Unto the third and fourth generations

by John Rember

Everything we write depends on an imagined future. It’s not too much to say that narratives are like icebergs: nine-tenths of the meaning of a story lies not in its words, but in the past and the future that its words evoke.

Last week I tried to demonstrate a disconnect between the past and the present, and suggested that these days, our present can’t find meaning in its past. Technology, like the Khmer Rouge, has declared a Year Zero, and we can only hope that technology’s reign will be less murderous.

Writers are left with the future as a source for meaning in their fiction and nonfiction. But the future cannot be observed, it can only be imagined.

The usual way of imagining a future is to extrapolate identifiable trends. But trends often fade away before they get to the future, and sometimes we find out that the future has been transformed by an event that isn’t part of any trend. Nonetheless, it’s possible to project ourselves ahead a few decades or even a few centuries, bearing in mind that our projections tell our readers more about ourselves and our time and place than they do about what is to come.

July 17, 2031
Sawtooth Valley, Idaho, Han Empire

Dear Great-Grandkid:

By the time you are old enough to understand this letter, you will have heard stories about my generation — the Baby Boomers — and they’re all true. Yes, our family owned its own home, and that home had several rooms. Yes, we did have a car, and that car was powered by gasoline, and we could buy gasoline without the danger of being caught and sent to the potato fields. Yes, both your great-grandmother and I both went to university and could choose our occupations. We could have become mining engineers or tax officials or even officers in the military, but we studied literature instead. Literature used to be an honorable profession. People were paid to study it and even — I’m not kidding — to produce it.

As it happened, neither your great-grandmother nor I got rich at literature, which probably saved our lives during the wealth redistribution riots of 2016, when so many of our fellow Boomers perished. True, we were educated, old, and had canned food stored in our crawl space, but we weren’t bankers, politicians, lawyers, or corporate executives who had moved jobs offshore. Our location in a rural community saved us from search and seizure and summary execution by the Hoarding Police — we had always lived modestly, and even during the great famines there were better pickings elsewhere.

It has always amazed me how long America held together after capitalism started eating itself. The three generations prior to the Boomers had worked to accumulate tremendous stores of wealth, and the salvage economy based on their efforts carried into your grandparents’ generation, allowing them to live all their lives in front of screens showing videogames. That’s what happened to your grandparents. As things got worse in the country, they retreated further toward the limitless internal horizons of virtual reality, and starved to death at their game consoles.

As was the practice in those days, your great grandmother and I took in our children’s children — your parents — and raised them. We were not able to afford to educate them, however. As soon as they were old enough to work in the fields, we rented them out to Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland, and so were able to hang on to our house for a few more years, until the Chinese foreclosed on us.

A good many of our fellow Boomers still see the Chinese foreclosure and the incorporation of North America into the Han Empire as a catastrophe. But your great-grandmother and I have fared well as naturalized citizens of China. We have enough to eat, for one thing. And even though we aren’t fluent in Chinese, we are respected because of our age and education, and we have been given an entire room in an Autumn Residence, the Chinese term for what used to be known as retirement communities. We have been able to make the occasional small sum explaining idiomatic English to Chinese historians, who study America as a cautionary example. “We do not want to end up like America,” they tell us. “Where did you go wrong?”

Of course they know where we went wrong, but it amuses them to hear our answers. “We stole from the future,” I tell them, “and then the future moved into our house.” It’s a phrase that translates well into Chinese, I’m told.

I am delivering this letter by bicycle courier to the potato farm where your parents supervise the chain gangs of black-market gasoline sellers, captured Canadian resistance fighters, and the descendants of hedge-fund managers. Considering that they started out as indentured servants, your parents have done well for themselves, and it is an indication of how well they’ve done that they were granted permission to have a child. I have congratulated them in another letter, one I paid to have translated. I’m not sure if they remember English.

Our legacy to you will be necessarily small — a few books, enough money for a year of school, and our photo album. The house in the photos is real, made out of real wood. Our smiles are genuine. You won’t believe this, but we used to get in that car and drive a hundred miles just to see a movie. We even used to fly through the air in airplanes, and once we visited the real China, if you can imagine that.

