Let Go, or Be Dragged

When called a quitter in somebody’s first-time comment in this space, my initial response was to serve the name-caller a big warm cup of ShutTheFuckUp. Then I gave it a bit more thought. One result is this essay.

Contrary to the respondent’s interpretation of my essay, I’m not suggesting we quit. Giving up is not giving in: Accepting our fate is not synonymous with jumping into the absurdly omnicidal main stream. Just because we’re opossums on the roadway doesn’t mean we should play possum. Resistance is fertile, after all. To employ a bit of The Boss: “In the end what you don’t surrender, well the world just strips away.”

Or, to employ a bit of Zen: Let go, or be dragged.

Or, to employ a bit of popular culture: Carpe diem.

Or, to employ a bit of Nietzsche: “Live as though the day were here.”

Climate chaos is well under way, and has become irreversible over temporal spans relevant to humans because of positive feedbacks. Such is the nature of reaching the acceleration phase of the nonlinear system that is climate catastrophe.

As a result of ongoing, accelerating climate change, I’m letting go of the notion that Homo sapiens will inhabit this planet beyond 2030. I’m letting go of the notion that Homo sapiens will inhabit this verdant little valley at the edge of American Empire after it turns to dust within a very few years. I’m letting go of the notion that, within a few short years, there will remain any habitat for humans in the interior of any large continent in the northern hemisphere. I’m letting go of the notion we’ll retain even a fraction of one percent of the species currently on Earth beyond 2050. But I’m not letting go of the notion of resistance, which is a moral imperative.

I will no longer judge people for buying into cultural conditioning. It’s far easier to live in a city, at the height of civilization’s excesses, than not. I know how easy it is to live in a city surrounded by beautiful distractions and pleasant interactions, and I fully understand the costs and consequences of dwelling there, as well as the price to be paid in the near future. I spent about half my life in various cities, and I understand the physical ease and existential pain of living at the apex of empire. Also, I know all about the small joys and great pains associated with living in the country. I spent the other half of my life in the country and in towns with fewer than 1,000 people. I understand why the country bumpkin is assigned stereotypical labels related to ignorance and, paradoxically, self-reliance.

It’s clearly too late to tear down this irredeemably corrupt system and realize any substantive benefits for humans or other organisms. And yet I strongly agree with activist Lierre Keith: “The task of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much personal integrity as possible; it is to dismantle those systems.” If it seems I’m filled with contradictions, color me hypocritical fully human in a Walt Whitman sort of way: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Our remaining time on this orb is too short to cast aspersions at those who live differently from ourselves, as most people in industrialized countries have done throughout their lives. Most people in the industrialized world became cultural crack babies in the womb. There is little hope to break the addiction of ingestion at this late point in the era of industry, and I’m throwing in the towel on changing the minds of typically mindless Americans. No longer will I try to convince people to give up the crack pipe based on my perception of morality reality.

I’ll continue to speak. I’ll continue to write. But these efforts will be presented with less urgency than I’ve previously employed, and they will represent personal perspectives and actions. I’ll no longer recommend to others the path I’ve taken.

Nietzsche’s comment about seizing the day, every day, brings to mind the final words of Joseph Campbell’s 1949 book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces:

It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal — carries the cross of the redeemer — not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.

With the preceding dire news in mind, it would be easy to forget how fortunate we are. After all, we get to die. That simple fact alone is cause for celebration because it indicates we get to live. As I wrote more than five years ago, our knowledge of DNA assures us that the odds any one of us existing are greater than the odds against being a particular grain of sand on all the world’s beaches. No, the odds are much greater than that: they exceed the odds of being a single atom plucked from the entire universe. To quote the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, “In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I that are privileged to be here, privileged with eyes to see where we are and brains to wonder why.”

 

This essay is permalinked at Democratic Underground, The Refreshment Center and Seemorerocks.

Comments 306

  • AJ : If you accept that, if you buy Guy’s and Kathy C’s claim on that, then her advice on what to do in these last few years of human existence (“smile, dance, and hug someone you love”) makes perfect sense. Don’t you see? Kathy C is saying that it’s time to start the process of saying good-bye to all those you love or simply care about. The time has come to say all those things that you always wanted to say, or always meant to say, but for whatever reasons, you just couldn’t bring yourself to say. Now is the time to do that, because the time left is short. Very, very short. It’s time to “put all your affairs in order”, so to speak.

    Hahaha, no I don’t see it like that at all, myself. I think we should smile, dance, hug, anyway, because we all have a finite life and always have had. I live with death, all the time, so I try to be as happy and carefree as I can manage to be.

    I don’t accept the 18 years because there are so many error bars. If, for example, there’s a world war, starting this autumn, with nuclear, chemical and bio weapons, the future will be very different, to if there is no war. Or if the banking and finance system collapses, then economic activity will plummet, and so will CO2 emissions, or if there’s a global pandemic that kills half the population, likewise… with vastly decreased population, the future would roll out differently to BAU….

    So all I’m saying is that it’s impossible to make a precise prediction. That doesn’t change my belief that we are headed into a Permian-type mass extinction event. But if you look at the geological record, such changes took a very long time, relative to a human lifetime. We’re changing the planet so rapidly, almost unprecedented speed, that the results will be dramatic, but may still be slow from a human perspective.

    And while I’m still alive, I have no objection whatsoever to people making hand-sewn books, if that’s what they want to do. :-)

  • Kathy C,

    If extinction by 2030 is now baked in the cake, then arguably a better choice than Douglas Adams is the 1959 movie “On the Beach”, and the novel of the same name.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Beach_(1959_film)

    The conversation between Admiral Bridie and Lt. Hosgood near the end of the movie, as the deadly radioactive cloud drifts over Melbourne, bears repeating:

    Admiral Bridie: HOSGOOD ? HOSGOOD ?

    Lt. Hosgood: YES, SIR ?

    Admiral Bridie: IT LOOKS AS IF WE’VE HAD IT, HOSGOOD. WOULD YOU LIKE SHORE LEAVE OR ARE YOU STAYING ABOARD ?

    Lt. Hosgood: I’M REMAINING ABOARD, SIR.

    Admiral Bridie: WOULD YOU HAVE A GLASS OF SHERRY WITH AN OLD MAN ?

    Lt. Hosgood: NO, SIR,

    Admiral Bridie: BUT I WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE TO HAVE ONE WITH YOU…

    Lt. Hosgood: SIR.

    Admiral Bridie: THERE’S ONE THING THAT ALWAYS BOTHERED ME, HOSGOOD. A GIRL LIKE YOU– WHY NO YOUNG MEN ?

    Lt. Hosgood: THEY NEVER ASKED ME. I GUESS MAYBE IT WAS THE UNIFORM.

    [ Glasses Clink ]

    Admiral Bridie: TO A BLIND… BLIND WORLD.

    I should add that the scientist in the film, Julian Osborne (played by Fred Astaire) is a dead ringer for Guy. Memorable Julian Osborne quote:

    Who would ever have believed that human beings would be stupid enough to blow themselves off the face of the Earth?

  • navid,

    A minor, but perhaps not insignificant, nit to pick with the SA article. The 2012 Arctic sea ice minimum is actually 760,000 sq km smaller than the 2007 minimum. So the situation is actually even worse than described.

  • Paul Chefurka,

    DM isn’t suggesting a substitution of story for science. Instead they are suggesting a shift in the stories we tell about ourselves.

    Indeed. You’re right. I mis-spoke. DM is certainly about fostering such a shift.

    Science will remain a part of them, but as I understand it they mainly want to blunt the razor’s edge of our separationist, dominationist stories with respect to our place within nature and with respect to each other.

    Yes, although my reading of DM is that in the new stories, science will be in something of a subordinate position. PK talks about this in “The Quants and the Poets” at the DM blog.

  • AJ : Who would ever have believed that human beings would be stupid enough to blow themselves off the face of the Earth?

    I think it is remarkable what a close run thing it is. If the dominant culture had been different, we wouldn’t have got into this mess. It’s the insane capitalist ‘greed is good’, combined with a science devoid of ethics, plus a few other strands, like the Biblical ‘go forth and multiply’ and ‘dominion over all living things’, etc, that created the recipe for disaster and extinction.

    We could, with just a little tweaking, have had a dominant global culture similar to the Amish, or to the Kogi, people who take their responsibility to care for the world seriously, and see our culture as the reckless irresponsible foolish Younger Brother who refuses to listen to wise advice from the Older Brother.

    https://youtu.be/pnLX9pdKuEg

  • “I should let you in on a little secret. No one likes you in the future. This time period is looked at as being full of lazy, self-centred, civically ignorant sheep. You eat poisoned food, buy manufactured products no one needs, and turn an uncaring eye away from millions of people suffering and dying all around you.”

    http://finalbullet.com/2012/09/07/how-we-lost-the-future/

  • Arthur – I think it is very good to nit-pik an article like this. I think that despite the weak attempt at “good news” the article makes it very clear nothing about this is “good news,” and I think makes it perfectly clear “current models” are grossly underestimating what is happening.

    The picture painted – in an honest and balanced way IMHO – is that all of our models are grossly wrong. There are too many repetitions of “but current models do not take this into account…”

    Looking at Figure 7 on June Ice Extent- note the trend line and how the past three years show we have broken that trend line to the downside. This June extent and volume is a “lagging indicator” relative to the September data (fig 3 and 6) – but it looks like the June pattern is now following the September-pattern of collapsing extent and volume. In other words, the June data will look like the September data within a few years… and then we can update the models maybe …???

    Of all the feedback loops mentioned, the waking of the microbes in the tundra reminds me of that line from a WWII movie, after Japan bombs Pearl Harbor… “We have awakened a Sleeping Giant…”

    I think this Limits of Growth Model #3 graph is still likely to be accurate:

    http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/ecolonomics/00/ecolonomics-004-ltg.png

  • Arthur,

    This part I’d nit-pic too:

    “A reminder that some periods of the last 10,000 years have been a bit warmer than our present, seemingly without triggering runaway explosive release of Arctic methane,”

    An apples-to-plywood comparison – strawman distraction to avoid reality?

    How many times in the last 10,000 did we dig up and burn 50 million years of accumulated Carbon (fossil fuels) within a century or so ???

    So… jeez, ya think this time might be a just a wee-bit different than those times in the past 10,000 years?

    The delusions and bargaining die hard – especially for the highly insulated.

  • From a wise man, Dmitry Orlov
    “I do not view aging as a competitive sport, and that I do not aspire to smashing any records in the longevity department.”
    http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2012/09/le-vieillard-gros.html#more

    Ulvfugl you wrote ” I think we should smile, dance, hug, anyway, because we all have a finite life and always have had. I live with death, all the time, so I try to be as happy and carefree as I can manage to be.”

    I was thinking of adding a comment along the same lines, but had to go feed chickens so you beat me to it. OK I think I am up to 4 things MB and I agree on and at least 1 that you and I agree on.

  • The second half of On the Beach (1959). The ending starts at 49:00. The scene between Admiral Bridle and Lt. Hosgood starts at 52:13

  • And the first half of On the Beach.

