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There Is No Normal

There Is No Normal


The wheel of time rolls forward, never retracing its path, but because it is a wheel, and we are riding in it, a persistent illusion persuades us that the landscape is recognizably the same, and that our doings within the regular turning of the seasons seem comfortably normal. There is no normal.

There is for us, at this moment in history, an especially harsh turning (so Strauss and Howe would say) as our journey takes the exit ramp out of the high energy era into the next reality of a long emergency. The human hive-mind senses that something is different, but at the same moment we’re unable to imagine changing all our exquisitely tuned arrangements — especially the thinking class in charge of all that, self-enchanted with pixeled fantasies. The dissonance over this is driving America crazy.

The wheel hit a deep pothole in 2008 turning onto the off-ramp and has been wobbling badly ever since. 2008 was a warning that going through the motions isn’t enough to sustain a sense of purpose, either nationally or for individuals trying to keep their lives together ever more desperately. The cultural memory of the confident years, when we seemed to know what we were doing, and where we were going, dogs us and mocks us.

The young adults feel all that most acutely. The pain prompts them to want to deconstruct that memory. “No, it didn’t happen that way,” they are saying. All those stories about the founding of this society — of those Great Men with their powdered hair-doos writing the national charter, and the remarkable experience of the past 200-odd years — are wrong! There was nothing wonderful about it. The whole thing was a swindle!

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Economic Collapse Imminent: Zimbabwe At ‘Tipping Point’ With ‘Wheels Coming Off’

Economic Collapse Imminent: Zimbabwe At ‘Tipping Point’ With ‘Wheels Coming Off’ 

Zimbabwe’s economic situation will continue to sour in 2H19 due to unfavorable weather conditions, foreign currency shortages and widespread power cuts, its finance minister said, as he responded to a deteriorating economic outlook by blacking out inflation statistics through the second half, and finally acknowledged what the International Monetary Fund told him in April: economic turmoil ahead.

Prices of essential goods and services have, in some cases, quadrupled this summer, due to the government renaming the RTGS currency as the Zimbabwe dollar, which has been on a rapid decline amid shortages, including electrical power, petrol products, American dollars, and food, reported Bloomberg.

Many Zimbabweans who supported the toppling of decades-long ruler Robert Mugabe two years ago are discovering that their economic situation is the most serious in a decade.

Emmerson Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe in 2017, he promised millions of Zimbabweans of an economic revival and that we are “open for business.” The sugar high of optimism only lasted for a short time; the effects of money supply expansion through the sale of Treasury bills under Mugabe’s rule has outweighed any positive advancements in the last several years. Mnangagwa outlawed the American dollar in favor of local currency that can’t be traded internationally, effectively making it extremely difficult for international firms to do business in the African country.

“Zimbabwe is at a tipping point and if it falls over the edge it’s going to be quite a long way in coming back,” said Derek Matyszak, a Zimbabwe-based research consultant for South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies. “The wheels are falling off. There is no way out of a Ponzi scheme other than a massive infusion of cash to pay off your creditors.”
*chart

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BOOM! Fossil Fuel Combustion and the Mother of All Economic Busts

BOOM! Fossil Fuel Combustion and the Mother of All Economic Busts

Photograph Source: Eric Kounce TexasRaiser – Public Domain

William Catton focussed on what follows a boom in the human population. He spelled out the scenario in his 1980 book, Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. As one reviewer put it, “Catton believed that industrial civilization had sown the seeds of its own demise and that humanity’s seeming dominance of the biosphere is only a prelude to decline.”

Catton hasn’t been alone. Many others have warned or at least implied an inevitable human population bust. But that inevitability is no longer likely to hit solely from overshoot alone, and not in some far-distant future. Instead, with the added pressure from our booming combustion of fossil fuels, a human population bust could plausibly be kicked into gear sometime “by” — a.k.a. before — 2050, or within the next 30 years.

This could be the mother of all economic busts.

