the metals would set at the wrong time, if the intermittent electricity suddenly disappeared. No one would power an elevator with intermittent electricity, because a person could easily be trapped between floors. Homeowners would not use electricity to power refrigerators, because, as likely as not, the food would spoil when electricity was off for long periods. Traffic signals would work sometimes, but not others.​..
​  Wind, solar, and hydroelectric today only comprise a little under 10% of the world’s energy supply.
We are deluding ourselves if we think we can get along on such a tiny total energy supply.​..
​  Few people understand how important energy supply is for giving humans control over other species and pathogens.​ [I personally expect malaria and other mosquito born illness​es​ to return to places like Houston.]
​  ​Control over other species and pathogens has been a multistage effort. In recent years, this effort has involved antibiotics, antivirals and vaccines. Pasteurization became an important technique in the 1800s.​..
 We do indeed appear to be headed for a Great Reset. There is little chance that Green Energy can play more than a small role...
​ It is true that some Green Energy devices may continue to operate for a time. But, as the world economy continues to head downhill, it will be increasingly difficult to make new renewable devices and to repair existing systems. Wholesale electricity prices can be expected to stay very low...  
​...​we can expect more revolutions and wars at this stage in the cycle. At least part of this unrest will be related to low commodity prices and low wages. Globalization will tend to disappear. Keeping transmission lines repaired will become an increasing problem, as will many other tasks associated with keeping energy supplies available. 

 Oh, this is useful information!
Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Manipulators Are More Likely To Engage in 'Virtuous Victim Signaling,' Says Study

​Communication through manipulation of symbols. (I need to learn more about William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt)
​  ​The official portraits of former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were removed from the Grand Foyer of the White House within the last week, aides told CNN, and replaced by those of two Republican presidents who served more than a century ago...
 The portrait of former President Barack Obama is not expected to be unveiled for a formal ceremony during Trump's first term, a sign of the bitter relationship between the 44th and 45th presidents. Trump has accused Obama of unsubstantiated and unspecified crimes, and has questioned whether Obama was born in the US for years...
Trump has -- less frequently -- similarly disparaged Bush and Clinton. In his book, former Trump national security adviser John Bolton wrote Trump "despised" both Bush presidents, and people familiar with the conversations say Trump has lambasted George W. Bush as "stupid." Trump has similarly castigated Clinton, the husband of his 2016 presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, and suggested he was a bad president...
  The Bush portrait has been replaced by that of William McKinley, the nation's 25th president, who was assassinated in 1901, and the Clinton portrait has been replaced by one of Theodore Roosevelt, who succeeded McKinley​.​ 
(Trump finds kinship. Who were their enemies?)

​William McKinley was the last US president to fight in the Civil War, and was reluctant to go to war with Spain (but did). McKinley was assassinated early in his second term, a lone working-class, anti-imperialist, assassin with a hidden pistol.
As a longtime champion of protective tariffs, the Republican McKinley ran on a platform of promoting American prosperity.

Theodore Roosevelt unexpectedly became the 26th president of the United States in September 1901 after the assassination of William McKinley. Young and physically robust, he brought a new energy to the White House, and won a second term on his own merits in 1904. Roosevelt, a Republican, confronted the bitter struggle between management and labor head-on and became known as the great “trust buster” for his strenuous efforts to break up industrial combinations under the Sherman Antitrust Act.  

​Google is forced by circumstances to tighten up on though-policing through defunding. What's the world coming to?
Google Will Ban Ads On Sites Publishing "Debunked" Coronavirus Theories

The problem with antibody testing to determine presence of, or loss of immunity to coronavirus, is that the main immune response resides in immunologic memory cells, which hold the key to attacking invaders the next time they enter your body, but keep a low profile until that happens. It might well be better than we hear, but we won't know until we are challenged with virus.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons says:
​ ​ Stunning positive news on hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) was released in early July, potentially opening up medical freedom at the time of America’s celebration of our Declaration of Independence from British tyranny 244 years ago.
​  ​During the first six days of July, SIX positive clinical studies of HCQ were released:
​​three from the United States (one from Michigan at Henry Ford Health System, and two from New York state, including one primary care outpatient study by Dr. Vladimir Zelenko
three from other countries (Portugal, India, and Brazil).
All six studies showed that HCQ given early in COVID-19, alone or with zinc and azithromycin, reduces hospitalizations and deaths, with no serious heart or other adverse events.

​Seeing Opportunity​

(Pictured yesterday morning with Buddha in Austin garden)


  1. "I posit that we are now in an epoch where more is changing at once than any of us can cognitively model"

    All I know is to aim for the heart of the collision.

    1. Robin said, "All I know is to aim for the heart of the collision".

      Please expound, Sir!

  2. Standard State trooper wisdom regarding best "evasive action" when an accident happens in front of you. Concept being that by the time you arrive at ther center of the collision, the reactions to the collision will have pushed the vehicles away from the (now former) center.

    IN practical terms regarding human civilization at this impasse, it roughly means expect the worst but do your best. (Hope for whatever best motivates you, I reckon.)