Try not to blame us for giving you a world that is much different than the one we were given. When we were born — this sounds more stupid than it seemed at the time — people didn’t realize actions had consequences. Citizens were referred to as consumers in those days, and we didn’t realize how voracious we were until we consumed everything in our world and yours. Even when it was apparent we were poisoning the atmosphere and acidifying the oceans and destroying most of the creatures that shared the planet with us, we kept on keeping on, until what little we hadn’t consumed had to be sold to pay the bills.

Your parents may be able to pay for more than a year of education. If they do, and if they don’t consider it a waste of your time and their money, you should study English. It of course won’t be of much use to you growing potatoes, but it was a language that gave rise to a beautiful body of literature, one that’s a joy to read in the original. Over the years, our books have given us constant pleasure in inconstant times, and your great-grandmother and I would be pleased if you could read them. That way, when you’re tempted to think we left you nothing of value, you can share with us at least one small part of the world we thought would last forever.

Good luck with this year’s potato crop, and I do hope that you’re reading this letter and not having it read to you.

Your great-granddad,


There. That was fun. A little fiction to work up an appetite for breakfast, inspired by a bumper sticker on a big motorhome parked at the Post Office yesterday: “We’re Spending Our Grandchildren’s Inheritance.” Well, yes. You are. They will not think kindly of you for it, either.

Another source of inspiration, from the morning news: the utter inability of our elected leaders to act in the face of a financial and political crisis that has left this country with a fifth of its workforce unemployed.

Yet another: the passivity of Americans in the face of restrictions on civil liberty, offshoring, propaganda disguised as news, an oligarchy disguised as a two-party system, theft disguised as financial deregulation, and permanent damage to the land and water by people who won’t clean up their messes.

As a writer, I’m not yet to where Cormac McCarthy was when he wrote The Road, but the trends I’m seeing these days make me think that people with children and grandchildren should be worried. The great-grandchild above bears no resemblance to anyone living or dead, as the disclaimer goes, because Julie and I decided long ago not to have children, much less grandchildren.

Perhaps that’s why I can witness what I’m witnessing. British Petroleum’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima have been events that I’ve continued to research because they weren’t supposed to happen and yet they happened and I find them as interesting as they are tragic. It’s possible we’re in an era when any decision will turn out to be the wrong one, any leader will be overwhelmed by the impossibilities of his position, any technology will turn out to be lethal, and any profit will result in someone else’s loss.

The implications for writers are profound. I can’t think of a better time to be alive and witnessing the world, but I also can’t think of a time when the pitfalls have been so deep and wide. The stage directions have become the play, and we face the problem of writing characters who can keep their eyes wide open to the huge events around them. I suppose it will help if we don’t give them children.


This essay first appeared at MFA in a Box.

Comments 150

  • Fairy stories for sleeping Americans

  • Long live the Emperor. Long live the Empire


  • Robin-

    A counterweight indeed. Thanks for posting.

  • Your comment is awaiting moderation.


    I must be a wrongdoer, sob.

  • Professor Know Says:
    July 22nd, 2011 at 1:44 am
    The subtle fear factory and life long condition of the American.

    I will turn off my TV forever. thank you for this video

  • Professor Know Says:
    July 21st, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Some different food for thinking, a different perspective.

    thank you for this video, I am shocked being a christian and all

  • Brutus, more than 1 link in a post will usually trigger “awaiting comment”

  • Kathy

    Shouldn’t you be in bed at this hour?… ;-)

  • Victor.

    This is what I just thought. Given you an answer further up, not yet published. Kathy up this time, keeps calling me Brutus – something is outta tune:-)

  • Bernhard

    Thanks. I await your post….hopefully, Guy will wake up early and allow it through!… :-)

  • Doctor Know,

    Thanks for the videos. Very interesting. It re-enforces my contention that the sports and entertainment businesses are purposefully designed as a social narcotic for the masses, both to project messages and to pacify the population.

  • Oops….many apologies…Professor Know, not Doctor Know (seems I have heard that name before…. :-) )

  • Bernhard

    If you are being called Brutus, then I would consider that a compliment as he seems to be a well educated, informed and knowledgeable participant here…. ;-)

  • Psyops has and will be a part of interactions from time immemorial. Dogs practice it when they aim their urine high on a tree to convey the impression of being bigger when marking their territory.

