The slippery slope of community

by Elaine Kost

Seeking community once meant that others were looking to share housing, resources, skills and fun, not because they had to but because they wanted to. Some were ingrained with the idea of “waste not, want not”, and others enjoyed the company of having an extended family close by.

The name we gave our community, “Slippery Slope” is indicative of the journey we’ve been on trying to find others to invest their time, energy and resources sharing what we have and preparing for a much different future.

In today’s world many are buddying up out of necessity to pay living expenses while sharing the workload at home in order to grow their own food, generate extra income from things made together and to lighten the load on Mother Earth, which sustains us.

Communities can be as diverse as individuals forming around those individual needs. Whether big or small, communities can offer many things for many people. Sharing our lives with those seeking the same could mean success in saving what little is left for future generations.

Our culture today is geared more towards competition than cooperation and therefore it’s hard to remember what it was like to work together rather than individually, sharing the end results. Now everyone has everything and does it all alone. This will not suffice for us in the near future as human societies return to the days of a handshake meaning something, much more than a receipt. Money will no longer be the tie that binds us.

I can still remember what it felt like working for a paycheck though it’s been almost four years since I retired from a 30-year history in the telecommunications industry. Fridays were always a welcomed respite to a five-day workweek of being told what to do and when to do it.

My husband David and I knew in 2002, well before I retired, that our goal was to pay off the property and get me out of the corporate world of waste and wants. We both knew then of peak resources, financial collapse and climate change and it became harder to communicate with those who didn’t believe we would never have control of our own lives, except perhaps to end it.

My awareness of the changes happening around me did not happen overnight but one night in May of 2005 a major change took place in the way I viewed the future. It was at the McDonald Theatre in Eugene where my husband encouraged the idea of going to see Michael Ruppert speak. He was clear, concise and confident as he gave his presentation to a packed house waiting to hear what he had to say.

I watched as he presented colorful charts and factual research that he accumulated over several years. I watched, I listened and I heard some of the information for the second time as my husband had been telling me the same message for several years before. It didn’t take long for me to see my picture of the future after connecting the dots.

In our 35 years together we’ve always managed to stay out of debt (by not getting into it) and living a simple life mostly out of the system when at all possible. We tired of babysitters who didn’t care for our children the way we did and decided I had the better of the two jobs so David became the primary parent while I worked. And work I did. I was away from our home most Sundays (as they paid time and a half), most holidays (double time), and mandatory overtime for 2+ years of 58 hours a week. This is how we managed on one income for most of our lives together, working as a team, as we explained in an essay at Culture Change.

We didn’t plan to retire this way, opening our home to a shared kitchen and giving up our privacy to people we had to get to know, not only know but also trust as much as we trusted each other.

The more we learned between 2001 and 2008 the more we were inclined to believe that people would wake up to the fact that their story book lives would soon be ending and they would need to begin writing their own story from the start again.

Work began here on the homestead shortly after moving to Oregon in 2001. We excavated the property where the main garden is today because it was so thick with weeds and blackberry brambles that we couldn’t tell there was a drop between the lawn area and the creek below. We noticed it while throwing the Frisbee to our dog when the top of her head disappeared. After the major excavation work was done we tilled and planted and for the first year we gardened without a fence and didn’t do too bad as the deer had not found us yet. The following year we installed the fence that has worked well in keeping most of the wildlife at bay.

Several years were required for my husband to obtain the knowledge that he has of our land. Today our combined space of vegetable gardens is 95’ x 125’. He has learned the good, bad and the ugly of building soil while deciphering the lay of the land including the best beds for growing the most difficult crops. Year after year his attention was focused on the seasons and where the most sun was for the months of growing. He learned sometimes the hard and only way what beds required more water as well as what beds needed more amendments, which we brought in yearly for the first few summers, this was not cheap to do. We think about the expense now if we had to start over.

It was deep in the summer of 2008 when I left the conventional world of industry and entered farmland security or working for food. Little did I know how physical the work would be considering I’d mostly had a soft life behind a computer screen. I don’t mind the hard work when I remember who it is I’m working for and what it is I’m doing.

We thought our timing was perfect as the meltdown in 2008 led some to change direction out of necessity. We had a good model that was built to last and believed that this would serve those looking. Our 30+ years together of married life showed both our stability and ability to accomplish what we had thus far, which made our resumes superb. Our organizational skills were strong and our communication impeccable. Not only where we “doers”, we were thinkers and we thought about the many options for our homestead, especially now that we owned a small piece of paradise.

A simple ad that stated what we had to offer and some skills we were looking for was posted on and we began to “seek community.” The emails came in slowly at first and we managed to reply with more info about us as well as more questions to which we needed answers.

After several years passed and names and visits became rolodexes in our minds, we refined our ad, created a blog and hoped to limit many of the simple questions that others asked of us. This worked for some and eliminated those who asked questions that they could of found answers to if they were really interested. Our sincere but generic responses seemed to work for some and we opened our home for visits and meals with those we thought we could have a dialog with.

We noticed that what many (most) said in their emails (typed words) did not back up their actions when face-to-face. Visits drained us of our energy and little help was offered to make up for lost time working and maintaining our homestead.

The years have gone by since we started this journey and our list of names that we’ve emailed, chatted on the phone with or sat down face to face and had a meal in our home with is well over 200 people. Hours and hours were spent conversing while our lives were put on hold. Whatever needed to be done on the homestead took a backseat to entertaining potential community members.

We usually began our conversations outdoors showing guests the gardens, answering questions about our methods of producing a large quantity of food, while keeping to the most sustainable methods of no till, serious crop rotations, cover cropping, composting and maintaining clover between all 50+ beds to help keep the integrity of the beds and to feed the bees.

More times than not we served meals prepared with nothing but food from the garden and were enthusiastic in our presentation. It was quite apparent this didn’t mean to others what it meant to us as there, as we were met with little interest and no questions.

Our options for infrastructure for others living on the property consist of a barn that has recently been updated with new roof, shop and upstairs, which in finishing would provide additional living space (14’ x 20’) or room to stretch out on a yoga mat, or just somewhere to find comfort listening to the creek below. Another space is an overbuilt carport with a new PVC membrane roof that we plan to use for water catchments not yet in place. This space is 1000 square feet and would comfortably fit a family of four.

Thinking of all the ways to make it happen, we even entertained the idea of us finishing the carport for our own living quarters and renting out our home. We thought this would be a great opportunity for the younger crowd who has friends that they can live with. In our journey we’ve found many of the young are ill-prepared for the future and are not capable of becoming organized enough to make something else happen.

We saw a need for those who didn’t have the land but had the energy to invest in helping us. Most are paying rent and walking away with nothing but what they came with and we felt like we were offering much more, yet many were unwilling to contribute financially. Maybe we took for granted that there were others like us looking and that we could combine our resources (as equal partners), or that we would find young couples that perhaps had jobs on the outside that could contribute by paying rent. None of us live for free.

We have worked hard to get here and we’re still willing to work more. At least this journey served as a reminder to us of who we are as a team and who we are as individuals. Being together as long as we have and without children for over 11 years, privacy was a big thing for us, yet we never blinked at having our home open between the hours of 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. for one member that stayed for six months and then left when the growing season picked up. This member asked if we ever thought about other’s belongings and where some things could fit in our home to make it more inviting for everyone sharing. Things we hadn’t pondered were welcomed as we replaced our furniture with theirs. I still remember taking down our children’s pictures to allow more space on the walls for other pictures they brought with them. Libraries were combined and a sitting room became a space for everyone, not just us. In this same room my spinning wheel sat next to their drum reflecting our different interests. It began to look like shared housing more and more and both my husband and I enjoyed the diversity.

We encouraged making meals together or for others to cook up their specialties using what we grew. We often take for granted our ability to cook with what’s available from the garden. It’s exciting to look at a table when the meal prepared came from home with all hands working to provide it. We always knew we weren’t perfect and I’m sure there are some who would call us “anal” which is more like a compliment and a skill honed through practicing over and over until the end result turns out like it’s supposed to.

We know now that we can share our home, as we have with overnight guests and community members. We followed through, asking for feedback, as we know that one learns more from their faults and mistakes than any success. We also know that our journey did not fail because of us (as arrogant as that may sound), but because of the lack of trying from others.

Most (in our region) don’t know how to share what they have with others so they can’t see the benefits. Sharing resources, including one’s own energy, can be very rewarding for all involved. Instead of two people working 40 hours a week with four people it’s 20. What an opportunity to learn new skills, get away without the fear of coming back to twice as much work. Living 25 miles from the nearest big town is a trip we’ve been making once a week for several years, now we’re trying twice a month. But think if you had others to share not only the vehicle with cost of maintenance and insurance but also the time involved. One has to be organized to check off all the stops and save as much gas as possible in doing so. There are so many reasons why we need to live this way but we learned all the reasons it won’t work.

Take, for instance, in our email communications when we asked specific questions such as, “have you ever lived in the country?” or “why are you seeking community”, we never received a response. Some we asked to call us so we could talk more as phone conversations can clear up many things quickly. We don’t have a cell phone but many times used our calling card since their phone numbers were long-distance, even though they lived nearby. In the end, we found many people did not want to communicate this way. It narrowed our search in the end when we asked upfront, “call us, so we can discuss some things.” Failure to respond shortened the list quickly.

Lacking work ethic, physical stamina, motivation and/or enthusiasm are some of the toughest problems to face but some of the easiest to understand. One only has to look around to see the overall health of our population to understand the difficulties of enforcing a program that works for all. If one can’t depend on another how can we make things happen? If one can’t have expectations, then how does the work get done?

Our journey down the slippery slope of community building taught us many things about others as well as ourselves, but more importantly is the fact we endured. Maybe we knew in our hearts that our team of two would suffer no loss because in the end we still have our homestead and the luxury of a good food source as well as the ability to work together and have fun. What more can we ask for?


Elaine Kost lives on a small homestead near Eugene, Oregon with her husband David, shepherd Tolle, 11 chickens and a pair of Ancona ducks with four ducklings. When she isn’t visiting a hospice patient, reading, writing, knitting, crocheting or spinning fleece into yarn (which isn’t often enough), you can bet she is somewhere on the property working. She blogs at Embracing Collapse.


