Let me bequeath

by Yitzhak Maplebury

Box me on a warm bright day — youthful, though not, not ever again, useful — hands crossed neatly over shirt and tie. Let young things on grass plan parties, raves, getaways with only ethical narcotics and strong beer.

Indulge them in coquetry and intrigue, tasty gossip, bawdy, thunder-bumping-sex-beat rhythms and Romantically doomed dreams.

Let them be ignorant of death, and miffed by the gross solemnities of entropy, eternity and quantum creep.

Grant me peace in this, my first and only suit. Close the plain pine lid and lower me down.

Let them be curious, perhaps fearful —

Gather them over me to wonder: what is rite and why?

Let it -– all of it -– be alien to them, distant as violence, truth, sorrow. Let nothing be heavy and the sky so clear.

Blast them with aromas of Spring and skin; befuddle them with magic, laughter, pheromones and song.

Celebration of lips and hair; lusty minds a-flirt with promises —

I’m done with all that. I wish them well.

_____________

This essay first appeared at Dissident Voice. It is posted here with permission of the author.

Comments 241

  • Wow. What a beautiful poem/essay. Thank you.

  • And once it dawns on you, there’s no going back Yitzhak.

    Laughing
    David Crosby

    I thought I met a man
    Who said he knew a man
    Who knew what was going on

    I was mistaken
    Only another stranger
    That I knew

    And I thought I had found a light
    To guide me through
    My night and all this darkness

    I was mistaken
    Only reflections of a shadow
    That I saw

    And I thought I’d seen someone
    Who seemed at last
    To know the truth

    I was mistaken
    Only a child laughing
    In the sun

    Ah, ah, ah …
    In the sun

  • From the previous thread: @wildwoman “I’ve seen this before. ‘Relax and enjoy it.’ Right.”

    Ah, denial. You see it all the time in the cancer wards, where patients vow to give it their all in the good fight. Of course, by the time their puny efforts come to naught, they’ve already been removed from public view as nature takes its inevitable course.

    WW, you seem to be operating under some kind of belief that traditional modes of behavior will allow you to still exert some level of personal control. Sigh. Seriously, grow up and get a clue.

    Perhaps you should review the closing months of WWII, when invading Russian troops were operating under the ‘8 to 80’ rape rule. Or, more recently, how rape was used very effectively as tactical psy-ops in the former Yugoslavia.

    Of course, my favorite example is the Great Kahn himself. When his hordes showed up at the gates, they provided two options:

    Option 1: all adult males will be put to death; juvenile males will be slaves; we will spare mothers; of course, daughters will be auctioned off as wives, but will not be raped.

    Option 2: all adult males will be put to death; juvenile males will be first tortured, then put to death; mothers will be repeated raped, then put to death; daughters will be gang raped, but rather than be put to death, will be put out to service as ‘comfort women’, to be raped repeatedly each day until they die.

    How many cities chose option 1? If you really understand what is actually goin’ down, then you’ll come to realize that human history is nothing but a prologue to where we’re going once again.

  • A man who has decided to live all alone in an abandoned town near Fukushima reactor despite the high levels of radiation

  • wow ulvfugl, great video that really tells it like it’s going to be. Sad, scary, the descent . . .

    Here’s one from a different perspective:

  • Another

    HERE a pretty baby lies
    Sung asleep with lullabies:
    Pray be silent and not stir
    Th’ easy earth that covers her.

    Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

  • Amen. Beautiful…

  • http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/25-years-solitary-confinement-prisoner-explains-181056924.html

    After 25 years in solitary confinement, a prisoner explains what it’s like

    A prisoner who has spent 25 years in solitary confinement wrote about what it’s like to spend a quarter of a century cut off from human contact.

    William R. Blake’s essay appeared on Solitary Watch, a prisoner advocacy group. Blake was also given an honorable mention in the Yale Law Journal’s Prison Law Writing Contest.

    In 1987, Blake, 23 at the time, shot two law enforcement officials, killing one. He had been on his way to appear in court for drug and robbery charges. Though handcuffed, he grabbed a gun from Deputy Bernie Meleski and began shooting. Deputy David Clark, who was married with two children, died. Maleski was gravely wounded, but survived.

    The judge, Blake said, told him he deserved “an eternity in hell” for the shootings. “Apparently he had the idea that God was not the only one justified to make such judgment calls.”

    The essay begins by acknowledging the gravity of his crime:

    Even by the standards of my own belief system, such as it was back then, I deserved to die for what I had done. I took the life of a man without just cause, committing an act so monumentally wrong that I could not have argued that it was unfair had I been required to pay with my own life.

    However, Blake has found that life in solitary is far worse than any death sentence:

    On July 10, 2012, I finished my 25th consecutive year in solitary confinement, where at the time of this writing I remain. Though it is true that I’ve never died and so don’t know exactly what the experience would entail, for the life of me I cannot fathom how dying any death could be harder or more terrible than living through all that I have been forced to endure for the last quarter-century.

    Blake goes on to describe the intense boredom:

    You probably think that you understand boredom, know its feel, but really you don’t. What you call boredom would seem a whirlwind of activity to me, choices so many that I’d likely be befuddled in trying to pick one over all the others.

    Boredom leads to intense loneliness, which Blake describes in grave detail:

    I’ve experienced times so difficult and felt broken and loneliness to such a degree that it seemed to be a physical thing inside so thick it felt like it was choking me, trying to squeeze the sanity from my mind, the spirit from my soul, and the life from my body.

    His conclusion is devastating:

    Had I known in 1987 that I would spend the next quarter-century in solitary confinement, I would have certainly killed myself. If I took a month to die and spent every minute of it in severe pain, it seems to me that on a balance that fate would still be far easier to endure than the last twenty-five years have been. If I try to imagine what kind of death, even a slow one, would be worse than twenty-five years in the box—and I have tried to imagine it—I can come up with nothing. Set me afire, pummel and bludgeon me, cut me to bits, stab me, shoot me, do what you will in the worst of ways, but none of it could come close to making me feel thing as cumulatively horrifying as what I’ve experienced through my years in solitary. Dying couldn’t take but a short time if you or the State were to kill me; in SHU I have died a thousand internal deaths. The sum of my quarter-century’s worth of suffering has been that bad.

  • Personally, I find it very difficult to reconcile the horrors of the world with the beauty of the world.

    I could not live in prison, I definitely would rather die.

    There was this strange movie on tv one night called “White Lightnin'” (not to be confused with “White Lightning” with Burt Reynolds!) about some hillbilly famous for his dancing – but, he was a complete addict and ruined his life. He would have these crazy fantasies about brutally torturing people – it was very disturbing. Also, the horrible movie “Hostel” where rich guys paid to torture people that had been abducted. These are just movies. Sad to think that even at the extremes depicted in these movies, the world has actually seen much much worse.

    Is it all a question of degree? Is it okay to just “rough up” a prisoner to get him to talk – but not okay to waterboard him?

    The prisons in America, for all their horrors, are probably better than the impoverished but FREE living conditions in many places (think India, North Korea, Somalia). And, would you rather be in solitary confinement for 25 years in America or survive in a death camp in Siberia for 25 years?

    As long as there is competition, there will be conflict, and questions of degree in the execution of that conflict.

    It’s all so confusing. The pure ideology does exist – as an abstraction. We can say “love thy neighbor” and “love thy enemy” and know that it is good. But, the practical application of the pure ideology seems all but impossible.

    I think I read somewhere that Socrates said something to the effect that “it is not so important that we practice virtue as we discuss it.”

  • Another indication of decay:

    http://wariscrime.com/new/nyc-80-of-high-school-grads-cant-read-or-write/

    NYC a staggering 80% of high school grads entering the City’s community college system can’t perform well enough to take college courses. The failure applies across the board: reading, writing, and math.

  • STRAY birds of summer come to my window to sing and fly away.

    And yellow leaves of autumn, which have no songs, flutter and fall there with a sigh.

    O TROUPE of little vagrants of the world, leave your footprints in my words.

    THE world puts off its mask of vastness to its lover.

    It becomes small as one song, as one kiss of the eternal.

    IT is the tears of the earth that keep her smiles in bloom.

    THE mystery of creation is like the darkness of night–it is great. Delusions of knowledge are like the fog of the morning.

    THE infant flower opens its bud and cries, “Dear World, please do not fade.”

    WRONG cannot afford defeat but Right can.

    LET life be beautiful like summer flowers and death like autumn leaves.

    HE who wants to do good knocks at the gate; he who loves finds the gate open.

    IN death the many becomes one; in life the one becomes many.