The human population boom has been the bedrock of economic boom in sector after sector. It’s been the bedrock foundation of a profit boom for the fossil fuel combustion industries that now put it at risk. In the US alone, the booming human population has been the wellspring for surging numbers of visitors to the likes of Yellowstone National Park, city managers bent on promoting growth, the basis of soaring demand for logging to supply housing for a growing human herd.

Booms thus enjoy considerable public approval and political popularity. Over and over again, the long-ongoing human population boom has afforded the political elites and local boosters an opportunity to boast of a booming economy, sometimes raising local and even national concerns that they tout growth at any cost.

Bust, on the other hand, is a dirty four-letter word.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Destroy a Civilization

How to Destroy a Civilization

There are lots of ways to kill off a civilization. Wars, politics, economic collapse. But what are the actual mechanics? It might be a useful thing to know whether or not we are killing ourselves off.

Ancient Rome is a good place to start. They had an advanced civilization. They had running water, sewers, flush toilets, concrete, roads, bridges, dams, an international highway system, mechanical reapers, water-powered mills, public baths, soap, banking, commerce, free trade, a legal code, a court system, science, literature, and a republican system of government. And a strong army to enforce stability and peace (Pax Romana). It wasn’t perfect, but they were on their way to modernity.

One of my favorite quotes is from Marcus Tullius Cicero, statesman, orator and writer (106-43 BCE):

Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.

If that isn’t a mark of a civilized society I don’t know what is.

But Rome collapsed. I often wonder what would have happened if it hadn’t. Could we have avoided a thousand years of the Dark Ages. Could we have been flying airplanes and driving cars in the year 1000?

What the hell happened to Rome?

Dictators. After 500 years, the famous Roman Republic ended with the dictator Julius Caesar taking power. Four hundred years later his progeny and usurpers ran the Empire into the ground and Rome fell to invading barbarians.

The standard explanation for Rome’s decline and fall is that they devolved into dictatorships (true, but not the cause of their fall). Or they became decadent and corrupt (true, but not the cause of their fall). They fell to barbarian invasions (true, but not the cause of their fall).

Rome fell because the dictators ruined the Roman economy and the institutions that had made it prosperous. Rome was falling apart before the barbarian invasions.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Stuff of Our Lives: The Seneca Collapse of Relocating

The Stuff of Our Lives: The Seneca Collapse of Relocating

The experience of relocating is curiously similar to an archaeological excavation of the ruins of a disappeared empire. Above, you can see two jars filled with old coins recovered from the nook and crannies of my house after emptying it of everything. Mostly these are old Italian “lira” coins, others are foreign coins and, in the smaller jar, you can see an Italian “gettone” used for making calls at public phones up to a few decades ago. This stuff has no monetary value, it is just a marker of passing time. 

You know that the “Seneca Effect” has to do with overshoot and collapse. From the time when the Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca noted that “growth is slow, but ruin is rapid,” I keep finding new examples of application of the idea. One that I recently experienced had to do with relocating: moving away from the home where my family had been living since 1965. From then on, this 340 square meters (ca. 3600 ft2) house had been gradually filling up with all sorts of stuff. Emptying it in a couple of months of work was quite an experience. “Sobering” is the correct word, I’d say.

I don’t know if you are all good followers of Feng Shui, striving for good vibes and not too much stuff in your home. I didn’t consider myself as an adept of that philosophy, but I didn’t see myself as a serial accumulator of useless stuff, either. Well, I had to reconsider my position. I was a serial accumulator. Really, the amount of stuff that came out of my place was so large to be bewildering. And so much of it we had to throw away — bewildering, too. We are still a little bewildered, but the most intense part of the saga seems to be over, so maybe I can report about my experience in this post.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘Deaths Of Despair’ In The U.S. Hit Record High – So How Bad Will Things Get When Society Starts To Completely Collapse?

‘Deaths Of Despair’ In The U.S. Hit Record High – So How Bad Will Things Get When Society Starts To Completely Collapse?

