The Knife and the Nun

I started exchanging physical labor for fiat currency when I was about 12 years old. Nine-month stints spent within indoctrination facilities were interrupted by summers spent clearing fields of woody debris: Small landowners converted forests to fields and other youngsters and I tossed sticks onto a “low-boy” trailer pulled by a slow-moving tractor. At the end of the day, my mom wouldn’t let me into the house until she sprayed off the first few layers of dirt with a hose. My first job was called, “picking sticks.” It was miserable work for little pay.

A couple years later, when I was stronger, I moved up the small-town ladder. Former forests had become fields of alfalfa, and I bucked bales onto a trailer pulled by a slow-moving tractor. A short ride later, we stacked the bales in the barn. The per-hour pay of $2.50 represented a modest improvement over my previous employment. Equally importantly, I felt more like a man and less like a boy when I took responsibility for my own shower at the end of the work day.

Beyond Sticks and Bales

A few odd jobs later I landed the premier employment opportunity for an 18-year-old athlete living in a small town in the interior western United States. On 1 July 1978 I secured the title of Fire Control Aide I for the Idaho Department of Lands. I wore the uniform of the era: leather work boots, a long-sleeved cotton shirt, blue jeans and a Bowie knife on my belt (the latter for easy access to cut a fire hose).

Naturally, this gig was strictly for summer. I was headed for college and, unlike the majority of today’s youngsters, I was prepared for college, at least with respect to knowledge and work ethic. I was, of course, socially, emotionally, and psychologically naive. But I was certain the ticket out of a life of labor in Nowhereburg went through college.

Along with another neophyte smokechaser, I was driven by our supervisor to the remote field camp where we were stationed. Neither of us possessed a vehicle — I bought my own first car a few years later, a thought anathema to today’s generation of entitled teens — so we were relegated to bumming a ride with anybody headed in the right direction. Since that direction included only the barest semblance of civilization, there wasn’t much traffic. On that first day of employment, the supervisor spent considerable time teaching us how to read a map along the route while he hammered into us the importance of introducing ourselves to our few neighbors as we completed the “make-work” tasks befitting young men employed for their ability to conduct strenuous manual labor for many hours at a stretch between weeks spent warding off boredom (at the time, all Fire Control Aides working for the Idaho Department of Lands were men).

It was cloudy and cool as Bill and I were driven more than two hours onto the wild Joseph Plains (named for the famous chief of the Nez Perce tribe). By the time we arrived, rain was falling. Three days into an uninterrupted downpour, we were called back to town and ordered to drive the WWII-vintage Willys jeep. Bill hailed from the city and he seemed even more inept than me so, assuming control as a control freak would, I took the wheel. The seat belts were buried beneath the recalcitrant only seat, so we didn’t bother with them.

The wipers swept the windshield erratic only when I decelerated. The defroster didn’t defrost. And every puddle in the pock-marked gravel road shot through the floor boards. Trying to cure these three ills simultaneously with a roll of paper towels led to the expected conclusion. Right before the lights went out, I recall the road coming up to meet my face.

So much for assuming control of the situation.

Now What?

Thrown from the vehicle, I awoke flat on my back and opened my eyes to utter darkness. “That’s not right,” I thought. I closed my eyes, rubbed them with my fingers, and opened them again. Cleared of the blood that had pooled in the sockets, my eyes found the clouds. I blinked into the falling rain. Problem solved.

Turning my head allowed me to see a swath of detritus between me and the jeep, now firmly lodged against a pine tree, albeit surprisingly resting on four wheels. Two shovels, two canteens, a hose reel, and two Pulaskis — the famous fire-fighting tool wielded by my grandfather and father before me — comprised a 10-foot-wide strip about a hundred feet from me to the tree.

Bringing myself to a standing position proved challenging. I had no feeling in my left leg below my hip. Yet again I thought, “that’s not right.” My two-sizes-too-small brain was stuck on obvious, with only three words at my disposal.

I remembered my traveling companion, and shouted his name a few times. Bill finally responded, and seemed no worse for wear. He wasn’t limping, and his head was bleeding slightly less than mine. Next up: find a ride to town.

Within a matter of minutes, a pickup truck appeared on the scene. The rancher rolled down his window and silently looked us over. I asked for a ride to the nearest hospital, and he invited us onto the bench seat.

Bill propped up his head — now I noticed it wasn’t staying upright unless he held it up — and introduced us: “I’m Bill, and this is Guy. We’re Fire Control Aides with the Idaho Department of Lands.” The uppercase letters in our shared title were obvious. I was proud of the title, too.

The man behind the wheel responded, “I’m Jack Green.”

Rinse and Repeat

Lacking feeling in my left leg, I asked Jack to take us to the nearest hospital. He pointed out that the nearest hospital was run by nuns in Cottonwood. I said that’d be fine. He recommended spending the extra half hour to drive to the hospital in Grangeville. I insisted to the contrary, my leg causing concern I was unable or unwilling to articulate while Bill and I passed the roll of paper towels back and forth to swab our bleeding foreheads.

Yet again, Bill pushed his head upright on his neck and introduced us, his voice tinged with pride: “I’m Bill, and this is Guy. We’re Fire Control Aides with the Idaho Department of Lands.”

Jack responded, “I’m Jack Green.”

Immersed in self-pity, I stared out the passenger-side window at the rain-soaked countryside. Every few minutes I’d wrest the roll of paper towels from Bill, peel off the outer layer or two, and apply it with all the pressure I could muster to my lacerated forehead. His own head unsupported by his hands and the roll of paper towels, Bill’s head would then fall onto his shoulder. As if for the first time, he’d push his head upright on his neck and introduce us, his voice tinged with pride: “I’m Bill, and this is Guy. We’re Fire Control Aides with the Idaho Department of Lands.”

Ever the gentleman, Jack would respond, “I’m Jack Green.”

A few dozen repetitions of this routine left me with one remaining nerve, and it was raw and exposed. Every time Bill introduced us, I yelled at him to shut up. The rancher, cool as the falling rain, never failed to introduce himself in the same level tone.

There’s no way I was riding an extra 30 minutes with these two fools. I didn’t know many Catholics, but I wasn’t afraid of nuns. We’ll take the first stop, please.

About My Leg

Covered with blankets but still shivering from shock shortly after landing bottom-side up on a gurney, I was congratulating myself for making it this far. I was still worried about my numb left leg, but I could no longer hear Bill’s endless identical introductions, and the hospital didn’t seem so bad. It probably helped that I’d had no prior experience with hospitals. Not as a patient, in any event.

Had I been fully cognizant, the veritable absence of activity would have served as a warning beyond the one offered by Jack Green. Not only was I not fully cognizant, I was self-absorbed, as usual, and also busily bargaining with the Christian god I thought I’d abandoned a few years earlier. Blood was pouring out my forehead, I was shaking like a hummingbird in hailstorm, and my left leg was dead.

Enter the nun. She came in behind me, removed the blankets to expose my naked backside, and promptly removed the blade of the Bowie knife previously embedded into my left cheek. The one characterized by the large muscle known as gluteus maximus. The feeling returned in my left leg quite abruptly. My leg afire in pain, the nun waves the broken blade before my eyes and asks, “Is this yours?”

My immediate thought: Please put it back.

My second thought: I should’ve listened to Jack Green about the hospitals.

The latter thought was reinforced several times during the subsequent 24 hours. For example, the ER doctor was stitching up my forehead while the nun was pouring Novocaine into the new hole in my left cheek. Each burning drop of Novocaine caused my head to jerk into the man with the needle, thus assisting the mostly incompetent doc with the suturing process. Far more importantly was Bill’s broken neck, which the hospital failed to diagnose. I can only imagine how much money I cost the Idaho Department of Lands when Bill and his family sued the organization. Then, as now, I had the good fortune of having nothing for which to sue.