    The Russians have so long been used to authoritarianism that when they shook off one form, they promptly reverted to an earlier form.

    Television is aimed at an eighth grade level to maximize its coverage. If one has a higher level of education, it does not serve to advance. I dropped television shortly after returning from Desert Storm; I do not have a television, and have not watched it for about two decades now.

  • Why did Man fail is the question. Of course, there are likely many recognizable, understandable and acceptable responses to that query. Having made this acknowledgement, I remain dumbstruck by one glaring and willful failure. It is the conscious and abject failure on the part of many too many top ranking professionals with appropriate expertise and extant scientific evidence to respond to one central question, the rejection of which appears to be allowing ‘ the stage to be set ‘ for big trouble that takes its shape in the form of some unimaginable sort of colossal, human-induced global ecological wreckage.

    **** Is the population dynamics of the human species essentially similar to or else different from the population dynamics of other species? **** The implications of the correct response to that single query appear profound.

  • Dogs practice it when they aim their urine high on a tree to convey the impression of being bigger when marking their territory.

    I do that too. Keeps the cats at bay as well…. ;-)

  • “Professor Know Says:
    July 21st, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Fictions and dream stories are for emotional hungry children.”

    No, they are the fodder of geniuses and promote freedom of thought. They can be use against people too, just like a kitchen knife.

    But I understand you concern They are also a threat to emotionally dysfunctional tyrannts and intellectual frauds parading as “professors” and such.

  • It was trying to imagine as a child what a beam of light from a stationary source would look like from a spaceship traveling away at the speed of light that got Einstein started.

  • A strange writing for someone who will leave no descendants.

    The cold truth is, those who are more likely to prepare tend to be childless, and whatever they do will be of benefit to nobody else, or at most a scavenger who wouldn’t even know who made the prep.

  • jaime lopez, I couldn’t disagree more. The durable arrangements to which I’ve contributed, for example, will prove quite valuable to my partners and their young son, as well as my entire human community. The mud hut will be standing long after there is no habitat for humans in this region, but it will serve future humans well.

  • Bernhard, apologies, but you must admit that Brutus and Bernhard both start with a “B”. Old brain…. :(

  • Robin Datta,

    RE: Einstein

    I tell people that relativity is easy to understand.All you have to do is to believe that which seems impossible:the speed of light is absolute.Few can make that counter-intuitive leap of faith.But for those
    that can,all else in relativity comes logically.

    Double D

  • Jaime Lopez,

    What are you basing that statement on, and/or what did you mean by that? It is possible that people who are childless have more resources than people with children (fewer mouths to feed, etc.), so their childless preppers might look to be more engaged because they accumulate more stuff. You seem to be suggesting, however, that there is something about childless people that causes them to prep that is not present in people with children. This is not my experience.

    Michael Irving

  • Orlov in a public Q&A:


    Some very good questions and thoughtful answers are posted. And then of course there is some comic relief -aka Sean the Mystic (I loved Dmitry’s response – especially the last line).

  • Steven

    ‘Why did Man fail is the question.’

    I think you are asking the wrong question or looking at the predicament from the wrong perspective. The tiny group of elites who have been in control of western society for hundreds of yeara have not failed at all. Money-lenders (and the corporations they own) have gained nearly complete control over the general populace and the political process throughout most of the world. They have set up humungous slave camps and have convinced the slaves that they are free. Many of the slaves fight to maintain their status as slaves and cheer enthusiastically when lied to. That is a remarkable success.

    Many of the top-ranking professionals you refer to are richly rewarded for keeping their mouths shut.

  • Victor sez: If you are being called Brutus, then I would consider that a compliment as he seems to be a well educated, informed and knowledgeable participant here ….

    Naw, he’s full of shite. But unless I’m mistaken, several commentators are picking up on ideas I presented near the top of the comments section (now 125 entries and counting) and recycling them as original ideas. All I can say is I’m flattered by such imitation.

  • Jaime:

    I have been a teacher most of my life, and an old joke about teaching is that while you raise lots of children, they go home at night.