    Religion will be one when God is dead.

    – Rabindranath Tagore: “Stray Birds”, translated from the original Bengali by the author.

  • Depressed much, Guy?

  • Brunswickian: yes, i read that, but they admit them anyway and sign them up for remedial courses that the student pays full price for, have no credit, don’t count toward graduation and don’t transfer. If the student fails, (s)he can take it only once more (usually) for an additional charge, of course. What’s really sick is still promoting the “college grads get better jobs” meme – when all the good jobs have been off-shored and i mean in a dying world the entire curriculum of the college (save how to grow food in inhospitable conditions – wherever that’s taught) is irrelevant! i’m surprised it’s gone on this long, frankly.

  • Our sardine fishermen work at night in the dark of the moon;
    daylight or moonlight
    They could not tell where to spread the net, unable to see the
    phosphorescence of the shoals of fish.
    They work northward from Monterey, coasting Santa Cruz; off
    New Year’s Point or off Pigeon Point
    The look-out man will see some lakes of milk-color light on the
    sea’s night-purple; he points and the helmsman
    Turns the dark prow, the motorboat circles the gleaming shoal
    and drifts out her seine-net. They close the circle
    And purse the bottom of the net, then with great labor haul it in.

    I cannot tell you
    How beautiful the scene is, and a little terrible, then, when the
    crowded fish
    Know they are caught, and wildly beat from one wall to the
    other of their closing destiny the phosphorescent
    Water to a pool of flame, each beautiful slender body sheeted
    with flame, like a live rocket
    A comet’s tail wake of clear yellow flame; while outside the
    narrowing
    Floats and cordage of the net great sea-lions come up to watch,
    sighing in the dark; the vast walls of night
    Stand erect to the stars.

    Lately I was looking from a night mountain-top
    On a wide city, the colored splendor, galaxies of light: how could
    I help but recall the seine-net
    Gathering the luminous fish? I cannot tell you how beautiful
    the city appeared, and a little terrible.
    I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all together
    into interdependence; we have built the great cities; now
    There is no escape. We have gathered vast populations incapable
    of free survival, insulated

    From the strong earth, each person in himself helpless, on all
    dependent. The circle is closed, and the net
    Is being hauled in. They hardly feel the cords drawing, yet they
    shine already. The inevitable mass-disasters
    Will not come in our time nor in our children’s, but we and our
    children
    Must watch the net draw narrower, government take all powers
    -or revolution, and the new government
    Take more than all, add to kept bodies kept souls- or anarchy,
    the mass-disasters.

    These things are Progress;
    Do you marvel our verse is troubled or frowning, while it keeps
    its reason? Or it lets go, lets the mood flow
    In the manner of the recent young men into mere hysteria, splin-
    tered gleams, crackled laughter. But they are quite wrong.
    There is no reason for amazement: surely one always knew that
    cultures decay, and life’s end is death.

    ~ Robinson Jeffers, 1937

  • In some strange way I have simiar sentiments to the witer of the poem.
    Altough its debatable, I’m not in the pine box yet, but having 5 youngish children, 13 -21 years old, I feel more and more their time of all that ‘hair and music and love-dreamy beauty’, is quite ok, and I hope they get to have it for as long as they can.

    I don’t however, see aging or death in a dreary way, just another state of being.

    This reminds me of a series of lectures or interviews I listened to years back.
    Bill moyers interviewed Joseph Campbell, and the series was after his book, ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’.

    In one segment they mention a tribe of south Americans, and the mock war game they ‘played’ with a neighbouring tribe, which was once evey year to determine which group would get the prime hunting and gathering ranges that coming year.

    So it was and wasn’t a game.
    The game was to carry a heavy stone to a hoop and drop it in the hoop. The first group to accomplish the task won the game, and thier tribe had the rights to the range the following year.
    The rules were just get it there, and other team mates could block, etc. I think there was a prohabition on blooding, but that maybe a faulty memory on my part.

    When the actual worrior who accomplished the act came back to home base he was honoured in a feast and allowed to marry that day a (?…somehow)’chosen’ bride. The feasting and celebration went on for a time and then the yonng couple retired in a large ceremonial house. After all were asleep the house was set alight, and the two die inside.

    The challenging thing for us is how the young worrior is reported to be feeling when accomplishing the task, and returning to the home camp.
    he is described as being exstatic, and filled with joy.

    He knows he will die that evening, after marriage and some intimacy, but he is utterly fulfilled.

    The knowledge that he has given his family and kin the best chance of surviving for another year is enough to fulfill his life.

    Another other noteworthy thing is that the competition within the warriors on the same team is extrememly intense. It is not , teamwork-and-Joey-will-get-it-in-because-he-is-tallest.

    They all want the honour!

    Although nothing in the interview was said about the woman who marries the warrior, I can only assume there would have been an equally auspicious selection process there, just maybe male anthropologists didn’t ask, or weren’t privy. Was ‘she’ just property there, or bargained? I can’t say. mabe someone else knows.

    I find it fascinating to know this stuff is how some groups resolved issues of competition and resources, or life for the coming year.

    I am guessing the actual worrior who dies, his family would get great honour and privelage for his accomplishment and sacrifice.

    A quiet and beautiful poem/essay above, revealing a mutual understanding and appreciation of youth, life and death, and wanting it all to have a place in the way of things.

    Nice choice Guy.

  • @ infanttyrone

    re Tom and hitting guitars in previous thread, I’m not against percussion, just seems silly to slap an acoustic guitar, like banging a piano keyboard with fists, not what the thing was designed for, takes a lot more time and skill to play with fingers, I know Michael Hedges started it, suppose he was a sort of genius, now there’s loads of emulators, I don’t find it a very interesting style, soon gets boring, and I was winding Tom up, expecting me to listen to an hour of it 😉

  • ulv: i understand.

    http://enenews.com/japan-researchers-93-billion-becquerels-day-be-leaking-pacific-fukushima-plant-cesium-levels-havent-dropped-last-year

    Japan Experts: Up to 93 billion becquerels a day may still be leaking into Pacific from Fukushima plant

    The density of radioactive cesium in the seawater inside the harbor at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant has stopped going down for some time. According to the estimate by a group of researchers at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, it is possible that radioactive cesium in the amount 73 times as large as the discharge limit before the accident may have leaked into the water in one year since June 2011, when the leak of contaminated water is supposed to have stopped. The group says the detailed research is necessary.

    The research group at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology did its own calculation in order to figure out why the density of cesium-137 in the seawater inside the Fukushima I Nuke Plant harbor has remained at about 100 becquerels/liter since spring of 2012, higher than the government standard.

    According to the calculation, 44% of seawater inside the harbor is replaced by the current and the tides in one day. In order for the cesium-137 density to be what is published, 8 to 93 billion becquerels [of cesium-137] per day must be flowing into the harbor.

    As the result, in one year from June 2011 when the leak of contaminated water is supposed to have stopped, 16.1 terabecquerels [of radioactive cesium], or 73 times as much as the discharge limit set by the safety regulation before the accident, may have leaked into the harbor.

    TEPCO says, “We don’t think radioactive materials is leaking from the plant compound to the ocean, based on the various surveys done. However, we don’t know the reason yet as to why the density of radioactive cesium in the seawater inside the harbor is not decreasing, so we want to continue the investigation.”

    To put these numbers in perspective in post-Fukushima Japan, Yomiuri Shinbun and other media reported in November 2011 that 52.5 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium were being discharged into the ocean every day by Abukuma River that flows through Fukushima Prefecture.

    The estimated amount of radioactive cesium discharged/leaked from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean from March 26 to September 30, 2011 (TEPCO’s estimate):

    •Cesium 134: Approx. 3.5×10^15 Bq (or 3,500 terabequerels, or 3,500,000 billion becquerels)

    •Cesium 137: Approx. 3.6×10^15 Bq (or 3,600 terabequerels, or 3,600,000 billion becquerels)

    A greenling caught inside the harbor of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on February 17, 2013 was found with 510,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, highest ever tested in fish since the start of the nuclear accident.

    Aside from probable bioconcentration / bioaccumulation, strontium-90 in the water inside the plant harbor hasn’t dropped down much either.

  • The same day everyone was ecstatic about a new pope being elected, I read that 28 more elephants were slaugtered in Camaroon for their tusks.

  • CS&N: Helplessly Hoping (about says it all for me)

    Maybe Hopelessly Helping would be a better title in these time.

  • The Kahn’s empire was finished in less than 100 years, and started to majorly fall apart after 54 years.