Silver Lining

As always, I’m Mr. Silver Lining. Shortly after the voluminous reports were complete, every vehicle under the care of the Idaho Department of Lands sported a roll-bar. In this most litigious of societies, my actions induced the organization to protect against idiocy by protecting idiots. We progressives call this progress.

And there’s a bit more, although it’s as personal as this self-indulgent essay. If you’ve made it this far, there’s still time to avert the worst.

I learned a lesson about immortality. I don’t have it.

I learned a lesson about control. I don’t have it, either.

I learned a lesson about hubris. Suddenly, I had less. By now, I have considerably less than I did in 1978.

Comments 208

  • Guy,

    not so self indulgent, IMO.
    Entertaining too.

    One of the close to last sentences is to me unclear:

    “I learned a lesson about mortality. I don’t have it”

    Does this mean you felt more mortal than before the accident, or that you you felt immortal, or some less mortal equivalent?

    Any clarification there would be helpful and perhaps equally puzzling, too, I don’t know?

    One observation from this and a few other anecdotes you put in your book, ‘Walking Away From Empire’, is that you appear to have had some kind of early life around some farm work, even if your actual family were educated, is that so?
    And my observation is that you have chosen to go back to farm work, of a different kind, but hard physical ‘farm work’ nevertheless,( along with runnning a website and lecturing at times too ).

    Also did the headaches start after this event, or some other head injury?

    Thanks for you work in these important times Guy.
    Going around and coming around, it seems.

  • Thanks for the follow-up questions, Ozman. My original paragraph was unclear, and I’m revised it.

    Until I was 18, I believed I was immortal. I knew everybody else would die, but youth is filled with irrationality. Well, mine was.

    My agricultural experience is largely described in this essay. I picked sticks and bucked bales. I spent a lot of time with farmers, though.

  • Wow Guy. I was transfixed. You have a gift for writing clear and clean narrative, with a minimum of embellishment that makes the story and the lessons all the more compelling for it.

  • Thank you Guy, a few of us learn that we are mortals at a young age. I learned it volunteering at a nursing home. Luckily your brush with death at an early age was a lesson about mortality to you and not a lesson in mortality to others, in other words I am glad you survived in order to learn something rather than died in order to teach something to others.

    Humanity as a whole has those same lessons ahead, but given NTE there will be no learning or teaching……….

  • Good story, Guy, thanks. I don’t understand the ‘narcissism’ warning. We are story-telling animals, what we do, what we are. We swap stories, that’s how we learn, how we relate.

    Former IPCC head, Prepare for 5deg.C.

    http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/2013/02/ex-ipcc-head-prepare-for-5c-warmer-world/

  • Great narrative. I think my mortality dawned on me when I was about three hours into the two foot hole I was digging on that rock pile known as the “mud hut.”

  • But I was certain the ticket out of a life of labor in Nowhereburg went through college.

    A man came into my life, years ago, highly intelligent, strong fellow. At that point, he knew he could never sit in a class room listening to lectures. He decided the ticket out was to rob a bank. He spent 12 years in jail as a reward. He bequeathed me several boxes of artwork he’d done there to keep himself slightly sane. I still have some. The tales of violence he’d encountered in his life were horribly shocking. Sensitive, tender drawings from ‘a brutal criminal gangster’.

  • Guy – thanks for sharing the story of your youth with all its bumps and bruises. i too had an encounter that changed the way i felt regarding life and what happens after (or even before). i borrowed a friends two-wheeler when i was about 7 and tore up the street as fast as i could. At the stop sign on the corner, which i assumed was just for cars, i blew through it in order to u – turn around and head back to my friend. Instead a car going too fast perpendicular to my line of travel jammed on his brakes but hit me anyway. i woke up in the hospital (and thought i was dead and that this was “heaven”). After that i was much more careful with vehicles.

    u: Isn’t it peculiar that it’s perfectly “legal” for banks to rob us with usurious interest rates (among many other financial tools at their disposal) but if we try taking anything from them it’s a crime? On another note, i’ve read of at least two accounts of people who walked up to a teller, said they had a gun on them and to hand over some cash. Then, instead of escaping they just stood there waiting for the police to come and apprehend them (and neither person actually possessed a gun). All this to be provided for – either due to poverty-driven hunger or in need of unaffordable medical care!
    Great links too, thanks!

    Here’s yet another sign the collapse is happening all around us but simply hasn’t reached ‘critical mass’ yet (like with the Pope). sorry

    (This one’s for Dr. House because i miss his comments)

    http://crooksandliars.com/natasha-chart/antibiotic-apocalypse

    Every time your doctor has prescribed you an antibiotic to treat an existing bacterial infection is a time you could have died of that infection. Maybe much less likely in some cases, more likely in others; but the risk is there. Now imagine that antibiotics stop working, especially for the really dangerous cases, and you and everyone you know has to face future infections with nothing better than hope, rest and tea.

    Welcome to the antibiotics apocalypse.

    Since it could actually happen, I’m going to rate an antibiotic apocalypse, worried over by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, as well as World Health Organisation head, Margaret Chan, as much scarier than a zombie apocalypse.

    (watch the short video and read the rest)

    This and other important medical sera and other ingredients (such as heparin, for which there is only one manufacturer) are becoming as scarce, expensive, overused, ineffective and problematic as is oil, rare earth minerals, clean water and now trees (thanks Gail).

    If one but pays attention, the signs of collapse abound. It’s absolutely frightening – like sinking slowly into quicksand (upon which we’re all standing, but you realize it and very few others do).

  • Nice story, Guy. I knew many of the details, of course, but not all. What I most remember about that event was that for the first time that summer I had the same day off as my girlfriend. But the folks were out of town, so they called me to go check on you in the hospital. (Maybe they knew something about nuns and/or that facility.)

    By the time I got there, you were sitting upright in bed talking to two girls (I think; maybe my bitter memory has embellished things), and neither you nor I wanted me to be there. I may have wanted to kick your ass, but it already had an extra hole in it.

  • HAA-HAAA – enter: BROTHER with yet more inside information! Thanks James! my brother would have done nothing less (and i’m glad he’s who he is).

    To be filed under: oh, NOW they tell us
    http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2013/02/14/red-brain-blue-brain-again/

    Liberals and conservatives exhibit different cognitive styles and converging lines of evidence suggest that biology influences differences in their political attitudes and beliefs. In particular, a recent study of young adults suggests that liberals and conservatives have significantly different brain structure, with liberals showing increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, and conservatives showing increased gray matter volume in the in the amygdala. Here, we explore differences in brain function in liberals and conservatives by matching publicly-available voter records to 82 subjects who performed a risk-taking task during functional imaging. Although the risk-taking behavior of Democrats (liberals) and Republicans (conservatives) did not differ, their brain activity did. Democrats showed significantly greater activity in the left insula, while Republicans showed significantly greater activity in the right amygdala. In fact, a two parameter model of partisanship based on amygdala and insula activations yields a better fitting model of partisanship than a well-established model based on parental socialization of party identification long thought to be one of the core findings of political science. These results suggest that liberals and conservatives engage different cognitive processes when they think about risk, and they support recent evidence that conservatives show greater sensitivity to threatening stimuli.

    (read the rest when you have a minute)

    u: yeah, right? THEEEE MOST IMPORTANT PAPER EVERRRRR!!!!!!! sure.
    What gets me is that despite the preponderance of evidence NOBODY IS GONNA CHANGE A GODDAMN THING ABOUT THE WAY WE LIVE! Not the scientists, Bill McKibbon or anyone else.

    “oh, the humanity . . .” (like when the Hinderburg went down – pilot error in this case too, eh?)

  • And what of Bill?

  • What happened to Bill?

  • Manager says safety issues are ignored at Hanford nuclear site – ‘Congress needs to take a hard look at the situation here and determine whether we can go forward’

    (Los Angeles Times) – The long-troubled project to clean up radioactive waste in Hanford, Washington, has come under attack from another senior manager, the third to assert that top executives are ignoring serious problems in the plant’s design.

