A Creeping Sense of Futility …

There is a point in your life when you wake up in the morning and realize you have become a cliché …

End is near 1

‘The End is Near’, David Sipress (The Phoenix) … when you realize it is impossible for anyone to take you seriously. You are beating your head against the wall, others laugh at you or they hate you because you are exposed and an easy ‘hate target’. You cannot accomplish anything, you are a boat beating against the current … borne back ceaselessly into ridicule, you are spitting into the wind, up a creek without a paddle, betting the wrong horse. Think of the others who have been pounding that same wall for decades … Nothing changes … the speculators always win, you are a muppet.

Dow Reaches 15,000 as Jobs Growth Exceeds Forecasts!

Inyoung Hwang – Lu Wang – May 3, 2013 (Bloomberg)!

U.S. stocks rose, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 15,000 for the first time, as employment picked up more than forecast in April and the jobless rate unexpectedly declined to a four-year low!

So much for any crash, Happy Days are Here Again! White is the ‘New Black’: unemployment decreases because citizens conveniently stop looking for work. Ex-workers are removed from the unemployment relief rolls … they are then deemed to have ‘left the labor force’ or have retired. Being unemployed in this fashion is counted the same as being employed … That this is a fraud doesn’t matter: the unemployment number goes down for whatever reason, the stock market number goes up. This latter is the only number in America that matters. Indeed, we all live for the right number: Tigers 7, Astros 3 … Yay, Tigers! Because Americans live vicarious, derivative lives, the victory of the Tigers is our victory. When the Tigers lose we all die a little inside.

flipping 1

We should feel good about ourselves because some house flippers in California, Florida and Arizona have been brought back from the dead like vampires. This is courtesy of trillion$ in Federal government subsidies, central bank- crammed down interest rates and easy to obtain low-doc and no-doc guaranteed mortgages. Even beaten-down Detroiters have been able to garner a (small) piece of the house-flipping action. Clearly the animal spirit of unearned success and boundless avarice has refused to flicker out in the Motor City: (from Realtytrac).

It doesn’t matter that college graduates are unable to find work in their chosen fields or that 48 million of our countrymen require government assistance in order to afford to eat … it is the success of gamblers in different finance casinos, to whom everything- and everyone else is sacrificed.

USA gasoline 050113

Figure 1: US gasoline sales volume declines to levels not seen ten years ago (Energy Information Agency). National Public Radio says the reason is because we are buying expensive new cars, instead of being too broke to buy gas.

Howard Gruenspecht, the EIA’s acting administrator says there are many reasons for the declining demand for gasoline. They include government mandates for the use of biofuels, like ethanol; and some demographic changes -— for instance, the graying of America (older people tend to drive less). The main factor, though, is the increasing efficiency of new cars and trucks.

Rebecca Lindland, director of research for IHS Automotive, says 27 percent of the new vehicles sold in 2011 were smaller, lighter, car-based versions of the SUV, called ‘crossovers.’ “Those tend to get significantly better fuel economy than our traditional truck-based SUVs that used to account for 20 percent of all the vehicles we bought,” she says.

How the addition of fewer than ten million new vehicles with slightly better than mediocre gas mileage within a three-year period can effect the overall consumption of a 255 million vehicle fleet is not explained by NPR or the EIA. Keep in mind that the vehicles the new crossovers replace are not the ‘traditional truck-based SUVs’ … these remain in service as ‘used cars’ with new owners. Rather, crossovers replace the much older vehicles that are wrecked or retired from service. A percentage of these retirees were very small cars that happened to get much better mileage than any of the newer vehicles. Of course, this does not matter … what is important is (blind) faith in progress working properly and (unjustified) business confidence.

I am for sale! Pay me a lot of money and I will rationalize promote anything, no matter how monstrous.


Selling out is so easy: ex-hippie Stewart Brand pimps ‘squatter cities’ along with nuclear reactors: prosperity is on the march, resistance is futile! It is a far, far better thing to ask, “Where’s mine?” than to criticize. The critic becomes nothing more than another brick in the Wall of Worry that the hard-nosed American Business Man must climb over in order to ‘innovate’ (MIT-Sloan).

As the expression goes, stocks are climbing a wall of worry. And by our estimates, despite economic malaise, the stock market hasn’t peaked, and we’re still on the way up. Here are some reasons why:

– The market largely reacts early in the cycle (and just remember: We are largely no higher than we were at the 2000 peak);

– We’re stimulating the market fiscally with low interest rates for some time to come;

– Businesses have cleaned up their balance sheets after the financial crisis and are now liquid (in fact many are sitting on huge cash reserves); and

– Companies are finding ways to achieve higher earnings despite a difficult political and regulatory environment.

Don’t fight the Fed. Dow 46,000! It’s never too late to jump in! Interestingly, MIT-Sloan does not mention slums as a means to prosperity, nor do they mention reactors, they must have made a spreadsheet error.

Every day the economy doesn’t collapse under its own weight is a day the ‘Nay-Sayers’ die a little inside.


The world’s ‘Progress Economies’ have so far swallowed management outrages such as the depositor theft in Cyprus and the repeated bailouts of the Giant Banks by pensioners and others. Consequences have so far been iffy. There have been no market crashes or runs out of the banks, no additional reactor meltdowns or cities drowned by climate change, no bubbles are reverting to mean, no insurrections or violent government overthrows. The children have vanished into their parents’ basements and X-boxes. Occupy and similar social movements have enjoyed their fifteen-seconds of fame and have retreated into well-deserved obscurity; there are no replacements lurking over the horizon. The liberalizing impulses that once flared across the Middle East and North Africa have faded into power-politics-as-usual in places where open warfare has not broken out. Without consequences more outrages are certain to come. This state of affairs will remain in force as long as the promise of material plenty tomorrow remains more credible than the promise of it all unraveling.

“Poverty is therefore a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilization. It is the lot of man — it is the source of wealth since without poverty there would be no labour, and without labour there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth — inasmuch as without a large proportion of poverty surplus labour could never be rendered productive in procuring either the conveniences or luxuries of life.”

            — Patrick Colquhoun

A single person gains from the losses and efforts of the multitude; modernity offers the Invisible Thumb permanently on the balance of human affairs … as well as a collection of ‘seriously good reasons’ why this should always remain so.

” — Historian Niall Ferguson says he was “doubly stupid” for suggesting British economist John Maynard Keynes did not care about the future because he was gay.

Ferguson — Laurence Tisch professor of history at Harvard University and author of a number of historical works, including a history of money — made the remark in response to a question at an Altegris Strategic Investment Conference in Carlsbad, Calif., The Boston Globe reported.

He had been asked about one of Keynes’ most famous remarks talking about long-run investment strategies: “In the long run, we are all dead.”

Ferguson responded that Keynes, presumed to be a homosexual, did not have children and was therefore presumably not interested in the “long run” effects of the economic policies he advocated.

What comes after cliché? The Void: there is little incentive for the establishment to buy from the cliché what can be had for free everywhere else. Clichés are not dangerous. First they ignore you, then they fight you … then they go back to ignoring you some more! The establishment doesn’t have to out-perform clichés, it has only to frame every element in every discussion in terms that serve its own — extremely short term — interests: clichés are part of the frame.

