Friday, May 22, 2009

Rock and Hard Place Closing In

Jenna Orkin

There's a weird phenomenon afoot which I observe on the personal level and suspect readers of this blog do as well: Much as we intuit how screwed up our economic paradigm is and where it will all lead, it nonetheless gets the blood charged up whenever the details are spelled out. We, the jaded gloomer-doomers, can still be overcome with moral outrage.

People never get tired, in other words, of horror. All happy families (or car outings or civilizations on the upswing) are alike but each unhappy family (or car wreck or collapse of civilization) is unhappy in its own way. (Actually that's false, as many an unhappy family has noted. And civilizations tend to go under shortly after some version of an 'economic stimulus package' otherwise known as printing money.) But just as there are only 36 basic plots in literature yet we keep reading books or at least, going to the movies, we'll continue to gawk until our own personal car wreck or collapse swallows us up.

Meanwhile, anyone in need of a reminder of exactly how the wizards pull the strings in the economic horror show should check out Ellen Hodgson Brown's latest, Another Look at the Weimar Hyperinflation. The inimitable Brown continues her campaign to educate an economically clueless public about how we got into this mess and, unbelievably but crucially, how we could get out.

Deficit to Exceed Four Times Last Year's Record
Brazil and China Eye Plan to Ax Dollar
Obama Considering Preventive Detention
FBI Use of Patriot Act Authority Increased Dramatically in 2008 (from Rice Farmer)
World Oil Production Forecast
Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller
By Jeff Rubin, chief economist and chief strategist at CIBC World Markets.
US Housing Starts and World Markets Permits Plumb Record Lows
US Pension Agency Sees Record Deficit
US Energy Secretary Says Oil Prices Rising on Economy
The Great Ethanol Scam (from Rice Farmer)
Farms Start to Feel Credit Pinch (from Rice Farmer and fulfilling Kunstler's warning.)
Swine Flu May Be Human Error: WHO
Dengue Fever Epidemic Hits South America (from Rice Farmer)
In Chile the Birds are Dying and No One Knows Why (from Rice Farmer)
Venzuela's Hope of More Sway Dims as Riches Dip

Lloyd's Warns Government May Rejig Toxic Insurance Scheme
Demand for Gold Soars
Bank Considered Bringing Extra 75 Billion Pounds
Stephen Lewis, economist at Monument Securities, said: "I think it points in the direction of doing more quantitative easing, the fact that the £75 billion option was discussed suggests that when they have their next meeting they will be discussing whether to do another £25 billion."
UK Poorly Placed to Recover From Recession Rise of Europe's Extreme Politics (from Rice Farmer)

Pirates Won't Be Tried
Russia will hand over a number of suspected Somali pirates to an unspecified third country, First Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Kolmakov said Tuesday.
Banks May Need $16 Billion in Capital
Could Kabardino-Balkaria Become the Kosovo of the Caucasus?
Transneft in Biggest Bond Issue

China Plans to Build Petrol Reserves
Anti-Terrorism Trade Fair: A Gun that Can Shoot Around Corners
Japan's Economy Suffers Record Plunge
Perhaps this explains the thousand school closings ostensibly because of swine flu.
Japan's Economy Shrinks Record 4%
Banks See Fertile Ground in Farms
"if use of farmland is deregulated."
GDP Plunged 15.2% Last Quarter
Taliban Using Ammunition from Afghan Army
From the Department of Defensive Hypotheses: "Lt Col Christian Kubik said ammunition could also have been seized by insurgents from overrun police stations or captured on the battlefield.

'We have not had any reports of ammunition being recovered that can be directly linked to us,' he said."
Pakistan May Only Have Six Months
Warning two months ago from David Kilcullen.

Two Archives Relevant Once More
Pakistan Problem, Washington's Perspective
The Empire's New Middle East Map

Sri Lanka on Brink of Catastrophe as UN Aid Blocked

40% of Coma Patients in "Vegetative State" May Be Misdiagnosed, Report Says


cleverbtass said...

Was that an Anna Karenina ripoff?

Gray said...

Book arrived safely in australia after three short weeks. The detail of the argument is superb, rubicon all over again. Skipped straight to the chapter on Food; Mr Holmgren will appreciate the reference i'm sure. Great work. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link on "vegetative State" patients, Jenna.

To make a long story short, I met a woman years ago whose adult son had been in a vegetative state for 10 years, after a motorcycle accident. The doctors told her that he had no cognitive function. I don't know why, but something about her story hit a nerve and I asked if I could visit him at the center where he was "cared" for.

When I was first introduced to "Chuck" he was frail, his hands were balled up and twisted from lack of muscle use, his mouth was always hanging open, and he was lying in bed with his head archew back, eyes rolled back, and making a quiet gutteral noise as he stared at the cieling. His mother gently called his name. There was no response. She explained "this is how he gets", then she told him he has a visitor. Chuck immediately began to relax, almost as though he were embarrased, and he lifted his head to look at me. His twisted hand reached out, wobbly, and he tried to form his mouth into words which came out as unintellible sounds. The man was clearly trying to communicate to me.