    Donna Busche, the manager of environmental and nuclear safety for San Francisco-based URS Corp., alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that executives at the $13.4-billion project attempted to suppress her warnings and were working to fire her.

    Busche, a nuclear engineer and health physicist, alleged that pressure to meet deadlines led the company to retaliate against her for insisting on stringent safety practices at the former nuclear weapons complex.

    Hanford is the nation’s most contaminated piece of property, home to 56 million gallons of highly radioactive sludge in underground tanks that pose a long-term risk of leaking into the Columbia River. Dozens of the tanks are already leaking and threatening the largest river in the western U.S.

    The Energy Department is in a race to pump out the waste, embed it into glass and ship it to a future dump, but so far not a single gallon has been treated and the project is more than 20 years behind the original schedule.

    Construction has been stopped since last year over allegations that the plant’s design for mixing radioactive waste could allow explosive hydrogen gas to detonate inside the plant, or allow enough radioactive solids to accumulate in tanks to trigger nuclear fission.

    The concerns, backed up by panels of outside experts, forced the plant’s construction contractors, URS and San Francisco-based Bechtel, to begin a full-scale test of the system to mix the sludge, but using nonradioactive surrogates.

    The concerns about the Hanford waste treatment plant — which resembles a small industrial city with many individual processing plants, laboratories and ancillary buildings — have been voiced by senior officials on the project.

    Walter Tamosaitis, a senior URS scientist and manager of a large research staff, has said his warnings about potential hydrogen gas explosions led to his being isolated at work, given no assignments and put in a basement office without furniture.

    http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2013/02/manager-says-safety-issues-are-ignored.html

  • @Guy:

    That was beautifully written. Thanks for the ning mention. It exists because you had the courage to speak truth to doom. Unless you are a consummate actor, you are most obviously a man of integrity with a compassionate and skillfully crafted message. I am unable to detect an angle or gimmick or spin. Again, the ning site is there for people to spread out if they want to. Personal stories, photos, videos. I’m still trying to figure out how to add podcasts and music. Thanks again, for the story.

  • I have no idea what happened to Bill

  • CAIRO (Reuters) – Fathy Ali is beyond anger as he queues for hours in a line of 64 trucks and buses to fill his tank with scarce subsidized diesel fuel, known in Egypt as “Solar.”
    “This has become part of my life. I come and wait for hours or days, depending on my luck,” the chain-smoking bus driver said at a besieged gas station on Cairo’s Suez High Road, wrapped in a scarf and thick coat for the long ordeal. “At the start it used to upset me a lot but now I’ve kind of given up.”
    Diesel supplies are drying up as a cash-strapped government struggles to cap a mounting bill for subsidies it has promised the IMF it will reform to secure an elusive $4.8 billion loan desperately needed to keep a sagging economy afloat.
    The situation appears near breakdown with growing shortages, unsustainable subsidies and foreign exchange reserves running out, raising the risk that fuel bottlenecks lead to food shortages and pose a risk to political stability.
    Foreign reserves are down below $15 billion, less than three months’ imports, despite deposits from Qatar and Turkey. The Egyptian pound has lost 8 percent of its value this year and a black market has emerged for hard currency.
    The nation’s strategic reserve of diesel fuel is down to three days’ supply, the official MENA news agency quoted a government official as saying last week. Bakeries that use diesel to make staple subsidized bread have been told to keep 10 days’ fuel supply but not all have the capacity.
    rest at http://news.yahoo.com/diesel-shortage-pushes-egyptians-brink-123914366.html

  • BC good a date as any.

    BC Nurse says there’s a date
    We don’t want to be late
    Now we know when
    We must die, it is then
    Feb ’38 is the date of our fate

  • Tom

    That research paper link into brain functioning and correlations to political views, is not unexpected by many, but nevertheless very significant.

    Something indicates to me these studies will enable the reverse effects to be used on people to induce their political views. The significant advances in (the movie)’Brainstorm’ – like technology, of course powered by the online game industry research and military research funding in the wings, means that a system of silent technology deployed at polling booths say,(which in USA is already a machine), to either suppress the ‘right amygdala’, or stimulate it, or same for the ‘left insula’. This could be delivered by the ‘technology dispenser’, or unseen agency, to the political party of the highest bid.

    Presto, no need for even passable candidates.

    Damn, if I were ethically unhinged, I could have made a zillion planning Psy-op strategy, with this kind of skullduggery. Just kidding…very happy where I am.

    Money only makes you forget your love relations.

    I think, however, in retrospect I have grown far more with what I have been doing with this meandering life so far than I would have being in that racket.

    I recall reading or listening to some research from the series here posted some threads back on the ‘Bomb in the Brain’, which concered emotional and neurological trauma in early life and the recent findings on long term health effects, where the researcher was saying that at a certain early stage of neurological development the ‘child’ brain configures itself to adapt to either a world of ‘pleasure’ or ‘pain’.

    Now I did not quite know what that meant then, because there was not a great deal of explaination, but maybe the two bits of findings are related. It could be that resolving to exist in a world of pain means you are risk averse, and when you resolve to be living in a world of pleasure you take enormous risks to keep that situation going. I am not able to go much further with that speculation at present. I’ll see what the entire article yields.

    BTW, these days when I go to the big city, Sydney, with some money I never seem to have any left when I return home …? Is that because these ‘white noise’ devices are deployed in metropolitan centres to stimulate risk taking spending?…I don’t know, it would not surprise me. I try not to go to the big smoke for a number of reasons, that being just one.

    Great info Tom, thanks from me.

  • BC Nurse Prof

    Re: your link to details of Nuclear coverups and punnishing whistleblowers at the facility at Hanford, Washington…
    This is the sort of information one yust knows is endemic in this industry(and others)but just never heard about.

    It is really very close to something I find hard to accept, that the green stuff will induce such activities in people, and risk all that contamination.

    Can’t look away…
    WTF do we do?

  • Bill became the 42nd POTUS.

  • Kathy C

    The Diesel shortage in Egypt…

    I have been tracking the price of Crude oil, both WTI and Brent, and they both have been rising steadily closer to US$100 and US$120 respectively over the past 2 weeks. I don’t know if North American winter demand on say heating oil effects the price on a cyclic basis, but it could be the Mayans just can’t count that accurately after all, and we are a few months late on TEOTWAWKI ?

    But fron my viewing, those cars can still get to work, so what’s the big deal?

  • So Guy,
    (tongue in cheek)…

    let me get this right…?

    Your brother has a blog…?

    So after you lost face being kicked out of the Academy,
    you had to get one too…?
    Sibling blog envy..?

    And to top it all off, how can anyone compete with NTE as a mainstay issue?

    Brilliant!

    Very competative sibling rivalry there in the McPherson house, the kind that keeps on going.

    I suppose you both have differing memories of the size of the knife in your backside, along with his reported haze about how many girls you were talking to when he arrived at the hospital…?

    My only question is, who is the older brother and who is the younger?

    Don’t tell me you are twins!

    Born on Feb 29th?

    Crikey.

  • More…

    ‘Tar Sands: Muskeg Destruction is more than a methane GHG bomb’

    https://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/13/1186374/-Tar-Sands-Muskeg-Destruction-is-more-than-a-methane-GHG-bomb

    A quote:

    “Peatbogs in Canada are known as Muskeg. Muskeg develops over thousands of years. Muskeg is formed by mostly decomposing sphagnum moss and other plants. Since decomposition doesnt occur during winter this process is slower than you might be used to seeing in a backyard compost pile, quite a bit slower. In permafrost, the layer of plant material my be thousands of years old.

