Monday, April 28, 2008

trying to explain

I don't like Obama. I have tried over and over to explain not only to others but to myself why this is but I am failing. I hate to say "it's a gut thing" because that's kind of bullshit but it is something.
Something that is putting me off. I guess most people can understand a little of this. It's like when you go to a party at a friends and they introduce you to someone they obviously really like and they really want you to like them too but in the very moment you make eye contact, feel their hand in yours you get a weird itchy "oh no thank you" feeling that makes you let go ,step back and smile with your teeth.
You have no evidence other than the friend you trust and respect likes this person. Positive information that should make this introduction easy, comfortable. But it's not. Worse this new person is oblivious to your reaction. One part of you thinks "thank goodness" because you don't want to embarrass your friend, your self or this new person but on reflection their non reaction makes you even more uncomfortable.
I don't know Obama and his election to the Presidency wont have that much impact on my day to day Canadian life. Right?
I don't feel that. I feel like there is a missing agenda here. An agenda that is going to be reaching farther than the US borders.
I have a little information about the guy. He is rich, always has been despite his professions of a hard scrabble raising, unless we have begun to consider solidly middle class as hard? His mother raised him but he wrote a book praising the father that abandoned him, refused to support him financially. The father he says gave him nothing is the star of his book.
This leaves me puzzled.What of the mother who did all the real work?
He made a point to attend a church filled with life, a church exploding with opinions and arguments but he only attended..he wasn't a participant.
I think his pastor is not a man that should be vilified, he is a man of passionate conviction. Obama turned his back on him quickly and brutally. A man he called a mentor.
Obama's wife kind of freaks me out too. She is stiff, formal and defensive. Defensive even when her husband is praised. She seems angered to have been put into the public eye. She diffidently sidesteps questions as if the answers are really none of our business and we should know this. She leaves everyone feeling slightly embarrassed as if we have violated some obvious social custom by acknowledging her.
Maybe we have but isn't that politics? Shouldn't we have some insight into this woman that married this man? Doesn't their union define him in many ways?

Obama speaks mostly about change and about how we all must leave behind our partisanship and come to the table united. But nowhere in his political life has he ever done this. He has never taken the risks that others have in joining with an opposite to build legislation. He has never created an atmosphere of creative co-operation.
If he has never tried this then how can he, as President, encourage, cajole this from the congress or the senate?
He wants a different kind of government but he forgets that the government that stands right now is the government he must work with. He seems short sighted, naive. He has built no relationships that will help him. He has been an outsider the entire time he has been in government and though this seems really cool it's actually stupid.
Government is a behemoth , Godzilla, cloverfield if we have to. If you aren't interested in being involved with it it will happily continue chewing up the scenery without you. To control, even tame this creature you have to know it. Know it like you know yourself. It's failures, it's successes, it's evil plots. All the gossip, backbiting bullshit that exists in every major place of employment.
If you don't the power grabbers will be free to undermine every action you try to take.
Obama seems strangely proud of being oblivious to this or he is lying his ass of. He is a lawyer, Harvard educated. No stranger to madly competitive, backstabbing bastards of business.
So he is lying. Or is he?
I hate this shit.
I want the truth about who you are, even if it's your forced laugh, your inappropriately weird giggle, the God awful half cackle of McCain. I want to see you react, really react, even if you do slip right back into that speech you have repeated for six months now.
But Obama doesn't react.
How can someone who has spent half his life in a church of huge reactions not show anything?
It's all just little things. The way his lips tighten when a hard question is asked. When his tone goes from bland to insulted but his face doesn't change. His tone is petulant but his message is unchanged. It's incongruous .
I know when Hilary is pissed, McCain never let's you forget he is pissed but Obama acts as if it's all just a little too low brow for him.
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe he is just a guy who values his privacy and guards his emotions and reactions. But I don't think so. I think he is a guy who has studied for this position obsessively . I think he has been practicing in front of a mirror for many, many years. He wrote his script meticulously, then he memorized it word for word for word. He stared into the mirror and demanded order from his expressions. He is a demonstration of complete control and it is just a touch freaky.
I would feel better about him if once, just once he lost his shit and went after some asshole reporter and verbally kicked some ass. Revealing in that moment that a real guy is living under that script.
Maybe I would really like that guy.
Bu this guy? Who talks about climate crisis in terms of change your lightbulbs? Who has no economic plan other than raise those taxes on the rich right now? Who has no experience as a diplomat? No foreign affairs experience at all.
Every choice the US makes is a global choice. The world will feel it and Obama seems oblivious.

The Iraq war is just a blip in a global scale. What is happening all over Africa makes Iraq a complete success right now. But Obama ignores Africa and we will all pay for that.
To continue George Bush's ignorance and revulsion for getting involved in genocides? Is that the guy the US needs for the future?

I am confused with some Americans adoration over a man who has accomplished almost nothing politically other than getting elected to the senate. Just because he can speak well in public? This is what excites Americans now? A guy who can speak in full sentences, sentences filled with all the key words that grab at the heartstrings. A master of emotional manipulation is the guy you want to run the biggest bureaucracy in the free world?

Is that how low your expectations have fallen?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

and so it begins

The food crisis has begun. We have started to ration rice, corn and wheat will be next. Food riots are spreading all over the world.
Can anyone tell me why?
Can anyone explain why the price of oil has gone insane? Why isn't it cost effective to transport food anymore?
Please explain the insanity of cheerfully transporting electronic goods you can't eat?

Can anyone explain to me why the stock market plummets on reports that a company didn't make the 100 billion expected, it only made 900 million...why is this a disaster?
Is this not profit pure and simple?

There isn't a company around that is actually losing money (other than the car companies). They just aren't meeting their targets. Their targets are insane growth and profit, targets that are impossible and yet the markets get sucked in over and over and then they all burst into tears and panic when the target gets missed by ten bucks.

These companies are still making billions but because everyone expected them to make trillions the world went into a panic and decided the only possible solution was to push oil prices through the roof in turn pushing the price of food through the roof and then in turn terrifying half the world into thinking a food shortage exists.

We have lots of food. We just don't want to sell it to you unless we make our target profit you understand. See we told this one guy we could make the price of rice climb and he believed us and so now we have to make the price climb because if we don't this guy might not make his million dollar profit on his gambling addiction. Which is all commodities futures is...nothing more than going to the race track and betting the ponies.

People are going to starve and die because some shithead wants to make money. Not profit, not making a living to support their family, no they want money. They want the kind of money you can never spend in your lifetime. It is more important to these people that they get to buy a $60,000 toilet than your right to a meal.

The World Food program cannot afford to pay the prices these people are demanding. They cannot afford the transportation costs to deliver the food.

People will die because Oil companies can never be satisfied with making a profit. They want power. They have so much power and money they now dictate who will live and who will die.

It's a wonderful world when oil companies and food producers have the power to demand a ransom on food.

So it's begun.
The fight has started. And it was as I predicted all about a small thing and how the world reacted to it.

We didn't have to panic, we didn't need to raise the oil prices to the prohibitive levels but we did. So a small thing has snowballed and now it is feeding itself.
The more we panic the worse the markets respond, the harder the companies reach for that elusive target profit.
There are companies right now making millions but firing staff left and right because it's not enough you see. Companies frantically moving their businesses to other countries with terrible labour standards and no environmental protections because they must, they need to make more money. Not one of them can explain why a solid profit is not enough. They mumble about stock owners and board demands but these are just thoughtless excuses. They don't know why they are burning their own companies alive to squeeze every last drop out. It's obsession,'s greed.

Their greed is now killing people and they don't care. Worse they haven't even noticed. They are glued to only one thing and that is how much is my stock worth today..that is all.

Starving people can get very,very angry. Ask the Americans about Somalia. Starving people do things that sometimes make very little sense, they may even seem counter productive.
But let's all remember why Hitler worked so well in Germany. They were a starving country with worthless money and no one cared about their plight. The people were desperate for anyone to lead them out of the darkness. Have a look around right now at who the people are picking to lead them out of the darkness and how successful they are .
Where is the tipping point for a country with no leadership to explode into civil war? How quickly can that war spread? What happens when a war breaks out and the rest of the world doesn't care? What happens when this war creates millions of starving refugees and the world still doesn't care? What happens when these starving refugees get their food rations cut in half and then into a quarter because the rest of the world is too busy making billions to care?
What kind of pandemic does war, starvation and refugee camps create? Are we ready for a new mutation of an old virus because these children have never been vaccinated?
What if the measles became a deadly disease that spreads wildly through the refugee camps?And we didn't care. What if a support worker went to town and spread it to a man on his way to the city and that man got on a plane to visit his brother in the West?
So another country's war, it's famine, it's refugees will reach out to us in ways we cannot even imagine just because we missed our chance to give a shit.
China will soon be unable to feed itself, India and Africa will soon follow. Haiti is already at the tipping point and what country shares a border with Haiti? The Dominican Republic, home to America's cane sugar. Do we truly expect the people of Haiti to quietly starve to death? Or does it make more sense that they will cross the border into the DR sparking a war? A war all about food resources.
I remember a meeting of the G8 and the promises they made to end poverty and world hunger. Instead it appears that through mismanagement and a gross lack of regulation they have managed to increase world hunger to crisis proportions.
The WTO and the IMF have incited disaster at the fervent behest of nations desperate for more and more money.

