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ETopia: a Canticle for Leibowitz

by Migeru Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 02:43:41 AM EST

There seems to be a growing consensus on this site that our global civilisation is unsustainable. Some people limit themselves to predicting financial collapse, others predict another Great Depression precipitated by peak oil, others yet a die-off maybe comparable to 14th century Europe, others a die-off acompanied by  ecological collapse (massive crop failures, a discontinuous shift in the planet's climate, mass extinction). Some people say industrial civilisation cannot survive. Others might say 'good riddance' to that: let's revert to a more pastoral way of life. Others say our civilization is (could be? should be?) morphing into a low-footprint information society anyway... There are also people who will say that the fundamentals are sound and that 50 years from now the stock markets will be at 10 times their current value, that globalization is lifting millions out of poverty, that we will transition to new forms of energy technology.

But suppose it got bad. Suppose it got one notch worse than you can contemplate.


I can actually live with the prospect of a massive die-off, even a massive die-off with ecological collapse. The world didn't end with the European black death of the 14th Century.

What I think I have a serious problem with is a collapse of civilisation to the point where knowledge is lost. Even worse, where science and technology themselves are blamed for the disaster.

One of the classics of 1950's post-apocalyptic fiction is A Canticle for Leibowitz:

Around the end of the 20th century, industrial civilization was destroyed by ... the "Flame Deluge". Subsequently, there was a violent backlash against the culture of advanced knowledge and technology ... -- the "Simplification". Anyone of learning, and eventually anyone who could even read, was likely to be killed. Illiteracy became almost universal, and books were destroyed en masse.

Isaac Edward Leibowitz had been a Jewish electrical engineer working for the United States military. After surviving the war, he converted to Catholicism and founded a monastic order, the "Albertian Order of Leibowitz", dedicated to preserving knowledge by hiding books, smuggling them to safety (booklegging), memorizing, and copying them. A principal base for the order was an abbey Leibowitz founded in the American southwestern desert (near the military base where he had worked before the war). The exact location of the abbey is not revealed, but it is on an old road, probably part of the National Highway System, that was "a portion of the shortest route from the Great Salt Lake to Old El Paso". ... Centuries after his death, the Abbey is still preserving the "memorabilia", the collected writings that have survived the Flame Deluge and the Simplification, in the hope that they will help future generations reclaim forgotten science.

On more optimistic days I think "oh, sure, civilisation will collapse but we'll still have WiMax" or something to that effect. But in more gloomy moments I wonder whether my pie-in-the-sky idea of an ETopia centered on an "ET Conference Centre" of sorts is not in a way a seed of something not unlike the Albertian Order of Leibowitz.

Poll
What collapse?
. What collapse, indeed? Follow the Dow. 0%
. A financial market crash 25%
. A great depression 43%
. A massive die-off 0%
. The end of industrial civilisation 6%
. The end of urban civilisation 6%
. The end of civilisation 0%
. Ecological collapse 18%

Votes: 16
Results | Other Polls
Display:
Colman:
I'd pay good money for a series of crime novels based in ETopia. I don't know why.
Hmm, maybe I should use my severance payment to support myself while I write the first novel in the series.  

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 02:46:37 AM EST
Well if you're not too busy in November there's always  http://www.nanowrimo.org/

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 03:31:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My old Fencing instructor tried to get us into NaNoWriMo while I was busy finishing my dissertation. I suppose I could try it this time around.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 03:37:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's one of those things I mean to do but am always too busy. If I'm still off sick, I might this year.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 03:48:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe we can have a daily NaNoWriMo thread here on ET...

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 04:00:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's late and I'm very tired, but wd just like to note that a massive loss of knowledge/info has already happened and is accelerating.  We're losing feral species at a terrifying rate, losing the collective genome of the biosphere.  We're losing entire biomes and any hope of ever understanding how they once worked before we wrecked 'em.  We're losing a human language about every 2 weeks, or so I read recently.  We've lost almost 90 percent of the diversity of our animal, vegetable, fruit and nut cultivars thanks to industrial commodity agriculture;  we've lost about 90 percent of our farmers (in the US anyway) as well.  we've lost almost all the skills that used to be common property, ensuring the survival of the masses even when elites lost their Ponzi games and nosedived.  we've lost most of the knowledge and skills that made civilisation possible in the first place -- as if civilisation automatically erases itself as it builds...  cf Jane Jacobs' grim Dark Age Ahead...

And yes, if we're honest I think we have to admit that a lot of this knowledge loss was in fact driven by an overenthusiastic embrace of machine technology (plus colonial racism and arrogance, plus the Enclosing logic of industrial capitalism); so if our posterity someday come to blame their hunger or reduced circs on "science and technology" there will be a wee grain of truth in the accusation (which I think is why it irks us technorati so much to contemplate).  If we consider what scientists and industrial technologists are party to and responsible for, from Auschwitz to Agent Orange to GMOs to the whole fossil fuel party that may -- let us hope not, but it may -- have doomed our civilisation plus most of the other species we share the planet with... then that disillusioned and angry posterity may just have a point, no matter how fond I am of my laptop... which btw required something like 20x its weight in fossil fuel to construct... sigh...

I'm not so much worried about the high-tech information and knowledge that is perhaps about to be lost -- most of it is frivolous wrt to basic human survival -- you can't eat your iPod.  but I'm deeply worried about the more fundamental, essential information and knowledge that has already been -- often deliberately -- wiped out to make way for "newer better more profitable" monocrops (literal and figurative) and fossil fuel dependency.  The old joke about cashiers who are unable to do basic subtraction w/o an electronic cash register is not so funny;  metaphorically speaking it describes large sectors of our society.  I heard a funny story from a Kiwi about military "cooperation" exercises with US troops, in which the US detachment got lost because their GPS failed and they did not know how to read a paper map.  Maybe this was a slight exaggeration, but it sounded pretty circumstantial.

In essence what technocratic culture does is to Enclose competence and knowledge in the hands of an elite caste of designers, planners, and engineers, while removing and "obsoleting" more and more skill and knowledge from the work and lives of the masses of their fellow citizens.  It's the ultimate in "convenience" -- no need to think or to know anything!  To what extent this inculcated cluelessness and uselessness is a contributory cause of depression, anomie, bad social behaviours etc I have no idea;  but it does scare me that the majority of people I know are utterly dependent on technology they neither understand nor are able to repair, on food/water systems completely opaque, unaccountable and out of their control, and "magical" supplies of energy which they cannot replicate.

In a sense, technocratic culture makes the majority of the population into cargocultists, having neither competency nor sense of provenance wrt the objects and processes of daily life.  (The theory was, at least the ostensible theory was, that this would "free the masses from drudgery" and enable us to develop our minds, pursue the arts and higher education, enjoy leisure and so on.  In practise it means that people watch an average of 4 hours of stupidity-inducing corporate TV per diem, much of it dedicated to persuading us to buy even more didactic, dependency-inducing machines.)  This essential helplessness and dependency -- on such a fragile system directed by such irresponsible and often malignant powers (such as the neoliberal mafia today, but the industrial boss class has never been folks I'd care to share a bus bench with), scares the heck outta me, and not in some Rugged Individualist way...  it scares me for all of us.  I don't think any of us can escape the consequences.  The ratchet effect has got hold of us, and how are we to get out?

As a counterbalance to the classic C for L I offer McKibben's The Age of Missing Information, a book-length musing on the kinds of information that are being lost every day as we continue on our present course...  we are already in a dystopian regime of ignorance and information loss.

What scares the bejeezus out of me is the prospect of a crash that wipes out the machine-tech iron lung on which a majority of the world pop now depends utterly, without sufficient time to recover/relearn the information that was scornfully tossed aside as we embraced our dependency.  We have become kinda like a rich man's children who have never had to learn real skills or get a real job;  we're fine so long as the trust fund is sound, but if our family lawyer bungles it and loses the lot on a bad investment, we're totally unprepared for the real world.  It's a Bubble Economy in more than one sense... there's a boy-in-the-bubble aspect to it as well.

And having said all that, gloomily, I will admit that the enduring popularity of Make Magazine, of internet Kewl Hack sites, the hacker subculture, culture jammers, technology repurposing, not to mention the legions of hobbyists who feel the deep human need to exercise manual skill, dexterity, ingenuity -- all suggest that the instinct for workmanship [Veblen], the thirst for autarky and creativity, and the tinkering gene are not extinct in us -- it's just that most of us are no longer given any useful outlet for them. The ingenuity and solidarity of local communities responding to the Katrina disaster was as inspiring as the official governmental response was appalling.  It may be that on the far side of Hubbert's Peak we get a glimpse of what is best in us, not just what we fear.  Maybe technocrats will even learn to scale their ingenuity down to the point where it empowers the people at large rather than aggrandising the investor and manager class and rendering everyone else dependent and mystified :-)

I can envision a soft landing without the loss of all our high tech expertise, and with the recovery of at least some (many losses are already irreversible) of the wealth of knowledge that we've been throwing away.  But it is only one of a wide range of possibilities, most of which seem more likely and less palatable.

... I wish I had enjoyed the 70's more while they lasted... lately I seriously doubt that I will live to see any better days, more likely worse and worse ones.  at least back then one had a sense of hope, there was still enough time to take corrective action.  but that hope failed.  now, all bets are off and each new survey of our biotic status suggests that the damage is worse and progressing faster than previously estimated;  some mornings I can't bear to look at the climate or bio science news.  

gotta go fall over...  civilisation may be tottering on its undermined foundations, but we still need to sleep...  if this post is less than lucid, chalk it up to a long day sorting and packing books.  if all goes well, the creek don't rise and the world don't end before then, I leave the US at the end of December.  [expect my posting to be very sparse from now on].

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 03:46:18 AM EST
I can always count on you and "your pal Stan Goff" to whack me out of my comfort zone.
I leave the US at the end of December.  [expect my posting to be very sparse from now on].
Is that sparse until you resettle, or sparse for good?
.. I wish I had enjoyed the 70's more while they lasted... lately I seriously doubt that I will live to see any better days, more likely worse and worse ones.
I think with the benefit of hindsight, in another 30 years we will come to regret not having heeded the warning signs (and dire warnings, and measured warnings) that were beginning to manifest themselves. The people who had been enjoying the 60's and 70's grew up, became sensible, and embarked on plundering instead of re-engineering society for sustainability. I cannot be responsible for political decisions made before I was 10 years old, but I have to take responsability for the political decisions made now that I'm past 30.
I can envision a soft landing without the loss of all our high tech expertise, and with the recovery of at least some (many losses are already irreversible) of the wealth of knowledge that we've been throwing away.  But it is only one of a wide range of possibilities, most of which seem more likely and less palatable.
How likely do you think a soft landing is? I would be happy with mitigation of the loss of knowledge, let alone recovery of what has been thrown away.
What scares the bejeezus out of me is the prospect of a crash that wipes out the machine-tech iron lung on which a majority of the world pop now depends utterly, without sufficient time to recover/relearn the information that was scornfully tossed aside as we embraced our dependency.
In that context I have to say half the time I feel like I have a completely useless set of skills. I absolutely need a rather sophisticated culture to function in. Subsistence farming won't cut it.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 05:08:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think it was or will be just subsistence farming.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1000#Islamic_world

But check out the world population back then!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 05:46:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Caliphate inherited the Hellenistic and Persian cities and was an urban civilisation. Just yesterday DoDo was saying that he agrees with De that it is the large cities that will be hit the worst by the coming crisis.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:11:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That almost goes without saying. Cities are already nasty places, and don't understand the concept of sustainability.