    Julius Caesar, had a different battlefield motto which went something like “We grow strong through pity and generosity.” He didn’t behead or humiliate the conquered. He co-opted and integrated them. Caesar’s empire predated The Khans by millenia and didn’t end until the fall of Byzantium, a century after the Mongols kicked it.

    I’m just sayin’ scorched earth, total terror and domination are not always the wisest, most effective or best long term strategies for conducting human affairs.

  • Wester

    You wrote:

    “I’m just sayin’ scorched earth, total terror and domination are not always the wisest, most effective or best long term strategies for conducting human affairs”

    Some useful advice there.

    However, I have to add, one of the saddest days of my adult life was when, after learning about ‘Collapse’ and ‘Peak Oil’ ideas from the work of Matt Savinar, and having done a fair bit of checking by way of research, I realised that Capitalism has been built on slavery and violence and oppression for a very very long time. It was so difficult to come to terms with, the fact that this way of life enjoyed and even rebelled against, but still accepted, only comes about by exploitation, still now, of hundreds of thousands, and millions of thers.

    Your sentiments would seeem to be obvious to any rational, compassionate person, and it is a testament to the efficiency and tenacity of the barbaric machine – our Industrial Civilisation – that most people are not aware of the violence, and world class filth and oppression of so many, just for our comfort. Feeling guilty wont help(not for long anyway)as it brings inaction and childlike complacency.

    Your quote:

    “Julius Caesar, had a different battlefield motto which went something like “We grow strong through pity and generosity.” He didn’t behead or humiliate the conquered. He co-opted and integrated them. Caesar’s empire predated The Khans by millenia and didn’t end until the fall of Byzantium, a century after the Mongols kicked it.”

    When you combine this sentiment with the thorough lesson the French Revolution taught other wealthy classes and elites watching on, what we do have here now is a type of compromise that your example of Julius Caesar shows can work.

    In short, let ‘them’ eat a bit of cake. Some comforts and gadgets, will assuage the craving for complete freedom. That will stave off another French Revolution event.

    But TPTB are pretty smart so we just do not know who they are now. Once itt was the Monarchy, now who are they?

    I don’t personally care, but the rebellion that has come many many many times in the short end ties of sivilisations is having real trouble finding the sctual target, and it will end up. perhaps TPTB watching it all unfold in glorious colour on their wide screens somewhere.

    Maybe the Polar regions will be a good place to beging looking?

  • Sorry for typos…

  • Yes, OzMan, the polar regions are a good place to look. Earth is about to release one very big methane fart…in our faces, including TPTB.

  • @ Wester, Ozman

    I think you have fallen for Julius Caesar’s self-serving bullshit propaganda, which was no different to Bush, Rumsfeld, et al, you seem to have a peculiar picture of the Romans. Pity and generosity ? They were just like the Nazis ! Goebbels came up with slogans like that. Ask the Carthaginians about Roman pity and generosity. You think Julius Caesar was into pity and generosity ?

    But Caesar issued orders that nothing should be done for these civilians and the women and children were left to starve in the no man’s land between the city walls and the circumvallation.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Alesia

  • ulvfugl

    Of course you are right in the detail there.

    I was talking loosly abot te Roman tendency to leave the power structures as tey stood, and superimpose one on top of it, so as to destroy as little as possible and reep as much continual bboty, or ‘tribute’ as the lands would provide. The existings elites in their acquired territoty kept a place better than the slaves and peasant/workers/farmers etc. My comparison with today was on that basis, and I agree, how could one characterise the Roman occupations as lenient. i was merely pointing to the ‘cold efficiency’ as compared to the slash and burn Wester mentioned.

    Those were of course broard charaterisations, and that is probably not always true in some times or locations, as you point to.

    Point taken.

  • I can smell the methan ‘fart’ already.

  • “Julius Caesar, had a different battlefield motto which went something like “We grow strong through pity and generosity.”

    He sounds like a Christian.

    http://caesarsmessiah.com/blog/2011/06/flavian-signature-overview/

  • “While man is growing, life is in decrease;
    And cradles rock us nearer to the tomb.
    Our birth is nothing but our death begun.”
    Edward Young

  • On 3/4/2013, Fukushima Diary reported “Fallout level in Fukushima city is in the increasing trend since last December”. [URL]

    On 3/13/2013, the fallout level in Fukushima city became the highest since 4/15/2012. (162.5 MBq/Km2)

    It keeps increasing for some reason.
    http://fukushima-diary.com/2013/03/fallout-level-keeps-on-increasing-the-highest-level-since-last-april/

    When the grid goes out 439 Fukushimas, over 100 here in the US – BUT no remediation, no thousands of workers and piles of equipment to keep it contained. The nukes and the spent fuel pools just go. Add that to methane farts, forest fires that no one can put out and I think we don’t have to worry what the way down will look like much any more. It will be nasty, but short.

  • @ Ozman

    Jeez, yes, you’ve bought the propaganda PR alright, it’s always the same, the empire spreading civilisation to enlighten the benighted savages for their own good, right down to Vietnam, and ‘we had to destroy the village to save the village’….

    When the TRUTH is, we are into stealing as much of those people’s stuff as we can get away with, and if anybody tries to stop us we kill them, but we can’t say that out loud…

    This relates to what dmd said about ‘all farmers wanting more land, not true, they only want the adjoining land’. Imperial expansion is about adjoining land, which is different to piratical raiding, pillaging, robbery, where you don’t expect you’ll be coming back.

    It all started with the sorceror John Dee, who told Elizabeth the First that she should make an Empire. That was the germ.

    Thing is, the British elite of 17th and 18th C. read about the Roman and Greek history at school, that’s how they learned their imperial administration, how to sell the message, how to trick the natives, how to outwit the local rulers, etc, it’s all there in the ancient classical texts.

    This piddling little island with a tiny population of sea faring pirates, conquered most of the planet and built the biggest empire there’s ever been. They defeated the Dutch, the Spanish, the Portuguese, the French, the Russians, and then they pissed it all away trying to defeat the Germans twice, and then the Americans took it and screwed up the whole thing…

  • @ Sadie

    Wow, that’s an oddity I never heard of before, can I try and trump it with something even more bizarre ? the story of how the Vatican invented Islam ! 😉

    http://www.redicecreations.com/specialreports/2006/04apr/catholicislam.html

  • Hahaha, this story tickles the wicked troll that cohabits with me under my crumbling, rotting bridge, nothing like stirring up the embers… pay attention all you prospective slaves, as the past becomes the future and the future becomes the past…

    ….when one audience member suggested slaves should have been thankful to their masters for “feeding… and housing” them, earning scattered applause…

    http://gawker.com/5990863/conservative-panel-on-the-race-card-turns-to-chaos-after-audience-member-defends-slavery

  • ulvfugl

    Your history is obviously more scholarly than any of mine.

    I do recall putting in the phrase, “… reep as much continual booty, or ‘tribute’ as the lands would provide.” That might indicate a wide birth for all that stripping and taking, would it not?

    However, I don’t considder this a competition, and do my best to keep it that way.

  • @ Ozman

    I would like as many people as possible to be educated, to understand, so that they do not get fooled, so that they do not fall for the lies and the tricks and the propaganda and psyops, but alas, my desire is mostly futile.
    Monsanto sells deadly poison and people happily buy it, the banks enslave people with debt, and people happily opt for slavery, people are told that they must lose their freedom, or else they’ll be victims of imaginary terrorists, and they give up their freedom.

    ” ‘Can you describe this?’
    “And I said: ‘I can.’
    “Then something like a smile passed fleetingly over what had once been her face.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Akhmatova

  • U It all started with the sorceror John Dee, who told Elizabeth the First that she should make an Empire. That was the germ

    Of course, TPTB would never think of having an Empire. Empires never existed without the interventions of specific people planting ideas in their heads. Come on U, the forming of empires is systemic from the beginning of civilization.

  • @ Kathy C.

    Yes, like the natural dynamic, from villages, to towns, to cities, or if there’s a good site for a port on a river, or a trade route, all that stuff develops, of course.
    But, politically, in terms of the power structure of Britain at the time, when the Spanish and Portuguese were exploring the world, and so forth, Elizabeth 1 had power and control over what happened, over policy. She could say yes or no. Just like Bush could say yes or no. John Dee told her a story that she was the rightful heiress to the ( mythical ) King Arthur, who had once been ruler of the entire world, and she was very taken by the idea, and Dee told her that it gave her the kind of legal and God-given right to re-assert dominion over what was in any case rightfully hers.
    Yes, you could argue, hypothetically, she might have got the idea on her own or from somewhere else, or whatever… but that’s what actually happened that set the ball rolling.