According to a shocking new report from the Commonwealth Fund, the suicide rate in the United States is the highest that it has ever been before.  Sadly, the same thing can be said about the death rates from drug overdoses and alcohol.  All three death rates are at an all-time record high, and yet our society is still fairly stable at the moment.  So if we are seeing this many “deaths of despair” right now, what in the world are things going to look like when our society really begins to start crumbling?  Today, Americans have literally thousands of different ways to entertain themselves, and yet we have never been unhappier.  One out of every six Americans is taking psychiatric drugs, we are currently dealing with “the worst drug crisis in American history”, and people are killing themselves in record numbers.  Nobody likes to be told that they are a failure, but it certainly appears that our nation has been on an extremely self-destructive path for a very long time.

Even though “deaths of despair” have reached record levels, the researchers at the Commonwealth Fund found that there are major regional differences.  The following comes from NBC News

Rates of deaths from suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol have reached an all-time high in the United States, but some states have been hit far harder than others, according to a report released Wednesday by the Commonwealth Fund.

As far as drug overdose deaths are concerned, researchers discovered that the states with the highest death rates were all in northern Appalachia

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

American Chernobyl

American Chernobyl

In the Spring of 1986 the Soviet Union was in a slow motion collapse. No one in the US intelligence agencies predicted it, the military was taken completely by surprise and no apologies were ever made for the thirty year, multi-trillion dollar oversight. It’s political and social institutions were Potemkin villages kept alive by little more than inertia yet on the outside everything appeared normal, and if not healthy, at least it seemed monolithic in it’s outward appearance.

The structural rot that had taken hold after the death of Stalin had become the central pillar of Eastern European civilization and the foundation upon which it was built- the blood of tens of millions of murdered citizens- softened the ground further, leading to it’s eventual implosion five short years later. On the 26th of April a failed experiment at a nuclear power plant in the Ukraine initiated a slow and steady series of system failures, leading to a full blown meltdown that forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of inhabitants from the exclusion zone.

Most Americans recall the event as a catastrophic ecological disaster that threatened- at that time- to spread radioactive particles across wide swaths of Europe, poisoning the groundwater that fed the Dnieper River, leading directly to the Black Sea. No one was certain in the aftermath of the extent of the damage, nor of the ability of the Soviet system to respond truthfully to international inquiries. It was assumed throughout the Free and Democratic nations of the West that the USSR was incapable of sharing anything that would reflect poorly on their ability to govern.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

They’ve Stolen Our Future!

They’ve Stolen Our Future!

Collapse is in the cards

It’s time to have a serious conversation.  I know we’ve been having it, but maybe there’s another glove hidden beneath the one we’ve already taken off.

Put bluntly, there doesn’t seem to be any hope of avoiding a collapse of civilization.  The forces of the Business-As-Usual crowd are just too strong, the narrative machine too honed, the interests too entrenched to allow any sort of meaningful course correction at this time.

But is that the case?

Writing about the outcomes of the recent Australian elections which saw a pro-business, conservative government elected, Australian based reader-member ezlxq1949 said:

“They’ve stolen our future!”

That was the wail of the 11-y.o. daughter of a Greens candidate who cried herself to sleep the night after the astonishing election results came in. It couldn’t be worse; the public have sold themselves into almost complete captivity to the neoliberal élites called the Liberal Party. (Liberal = Conservative. Go figure.) It was supposed to have been a climate change election but became a jobs ‘n growth election.

Mind you, it wouldn’t have been much better if the opposition Labor Party had won; they’ve moved so far to the right that like the US we really have only one party with two heads. For instance, Labor would not commit to stopping the monster Adani coal mine.