I would visit Chuck at least once a week. I used to bring in his favorite tunes - Rolling Stones, ACDC etc - and I'd just spend time with him and try to communicate as best as I could. I had him working on the alphabet, we used to play catch wioth a tennis ball, he wanted to sit facing the window so he could see outside, etc. And he would have fits of rage and frustration on a regular basis.

I never met Chucks doctors but his mother was in constant contact with them. Despite Chucks activities, they told her that Chuck was an irreversible, hopeless case who was only responding to external stimuli based on trained responses that go back to early childhood. That's the same guy who would get ticked and smack his bed when he missed a catch. Or after 20 minutes of urging him to exercise his legs by lifting them, while Chuck ignored me and stared at the cieling, until he'd finally whip his head over to me, groan in anger/frustration, and start raising both of his legs in repetition.

Chuck was very alive, trapped inside his broken body. He wanted to watch football and he wanted to be read to. By the time I met him, 10 years after his injury, he was severely depressed and had mostly receded into himself, tuning the rest of the world out until someone pulled him into consciousness. He had very few words, but his eyes were expressive.

Thanks again for the article. Writing about Chuck has reminded me of the enormous need to nurture and help the helpless - and the incredible, personal reward that results from it.

Donald Turner said...

I have only posted once, choosing mostly to lurk and read this Blog. Thank you Jenna for that observation today.

It articulates my own experience. Funny, after year(s) of watching these last 15 minute market manipulations, this week in particular, seeing the blatant management of indexes and values by , I can only assume, the PPT or whatever incarnation it is these days, still, amazingly to me, annoys the crap out of me.

And that speaks to the larger management of information, not just financial.

The "Century of Self" BBC Documentary is a part of my daily thoughts. Powerful material, and so clearly articulates the level of management all information we are allowed to see is over arched by. we have transgressed Goebbles-esque propaganda, to a whole new paradigm of manufactured consent. I remain so frustrated when I allow myself to become so, when I read a site like Drudge.

Looking forward to reading Mike's book. I havent ordered it yet, but should be able to shortly.

Peace and Love to all, and best wishes


John said...

Russia Dumps the U.S. Dollar for Euro as Reserve Currency

John said...

Good collection of ebooks/guides for gardening, wild foraging, and self sufficiency. Books such as, The City People's Book Of Raising Food. It might be a good idea to print out any of these you might find valuable in a situation where computer/internet access isn't available.

agape wins said...

Shorebreak said...Thanks for the link on "vegetative State" patients, Jenna.

Great post, been there-done that! I am not making light of the object of the article, but we are all of us "trapped inside"; some of us are fighting harder
than others! I try avoiding judging others as I know I/Me, my EGO is "trapped" in a manner I am unaware of, & need "nurturing" constantly!

"Thanks again for the article. Writing about Chuck has reminded me of the enormous need to nurture and help the helpless - and the incredible, personal reward that results from it"
Shorebreak, you have expressed the Dependency of Amae I speak of; the
concept is older than history as revealed by Quantum Physics as explained in the movie "What the Bleep do we Know",

,or more deeply in the book "Programming The Universe"

"This article is written like an advertisement. Please help rewrite this article from a neutral point of view."

Considering Wikipedia's reputation, it's like the kettle calling the pot black!

This link is more "neutral", but the reviewer must have "skimmed" the book!

* It is unclear from text exactly how quantum computers physically work.
* No index."

I had no trouble understanding how they work, logically, "bit" wise, &/or "physically".


Anonymous said...

OMG! Preventive Detentions. What a slippery slope. Today it's the prisoners at Guantanamo, but some day it could be . . . ?

Compare with this article from 8/2008:

Sebastian Ronin said...

Re Rise of Europe's Extreme Politics

"It is bad enough having our sessions broken up by anti-EU ranters from the United Kingdom Independence Party [Ukip], but what if these people actually get power now?"

What indeed? Tsk, tsk. Ukip is a Libertarian, non-racist party seeking Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. Those nasty secessionists.

Pandabonium said...

From the book of Wrong Shui - "never place a rock near a hard place"

Shorebreak, that was a most moving post and valuable lesson. Thank you.

Here is an article, which through its multiple layers of confused thinking is instructive by example of glaring contradictions and dangers of the 'unlimited growth' paradigm and of viewing everything in economic terms.
Potash is Key to Avoiding Global Food Crunch, Experts Agree.
So, the "experts" agree that the solution to an overgrown population and depletion of non renewable resources is to accelerate the depletion more non-renewable resources? Oh, brother.

sunrnr said...

Sabastian Ronan - I'm just curious, should succession succeed for whomever, how would the resulting entity survive?

Seems we all have gotten where most of the poplulace rely on others for food, clothing, shelter building materials, infrastructure, income and governance?

I'm not against the movement in any way, just ignorant on the details.


Sebastian Ronin said...

sunrnr, "I'm just curious, should succession succeed for whomever, how would the resulting entity survive?"