The only alternative the establishment offers to individuals at this moment is to be a victim — that is, to be ‘surplus labour’ or a market fool. Far better to cliché oneself out of the line of fire … the system is too gigantic, reflexive and insensitive. It is too committed to the status quo to accept- or even understand directions that do not continually reinforce the same status quo. Resistance is futile, indeed!

Opting out is not just an expedient to avoid pesky non-linearities, it is a sea-change, a fundamental and voluntary realignment of interests away from the cannibalistic regime. By doing so the individual short-sells the status quo, at the same time he- or she fleshes out a marketplace where such short sales become meaningful … where a marketplace currently exists only in outline.

Keep in mind, the establishment itself is nothing more than an abstract idea, it is not a concrete ‘thing’. It is not formidable even though it puffs itself up in order to appear to be so … our business- and management enterprises are suicidal, they devour themselves and do so faster whenever the chance appears. Carried along with the idea are all the mechanical wind-up ‘things’ that the idea brings into being … however, every element or increment is dependent upon all of the other elements functioning predictably and providing necessary subsidies. The establishment is a very long chain masquerading as a four-dimensional lattice. This chain has no substance, only shared prejudices and fantasies. The concrete ‘things’ are fetishes, they cannot pay for themselves. As has been seen throughout our period of crisis, individuals are the unwitting bankers to the never-finished enterprises that once-upon-a-time made up modernity and that now make up its demise. Without the deluded citizen eagerly and greedily playing along there is nothing but a shell; what remains are empty promises, junk and circus tricks.

Even if the industrialists are able to make good on some of their fantasies such as pocket-sized nuclear reactors, by opting out, you will escape becoming the subsidy-of-last-resort for them. Let those who offer fantasies as ‘goods’ pay for them out of their own pockets, and not borrow then demand for others to retire the resulting debts.

Strategies are:

– Get simple. The establishment is complexity made material: the system’s response to complexity’s shortcomings is to add to it. Becoming independent from- or less dependent upon interconnected engineered systems is a way to avoid others’ costs.

– Get Small! Ditch the growth idea starting at home. Size = vulnerability, giant size = collapse. Steve’s First Law of Economics: The costs of managing any surplus increase along with it to the point where costs ultimately exceed the worth of the surplus itself.

– Get Free. Pay off debts and flee from the Giant Banks! Stay out of the casino(s): hold onto your money and starve the tycoons: holding increases money’s worth at the same time the rich are denied access to it. They are unable to repay their own monstrous debts and are thereby ruined.

– Get close to food! Grow some yourself, patronize farmers’ markets or start one. Most communities in the United States are nowhere near able to feed themselves … even in rural areas! Industrial mono-agriculture produces ‘crops’ which are not human food. At the fringes, growing human food is making a comeback with real invention and perseverance on the part of a growing percentage of farmers. The ‘wild card’? Climate change …

– Get real! Disconnect from the mediastream: throw away the television, cancel the NetFlix subscription, use a real telephone and ditch the smartphone and its endless ‘connectivity’. What comes your way is advertising.

– Get creative. The establishment is a naked emperor. Make fun of it, tweak it, laugh at it, annoy it, make it bleed money defending its precious ‘prestige’. The use of screen-printing is encouraged.

– Get rid of the car. If you have two, sell one of them. If you have a big one, get a smaller one. If you can, become car free and enjoy life.

– Learn a skill or trade even if it seems silly. For example, learning how to sew or make hats — and buying the necessary tools — appears dumb where clothing can be had for a few dollars at a store. Learning a practical skill is an investment in yourself. The market for such things is always there, perhaps bubbling under the surface. Everyone on Planet Earth wears clothing. The current regime of cheap goods from China and elsewhere is not guaranteed over the longer term.

– Find a place to live where you are comfortable: that is, a place that has friendly people and is appealing; that is not overly expensive, dangerous, contaminated, decrepit or badly managed.

– Learn how to entertain yourself … and others. Draw, write, paint, fiddle, sing, act … garden, volunteer, carpenter, become a fire fighter, feed the hungry and destitute, become politically active … once removed from the mediastream the time must be filled with something else. Make hooked rugs.

– Be flexible. Non-linear = unpredictable. Learn to avoid rigid, doctrinaire approaches … to everything.

– Think toward nature’s parsimonious ‘economy of needs’. These are simple: food and water, clothing, shelter along with delight – love, sex and a stimulating and beautiful environment. Compare this to the industrial regime of robots and furnaces; capital consumption, waste, and profits … of material excess alongside the artificial scarcity of abstract ‘money’; of toxic contamination, greed and violence and their tyranny over all things and the extinguishing of life itself.

Over the course of hundreds of millions of years … nature has learned how to provide sustenance to our planet’s inhabitants within the boundaries of what is freely available in the form of material resources along with energy from the sun and from within the Earth. We refuse to learn, we insist there are better, more expedient ways conceived over the past fifteen-minutes, ways that ignore everything that has gone before. The river does not borrow money in order to flow. The tree does not need a permit or plan to grow; the bird flies as it will when it feels the urge to do so.

Nature builds without furnaces or plans, without debts or money, without pointless destruction. To change, we must become more like nature and less like our precious selves. Time to do so is running short: the End is Near.

81 thoughts on “A Creeping Sense of Futility …

  1. Phlogiston Água de Beber

    That’s a mighty powerful sermon Reverend Ludlum. I especially appreciate the linking of the establishment to the Borg. I quite recently discovered it myself and have labeled them the paleo Borg.

    Lacking the technology to implement a subspace channel for mind multicasting, they are limited to “shared assumptions and beliefs” to keep their hive on the same page. I don’t see the point in denigrating that. It seems to work pretty well.

    We could say it’s too early to tell if “resistance is futile”, but given the lack of shared assumptions and beliefs (or a subspace mind melder) among the unassimilated it is certainly the mother of all uphill battles. Of course, we can’t rule out the possibility that one of their bioengineering firms might accidentally produce a self-cloning version of Species 8472, which would be an own goal. Actually, I have a suspicion that they have already unleashed a quite inferior, but still very dangerous group of naturally selected carbon based units. They show a strong attraction to places where futility of resistance is insufficiently understood. Should these carbon based killers ever figure out how they are being played, the paleo Borg might well have something palpable to fear.

    When considering The End, we could try to take some comfort from the knowledge that it precludes any possibility of their techno-enhanced descendants terrorizing the entire Galaxy in space vessels constructed from salvaged office furnishings.

  2. jb

    Stewart Brand @ 6:44: “the poverty trap and ecological disaster of subsistence farms”

    Hey Stewart; you mean subsistence as in:

    Definition 1a: real being : existence; 1b: the condition of remaining in existence

    Definition 2: means of subsisting:
    2a: the minimum (as of food and shelter) necessary to support life, or
    2b:a source or means of obtaining the necessities of life

    So we’ll just keep externalizing the ecological and societal costs to build those roads, bridges, electrical poles, high voltage lines, nuclear plants, etc.? And squatter poverty is somehow better than rural poverty by your definition? And those bio-char making natives were what exactly?

    What a sick joke.

    Steve, thanks for the list of strategies.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      Brand’s anti-traditional agriculture argument is a straw-man and false. Brand lumps all forms of traditional agriculture together and compares them to … nothing in particular.