    To get to the tar sands oil companies have to remove the Muskeg, the clay and sand, typically removing 100 foot to 200 ft of material before exposing the tar sands. Once exposed to air, the Muskeg dries and decomposes, releasing Co2 and methane. The EPA tells us the Global Warming impact of methane is 20 times worse than Co2, pound for pound over a 100 year period.

    My guess is that there may be 10 to 30 billion tons of GHG released by the destruction of the Muskeg over the planned 85 years of tar sands operations.”

  • And More…

    ‘Tar Sands to consume all conventional natural gas reserves in Canada and Alaska’

    https://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/13/1186579/-Tar-Sands-to-consume-all-conventional-natural-gas-reserves-in-Canada-and-Alaska

    Aquote:

    “I think we’re looking at about 185 trillion cubic feet of natural gas between Alaska and Canada. If the Tar Sands uses nat gas at an annual rate of 2.16 tcf, then Alaska and Canada have enough to last about 85 years, at which point the Tar Sands should be depleted.”

    It all seems so logical… to a bananna…

    Going to the garden to be human for a while…

  • Oz, Guy is the younger, smarter brother. I’m bigger, older and slower (in pretty much every sense of the word). We’re both sometimes obnoxious, though for some reason I was in a lot more fights than he was (more evidence that he is smarter).

    He was a football quarterback/defensive back and a basketball guard who walked on to a college basketball team; I was a football tight end/defensive end and forward who walked on to a college football team. We both bucked a lot of hay bales.

    We’re both educated beyond our intelligence. We’ve both been married up for about thirty years to women we didn’t deserve. We both rolled vehicles without wearing seat belts while in college and survived with no serious injuries.

    Both of us have been blogging for a long time, though he now works a little harder at it than I do. Of course he works harder at most things than I do. I’ve only written a couple of books. 🙂

  • OZ man, Egypt went from being a net exporter of oil to a net importer a few years before the time of the revolution. This is a key piece of information. As an exporter Egypt had money to keep food prices low and the people in line. As an importer they don’t have the money to buy food and they have to spend money for fuel supplies. It is a key crossover for any country that has little else to sell. IMO it had more to do with the revolution than anything else.
    http://aspousa.org/2011/02/egypt-a-classic-case-of-rapid-net-export-decline-and-a-look-at-global-net-exports/

  • i wonder why it is sheeple aren’t more inclined to share their most traumatic/ecstatic life altering experiences that teach the sort of valuable lessons not taught in formal classrooms operating under dogmas and ‘lesson plans’. given that ecstacy and trauma are nearly universal experiences, i wonder why so few sheeple acquire the sort of wisdom guy shares with us in this essay (not to mention it’s humor and clever word play/associations). thanks for sharing, guy. it was worth the read.

    bcnp, thanks for the link to the alternet article on cops killing dorner and media complicity in deceit and repression. i particularly enjoyed reading some of the comments to that article, about the first 20, all had bad things to say about personal experiences with police and their families breaking laws with impunity and generally being assholes. isn’t ‘authority’ wonderful? and how about 3 cheers for ‘our’ ‘free’ corporate media, and it’s pathetic subservience to ‘authority’? if nothing else, reminders like this of why ‘authority’ and it’s supporters must be feared and distrusted illustrates how collapse might not be so bad. once all the dust settles and the blood stops flowing, any survivors shall at least be blessed by freedom from official oppression/violence/deceit, something we can now only fantasize about.

  • @dairyman
    Anyone care to comment on this Arctic algae.

    Well, for one thing, the algae is sequestering carbon from the water and mineralizing it to the seafloor, so that is a good thing. I’ve said before that nature has remarkable systems of trying to preserve balance (just as volcanic activity increases due to tectonic plate imbalances from warming oceans). It’s doubtful though that these balancing mechanisms can counteract the changes leading to ruin – and we may well be a target of its balancing attempts.

  • Interesting, Guy–having been gone for most of January and then starting a new semester, I hadn’t read your blog for a while. Imagine my surprise at having become a “longtime friend and colleague”–and especially hearing about my apparent sex change. 🙂

    Perhaps it was simply a literary device, or an unnecessary attempt to “protect” me. But of course you do know that neither the “violence visited upon countries in the Middle East and northern Africa” nor the “current war criminal in the Oval Office” is “fully supported” by this “long-time friend.”

    You also know that neither of my cars “sports the ‘Obama for Peace’ bumper sticker seemingly required for self-proclaimed liberals in this country” — and that, in fact, I didn’t vote for him (though unlike you I do believe in voting, especially in local elections. And you presumably know via Facebook and my own blog that I’ve been complaining about Obama’s drone wars since well before the election.

    You and I disagree on much, which is fine, though I think you sometimes oversimplify your characterizatons of those with whom you disagree. But there’s no need to protect my identity.

  • Money only makes you forget your love relations.

    “I believe a little incompatibility
    is the spice of life,
    particularly if
    he has income
    and she is pattable.”
    — Ogden Nash

    if nothing else, reminders like this of why ‘authority’ and it’s supporters must be feared and distrusted

    Not feared, but addressed with appropriate care, as one would a mountain lion, rattlesnake or scorpion. Not distrusted, because that implies the possibility of trust. It is like humanure “enriched” with toxic heavy metals: it cannot even be put to use in composting.

  • GREAT story, and lesson, Guy! What did become of Bill?

    Nothing quite as dramatic, but when i was 11, my family immigrated to the US (from Israel), traveling by ship to New York. This was late November/early December, not a good time to cross the Atlantic. About 4 days out from New York, our ship got hit by a huge wave which cracked the main propellor shaft, left us treading water till the shaft could be fixed enough to get us to port. No dishes for the rest of the trip, just paper plates. I slept though it. Realized over the next few days that the ship could have sunk, and we could have died. Passengers on the Triumph, the Carnival cruise ship which lost all power and just made it to port, got a glimpse of what will happen when society runs out of power and their own waste products overwhelm them while the food runs out.

  • the virgin terry

    Surely ‘collapse’ will not affect the network of USA bunkers designed to allow TPTB to run their now operational drone army and keep the remnants of the population under surveilence? and maybe oppression too.

    I am beginning to undrstand how financial debt keeps the balls in the air to the great benifit of TPTB. So in the event of a collapse, TPTB will have to come up with a new way to convince everyone they are in debt, and then it might work for them.

    Seems Christianity had a great game going for a long while. The currency was your eternal soul and the debt was original sin…very hard to work off that debt, IMO.

  • James,

    is that last comment a McPhereson way of holding out an olive branch ?

    Life is extraordinarily personal, and nowhere more so than family. But don’t you think you two should bury those hatchets and kinda get along ?
    And haven’t those deserving wives of yours got you two together after 30 years?

    I don’t understand the reference to the “longtime friend and colleague”, nor the sex change, but that just makes it all the more interesting…

    C’mon guys, who else you got that knows you so well and cares too..?

    Without betraying your rother, was there any obvious falling out between you two, over a girl perhaps, (sorry, too many American movies in my childhood) or is it adult political differecnes?

    You know, Guy is just smart enough, and sneaky too I’ll bet, to pull off getting you to come out and engage here, by putting up that bit of personal history. It has worked so far, you must admitt.

  • the virgin terry Says:

    collapse might not be so bad. once all the dust settles and the blood stops flowing, any survivors shall at least be blessed by freedom from official oppression/violence/deceit, something we can now only fantasize about.
    —————
    Do you really think the people who today eat gold flaked desserts and control nuclear weapons will not be among the survivors? I think you can count on them to be there herding “any survivors.” It is a delusion to use collapse to harbor fantasies of a future of blessed freedom.