And so it is begins.
I hope you bought that piece of land and you are madly building your renewable energy sources along with your renewable food. And wash your hands a lot. You have no idea where anyone has been anymore.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

let's have a little talk

For the three of four of you that may occasionally read this blog I need you to read about this and then tell a few more people about it(not the blog, the blog contents). I need you to do this because the more I look at the world of shit we are in the more freaked out I am getting.I should probably stop reading Vanity Fair.

So there was once this company that specialized in weed killer. I can bet we all may have at one time in our lives either used it or saw the commercials for it. It's called Roundup.
The Monsanto company that makes Roundup thought it would be interesting to to create seeds that were completely unaffected by Roundup. These are genetically modified seeds resistant to herbicides .
Roundup was given a patent for that seed. It happened kind of accidentally you see. Some kind, thoughtful GE scientist worked hard and long to find a strain of bacteria that had the truly amazing ability to clean up oil spills.
This bacteria was not a new man made creation but the research company that found it still got a patent for it. ( In 1980 in a Supreme Court five to four decision.)They should never have been allowed to but it happened and Monsanto saw it and they demanded a patent of their own for their seed. They began to create more and more seed that could resist herbicides. All farmers had to do was spray Monsanto's Roundup on their fields and the seeds would be free to grow weed free.
Monsanto then told every farmer who wanted to buy this patented seed that they could not save the seeds from the crops they produced. They are forbidden to sell that seed to anyone else. The seed was "returned"( or more likely cleaned and resold) and every year the farmers are forced to buy new seed. Monsanto gets to sell the seed and the weedkiller Roundup together every year and make billions.
Small farmers are not the target market of Monsanto. Monsanto sells to massive corporate farms but if some stray Monsanto seed happens to be caught in the wind or in the poop of a bird and it drifts on to the property of a small farmer Monsanto will come after them as if they were serial killers hiding bodies in the barn. Because Monsanto has another business. The litigation business. If you aren't using Monsanto seed Monsanto will take you to court and say you are using their seed and you are doing it illegally. They have a team of lawyers whose only job is to bankrupt any farmer they choose.
Monsanto also controls 90% of the soybean market. Every have a look at all the products that use some form of soybean in them? Monsanto has GM seeds for soybean,corn, canola and cotton right now. In the next two years Monsanto will have seeds for sugar beets and alfalfa.
Alfalfa, the staple hay of livestock. Sugar beets and alfalfa are also two crops that can be used to produce high quality ethanol. Monsanto now has 40% control of the US market for lettuce, tomatoes and fruit seeds.
As of 2007 the US has 142 million acres of genetically modified crops in production. World wide 282 million acres.
By 2010 it will have increased ten fold. It is already becoming difficult to get the quantities of seed needed for large farms that haven't been modified. This is expected to only get worse.
It wont be long before we will have handed total global control of our food supply to no more than five international companies who specialize only in genetic modification. More interesting, we will have handed global control of the ethanol market to these same markets.
What? did you actually think the Oil companies are too stupid to figure out they needed to diversify their market?

Think about world wide corporate domination. If you control the food you control the land on which the food grows. You control the water that feeds the crops. You control the crops that produce the fuel.
There is no way to defend yourself if you are a small to mid sized farmer anywhere. If you threaten through legal channels you will lose because you have never had any obligation to use the seeds. If you threaten through violence the seeds will be withdrawn from your economy . If you violate the agreement to not reuse the seeds of your own legal crop Monsanto will use your own laws against you, bankrupt you and then withdraw the seeds. The goal is to eliminate all competition for the corporate farms . The farms that these multinational GM seed companies have huge stakes in.

These farms and companies will control the commodities markets.
They will set the prices for the seed and the crop the seed yields. They will decide who gets the seed and who doesn't.

At one time Monsanto was responsible for more than 50 Environmental protection Agency Superfund sites. It hides it's shameful, destructive history by shuffling it's thousands of lawsuits over to a separate company Solutia.
Monsanto is the company that brought the world PCB's and dioxin. Monsanto's business practice was to dump all it's toxins into hidden pits and then lie about them. Go visit Anniston, Alabama. Hold on, better not since they have still been unable to clean up the mess Monsanto left behind. Monsanto didn't just do this kind of evil shit in it's own backyard either. It went global in poisoning people and then lying about it.

Monsanto says today that it wasn't them that did them bad things, it was that old Monsanto. "We are the new Monsanto."" You know us! We are the ones that inject cows with human growth hormone without bothering to do any long term health studies first!!"
Canada and the EU have banned this practice and made Monsanto very, very angry but it's okay..America loves it's human growth hormone milk.

MMMMMM..Autism anyone? Because, if you notice, autism is a distinctly American pandemic. The rest of the world just isn't seeing the rates the US is(yet). I just cannot imagine a good outcome for a mother to be who drinks human growth hormone milk, eats genetically modified food soaked in RoundUp and still carries around in their fat cells their childhood exposure to Monsanto dioxin and PCB's. What will the US look like in fifty years if 1 in 5 children has autism by the way?
But the good news is we have granted almost complete global domination over our food and new fuels to a company that poisons, pollutes and lies about everything they do. What trouble could that cause really?

Now on to the good news; according to Robert F Kennedy Jr in Vanity Fair
" America has the second largest geothermal resources in the world, North Dakota,Kansas, and Texas alone produce enough harnessable wind to meet all the nations electricity demand, as for solar according to Scientific American photovoltaic and solar thermal installations across just 19% of the most barren desert land in the Southwest could supply nearly all the nations electricity needs without any rooftop installation, even assuming every American owned a plug in hybrid."

So he advises giving up the trillions of dollars of coal and oil subsidies and handing it over to an army of workers to build a new renewable resource US that includes an entirely new, reliable energy grid that can tolerate DC current.
The beauty of this is it needs only a small investment from government and a large investment from the states legal departments to unravel the ridiculous laws that govern energy .
Think of all the global corporations fighting to spend their money on the biggest rebuilding America has ever seen. Think of the employment that will open up. Why stick with oil and a drowning economy when you can go green, become completely energy independent and have a booming economy ? It seems to have worked for the telecommunications business pretty well and this wouldn't be any different. Hell, Iceland has done it already, don't you think we should be able to keep up with them? Or is Iceland just way too damned advanced for the rest of us?
It would take twenty years and the results would be amazing.Even better you cannot patent the wind, the sun or the heat coming from the center of the Earth.
And wouldn't the Middle East be pissed.
If you are really a patriot and not just some asshole with a bumper sticker you would demand that your country start getting to work right the fuck now.
Real patriots are not George Bush, his oil buddies and Rush Limbaugh. Real patriots want their country to be number one in every damn thing and to not be a welfare country begging China for it's allowance.

So for anyone of who actually goes to political rallies and asks candidates questions ask them about Monsanto, ask them about a solar farm in that desert and more importantly Is it really that hard to beat Iceland? .
If Iceland can go from 80% dependency on foreign coal and oil in 1970 to the fourth most affluent country in the world and completely energy independent in 2007 what the hell is wrong with the rest of the world?

Are we truly that lame?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

and so it begins

So did anyone think I was maybe exaggerating a little about the problems that are creeping up on us? Maybe embellishing for dramatic effect?
How about this: Food riots!
Now let's have another look around the world. Oh! here's something interesting Drought.
On to that even more scary issue of crop failure and genetically modified seed.

Maybe I can find something about how one country is refusing to hand over samples of the avian flu to the US how about this?
Or this
This seems a little suspect and kinda paranoid?

So all that is left is a little history about what happens when the power goes out

You may have noticed that I haven't included climate control issues but it wouldn't hurt to have a look for those of you that believe in it. Those of you that still think the earth is flat and Intelligent design is an actual science can skip this part.

I neglected to mention war and water

Wow, I think I may have depressed myself pretty badly but you may have missed the news that taking anti-depressants increases your risks for diabetes.
Ain't that just great.......

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ok ok now for the fun

So here you sit in your stone built, steel cladded home with hot and cold running water, heat on demand, a perfectly functional toilet and shower, stores of food, active gardens and a bunch of farm animals you are more than a little clueless about that live right next door. You have renewable and non renewable energy sources, though getting through all the available coal and wood will be a herculean task for a very small group so let's not label it non renewable too quickly.You have a wind mill, a water wheel (for that mill you are going to build sometime) maybe some geothermal.In the basement there is one room filled only with small and giant batteries and a second room filled with friction flashlights and lamps. You have more than enough energy to provide security.

You have constructed ingenious security measures all over the damn place to keep the scary, weird and desperate out of the garden and off the front lawn. Yes, you did get a few guns because sometimes a huge jolt of electricity is just not enough of a deterrent for some.

You have effectively isolated and quarantined yourself in a place remote enough that getting there would cripple the resources of most people.