      – Traditional agriculture can also be called/considered small-plot agriculture. Farms are generally the size that can be tilled by hand or with a draft animal; less than 10 hectare. Larger plots require tilling and harvesting by machine and generally the use of pesticides. This kind of farming is called ‘conventional’ and is practiced in the United States, Canada and in other countries where there is access to fuel supplies. Some large farms in the US are 8,000 hectares or more … much like the old Soviet ‘state farms’.

      – Brand does not compare traditional to conventional farming but compares traditional to living in a slum. He mis-characterizes the agricultural effort by implication: the slums are terrible yet farmers migrate to them, therefore traditional agriculture must be worse.

      – Rural population expansion leaves many young people with no access to land to farm: too many farmers not enough farms. Generally, the eldest son takes over the family farm while the other children leave to work in the towns or go to school. Some of these emigrate to the West or they become criminals, others make their way to the slums. Young girls are married off. Smarter farmers consolidate small allotments into larger farms which leaves ex-owners as hired help or migrants.

      – What Brand calls ‘subsistence’ agriculture rarely runs aground for aesthetic reasons ground but rather on economic grounds. Farmers are disadvantaged, they have little or no pricing power over what they grow. They may not have cash markets available or the ability to sell forward or hedge; middlemen form cartels that fix prices to disadvantage the farmers; there may be excesses of supply or there is crop price manipulation sometimes by the governments responding to middleman bribes.

      – In developing countries, traditional village agriculture is being swept aside for giant ‘factory farms’, for housing development and as part of ongoing land-grabs by overseas interests — generally creating biofuel plantations. Investors subsidized by the World Bank and governments build dams, highways, mines, canals and factories. In other areas, traditional farmers are ejected and their farms turned into nature parks.

      In some areas traditional — and non-traditional — agriculture has broken down because of long-term drought, warfare, flooding, over-irrigation and salinity, plant diseases and over-application of fertilizer and pesticides which adversely effects soil fertility. Brand implies that traditional farming methods differ profoundly from what is called ‘conventional agriculture’ in the US, they don’t. Only the scale is different.

      Permaculture and much of what is described in the US as ‘organic’ farming is traditional ‘subsistence’ agriculture, but with much higher profit margins. Almost all of Japan’s and much of Europe’s agriculture can be considered traditional, some farmers in these areas having tilled their same small plots of land by hand for dozens of generations. Small-plot ag has been successful over thousands of years (!) in places such as Andean Peru and Italy, central France, Southeastern Spain and in China.

      Traditional farmers are forced out of their villages in China by greed driven investors in cahoots with the government … which ejects farmers then builds empty towers etc. on their ancestral lands. “Farms? What farms?”

      True enough, non-traditional agriculture produces higher yields … but with large energy and mechanical inputs that few farmers outside the West can afford (and which the West will be unable to afford too much longer).

      Another problem with traditional agriculture is the flooding of developing countries w/ US farm products at cut-rate prices … or free. The local farmers go under and become migrants.

      Best way to describe Brand is ‘mendacious sack of shit’.

      1. Reverse Engineer

        Sad that Stewart Brand went down this route, but not that surprising after 40 years of having a Back to the Land philosophy systematically undermined. He basically lost faith.

        I don’t support traditional Ag methods, but I also do believe it is quite possible to harness enough energy and and develop food production to support a decent percentage of current population sustainably. It is methodology and distribution that are problematic, much more so than actual productive capacity.

        It takes creative thinking, and it takes numbers and community to solve these problems, but they are NOT insoluble. You do have to work together though to resolve them, and you do need to revise your standards.


      2. steve from virginia Post author

        Right now there is a revolution in agriculture, rather a counter-revolution against the Borlag ‘Green Revolution’ and ‘Big Ag’. To the counter-revolutionaries, proper ag techniques are not strip mining of soil or water supplies nor are they ‘one size fits all’.

        The counter-revolution allows for a more granular approach which implies failure. Ag has always been trial and error, with the margin of recovery after an error being microscopic. Traditionally, two crop failures in a row has equaled famine. Big Ag allows for surpluses that can be shifted around from one place to another at relatively low cost. That, after 10,000 years of iffy agriculture, does not have to be oversold.

        One size fits all: corn and soybeans can be grown everywhere there is irrigation water and relatively level land available, tractors and fuel for them. New strains allow increased yields. Where corn doesn’t work, a few cows can be run or other unconventional cash crops can be grown such as Jatropha for bio-diesel. Getting the corn, soy or cash crops to the processor is enabled by cheap transport. Because Big Ag is … well … big, it is bankable. If a large tractor works, a larger tractor will work that much better. The bank is happy to loan the farmer money and the government is happy to guarantee the loan. This is the ‘one size fits all’ aspect; it allows conventional corn/soybean rotations in Eastern Colorado, Ukraine, China … or the Pantanal in Brazil.

        Big Ag enjoys a Big Subsidy advantage. US farmers harvest as much from the Federal government in the way of biofuel mandate(s) and price supports as they do from the crops themselves. As with all other at-scale industrial regimes, Big Ag cannot pay its own way but must be propped up every step of the way.

        Overseas, traditional ag is subsidized in Europe and Japan. Farmers are a potent political force, subsidy is a land use issue. In the US, traditional farmers are as likely to experience a raid by a SWAT team as they are to gain support. Supports here tend to be agricultural easements and set-asides by local governments intended to keep real estate developers at bay.

        The ag schools, the ‘slow food’ and CSA movements are spreading the word and more younger people are getting involved despite resistance and intimidation from the establishment. There are still enough free-floating funds to allow experiments, for new farmers to develop ag toolkits that do not include GMOs, persistent toxic chemicals, growth- and other hormones, antibiotics and over-reliance upon the fossil fuels.

        If Brand was smart he would be promoting traditional ag and contraception rather than pie-in-the-sky nuclear projects.

  3. Brian Richards

    Hi Steve,
    I had to laugh when Mr. Brand said “ecological disaster of subsistence farming”. Oh, really? Move all those incompetent natives into the slums where they really can have a good life, right? What do they know? All they do is go around saving seeds from the previous year’s crops, using animal manure to enrich their soil (heaven forbid….the dirtiness of it all!) and living simply, without even a motorcycle. Can’t have that! Where’s the “progress” in that?
    Some forty years ago, when I was in my 20’s, I worshiped that man. “The Whole Earth Catalog” was my bible.
    Steve was kind. Stuart Brand gives pimps a bad name.

  4. enicar666


    A creeping sense of futility – or a growing awareness that one WINS by escaping this Planet? It’s clearly a function of age, injuries and experience in my case!

    “Live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse!”

    For bottom dwellers like me – coming from and still having an aficionado for the alcoholic white trash lifestyle of industrial-age man – There is always the struggle against accepting what I am – and what I was (perhaps) meant to be. Unfulfilled potential – against the harsh reality I grew up in, and the life I know. The chains of my love for industrial ghetto and the people that filled it VS. the (possible) knowledge that my ancestors populated the Universe and practiced a physics that gave them mastery of the Galaxy.

    My body is now battered, tired, and worn. That which I did in my youth – no longer invigorates me. Increasingly, the battle tires me – and I search for avoidance. One more Summer…. I reason in my head…

    Suicide rates up among U.S adults ages 35 to 64, CDC reports

    Suicide rates among Americans 35 to 64 years old rose 28% from 1999 to 2010, from 13.7 per 100,000 people to 17.6 per 100,000 people, the CDC reported Thursday.