    I had never heard of this guy Roger Williams :

    I had always admired Roger Williams for his belief in religious toleration, which was realized in his Rhode Island colony, a place where all the dissenters and the dissenters from the dissenters could find a home to worship the way they wanted. And I’d admired him for standing as a reminder to certain contemporary zealots that America was a refuge for people who believed there should be a separation between church and state—and that both church and state were better off for it, sentiments that entered into the First Amendment.

    But in Bailyn’s account, Williams becomes a great American character as well. Not only was he close to the original inhabitants, he could speak some of their languages and had the humility to recognize he could learn from them.

    I told Bailyn what an admirable character his Williams came across as.

    “Well, the people at the time didn’t think he was. He was a perfectionist. And no form of Christianity was good enough for him. He started out in the Church of England. He was a very strange man. He was a zealot.

    ” “But didn’t his zealotry lead to tolerance?”

    “It did, but this was not the big issue for him. He was trying to find out the proper form of Christianity. He started with the Church of England and that was full of trouble. Then he became a Baptist and that was no good. He kept taking off all the clothes of organized Christianity till nothing was left. And he ended up in a church of his own with his wife and a few Indians. He’s a zealot who went all the way!”

    “But he wasn’t a zealot who persecuted others.”

    “No, he was not. That’s why they hated him…he was complicated. He was well educated, he was a gentleman—but he was a nut case! They didn’t know what to do with him. Among his views, first of all, was that you do not seize Indian land. You don’t own it, you don’t take it. And you treat people civilly and there is no purity in any stage of Christianity, hence toleration.”

    “What’s nutty about that?” I asked

    “You don’t live in the 17th century.”

    “So you’re not saying he’s a nut case from the perspective of the 21st century?”

    “No, certainly not. He became properly famous for all this—later. At the time people hated him. Because he was breaking up the unity of Christianity. One of his contemporaries had a wonderful phrase for him. Namely, he is ‘unlamb-like.’ No lamb, this guy. He sure wasn’t. But he got close to the Indians, knew them well, lived with them.”

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-Shocking-Savagery-of-Americas-Early-History-192122641.html?c=y&story=fullstory

  • @ Kathy C.

    Although there may be the general tendency historically, towards empire, or complexity, other patterns that we can discern, they are not inevitable are they, they can be over-ridden.

    At the same time that the British and other Europeans were thinking about their hegemonic ambitions, the Chinese made a policy decision NOT to have an empire.

    They could easily have done what the Spanish or Dutch or Portuguese did. I suppose you could argue they already had a vast land empire, so they didn’t need to extend themselves to overseas colonies, perhaps. But look at their superior technology.

    http://www.slightlywarped.com/crapfactory/curiosities/2013/january/images/20-History.jpg

  • B9K9 Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 8:56 am
    @Ripley “Why was there no evidence of this energy growth or of any significant population growth until the beginning of agriculture 6000yrs ago rather than earlier? Big brained humans have been around for at least 100,000yrs. Homo Erectus was around for nearly 1 million yrs, yet no sign of energy growth/entropy, why not?”

    “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” Al Bartlett
    Ripley, I am positive you well understand exponential growth. The thing is, it applies to ALL physical manifestations, whether energy or matter.
    The reason we don’t have any evidence of emerging entropy/energy usage until only a very short time ago is because we hairless apes were still on the flat (starting) side of the curve.
    This curve is how I govern my life’s expectations.
    Look, these discussions are all fine & dandy, but ultimately a waste of time.
    —————–
    B9K9, if you put your curve on an axis that begins 200,000 to 100,000 years ago when big brained Homo Sapiens began, it starts to look like a wall about a mile long rather than any normal exponential curve. This means that some interesting things must have been going on during all that flat time to prevent the curve from starting. That is something any truly curious person would want to look into. As are the questions of what caused agriculture and industrialism to start, since they are the factors that caused the curve. This is especially interesting when we consider the fact that Homo Erectus and countless other human and nonhuman species failed to govern their life expectations according to your plan, and did not go exponential and destroy their environments. Human history also starts to look interestingly exceptional with so many other species failing to show any respect for the universal imperatives of the energy/entropy usage curve. Sorry, but one of truly enjoyable ways I like to spend my time is questioning people who believe they have all the answers.

  • @ Ripley

    Sorry, but one of truly enjoyable ways I like to spend my time is questioning people who believe they have all the answers.

    🙂

    There was a whole continent, Sondaland, that was never effected by the last glaciation, inhabited by folk at least as intelligent as us for tens of thousands of years, and then the sea rose and most of it is now submerged. One wacky idea is that some of those people had advanced civilisation of some sort and some of them left and founded Sumeria. The origin story of Sumer tells of such people, Oannes, etc. It’s possible there’s still a lot we do not know.

  • It’s possible there’s still a lot we do not know.

    Wow, really? Ya think? I thought you guys had it all figured out.

  • @ wildwoman

    At least some of us try. You argue for ignorance as a virtue, insisting that the only priority is to bring down civilisation but you never explain how that can be done.

  • Ripley “That is something any truly curious person would want to look into. As are the questions of what caused agriculture and industrialism to start, since they are the factors that caused the curve…B9K9, if you put your curve on an axis that begins 200,000 to 100,000 years ago when big brained Homo Sapiens began, it starts to look like a wall about a mile long rather than any normal exponential curve. ”

    Craig Dilworth in Too Smart for our Own Good, proposes the theory of the vicious circle as a process that got started when we got language and tools. Each round goes one step higher.

    While the rise of industrialism looks quite steep, so does the rise of computing power and what uses computers can be put too. It would seem that certain critial inventions have the power to ramp “Progress” up exponentially and beyond. Of course remember that when using the exponential doubling on something like filling a stadium with water by doubling each hour. The second last hour is 1/2 full, the last hour is full. The last part of an exponential rise does in fact can look like a straight wall depending on how you set your scale. I think we are in the last hour of human exponential growth.

    At any rate the change in climate with the onset of the Holocene and its stable weather certainly is a factor in why agriculture took off when it did. The invention of the steam engine combined with the discovery of large oil deposits is the main factor in the industrial revolution, and the invention of the first computer to where we are today in the “information revolution” took off even faster.

    A short explanation of Dilworth’s theory here http://candobetter.net/node/2755 for those who don’t want to plow through his tediously documented book.

    I dabble in alien theories etc from time to time for entertainment, but I think you don’t need those to explain where we are at today

  • The term empire derives from the Latin imperium (power, authority). Politically, an empire is a geographically extensive group of states and peoples (ethnic groups) united and ruled either by a monarch (emperor, empress) or an oligarchy.
    U – looks to me like they never stopped having an empire once they started.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_China#Imperial_era
    3 Imperial China
    3.1 Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC)
    3.2 Han Dynasty (202 BC–AD 220)
    3.2.1 Western Han
    3.2.2 Xin Dynasty
    3.2.3 Eastern Han
    3.3 Wei and Jin Period (AD 265–420)
    3.4 Wu Hu Period (AD 304–439)
    3.5 Southern and Northern Dynasties (AD 420–589)
    3.6 Sui Dynasty (AD 589–618)
    3.7 Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907)
    3.8 Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (AD 907–960)
    3.9 Song, Liao, Jin, and Western Xia Dynasties (AD 960–1234)
    3.10 Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271–1368)
    3.11 Ming Dynasty (AD 1368–1644)
    3.12 Qing Dynasty (AD 1644–1911)

  • @ Kathy C.

    I have never dabbled in the alien theories, but the Oannes story is very curious and suggestive of somethingalthough I don’t know what… a bit like the Aztecs were expecting white people in ships, when the Spaniards arrived, weren’t they, because they had a story that foretold such an event ?

    “At first they led a somewhat wretched existence and lived without rule after the manner of beasts. But, in the first year appeared an animal endowed with human reason, named Oannes, who rose from out of the Erythian Sea, at the point where it borders Babylonia. He had the whole body of a fish, but above his fish’s head he had another head which was that of a man, and human feet emerged from beneath his fish’s tail. He had a human voice, and an image of him is preserved unto this day. He passed the day in the midst of men without taking food; he taught them the use of letters, sciences and arts of all kinds. He taught them to construct cities, to found temples, to compile laws, and explained to them the principles of geometrical knowledge. He made them distinguish the seeds of the earth, and showed them how to collect the fruits; in short he instructed them in everything which could tend to soften human manners and humanize their laws. From that time nothing material has been added by way of improvement to his instructions. And when the sun set, this being Oannes, retired again into the sea, for he was amphibious. After this there appeared other animals like Oannes.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adapa

    If that was all somebody’s imaginary invention, then it’s a good tale, but then you look at Gobekli Tepe, which is REAL, and even weirder than anybody could ever imagine !
    And that’s, as of what we know now, the key axial point, between the ending of what Ripley calls ‘the wall a mile long’, and where the curve starts slowly upwards.