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Comments 183

  • Elaine “Maybe we knew in our hearts that our team of two would suffer no loss because in the end we still have our homestead and the luxury of a good food source as well as the ability to work together and have fun. What more can we ask for?”

    Beautifully said !

  • Endured indeed….you have much to be proud of Elaine. After all enduring will be a big part of our future.

  • Good on ya both for having a go! There may be many more people who get a whole lot more seriously interested in working consistantly in your ‘gardens’ very soon.
    I wold be interested to know if you have fruit trees?

  • Thank you Kathy and Privileged for your kindness.

    We have 30 fruit and nut trees and over 200′ of cane fruit, though the orchard is young yet, we got apples this year for the first time. We dried 18 trays and still have plenty to eat fresh.

  • It is wonderful just to hear about people like you.

  • Interesting article! Sparked a debate in our house that lasted all morning! Thanks for that. A nice way to start the day, with an opening of eyes.

  • Thank you for sharing your storey. It would seem we have quite a few things in common.

    Do you have a blog, where we could read more about your experiences?

  • Elaine, besides experiencing many of the same things you have in looking for partners when I was part of a community, I also witnessed what can go wrong when you get in a community. Some is from my own experiences and some from hearing from others. If some members are related and some not, nepotism can become a problem, especially if there is some founder that owns the land. Affairs and broken marriages happen. Endless attempts at consensus can slow down the simplest of decisions. Self righteousness can arise – over food (I’m a vegan you are an evil meat eater) ETC ETC Dissatisfaction about how much of the load each are carrying can be a big sticking point.

    The most successful communities as far as how long they have lasted have been ones that have strong common religious beliefs – Mennonites, Bruderhof etc and usually a hierarchical leadership. I suspect however that the hardships that are coming will erase some of these problems as people turn to communities in order to survive longer. Nothing like necessity as a motivator. Necessity is just over the horizon I think.

    I encourage all who want to have community to think which of your family members you would take in if they should come and make sure there is room for them. Otherwise if there is only room for those already there, when the crunch come you may be forced to leave, force non family out, or bar your family. Have this discussion with anyone who wants to join your community as well.

  • M-
    Wished I could of been there for the debate, hope it was fruitful.

    Yes we do have a blog,
    I’ve recently posted after a long spell about our harvest this year, it’s always so rewarding to look back at where you began the season.

    Yes, I agree with the family/nepotism and even the affairs and broken marriages, although the latter makes me question how strong their bonds were to begin with.

    We have had conversations with family members and it seems like even our own children who are somewhat aware still do not see the necessity of working so hard. Most of the young adults we know are more concerned with “having fun”. We’ve even used the argument that if we work together we can have some fun together, but maybe in the end their fun is different and is more connected to the fake world we live in, unfortunately.

    The conversation surrounding family is imperative and should not be taken lightly as none of us know how others will react when the “crunch time” happens and that time could be different for everyone involved.

    Our later conversations definitely involved talking about family with our guests and usually was one of the first subjects brought up.

  • Thanks for this Elaine (and Guy for posting it); it is very inciteful. I am pretty young myself (24 yrs.) and witness the same attitudes and personalities among friends and family. I can’t say that I have started anything I feel is necessary being that I personally have no land (although I would love and welcome the opportunity). But even in witnessing the reactions I get from different people in my life when describing these things, they don’t really seem to understand the importance of it all and/or the time required to become skillful in these tasks. Some often do not fully understand the predicament we are in and others simply believe that it is not that serious.

    I lot of the time, when in conversation, people will talk about how they want to do this and that, but when I actually mention any kind of action it seems it falls on deaf ears. It seems to me that people love to fantasize about a free life, but when it comes down to it, are unwilling to do the work that is necessary for it.

    I’m a very simple guy and my ultimate goal is to own my own small, sustainable farm that is worked on by a small, tightknit community of people I can love and trust. The problems with this is that I will have to find a job that I will need to work a number of years in order to save enough to buy my own piece of land. Which is assuming that nothing serious occurs in those number of years that requires me to use those savings.

    so, as I see it, the system needs to be rearranged in a manner that allows individuals like myself that opportunity. As more people are given that opportunity then more of these small, sustainable farms will begin to develop as word of them spreads.

    I say lets start with abolishing this obsurd standard of private – must be leased – land.

  • Thanks Elaine. It’s a reminder for us to get busy with our blog. I have no idea where the 2/15/12 post came from.

  • “ ultimate goal is to own my own small, sustainable farm that is worked on by a small, tightknit community of people I can love and trust. The problems with this is that I will have to find a job that I will need to work a number of years in order to save enough to buy my own piece of land. Which is assuming that nothing serious occurs in those number of years that requires me to use those savings.”

    I admire what you say, but I suggest that this strategy may not work very well. Firstly, during ‘the number of years’ you get changed by all the crap you have to wade through, and the system is not designed to allow anyone to get rich enough by ordinary work, to buy land.

    You’re lucky if the system will give you enough to live on, let alone anything to save. I think the system is going to get increasingly brutal and vicious as capitalism struggles to survive, eating itself.

    IMO, something much more radical is required, a mass social movement that demands reform.

    Also, another suggestion, ( I have no experience of USA ) in UK the average age of farmers is something like 60. They are all getting too old to do the hard physical work, and a whole generation of them will die off and with them all the knowledge and skills they inherited from earlier generations and acquired in their lives.

    A lot of these guys would love some energetic youthful enthusiastic help. I know of farmers who have no kids who want to do farming, who are at their wits end as to how they can cope. It needs some sort of ‘dating agency’ to match up needs and wants, and find ways of making it happen…

  • Elaine, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. While Josh and I have never officially opened our home in such a way, everything you describe has been something that either we’ve experienced or thought about.

    Part of what leads to this, in my opinion, is that what you are attempting to do is contrary to virtually every aspect of society, both modern and ancient. Even clubs, churches, and organizations have a leader and usually a board or other supervisory/advisory group. Perhaps there have been some groups out there using such a mode of governance successfully, but I suspect they are quite few and far between.

    Even the remaining hunter/gatherer groups which have been studied typically have a leader of some sort.

    I would even venture to say that it goes against our genetic structure, although saying so is purely a guess and not based in known (to me) fact.

    Consequently, I’m not sure that human beings are capable of existing in such a setting for more than a few months.

  • Dr House, I didn’t remember any leader among the H-G that Daniel Everett lived with as described in “Don’t Sleep there are Snakes” So rather than re-read the book I googled it

    Daniel Everett states that one of the strongest Pirahã values is no coercion; you simply don’t tell other people what to do.[5] There appears to be no social hierarchy; the Pirahã have no formal leaders. Their social system can thus be labeled as primitive communism, in common with many other hunter-gatherer bands in the world, although rare in the Amazon because of a history of agriculture before Western contact (see history of the Amazon).

    However they grow up in that world, have always lived that way. Taking humans that have lived in civilization and trying to transform them may not be entirely impossible but certainly extremely difficult.

    In the coming collapse it seems that necessity may create communities, but necessity will also create the need for leaders as most won’t have a clue where to begin.

    Of course if extinction is somewhere between 2030’s to 2050 it will be a rather short lived experiment in returning to our H-G roots.

    I am 64 – average age of death of women in the US is 81, that gives me 17 years so I will probably live only to 2029 and miss the final act. Of course between here and extinction won’t be pretty at all and I don’t really expect to live even that long.

    Per Orlov ” I do not view aging as a competitive sport”

  • Kathy C I also witnessed what can go wrong when you get in a community.

    Yes, me too. That’s the hard part, isn’t it. The people. Bloody human nature ! :-)
    I was first involved with trying to set up a co-owned anarchist community before I was 20 years old, and several times since then. They seem to go through rather traumatic stages, as people discover fundamental incompatibilities. It’s a bit like marriage, but to a lot of people, you have to want it to work, as a priority, and work at that every day. I still think its the best thing, though, perhaps the only thing to do that makes sense… back to tribes with a viable number of members…

  • Dr House Even the remaining hunter/gatherer groups which have been studied typically have a leader of some sort.

    Yes, but if you read up in the anthropology, there’s immense variety, all sorts of subtle stuff, not any one formula.
    I think the best is no fixed leadership role. Let it be casual and natural, and leaders arise spontaneously, and are accepted because the group knows that person suits the responsibility, for a particular task or on a particular occasion, and it should be all about service, nothing to do with power and status.

  • Opportunities arise…

    We are looking for people who may want to spend a weekend or week or month helping us out on our permaculture based smallholding in North Wales.

    We have just taken on a small holding that has its own lakes, streams, 50 acres of woodland and sea and mountain views…

    Nobody has lived here for forty years and we are trying to renovate a home, build a permaculture garden, food forest, and add footpaths to our woodland.

    There is free food for those who want to help a little and your welcome to go at a relaxed pace, we are only two miles from the sea. Its also possible that there is some money available for those with skills, experience or a hardwork philospohy.

    We have showers, cooking facilities and will soon (we hope) have broadband!..
    give us a shout,

  • Kathy C and ulvfugl, I don’t really know much at all about H-G groups other than the few articles I’ve read about them and a one-semester course in anthropology in college. So, I probably should have prefaced my comments with that. :-)

  • Neat thing Dr House about the Pirahã is that they were so happy without God that they de-converted Daniel Everett. I heard of his book here – perhaps by navid. Wonderful story. He was going to make them happy with his stories of God and his son, and instead found they were happier than any Christians he knew and happier than he was so their joy saved him from “salvation”.

  • In the area where I live, the indigenous farmers and smallholders were/are fiercely independent. If you cannot stand alone without support, you go down in their estimation. The more independent and self-contained, the more respect. There are families here that have been on the same land for 500 years.

    But if anyone has a setback, illness, injury, any sort of disaster, neighbours drop everything to help, and will continue helping until everything is sorted again.

    Community spirit has shrivelled because of technology. In ‘the old days’, until about 30 years ago, everyone knew that life depended upon the harvest. One person isn’t a viable unit, neither is two. Harvest needed teamwork, so everybody got together and met up to work together, and that interaction formed strong bonds.