    There’s a more recent adaptation (also available on youtube) in color, but the fact that the original was shot in black and white gives it a particularly powerful mood.

  • Thanks for the agreement, Kathy C. Personally, I think the ‘hug’ should be extended to all sentient beings, which is something I was trying to get around to in the previous Attachment/Non-attachment thread. Indeed, it ought to be extended to include the whole damn biosphere, if we had a culture that was not terminally psychotic.

    There really is no conflict between the spiritual stuff that I am into, and good science.
    For instance, I use a variety of mudras that I have learned from a variety of sources to control my chi, and to control the condition of my inner being ( or soul ).

    Here’s one to freak Yorchichan out. I can become completely weightless whilst walking, using mudras. This will, I guess, confirm Yorchichan’s estimation of my sanity.
    However, I don’t mean that, if I was walking upon a measuring scale, that it would not register the gravitational pressure from the soles of my feet. What I mean is that all inner sensation of weight, of a heavy body, disappears.

    Believers in dogmatic scientism will scoff, and say that its some sort of subjective illusion. But real scientists would say ‘Okay, let’s have a look what’s going on and see if we can understand it’.

    I don’t know if there are mobile brain scanners, or treadmills attached to brain scanners, but it shouldn’t be too difficult for someone somewhere to do a PhD on this, ( if they havn’t already ? ). There’s a perfectly plausible hypothesis to test, which is that certain configurations of hands provide a feedback loop to certain brain areas, to effect functioning. Possibly, there’s an area controlling the sensation of bodily weight, which is influenced in some way by the mudras I use.

    This sort of thinking is supported by this research on athletes for example.

  • Found this beautiful MV while surfing the Web this afternoon. Powerful rebuttal to Kansas and their “Dust in the Wind”.


  • Oppenheimer
    We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty, and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.

  • Ulvful – you say we should extend hugging to all sentient beings. who or what do you include in that circle? Just humans, or self aware animals, or all creatures that feel and perceive? My dog loves to be hugged (but being a rat terrier not when she is on the trail of a furry thing). My chickens reject hugging although a small number like to be stroked – most just want to be fed. Please let me know what circle of beings I should hug. Gorrillas? I will pass on that. George Bush – no never mind he is not sentient.

  • Nice video, Arthur, thanks, :-)

    I still think we are all dust in the wind, but we do have souls. :-)

    ‘Oh, all that soul and chi stuff is woowoo hippy garbage’ they say.

    But look, the damn thing, the ‘stuff’, can be detected, scientifically, measured with instruments. How much light do YOU emit ? :-)

  • you say we should extend hugging to all sentient beings. who or what do you include in that circle? Just humans, or self aware animals, or all creatures that feel and perceive? My dog loves to be hugged (but being a rat terrier not when she is on the trail of a furry thing). My chickens reject hugging although a small number like to be stroked – most just want to be fed. Please let me know what circle of beings I should hug. Gorrillas? I will pass on that. George Bush – no never mind he is not sentient.

    Well, a lot depends upon how we define the word ‘hug’. I’m using it here very loosely, figuratively, metaphorically. Certainly doesn’t include anyone from the Bush Crime Family or Monsanto Crime Corp, or anyone who is willfully cruel to animals. I’m not the sort of saint who says love all humans unconditionally, or even respect all humans unconditionally. I think respect has to be earned, and some people forfeit their rights, by immoral behaviour, and should be treated accordingly.

    I think anyone who willfully harms the biosphere is committing a crime. This is hard to define, because it’s a new paradigm. I suppose, like any justice system, there has to be a scale of culpability.

    However, for the non-human world my love is unconditional. But love implies care and respect, and you don’t go and hug something that clearly doesn’t want to be hugged, because that’s disrespectful and intrusive. Most wild animals don’t want anything to do with humans, and who can blame them for that. But I have myself cultivated intimate relationships with wild animals and birds, and it’s surprising what you can hug if you know what you’re doing… see this video… but don’t do it if you don’t know what you are doing… :-)

    It’s very hard to explain, but with animals and birds, there’s a way of intuitively sensing if you’ve got the relationship just right. Linda Kohanov has gone into this in great depth, re her Tao of Equus stuff with horses.

    I have had, still have, relationships with many, many species. I had one cockerel whom I loved and admired very much. He was the dominant cockerel and as he aged younger males challenged him, and he fought with them, and over the years first lost one eye, then the other. Which meant he couldn’t be left out with the flock, because he’d be attacked and unable to defend himself, and he didn’t know where he was.

    I had to decide whether it was kinder to kill him or what to do. I put him in a coop alone, and he lived like that, just on wheat, for three years. Every day I had to decide whether his suffering was too much, or whether he wanted to live. He greeted me when he heard me coming, and I had to steer him to the wheat, and so his random pecking would find the food bowl and the water. He’d crow very vigorously, and so I guessed he was feeling okay. But some days he’d be in despair, and greet me with long anguished sad noises. In a very cold snap in the winter, he suddenly weakened and died naturally in the night.

    I have killed lots of cockerels, ( and other things ) but I hate doing it. I feel sick afterwards. That cockerel was very special, an amazing individual character. I had another one that was just as incredible. We used to have long conversations. I’d make noises to him and he’d reply. The books all say that cockerels take no interest in eggs and chicks, but he was fascinated by chicks and spent long periods with his head down inspecting them and talking to them.

    Oh, another thing. They fall in love. The cockerel and hen put there heads down close to the ground, side by side, and gaze into each others eyes, completely still, for a long time, and then that pair go around together to find a good nest place and mate.

    These were all rare breed poultry though, some of which are still much closer to the original wild jungle fowl, than the modern commercial breeds, so their behaviour is a lot different.

    Minerals ? Rocks ? Well, I think they should be respected too. I’m not certain what the precise right relationship should be. I listened to an old man on the radio who was a stone mason who worked restoring cathedrals and similar buildings. He said that for him stone is alive. He taps a piece with his hammer, and the sound it makes speaks to him.

  • Whoops, I meant to paste this video, it’s a bit better. But there are also better I’ve seen but can’t find at the moment.

  • Hug a gorilla ? Why not ?

    But I think part of the thing of getting the right relationship with all these wild animals and birds, you empty yourself of your own responses, you don’t go to them, you respect their independent will, and let them come to you. You have to understand their non-verbal language and the sign language that they put out.

  • Arthur Johnson

    Just a note-
    it sems that this bit of dialogue is actually spoken by Lt. Hosgood:

    “…BUT I WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE TO HAVE ONE WITH YOU… ”

    Funny how in the text it reads with a different emphasis, like Lt. Hosgood is not responding and the Admiral has to keep declairing affection, but when it is read correctly it is far more dramatic and romantic, as is seen in the film. The wonders of language and ….timing.

  • navid

    I hav looke over brifly the SA sea ice linnk and find this small quote at the end most worth repeating:

    “The math is slightly different than Wadhams’, but the answer is roughly the same – a warming effect (a ‘climate forcing’ in the parlance of the field) roughly as large as all current human-caused warming.”

    Repeat…
    “roughly as large as all current human-caused warming”.

    Wow. Olso as noted by others the official models are clearly way too conservative and ‘Hopeful’, and smack of massaging a dire forcast so as not to stop ‘us’ in our preverbial tracks.
    Very rough awakening soon for the rest who aren’t looking at the real data.

  • BC Nurse Prof

    I have been reading the earlier link by titled:
    ‘Neoliberalism, Degrowth and the Fate of Health Systems’.

    I have to say it is great to read authors who are attempting to steer the dialogue with ‘the established bureaucracies and scientific institutions’ into an acceptance of ‘degrowth’ as a necessity, and not to be seen as just a major recession. They do this by arguing that as carbon based fuels are peaking or have peaked it is basic thermodynamics that leads to the conclusion that there will be less net energy to put in the front end of the world capitalim system. Acceptance of the situation is a big start in changing thinking, no wonder denial is the previous step in change.

    A quote from the article:

    ” Before discussing how health systems are affected we first lay out the larger social-ecological context of modern society’s predicament. This includes a brief overview of the idea of degrowth,[i],[ii],[iii] which is a response to ecological overshoot and reaching the physical resources and ecological limits to growth, and why it must supplant growth as the cardinal metaphor of modern culture. Then we outline how the inability to perceive that the world has reached the end of growth –by mistakenly seeing the present as a Great Recession- threatens health systems….

    Understanding economic contraction is not merely a cognitive process of evaluating arguments and evidence. The modern mind is ensconced in a mythology that sacralizes technological progress, mastery of nature and economic growth. These convictions make it difficult or impossible to see the unfolding socioeconomic descent as anything other than a deep economic recession that will end when the correct policy measures, stimulus, austerity or some combination, are enacted. As children and throughout adulthood we moderns learn in sublime, tacit and explicit ways that a constantly expanding economy is good, has no downside, validates our sense of self-worth, and is therefore the natural state of human affairs. (We also are socialized to believe that nature is passive and subject to the dictates of humans, meaning we can use our intelligence and technology to get out of environmental dilemmas such as peak oil and other resource depletion, climate change, overpopulation, acidification of the oceans and so on through the long list of ecological insults and damage we have wrought.)

    For instance, French Premier Francois Hollande in June said, “If there is no growth then no matter what we do we will not meet our debt and deficit reduction targets.” President Obama at about the same time told Charlie Rose, in an interview broadcast on CBS, that running for president is about laying out your “theory for how to grow the economy.” This year Prime Minister Steven Harper said, “… we’ve tried to focus on what we can do to sustain growth in the Canadian economy.” In short, economic growth is the quintessential policy goal of all Western governments. Imagine seeing any of these three leaders giving a speech announcing that humanity has reached the limits to growth and therefore will have to redesign the social world.

    This brings us to our bedrock argument: economic expansion is thermodynamically impossible because there is no longer sufficient net energy flowing into the global economy to restart and sustain growth.[iv],[v] In support of abandoning the quest for growth ecological economist Tim Jackson points out: “The global economy is almost five times the size it was half a century ago. If it continues to grow at the same rate, the economy will be 80 times that size by the year 2100.”[vi] This 80-fold increase will, of course, never happen. The two-part rhetorical question we have is, how long it will take and how much further damage will be done before this is absorbed into humanity’s collective consciousness?

    The contradiction between the mythology of perpetual economic growth and the realities of its physical limits that Jackson implies is playing out in the modern world. This conflict between cultural belief (one can argue that mythology is a collective illusion or even delusion[vii] experienced as truth[viii]) and thermodynamic and ecological reality is having devastating socioeconomic consequences because contemporary societies are organized to function with an expanding economy.”
    Here is the original link:

    http://healthafteroil.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/neoliberalism-degrowth-and-the-fate-of-health-systems/#_edn30

    I hope you don’t mind I posted it again, its well worth copying and sticking it the pidgeon hole of your local office global warming, peak oil denier, and their slightly less sceptical buddies, to get them playing off each other and having the debate, IMHO. Some of this is well known to NBL regulars, however, to have it reasoned, clearly with so many recent references adds to the impact with conservatives. If anyone does copy it, I suggest clearly footnoting the web address and also definitly include printing the references, which are longer than the actual article, for intimidation value. Note, the said intimidation value is not necessary to accept the arguments in the article, it is to challenge the denier mind some semblance of having a mojority of world opinion on their side to justify the denial. It just challenges that, IMHO.
    BTW I am keeping a USB drive on me at all times that has many of the articles and utube segments that pertain to evidence and arguments about the issues discussed here on NBL and have several copies ready to give to people who obviously need a shove in the right direction. There is no substitute for the power of sitting down for hours researching these things to change one’s own mind on issues, but some people who are vocal deniers haven’t really done that, and can do with a push. I tell them to check the references, even just one.