  • @ Kathy C.

    I did say, they already had a land based empire. What i meant, as distinct from the kind of empire stretched around the globe, like the British established, using ships.

    The Chinese had the ships, set out on a voyage of exploration, just like the Dutch, the Spanish, the French, the British, the Portuguese, and others, but they made a political decision, that they did not want to establish overseas colonies. It’s obvious that they could have done, if they had made a different decision, they were very advanced in their technology.

    Remember, in those days, it was something similar to travelling to the Moon or Mars is now. Most of the planet was blank, unmapped, unknown, nobody really knew what was out there.

    I don’t know the reasoning why China didn’t become a naval maritime power. It probably was because they already had a huge land empire, whereas the only way for the British to expand was by colonies. They took over India. At the start, when they arrived, Britain was very poor, India very rich. After two centuries, that situation was reversed. The mechanism used was the first corporation, the East India Company.

    The same trick that America has used to exploit most of the planet, the power of the corporation. Trouble is, they grew up and ate their parent. They became trans-national. Instead of serving the interests of the country, the country is now controlled by the corporations, which have no interest in caring what happens to any country, anymore than the East India Co cared what happened to India.

  • “Ah, denial. You see it all the time in the cancer wards, where patients vow to give it their all in the good fight. Of course, by the time their puny efforts come to naught, they’ve already been removed from public view as nature takes its inevitable course.”

    B9K9 (you smug-sounding #$%^&*!),
    Do you have a better idea for those of us trying to deal with cancer? If you’ve ever been intimately involoved in the process, you would know that patients are rarely offered good/pleasant/easy choices. I would’t wish the horror of cancer on anyone…hopefully you can find an better, less “puny” way to cultivate compassion and true wisdom.

  • Couple of questions about the thesis that humans ‘inevitably destroy their environment and kill off the easy meat’…

    Killing off all the mammoths would be the palaeolithic version of burning all the oil, according to LMEP theory

    But, in Africa, humans have coexisted with large megafauna longer than anywhere else, and they are still there

    And, if the ending of the Ice Age was the trigger for civilisation, but, Sundaland always had its Holocene, so to speak, it never stopped being Holocene… why didn’t they wreck their ecology / develop civilisation – or perhaps they did, and we just don’t know because it’s all far beneath the waves…

  • Well, see, here we are again trying to figure out where we went wrong when, as we discovered in the last post – it’s hardwired into our make-up via physics. It seems that “civilization” was a long series of mistakes (we took to be progress at the time) with little to no thought for consequences (except by the few thinkers who were shouted down or ignored) all along our “evolution” into tribes, small groups, clans, larger families, trading posts, city-states, colonies, countries and finally empires (which many ethnic groups took a crack at but nobody could sustain).

    i always learn a lot in the conversations though.

  • …large megafauna still there…??

    The whales are still there, too. So are buffalo. The question is, what percentage of the original percentage remains? And the answer is, only a very, very tiny fraction.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction#Ongoing_Holocene_extinction

    Modern extinctions are more directly attributable to human influences. Extinction rates are minimized in the popular imagination by the survival of captive populations of animals that are extinct in the wild (Père David’s Deer, etc.), by marginal survivals of highly publicized megafauna that are ecologically extinct (the Giant Panda, Sumatran Rhinoceros, North American Black-Footed Ferret, etc.) and by extinctions among arthropods. Some examples of modern extinctions of “charismatic” mammal fauna include:

    Aurochs, Europe
    Tarpan, Europe
    Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger, Thylacinus cynocephalus, Tasmania
    Quagga, a zebra subspecies, Southeast Africa
    Steller’s Sea Cow
    Bluebuck
    Pyrenean Ibex
    Falkland Islands Wolf
    Atlas Bear
    Caribbean Monk Seal
    The closely related Bali Tiger and Javan Tiger
    Eastern Cougar[9]
    Western Black Rhinoceros

  • Kathy C-
    Craig Dilworth in Too Smart for our Own Good, proposes the theory of the vicious circle as a process that got started when we got language and tools. Each round goes one step higher.

    Yes, that book sounds interesting and certainly seems more relevant than entropy curves. I wonder what he said about H Erectus who had tools, fire and probably language but never went to the next step–agriculture. The agricultural stage and how and why it happened is incredibly interesting. Climate stability is thought to be a major cause, but after all that time, the question is–why bother with agriculture at all? Another interesting thing to look at is the way the industrial way of life essentially started in a single place and then conquered other ways of life as a force from outside. Could this have been the way agriculture also spread, through conquest? As you can tell, I like to play around with all this, and should probably start taking some classes, even though I know even the so called experts don’t have all the answers.

    Dilworth—Humans’ development of technology distinguishes us from other life forms. It is what has made us the only species whose population has constantly grown from its inception. Not only has our population constantly grown, the rate at which it has grown has constantly increased: human population growth has always been accelerating.

    The technological toolkit and population of pre-agricultural humans was fairly stable from what I have read, and it was only after agriculture and especially industrialism that we had the enormous acceleration in population, so I would like to see his evidence. The first 190,000 years of human population growth could hardly be described with the term “accelerating”, though that term certainly applies to the last 100-200 years. The term “constant growth” seems to fit well with the agriculture of period 6000-200 years ago. It’s that pesky period before agriculture, along with the persistence of hunter-gathers cultures with stable populations even to the present day, that continues to defy easy explanation.

    ulvfugl Says:
    March 16th, 2013 at 9:22 am
    Couple of questions about the thesis that humans ‘inevitably destroy their environment and kill off the easy meat’…
    Killing off all the mammoths would be the palaeolithic version of burning all the oil, according to LMEP theory
    But, in Africa, humans have coexisted with large mega-fauna longer than anywhere else, and they are still there…
    And, if the ending of the Ice Age was the trigger for civilization, but, Sundaland always had its Holocene, so to speak, it never stopped being Holocene… why didn’t they wreck their ecology / develop civilization – or perhaps they did, and we just don’t know because it’s all far beneath the waves…

    ———————
    More excellent questions, that don’t fit the theories of total and inevitable destruction.

  • @ Gail

    You don’t get it. I mean AFRICA. Where humans evolved. Last 2 million years or so, depending how you want to define human, but they had stone weapons even longer than that, right up to historical times. Humans and megafauna. And the megafauna are STILL THERE.

    I’m not talking about anywhere else.

  • That link includes Africa.

    Ripley, exponential growth looks like no growth for a very, very long time before the lines diverge and it takes off straight up.

  • @ Ripley

    …should probably start taking some classes, even though I know even the so called experts don’t have all the answers.

    Far more likely to get good up to date info online, I’d say. Ask on the anthropology forums and blogs. Most books and most academics who got their education years ago are out of date, unless they are really top notch, and where are you going to get a class like that unless you are lucky and rich and in the right location ?

    There’s a whole lot of theories, but they can’t be tested, that’s the trouble.

  • Can anybody please explain if/how, as a practical matter, the new worldview from revised thermodynamics differs from hard determism? TIA.

  • @ Gail

    Exactly ! That link includes Africa where there have not BEEN any extinctions over the last 2 million years because of the humans, have there, so your thesis must be WRONG, or else you have to explain that anomaly somehow.

  • @ Gail

    …exponential growth looks like no growth for a very, very long time before the lines diverge and it takes off straight up.

    Or it may not be exponential growth, it may be that there is no growth, and then some factor impinges upon the situation which causes it to change and then growth occurs.

    You may be mistaking the flat period for what you think is the early part of your exponential growth, when in fact it is something different.

  • @Tom, @wildwoman

    Sorry for the delay in responding to your posts regarding Ponty, Di Meola and Clarke in the last thread. I’ve been outside tending to my wood pile and enjoying the thirty degree temperatures. I found some Snow Drops – Galanthus nivalis poking up through the ground in the woody plant section of my garden. The fresh air has been great man. Y’all ought to get out there and enjoy it.

  • http://shar.es/e6Rx7

    The Arctic region of our planet acts as a climatic air conditioner, and the air conditioner is conking out.

    We have a problem, Houston.