    That all disappeared when harvest was handed over to contractors, who come in with hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of massive machinery, roar around the fields as if it were a race track, working through the night with lights, no social interaction at all.

  • Climate change is going to put and end to all the cherished ways we once lived.
    How the world’s oceans could be running out of fish
    It has been some time since most humans lived as hunter-gatherers – with one important exception. Fish are the last wild animal that we hunt in large numbers. And yet, we may be the last generation to do so.

    Entire species of marine life will never be seen in the Anthropocene (the Age of Man), let alone tasted, if we do not curb our insatiable voracity for fish. Last year, global fish consumption hit a record high of 17 kg (37 pounds) per person per year, even though global fish stocks have continued to decline. On average, people eat four times as much fish now than they did in 1950.

    Around 85% of global fish stocks are over-exploited, depleted, fully exploited or in recovery from exploitation. Only this week, a report suggested there may be fewer than 100 cod over the age of 13 years in the North Sea between the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. It’s a worrying sign that we are losing fish old enough to create offspring that replenish populations.

    Large areas of seabed in the Mediterranean and North Sea now resemble a desert – the seas have been expunged of fish using increasingly efficient methods such as bottom trawling. And now, these heavily subsidised industrial fleets are cleaning up tropical oceans too. One-quarter of the EU catch is now made outside European waters, much of it in previously rich West African seas, where each trawler can scoop up hundreds of thousands of kilos of fish in a day. All West African fisheries are now over-exploited, coastal fisheries have declined 50% in the past 30 years, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

    Catches in the tropics are expected to decline a further 40% by 2050, and yet some 400 million people in Africa and Southeast Asia rely on fish caught (mainly through artisanal fishing) to provide their protein and minerals. With climate change expected to impact agricultural production, people are going to rely more than ever on fish for their nutritional needs.

    The policy of subsidising vast fishing fleets to catch ever-diminishing stocks is unsustainable. In Spain, for example, one in three fish landed is paid for by subsidy. Governments, concerned with keeping jobs alive in the fishing industry in the short-term, are essentially paying people to extinguish their own long-term job prospects – not to mention the effect on the next generation of fishermen. Artisanal fishing catches half the world’s fish, yet it provides 90% of the sector’s jobs.

    (there’s more)

    This is just ONE of the many problems we’re going to face SOON. Nowhere in the report does it project how more acidic oceans will effect fish stocks and with the methane blasting into the atmosphere along with our increasing CO2 output – things will become bleak in a few years.

    Elaine – i appreciated your essay.

  • Elaine, you wrote “Yes, I agree with the family/nepotism and even the affairs and broken marriages, although the latter makes me question how strong their bonds were to begin with.”

    That seems to be true, but I know of a case where two from separate couples, split with their spouses and left the community together. This was in a Christian non-denominational community. I know it was a surprise to many in the community because they thought the marriages were sound. If you bring two or more new couples into a community how do you determine if their marriages are sound so they will not do some re-arranging which could break up the community (unless they make a switch that is compatible to all)?

    I just mention these things as I think it is best to know ahead of time all the pitfalls that have beset other communities.

  • tom ” Nowhere in the report does it project how more acidic oceans will effect fish stocks and with the methane blasting into the atmosphere along with our increasing CO2 output – things will become bleak in a few years.”

    Unless I missed it, no where does it mention the phytoplankton that produce 50% of our oxygen and what the acidic ocean is already doing to them

    The drifting green flecks have been dying off for at least a century, with a staggering 40 percent decline since 1950, according to a new study.

  • Kathy C

    Good news! As you get older, your expected age of death goes up, so you can expect to live for longer than you thought (barring extinction).

  • Ryan-
    Don’t know much about the “private, must be leased land”. I do know that many of our rural neighbors do absolutely nothing with their land except keep it natural which for us is a disaster as scotch broom seems to blow in from all directions and that is not natural.

    Have you ever thought of WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms? We’ve learned from others that many of the younger folk are participating in the program as they can see if the work is for them and if so can learn the skills that will be needed while having three hots and a cot (so to speak).

    I do hope you don’t give up trying to talk to your peers about the state of things as you have a much better chance getting them to listen than I do. You’re right about the lack of action, it seems to be about debate and words and most want to be right, meanwhile collapse is happening all around us and they don’t see it or if they do they have no excuse for not taking action no matter how small it is. Thank you for caring enough to voice your thoughts.

  • Ryan

    You might evade the years of work to buy land by just learning tilling and farming skills now, and perhaps associating yourself with a commons are in a location you are sure you could settle in . When collapse occurs, just when no one can yet say, you will have an advantage re some occupancy and local knowledge. But my advice is get onto a skills learning regime ASAP, and connect with as many similar people, even roam around untill you feel ok somewhere. You won’t have long to wait for the signs to become bleeding obvious to even the most bovine human. Best of luck.

  • Dr. House-
    You say,
    “Part of what leads to this, in my opinion, is that what you are attempting to do is contrary to virtually every aspect of society, both modern and ancient. Even clubs, churches, and organizations have a leader and usually a board or other supervisory/advisory group.”

    It is quite different what we have tried to do and think most are unprepared to think outside of the box when it comes to unconventional living arrangements. I will even go as far as saying it makes some suspicious of our intentions which for us was very surprising. While laying ourselves, our lives open and having some share very little about themselves only made us question more.

    Perhaps you’re right when you say,
    “I’m not sure that human beings are capable of existing in such a setting for more than a few months.”…so it goes.

  • Ryan, my two cents:
    While it may seem a bit opportunistic, you might also consider partnering with an older couple who already have their land paid off and who don’t have offspring or ones they don’t want to inherit their land. Do so with the understanding that you do the heavy work for them now, learning what they know, and then, later, when they die, you inherit the land.

    If full bore collapse holds off for a few more years, you will be sitting pretty. If it comes sooner, as OzMan notes, you’ll be as well positioned as possible.

    I don’t know where or how you’d find such a couple, but I’ll all but guarantee you they’re out there.

  • Kathy-
    Thanks for the chuckle about the good Christian folk and I hope they’re happier considering the “end times” are near.

  • Ryan: Become a “hired man”! Every farm needs a hired man. That way you earn money (or food and lodging) and learn all you need to know about how to farm for yourself when the time comes.

  • Ah Yorchichan so I get 20.7 more years rather than 17 – that takes me to 2033 so I might get to see the start of the final act? I knew actually that the older you were the farther off you push death, but didn’t know there were tables that told you that. Also expected that the difference would actually be greater than it is, ie that it would be more than 3.7 more years I would get for surviving to this age.

  • Kathy C

    Never looked at the tables before (and didn’t even bother looking for 47 year old white males), but your comment got me interested and I have a friend who’s mentioned this sort of statistic so I knew such tables existed. The table was the first link I went to from Google, so not difficult to find.

    Like you, I was very surprised at how little extra you get. I suppose all that means is that not many white females die young in the USA at present.

    Even though I am more optimistic than most who post on this blog, I appreciate that the figures are meaningless given what is certain to happen in the next few decades, so I don’t expect you to be throwing a party anytime soon. ;)

  • Thanks for the advice everyone, I appreciate it and will see what I can find. I know of one small, local permaculture farmer. I’ll give him a shot. I just want to be in a position to help some people when the time comes; and having a nice chunk of land to start something of my own on would be great!

  • Thank you, Elaine, for this very perceptive essay (and to Dr. McPherson for the sandbox, these periodic shovelfuls of sand, and allowing us to play in it). The later comments on the preceding post were above-par in this regard.

    Yes, building community is difficult. Particularly so, when through so many generations the lab rats have been conditioned to expect the regular arrival of their rations of food an water – now seen by them as a norm. Yet concepts closer to re-wilding may appeal to the paleo-brain, while conditioning steers towards seeking a easy guarantee of a continued daily rations.

    Couched in platitudes pleasing to proles, one might refer to the conditioning as domestication. It is done in the machine of hierarchy, the metal of which is smelted in the foundry of greed.

    Some creatures through the course of evolution have it carved into their genome to have a queen bee or a dominant male walrus. In many other instances, non-hierarchical associations may be formed, out of which emerge leaders evidencing greater aptitude at skills useful to the group, including those promoting group cohesion. This is where the ways of community and society part.

    The apparatus of coercion is the defining feature of society. The apparatus is better known as hierarchy. Its interactions and transactions are vertical: horizontal interactions and transactions are either permitted, prescribed or proscribed, and monitored within the framework. Resources and the claim to resources – money – are channeled from the bottom to
    the top. The coercion that achieves this can be as expedient as a threat of curtailment of rations. The same threat coming from a different quarter – Nature – has now been quite long ignored: in the matrix of hierarchy Nature seems at a far remove.

    The impending materialisation of this existential threat from outside the matrix in turn threatens delegitimisation of the hierarchy. The consequences may be quite severe, although Nature always holds the ace.

    Firstly, the hierarchy attempts to re-legitimise itself by setting up a bogeyman and posing as an only source of security, while imposing progressively stricter controls on horizontal interactions and transactions coupled with more extensive and intensive monitoring. Expect more 9-11s, more NDAAs and NSA monitoring.

    Secondly, expect people who wish to peacefully stay within the hierarchy to seek Hope™ and Change™ sold by snake-oil salesmen. Others may choose to step out of the hierarchy while staying in the matrix: they may peacefully protest, but the Gestapo’s (Department of Homeland Security) acquisition of two and a half bullets for every man, woman and child in the uSA, with more on order speaks to the anticipation of events of a different nature. Whether peaceful or not, both actions retain the matrix and with it the scaffolding of hierarchy. All of these actions operate within the expectation of “receiving” regular rations.

    Thirdly, Walking away from the King – or walking away from Empire first entails sloughing off that expectation when stepping out of the matrix. A lot more folks have stepped out intellectually than emotionally. They are the Dorothy’s fellow-travelers down the Yellow Brick Road, yet to meet The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (no allusion to one of the commenters at NBL).

    In a community, a leader is made or unmade by the recognition of h(is/er) (de/)merits by the members, jointly and severally. A change in this recognition is tantamount to a change in leadership. The cohesion of the community rests consensus in action: dissent in opinion that does not translate into action is a part of the discussion. Non-participation equates to walking away. Forcing dissenters stay and comply, coercion, is a non-issue.

