Thanksgiving Open Campfire Thread

Below the fold is a short Thanksgiving comment followed by some Campfire discussion questions.

I just got back from visiting family in North Dakota. Lovely time. Lots of pigs, dogs, food and drink. The family in question live very remotely on a farm. A simple insight struck me as the wine flowed and the conversation turned from Tiger Woods car crash and the CRU email scandal to deeper conversations of overshoot, aboriginal wisdom and mitigation of our 'predicament', all topics this couple was well aware of, though they never frequent TheOilDrum and we've never had these discussions previously.

I have begun to notice, perhaps subjectively, that people living in relative seclusion (or more introverted) seem more likely to accept/understand the wider implications of our societies current overconsumptive path, irrespective of education or demographic. I wonder if this is due to some personality trait, or more just a function of less exposure to the availability cascade of confirmatory bias in the media and consumer culture. For my own n=1 example, though I've always been curious and 'educated', it wasn't until I went out west and hiked solo for 9 months that I was able to see the 'truth' about our cultural/resource trajectory, biased certainly by my own blindspots, but by no one elses.

I suspect proximity to nature might also play a role in more easily coming to terms with an overshoot situation. Seeing lights, buildings and electricity and action 24/7 might make imagining a different future more difficult than if one deals with natural forces and the hardships of farming on a constant basis - the disconnect may not be as great. I am trying to write an essay on cognitive dissonance but am encountering too much cognitive load.

Since I just got home so have chores to do etc so without further preamble here are tonights Campfire questions:

1)Do you think there is a correlation, whether due to cognitive dissonance or availability cascade, between ones proximity to our conspicuous consumptive culture, with belief/recognition in peak oil, limits to growth, human overshoot, etc? E.g. are people with very active social calendars less likely either to have time or to cognitively process the wide boundary limits problems?

2)Would we (as a nation, region, locale etc.) benefit from a mandatory 'meditation vacation', where people would annually get a paid 2 week vacation with only stipulation being that there would be no TV, radio, or internet, just books, talking, hiking in nature etc? (certainly hard to enforce - I'm just curious if such downtime would provide insights/awareness that our pell mell overstimulated schedules today cannot.)

3)During Thanksgiving, did you have any new insights, answers, paths with respect to our energy/environmental/social situation? If so please share...

Naet, posted this comment on Dr Youngquist's thread. Cognitive dissonance has come up in my mail conversation this week. Hence I'm posting this here.

One the strangest experiences I ever had was on Kilimanjaro in 2004. Kibo camp (4,700m) is the final staging post for the assault on the summit. I had been fine for the three day walk / climb to that point, but that night with freezing conditions out, I began to feel cold in my sleeping bag, and so put on more clothes, and felt even colder, put on more clothes and could not get warm. Eventually I realised I was sweating and was over-heating and had to decide to take off all these clothes and lie outside my sleeping bag to cool down. I cooled down and began to feel warm again. Later I puked, and suffering from altitude sickness in this sorry state set off for the summit at midnight with a billion stars overhead, clinging to the side of this massive volcano. I croaked about 2000 ft from the top and had to turn and descend.

Also got a great snow hole story - but that can wait for another day.

I too almost died on Kilimanjaro - in 1998. Got terribly sick at 15k and had to walk 20 miles down in one day - a story for another day.

Cognitive dissonance looms large - if I have time I'll write another essay on it. Many of us have so entirely bought into the current cultural trajectory, that it's subconsciously too painful to accept much of what is now staring us in the face.

Well in terms of near death experiences, Kilimanjaro was a 3 for me. The snow hole was an 8 and last year's event was a 6 bordering on 10. But I find that I am addicted to risk. What to do?

Right now I gotta go to bed.

G'night Euan. Productive dreams!

I had a greenhorn event on Pikes Peak. First trip to the mountains, knew nothing of how to prep for hiking in The Rockies. Had a friend with small children that lived near there, upon my arrival there were conversations of hiking with kids and his hike up Pikes Peak. Somehow I conflated the two and was thinking his small children went up Pikes Peak with him so thought it must not be too bad of a hike. So, the next morning after he left for work I decided to take a trek up Pikes Peak. His wife over and over insisted that I take a lunch, but I declined. Bad idea. I took a plastic gallon milk jug and filled it with water, but it fit in my book pack ackwardly so I squeezed about half of it out so I could flatten the jug and fit it in my pack more comfortably. Another bad idea. I packed only a windbreaker for extra clothing (book pack was small). Yet another bad idea.

Its funny what fatigue, dehydration and exposure does to your brain. At about tree line it seemed as if my whole life was spent trying to get up Pikes Peak, any thing else seemed a distant memory or maybe a dream I had once. Somewhere around 13k ft I had to stop sitting down on the ground to rest, getting back up on my feet again was getting to be a struggle. Then I got pummeled by a hail storm, no trees for cover, It came quick and I didn't have the energy to react quick so I just stood there and let the hail stones bounce off my head (I didn't bring a cap or head covering either). Breathing was getting hard too, mostly because the muscles that do the breathing were exhausted and hurting. Finally got to the top, there was a small cafeteria of sorts in the visitor center, I managed to order some food in spite of being unable to talk. I couldn't eat it though, just couldn't choke it down. I did manage to drink a half pint of milk.

I slept in the tram on the way back, then ate some food and drank some liquids and felt fine an hour later. My weight was still down about four lbs after I rehydrated. The hike took me about ten hours, but at about the seven hour mark it seemed like I had been at it for an eternity and had an eternity yet to go.

For me it is New Orleans, not hiking the hills alone.

New Orleans has bizarrely high creativity. A city with just 440,000 people before Katrina and 340,000 people now is capable of being one of the world's major cultural cities.

IMVHO, the secret is that there is no cultural expectation to conform here. This has allowed me to see more clearly, to avoid so much cultural conditioning. And I do live an "alternative lifestyle" of sorts here, and I see how it is better.

Best Hopes,


Indeed Alan, New Orleans has a unique culture and has a fascinating history. It is like no other place in the USA. There you can see what remains the elegance and grandeur of a society that predates the modern world.
New Orleans was a city of extremes in wealth, from slaves to the highest concentration of millionaires in the country, the delta plantation owners, who owned second homes or “town homes” there. New Orleans riches grew from the invention of the cotton gin (1793) which created a tremendous boom in cotton production in the South. The cotton plantations of Louisiana and Mississippi were mostly in the low lands along the rivers and allowed easy transportation by steamboats at a time before there were roads.
New Orleans escaped destruction from the Civil War, but was economically depressed afterwards and never regained it’s former glory.
Unfortunately most visitors and even most residents are unaware of the historical and architectural treasures of the city, some of the better known being:
One of the most fascinating true stories involves a legal case concerning the slavery of Sally Miller, an excellent book about which is:
One of my favorite paintings, The New Orleans Cotton Exchange was painted by Edgar Degas while temporarily living with relatives on Esplanade Ave.
New Orleans had one of the oldest railways in the USA, a horse drawn one:
Another early horse drawn railway would eventually become the oldest continuously operated electric street railway in the world:
Lastly there is the great local cuisine of seafood, mufulletta sandwiches and Café Du Monde bignets:

And that is less than half of it ! :-)

Post-Katrina I was in three separate planning sessions where we were asked what we most wanted to preserve in New Orleans. The answer was not the music, not the food, not Mardi Gras or even the architecture. In all 3 cases, it was the way people related to each other.

Best Hopes,


Good point Alan. New Oeleans is the only place I lived where people have block parties and neighborhood crawfish boils. And no special occasion is needed to throw a party. Reminds me of the Irma Thomas song about occasions in New Orleans to celebrate.


I was very surprised and very impressed by what I saw the one and only time I visited New Orleans. I thought you might like the little homage I wrote about my 24 hours in NOLA.

-- Jon

I believe there is a strong correlation between living close to the land and acceptance of the limitations of human technology and ingenuity. For one thing, it is very difficult to realize one's dependence on the natural world when one lives in a totally artificial environment. Living on the same 2.5 acres for 30+ years has given me a close connection to place and an acute sense of changing seasons.

A few years ago I visited my sister-in-law in her high rise condo in Portland in winter. One accessed the outside world from a gated and heated garage and the only connection to nature was a forlorn potted plant on the balcony being blown to and fro in the winter wind. I thought at the time that it was little wonder she had no clue about the coming crises that would make her lifestyle untenable - namely that her considerable income was dependent on ever expanding exurban housing developments.

JM Greer wrote a great essay in 2008 called "The Silent Running Fallacy:

Greer, wrote, "It’s in this context that we can define the Silent Running fallacy; it’s the mistaken belief that human industrial civilization can survive apart from nature. It’s this fallacy that leads countless well-intentioned people to argue that nature is an amenity, and should be preserved because, basically, it’s cute. That sort of argument invites the response, just as stereotyped and more appealing to our culture’s governing narratives, that hard-headed practicality takes precedence over emotional appeals and nature can therefore be ravaged with impunity."

As to how to overcome it..... well that I don't know. I think people will probably have to come up against a harsh reality (not enough food for example) before they can come to see that homo sapiens is just one of many species, inherently no better or worse.

Yet my daughter, who works in an ag business in California central valley is surrounded by life-long agriculture types who are rabid right wing religious anti-science types. The don't believe in AGW. They think that environmentalists are communists (honest!) who want to take away their "hard earned" wealth.

So perhaps there is something else that makes people think "outside the bau" box.

They don't believe in AGW. They think that environmentalists are communists

One of my favorite lines is that of comedian Richard Pryor in some obscure movie: "Who ya gonna believe; me or your lying eyes?"

Well, it turns out that our senses do lie to us, all the time. One good example is the story upthread of the mountain climber who felt "cold" even though his problem was that he was too "hot". And that is of course because our senses do not detect temperature. They detect loss of body heat as everyone who has gotten a fever and the chills can testify.

Concepts like AGW and Peak Oil call for going beyond what the 5 senses tell us. Many of us can't do it with new concepts although we repeatedly do it with concepts learned in childhood.

So some yupee stranger in town tells the old farmer (not mac) that the world is getting "warmer". Old Farmer Jack 6 pack steps outside in December and senses that it's still cold. He didn't like that yupee stranger to begin with, and now with verification by his own common senses it clear to him whose telling the truth and who is trying to snowball him (with hell fire in this case). Clearly that left wing Al Gore is a lyin to us farmers while that God-fearing Senator Inhofe has direct line to truth and to God himself. Ain't no mistake about that. Who ya gonna believe ...

I was just back on the farm in Nebraska last weekend helping with the soybean harvest...the other thing you gotta remember is that most of the ppl in these rural areas are watching Fox News 24/7 and their ideas about reality are accordingly warped.

It is very sad to me to see the ways that my family's thinking has been distorted and shaped by this baleful influence over the last 10 years...I think this is one of the biggest factors in the differences between urban/rural thinking in the modern USA.

Old farmers are just as subject to cognitive dissonance as anybody else.

A favorite subject of conversation around here is the way the weather has changed in the last century.

Our hot weather is not really noticeably any worse but the winters are so much milder that it's scary.Airdale has remarked on the lack of snow in his area-same here.I don't even own a serious cold weather coat anymore.

But as soon as you bring up "Algor" and climate change you are an addle pated egghead, as far as most people are concerned.There are exceptions of course, but not very many.

My impression is that life long farm country types are more aware of the possibility of some sort of impending possible natural collapse to a greater degree on the average than urbanites but they avoid thinking about the subject-kind of like the urbanite who refuses to think about the possibility of house prices not going up forever.

The people among my acquaintances who are aware of this sort of thing are definitely disportionately rural people-but that's undoubtedly in large part due to the fact that folks who place a high value on nature tend to move to where they can enjoy it.Or else they STAY where they can enjoy it.

I don't necessarily buy into this. What do you think?

My fiercest opponents on global warming tend to be in their 60s and 70s. This offers a fascinating, if chilling, insight into human psychology

by George Monbiot

Climate Change Deniers Are Not Skeptics - They're Suckers

The term "human psychology" is so 1960's.

In the 21st Century, knowledgeable people will analyze the situation under the rubric of neurobiology. Why is the human brain resistant to change and why is the older brain less plastic than a new one?

Older people are generally not able to alter their internal mental models of the world as fast as young people. Need proof? Watch an older person trying to master the controls of a new iPod or some other new fangled gizmo. Young folk "get it" right away while the oldster quizically pecks away and finally gives up with a justification that they don't make 'em like they used to.

Notions like Climate Change, Peak Oil, Overshoot, etc. ask people to drastically change their internal mental models of how the world is put together.

As they say:

It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks

And I 'don't buy into this either'.

When older folks mind goes awry its usually due to onset of senility or the Big A. I watched it happen in both my parents but they were rather advanced in age at that time.

I am 71 and can still build computers. Maintain the electronic modules on combines and tractors. And so forth and so on. I won't go into detail but most young folks I know
are rather not much more than 'appliance operators'.

They can use a cellphone but most can't go beyond that into say altering it or changing in my Blackberry Storm.

They are good at twitch games as I observe in Best Buy but they know little of technical aspects. Very little and could care less.

New paradigms? Not in my view. Not as I see it.

There are several of us 'oldsters' who post on TOD. Do you read their comments and consider THEM mentally lacking?

Or are they seeing things , with their years of experience that youth lack, that many others do not? Is OFM senile? Is TODD senile?

Gimme a break. Your too busy stereotyping here.

Airdale-class of '57(in case you forget). I remember 'how it was' and can see 'how it is' now. Can you? How old are you BTW?