    The greatest increases occurred in people 50 to 54 years old (up 48%) and among people 55 to 59 years old (up 49%). Among men, suicides in middle-aged people rose 27.3%; among women, 31.5%. Whites and Native Americans had steeper increases than other demographic groups. Rates increased in all states, whether they had relatively high, average or low suicide rates.

    Old age is a luxury….. one that I cannot afford, and one that I find increasingly uncomfortable.

    “Age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill”

    However, my youth is now gone – and my skills not needed. I have no love of treachery – or age….

    And now – I can’t even rely on my automobile to provide an easy ending…

    “What happens when you create a car advertisement depicting suicide? Hyundai tried that stunt in the UK last week, and by Thursday the Hyundai ad had certainly garnered plenty of attention, but not at all the kind of reaction the Korean car company had hoped for.

    The intent of the ad was to tout the car’s low emissions, as one of its main byproducts is harmless water. Many said via Twitter that the move was insult to everyone who has ever had to cope with loved ones committing or attempting suicide”

    Is it suicide or liberation?

    1. Reverse Engineer

      Suicide is Painless, it brings on Many Changes…

      Depressing post there AnyCar.

      It is always Darkest before the Dawn. The choice to take the Last Kayak Trip out to Sea is always there, but IMHO there is no reason to GIVE UP until the Fat Lady Sings.

      You are NOT alone. In fact, quite a few Diners live in your neighborhood of WI. Really, you should come chat with us as we work up the SUN Project.

      When the Going Gets TOUGH, the Diners GET GOING!


    2. Mr. Roboto

      Wow, this is one of your few comments to which I can relate. I beat the holy crap out of my physical vehicle resulting in type 2 diabetes and adrenal fatigue. I haven’t had any friends for the past almost 20 years and I suspect I may never again. I just want this particular incarnation to be over, but I don’t think I could go through with a suicide because 1) I don’t wish for my exit from this incarnation to be spiritually inappropriate and 2) you really do have to inflict some pretty ghastly violence upon your person to buy your ticket out. (I know of a person with whom I was acquainted in my misbegotten youth who attempted suicide by taking 60 Xanax and a bottle of whiskey and still he survived. And so when I say my daily prayers, I include a petition that I might receive my ticket out of here ASAP.

      1. James

        You’re the most pathetic bunch of cancers I’ve ever encountered. Where’s your desire to live and grow forever? Where is your joie de vivre? Get out there and consume something, a bigger car, bigger house, hit the dopamine trail. Apoptosis and cancer are anathema. We live to grow and we grow to live and we want to live forever. And then civilization dies and we all swirl down the drain together. The first ones down the drain lose. Build a lifeboat and watch the others swirl into the sewer first. Become the last turd floating in a pristine bowl cleansed of society’s waste.

      2. Reverse Engineer

        I don’t figure I have more than 20 years tops left walking the earth, but I hope to last long enough on this side of the Great Divide to see the Lights go out on Broadway for good. After that, I’ll watch the progress of Civilization Collapse from my new perch in the Great Beyond, then Reincarnate in 20K or so years after the Earth has had a chance to do cleanup work. 🙂


    3. steve from virginia Post author

      Wait ’til you turn fifty … things really start falling apart.

      You look down and you can’t see your penis because there is a gigantic, hairy boob in the way.


      1. Ellen Anderson

        OMG – you guys are really wallowing in it today. As FM Alexander said “You have to keep your up going…and don’t go down there.”

        I do remember the conservative financial guys in the early 90’s who kept their clients in cash and gold as the market took off. They lost a lot of clients and were ridiculed. Do you think that is going to happen again? I really don’t. Back in 1997-98 gas was under $1.00 per gallon. Everyone agreed that the American consumer and the housing market were the underpinnings of the world economy. There are no good signs today at all. But it is eerily quiet isn’t it and most unnerving?

        I have given up discussing this stuff with the people who laugh at me or roll their eyes. A certain number of them are beginning to change their minds though so the constant drumming all of you do is having an effect. Take some comfort, if not hope, from that.

        Arctic ice melting very bad… nuclear reactors very old and very very bad. Those are real, observable things. Whether they can be changed at this point we don’t know but I think we have to assume that it might be possible. So keep on. Lots of people who never comment are probably reading and learning.

      2. Reverse Engineer

        “OMG – you guys are really wallowing in it today. As FM Alexander said “You have to keep your up going…and don’t go down there.”-Ellen

        Uber-Doom is gaining Popularity. Guy McPherson no longer advertises his product as Extinction, now it is NEAR TERM Extinction, as in within 50 years or so EVERYBODY is going to be dead.

        Uber-Doomers have a tough time rationalizing why they bother to keep on living. If they have Plenty-o-Money they can Party Like it’s 1999, but if you are a BROKE Uber-Doomer why stay alive to be miserable and then watch everybody Die?

        Far as I am concerned, the NTE hypothesis doesn’t play out unless the Phytoplankton crash, and even at current Ocean Acidification rates that isn’t likely for 50 years, and phytoplankton can adapt to high acidity anyhow. Even at a Thermal Maxima for the Planet there would still be temperate zones near the Arctic.

        I keep my Hopium alive trying to figure out the best way to negotiate the oncoming shitstorm on as little money as possible. That is what the SUN project on the Diner is all about.

        Of course, a Planet Killing Asteroid might hit or Yellowstone might go Super Volcanic, but that is not predictable or definite in the Near Term. It might even be possible to survive those scenarios, after all 10,000 Human Souls made it through the Toba Cataclysm.

        So, to stay entertained these days and stave off depression-suicide, Planning good Doom Survival strategies is the Way to Go! That in a NUTSHELL is what the Doomstead Diner is all about. 😀


      3. Phlogiston Água de Beber

        The Related Content section of the article linked as “informed assessment” by Guy, in his comment above, has links to some epically scary info. Especially the links to Baltic Sea bacterial issues and Bark Beatles.

        Kind of sobering when you remember that Our Mother hasn’t even begun to get feverish yet.

      4. Reverse Engineer

        Guy! You read and comment on other Blogs! Awesome!

        By no means does a 4 degree rise in Average Global Temps imply Homo Sapiens Extinction. Look at the PETM.


        The PETM is accompanied by a mass extinction of 35-50% of benthic foraminifera (especially in deeper waters) over the course of ~1,000 years – the group suffering more than during the dinosaur-slaying K-T extinction. Contrarily, planktonic foraminifera diversified, and dinoflagellates bloomed. Success was also enjoyed by the mammals, who radiated profusely around this time.

        The deep-sea extinctions are difficult to explain, as many were regional in extent. General hypotheses such as a temperature-related reduction in oxygen availability, or increased corrosion due to carbonate undersaturated deep waters, are insufficient as explanations. The only factor global in extent was an increase in temperature. Regional extinctions in the North Atlantic can be attributed to increased deep-sea anoxia, which could be due to the slowdown of overturning ocean currents,[12] or the release and rapid oxidation of large amounts of methane.