    I no longer own property but when I did, I did simple things like scorounge all the organic/mineral fertilizer makings that I could. We were poor and struggling but I aimed for the heart of the collision, which seemed to me needing soil, seed, water, sun, and fertilizer.

    If we'd stayed there, I would be the fertilizer king around the time people realized they can't feed themselves but bagged potting soil. This is an example of 'collision heart' thinking combined with 'doing the least for maximum return'.

    THat sort of thinking. Regarding institutions, it translates into 'don't expect there to be insititutions for awhile except bad ones'.

  3. Typo city! I was groggy from a nap.

    1. That seems like the kind of advice that I give myself to "dive into the wave", rather than be caught trying to flee. It's allegorical, and may speak to surviving by immediately countering fear with the antidote of action.
      Anyway, maybe I get it. I think I do.
      I'm feverishly tryng to invest in a future where I'll need to meet my basic needs, and those of family, in a world where I expect people to steal things they need at gunpoint. History says that wheat and corn get taken, but nobody digs up potatoes to run off with.
      I don't like digging potatoes from clay soil, and you need something like a cash-crop to trade, so avocado trees are it. I'm pushing the climate envelope a bit in Yoakum, but with Mexican avocados, which don't ship well, due to soft skins. I could double the amount of vegetable garden, too, but I would not be able to keep up with it unless I lived there full time. Then I'd grow chickens, too. There are hawks and coons. That would be a challenge.

  4. Being landless and physically rather frail, I focus on enjoying the Atlantean cornucopia while it's around, and being useful to younger people in encouraging and hopefully wise ways. Invest in a lot of chicken wire, says I.

    Also: distilling. People will want vinegar and essential oils. A small medeival chemistry lab/factory inside a garage is something a fellow can protect from thieves easier than an open field of crops.

    Yeah, dive into the wave.

    1. Thanks for maintaining engagement, Robin.
      My epiphany back in the 1970s was that stuff did not get stolen based upon value to the owner, but more on what it would sell for in a pawn shop. Sometimes things are just stolen on a whim, too. Mainly little things that catch the eye.
      My endeavor in growing food is that it be right out in the open, producing for regular harvest, but not quick or easy to run away with, like what gangs and armies want.
      That's why armies would traditionally, in Europe, take the grain, but leave the potatoes in the ground. Potatoes are a lot of work to dig, and heavy/bulky for an army to carry as food. Armies and thieves need concentrated calories. I admit I grow beans and black eyed peas. I also have a few big bags of rice. I would keep things like that, and if it gets stolen at gunpoint, maybe we;d be able to live awhile, anyway.

  5. James C Scott in his books, against the grain and The Art of not Being Governed goes into various schemes used by south east Asian hill tribes to avoid taxation by the State, root crops being one of them. Grain crops were to the State what petroleum is to the State nowadays. Got petroleun, get invaded. Any crop which ripens at a predictable time is a liability for the farmer. Anyway, James C Scott is good reading, entertaining, and if you have any false notions that the state is your friend, his books give lots of counter examples.

  6. Speaking of distilled spirits, I used to play with that craft back in high school. Later got a degree in chemistry but never did anything with it. Living in corn country now. Maybe time to get back into distilled spirits. Not much interest in whiskey locally, but at the time blue agave is in fashion. In the last year agave has doubled. Big demand for Tequila in the US. And then there's poppies. Used to have a plot in the Milwaukee county community gardens. I personally favored chiles, but some of the older Hmong ladies would have some poppies growing. Home remedy for aches and pains. Lots of opportunities out there.
    And dr. John, you got an occupation that will always be in demand. Not to worry.

    1. Thanks for the useful information, Wolfgang. Hmong women growing poppies as home remedy...
      Will wonders never cease? :-)
      I hope to remain employed, but I currently get pid to take care of poor people. My career is a historical anomaly. Also, People's Community Clinic (began as The PEople's Free Clinic in 1970) is tied up in the tightening web of medical compliance, being a "Federally Qualified Health Center" these days. A fondness remains for the original mission. I'm especially fond of the original mission,myself. No American doctor can practice outside the vast electronic compliance network today. Impossible.

  7. fwiw, my motto in such matters is this: No point in having guns if you don't have somethiong worth stealing... unless one intends to become a brigand.

    That said, there isd a period in collapse when people destroy and steal just for the desperate emotional satisfaction of expressing their outraged insanity... like when the pawn shops close and they have to figure out what to do with STUFF rather than who will pay them money so they can but STUFF. It's a funny paradox but there it is.

    Lions raised in cages ain't much good at hunting if released into the wild.