The best you could hope for is an internal split into towns and villages with live agricultural centres surrounded by dead zones.

Bulldozing houses is much quicker and cheaper than putting them up.

But anyone with a hankering for pastoralism needs to consider that a new dark ages will inevitable create a new war lord class, intent on reducing most of the population to feudal slavery just because they want to, and can.

The most likely outcome is a pre-medieval stockade system, with heavily fortified population centres in the middle of agricultural land, where the peasants are largely considered expendable.

You may be able to tend your homestead in peace in less densely populated areas, but it's not going to be an option within a couple of hundred miles of any reasonably sized city.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 07:30:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a new dark ages will inevitable create a new war lord class, intent on reducing most of the population to feudal slavery

umm, haven't we already got them?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 04:36:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We've always had them, but politically they were mostly kept in check from the end of WWII to the early 70s.

So far, they've operated in a relatively restrained way in the West itself. What I'm talking about is the everyday experience of state-organised death and violence, which is not something most people are personally familiar with.

Once that phase starts most cities will start to look like Baghdad, only with nowhere to escape to.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:24:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"nowhere to escape to" including your little homestead in the middle of nowhere.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 01:31:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cities are already nasty places, and don't understand the concept of sustainability.

And the bucolic rural paradises outside the cities do? Our whole society fails to understand the concept of sustainability.

Anyone care to define it?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:16:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excerpts from a article that was sent to me by a fellow traveler, the other day.

NB: My own dream has been to haul off to a ruin in the French countryside and build a self-sustainable homestead.

But, but, ahem, what John Michael Greer has to say is sobering.

Equally imaginary is the notion that the best strategy for would-be survivors is to hole up in some isolated rural area with enough firepower to stock a Panzer division, and wait things out. I can think of no better proof that people nowadays pay no attention to history. One of the more common phenomena of collapse is the breakdown of public order in rural areas, and the rise of a brigand culture preying on rural communities and travelers. Isolated survivalist enclaves with stockpiles of food and ammunition would be a tempting prize and could count on being targeted.

So what does work? The key to making sense of constructive action in a situation of impending industrial collapse is to look at the community, rather than the individual or society as a whole, as the basic unit. We know from history that local communities can continue to flourish while empires fall around them. There are, however, three things a community needs to do that, and all three of them are in short supply these days.

The pirate enclaves of the seventeenth-century Carribbean were among the most lawless societies in history, but physicians, navigators, shipwrights, and other skilled craftsmen were safe from the pervasive violence, since it was in everyone's best interests to keep them alive.

The second thing a community needs in the twilight of industrial society is a core of people who know how to do without fossil fuel inputs. An astonishing number of people, especially in the educated middle class, have no practical skills whatsoever when it comes to growing and preparing food, making clothing, and providing other basic necessities.

Well I have a number of practical skills, and I can learn more!, but in isolation they won't do me much good. Greer's analysis is well taken.

by Loefing on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 12:10:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
exactly what I meant when I said that Rugged Individualism was far from my mind.  it's a nice consoling fantasy, very suited to the Western fantasty/lit tradition of the Agonal Hero, lone protagonist and star of the drama, but it isn't a human reality...

Maybe it's too soon to give up on the cities...

The author here does the usual urban snark about how icky, icky, icky it would be to catch a whiff of chicken poo in the corridors... but personally I'll take a whiff of honest chicken manure over a miasma of fine diesel particulate any day...  and there is enormous potential to green the roofs and sunny faces of urban buildings.

It may be time to rethink the notion of "city" altogether but that requires a separate post and I have to run...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 04:41:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rugged individualism is an adolescent fantasy about fighting your way through the collapse itself. But what we should be concerned with is how to organise life afterwards. Because making it through a catastrophe is a lottery. The hard part is to rebuild life in the aftermath.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 04:52:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It may be time to rethink the notion of "city" altogether but that requires a separate post

Rethinking the notion of city. I agree entirely. I believe that central to such a process will be the rethinking of the notion of community, in general, and relationships with one's neighbors, in particular; whether it apply to city, town, village, or rural community.

by Loefing on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 10:06:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the 10th century, [Baghdad]'s population was between 300,000 and 500,000.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad#A_center_of_learning_.288th_to_9th_c..29

That's about the size of the city where I live.  I reckon you can more or less see the city limits from a (not so) tall building or vantage point.

Were DeAnander and DoDo talking about this size of population?

Put another way, maybe you can have all the top class science (well, not all, but a lot) going on in a town of 300-500,000.  They would be city states, perhaps, so following the less dystopian line it may be a return to something like Italy after the plague (as you said a while back), only with better connections (no reason for entire networks to collapse I don't think), and 21st Century know-how in agricultural practices, building, materials etc.

Or, to put it another way, England has an area of 130,000 sq km and a population of 61 million--London has a population of 7 million (and the rest!); Bulgaria has an area of 110,00 sq km and a population of 7.3 million; this site gives me 43 cities with populations over 7 million, (468 with populations over a million)...

So...I'm suggesting that what was once a city would today be called a medium-sized town.

Another way of thinking about it ("it" being, how could you survive without a modern civilisation around you) is: how reduced does the world's population have to get before you see the disappearance of centres of learning?  They existed in 500BC (world population: 100 million--that's the combined populations of Tokyo, Seoul, Ciudad de Mexico, and New York (more or less.)

So, if we see a collapse of world population...hmmm..

6.6 billion today?

-90% = 660 million?

-99%...

6,600,000,000 / 100 = 66,000,000?

So around 500 AD the world population (300 million) was equivalent to 5% of today's population?

Of course if life dies back to small mammal level, it might be trickier...

But I'm assuming that survivors of any catastrophes will be:  (add AND/OR between each item)

Intelligent
Farmers
Rearers/butchers of livestock
Materials specialists
Builders
Educators
Computer types
Sailors
Mechanics
Bakers

etc...

Plenty to build a complex civilisation...in fact, I doubt there has ever been a society that completely lacked an aspect of its existence complicated enough for you to find enjoyable....(he types wildly.)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 01:33:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
as to sparseness: sparse (intermittent/unreliable) and possibly less than fully coherent for the next 3 or 4 months as the moving process kicks into high gear.  I realise this may seem ridiculous to some of you peripatetic academics, migrant grad students etc. -- who move every 3 or 4 years with fetching nonchalance -- but I've lived in this house for over 20 years so there's rather a lot of cleaning out and organising involved.  and what a lovely time to be selling a house, eh?  although next year could be worse...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 01:37:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dear, dear DeAnander ...

You are suffering a severe case of (what I call) Santa Cruzitis.  A wasting disease contracted by prolonged exposure to UC Santa Cruz.  Over the past 30 years I've known many sufferers and those many sufferers completely cured once they've relocated away from constant re-infection.  

AFAIK, the CDC has not - yet - found the source but I suspect an insidious miasma rising from the various classrooms, lecture halls, & etc.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 01:57:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[???] I'm not sure what that was supposed to mean...  it sounds, prima facie, provocatively condescending, as if it were about to veer into a ritual snarkfest about birkenstocks and granola (neither of which figures largely in my daily routine) -- and doesn't actually address any specific point.  Care to expand a bit?

As it so happens, my credentialled function at UC Santa Cruz is to be a senior technocrat in Big Science.  I am leaving the institution -- among other reasons -- because I've come to the end of my rope w/that culture :-)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 04:34:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Considering I eat granola most days and am, as I type, wearing one, of several pair, of Birkies the snarkfest would be self-directed.

Let me put it this way: buried within the innards of the main library are reels of film of Upton Sinclair and other luminaries of EPIC giving speeches, interviews, & so on.  This archival material is one-of-a-kind.  It exists nowhere else.  This film is slowly disintegrating.  In the not too far distant future this film will no longer be able to be preserved.  The librarians would rather see the film disintegrate than allow outsiders to come into their precious stacks (gollum, gollum) and save it.  

This kind of insularity causes people at UCSC to reinforce each others neurosis' until they all turn crazy.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:29:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So... you disagree with me about some unspecified issue, and therefore I must be neurotic and/or crazy due to overlong confinement in a notorious academic nuthouse?  How about specifying the issue and the point of disagreement, rather than this snide ad hominem, which is (a) uncharacteristic in my experience of yr posts, and (b) starting to get a bit irritating?

Anyway, gratuitious (and puzzling) discourtesy aside, I'm still not understanding what the point is.  Far from reinforcement, I don't know anyone w/in my institution or my social circle here who feels the same sense of personal urgency that I do about demand reduction, relocalisation etc;  this is yet another reason why I'm heading out -- to find a (to my way of thinking) more reality-based community.  If there is a collective neurosis in effect at my institution, it manifests (e.g.) as a blind faith that fossil fuel will be cheap forever, so we should go on underfunding the local bus system and building more parking structures :-)

The fate of the film archive you mention is very sad indeed, but NIH and turf behaviour are hardly unique to any one campus or org -- seems pretty universal in my experience.  I could tell some tales out of school about the inter-institutional politics of my own line of work, but perhaps better not to :-)


The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 01:49:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Granted, it's very late here and I have no business being awake, never mind writing anything for public consumption, but, and I'm sure AT will correct me if I'm wrong, I think you and geezer have misread him.  Rather than prima facie discourtesy, I believe he was originally commisserating with you and attempting to give you some hope that things might not seem so bleak after your move.  I suppose the comments could be read both ways, but knowing AT, I'm guessing my interpretation was his original intent.  /butting in

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 04:51:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hope you're right, Izzy. As I said, it seemed out of character- even after a couple attempts to elicit a substantive comment failed.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 05:15:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
at first reading I thought similar to Izzy.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 07:41:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I apologize for not making my communications clear.  

The choices are now:

  1.  Drop it.

  2.  I restate the intended communication.

Your call.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 10:57:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I say drop it.

If everyone in the subthread agrees, the comments can be hidden by a FPer making them "editorial".

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 11:12:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dear, dear ATinTM.....

We usually do better than this here on ET-

That's why I like to come. That's a pointlessly snarky catty shot, and is not usually your style.

I write it off to a bad hairball--  

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 02:12:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Possibly more locally pointed than was necessary, but I think he's right to point out that this thread is highly susceptible to all the cognitive biases that affect small groups reinforcing their opinions and prejudices without very careful examination of the logical steps being made.

I think it's fallen prey to most of them.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:19:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are yet to provide a "better" top-level comment, though.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 09:55:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No. Trying to think of one that isn't more contentious.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 09:57:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More than the diary, or the comments?

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 10:01:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For tired and late, you sure write well.
You  covered most of my thoughts, beyond the pleasure of the book itself (which has so far gotten short shrift here).
Small addition:

In essence what technocratic culture does is to Enclose competence and knowledge in the hands of an elite caste of designers, planners, and engineers, while removing and "obsoleting" more and more skill and knowledge from the work and lives of the masses of their fellow citizens.

