Petty Criticisms of a Nice Post by Charles

I drop by over at "of Two Minds" on a semi-regular basis.  Charles isn't in my regular string of readings, but he is solid enough to wander over at least once a week to get the lay of the land.

So, this blog is about eating and its role and and its preconditions.

Now, I heartily commend the premise of his May 19th post.  How little can you get away with for nutrition to keep the body and soul working.  $220 (yes I round) is a pretty damn fine effort for food for the month.  I have to support that.  And major karma kudos are being beamed his way from the inside of my cranium.

But I especially take umbrage at the "Costco" suggestion.  I can think of no place that deserves contempt more than that pile of steaming crap that serves as the central altar of American consumerism.  I am polite to folks who use it, hell, I even ask my ex-mother in law to pick up a sack of coffee beans on occasion, when my tightwad nature overwhelms my revulsion, but I think that almost anyplace would be worth the difference in cost.  I tend to recommend Cash and Carry or Grocery outlet as provisioners.  They are significantly less icky and filled with a lot fewer greedhead Hippie/Yuppie/Boomers.

I have been cracking away at keeping track of my food costs.  But I approach it differently.  I tend to look at food in two different models:

  1. Food as fuel:  this is the day to day stuff, a proper mix of calories, fiber, and nutrients.  Has to taste decent, but definitely nothing fancy.  My go to is a mix irice and beans with a smidgen of pork and spices for flavor.  Easy and cheap    But the overall issue is cost control and getting over the fucking idea that every meal has to be a fucking work of art.  One of the things about the hippie/yuppie/boomers is that they use food to prove their superiority.
  2. Food as a celebration.  By eating low on the food chain for a while, you kinda get bored, so once a week of so, spend a little coin, splurge on some goodies and make yourself some damn fine grub.  Hell, you can even go out to eat and enjoy the non-action of someone else cleaning up behind you
My feeling is that condition two pleasures have a direct relationship to how much you enjoy your celebrations.  If all you eat is fancy "worthy of a cell phone snapshot and post to your blog" food, how is it a celebration?  Now I realize that Charles eats pretty low on the food chain, but in a sense it contaminates his message.  You can each cheap, you can even even eat well, but you have to change the way you think about food.

Skinny or fat, young or old....you gotta throw some ergs at the running gear for this particular iteration of the soul.  The manufactured need for "only the best, all of the time"...even when you game it as a cost-control issue, is a way to set up to to have "needs" that will need to be ditched in a crunch.

Might as well go with the fuel idea with the occasional treat.


A concise analysis

Donald Trump is for people who have already been thrown off the boat
Bernie Sanders is for folks who have just figured out they are next
Hillary Clinton is for folks who think that their tickets mean something



The real question one needs to ask oneself this election is:
Now, which you you prefer?  An Oligarchy or a Caudillo?


Been spending a lot of time lurking


And other such sites which are my bread and butter.

So, as I get ready to start writing again, I have made a solemn vow.  I will not allow comments that violate basic rules of spelling, grammar, and logic.

The responses at Zerohedge are the worst.  The norm is to violate all three of the above rules in the first sentence alone.

I like the responses at Sic Semper Tyrannis best.  The Colonel runs a tight ship (how is that for a mixed metaphor!).

And don't even think of mentioning Ayn Rand in other than an abusive and mocking fashion.


So: Should I start again?

Been out for a couple of months now.  The world is getting stranger and my ability to see what is going on reduced.  Even worse, my mental models have all taken a great deal of "ground truthing" damage.

So, after the first, don't be too surprised to see me back.

Don't expect any predictions though.


On a Holiday

I haven't been writing much, mostly I have been living my life and getting to position for "later".

I am the new and proud inhabitant of a approximately 750 sq ft (70 m2) studio apartment instead of a 1500 sq foot house.  The two young men who I have been living for the past 19 years  with have made their own arrangements for now.

The move itself was reasonably painful,  around ten loads to the local goodwill, over 1,000 pounds to the dump.  Good riddance to all, the pain was in the concrete examples of the crap that I thought was necessary and bought, only to be discarded in the end.