    Over the last several weeks, massive cracks have appeared in the ice that connects the Beaufort Gyre region to Alaska. As a result of last summer’s record sea ice-loss, the winter ‘refreezing’ process went dismally and the surface area and thickness never recovered. The situation is frightening with the beginning of the 2013 melt season only a few weeks away.

    Turns out those cracks are appearing 51 days earlier than they did last year. That’s a staggering revelation and a game-changer (not a good one) as we approach the 2013 melt season.

  • Winter wheat conditions at the end of February 2013 are not as favorable as they were last year for the Plains states that provide data about current crop conditions.
    Nebraska’s winter wheat crop, for example, has 50 percent rated poor to very poor and only 12 percent rated good to excellent. A year ago, only 6 percent of the State’s crop rated poor to very poor and 65 percent was rated good to excellent.
    Winter wheat conditions are also worse this year than last in Oklahoma, South Dakota, Kansas, and Texas at the end of February 2013. In Oklahoma, 54 percent of the winter wheat is rated poor to very poor while only 9 percent is rated good to excellent

    rest at http://www.cattlenetwork.com/cattle-news/USDA-Winter-wheat-conditions-mixed-197469261.html?ref=261

  • ogarndener – 30 degrees hmmm – 78 here in Alabama. Getting ready to plant yellow squash.

  • Here is the difference in Africa re mega fauna “Biologists note that comparable extinctions have not occurred in Africa and South or Southeast Asia, where the fauna evolved with hominids. ” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaternary_extinction_event

    The megafauna of Europe, Australia, the New World evolved before weapon bearing humans arrived. The megafauna of Africa co-evolved with humans as they began to hunt with weapons. Thus they were not blindsided by these puny little animals with big pointy sticks.

    Whenever a species with an edge moves into a new environ it doesn’t have population controls at least at first. Called invasive species they often take over for a while. Think of Kudzu here in the south. Sometimes they bring themselves back in control after doing damage to their environs – the first Australians did just that.

  • ogardner: on the days (in the roller coaster of late) that it’s in the 50’s (yes in January and February) i’ve begun the spring clean-up of raking out the beds, finding all my gardening stuff (we moved my son out to CA and stored stuff in our garage til Craig’s list disposed of them for a little $ toward the move – so all my g-stuff got moved all over) and i’ve already planted kale. Lucky you! Thanks for gettin’ back but i never expect anything when i post – it’s just my opinion and i don’t expect anyone to give a shit.

    Brunswickian: funny you should use that term (We have a problem, Houston.) i was doing the dishes while my son was glued to the tv (March madness) and he said he had to leave. i was tired of the droning on of the college sports cast and flipped the channel to put something else on while i was cleanin’ up and i hit Apollo 13. i sat down and watched the whole thing. Now, granted it’s Hollywood and glamorized, but the problems and solutions were well depicted.

    Now, of course, we have the Artic ice loss and results like this blooming all over:

    http://theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/new-zealand-suffers-through-worst-drought-in-30-years/

    New Zealand suffers through worst drought in 30 years; more locust swarms reported in Middle East

    March 16, 2013 – NEW ZEALAND – Authorities in Wellington, New Zealand, have issued an outright ban on outdoor water use as a worsening drought has siphoned the available supply to less than half of normal level and prompted the government to declare the worst water shortage in 30 years. New Zealand’s capital, home to more than 200,000 people, has just 19 days’ supply of water left in its reservoirs, the APNZ news service reported. “The water supply situation is now approaching extreme,” the Greater Wellington Regional Council said in a statement on its website, adding that it is also asking residents to cut indoor water use “to help us avoid a crisis.” Wellington hasn’t seen a significant rain since Feb. 4, and while a storm is forecast for this weekend, it will have no real impact on the water supply, authorities said. All of the North Island, which holds most of the country’s population, has been declared a drought zone.

    (and a little further down)

    Locust swarms continue to plague Middle East:
    The Ministry of Agriculture is tracking another locust swarm arriving at Israel from the Sinai Peninsula. In addition, a small swarm was spotted at Nahal Lavan in the Negev. The Agriculture Ministry said in a statement, “We will be seeing locust on a daily basis in the foreseeable future but gladly we have the situation under control due to readiness and hard work.” [Sounds confident, doesn’t he?]

  • Denise, yes that is why I did Hospice Volunteering for many years – to give those people who aren’t in denial a way to make it through their last days with as much ease as possible. Sometimes the family makes it hard because they stay in denial even when the one who is dying is not.

  • of course extinction could come all at once outta left field:

    http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2013/03/warnind-possible-killshot-incoming-very-large-cme-blast-headed-this-way-now-nasa-warnings-in-effect-friday-15th-march-2013-2594044.html

    Warning Possible Kill Shot Incoming?! Very Large CME Blast Headed This Way Now! NASA Warnings In Effect! Friday 15th March 2013

    Warning Possible Killshot Incoming! That’s a headline that might be troublesome to the world one day. Fortunately that is not the case today. There is a large CME blast headed our way. And it will affect satellites and space telescopes, possibly even radio and TV broadcast but it should not be a problem for those of us here on Earth. The flare is only an M class flare, not the more powerful X class flare that could cause power problems on Earth beyond interfering with radio and TV broadcasts as some M class flares can. So while we are not likely to experience power outages, it is a reminder of the power of the Sun and to be prepared.

    (Get it? Be prepared?! HA! How do you prepare for extinction?)

  • U did say, they already had a land based empire. What i meant, as distinct from the kind of empire stretched around the globe, like the British established, using ships.

    Well of course the fact that England went round the globe might have more to do with the fact that they were and island than the words of a sorcerer. The US spent quite a while moving inland before they started going to spread their empire over the ocean, because they had a rather big inland.

  • @Ripley Why was there no evidence of this energy growth or of any significant population growth until the beginning of agriculture 6000yrs ago rather than earlier?

    Ripley et al., I think what you might be overlooking as an resource input is the mining of the soil. While—with very careful husbandry—soil resources can be replenished and maintained (China’s “Farmers of Forty Centuries”) that has not generally been how they’ve been handled (see the recent book, “Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations”).

    H/G culture remained in equilibrium as long as H/Gs took from among the plants and animals available on the earth’s surface. Once agricultural techniques were developed, they really weren’t that different from those of fossil-fuel exploitation: you’re robbing past deposits of resources. Worse, you are robbing precisely those which are most needed for future survival of your ag. civ.

    A huge amount of the organic matter is robbed from topsoil every single time a farmer plows a field, not just through erosion but through oxidation. Like the burning of fossil fuels, this releases carbon into the air, if I’m not mistaken.

    So really we’ve been carbon-mining (inefficiently) both through agriculture AND fossil-fuel use. That’s why the human population exponential growth curve starts w/agriculture, not before, and not at the initial point of fossil-fuel exploitation on a large scale.

    That’s how I see it, anyway…

  • I don’t know where everyone gets the idea that global population growth is on an exponential trend. It’s been linear for the last 40 years (~77 million/year). The growth rate has dropped by half – from 2.1% to 1.1% – in that time.

    It’s as though our population curve is trying to top out a sigmoid curve, as population curves tend to do. Our intelligence has caused other environmental problems in the meantime though, and Mother Nature has arrived a bit too late with the sigmoidoscope.

  • @Lidia

    I date the beginning of the exponential where you do as well. Humanity has been unsustainable essentially since the end of the last glacial period – i.e. since about the moment global climate conditions permitted.

  • @Kathy said: “When the grid goes out 439 Fukushimas, over 100 here in the US – BUT no remediation, no thousands of workers and piles of equipment to keep it contained. The nukes and the spent fuel pools just go. Add that to methane farts, forest fires that no one can put out and I think we don’t have to worry what the way down will look like much any more. It will be nasty, but short.”

    What, if anything, will survive? Bacteria? And what’s the probability of this happening in the next 30 years?

  • @ Gail, Kathy C.

    Here is the difference in Africa re mega fauna “Biologists note that comparable extinctions have not occurred in Africa and South or Southeast Asia, where the fauna evolved with hominids. ” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaternary_extinction_event

    The megafauna of Europe, Australia, the New World evolved before weapon bearing humans arrived. The megafauna of Africa co-evolved with humans as they began to hunt with weapons. Thus they were not blindsided by these puny little animals with big pointy sticks.

    Whenever a species with an edge moves into a new environ it doesn’t have population controls at least at first. Called invasive species they often take over for a while. Think of Kudzu here in the south. Sometimes they bring themselves back in control after doing damage to their environs – the first Australians did just that.

    Gail’s hypothesis is that humans invariably destroy their environment and kill all the animals. Hominids have been in Africa longer than anywhere else on Earth. They did not destroy their environment or eradicate the megafauna.