Several dynamics at work when it comes to technology adoption:

It takes time to really learn a new technology. The user needs to adapt the way they go about things to the new technology - it is pretty exceptional to come across a technology that does much adapting to the user. Once one has really adopted a new technology to the point that one is really comfortable with it and is able to really use it productively without a lot of constant fiddling, then chucking it all to adopt whatever new "latest and greatest" technology comes along is not a cost-free exercise. The difference in technology adoption between the ages is not so much because the oldsters are less able to adopt the new technology, but because they have invested more of their time and effort in the old technology. For a young squirt, learning whatever is presently the latest and greatest technology is no big deal - it is probably their first technology to master in that category. If something new comes along, they are still on the learning curve anyway, so ditching the old for the new is no big deal. On the other hand, if you have gotten comfortable with a technology and been using it for years and years, then giving it up and going through the learning process for something new is asking rather more of oneself.

Another issue: It is sometimes a debatable question whether "new" is always and invariably "better". The new technology may be "better" in some ways, but it is sometimes the case that the new technology is not better in ways that really matter to the end user. This tends to increasingly be the case the more mature a technology matures. For example, is Windows 7 REALLY all that much better to be worth the upgrade from the previous version? I can remember back in the early days of PCs that each time a new version of an OS or a software app would come out, there would be a massive rush for everyone to upgrade, because in those early days each new version represented a very substantial improvement. It is not that way any more. A lot of us old folks have been through it all so many times that by now we really cast a sceptical eye at anything "new and improved", and want to be convinced that it really is better enough to make it worth the effort to adopt. In many cases, we oldsters have settled upon technologies that are "good enough" for our needs, and thus have very little reason to bother with adopting something new just because it is new.

Yet another issue: Complexity vs. simplicity & durability. There seems to be this pattern of loading down technologies with increasing complexity. More "bells and whistles" features are added. Most of us who are now older are also wiser, and have learned that the more complex the technology, the shorter the time until something goes wrong. It may be advantageous to the maker and retailer of a technology for the user to have to throw away something that has broken and buy the latest and greatest new version as a replacement, but where is the advantage in this to the end user? Some of us don't have endless amounts of money to burn, and thus have to give some care to buying technologies that are actually going to last for a reasonably long lifetime. In general, we have often found that simple tools, well designed to do a very limited number of things very well, can be relied upon to outperform a "jack of all trades" multifuntional device, and can also be relied upon to remain in operation long after the multifuntional device has been relegated to the landfill. When we have found a tool that really works well, it tends to become a fondly cherished possession, and we become reluctant to part with it in favor of something new and untried.

Another thing about simplicity: Less is more. Life is complicated enough in this complex world - why make it any more complicated than it really needs to be? Some of us who are older have had the benefit of living with the proliferation of things and gadgets and functions long enough to know that the complexity that they add to our lives do not make our lives better, but worse. We arrive at the conclusion that what we really need to make our lives better is not a proliferation of gadgets, but a few very well designed and built tools that work excellently on the discrete tasks for which they are really and actually needed in our lives, and to clear away the extraneous stuff that contributes nothing but clutter and distraction.


I'm about 10 years younger than you.

I have definitely seen rare examples of even 90 year olds whose minds are still sharp as a high pitched whistle.

If you are one of those exceptions, great for you (and for us because you share your wisdoms with us).

The brain is a biological organ. And like all organs it goes through the degradations that old age brings. Some age more gracefully than others. But in general, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Step back,

I used to be a person that never spoke much. I went my own way and did things my way. I did work as an Instructor and disliked the job so I left.

But somewhere around 60 or so I became far more vocal. Today its hard to shut me up. Harder also to find those who agree.

My mother at 92 is basically a vegetable but she never was too sharp. My father was a perfectionist but rarely spoke of anything. Never a single word about his WWII experiences.

I think older folks tend to be more loquacious than in the past. Some have gained lots of wisdom along the way and many are still stuck in a time warp.

I am amazed each time someone on TOD shares their age. Seems more and more of an older,rather than younger crowd here. I could be wrong in that younger ones likely do not care to give their age.

To me becoming 70 was a wakeup call. 'Make a difference' is why I talk about what is occurring in this country and the world. I have little time left to make that difference.

Airdale-thanks for the reply,my old corporation had a motto about learning. Something like 'there is no limitation to learning'. It was usually on the blackboard in our company schools/ed centers. If you were senior you were almost required to teach your juniors and pass on that knowledge.

Seems more and more of an older,rather than younger crowd here. I could be wrong in that younger ones likely do not care to give their age.

I think someone did an age poll for TOD a while back. A big majority is Baby Boomers. I suspect the younger lads are out chasing the ladies. Very few females seem to be interested in the oil problem, Gail the Actuary being an exception of course.

There are many schools of thought on what to do about the PO problem (and other problems). Some people say we should party like there's no tomorrow because there isn't a tomorrow. They could be right. Remember that movie from the Cold War, "On the Beach"? They looked and looked for a sign of hope and finally realized there is none.

I'll volunteer my age: I'm 20, which would make me an outlier, which is ironic because the younger you are, the longer you will have to live (or the earlier your premature death will be) with our predicament. Most of my contact with people my age is with other engineering students. I would say that they are "sort of aware" as in, they know the probability of BAU is very low but very few of them say collapse is coming. Some are trained monkeys and despite being very good at school, are not very good thinkers. I've worked with some of these people on projects, I have no idea how some people manage to be so simultaneously good at academic subjects and so bad at everything else. They are also mostly BAU-believers.

Of course, I don't know what most 20 year olds think. If other young people are reading this, your input would be appreciated. I appreciate the contact with "old wise people" TOD provides because I get way too little of it in my day-to-day life. There is also no age discrimination here on TOD, and although there is some (deserved) bashing of the younger generation, I don't know why any of the older people on here would think a young person would be afraid to volunteer their age. I can always switch handles if it goes wrong.

On an unrelated note, I've decided to follow my long-held interest in traditional bow-making; I am not convinced it will ever be a truly useful skill, but despite that I am in the process of constructing a wooden flatbow. I'm using steel tools, but eventually I hope to make one using stone tools.

Sleepless - RE: Climate change - what do I think?

I am not a climatologist. Nevertheless, I know just enough about the subject to appreciate that the global climate system is extremely complex. Climatologists are still far from being able to honestly say that they truly understand in detail how the world's climate actually works. At best, they are only just starting to get a very rough, first-order understanding, which might or might not end up being anything close to how it actually works.

Nevertheless, there is now clear scientific evidence to suggest one thing: the Earth's climate is dynamic and constantly changes, sometimes very rapidly. This indisputable fact actually cuts both ways.

First, for those who deny that the climate changes, and who seem to have in their mind the idea that the Earth's climate is something fixed that can't be changed: nope, that's not right. It can change, it has changed, and it is changing now. Set aside arguments about why for the moment, this much is clear enough. Furthermore, if it is clear that the climate is changing, then this suggests to me that rather than continue in a state of denial, it is instead time to get in gear and start to think seriously about how we are going to adapt to it, as indeed we must.

Secondly, however, this is also an inconvenient fact for those who seem to have it in their mind that we can and must somehow "stop" global climate change, as if we can keep global climate unchanging within its present parameters forever. No we cannot. It has changed in the past, is changing now, and will be changing in the future. Thinking that we can maintain it at a certain static state that is optimally advantageous for humankind is the height of hubris, and will lead to no good end. Again, what we really need to be thinking about is adaptation to the changeable climate that we have now discovered that we actually have.

I would point out that this much should be beyond all reasonable dispute, even without bringing carbon emissions or any consideration about causation into the picture at all. Nobody, including older folks and more conservative folks and less intelligent folks would have any real reason to take issue with any of the above, if only the issue were presented in these terms. Unfortunately, it is not.

Thus, we get into the issue of causation. IMHO, it seems to me to be obvious that you can't burn massive amounts of sequestered carbon without it having some impact on CO2 levels, and thus on the global climate, given the known greenhouse gas properties of CO2. AN impact, yes. It is quite another thing to contend that ALL global change is 100% anthropogenic, as some climate change advocates dogmatically proclaim. The truth is that we really don't understand global climate enough to know with any degree of certainty to what extent natural forces are at work and how they interact with these anthropogenic forces. It is most likely that both natural and anthropogenic causes are at work, with the extent of each being not completely known.

Were this honestly and objectively stated, I doubt that all that many people would have any real dispute with it. Unfortunately, that is not the way it has been generally presented in the media.

Even if some climate change activists are more nuanced and don't go so far as to assert that GCC is 100% anthropogenic, this extreme version is what tends to get repeated in the media and lodged in the common person's mind. This is due in no small part to a reluctance on the part of climate change activists to dispute anything said by any other climate change activist, no matter how overly dogmatic and unobjective the claim. There has been this mentality that the threat posed by GCC is so enormous that the end of mitigating it justifies any means, including suppression and distortion of contrary data, silencing of critics, outright lies, etc. - as we have just seen.

The real issue with the debate over causation is mitigation. The logical implication is that if GCC is entirely, or even just mostly, anthropogenic, then it is both possible and necessary for humans to "do something about it." This, in turn, suggests why climate change activists tend to insist that GCC is mostly or entirely anthropogenic: if there is even a possibility that it is substantially due to natural causes, then contention that we can or must do something to stop it becomes considerably less credible.

Unfortunately, the over-reaction of climate change activists, to the point of not just over-stating the case not just for GCC, but also for it being mostly anthropogenic, even employing ruses to obscure contradictory data and silence the questions of objective critics, has in turn led to a counter-reaction by those who have seen through these games, and thus tended to question not just the excesses, but even the underlying reality. This, I believe, is the dynamic we are seeing play out before us.

Thus, I believe that it really would be better to calm down, and for real scientists to do what they should always be doing: seek out and document the real world as objectively as they can, whether or not their observations conform with our preconceptions. This would have cultivated their credibility, and increased the possibility that action would at least have been taken to adapt to a changing climate. Unfortunately, the course that some activists have chosen instead is leading to the worst possible outcome - nothing at all being done to prepare and adapt in response, instead of the little bit that might have been actually possible.

Thus, I believe that it really would be better to calm down, and for real scientists to do what they should always be doing: seek out and document the real world as objectively as they can, whether or not their observations conform with our preconceptions. This would have cultivated their credibility, and increased the possibility that action would at least have been taken to adapt to a changing climate.

I'm afraid I don't share your optimism that calm deliberation is going to will over the unconverted.
It was clearly Real scientists who created the "Jason" Report JSR-78-07, not activist, 30 years ago.

Allow me to throw some fat into the fire.
Parallels in reactionary argumentation in the US Congressional debates on the abolition of slavery and the Kyoto Protocol

Older folks spent thier formative years in a different world-even though they may not be practicing Christians thier world view is still largely shaped by the dogma of the Chriatian church which holds that the scheme of things,the universe, once created , is permanent and that the world was put here, as to serve as "mine oyster".Even though God may have fallen out if the picture the concept that we are puny and powerless opposed to him or his creation, in a broad sense, remains firmly embedded in the mind.Hence global warming and such other concepts are heresies.

Then there is plain and simple fear-personal death is becoming an ever more pressing issue and any and all evidence of change is unwelcome-stability and permanance are reassuring.

Some of the older more perceptive folks I know who do understand in a general way that the bau game is up fight tooth and claw to prevent any change in the status quo because they see change as a threat to thier current entitlement benefits.They are not above manipulating the opinions of anyone who may fall under thier influence in such a way as to preserve that status quo for by example ridiculing climate change

I don't know any Christians personally out of the great many I know who are anxious to collect thier heavenly awards any sooner than necessary.Religious people can be amazingly practical about such things, considering how dreamy they can be in other respects.

To expect people to be rational in the broader sense is too ask quite too much.I know quite a few dyed in the wool but educationally challenged right wingers who are counting on the republicans to protect thier medicare, drug benefits,and social security from the democrats who are largely the ones responsible for the very existence of these benefits.

They do not understand that medical care will be cheaper under a socialized medical system that cuts out the lawyers, clerks, advertising,and aggressive marketing of medicine-they believe they will continue to pay just as much for thier own care, plus being additionally burdened with the costs of care of everybody currently going untreated or treated at public expense.

They do understand hard times and zero sum games.

It might be interesting (if the information is available) to examine the home cities (towns) of the attendees at ASPO to see if they are slanted one way or the other vis-a-vis rural or urban locations.

Or do the same thing with those who have a TOD account.

My need to step back and pay attention to what's going on probably started when I was a child, growing up in a house full of very noisy, active women. My escape was to hike through the woods to a pond and fish for a while. Later, long submarine patrols completely removed me from the "paradygm at large" and lent a sort of weird perspective to my world view. After an extended isolation from most all things worldly and societal, I found I seemed to have to relearn things that I took for granted in the past, revisiting former conceptions and often replacing them with new ones. After that I rejoined the rat race and rarely concerned myself with larger questions. My energy was spent on the tasks at hand and adapting to said rat race.
About 15 years ago I left the city to help care for my aging parents (since passed), moving from a metro area of over 4 million to a rural county of less than 10 thousand people, never to return. Yes, I believe that being more rural has affected my perspective. I pay more attention to things that matter and often wonder if all of my former fellow commuters in Atlanta are heros or fools. Do they take time, on occasion, to reflect upon the enormity of the beast that swallows them each day? Do they often wonder at the capacity of humankind to utterly change their surroundings and where this will lead us?
Do I think a 2 week "hiatus" from the rat race will allow these people to gain a better, more clear world view? I think not. Such a change in perspective is progressive, requires time, and if honest is permanent. Some old friends now patronizingly consider me eccentric and change the subject, utterly convinced of the rightness of their ways.
I forgive them, for they know not what they do. Maybe they can't afford to know.