    But in the spirit of teaching, I will be just as happy if someone else’s genes inherit my stuff as I would be if my own genes were inheriting my stuff. It’s not going to be a lot of stuff in any event.

    I do think a lot about great-grandchildren, fictional or eventual. It’s worthwhile to imagine what the world will look like from their point of view. If such an exercise helps us to rearrange our present-day priorities for their benefit, so much the better.

  • Remember Climate-Gate?

    Remember Neil Wallis, the Murdock hitman at the centre of the phone hacking scandal?

    Well, guess what? There is a connection…..it is strange how reality turns out to be much worse than even the pessimist thinks…one really can not grasp the cunning evil of Rupert Murdock as this story unfolds.

    Murdoch Henchman Responsible for Climate-Gate?

    By Keith Olbermann

    July 21, 2011 “Current TV” — The Murdoch Phone-Hacking Scandal may have just metastasized. The so-called “Climate-Gate” controversy – in which e-mails about global warming were stolen from researchers at Britain’s University of East Anglia in November, 2009 – now turns out to bear the stamp of Neil Wallis, one of the key figures in Murdoch’s hacking of the phones, voicemails, and other electronic communications of thousands of people.

    Wallis is unique in this scandal. He had been the Executive Editor of Murdoch’s News Of The World when hacking was at its peak. Yet in 2009 he wound up being hired by the police as a public relations consultant while the police investigated the hacking scandal. And he wound up spying for Murdoch’s people on what Scotland Yard was investigating.

    Wallis was, as the New York Times put it, “reporting back to News International while he was working for the police on the hacking case.”

    Moreover, while Wallis was keeping Murdoch’s organization apprised of what and whom the police were investigating, the police were trying to convince other news organizations not to cover the story – a suppression of evidence that benefited both the police and Rupert Murdoch. As the British newspaper The Guardian reported last Friday: “Scotland Yard’s most senior officers tried to convince the Guardian during two private meetings that its coverage of phone hacking was exaggerated and incorrect without revealing they had hired Neil Wallis …”

    It was neither exaggerated nor incorrect. Last Thursday, Neil Wallis was arrested. Last night, it was revealed that while acting as a double-agent for Scotland Yard and Murdoch, Wallis was also consulting Conservative Party Leader David Cameron during the 2010 election that saw Cameron rise to become the nation’s Prime Minister.

    Today, bobbing up to the surface through this vast ocean of ethical filth, comes Neil Wallis’s role … in “Climate-Gate.”

    On November 20th, 2009, somebody broke into a computer server at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and stole thousands of emails and computer files. The documents were leaked to Climate Change Deniers, and although exhaustive analysis later proved that the emails merely revealed scientists’ anxiety that Climate Data and Research were being properly handled and studied, the Deniers have treated those emails as if they were a kind of Holy Grail of fraud. They claim the emails not only disproved all of climate change, but also that they proved that scientists had doctored data in order to exaggerate the urgency of an international conference on climate change coming up the next month in Copenhagen in Denmark.

    As the corporations and lobbyists who sought to feed the myth that there is no man-made climate change disseminated, exploited and deliberately misinterpreted the stolen e-mails – and used Fox News and other Murdoch enterprises as their principle venues – the victims, the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, decided they’d better hire a public relations pro to help them fight back. They hired … Neil Wallis.

    The Murdoch editor who had supervised electronic hacking at “The News Of The World,” but then went to work for Scotland Yard, but then spied on the Scotland Yard hacking investigation for Murdoch’s men, but then tried to suppress media coverage of the Scotland Yard hacking investigation, now found himself in exactly the same kind of candy store over climate change denial. And he was the chief kid!

    As it was phrased in a gushing review last year in “Music Week Magazine” of Neil Wallis and his PR firm “Outside Organization”: “Wallis led on the University of East Anglia’s ‘Climategate’ job, when Outside was drafted in to help the university’s Climatic Research Unit defend itself against charges of scientific misconduct.”

    Climate change scientists and outside experts agree that, with Neil Wallis at the helm, the Climatic Research Unit couldn’t have done a worse job defending itself. The myth that its emails “disprove” Global Warming persists today.