Outside the world is still struggling to contain what are really minor outbreaks of an unknown, non treatable virus. Because there was no effective plan in place hospitals were overrun and could no longer function. Unfortunately during this spell of minor outbreak the power grid experienced a comprehensive failure throughout North and South America . There was no espionage, no terrorist attacks but there was a media/intelligence blackout caused by the loss of power so everyone jumped to the wrong conclusions. Including those governments that have been waiting for any excuse to start some Shock and Awe on a few enemies. Hell, who could blame them ? First a plague and then the darkness? Had to be the bad guys right? Of course those so called bad guys are a little panicked themselves and gear up to retaliate against their favorite enemies too.
While everyone gets busy grabbing a weapon( hopefully something huge like a fully automatic machine gun and a rocket launcher or two) all the traffic stops. Sadly almost all our food arrives to the city by train, plane or big trucks. Those in charge of transport services are a little busy panicking in their basement preparing for the invasion of the Islamic/Christian/Jewish fundamentalists or the South American socialists or worse the dreaded communists to go and do their jobs. And they really don't want to be out on the streets anyway in case they get coughed on by a fever frazzled bird flu carrier or get t-boned by some idiot because the streetlights aren't working and no one knows the four way stop rule.
Because you could see this shit coming you didn't have to get into a fight to the death over a shopping cart filled with canned beans , spaghetti ,12 cases of diet Pepsi and a bag of extra cheesy Doritos at your local Piggly Wiggly. You did have the pleasure of watching that fight on CNN while their generators still held out. You also noted that no one had the good sense to go for the perishables before they became bacterial breeding grounds. The groups that came after had the dubious distinction of having no sense and they didn't need any strange new virus to die. Bad meat worked faster.
Ever wonder how long the food will last in a city of millions if it doesn't get resupplied? I guess if you have a few big guns and a few big trucks you could empty out most grocery stores in a day or two and find out. Then all you need are electric or gas generators and storage. Storage is something we all excel at. We have buildings for nothing but storage and a lot of them are climate controlled. All they need is access to some energy and Home Depot and friends all stock generators large and small.
Control the food and you control the city. Get a few rival gangs vying for food power and we usher in the time of Urban warfare.
How long will the cops stay on the side of the angels? Yeah, right. They will be the first gang formed and their firepower will be awesome. The military and the politicians will be a rival gang. Their firepower will be a thing to behold...they have jets, jets with bombs. The there will be the common roving groups of family bonded bandits scooping up the leftovers.
The US and other fundamentalist countries are going to have one more group than everyone else. The religious zealot who is filled with ecstasy and fury. The ecstasy because The Bible was right dammit but the fury will be worse because they are still on earth and have obviously been judged unworthy to join the rapture. These are going to be some very,very pissed off Christians who will promptly burn every copy of the New Testament so they can get right back to "my god is an angry, jealous, vindicative motherfucker Old Testament style God who is more than happy to nuke your ass if you don't bring me food,gas and lodging right the fuck now." And because half these nutjobs are US senators, Governors or congresspeople they wont have any trouble finding an Army Fort filled to the brim with jets and nuclear warheads to get their point across.
This convergence of minor, multiple events will scare the shit out of the US because their first response to disaster is always AlQueda did it until proven otherwise. And because all the lights are out and communication is near impossible it's going to be hard to prove quickly that it was nothing but a regular,dumb, fuck up of neglected maintenance. Now stir in some "refugees" running away from drought stricken areas. Then spice this mess up with the fact that there are no staple grains, corn or rice in mass, global production and the available surplus is a) being converted right before your eyes into ethanol or b) way too expensive for the likes of you to buy. The only problem is only about 10% of the population has a vehicle that's been adapted to accept 100% ethanol . Then there is the issue of no one in their right mind going out for a drive so there really is no market for that ethanol. Even when farmers go back to farming grain it will still take another three to six months for the first crops to come in( if the climate is agreeable). Then it will take a little time to process it and convert it into a loaf of a bread. By that time there wont be any stores open to sell it but I am pretty sure our two main gangs would be happy to exchange protection for food. That may involve some minor farming wars for control of the fields,the water, the seed and the machines.

You can mix and match each of these small disasters, make the energy ethanol crisis come first if you like. See the prices of grain, corn and rice explode. No one can afford to buy it. Whole countries begin to starve while the economies of the sellers first prosper causing global fury and then when no one can afford to buy watch these markets collapse and bring down whole governments.
You can actually witness this in real time in Canada with the hog crisis. We have a massive surplus of pigs because we discovered a vaccine that stopped a virus that was created by factory farming millions of living creatures in grotesque conditions. The result is too many hogs and the grain prices are too high to feed them all and still make a good profit. The governments solution is to kill as many as possible and pay the farmer $225 for each dead breeding pig. The catch is to get that money you have to kill all your pigs and promise to stop raising pigs for three years. So the giant hog factories will survive as intended and all the smaller farms will have no choice but to take the money because they cannot afford to buy the grain to feed the hogs at the low, low prices hogs are traded at. These farms disappear creating a new wave of unemployment , resentment and poverty. Not only have they lost their jobs they can't pay their farm mortgage and end up homeless.Who wants to buy a hog farm you aren't allowed to have hogs on? Anyone?
Then the hogs get scarce and the prices go up but because no one can afford them except an elite few the market will collapse because markets during disasters don't behave as expected anymore.. The hogs will be worthless except as food and no one wants food, they want money to buy food.
Let's add more and more cases of bird flu striking all over the east and the west. Show that it is jumping to humans faster and faster and let the media incite the terror. Watch for billions of domesticated poultry and wild water fowl being slaughtered leaving a trail of bankruptcies and fear and unlucky chicken feet. The chickens will have the same fate as the Canadian day worthless, the next a luxury commodity no one can afford. In enough time there wont be any grain to feed them anyway and they will either be slaughtered or abandoned. I predict abandonment. It costs money to slaughter and no one will want to waste any resources on something that no longer has any value, except as food. Abandoned flocks will mingle with wild fowl and who knows? Maybe a new mutation of avian flu.
Anybody else seeing the irony of slaughtering food when millions are starving because of the margin of profit? Do you think we may regret this some day when the pork industry consists of your two pigs?
You could have started with drought and the loss of millions of acres of grazing land that leads to the starvation of beef cattle, those that survive sold at terrible losses. more bankruptcies. Beef joins the luxury items list. More unemployed, homeless farmers to stir the pot.
We can mix in more severe global drought that creates global migration of people and animals. The people unwelcome, persecuted and left at border lands to starve or adapt to their new conditions.

It could be fascinating to see human refugees, wild chickens,wild hogs and wild cattle fighting it out with evolution. Adapt or die. And after the African experience with transplanting our brand of cattle to semi arid grasslands we already know the cattle are going to die. I have high hopes for the chickens though and the people.
The loss of the electrical grid that goes on too long in a world already too overstretched with food and water shortages , a world that has been stretched to the breaking point by George Bush and his fear everyone campaign of terror. Big Pharma unable to keep up with the Ativan and Xanax demands. Mass untreated, unrelieved anxiety that devolves into suicides and family violence and the circle of violence widening to include anyone who appears threatening in any way.
A global community that has only one thing in common: everyone is afraid of everyone else . Everyone waiting for the other shoe to drop, already knowing who to blame and retaliate against if it does.

I haven't even mentioned global climate change once...add some natural disasters in there if you are so inclined.

So it doesn't matter the sequence of events. What matters is you are snug and have enough extra energy to run the tv and DVD player. Every night will be movie night if you planned well. You should have at least one good book a day to read. If you thought ahead to buy a sewing machine now is the time to see whose ass you could have kicked on Project Runway. You do to have time to create couture now. It doesn't have to be all "Little House on the Prairie". It's possible to make the end of civilization fun and rewarding.
And when about fifty years pass and the survivors have all stopped bombing, shooting and glaring at each other you could have a chance to build a better world this time. And that could be a lot of fun.