Nate -

In many respects I now know less than I thought I did twenty years ago. I used to be far more certain about things, but now I am certain about practically nothing.

One must be very wary of conclusions based on the perceptions of personal experience. It is so easy to be fooled by subjective impressions.

And education, or the lack thereof, usually has little to do with it. I think it doesn't matter much whether you live in some pristine remote wilderness setting or in a $3 million apartment in mid-town Manhattan. All that counts are the things that take place between your two ears.

I have known people who have traveled all over the world and really haven't seen or learned much at all. And I have known people who have lived in the same small town all their life who are extremely insightful and perceptive.

In my view, personality trumps physical setting. There is a type of person who is totally unreflective, yet who manages to do all the right things to achieve a high level of what we generally regard as material success. This person is often not overly intelligent or talented, yet that person seems to have the knack for doing the right thing at the right time and place. It might have a lot to do with intuition.

Conversely, then you have the person with a Mensa IQ plus several advanced degrees, but who can't seem to get anything on track, either professionally or personally. This sort of contrast has always puzzled me.

Plus, I am not so sure that hardship, per se, is such a great teacher, as it tends to harden one and tends to foreclose one's openness to new ideas. My parent's generation, of the Great Depression, tended to be pretty narrow-minded people.

I also thing that proximity to nature might make some people take nature for granted. After all, if it's always been all around you, then what's the big deal? This is probably why the backyards of many people in rural areas are often a total mess, with old cars, washing machines, and miscellaneous crap carelessly strewn about. Whereas, many urban or near-urban people savor the humble little plot of land they might have and take meticulous care of it.

So, what can I conclude from all this? Damned if I know. Perhaps only that what you see (or think you see) may not be what's really going on.

Nate wrote:
"Conversely, then you have the person with a Mensa IQ plus several advanced degrees, but who can't seem to get anything on track, either professionally or personally. This sort of contrast has always puzzled me."

I've often had this problem, (not the MENSA IQ, getting on track). Really smart people are sometimes like really sensitive radio recievers. They pick up signals that most people miss and their processing centers take over before they can reject these signals as noise. I had an Uncle who was an extreme mathmatical genius. He was a researcher and professor of mathematics and in that environment he soared. In everyday conversation he was basically disfunctional. He often would say things that were off the wall, seemingly crazy to the others in the room. At some point I realized that he could join a conversation and within a few minutes his analytical mind had considered every possible point of view, summarized the conversation and had time-warped everyone in the room to bring the conversation to a logical conclusion. After this realization, I always enjoyed Uncle George's visits. The rest of the family still thought he was crazy. He did later commit suicide. My point is that there are "genius' who never learn to filter the noise so that they can operate in, what to them, is a dumbed down culture. Some see things too clearly.... some just don't see the point.

Seeing through the game is not the same as winning the game.

Its not even playing the game.

Maybe the only winning move is not to play?

There is another whole can of do you define "winning the game"?


Reaching your goals, getting what you want, enjoying yourself and your life and the people closest to you. High intelligence can sometimes get in the way of what is important unless you are psychologically set up to handle it. A good analogy is an overpowered sports car with bad tires and poor handling characteristics-in a straight line on dry pavement it is very impressive.

Sorry Nate, Joule.
My last post shoulda begun " Joule wrote".

For most of us, it is maybe better to only see thru the glass darkly.If you see things too clearly you may not be able to cope.There are certain logical paths that one with an analytical and capable mind can follow to very bitter conclusions.I'm old enough now to have known three people reasonably well who have committed suicide-all three of them were very bright.

The history of the arts is littered with suicides.

Thoreau said that the vast mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.Most of us don't realize the desperation is seperated from reality only by our illusory belief in our own importance and the permanence of our temporary affairs.

The fruit of the tree of knowledge can be especially poisonous to to those of us who come to realize that the foundations of our personal worlds are built on illusions that appear to be bedrock but if too closely examined are only sand.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Too much knowledge can be fatal.

Fortunately -for them -most people don't have a real clue as to what I'm talking about.

But some here will get it.

Most of those who seek enlightenment never truly achieve it because they are unable to face the implications of it-they shy away as if from the edge of a cliff, unconsciously.

Well put. If one looks too deeply at implications of many trends, whether the outcomes are near or long term, the darkness of logical conclusions may be like looking into an abyss. But there are always multiple possible pathways of different likelihoods, and high uncertainty. So I agree that it is better to understand the general direction, and not stare to deeply at possible futures. Instead keep some spirit to motivate whatever actions you see most appropriate, whether its to become more self-sufficient, to network with others, to push for political change, or even to just come to terms with a future that will likely be vastly different than you imagined for most of your life.

Fall Guy,

Well said yourself.

Be careful. ;)

(You are only one conceptual layer from the center of the onion of the world between the ears..Clinical depression and worse is a frequent result of peeling that last layer back -especially for those who have reason to be unhappy to begin.)

When I was young, I believed "The Truth will set you Free".
I was naive about the true meaning of "Free".
Now I know the Truth will set you "Free", but it will not make you happy.

"Ignorance is strength."

Most of us lack the either the requisite background necessary to viscerally understand this truth.

Inso far as my personal happiness and peace of mind and probably my physical health and life span are concerned, I would almost certainly be far better off in the "bosom of Abraham"-steeped in the unshakeable faith of my family and community-than I am as an amatuer scholar.

The "Truth" whatever it may be is only rarely a source of happiness for those who seek it at the deeper levels.

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then-Bob Seger

The tree of knowledge can be especially poisonous to to those of us who come to realize that the foundations of our personal worlds are built on illusions that appear to be bedrock

Amen to that.

I see more of the future pathways than my public persona comments on. But there is no value in being right, or almost right, about the future unless one can, at least, make things a "little better than they would otherwise be" even if it is only a 2% probability of even that.

Best Hopes,


I had an Uncle ... In everyday conversation he was basically dysfunctional. He often would say things that were off the wall, seemingly crazy to the others in the room.

It's quite difficult to predict how other people decode the noises we make.

When in a civilian setting, I try to keep my mouth shut about Peak Oil.

They know you're whack anytime you say something that might "rock the boat".

The point is to blend in and seem like part of the herd. You don't want to be Camus' "The Stranger".

I get away with educating associates, neighbors, family, friends about Peak Oil because, I figure, I have assumed a more or less high position. However, even after a person, a protégé of mine, becomes aware of Peak Oil, and embraces the concept, there is little we can do within the framework we have built. The corporatocracy, the so-called “system”, the idiocracy, which we have developed, the criminal elite, which we permit, is not going to change or give up without a fight to the death. Unless men and women with a revolutionary flair are willing to put everything on the line, we are going the way of the dodo. (Hmm . . . do you think DHS monitors TOD?)

(Hmm . . . do you think DHS monitors TOD?)

If they did I would be locked up by now. ;)

Almost all trafic is subject to filters being applied such that some of it goes to members of DHS.

Considering the occational quickly deleted posts here that one could take as a death threat to leadership class members - why would not this place be under watch?

I think you are giving the parasites too much credit.
My involvement has done nothing but verify what I suspected and that is that the idiots are running the asylum.
Don't believe the Hollywood version of the CIA etc.

There is a difference between collecting the data and being effective with the data.

I have no doubt the data is collected. I doubt they have the staff to effectivally analyze it.


man, we got to hang out! Absolutley the best post of the day, in fact the best one I have seen in awhile. :-)

Someone, I can't remember where I heard it years ago, told me that life starts getting interesting not when you know a lot, but when you start to realize what you don't know...and then it really gets interesting when you realize that you really don't know what you don't barely even know where to begin looking!

"I used to be far more certain about things, but now I am certain about practically nothing"
Sounds like Montaigne all over again doesn't it? "What can we really know?" This is why HEDGING in the deepest sense of that word, becomes important. The hardest thing for me to do is to remind myself that when I am absolutely certain of something, to ask myself, "but what if I'm ABSOLUTELY wrong?" This has real world applications: Several years ago I mentioned the house price issue to some associates...they said yeah, prices will certainly slow down at some point...I said no, what I mean is what if they actually drop? A close associate of mine who was prone to being very candid with me said, "Well, that's just stupid."

Another example: In the late 1990's I was watching "The McClaughan Group" on PBS. I like to hear ideas that I differ with, an in most ways I differ very greatly with Pat Buchanan. The question was, what is different that you can see about American politics today compared to years goine by. Buchanan said something absolutley prophetic: He said "For the first time in my life, there is absolutely NOBODY running against Wall Street." Pat did not comment about whether he thought that was good or bad, it was just the way it was. It rang in my ears, and began for a re-evaluation of where I put my money, and ended up saving me from complete financial catastrophe (I got banged up after 9/11, but not wiped out)

You said, "All that counts are the things that take place between your two ears."

That is SO BIG. It is an idea that rings through history from Socrates to Emerson and right down to our day. What do we really want? What do we really believe is possible? What do we really think we can know? And WHAT can we do, should we do? What is the beautiful life? Because I believe trodding around in nature living off berries and roots, can I assume that is not a detestable, barbarian way to live in the eyes of someone else?

We could go on and on, but I think your point is well made. Look inside the head first, and get settled (as best as is possible) with that, and everything else will have to follow. The truth is, it will all be over soon enough for us anyway. The great existential question: What do you want to do, can you do, in the meantime?


Roger: Yes. What makes the whole search for truth trip really challenging is that belief (even wrong headed belief) is fuel for accomplishment. Exceptional belief by definition pushes up against truth and acceptance of reality in a gray area. It is a gray area where our understanding of truth and reality is flawed (which means the gray area is rather large).

Hello Nate and All. Yes, I believe the second question would remedy the first and have seen it on board tall ships sailing offshore for days and weeks at a time. City folks, deprived of communication for even a little while do notice the natural world more but it takes time to wean them from reflex activities like making photos and videos for their internet profiles back on land. Most profoundly, I think, is the humility one can acquire in the presence of raw nature. It is a respect normally reserved for catastrophes but one that can lead to understanding the balance of life and humans' place in it.

A few Thanksgivings ago, I started reading the harrowing true tale "Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by a Whale" a book which changed my life a little. While relatives and in-laws gorged themselves I was engrossed in the fates of twenty men whose ship had been stove in by a bull sperm whale. In contrast to the feast were accounts of the severest privation as the men starved in their whale boats made into survival craft. Since then I respect food much more and am intensely interested in the agro dimension of peak oil and how sailing ships may serve communities with food.

Have you read In The Heart of the Sea? Very good.

The artist has his studio. Thinking is like deep tissue massage. Those who have studios should get out some, take in a movie, buy a piece of junk food, and talk to young people in a bar or perhaps just ride the subway. Meanwhile, yes, 9-5rs and other high-frequency socials should hire themselves a spare cabin, and, face the scary silence.


Today Mr. Pigou's intellectual legacy is being rediscovered, and, unlike those of Messrs. Keynes and Friedman, it enjoys bipartisan appeal. Leading Republican-leaning economists such as Greg Mankiw and Gary Becker have joined Democrats such as Paul Krugman and Amartya Sen in recommending a Pigovian approach to policy. Much of President Barack Obama's agenda—financial regulation, cap and trade, health care reform—is an application of Mr. Pigou's principles. Whether the president knows it or not, he is a Pigovian.

In the years leading up to his death, in 1959, he was a reclusive figure, rarely venturing from his rooms at King's College. His novel ideas on taxing polluters and making health insurance compulsory were met with indifference: Keynesianism was all the rage.

-WSJ 28 November 2009

#1 - Could their acceptance have to do with knowing that in their remote location not much would change for them in the typical 'TOD doomer collapse'?

#2 - The "30 mins of bank hate" show Cashflow harp about a 'media fast'. Not because of 'flash rates of HD TV means you can be submilimally programmed' but because of research into marketing manipulation of consumers. If you are not consuming their media, you can't be influnced directly now can you?
(others from open source that talk about brain/money)
(The tin-foil hatters may be right WRT flashing TV/Noise)

#2a Some people have better filters for advertising. Hence the push for 'network marketing' - get someone the consumers know personally to pimp your product.

#4 - In my Monday social circle I have a VP of investment banking. When I discuss topics from the automatic earth he dismisses them and gets angry - yet others in the circle (who don't invest) accept the vision reported on at TAE. The Upton Sinclair quote that shows up "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it." may have an effect here. Those who are part of (insert whatever thing here) and are getting along from their POV have no reason to really examine their role. (and the VP's recommendation to date has been weighted to the stocks that are in finance BTW. I expect the cratering of them at some point and the 1+ million to turn into far less.)

One answer to #1 is they're not in the market.

One answer to #2a is to not be in the market.

1. Your term availability cascade is new to me. Nothing came to the top of the google list, but your meaning is easily deduced. Yes to your question. We've got the psychology of previous investment operating both personally and institutionally. I brought my realism FWIW here from the cut-over forest of northern California.

2. How to break out of it? Nothing mandatory until hunger and disorder descend.

3. My neighbors made a foursome with us for the feast. They believe "recovery" will come to Hawaii because it always has, and, well, it's Hawaii. Still they're great neighbors--I'd be happy with a few more like them.

Re bumpkins vs city folk I think that rural people intuit that unlimited growth is impossible. Urbanites intuit that is what keeps the good times happening. As in SUVs, restaurant meals, plane travel and so on. They sort of don't want to know different. So perhaps the rural world view is the default natural model and the urban outlook is the dissonant model.