        In shallower waters, it’s undeniable that increased CO2 levels result in a decreased oceanic pH, which has a profound negative effect on corals.[20] Experiments suggest it is also very harmful to calcifying plankton.[21] However, the strong acids used to simulate the natural increase in acidity which would result from elevated CO2 concentrations may have given misleading results, and the most recent evidence is that coccolithophores (E. huxleyi at least) become more, not less, calcified and abundant in acidic waters.[22] Interestingly, no change in the distribution of calcareous nanoplankton such as the coccolithophores can be attributed to acidification during the PETM.[22] Acidification did lead to an abundance of heavily calcified algae[23] and weakly calcified forams.[24]

        The increase in mammalian abundance is intriguing. There is no evidence of any increased extinction rate among the terrestrial biota. Increased CO2 levels may have promoted dwarfing[25] – which may have encouraged speciation. Many major mammalian orders – including the Artiodactyla, horses, and primates – appeared and spread across the globe 13,000 to 22,000 years after the initiation of the PETM.[25]

        this is nasty stuff no doubt, but even under Thermal Maxima scenarios substantial populations survive of a variety of species.

        Anyhow, drop in on the Diner and we can chat this up.


      5. enicar666

        Well, since I am consuming alcohol once again – the highs are high and the low’s low. And… life is strange once again – but makes more sense.

        Over memorial day weekend I will head Up North to see friends to eat, drink, and be merry.

        I have room in the mini-van. Contact me at enicar666@gmail.com.

  5. RobM

    Just listened to the JHK podcast. Great to hear your voice. You sound sane. I’m glad.

  6. RobM

    The money quote:
    “We are eating the seed corn. When the capital’s gone, it’s gone forever. We are blowing it on a cosmic scale so a handful of people can get rich.”

  7. The Dork of Cork.

    The deep propaganda of the FT is exposed in this piece I should think.


    exposed by this commentator

    outlaw | May 7 1:27am | Permalink
    Thanks for this. Shame we don’t have UK figures separately; some of your charts report an EU figure and other report the Eurogroup only and oddly it says Euro (11) on the last graph and I thought there were 17 Euro-zone member states. They ought to take care, Rogoff and Reinhart got into to trouble for being selective with data sets.

  8. The Dork of Cork.

    And this on a morning where the British April car market posted the best April results since 2008…….


    The Brits are using the Euro surplus to buy more cars.
    The French are using the euro surplus to build more rail and tram lines.

    But both of these countries are benefiting at least in the short term as they are posting massive real trade deficits because of the compound nature of the interest claims that they hold and also unlike Germany they do not export their physical wealth on a net basis.

  9. The Dork of Cork.

    This is a old trick – in fact perhaps its the oldest trick in the book.

    When the Normans settled in Dingle, the harbour began to evolve as a major trading point in the South West of Ireland. The principal exports from the town were wool, hides, salt meat, fish and butter. The chief imports were wine, salt, coal and articles of clothing. An Act of Parliament was passed in 1569 which limited the number of ports through which wines could be imported. Dingle was listed among the towns in this Act and is referred to as “Dingle Husey otherwise called Dingle I Couch”

    Dingle reached the highest point of its importance in the course of the sixteenth century. It was one of the great trading ports of the south. Continental wine ships and other merchant vessels plied in and out of the harbour, tying up at the Spanish pier, (presently Dingle Marina). Dingle was the main embarkation port for the great pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James at Compostella in Spain.

    Strong commercial links developed between Dingle and Spain throughout the sixteenth century. Several of the Houses in Dingle were built in the Spanish fashion, with ranges of stone balconies and marble door and window frames. Inserted in the walls of houses in Green Street are stones with curious carvings which are still well preserved. One of these has the date 1586 prominent on it. The others are more ornate and depict birds. It is believed that these stones are survivals from a bygone age and the houses of the Spanish merchants who settled in Dingle at that time.

    The parish church of St. James is said to have been built by the Spaniards around the time of the great medieval pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James of Compostella, and was dedicated to St. James the patron Saint of Spain. When the Reformation reached Dingle in the 16th century, the church passed into Protestant hands.

    In 1529 Charles V, King of Spain and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, sent his personal envoy, Gonzalo Fernandes to Dingle to parley with the Earl of Desmond. An account of this meeting shows that the Earl wished to forge a political and military alliance with Spain and to have weapons and aid sent over from Spain to help the Earl rebel against England

    The Tudor objective was quite clear.

    Stop balanced trade.
    Extract a net surplus from the colonies. (prevent the Irish from drinking continental wine and indeed burning scottish coal in the 1500s !)
    Use the surplus to industrialize


    1. steve from virginia Post author

      Sadly, Dingle could not stand up to easy credit and real estate developers. At least no box stores w/ acres of free parking that could be seen on Google Earth.

      1. The Dork of Cork.

        It was dirt poor from the 16th century until 1970 when David Leans’ ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ came to town…..it went through a boom but most of the money was spent on drink during the 70s and indeed the 80s.

        Only after 1987~ was the landscape around the town destroyed with the final destruction of the old fishing boat shed and the complete takeover of tourism rather then holding any balance.

        Now various massive trophy houses ring its center and it became a vulgar materialist place after 1994 or so with added roundabouts for the excess cars.
        Back in the day when the roads were poor it was a real adventure to make it that far west………now not so much.


      2. The Dork of Cork.

        A nice American couples walking holiday in the Dingle & Beara Peninsula last year.

        “John is a retired fisherman but he is actually real estate mogul here in Dingle”


        They are going to Dunquin where recently on a beach near the area Spanish soldiers have been sticking their ancient hands up out of the now eroding sand dune , 4 and a half centuries since they were massacred.

      3. steve from virginia Post author

        Many global wars, actually … the Roman Republic waged them with fierce determination, so did the Macedonians and later, the Mongols. The first modern global war was the Spanish invasion of the Western Hemisphere, waged with gunpowder, infectious disease and the 3-masted sailing ship. It was the most successful of all that followed save the last one … which has not quite ended but will soon enough.

        The Spanish Main financed the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the Reformation, the rise of maritime England and the 13 North American colonies … the removal of Islam from Europe and 200 years of religious war: the end of dominion by the ex-Roman Empire in the West/Trinitarianism and the rise of the Protestants … it also inflicted 100 years of inflation on the people of Southern Europe.

      4. The Dork of Cork.

        The fact they burned coal and were rich by the standards of the day in 1500s Dingle still blows my mind.

        I guess Youghal (on the south east coast and later Cork took a little bit of this cattle for wine trade) but most of it flowed directly to England without much coming back.

        There was a rich oral tradition on that small island that found itself on the state school curriculum

        But what we read was really the last modern stage of the post 1648 nation state assuming stuff alien to it.

        The Blasket islands were the last hold out for that ancient western sea linked culture.

        Its funny – I remember walking into a rural Basque bar (in the interior)10 years ago and thinking I was home.
        It was a strange feeling.

        The seas were the true highways of that time.


  10. Ken Barrows

    Dow 15,000 aside, it is collapsing, albeit slower than many may have expected five years ago.

    I mean, think about it. The USA hasn’t grown (GDP/total credit market debt) in 40+ years. The FED started ZIRP in December 2008; few in the know thought it would still be around 4 1/2 years later. Since September 2012, the FED has overpaid for MBS and UST to the tune of $85B per month (although, of course, the FED isn’t audited). And there’s Japan, the ECB, etc.

    I give kudos to TPTB for being bold enough to take new measures to keep the structure standing (I don’t agree with it, though). And who’s to say it won’t work for a quite a while longer. Tulip bulbs in 17th century Holland did quite well without central bank intervention.