  • Ozman

    That article is pretty freaky. It really is game-over.

    “Very rough awakening soon for the rest who aren’t looking at the real data.”

    Yes, I suppose we will have another 9-11 or two or three to distract us muppets. Can’t have the muppets waking up. That would be very inconvenient. Better to distract with moozlimz and other goblins.

  • “Imagine if, the next time you go to see The Long Day’s Journey Into Night or The Dark Knight Rises, the activity of your brain is recorded by an MRI machine. Would a full scientific explanation of those recordings really constitute the “best or only” way to understand the experience? For anyone?

    Yet in their eagerness to bash those that dare to suggest that one might experience wonder and awe, or be moved, outside a scientific context, the scientistas happily dismiss culture without a second thought.

    When the philosopher A. J. Ayer was asked in the 1970s to identify the key weakness of logical positivism, Ayer, once one of its leading propononents, replied that “nearly all of it was false.” By recycling the discredited notions of a dead philosophy, those that rashly criticised Sarewitz have demonstrated that they would benefit from a good, hard reading of poetry.”

    http://mysticpolitics.com/faith-and-logical-positivism-limits-of-science-and-scientists/

  • Ozman,

    Yea, I wondered if anyone would pick up on that. That key line is not in the script, which makes me wonder if the actress might have ad-libbed it. It’s one of the most intense scenes in the movie.

    My larger point, though, is that if imminent extinction by catastrophic global warming is our lot, as Guy and Kathy C claim, man, literature and film like “On the Beach” is what we should read and see, to help us psychologically prepare for the stench of those 7 billion people who shortly will be lying dead all over the planet. I mean, DOUGLAS ADAMS??? Please.

    True story. In the mid-1980’s, just before Gorbachev came to power, the Soviet Union and the U.S. were actually very close to nuclear war. Although we civilians weren’t privy to the details, we sensed things were bad, and could get really bad, really quick. I was working at my first “real” job (full-time entry-level, benefits–the kind that doesn’t exist in the U.S. anymore). I came to work one morning whistling “Waltzing Matilda”, and a co-worker asked me “So, Arthur, are you expecting a nuclear holocaust?” The previous night, “On the Beach” was shown prime time on one of the major networks. ALL of my co-workers had watched it, me included. The movie sparked serious discussion that day at work about what we would do when the missles started flying. To this day, I’m convinced that the network broadcast the movie for just that purpose, to begin preparing us psychologically for the aftermath of a nuclear war, one in which there might be no way out even for the initial survivors.

    “Waltzing Matilda, waltzing matilda,…”

  • I read somewhere that Gorbachev, some time before he became president, visited Esalen and tripped on LSD with a whole bunch of other notable names, and that changed his view of politics and America and everything else….

    ‘How come you smile so much ?’

  • ulvfugl,

    There is still time…brother.

  • ulvfugl,

    I heard that rumor about Gorbachev and Esalen too. No idea if it’s true or not. I do suspect that the major TV network executives at the time were privy to something. A plan was in the works, and we civilians were being prepared. “On the Beach” was one of several “preparatory” films and dramas about nuclear war that were broadcast during the same time period.

  • There is still time…brother.

    That’s an exceptionally nice thing to say, Arthur.

    I get tortured beyond endurance, once, twice, more, every single day, so it’s not so hard for me to let go of all this…. It’s tempting to leave, really. But I have my dog and birds and other stuff that rely upon me.
    But wtf IS it ? Like a bizarre dream ? And it’ll all carry in without me ? What will it all have meant ? All so very strange….

    Where I grew up, as a kid, my dad was friendly with the guy next door. Some terrible thing happened that I barely understood. Turned out the guy was friends of the guys who gave the nuclear secrets to the Russians. So the British covert agencies gave hima very hard time. Why hadn’t he informed them, when he knew ? His defence was that he put friendship before patriotism. He was never charged with any crime, but they destroyed his career, and his family broke up from the stress. It infected my family too. Fear and paranoia, global power politics intruding into private family life, that had nothing to do with any of it…

    In a way, things are worse now, more dangerous. The Mutually Assured Destruction meant that Russia and USA were constantly on disciplined high alert. Now, that’s gone, and nuclear stuff is all over the place, and nobody really knows wtf is going on….

    Some appropriate sad sort of music…

  • Regarding GMO products, a simple change in nucleotide sequence at a particular site in the genome need not necessarily comply in a simple correspondence in engendering a proposed change: the once-derided “junk” DNA that apparently had no useful role is now recognised as controlling the expression of the DNA that acts “normally” by coding for proteins and other controlling regions. This increases in complexity by a few orders of magnitude.

    If we add in the effects of the
    The Histone Code” very many more order of magnitude are added, to the point where today’s genetic engineers bring to mind the proverbial bull in the china shop.

    With regard to neoplasia as a behavioural aberration in metazoan cells it has been suggested that in such conditions the affected cells are reverting towards their primordial (pre-metazoan) individualism, but alas, now being “domesticated”, they are no longer able to survive in the wild.

    Cancer tumors as Metazoa 1.0: tapping genes of ancient ancestors

  • Regarding GMO products, a simple change in nucleotide sequence at a particular site in the genome need not necessarily comply in a simple correspondence in engendering a proposed change: the once-derided “junk” DNA that apparently had no useful role is now recognised as controlling not only the expression of the DNA that acts “normally” (i.e. codes for proteins) but also controls other controlling regions. This increases in complexity by a few orders of magnitude.

    If we add in the effects of the
    The Histone Code” very many more order of magnitude are added, to the point where today’s genetic engineers bring to mind the proverbial bull in the china shop.

  • With regard to neoplasia as a behavioural aberration in metazoan cells it has been suggested that in such conditions the affected cells are reverting towards their primordial (pre-metazoan) individualism, but alas, now being “domesticated”, they are no longer able to survive in the wild.

    Cancer tumors as Metazoa 1.0: tapping genes of ancient ancestors

  • Fascinating. So that line of thinking must derive from Lynn Margulis ? Cells that were once independent, got incorporated into larger organisms, and then became ‘us’, and now something triggers their ancient longing for independence, they want to get free again and go their own way… but they’re stuck, like domestic chickens in a farm shed, no way back to the wild….

    My dog is in season, she sleeps in the porch, and sometimes, when she smells foxies in the vicinity, instead of her usual barking, she does a long sing-song wolf howl… her hormones remembering something from long, long ago… :-)

  • You have to understand their non-verbal language and the sign language that they put out.

    Even the significance of the sounds of creatures, including humans, can be comprehended by appropriate training, or so it is said. This is referred to in the New Testament as “the speaking of tongues”: understanding and speaking a language that one has never heard before.

    One of the better-known references to it in Eastern traditions:

    Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 3:17
    Word, meaning, and perception tend to get lumped together, each confused with the others; focusing on the distinctions between them with perfect discipline yields insight into the language of all beings.

    All such tricks are referred to as “siddhis” (powers): the traditions sternly warn against pursuing them. By stoking the fire of the ego they distract and mislead, and can, to the less wise, be a highway to perdition.

  • Thanks so much for that, Robin.

    Don’t know about the last bit though. Sounds a bit silly to me, like warnings not be distracted by beautiful women ;-)

    I’m afraid I’m the sort of person who finds the beckoning hand waving from a dark alley irresistible, and I don’t care about perdition.

    12 years ago, I came out of hospital, thin as a Belsen inmate, just a skeleton, too weak to stand. The ambulance brought me home, took me in a wheel chair to my living room, sat me on the sofa and left me to it. It took me two hours to go from there to the kitchen and back, a few yards, holding onto the furniture. It was midwinter, freezing cold, my neighbour called 2 or 3 times a day to feed me. I mean, like a baby, putting food into my mouth with a fork.

    That was a hard time. When I was strong enough to walk, I went into my garden. It was pouring with rain. I saw a rabbit, sheltering under a gorse bush, and was surprised it did not run away. I threw a small piece of stick at it, then thought what a nasty person I am, why do a thing like that ? I walked very slowly near to the rabbit and sat down, and talked it, and said I was sorry and ashamed that I’d been such a gross and horrible creature all my life. I asked if it felt as bad as I did. It just sat there and ignored me, in a slightly contemptuous, dignified sort of way. We just sat there for a long time.

    The next morning when I gave pellets to my rheas in the early morning, it was there and ate some, and then it became tame, and if I called it, ‘bunny, bunny, bunny’, it would come running up to me, from 150 yards away. In the morning, it would be waiting at the front door, and hop along behind me to the shed where I kept the food.
    It would just about take wheat from my hand, but preferred not to be touched, I tried a few times, but it moved away.

    After a while, more rabbits appeared, and also became tame, but not as tame as that one. Once, on a very hot summer day, one female rabbit was laying down flat in her side in the midday sun. I went and sat down beside her, a yard away. After a while her babies appeared and came and suckled from her teats, all completely unafraid of my presence.

    The next year, they all caught myxomatosis and I had to spend the summer killing them. That was hard, too.

    If that sort of thing leads me into perdition, so be it. ;-)

  • Wiki says of perdition : Christian views on Hell vary, but in general traditionally agree that hell is a place or a state in which the souls of the unsaved suffer the consequences of sin.

    It seems that idea derives from Zarathustra, if this guy is to be believed :

    You might think, no, that is an obvious idea known around the world, it is part of the human inheritance and can’t have been invented by one person. But that is not so. Good and evil have no part in most human cosmologies. This view of the universe was unknown to most civilizations until Zarathustra’s teachings entered post-exile Judaism and spread from there to Christianity and Islam and thence around the world. American Indians had no such notion, nor did the Greeks, the Romans, the Australian Aborigines, or anyone else I know of. Most Chinese people still find it puzzling, while advanced Hindu thinkers consider it childish.

    http://benedante.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/zarathustra-first-prophet.html

  • Incidentally, Robin, referring slightly to the medical aspect of your persona, why the hell should I be worried about hell, when I am already IN hell ? :-)

    The zomigs have stopped working. I am now taking lyrica/pregabalin left over from a previous crisis when they stopped working. They don’t really work either, but I’m taking double this time, plus paracetamol, which I hate. My dilemma is awful. When this happens, I appeal to the doctors, who say, okay try this and come back in three weeks if it doesn’t work, so, when it doesn’t work, I’m in hell, the pain just goes on and on, no sleep, I’ve got a heap of packets, all sorts of stuff that didn’t work…

    Hahahaha, I really couldn’t care less if I go to hell because of siddhis or any other reason :-)
    I have met all the Wrathful Deities, there’s nothing that I fear in the entire Universe, so if I meet the devil I’ll embrace him and then spit in his face :-)

    Btw, good lecture on the Last Day, I listened to it all.