I just watched a TV gardening show with a new segment on aboriginal food gathering, known as 'bush tucker' in Australia. I think it will go over well because it touches a vein of urban guilt. Same goes for the political conservatives who are trying to block Australia's cap and trade legislation. Opinion polls show some 80% want it to happen, maybe not so much if electricity prices double. Urbanites are torn between the need for bright city lights and a desire to get back to simplicity.

Having been both urbanite and bumpkin I have discovered that there is no simplicity, only less complexity. And then we have the confused/conflicted suburbanite...........trying to have both, achieving neither.

I suspect proximity to nature might also play a role in more easily coming to terms with an overshoot situation. Seeing lights, buildings and electricity and action 24/7 might make imagining a different future more difficult than if one deals with natural forces and the hardships of farming on a constant basis - the disconnect may not be as great. I am trying to write an essay on cognitive dissonance but am encountering too much cognitive load.

Most people living in urban situations don't even have the option of rejecting the arguments, as it does not occupy their experience or knowledge.
I'm horrified being in LA or OC, as the disconnect is so complete, observation seems impossible.

I need to do solo backpacking (and it takes at least 3 days to acclimate into a place where I can start decompressing) to re connect with the embedded sensual world that delivers real information. I know it is a liability, but it is now a necessity.

#1... yes, if you are a rat and are in a race, it's difficult (or ?) to be aware that you are in the race... unless someone points up/out to say "Hey I think we are in a rat race". In a manner of writing, the people in the US and other developed countries have lived in an urban environment for 2-3-4 generations, at least the majority and for the last couple generations, its been the vast majority. Energy comes from the fuel pump or the electrical outlet, food comes from the restaurant, drive through or supermarket, and the natural world is something that people had to struggle with before we modern people developed the tools and technologies to make everything less human powered and better. If this is what you know and you receive continual reinforcement that this is what is normal and that this will continue forever and only get better, then why would you pay attention to a few people who say otherwise?

#2 While I think the opportunity would help many individuals, I am not for mandatory "re-education" regimes from any source on any topic, excepting the golden rules - 10 commandment type behaviors.... Thou shall not kill, etc... That is a slippery slope.

#3 On a personal note, lately in scoping out regions of the US where I may want to relocate to in the future, I have realized that the driftless area in SW Wisconsin, NE Iowa, SE Minnesota, and NW Illinois (centering on the Mississippi and its tributaries), has an interesting array of smaller scale, often organic agriculture, low population densities, and a mindset of stewardship of the natural world.

I don't believe we will crash, though we may descend as in a cascading waterfall to reach a new equilibrium range (not a point). Lately I have been thinking the worst as the powers that be in the financial arena seem to be papering over the holes in the wall (and floor), but when I read this I was reminded that people have always adapted and as far as we know, we do not have a rendezvous with an asteroid in the future. I don't accept what many here are convinced is an inevitability, that we all are doomed in other words, (except most everyone here thinks they will be one of the lucky ones -whether thru luck, preparation, or skill). I do think we will change many things of BAU, some willingly, some begrudgingly, and some at the point of a proverbial (market) gun. The people who see the storm on the horizon and respond appropriately will fare better. Finally, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am thankful to Nate et al, for the Campfire, Drumbeaats, and all the other postings here on TOD.

There is a tendency for people who have not lived in both urban/suburban and rural settings to believe that the only difference between them is one of "lifestyle" whereas they are really different realities.

Successful rural living requires that the individual develop self-reliance. One often is faced with appraising a situation pragmatically, often with limited information. Then deciding whether they have the skill-sets (or can develop them) to tackle the situation. And, finally, carrying it out.

Further, one is forced to observe "nature." It is simply there all the time and one notices what is going on. This develops one's ability to discern differences. And, this ability to discern carries over to life in general.

Finally, one finds satisfaction in living life for itself.


I made a comment yesterday on 'what I am seeing in' nature/my area.

I usually state that those who live in concrete cities or burbs will NOT see the things I see.
For instance a Great Blue Heron standing in the middle of the two-way blacktop road. A once in a lifetime event.

And above there is the usual chatter about stupid farmers and such. Like city folk are way way too smart yet those who live by weather are too dumb to know about climate change!!!

Yes there are incredibly ignorant people who live in the country. Some are rejects from the city. Can't make it anywhere else and living is cheaper here............

BUT if you go up to the oldtimers here(rapidly diminishing) and speak of weather and changes you will understand that with their loooong perspective they understand this VERY well. And many are very very independent in thought and action...yet as long as barbed comments are made here most will assume them to be true stereotypes.

Now to the subject. Cognitive dissonance. Always thought I knew what it meant but never looked it up. Just did.

My personal issues with cognitive dissonance ,if the defintion can be stretched or covers it.

I grew up pretty much in a vacumn. I learned by watching. My grandparents but also my uncles and aunt back on the farms until I was about 12 or 13..when in 1950 we moved to the area that was becoming what later was called the Suburbs.

Yet I retained my rural aspects of life and knowledge. I found that as I was introduced to more advanced schooling than in the rural areas where the 3 Rs were taught , ...

..I found that I tended to NOT accept much of what was presented. In my mind I said "well that may be true and it might not so I will not accept it as told"....

Later in High School it became so prevalent that I actually stopped listening. I could pass the simple written tests and so I started skipping classes and then whole days of classes. So that in my senior year I had missed about half of the course days. I simply went my OWN WAY.

I graduated and immediately was thrown right back in school/training to learn to wire and install Avionics at McDonnell Aircraft..6 months later into the USN and a years schooling on Com/Nav/Radar and so forth in electronics.

Again I listened and accepted some and rejected some, figuring I would check it all out later on my own.

Then to a job as a contractor teaching electronics(again just rote trash since NO ONE knew the real electron theories and I found I was justified in my non-acceptance role)....I taught Rocket Guidance systems and other areas.

Then to a huge computer corporation and more and more schooling and training.

So for me I apparently was always functioning in the areas of severe cognitive dissonance. It paid off personally.

I had the ability I found to 'think outside the box'. I found I could solve problems with hardware and later software that the 'conventional' types could not. I flew to many locations in the country to resolve failures and problems in large companies. Somehow I could do this and I was never exactly sure how.

My past. Now my current life is retirement and I still live the same way.

I find that my conclusion is that there is 'something' , force or spirit or whatever that some people have that others do not. An unconscious area of the mind that they can deal with in some unknown manner that yields answers and thought patterns that are inexplicable and lead one on an entirely different lifepath than the rest of the herd.

For instance I can awaken at a precise time each morning. I can't do it consciously but I can if I DO NOT THINK about it and let the 'conscious' mind interfere.

I have been able to do this most all my life. Lately it has been 7:30AM. I have to do it out of a period of sleep though and not just dozing. I cannot TEST IT.

Yet if I just let it 'flow' on it's own it happens precisely at that appointed time. Why I do not know and do not try to question.

The same type of events occur to me quite often in other areas. Just missing accidents. Etc.

Two days ago I was at a friends house sitting at the kitchen table chatting about this and that. I noticed a large Las Vegas type single dice before me on the table. These type are hard to throw in a limited area but I picked it up in my left and and threw it..A one. I threw it 3 more times and 3 times I rolled a ONE. I put it in my right hand and threw 4 FOURS.

My friend stared at me when I said, 'is this dice loaded'?

No he said and he said, "I watched you do that and I can't believe you did it". Then I tried to do it again and could not repeat it in any way or manner. Always a differnt number from then on.

I rest my case. I have lived with this and just forget it when long periods exist where its just normal living..then out of no where strange events , either one or more , will occur.

I was becoming an alcoholic in the Navy after flying thousands of hours during surveillance missions. One night sitting in an aircraft by myself checking out the Radiomans HF rig I went into some kind of vision thing and was shown the results of my continous alcoholic bouts. A huge deep dark pit that I was standing on the very edge of.
I didn't quit drinking and still do to this day but I backed way way off and mostly never became drunk again. Over time I just grew to the point of using alcohol as a beverage I preferred.

I have a very well stocked liquor cabinet. Wine as well. Liqueurs also.

My journey continues. This is something I always wanted to share but most times feel an inappropriate audience surrounds me so I demur.


PS. I remember my childhood winters here. Frozen ponds. Lots of snow days. Making snow men. it rarely ever happens. We might get one or two days of snow per winter. Ponds rarely ever freeze over anymore. It just slowly over time changed. For good it seems.

If more people saw a deep black pit they could fall into when they looked at an HF rig, the world would be a better place :-))

'Further, one is forced to observe "nature." It is simply there all the time and one notices what is going on. This develops one's ability to discern differences. And, this ability to discern carries over to life in general.'

I had a thought to share about observing, and being observant. I find that, deep down, I think I am a pragmatic optimist.

I have a hope, not founded in any science, that things will get better, and people will be "okay."

I also do feel I am observant, with an eye for detail, and start to notice things that, while are possibly statistically insignificant, fuel my hope.

While driving with my family around the suburban cities where I live. I am noticing more on-roof solar panels. One here. One there. Every so often.

I even recently saw a new installation over the roof of a small curio shop. They could have been just solar hot water, or power, but I did see they looked shiny and new.

So, I stay hopeful.

I also like to read about solar power, and notice that prices in terms of $US/watt for solar power panels are in a downward trend. Will it continue to go down? Is it all just due to the economy? Don't care. Still gives me hope.

Do people move or stay rural because they are more open to limits to growth? Some do, but that's just one of many reasons. Do people who are more open to limits of growth move or stay rural? Probably - at least many consider rural living as good strategy. A challenge when thinking of this correlation is that there are likely way more rural people than there are people who fully accept limits to growth in the form discussed on TOD.

That said, I think a bigger driver to openness to limits are the degree to which one is able to make changes to one's life and whether or not one has "invested" in the future(in terms of children). I find that people who are more willing/able to choose the path of their lives, as well as people with no kids, are more open to the limits facing us. More specifically, I find people with kids who also feel "stuck" on the track their on (or at least feel that any significant change would be a hardship or large burden) tend to block ideas about limits (not to mention potential societal collapse). This is most likely due to fear - if one accepts these ideas, it's hard to continue seeing the world and living as you used to, and to not at least think about changes (and also hard to avoid feelings of guilt about how much to prepare and protect the children in a future world that is stepping down). When presented with peak oil and other such ideas, a brief eye-opening panic, perhaps a restless night, and then reassurance from familiar surroundings and routine to lull one back to sleepwalking....

Fall Guy,

Perhaps they feel 'stuck on a track' because they no longer have the freedom of their own actions.

In todays culture one CANNOT raise their children as they feel led to. They have to conform to the societies values and rules. Therefore their children do whatever they wish and are largely led by their 'peer group'..and so you are required to support them but not allowed to do much in their growth and future.

In the country some time back society did NOT interfere with the family. It was the parents responsibility to raise their children and not the role of 'The State'.

So your stuck in a do nothing job, with a wife having a different life, with children you can't control and no rabbit hole to disappear down. Its not much fun. Its not rewarding. Its a RUT. You are stuck and can do nothing but CONSUME and STFU.


3)During Thanksgiving, did you have any new insights, answers, paths with respect to our energy/environmental/social situation? If so please share...

Insights? yes. Due to habitat infringment/destruction combined with successful wildlife management, human/bear interactions are increasing in our area. Lately bears have been raiding garbage cans and bird feeders in our little valley because the nearby bear sanctuary has reached the natural saturation point. My sister who lives down the road told her son (city boy) that the bear kept wrecking her bird feeders. My nephew called several times, ready to come "now" to shoot the bear. I told him that I wasn't sure it was legal to shoot the bear. The next time I told him that the bear wasn't always around, only comes by every few days and that he could sit for days and not shoot the bear. That's why they chase them for miles with dogs. The next time he called ready to shoot the bear "now", I told him that he was only a little bear, just trying to make a living, and that even though he had gotten in the trash twice, eaten the bird and chicken feed, fallen asleep on the hood of my wife's Subaru, I have no desire to shoot him. I'll just put the stuff in the shed and take my stuff off of his shopping list. Bears like to be efficient and conserve energy and he isn't going to waste time and calories making the 1/2 mile round trip from my sister's house to mine and back ('cause she always has good stuff)if the odds are low for success. He's just trying to make a living.
I find that this bear is a metaphore for a lot of things human.
Anyway, the story of the bear made it's way through the extended family and this thanksgiving 5 different men brought their guns (all of them I think) to the farm and had a great day at target practice, pumping much lead into our soil. The funny thing is, in nearly 40 years that the family has been gathering here for holidays, this has never happened. These are all men over 30, most with college degrees, city dwellers, who all suddenly decided (independently) to bring their guns (all of them I think) for thanksgiving. So I ask my Campfire friends:

1. Were these guys all just hoping to kill the bear?

2. Or are they all feeling insecure about things TOD? (none of them do TOD)

3. Are we all going to be like the bear soon, wandering the land for birdseed?

1. City folk. Just showing off. Lots of ego there. The macho male thing. The 'Danl Boone' thing.
"We are macho men and the creatures are there for our pleasure to take or kill as we wish."(deer season is underway right now , right here in my area.)

2. They might be parlaying their macho leanings into 'we will kill anyone who brings bad juju to us'.

3. Native Americans consider the bear one of the 4 creatures of the Circle of Life. The bear represents Physical path and of Introspection.Eagle,Deer and Rabbit represent other paths and aspects. At least the Ts'lagi...(the Cherokee) do. But all tribes seem to worship The Circle of Life.

Many Native Americans still use the "speaking stick" during discussions. Only the person who holds the stick can speak and he/she can keep the stick until they feel that they have been understood.