Monday, April 14, 2008


You have to build your home if you want it to really meet all your needs. I know, this project is starting to sound ridiculously expensive right? But it doesn't need to be because you aren't building a McMansion are you? You are building a farmers cottage. A two story stone and concrete home with an attached stone barn. The stone will come from your own land. The concrete will come from Home Depot. Your house will have two rooms on the first floor and three on the top. The bottom floor is a large country kitchen equipped with a wood or solid fuel Stratford boiler stove and a free standing double sided Inglenook fireplace which will be the only thing that separates the kitchen from the family room. Ceilings should be kept low to avoid heat loss. The Inglenook fireplace should be used for heat and baking. The family bathroom should be off the kitchen to save on plumbing runs.
In floor heating should be used throughout the bottom and top floors . The upstairs should be three small bedrooms with vaulted ceilings to trap heat. Each room should be equipped with a ceiling fan to recirculate heat.
No one wants to freeze to death in their own bed so a specialist will need to be involved to make sure you are making the absolute best use of energy for heat.And that your roof is made of steel and your insulation is second to none.
Having a conservatory that is well insulated can be an excellent heat sink, a poorly insulated one will make your life a misery.
The well insulated conservatory should be east facing and be off the kitchen. It should provide all the natural light for the first floor. Having windows everywhere is a bad idea if you want to conserve energy.Your lighting should provide heat as well.
Skylights are a better choice for lighting the upstairs. Solar tubes will bring in natural light to each bedroom and limit heat loss .
Your home will need a basement. A strong leak proof basement. Most of your cost for your home needs to be invested into the foundation and the creation of a double basement.
You are going to experience some intermittent security issues when people notice you have smoke coming from your chimneys. Don't forget that some people are going to notice your building and some will be aware of it's advantages to survival. This is where some ethics bending is going to occur. It's up to you how far your ethics will bend before they snap. Taking up arms and shooting strangers may be your thing but some of us don't bend too far that way so an escape hatch will be necessary.
Your escape hatch should be as well provided for as your regular home and it should be unbreachable.
I would advocate a security system of extreme deterrence though. Your property should be fenced and electrified. Your home should be built in the manner of a fortress. Avoiding the use of wood eliminates the risk of being burnt out of your home. Using stone and rock deters easy entrance. Adding solid steel rolling doors to cover the conservatory and the front entrance continue to deter. (Think "I am Legend")
Violence should be a final act of survival. If you plan the building of your home well no intruder will have the time nor resources to burrow their way in.
Do try to remember that it is not a crime to add fellow survivors to your home. Community will need to be rebuilt and it would be nice to have already created a relationship with your potential new neighbours right?

Now on to plumbing. A septic tank with weeping tile is an easy choice but there are composting toilets on the market that come in kit form and are relatively easy to manage.You could add a gray water system that diverts sink/shower/laundry water into run off to trees and gardens if you only use organic cleaning supplies. Using both you can avoid the cost of having the septic system installed and avoid any septic disasters that will leave you vulnerable unless you had the foresight to offer to roommate with a septic expert.

Your house will have three sinks:kitchen, bathroom and laundry. The Stratford boiler stove will provide hot and cold running water to the sinks, the shower and the laundry. There will be hot and cold water access to the barn . There will be a separate smaller boiler stove in the secondary basement on standby with it's own access to the secondary well. This will be a safety buffer in case of violent people or violent weather. Be prepared even if you believe your defenses are impenetrable. A composting toilet will be a true necessity here
You will be using wood from your own woodlot but there is no excuse for not bringing in a good supply of solid fuel..that would be coal. I think we can be forgiven for any acid rain emissions here as we are trying to survive remember?

So you have heat and running water within your home.
Now on to a renewable energy source. If you are incredibly lucky and you researched well before you bought you may have access to some form of geothermal energy. The holy grail so to speak. You will definitely need an expert to help create this system. You can also use wind and solar. Both are getting less expensive and you can use them in combination. You also have a running creek and a pond, what could be more perfect for a water wheel? A water wheel that could provide energy and a water wheel that could be used to transform your grain and corn to flour.
You will only need energy for doing laundry and some lighting and of course for entertainment as the boiler stove and the Inglenook fireplace should be more than enough to cover your cooking and heating needs.
Lighting can also be provided by oil, battery or friction lamps. I would avoid oil lamps as no one wants to have to render fat to keep them going and your oil supply is going to nonexistent as the masses will have hoarded every drop within the first three weeks of any true breakdown in civilization . Your political leaders all have security plans and they will include getting and guarding the gas and oil. You aren't going to be seeing the President using a windup friction flashlight any time soon. But because you are smart you will have hoarded every friction lamp and flashlight you could find right? Your battery supply will be a thing to behold.

I guess the idea is to be be completely self reliant for everything you need. That includes water, food and shelter. It also means security. I hope it wont be all Stephen Kings The Stand(minus the hand of God hopefully) but it sounds pretty likely to me that some of it is possible. If you want to survive you have to be able to defend your little plot until the insanity burns itself out along with the pandemic, the energy crisis, the limited clean water supply, the lack of food etc, etc, etc.....

It may take years for things to get better because they are going to get very bad. Because no politician will have a quick enough answer for each problem the problems will begin to cascade. If every other country is struggling with the same problems no one can come to the others aid. It can only be controlled for a short time militarily and if you have a) a small or nonexistent army b) your army is somewhere else or c) you have some army but they are burnt out and disinterested then gaining control over a populace that has devolved into a panicked mob will take some time and some resources. Resources which I may have mentioned are scare.
Somalia is a perfect example of what is waiting for us if each system breaks down enough to create a cascade of failures in all the systems. No water, no food, no leadership, no grid, no oil, rampant disease, starvation...genocide. To the survivors go the spoils. It took that country twenty years to become a wasteland and a new home for AlQueda.

The final issue is health care. It's all well and good to have hot and cold running water with a good sanitary system. You can avoid e-coli/cholera related disease. You have heat and a good cooking stove so you avoid frostbite and food poisoning. You have a well thought out food supply and an active organic garden so you avoid diseases of malnutrition.
But what happens if you get appendicitis? Or you pick up some parasites from the livestock?
This is not something you can really pre-plan for because most of your requests will make you look insane or worse criminal and you really, really don't want to be in jail when civilization decides to vacate the premises.
You better have a well stocked first aid kit that includes an entire pharmacy and the drug book that goes with it. I think you can probably skip the anti-depressants though. You'll be a little too busy to get depressed. I wouldn't skip the anti-anxiety aisle though. A healthy stock of Xanax could be as valuable in the first three weeks as clean water.
You need to take some big risks here and get to the pharmacy before everyone else does. I just can't see getting your doc to write thirty thousand prescriptions in a week can you?
This is really the only time violence may be a necessary tool. 99% of the people trying to rob the pharmacy are looking for the Vicodin and the Oxycontin. We want the antibiotics, the pain killers and the wormers. We want everything they have just in case. In fact we may need to raid more than one pharmacy if it all goes to hell because we will have no idea how many people we may need to care for. People who want narcotics very badly are going to be prepared to fight for them so we are going to have to be better prepared and want them more.
We also need to raid the hospital for everything in their operating room. No one wants to try to remove an appendix on the kitchen table using a friction flashlight, a kitchen knife, some eyebrow tweezers and a corduroy iron on patch while the patient is awake. We will need the real deal.
Luckily the hospital will either be deserted or complete bedlam and sneaking out what we need while dressed in full isolation gear isn't going to be all that difficult. The hard part is avoiding being recruited to provide care to plague carriers. It's best to go at night or right before the dawn.
So hopefully you now have that well stocked first aid kit. All you need now is the directions for the human body. That you should have prepared for. You should have spent some hours on the internet getting precise instructions with full colour pictures on the most common emergency surgeries. You should already know how to cast anything that can break.
We should already have stocked up on all our livestock medical supplies though if it looks safe enough it couldn't hurt to raid the local vet for IV supplies and animal drugs. The premise ( and hope) is this disaster is going to be slow moving. There is going to be enough time to get educated about a lot of things and to have supplies to meet the challenges for almost all of them.

What I am saying is there is hope. You don't have to become a raving lunatic paralyzed with fear. You have everything you need to survive anything at your finger tips.
You don't need oil to live, you don't need the grid to survive.
All you need is a clear head, a lot of courage and some simple planning.

You can continue to listen to the bullshit your politicians spout about dependence but you don't need to be dependent on the things civilization has built. You can depend on the things the earth has built. Like wind, water and sun. Like seams of coal and forests. Like plentiful seed and animal dung. On stone ,rock and clay.

Someone once wrote that the two most important words ever written are "Don't Panic". Give it a try because if everyone held their shit together there wouldn't be a disaster at all.We would all sit patiently and resist the urge to raid The Great Canadian Superstore, the liquor store and the gun shop. Imagine how much shit could be avoided if we eliminated drunken assholes terrorizing people with AK47's over that last bag of sugar and the red licorice nibs.
It might give our leaders a chance to get a plan in place that leaves us a little hungry , quarantined and isolated ,occasionally in the dark with a permanent boil water advisory but with a fighting chance to survive a disaster that will ravage and destroy every other country that lost it's shit in the dark.