  • As I watched this, I tried to imagine substituting NTE for “peak oil”. How many of these speakers are dealing honestly with NTE? These are the folks we trusted…

    https://youtu.be/oVzJhlvtDms

  • Ripley, Terry, THERE WILL BE NO SURVIVORS. As collapse progresses, the grid will fail, when the grid fails all the nuclear power reactors will go Chernobyl or Fukushima. Only this time there will not be the 600,000 sacrificial lambs that got Chernobyl under control, no robots, no heavy machinery, no sarcophagus, nothing. They will fail totally. In the movie posted on the last thread about the Battle of Chernobyl Gorbachev tells that they feared a 2nd explosion if the core melted through to water underneath – he said it would have destroyed Minsk, made all of Europe uninhabitable. I think that is the point at which they started dropping massive amounts of lead on the thing – pictures showed that they were scarfing up any lead they could find including bags of shot. Multiply that by 439 plants, about 700 reactors and we are done. Over. Kaput.
    Everyone should watch this – I post the link again – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdMLFJJyWnM

    I watched it before Fukushima. Watched it again knowing that power out means all the nuclear plants will go like this. Watched it again knowing that when the grid goes NOTHING will be done for each and every nuke reactor as they explode, and nothing will be done for all the spent fuel pools when they start burning. 1 week after grid collapse should mark the point at when anyone with self deliverance plans puts them into effect. The rest can watch the show until us humans are scoured from the face of the earth.

  • That sounds about right to me Kathy C. My point was that during the few weeks, months or, years it takes for everyone to die from radiation sickness, or under any other collapse scenario, the “survivors” will enjoy no “freedom from official oppression/violence/deceit.”

  • Ripley – I agree on that. For a brief period, in fact, we may be wishing for police again. While they are a problem, they do keep a certain level of order in society. I know people who want to keep their guns to protect themselves from government, who call the police when they think they are in danger or have been robbed, and then complain they don’t come fast enough. 🙂

    Also people who have been oppressed by the police are not necessarily nice guys and can often turn into the next round of oppressors, worse than the current oppressors. And as you note we don’t know just who the temporary survivors will be – the nice gentle people may well not be among the survivors and the nasty bastards will likely have more opportunity to be nasty.

    Also one of the things that people do when times get hard is turn on anyone who is different. Christians will blame atheists, Jews, etc for the troubles – let the persecutions begin. I wouldn’t be surprised if burning of heathens is again instituted – a “witch” was just burned to death in Papau New Guinea http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/07/kepari-leniata-young-mother-burned-alive-mob-sorcery-papua-new-guinea_n_2638431.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular anyone who thinks that can’t happen here hasn’t been listening – fringe preachers have been advocating stoning gays for instance. Collapse will give a boost up to the fringe

    I have no illusions about collapse bringing on the good times – in fact NTE extinction is quite a comfort. However long the chaos is it will end when we go extinct.

    I have said for years that they way down will be a reverse of the way up only faster. Now thankfully it seems it will be MUCH faster. Perhaps the Inquisition stage will only last a few days? My dog our torturers don’t compare in sadism to the church’s. One was to put a rat on someone’s belly and cover it with a metal bowl and then heap coals on the bowl. The rat to escape would eat into the person’s belly.

  • James, I had no idea you’d changed your view on Obama. Last I checked, you were still promoting voting for him in swing states, to avoid the other side of the duopoly. And I have no idea what bumper stickers adorn your cars. My apologies for the literary device, intended as protection.

    Simplify for the sake of a story? Yes, probably. But as your dad says, we shouldn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

  • The Greatest Entire Half Story Never Told

    In the video about peak oil, “Oil, Smoke and Mirrors”, Heinberg refers to oil as a “gift from nature”. This implies that what we have done with that oil is good, that the industrial economy is wonderful and good. I suppose from a very narrow point of view, we did do some marvelous things with that energy. We could say that splitting the atom was, from a strictly physics scientist narrow point of view, an achievement. But step back, widen your view and look at the results now.

    The true gift from nature started a long time age and was the long and difficult job of getting that carbon from the air back into the ground stored as coal, oil, and gas. And the even greater gift was the delicate balancing act on a tight wire of keeping the carbon there, away from the atmosphere, with the majority of it frozen in ice as the heat from the sun relentlessly poured down on earth. This process allowed oxygen based life to happen, the kind of life we are used to. This kind of life survived how many ice ages. It’s been around a long time. It evolved humans who came along with their intelligence and cut the tight wire. We had a party. It was a good party.

    Photosynthesis is the true gift from nature. It removed the carbon from the atmosphere. We, in our arrogance, put it back up there. Heinberg and the others are only telling us half of the story. We’re not only going to be out of oil, we will be out of oxygen based life.

    The other entire half of the story isn’t being told.

  • Thank you for the story Guy. I spent some time bucking bales myself many years ago. Low pay, free beer…life’s been good to me so far

    🙂

  • Guy, even though I’m sure it was a very painful experience, I enjoyed reading the story. Thanks for sharing!

  • Tom, with respect to antibiotic resistance, we are definitely seeing an upsurge in that phenomenon. I am absolutely opposed to the administration of antibiotics to livestock in that way. If animals were given adequate room for range so that they could move into areas free of their own excrement, they would get sick far less often.

    The good news is that bacterial DNA isn’t very large. It can “remember” only a small number of defense mechanisms. Consequently, old antibiotics that we thought were now useless suddenly become potent again as bacteria had to push out the DNA responsible for protection against the old drug in favor of DNA providing protection against a new drug. MRSA, for example, is fequently treated successfully with Bactrim (an old sulfa drug). It’s cheap and effective. (This is not my area of expertise and would welcome clarification from someone more knowledgeable if I’ve mischaracterized this.)

    The bad news is that we are experiencing more and more shortages of common drugs. Doxycycline, another old antibiotic that is enjoying renewed effectiveness, has been in very short supply for several months now. Lidocaine which we use all the time for numbing prior to an in-office procedure or for making a joint injection less painful, has suddenly become difficult to get.

    There are many, many more drugs that are on the shortage list. See the latest list here:
    http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/drugshortages/ucm050792.htm

    Ultimately, I think that supply chain collapse will be more problematic than antibiotic resistance. After all, it doesn’t matter if a disease is resistant to an antibiotic if you can’t get any of them anyway.

  • Guy, the denial of mortality is a powerful program. I’m 52 and I’m not sure I’ve completely accepted it yet. I remember my first lesson in it, though. I was about 10 or 11. It was the time before I discovered that, for me, guys were more interesting than girls. I had a little girlfriend – as much of one as a child that age can have. We spent our summers at the city pool. One day during the “time out” period that they had every hour. All of us climbed out of the water – except one. My little friend was lying face down on the bottom.

    Later at the hospital as my father (the minister) tried to console her parents, I struggled through my tears to accept what had happened. Not with much success.

    Over the years, I’ve lost more friends than I can remember. At the height of the AIDS epidemic I was attending a funeral a week, it seems.

    After all that death, on an emotional level I still haven’t convinced myself fully that one day I, too, will join the ranks of the dead.

  • Since I brought up joining the ranks of the dead, it seems like a good time to mention the undead – zombies. 🙂

    We’ve been watching “Walking Dead”, the AMC show about the zombie apocalypse. The zombie portion is silly, but the rest of it is quite interesting and involves many of the topics which we discuss here. As is always the case with fiction on this topic, they leave out the nuclear power plant meltdown. There wouldn’t be much of a story, after all. Otherwise, they seem to portray life post-collapse fairly effectively (with quite a bit of literary license thrown in).

  • TRDH – good to hear from you again; appreciate the link.

    dmd – that was a really good documentary, despite your correct criticism (after all, they only have so much, and decided to concentrate on the half that eats).

    KC – people are still arguing over whether it will be a decades/centuries long collapse (and don’t even get me started about “survivors”) while we believe it will be much quicker (maybe a decade). i guess we’ll see, but it sure isn’t going to be any fun saying “Told Ya!” this time.