This is true.

Sometimes it might be a feather but mostly a stick.
They deliberated for long periods.

It is said that a lot of our Constitution is based on one of the Native American tribes laws and rules. Perhaps the Iroquois?


Perhaps we should say the Constitution WAS based on N.A. law.

See the text following the headings "The White Roots of Peace" and "Iroquois and the U.S. Constitution":

I thought it was the Iroquois. Your link is appreciated.

I had never read those documents or that history before.

Airdale-1/8 Cherokee ,more Native American blood in my veins than those of my European ancestors

minimum 1/8 Ojibwe.......traced on my Dad's side and my Maternal Grandfather had many Native triats and physical features.
Maybe that is the "give a shit about the planets future" connection.
It would be cool to see if TOD over represents Native genetics.
Now I am sounding racist!!

My last name is French and it is the last name of many Ojibwe leaders.

Indian traits.

All my uncles and aunts including my father(14 of them) were tall and lanky, had dark skin and very black hair. Almost no body hair.

I am the same. My brother as well.

There are still a lot of half and mixed blood of Native American ancestry here in my area..where the Trail of Tears came through.

I speak to them and notice their characteristics.

There is far far more NA blood in our population than many think, IMO.


Same especially no body hair.
I don't have to shave my cheeks at all and have no hair on my arms or chest.
I also tan very, very easily to a reddish, copper color.

I also have small deep set eyes and dark skin and a full head of dark hair.

I totally agree that there is a lot of Native genetics in our populations.

My ancestors tried to hide it so they wouldn't be persecuted and maybe even rounded up an thrown on a "reservation".

One of the major reasons for disbelief/recognition in peak oil, limits to growth, human overshoot, etc. is the loss of trust in the people in charge. Even though, I concluded twenty years ago that our economy was unsustainable and three years ago that peak oil is a fact, I have numerous reasons to distrust those in authority. For example:

1. Congress is owned and directed by corporations.
2. Positions in the SEC, FED, and Treasury are a revolving door with Investment Banking.
3. The MSM hypes an economic recovery based on a government spending goosed GDP.

The list is endless but the above is illustrative of my belief.

Many TOD commenters have made a god of science. Why should I believe that the acquisition of some technical credential makes that person any more trustworthy than the worthies in politics, finance, or news media. Does that person (scientist) have more integrity, authenticity, and objective judgment than others?

As a nation we have lost our moral compass. We sense that fact and therefore “Why should I face difficult issues because someone in authority tells me that I should".

I am able to influence my neighbors because they know me personally and I have earned their trust by working in their community organizations and helping them when they need help. It is amazing the trust that can be gained by inviting neighbors to visit your blueberry or raspberry patch.

In spite of this diatribe, I am extremely grateful to TOD and its editors who give more I could have previously imagined.

Thank you so very much!

1) In my experience (living in a medium-sized agricultural based community) physical and social proximity to conspicuous consumption equates with awareness and interest in the significant issues listed. That is, the doctors, lawyers, teachers, professionals, etc in town are generally educated and on the same page about the issues. Those closer to the land - farmers, millwrights, laborers, hunters, etc, tend to follow the talking point of the moment instead. There is derision rather than conversation. Not kindly said, and I do deal with both types every day, but so it is.

2) I'd like to have any kind of vacation at all, myself, but I don't know that "downtime" or any other kind of time would in any way change anyone's mind where I live.

3) Yes. I've heard the argument now and then that education and prosperity are the solution to the population problem. Prosperity of course is problematic, being generally energy-intensive, but I've agreed sometimes without thinking things through. So I sat down and did the math after Thanksgiving. I took Italy as an example, which has what is considered a very low birth rate attributed to affluence and so forth. Taking their numbers and plugging them into a formula designed to calculate compound interest, what I discovered is that if the entire world were to somehow attain the same birth/death ratio as Italy has, after 100 years the population of the planet would decrease from 6.8 billion to 5.4 billion.

Which just tells me that prosperity and education, however nice otherwise, will do little to get us out of the frying pan on the population issue.

.. if the entire world were to somehow attain the same birth/death ratio as Italy has, after 100 years the population of the planet would decrease from 6.8 billion to 5.4 billion.

Birth/death ratio is not too meaningful as a future population predictor. It tells you what the net population is doing at the moment, but it says nothing about what's built in to the long term demographic distribution.

I suspect that even though Italy's fertility rate has been well below replacement level for some time, it's only recently that the birth to death ratio has edged below 1:1. The death rate would have been low, because the population at the upper end of the distribution was small -- i.e., born at a time when Italy's population was well below the peak it later attained.

Birth/death ratio is not too meaningful as a future population predictor

True enough, but if we look at a current "best case" as a way forward and it apparently leads no where?

The formula btw is:

Take X as population. X0 as the starting point, X1 as population at the starting point + 1 year, X2 at two years, and so on.

In 2008 Italy had a birth rate of .836 per 1000, and a death rate of 1.061, which combines to -.225, becoming as a % ratio -.00225.

Then using the compound interest formula to look at year 100: X100=X0(.99775)100

The Greatest Trend Continues, and Comes Home

My breakthrough this Thanksgiving re-inforced a theme that is becoming HUGE to me, and I think is the most under-rated cultural trend coming at us like a tidal wave: The dying off of the "greatest generation" (the ones who remember the Great Depression and WWII) and the advancing age and beginning of the die off of the baby boomers.

For the first time in my whole life at age 50, I spent Thanksgiving with NO family. Odd you may say? No, I was readily able to find two friends in exactly the same circumstance, and could have found at least a half dozen more. Most of us have had our last parent pass away in the last two years.

My former hometown, a small town of 1400, is full of empty homes. They were not foreclosed on, they are awaiting auction by the adult offspring of the community who have long moved away from the community, the homes recently emptied by the death of the last elderly parent who spent their final years alone in the house.

At least three of my aunts have recently moved from their old single family homes into apartments or condos. They no longer have family, and wanted somewhere that woud be easy to take care of, small and efficient to keep utility bills down, somewhere near hospitals and easy transportation. Interestingly, this is the very "lower consumption/low carbon footprint" that we all say we are needing right now. Much of the oversupply in American houses can be explained by this trend: The housing industry went on a building boom at EXACTLY the time it was not needed, but the desire of the young for brand new modern homes drove the buyer away from the old, often extremely beautiful and well made houses of the prior generations.

Go to antique furniture websites: There is a flood of prewar, arts and crafts, art deco, Victorian and Federalist period furniture and housewares flooding the market. Pulled from attics, barns, basements, old houses, storage, the prized possessions of a generation are coming to market.

I know the area I am about to mention does not interest the TOD crowd, but it is fascinating to me: Recently there has been a flood of pre-war collector automobiles hitting the market, Dusenbergs, Cords, Pierce Arrow, Franklin, Packard, Studebaker and Stutz, even collectable Mercedes and Rolls Royce. Most young people do not even know these cars ever existed! The prices will drop, as the market for these magnificant collectables becomes saturated. For those with money, it is a buyers market, and will become even more so in the upcoming years.

Sooner than we think, the immediate postwar market will begin the same process...already I have seen some fantastic buys in 1950's and 1960's sports and sports racing cars, everything from McClaren's, Lotus, Lolas, Ferrarri, MG, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Lancia (the young ask "what?")Mercedes gull wing, BMW 503 and 507, on and on and on...even once priceless Formula 1 and Indianapolis cars are going on the block, the younger buyer not even knowing what they are or what the historical and technological value of these cars are.

And then there are the houses, the great old Victorian and Federalist houses, the arts and crafts bungalows, again, on and on and on.

So, what's the point you may be asking? (I know I would be) The answer is IT IS HUGE.

The financial community is facing an exodus of money from its formerly most stable and most well vested funds: For the first time since WWII, money will begin leaving annuities, life insurance policies, reverse mortgages, and banks will begin emptying trust funds at an ever increasing rate. The volumes of this money is HUGE. Many of these companies have a history going back to or before the civil war, and have never known a period in which money exodus matched or possibly even exceeded moeny income.

With the recent multiple setbacks in the markets (recall that the S&P index when inflation adjusted has been NEGATIVE since 2001) and facing the beginning of the emptying out of money by the most prosperous and most invested generation in world history, we are entering a new area. This MUST be researched and dealt with soon by the small individual investor, because you can bet that the big investemnt firms such as Met Life, Prudential, and the big one, New York Life are pouring over actuarial tables trying to see how they will cope with a problem that will face them for the next half of a century.

Culturally of course the implications are huge, as we now face a generation that has no recollection or familiarity with the music, literature, art, movies of "our" culture. The greatest age of media and "pop" culture is being washed into oblivion. Only through video games have many of the young heard of the Beatles. Recently in a poll of current college students, they were asked if they had heard of the movie "The Big Chill". Answer, zero.

This issue is even more pronounced in Europe and Japan, as they have a baby boomer demographic even more slanted than in the U.S. Euope and Japan face a demographic nightmare that could be almost catastrophic. Recent polls of the Belgian army showed the average age of their combat soldiars to be in the late 30's! This is being offset by a flood of young newcomers from the Middle East, but there are cultural issues there of great concern to Europeans as they ask "What is the "European culture, lifestyle, what will it become?" Some xenophobes even predict the end of Europe as we know it.

Back to Thanksgiving. Several of my friends and I are planning holiday get togethers, maybe even trips, as a group of "family-less" friends (two of my family-less friends are in Hawaii right now).

Some of us have sisters or brothers far away, but they have holiday plans and in some cases still have families of their own. In many ways, we are more in our own element and have more in common with our lone friends. Many boomers never had children at all, or if they did they had few. Gay and lesbian friends are often without children.

It was reported here on TOD the other day that both driving and flying had decreased on the Thanksgiving holiday. I would expect this trend to accelerate, and to spread to other holidays, not due to any shortage of fuel (gasoline was actually a bargain this holiday) but simply because more and more people have no family to return to. What they may have is the proceeds from their parents estate as the once prized, artistic and most well made goods in history flood the auction houses. This is the trend, the absolute unavoidable and assured trend of the rest of our lives.

My view is simply this: If we can figure out how to cope with this coming demographic change it will pay dividends in our financial and even our personal lives.

Thank you, and happy holidays to all of my TOD friends
Roger Conner Jr.


All my ancestors, all my aunts and uncles(both sides) have now passed on. My last uncle this last summer and I am now the oldest living male of that 'namesake',in my line. I was told that by another just recently and given some memorabilia of my last uncle who was stationed in Germany and retired there with the Air Force.

In the folder is letters signed by Presidents regarding his efforts and career. Things that no one else wants or cares to have. Commendations and awards.

My mother is now 91 and very close to death. My son is busy taking her money on the sly. She had close to a quarter million due to her husbands(my stepfather) desire to save and be frugal in many areas as well as good investments.

I will get almost none as a way of inheritance since I don't play the games my sly son does.

I will soon put her in the cold ground and then go on with my life down here on the land I grew up in West Kentucky.

Fewer and fewer folks to talk with who remember 'the old ways' and the way it once was. Every one is into the consumer lifestyle mostly as I am slowly weaning off of it.

I have three 1971 VWs in my barn. A vintage IH tractor. Two pickups and two Jeeps and a Chrysler Concorde(all 90s models). A 2001 HD LowRider and a 1969 Honda Trail 90.

Something to play with as "I figure out how to compete with this coming demographic change" as you put it.

I know that at my age I will only perhaps be in on the start of it. Thank God I won't be in the later bad parts.

When I can no longer plant or harvest my garden then I know that I am at the end point. Yet I feel surprisingly healthy and if the previous cancer does not metastasize then I will still be plugging away for some time. One kidney seems to be doing the trick so far. I feed it quite a bit of beer at my urologists behest.

Airdale-I also have a ton of old music on tape cassettes and vinyl. I am now almost totally 'debt free'. Will be next month when all debts will be paid in full.

ThatsItImout -

As a child of the 'Greatest Generation' (age 64) I must say that I was not aware of all the good stuff coming on the market from people my age and younger liquidating all sorts of things. Perhaps I should look into it (though I really should be SELLING stuff rather than acquiring more). As it is, I happen to have a very nice 1968 Beetle in very good condition, which I hope to keep (if for no other reason than that it's points & condenser ignition system would not be affected by the EMP of a nuclear blast associated with some future resource war). Maybe turn it into a Mad Max machine if necessary. Hey, ya never know.

What was most sobering to me in many respects was when about 5 or 6 years ago I was looking at a photo, circa 1954, of a very large family gathering. I think it was some cousin's first communion or confirmation. But the thing that really stuck me was that not a single one of the many adults in that photo is still alive. Not one!

If what you say is accurate, then it appears that there is an ongoing great liquidation of the physical wealth accumulated by the 'Greatest Generation' by their heirs. And once that is gone, then the shite will really hit the fan big time.

Time indeed does have a way of sneaking up on you. When I was growing up in those now-mythical 1950s, our next door neighbor was an elderly couple. The husband happened to have been a veteran of the Spanish-American War. I distinctly recall our town's Fourth of July parades, in which the old geefer would be proudly driven in the back seat of a brand-new Cadillac convertible, as the town's only surviving Spanish-American War veteran. Now these days WW II veterans are dropping like flies.

Dust in the wind.

Just a few items I have been watching...

Furniture and Art…
(I would have love to have gotten Leger painting, I am a fan)

Collectable race cars…
(In the boom times, the big Lola sportsrace could have been a half million dollar car...prices are very negotiable right now...