It goes beyond that. That "elite caste" of technocrats think they are the crown of creation, but they are thenmselves a tool- and the top of the food chain here is the corporate oligarchy- that one quarter of a percent who likely cannot (and need not) ever change a tire. They have a vested interest in keeping the "lower orders" mesmerized by technology and it's toys  -ignorant- and therefore dependent and easily manipulated.
Us technocrats will then change the tires of the world for them-- and the  recipients of the largest capital redistribution in history dispense the illusion of power to the technocrats to just exactly the degree needed, and no more.

Of course, it aint that simple-
But that's the next layer, Deanander.  


Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 03:54:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a monastic order... dedicated to preserving knowledge by hiding books, smuggling them to safety (booklegging), memorizing, and copying them.

That sounds very much like Ray Bradbury's superb novel "Fahrenheit 451".

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 07:38:43 AM EST
Fahrenheit is more dystopian in some ways.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 07:41:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there is a tendancy for European SF to be far more dystopian than US.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 03:38:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Two world wars in the span of 25 years might have something to do with the psychology of that.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:17:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whom do you mean? (Bradbury is American.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:14:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking more of J G Ballard actually, as a main example.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 09:12:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, Leibowitz isn't dystopian. More nearly "grim".

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:54:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, strangely enough, "the Simplification" is exactly what I see coming since our current complexity and conflict is already commencing to bring our financial systems down around our ears.

This Simplification will be a consequence of the widespread adoption - because they WORK - of collaborative business models, and of disintermediated "peer to peer" enterprise models where participants have an interest in the outcome.

My interest lies in the "legal protocols" that bind us together in our economic relationships. The current "one way" protocols - "contrats de mandat" - are detailed and prescriptive because they deal with conflicted - intermediated - economic relationships.

It is these conflicted and complex protocols which have been holding us back. We have been unable to see any alternatives.

The consensual protocols ("contrats de societe") I observe emerging, and am working to develop, are in my experience an order of magnitude simpler. This explains why the majority of lawyers ("programmers" really - "Law is Code") see such collaborative law as a threat to what is to all intents and purposes a combination of monopoly and religion.

Likewise the legions of other professionals paid by the hour, rather than the outcome, whose business is based - like other religions before them - upon complexity, arcane language, and opacity.

An illustration of the advantages of simplicity in law is its status in a naturally collaborative and consensual society like Japan. To go to law in Japan is to lose face.As someone said, there are as many Sumo wrestlers in the US as there are lawyers in Japan. You say in a 3 page agreement in Japan what your US attorney says in 300.

The point I am getting to is that simple consensual "legal" protocols will IMHO be the next iteration of the Internet - the "Semantic Web" so much talked about.

We will see the end of double entry book-keeping; the end of "profit" and "loss" - because there is no "profit" within a partnership, merely value created, exchanged and shared; the end of hierarchy; the "Abolition of Labour" and the "Abolition of Property" Marx wrote about in his early days, only to get cold feet subsequently in the face of machines.

We will examine the ancient knowledge - what is still out there - establish why it works, and update it simply, and sustainably.

We will simplify, because it will be in our self interest to do so when collaborative solutions give rise to a better outcome in which we share.

And in doing so, I believe, we will find that "Ethical is Optimal" and will achieve the spiritual peace of mind our current "civilisation" denies us.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 07:39:00 AM EST
Why would the end of double-entry bookkeeping be a good thing?

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 07:43:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well to slightly misquote Sheakspear

"The first thing we do is kill all the accountants".

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 07:51:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes, because if you kill all the accountants there's nobody left to prove with hard numbers that you're flying the planet into the ground.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 08:08:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could try asking the scientists.

(Not that anyone ever listens to them.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 10:41:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The best explanation is here

Abolish Double Entry book-keeping

Todd Boyle's - brilliant - work blew my mind about five years ago when I saw that he had reached the same conclusion as me but from an entirely different starting point.

His approach to "shared transaction repositories" (his term) is from below - from databases and ontologies - an accounting technical "quasi-engineering" perspective.

Todd understands the ultimate granularity of the "plumbing" of our global economic architecture better than anyone I have ever come across.

I came to the same conclusion in 2001 from above - an architectural perspective - arrived at from analysing what "markets" are (ie a market is defined by the contracts entered into and recorded in a market trade registry ) and I have since moved on to the conclusion that a global "market" is merely a special "open" case of a generic "enterprise".  

Market 3.0

I met Todd in San Francisco in 2004 at a seminar re Community currencies, but while we agreed on the necessity for shared transaction repositories, my knowledge and experience are totally alien to him, and his to me, and we have since ploughed our own separate furrows.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 08:13:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know next to nothing about accounting, but I do know that metaphors used to obfuscate and not to enlighten are a bad sign. For instance:
Double entry accounting has certainly proven a durable metaphor for
reflecting economic transactions. Perhaps this is somehow related to
Karma. Nothing is free.  The third law of thermodynamics states that
every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Double entry
accounting is Newtonian: you record an asset only if you can record
the related liability.
 I suppose it is something of an achievement,
actually, that so many people have risen from the relative ignorance
of single-entry list software, to understand the usefulness of
double-entry accounting products.
The bolded bit is not even wrong in that Newton has nothing to do with the laws of thermodynamics. So this is a bad case of name-dropping. Supposedly there is an analogy with karma and with thermodynamics or dynamics here, but analogies are supposed to illuminate an obscure argument, not make it more obscure, and karma and (thermo)dynamics are presumably more obscure for the (intended) audience than accounting is.

As for the rest, now I have to go for a walk or my head will turn into a computer, but I'll take a look at it when I get back.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 09:27:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plenty of mixing of metaphors for sure, but I am sure you won't make a judgement based upon that.

Todd is probably as guilty as me of assuming everyone has familarity with the language he is at home with.

That having been said, if we remove:

(a) artificial accounting barriers between enterprises by connecting transactions together;

Survey of Waste

and

(b) the constraint of time - ie we account for value flows rather than attempting to take "snapshots" at a point in time;

then the resulting savings in adminstration, and the improvement in our understanding of an enterprise as an economic entity will be phenomenal.

Note here that the "Capital Partnership" I advocate - where production or revenues are shared between financier and user of finance for an indefinite time ie to all intents and purposes an "evergreen" lease - acts to remove the time constraint implicit in debt, leases, and all other contracts/obligations of defined duration.

You may well find his site heavy going - I know I do - but his fundamental insights into web-based accounting and its relationship to the Reality of everyday commerce are quite stupendous IMHO.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 10:10:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not just name dropping, it's a very clumsy and transparent attempt at 'proof' by authority.

Which makes it look like pseudo-science.

I don't think it's asking too much of someone who's making some very bold claims to have enough of a clue to understand why this won't do.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 10:46:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's a more substantive criticism. Todd envisages a system in which every transaction between any two participants is recorded. Yes, this is a good model of the economy, but that's not what accounting is about. Accounting is about each node in the network keeping track of its own transactions. What Todd wants to be is a National Accounts office that not only takes the bottom line from each node and charges them a tax, but actually keeps track of all the activity in the entire economy.

Now for a detail that hit me right off the bat:

Abolish the
(Assets) = (Liabilities)   + (Owner's Equity)

equation (ALOE)
Well, according to Wikipedia,

Double-entry bookkeeping is governed by the accounting equation. At any point in time, the following (basic) equation must be true:

assets = liabilities + equity

This can be further expanded and the (extended) equation becomes:

assets = liabilities + equity + (revenue − expenses)

or

assets = liabilities + (capital − drawings) + (revenue − expenses)
A = L + C − D + R − E

Finally, the equation may be rearranged algebraically as follows:

A + E + D = L + R + C

This equation must be true, for any time period. If it is, then the accounts are said to be in balance. If the accounts are not in balance, an error has occurred.

I don't see what's wrong with that, other than the imperative
your mission, should you wish to accept it, is to maximize shareholder equity
which is not actually part of double-entry accounting but of economic theory.

Abolishing double-entry accounting because of the destructive effects of shareholder equity maximisation is like abolishing stoichiometry by blaming it for chemical warfare.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 01:40:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you are missing the point: Todd doesn't want to "be" anything. He sees, from an accounting perspective, the same requirement for a generic clearing system that I see.

He sets out - among his voluminous writings - the "cloud" of "Accounts Receivable" and "Accounts Payable" which is Riegel's "Ledger of Ledgers" or the database of all obligations in the economy.

He doesn't see why:

(a) these obligations should necessarily be recorded TWICE per node - and therefore FOUR times per transaction if you consider that the seller and the buyer each make double entries in their accounting records which are a mirror image;

(b) these entries need be disconnected, with the resulting errors, need for audit, etc etc

Now the accounting universe WITHIN what I call an "Open Corporate" in which ALL stakeholders are members (suppliers, customers, and service providers) - ie encompassing a complete "enterprise" or market place - does not conform to the same accounting equation.

There is no profit and no loss within such an Open Corporate LLP or LLC, "bounded" by the "Open Corporate's" protocol which set out Aims & Objectives; who gets what in exchange for what; dispute resolution and so on.

There are only Members' accounts, and these consist of:

(a) the shared Title Registry - who "owns" or has rights of use in what (eg Land Registry, DVLC);

(b) the shared Transaction Registry (AR/AP Cloud).

If I transact with you it is either:

(a) by exchanging Value with you now - through changes of ownership within "title registries" eg debit Chris 5 land rental units, credit Migeru 5 energy units and vice versa; or

(b) by exchanging something of value in exchange for accepting your promise to exchange something in the future (ie credit). eg debit Chris 5 land rental units, credit Migeru 5 land rental units, and record ONCE an entry in the shared transaction registry that says Migeru owes Chris 5 land rental units.

This is a "peer to peer" single entry "value messaging system": there is no "profit" and no "loss" coming into it.

Settlement of Migeru's obligation then occurs through a "closing" transaction.

Now this may be through EITHER settlement in value (eg energy units) or by cancellation of the obligation, which is when I buy something on credit from someone else, who has an obligation to Migeru, and the obligation is then "netted out".

Now, I've seen this happen many times in the "real world" in the Brent 15 day market of forward oil contracts.

A sold to B sold to C sold to D who sold back to A:  when the expiry date comes along this "daisy chain" does a "book out", and no actual delivery takes place.

The problem in such a system of forward obligations (which is all that money is there to facilitate) arises when someone defaults, which is why Banks evolved as credit intermediaries between Sellers and Buyers.

ie Banks "clear" transactions, and essentially perform a guarantee function thereby as a "credit intermediary" between me and you.

Todd postulates an accounting universe within which clearing "bots" or "agents" seek and net out obligations.

I postulate a Guarantee Society with a "Default Pool" of value (eg a pool of "fungible" energy units or land rental units) from which settlement will be made should a buyer default.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 05:52:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He doesn't see why:

(a) these obligations should necessarily be recorded TWICE per node - and therefore FOUR times per transaction if you consider that the seller and the buyer each make double entries in their accounting records which are a mirror image;

(b) these entries need be disconnected, with the resulting errors, need for audit, etc etc

Because each independent entity needs to keep its own accounts for internal purposes and double-entry accounting introduces an element of redundancy that helps catch errors.