So now I am stripped to the minimums, and I feel remarkably good about it.  A kitchen table/desk, a laptop, a couch, two kitchen chairs, a bench, a bed, a headstand, six framed wall hangings, two lamps, kitchenware, and old wooden 10 gallon wine barrel that serves nicely as a end table.  I still have my TV (while the owners and players are all a bunch of overpaid prima donnas, the game is still a great game) plugged into an air antenna and a couple of other racks racks for storage.

I kept a couple of books, but mostly I read on my Kindle.  The 160 books that it currently contains would just take too damn much room.  The cell phone is my means of communication, I do have a bare bones high speed internet only connection.

My music is played over bluetooth to a middling decent speaker.  I may have to upgrade this, but truth be told, I am probably just going to get a good set of headphones instead.

Now that I have finished, I can state that the first step of the "collapse now, avoid the rush" is not at all painful.  You might want to consider it.


Hothouse Flowers

"Die Heuernte" by Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1526/1530–1569) - Christian Vöhringer – Pieter Bruegel, 1525/30–1569. Tandem Verlag (h.f.ullmann imprint) S. 96 ISBN 978-3-8331-3852-2. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Die_Heuernte.jpg#/media/File:Die_Heuernte.jpg

So, Ugo Bardi (who seems to be a great guy, one of these days I would love to toss back a couple with him) is writing interesting things again.  Like last time, I don't exactly agree with him, but his thoughts did provoke me enough to allow me to sit down and respond.

Since it was (and is) a leisurely Sunday morning, I thought that I would wander through his article and make certain that I had the background down.  It was interesting.  First a blast from the past and a creepy reminder of work done other than Dune written by Frank Herbert.  Then, over to the Doomstead Diner for some light reading and a brief survey.  

When I clicked on the link about "Near-Term-Extinction" I was promptly shuttled over to the site maintained by that dickhead Guy McPherson and that kinda pissed me off, but I persevered.   I read the stuff and decided that McPherson is still a dickhead and kinda moved on.

Ugo amused me with the phrase "A lot of things can happen in several tens of thousands of years".  As I had just finished Neal Stephenson's new EOTW book "Seveneves", it struck be even funnier as one of the sections heading in this book is "THE HABITAT RING CIRCA A + 5000".

I wonder is Ugo was reading Seveneves when he wandered into possible future speciation.   As this is one of the cores of Neal's work, I wonder if the Hugo and the folks he linked to have the same Neal Stephenson habit that I have.

But overall the article is a pretty broad overview of what everyone already knows;  Shit changes, that shit is changing, and it looks to be getting ready to change even faster in the none too distant future.


I'm sorry.

I got nothin'.

I promise when I get something I will write.


Butlerian Jihad (Repost From 2011)

"The target of the Jihad was a machine-attitude as much as the machines," Leto said. "Humans had set those machines to usurp our sense of beauty, our necessary selfdom out of which we make living judgments. Naturally, the machines were destroyed."
                                                                                  Frank Herbert, God Emperor of Dune

To start, I would highly recommend reading the entire article by Chris Skrebowski over at the ODAC.  Then make the jump with me as to why the lesser developed countries get such a huge economic boost from relatively small amounts of oil.  The law of diminishing returns is at play here.
Why is China’s tolerance higher? Because the value of oil is higher there. For example it is fairly clear that the economic benefit of the first car in a family is much greater than that of the third. Similarly the productivity gain from the first truck in a commercial fleet is greater than that of the twentieth. This observation suggests that rapidly industrialising economies such as China and India have a higher marginal productivity from an incremental barrel of oil than in more developed economies.
This in turn poses a terrifying question: Would this higher price tolerance mean developing economies could keep developed economies in growthless stagnation by paying oil prices that were just above those that bring developed economies to an economic halt?
This really cuts to the nut of the problem that the industrialized world faces.  It points at a problem that Mayberry and I have been discussing.   When you think about the way that energy is used in this country, you might say that, along with peak oil, we are looking at peak return on investment.  The amount of power that we use is inappropriate to the economic realities.  Hence the inordinate use of power.

