Monday, July 10, 2017

The Deal's going down

Music to listen to:

I am a known and well documented Eeyore:  I wear it with pride.

I also recognize that said "Eeyore-ishness" is a function of age and is definitely directly related to my ever increasing dotage.  But let me take this moment of your time (and by doing so, call into question your time management skills) to explain how the process of looking at the world through the lens of cynicism sometimes gives one an advantage.

Star align.  Things happen in cycles.  There are portents out there, they aren't found by epiphanies. They are teased out by paying attention to the world around you, looking for clues in mundane things and mass movements.

Most importantly, at the end of the day, the ability to accept that your vision of the future is nothing more than assignment of probabilities to a set of future outcomes.  It also requires the understanding that one's vision into the future can never, ever reach certainty.

Most everyone in the US today is infected by the false myth of a "Positive Mental Attitude" having an effect on the way the world goes.  This shit is an outgrowth of the hippie bullshit ginned-up by the self-actualization, follow your bliss idiots.  It is a great way to make yourself happy, but it most certainly isn't a way to take a realistic view of what is coming.

Positive outcomes are only a part of the world.  Bad things happen to good people, Good things happen to bad people.   The PMA people are closing their eyes to a real set of possible outcomes, and by doing so, they are limiting the planning and thought that they can do in advance to ameliorate the negative.

So, in the twisty little back alleys of my stunted prescience gland, I have arbitrarily assigned a 30% chance of bad outcomes as a red-line for concern.  Less than that, things are just operating as normal, more than that, it is time to put some thought into mapping out a set of possible future scenarios and thinking through how to best navigate them.

For the past four or five years, the state of affairs here in the land o' the free have not bumped over the 30% tripwire.  But I began to notice an upward movement in my "well shit" meter in early-to-mid-2016.   The eventuality of the election of one of two completely unacceptable choices started the push toward the magic 30%.  Well, in a nutshell, in the last week or two, the meter has pushed over the mark.

Look, I reckon that we are about 31% chance of a bad outcome at the national level. Bad outcomes at the national level drift down to make up a bigger shitstorm that I have to navigate.  This in turn makes it harder to live the simple life I so fervently desire, more chances of me having to live in an even smaller footprint than I currently reside (and that is with me consciously doing everything that I can to decrease my footprint).

There are still the usual suspects out there.
  • Energy use his heading downhill.  Now this might seem like a good thing, and it is a good thing in the long run, but for now, energy use and economic activity are intimately entwined.  If this keeps slipping, the economy may continue to slip with it.
  • Maybe it is different this time, but 2017 is looking a lot like 2007.  Real estate and stock market looking decidedly "frothy" and overpriced.
  • Trump is a buffoon, but he was elected fair and square.  It is looking more and more like the folks in Washington might do something stupid.  This might start us down the path of the Romans,  It won't probably be a revolution like one expects out of a steady diet of Hollywood, but remember, removing the Gracchi started Rome down the path.
  • It looks like the folks in the NeoCon wing have gotten enough mojo together to trick Trump into upping the ante again in the Middle East and in Korea.
  • Politics are seriously poisoned.  We are still under the force of law of the stupid debt limit, the Democratic party is in a shambles, the Republicans are a clown car with no leadership (Thanks Donald), the corporations and the rich are in charge and all else is getting poorer.  There is a decent chance that the guvmint might shut down in the fall.
  • The disparity in wealth is getting worse, I cannot find a time when this ever turned out well.   Jobs are being eaten by offshoring, migrants, and automation. When the AI boom starts getting serious traction, wait until you see what this does to the office crowd.
  • Climate change/global warming/environmental degradation is starting to get traction.  We have known about this since the sixties, just never saw any reason to change what we are doing.  It is just starting to get noticable.  It isn't going to get better.
There are more. but I think that this listing will provide you with a basic idea of the reasons that the chances of shit going wrong are high.  All of these phenomenon are in process now.  It appears to me that they are all inter-related and they are starting to feed off of each other.

Now, I am trying to take a look at what may cause movement in the opposite direction.  Truth be told, I don't see much.  The plans that people have seem to be patches to keep the party going the way that it is going, rather than the changes required to move to something that works better.
But there is hope among the youth.  I think that, for the most part, they see that the way that the deal is going down is not going to be helping them.

Most of the fixes to the macro-structures that dominate the human ecology that is the political-economic realm are really not serious about making the changes needed to move to a mature society. They tend toward the flim-flam and the promoter who tells people that they can have what they want rather than working out the ways to downshift to a system that is less energy dependent.
So, when I note that things are kinda going to hell right now, there are several big caveats that must be addressed:
  1.   The "going to hell" process is indeterminate.    No one is exactly sure where Hell starts and the road to it ends.  All I note is that we are on the path and I am trying to find a sign which tells me how far it is until we get there.
  2. What I really most about is those things I haven't thought about.  It is those thing that you don'e expect that need the most looking for.  I have a truly bad feeling that the thing that sucker punches us will be something that will leave me saying:  "Didn't see that one coming".