Of course, if transactions happen through the clearinghouse of an exchange, then the transaction needs to be recorded (again TWICE) by the clearing house in its own books. What you and Todd seem to want to do is abolish clearinghouse members' in-house accounting and instead have them generate their balance sheets from the clearinghouse's database. That way you reduce the number of annotations per clearinghouse transaction from SIX to TWO.

As with your Open Capital ideas, this has value for the big fish in the capital markets, but it is useless to players who are not large enough to be members of an exchange or clearinghouse.

Todd postulates an accounting universe within which clearing "bots" or "agents" seek and net out obligations.

I postulate a Guarantee Society with a "Default Pool" of value (eg a pool of "fungible" energy units or land rental units) from which settlement will be made should a buyer default.

You postulate the abolition of in-house accounting and the centralisation of everyone's accounting into a P2P system which IMHO is patent nonsense.

Disclaimer: I am not an accountant and I don't play one on TV.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 07:12:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 You postulate the abolition of in-house accounting and the centralisation of everyone's accounting into a P2P system which IMHO is patent nonsense.

"Centralisation"? I speet on eet...pttuuhh!

I advocate local "Community Partnerships" configured around what are essentially local community transaction and title registries, with local value circulating locally backed by pools of value and with credit backed by a mutual guarantee.

This works on any scale, provided the necessary trust mechanisms are built in. It's not necessary to be "large" if you are "linked-together small"

These will be, IMHO, what are to all intents and purposes, local disintermediated "Clearing Houses": with a local service provider (aka a bank, but not a bank putting capital at risk) managing the local creation of credit, and bringing local investors in land rental units etc together with investments and so on.

"Local" may then (for certain functions) choose to be be a member of "Area", may be a member of "Regional" and so on. Functions are devolved to the level best suited to carrying them out.

ie we see a "partnership of partnerships" evolving, the accounting records of which essentially constitute a "filespace". As with the Internet DNS, the only "central" requirement relates individual ID to IP address (ie "network presence").

Here I have some fairly simple but radical ideas concerning Communities as Internet "Domains" - "Dot Communities".

The fact is that fragmented "in-house" accounting is already under threat through the rise of "web accounting". I will still have my single entry - and you will still maintain your single entry, (backed up where necessary, so there is a log of changes, as with a Wiki) and when mine changes, yours changes - there can be no data entry error, although there may be disputes, and permissioning issues.

And we have not even begun to discuss Todd's point about the uselessness of accounting "snapshots" within time frames, as opposed to accounting for "flows" of value.


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 09:14:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I advocate local "Community Partnerships" configured around what are essentially local community transaction and title registries, with local value circulating locally backed by pools of value and with credit backed by a mutual guarantee.

I can sense that tying in with your local govt. dealings.  Local govt. and its relationship to community projects, that kind of thing?

I know LLPs can come in all sizes bar one (or two?), but do you invisage an ideal size...I mean to have enough assets and activities to generate a daily flow of credits?

I'm wondering if you'd need a daily flow of credits for those "outside" to be able to step inside.  Say I decide that it might be worth cleaning up some mucky by way--I could go to the council (or whoever) and offer to just do the work: they could offer me credits which would have value in a steady-working (daily movement) system, but not so much in a system that stays more or less unmoved from month to month (the house example.)

If there is an ideal size, what kind of group size would need to buy in do you think?

How about--and I know we're a nebulous group in some ways, but I cannae help but think we'd make a good example--the ET LLP?  There is/are the server(s) to maintain; there's bandwidth to pay for; and I certainly need to be kept in the lap of luxury for typing [reads contract] two short but witty and one long but rambling comment per day, plus minimum 2 video selections...

We already have "assets" (and you said the first asset would be the indivdual and their capacities); we have daily activity.

I'm missing something(s) I'm sure I yam.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 10:40:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not so much LLP's coming in optimal size as Communities being of an optimal size. Especially a "Community of Interest" like this one.

The LLP merely offers an infinitely flexible "Open" corporate framework shaped by a consensually agreed common purpose and principles of governance.

Plus, of course, the "semi-permeable membrane" of limited liability, that hopefully would serve to protect Jerome and co-conspirators from legal action by aggrieved Russian billionaires or retired Central Bankers...

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 07:35:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The LLP merely offers an infinitely flexible "Open" corporate framework shaped by a consensually agreed common purpose and principles of governance.

Okay, it's a tool, but what I'm thinking is: the way for most people to these new realities will be via

Do something -- receive credits -- eat, drink, be merry, heat the house, clean water on tap etc.

If the starting point is "have basic asset of value to others (e.g a house)", then I'll have to wait until I have said asset of value and then ponder (from my position of wealth) whether the LLP suits my financial needs.

But I thought you wuz talking about something wider than that, a new community relationship, and I'm wondering (maybe erroneously) how big or small the community needs to be before all the various assets (in themselves maybe not valued in the "work for money" system) combine to bring mysterious value...

And I'm thinking:

If I could walk into a community and say, "How does one  live here?"

And a person from the community said, "Can you see any useful tasks that need doing?"

And I say: "Do you have a radio station?"

And they say, "Yes.  Have you anything to offer them?"

And I say: "Yes!  I have an old mic in my bag"

where the search is for the skill that can be offered to the community

in return for community credits (food, shelter, etc.)

and for those who have nothing at present that the community can use, there will be assistance

and an in-pouring of poor and needy people--if the laws are tolerant...

heh heh!  I mean, I'm thinking of the structure of "post capitalist" social systems (kcurie!), wondering how easy we can make the transition, and how many of us can transition now, as krishnamurti had it.

K: That's why you see, sir, we have divided the physical world as the East and the West. We have divided religions, Christian religion and Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist. And we have divided the world into nationalities; the capitalist and the socialist, the communist and the other people and so on. We have divided the world, and we have divided ourselves as Christians, non-Christians, we have divided ourselves into fragments, opposing each other, so, where there is a division there is conflict.

A: Precisely.

K: I think that is a basic law.

A: Where there is a division there is conflict. But in terms of that word 'knowledge' it appears that people believe to start with that that division is there, and they operate on that radical belief.

K: That's why I am saying it's so important to understand from the beginning in our talk, in our dialogue, that the world is not different from me and that I am the world. It may sound rather, very simplified, simplistic, but it has got very deep fundamental meaning if you realise what it means, not intellectually, but inwardly, the understanding of it, therefore there is no division. The moment I say to myself, and I realise that I am the world and the world is me, I am not a Christian, nor a Hindu, nor a Buddhist - nothing, I am a human being.

A: I was just thinking when you were saying how certain kinds of philosophical analysis would approach that, and in terms of the spirit of what you have said, this really is almost a cosmic joke because on the one hand as you said, it might sound simplistic. Some would say it is, therefore we don't have to pay attention to it; others would say, well, it's probably so much in want of clarity even though it's profound that it is some kind of mysticism. And we are back and forth, with the division again, as soon as that happens.

K: I know, I have been...

A: So I do follow you.

K: So, if that is clear that human mind has divided the world in order to find its own security, which brings about its own insecurity, when one is aware of that then one must inwardly as well as outwardly deny this division, as we and they, I and you, the Indian and the European and the Communist. You cut at the very root of this division. Therefore from that arises the question, can the human mind which has been so conditioned for millennia, can that human mind which has acquired so much knowledge in so many directions, can that human mind change, bring about a regeneration in itself and be free to reincarnate now?

A: Now?

K: Now.

A: Yes.

K: That is the question.

http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/talks_dialogues/Krishnamurti_Anderson_1974_Dialogue1_stream



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 07:53:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 But I thought you wuz talking about something wider than that, a new community relationship, and I'm wondering (maybe erroneously) how big or small the community needs to be before all the various assets (in themselves maybe not valued in the "work for money" system) combine to bring mysterious value...

Actually, you have put your finger on it, rg, in your inimitable way.

The "Open Corporate" Community Partnerships I envisage would be the basic building block of the next iteration of Society - a decentralised, but connected, Society.

I almost posted a Diary earlier outlining and updating the "Dot Communities" concepts I evolved a few years ago and which is to be found in this

Japan 3.0  

essay about five years ago while working in a seriously radical satellite company in Chelmsford (but not published on my site until Dec 2005).

Maybe I will in the morning.  

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:27:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
aRGH!  wERD FILE!

(Open office is free --should it have an LLP?  In fact, what business structure does it have?  Ah...questions and my wandering mind...)

I cannae explain it, but somehow people here aren't quite getting it--whatever "it" is.  I think they're missing the point and the need for these new structures.  I know you've written a lot on this, but what I'd like is something taken from the position of...one of us (Jerome with ET?), not just laying out the legal framework (no more wrappers!  I am surrounded by quality street cast offs!  ;) but maybe...hmmm...I'm intersted in the in/out flow of assets/credits.  You have liquidity through timelapse...assets go in and credits move out, assets move out and credits move in, so there are enough credits and assets to offer a cushion....ach ach achooooo!

Okay, if they are the basic building blocks, why not make a building block called ET?  Jerome (it's okay, he's not reading) wasn't against the idea, but he wasn't really for it.  However, if these building blocks are...for building on...then if we can't build one here, does that show a limit to the model?

But no!  I ask a question and don't understand the answer, so maybe imagine a new online newspaper/magazine/media outfit, high on talent and ideas but low on capitalist money cash.  On the web a lot can be done for a lot less moneycash.  So...the owner of this outfit has asked you to design an LLP for her...but she doesn't want all that tech. speak.  She wants to know

--Why should I do it?
--What kind of structure will I be creating?
--How do assets and credits move in this system?
--No, strike that, she says, you'll start talking about wrappers...
--I know you will
--and then you'll say something involving the word corporate, and that makes me think of business meetings...

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:50:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
She just told me to tell you that she wants you to paint a picture (just this once) rather than draw technical diagrams.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:53:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we have a problem here that I have no solution to, and which is applicable immediately here and in any long term community.

Let's say a number of people get together to work on a project. Input consists of contributions of differing values, by definition. Some people have more time than others, some have more creativity than others, some have nmore insight than others, some are more methodical than others, some have better contacts than others, and so on.

Each contribution is useful.

Some contributions may be essential.

It may not be obvious which is which. A chance remark from someone on the periphery can turn out to be the key to success.

Let's say the project is successful and income appears.

How should the income be distributed?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 09:02:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... but in an arbitrary method that is accepted by most as more or less legitimate.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 11:38:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Everyone votes what proportion of the proceeds everyone else but themselves should receive.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 01:29:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then how do you prevent cliques that have grown up during the project and have become convinced that their groups input was the most valuable from monopolising the credit/income?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 03:16:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because they only get a proportional share of the income to distribute as they see fit.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 03:24:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who defines the proportion?

Also, what happens if there's no agreement, or the voted distribution doesn't add up?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 07:08:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do I need to pull a diary on fair distribution out of my arse, now?

You have N people - you give each of them 1/N of the total to distribute as they see fit among the other N-1 people excluding themselves.

Each person then gets some assigned fraction of the total.

One can allow for different subjective valuations and payments in kind as well by means of an auction which guarantees everyone gets at least their subjective eveluation of what constitutes their share.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 11:57:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could we have this as a Diary, rg?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 04:14:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll get one up later today (hopefully)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 04:25:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Weber accounts to this the reification of the money unit of account, and the ultimate disconnection between the deeper susbstantive world that we live in and the formal world through which we understand the experience.