So it’s goodbye to:

  • the ABC (the excellent government broadcaster which has the gall and temerity to criticise the government of the day; the government badly wants to get even)
  • renewable energy (fossil fools rule ok)
  • the Great Barrier Reef (sliced and diced to let coal ships cross it)
  • our river systems (suck them dry, privatise the water, send the profits to the Cayman Islands — as is already happening)
  • the Great Artesian Basin (world’s largest and deepest, to be contaminated by coal mines and fracking)
  • public services (cut back yet again to create a damaging government budget surplus)
  • public health (to be Americanised)
  • public education (to be privatised; maybe high schools this time)
  • the Great Australian Bight (a pristine area which may have oil under it; damn the pollution, full greed ahead)
  • southern ocean fish stocks (they’ll let the supertrawlers in now).

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pain Is Inevitable; But Suffering Is Optional

Pain Is Inevitable; But Suffering Is Optional

How to avoid becoming collateral damage in the coming crash.

Sometimes you really do find enlightenment at the top of the mountain.

I spent this week hiking in Montana’s Bitterroot mountain range, as a participant in the pilot run of a new personal-growth-through-adventure-travel startup.

In our group was a famous professional cyclist, who had been a superstar on the Tour de France for many years.

He has a fascinating life story, both on and off the bike. His tales of the super-human efforts required to prevail at the most elite level of this punishing sport are mind-blowing.

The relentless and gruelling training covering thousands and thousands of kilometers. The near-starvation state cyclists exist in to maximize their power-to-weight ratio. Endless travel. Horrific crash injuries. Sponsor pressures. The money and politics driving the sport. Overbearing regulators. Cut-throat teammates. And of course, the pervasive doping.

When we asked him how he managed to persevere at the top of such a demanding sport for so long, despite the huge toll it took on his health and his marriage, he thought for a moment then said: “I suppose I’m just really good at suffering”.

It’s clear that, in addition to some truly amazing experiences, his cycling days have left him with a legacy of damage that he’s still working through.

As he shared this with us, one participant wisely advised him to remember: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Yes, he’ll still need to deal with the aftereffects of his racing years. But it’s up to him how much power he wants to give them over his happiness and life path from here.

From Mountains To Markets

I’m struck by how relevant the above advice is to investors right now.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the end of the ten-year bull market has arrived.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – May 22 2019 – Tesla and Yoorp worries

Blain’s Morning Porridge – May 22 2019 – Tesla and Yoorp worries


“When the bough breaks…”

Have you ever watched a house of cards collapse? Sometimes a corner or a side comes down, and it can be sort of fixed… Sometimes the whole thing just gets blown away.  My Spidey Senses are all a-tingle this morning, triggered by 2 factors:

  1. Telsa: The spike in negative commentary on Tesla suggests THE moment is coming: a downgrade by a previous bull to $10 target price, doubts on the trajectory of sales, the realisation the Solar Tiles project is complete tosh (and a bail out of Musk’s cousins), the crash in its debt and recent convertible price,      and loads more, has led to the rather obvious conclusion Tesla will struggle to fund ongoing capital burn. Peak-Musk was some time ago. Many now think the orchestra is about to strike up Gotterdammerung. A loss of confidence in Tesla and Musk triggers all kinds of consequences.. (Links to stories will be posted here.)
  2. Europe: If you think UK politicians have embarrassed themselves trying to agree on how to exit Europe, wait till next week and ponder how such a disparate, populist hodge-podge of populist well-intentioned Euro-philes and Euro-phobes are going to agree on how to reform and continue European integration. I see two big market threats: i) The bond market, ii) and especially the bond market. (And Brussels!)

Since anyone can read all the Tesla stories and draw their own conclusions as to what happens next, lets stick to the consequences. The obvious one is what does it do to confidence in the Modern Disruptive Tech (“MDT”) price model: “We don’t have to pay dividends or make profits because we are a disruptive company thats triggered a paradigm in demand and made ourselves a monopoly – therefore it’s all in our stock price” ? 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Human Extinction: An Idea Whose Time had to Come. 

Human Extinction: An Idea Whose Time had to Come. 