    In the Murdoch Hacking Scandal, Wallis has already been shown to have been undermining the efforts of the people for whom he’d been hired to work – the police. In the Murdoch Hacking Scandal, Wallis has already been shown to have been feeding information from the investigators, to those being investigated. In the Murdoch Hacking Scandal, Wallis has already been shown to have been working for Rupert Murdoch, long after he claimed he wasn’t working for Rupert Murdoch. And in the Murdoch Hacking Scandal, Wallis was an executive editor in charge of having people illegally hack phones, voicemails, and other electronic communications, and then publicizing the data and details that the hacking had produced.

    And yet it was to him that climate scientists turned … to defend themselves against hackers.

    What, if anything, Neil Wallis had to do with the original hacking of the climate emails at the University of East Anglia, is still speculative … just as whether or not he was a double-agent for Murdoch in this hacking case, just as he had been a double-agent for Murdoch during Scotland Yard’s hacking investigation. But it may not be speculative for long. There is the news from The Financial Times: a possible FBI/DOJ investigation of a Murdoch subsidiary hacking the computers of a business rival. And earlier today, PC World Magazine reported that while we’ve all been working with a number of 3,870 hacking victims in the Murdoch Scandal, data released by Britain’s Home Affairs Committee suggests the number may actually be as high as 12,800.

    Only 170 of the victims have yet been notified. If any of the others among the “Hacked Twelve Thousand” turn out to be scientists at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, Rupert Murdoch may be in a lot bigger trouble than he is, even tonight.

    He may be the man ultimately responsible for the illegal and inaccurate attempt to dismiss climate change as a scientific fraud.

    Countdown with Keith Olbermann/Current TV

  • Robin Datta Says:
    July 22nd, 2011 at 12:29 am
    Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion

    A counterweihht to xiaocal & Professor Know.

    “Did you know that until 250 years ago China was the strongest country in the world?” -Baron Benjamin de Rothschild

    The Eastern Sun is risig again. The suppressor wil be the suppressed, the sinner will be the sinned against. The Chinese have seen all tricks in the book and remember Sassoon opiates like yesterday.

  • Guy McPherson Says:
    July 22nd, 2011 at 10:56 am
    The durable arrangements to which I’ve contributed, for example, will prove quite valuable to my partners and their young son, as well as my entire human community. The mud hut will be standing long after there is no habitat for humans in this region, but it will serve future humans well.

    Everyone has a price and they are cheap too.

    Guy has seen the dynamic living truth and now seeks security with his calculation and predictions. There is no such thing as security. Not physical, not biological, not psychological. Life is dynamic living reality, always changing. You can not control or predict Nature abd the evolving psyche of human beings.

    Security is fear, greed and the rest of it. You bring division to the local, inequality breeds envy, hatred. You can befriend and mold them but that has never worked.

  • Victor,
    It’s a fictitious world, only in the West that we are living in dire poverty, zero moral and no psychological intelligence.

    People are walkin zombies, they resemble drug addicts withdwarl symptoms without media programming, well enjoy your TV hypnosis download and unconscious thinking programming.

    I like the East and Middle East where people can actually strike a real humane conversation with their own original thinking.

  • John Rember, I admire you and your wife for remaining childless.

    I would like to add that people have funny ideas about passing on their genes. Even if you have children and they have children etc after several generations it is possible that none of your genes remain in your descendants. While half of your genes go to your children, it would be possible, if unlikely, that none of them go to your grandchildren. Certainly by several more crosses those genes that make you uniquely you may be lost entirely. I keep track of what gene lines run through our chickens on a data base – if you don’t cross back you go from 1/2 to 1/4 to 1/8 to 1/16 to 1/32 to 1/64 to 1/128 in 7 generations but what is visible in the offspring varies, and traits in the original pair can be entirely lost.

    We had recessive white (there is also a dominant white gene in some breeds) in the flock at one point and that was crossed into a number of birds. Being recessive, it disappears from view in one cross to a non white bird. It should have reappeared, if it was still around, as quite a number of birds come from that line, but it has yet to pop up again and seems to be lost.

    But at any rate who give a “#$%@ about inanimate genes. People matter, not genes. It is only our brain programs for kin selection that seize on the genes idea and make that important in our minds.