For me, the danger is less one of total collapse, than the double movement and repeating the same damn things we did in the last century again.

I was having a conversation with a friend from Africa, and we were talkinga about the transformation of Africa.  And how the use of wage arbitrage has eased the redistrutive conflict inherent to democracy by allowing the wealthy an out that makes democracy acceptable to them.  So in the end democracy is essentially equality.

Wage arbitrage eases the reaction of elites to democracy, because it allows them to prevent income equality.  So what happens when elites are no longer to evade the consequences of democracy by skipping out on the country?  Faced with redistributive conflict do the wealthy decide to kill democracy? Or was Marx essentially right about the march of history, just too optimistic about the time frame?

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 10:00:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Weber was bang on IMHO. Which is why the solution lies in a monetary system wherein Money is not an "Object" (particularly not one created as debt) but a Relationship, requiring an abstract "Value Unit" by way of a measure.

I am having an increasing amount to do with Africa, one way and another, and have been reminded recently by a very influential African - George Ayittey - quite how alien to Africa is the representative democracy the West insists on foisting upon them when they have evolved participative and consensual mechanisms which worked quite well until we barged in with our Maxim guns.

Similarly the nonsense of imposing Western systems of property rights on people who have entirely different concepts of collective "ownership" and use of commons like land in particular.

Wages - themselves a consequence of "Labour" for "Capital" - will IMHO also become obsolete. This will occur when the alternative of an "Open Corporate" (which need not even be recorded in writing, and may exist conceptually) structure wherein individuals work WITH Capital and share the production and/or revenues is understood.

From the little I know, and the even less I understand, I think Marx got a lot right, but that his assumptions were wrong.

I wish I understood exactly what you mean by "wage arbitrage", however, being a Bear of Little Brain economically.


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 10:30:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From wikipedia:

Economists use the term "global labor arbitrage" to refer to the tendency of manufacturing jobs to flow towards whichever country has the lowest wages per unit output at present and has reached the minimum requisite level of political and economic development to support industrialization. At present, many such jobs appear to be flowing towards China, though some which require English are going to India and the Philippines.



And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 10:44:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chris - you're still not facing the basic problem, which is that there are approximately two types of people in the world:

  1. Those who are happy sharing
  2. Those who want everything for themselves

No scheme is going to work unless it deals with this basic social reality.

The current financial system would be perfectly workable if it only had Type 1 people in it.

Conversely any political or social system can be, and will be, hijacked by Type 2s unless it has explicit built-in resilience against them.

No amount of financial or legal engineering will solve our problems unless it deals with this fact explicitly.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 10:57:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I couldn't agree more, having worked in the Belly of the Beast myself for quite long enough.

It's not a question of me "facing" anything, actually.

I am observing what people - very greedy Type 2 people for the most part - are actually doing with the new legal tools I observe, document and am analysing in my amateurish way.

Canadian "Income Trusts" did not emerge because Chris Cook said so, but because they work for both the providers and users of Capital.

And the use of UK LLP's/ US LLC's actually allows the same outcome more simply and with less cost and complexity because they are not encrusted with the legal barnacles of trust law.

Ditto Real Estate Investment Trusts ("REIT's") - I didn't invent those either, nor Exchange Traded Funds ("ETF's")and Sukuks and other "asset-based" alternatives to "the Corporation".

ALL of these present opportunities for practical alternatives to the existing "Debt/Equity" Public/Private paradigm even now cracking up under the strains imposed by the mathematics of compound interest.

All I'm doing is "Simplifying" and developing existing trends and emergent products. In order to do so, I am using the simplest and most flexible legal entities ever invented - by definition, since there is not even a requirement for a written agreement for an LLP, and few prescriptions for an LLC.

The consensual partnership-based methodology I observe actually have the effect of turning Type 2's into Type 1's because it is MORE PROFITABLE to share (and have a smaller piece of a bigger pie) than to do otherwise.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 11:26:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I sometimes think that Marx will be right after all, we only haven't reached the "global industrial society" yet, in which the revolution will take place (and the Marxists were all wrong in this respect).

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 12:34:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The only historic precedent for an economic collapse of an industrial society is the Great Depression.  

What is seen, should one care to look, is a halt to widespread product introduction and sales but an increase in scientific and technological investigation.  At the time, in the US, oil supplies were expanding and the energy from oil was cheap.  Thus the investigations used cheap energy as a given, therefore necessary, basis of the goods produced from those investigations.  With cheap energy slowly being eliminated as a given ongoing and future scientific and technological investigations will not assume cheap energy, the goods brought to market from those investigations will not be based on that assumption thus those goods will be more sustainable - however defined.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 01:40:17 PM EST
With cheap energy slowly being eliminated as a given ongoing and future scientific and technological investigations will not assume cheap energy

I may have this all backwards, but I think it is the abundance of cheap energy that is due to disappear.  Locally, if you have access to a wind or wave turbine, or the latest solar energy collector, your energy is coming close to "not very expensive at all", but maybe it just can't scale up to our current usage.  So selling objects (mass production for large markets) may become more scarce, and the objects longer lived, but it may be that locally energy will be part of the social contract (population helps install, maintain, upgrade etc.--paid through some form of area "tax", which might mean everyone having to help out, or offer some kind of new money into a pot) rather than, as now, an individual payment for X energy....only better expressed.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 01:47:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is due to disappear, as I understand it, is the ever increasing abundance of cheap energy, cheaply.  ;-)

Oil isn't going to disappear.  Oil, as I understand it, is going to eventually become more expensive to produce than the energy it produces to be used to produce oil.  Goods such as plastics are an end product of oil and currently require oil-as-energy to manufacture but there are other energy sources and those sources can be deployed.  At the present time, as I understand it, those alternative sources are under-utilized.

Also there is the possibility of new energy technologies being developed.  

Certainly as oil-as-energy increases in cost its use in the energy production cycle must and will decrease.  It has to.  As the cost increases the affects will spread into other, seemingly unrelated areas such as Land Use Patterns.  Again, it has to.  

Whether this/these shifts is/are Catastrophic in the Thom sense or catastrophic in the popular definition is unknown.  Too many factors affecting and effecting the shift - and each other - to be able to model.  

Despite all the doomin' and the gloomin' there are known techniques for alleviating problems encountered along the path.  In my own case the house I'm remodeling has 4 times the living area and consumes only 20% of the oil-as-energy of our current residence.  Why?  It was built according to the climate with materials (adobe primarily) and design appropriate to the area.  Thus the average internal temperature is +/-20 degrees F around ambient.  Much cheaper to raise and maintain the temperature 20 degrees than (as much as) 70 degrees during the winter as we need to do now.

I'm sure the same could be done for your area, as well.  (Tho' I ain't got a clue as to what it would be.)  

Of course some people's lifestyle will be affected by the changes.  Anyone, for example, enamored of driving around in their Hummer or other fuel-wasting Brontosaurus will face heartbreak (& tough shit.)  Suburbanities, of any country, are going to have to get used to either paying through the nose for their daily commute, car pool, use mass-transit, or dump their single-family detached residence.    

Again, again, all this has to happen.

I can't really see the heartburning about this.  It's like having a toothache.  Does one sit around, bitching and moaning, writing learned articles in scholary papers about the intensity of the aching, starting e-mail lists about how one's life has Gone to Shit because of the toothache ...

or go to the dentist?


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 02:44:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
God, Mig. You take me back 40 years or so.
One of the reasons why "A canticle for Leibowitz" is still such a widely admired piece of fiction is that Walter M. Miller tells stories on several levels at once- and all of them good stories.
The surface story was a sweeping future history about technology lost and a return to barbarism, with great characters, and wonderful humor.
Remember the poet- and the crushed toe and the "need for a goat"? All of which encloses a heartfelt discussion of technology and evil, and a tour de force of brilliant writing.
On the shimmering sun-baked horizon, A "wriggling iota". Wish I could do that.

The story was, however, a love story.

A story about the love of innocence, however strange, in the midst of failure and death.
Miller celebrates the wondrous mysteries of the world, even as it ends.
To all who comment here, ---if you haven't read it, gift yourself, and read the book.
 

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 02:30:05 PM EST
Retreating with friends from the various blogs to a spread somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, working collaboratively to produce food, raise families, and sustain knowledge and ideas in the face of coming doom. I expect more and more of this kind of thinking as people contemplate the future and witness the decay of information and the decline of knowledge that many of you have so well described.

At the same time it's worth considering that we've already built many of these kinds of ETopias through sites like this. I'm just a lurker here (I post as "eugene" at Daily Kos but have lurked here off and on since the place opened) but have been part of other dKos-spinoffs that were, I would argue, attempts to create this kind of self-sustaining, knowledge-preserving communities.

Moving that into the real world presents many difficulties, especially here in the neoliberal 21st century. But it's a project worth investigating.

As to Canticle, the book is fascinating on a number of levels, not the least of which was the effort of the very Catholic William Miller to reconcile his faith to the modern world. The insight of Canticle is that modern civilization rests on some rather Medieval foundations, and that when modern civilization faces terminal crisis (nuclear war, Peak Oil, climate change), it will return to those foundations through Medieval practices and ideas but also Medieval institutions.

What I find so interesting about your ETopia concept, or the others I've kicked around with my own circles, is the attempt to preserve modernity not in its use of the land, its dependence on extractive capitalism, but instead in its intellectual resources, its cultural produce. It's an effort to either find ways to make our current civilization sustainable by evolving new technologies to allow us to survive in small communes (and here I think of both the European usage of "commune" as well as the American '60s usage); or to return to a pre-19th century lifestyle that forsakes most of the modern technology but refuses to return to the ideas of a more Medieval era.

My fiancee is a librarian, an archivist by specialty. The question of information preservation in the digital age is one they grapple with regularly. They haven't yet come up with answers, but it may be worth investigating their discussions.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 02:45:45 PM EST
A friend of mine once blew my preconceptions by telling me that, basically, the renaissance was the introduction into western culture of (up to but not only) egyptian tech. ideas.  (I can't really argue that one, but if anyone wants I can go and find the arguments...)  The knowledge had been kept by the monks.

Monasteries were important contributors to the surrounding community. They were centers of intellectual progression and education. They welcomed aspiring priests to come study and learn, allowing them even to challenge doctrine in dialogue with superiors. The earliest forms of musical notation are attributed to a monk named Notker of St Gall, and was spread to musicians throughout Europe by way of the interconnected monasteries. Since monasteries offered respite for weary pilgrim travelers, monks were obligated also to care for their injuries or emotional needs. Over time, lay people started to make pilgrimages to monasteries instead of just using them as a stop over. By this time, they had sizable libraries which were sort of a tourist attraction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monastery

As I understand it, there have been highs of intellectual endeavour (e.g. when the greeks mixed with the persians) and lows; and it seems that during the lows the key knowledge of the time was held in isolated centres.  I may have got this all wrong, but the islamic scholars had their translations of the ancient greek texts, and when these were translated into latin @ 1000AD the renaissance started--it took four hundred years to finally blow the old church structure out of the water (check out the dates of the foundation of our oldest universities..)...but...heh...those who understand this better please correct my ignorances!