  • “Doctors can have no idea about the true effects of the treatments they give. Does this drug really work best, or have I simply been deprived of half the data? No one can tell. Is this expensive drug worth the money, or has the data simply been massaged? No one can tell. Will this drug kill patients? Is there any evidence that it’s dangerous? No one can tell. This is a bizarre situation to arise in medicine, a discipline in which everything is supposed to be based on evidence.”

    Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/09/the-drugs-dont-work-how-the-medical-industrial-complex-systematically-suppresses-negative-studies.html#D8H0qwGxA3gmiQ7X.99

  • ulvfugl
    “Hug a gorilla ? Why not ?”

    How about a tiger
    ” The man who jumped out of the Bronx Zoo’s monorail into the tiger exhibit was charged with trespass Saturday, according to law enforcement officials.
    Investigators now believe that David Villalobos was not attempting to commit suicide Friday afternoon when he made the leap into the tiger den. Villalobos, 25, was mauled by a Siberian tiger before zoo employees rescued him by using fire extinguishers to distract the big cat, zoo officials said.
    Villalobos was charged Saturday with third-degree criminal trespass, a misdemeanor, and another lesser charge of trespass. He was issued a desk appearance ticket with a future court date for arraignment.
    Based on Villalobos’ statements to investigators and what they’ve seen on his Facebook page it appears he was obsessed with the tigers and just wanted to be with them, police said.
    According to police spokesman Paul Browne, Villalobos told NYPD detectives that his leap was definitely not a suicide attempt, but a desire to be “one with the tiger.” http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/22/14035351-bronx-zoo-mauling-man-wanted-to-be-one-with-the-tiger?lite

    Not every creature wants to be hugged

  • Going well on the remediation efforts in Fukushima – don’t forget that when the grid fails 400+ nuclear plants go Fukushima with no one able to do any remediation.

    http://fukushima-diary.com/2012/09/7m-and-470kg-of-steel-frame-dropped-into-the-sfp-of-reactor3-566-fuel-assemblies-are-in-the-pool/
    “About 11:05 of 9/22/2012, Tepco dropped a steel frame of 7m long and 470kg into the SFP of reactor3. 514 assemblies of spent fuel and 52 fuel assemblies are kept in the pool.

    Tepco was removing debris by the remote controlling crane and dropped it into the pool mistakenly.

    The steel frame was 30cm×20cm×7m, 470kg. It was dropped from South-East side.

    Tepco states the radiation level did not change, the dosimeter set 2m above the pool did not measure any change in radiation level either. Water level and the temperature did not change.

    It hasn’t happened that such a large material dropped into the pool. Tepco is planning to investigate if the fuel assemblies are not damaged by underwater camera.”

  • navid

    The Soylent Green option is looking more and more likely, however, there is little real way of knowing if it is not already under way.

    Soylent green trailer

    How would you know what was really in SPAM meat or sausage meat etc, or even burgers of ‘chicken’ pulp?

    How It’s Made – Chicken.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEgQpYzIZXU&feature=related

    Shouldn’t be too difficult to modify the machines to take Soylent Green.

  • Cathy C

    As if it could’nt get any more absurd…

    ’33 high school students from Tochigi worked to sort disaster debris in Miyagi’

    http://fukushima-diary.com/2012/09/33-high-school-students-from-tochigi-worked-to-sort-disaster-debris-in-miyagi/

    “On 9/8/2012, 33 high school students from Nikko Tochigi visited Higashi matsushima city Miyagi to work for sorting disaster debris.

    City Council of Social Welfare organized to collect 33 students from several high schools in Nikko. The purpose it to make them think about how they can contribute to the disaster area.

    It was the first attempt to send high school student to send to work for the debris.
    The students were taken pictures of with smile.”

    Comments are better than the story:

    anonymous says:
    September 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    ‘You might be wondering what sort of parents would send their children off to sort radioactive garbage? Maybe brainwashed employees of the nuclear mura, the electric utility, the waste management industry, the shipping industry that hauls the stuff to kitakyushu, the DPJ, the LDP, the nuclear science faculty at the local university, and media companies who are making money spinning the wide-area waste distribution propaganda under government contracts. Would be very interesting to look into the parents of each of these young victims.’

    terry evans says:
    September 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    ‘you people have completly lost your minds’

    jec says:
    September 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    ‘Is the pre-training to work at Fukushima in the future! If the workers are already compromised or exposed, they will not worry about more radiation. They must not be concerned on having children, or worried about the health of themselves or future children. Wonder how the their parents will feel if their young teens get ill with thyroid cancer? I know how it feels..its an on going guilt that my family was exposed to Chernobyl fallout and the teen exposed became ill with cancer–thyroid cancer–not diagnosied in time.’

    Tim says:
    September 19, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    ‘This is what happens when the “public” fool school system is in charge..its the sheeple versus the state, who will win ? Obviously the state has won in this contest of “intelligence”. I am deeply saddened and sickened by intentional act of what can be deemed as genocide for profit.’…”

    Crikey!! Maybe it is like being in the eye of a storm, you don’t see there is any problem becuse it is all around you and the panic has subsided, and the effects ‘seem’ to have passed… but who would be sooooooooooooo effing stupid??????

    Those Aliens will have their meaty/fatty human bits well irradiated, and at the high temperature they enjoy during their prime time entertainment ‘we’ are being prepped for.

    “The Hitchhiker’s Kiosk”

    Alien Kiosk vendor: “Madam-Sir, would you care for a complementary Bikini Attoll Irradiated Earth Seawater Shake with your Irradiated Human Meaty-Fatty Bits Special?”

    Alien customer:” Why not? Thank you”

    Alien Kiosk vendor: “And will there be any desert to go with that…. and maybe for the young ones… are you expecting soon?”

    Alien customer: “Well yes, is it really so obvious so soon? I’ve always been so slim during ..my ..em ..previous gustigation periods. What do you have?”

    Alien Kiosk vendor: ” Oh, but Madam-Sir, I hardly noticed, you look wonderful. Well, we have the usual Othracon cones, from Syloria, but … er.. well Madam-Sir.. they are several hundredthousand years old now, and.. err..”

    Alien customer: “Oh dear, no no no…Something fresh.. PLEASE!”

    Alien Kiosk vendor: ” Of course… er we have these, uh new, never opened from… er…Earth. They are only 5 Drakons each. They are soft centered, so the little ones wont hurt their Mondables, while evesticating them.”

    Alien customer: “Yes, yes, but what are they, I can’t have anything interfering with their fundatrition cycle? And no Estragobukon Verkrill, “We are very sensitive to Estragobukon Verkrill…”

    Alien Kiosk vendor: ” The packet says they are Pre-irradiated fool chilren with Fukushima frosting, oh.. and it says they can be taken via the dynchoglut if your little ones are dilergic to Hyuka salts.”

    Alien customer: ‘Very well, we’ll take 40, No 50, I’m expecting them to emerge during the performance, and that will keep them busy for a few hundred years while I clean up, thank you”

    Alien Kiosk vendor: “Your welcome”

    Why would you need Douglas Adams when such exquisite prose can be found here at NBL….?

  • Kathy C

    Ooops… with a K…..Sorry.

  • Yes, Kathy, that sort of thing seems to occur quite frequently, mentioned in the papers years ago, schizophrenic man eaten by lions, trying to be friends, Daniel in the lions den, etc. That’s what I mean about disrespectful. they don;t ask the lions or tigers first, they just insist upon imposing themselves….

    I learned this with my dog. She is incredible. Most amazing dog. People come here and I have to give them a lecture, over the gate, before I let them in.

    None of them are any good with animals. Some think they are. I tell them to ignore her, act as if she does not exist, don’t make any gesture towards her.

    They can’t help themselves. Its a pons asinorum. People think that putting their hand out to pat or stroke or for the dog to smell is being ‘friendly’, like shaking hands with a human. They just do it automatically, even though I just told them slowly and clearly NOT TO DO IT :-)

    My dog interprets the gesture completely different. She sees the extended hand as an uninvited intrusion into her space, even an attempt to grab hold of her.

    She is fierce, with big teeth and power. She knows this. She takes pride in her self as a warrior. She wants respect. Intruding uninvited is disrespectful, not the correct etiquette from her perspective. She’ll let people touch her all in good time, when she has decided she likes them and is not afraid of them, she’ll make her own approach and say ‘lets be friends’. But that takes time First she wants to smell, to suss out whether she’s met this person before, and all the other info that only dogs can know.

    She always watches my back. If I’m talking to someone, and they move quickly, or extend an arm towards me, she’ll growl or bark and is ready to bite them. In her vision she sees that as an uninvited intrusion into my space ( which it often is ! ) by someone who is disrespectful to me.

    When I went to fetch her as a puppy, with another man, we arrived at the place, lots of signs ‘do not enter, dangerous dogs’ , etc. and a bell to ring. Waited and waited. I told the guy I’m going in. He was very doubtful, but said nothing. I walked up to the house and suddenly 20 German Shepherds are barking, and one loose one comes running up to me. I know how to be with these dogs. I just stand still, but I put out an invisible vibe. The dog in front of me says not to go further. I’m completely relaxed, talking to it, looking straight in its eyes. No problem.

    The woman comes out and gives me a telling off ‘you are so lucky, you could have been seriously hurt, even killed, blablabla’

    Nonsense. Luck had nothing to do with it. I’ve owned those dogs. I know how they think. I have immense love and respect for them. I know their rules. I obey their rules, not mine. I have no fear, and they can tell. They can also tell I will not hurt them. I’m on their patch. It’s for them to decide what they think of me. They are simple souls, always good. Eventually they’ll decide to be friendly and hospitable, even if it takes half an hour. Their very curious, and I think there’s that ancient wolf pack thing, ‘more is better’, so recruiting a new member is in their interests.

    Much the same goes for horses, cows, bulls, other animals. In the mating seasin my male rheas get very aggressive and fierce and attack anything. They are bloody terrifying, and dangerous. But it’s all bluff. I treat them aikido style. Catch them below the head, hold at arms length, they keep trying to bite me, for about a minute, then they lose their nerve and run away.

  • Arthur Johnson, why not Douglas Adams? I’d rather go happy and laughing as opposed to crying and depressed. Just sayin’.

  • Ozman, that stuff about the children moving irradiated material is straight out of Margaret Atwood’s Hand Maid’s Tale, sending expendable portions of soceity off to work in polluted areas. She got the idea from the way Nazis used slave labour to work on rockets and other stuff, where they only had a short life expectancy from the poisonous chemicals. etc. But this goes way back. The Romans used to send prisoners, criminals, slaves, misfits, to work in mines, where they lasted a few months. Too many of us, life is cheap, a throw-away commodity, like beer cans….

  • ulvfugl

    But… eh.. aren’t Japaneese school children…em.. well.. free?
    And I don’t mean free for the picking, I mean not under servitude, not under any economic, or social obligation that would restrict their life choices?
    WHAM!
    Huh… um.. Oh, what the…? I just woke up…. err… I must have been in a dream. What was I thinking..? I can’t believe I even thought of asking such a STUPID QUESTION!!!!!