A few years ago, a political movement that took the name of “extinction rebellion” would have been wholly unthinkable. On the other hand, after more than forty years of warnings on climate change and ecosystem collapse from the world’s best scientists, the message had to start going through, somehow. One consequence is the appearance on the social media of a crowd of deranged, depressed, misanthropic, and generally nasty people who have decided that extinction is what’s going to happen no matter what we do and who seem to enjoy insulting those of us who dare to express the opinion that maybe there are ways to avoid it. Other, fortunately, seem to think that we can still rebel against this manifest destiny and that’s the origin of the movement. 

These openly declared attitudes may be just the tip of the iceberg, others may well have decided that, if overpopulation is the cause of the problem, then there are quick and very dirty ways to solve it. They may be concocting dark and dire things we know nothing about. But, as usual, we see the future darkly, as in a mirror, and the time when we’ll see it face to face has not come, yet. 

Below, a text by “Reverse Engineer” of the Doomstead Diner who examines the question and, at the linked page, you’ll find also a longer video. (U.B.) 

Guest post by R.E. (Reverse Engineer).

Extinction has moved from the dark corners of the Collapse Blogosphere into the consciousness of the mainstream.  Just a few short years ago the discussion of human extinction was relegated to a few fringe websites, but not so anymore.  Now it has become Topic #1 in the discussions on many websites that concern themselves with topics of collapse.  Sometimes this comes to the exclusion of many other collapse related topics in economics, geopolitics, energy and social psychology that are impacting more directly right now.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Great Unraveling Begins: Distraction, Lies, Infighting, Betrayal

The Great Unraveling Begins: Distraction, Lies, Infighting, Betrayal

The good news is renewal becomes possible when the entire rotten status quo collapses in a putrid heap.

There are two basic pathways to systemic collapse: external shocks or internal decay. The two are not mutually exclusive, of course; it can be argued that the most common path is internal decay weakens the empire/state and an external shock pushes the rotted structure off the cliff.

As Dave of the X22 Report and I discuss in The World Is About To Change & It’s Going To Be Glorious, we are in the early stages of terminal internal decay.There are a number of dynamics shared by decaying empires/states:

1. The ruling elites lose the moral imperative to sacrifice for the good of the empire/state. Instead they use the power of the state to further their own private interests and agendas.

2. The ruling elites start “fudging” reports (i.e. lies are presented as truths) and promoting narratives to mask their self-aggrandizement and the erosion of the nation/empire under their self-interested rule.

In other words, the elites know the public would resist their leadership if the truth were widely known, so the ruling elites devote tremendous resources to massaging the news to distract the public from reality and reflect positively on their self-serving leadership.

Since the weaknesses of the empire are being hidden, they cannot be addressed, and so rot that could have been fixed early becomes widespread and fatal.

3. Flush with the state’s wealth and power, the ruling elite splinters into warring camps which squander the empire’s remaining wealth on private battles over which camp will rule what appears solid and eternal–the empire. 

4. As the elites battle it out, the nation/empire falls apart as the leadership’s focus is on internecine conflicts over the spoils of the empire, rather than on preserving the foundations of the empire’s wealth and security.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Social Security fund to go into the red in 2020; will be completely bankrupt by 2035… governments will desperately find a way to kill off populations around the world

Social Security fund to go into the red in 2020; will be completely bankrupt by 2035… governments will desperately find a way to kill off populations around the world

Image: Social Security fund to go into the red in 2020; will be completely bankrupt by 2035… governments will desperately find a way to kill off populations around the world

(Natural News) According to the 2019 annual report published by the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees, the Social Security fund will go in the red in 2020 and could potentially go bankrupt by 2035. If nothing is done to boost revenue or re-configure how the money will be distributed, then countless retirees, disabled persons, widows, and surviving children will be left with little to no funds to help them navigate through the most uncertain times in life.