    When leaders become enamored of the perks and privileges that accompany leadership, their desire to retain them in perpetuity, and the desire of others to acquire them is the beginning of a hierarchy.

    At its base, this the expectation of regular rations. The edifice is The American Dream: “There are no poor in America, there are the rich and the not yet rich.”

  • Elane

    Once the secret is out,
    once the snow-ball gets rolling,
    once the house of cards comes falling,
    once the fog begins to clear,
    once the collapse begins,
    once the dam begins to burst,
    once the walls come crashing down,
    once the chickens come home to roost,
    once the goose is finally cooked,
    once the cake is finally baked,
    once the tide has turned,
    once the fruit has fallen,
    once the birds are no longer singing.
    once the river stops flowing,
    once the wind stops blowing,
    once the sun stops shining,
    once the cat stops meowing,
    one the shower stops dripping,
    once the kettle stops boiling,
    once the penny finally drops,
    once the sky has finally fallen,
    I think there will be a better chance to engage people in a spirit of community, and your experiences in preparation will all the more valuable to many many many people.

  • I’m developing survival tool kits for people to buy for a song at local produce markets. Adapting old handsaws by making a small woodcutting machette and a saw blade on the other side, because everyone soon will want ro cut wood, small or large. A few other items in each kit- A small metho stove made from drink cans; A skinning knife made from old tools, with wooden handle; A 3-4 meter strap of either nylon or car seat belt strip to tote wood, (or anything) with; old work gloves found while walking. Selling for $15. Any takers?

  • Addendum to my prior comment: a masterful explanation of The American Dream

  • <once the birds are no longer singing/

    Interesting, OzMan. Some year back I made the following comment on a blog advocating the development of pebble bed reactors:

    “This is where we are: warnings are sounded, there are whisperings of ‘peak oil.’ Common sense dictates that there is only so much in the ground, but we are told there is much, much more and we do not need to worry. But others tell us that, with all the fires we’re burning, the air is turning into a miasma. The rains have stopped in Australia, the smoke rises from the Amazon, but we have oil. Lots of it. What we don’t know yet is whether the oil will run out just before the fiery atmosphere turns to blood, or just after, when the machine will suddenly stop, and the awful realisation will dawn, when, one morning, we will notice that the birds have stopped singing and that the streets are full of people churning with murderous rage.”

  • the streets are full of people churning with murderous rage

    Lab rats that misbehave will be dealt with appropriately.

    On a more positive note, I did the the next best thing to ditching my television set. I have not watched TV since shortly after returning from Bushdaddy’s war, and I gave away the television set a couple of years ago. I deleted my Facebook account(s!) a little over two weeks ago and to check that the deletion had become permanent in the promised two weeks, I attempted to log in to them. Good news: Facebook no longer recognizes me.

  • One reasons I think that the most untouched H-G tribes don’t have a leader and a hierarchy is that everyone in the tribe acknowledges that they need the tribe to survive. Thus they have a strong impetus to cooperate. I believe that in most cases anyone that violates the traditions of the tribe that are essential to survival and coherence is simply banned from the tribe. That is probably a virtual death sentence.

    I think necessity is therefore the ingredient needed to move people into community and get them to cooperate. Unfortunately, not having grown up in such a community, we have not learned the traditions that made such communities work. Some things are best and some things perhaps are only learned when young.

    It would be interesting to document how we descend into H-G society – not smoothly I would think. But in such chaos no one documents anything and with extinction in the future there will be no time for a full return to H-G lifestyle.

  • Martin Knight

    I assure you I had not read your post, but will look it up. Evolutionary convergence perhaps?

  • Robin, I deleted my Facebook account about a month ago. I found it to be a colossal waste of time, yet one which I found quite compelling, nonetheless. So, gone.

    As to TV, we never watch it unless there’s a tornado and we’re watching the local weather man. We do watch DVDs, however.

    I know I’ve said it before, but one of these days before too long, I’ll be signing off the internet too. Other than the interaction here on NBL and the news I can’t get anywhere else, I don’t have much need for being online, either.

    Of course, the whole damn thing is liable to come down around my head soon anyway and I won’t have to take any action.

  • Oh, I do think it’s only coincidence, OzMan. Anyway, that blog is long gone.

  • OzMan-
    Thank you.

    Kind of the way we see it too, just sad that so much time is being wasted. This one really stood out to me-

    “once the birds are no longer singing.”

  • what is all that talk about “everybody will be cutting wood”? there won’t be no wood (see Gail at wit’send). there won’t be clean water. there won’t be food.there won’t be much. here in my leafy district, all the trees are in an advanced stage of dying. there are no more birds, squirrels, bats, stars, spiders, etc. Everything collapsed in the last 2 years.
    the humming of machines is still louder than nature, but it won’t be long.
    I am very scared.

    hi kathyc, we are the same age.

  • Hahaha, no nothing, everything melted down into one big black toxic mess… ?

    Well, as Arthur said in the previous thread ‘There’s still time’….

    I think we should fight back in any way we can, even if that is only non-cooperation with the crimes they are committing…

    Arthur said ‘Look down, what do you see ?’ I see lots of dogs… Lots of feral dogs, feeding on corpses, for a while…

  • Hi Michelle/Montreal

    You and Kathy and I are all the same age. You’re right, of course, there won’t be any wood eventually. But there will be some for a few years, if you want to stick around to see it.

    Read this from Dimitri Orlov’s site on what’s happening in Oklahoma:

    Here in Oklahoma what you have been predicting for some time is here already, with exception to the full brunt of the collapse. The grocery still has food, the system is still operating, but we are all essentially indigent. For example, I am now out of dishwashing liquid and running low on laundry detergent; they are right there within walking distance and cost less than six dollars for both, but I cannot purchase them. But we will find a way… I am bilingual and educated and skilled in more than one trade, but while visiting Walmart last month my children and I sat on the bench in the entry waiting for my husband and someone handed each of my children one dollar out of pity. I was devastated. We have everything we need. We’re financially poor with no need for vanity. We are educated and self-sufficient and can make most everything we need, but until the majority of the population comes down to our level this ability holds no real value. All it means is that we are already running low on supplies but have no cash to reacquire them, while others still have some cash left. And this makes us feel lonely.

    Our local financial and political environment is so pathetic that I barely leave home lest I hang my head in shame among those who refuse to move themselves beyond denial. To them I am a loser, a worthless individual because only I am unemployed but I am also criminal—because despite our education and adaptability, despite being highly skilled and capable, we cannot afford car insurance. You see, we have this outlandish requirement that we survive in a sustainable manner. Were it not for the federally funded Lifeline service we would have no telephone. Remarkably, I have paid (yes, actually paid!) for the Lifeline service for five years through four different phone companies and never had a reliable phone. It finally got to the point where I can call out but incoming calls do not ring. And so, I cannot run ads for my skills, I cannot include a phone number when I apply for jobs, or have a doctor contact me, all because the phone does not work properly. My doctor gave up (rendering my new Obamacare benefits useless), employers think I am irresponsible because they cannot call me, and self-employment opportunities are severely limited for someone without a reliable phone. No amount of contact with local representatives is able to solve the problem of making the phone service reliable.

    Meanwhile, there is no money and everything is increasing in price. We don’t need to worry about our lack of car insurance because my husband is well-established with the local police department. They know; they understand. We are not any trouble for them, but what if a new cop were hired, with a different attitude? This can happen at any time, and the new penalties recently enacted to discourage driving without insurance digs a deeper hole for us, one impossible to dig out of. Meanwhile, we must drive where we cannot walk, and the design of the place is such that most places cannot be reached on foot. New job opportunities might open up, if only our car were allowed to venture just outside of town, or if we could actually afford the fuel, the mandatory auto insurance or an actual working telephone. More importantly we must purchase gas to mow and trim our lawn. Keeping up appearances is more important here than anything else. A manicured lawn is a vane symbol, but it is also a legal requirement that is important for us. We are terrified of talking to the wrong person at the wrong time about the wrong things. Even though we are law-abiding citizens, we could easily become victims of more oppression.

    I don’t mean to sound depressing, but this is the reality. In spite of it, we do very well for ourselves. Occasionally, some neighbors will admit in private and outside of earshot that they look up to us. Some profess to envy what seems to them our ability to do as we please, feeling free of the constraints of this corrupt political and religious system hell-bent on oppression at every turn. They have to stretch their minds really hard to comprehend that we use newspaper in place of toilet paper, or that paper towels having been missing from our lives for more than five years, replaced by real napkins. Yet our adaptions are not a question of style but forced upon us by circumstance and pure necessity. We installed a wood-burning stove to reduce our enormous electric bill, not realizing we would eventually have to cook on it too. We are now gathering all the local wood for future fuel before we are have to compete with the neighbors for any that is left. Even so, it will become our most valuable asset. All those tiny twigs that everyone throws away in the trash: we break down every single one of them for kindling. It’s tedious, but also it’s commonsense and a constant reality check, though the now obsolete “modern” ideas and concepts continue to cloud my mind. Guilt and, sometimes, self pity rear their ugly heads when I compare my lifestyle to those nearby, who still lead “normal” lives even though my tomatoes, compost piles and essential supplies are far more valuable because of what is coming—for everyone.

    Why is everyone still just babbling about these things? Don’t they know they need to start now? Don’t they know, like me, that they should read your lessons ten times over take careful notes because those lessons may not be accessible in the future? Don’t they realize that gardening and growing one’s own food requires years of practice and failure? Do they think that someone will provide them with free training instructions at no cost? Do they to think that reading about gardening is insufficient for success?

    Whatever it is they think, it is a matter of time before they are bled dry and forced to join us. The utilities here are three times the national average. We live in a corrupt municipality that survives off these outrageous utility bills. It is using this free money to build a huge, gleaming new building to house the police and fire departments. The city strong-arms its residents into supporting their pet projects and pad their paychecks by bundling the utilities with the water (it is all or nothing) and maintaining zero tolerance for late payments. If we want to live within our means and not use electricity, we will have no water. Access to jobs here is controlled by cronyism—not education or qualifications. I complained about this years ago only to find unsympathetic ears and suggestions that I was making excuses. According to them I was not being slighted; I was just lazy. In truth, I was foreseeing being catapulted into a third world country and that is exactly what has happened in my area. I secretly look forward to a time when those same critics struggle to heat their homes. Will they remember me? Probably not.