  • ulvfugl

    What does ‘ulvfugl’ stand for , if anything? All I can get is ‘u luv..’ then something starting with ‘f’.

  • Dr. House – Douglas Adams Please !!!

    You are not supposed to be happy and joyful ever again. What is the matter with you !

    You should watch On The Beach again – this time focus on becoming the character that keeps complaining about how they have 400 bottles of wine and only 5 months left to drink it – very bad planning by the committee !!

    “oh what a world, what a world…. I’m melting !!!! ;)

  • oops

    Ozman – I think people would talk themselves into eating “soylent green” even after they knew what it was. Just have a star athlete pitch it, and the government claim it is “green” and tax free or something… maybe have it served at parties for 16 debutantes’ balls … people would be fine with it.

  • ulvfugl, my little rat terrier loves everyone. The problem is she wants to jump up on them and they are usually too prissy to get a tad of dirt on their hands – Even though she is only 20 lbs I understand little children being afraid, she is an animated dog. She lives in the 1 acre chicken yard and is not a needy dog since what she wants to do most in life is kill rats and chicken yards always have plenty of them. Each time we go down to the chicken yard, she sits in front of me and when I clap my hands she jumps into my arm. More than a hug tho she wants her back scratched. We both think she is the best dog we either have had. At 10 she still runs around like a puppy. I wouldn’t like having a dog that growls at anyone period. To each their own. I don’t feel the need of a dog to protect me. I decided long ago when a neighbor was murdered that I wasn’t going to allow myself to live the rest of my life in fear. Someone told me once that I needed to carry a gun to protect myself. I said I have a better protection “I am not afraid”. He looked stunned and then smiled, he understood. Fear attracts danger.

    Chickens on the other hand usually disappear into the bushes when any stranger comes but a few select people can walk into the chicken yard and they act like no one new is there. What do they know? A lot of people seem to be afraid of chickens – perhaps the fear can be smelled.

  • I’ve had Kansas‘ “Dust In The Wind” running around in my brain for the last 5 days along with Kathy C’s refrain (“Everybody dies!”) and it just occurred to me that many of the respondents here at NBL fall into the “graybeard” category. I certainly speak for myself here. Why is that? Is it just that old folks are the only ones with time to sit around all day in front of a computer? Do we oldsters have nothing else to do? Are we lonely? Are we the only ones who care about the future of the earth or, with one foot in the grave, are we just looking closely at a possible cause of our demise?

    By the way, those listed possibilities don’t apply very well to me, and I am guessing not to you, but I would be interested in your thoughts.

    Michael Irving

  • The REAL Dr. House,

    Arthur Johnson, why not Douglas Adams? I’d rather go happy and laughing as opposed to crying and depressed. Just sayin’.

    Because Douglas Adams doesn’t prepare you psychologically for extinction. On the Beach does. It (and similar artistic works) focuses the mind on the reality of what life will be like over the next 18 years. It won’t be at all like a Douglas Adams novel. If Guy and Kathy C are right, you will spend the remaining few years of your life mostly crying and being depressed. There.are.no.error.bars. There.is.no.uncertainty.

    Disagreement with the above means one of two things:

    1) You’re in denial. Or as Kathy C would put it, you just don’t get it, and you need to wake up, and wake up quick. It’s time for you to start the process of saying good-bye to everyone. Time to begin “getting your affairs in order”.

    2) You don’t really believe that Guy and Kathy C are right about this. At the very minimum, you believe that there is uncertainty and error bars in their scenario. HUGE uncertainties and ENORMOUS error bars, so huge and so enormous that they make any serious predictions of imminent extinction ridiculous, and perhaps grossly irresponsible, if people of child-bearing age were to use such a “certain” scenario as a basis for doing something rash to prevent themselves from having children (“I don’t want to bring a child into such a world”, etc., etc., etc.)

    So which is it?

    “Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda…”

  • Michael Irving,

    I’ve had Kansas‘ “Dust In The Wind” running around in my brain for the last 5 days along with Kathy C’s refrain (“Everybody dies!”) and it just occurred to me that many of the respondents here at NBL fall into the “graybeard” category. I certainly speak for myself here. Why is that?

    Interesting question. But “graybeard” or not, perhaps–and for whatever reasons–it is difficult for the hearts of NBL respondents to be touched by sentiments such as those expressed in this song.

    English translation courtesy of JPopAsia:

    Far away beyond the distant horizon,
    Gently beginning to shine down into the darkness,
    The silhouettes of all the sadnesses up until yesterday
    fade away and rise to the surface in the light.

    Come, let’s try and believe in tomorrow! Let’s recall the young person of the past who embraced the dream on that far away day.
    Someday they’ll be realized. Don’t be afraid.
    ‘Cuz beautiful dreams come true

    Within time, when will I lose, lose sight of it?
    Because the important things in front of my eyes are so small,
    Within the flow of days we misunderstand and pass by each other.
    Don’t forget, seek the power of hope

    Come, let’s try and sketch the future!
    Yes, let’s build it up! Our ideal world
    is now being enveloped in kindness.
    Yes, let’s feel it and live nobly.
    There’s harmony in our hearts

    Can you imagine? If everyday
    was a wonderful miracle,
    then this joy beginning to overflow would be a treasure in my heart.

    Come, let’s try and believe in tomorrow! Let’s recall the young person of the past who embraced the dream on that far away day.
    Someday they’ll be realized. Don’t be afraid.
    ‘Cuz beautiful dreams come true.

  • Arthur,

    Thank you for your “extinction behavior protocol” – telling me how I must think 24/7/365 for the rest of my life.

    No humor forever – just spend the remaining years of life “mostly crying and being depressed.” No irony, no laughing at the idiocy we cannot control. And if we should see irony, feel humor – SHUT UP ABOUT IT – squelch those feelings and return to Arthur’s “extinction behavior protocol.”

    That is an interesting dichotomy I must fit into if I disagree with you. Pick strawman one, or strawman two.

    I do thank you for posting “on the beach” – it was wonderful to see it again.

  • Michael,

    One thing I notice is young people are constantly under the influence of their hormones.

    We older folk are mostly over that, and I think we tend to become more reflective with age – and because we’ve been caring for little ones, we tend to look further into the future than next Friday’s mating rituals.

    There are many exceptions in both age categories of course (randy old men with money chasing skirts and young people fully aware the future is not so bright, and planning a life based on that).

    Sorry I could not keep up on the garden conversations – no slight intended!

  • Arthur Johnson: Because Douglas Adams doesn’t prepare you psychologically for extinction. On the Beach does.

    So you have experience preparing for extinction do you? I wonder where you got that?

    You can assume you know what you’re talking about all you want, but you don’t. The same can be said of anyone who comments here. All of us are looking at the data and reaching conclusions. I think the conclusions are obvious. You seem to reach a different one and feel your conclusions are just as obvious, apparently. Which is right? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, please don’t presume that you know how to “prepare for extinction”.

    I’ll repeat myself from the post above: I will admit that the possibility exists that the interpretation of the data could be wrong and that climate change is not going to be as catastrophic as predicted. I will also admit that the data might be wrong and the earth really can sustain 10 or 12 billion people. I’m willing to concede that we might be underestimating the ability of the oceans to adapt to lower pH. I’ll also acknowledge that all the data concerning oil production and EROEI might be flawed and we’ll go on increasing production for centuries to come. I might admit that somehow we can survive 400+ nuclear reactor meltdowns. I might even admit that the infinite credit economy we’ve created, all the pollution we’re producing, and all the other resources we’re stripping away might somehow be mitigated by some as yet unforeseen technological miracle. . . .

    Wait a minute. No I won’t. It’s over. It just a matter of when.

    So, as I and others have said many times: Want to do something? Live each day as if it were your last, love those around you, live life to the fullest.

  • By the way, I read On the Beach when I was in high school. I remember very few specifics about it now, but I never forgot the experience. Never reread it, however. I have reread Douglas Adams novels multiple times. Always make me laugh. Much preferable experience. :-)

  • Dr House, right on. The best preparation for extinction is right in every book of the 5 book trilogy – DON’T PANIC

  • Arthur Johnson: At the very minimum, you believe that there is uncertainty and error bars in their scenario. HUGE uncertainties and ENORMOUS error bars, so huge and so enormous that they make any serious predictions of imminent extinction ridiculous, and perhaps grossly irresponsible, if people of child-bearing age were to use such a “certain” scenario as a basis for doing something rash to prevent themselves from having children (“I don’t want to bring a child into such a world”, etc., etc., etc.)

    Have you actually LOOKED at the data that’s being presented? Go back to that Scientific American article referenced above and look at that data – really look. Can you show me where the HUGE uncertainties and ENORMOUS error bars are? In article after article, no matter if it’s about climate, population, energy resources, fresh water, etc, virtually every chart of plotted data shows the classic hockey stick – whether it’s pointing up or down, the outcome is bad. If there’s any denial, it appears to be yours – or else stubborn refusal to actually consider the data in front of you.

    I don’t mean to be picking on you, but I find your attitude to be very much in denial. A bit surprising, actually, since you are commenting on a site on which most readers are actually studying the facts.

  • The REAL Dr. House,

    Briefly, I take a somewhat middle position. Guy is dead-on about the first positive feedback (Arctic sea ice melt) being irreversible (barring the highly unlikely event of one or more major volcanic eruptions occuring in the next 24 months). This is a disaster, made worse by the opportunistic response of Arctic governments to use this as a “golden opportunity” to grab some oil and fish (this is where humor comes into play).

    What isn’t clear is whether the other four positive feedbacks–especially methane outgassing–have also reached irreversibility. If they truly are irreversible at this point, then extinction, maybe as early as 2030, certainly by 2100, is a done deal. Personally, as I read the data (as a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry), I don’t think they are…yet. They may well be ten years from now (2022).

    Which means, “there is still time, brother”, to avoid extinction, but it’s probably too late at this point to avoid disaster.

    I’ll talk about my take on the psychological issues (joy, humor, crying, depression, etc.) involved in all of this in a separate comment this evening, as I now have a pressing engagement to get too.

    And FWIW, I’m really not a bad guy. I’m just drawn that way. :-)

  • Dang- miss a few days and the comments section gets too long to make it all the way through. I was busy helping another little boy enter the world, such as it is. He is my first grandson.

    I just wanted to say that I watched “Genetic Roulette” about GMOs and that doctors who recommended avoiding all GMO foods to their allergy patients reported that their symptoms cleared up within a few months. Farmers reported the same thing with all kinds of problems in their livestock.

    However, farmers have a difficult time finding non-GMO feed consistently. Perhaps this would be a worthy area to invest in – production of non-GMO feeds, or more importantly, the seeds to grow them, which are scarce.

  • Doug Adams told us don’t panic
    If you fear extinction just “can it”
    With a towel along
    You will never go wrong
    In the end no need to be frantic

  • Extinction is the natural course for all species. The lobe-finned fishes that crawled out onto land are categorised as extinct, but their direct descendants comment at NBL. Through natural selection and genetic drift a descendant cohort can differ so much from its ancestors that if the ancestral species were cloned à la Jurassic Park , they would not be able to reproduce with their descendants. If two cohorts of descendants diverged from each other sufficiently, they would be separate species.