    This argument, that co-evolution is the explanation, is a possible explanation, as is the invasive species argument. Not very convincing. The megafauna on the other continents were so dumb, they didn’t notice and learn, over thousands of years and thousands of generations, that the animals with pointy sticks hunted and killed them ?

    Still leaves the question as to why the megafauna in Africa survived. What does ‘co-evolved’ mean ? Everything on the planet has co-evolved, Africa is a vast continent with immense diversity. Why didn’t the people hunt the big lumps of meat they found until there were none left ? That’s what Gail’s hypothesis says should have happened, with a corresponding increase in human population, as I understand it.

  • I said…exponential growth looks like no growth for a very, very long time before the lines diverge and it takes off straight up.

    U said: Or it may not be exponential growth, it may be that there is no growth, and then some factor impinges upon the situation which causes it to change and then growth occurs.

    You may be mistaking the flat period for what you think is the early part of your exponential growth, when in fact it is something different.

    I’m not mistaking anything for anything. I simply stated a fact which explains why it seems that growth wasn’t happening for a long time and then took off seemingly suddenly. Please look at the chart on this page

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exponential_growth

    and you will plainly see that the exponential line (green) looks flat for a longer time than the linear (red) line or the cubic growth (blue) line.

  • @ Gail

    I know what exponential growth looks like.

    For hundreds of thousands of years, as Ripley said, human population is a flat line.

    Then it starts to climb. That climb may not have anything to do with an inherent ‘exponential growth’.

  • In Origin Of Species, The Struggle For Existence, Darwin introduces his views on exponential growth, subsequently demonstrated to apply to all organisms on Earth (pages 117-119):

    “There is no exception to the rule that every organic being increases at so high a rate, that if not destroyed, the earth would soon be covered by the progeny of a single pair. Even slow-breeding man has doubled in twenty-five years, and at this rate, in a few thousand years, there would literally not be standing room for his progeny. Linnaeus has calculated that if an annual plant produced only two seeds — and there is no plant so unproductive as this — and their seedlings next year produced two, and so on, then in twenty years there would be a million plants. The elephant is reckoned to be the slowest breeder of all known animals, and I have taken some pains to estimate its probable minimum rate of natural increase: it will be under the mark to assume that it breeds when thirty years old, and goes on breeding till ninety years old, bringing forth three pairs of young in this interval; if this be so, at the end of the fifth century there would be alive fifteen million elephants, descended from the first pair.”

  • Okay, thanks, Guy. Albert Bartlett.

  • The climb begins, as I understand it, with the retreat of the glaciers, with the beginnings of agriculture and domestication of animals, with the first cities, the first hierarchical soceities. Doesn’t mean those are the cause, there may be only a correlation. And then keeps on climbing. Afaik, the main factor is decreased infant and maternal mortality during childbirth, and decreased infant mortality during the first few years.

  • Eustace Conway, 51, has been called “The Last American Man.” He left his suburban upbringing and literally walked out into the Appalachian Mountains, where he has lived for 30 years. In that time, he’s faced down wild animals and entitled children. But the proprietor of Turtle Island may have finally met his match in the form of red tape.
    That’s because, as the Wall Street Journal reports, the Watauga County planning department has created a 78-page report detailing the various health and sanitary violations at Conway’s nature paradise.
    “These buildings aren’t fit for public use,” Joseph A. Furman, county planning director, tells the WSJ, describing toilets made of sawdust and open-air kitchen facilities.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/last-american-man-facing-shutdown-north-carolina-government-220152568.html

  • Permafrost: The Tipping Time Bomb

  • U What does ‘co-evolved’ mean ? Everything on the planet has co-evolved,

    No everything has not co-evolved – co-evolution is about evolving together in time and space. Kangaroos did not co-evolve with Buffalo – they evolved on different continents. Dinosaurs did not co-evolve with humans, they died out before humans evolved. Here is some reading on what co-evolution means https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coevolution

    The lack of co-evolution between species can mean in the case of game animals that they never developed a fear of a certain predator, or behavior or characteristics needed to avoid that predator.

    From wiki on the Dodo “Like many animals that evolved in isolation from significant predators, the Dodo was entirely fearless of humans.”

    In other words the dodo did NOT co-evolve with humans and thus when they arrived as an invasive species, the dodos became extinct.

    Or this, people in Africa co-evolved with malaria and thus many carry the sickle cell anemia gene, which protects them. Europeans didn’t have this mutation and thus were far more susceptible to malaria.

  • cuntagious I don’t know the probability of the grid collapsing in the next 30 years. Richard Duncan in his Olduvai theory puts it at about 2030 from effects of Peak Oil (lack of fuel, infrastructure decay) http://www.hubbertpeak.com/duncan/olduvaitheorysocialcontract.pdf

    A solar flare like the 1859 Carrington Event could also do the job as could an EMP attack as part of a war. Well of course a full out nuclear war would bring down the grid and everything. An EMP detonation in the atmosphere would leave structures intact but wipe out the grid and electronics including most cars.

  • Re Population increase…

    Virtually no one has looked at the prospect that humans may have wanted an increase in numbers.

    Some here write of humans back then as barely sentient, like rabbits(sorry bunnys) who have no breeding decision making.

    Or like locusts, boom and bust.

    The clear good question is why would Hunter Gatherers want to change things so as to increase their population?

    I have a few questions and points.

    Can we now say with any certainty that H/G life was not all we may have wanted? Was it enough? Did someone wize enough come along and reason that the way it was was too dicey, too unstable, and to increasenumbers was just about the only way to be certain they would not go under? (Now we have the reverse problem, too many makes it pretty certain we will go under, or near abouts.)

    Had not the African diaspora changed the status quo regarding speciation(trended toward but never quite achieved by us), or divergent phenotypes. Was this enough to get the ball rolling to call some group ‘them’ or ‘other’.

    I find it difficult to accept on face value that during the African diaspora H/G groups did not originally have successful kinship relations and customs for getting on. If that is so, something must have changed that.

    The classic archaeological and anthropological argument for aggriculture is the groups between the Tigris and Euphraties rivers enjoyed so much abundant rains for a long period they ‘stayed put’, and all came from there.

    This has some clear merit as an explaination, but if one also considers that population levels may have also steadily climed in the region such that there were fewer vacated ranges where groups may have previously moved.

    I think the ‘explaination’ has to be a combination of critical factors, one of which has to be our intellegence in the field, or ‘situational awareness’ to borrow from ‘war talk’.

    We may have just got to a stage where it was obvious we could not go on moving around and getting too close to the range of neighboring groups.

    If this is so, the success of our breeding dynamics is responsible, for as the population tide slowly rises in a region, and the diaspora from Africa takes effect, the ‘racial’ speciation dynamics creates less kinship, and intensive living challenges us to modify our ‘being’ human.

    I wont attempt a complete answer here, but several of the major inputs IMO are sexual success in conception all year round, (not very usual in the remainder of animal life), giving rise to either intentional or unintentional higher birth rate which even if still very low, over long periods of time can increase overall numbers.

    The African diaspora may have been forced on a robust grouping which responded to searching for food. So climate change could account for the movement to other ranges, and the beginning of speciation.

    In closing I suspect the fertility cults were specifically designed to bring an increase in numbers of adults, or at the very least to produce more babies so a few more could get to adulthood.

    We may never know, but I do not really get much out of saying we are a failed lifeform – that is putting too much Anthropocentric baggage on any lifeform. We have some HUGE problems to deal with, some VERY huge ones coming down the pipeline, but we are not failed until we cannot breed to the next generation.

    See if that comes on board soon with kathy C’s 439 Fukes going Nova after an EMP from the Sun, (‘Giver of Life’ to many ancients).

  • Ripley, Could this have been the way agriculture also spread, through conquest?

    Quite some time ago I referenced in this space a book that offered an opinion as to why agriculture sprung up around the globe, seemingly at the same time and all at higher elevations. The book, titled “When the Sky Fell” by Rose and Rand Flem-Ath, uses the myths of flood and deluge common to almost all ancient religions, as well as the legends surrounding the city of Atlantis, to explore the concept of Earth crust displacement.

    The authors posit that Atlantis was a real place which existed on the continent that we now call Antarctica. Prior to the Earth’s most recent crust shift roughly 10,000-12,000 years ago, they explain that continent was in a more temperate region. When the crust shifted and thrust the continent to the south pole, the people who lived there spread outward from Antarctica to the lands closest to them: the tip of South America and the southern tip of Africa.