    Supposing you carry one gene for sickle cell anemia. That gives you some protection from malaria which means you live longer and can pass that on. If you happen to pass that gene and your spouse has it and passes it as well then your child will have the condition which is painful and will if untreated likely result in an early death but not so early that you can’t pass on the gene. Nice gene to pass on eh? But it persists because it keeps the human alive long enough to get passed on and on. Passing on our genes does not mean happier descendants. If we have some genes that help us pass on our genes, well that is all it means, our happiness means nothing….

    Sometimes it seems that we are giant puppets in service to our genes, thinking we are doing the choosing, but in fact slaves to the programs they embed in our brains….. :(

  • Dear Kevin Moore,

    It appears that the brightest and the best’ are bought and paid for by “the highest bidders,” who then are aided and abetted in the sale of the Earth to the lowest bidders. If the creation of concentrated wealth continues to be the highly regarded driver of purposeful activity it is today, then the probable destruction of the Creation is the already recognizable result. If human beings with feet of clay keep silent, and by so doing consent to what is happening as the Earth is being ravaged, its climate destabilized and its environs degraded by pollution, then some among us in the NBL community may witness something unimaginable, I suppose. And if not us, then surely the children will. Given the gigantic scale and the growth rate of human overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities now rampantly overspreading the surface of Earth, the likelihood of some sort of colossal ecological catastrophe appears virtually inescapable. Such are the vicissitudes of life now, in a soon to become patently unsustainable world ruled by the ‘virtue’ of greed. On the other hand, perhaps greedmongering will be eschewed and other behavioral changes toward sustainability are to be beheld in the offing.

    If changes are not made, perhaps the children will look back in anger and utter disbelief at what my generation of elders is doing now in our planetary home that is certain to prove beyond a shadow of doubt how far we are willing to go in order to protect a patently unsustainable way of life based upon outrageous greedmongering, even if our greediness leads to the death of life as we know it; and even it our foolhardiness causes the destruction of the children’s future. The children will see that human beings with feet of clay can be directed by self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us to precipitate a colossal global wreckage as well as that greed can rule the world absolutely.

    Thanks for your comment.



  • OT/

    Last night one of our 8 chickens did not go wandering back to the barn at dusk with the others.

    Instead, Asshole (yes that is her real name, for good reason, as she proved once again last night) flew up into a small tree in our yard and, to my wife and children’s amazement, hopped branch-to-branch up to a Robin’s nest, plucked a baby out and tossed it to the ground. Assole just ignored the adult robin’s attacks.

    My daughters got the chicken out of the tree after three direct hits with a soccer ball. The chicken went looking for the fallen baby robin so my wife took pursuit, waving one of my straw hats (chickens are deathly afraid of straw hats). After several trips around the crime scene (the tree) the chicken bolted for the stand of cedars on the north side of the house where it flew up into the trees like partridge and spent the night.

    (the adult robins found the baby and for the next ~30 minutes “talked” it (chirp-guided it) to a near-by tree where it managed to fly up to the lowest branch …. Asshole is avoiding the heat under the deck this morning.)

  • Victor,

    Are you trying, with your Murdoch article, to make me crazy this morning or is that just collateral damage? Actually, there is nothing you could tell me that is too nefarious for me to believe about Murdoch and friends.


    Yes, I am making a “judgment” about Murdoch based on incomplete evidence and trends. When will I ever learn?

    Michael Irving

  • The suppressor wil be the suppressed, the sinner will be the sinned against.

    It is a common attitude, but its adaptivity in the longer term may be questionable. When the time comes for these events – in the context of the video to which the link was provided – it is to be hoped that the attitude expressed by the suppressed in that video will prevail: no retribution against the suppressor.

    until 250 years ago China was the strongest country in the world

    Not just that but the world in indebted to China for the tools of civilization: writing, paper, coin money, paper money, rockets, gunpowder, Without writing, human knowledge might still be passed on in an oral tradition, and trade would be through barter. We might not have been far removed from our ancestors wearing animal skins and carrying clubs.

    I bow to the Chinese for their contributions to humanity.

    Even in Buddhism, the awareness called Dhyana in India and Chan in China became Zen in Japan. Most of the older Zen masters were Chinese. And it was in China that Buddhism was freed form its dependence on charity and given a work ethic that in still maintains in the Mahayana traditions today.