    The divergence between the two equid species, horses and donkeys, is so recent that we still have mules and hinnies. Some science fiction scenarios have crosses between humans and the great apes: with our 97+% similarity to chimpanzees this may not be too far-fetched. Kathy C’s chickens are the direct descendants of saurischian dinosaurs, the same group as the Tyrannosaurus rex.

    Very substantial changes have occurred in Homo sapiens since its first appearance 200,000 years ago: adult males now have a brain smaller on average by the volume of a tennis ball compared to our ancestors of only 20,000 years ago. For the last 100,000 years our teeth have been shrinking; the rate of shrinkage has doubled about 10,000 years ago to 1% every 2,000 years.

    If the direct descendants of today’s Homo sapiens survived for a couple of million years and were to implant and bring to birth one of today’s deep frozen human embryos, it is a very good bet that the Mr. or Ms. Rip van Winkle would not be able to reproduce with our descendants of that time.

    Extinction, like diarrhoea, runs in our genes/jeans.

  • Kathy C. : “I wouldn’t like having a dog that growls at anyone period. To each their own. I don’t feel the need of a dog to protect me.”

    Your dog sounds delightful. Both my neighbours have those terriers. But a dog that doesn’t growl ? What a shocking thing to say ! Honestly ! :-)

    That’s like the old Victorian adage ‘children should be seen but not heard’. What a cruel, fascistic notion, to grow up in a family where you’re not allowed to speak. It’s hard to believe that parents could actually be that insensitive and brutal, but they were.
    And now you’re saying this about dogs ? Growling is part of dogness, and to say a dog shouldn’t growl is the equivalent of saying it shouldn’t wag its tail, isn’t it ?

    I don’t need a dog to protect me. I got her to keep the foxies away, because they were taking my poultry. She came here at 6 weeks old and has never been anywhere else. Visitors are rare, so she’s not accustomed to people. When she hears someone coming up the lane, or smells foxies, she growls. She lays in the porch, guarding our cave. She sees that as her duty. She’s very gentle and sensitive, and when she growls there’s a good reason for that. Incidentally, she also suffers from idiopathic canine epilepsy, so I have some empathy towards you and your child.

    “Chickens on the other hand usually disappear into the bushes when any stranger comes but a few select people can walk into the chicken yard and they act like no one new is there. What do they know? A lot of people seem to be afraid of chickens – perhaps the fear can be smelled.”

    Yes, mine too. I think it most goes on visual appearance and manner. Birds read the colour, tone, of the image they see, and also the body language, and maybe also some invisible vibes. I wear the same dull khaki stuff all the time, so all the things around here know its me. If I went out with a bright yellow shirt, or whatever, for them it’d be a completely different person, and trigger their alarms. All the ducks, rheas, bantams, wild birds, watch body language to read intention. I behave as if they are not there, kinda like a harmless grazing cow, and so they see there is no threat. But if I want to catch one, they see that straight away.

    Look at this video of wolves. That’s basic ‘dog nature’. I know all the breeds are different. I have let my dog be however she wanted to be, so she can express her nature without inhibition or distortion. Her urge to co-operate is incredibly strong. Whatever I do she wants to join in and help. I see it as, basically, the teamwork required by wolves to kill a moose, sublimated by thousands of years of domestication.

  • it just occurred to me that many of the respondents here at NBL fall into the “graybeard” category… Why is that? Is it just that old folks are the only ones with time to sit around all day in front of a computer? Do we oldsters have nothing else to do? Are we lonely? Are we the only ones who care about the future of the earth or, with one foot in the grave, are we just looking closely at a possible cause of our demise?

    Michael Irving, you are probably right that those who comment on NBL skew towards older. I’m 40, not exactly a graybeard, but it’s definitely harder for me to follow comments and respond to them because I’m usually chasing around my 5-year-old (and these days also harvesting food, preserving food, digging post holes, helping to plant an edible hedgerow at the community garden, and connecting with other homeschoolers). But that said, I know an awful lot of younger people who spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer. Some of them do read NBL. But I think there are definitely different patterns in internet usage among different age groups. For example, a lot of my 20-something friends tend to rely more heavily on sites like Facebook and Reddit and Google Plus and whatnot– I think they’re used to being able to filter information in particular configurations, and to digest it in smaller, sometimes fragmentary, quantities. There’s a significant divide between those who grew up without the internet and those who always had it around. I am near the edge of that divide.

    I can assure you, though, that it’s not only older people who care about the future of the earth or who think about imminent demise. I just think the younger people who care are engaging in different ways, both online and off.

    I find it a wee bit frustrating, myself, that most of the people willing to engage in discussion such as the types that happen here are mostly not parents of young children. I think this is probably because they’re exhausted and overwhelmed. That’s my observation, anyway. I confess, I’m often exhausted. And it takes a lot of effort to step away from the treadmill/rat race of cultural expectations when you have young children. Not to mention the terrifying prospect of contemplating the future of those very specific, beloved, real children. The cognitive dissonance is enormous.

    On a separate topic: I’m all for the use of Douglas Adams novels as part of one’s emotional coping strategy. All I can say is: 42. :)

  • Again, thank you Dr. McPherson. Your insights validate, clarify, and illuminate my perceptions and put my fears into perspective. I kinda “got the picture” a few decades ago but thought maybe I wasn’t seeing things properly and maybe folks like Paul Erlich were just full of baloney. Yup, “nature bats last”.

    Loved see Ed Abbey in your trailer.

  • Loved seeing Ed Abbey. Heard he sometimes shot his television when he lived in Tuscon. Maybe a damn good idea :-)

  • Michael Irving

    “…. it just occurred to me that many of the respondents here at NBL fall into the “graybeard” category. I certainly speak for myself here. Why is that? Is it just that old folks are the only ones with time to sit around all day in front of a computer? Do we oldsters have nothing else to do? Are we lonely? Are we the only ones who care about the future of the earth or, with one foot in the grave, are we just looking closely at a possible cause of our demise?”

    I have a metaphore that may be of interest in responding to this open question.

    I once came accross the idea that the stages of human life are like a river. (Not from Siddartha, but that is an interesting parrallel BTW.)

    In the early stages the slope of the river is steep way up in the riverlets of mountains, and the ipmulse is strong to get to the destination. As in youth there is little time to look and hang around, and smell the roses. The power of movement seems all that matters. Experiencing as much as possible is what is all about, and the more dramatic the course the better.
    As the river forms in lower areas, the strength of midlife takes over and the work of steering the course to the destination, and keeping it all together is strong. Your capacity to carry a lot of energy and soil is optimum and seems all gathering to get you there. In mid life the concerns are maintaining your course.You see the freewheeling of youth disappearing, replaced by the responsibilities of maintaining a trajectory taking over. A recognition that early choices, aparently of no consequence then, mean some real consequencenow.
    As the river moves into the plains it starts to meander, and over long linear distances, and seems to tarry back and forth, back and forth, apparently no longer in any hurry to get to the ocean.
    As in old age, the pace of life is slowed, but all the work in youth and mid life it seems will be undone at the delta, where the river meets the ocean. Death seems the final hurdle.
    Or so I thought in my youth.
    I discovered only recently that the reason the river meanders so in the valley, is not only to avoid its disollution, but to bring water and futility to as much of the valley as possible, spreading its wizdom WHERE IT IS NEEDED, for with the next phase of its life cycle, it can’t hope to carry those beyond the coast.
    Old age is a time of redistributing what one has UNDERSTOOD of life, not to go to Vagas and blow your retirement(401K).

    In the face of extinction, believe it or not, I feel there is no need to change that process, but perhaps just more reason to love all you can the more passionately, as Roy Batty did.
    Some NBL posters try to bleet their own take on the Data. I do, but I don’t generally quibble with the ‘Extinction Protocal’, because I feel it is always more important how you live now..’The readiness is all’ approach. I am gearing up for less reliance on centralised energy distribution, but the constraints of family life do not allow me yet to quit this spot and go somwhere optimal with some community as Guy has done. So it is, cope with the situation as it unfolds. Posting is helpful, because although there are disagreements, as there will be, there is some discussion, and sharing, and humour and a lot of peoples diverse experiences, that is great to access, and be aware of.

    Options expand, until extinction, but it was ever thus for the individual, was it not?
    Now is all we have ever had.

    Trashing the TV sounds like a good thing to have done at least once in a lifetime, I might just try it soon. I’ll probably wat for some really bad news to take maximum effect, wearing saftey goggles of course.

  • ulvfugl you quote my words and then act as if you didn’t read them. as you quoted I said “I wouldn’t like having a dog that growls at anyone period. To each their own. I don’t feel the need of a dog to protect me.” I was talking about what kind of dog I want, not about what I force a dog to do. Actually my dog growls – at me if I pretend to take away her squirrel. She doesn’t growl at me if I take away her rats, only her squirrels. (chickens can get botulism from the rotten stomachs of other animals so we try to toss all the kills out of the chicken yard) So I admit to teasing her when she gets a squirrel. But you should approve of that as I give her an opportunity to growl. I am not in the business of forbidding dogs from growling at folks, only in the business of selecting what kind of dog I want around.

    I note that like us you have a dog that doesn’t kill chickens. Our dog came to us at 1 year and had already been trained not to kill chickens. As you note it is natural for foxies to kill chickens. It would be natural for wolves to kill chickens. Killing critters for food is the natural state of wild dogs. Any of us who have a dog that doesn’t kill chickens has either picked a breed who has had that bred out of them or trained them not to kill chickens. While our dog came trained not to harm chickens she did get into stealing eggs and we had to train her not to do that as unnatural as it is. Not hard, the slightest sound of disapproval works. She came to us in her friendly mode not growling, at strangers at least strangers that are with us. I wouldn’t have wanted her otherwise.

    If you want a natural dog, get a fox, wolf or coyote. Every domestic dog has already been tampered with in their breeding. How can you stand having such an unnatural animal?

  • Can’t believe I even bothered to respond about dogs. Here we are at the brink of extinction and we argue about growling dogs – strange beasts us humans
    So on the looming EXTINCTION Front
    https://arctic-news.blogspot.ca/2012/09/methane-fields-in-the-laptev-sea.html
    Below is part of a recent interview published by Voice of Russia – click here for the full report. Editorial note: We anxiously await further findings from the research team as to what the source is of these releases, when the methane was formed and by how much these releases are likely to increase over the year

  • “How can you stand having such an unnatural animal?

    I am myself an unnatural animal, as are you, as are all of us.

  • Here we are at the brink of extinction and we argue about growling dogs – strange beasts us humans

    If we all agree that extinction is inevitable, then there’s not a lot of point to talking about extinction, is there ? Or anything else, dogs, whatever.

    I see it very differently. If someone wants to talk to me, about any subject whatever, I’ll listen and talk to them. It’s just life.

    Dmitry Orlov says that all these people on the internet who have time to get themselves informed and read his blog, are the least likely to survive. He says the one’s who are likely to survive are already doing survival full time.