Highway cars…you have to love these to understand..:-)

My bargain pet…

Just scratches the surface...because I do not want to live on the coast I have ignored dozens of great old Federal style homes and condos in what used to be status neighborhoods (I almost went for one Federal house in Nantucket, but then remembered I don't want to live in Nantucket!

The fact is, much of this stuff is virtually rubbish to the generation behind us...we will have to be trading between the remaining survivors just to keep it from going to the scrap pile. This is why "inflation" in the normal sense really doesn't hold up right now...if inflation is too much money chasing too few goods, what we now have, between the flood of stuff coming on the market from estates and the flood of new stuff pouring in from China, India, Europe, even Latin America, is a flood of stuff chasing money.

One more thought: Gold and silver. How much old vintage gold is scattered out there waiting to come to market? Kids don't understand art deco furniture or mid fifties racing cars, but they should be able to smell gold and hopefully won't throw it out to go to the landfill, but who knows?


Occasional reader, first-time poster. I have no idea how other people are in regards to acknowledging resource limits and the like because I don't have much time or opportunity for social contact and it's not something that comes up in conversation. But I would like to say that, in regards to #1, I don't make myself aware of these things because I have spare time from not having a social life; I don't have much of a social life because I don't have much spare time. And I do use some of that spare time to learn about survival and long-term trends because in my situation, anything I can learn will help. In regards to #2, I don't do any of those things (except use the internet), either the ones that the author thinks would be a good idea to do or the ones to get away from, because none of those things are really an option in my life anyway. (In case anyone's wondering "why is 'radio' not an option", the answer is "because deaf".)

In regards to the earlier portion of the article, I would also like to say that I'm a lifelong city-dweller (and, okay, occasional suburban dweller). But I probably don't have the same kind of perspective that most city-dwellers do. I've been foraging for wild edibles since I was a child (yes, this can be done in a city) because my parents barely fed me; I continue to do so as an adult because I can barely feed them. ("Feed them" in this case referring to chronic unemployment, no health insurance, and expensive health problems. Every little bit that saves money helps.) Also, I've sometimes lived in crappy places where some of the modern conveniences couldn't be relied upon; even now, my furnace is broken and management is being obstructive about getting it fixed because they plan to replace them in all the apartments anyway - after winter is over.

In regards to #3, this wasn't during Thanksgiving but a few days before, and only partially relates, but I had the idea of "intentional culture". It's like "intentional community" except you don't live in isolated groups and try to help others form groups and social connections with similar practices and values. I'm sure I have no need to explain how that might be useful in helping to prepare for a resource-poor future. Though I actually had a somewhat different purpose in mind... many of the world's cultures and ways of life have disappeared and many more are about to, so maybe it's time to increase the diversity by inventing entirely new ones. I was thinking of taking ideas from evangelical religions on how to spread. Though where I'm going to find the time to start such an ambitious project, I have no idea.

sdrawkcaB, first let me say glad to hear from you and welcome to the conversation.

Secondly, as odd as it sounds, I have been thinking of something similiar to what you are describing, but using two very tried and true models as starting places: Co-ops and Credit Unions. Of course clubs may be an organizing way of doing it, and even more interesting...colleges, especially liberal arts colleges. They seem to have a way of creating a community of ideas and longterm loyalty. It is interesting to think of other ways to organize and promote ideas and thoughts than the currrent model currently swallowing the world, the corporation. It astounds many people that there are other ways to organize things.


Welcome sdrawkcaB! from a relative newbie as well. You came to the right place.

I submit that we already live in an intentional culture. Its planners are the corporations and their politicians. Their tools are the MSM (main stream media) and the advertizing and marketing arms of the corporations. Their intent is to get your money by causing you to purchase and consume. They sustain their intentions by further convincing us that consumption and growth are the best, only way that our culture can survive. They are the pushers and we are the consumption addict. As with drug addiction, we quickly rationalize away any suggestions that we must wean ourselves from the stuff to which we are addicted.

This is perhaps one reason that people who live the remote/rural lifestyle seem to "get it". They are more removed from the triggers that cause us to believe that our addiction to consumption and growth is right and neccessary.

While I feel that cultures are organic and evolve in ways that cannot be planned for, it is apparent that when influence gets out of ballance, as when corporations and media outlets merge and become "too big to fail", then intent becomes power.

The problem I see with intentional anything is, who's intentions are we acting upon?

Hi Nate,

As nobody has posted something (as far as I have seen)
about the views of the few remaining indigenous peoples and their views
let me post a few links.
whenever I looked or read certain statements from their leaders or
interviews with tribal people, their understanding of the various problems we
are discussing was impressive. Once they become forced into ``civilization" and survive
in one way or another however denial starts as well.

have a look for example (and perhaps support them)’t-god-care-about-uncontacted-tribes/

there are interesting things as well here (from Russell Means and others)

and some wise words from the past (one might ask how could these uneducated know?

among them (below) one from my heroes when I was 40 years younger
and yes I am still fascinated by him

Following speech by The Great Shawnee Warrior and Statesman, Chief Tecumseh, as included in the following magazine article by Simon Pokagon, Pokagon Band of Pottawatomie Nation:
Published, 1899, (Tecumseh's speech spoken c.1800) "Harpers New Monthly Magazine"
Vol. XCVIII, No. DLXXXVI, March 1899, pp. 649-656


By Simon Pokagon
Chief of the Pokagon Band of Pottawatomie Nation

He (Tecumseh) generally spoke as follows:

"Before me stand the rightful owners of kwaw–notchi–we au–kee (this beautiful land).

"The Great Spirit in His wisdom gave it to you and your children to defend, and placed you here.

"But ä–te–wä (alas!) the incoming race, like a huge serpent, is coiling closer and closer about you.

"And not content with hemming you in on every side, they have built at She–gog–ong (Chicago), in the very center of our country, a military fort, garrisoned with soldiers, ready and equipped for battle.

"As sure as waw–kwen–og (the heavens) are above you they are determined to destroy you and your children and occupy this goodly land themselves.

"Then they will destroy these forests, whose branches wave in the winds above the graves your fathers, chanting their praises.

"If you doubt it, come, go with me eastward or southward a few days' journey along your ancient mi–kan–og (trails), and I will show you a land you once occupied made desolate.

"There the forests of untold years have been hewn down and cast into the fire!

"There be–sheck–kee and waw–mawsh–ka–she (the buffalo and deer) pe–nay–shen and ke–gon (the fowl and fish), are all gone.

"There the woodland birds, whose sweet songs once pleased your ears, have forsaken the land, never to return.

"And waw–bi–gon–ag (the wild flowers), which your maidens once loved to wear, have all withered and died.

"You must bear in mind these strangers are not as you — they are devoid of natural affection, loving gold or gain better than one another, or ki–tchi–tchag (their own souls).

"Some of them follow on your track as quietly as maw–in–gawn (the wolf) pursues the deer, to shoot you down, as you hunt and kill mé–she–bé–zhe (the panther)."

"But a few years since I saw with my own eyes a young white man near the O-hi-o River who was held by our people as a prisoner of war. He won the hearts of his captors with his apparent friendship and good-will, while murder was in his heart.

"They trusted him as they trusted one another. But he most treacherously betrayed their confidence, and secretly killed not less than nech-to-naw (twenty) before his crimes were detected, and then he had fled...".

Tecumseh research submitted by Steve Newcomb, Shawnee-Delaware.

For the COMPLETE SPEECH AND MUSIC VIDEO, please visit the KUMEYAAY.INFO movie theater.

A very good book on Tecumseh is Allan Eckert's "A Sorrow in our Heart".

Extremely well documented. I also recommend his other works.
"That Dark and Bloody River"...referring to the Ohio.
"Gateway to Empire"

All excellent as to the birthing of this nation and the Native Americans.


Nate wrote:

The family in question live very remotely on a farm. . . . the conversation turned . . . to deeper conversations of overshoot, aboriginal wisdom and mitigation of our 'predicament', all topics this couple was well aware of

Living remotely, I suspect they are keenly aware of how quickly nature can kink, knot or even severe the critical umbilical cord that most urban dwellers are unaware of and take mostly for granted. They have to be prepared for when that happens.

The weather makes the northern great plains an unforgiving place at times. Blizzards blow roads shut for days before the plows can get them open. When ice storms break powerlines to the ground, being toward the end of the line means the power company linemen may work around the clock for days before they get the lights back on. Meanwhile, as most don't have the increasingly rare artesian well nothing comes out of the tap or is flushed away unless they have a backup power source. Energy for heating is likely from a liquid in a tank; let the tank get too low before such a winter event and the house will get very cold before it can be refilled. Hypothermia from a sudden fall or spring rain event is a real risk, killing unprepared hunters every year.

On the primary conversion side of nature (sunlight to plants), they see the power of other natural events against which they are helpless. Late or early frosts wipe out crops. When in the path of a sudden hailstorm they can only watch as trees are stripped bare of leaves, the crops are beaten into the ground and asbestos shingled roofs destroyed. Some years swarms of grasshoppers or locusts descend on garden and crops, eating anything green back to the ground before moving on. Drought dry up rivers, ponds and parches crops. Wind-blown range firs ignited by lightning can wipe out acres of rangeland in minutes, killing any critters or humans in their path. Finally, they are much more a part of the rhythms and cycles of the seasons of nature with emergence and maturation of plants and the coming and going of critters than city folk.

Amidst all this they have to be much more resilient and aware than city folk or they couldn't survive there.

Recognizing, thinking about, Peak Oil takes brains, insight and an innate ability to focus on something big beyond just ourselves. Why, in 1973, in a bookstore did I pick up a small paperback entitled “Limits to Growth” and then read it from cover to cover in one sitting, when I should have been doing my course work?

Why do some of us ask so many questions? Dad, is the moon following us? Dad, why are houses outside? Dad, what are people for? Dad, why are mirrors backwards, sideways, but not up and down? Dad, if God is all good and God is all great, why doesn’t he just fix everything?

Some of us wonder deeply about the world, but the questions we ask vary, and depend on, education, age, experience, ability, culture and environment. Oil Drummers probably have similar constellations. My guess: good education, well travelled, high IQ, 30+ in age, productive workers, modern Western culture, own a car, flown in a plane at least once in the past 12 months . . .

Hi Waveman,
You remind me how I drove my Sunday School teachers crazy, as my little mind resisted their programming. "You want me to believe WHAT!?"

I wonder what causes "resistant to programming". It seems like a fairly common trait here on TOD.

I'm convinced that some folks are hardwired for it.

Resistant to programming is futile.

We are are all programmed. The question is how.

Then we have to manage our add-ons.

Being able to pass the "Turing Test"?

I think the idea that "rural" gives one better insights than "urban" is false. It seems to be a particular condition of the US - which I notice since I am an import - that rural and urban people apparently have a particular disdain for one another.

What I've noticed is the tendency for people to want to deal with resource depletion by "bugging out" or creating a "doomstead" out in the middle of nowhere "where the starving city people can't find you when the food runs out". There have been quite a number of studies done showing that urban areas are quite a lot more energy-efficient than rural areas due to the simple fact that people live close together.

I've been running a weatherization project in my urban neighborhood of old Victorian homes - and I can assure you people are less concerned with Tiger Woods and more concerned with tightening up the insulation.

I've talked to many people over the garden fence who have planted vegetable gardens, and whose biggest concern, like mine, is how to keep the squirrels out. Every day, almost, someone remarks to me that they saw this or that animal in their back yard - usually 'possums or raccoons, the latest "sighting" being some kind of large raptor - possibly a kestrel.

I also saw a Blue Jay in my yard for the first time, last week. I keep a bird book for tracking the birds that pass through or visit the feeder.

On the other hand, I've visited many "rural" homes which have the same granite countertops and recessed lighting as you see in the city. Marketing is everywhere.

I think people who are absorbed with the daily task of trying to make ends meet and put food on the table generally have less time to spend on the bigger issues of the day. Most of the "Peak Oilers" I know in the city are more-or-less averagely middle-class, with averagely-middle-class occupations. They are neither ekeing out a basic living working 14 hours a day at the big-box, nor high-level executives required to be on an airplane 60 hours a week.

As a city, though, we do have access to a lot of nature preserves, and the lake, of course, which does give people an outlet, and which does not require getting on a plane. Anyone who can catch a bus can go to the beach in the summertime. We have our city planners to thank for their foresight.

I've been gardening for almost 30 years, in various locations, and if one is a studious observer of the air, the water, the sun and the soil, changes hit you between the eyes.

The reason most people, even in agriculture, don't recognize changes is because they don't work the land with their hands and their souls any more - they treat the land like an industrial growth medium by which three or four standard crops are forced up using chemical treatments, and harvested with machines.

You can be close to the land anywhere, and distant from it anywhere, and I say that as someone who has traveled 4 continents with a backpack.

I got my worst dose of hypothermia just riding my bike on a Sunday afternoon, because I left home without a rain jacket and got caught in a storm. Biking 20 miles in wet, windy conditions really sucks the heat out of you.

The image below was taken in Tibet, which is becoming a curious mix - we watched the 2000 Olympics via satellite at a cafe in Lhasa. Strange...


I agree. We need to bear in mind that "rural and remote" should not necessarily conjure up dreams of gardens, chickens and bee hives. Down the road from me, a deca-millionaire has built an ostentatious palace. His zebras, camels and llamas graze on his 20-acre front yard. It’s worse—value judgment fully intended, here—than little Bush’s "rural and remote" Potemkin ranch in Crawford or old Bush’s "rural and remote" compound at Kennebunkport. An accountant in an overcrowded, noisy, dirty city—and every city is dirty—may get Peak Oil in spades, whereas a novelist, luxuriating in a log cabin outside Estes Park, Colorado, remains clueless. I believe recognition of Peak Oil relates inversely to mindless ingestion of the garbage coming from the mainstream media, not location.