If we fail the Don't Panic rule I sure as hell hope you have that nice homestead I have described.
I hope we will be neighbours so we can share a laugh at the utter stupidity of the human race.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

so let's begin

My first job is to identify exactly what is truly necessary for survival. I can play around with the entertainment factor once I have made sure I will be around long enough to need to be entertained.
The basics are clean water, food , shelter and waste removal.
We need to start with choosing our shelter because if we choose wisely the rest of our basic needs should follow. Shelter for our purposes means the land where you will live not the house you will live in ok?
There are two ways of going about this. The first is to invest in a large amount of remote farmland that has a clear, spring water pond, a creek and a large mature forest far away from a nuclear spent rod storage area . The second is to wait until disaster strikes and then takeover the same remote farmland after the owners have gone.
The first one will be expensive, it may be out of the realm of my financial resources.
I may have to scour the real estate ads and make a selection of my top ten and then enter a world in chaos and try to travel to these choices in the mad hope that one of theses places will be truly empty.
That plan is insane.
So we must go back to buying some land. The farther north you go, avoiding all the public hot spots for tourists you can start to see that the land prices begin to drop dramatically. It's really no ones idea of a fun vacation to fight off clouds of black flies.
So it is possible to find land that has the water and the woods and is far enough away that radiation fallout should be survivable.
Remember that in the event that the electrical grid fails and even a mild, sporadic pandemic is raging the people responsible for keeping the cold water flowing over the spent rods may not be able to make it into work. Add a little civil unrest and it's impossible. Some of the storage sites will fail.
So for all of you that spent time fussing over the possibility that the reactors themselves would go boom they have built in, fail safe shut down systems. Unfortunately they seem to have forgotten to provide that service to the site for the waste they create other than the electric grid itself and a back up generator dependent on oil and a willing and living person to service that generator for years. That same waste we haven't got the political will to do anything about because we are a world that is always howling "not in my backyard". A world happy to enjoy the benefits but too selfish to accept the responsibilities.
So the plan has to include avoiding all the shit irresponsible, arrogant triple generations have left laying around. This includes caustic, deadly chemicals forced into an unnatural liquid state left with no backups to keep them from reverting back to their natural,deadly gaseous state.
So the plan must also avoid being anywhere near any factories, small or large.
I know that when employees are struggling with grid problems, rumours of sporadic but fatal viral outbreaks, food shortages and civil unrest they lose the motivation to leave their families alone and undefended. They wont be able to keep a lid on the chemicals..literally and they will be scared of them. They will understand the risks better than any of us.
Remember disaster wont occur over one failure. It will take small, concurrent events and how badly we react to them to get the disaster ball rolling fast enough to overcome our natural ingenuity.
We are living on the tipping point right now, how we respond to it will set our course. You already know my feelings about how we will respond...very, very badly.
The ME,ME,ME generation has never been given the tools to overcome adversity very well. An example would be the thousands of people sitting helpless in the dome in New Orleans despite knowing that a two or three hour walk would have taken them out of the danger area. Thousands refusing to leave a city despite being told they were at risk of death instead waiting for a bus from the "government". We have lost our instincts for survival. We would rather just sit and wait for someone else to come to our rescue.
It's why we are watching the world split at it's seams and then turning the channel to see how Britney is feeling today.
Ever consider that Britney's response to her world was actually normal? Evolution in action. If she survives it means she has successfully adapted to being prey.
Britney should be the example we follow. We all must adapt and devise new strategies to manage a hostile uncaring environment that has no interest in our survival.

So let's say we have purchased our plot of land.Because it has to be incredibly remote to avoid fallout from all airborne chemical or radioactive fallout the land will be rough and very rustic.
It will have to be cleared to make room for a home, a barn, a large market garden and paddocks for livestock.
But first things first. The wells must be dug and the water tested. Everything will rely on the amount of water available and it's quality. The pond must be healthy. Healthy enough to support a diverse selection of wild and domestic creatures. The spring that supplies the pond must be deep and come from the river or creek that runs through the property.It cannot be from the same water table your wells are pumping from.
You have to be able to share all that water amongst yourselves and every other animal and plant that lives alongside you . Their survival will ensure yours.
The next on your list is the health of your woodlots. You must have a good mixture of mature, immature and newborns. You should have proper space to add fruit trees . It will be near impossible to find a place that offers fruit trees that far north. You will have to research what will be able to survive the conditions. You must only add plants that can match their environments. You wont have the time, water or the chemicals to baby fragile trees.
Adding fruit trees wont be an immediate concern but it will be an eventual necessity, start the research and planning as soon as possible.
You will need to have enough mature trees to provide years of firewood. Your woodlot is for your survival in a climate that will be brutal in winter. Make sure you educate yourself before you sign the mortgage.
So now you have a good water supply in a good area. You have a sustainable forest that can survive and thrive despite your needs. You have a water supply for wildlife and livestock.
You do not need livestock to survive but you will have to rely on powdered milk and you will have to find your protein through beans. Having some chickens and a rooster or two , a small herd of four goats, three cows and a steer will be manageable. They will provide milk, eggs and meat protein and their skins can be tanned and used for clothing.
They will require a proper well insulated barn attached to the house by a small hallway. You do not want to freeze to death in a blizzard just to check to see if the chickens are okay.
You must create a garden to scale. The scale is how many are in your group and how much food they need to survive. Concentrate on staples that store well. Carrots, potatoes, all the root vegetables. Corn needs to be grown for the animals and to make flatbreads. Corn is a huge carb source. Great for energy. It can also be stored well and is self seeding.
Wild raspberry should be everywhere. If not grow as many canes as you can around the property. They will attract bees and butterflies that you need for germination. You can also grow blueberries, rhubarb and gooseberries. All fruit that can be jammed and canned.
It is essential that all of this is preplanned and in place. Enough stores of canned goods and feed/hay/straw for the livestock should be bought to last at least five years. It may take you that long to get your farm running efficiently enough to cover your needs.
Investing in silos of corn and wheat will be a huge expense. It will be up to the individual to decide if the local situation is sliding so violently and speedily into catastrophe that the expense is worth it.

Concentrate in your first years on corn, potatoes and carrots. They contain essential vitamins that will prevent diseases of malnutrition.
Your livestock must be hardy and be built for the conditions as they will be self reliant for food until winter. There needs to abundant grassy areas. Enough to keep them fat and enough for you to cut to keep them from starving through the winter. They can be supplemented with corn but crops as we know can be unreliable. If things have settled enough to leave the farm and enter a small town with a feed mill you may be able to gather any grain that has been abandoned. It could be a foolhardy risk. Better to plan ahead when you can to avoid having to contact the outside world. That is why you bought that five years worth of feed before the shit hit the fan right?

To recap once more: you have water, you have wood,you have built a well insulated barn that connects to your house, you have bought five years worth of supplies for yourself and the livestock, you have chickens,goats and cattle and you have fenced them in so they cannot escape but you have given them enough room to find summer food, you have a large enough garden to cover your needs and you have fruit to be canned for the winter.
In the next chapter I have to choose the house I want to live in and then I must choose how I want to produce any energy I need for plumbing.
Solar , wind or maybe the holy grail of geothermal!!! Or my favorite........ friction.
I need to design a waste removal system too.

Then I have to consider how to provide medical care and along with that security.

I will at all costs avoid dressing like an unfortunate polygamists wife so that will bring us finally to how to entertain yourself at the end of the world as you knew it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

planning for the future

Now we all know that the risks of pandemic, drought, grid failure and crop failure exist but the risk of one happening and throwing the human race back into the dark ages instantly is pretty damn small. It's highly unlikely the world would experience one of them on a grand enough scale to really make much of a dent in the population. Sure we would maybe lose a billion people, sounds horrific right? But there is still 5 billion of us left. We can agree that some countries, states, provinces will become ghost towns but on the grand scale the loss of a billion people will be hardly noticeable unless you happened to be one of the ghost towns hopefully former inhabitants.
It's all relative you see.
In fact we could easily absorb the loss of half our population. The world would be considerably more manageable at that population level. Cruel but true.

The problem is we wont experience just one of these sentinel events. It's obvious that right now we are experiencing all of them. Granted it's all on a very small scale at present. Every country is having problems with drought and water allocation. Many underdeveloped countries are already at war with each other over water resources though they call it different names like religious or political conflict.
Many countries in Asia and Eastern Europe are experiencing the effects of a viral flu that appears to have crossed over to domestic bird stock and people from wild, migratory birds. We have only recently recovered from SARS and we still have no real plan in place other than isolation, quarantine, cross your fingers and hope for the best.
Electrical grid failure is a daily fact of life in underdeveloped countries, some have no existing grid at all outside their major cities. Those of us in the developed West and Europe have experienced grid failure only rarely and it is treated each time as a catastrophic emergency. The countries without constant electricity are thrilled when it does go on and resigned when it does not. It is only us, the technology dependent that find the loss of the grid paralyzing and awful.
We haven't got very far in the crop crisis. Corn is the most visible concern. Many are fighting against genetically altered sterile seed. They are fighting to keep the modifications but fighting against making the plants sterile. They understand the huge risk of a monopoly on seed.
They are fighting some giant multinational companies with endless resources and lots of cronies.
If they lose this battle they will have to make some very hard choices. To ignore the advantages of the modified to escape paying the yearly ransom they will have to accept that their yields may be smaller. Their farming more labour intensive. They will be less competitive in the global market. Their profit margins will be smaller but they will have protected their control over their food and in turn they provide jobs and factories that will help maintain their economy.
The corn for ethanol issue is much trickier. For years environmentalists have begged,pleaded and cajoled governments into looking for alternative fuels. They promoted the ethanol solution. It will be very hard to publicly admit that the choice of corn was a terrible one. Corn farmers who have invested millions to create refineries to transform corn into ethanol will be immovable. They have gambled all they have on the success of corn based ethanol. Convincing them to change to sugar beets or switch grasses wont be an easy sell. It will require intense political pressure and large financial subsidies to get this turned around. There will be some egos involved here. No one wants to have to take the blame for idiocy and for putting the food supply at risk.
It will need a leader of incredible will and I look around at my own country and the countries around me and I don't see any potential leaders with that kind of focus and will, do you?