The sad part about this shortage is that Social Security is not welfare; this trust fund is not dependent on tax money. Workers pay into the Social Security system during their working years. The system acts as an insurance once a person retires. The benefits are also paid out to disabled persons, widows, and dependents of deceased parents.

Due to the projected shortages, the U.S. government has a perfect opportunity to begin culling the population over the next three decades, restricting what is paid out through the Social Security safety net. As school textbooks teach children about the problem of “overpopulation,” the government obviously views humanity as a liability.

Social Security may not survive long past its 100th birthday

The Social Security program has been in place for 84 years and has collected approximately $21.9 trillion. In that time, the program has paid out roughly $19 trillion. The program currently has a reserve of about $2.9 trillion, which is divided among two trust funds. In 2020, the amount being paid out will supersede the amount coming in, forcing the program to dig into its reserves. With the trend continuing over the next decade, social security reserves will be dried up by 2035, drastically impacting vulnerable subsets of the population.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Empires Fall: Moral Decay

How Empires Fall: Moral Decay

There is a name for this institutionalized, commoditized fraud: moral decay. 

Moral decay is an interesting phenomenon: we spot it easily in our partisan-politics opponents and BAU (business as usual) government/private-sector dealings (are those $3,000 Pentagon hammers now $5,000 each or $10,000 each? It’s hard to keep current…), and we’re suitably indignant when non-partisan corruption is discovered in supposed meritocracies such as the college admissions process.

But we’re less adept, it seems, at discerning systemic moral decay, which infects the very foundations of the economy and society.

Consider America’s favorite pastime, corrosive partisan politics. This distemper is often traced back to (surprise!) extreme partisans, but as the chart below shows, political partisanship has risen in near-perfect correlation with wealth-income inequality, which it itself the hallmark of deeply systemic corruption, as the system is rigged to benefit the few at the expense of the many. (Chart courtesy of Slope of Hope.)

There’s a phrase that describes a socio-economic system becoming the means for personal aggrandizement at the expense of civil society itself: moral decay.How else can we describe a system whose inputs and processes are rigged so the output is the vast majority of all income gains flow to the top 0.1%? (See chart below.)

When a socio-economic system institutionalizes the extralegal privileges of wealth and power, that is moral decay. When government only responds in ways that first serve the interests of entrenched insiders, that is moral decay. When the financial system is rigged to sluice income and wealth to the top of the wealth-power pyramid while stripmining the productive class below via inflation and taxes, that’s moral decay. (See chart below of workers’ share of the national income.)

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Empire of Lies: How we are collapsing in the same way as the Roman Empire did.

The Empire of Lies: How we are collapsing in the same way as the Roman Empire did. 

(Image source: Wikipedia) The Devil is sometimes said to be “The Father of Lies.” It is an apt definition for a creature that does not even exist except as a figment of human imagination. Satan is an evil egregore that we ourselves created, a creature that seems to loom larger and larger behind the current chronicles. The recent arrest of Julian Assange is just the last deed of an Empire that seems bent on truly creating its own reality, a deed that, in itself, would not necessarily be evil but that becomes so when it implies destroying all other realities, including the only true one. 

Like our modern empire, the ancient Roman Empire found itself in a spiral of lies out of which it could never emerge: the Romans never could find a way to reconcile their views with reality and this was their doom. Today, the situation seems to be the same but, in our case, our hubris seems to be way larger than it was in Roman times. And that is the origin of what we are seeing. Eventually, the Globalized Empire will collapse under the weight of the lies it created. 
Initially, I thought to comment the recent news by reproducing a post “The Empire of Lies” that I published here about one year ago, where I described how the transition from the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages was mainly an epistemological transition, where it was left to Christianity to rebuild the trust that the old empire had squandered – the Middle Ages were far from being “Dark Ages.”  But, eventually, I thought to publish something I had in mind about how the Roman Empire and the modern Western Empire are following parallel trajectories in their movement toward their respective Seneca Cliffs

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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