The other thing I wanted to point out about the photo from Tibet is the aggregation of dwellings. Even though this is a pretty remote spot, you find groups of people living in close proximity.

It is a pretty unique feature of the US landscape that allows houses on large parcels of land exisiting a relatively great distance from the neighbors.

I think this is a feature of the "colonization" of the west, which was really a deliberate policy decision, rather than a matter of practical survival. Provide incentives to spread people as far out across the land as possible, giving rise to the (somewhat romanticized) notion of self-reliance.

It couldn't have been done without railroads as the main route, supplying all the small town general stores with household goods.

Most places you go in the pre-industrialized world, people group together, whether it be encampments, villages or towns.


I have a book that I cherish—A Pattern Language; Towns, Buildings, Construction; by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein [with three other contributors], Oxford University Press, 1977, 1171 pp. If there is one book I believe will instruct us concerned adults in how to transform our community to something better than it is, it is this one book. Do we live in a community with a “four-story limit”, “a house cluster”, “carnival”, “local sports”, “promenade”, “main street”, “tapestry of light and dark”, “six-foot balcony” and about three hundred other tested, proven and effective ways to make life livable? In the United States, we have abandoned proven techniques, and we will pay the price.


Waveman -- I had a Built Environment prof in the 1980s who assigned us that book, and it's been on my shelf ever since. What an eye-opener. It's basically a design guide for walkable, sustainable houses, neighborhoods, towns, and regions. The US took a huge wrong turn away from this after WW II, which is one reason that the newest house I've ever owned was built in 1939.

Thanks ! I'll add that to my book list.

PostScript: If you're interested in US history, google "Manifest Destiny"

"Jul 1845 - In July 1845, the New York newspaper editor John L. O'Sullivan coined the phrase “Manifest Destiny,” to explain how the "design of Providence" supported the territorial expansion of the United States. " - Wikipedia

Nate - regarding question #1, during last year's NOFA (Northeast Organic Farmer's Association) winter conference, the keynote speaker asked the audience of several hundred attendees, "Who here has heard of Peak Oil?" Literally, nearly every hand in the audience went up. Clearly surprised by the response, the speaker followed up, "Who here believes they understand the implication of reaching Peak Oil?" Again, a sea of hands went up. I was floored. I cannot imagine any other collection of people where such a response would occur.

It is unclear to me whether this group of organic farmers chose to become farmers due to an awareness of sustainability issues such as Peak Oil (as did I), or alternatively, whether being close to the land allowed for a more open and objective assessment of this information. My guess is it's a mix of both.

I made a point of approaching two people around me who did not raise their hands to give them a bit more information. Their response to this information was far more open and engaged than I typically see among the general public. While they may have been influenced by the overwhelming response of the audience, I can confidently say that I historically get MUCH better traction discussing Peak Oil with my fellow farmers than any other group, including my own extended family. It gives me hope.

Good morning Vermont. My feeling is that your farmer friends just have better things to do, things that can be accomplished while allowing our minds to consider other questions. I do some of my best thinking while mowing pastures or weeding gardens. Further, they may be less exposed to the bombardment of the MSM and their BUY, BUY, BUY, CONSUME, CONSUME, CONSUME message. Perhaps they are less distracted by irrelevencies.
We were a two-home family most of my life: one in the city, one rural. When my parents puchased land in a small rural community in the mountains I was amazed at the lengths people would go to to try and get a signal on their TVs (early '70s). Folks would hike hundreds of feet up mountains to set up antennas and run thousands of feet of ladder wire to get 1 or 2 channels. There were no satelite dishes or cable. Due to the limited number of shows that were available families were selective about the time spent watching TV. One nearby family held a weekly HeeHaw party. Families actually watched the same shows together. Over time technology improved and within a couple of decades most everyone had cable or satelite. Over this time period the culture has changed dramatically, a culture that had changed slowly over the previous century. It occurs to me that this new barrage of "information" combined with new roads modified the culture to the point that, where most people were net producers, they are now net consumers. They now think like consumers.
It would be interesting to see studies on correlations between the increased influx of MSM (TV mostly) and changes in culture and values in these formerly isolated communities.
As for questions discussed on TOD, most of the folks in our area tend to seek Biblical answers to these larger questions, especially the older generations.

Rivers separating Hades from the land of the living are these: Acheron—river of woe; Cocytus—river of lamentation; Phlegethon—river of fire; Lethe—river of forgetfulness; Styx—river of hate. These are the main streams.

I've observed for several years now that we have a class of persons whom I'll refer to as Intelligent Dumb Shits (IDS) who have lost the ability to think critically. They are smart enough to go through the motions of being successful, such as correctly configuring a server with multiple password-protected ISP's or re-building an engine for their Funny Car, but they fail to think beyond Monday Night Football or the Country Music Awards. The MSM, using highly advanced technology, has messed up their heads. It's a serious problem.

I've often considered that a large EMP could do us a favor, as awful and disruptive as that would be. The ultimate reset button! (Please don't zap my solar panels though)

Carrington Super Solar Flare

1859, it set telegraph offices on fire.


We can only hope.

Solar flair? Then we could only blame God. That would simplify things in more ways than one.

My immediate reaction to such announcement (Massive solar flare) would be judge how much time left and either immediately throw the breaker for my house or cool down the fridge (maximum cold setting) with as many cups of water inside (Mardi Gras cups are good for this) and shrub out bathtub with bleach before saving water there.

Then contemplate the many implications of what would happen.

Best Hopes,


If I lived in the Big Easy my first thought would be to keep the pumps going.

After Katrina, it was refreshing in an odd way. Kids addicted to Nintendo actually went outside and learned to ride their bike. Neighbors met for the first time. Being able to help others gave our soul a boost. The quiet was wonderful. However . . . soldiers, checkpoints, FEMA . . . ahhhhh

Indeed. Resonates with Rebecca Solnit's theses in A Paradise Built In Hell.

10ks (thanks)

Are you in New Orleans ?


Was yesterday. Carriere, Mississippi, 60 miles from my door to Bourbon and Canal.

Or Carondelet & Canal :-)

Most street names change at Canal Street, the dividing line between the French and American Quarters. About 1.35 miles from my home and easily reached by streetcar :-)

If you want to meet some day, send me an eMail (in my profile).

Best Hopes,


p.s. Bring a boat.

Oh, it's Carondelet! My bad. I should have written "The Aquarium" and 60.17 miles, or so. Details, details. Alan, if you are truly serious about this Peak Everything problem, and I think you are—who else spends Sunday morning doing this, instead of deer hunting?—we should meet and talk, formulate a plan about spreading the word in New Orleans and environs. I shall plan on meeting.

I'm off to do bio remediating, using oyster mushroom mycelium to consume oil deposits. It has worked in the past.
As someone who has lived in rural Alaska in the 1960s and Montana, and also LA, I would say there is no universal group of people with insight.
I know Montanans who's actions are completely suicidal, and Alaskan Oil workers who would make Glen Beck blush.
I just feel lucky to live within walking distance with a watershed with wild coho, and mountain lions a possibility in my unfenced yard.

My Thanksgiving insight:

My family's always known about me being an activist, but this was the first Thanksgiving since I joined our local Transition Initiative and pulled back from most of my other groups. I'd describe them as educated, heavily invested in BAU and not activist, but not a single one of them disputed the premise behind Transition: peak oil, climate and economic collapse. None of them cared to join me though; a few of them teased me about joining the commune. Their reaction could be summarized as resignation, accepting fate, and wanting to go out with a bang (big party) if we're all doomed anyway.

Another insight is that immigrants with a more recent history of suffering and death will be more resilient than Anglo Americans who've had none of that- nothing since the Civil War and most of that was fought in the South. The stories from my grandmother about life on the village were interesting too.

I'm off to a Transition potluck tonight (I'm bringing mushrooms harvested locally).

My Thanksgiving insight:

On Friday wife and I were walking though the Holiday decoration isles at the local CVS pharmacy, and a gag gift sought my attention. It was a small sack and 4 chunks of coal. I was tempted to pick it up just because it's been decades since I've held real coal in my hands, but when I looked closer I noticed that the "coal" was made of injection-molded plastic.

I was struck that in 2009, we are now making coal from oil.

Bob Cratchit: "Please Sir, could we have another lump of coal"?

I guess plastic coal is safer than "clean coal".

No way! Get ready for Xmas with "Clean Coal Carolers".

I think everyone on earth should fly around the world, climbing the highest mountains, getting their picture taken in all the exotic locations, kayak all the wondrous waters, snorkel the reefs, etc.

Then everyone would respect the planet. LOL

What I have come to this Holiday season is that all the "correct" things that can be done are just the things that are going to come under increasing pressure and fail. So I Quit. Why should I risk my life to save my ignorant community? Let me put it another way. I simply can't do it. My family, friends, and business associates will not allow it. If it were just me alone it would be a different story maybe.

I just received a letter in the mail from one of the longest running dairy farms/cheese makers in Oregon. She is talking about how the market is killing off small farmers right and left and there is a new tax proposal that will seal the fate of many more. Same thing is true for nearly all small, local business such as shoe repair, bike repair, seamstress, any food production, all of the things that are talked about as beneficial for a post peak world.

Corp America will continue to dominate until they can't but it won't go away just because we wish it to.

I agree to a certain degree with Roger about the demographic dynamic. I see so many unemployed genX,Y,Z,ers living off of money that the boomers are doling out and this can go on for quite a while.

Bottom line... America has lied, cheated, stolen, and killed millions to become the Last Empire, Superpower and it is ridiculous to think that this will not continue until there is no one left standing. It's different this time. We are it. The Last Empire. and no one can change that, no financial situation can change that, no resource constraint, no environmental situation, nothing. Any Prez who even hints at powering down the empire will be removed.

Yes this is very Amero-centric but then again so is the world we all live in.

IMO If you are not considering things from this perspective you don't have a grasp of the situation.

Gobble up ya'all!

It seems to me that you've arrived at sort of a sad place. Maybe you should remember:

"Souperman never made any money
Saving the world from Solomon Grundy"

Yes, even Metropolis will crumble into the sea. Freethinking people have always known this.

Maybe that's all we are, crash test dummies, for when an intellegent species comes along.
Thanks for the link, Porge. Its been so long I almost cried......

Soup? Still out there? Maybe this link will work better:

Hang in there buddy. We need you!

"...arrived at sort of a sad place."

Not so sad really. Liberating I would say.

I'm going to start getting into our Imperialness. I even ordered a purple cardigan. I might even start day trading again.


Its quite possible a rural, calm existance allows us to see the world more realisticly. ADHD is a big topic in our home at the moment what with my girlfriend being diagnosed a couple of weeks ago and my son being tested now. One of the things they have found helps is rural settings. Just a short walk in the woods allows ADHDers to calm down and relax. For children turning off the TV is enough for a big improvment.

This constant background noise of our modern lifestyles is the cause of the problem for many ADHDers unable to distinguish between what is important to concentrate on and what is not. And I think its something that everyone can suffer from to a degree. I found that over the last few years of living with my girlfriend and raising our son that my own concentration gradualy got shot to pieces and I dont have an attention dissorder. In fact I was always naturaly very calm with excellent concentration.

I can quiet easily see why most people are missing what is important considering how most of us live in Western countries.

The internet is like pouring gasoline on the attention deficit disorder fire.

At least related to question #1: The more rural the setting, the more obvious the dependence on modern energy supplies and the fragility of the delivery system. Electricity isn't "just there" in the wall outlets, the miles and miles of wire are obvious. Propane isn't just there, someone brings it and fills the tank. All of my rural relatives have lived through propane shortages of one sort or another. All have been without electricity for hours/days because some bad driver took out a pole, and for days/weeks following an ice storm.

In an urban setting, it's much easier to take modern energy supplies for granted.

I agree with Nate's observation that distance from consumptive culture gives you more of a common sense understanding of overshoot and a sense of what is not sustainable in our modern culture. It may not only be distance from consumptive culture but also something in the environment of rural areas or natural areas or the silent internal world of the introvert that provides the insights and wisdom. What that specifically is may be just an intuitive animal cunningness that we access when in quiet rural natural environments that we seem to lose when eclipsed by the sheer noise level of modern consumptive life.

But this observation can be applied to those of us who obsess constantly on our species overshoot and the dilemma of the decline of modern humans confronted with the resource limits moving forward this century. I just commented on this on a post over at that I'll copy below.

Think of what we are doing here on this thread. In this digital mental universe analyzing in the minutest detail the downfall of our beloved empire. Some of us spend such an inordinate amount of time in this endeavor that we ourselves have become less capable of conversing with the physical universe. Turn that digital mirror around and look at your own reflection and contemplate how much you yourself are expending huge amounts of energy in the mental universe of obsessing about the downfall of our culture and society. I used to indulge so much in this. I stop by here now only rarely and mainly to remind people exactly of this point. I have returned to the nuts and bolts of the physical world and find less and less substance holding me in dissecting the descent of our species in overshoot. I much prefer the "humility" of simply engaging in the physical world aware of course of where things are heading but not engaging so much in the obsession. It is largely an empty pursuit.

Well Nate, you have finally done it. On my next trip to Tucson, at the top of the list will be a new Dictionary, the one I have now is copy righted in 1986; and doesn't have the word "Cognitive" listed. However it does have the word "Cognition" listed so I figure the meaning's are close. You wrote;

1)Do you think there is a correlation, whether due to cognitive dissonance or availability cascade, between ones proximity to our conspicuous consumptive culture, with belief/recognition in peak oil, limits to growth, human overshoot, etc? E.g. are people with very active social calendars less likely either to have time or to cognitively process the wide boundary limits problems?