    The Flem-Aths propose that the Atlantans were quite advanced compared to the rest of the humans on Earth at the time and possessed the knowledge of monolithic building techniques, sailing ships which could travel long distances over the sea, and were the first ones to use agriculture. When their world was turned upside down, the survivors took their knowledge with them to the all corners of the world. They feel that explains why agriculture appears at the same time in so many different places, but all at high elevations: the Atlantans were afraid of dying in the floods that happened “when the sky fell” so they kept to the high ground.

    I have no idea how the Flem-Ath’s work holds up against scholarly evidence, but they make a compelling argument. Unfortunately, this doesn’t explain the origin of agriculture, but it does narrow the scope to one ancient, advanced culture and explains rather neatly how agriculture appeared so quickly in multiple areas separated by thousands of miles of ocean.

  • @Paul re. linear pop. growth: I suspect the 40-year mark might be the point that exploited per-capita energy stopped growing. I know that it was the point of US peak oil. Otherwise, just an instinctual WAG.

    OzMan’s propositions are too complex for my tastes. Too much agency, and I think too much anthropocentrism although he is commendably trying to steer clear of that. The talk of the failure of the human species is somewhat loaded; haven’t most species failed? It’s not clear what the collective prize is for winning the species longevity game since there can never be a winner who comes out alive, can there? Hence I think we should consider abandoning value-laden teleologies, difficult as that may be.

    Thermodynamic determinism makes a huge amount of sense, as I can watch it taking place in my own life despite attempts to get things to go otherwise. I think I mentioned having noted years ago how human organizing activity actually created a huge amount of disorder at a material level: using oil molecules from Saudi Arabia to move banana molecules to NYC, etc.

  • @ TRDH

    I have no idea how the Flem-Ath’s work holds up against scholarly evidence,

    I think they would treat it with derision, the Antarctic ice is very much older than 10 – 12,000 years, the continent has been where it is very much longer than that…

    But it could have been Sundaland ? There are stories 😉

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumari_Kandam

  • In Origin Of Species, The Struggle For Existence, Darwin introduces his views on exponential growth, subsequently demonstrated to apply to all organisms on Earth:
    “There is no exception to the rule that every organic being increases at so high a rate, that if not destroyed, the earth would soon be covered by the progeny of a single pair. Even slow-breeding man has doubled in twenty-five years, and at this rate, in a few thousand years, there would literally not be standing room for his progeny.
    ——-
    I feel like the cowardly lion confronting the Wizard of Oz, but I could not find any evidence for that 25 year doubling rate. Britain was doubling at about a 50 year rate at that time (1860), and it was certainly one of the few places that was growing that fast. World pop was about 1.2 billion at the time, if you double that every 25 years you get 80 billion today. And did Darwin even know that the human fossil record extends back 200k yrs for H. Sap and 2-5 million for other human types? H-Gatherers certainly couldn’t have been doubling like that for all those years. This cannot explain the very slow pre-agricultural rate of growth. What would world population look like today if there had been no agricultural or industrial revolutions?

  • @ Ripley

    It’s a POTENTIAL. It’s Platonic Idealism. It works in a piece of paper, with numbers.

    What happens on the ground, in reality, is something completely different. That’s because there are constraints.

    If all the progeny from one pair of house flies survived, at the end of one summer, the entire planet would be covered in house flies to a depth of 45ft.

    It isn’t. So the question is, why not ? Because lots of things like to eat house flies. Birds, for instance. That’s one constraint on the fly population. But as Guy, and Darwin, and Bartlett, pointed out, the potential, the pressure, is always there, hiding in the arithmetic.

    So, something seems to have taken away a limiting factor on human numbers, around 12000 BCE, in the Middle East, very roughly. There’s a lot of different suggestions. And then there’s been other more recent removals of limiting factors, that we can understand much more easily.

    Is that right ?

  • Yes, that sounds right. I realize Darwin is talking about a petri dish situation in the first sentence, and term “if not destroyed” means without limiting factors. Yes, I see how it applies to out situation. So far I haven’t found much help on the question of why agriculture began at all, esp from people like Jared Diamond who make a convincing case that it was really dumb idea. Life was worse for early farmers than it was for H-Gaths.

    http://www.ditext.com/diamond/mistake.html

  • @ Benjamin the Donkey

    Can anybody please explain if/how, as a practical matter, the new worldview from revised thermodynamics differs from hard determism? TIA.

    That’s a very hard question. Perhaps it redefines our circumstance as the hardest determinism so far. Not even a deity to intercede. Basically, I can’t answer your clever question 😉 I think there’s still lots of wiggle room. We don’t know enough about the Universe to say, conclusively, that the Laws of Thermodynamics are the final answers, even though they are about as solid as science gets.

    And we don’t know how the recent application of the ideas of LMEP and evolution work out, because there’s only been Swenson and a few others thinking in that area, and this recent discussion here, that I’m aware of, there’s maybe other relevant work, there’s maybe stuff we’ve missed, I’d say plenty of wiggle room left…

  • @ Ripley

    Yes, exactly right. He’s talking about fruitflies in a laboratory with no diseases, no predators, no food shortage, an idealised theoretical situation. Which, of course, we do need to know, and bear in mind.

    Agriculture began in several different places, independently, China, Middle East, S. America. Often authors don’t even define what they mean. Lots of H/Gs plant stuff, and interfere with vegetation, make clearings, make gardens, which is a step towards farming.
    There isn’t a single H/G lifestyle, there are/were very, very many.

    There’s been loads of work done on this, masses of research. It’s hard to get one’s head around it all, I’m hardly competent. Apologies to his fans, I have little confidence in J. Diamond anymore.

    I think Lidia was onto something when she mentioned mining the soil. If the H/G were mobile by necessity, following the herds, whatever, and the slash and burn farmers likewise, because they soon deplete the fertility… but there’s another option isn’t there.

    Tigris-Euphrates estuary where it began, you don’t deplete the fertility by planting and harvesting, do you, because every year the annual flood brings down a new load of rich silt, laden with minerals and organic nutrients. So you can’t exhaust the soil. You can stay put. You have to stay put, that’s where the good easy farming is, also the good marshland hunting and fishing.

    The only problem is that the annual flood washes away all your fields and boundaries and canals and so forth, so you have to have an organised labour force to do all the digging and supervisors and overseers… and then you have the first city state.

    Agriculture and urban living and civilisation and religion, and an army, all arrive hand in hand, more or less simultaneously at Sumer, it seems.

    But prior to that was Gobekli Tepe, which nobody understands.

    And in S. America it was different, the first city seems to have arrived because of trade, a trading centre where people met to exchange cotton and other goods from inland for fish and other stuff from the coast, and for a thousand years, no army.

  • Mesopotamia died from complexity https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Tainter
    And the vicious circle that creates the complexity

  • @ Lidia

    I think what you might be overlooking as an resource input is the mining of the soil. While—with very careful husbandry—soil resources can be replenished and maintained (China’s “Farmers of Forty Centuries”) that has not generally been how they’ve been handled (see the recent book, “Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations”).

    H/G culture remained in equilibrium as long as H/Gs took from among the plants and animals available on the earth’s surface. Once agricultural techniques were developed, they really weren’t that different from those of fossil-fuel exploitation: you’re robbing past deposits of resources. Worse, you are robbing precisely those which are most needed for future survival of your ag. civ.

    A huge amount of the organic matter is robbed from topsoil every single time a farmer plows a field, not just through erosion but through oxidation. Like the burning of fossil fuels, this releases carbon into the air, if I’m not mistaken.

    So really we’ve been carbon-mining (inefficiently) both through agriculture AND fossil-fuel use. That’s why the human population exponential growth curve starts w/agriculture, not before, and not at the initial point of fossil-fuel exploitation on a large scale.

    Suggest you check out terra preta and bio char, almost the opposite of that portrayal.

  • “You think this is bad, go ask those gas-fracking-idiots what they’re doing with the millions – or maybe billions by now – of gallons of radioactive toxic chemical waste that’s left over from fracking those wells. They’ve been dumping this stuff right into the very rivers and streams that supply drinking water to millions of people. In some places right up-stream from the water intake plants that process our water. And they refused to do testing on the water. But those intake plants reported their equipment was being eaten away very high salt levels. The real problem is the radiation. State and gas company reports found radiation levels hundreds to thousands of times higher than anything that would be considered legal. These psychos are going to leave behind a disaster that’s never been seen before. Those corporate politicians in Washington have gotten to the point where profits are more important than people’s lives.”

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/03/links-31713.html#comment-1148286