So the reality is all these disaster ingredients are already in the blender and the blender is turned on. We can turn the blender off of course. The cost will be shocking and in the early days it may be a form of political suicide to take such a stand.
In reality it looks more like most of the political leaders of the world are so intentionally uneducated about environmental costs the first thing they pledge to do is crank that blender to 9.
I have no faith left in any political leaders. I have no belief that Oprah and her new cult will do anything either. You have to realize that this women flies across the country in a private jet once a month or so to get her eyebrows tweezed,scrubbed and buffed. She has no environmental awareness at all. Worse she believes wholeheartedly in pulling young girls away from their family and their community so they can attend boarding school. The place to go to be taught how to succeed in the middle class predominately white controlled city world. Too over educated and too curious to return home to help their community rise up. Oprah wants them to be leaders in their country. A country they have been segregated from for all their formative years. They will have such a sense of disconnect they will spend years wandering from place to place searching for that they could call home. Who will call them leader when the people no longer know who they are?How much more good could have been done if the schools had been created within their own communities? They could have shared all their newfound knowledge without losing the culture and ritual that makes them who they were born to be. Educating one within the community offers education to all of the community. Instead Oprah chose impersonal culturally blank segregated boarding schools. What a recipe for dislocation and disconnect. Leaders that once again have no idea how the people live and what would be necessary to make things better while respecting culture and ritual.
Kings and dictators of Africa have alway sent their children away to boarding schools and Oprah has embraced the same disastrous model .Arrogantly disrespecting the ability of native teachers, substituting foreigners as if they were better. A recipe to make the students ashamed of where they came from.

I believe that the blender is blending and the end results have become inescapable.
The world will slowly devolve into crisis after crisis. Waves of disaster reported casually by Anderson Cooper. No one noticing, no one caring until it begins to come home. Your home.
You will be personally responsible for your own survival. Has anyone else noticed that the Government of Canada has been showing commercials regularly that demand that everyone must have an emergency kit that will keep you safe for at least 72 hours?. There is even a web site GetPrepared. Ominous I think. Maybe someone in the Public Safety division can see what is just under the service.

I guess what I am saying is if we continue to behave in the same ways ignoring that inner whisper that is trying to tell us through the fog of sleeping pills, anti depressants and anti anxiety meds that something terrible is happening we will have to accept the consequences.

My reoccurring anxiety itch is the obsessive need to create a fool proof plan to survive the coming storm.
I have begun to research how to create my own energy sources , how to access my own water resources, how to create my own sustainable food program and how to avoid being a victim of a pandemic. The plan has to be fully independent and easy to maintain and fix if something were to fail. I need to create a plan on how to create defenses when conflict breaks out.
The plan has to be all encompassing and it has to be easy to teach to others. The materials all have to be natural and easily available with a little sweat.
My plan cannot include indiscriminate looting .My looting has to be focused on obtaining as many medical and pharmaceutical supplies that I can s0 I will be able to treat just about anything that comes along. My plan has to include the ability to provide medical care. I need to create a library that includes every aspect of green technology and the Dummies Guide on how to remove an appendix when you are not a surgeon.
I am hoping that by writing this plan out in unlimited detail I will be able to begin to act on it.
I will have a plan on how to implement my plan.
Sometimes I think that doc was wrong when he said I didn't have OCD.
Or maybe I am listening to the world and it's saying take cover you idiot.
I would be pleased to hear any suggestions even if they seem crazy when you say it out loud.
Maybe it is time to fight crazy with crazy.

I am hungry

So our final candidate is catastrophic crop failure. This one is the most dangerous. Right now major research companies are working to genetically alter every available seed. This can be a wonderful thing but on the whole it will be disastrous.
Every creature and plant on this earth is co-dependent. They aren't kidding when they call it the circle of life people.
Someone somewhere started playing around with how we could make seed resistant to pests. By doing this we have denied a food source for a bunch of bugs. Poor bugs right? why do we even need them? Well bugs are food for other creatures and because the bugs can't find a meal they die. Now the next bug eating group including many birds can't find a meal and they die and so on and so on. The next trick the researchers did was create a bug resistant plant that turned out to be sterile. A plant that cannot procreate. It makes no seed people. This is great for the company, it gets to sell its seed over and over with ever increasing costs. The fact that it is seedless means that the animals that depend on seed can't find a decent meal. Not so great. Because there is a huge class of seed eating creatures that poop that means any of the seed that passes though them can create a new plant. Without seed there is no new growth.
Right now researchers are focusing their attention on the big three:grain, corn and rice. The food no one in the world can do without. Every country has their preference for one of them and they farm for them intensively.
I can understand why they want a seed that can do amazing things..bug resistant, drought resistant, increased vitamins, minerals and proteins. Efficient food for the masses. But why sterile? What country in it's right mind would hold themselves hostage to a research company ?
If the company wants more money for it's seed how can you refuse to pay it? You no longer have any seed of your own.
Let's say everyone sits down in a room for a secret meeting and they all agree that genetically modified seed is the only way to go. They are made aware of the possible environmental repercussions, they are aware they are now completely dependent on their science partners.
Let's say that the WHO and the IMF fully back this new way of life. They will only approve loans to countries that have converted to genetic modification.
At first this will be wonderful. Huge crops..lot's of food. Then the surplus problem begins.
There are only a few ways to deal with surplus food. You can drop the prices dramatically in the hopes it will sell but here's the problem. Everyone is growing their own supercrops and they are all hugely successful, They don't have any need to buy anyone else's crops. They can't sell their own surplus , there is no way in hell they are buying yours.
A large part of the worlds economic markets base themselves around commodities. These markets would begin to be redundant. If you know the crops are great and they are cheap who is going to invest money to trade in their future?
So the markets will have to change. Remember that the selling of crops is huge business for almost every country on the planet. What happens when that money disappears?

So on a positive note you appear to have a great food supply. On the negative side your economy has taken a huge blow from the loss of income . A new problem soon becomes apparent. Hundreds of small businesses survived by supporting agriculture. Petrochemical companies that made pesticides are no longer necessary. Mechanization has made farm workers redundant.
Plants that don't need constant tending and grow in splendid organized rows need only a machine to plant the seed and a machine to harvest the crop. One more machine to make the ground ready for planting. Remember there is little need for fertilizer, these seeds are modified to need little. Really one machine could do all these tasks. The technology is already available.
All it needs is a couple of minimum wage drivers. We loose a few more farm equipment manufacturers and suppliers.
Of course we know that most countries wont be able to resist pushing the limits of the modifications. They will plant anywhere. Forests and meadows will disappear even faster than they are already. Edges of deserts will be tried.
The plant life and the animals will be sacrificed to the new crops.
More and more countries will become reliant on one crop with nothing available to replace it.

This is the recipe for catastrophic crop failure. First it begins with the economy that surrounds the crop that fails. There is no employment and there is no available markets to make any money. This makes a country unstable and anxious. Then the time arrives to purchase the new seed. Remember the crops are sterile, you a completely dependent. You discover that you don't have enough money to buy the same amount of seed.
You look around and see that some countries are having no problem coming up with the money for theirs. So the surplus continues. You downsize your crops. Your surplus disappears. Over the next few years your economy worsens and so does your neighbours. Unemployment is rampant and your country is drowning in debt. You can't afford the seed anymore and you have no replacement. Everyone is in the same boat except a few. The world economy is in shambles.
The few countries that can afford the seed continue to grow.
They still have surplus but now no one can afford to buy it.
Because of the environmental devastation created by a mono crop the weather changes faster than predicted.
With economic disaster comes rampant poverty and rebellion. Everyone begins to fight over seed, the land and weather to grow it.
By allowing a company to control your food and having no backup you sentence your country to poverty and starvation.
By making it global you sentence the whole world to disaster.

Diversity exists because evolution did it's research. Having thousands of different ways to feed yourself protects you from starvation.

Our biggest failure is relying so heavily on three basic crops, grain, corn and rice. To then genetically alter the seeds and make them sterile is blatantly insane. To commodify food and base part of your economic fortune on it also demonstrates a stunning arrogance and stupidity.

Food is for survival. To market it as a luxury is monstrous.
It's better to accept a few bugs, it's better to be forced to grow native crops that have their own natural resistance to drought. It's better to allow seeds to procreate.

The moment you start fucking around with mother nature she will cheerfully abandon you. If you are unsatisfied with the incredible complexities of our natural food you are certifiably stupid and probably crazy.

Have a look around at your local grocery store. Look at the ingredients in the food you eat every day. Now think about what you are going to eat if grain, corn and rice disappear. Think about what those beef cattle are going to eat when grain has disappeared. What will we feed those billions and billions of chickens?
No cows, no milk, no steak. No chickens? say goodbye to KFC. No grain? No bread, no cookies, no cake, no cat or dog kibble........No rice? wow, half the world will have no carb source.
It's just a little list off the top of my head. I can bet you can think of thousands more.