So I'm suggesting that ideas such as ETopia are part of a long tradition of seeing the darkness coming and setting up intellectual centres (and connected!) outside of (independent of) the main social channels.

Maybe the the surviving universities will have independent energy sources (wind, solar, geo-thermal, etc.), following the old lines of...

Since monasteries offered respite for weary pilgrim travelers, monks were obligated also to care for their injuries or emotional needs. Over time, lay people started to make pilgrimages to monasteries instead of just using them as a stop over.

(Herman Hesse's Glass Bead Game comes to mind.)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 03:37:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, if you talk to a medieval historian, they'll insist there was NO Renaissance at all, that the entire concept is flawed. But then I'm a 20th century historian, so I'm more willing to speak in those terms.

You're right that monasticism was one vector by which ancient knowledge was communicated to Europe in the High Middle Ages, as were the universities. Medieval Europe had lots of places where knowledge was kept and produced, but because of the organization of the society - intensely local and hierarchical - that didn't spread. What I see the ETopia concept as trying is the protection of knowledge in a fixed space without the parochialism or hierarchy that characterized Medieval institutions.

I think you make an excellent point about the recurrence of this phenomenon - taking steps to protect knowledge and intellectual activity from a crisis of civilization. Better than a repeat of the sack of the Alexandria Library.

And of course, Christian monasticism was a response to the collapse of Roman civilization and its trade networks - Benedict of Nursia as an example.

Interesting point about modern universities. I wonder if the nuclear reactor is still there on the UC Berkeley campus, down in the basement of Etcheverry Hall, or if it has been disassembled...

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 04:56:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, if you talk to a medieval historian, they'll insist there was NO Renaissance at all, that the entire concept is flawed. But then I'm a 20th century historian, so I'm more willing to speak in those terms.

Sometimes I wonder whether a critique that begins by rightfully pointing out a flaw in a concept doesn't have a natural tendency to over-reach and over-simplify as it is propagated, ending up finding more flaw than exists.

So, certainly neither the French nor Scottish Enlightenments lived up to what participants hoped that they were doing, nor did it entirely go where they hoped that it was going, but there were the participants and what they were actually doing, and we may as well call it "the Enlightenment".

So too, perhaps the Renaissance was not the clear break with the past that its enthusiasts may have imagined, either at the time or in later historiography, and it might not have been a distinct "stage" in historical development ... and certainly not even the first wave of translations of preserved texts from the Eastern to the Western Med (e.g., preceded by the Caliphate of Córdoba) ... but the pretension to a Rebirth still lends that period a distinctive character.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 12:25:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've thought about writing an article titled roughly "What does the end of the world look like?" along the lines of your brief entry. Had I been a soldier in the trenches of WW1 I'm sure I would have viewed it as the end of the world even if I survived. Same goes for other catastrophes. I often wonder what will come out on the other side a century or two from now.

I'll go think about that on the beach.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:16:09 PM EST
That sounds like a good diary.

But any 'monastic' solution has to survive by making itself politically indispensible. The Church did this by making everyone believe a fairy story about salvation. Protection was still patchy - every so often a thug would turn up and burn something down - but as camouflage it worked surprisingly well.

If we're going to be sliding back towards barbarism and superstition we might as well repeat what worked before with a new version of that narrative.

Buying some buildings and hoping to be ignored won't be enough.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:35:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
so which ETer do we nail to a windmill to start the new religion?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:44:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Make it a poll...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:46:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're going to be On the Beach, eh?

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:40:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I read your diary title, my first thought was you were referring to Yeshayahu Leibowitz

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 06:45:25 PM EST
... well, maybe followed by a mass die-off, maybe not. But when it becomes necessary to work out a new way of doing things, in a monetary production economy, we get one of those Great Depressions.

The last one was especially harsh ... a severe Depression is much easier to live through for a much larger portion of the population when 80% or more of the population can get 80% or more of what they need to live comfortably within their local community.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2007 at 11:59:12 PM EST
This time around, that's very much the problem.

Plus - depressions lead to political extremism, which leads to war.

And we really can't afford a world war.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 06:32:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... before, they count the cost after, if they are still around.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 04:30:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On more optimistic... well, more Brave New World-type pessimistic days, I think that pockets of advanced idustrial civilisation will survive by the power of arms, while the majority of both those inside and outside won't see a disaster caused by the collective errors of the past, only on-going conflicts, and will be preoccupied with religions and insane ideologies.

On more apocalyptically pessimistic days, I think un-managed shortages will lead to a boil-down of current states, with them that of most large-scale economy, and seven billion people scrambling to survive will  in turn cause an ecological collapse, which in turn leads to famines and wars destroying even isolated pockets of civilisation.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 07:26:47 AM EST
Apocalypse is a rather odd fantasy. To be derivative, I think this quote by Alex Steffen pretty much captures what bugs me about it:
If things do come unraveled, they present not a golden opportunity for lone wolves and well-armed geeks, but a reality of babies with diarrhea, of bugs and weird weather and dust everywhere, of never enough to eat, of famine and starving, hollow-eyed people, of drunken soldiers full of boredom and self-hate, of random murder and rape and wars which accomplish nothing, of many fine things lost for no reason and nothing of any value gained. And survivalists, if they actually manage to avoid becoming the prey of larger groups, sitting bitter and cold and hungry and paranoid, watching their supplies run low and wishing they had a clean bed and some friends. Of all the lies we tell ourselves, this is the biggest: that there is any world worth living in that involves the breakdown of society.

Of course at some hypothetical point we have to ask what we're going to do to deal with a collapse rather than to avoid it. Right now I think avoiding is still a realistic strategy.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 07:41:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The question is, can ETopia be set up both to avoid the disaster and to deal with it?

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 07:46:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well... ETopia, if it is to prevent a possible societal collapse it would need to be well-known and copied in various ways. In the face of an actual collapse, that might be dangerous. I think we're probably better off spread out in society.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:20:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A strategy to prevent has been available for quite some time.  In fact, many strategies. The problem has been- and remains- the will to act on any strategy. Since all strategy fails without the participation of the major polluters, that does not seem to be in the cards. So we are left with strategy to cope, and that is much less well defined. Since the US just pulled the plug on our next generation of orbital observational technology vis. global warming, the task of doing this strategy will be much tougher.

Does anyone else see a bizarre whiff of "end times" bulshit here?

It's as if the US were setting out to cripple any effort to cope, or prevent.


Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 02:09:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since the US just pulled the plug on our next generation of orbital observational technology vis. global warming

Can you diary this?

BTW, the US is on the path to global irrelevance. If only we could convince the EU Council of ministers not to bin Galileo...

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 02:10:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I can. But tonight I am posting on my laptop, since a hard drive crash has put my main megaphone in the bin. Four trips to Surcouf has not solved the multiple problems- Video card, bad power supply connector (intermittent) as well as four new drives (mirror backup with RAID card and double array), so first things first.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 04:15:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ouch, hope your array survives the other new hardware.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 03:18:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Galileo needs a rational financing structure.

Also a bit of imagination in relation to the applications it enables.

The "soft" authentication available using a combination of GPS and mobile location technology would be perfect for a global messaging/payments/clearing infrastructure.

Iraq's access - post "apocalypse now" - to global payment systems was (I don't know if it still is) essentially via satellite onto laptops.

I was involved in a bid six or seven years ago for a new satellite based payment system for Iran, but we pulled the plug on the bid when at the last minute someone asked for a 25% "commission".

As I recall, a French system got the contract....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 04:30:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is easy to document the evisceration of climate science, but very hard to document an intuition, Mig. Multiple whiffs of fundie drivel, and some good reporting is what I have to go on- there are endless anecdotes describing Bushian refences to a fundamentalist world view-- perhaps the most classic is when Bush was asked how he thought history would view his presidency, and he replied that it did'nt matter because we'd all be dead--

A bad joke?
A glimpse into the gourdian knot of his head?

Dunno. That's why I put it as a question.  

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 04:33:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The USA might head for political irrelevancy, but how fast will that reduce its fuel imports? While at the same time, China is fast rising as new big fossil-eater, and even while the EU does something, it's not enough.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 05:35:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On why I think that large cities could become unsustainable.

Large cities are a more efficient (smaller ecological footprint) settlement structure -- provided that

  1. there is cheap transport of resources, above all agricultural products;
  2. there is efficient organisation that is stable (be it a government or the anarchists' self-organizing).

Now if (a) oil becomes scarce, (b) transport as now structured will become more expensive, (c) the current petrochemical industrial agriculture will collapse, leading to food scarcity. (It doesn't matter whether 5% or 50% short of demand.)

A further consequence of (b) would be a reduction in organisation efficiency and stability. Further consequences of (a) (and (c)) would be an effort by those with power to secure the scarce resources for themselves. This on one hand could mean government rationing while the military is kept well supplied. On the other hand: robbery. Robbery, both for fuel and food, and suppliers evaluating the risk of robbery, would further limit food transport from afar into cities.

In short, I think citydwellers would be compelled to move closer to the sources of food. Even if the new, more rural settlement structure is able to feed less, even if bands of robbers roam the countryside. (They'd roam the cities, too.)

I think prior collapses of civilisations, most notably that of the (Western) Roman Empire and the Classic Maya (Tikal vs. Calacmul) give an example. But there is also a more recent occurence that I think is comparable. Look at this photo:

This is a Hamsterzug (="hamster train"), leaving Hamburg main station in 1946. Whence the name?

At the end of WWII, in Europe's bombed-out cities, urban food scarcity became a reality. What remained of transport infrastructure capacity was mostly used by the military. The nodes of the processing/distribution network were damaged, too, including slaughterhouses, mills, and shops themselves. There was widespread robbery, too.

So the lucky could temporarily move in with rural relatives (as some of my ancestors did). The less lucky travelled to the countryside and tried to 'buy' food from the peasants by giving them their valuables. But if nothing remained for sale, one thing remained: going into the woods to hunt for -- hamsters.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:04:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a) European food production could probably drop 50% without food shortages given the way we waste food.

b) You're confusing short-term dislocations with sustainability.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:11:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a) That's could, what about would? I think the time to organise less wasteful food usage is now, not when petro-shortage happens, then it's too late.

b) Why do you think that the future scenario I described is short-term dislocation? What happened in post-war Europe was short-term dislocation, because its causes were temporary (and local on a global scale), the causes of scarcity could be addressed. I don't think that applies to this future.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:26:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oil isn't likely to become scarce overnight. Realistically, you're talking at least a five to ten year period of rapidly rising prices, which is long enough for mechanisms like rationing and biofuels to eke out supplies along with crash programmes to move away from petro-chemical based argiculture. It wont' be pretty, but it won't be the aftermath of WW2 either.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:43:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless there is a catastrophic crop failure or something like that.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 09:47:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, GW could bring us catastrophic crop failures even (or even more yet !) with rising oil supplies. We are basically seeing it now in Australia, Ukraine, Russia, France: all are at least -25% below expectations, if not more. And the first 3 in my list are talking of closing exports, of course.