I know that most of the people on this board, are college educated as you are, however let me remind you that there are literally thousands of us out here that are just like myself, without the education to understand the new language that you young people decided to create when you graduated from college.

Most of the people that I associate with are in my age group. Occasionally when I strike up a conversation with an adult that is of your generation, when I use words like "Detritus" (and all it's associated slang words) "cognitive", "Dissonance", and a few others that are used, I usually get the response, "What does that word mean"

The word Detritus, is the one that get's me the most,in my dictionary it is related to "Rock Debris" Ie; Crusher fines in a gravel pit. Then again you probably don't know what a gravel pit is either.

Now to get on with your questions for the "Campfire discussion"
#1. Most of the people that I deal with on a daily basis wouldn't have the slightest idea of what I was talking about, albeit; if I quoted you.

#2. I doubt anyone who gets 2 weeks off for vacation, would even consider doing without the comforts of BAU.

#3. The answer to that one would be "NO" I had dinner (actually) it was more like a late, late lunch. The host's oven quit working on her, and by the time she noticed, and was able to get it over to another neighbors oven it was to late to have a "Mid-day" meal. -:). The bulk of the conversation was about what we are going to do with all these "Muslims" that are in this country causing all the disturbances that we are having. All in all I felt like a fish out of water, and did the best I could to keep my head down and my mouth shut.

The good part about it was the food, "Excellent and there was a big plate of take homes"

old hermit,

Great comment.

Elizabethan England used a mere fraction of the words we must know today if we want to impress more than to share ideas: “Cognitive dissonance” = “vexing thought”; “mental disorder” = “troubled”; “consumerism” = “wanting to spend and crave.” We at the Oil Drum, those if us who post, ought to read George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language,” abiding by his advice to keep it simple and clear. Academics often coin a new word or term, when a perfectly apt one already exists.

Oh yeah. You can save your money: has most, but not all, English words ( But you'll have to pay to get "baroclinic" on-line, unless you know where to go.

Most of the people that I associate with are in my age group. ... when I use words like "cognitive", "Dissonance", and a few others that are used, I usually get the response, "What does that word mean"

Old Hermit,

Back in the day, it was thought that the atom was like a little solar system with pellet like electrons whizzing in orbit around a nucleus.

Today the youngsters talk about leptons, muons and bosons.

And guess what?
The old model was wrong and the new model more accurately describes the universe.

Similarly, when it comes to understanding of the human brain we now know that the brain has many regions of cognition and that some of these can be at war with one another.

You ever have an argument with yourself? Can't make up your mind? How is that possible?

When you speak of 'youngsters' then my view is of those who I see around me. Not in a college setting but there are several in my circle who have degrees. Also both my son and daughter spend many years in universities and have at least two degrees.

Yet IMO todays youth would have a very hard time reading ....say Thoreau. The english used in his times was quite different than todays.

In fact I find todays english as spoken by youngster to be basically garbage. A lot of words that are not words.
Gutter language in most cases. Almost hard to follow.

When I start to speak in technical terms most of the youngsters 'tune out'...I have suddenly breached their level of understanding.

I think it is more or less on record that todays youth are sadly lacking in knowledge. And far far lacking in wisdom.


I had two near-death experiences:

1. A Ketamine trip - I realized I'm insignificant and pointless in this vast universe
2. A car accident in 2006 - I had heard about Peak Oil before I planned to buy a car. I entered "Denial" and "Anger"... and *that's* when I decided to buy a car. I met with a near-death car accident as soon as I decided to buy one and since then the experience has "enabled" me to take a step back. I entered Bargain and then Depression. Now I've accepted peak oil and have changed for good - I've made the right investments (of whatever capital I have) and I even bought a car because its an awesome machine designed to protect oneself, especially when TSHTF ;)

But I'd say I exposed myself to roughly 3 hours of peak oil content every day (reading on the web, watching related documentary movies, etc.,).

If this much of serendipity was required to get an already "insignificant-feeling" human to accept Peak Oil, I don't see how you can expect anyone to understand the situation we're in with just a 2 week annual vacation. I guess it would be too late by then... and I don't remember "why" I felt good or what I decided for myself in my last vacation.

On the lighter side, what would be the cumulative loss of consumption due to such a vacation? ;)

Question Nr. 3) During Thanksgiving, did you have any new insights, answers, paths with respect to our energy/environmental/social situation? If so please share...

26 things you can do to RIGHT NOW manage your anxiety:

3. Set up a THREE TIER SYSTEM for purchases: a) necessities; b) conveniences; and c) other.
7. Switch over to a CASH ECONOMY
9. Chart out your life travels in terms of MILES
10. Learn how to STAY HOME
12. “GET REAL”
16. Imagine a VISION for a future you’d be willing to live in
18. Keep the LONGER VISION in mind
19. Understand how the “herd mentality” is likely to impact you, and try to GET OUT AHEAD OF THE CROWD
21. Learn the difference between “HEALTHY PLEASURES” and ones that will burn out your neurochemistry and destroy your health
22. Care for something NON-HUMAN
24. Make a list of the ‘TWENTY THINGS YOU LOVE TO DO’

Ordinary fears/extraordinary times: 55 (real) things to worry about (if you must…)

This list is only about the "self". Apart from, possibly, caring about something non-human. I don't see anything on your list that relates to building relationships.

I think part of where we have gone wrong is being overly concerned about ourselves.

PostScript : I'm particularly horrified by #25. What's anybody's purpose if we aren't trying to change something for the better ?

Today is a rare day in which I'm under the weather, so I've spent it Oil Drumming . . . and sneezing and sleeping . . . instead of doing what I had planned—planting garlic, composting leaves and doing my usual one hour of juggling. It’s been great. I am privileged to have found a community of like-minded persons, with whom I can share important ideas about a subject, and a problem, that is both critical and crucial, and needs solved, soonest. The level of discourse here is very, very high.

Question for Nate: How far along is the idea of a POPAC—Peak Oil Political Action Committee?

If you answer, I'll see it tomorrow.

Good night everyone.

2)Would we (as a nation, region, locale etc.) benefit from a mandatory 'meditation vacation', where people would annually get a paid 2 week vacation with only stipulation being that there would be no TV, radio, or internet, just books, talking, hiking in nature etc?

I do think that social isolation has a bearing on how people think about this stuff. In my opinion, people should be encouraged to temporarily unplug themselves from their social network in order spend time alone reflecting on the questions and issues.

The heart of the problem may be the continual presence of other people. It is not uncommon for people to interact with dozens of people each day. Many people are constantly surrounded by family, friends, and strangers. A large portion of many people's days are spent attending meetings and dealing with coworkers and kin. Others sit around watching soap operas and reality TV all day. All of these interactions demand cognitive resources. Even when not interacting, people spend a considerable amount of time thinking about their various interactions.

So a good deal of mental processing is devoted to trivial interpersonal affairs – things like gossiping, negotiating status hierarchies, and the strengthening of interpersonal bonds. Constantly embroiled in interpersonal drama, a lot of people just don't have the opportunity to engage in innovative thinking.

Innovative thinking is also constricted by group norms and entrenched belief systems. Individuals who espouse radical ideas too far outside the zone of consensus thinking are pressured to conform.

Anecdotally, one can conjure up innumerable historical instances in which social isolation appears to have sparked innovative thinking. People spend extended periods of time alone for a variety of reasons. In some indigenous groups, individuals embark on a "vision quest" to seek spiritual and life direction. The hallmark feature of these quests is isolation from other tribal members.

Some individuals seek inspiration (e.g., Thoreau). Others seek isolation for religious or spiritual purposes. For others, isolation is not a choice. Prisoners, some forced into solitary confinement, emerge as pioneering visionaries (e.g., Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Hitler).

Excellent post and subject. Being in and around nature is enlightening. Not being in and around nature is the condition that contributes to many of societies ills and dissonance. We don't need a mandatory vacation outlawing media access. What we need is a public education and rethinking of American values teaching people that one need not be busy all of the time. Down time would also help undo the brain-washing that advertising has done to create our consumptive culture. Down time is, in large part, what is necessary to see the real picture. Being on the go constantly causes one to be avoidant as to facing problems as well as getting in touch with the underlying truths of life. Only if you clear your brain first can you think without bias. Only if you slow down can you clear your brain.

As for insight from this past holiday weekend: I sure do feel better when I don't eat as much!

Agree that the education system as well as the mass media could be used just as effectively to fix the problems that they have created.
I have posted those thoughts many times here and I don't think that a day passes that I don't tell some hapless other the same.
The first step toward "enlightenment" is to stop watching TV.
And, I might add, that it must be a voluntary choice by the individual.

First, let me give thanks to TOD for the many new friends and inspiration provided over the last few months since I was introduced to it by Gail in Whistler.

1. Of course.
2. Of course.
3. Of course. To share, there has been a lively debate over the last few days at, our Colorado homegrown political blog found here: A blogger with the Nom De Blog of JO posted a diary about HOV lanes, the "lone carboy" and offered some ideas for solutions. Participating in the debate, it became quite clear that there is much work to do, even educating the semi-enlightened. It appeared to me that very few realize the extent of the sacrifice, and the immense cultural and personal habits that will have to change. The participants didn't seem to have a clear grasp of the situation, and mostly spoke in generalities.

Back to #2. Being from WI, having used draft horses to farm as a young man, and having raised a garden large enough to fill a cellar for the winter, and having spent considerable time in nature, including 11 months in near total isolation in the wilderness of northern WI in 1972, I can speak personally about the benefits of meditation in nature. Nothing softens the heart and soul like it. Nothing provides a perspective both on ones self and the world nearly as well, imo. Absolutely believe that everyone should experience at least 6 months in solitude, in nature, but there are alternatives. They've been listed here already so I don't need to repeat them.

I'm an optimist. The time in nature gave me an unshakable faith in the strength of my own soul, and its enduring character. I have been consciously out of my body. That in itself was earth shattering and faith building. For a time, I travelled the world searching out holy saints, mystics, shamans and eclectics. The characteristics of the best of them were an equanimity, simplicity and peace that was palpable.

May all of you enjoy the same.

Haven't heard from Engineer-Poet lately.

Nate -

On your first question, I'd like to say 'absolutely' because that would take some blame off the individuals and place it onto society and social conditioning/habits. But, well, there are too many examples of 'simpler' cultures that worked much more closely with the land, whose relationship with the food and water chain was far more intimate, that have also consumed themselves out of a livelihood. This talk of 'living more in harmony blah blah blah' is fantastical poppycock enjoyed by those who dream of a future filled with small cabins in rustic mountains, where ma and pa tend to the garden and junior learns from sustainably-harvested whale fat candles. Meh.

It's an intellectual cop out to promote 'back to the land' as The Answer. Certainly, an increased awareness of appropriate agriculture is vital, but conflating this with one of various romanticized versions (see above) makes little sense and provides no replicable, inspirational example of a future path that hasn't been well-proven by past iterations to be little more than a thematic variation on our current habits.

So, to answer question number one: No way, Jose. can't shuck the buck that easily. I've more on this if anyone wants to tease it out of me, and if I remember to come back 'round the Campfire.

#2: Abso-fucking-lutely. Not because we'll have eureka moments or come to critical realizations about our hyper-consumptive habits, but because we will slow down. And in slowing down we realize that email, the web, Facebook, our mobile phones are truly extraneous and add relatively little to our quality of life. Myself, I take a week or two out of every year to disconnect from all inputs. I challenge y'all to try it. It's incredible what severing the electronic tentacles can do to put you in right mind (I'm an apolitical atheist, so don't try to connect this last with the 8 Fold Path or the Party-Formerly-Known-To-Care-About-the-Constitution). Shut it down for two weeks. Not for society. Not for the wife and kids. For the self. Do you remember your 12 year-old self? Can you see the world through those eyes? How about the 5 year-old version? If not, you're dying inside, my unknown friends. And time off will reestablish these ties with the layer of selves you badly need to maintain if you've any hope of living a life fully-realized.

Was there another question? I'm harried...have to run

I don't live in the woods, make my own power, grow my own food, etc to save humanity. I do it to save me, and maybe just long enough to write your epitaph. Those who don't help themselves are usually in a poor position to help others. I'm reasonably sure that I breath more of your carbon than you do of mine. I also know that there is no "The Answer". My concern is that there aren't enough answers.

Nice commentary on planet Earth and the US

As a long time meditator, I agree that we should all take the time to be at one with the universe. I spent 3 weeks trekking in Nepal a few years ago. It is amazing to not see a car or know the effects of electricity for an extended time. What was more beautiful was to see the smiling faces of people who wouldn't know a Manolo Blahnik if it were kicking them. The Nepalese are some of the poorest people in the world but they are the happiest, sweetest people that I've ever encountered. On my way home from that wonderful 3 month trip, I routed through Los Angeles to visit some Hollywood friends. These women, with all of the money and time in the world, were completely amazed that I could just take off with my back pack for so long. "I can't imagine not seeing my personal trainer for that long - I've never gone more than a week" one of them told me. Then the conversation drifted off to "getting work done" (that means plastic surgery in LA-speak), fashion and other irrelevant blather. It all became glaringly apparent that being rich, beautiful and "in the know" probably makes people more unhappy, maladjusted and emotionally "weak" than being poor and secluded does. A gross generalization, yes, but this is my gut feeling.