    Guy – i too had a serious problem with Obama once he took office and immediately dismissed any prospect of even looking at any kind of wrongdoing with respect to both the financial meltdown and especially the shenanigans of the Bush jr administration. i voted for Dr. Jill Stein this time around, though i knew it wouldn’t do any good (voter for Nader both times too). Now i’m officially out of the politics arena because i don’t believe it works any longer (if it ever really did) as an agent of progressive change or reform. Politicians by and large are only concerned with their own re-election/power/wealth creation now and it’s become increasingly apparent that most work mainly for the corporate sector. It’s painfully obvious that we’ve become a banana republic complete with a dictator who is outside the law backed by a repressive military/police state (also outside the law)and fiat currency. So much for “the land of the free and the home of the brave” nonsense.

  • Buckin’ hay!

  • “I had no idea you’d changed your view on Obama.”

    Sorry; I assumed that you had read my blog and Facebook posts. And I’m not sure what “change” you’re refer to–I voted for him the first time, but have criticized him more than praised him (and never said I’d vote for him again) since then (though I still think Romney would have been a worse choice between those two). I’ve never been a supporter of the drone wars. For example, you can see me criticizing his war strategy in the first year of his presidency here:

    http://jmcpherson.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/spitting-on-military-service-especially-by-women/

    And like you, I’ve also supported the Occupy movement: http://jmcpherson.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/wall-street-protests-its-about-time/

    “My apologies for the literary device, intended as protection.”

    No harm done. And as noted, no protection necessary. You and I both have had much worse said about us. If we didn’t expect (and maybe in some way enjoy) it, we wouldn’t do what we do.

    “But as your dad says, we shouldn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.”

    Perhaps, as long as it’s clear that you’re telling stories. And I enjoyed the one above.

  • Guy,
    Thanks for the story in written form. It was nice to re-live it after you told the story to me last week.
    cheers
    Paul

  • Kathy C: The Chernobyl documentary was astounding and makes me question the sanity of using nuclear reactors. Thanks for finding that.

  • Tom, Ogardener posted it on the last thread. I had watched it some time back and was glad to be reminded of it so the hat tip goes to Ogardener.

  • “Gail Says:
    February 15th, 2013 at 8:56 am
    Look, Guy, the rest of the world is catching up to you:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/No-alternative-atmospheric-CO2-draw-down.html

    Good info. But these “skeptical scientists” are calling for geo-engineering, an outer space sunshade, and a “planetary defense” effort on the scale of WWII, with no sense given as to who will do so, although implying that the Pentagon and other similar military-industrial institutions will. Oh really?

  • I am not sure exactly what the implied implications are, but this is interesting- and something I knew nothing about concerning carbon bacterial sequestration.

    A War Without End, With Earth’s Carbon Cycle Held in the Balance
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213132323.htm

  • Bailey; It has been said that wherever there is something to eat, there will be something eating it. That goes for you and me, too. Just another way to define the food cycle.

  • I understand that Dave, but it seems this bacteria is a major carbon sequestor and intermediary to oxygen production, and so I was wondering what impact our activities might have on it.

  • Anti-anxiety drug pollution makes fish fearless and antisocial

    Hey Buddy, can you spare Oxazepam.

    Another unexpected ‘positive feedback loop’ for the eco-system to process. This will accelerate species extinction.

    Speaking of species extinction, the financial ‘industry’ (cough….racket) is awash in many drugs, maybe that will hasten it’s extinction.

    Roughly 60-70% of traders and suits on Wall St take anti-anxiety drugs, you know, in addition to coke and high shelf booze. Be cool, your pension money is safe, well, not so much.

  • From This American Life, May 15, 2009

    It’s about anxiety with a chimp and a van and a couple of cops.

    Everything is under control, keep moving

    Told by Shawn the Cop

    Episode 380: No Map

    This story is the first 10 minutes of the show.

  • i have a bad feeling about Bill…

  • Organisms with a short life cycle – twenty minutes or less in many microbes – evolve that much faster. Just as in horse racing, jockey flesh, and in bicycle racing hardware weight count adversely and pared down to a minimum, so too in the evolutionary race genetic burden is pared down. The energy and resources spent on the enzymes and other molecular machinery to protect a microbe against a particular antibiotic could otherwise be expended in making more of the microbes.

    Sulphonamides were introduced in the 1940s and erythromycin was introduced in the 1950s. Counting in human life cycle terms, the elapsed time for microbes is the equivalent of ten to twelve million years. When an antibiotic fell out of favour on account of microbial resistance, the carriage of the resistance traits continued to burden the microbe, but the offsetting advantage of survival in an environment containing the antibiotic was no longer of consequence: as a result, the microbes that dropped that burden were at an advantage.

    While I was still in practice, I noticed that the medication Pediazole (erythromycin and a sulphonamide) used to treat infections in children in decades past, but that had fallen out of favour on account of microbial resistance, had once again started having very good to excellent results.

  • J & J overlook Near Term Extinction, but are otherwise quite entertaining in their discussion of a host of other issues, including the bezzle, the trust horizon, the twilight of illusion, etc.:

    KunstlerCast #217: The God of Progress is Dead

  • Bird flu on rise, farmers resist vets
    ARJUN POUDEL

    KATHMANDU, Feb 16: With the growing incidence of bird flu in the Valley, vet officials and technicians have been encountering intense resistance and threats from poultry farmers, the Directorate of Animal Health (DoAH) said. Due to the resistance and threats from farmers, efforts to control the disease have becoming a serious challenge for the officials.

    According to DoAH officials, poultry farmers have even stopped reporting the death of fowls to veterinary offices, which they said is a dangerous trend and a great threat to public health.

    The office said that strains of H5N1 virus have been spreading rapidly in the poultry farms of the Valley and adjoining districts. This week alone, the capital witnessed four outbreaks of the virus, in which over 12,000 chickens were culled.
    rest at http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=50051

    My guess is that recompense for culled chickens is not very high. Estimates vary but it may take as much as 5 lbs of grain to produce 1 pound of chicken. Guessing each culled chicken at 4 lbs you throw away 20 lbs of grain for each chicken culled. So a cull of 12,000 chickens is 240,000 lbs of grain wasted. Given that we are going to be facing a grain shortage this year and higher prices, the resistance to culling will grow which the viruses will love.

  • (Reuters) – U.S. farmers will plant crops this spring under the shadow of a persistent drought that grips prime farmland from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, with grain supplies already tight from drought losses in 2012.

    In all, 56 percent of the contiguous United States is under moderate to exceptional drought, twice the usual amount, the Senate Agriculture Committee was told on Thursday.

    Arid weather was expected to run until May in the wheat-growing Plains and in the western Corn Belt, where corn and soybeans are the major crops.

    “In fact, we are forecasting drier conditions,” said Roger Pulwarty, director of the National Integrated Drought Information System, a federal agency. Above-normal rainfall benefited the southern Plains at the start of this year.

    Wheat, corn and soybeans are the most widely grown U.S. crops and form the foundation of the U.S. food supply. They are used in livestock rations and as ingredients in food ranging from salad dressing to bread, breakfast cereal and cookies.

    rest at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/15/us-usa-agriculture-idUSBRE91E14E20130215

  • On Friday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee confirmed that radioactive liquids are leaking from tanks at the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States at Hanford, further heightening concerns experts have shared about the integrity of other storage facilities which have not been investigated and may also be leaking.
    rest at http://enformable.com/2013/02/washington-governor-confirms-radioactive-waste-leaking-from-underground-tanks-at-hanford-nuclear-reservation/

  • KunstlerCast; My trust horizon continues to shrink also as I watch the Peak Oil group go on and on about “the systems we depend on”, (banking, mining and manufacturing of junk that runs on energy) while ignoring the “System we depend on”, the biosphere. Politics, culture, economy, money, energy supply (from fossil fuels) are all man made creations. What we have built since 1945 is itself la la land. Now we enter delusional la la land.

    Our real energy supply is the sun and our manufacturing system for food, fiber, and fuel is photosynthesis. Our jobs and employment, excluding NTE, would have been in this field. The rich would have been the ones who knew this. The poor would have been the billionaires since they really have nothing of real value.