Now we look at a different perspective, using the three most necessary survival food crops as a replacement for oil.
Corn is used to create ethanol, a source of fuel to replace oil. Right now corn is becoming so expensive it is only for countries that can afford it. Corn isn't only being grown for food anymore, it's for making ethanol. Corn is a terrible choice for ethanol. It requires huge amounts of corn to create a low energy fuel. America ignored the countries that efficiently produce high energy ethanol by using non critical food crops: sugar beets, sugar cane....instead they chose the most inefficient. They chose a critical survival crop that requires large amounts of water, fertilizer and land mass to grow.

One can only guess what would happen if some researcher figured out a way to make rice and grain into ethanol....oh right, the technology already exists to do this. Anyone who has ever drank sake knows it's an alcohol that can be burned. Grain alcohol has blinded or killed a lot of people. I think at least one in a thousand of us knows some one who knows someone who has an operating still right now. They know very well that grain alcohol burns very,very well.

What happens when oil becomes scarce and too expensive for all but the very rich? Don't you already know?
We will burn our staple goods so we can drive our cars. And if that means that our surplus disappears or we price that surplus outrageously will we care that entire countries will be pushed into starvation?
Only when American Idol performs it's American Idol Gives Back telethon once a year probably.
I love it that we want to be entertained by the starving before we are willing to give them a buck(as long as it's tax deductible ).

Catastrophic crop loss through genetic modification and enforced sterility of the seeds, catastrophic crop loss because we choose to use our food as energy, crop loss because we have destroyed the land, the water and air, loss because we have changed the weather.
This is the only one I can see clearly in our immediate future.
We all bought into the bullshit that our worlds will end if we don't have oil so in response we are crudely destroying the world to find it's replacement.

Personally I would happily choose to walk, ride a bike, drive an electric car before I would support burning and boiling my FOOD for fuel and allowing people to starve so I can drive to WalMart for the fifth time this week.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

why wont the tv work?

Or oops we blew the grid again.
If we remember we already did this awhile back. I remember some members of the CNN team howling about idiot Canadians forgetting to flip a switch or some such bullshit until it was discovered that it was in fact some idiot bunch of Americans who completely forgot that regular maintenance is really required to make the machines work.
Up until that moment I think they thought the secret electric substation fairies were doing it.
Luckily we were able to fix the mess and get the lights back on in a week or so, or three weeks for some.
So how did you do without electricity?
It kind of sucked right? It got boring and hot. For some it got boring,hot and fatal. The elderly don't cope well with extremes in temperature. Things got a little expensive too. Everybody who had a backup generator jacked the prices of food and drink up..just a little disaster price gouging. Hell, it's practically tradition right?
Let's think a little more deeply about how much we rely on electricity.
It's pretty much everything isn't it?
A short list: heat when it's cold, cold when it's hot, cold for our food and our drink to keep it fresh and safe, it runs the pumps at the gas station.
We do everything with electricity. We produce electricity about six different ways. We use oil, coal, nuclear, water,wind and solar but it all gets to converted to electricity doesn't it?
Let's say nothing has changed with the ingredients, they are all right there. Let's say we no longer have any way to deliver the end product.
How about the same group that were relying on magic to maintain the grid went back to that belief. Right at this very moment we have substations that honestly could use a little spring cleaning. Those substations are conveniently hooked up together in a giant loop. Some safety expert was concerned about power surging between substations so a fail safe got inserted that shuts down a substation that is misbehaving and that power gets diverted to the next substation in line..power sharing in the literal sense.Now lets say that substation isn't in any better shape than the one that failed and it tries to dump off it's load and the load of the first guy. You can see where I am going with this because in essence this is exactly what happened a few years back.
You will be cheered to know that the same system is still in place but it's okay, they had some meetings and everybody wrote some memos and promised to try to do a better job in the future. I am so reassured.
So when the north eastern grids do finally collapse it is going to effect two countries and a bunch of very large cities at first. Everyone will be very reassuring until they realize the only way to fix the mess is to rebuild the grid. Rebuilding the grid could take years with a very optimistic schedule.
In the mean time the south western grids are going to have to to pick up the slack anyway it can.
And you can guess what happens next. Unless you somehow believe half of Canada and the US are just going to sit patiently in the dark until the problem eventually gets fixed..heh..

Hard decisions are going to have to be made. Because politicians are involved nothing will get done it time. People in positions of power will be paralyzed with indecision . By the time they decide to bite the bullet and withdraw power from fifty percent of the Northern Hemisphere and only supply absolute survival necessities the grid will have fried.
It will happen pretty fast. A few weeks at most because we know that no one wants to sit in the cold and wait if they know relief is months or years away. They will pick up and move to where the grid is still running. A hundred million power refugees will hook into a grid that is already overwhelmed.
The remaining will be the poor. Too poor to afford to move. Because you and I know that once again disaster gouging will be rampant. Hotels, motels, studio apartments with power will rent for thousands of dollars.
Remember Katrina? Remember the hotel, water and gas prices? Not exactly charitable.

Those left behind will be on their own for the most part. The surviving grids will try to feed intermittent power when they'll be a little third world. And no NorthAmerican will be prepared for that shit.
We will have the regular looting and shooting for awhile until people get bored and or scared.
There may be pockets of creative thinkers hooking up available generators and then there will be the usual power struggles over who gets the benefits of that small amount of power.

Eventually all the grids will fail and power as we know it will disappear.
This is not to say power is unavailable, remember all the ingredients are all still available.It will just take some ingenuity to figure out a delivery service to those most in need.
If people can recover from the mad looting for big screens they can't plug in it's possible everyone will come together and learn how to set up solar and wind power quickly. Neighborhoods could share their services .
If everyone could stop panicking for a moment they would see there are lots of different ways to get power into their homes.
This is an entirely optimistic view of human nature.
It's probably more likely that technology and components will be hoarded and fought over.
We have rarely gone for co-operation when we can go for a gun.

If you want to survive the loss of a government grid you need a wind mill, some solar panels, some batteries and an inverter. They are sold as a kit for a couple thousand and any idiot can put them together. Failing solar panels build a brick coal/wood burning fireplace. It was the standard for home heat for a hundred years or so. Go back to the standard kitchen oven..the one that is wood/coal burning and heats your water including the hot water in your radiators,your showers and anywhere else you want hot water. It is not necessary to fall down in a heap and announce the end of the world just because the electrical grid failed. We survived for thousands of years without it, we can survive two years until it gets fixed.

But the problem is there will be a section of the world population who love conspiracies . Those 9/11 nuts and their friends who will terrorize everyone. They will snuff out reason and hope at every turn and they will worship at the temple of the irrational and they will have an audience. The disenfranchised, the poor, the insane..the power hungry happy to manipulate a vulnerable group. A large enough group of crazy people can sabotage any project , especially a project being run by compassionate, reasonable people. Some people are incapable of being political incorrect or downright cruel to the disenfranchised during a crisis of survival. They want everyone to survive and that is how we all get killed.
We allow these people to infect the group with wild ideas that distract and confuse. They make people frightened and now they don't want to work with there neighours. They self isolate because they believe they may be at risk. At risk from what these sour, bitter, crazy people never say but the fear is out there now. No communal work gets done. Everyone tries to complete their own project, they want to protect their own survival.
They are fulfilling the prophecy of the saboteurs. They are confirming conspiracy and that begins to breed paranoia and that paranoia breeds violence and still more fear. And this circle will go round and round til no one is left to whisper gossip in another's ear.

It wasn't the loss of electricity that did us in, once again it was our response to the loss that sent us into disaster. I still believe despite the crazy a lot of us can and will survive. There will be pockets of the rational fending off the paranoid rantings of the conspiracy nuts.

So so far we have proven we can survive global pandemic,drought and the failure of the electrical grid with just some very basic tools. We have seen where self isolation can save us and where it can destroy it us. We have seen over and over again that it's not the event that will kill us...always it will be how we react to that event.
If we hold on to rational thought, we hold on to the principles of science and we avoid at all costs the paranoid doomsayers, the political/religious power seekers and the mad and delusional filled with their own purpose we can survive.
It will take some ingenuity, some creative thought and a willingness to work towards the common good but not one of these three on their own can hold us down for long.

Friday, April 04, 2008


So we have almost eliminated pandemic as a real risk and we have realized that it's not climate change that's going to's what climate change is going to change that's going to kill us.
We should all agree that water conservation is needed and needed badly but come on, no one but a few of us are going to bother. The rest of you are going to say you are conserving but it will be bullshit. People willing to buy a McMansion for a family of three aren't the kind of people who think independently and creatively . They will start conserving the exact moment the water gets turned off.
And that is what is going to have to happen. The problem is the effects of climate change have become unstoppable. I don't care how many meetings we have or how many agreements we sign. It's to late to stop this train and we burnt out it's brakes anyway.
Because the climate is going to change we have to accept that there are going to be parts of the world that will become uninhabitable. Any place that hosts a desert right now is lost. Deserts get bigger not smaller as any Northern African resident can tell you. A temp degree warmer, some regular winds and a few centimeters less rainfall and you are fighting a losing battle. It makes more sense not to bother putting up a fight at all. Give the desert back and save the resources where they can really count.
This may reveal a certain lack of hospitality from the neighbours though. When Katrina hit it took the news media seconds to label the survivors refugees. As if Americans stop being Americans the moment they cross the state line. Expect a few million drought or water refugees. Will there be enough FEMA trailers for them?
If people within a country are less than welcome in the next state what of those that need to move from their country to another?
Nothing charitable I can bet.
Water wars may be another conservation method .