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Wasting Potatoes

Step one of the process is the fermentation medium.  In distilling terms this is called a "wash".  Simply put, is sugar and nutrients for the yeasty-beasties that they can eat up and poop out alcohol.

I am starting with potatoes.  440 grams are chopped up and put into a measuring cup

The measuring cup is filled up to the 1 liter mark with tap water.  Total weight of potatoes and water is 981 grams. (541 grams of water)

Potatoes/water placed in pot and brought to a boil....heat is reduced to achieve a slow boil and potatoes are cooked for 30 minutes.

After boil, total volume reduced to 850ml.  Added 150mL tap water.

Let cool to about 155 C.  

Added 1/8 teaspoon of alpha amylase.  Amylase is the enzyme that converts starch to simple sugars.  Yeast can't eat starch, so you have to break it down for them.  A starch is just a chain with the individual links being simple sugars

Wait an hour:  Leave the pan on the burner to scavenge residual heat and slow cooling.

Measured the specific gravity..  1.024.... I can get out of this is a 4.5%....not enough for good distillation.....back to the drawing board

Monday, July 3, 2017

How Should we Live?

“Of all the changes that the twentieth century has brought, none goes deeper
than the disappearance of that unquestioning faith in the future and the absolute value of our civilization which was the dominant note of the nineteenth century
Dawson, Christopher (1956). The Dynamics of World History, Sheed and Ward, New York
In a sense, this post came out of a perusal of the comments over at John Michael Greer’s latest article at his new site (If you need to track it down, here is the link).
The upshot of this is it seems that my polytheistic-leaning guru of tree-and-twig (It isn’t healthy to be all that respectful toward a spiritual guide) has moved to nice little apartment in Providence.
Now, in my mind, there is nothing wrong with this, truth be told, it is a smart choice. But I find it an interesting choice for a writer whose past works center on the decline and breakdown of industrial society (I concur!).  You see, most folks who subscribe to this train of thought this eventuality usually go off in the other direction.  The usual response is one I refer to as the demi-hippie where land is purchased as far away from the mōbile as one can afford and then try to create a simulacrum of what they left behind.
When your standard “end of industrial civilization” type heads out to the wilderness to live away from the industrial civilization, they spend a whole bunch of their time and money making certain that the retreat is well upholstered with all the accouterments of industrial civilization.
So, John Michael and I appear to agree, if everything that you do when you move away to escape drags all the crap of what you are trying to escape along, why not just figure out how to live within the society while not partaking of what is poisoning the system.
The system we inhabit, this artificial ecology of man, has always been fragile.  it has been hiccuping along for millennia now, usually not doing all that well, marked by high fevers and the not-all-that infrequent local collapse.  But the bulk of the people usually get through it, skinnier and tougher than what they started with.
So why not stay put?
Look, what one needs to live can be found in some pretty damn bad places.  Joy and fulfillment and self-worth can be had in a system in decline as easy as in a rising system if one has a certain frame of mind regarding what constitutes happiness and fulfillment.  So when in a decline from a excessive and frivolous “top”, it is important to figure out the relationship between “less” and happiness (I’ll give you a hint here, it is approximately the same as the relationship between “more” and happiness).
So, living small in a city will always be an option.  Farm products will always find their way to population centers.  Police aren’t always just looking to oppress.  Help and medical care are there.  Access to limited common resources are there.
Most importantly, people are there.
I have come to the conclusion, that for the most part, the folks who move off to the hinterlands are the “my cake and eat it too” crowd.  The society that they grew up is changing and is beginning the painful task of downsizing, so they are picking up their shit and getting out, leaving everyone else to suck it.
But all the shit that they take with them is an umbilical to that which they are trying so desperately to escape.  Want all the stuff: just join Amazon Prime and have the world shipped to your door.   High speed internet beamed to your house so you can watch the revolution on television.
The folks out there will have less, just like the folks in town will have less.  But what they won’t have is the respect of the folks that they left behind.  Because ultimately the move to the country without leaving behind the complexities and luxuries of the city is a lame attempt to become the landed aristocracy of the latifundia.
But the erstwhile aristocrats currently parasite from the complexity and the structure of the current system, I genuinely think that once the system no longer can provide the routes for linkage to the city that the modern latifundia so cherish.  They will probably die there on the vine, their fragile links to humanity taken away one by one being taken from them.  Imagine the sorrow and the gnashing of teeth that will be engendered when the FEDEX truck starts asking for the actual cost of delivery.
I will abide here with all of the mess.  I am going to try to try to flatten the curve and slow things down.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hey La, Hey La, my ....Well, any way, John Michael is Back