Who knows exactly how things are going to shake down? That's the purpose of this blog and others like it, to attempt to give us some kind of a head's up. However, relative to the specific questions and IMO, I offer the following.

There is enough material out there and there have been enough posts in here to inform us of three things: physical infrastructure will collapse due to decrease in energy flow-through; agricultural self-sufficiency is going to carry high premiums, and; economic protectionism is already in the works.

There will be less of everything. Trade, of course, will still be optional, but will be conducted by smaller, autonomous nations. The principle and economic dynamic of comparative advantage may actually take on real meaning again, as opposed to which jurisdiction can throw the most tax dollars for businesses to locate and/or re-locate.

It was either Kunstler or Heinlein, I believe, who wrote that if you want a picture of the Post-Peak Oil society, take a look at Cuba. Large and small engine repair will become a hot skill. Some of those old beaters in Cuba are 40-50 years old, yet still get from point A to point B.

Sebastian Ronin said...

sunrnr, also keep something in mind. As a Peak Oiler, the type of secession I recognize is "secession-by-default." This is very important. For example, it differentiates me from the more radical States' Rights advocates who fall back on the gutting and the bastardization of the Constitution. As we enter the slide, first to collapse will be physical infrastructure followed by institutional infrastructure, the institution of the large industrial nation-state inclusive. In the PPO era it no longer serves a purpose, function, utility.

I am attempting to bring together Peak Oilers, States' Rights advocates and pissed off Greens (bioregional purists). The common thread of secession runs through each demographic philosophy. When I tilt at windmills, I make sure that they're real big! =;-D

Sebastian Ronin said...

Jo, okay so the America's Nightmare: The Obama Dystopia comment earlier in the day got nuked. Fair nuff. However, I still think it a worthy piece to make it onto your next link list.

in_the_light said...

I would say that most of us actually craves horror to some degree. Its not a matter of still being shocked by horrific things. Its a matter of feeling alive through the experience of horror, anger, etc. Fear and anger get the adrenals going. Most of us are addicted to adrenaline (if you don't believe me, note the rise of the energy drink fad which is founded on caffiene, an adrenal stimulant. NOt to mention that coffee is the second most widely traded commodity worldwide, second only to... you guessed it, peakers, oil.)

If your still "shocked" by horrorific things, bottom line is you still like the feeling you get from reacting in that way. From my observations of the comments on this blog, I would say that it appears that most people on this site enjoy the idea that a massive die-off needs to happen if their theories are correct.

Check it within yourself. Don't get mad at me. If I'm wrong, i'm wrong. If I'm right, maybe you shouldtry to change.

PeakedOut said...

Rock and a Hard place....
I've wondered for quite a while what it will look like when things start to hit close enough to home to directly impact my life. Recently, in an effort for California to "save" money, the State will begin outsourcing our network to ATT and Verizon. My unit will handle the technical details and manage the transition to the new outsourced service. So our jobs are not in immediate jeopardy. Two other groups, people we work closely with and have many friends among them, will not be so lucky. They are most likely fodder for the Govenator to use to show he is getting tough with the budget crisis. What makes me think my plight is relevant here on this blog is the reaction of my co-workers who won't be outsourced this first go around. Most were relieved that they would not be getting axed. There has not a mention of the poor bastards we would be leaving behind. As long as it wasn't us getting chewed up, it was OK. This from a group of union employees. And believe me, they will cry like babies when their turn comes, but not a one will do anything to help those that fall before them.

I railed at them that we must stand and fight together while our numbers are great enough to make a difference!! Failing to do so would only leave us more vulnerable when the next wave of cuts come. A few listened, but most scurried away like rats.

And so, I think, this is how it will go, on greater and smaller scales, for all of us. Forsaking those that don't make the next round, so long as we ourselves get by. Until finally we are the fodder, then we will look for help and it won't be there.
For a moment, I thought Obama might make good on his promise to mankind, but he is turning out to be a slicker version of Bush.
I wonder if our society will produce the leaders we will need? I've tried repeatedly to rally my co-workers and friends, even those that are now facing foreclosure, bankruptcy, and layoffs seem uninterested in doing anything to help themselves.
I miss the fire and attitude of NBPatton. I think we will need to develop the will to fight before this miss-adventure is complete. As the opening of this blog suggests, "If there's a gun on the wall at the beginning of the play, by the end it must go off."

Be it by strike, or revolt, or simply turning away from the destructive ways we now hold dear, change must come, and it is seldom painless. I'm learning lessons everyday.
Happy Memorial Day to all. If you aren't in the U.S., you may still want to reflect on the courage and sacrifice of those that have faced hardship before you. Our time is near...

brell said...

China building refined petrol reserves sounds like they've read and signed off on Mike's book! I finished reading it while in Japan this past week.

I don't know if the Japanese (and Germans, Russians, Indians) have such stockpiles, but they'd be smart to start. Nice crash insurance bandaid.

I have a (very) small 2-gal red container of it in my friend's trunk for when that friend may (ever) run out of gas... or it becomes 'short'. cheers.