    There is no precedent for what will be. So, as they point out, we don’t look. But maybe there is. People will migrate to areas where there is water and food. Oasises in the desert which shrink down to a watering hole. Watch Egypt.

  • I don’t even trust my computer any more. It’s always “doing something”; importing, ads, videos, pop ups, exporting, scanning, downloading, uploading. Who knows what is going on? The last time I purchased a computer, I bought 2 of them. One is off line and is used for my farm programs such as nutrition and feeding programs. It works just like a light bulb; takes about 15 seconds to come on and does just what you want it to do immediately. It has nothing else to do. The other one is always busy and I don’t trust it. I don’t trust the people behind it.

  • Bailey: thanks for that link. i think the next stage of inquiry will be something like “does continuing ocean acidification benefit the SAR11 virus, its predator, or neither.”

    Kathy: great links. i’ve been watching the development of various diseases all over the world and noticed that India is having these problems. i’ve been trying to point out to a person on another blog (who believes in the supremacy of human intelligence) that our greed and ignorance will doom us to extinction. This is a great piece of evidence. As usual the nuclear contamination proceeds without any action (besides further delay) due to concerns that the parent company will lose money (at the expense of completely poisoning groundwater and release of radiation into the air from said leaks).

    Lidia: yeah, if you break your neck you’ve got real problems. The least he’d have needed was major surgery to repair his upper vertebrae (perhaps with titanium rods and screws supporting bone implants?).

    dmd: the powers that be have it all upside down and backwards because they are only looking out for their own place in the world and ignoring everything else – how ignorant and arrogant is that? Instead of being the “smartest guys in the room” they’re turning out to be psychopathic greedy idiots who get what they want by collusion, corruption, lies, pay-offs, hired hit-men, bullying, control of the media, and on and on.

  • It seems we just refuse to learn:

    http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/ElectricPower/6157988

    i’ll put the second link below, so i don’t trip the automatic moderation device.

  • In all, 56 percent of the contiguous United States is under moderate to exceptional drought, twice the usual amount, the Senate Agriculture Committee was told on Thursday.

    Arid weather was expected to run until May in the wheat-growing Plains and in the western Corn Belt, where corn and soybeans are the major crops.

    If predictions that the interior of the continents in the Northern Hemisphere will be uninhabitable within 5 years and that all life in the NH will be extinct by 2031 are to come true, then the conditions described above must worsen and spread. It looks like they will. If the 2031 extinction prediction is to pan out, at least a couple hundred million people (or about 5% of NH population) a year need to start dying each year. This assumes a steady linear rate of death towards extinction. In any case, massive death must begin soon.

    Since NTE is the most important idea of NBL (in fact, it looks like the only idea), a more specific definition is in order. Since the most important question is, what is near term, here’s some proposals for a more detailed and specific definition. Immediate NTE or INTE would be 5-20 years. I’m not sure, but I think this is what most people are talking about when they talk about NTE. The more optimistic subset of NTE I define as one where no one born in this century lives out a modern 1st world lifespan of 75 years. Call this, single lifespan NTE or SLNTE – 20-60 years. It doesn’t seem logical to define life still existing more that 60 years out, as near term, but others may disagree. So I’ve come up with two subdivisions of NTE:

    INTE=-5-20 years.
    SLNTE= 20-60 years.

    I’m not beholden to these categories and I’m interested to see what other people can come up with. Anyway it’s all just a game now, right? Since we are all just spectators in this sport, I’ll admit to my own resentfulness and declare that I am rooting for INTE simply because I don’t want to see the older generation escape the suffering they played so big a role in causing.

  • dairymandave – yeah even people who should get it don’t. I was listening to Thom Hartman this morning talking about debt. He said our present level of debt was OK because it was a lower percent of GDP than at the end of WWII. He should well know that GDP back then was mostly stuff we made and now GDP is based on a service economy that flips hamburgers, gives pedicures, does botox treatments, plumps up ear lobes, etc. I once had a vision of a circle of women – one did the hair of the woman in front of her, who was doing the hair of the woman in front of her till they came full circle – they would go on until they starve because without the most essential of energies, food, we are all dead.

    I took an economics course once and after reflection I realized what bunk it was. The whole of the economy depends on how many extra people can one farmer feed, for only with people freed from obtaining their own food can we have people who do anything else.

  • A friend sent me some pages from an older book, Botany for Gardeners by Harold William Rickett, published 1957

    “Man intensifies the loss in many ways. He does not permit his own substance to return to the soil’ and most of what he takes from the earth he removes from that place, permanently”

  • Kathy; Yea, and then they complain because we use fertilizer and sprays. It’s nearly spring now and the first thing I must do is grab a sack and walk my mile and a half road frontage and pick up the beer cans, plastic soda bottles, and McD. crap. Some bottles are still glass. I am strongly tempted to just stop farming next year and let the hay crop grow just for the deer…and the beer cans. Paying the taxes will force me to sell something, I suppose.

  • Notice how they use a straight line to define the average. Doesn’t look straight to me.

  • Ripley; I sort of ashamed to say that I agree with you.

  • Tom; Big Ag pushes and then milks the farmers just like we farmers push and milk the cows. Most farmers don’t even know it.

  • News; Most contaminated nuke site in US leaking radiation..
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/16/hanford-nuclear-tank-is-l_n_2701197.html

    I have also read where just closed the nuke plant in Crystal River Fl because of a ‘breach’ that could not be repaired (hmmm, wonder what that means?). Just think of what we don’t know.

  • Bailey
    The Crystal River plant went offline in fall 2009 for a maintenance and upgrade project to replace old steam generators. During the project, workers found a crack in the 42-inch thick reactor containment building. An attempt to repair the crack and bring it back online led to more cracks.

    A Duke report says it will cost $1.5 to $3.4 billion to repair the containment building plus $300 million a year to buy replacement power while the plant sits idle. Duke’s board has yet to make a decision whether to repair or retire the plant.
    http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/energy/rating-agency-thinks-nuclear-plant-will-be-closed/1270052

  • Kathy C

    I watched the Chernobyl u-tube link. From there I watched one with the same scientists and this had more info at the end where the scientists were showing great relief because they found the Plutonium-etc-lava-metal-melted-blobs in the structures below the reactor. They were showing relief for three main reasons, I heard from another sourse some years ago.
    Firstly, this meant that the material, which they could not then find and account for, may have gone up into the atmosphere.
    Secondly it may have been boring its way through the rock below the facility.
    Thirdly, it may have been stolen, by organised crime.

    What is so disturbing in that vid is not just the deaths of many of the scientists, (considder they knew the risks…what a sacrifice!!) but that the ‘bureaucracy’ was giving them so little help or resources.

    Can’t help ruminating….

    Money, as a means of exchange and an mechanism for human agency implicitly removes all feelings of reciprocation and obligation, and care. between participants, and it is for this reason that self regard is what comes to the surface in almost all uses of it. There is no better example of humans seeing the $$$ signs(US of course), losing thier feeling for others and lifes welfare, than the willfull and/or negligent release of Nuclear Material free to the biosphere, which means tens to hundreds of thousands of years of wreckage in the form of death, genetic mutilation, and the destruction of complex life-systems upon which every lifeform depends.
    The only thing that comes from this logically is they, TPTB, must have somewhere else to run to …. already.

    Were done, yea, but art they?

  • Kathy C

    From your last link:

    “During the project, workers found a crack in the 42-inch thick reactor containment building. An attempt to repair the crack and bring it back online led to more cracks.”

    Leaves me with images of a couple of guys with some trowels and some spackfiller doing a quick cosmetic job… Could be?

  • Oops,

    sorry folks, 3:30am here, that should have read:

    “Were done, yeah, but are they?”