  11. steve from virginia Post author

    Tom Engelhardt takes a break from peeing on the Defense Department; tees off on modernity: ‘the last empire’, the waste-based economy and cars:


    Randall Wray & Friends purport to discuss Modern Monetary Theory but really don’t. Not for everyone, but this is supposed to be an economics website:


    Crisis = crisis: ” …a sense of crisis not felt since the early days of the financial crisis.” I didn’t write that, someone in China did:


    Crude is out of the -$100 danger zone but gold gets hammered again:


    From ‘The End is Near’ department:

    “There is another financial crisis coming, and this one is going to be even more impressive than the last. And like the last heroes who ‘saved the world,’ Messrs. Greenspan, Rubin, and Summers, the current hero Bernanke will be remembered as a banker of the last age, in much the same manner as the hopelessly out of touch French Generals who commanded the Maginot Line.”

    You sir, are a cliche! 🙂


    1. The Dork of Cork.

      Those MMT guys refuse to accept that its the Euro currency area bailing so called sov UK.
      I posted this on the new economic perspective website (on the same article I think) and funny enough it was not published.

      The UK as a production area ended between 1957 & 1980.
      Its just London now.
      The Big Bangs true purpose was to somehow account for the surplus goods flowing into the country from the European Soviet experiment and later Asia,
      Before this time (1960 ,70s) it was limited Hong Kong type operations.

      The UK & US is in very much the same position as the UK in 1914.
      They had direct access to most of the worlds below ground gold in Canada & South Africa.
      In exchange for free goods they filled up the coffers of the friendly French & hostile Germans with gold.
      Well I gather the whole thing came unstuck in 1913 /14

      For example there was a major economic crisis in Ireland during 1913 with a lockout of workers from Dublin for many months.
      Something deep was going on under the surface.
      The system as constructed could not afford to give Irish workers a cut of the surplus.

      Today the Japs are filling the role of the French , the Chinese are filling the role of the Germans and Europe is the modern surplus area for the Anglo world.
      Its just that they are holding US treasuries rather then gold today.

      The real physical value of the UK was tied to its jewel in the crown – India & indeed to a lesser extent Ireland.
      They were its surplus goods areas.

      The Germans were told hold on and we will pay you more gold and all that………..we are good for it as it is underground.
      But at that stage industrial Germany & China today needed real (oil and other stuff) resources.
      Navies switching to oil was the final straw.

      In that famous Beppe Grillo speech / sketch from the late 90s he asked some very good questions about Gold.

      He said we dig it out of one hole and put it into a banking hole.

      What he did not seem to realize is that the BoE at that time actually stood over most of the worlds mines.
      It did not need to store much of the stuff.
      It just flowed out.

      1. Richard

        Yeah you are right it is about debt, debt, debt. Those services which sovereigns can exact by threat of violence from their debt-slaves. Some goods esp. gold are hoards, accounting measures that represent stored services. Some accountants may not fully appreciate all the perspectives or things that happen around them. They have trouble seeing the event horizon. Many goods including property are just intermediaries. The London-based sovereign has efficiently progressed from organized piracy up to 1580 into trading intermediaries, but that has progressively become a more and more risky scheme as England no longer rules the waves, or even the Internet. Debt and credit are the currency of slaves, and there are clever and confusing trades even in these, which have kept London going up to now. Risk is ultimately a mathematical expression, and if one piece is suddenly re-calculated then for that moment, all bets come off.
        Cheap energy from fossil fuels esp. oil has disturbed these arrangements esp. since about 1905, as a consumable intermediate good which we all waste, as Steve says. Oil has forced growth and consumption to move in one direction like the sweep of an economic hurricane. It massively increased the numbers of humans available and the complexity of the steps leading to waste, and basically caused all the wars from 1906 to now. It has multiplied and reinforced the chains of debt claims.
        The world power structures involved in all this debt, which employ most of the accountants and economists, are rapidly becoming less stable. Some are countries, some are banks or ecosystems or subsidies or languages or political beliefs, but they are all just debt-pyramids.
        The worst oil-based waste is in the gambles taken over our heads by the players, often I think without reality-based cognizance. I believe that without the ongoing fostering of greed by the legal concept of individual property e.g.
        – there would be chances for groups to gather, to steady and reduce consumption, whether they are anarchists or US seniors or Grillini or treehuggers. I dont want to drink to depressive thoughts expressed above in thread. In fact I am not able to drink at all until Friday. With these gambles forced upon us collectively it is correct that we have almost no chances of escape, this week.
        If some of us are lucky, perhaps there is a degree of granularity, whereby one debt structure might collapse allowing the others to briefly claw over its carcass. We will preserve some choices to reduce consumption. If no-one is lucky, it is just one interwoven mess and we are all going straight down together, all bets on till the waves close over us.
        I’m inclined to think there exist calculated views whereby one part will fail very soon in Europe and the bets are cast and that Cyprus was a trial balloon floated by some of the players. The last possible roll of the dice in this part of the casino will during be the formation of a new government after the German election in September but it could be brought to a crisis earlier. Of course other parts will be exposed once one piece fails, but if the failures are slowed enough, terrifying bets will pay off for long enough to pay people their bonuses.
        How oil or gold or dollars trade after that is very hard to say.
        BTW Dingle the town above was Daingean, a Hiberno-French synonym for dungeon I think. Nách fíor? Presumably the earliest property developers thereabouts needed a place for “business associates” who stepped too far out of line. Even then, it was about structures based on debt. From Mesopotamian times. The plantations, Cromail, famines, the Constitution of the State of Virginia – all organized brutality is about debt, or about its intermediaries -monetary issues, land and property.
        Random acts of violence, now, that’s different.

  12. jb

    Utility futility (in Japan):

    “Eight of the nation’s 10 electric power companies recorded group net losses in fiscal 2012 due to an increase in fuel costs…”

    “…as they failed to cover increases in fuel costs through cost-reduction efforts.”

    “The weaker yen increased fuel costs by 123 billion yen at TEPCO, 43 billion yen at Kansai Electric and 55 billion yen at Chubu Electric.”

    http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000183703 H/T Justin Ritchie via Twitter

    Weaken the yen any further and the lights might go out.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      It’s head-banging time in Tokyo … the policy makers only see what they want to and never consider the unintended consequences. It was never that hard to figure out what would happen to fuel prices resulting from depreciation.

  13. The Dork of Cork.

    Funny attack on Martin Wolf from a 19th century free trader……..


    He thinks the state was not active very much in the 19th century……?

    He should have been around 1820s Munster when the war economy went bust.
    The state was very active in Ireland………….

    “As Briton’s became the wealthiest people per capita in the world, so high labor costs directed late 19th century investment into high productivity fields of enterprise. As profit margins overseas exceeded those in the UK, so British investments poured overseas, strengthening the credit-worthiness of the home country. As incomes widened between those in expanding areas of enterprise by comparison with those that were stagnant or declining, so resources poured out of agriculture into the industrial and service sectors of the economy. Of course, London – fulcrum of the Gold Standard – became the world’s leading financial center.”

    OK the state reacted for selfish reasons post 1900.

    To secure the gold fields of South Africa.
    The problem was…………….the troops were far more unhealthy then anybody could have imaged.
    The Boars had a nasty tendency – to cut them to pieces.
    The UK became a nation state again in the 20th century so as to save its thick skin.