During the last three months, while on hiatus from blogging, I’ve looked back over the eleven-year run of The Archdruid Report. As my regular readers know, the point of that prolonged experiment in online prose was my attempt to explore the primary historical fact of our time—the accelerating decline and impending fall of industrial civilization—from every angle I could think of, including some I never imagined addressing at all when I started blogging back in 2006. 
Those changes of angle happened partly because it gets boring to talk about the same thing in the same way over and over again, of course, but there was a deeper factor as well. I started off discussing what I thought was the straightforward point that you can’t fuel infinite economic growth by drawing down a finite resource base. Sounds like basic common sense, doesn’t it? It did to me, too, but it nonetheless fielded a remarkable amount of pushback. A great many people seemed to be unable to get their minds around the fact that each ton of coal, barrel of petroleum, or cubic foot of natural gas burned to fuel their lifestyles really does go away forever.
So...Head on Over an read the rest

Saturday, June 17, 2017

For those who

Friends come over

Gluten free food is requested.  Now, I think that there are people out there who are afflicted with Celiac's and it is required, and there are folks out there who are just silly and use it as a trend.  This caveat is made because I don't have the ability to determine which condition applies here, and the recipes need be worked out as a proper host should.

  • 3 cups gluten-free flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tbl baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
Make it up like you would a proper biscuit dough, with as little handling as you can get away with to 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Verelendung (pauperization) and Zusammenbruch (collapse)

A little bit of wisdom can slip through the damnedest places.  

I can really take a lot of Marxism with a grain of salt.  While the description of the antecedent conditions to a change (it doesn't always have to be a revolution) is pretty bang-on.  But the solutions that it offers are pretty damn sad.

But it really tapped a vein of the need to go out with a bang.  The folks who support Marxism/Leninism seem to tend toward the idea of a revolution as a good thing.  Well buckaroos, change usually is not what was planned, and change usually doesn't end up benefiting those who seek it most earnestly.

But what are you if you don't think that apocalypse is coming "just around the corner" and you don't think that the elites have a firm grip on the situation and the idea of the prole's rising up to take charge leaves you queasy?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A response to Colonel Lang


At the end of the day, Trump is a consummate showman. He is extraordinarily clever and knows that the diluted pablum that the left so enjoys is not fun for the popular audience and it does not keep eyes on him. So the tweets and the playing to the audience is all bent around keeping eyes on him.

I think that is the key to understanding his presidency. He draws the eyes and the loathing of his political opponents. He hogs the whole spotlight and draws the fire. All the while the folks down in the trenches will bust their butts seeing how much they can deconstruct while eyes are on the good Mr. Trump.

I am one of the low-to-mid-level minions of the federal government. My peers in the belly of the beast have a pretty good idea of what is coming down the pike.

Remember, along with freeing folks from regulation of a bureaucracy, you can also cripple a bureaucracy by adding more internal regulation to decrease its ability to accomplish the external mission. We are just now starting to see that at the VA.

Nope, what Donald tweets about, and what meta-scale fights he picks with the hippies are just window-dressing. The real work is going to be down in the trenches and how much regulatory stripping can be done.

I would posit that Donald is stirring up the shit to keep folks eyes off the prize, the sunsetting of the suspension of the debt ceiling. Granted, it is political drama and not especially a real thing, but that is the club that Donald will use when it comes time, but by stirring up the noise about other things, it keeps the opposition from noticing you moving out your rooks.

Nope, I think that you are right about staging a scene casting the Democrats as a bunch of grown children having a tantrum. That will cripple the Dem's ability to react to the partial unbuilding of the federal edifice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Lingering Aftertaste of Kool-Aid

My friends are all around my age.  Professionals.  Educated. Several are retired now, living the good life and doing the equivalent of clipping coupons.  I am happy for them.

But everyone in the group, save for a couple of outliers like your humble correspondent, absolutely loathe the asshat in the White House.  Now, if you are reading this, and don't know me personally, let me clarify some points.  Donald Trump is neither the Antichrist, nor is he at all temperamentally or intellectually qualified to hold his current office, but then, who is?  At the end of the day he is a clown with a reach that exceeds his grasp.

Nope, Donald is nothing but a tabula rosa; he reflects the anger and hopelessness of a part of the culture that encompass Mitt Romney's 47%, Barack Obama's God and guns crowd, and Hillary Clinton's deplorables.

But folks my age and in the upper reaches of the socioeconomic scale really don't like to think of the folk that support Trump as fully human. After all, we all have ours.  If you don't have yours it must be a moral failing on your part.   Worse yet, they all know of the bottled violence and the available armament in the crowd that they so loathe and are sorely afraid.

I always suggest a re-read of "A Tale of Two Cities".   You can draw similar parallels in any number of more recent social dislocation where an oppressed majority rose against a comfortable elite.  

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Dirtiest Word

Every thing I read says there is no inflation.

I want to know where the fuckers shop.

House Prices are to the moon, it's not inflation, its a bubble.

Rent prices go up with the house prices.  Apparently that's not inflation.

Gas prices have gone up the last couple months...that isn't even figured into inflation.

Eggs and milk are most certainly higher.

Have you seen the price of healthcare.

Look, the government is paying the bulk of its bills with borrowed money.  Tell me how you can do that without increasing the money supply?

More money in circulation, I don't care what the "Official Statistics" say.

Prices are up, you bet your sweet bippy.

But "They" keep telling us there is no inflation.