Catastrophic crops will kill hundreds of millions in the next few years, but western countries will not come up with a grain-equivalent of the IEA strategic reserves until there is a bad price-rationing in a developed nation. I expect this could occur soon at the US agribusiness level of the supply chain, if we get the same crops for a few more years, keep on the biofuel craze, and the eastern block cuts its exports to keep a lid on domestic prices. Given the job and money weight of US agribusiness, hopefully they will shout out loud enough.

Pierre

by Pierre on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 10:02:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
western countries will not come up with a grain-equivalent of the IEA strategic reserv

Have all the invention stores under the CAP been done away with?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 10:07:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I heard that we are down to just a few weeks of worldwide supply on all the major grains. I dunno if Europe fares much better. Also, increased consumption in processed food played a part. But essentially yes, the EC always considered the surpluses to be a liability that cost them a lot to keep domestic markets afloat and then they had to give away (and ship !) to starving Africans, whenever the wharehouses were overflowing. As prices went up, the need for subsidy-purchases disappeared, and probably they even thought they were wisely managing taxpayer money when selling remaining stocks at a profit...

Pierre
by Pierre on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 10:38:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that so many countries (including Ukraine "the breadbasket of Europe") are considering grain export constraints is very worrying, but I was thinking more along the lines of

Monbiot.com: Goodbye, Kind World

We now know, for example, that the Himalayan glaciers which feed the Ganges, the Bramaputra, the Mekong, the Yangtze and the other great Asian rivers are likely to disappear within 40 years. If these rivers dry up during the irrigation season, then the rice production which currently feeds over one third of humanity collapses, and the world goes into net food deficit.


Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 03:48:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well actually, the voting system only allowed me one vote. But it should be made more flexible: I do believe in the die off for about half of humanity. This is the reason I don't do international charity: I've more or less written off half of humanity. Helping them through present hardship will only allow them to live a miserable life a bit longer until new hardship comes, for which no fat rich westerner will make a check (cos' he'll be in a serious diet himself).

Pierre
by Pierre on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 04:14:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is a grim prospect, and I have to say I don't have a reason to doubt you're right.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 04:42:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And I'm a Doomer? ;-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 05:44:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can add China to your list:

[Edited from China Daily

By August 1, 110 million hectares of arable land had been hit by drought, nearly 2 million hectares more than in previous years, according to the latest statistics from the Office of the State Flood Control and Draught Relief Headquarters.

Jiangxi, Heilongjiang, Hunan, and Jilin provinces, and the autonomous regions of the Inner Mongolia and Guangxi Zhuang are the worst hit.

About one-third of arable land in the provinces of Jiangxi, Heilongjiang and Hunan have been affected.

The drought "poses a grave threat" to the autumn harvest Sun said during an inspection tour in Jiangxi yesterday.

Jiangxi is experiencing a drought that is estimated to occur only once in 50 years, with 866,000 hectares of crops affected.

Sun said the drought-stricken regions were the key grain production bases in China.




She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 09:25:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ou're talking at least a five to ten year period of rapidly rising prices

Was thinking in the same timeframe.

long enough for mechanisms like rationing and biofuels to eke out supplies along with crash programmes to move away from petro-chemical based argiculture.

That again sounds more like could than would (with the exception of biofuels, for which afew et al calculated a very low potential). If the process takes five to ten years, I'd 'count' on leaders to abandon any idea of a crash programme at the first sign of a recession, and keep to it for too long.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 05:42:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think prior collapses of civilisations, most notably that of the (Western) Roman Empire and the Classic Maya (Tikal vs. Calacmul) give an example. But there is also a more recent occurence that I think is comparable. Look at this photo:
We discussed this before. The populat perception of the end of the Western Roman Empire is coloured by the influence of British historians and the fact that in the British Isles urban civilisation went away with the Roman Legions. In Hispania, the very romanized Visigoths simply took over the Roman provinces. So your mileage may vary.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:14:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about Hispania, but in France or Italy, the Roman cities shrunk dramatically (including Rome itself), and most were abandoned more to the North. The Germanic kingdoms didn't have the organisation of their predecessors.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:19:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trans-Alpine Gaul would seem to naturally be a halfway position between the Britons and Iberia.

Roman cities were, of course, plumped up by the material inflows of Empire ... the receding of the Empire to the Eastern Med would naturally result in a reduced size.

Oddly enough, though, since the US imperial system was constructed in the aftermath of WWII, where the concern was not in gaining new wealth but in ensuring demand for existing productive capacity, including capacity to produce new plant and equipment, we would be enriched by the direct effect of losing the base network underpinning our imperial system.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 05:59:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trans-Alpine Gaul would seem to naturally be a halfway position between the Britons and Iberia.

Think of the very heart of the Empire, too. A city falling from one million inhabitants to 20,000.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 06:00:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, with the Roman cities proper specializing in living off the Empire, the collapse of the Empire in the Western Med hit Roman Italy hard.

Iberia was rather being lived off of, that's why I put Trans-Alpine Gaul halfway between the Britons and Iberia rather than halfway between the Britons and Italy ... as a matter of social as well as physical geography.

But I certainly aint no ancient historian.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 06:13:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I found this:

Tarraconesis (Hispania)

By the end of the third century after Christ, the emperor Diocletian made the final reorganization of Spain under Roman rule. He divided the province of Tarraconensis into three additional provinces: Cartaginensis, Gallaetia, and Tarraconensis. During this period trade began to decline. The gold and silver had been drained from the eastern coast, and the government responded by attempting to regulate wages and prices. Individuals were deprived of the freedom of movement and the right to change their occupations.

...but couldn't find any figures for Hispanian city populations after the fall of the Roman Empire (looked specifically for Tarragona/Tarraco and Barcelona/Barcino)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 07:07:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You sound like a hardcore Doomer. There's no way it could get that bad so quickly after peak oil. True, most petroleum use is in transport, but only a tiny fraction of all transport is foodstuff. And this would get priority over personal transport and fancy consumer goods. Only a century after peak oil would we have so little of the stuff left that we couldn't ship grain and flour into the cities of Europe. And by then, if we still haven't found a substitute, then surely we don't deserve to live on.

It's the same with the industrial-agriculture-is-doomed meme. Pesticides are a tiny volume of petrochemistry. They could be made with other inputs of CHON. Diesel for industrial machinery is again a tiny amount of total consumption. could already be replaced by diester without going mad about biofuel acreage (waste products are enough). The only true problem is natural gas used to make fertilizers (and not petroleum). It's several percent of all NatGas use, and if Peak Gas is a total cliff as expected, then it could bite into those few percents. But since what is needed is actually hydrogen, not natgas, we could still find substitutes, we have decades (like electrolysis from renewables of pyrocracking using solar heat).

Granted, phosphorus is a harder problem, but it is a bit less urgent than peak oil and gas. And I expect when peak oil hits the mainstream (that is, 20 years after it has happened and there is no concealing it anymore), it will change a lot in the way governments are held accountable to the management of these resources. So we are not entirely doomed as a specie. The biggest impacts will be socio-economic, and dense fuel-efficient cities are actually a way to mitigate this.

Pierre

by Pierre on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:54:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No going to argue that I agree, but it is easy to postulate mass die off in face of Peak Oil ... check www.dieoff.org, for example.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 10:32:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... used in oil-fed agriculture is consumed in transporting the finished product. There is oil consumed in producing the fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, oil consumed in breaking the ground for planting, sowing, and harvest.

Of course, for drying after the harvest its more likely to be natural gas.

About the only time our current agricultural system doesn't use oil is when the farmer is in the house in the evening, consuming coal or natural gas fired electricity.

Indeed, for all of the hoo hah about ethanol driving up corn prices, I saw a claim floating around cyberspace that the major factor driving up corn prices were oil price spikes.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 05:52:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IIRC, Hughes "Networks of Power" attributes the development of huge sources for electricity - hydro in USA and coal in Germany - during WWI to the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 07:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/4710219-claims.html


1. A method for producing a combined phosphate fertilizer and soil conditioner without employing a mineral acid, which consists essentially of the steps of:

(a) grinding a moist, acidic, organic waste material having a pH less than 5, a water content of at least 40% and lower calcium and phosphorous contents than the calcium and phosphorous contents of phosphate rock;

(b) heating the acidic, organic waste material ground during step (a) to a temperature of 40° to 120° C. and at a pressure of 16 to 22 bar;

(c) grinding phosphate rock to a particle size of 0.02 to 1 mm;

(d) heating the phosphate rock ground during step (c) to a temperature of 50 to 800° C.;

(e) combining the ground, acidic, organic waste material obtained during step (b) as the sole acidic reactant with the ground phosphate rock obtained during step (d) at a pressure of 20 to 55 bar to permit the ground, acidic, organic waste material and the ground phosphate rock to collide, to cause disintegration of the phosphate rock; and

(f) cooling the mixture obtained during step (e) to 20° to 40° C. to obtain the desired product which contains almost all nutrient elements of phosphate rock.

  1. A method for producing combined phophorus fertilizer and soil conditioner according to claim 1, in which the organic reactant is bark waste.

  2. A method for producing combined phophorus fertilizer and soil conditioner according to claim 1, in which the organic reactant is peat or peat mud.

  3. A method for producing combined phosphorus fertilizer and soil conditioner according to claim 1, in which the organic reactant is waste fibre from a cellulose production plant.

  4. A method for producing combined phosohorus fertilizer and soil conditioner according to claim 1, in which the organic reactant is sawdust.

  5. A method for producing combined phosphorus fertilizer and soil conditioner according to claim 1, in which the organic reactant is the solid component of communal sewage.

  6. A method for producing combined phosphorus fertilizer and soil conditioner according to claim 1, in which the amount of water-soluble phosphorus in the fertilizer is regulated by the pH of the reagent mass.

  7. A method for producing combined phosphorous fertilizer and soil conditioner according to claim 1, in which the amount of water-soluble phosphorus in the fertilizer is regulated by calcium and phosphorus content of the reagent mass.

  8. A method for producing combined phosphorus fertilizer and soil conditioner according to claim 1 which the amount of water-soluble phosphorus in the fertilizer is regulated by the reaction temperature.

  9. A method for producing combined phosphorus fertilizer and soil conditioner according to claim 1, in which the amount of water-soluble phosphorus in the fertilizer is regulated by the duration of the reaction.

  10. A method for producing combined phosphorus fertilizer and soil conditioner according to claim 1, in which the amount of water-soluble phosphorus in the fertilizer is regulated by the weight ratio of the fresh organic mass and the dry phosphate rock.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 03:35:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There you go ... Claim 6 goes along with the towns and cities populated at urban densities.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 06:17:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
no way it could get that bad so quickly after peak oil

I didn't specify a timeline, so I don't understand why both you and Colman thought of "quickly". I am thinking of decades for the whole process.

only a tiny fraction of all transport is foodstuff. And this would get priority

Why do you think so? I am not at all certain. It could get priority after government gets priority, which only means that pressures will be stronger elsewhere. (A hefty recession after the creduction of production capacity in major industries, but this time permanent unlike in the thirties, wouldn't be pretty.)

Pesticides are a tiny volume of petrochemistry... Diesel for industrial machinery is again a tiny amount of total consumption.

It's not the amount that matters most. You forget about costs rising strongly for farmers. Couple that with the lending market one could expect.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 05:57:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you ... never knew of 'hamster trains' ...