    He expects a fast cascading crash of the economic system, with no chance of recovery.

    Interestingly, he says the first sign, maybe a huge collapse of a major bank and the Dow dropping dramatically could be the start of that, but he himself would wait a while before making any decisions. He lives on a boat, so if things get nasty, he sails somewhere else.

  • With thanks for the vigorous commentary, and special thanks to Elaine Kost I’ve posted her first essay in this space. It’s here.

  • Navid,

    Thanks for your comments re: graybeards. I agree with you that hormones are a governing factor in much of what we humans do (or don’t do). I think that in many cases we choose not to look at that aspect too deeply because it tends to get us thinking about dogs in heat–not a pleasant thought when we start equating that picture with ourselves (we thinking ourselves to be in control of, rather than being controlled by, our baser instincts).

    Oh, and don’t think twice about the garden conversation.

    Michael Irving

  • ulvfugl

    Great u-tube post on GMO food. I had not taken the time to get some real info and this is enough to make me really wonder about nagging health issues in the family. Thanks a bunch for that.

    Also Dmitry Orlov is worth listening to IMO, however, he has admitted to being an engineer, but in what I don’t know yet. Does that qualify him to be an expert on collapse? In his favour he wrote some convincing essays on the collapse of the Soviet system, and it was posted on Matt Savinar’s previous LATOC (archives) site, which is where I read it first. I tried to ask him via E-mail, and asked if he made money from this website, because I wanted to asess the motives of Peak oil alertists like himself, and he told me nothing, and insinuated he could smell me from the Northern hemisphere??? Make of that what you will.

    So while I no longer visit his site, I do have some regard for his statments, and I also see he may have a collapse approach business model that could profit from a lot of people getting nervous as TSHTF and run to sites like his that are ‘safe havens in a storm’. I don’t know realy how to view him properly. While the web is running he may prosper, but he seems to have positioned himself well in any event.

    Survival mode will be interesting for us all, however. With children will be much harder, and it is probably in their best interest to grow them up fast if you can, for they will need all the gumpion and wits available to them.

  • Arthur Johnson,

    Not meaning disrespect, however, the sentiments of that song went sideways on me. All I could think about was the anger I feel at Obama. I got mixed up in thinking that we were going to a new place in 2008, a “kinder, gentler place. I bought into a dream (reluctantly) only to have it dashed over the subsequent 3 1/2 years. I know, I know, I should have known better. Life keeps reminding me that “hope” is usually a bitter pill to swallow, often unfulfilled, leaving only a really acid, bile-filled stomach.

    Michael Irving

  • Jennifer Hartley,

    Thanks for your comments. Looking back I can only second your opinion about how the business of daily living often makes it impossible for younger folks to take the time to look beyond “the next thing” they have to do just to make it through the day. When I was your age I was teaching/going to school/raising kids/building a house/a committed environmental activist/mountain climbing/running/a union rep…….etc…. all at once. I don’t know how I did it/you do it.

    As for young folks vs old folks in terms of how they get information I think you have hit it right on the head. I feel like my brain is slogging along in molasses while young folks zig along like the Jetsons of cartoon land. Even TV…I don’t do TV any more, it’s just too disjointed and “in your face” to deal with (and the damned things are in every waiting room selling us something). I even discovered that one of the gas stations I used to fill up at installed mini-TVs in the pumps so you could look at trailers for various TV series while you pumped gas….I mean WTF?

    Oh, and did you notice that old guys (like me) tend to just go off on rants about stuff and talk about the good old days??? :-)

    I understand your wish to hear the thoughts that other younger people might have about the future that my generation is leaving for you and your children to deal with. I’m not convinced we have been any greedier than anyone else at any time in history…we just had the bigger reach because of our access to unlimited power.

    Michael Irving

  • Michael Irving said: “All I could think about was the anger I feel at Obama. I got mixed up in thinking that we were going to a new place in 2008, a “kinder, gentler place. I bought into a dream (reluctantly) only to have it dashed over the subsequent 3 1/2 years. I know, I know, I should have known better. Life keeps reminding me that “hope” is usually a bitter pill to swallow, often unfulfilled, leaving only a really acid, bile-filled stomach.”

    This is exactly how I feel. Like you, I reluctantly bought into the dream and found (fairly promptly) all my hopes dashed. My anger towards Obama and his crowd pale in comparison to my anger at myself for allowing myself to be swindled.

  • ‘Chickens on the other hand usually disappear into the bushes when any stranger comes but a few select people can walk into the chicken yard and they act like no one new is there. What do they know? A lot of people seem to be afraid of chickens – perhaps the fear can be smelled.’

    kathy, richard reese made an interesting observation in his book WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE re. wild animals and their fear of humans. he claims, based on his own personal experience, that this fear is related to thinking. he says that when his mind went blank, for example, he could approach a deer without it running away. if so, perhaps some wild animals can sense humans thinking, plotting, perhaps scheming on doing them harm, and this is what makes them afraid.

  • TVT that is an interesting point. Since I e-met Richard years back I am intending to get his book but haven’t done so yet. I doubt that any of our visitors are plotting anything against our chickens. We in fact plot the demise of young roosters and sometimes old hens. They seem no different the days we come down to get some for the axe than other days. In fact we sometimes dub (cut off) the comb of roosters if they develop a floppy comb that drops over one eye. They are supposed to be watching for hawks so we don’t want their vision impaired. This is done with sharp scissors and without any anesthesia (first time I did try numb it with ice). They give one brief squawk, calm down, I stop the bleeding and daub a bit of antibiotic ointment on it. The next day they act not one bit different.

    Recently my husbands granddaughter visited – the chickens we much more wary of her than ever before. I couldn’t quite figure it out until I noticed that the new boots her mother had purchased had big eyes on the toes. Nothing like normal eyes but the basic outlines. Change of shoes and they were back to coming for food she threw out for them.

    But they are domestic, not wild so I can’t say about wild animals. If you like Richard’s writing you might also enjoy a book I heard about from him that is quite intriguing – Original Wisdom – Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing by Robert Wolff. I think there is something to taming the wild thoughts and just experiencing what is around us. I sort of think of our consciousness as a sense organ – the seeking of one sort of information mostly using words (spoken or internally spoken) vs the seeking of information from our eyes ears and skin. So when we turn that off the other senses are better able to operate.

    Did you know we have a form of sight that is not conscious. It is the name of my favorite science fiction book, Blindsight by Peter Watts, but also the term for seeing without knowing you see. Some people have eyes undamaged but the connection to the aware seeing brain sight damaged. Still they can see things, they just don’t know they can. Tell them to put a letter in a slot and they will say I can’t see the slot and then put the letter in the slot. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blindsight This is probably what operates when you jump back before you even “see” the snake – a sight that bypasses the slower conscious visual area to allow you to react to something you don’t know you saw. Neat huh? I suspect that some of these unconscious senses may account for the experiences Robert Wolff relates in Original Wisdom.

  • The REAL Dr. House,

    As I see it, people are going to experience a variety of intense emotions (anger, rage, frustration, depression, etc.) once they become convinced, down to their bones, of imminent extinction of not just humans, but all life by mid-century. But the one everyone should feel, more than others, is despair. Despair, in the face of such a reality, is the emotion most indicative that a person is mentally healthy and stabile. Paul Kingsnorth, who is no extinctionist, by any means, talks about this in some depth, from a personal perspective at the Dark Mountain blog in “On the Correct Management of Despair”

    http://dark-mountain.net/blog/on-the-correct-management-of-despair/

    Two excerpts:

    It’s no secret that a feeling of despair was one of the things that brought me to this [DM] project, and that led to its creation. It was the despair of an environmentalist who could see that environmentalism was failing and who had to work out how to deal with that. It was the despair of someone who felt he had no-one to talk to about his despair because, though many other people were feeling it too – oh, you could see it in their eyes however hard they tried to conceal it – it was never talked about. Activists do not talk about despair. No-one talks about despair. Despair, in a progressive society, is taboo. We do not want despair. We want hope. Hope, all the time. Hope, like a drug. Do not look down – look away.

    and later, this:

    So that is my despair. What should I do with it? I can talk, perhaps with you. I can share it. I can write it down. But I can’t and won’t pretend that I don’t feel it. And I won’t replace it with something called ‘hope’ just because I can, or think I should. I can live my life well, be happy, love, work, do the things that matter to me. I can save some of the good things, if I try, I hope. But I can’t hold back the despair all the time. Why should I? It’s a response – a rational response – to what we are doing; to the world we are levelling. It’s the only honest response.

    Indeed. Despair IS the only honest response. Despair, and how to manage it correctly. Part of that management is being willing to look down, not away, and not to flinch while doing so. And then honestly and openly talk about what you see when you look down at extinction, and then see where that leads.

    By contrast, responding to extinction with “the whimsy and wit of Douglas Adams” is no response at all. Douglas Adams is just one more “clever” way to look away, and avoid looking down.

    I could say a lot more about this, but for now I’ll stop and just ask this question:

    What do you see when you look down, without flinching?

  • Michael Irving,

    Not meaning disrespect, however, the sentiments of that song went sideways on me. All I could think about was the anger I feel at Obama. I got mixed up in thinking that we were going to a new place in 2008, a “kinder, gentler place. I bought into a dream (reluctantly) only to have it dashed over the subsequent 3 1/2 years.

    Interesting. Still, sincerely feeling serious anger while hearing the lyrics, especially these perhaps?:

    Come, let’s try and believe in tomorrow! Let’s recall the young person of the past who embraced the dream on that far away day.
    Someday they’ll be realized. Don’t be afraid.
    ‘Cuz beautiful dreams come true

    is not a “wrong emotion”. The artist is trying to elicit sincere emotional responses to her song. As I understand you, you’re saying you tried to do this: tried to believe in tomorrow, tried to recall the young man…”. And got badly burned in the process. And you’re responding to the burn, how? With anger, yes. Anything else? Are you even more mistrustful, more suspicious, than you were before Obama?

  • Kathy C. “I think there is something to taming the wild thoughts and just experiencing what is around us. I sort of think of our consciousness as a sense organ – the seeking of one sort of information mostly using words (spoken or internally spoken) vs the seeking of information from our eyes ears and skin. So when we turn that off the other senses are better able to operate.”

    No offence intended, with respect, and all that, but it is no wonder you and I cannot have a productive conversation about ‘soul’, because if the above is your understanding, I have to say it is very crude and superficial. Do some intensive meditation ! Discover the vastness and riches within, Kathy. There’s much, much more to it than that, that’s just the beginning of self-knowing :-) That said, it’s still a lot better than the average person, most of whom seem hardly aware that they are alive at all…

  • tvt“richard reese made an interesting observation in his book WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE re. wild animals and their fear of humans. he claims, based on his own personal experience, that this fear is related to thinking. he says that when his mind went blank, for example, he could approach a deer without it running away. if so, perhaps some wild animals can sense humans thinking, plotting, perhaps scheming on doing them harm, and this is what makes them afraid.”

    I think Richard Reese is here sometimes ? He was on the DM forum. He wrote some great stuff long ago, I have a lot of respect for him, although havn’t read his book, I’ve always wanted to, but my pile of ‘books to be read’ is overwhelming… but yes, I think he has a great point there, that’s something to do with it, it’s the ‘vibe’, for want of a better term, that a person puts out.