    1. Thanks Robin,
      I've given it a lot of thought on bike rides, down to the specifics of killing and being killed, vs being unarmed. There are just so many ways for a situation to jump to the endgame once both sides show guns, or one shows and the other holds and strikes quickly.
      Brandishing/advertising firearms is such a big risk to everybody involved. Those lawyers who threatened the BLM trespassers on their property have become a national battle themselves. That worked out to where nobody got shot.
      There's Karma to killing another sentient-being, too. I suppose there is karma to preventing the murder of innocents, also, and that is popularly presented as justification for an armed citizen killing a gunman on a rampage. I'm not sure, because I wasn't there, in any of those incidents. If I had been there, I would not have been carrying. What would I have done in those moments?
      I try to envision ways to be worth marginally more alive than dead, but desperados are desperados, and they egg each other on in gangs. We see images of that in cities, but I know it to happen to isolated homesteads in the country, too. Small towns might be the safer sweet spot. I'm speculating...

  8. "Brandishing/advertising firearms is such a big risk to everybody involved."

    Absolutely. But come a certain point, it's guns or give up. I think that point in history is rather swiftly passed through, it being too deadly a disease for the remaining populace to withstand for long.

    But there tends to come a point when the crowd goes insanely apeshit and karma is just so much dust in their whirlwind as you shoot to protect the only solid seed stash in the region that you know of... etc.

    Life in all forms is based on life taking life. Any investment in the living requires creation of the dead.

    But the lasting strength is in courageous leadership that attracts loyal moral adherents. Guns, if nothing else, are a quick short reliable form of euthanasia/suicide if the gangs breach your perimeter and seem bent on being evil. (Had a friend in high school whose Armenian grandfather survived the Armenian massacre during WWII. He and his sons were down to the last bullets, getting ready to shoot their own before themselves, when the cavalry arrived and the Turks retreated.)

    I can kill or break joints with impunity. Fuck someone who thinks they have the right to physically assault me even slightly. Karma is the air we share. My body is what I use to reside amid the shared karma. Inside my body, there is no karma... except in how I treat myself. (I've abused my body horribly.) My internal karma is no one's business but mine, and anyone who physically interferes with mine or an innocent in my responsible vicinity, has abandoned all relationship with my karma.

    But when it comes to violent threat, that's dicey ground. Kill or be killed is my motto, otherwise, leave it be. We wish to frighten others into submitting to our wish not to be violated (we call it deterrence), but that is terrorism, and twerrorism is almost as bad as universal currency.

    Another way of looking at it, the strategic view, is: Never let 'em see you coming. Even when they're coming for you. Guns should be drawn, aimded, and fired, says me. If it's serious enough to draw weapon, it's serious enough to plug a hole in someone's forebrain.

    I look to churches. Not as they are now, mostly foolish "Xtian lifestyle" club houses, but as they can be when things get tough: sources of uncommon mutual trust via shared magical thinking, which mode of thought grows in hard times as much or more than ruthlessness.

  9. "Karma is the air we share. My body is what I use to reside amid the shared karma. Inside my body, there is no karma... except in how I treat myself. (I've abused my body horribly.) My internal karma is no one's business but mine, and anyone who physically interferes with mine or an innocent in my responsible vicinity, has abandoned all relationship with my karma."

    Also, essentially, my pro-choice argument. ALong with the fact that once abortion can be legislated against it can also be legislated for.

  10. The point I made about brandishing/advertising firearms being dangerous was low-hanging-fruit, which states the obvious. It's in the news today that the lady lawyer brandishing a 9mm handgun at BLM interlopers-on-her-domain was bluffing. It was a dummy gun and she played a dummy hand.
    You have a more logical stance, to have them and be actually prepared to use them in the moment of need. I was raised using firearms. Dad took me to the rifle range every Tuesday night, and I have the hearing to prove it. "You're a right handed rifle shooter" was my audiometry report.
    I have not cracked a breech since around 1981, but I presume that I could.
    Well, I lack the means.
    "Karma is habits", say some teachers. But we use it as divine-cause-and-effect. "As you sow, so shall you reap"
    The last fight I got into was in college, as I rode my bike home from school. Some asshole got on my tail and rode the horn. I stopped in the street and gave the salute. A guy got out (passenger side) and shoved me off my bike. As I appeared to be catching my balance, I was actually building into the quick punch that opened his upper lip into blood. He was bigger, but I knew how. He dived into me, and I headlocked him on the ground, above me, bleeding onto my shirt. I still remember the shirt. He was stuck. A nice old man came by and slyly berated him for being on me. "You get up off him, now". I was impressed at the diplomacy. He got up.
    I saw the actual driver, standing by the vehicle, a pregnant woman.
    I felt all sick for beating up the poor bastard, who just felt like he had to defend the pregnant woman. I still feel sick about it. It was her fault, for whatever turmoil she was going through that day.
    A big misunderstanding. My last fight. I've felt like it almost every time somebody almost hits me in traffic, which is pretty often. Now I do mental practices to forgive them. They did not mean to harm me (usually). The ones that pull a vehicular power play and drive away are just gone, but take longer for me to release.
    The fools that mess with me all stand down these days, when I am in front of them. Maybe I'll get run over, but they're clearly all afraid to fight.
    I just wasn't born that way, and I grew up on USMC and Navy bases. Violent warrior society I matured from.
    "The child is father to the man", they say. Wazzat sposta' mean?