    I will be just as happy if someone else’s genes inherit my stuff as I would be if my own genes were inheriting my stuff. – john rember

    Actually, john, the only thing unique about a person’s genes in their particular combination, and that is lost in the shuffle in subsequent generations. Just about every individual gene that one may possess is present is someone in this seething mass of humanity.

    It’s a fictitious world, only in the West that we are living in dire poverty, zero moral and no psychological intelligence.

    The vast majority of sentient beings are in similar straits. It is said in some Hindu traditions that the average soul has 84,000,000 incarnations to go through before full awareness.

    There is the story told, also in a Hindu tradition, of a time when G_d was going for a walk in a forest with his secretary / scribe accompanying Him.

    They came upon a holy man sitting under a tree who was weeping and moaning: the holy man recognized G_d immediately and prostrated himself in worship. God inquired as to what was the source of the holy man’s sorrow and was told that it was because the holy man had not attained full awareness in spite of a lifetime of austerity, penance and devotion. G_d asked his secretary as to when the holy man would achieve full awareness and was informed that it would happen in the next lifetime. Upon hearing this the holy man wailed all the more bemoaning his fate of having to wait until the next lifetime.

    They continued their walk a little further and came upon an insane man under a tree, singing and dancing in delight. G_d asked him the reason for his joy. The man replied that it was because everything was so wonderful: the sunshine, the plants, the flowers, the birds, the butterflies, the wind, etc. G_d asked his secretary as to when this insane person would achieve full awareness, and was told that in would be after as many lifetimes as there were leaves on the tree. Upon hearing this the insane man was overjoyed and bowed to G_d and the secretary thanking them for the good news that it would be is so few lifetimes.

    G_d turned to His secretary and told him “Switch their accounts”.

  • Not just people affected by the heat
    WILLMAR — Livestock losses due to the recent heat wave across Minnesota and the country are significant, according to Farm Service Agency personnel and livestock industry representatives.

    In Kandiyohi County, Farm Service Agency officials and livestock producers are still assessing how many animals were lost, but County Executive Director Wes Nelson termed the losses to turkey producers as “pretty significant” with thousands of birds lost.

    Nelson also reported scattered reports of cattle and hogs lost to the heat.

    It was the combination of no wind and high heat and humidity later on Monday evening into Tuesday morning that was too much for the turkeys, he said. Many of the dead birds were close to or at market weight.
    full article at http://www.wctrib.com/event/article/id/83511/group/homepage/

  • Surprise, surprise.
    Instead, Asshole (yes that is her real name, for good reason, as she proved once again last night)

    Asshole has seen the light, I’m a fricken chicken not no egg factory. Who’s the real Asshole, is it really the bird that has gained natural intellect or the other mamal that has a romantic idea raising chickens as pets.

    The broader role of violence in our societies, meaning that the system is basically a group of people that can initiate violence against those who do not obey their opinions (laws). If you disobey the group of people in uniform, they will use any violence required to bring you inline. This is generally considered moral, while considered immoral when done by a group of thugs. The uniform is crucial in causing this 180 degrees moral reversal.

    If I tell people in my street they have to hand me over 3/4 of their pay checks or I will lock them in my basement, this is considered bad coercion. When the government does the same thing, it is called taxation and is considered good coercion. At some point in time we might have to realize that you cannot preach laws and coercion as the solution to problems in society, while expecting your young people not to go and solve their problems with coercion and violence. You reap what you sow.

  • Kathy, It is a natural cycle of our planet and some knows real well the cause and reaction. It is quite sad that our Professor Mcpherson is under vows of secrecy. What a waste of wisdom.

  • Steven.

    People in most nations are lied to on a continuous basis by those who benefit from the system (which has been running for approximately 400 years). The more I delve, the more I discover that everything in the economic-political system is a lie, and that the entire system is riddled with corruption. Victors contribution is just more evidence.

    Most people have such a poor grasp of the basics of anything -science, history, geography, economics- they believe the lies and vote for people who lie to them. It makes no difference where you are -Obama, Cameron, Key, Gillard- they’re all professional liars, as are most elected representatives and policy-makers. The media promotes half-truths, misinformation and distraction.