  14. dolph

    Maybe it’s time to take stock. Since the crash, the bloggers who understand what is going on have done alot of work and have gotten the word out to those who choose to read it. I still remember The Automatic Earth in the early days when it was a sublime work of art. And they were wrong about many things and that’s ok.

    We only have a few more years…five to seven at most I wager, before the establishment begins to fail and that’s when the change happens fast because people follow the establishment.

    1. jb

      “Maybe it’s time to take stock.”

      I agree, Dolph. Throw in a permanent ice-free summer arctic and the weather may wreak havoc on our best laid plans.

      Funny, Chris Martenson posted a question this evening about whether or not we should continue to invest in our 401ks. Get real! I thought about responding but had a laugh and a home brew instead.

      1. Gaianne

        401 k’s! : D

        I really liked the early chapters of his Crash Course (the ones not behind the pay wall) But truly I doubt his profit-from-the-collapse message. Some people will profit, of course, but only a few and only for a little while. After that you need something resembling a plan, and investing in anything connected to the financial economy is not it!


  15. steve from virginia Post author

    Funny … but not that funny.

    An antidote to Stewart Brand

    1. p01

      Steve, you do know that the main idea is that beloved civilization (and virtuous agriculture, planting and eating grass seeds) is THE fugly humanity killer monster bubble, right?
      Just checkin’ 🙂

      1. steve from virginia Post author

        Sometimes I wonder whether our speci-cide is intended or not.

        I’m trying to think of a good name for what it is we ‘have’: it ain’t a civilization.

    2. jb

      Terrific; thanks for the Jensen link. From the last minute or so:

      “Where will you drive your own picket stake? Where will you choose to make your stand? Give me a threshold, a specific point to which you’ll stop running, at which you’ll finally fight back.”

      – D. Jensen

      We need lots of Dog Soldiers.

    1. Ken Barrows

      I listened to about 1 1/2 minutes and figured the rest would be familar territory. The question raised in the 90 seconds of chatter is this: why grow exactly?

  16. Pingback: A Creeping Sense of Futility… | Doomstead Diner

  17. The Dork of Cork.

    This may be the true reason for the further collapse of Irish oil demand in 2012 (oil central heating being turned off)
    However the detailed energy breakdown of data has yet to come out.

    Despite the wet summer last year (the worst production year on record)
    Early 2013 has seen huge demand because of the cold weather.

    “Normally we would have over 40,000 tons of briquettes (dried machine compacted turf) in stock here. We don’t have it. We are selling more or less out of current production.”


    Time to build a new Briquette factory on the banks of the grand canal (adjacent to the bog)…….for distribution to the Dublin burbs.
    But people will not take such a plan seriously until its too late.
    On top of that the euro masters want anything to do with carbon taxed into oblivion.

    But canals were so 18th century……………..yeah right back at you in the 21rst

    1. christiangustafson

      DOC, it’s my understanding that peat isn’t renewable, at least not on the timeline that we would need it.

      How much does Ireland have left? You’re running power plants on the stuff.

      1. The Dork of Cork.

        Some of the raised bogs in the midlands are depleted – those powerplants…………….
        But most of the blanket bogs in the west are intact despite the building of a couple of small scale farmer supplied power plants in the late 50s , one of which I remember operated in Caherciveen until the year 2000~ supplying local power on a small scale although the 50s technology was not very well suited to sod peat fuel.

        The extraction rates in the west was probably 10 times higher then today during the 19th and early 20th century despite the fact there was no machines used.

        Bogs started covering Ireland maybe 3000 -5000 years after the end of the Ice age ………..so they are a kind of slowly renewable resource.
        And besides when you extract the peat what remains in poor but usable agricultural land.

        Ps Irelands longest railways are in the midlands.
        They keep moving the same track……….


        During the war they used the canals to ship turf into Dublin.

        Thankfully the 18th & early 19th canals after a period of disrepair have been mostly upgraded for leisure boating…..
        Its a very viable option as a little MMT like job program.

        But Ireland has lost all national purpose since joining Europe……..we got free money to shut up and become a good little imperial market.

      2. The Dork of Cork.

        Bogs and Europe remains a explosive issue in the west and midlands……..
        But the Irish population is no longer a cohesive unit.

        The 1980s generation (the last cohesive tribe of amadons) was the MTV generation – now grown up and lost in the burbs with their fellow Europeans.
        God help us and save us.


  18. jb

    “We do not have a 100-year supply of shale gas. The increasing demand, which has been brought about by the low prices of the last few years, is going to lead to another 1970’s-style gas crisis. That will happen sometime between 2013 and 2015.”

    – Bill Powers


    The title of his new book: ‘Cold, Hungry, and in the Dark.’ And thanks to Chartist Friend for the Grantham interview.

  19. enicar666

    “A Growing Sense of Futility”…. well, YES! Do you think it’s because the “YEAST” of humanity continues unimpeded….

    You’re the most pathetic bunch of cancers I’ve ever encountered. Where’s your desire to live and grow forever? Where is your joie de vivre? Get out there and consume something, a bigger car, bigger house, hit the dopamine trail. Apoptosis and cancer are anathema. We live to grow and we grow to live and we want to live forever. And then civilization dies and we all swirl down the drain together. The first ones down the drain lose. Build a lifeboat and watch the others swirl into the sewer first. Become the last turd floating in a pristine bowl cleansed of society’s waste.

    The problem is that The Cancer – has Cancer – The floating turd has lost it’s will to buoyancy. I just want off the ride – not to see if I can finish it! It’s my turn to sit on the ice floe. Not necessarily today – but I can see an end approaching. That in itself is a luxury!

    My Lords I call to order
    On the issue of the enviroment
    Nothing is being done

    My lords we can’t keep dancing along
    Pretending everything is just fine
    The consequences are devastating
    We must strike out and rescue this
    Fine earth upon which we live
    Mother nature as suffered far too long and quite enough
    What’s she been said my lords
    Nothing is being done
    Nothing is being done
    Nothing is being done
    I repeat nothing nothing nothing is being done

    Jeff Beck – A Day in The House.

  20. iguanaisland

    “Over the course of hundreds of millions of years … nature has learned how to provide sustenance to our planet’s inhabitants within the boundaries of what is freely available in the form of material resources along with energy from the sun and from within the Earth. We refuse to learn, we insist there are better, more expedient ways conceived over the past fifteen-minutes, ways that ignore everything that has gone before. The river does not borrow money in order to flow. The tree does not need a permit or plan to grow; the bird flies as it will when it feels the urge to do so.

    Nature builds without furnaces or plans, without debts or money, without pointless destruction. To change, we must become more like nature and less like our precious selves. ”

    This is very well put. William Shakespeare came to the exactly the same conclusion in the smoke-filled environs of London in the late 1590s. Before the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign in 1603, coal and not wood (the sun) was the main source of fuel for England, not just London. Shakespeare grasped how dangerous this would be for humanity one day and he wrote about his trepidation in “Romeo and Juliet”, where “Juliet is the sun” reveals who she really is—-the sun economy. Romeo meeting the sun (using the language of worship), Romeo leaving her (in exile from the sun economy), then returning to a comatose Juliet (the defunct sun economy) is exactly this fear inscribed.

    But don’t fear too much, Shakespeare had lots of hope too.