    “Your utility rates will necessarily skyrocket,” President Obama said recently. That hasn’t even hit yet! And how will they pay for those sky-high rates? Only last year did minimum wage workers in Oklahoma get a raise to $7.50 an hour. Before that they were making $5.50, $6.50 if they were lucky. One woman working as a maid in a local nursing home began at $6.00 fifteen years ago, and has since received only one raise of $0.01 per hour, because she was adamant in asking for it. She finally got a raise last year to $7.50. Still, she brought up two children and sent them to college without a supporting spouse. Oklahoma holds a major advantage: it is already poor. What may devastate another society may only scratch ours. Some of our elders have raised their children in shacks with dirt floors and not having running water until the children were in their teens. But Oklahoma also has very few financial options, except in the metropolitan areas. That is to say, we have no cash.

    But apparently it is just not yet time for Oklahomans to come together in action. Everyone has their own plan or is still in denial. While I feel alone, it is not because my poverty is an isolated case. I am lonely because I am one of the few here with a good education, but I remain indigent. But I will not be alone for much longer: mutual poverty will break the insecurity threshold that many uneducated Oklahomans have. I can profess nobility in deciding to prioritize staying at home with my two young children and abandoning any miniscule hope of ever paying off my student loans. I will stay under the radar as an indigent person, so that I can utilize that time to fully equip my children for survival in whatever world awaits them. It is difficult enough to teach them the methods; even worse that I must learn them myself first!

    But even those who know the methods are being challenged by the destabilizing, rapidly changing climate. Were it not for the imported trees we would be in the middle of another dust bowl: our January through July average was the hottest in eighty years, frustrating even the most experienced and adaptable gardeners. Remember, we have wicked weather as a normal part of gardening, coupled with an inconsistent growing season. In spring or early summer, as soon as we provide makeshift shelters for our tomatoes under a thunderstorm or tornado watch we have to start covering them up for an unexpected freeze. These are normal adventures, but we are now forced to include methods of gardening in extreme drought rather than relying upon the local water supply. Hugelkultur helps, but it’s backbreaking work to build it without a backhoe. Many are looking to move to more stable climates. I have no choice but to dig in.

    Dmitry, as depressing as all this sounds I’ve never been more happy, more free or more content. I live the dream of actually raising my children, teaching them myself and providing for their spiritual needs. I do not need miss one single day of the sparkle in their eye or the necessary moments of nurture expected of a mother. Their two older siblings were not so fortunate. If I could do it all again, I would have remained poor for them too.

    Thank you for your advice and outlook. I am now at peace with my decision to willingly accept poverty for the rest of my life, in order that my children may fare better. If I can learn to modify my soil, grow a garden and live at rock bottom, then anyone can!

    As Dimitri says, “Collapse yourself, avoid the rush.”

  • michele/montreal – same age and same outlook :)

  • Social hierarchy prescribes
    How humans fawn or sneer gibes;
    A consensus trance
    Hides most of this dance
    Within close families and tribes.

  • Off topic or perhaps not

    Lobbyist Hints That ‘Pearl Harbor’ May be Needed to Get US Into War with Iran
    video clips at the link
    By Maidhc Ó Cathail
    September 25, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – Last Friday, during question time at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy policy forum luncheon on “How to Build US-Israeli Coordination on Preventing an Iranian Nuclear Breakout,” the director of research at the pro-Israel think tank hinted that a Pearl Harbor-type attack might be necessary to get the United States to go to war against the Islamic Republic.“I frankly think that crisis initiation is really tough,” said Patrick Clawson, who also heads the Washington Institute’s Iran Security Initiative, in response to a question about what would happen if negotiations with Tehran fail. “And it’s very hard for me to see how the United States … uh … President can get us to war with Iran.”
    As a consequence, Clawson said he was led to conclude that “the traditional way [that] America gets to war is what would be best for US interests.”
    Intriguingly, he went on to recount a series of controversial incidents in American history — the attack on Pearl Harbor, the sinking of the Lusitania, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and the blowing up of the USS Maine — that US presidents “had to wait for” before taking America to war.
    “And may I point out that Mr. Lincoln did not feel he could call out the federal army until Fort Sumter was attacked,” Clawson continued, “which is why he ordered the commander at Fort Sumter to do exactly that thing which the South Carolinians had said would cause an attack.”
    “So, if in fact the Iranians aren’t going to compromise,” the Israel lobbyist concluded with a smirk on his face, “it would be best if somebody else started the war.”

  • ulvfugl,

    I think we should fight back in any way we can, even if that is only non-cooperation with the crimes they are committing…

    That’s the spirit!

    Arthur said ‘Look down, what do you see ?’ I see lots of dogs… Lots of feral dogs, feeding on corpses, for a while…

    I see a watery Arctic “landscape”, and a shattered Arctic environment and ecosystem. But not the extinction of all life…yet.

  • I find that info that Kathy C. posted really shocking “it would be best if somebody else started the war.” makes me want to vomit, millions will die because of a few psychopathic maniacs and their lust for power, who are the bad guys ? It’s Israel that’s got the WMD and is the warmonger breaking international law… not Iran.

    I don’t think Russia and China can allow the USA to expand its empire further. Somewhere, sometime, they’ll have to take a stand and say NO. And then we get all out war again, but this time with much more devastating weapons…

    “… joins us to discuss the secret Israeli espionage program that smuggled nuclear materials out of the United States to help start the Israeli nuclear program in the 1960s. We go over the declassified documents tying Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to the smuggling ring, and…”

    Guess which country……

  • That’s the spirit!

    Well thanks AJ, but I am rather ineffectual, just one individual with opinions.

    I like Douglas Adams and Monty Python, etc, but I need something much more serious and profound to sustain my own inner well-being.

  • ” …this may well be a propaganda run-up to a false flag attack in which one of Israel’s Dolphin submarines, admitted by Germany to be armed with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, sneaks up along the Iranian cost and fires an attack at a US ship, quite possibly the soon-to-be-scrapped USS Enterprise. So, ahead of hearing the Big Bang and the inevitable screams from Israel’s presstitutes at ABC/NBC/CBS/FOX. Just use your common sense and ask yourself why Iran, trying as hard as they can to avoid a war, would initiate such a foolish attack? As a reminder, Iran has not started a war in over 300 years. And a “false flag” attack under these circumstances would be all too easy to arrange. We are on the verge of World War III. How did we reach this point?”

  • One of the problems that has arisen as we have led lives increasingly powered by oil, is that humans have forgotten the most important energy – that which fuels the human body. If things proceed not too fast, communities such as Slippery Slope will suddenly be in great demand – perhaps in too much demand. The realization that we need food more than distant vacations or multiple trips to the stores is coming

    Germany’s biofuel crop concerns
    As food prices around the world continue to rise, environmentalists say the problem is being made worse by the increased amount of farm land being used to grow biofuels.

    In Germany, shepherds say their traditional way of farming is under threat as meadows they have always used for grazing are being turned over to biofuel crops.

    Meanwhile farmers who grow both food and fuel crops have found they cannot sell their food crops for a decent price, and can only stay in business if they sell it for fuel production instead.

    Full story at

  • Arthur “I see a watery Arctic “landscape”, and a shattered Arctic environment and ecosystem. But not the extinction of all life…yet.”

    I think you see what you want to see. Guy and the folks at arctic News, arctic methane emergency group, and other scientists see what the ice free arctic means – Guy wrote about it in Feb 2011

  • Arctic news wrote about it here

    On top of that there is the fact that global dimming caused by pollution is holding back warming. When jets stop flying and factories shut down the pollution falls out quickly and warming accelerates. This is why one geo engineering solution proposed is to put more stuff into the atmosphere that would work as pollution does.

    And another is that when the grid finally fails, 400 plus nuclear plants go Fukushima or Chernobyl when the diesel for fall back cooling pumps runs out.

  • Kathy C

    Re the conflict between biofuels and food agriculture this TEDx video is interesting for some of the statistics about how much land is devoted to vegetable and grazing Agriculture, and how much greenhouse gasses it produces, (this is compared to the 1970’s in pictures) – not the vomitworthy optimism at the end though, IMO.

    TEDxTC – Jonathan Foley – The Other Inconvenient Truth

    At the end Jonathan Foley offers some very lame solutions to the ‘NEED” to feed 9.5 Billion people by producing double the world’s food, or perhaps tripple. He really doesn’t get out much does he.

    I didnknow the Colorado river no longer gets to the ocean, though. Gotta be a limit there!!

  • Many, many rivers no longer reach the sea…

    Colorado delta was once one of the natural wonders of the world, destroyed by humans.

  • BC Nurse Prof

    The story from Dimity Orlov’s site you posted is pretty grim but right on. TPTB will squeeze every last bit of compliance and obedience if you want to stay within the mainstreem. The woman who wrote it seemed to be at peace with the social downsides, even though she accepted it impacted her children in some adverse ways.

    IMHO it is up to parents to decide on the way they live in this FUBAR laden world.( a nod to Jennifer Hartley there).

    I still believe it is also well to express the instinctive joy of living simply, and getting old time entertainments from our biosphere, with say sticks and rocks. I’ve played enough computer games to be able to say difinitivly that playing in the dirt, raining or sunny, beats anything as fun, bar bedroom gymnastics of course. And it only requires imagination, not electricity or money, ha!

    Here in Australia the option to bundle services like gas, water and electricity is happening, but offered as a voluntary option. The marketing is mainly ‘convenience’- “pay one bill online” and some up front discount for the first 12 months. Very soon I expect it will be the only way to connect as a new subscriber to a residence, especially for renters, then by some penalty if you choose separate bills and suppliers, and then to the no other option phase. We will see.

    I have seriously considdered going indigent, but feel it is too drastic for the rest of the family, SO FAR. They have pretty much middle class expectations of the future, with a killjoy crazyass older fat white guy calling out occasionally about collapse and the need to grow some food in the (way way way by now) background.