    As I mentioned before, Linda Kohanov has gone into this in great depth. Horses are herd creatures and also prey creatures. They spend most of their time with heads down in the grass, an eye on each side of the head. Danger can approach from many directions. They are highly attuned to the movements and signals coming from the rest of the herd. If one suddenly panics, the signal goes through the entire herd instantly, like electricity.

    Horses are much more highly developed and sensitive emotionally, than humans. They ‘feel’ the feelings of other horses, and also of humans. This has been researched in depth by the people who do horse therapy for disabled children. Horses and ponies can tell immediately how a child ‘feels’, and will take great care when carrying children who have severe disabilities, autism, down’s syndrome, etc. Obviously there’s a lot more to it than I can say here in a comment, loads of books, some of which are total crap, since L K came up with this approach, it’s been ripped off by some disreputable people who just exploit the thing for money, as always happens, sadly, so discretion is advised.
    At it’s best ‘horse therapy’ is absolutely fantastic, miraculous, the experience will have you weeping with awe and respect for something so wonderful….

  • By this definition, horses are every bit as heroic as their riders, perhaps even more so: a prey animal going to war is the epitome of a counterintuitive, wholly unnatural move. And yet, horses re-connect us to nature, more specifically to nature’s gifts, her ability to not just challenge, but nourish, inspire, and renew us.
    And so, after the long journey we’ve taken together, we come to the deepest, most healing piece of horse wisdom I can offer: The importance of joy, awe, wonder, and inspiration, of celebrating the talents and intelligence of other beings, appreciating daily acts of kindness and courage, as well as the beauty of this world we all share, most especially those rural areas and wilderness preserves we must guard as blessings from a benevolent force still urging us to grow out of fitful adolescence into real maturity, empowered empathy, agile understanding, and unbridled yet compassionate creativity.
    Horse wisdom, fully activated in humans, requires paying attention to what is good and right with the world, and expanding that, even as we protect ourselves from predators hiding in the grass. No matter what’s happening around us, the emotional agility, social intelligence, and fear management skills horses teach help us deal efficiently with technical difficulties and interpersonal challenges—and then “go back to grazing.” Over time, as we learn to ride life’s roller coaster with ease, an underlying sense of “deep peace” emerges and strengthens. We find that we can let go of the stories that tie us to past injustice. And we can fully enjoy the present, knowing that we are courageous, empowered, and adaptable enough to meet the future with the relaxed yet expanded awareness of a mature herd leader.
    Now that horses are no longer obliged to work in our fields and carry us to war, they’re doing something more important: They’re working on us, helping us reclaim, daily, a hint of paradise not so much lost as misplaced. In rekindling our relationship with horses as guides—as catalysts of human transformation going back at least 30,000 years—we can’t help but realize that even when we wander off the main trail and get lost in the woods, we’re never alone in this world.

    http://eponaquest.com/

  • ‘I think there is something to taming the wild thoughts’

    how about wilding our tame thoughts? of course, the domesticating influence of a violently coercive and dogmatic ‘authority’ in our lives must first come to an end, something which probably won’t happen until the sheeple population has been drastically reduced. plenty of wild times ahead, but not under optimum conditions, to say the least.

    interesting thoughts and observations of your domesticated chickens, kathy. i didn’t know it was a rooster’s job to serve as a lookout for danger. i take it the hens then are free to concentrate on foraging for food, which they need a lot of to produce eggs. however, it doesn’t make sense for them to have evolved those floppy things that impair vision. i understand it’s probably related to sex appeal, those floppy things turn on or impress the hens, but u’d think evolution wouldn’t develop in a manner that tends to be self defeating. upon further reflection, of course, our species is proof that nature does indeed do this. it’s all random and pointless.

    thanks for the book recommendation. mentioning blindsight reminded me of a nonfiction book i read a few years ago about someone who was blind from a very young age, who thanks to new technology had his sight restored as an adult, with unpredictable consequences. his brain couldn’t understand much of what he saw. very impaired or non existent depth perception and inability to recognize a familiar face were among his ongoing disabilities. i’ve forgotten why, but he also became depressed, wishing his sight hadn’t been restored, and spent a lot of time in dark rooms so he couldn’t see anything.

    surreality is indeed surreal, full of wonders which inspire our big brains to ponder. i think constantly it seems while awake. we’ve evolved to think, to be clever enough to survive in a harsh brutal world at times. becoming civilized has allowed us to become much more abtract, detached thinkers. a mind gets condition to put senses on auto-pilot while consciously pre-occupied with mental abstractions like words and ideas. with civilization gone, our species may re-learn how to be wild, more sensually attuned, less distracted, if extinction doesn’t come too fast on the heels of civilization’s death.

  • ulvfugl, richard reese has posted at least a couple of comments to this blog in the past couple months.

  • tvt : “…it doesn’t make sense for them to have evolved those floppy things that impair vision. i understand it’s probably related to sex appeal, those floppy things turn on or impress the hens, but u’d think evolution wouldn’t develop in a manner that tends to be self defeating. upon further reflection, of course, our species is proof that nature does indeed do this. it’s all random and pointless.”

    No, that’s completely wrong, tvt, the way domesticated poultry are has nothing to do with evolution, they have been selected by humans to have those characteristics, since they were domesticated. If you want to know what naturally evolved chickens are like you have to look at the original wild Red Jungle Fowl, which still exist in the wild in Asia, although getting rare.

    http://www.arkive.org/red-junglefowl/gallus-gallus/

  • Re the hand made books thing that we were discussing…

    The book as talisman…

    “The idea of the talismanic book was something I encountered in 1986 while working at Sotheby’s. I chanced upon a copy of Aleister Crowley’s “Ahab, and other poems” and was immediately struck by its mesmeric qualities. It wasn’t simply a matter of materials or typographic design, but somehow as a whole the book seemed resonant and vital. Later I discovered that Crowley had noted the similarities in manufacture between traditional books and the magical talismans of the Golden Dawn and had begun experimenting with merging the two methods. At the heart of this process was the notion that the book-talisman should be charged with the force that it was intended to represent. Of course, this can be interpreted in many ways—and my own take is fairly post-modern—but when I first encountered it in the mid 1980s, this approach seemed the very antithesis of commercial book production, particularly within the occult genre. Curiously, I found that inspiring.”

  • Arthur Johnson,

    Despair is just one emotion that I feel for what is happening and what will happen – but it certainly isn’t the only emotion.

    We’ve discussed the Kübler-Ross stages of grief here many times. Acceptance is the final stage yet all stages can be experienced simultaneously, out of order, and repeatedly. Ultimately, however, a “healthy” human will reach and stabilize at the stage of acceptance – even in the face of extinction. After all, each person becomes extinct individually sooner or later.

    There have been five other mass extinction events in Earth’s history. I don’t mourn those events, nor feel despair. They didn’t affect me nor any aspect of my existence – at least not directly. But, if they hadn’t happened, it’s pretty certain that I wouldn’t be here typing this message to you about the current extinction event.

    By the same token, out of this current mass extinction, new life will be born. I have no doubt that this new life will be wonderful, awesome, and unique. If this current extinction wasn’t happening, that life would never come to be either.

    Is that good or bad? I don’t think it’s either one. It just is.

    So, give it a rest. Whether a person wants to spend their final days reading Douglas Adam’s, shopping till they drop, or masturbating to Beethoven’s Fifth, it doesn’t really matter. The end comes regardless.

  • TVT – the red jungle fowl that chickens most likely came from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Red_junglefowl_hm.jpg has a small straight comb. Just like your kitten is not like wild kittens and the various breeds of dog are unlike wolves, chickens have been bred to have a variety of characteristics unlike wild chickens. There are now pea combs, rose combs, walnut combs, cushion walnut combs, and large often floppy straight combs. We most run into the dysfunctional combs when crossing a pea to a straight from a leghorn line.

    Roosters in the wild and in our acre of free range have various “jobs” – one is to watch for and warn of hawks and other predators so the hens can eat with less worry. Another is to find food for hens (which they always think is good for sex no matter how tiny – and in fact young roosters will often pretend to find food to get a hen close enough to jump on). They also attempt to keep other roosters out of their little flock and a comb over one eye puts them at a disadvantage should a fight ensue. We have several sub flocks usually with a superior and one or more roosters under them.

  • Arthur,

    “More angry…?”

    Only when I think about the world outside my immediate sphere, which is every time I read any news or opinion columns, which is every freaking day. Inside the world I inhabit I am happy and fulfilled. The unfortunate part of that equation is that even if a person were to choose to live as a monk in a cave the disaster we’ve set in motion will visit us soon. There is no retreat from it any more, no more living a solitary life in the forest, a la Thoreau. Even the 1% will soon be feeling the sting of changing conditions.

    I’ve been working very hard on my lifeboat, but have also been practicing my swimming skills.

    Michael Irving

  • The REAL Dr. House,

    Fair enough.

    Regarding extinction, I have a feeling that a lot more plant life will survive than they’re given credit for. The bulk of the angiosperms are probably finished, but the gymnosperms and cycads, maybe not.

    In any event, an extinction of animal forms of the magnitude Guy is talking about (basically back to one-celled bacteria) essentially means the end of complex animal life forever. The Earth only has about one billion years left, at most, before the sun becomes just hot enough to initiate the Venus Syndrome. If things get pruned back that drastically, there likely isn’t enough time left to allow for a second Cambrian explosion to occur and complex animal life to bounce back.

    In that event, Kathy C’s quip about Aliens several days ago is pertinent. The idea of an “Extinction Project” to create some kind of long-term physical record of human knowledge, which would include whatever we currently know about non-human biology, behavior, and psychology, might be a worthwhile endeavor. This record would be for the benefit of any intelligent, space-faring alien species who managed to get here. James Lovelock has already suggested something along these lines, as have others.

  • Michael Irving,

    FWIW, my own position on where we are with respect to climate change is succinctly summarized in 17 minutes by this video:

    For 2013, I think it’s a dead certainty that the Arctic sea ice extent minimum will be down to 2.7 million sq km (from 3.4 million this year), the North American drought will continue and be more severe, food prices will rise sharply, and there will be widespread food riots in various places, particularly in the Middle East.

    The next year is going to be pretty ugly. Keep working on that lifeboat, and keep it handy.

  • Living in a rural area will not bring a reduction in one’s carbon footprint or ecological footprint if we continue to have a high-consuming lifestyle there; and the demands of rural living could cause us to increase our carbon footprint or ecological footprint. For example, most people who live in rural areas drive their cars more because the grocery store and other destinations are further away. In the city I see lots of people riding bicycles, but in the rural areas I see few people riding bicycles; probably because the rural people find biking impractical for their errands. The high price of land or rent and the scarcity of jobs in rural areas prevents many low-income people from living there. If everyone in the USA moved to a rural area, the rural areas would get more congested — without necessarily solving any land-use problems — and probably creating more land-use problems. New eco-villages in rural areas are a good idea, but only of they can be established within the framework of a new economic model.

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