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 10:33:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry DoDo, but to hamster actually means to gather, like Hamsters do before they hibernate. Surely people will also have eaten Hamsters, but the word and its usage is older than the 2nd world war.

hamster in etymologischem Woerterbuch

by PeWi on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 06:41:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Westfälisches Eisenbahnmuseum Münster - Wikipedia
Zusammen mit einem original restaurierten preußischen Abteilwagen des Jahres 1927 werden regelmäßig sogenannte ,,Hamsterfahrten" nach Enniger zum inzwischen zu einer Kneipe umgebauten Bahnhof Pängel Anton unternommen. Der Begriff ,,Hamsterfahrt" bzw. ,,Hamsterzug" erinnert dabei an die ersten Nachkriegsjahre des Zweiten Weltkriegs, als die Städter regelmäßig mit dem Zug ins Umland fuhren, um sich mit Lebensmitteln einzudecken.


Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 12:09:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yes, but the point is, that they got food mainly in exchange for something. They did not go to find Hamsters, but to illegally trade.
by PeWi on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 05:06:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
D'oh! Didn't knew it. But I swear I did read of hunting for hamsters...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 05:25:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You all know my view..

Probability of the end of the Earth by human fault 0.00000000000000000000000000000000001 %

Probability for the end of biology on the earth by human fault 0.00000000000000000001 %

Probability of human disappearance of the Earth ata ny point in the future: 100%

Probability of human disappearance in the next 500 years: 0.0000001%

Probability of ending the present capitalism structure in the next 500 years: 100%

Probability of ending any form of captialism in the next 500 years due to enviromental and human constrains: 50%

Probability of smooth or sharp adaptation of capitalism to environemntal constrains: 50%

Probability of strong depression as a way to adapt and change the "capitalism definition" : 30-50 %

Probability  of sudden die-off of one-fifth of the human population in the next 500 years: 0.1 %

Probability of population number decline in the next 500 years: 75 %

Probability of ending the knowledge structure together with the capitalism structure: 5 %

Probability of losing agricultural and industrial basic knowledge of our civilization together with capitalism: 0.0001% ... or 0.000000000000000000001%

And the oen everyone is thinking really about.. the combine probability of having either a sharp depression to restructure capitalism or sudden strong enviromental constrains due to global warming or water-biospehre cycles..... I will put my numbers (ideology) at 60 %.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:45:19 AM EST
Nice (almost) Bayesian priors...

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 09:46:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what else could they be ?  :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 01:07:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you underestimate the probability of a sudden die off of a large share of the human population : they have happened regularly in the past, and our bio-medical technology might not be able to prevent a new, fast spreading disease.

See what is happening with AIDS in Africa ; the same could actually happen, as it did with the Plague before the Renaissance.

BTW, the Renaissance was literally a rebirth of population at the end of the middle ages ; it had been almost divided by two after the Plague and the Hundred Years wars. The subsequent social and cultural transformations, as humans became rarer, were major factors in starting up the Renaissance.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 09:50:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IMHO the Renaissance is a textbook example of adaptive radiation following the 14th Century Extinction event, transposed from the context of biological evolution to cultural evolution.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 09:54:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's why aI took a quite strogn definition of die-off at one fifth.. One fifth events are particularly rare.. even in human history... I wanted to indicate that human populations ..e ven in rare circumstances do not ahve one-fifth ratio fo deaths.. unless they are unleashed by other group of people killing them directly...

And I think that the probability of soem sudden global war among large groups of people is not taht high... but maybe I am being too optimistic.. the thing is that a global war could get ut of control and affect those in command of it.. making it much more less palatable.

ANd massive die off due to economic circumstance are very rare (although it can help to increase the risk of some population.. but frankly most of the people in the world already do).. and regarding soem kind of ecologic cataclism.. well it will be pattern based and local.. so there can be massive disruption ... refugwees... but not reaching the one-fifth threshold.... that was my point..

Of course ... the probability of major climate catastrophe includes an increase in the death rate... but not a massive die-off...... but I do not call 100 million people dying suddenly due to a rise water leves a "massive die off"... because it does not reach the 1 billion people threhold.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 01:03:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... governments are focused more on maintaining a political dialogue that supports their continued rule than in maintaining a political dialogue that supports a clear view of reality.

In that context, it is not necessary for leaders to pursue a course of action that they see has a serious prospect of causing their injury or death ... it is simply necessary for leader to pursue a course of action where becoming aware of those types of consequences requires people to say what is politically damaging to be heard saying.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 04:40:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I was a massive reader of sci-fi literature growing up and Canticle for Leibowitz was a work that I read multiple times.

And, well, we are making sci-fi reality with things like wireless internet and other 'futuristic' advances.

But, I fear that the doom-literature like Canticle for Leibowitz are becoming ever more possible. This is sci-fi that I don't want anyone to go through.

And, as for being able to accept die-off/such, as a parent this is a nightmare scenario.  It is possible, but it is one that I am fighting to maintain as 'scenario' rather than reality.

In any event, thank you for the reminder. Somewhere in my attic are multiple books meriting re-reads.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 10:29:58 AM EST
And, as for being able to accept die-off/such, as a parent this is a nightmare scenario.  It is possible, but it is one that I am fighting to maintain as 'scenario' rather than reality.

Yes.
You have to love someone--then it becomes an unacceptable scenario, and worthy of your very best efforts to prevent--rather like the feelings of an Iraqi parent struggling to save his child from cholera--or Blackwater.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 04:40:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I have a worry, it's not  a failure of technology, it's more a failure of craft. As we have replaced lower level technologies with new improved energy dependant technologies,  we have lost the knowledge of how to do things without the energy input.

My worry is that we are facing the future something like Wylie E Coyote and at some point we will have  run over the edge of the cliff and be standing in midair without the tools to work back up from a lower level.

that's at the limits of technofear though.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 11:05:10 AM EST
As we have replaced lower level technologies with new improved energy dependant technologies,  we have lost the knowledge of how to do things without the energy input.

That much is obvious. De Anander's frequently refers to the issue making it sound as if it had been an intentional top-down decision made by technocrats to destroy existing knowledge of low-tech crafts.

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 11:16:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I tend to think it's more down to inherrant human laziness, the power of quantity over quality, and the low status given to teachers more than any specific technocratic conspiracy.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 11:26:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because we're not the only ones who worry about impending doom...

The Rosetta Project is an initiative of the Long Now Foundation which is building an online archive of human languages, as well as designing a physical back-up through its aesthetically very pleasing Rosetta Disks.

The project, in my assessment, is multifunctional in that it deals with a current problem but also with possible future issues, and it has a level of redundancy, in terms of the format.

The Svarbard Global Seed Vault will be a crop biodiversity vault built deep within a mountain on Spitsbergen. The project, paid for by the Norwegian goverment, will provide a backup in case local disasters strike a regional genebank (as the BBC reports, this occured in the Philippines) as well as being a backup in the case of a more global disaster.

There's also talk of a Moon Ark, but I think that is rather silly.

(Seed Vault and Moon Ark thru WorldChanging)

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 11:51:29 AM EST
Scientific and other knowledge could be typically a sooner rather than a later casualty of a deep crisis. What remains might be often a very non-representative part of the knowledge existed: a few baffling mathematical or astronomical observations may stay around, but some simple technological tricks would strangely look missing. How often that occurred through the history? How much can Occam's razor help us to know?

As DeAnander tells, much knowledge is lost in "improving" times as well. One speculative example is Lucio Russo's hypothesis that Helleniac greeks already had a deep understanding of science methodology, but it get lost amid Roman "efficiency".

Booming times are in fact ordained predecessors of busts. Collapses happen under special conditions, and any unusual flourishing very likely has roots in removed brakes against the special conditions. Say, the stock market has higher risk of collapse precisely when it is growing beyond expectations.

In economic jargon, the Western (or capitalist) civilisation is highly leveraged one - it is performing better than any social arrangement most of the time, but there is a "systematic" risk of meeting growth boundaries. Here we can see a conflict of empirical induction and Popper's falsification logic: people tend (or are persuaded) to follow behaviors that appear to be most successful currently, even if those behaviors cannot possibly give the same success to everyone. Eventually, one has to take risks to be most successful. But statistically, the same risks are rewarding to a predictable portion of participators. Or worse yet, the flourishing conditions for "everyone" are destroying themselves under growth. And once conditions unnoticeably change, a "rare event" arises, unpredictable from the empirical time series of merry growth. Then your usual compulsion can hurt and bankrupt you.  

Of course, the "rare events" can be deduced from basic knowledge of the world. But purely logical deduction is dull and inferior to empirical induction in practical importance most of the time. Even if you suspect bad turns, you are pressed not to fall behind in "performance". Staying with the herd looks safe enough.

Most of the institutional investors who thought that risk was mispriced were nevertheless reluctant to invest on that view because of the cost of carrying that trade. Since virtually all such institutional investors are agents and not principals, they could not afford to take a position that involved a series of short term losses. They would appear to be better investment managers by focusing on the short term gains that could be achieved by going with the herd to enhance yield by assuming increased credit risk.
by das monde on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 11:18:24 AM EST
Other angle is provided by Naomi Kleins' new book "The Shock Doctrine". (A long review is here.) The difficulty of handling "rare" shocks can be employed in conflicts to confuse and defeat adversaries; Pentagon claimed to have adopted this philosophy in Iraq (remember Boyd's "Patterns of Conflict" and Rumsfeld's poetry).

But if shocks are so effective in confusing and reorienting people and societies, wouldn't anyone use them more broadly? According to Naomi Klein, capitalist elites are making use of all sorts of shocks to concentrate more power for themselves. Chicago school shock therapies in Chile, Argentina, Russia, Poland did nothing but impoverish small businesses and much of broad population, and gave huge profits or power to relatively few. The 1997 Asian crisis had feeble reasons and was savable, but it allowed to buy up Asian enterprises for cheap. The Katrina hurricane and the 2004 Christmas tsunami allowed to purge poor residents of New Orleans and the tropical coasts for more "effective" development. If "shock and awe" is working as designed in Iraq, their real adversary is Iraqi people. The capitalist elites make every crisis an opportunity exclusively for themselves.

Taking to the extreme, an Armagedon type crisis would suit them "perfectly", or so they may think. They see market meltdown, global warming and peak oil coming, and they may be eager to meet them soon. They will know how to manipulate confusion and fear, and they know what they want to take. They can take all over the world, and have totalitarian power unseen on Earth. Unprivileged survivors would wake up in the world without any pretence of democracy and universal rights. History would be written where George W is a great saver, and slaves would be grateful to suffer. The elite would keep selective knowledge exclusively for themselves, and may have an energetic policy to pursue any Albertians and Prometheuses. Unwanted knowledge would have to survive for long centuries to be of use again.

Why wouldn't they do it? The profit growth would stop with a collapse, wouldn't it? Or is so that no profit growth or wealth gap can beat the attraction of power dominance? Once the position of the elites is secured, they can forget profit competition and cooperate nicely, thank you.

Would they succeed? Would an Armageddon be a different kind of "rare event" than they are used to know? Would something (or someone) shock themselves into obedience?

by das monde on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 11:29:16 AM EST
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