    RE growing food. I am just about convinced that a workable strategy,(the extinction protocal notwithstanding) may be to grow some variety of vegetables for oneself, and grow a lot of those that you can grow very successfully given your own location, rainfall, and frosts etc, (all of which are rapidly changing). With the previso that there are not 20 neighbours growing the exact same varieties you are, they can be traded for what others grow well, and you can’t seem to, or a local currency thingy, when a real market surfaces during/after the changes.

    I think I can grow Beetroots, Spinach/Silverbeets, Chives, Leeks and of course Lettuce, as well as some Potatoes and Onions. Tomatoes are an option too, but I’m told that the larger varieties don’t do well here, so I’vr got 15 seedlings of smaller varieties soon to be transplanted. (Another group germinating too.) Right now I’m trialing a new type of growing facility I’ve developed, made from a sawn off truck tyre with ‘no-dig-garden’ contents, and an elevated water resovior in the middle. It has a cone shaped clear poly roof that acts as a rain catcher, funnelling into the cwntral water resoviour, ( made from siliconing and bolting two cheep 60litre garbage bins together). In winter it can be wrapped in poly to greenhouse it.

    I’m still way short of supplying enough to eat and trade for 7 though.
    One day at a time, one step at a time. Unfortinately it is also one species at a time, one local woodland at a time, one rainforrest canopy at a time, and one coral reef at a time, and one arctic ice cap at a time too.

    Plenty of birds still singing here, for now.
    We have an adolescent ‘Hooter Owl’ finding her/his straps in the bush near our house, (a big rental, next to national park) and I think it’s finally hooted itself out of breath. Damn hard to tell if it wasn’t some young kid running around the streets with a hoot whistle though. One day I went out to find it, or the kid, as I was trying to do some reading, and heard it in too many distant locations, enough to satisfy myself it was a bird.
    I’m finding many dead birds and roadkill on the roads I walk constantly.
    This could be an indication they are stressed, (as warmer temps of spring are approaching) and cannot come up with the wit to avoid traffic, which grows in number and regularity by the year here.

    On birds, I think we forget most birds that eat other smaller animals are predatory and really feroceous, it is just that we don’t usually ‘read’ a change in beak expression in a bird, like say a lion, or a dog. With birds it is all in the eyes. I’m ‘seeing’ them more clearly now after 50 years on the planet(OTP). I can sort of see why some people get hooked on the bird watching thing, but I probably will be roadkill myself soon if I’m not careful.

  • I live in the city and do not have to work more than a few hours/week (as a translator from English to French). So I read a lot, all the time, on the net. A lot of what I read just passes through. But this long article is staying in my mind because it is directly linked with my personal actions:
    Vast amounts indeed.
    I emptied thousands and thousands of “sent” messages that were just “sleeping” in my computer. I keep them for ages and NEVER go back to consult any of them. The crap in my computer is invisible, so it does not exists. I do not tolerate dirty dishes, but I don’t even know the amount of digital shit I am producing.

  • In the same vein as Kathy C’s post, food and its rising scarcity is the other elephant in the room (overpopulation is the primary elephant).

    The grain crop here in the U.S. this year, particularly corn, is projected to be around 1995 levels. Considering that’s only 17 years ago, that doesn’t seem so bad at first blush. But as the U.S. produces 42% of the world’s corn, here are things to consider: first, the U.S. corn used for biofuel this year would feed 412 million people for a year. Second, human corn consumption has tripled since 1970. And most importantly, in 1995 the Earth’s population was a paltry 5.7 billion. We’ve added 1.3 billion more human mouths to the planet since then.

    When you consider that fish consumption, too, has increased significantly over the last few decades, and that it appears a collapse of fish production is imminent, another major food staple is in decline.

    Due to high grain prices, livestock producers are culling herds at levels not seen in decades. UK National Pig Association is predicating a global bacon shortage next year.

    As Arthur Johnson noted above, the U.S. drought is likely to intensify in the foreseeable future.

    So we have more than a billion additional people to feed with far less grain, fish, and meat. And we’re adding 300 additional hungry mouths every minute. What in the world are all of those people going to eat? Soylent green anyone?

    Widespread famine isn’t 20-30 years in the future. This phenomenon is happening now and will begin to become painfully apparent this winter and upcoming spring.

  • When I was in Port-au-Prince Haiti there were no birds to be seen other than chickens -I was told that boys would knock any down with slingshots for food. I went to a rich person’s estate one day, invited by a friend. There I saw birds. Also up in the mountains. But NONE in the city and I wasn’t in the poorest part.

  • michele/montreal

    Even when dead, trees can be cut down and burned, as I’m sure you are aware. Not my option, but it will be the only easily available one for most people sadly, while it lasts. Yes, not very long with 7 billion people. No solutions.

  • The REAL Dr. House

    You wrote:
    ” Widespread famine isn’t 20-30 years in the future. This phenomenon is happening now and will begin to become painfully apparent this winter and upcoming spring.”

    IMHO you are dead right. Starting with the trees, there will be no let up.

  • Robin Datta

    Just watched your links on the Clorado river. IMHO we are so very very short sighted. And yes the birds that used to live there at the delta have no longer a home. Soon we will be like them, moved on by an unforgiving earth, perhaps underground like trogs.

    We have a show here which comes from North America called ‘Ice Road Truckers’. I even saw a recent bad movie where the central character was an ice road trucker traumatised by the experiences and he had to fight a modern day space alien vampire. Well I don’t really believe the story of the diavic gold/diamond mine up there.
    I suspect it is an underground bolthole for the filthy rich. The tv show and all the drama are just a cover story. Perhaps there is some kind of mine, but it will be used with all that huge haulage of machines to create a habitation for TPTB. I may be wrong, but I just got a hunch.

  • I used to think that the trees would all be burned before this was over by humans, but it looks more likely now that the trees will be burned by forest fires given the coming droughts. Further the humans will all be burned by radiation from the 400 Fukushima’s before all the trees are gone. But ever more likely is everything will be destroyed by nuclear war before Nature gets to show what it can do when at bat. Extinction one way or another so what else matters???? Trouble is we humans care about mattering for it is our last defense against the knowledge that we are mortals, species are mortal, and whole planetary systems are mortal. We look for mattering to avoid the abyss of ultimate mortality.

    We have to shorten our perspective and find what matters today and maybe tomorrow.
    The sages of the past all knew this
    Jesus – Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (I would add or change Sufficient unto the day is the good thereof)

    This poem I learned in High School and have retained in my mind ever since.

    Look to this day:
    For it is life, the very life of life.
    In its brief course
    Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
    The bliss of growth,
    The glory of action,
    The splendour of achievement
    Are but experiences of time.

    For yesterday is but a dream
    And tomorrow is only a vision;
    And today well-lived, makes
    Yesterday a dream of happiness
    And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
    Look well therefore to this day;
    Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!

    Just because I am anti religion doesn’t mean I am not aware of the writings that make sense :)

  • Elaine: i’ve been thinking about your situation and, from your experience, try to extrapolate to a “community solution” to the coming collapse. i see that people don’t mesh well, since their world views, expectations and energy levels (not to mention the importance of their degree of “sapience”) are all different. i could see someone volunteering on your homestead, doing daily work for an agreed upon living situation (it’s not too removed from the old “hippy commune” days – that almost all failed, by the way), but human interaction situations get “sticky” or muddled when conditions change (like illness) and that’s when the problems arise. You’re basically looking for hired hands, as someone above pointed out, but then they can always leave (and at the most inopportune times) if something gets under their skin or they become bored (which will be the least of our problems when the lights go out).

    In short, i don’t see it working for more than you and your spouse unless there is some vested interest, like a buy-in, after everything else is agreed upon. i don’t know how Guy’s situation works, but in general, i don’t see large numbers of people banding together in times of need.

    It’s more likely in this day and age that the haves will be overrun by the have-nots (or the haves will spend most/all of their time and resources in defense of their holdings). As Guy pointed out in one of his many talks – it’s unlikely that they’d kill you off, since they don’t know how to farm, but that they effectively try to bully you into a submissive state (like: “we’ll let you live, but you have to feed us too” at gunpoint). i’m not sure about his statement anyway – i think the mindless, starving, armed to the teeth hordes would be more like locusts and just destroy everything they come in contact with that they can’t eat or use. i don’t see a cooperative, self-determined group of people spontaneously bonding when it all goes bust, but instead imagine complete chaos and craziness overrunning things until most are killed off, then slow attrition after that.

    i hope you find some kindred spirits in the meantime, but it doesn’t look promising, unless, like Guy, you are far removed from large towns, cities, regional hubs. The fact that you’re already up and running is a clear asset, but have a plan if everything turns to crap all of a sudden, because it may be a challenge to stay alive while the majority of humanity dies off around you.

  • Community-
    Well, our neighbors to the right walked out on their mortgage a year ago, the two neighbors across the street will not look/wave hello, and the neighbors to the left moved in maybe 6 months after we started renting here 2 years ago. They are nice enough, very educated, and doing constant home improvements, but seem to know nothing of the basic social contract.
    Our free time is measured in minutes, with 3 small children, and last summer, when our youngest was a newborn, Mr. Badlands did some specialized duct-work (he works in the trades, and his service vehicle gives him away!), in exchange for a load of firewood, as the neighbors work for the forest dept. They come knocking quite often for help with this or that project, or to borrow various tools. Well, he has saved them a minimum of $500 in work he has done, not to mention time taken away from the kids and myself, and after months of waiting for the agreed payment of one truckload of firewood, they drive up one day with a load of wood. Well, about time. Except they had conveniently ‘forgotten’ about the agreement. So after reminding them, because they were asking yet again for something for nothing, we did get half of the firewood. They have also been in our home for more than one meal.
    As I said, they are friendly enough, and we like to be on good standing with the people around us, but why is it that:
    1. So many people want something for nothing,
    2. So many people don’t do what they say they are going to do?

    It’s a good lesson on the value of one’s time and expertise, and to never give either away freely. There must always be an exchange, and it must be perceived as fair and reasonable by both parties, according to needs and capabilities.