    I can see no way out of this vicious cycle until catastrophic failure of the system makes the lies abundantly clear to even the most uninformed, i.e. when food becomes too expensive for most people or stops arriving altogether.

    Yes, it is the next generation who are going to pay the horrendous price for all the profligacy and mendacity that characterise the system. We were fortunate to have been born a little further down the overshoot curve. There are few informed analysts who do not believe a massive population reduction of the order of 5 billion is necessary.

  • Kevin, good comments. However you wrote “Yes, it is the next generation who are going to pay the horrendous price for all the profligacy and mendacity that characterise the system”. I would clarify that. The next generation of first world humans will pay the horrendous price for what we have done. The current generation of third world humans are already paying for it in polluted lands and water, water shortages, floods, drought, etc.

  • Here lies the REAL action behind the scenes. You think they are discussing raising the debt ceiling – wrong. This is something entirely different. I have heard of this approach that Congress and the President are pushing for a couple years now. It involves creating a small body of congressmen (a “super committee” of 12) who would have special privilege to get legislation through both houses of Congress – the normal congressman would be prevented from amending anything this committee offered up. This would, of course, mean the end of the United States as it has been known for some 250 years. The final takeover is almost complete now.

    ‘Super Congress’: Debt Ceiling Negotiators Aim To Create New Legislative Body



    This “Super Congress,” composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers. Under a plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his counterpart Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), legislation to lift the debt ceiling would be accompanied by the creation of a 12-member panel made up of 12 lawmakers — six from each chamber and six from each party.

    Legislation approved by the Super Congress — which some on Capitol Hill are calling the “super committee” — would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law. A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits. Negotiators are currently considering cutting the mortgage deduction and tax credits for retirement savings, for instance, extremely popular policies that would be difficult to slice up using the traditional legislative process.

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has made a Super Congress a central part of his last-minute proposal, multiple news reports and people familiar with his plan say.

  • Kathy. Fair comment. However, if we wish to be pedantic, people of non-European ancestry have been paying a horrendous price from the time the Europeans commenced colonialism, based largely on genocide and slavery.

    I was interviewed this afternoon for a newspaper article on the topic of sustainability. We started with plantings and food storage. The journalist was rather shocked when I pointed out the US had peaked in oil extraction around 1971, but by the time I had dealt with population overshoot, ozone depletion, CO2 positive feedbacks and global dimming she was feeling rather depressed. She has children. Too much truth in one hit is bad for the health.

    I guess she will manage to produce something palatable to the editor out of it all. The line about being governmed by sociopaths will have to wait a little longer, even though the local council is planning to spend $10 million on an art centre and $0 on a permaculture centre.

  • Kevin, didn’t mean to be pedantic. I wasn’t speaking to you as I know you know that, but we have some new posters who might think that everything revolves around the 1st world :)

  • even though the local council is planning to spend $10 million on an art centre and $0 on a permaculture centre.

    You have something against art?…. ;-)

  • Victor
    Don’t think it’s meant to be against art.
    But then, looking ahead:
    In our “sophisticated” times one should think it possible to have the production of food, in line with “natures laws”, declared as “the art of living”. And provided with money as long as this money can have “change” effects”.

  • Loss of predators in the food chain can alter the ecosystem
    By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY

    Take away the predators at the top of the food chain — the lions, tigers, wolves and cougars — and entire ecosystems start to change. A paper in today’s edition of the journal Science suggests that humans’ destruction of these top predators is causing reverberations worldwide in ways not apparent even a decade ago, including changes in the landscape and even increases in wildfires.

    Full article at http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2011-07-14-Ecosystem-predators-food-chain-science-study_n.htm?csp=34news&AID=4992781&PID=4172469&SID=11ts118s59i0x

  • With great thanks to John Rember for his typically insightful writing, I’ve posted a new guest essay.

  • john
    very late to this but i especially appreciate your detailing your thoughts, or at least this set of them, for our future. i found your projection of our future quite grim, & w/o the grand scale drama often present.

    BTW Greer has in his christmas’s of the future, a set of essays a few years ago; california area being chinese.