  • dairymandave said: “In the video about peak oil, “Oil, Smoke and Mirrors”, Heinberg refers to oil as a “gift from nature”. This implies that what we have done with that oil is good, that the industrial economy is wonderful and good. ”

    What you point out has always bothered me too. The other thing that is often said with it is “We are squandering our children’s inheritance” or “we are stealing from the future.”
    While I understand the root of the sentiment,the implication is that if we stretched the remaining fossil fuel use out over many generations, all might be well. I believe that the atmosphere would tell us we were just as screwed if we unleashed it all at once or somewhat more slowly over the next century.

    Ripley said: ” I’ll admit to my own resentfulness and declare that I am rooting for INTE simply because I don’t want to see the older generation escape the suffering they played so big a role in causing.”

    I often feel that way. If NTE is coming anyway then I want people who reveled in the orgy of consumption to feel the hangover! My housemates parents often come to visit and the last time they were here the mother declared “I couldn’t live without my second refrigerator in my Florida house!” (she has 2 houses and 3 timeshares)
    She inspired us to invent a superhero just for her and her ilk. The superhero has giant ears and roams the earth (flying of course) and when he hear someone say the words “I couldn’t live without …………….(fill in the blank) he swoops down and takes the apparently life sustaining item away and the person drops dead. The superhero’s name is TAKER-AWAYER-OF-LIFE-FROM-PEOPLE-WHO-CAN NOT LIVE WITHOUT STUFF MAN. Silly undertaking for adults,I know, but it helps keep us sane.
    We were describing it to a friend and he used this program called Xtranormal and made a very short movie(1:30 minute) of the superhero. It’s silly but it makes us laugh everytime we see it so I will link it here.

    http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/11718287/super-hero-taker-awayer-of-life-from-those-who-cant-live-without-stuff-manalmost-foiled

    KathyC said:”I took an economics course once and after reflection I realized what bunk it was. The whole of the economy depends on how many extra people can one farmer feed, for only with people freed from obtaining their own food can we have people who do anything else.”

    We have a common saying in our house called TMF. it stands for “Too Much Food” When we hear about certain things that humans are up to because they are freed from the need to provide food for themselves we just say TMF and it pretty much sums it all up.

  • thestormcrow – I have a sister who told me she didn’t want to live if she couldn’t have warm showers. Can you send the superhero there please….

  • Please please please let me go by way of direct meteorite hit. I really don’t want to spend the rest of my days wading around in the toxic soup of nuclear waste that looks inevitable.

  • Time is running out for farmers to buy seed for 2013. The bill runs into the 100s of thousands for mid west farmers. So they promote a hopeful weather forecast. Many farmers figure that there won’t be 3 bad years in a row. We’ll see. The fronts continue to drop very low, reaching the gulf many times.

  • TSC: i know you only meant the conspicuos consumers of the older generation (since the vast majority of us are hanging on by our fingernails and can’t afford to retire), and i have to agree. The giant sacks of shit who think of themselves as “the smartest people in the room” because they make (or made) more money than everyone else disgust me. In fact i have a theory that normal people who suddenly come into a bunch of money (like winning the lottery) or those who by whatever set of circumstances find themselves in the cushiest jobs (other than the silver spoon set – which are inherently self-centered shallow and awful) change in personality, worldview, and or self-image as a result.

    The smug sons of bitches actually think they’re “better than” most others and look down their noses at almost everyone else in some way or another (ie. either outwardly or in their own head). This may sound like over generalization but i haven’t yet seen one person who has escaped this dilemma/psychological effect. On the one hand you have the obvious ones like Leona Helmsley or that Banks woman who abuse the help and demean everyone around them routinely, but even people like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates have this trait to some degree or other, whether it’s in their decision-making process, a personality trait or an affected (in the psychological sense) behavior, it’s there. Hollywood people exude it. The rich just feel more entitled than most and the whole “i couldn’t live without” meme is so much a by-product of the soft, wealthy life, where adoring fans fawn all over them and their “staff” go out of their way to please or provide for their every whim. The only comfort i get out of the coming NTE is that these people have WAAAAY more to lose than most of us, and it will be interesting to see how they cope with NOTHING and basic survival. To be honest though, i’m gonna miss warm showers too.

    On the other side we have the philanthropists and people who have given it all away out of some inner sense of doing what’s right (in their own minds, of course) – and it’s noble. The trouble is that civilization is built on exploitation and they shouldn’t even have this vast wealth to sprinkle around as they see fit.

    It just begs the question of how this vast wealth came about – and they’re all rather suspect, whether inherited (what crime did YOUR daddy get away with?) like the ol’ Robber Barons of the early 20th century, the stock market (which is basically a gambling casino and yields fictitious money), banking (usury central), or rising to the top of some corporation engaged in pilfering the resources of the earth (or it’s inhabitants) for the benefit of the sacred “shareholders.”

    Greed, self-centeredness and our propensity for personal advantage are what drives the faulty human species and has lead us down this primrose path of fantasy “wealth” to our coming NTE experience.

    Our vaunted “intellect” seems to be a fatal flaw or mutation (as it’s argued here):

    http://blogdredd.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-evolution-of-anthropogenic.html

    (about 1/2 way down)

    Another evolutionist, Ernst Mayr, has stated that human intelligence is a fatal mutation dooming the species:

    I’LL BEGIN with an interesting debate that took place some years ago between Carl Sagan, the well-known astrophysicist, and Ernst Mayr, the grand old man of American biology. They were debating the possibility of finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. And Sagan, speaking from the point of view of an astrophysicist, pointed out that there are innumerable planets just like ours. There is no reason they shouldn’t have developed intelligent life. Mayr, from the point of view of a biologist, argued that it’s very unlikely that we’ll find any. And his reason was, he said, we have exactly one example: Earth. So let’s take a look at Earth. And what he basically argued is that intelligence is a kind of lethal mutation … you’re just not going to find intelligent life elsewhere, and you probably won’t find it here for very long either because it’s just a lethal mutation … With the environmental crisis, we’re now in a situation where we can decide whether Mayr was right or not. If nothing significant is done about it, and pretty quickly, then he will have been correct: human intelligence is indeed a lethal mutation. Maybe some humans will survive, but it will be scattered and nothing like a decent existence, and we’ll take a lot of the rest of the living world along with us.

    (the entire post is a great read)

  • “Not long ago, I was taking a walk with an American friend in the woods near my house. As we walked, I was pointing to him the effects of climate change that could be seen all around us: stressed trees, damaged vegetation, signs of wildfires, and more. After a while, though, I noticed that my statements produced no reply. It was as he was not hearing what I was saying or, if he could hear me, he could make no sense of what I was saying.

    The way we see the world, I think, is mostly as if it were a story. We absorb new information by comparing it to the concatenated elements of the plot of a long and complex story that we have in our mind. For some of us, it is a novel of progress and of increasingly sophisticated gadgetry. For others, it is a novel of initial greatness and subsequent failure. And, with my friend in the woods, it was like we were characters of different narratives, as if – say – Prince Hamlet were to meet Homer Simpson.”

    Cassandra’s Legacy (blog):

    Immoderate Greatness: the narrative of collapse

  • Oh, and we were talking about diseases spreading around –

    This week’s headlines i could link to, but you can just look em up (WHO website, eg):

    Bird Flu Reported In German Poultry Farm.

    Sars-like virus in the U.K. (Coronavirus)

    Yellow Fever in Chad

    Polio in Niger

    in fact, here’s a fun site to check out when you have a minute:

    http://outbreaks.globalincidentmap.com/home.php

  • In a previous thread

    Into the heartland


    Kathy C says: Is the wonder worth the pain is my question.

    EROEI

    We’ll die when our world gets too hot,
    Leaving nothing, nil, zilch, diddly squat;
    What did we gain
    For all of our pain?
    Was it worth it? Maybe. Maybe not.

  • Emotional Return on Emotion Invested?

    Thanks BtD