    So, finding lack of community/neighborly interaction around me, I have started to attempt sticking my virtual neck out in online communities. I have found it to be more productive, in some aspects, as several here were very generous in their sharing of information/opinion when I asked for such, regarding the dilemma of dealing with my son’s allergies/asthma. It is terrifying to know that he needs certain life-saving medicines, and that they may not always be available. He’s only four, and anaphylaxis from food allergy has nearly claimed him twice.

    And I agree that rising food scarcity is here, not somewhere in the future. We have to shop twice a week because our fridge is small, and I notice many empty shelves. Produce, which should be more robust/plentiful/cheap in the summer months, well, it’s a sad state of affairs. But extreme drought in the “breadbasket” means more that just hot weather. We are lucky, though, for now, as the local trout were plentiful, and we actually had to buy another small freezer for the coming deer season. But with reserves comes the nagging thought of protecting them, i.e. what if the power goes out? Should we now buy a small generator, back-up fuel? Things are just not meant to ever be easy, are they? Isn’t that why they say “rest in peace”? ha!

  • oz man
    Even when dead, trees can be cut down and burned, as I’m sure you are aware.

    as a faithful follower of Gail Zawaski intensely documented blog (wit’send) on the global state of the trees on planet earth at this point in time, considering they are in fact dying from destuction of roots, wood and all from tropospheric ozone (and all that ensues), the fallen trees are often not even good to be burned because they are completely rotten inside out when they fall, litterally disintegrating. So even if some can be used to burn, most will rot before being used. In my posh district, the very very noisy oil powered machine the city uses to make chips of dead branches and trees has been running all day, all week, spring, summer and now fall. They cannot keep up and don’t seem to understand what is going on (I spoke to them and they are clueless).

  • from Chris Hedges latest article:

    (this on page 2)
    Fiscal implosion is only a matter of time. And the corporate state is preparing. Obama’s assault on civil liberties has outpaced that of George W. Bush. The refusal to restore habeas corpus, the use of the Authorization to Use Military Force Act to justify the assassination of U.S. citizens, the passing of the FISA Amendments Act to monitor and eavesdrop on tens of millions of citizens without a warrant, the employment of the Espionage Act six times to threaten whistle-blowers inside the government with prison time, and the administration’s recent emergency appeal of U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest’s permanent injunction of Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act give you a hint of the shackles the Democrats, as well as the Republicans, intend to place on all those who contemplate dissent.

    But perhaps the most egregious assault will be carried out by the fossil fuel industry. Obama, who presided over the repudiation of the Kyoto Accords and has done nothing to halt the emission of greenhouse gases, reversed 20 years of federal policy when he permitted the expansion of fracking and offshore drilling. And this acquiescence to big oil and big coal, no doubt useful in bringing in campaign funds, spells disaster for the planet. He has authorized drilling in federally protected lands, along the East Coast, Alaska and four miles off Florida’s Atlantic beaches. Candidate Obama in 2008 stood on the Florida coastline and vowed never to permit drilling there.

    You get the point. Obama is not in charge. Romney would not be in charge. Politicians are the public face of corporate power. They are corporate employees. Their personal narratives, their promises, their rhetoric and their idiosyncrasies are meaningless. And that, perhaps, is why the cost of the two presidential campaigns is estimated to reach an obscene $2.5 billion. The corporate state does not produce a product that is different. It produces brands that are different. And brands cost a lot of money to sell.

    You can dismiss those of us who will in protest vote for a third-party candidate and invest our time and energy in acts of civil disobedience. You can pride yourself on being practical. You can swallow the false argument of the lesser of two evils. But ask yourself, once this nightmare starts kicking in, who the real sucker is.

  • @Michele/montreal

    They don’t even bother cutting down the dead trees here in Rapid City. There would be few left standing if they did. It’s actually quite shocking once you know what you are looking at, the sick/dying or dead trees in this area. And that does not include the beetle kill in the Black Hills.

  • Wow, how is it that the days are getting longer but nightfall happens more quickly?

    We were never looking for “hired hands” and part of the reason we never got involved with the WWOOF program. Maybe in the beginning our ad was not specific enough but as time went we realized it would be more advantageous to have others with “skin in the game” and highlighted the “joint ownership” part of the ad. We do not want serfs as we are not wealthy landowners and I think at one point our ad even stated that. Nor did we want just renters, and felt it important that anyone living here needed to be aware of climate change, depletion of resources and collapse as we know it. As most NBL readers know it’s not the best thing out for people who are not aware living in close proximity to you let alone on the same property. We also tried to encourage those who not only knew but were already living a different lifestyle and had some skills as well as resources. It was never important to us to be “the king of the hill” (actually were at the bottom of it), and at one time had the property up for sale as we thought we could join others who were looking for the same. Equal partners would free up capital and allow us to put in more infrastructure such as solar as well as buying the necessary items such as tools, whereas doing it alone becomes cost prohibitive for most.

    Our ad generated the Classifieds section on this site as it was the first one posted. We had contact with Guy as there was no one else who wanted to help others in this way and he was kind enough to allow us as well as others now to post their ads.

    I agree with you here on what you say,

    “i don’t see a cooperative, self-determined group of people spontaneously bonding when it all goes bust, but instead imagine complete chaos and craziness overrunning things until most are killed off, then slow attrition after that.”

    but it doesn’t deter us in what we’re doing, to us this would be an excuse and like giving up. I’m hoping I won’t be around when the “mindless, starving, armed to the teeth hordes” show up at the door, like I said in the beginning of the essay, “we would never have control of our own lives, except perhaps to end it.”

  • “i don’t see a cooperative, self-determined group of people spontaneously bonding when it all goes bust, but instead imagine complete chaos and craziness overrunning things until most are killed off, then slow attrition after that.”

    Well, every possible variation on that theme has been played out many, many times before over history, roaming armies of leaderless mercenaries ravaging the countryside, people finding secure mountain hide outs, etc, this isn’t the first time that there’s been a collapse, it’s been happening forever, usually on a smaller scale, now it goes global…

  • “The results are troubling because anthropogenic (or human caused) climate change is thought to be happening up to ten times faster than any natural climate change in the past 500,000 years,” 

    “Troubling” ??

    WHAT !!!???

    Got that ? Anybody who still thinks that humans are going to survive such a dramatic irreversible change in the Earth’s systems is, frankly, just stupid and uneducated. Which, sadly, is at least 99% of the people out there, including all the professors and influential journalists……

    Does anybody not understand the reasoning ?

    The stable environment we have all been used to – you know, the temperature range, the constituents of the atmosphere, the weather patterns that allow agriculture – all depend upon the integrity of the natural ecosystems, which, together, produced the familiar biosphere that we evolved in, and which allowed civilisation to develop over the last 10,000 years.

    This incredibly fast change, caused by us – burning coal and oil, deforestation, etc, – means that ecosystems everywhere will be unable to adapt, will collapse and degrade, and no longer play their part in maintaining the stability of the biosphere.

    The whole system melts down, as key species all over the place become extinct, the network of inter-relationships gets shredded. Once it all starts unravelling, there’s nothing that can be done.

    The ecosystems that took millions of years to reach the benign equilibrium, the stability, that allowed us to thrive, are all collapsing. Now we have become a pathogen, disrupting and killing everything, rivers, forests, the oceans.

    The system will make a massive radical re-adjustment, which will not include most of today’s life forms….

    This is not so hard to understand, is it ? It’s just the logical pattern that is seen in Earth’s geological and biological history, repeatedly, over the eons.

    So why are all the highly educated well-paid academics and journalists still telling lies and unwilling to face this bleak and terrible truth ? I mean, we all expect politicians to lie, that’s taken for granted. But all the intelligent widely read individuals out there, why are you all still telling pretty lies to yourselves and your children ?

    When are you going to face up to what is actually happening ?

    Ah, yes, the Emperor’s New Clothes. Nobody has the courage to speak, because it might threaten someone’s revenue stream…

    …and anyway, I hear them all say, it’s not ‘proven’. Sure it’s not ‘proven’. It’s just flaming bloody obvious. And by the time it’s finally ‘proven’, there won’t be anyone around anymore to care, one way or the other.

    Idiots and cowards and irresponsible fools, shame on you all.

    ‘Troubling’…… Yeah. Right. The prospect of extinction. Troubling.

  • But with reserves comes the nagging thought of protecting them, i.e. what if the power goes out?

    Steven Harris on The Survival Podcast:

    How to keep your Refrigerator and Freezer COLD in a blackout, tricks and methods you never thought of or heard of. With and without a generator !

  • Just because I am anti religion doesn’t mean I am not aware of the writings that make sense

    Unless the same rigor is applied to religion that is customary to science, the chaff will not separate from the wheat and the baby of spirituality will be thrown out with the bath water of superstition. Investigating and acquiring knowledge in the Vedic traditions is the same regardless of whether secular or spiritual: to have equal standing, “religion” must be subjected to the same standards as science.

  • With regard to environmental allergies, the exposure to a broad range of Nature helps: locally produced honey, milk from free-range local goats (if not milk-allergic), and yogurt (again, if not milk-allergic) for its probiotic effect. Swimming in local streams and ponds (if any are still safe for such human use), “playing in the dirt”, may all help.

  • Robin Datta

    IMO, “playing in the dirt”
    is a prerequisite for being human, dirt in mouth teaches us to value the beautiful food we can have. It also can add valuable microbes to the gut, as you point to.

  • I heard recently on a site someone referring to the new anarchy movement, and said it took them some time to get the idea of ‘you organise it and others will come’ as a new creedo, as opposed to the old anarchist idea which this person kept asking others, ‘why doesnt someone do this?’. The person said all the other anarchists just looked at them and it clearly took time to get the idea of doing something oneself. I think it comes down to the credo, ‘live now how you want the world to become’ or something like that.

    Does anyone have any idea where this ‘new anrchist creed’ originated, and if it does have some place and time and personage attached when where and who was it?

    I’d like to get a bit of background on it.

    Any directions or links would be helpful and appreciated.

  • Maybe this is not it, but it is from Stefan Molyneux that I came to see the gun concealed by the state. Once one sees the gun, one cannot unsee it. One has to shred one’s personal acceptance of universality of the moral principle of non-initiation of force if one chooses to sanction that mode if human interaction.