The only way to survive drought and the resulting wars over water is mostly pure,blind luck. The luck to be born in a half assed (at least) democracy, the luck to be living in a state/province/country that has at least one great lake in it. The luck to be living in a colder climate than your warmer dryer neighbours so you still get rain and snow.

If you weren't born lucky you better make your own fast. Don't wait to relocate. Move before they move you and put you in a refugee camp.
Move to the cold and the wet. It's much easier to build a warm home than it is to conjure water where there is none.
Mass forced immigration will be the gold standard. Have a look at the survival rate of the refugees of Darfur and Chad...a war over water in action.
Drought and water rationing wont kill us. Once again it will be our reaction to it that will.

I can easily see World War 3 erupting because of the overwhelming numbers of refugees rushing the gates and fences.

We talk about having the ability to solve global problems but who's kidding who here? Racism and Intolerance in all it's vicious, ugly forms are alive and well and only need a match to light it all up.
Half the world would rather to see the other half die of thirst before opening their borders.
An eighth of all Americans want South American illegals arrested or shot at the border for having the audacity to want a job they would never be willing to do. I can bet that percentage is going to shoot up dramatically when something real is at stake, like water.
A quarter of the world would be willing to shoot you for what they perceive as the wrong religion, the wrong politics..the wrong colour of skin right now. They would be willing to do much, much more than shooting if you needed their water.

If we planned for drought, moved those in harms way into better supplied areas and enforced conservation drastically we could survive it. But we are too backward a people to ever be able to work so co-operatively on such a global scale.
We would prefer to kidnap and then ransom the water. Those that couldn't afford the cost would die. And despite that most of us would still survive.
Drought wont kill all of us, just the weakest , the unlucky..the poor.
Nothing new about that.
We can take it off the list.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

moving on

We really have to discount pandemic as a trigger for the end of the world as we know it. It's just too unlikely to be efficient enough to get us all. We aren't all that stupid despite outward appearances.
Drought is our next candidate. Those of you that believe in intelligent design may skip this post. Because we all know God is on your side blah, blah, blah... If you just can't not skip it this may be news to you that we are in the middle of a climate control problem.
We can all debate whether it's all our fault or it's someone or something else's fault but really who cares about blame? If I say it's all your damn fault will the problem go away? Cause if it will I will gladly take out ads everywhere blaming you.
Let's get a little technical here. Because we have a need for water to drink and to farm and water to create electricity we made a few changes to our landscape. We diverted a few rivers here and there,okay more than a few. We diverted pretty much every damn river we could .
Then we added some dams, a few thousand of them.
It wasn't just us. Everybody did it okay?.
Diverting all that water changed the landscape a bit and the weather a bit more.
Then we all got busy making babies.Then we made some more babies.
Human beings have some faults and the need to drink water may be one of them. Our need for flush toilets, daily showers, green lawns, swimming pools, hot tubs and fruit and veg year round may be some other faults. Our love of bread,cake , rice, corn and donuts ain't helping either. Our love of french fries and all things potato may in fact be our true downfall.
The fact that we like constant electricity to run our air conditioners, furnaces, televisions, stoves, fridges and microwaves means we need water and lots of it.

Growing food in the ground requires water. Because we like to grow billions of acres of food at one time we need billions of gallons of water on tap. Because we want to grow that food anywhere we want (including semi arid desert) we need more and more water.
Combine this with our stunning laziness and lack of creativity in how we deliver that water to the fields (essentially we like to use giant sprinklers around the clock) and you can begin to see why drought might start being an issue.

We have never had any education about water as a resource. We see the big lakes and think "wow, that's a lot of water" and never think about it again. Where does that water come from anyway?
Could it really come from melting snow and pouring rain? Really?
So what happens if your climate changes? I think the Southern US can answer this question.
First you begin to notice the shore of the lake at your cottage looks a little different. You have to move the boat dock out every spring. Irritating as hell but it's not really that big a deal..right?
But shallow water warms faster and even those who never got past grade nine science get that it's faster to boil a little amount of water for a cup of instant coffee than a full kettle. We also know when water warms up it begins to evaporate. Ooops.......less water. Pretty soon your lake is smaller and you start seeing that old fridge and four tires your neighbour dumped in a few years back.
Worse, the reservoirs created to supply clean drinking water are beginning to dry up. Without the reservoirs other sources of water need to be tapped into. We have to recycle the water used for toilets and showers. Grey water and sewage. It needs to be treated and filtered and a percentage of that water gets lost in the process. We keep losing water.
Just a little bit here and there. Hardly noticeable really and of course we don't see it. We haven't stopped making those babies though and they need water too.
Soon our population begins to overcome available water.
We have to tell people to stop watering their lawns. They for the most part ignore the order until it becomes a law. It's mandatory now and the police may notice. Probably not though . There is always one or two assholes who would rather pay a fine than curb their god given right to a green lawn in the desert and the police are busy trying to get the drunks off the road.(Drunk drivers are the same people who water their lawns all day in ninety degree weather during a water advisory)
Then the boil water notices start coming. The grey sewage water isn't as clean as hoped for. It's just a nuisance , not something to be worried about. It'll get better, we will just divert some water from someone else. They wont miss it......
Soon everyone is playing the credit card game. We all know this's where you pay the minimum balance on one card with another card and then use another to pay the minimum on that other one......
It's called water rationing.
Then all those underground springs start to dry up. Everyone loves their bottled spring water don't they? Billions of bottles sold every can't last forever at this rate of consumption. Now all those people who used to only drink Perrier have to drink tap water. More stress on a resource already in trouble.
So what do we do? Maybe it's time to drain off some more of that lake water a little faster and divert it to a drought stricken south...the place we are growing our strawberries and potatoes . Don't ask me why we chose California to grow our favorite food, it's irrelevant . We need the water and the year round strawberries,blueberries and raspberries.
The lakes are getting lower and lower.
Problem is those big dams(Niagara Falls) need more of that water to move those turbines so we can heat the water in our swimming pools. Choices, choices.
Here is an important point, climate change doesn't always mean global warming. Some places already prone to being very warm (California,Arizona the South) will get a little warmer and this temp or two higher is going to cause some changes in weather. It may be a little windy to say the least. Wind is no friend to farmers. That rich, nutrient filled topsoil will begin to drift away. The lack of rain to fix the soil in place can't be replaced by a sprinkler. It's getting harder to grow food. It may cause the seasons to stretch a little bit, what's wrong with three extra weeks of winter, or summer? Maybe just a huge surge in the need for electricity is all.

Now we move into catastrophic crop failure, a topic for another day.

Drought doesn't have to be a sudden dramatic event. It can be a slow process, so gradual it can seem like nothing at all. It may start with a little trouble finding your supply of spring water but it will end with water hoarding and wars between states,provinces,countries over who owns the lakes and the ocean.
I guess whoever has the most advanced desalinization technology in place ( Saudi,UAE) wins.

What happens to a planet made of water if everyone drinks half of it and uses the other half as a toilet? Will the weather improve?

See why I don't really care about oil?
The loss of water resources isn't just inconvenient it's actually life threatening.
Climate change is just a buzzword to get peoples attention diverted. In and of itself climate change is meaningless. It is what will happen to our resources as a result of these changes we should be paying attention to.

Stop watering your lawn. If you don't have enough rain to keep it green then you shouldn't have a lawn. Plant appropriately for your climate. Get a big cactus.
Lay off the concrete paving. It absorbs heat and makes it hotter. Any idiot knows it's hotter in a city then it is in the country. It's all that damn concrete. Plant as many trees as your plot will allow. Trees should be the only thing you ever plant...okay you can have some flowers but they better be nectar flowers so the bees and butterflies can get a meal off of you.
Try skipping the twenty minute shower and do you really need three bathrooms? Be honest here. Wouldn't one full bath and a downstairs toilet do the job? Our ancestors had an outhouse with no running water and a built a bloody country. I think you'll survive without two extra bathrooms. Wash your clothes when they are dirty not because you wore them for four hours.
Do you need to flush your toilet every time you pee? Is your pee so foul and terrifying it must be removed instantly? Is your pee afraid of someone else's pee?
You should only flush your toilet when it is too awful not to .

Save as much water as you can. Harass everyone you know to save. There is nothing much we can do about drought unless you know someone adept at a rain dance and they wont mind dancing for a year or two. It's up to us to convince the rest of us that it's a bad idea to grow strawberries in a place that wants to be a desert...stop buying strawberries in January. It's UNNATURAL and weird.
You buy your food when it's in season. If you stop the demand then there is no need to grow.
Water is saved.
Consider how many potatoes and loafs of bread you eat. All that wheat sucking up all that water.
Do we really need fourteen brands of bread? Must there be fresh bread delivered every day?

All that water........drip,drip,drip.

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