    Search around for Juliet is the sun” on Amazon and “Juliet is the sun/coal” on Google and you’ll find my work—academic publications as well as (yes!!) a novel that depicts it all in fictional form a la “DaVinci Code”.

  21. Ellen Anderson

    Steve – must read book for your list: ‘The Alchemy of Air’ by Thomas Hager. I am just beginning to understand how impossible it will be to get people to stop burning up the earth. Anybody else read this one?

      1. Ellen Anderson

        Thanks for the link. We have a petition re climate change on our annual Town Meeting agenda. I will pass this along to the person who will be presenting.

  22. The Dork of Cork.

    Irish balance on the current account is dramatic stuff (million euro)

    Y2008 : -10,169
    Y2012 : + 8,090

    Depreciation is therefore becoming dramatic …………
    I am not sure how accurate the capital account metrics are – but I imagine the numbers can be gamed very easily.

    Anyhow the 2012 capital account is in a worse place then even the crisis (production / consumption) year of 2009.
    Y2009 : -1,252
    Y2011 : recovery ? – 263
    Y2012 : – 1,984

    To give you a idea of the scale within these figures – we imported just 1,607 million of road vehicles in 2012.

    Martin wolf dealt with this in his “the German model is not for export” essay in the FT a few days ago.

    I think the English may be having second thoughts about pushing all resources into the German black hole.
    When it comes down to the real consequences for them – agriculture from Ireland & France is much more important then BMWs – I should think , but one never really knows I guess.
    British trade data out later this morning.

  23. The Dork of Cork.

    “Figures by country are only available in value terms. The widening of the deficit with the EU in the first quarter came mainly from trade with Germany and the Netherlands. The deficit on trade with Italy reduced slightly while the UK’s surplus in trade in goods with Ireland rose with an increase in the level of exports” (this is normally refined oil products )

    The trend continues…………….of increased North Sea trade but weakness in China & especially Japanese trade. The UK has posted its largest quarterly deficit with Germany ever in Q1 2013
    At £ – 5,621 million

    Its largest deficit with Belgium
    £ – 1,565m

    Largest deficit with Netherlands
    £ -2,897m

    And indeed Spanish austerity is working ………….for the UK:
    Largest deficit with Spain

    However balance of trade in oil is weak for the first quarter
    Y2011 Q1 : -£1,556m
    Y2012 Q1 : £-3,239m
    Y2013 Q1 : £-2,227m

    This probably explains the weakness of Norwegian trade.
    Y2011 Q1 : £-5,123m
    Y2012 Q1 : £-5,817m
    Y2013 Q1: £ -3,631m


  24. The Dork of Cork.

    Publication of the 10th Irish maritime transport publication where the director states quite openly that they have seen probably the biggest boom and bust in the history of shipping markets.


    He points to the symmetry of the Irish maritime transport sector and the real Irish domestic economy (not GDP increases which includes high value low weight exports which are generally somewhat outside the domestic economy as it is beyond the tax system)

    However dry bulk volumes increased by 7%
    As a result of farmers importing extra feed in the wet summer of 2012 (agri is 22% of total dry bulk volumes) and steady demand for steam coal in Moneypoint power station.
    We have a crazy Aluminium factory in Shannon which dominates dry bulk imports – Bauxite – its there for purely tax arbitrage reasons as it uses it own Gas turbine in this very high energy operation !!!
    There was huge controversy about this in the early 80s with a nearby farmer on the national television politics / debate show claiming his cattle were dropping like flys because of the toxic dust from this site.
    Despite its continued operation in such a crazy area (Hydro Iceland is better) it is generally not talked about in polite Irish circles.

    Liquid bulk is down maybe 3% in 2012 when you subtract Bantry in the SW (this is a long term oil storage area)

    break bulk volumes (eg. timber , machinery) down 3% , decreased for 5th year straight and is at a 10 year low.
    Much of this is coastal traffic in the smaller ports such as New Ross (JFK ancestors home town) although the big ports dominate all sectors now.

    Lift on lift off experienced a 3% decline in 2012 when it was growing at 7% a year a decade earlier.

    passenger traffic declined by 4% and the tourist car market by 7 %……

    The depression in Europe continues…………..
    All so that the banks can have access to cheap labour arbitrage profits from Asia.

    The west is clearly a bank run fiefdom – all the evidence is in.
    Its the plantation owners house.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      Hagens makes the ‘auto uses 25 to 30 times as much energy as a person walking, not including the roads (or making the auto itself)’ claim.

  25. The Dork of Cork.

    I have come to the conclusion that Cullen Roche of pragmatic capitalism is a propagandist.

    Check out this absurd piece


    “For instance, when someone compares the USA to Greece they’re comparing a low output currency using nation to a high output currency issuing nation.”

    Why is this high output meme never questioned.
    Its as if there was really major national or natural differences between these countries when the prime reason is of course the countries energy ration.
    Greece to my knowledge was turning out houses (output) and other shit like any other good little European country.

    “The point is, money is not a substitute for having domestic resources, output, etc”

    The US is still standing because of domestic economic resources ………really ?

    “Not everyone has the luxury of a diversified economy that exports the GDP of Russia every year (as the USA does). So we have to be careful with these generalizations. ”

    “Be careful with generalizations”……………yeah right boy.

    The US trade and current account has shrunk but no mention of balance of payments……..

    I tried to debate with this guy but my most important posts were wiped from the ether for some strange reason.
    Therefore I cannot engage with him anymore as my other posts lack context.

    Suffice as to say that the US is in the same position as the UK in 1913/14 – I think when he hears that he then wants to shut up the shop.
    Just replace gold with treasuries.
    The US is not a republic in the true sense of the word – its a banking global Imperium like all the other late stage empires that have gone before it.

    Its caught in a classic catch 22 , thee classic catch 22 of all time.
    The domestic economy needs greenbacks but it cannot print greenbacks as it would lose its external resource ration and of course given its built enviornment it cannot function without external energy.

    When the UK treasury printed 10 shilling notes (although with interest of I think 3%) something happened.
    The Great war.
    Same shit , different century.

    1. Phlogiston Água de Beber

      I have come to the conclusion that all capitalists and their running dogs are propagandists. How else to explain the continued tolerance of such a nasty system? Fortunately for them, people do love propaganda. So much more comforting than the truth.

  26. The Dork of Cork.


    Such bland & lame statements from such a sophisticated economist speaks volumes.

    But his propaganda is not that sophisticated.

    I am especially stumped with the Russian comparison.

    For God sake – Its just a question of similar scale.

    Ahhh , he is not worth talking about – lets move on and all that.

  27. The Dork of Cork.

    I can’t move on though ………..its just too much spin – I hate it.

    This local guy appears a nice fellow but when I gave a simple direct challenge to his article based on Greenback thinking with a bit of Marx thrown in for good measure he did not want to know about and shut up his little shop


    GDP means nothing for Ireland
    Ireland has the lowest wage share as a % of GDP in Western Europe , perhaps the world.
    You print the money , then you tax it.
    You don’t wait for private banks to print the money and hope for the best and if it does not work out tax the shit out of the proles anyway.

    To give the guy the benefit of the doubt – maybe these guys are brainwashed by Jesuits or something.
    That happens a lot in Middle and upper Ireland.

    Show me the boy and I will give you the man and all that.

    They need to be exposed to truly radical thinking outside the big box.
    But sadly it looks like its too late for that.

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