    Practical Anarchy
    – by Stefan Molyneux

    (Also available from as an audiobook and a *.pdf file, both for free download.)

  • Here are the rest of the free books:

    Freedomainradio: Free Books

    Please be aware that the site subscribes neither to anthropogenic global warming nor to the concept of constraints imposed by resource depletion. But one should try to be like the mythical celestial swan, that is said to be able to drink the milk out of a mixture of milk and water, and leave behind the water.

  • Teetering on the brink: Block of flats evacuated after floods wash away its foundations after worst storm to hit Britain in 30 years

    Read more:

    The pictures are stunning….

  • At the bottom of the above article

    The wettest summer in a century has led to confused apple trees to blossom at the same time they are in fruit.
    The dull and damp months of June and July were so dismal some varieties were tricked into thinking winter had come early and went dormant.
    And when the warmer and sunnier weather finally did arrive the trees assumed it was spring – and started to produce blossom.
    As a result the spring blooms are now appearing among the foliage at the same time as the autumnal fruit.
    Although the trees at the National Trust’s Barrington Court estate are eye-catching to visitors, the bizarre phenomena means there will be a shortage of apples next year.
    Experts say that the blossom will die off as soon as winter arrives, meaning the bees will not be able to produce pollen next spring.
    Rachel Brewer, a gardener and ‘pommelier’ at Barrington Court near Illminster, Somerset, said: ‘I have never seen an apple tree with apples and blossom on at the same time.
    ‘It is quite extraordinary and is affecting a sizeable number of the earlier varieties of apple trees we have here.
    ‘But because it was so cold and wet over the summer the trees were fooled into thinking it was winter.’

  • Ulvfugl,

    I welcome the emotion present in your writing. It is perhaps easy to forget that the issues we wrestle with are not mere fodder for discussion but actual lived, felt experience. At least, that is how I understand it. I don’t mean that one has an epiphany every day or anything crass like that; rather, the reminders of the awfulness of our plight are often trivial. Noticing this world of wounds is more akin to the experience of culture shock, which is the outcome of a slow accumulation of awareness of difference.

    Why are the well-read academics still telling pretty lies? One of them was busy at it yesterday when I logged on to my university forum. Someone had started a thread about the environmental threats posed by sending recycled rubbish to be burned in an incinerator in the Balearic Islands.

    A commenter suggested there was nothing to worry about: “The planet has nothing to fear from our actions,” the commenter said. “Of course there are too many people consuming and dumping too much for it to be sustainable for us, and habitats and food webs of other species are being negatively impacted, but the planet is not at risk from us.”

    His argument was that, even cumulatively, the impact of humans was puny in comparison to a large meteorite crashing into Earth or the planet’s distant prospect of being swallowed by a dying Sun.

    Soon after reading this I took a walk and saw my first Spanish slug. As you know, this large, copper-coloured species is a voracious invader. It has only recently been introduced to the British Isles, but already it has spread across most of England. It is carnivorous; it eats other slugs. Wherever it spreads, native species of molluscs decline precipitously. How did it get here? On salad imported from Spain. Humans seem to have a knack of spreading the most predatory and rapacious plant and animal species.

    Some of the changes are not dramatic. Some are as slow as slugs.

  • Hi Martin,

    Well, I went the Buddhist route, and found a way to conquer all emotion, as per earlier ‘non-attachment’ thread. So, really, my inner spiritual being is insulated from external perturbations. However, whatever the spiritual traditions say, once one has mastered the basics, I think there is an obligation to think for one’s self, rather than being tied to any dogma. None of the ancient traditions have had to deal with a crisis of this magnitude, and of this complexity. I believe ‘love and rage’ are very appropriate emotions to apply to the present situation, ‘Global Death’.
    Did any of the historical teachers of the major religions ever consider a time when there would be nobody around anymore to follow the teachings ?

    Yes, it’s the ‘death by a thousand cuts’ syndrome, isn’t it. Everyone thinks their tiny action cannot be significant, but multiplied up millions of times, the impact of all the little daily actions results in global catastrophe. And yet, they don’t see it, there’s always an excuse…

    Crikey, I had never even HEARD of those slugs. Yes, invasive species, another disaster for many ecosystems. I mean, historically, new species eventually find a balance, because, for example, once all present day British species were invasive, after the glaciers retreated. But it is the speed of change that is so deadly. The ‘rivet popping theory’, an aircraft can lose a few rivets, no problem, but lose a lot, the wings fall off.
    I believe that’s what happens to the ecosystems, more and more lost rivets, then sudden collapse.

  • With reference to the cardiac innervation, they are autonomic nerves, and the pain of heart attacks is referred pain, mostly to the same somatic dermatomes – anywhere from the lower jaw to the upper abdomen (including both upper extremities), masquerading as anything from a toothache to an upset stomach. In diabetics the associated autonomic neuropathy is postulated as an explanation for painless heart attacks, but these can also occur in the elderly, hypertensives, blacks and those with heart transplants. Plenty of heart attacks occur without pain, and plenty more without chest pain.

    There is a beat-to-beat variation in the cardiac rhythm, and some have observed that a loss of this variation may presage a malignant arrhythmia such as ventricular fibrillation.

  • @ Robin Datta
    Thank you for the link. Yes, I agree about the dirt. We certainly have no shortage of that, though I’m positive we have too much of the wrong kind, i.e.. super-fine dust due to our windy environment, especially w/ the drought. After reading some of the info passed on by commenters, I feel it’s very likely that my son has been exposed to too many antibiotics, including in the womb & while breastfeeding. He has had many lung infections, and we have all had MRSA, which is frightening, so they were necessary at the time. I find it really fascinating that his environmental allergies can cause cross-reactions with different foods, and though I try to keep the amount of pollen that enters the house under control during the height of allergy season, I fail miserably, as our indoors often more resembles the outdoors. I think it’s more important to keep chemicals and cleaners out of the home, and we do pretty well w/simple vinegar and baking soda for our cleaning, though I don’t recall the last time the whole house was clean at the same time!

    Anyway, they are all normal kids. I try to teach them to be nice to things, living and otherwise, and to take only what they need. Living with small children gives one the opportunity to experience the entire range of human emotion in a single day, almost every day, which is wonderful and exhausting. For example:

    I was walking my 1 1/2 yo around before bed, and she spotted the moon outside. She became fascinated, smiling & pointing & jabbering. She was filled with wonder.

    We were all playing outside after dinner, and I had to tell them about some of the trees being sick, as some in our yard are nearly dead, w/ many dangerous branches, and my son had noticed that one bush had pretty yellow leaves, but upon closer inspection, he noticed brown spots and tears on them. Somehow he knew this wasn’t normal, which led to my explaining about the sick trees. Later I saw my 3 yo ‘splicing’ a twig into the bark of one of the sick trees, saying that now it was all better.

    My 4 yo saw a woman on crutches and asked me, “Mom, why does that guy have kickstands?”

    And while I’m talking about existential angst, try buying balloons for a birthday party for your 3 yo, only to learn that there is no helium for balloons, in fact, there is a worldwide shortage, with supplies going to hospitals for MRIs and other things I was not aware of. I had never thought about helium, but I can tell you that in our house when it comes to birthdays, the kids don’t care about cake or presents, only balloons.

  • ulvfugl ““Many believe that conscious awareness originates in the brain alone. Recent scientific research suggests that consciousness actually emerges from the brain and body acting together.”

    Exactly what I told you that Antonio Damasio proposes in The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, Harcourt, 1999 He looks at the whole body and the hormones as well as nervous system and doesn’t confine himself to the heart. While the specifics of this research may be new, the idea of brain and body working together to create consciousness was proposed along with his research in his 1999 book – ie 13 years ago.

  • BadlandsAK – How about using the kind of balloons you blow up with air? However, if these are let go outside, they endanger birds and animals that ingest them.

  • The brain will most certainly appear to “create” consciousness, just as the sky appears bright and blue in the day even when one is aware that it is due to Rayleigh scattering.

    The real advance would be parameters applicable to the mensuration of consciousness so that it can be scientifically approached, or even incorporated into Physics beyond the Standard Model.

  • BadlandsAK – I have a friend who is German and was 5 at the end of the war. Her mother was trying to get to a safe place and stopped at a farm – the farm lady learned it was my friends birthday and gave her 1 egg for her birthday present. The only thing that dimmed the joy at receiving that egg was that her mother made her share it with her brother.

    Your children may have had the best birthdays of their lives behind them already… grandchildren too. It doesn’t please me to note this, but I think that the future will be easier to face if you don’t think that they way life is now is going on much longer. And if we realize that real joy is not in things but in relations to each other. We have to realize that before the kids can learn it.

    And to add to Rita’s comment, kids occasionally choke and even die from ingesting or inhaling blow up balloons.

    Re dirt, I suspect that some of our modern mineral deficiencies are from removing all the dirt from our food. Add that to the auto immune disorders that may connect to the clean child/house/food syndrome.

  • Why is is so difficult to have an intelligent conversation with you, Kathy C. ? I knew about Damasio’s book 13 years ago. You seem to think ‘consciousness’ is ‘produced’ like some sort of substance. I don’t share that view.
    There are many facets to the inquiry into consciousness. For a start, nobody has any final, clear, agreed, definition of the word, let alone where ‘it’ may be located.

  • The poo is ready to splatter
    Yet people still bicker and chatter:
    Is consciousness first?
    Or is it reversed,
    And what’s primary’s made out of matter?

  • I know exactly how you feel. We live in the poor section of town, across from a trucking company, so there is little chance of our building the sort of community you attempted to create. But, nevertheless, I do my own gardening, make my own home repairs, and so-forth. Unfortunately, as much as my 450lb girlfriend praises my efforts, she rarely eats from our garden. She and her 500lb son (who is 30 years old, lives in our basement, and works for McDonalds) call for take-out nearly every night.

    Such is the “community” I have managed to create. Even so, it was better than when I was with my ex. At least my current companions know HOW to do the dishes (even though I’m still the one doing them most nights).

    Oh well… Such is life in the modern world.