We have powered everything.  We put a motor or engine on everything because we are too damn lazy to do the minimal amount of work required to simple household tasks.  Pound a nail?  Fuck that, but a compressor and a nail gun, groovy.  Screw a screw?  Piss on that noise,  buy an electric drill.  Mop the floor?  Buy a floor cleaner.

All of these things suck power.  All of these things increase the rate that you are able to get the job done (I won't say efficiency, that is still in question, but they certainly do make tasks fit well within our legendary fifteen -minute attention span. When you go to other less-developed countries, they use the older hand powered systems.  Now, all of the first part of this article is a set up, the next is an apparent non-sequitur, but look hard and the ghost of Ned Ludd still appears and makes it clear and connected

Now, we have been bleeding jobs for years now.  I would guesstimate (which is every bit as accurate as BLS statistics) that around twelve to fourteen percent of our neighbors and friends don't have a job or have a job worth having.  That is because our beneficent leaders, the corporations, have replaced us with robots.  They don't appear to be stopping this trend any time soon.  Every thing has a motor attached to it for the express purpose of getting rid of a human body so that a mid-level manager can move up the line for eliminating one of his employees.

The issue that we need to be dealing with is the distribution of wealth and the need for humans to have a job.  Mechanization and robots are there solely to increase production and decrease human costs.  Both of these functions are questionably appropriate in the current and future economic milieu.

We have had a systematic concentration of power in the hands of the large corporations at the expense of first, the lower class, and now the middle class.  This trend is accelerated by the political class, but remember above all, that it is the machines, wielded by the corporate managers, who drive the trend.


OK....Bunch of assumptions and SWAG, I just trying to lay down some groundwork here

So, my man-crush JMG sez we ought to go back to a 1950's technology level:

Imagine, for a moment, that an industrial nation were to downshift its technological infrastructure to roughly what it was in 1950. That would involve a drastic decrease in energy consumption per capita, both directly—people used a lot less energy of all kinds in 1950—and indirectly—goods and services took much less energy to produce then, too.

The idea has merit, but the numbers I come up with show a different picture

So here is the way that I am thinking about looking at things.

It isn't so much the total amount of oil produced/imported that matters, it is the quantity of oil per capita that matters.

Then, take a peek at this graph:

Data taken from EIA 

So gentle readers, lets make some assumptions for the sake of argument.

First, the assumption that wells will keep pumping. But I post that the import fraction of our consumption will begin to dry up and the fracking will come back on line.  I make some ball park guesses below about the imports available to the US.

Second, the fracking, when it comes back on line will dry up in around 10 years from restart, the phase "squeezing blood from a turnip" is the principle that will drive this.

So I am asking you to go back one page and take a look at how I come up with my S.W.A.G. (scientific wild-ass guess) for US production of oil in 2023.

So, really, what we are looking at is a steady decrease in overall oil supply and a lower oil consumption per capita and a correspondingly lower technology base.

I could run a new spreadsheet to add things together to give you a false impression of precision and accuracy, but when one is throwing together SWAG, that is considered bad form.

SO take the year 2023 (eight years from now) and add the oil production sans fracking and the imports that we will be able to access and you get this

Estimated US Oil Production:  1.5 Billion Barrels
Estimated US Oil Imports:  2.2 Billion Barrels
Total available US Oil:  3.7 Billion Barrels
Estimated US Population:  346 million
Estimated US Oil per capita:  10.69 Barrels

So, going back to JMG.

He posits a 1950's level lifestyle/technology base.  Well in 1955 the US oil consumption per-capita was 16.8 barrels.  In 2013, the oil consumption per capita was 17.5 barrels.

So, if we follow JMG's thoughts, we are looking at a per capita consumption roughly equivalent to 1941 in eight years.

Now, truth be told, there was not a lot of difference in technology between '41 and '55.  So maybe he os on to something.  But the downward slope of the oil curve will continue to be negative.

I am thinking that we maybe ought to be looking at the 1920's instead.