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Long range forecast

So, I'm seeing a bunch of disturbing news headlines in the new year. Mass sex attacks in Cologne on New Year's Eve would be one (and I want you to think very hard about precisely whose political agenda benefits from the different kinds of spin that can be placed on this story depending on how it is framed). Poland's constitutional court and civil service being rapidly brought under control of the Law and Justice Party (and what is it about neo-fascists and their obsession with touchstone topics like dignity, law, the church, and justice? Again, read the link I just gave you—it's part of the instructions for assembling the jigsaw puzzle of politics in the 21st century). Saudi mass executions are part of the same picture if you step back and look for the edge of the frame.

But the biggest news of all is getting relatively little traction because it's being mistaken for local colour rather than a global pattern.

What is the news (as opposed to popular entertainment and celebrity gossip) going to be like for the next decade? Let me give you a forecast.

(Note: As usual, there's a lot of meat in the hyperlinks. You won't get the most out of this essay unless you are familiar with their content.)

There are three big determinants of the long-term geopolitical weather report:

  1. Global climate change

  2. Human reactions to global climate change

  3. Economics

Let's take it from the top.

Global climate change doesn't mean a uniform "everywhere gets X degrees warmer" shift in temperatures; the weather is a dynamic, chaotic system, and what climate change means is that more energy is being pumped into driving atmospheric and oceanic currents, with unpredictable but generally more energetic consequences.

A bunch of conflicts are breaking out, or resuming, because chunks of the planet are becoming increasingly prone to extreme weather conditions. The UK just had its wettest December ever, with more than double the normal rainfall and extensive floods taking out the centers of major cities. Part of the blame lies with local cupidity, greed, and myopia in planning land drainage policy, but the rain itself doesn't respect national boundaries. Similarly, chunks of the USA got hammered, as did several South American countries ... in fact, everywhere you look, the weather is out of whack. In extreme cases this is leading to actual open warfare—the Syrian civil war and the rise of Islamic State, for example.

A side-effect of this is mass migration on a scale we haven't seen since the end of the second world war as people try to flee war and disaster zones.

Mass migration drives political backlashes everywhere, with racist clowns marching in front of the band (did you think I just meant Donald Trump?) and nativist anti-immigration groups crowding behind them. I'm not going to go into the social roots of xenophobia other than to note that (a) bigotry is fractal, and (b) insecure, threatened hominids put on threat displays right back at whatever they're scared of. Also, (c) a constituency of insecure, threatened hominids are easily led and profitably milked, which attracts an endless supply of sinister racist revivalist huckster politicians. (This is the Hitler as social entrepreneur theory: he wasn't uniquely evil, he just happened to be the first to get out in front and lead.) More to the point, every nation that isn't impoverished or devastated by climate change will see a wave of immigration, and every nation undergoing a wave of immigration will see a nativist political reaction.

The nativist backlash is inevitably going to be inflamed by the Martian invaders, who are all in favor of the free movement of capital but not labor (hint: this is Marxism 101, and if you don't believe me, go look at the requirements for a Tier 1 investor visa). Restricting transnational mobility for the proles/serfs/99.9% is part of the program and plays well to the nativist strand in climate change politics, which is why unless you've got a few million burning a hole in your back pocket you'll find it really difficult to legally immigrate into the UK or USA or other top-tier countries from outside the developed world. And why all our corporate-owned media (that is, 95% of them: Reddit is owned by Conde Nast, The Times and Fox News and 90% of the newspapers in Australia are owned by Rupert Murdoch, and so on) are banging the drum against immigration, at the behest of their (investor visa equipped) owners.

Nativism meshes with religious ideology as well as politics, of course. It serves the purpose of the right wing in the west very well to have a demonic-seeming Islamic adversary intend on exterminating Christianity. And it serves the interests of Da'esh very well indeed to have an adversary in the west who cack-handedly bomb civilians and rant against the evils of Islam so that they can strike heroic poses against the infidels. As with the communist/capitalist cold war, there's an element of posturing-in-the-mirror going on here. Both capitalism and communism take as holy writ the ideas of the Enlightenment and of society organized around industrial development and division of labour: compared to the ancien regime it was essentially a sectarian squabble between nearly-identical radical factions. Christianity and Islam are both evangelical, messianic, monotheistic religions with a patriarchal ideology and a bunch of lifestyle restrictions (mostly affecting women) bolted on the side; in both cases, most of their followers are peaceful, but we don't pay attention to them—we only notice the scary fundamentalist terrorists on the other side of the fence.

(Random discursive note: this being an anglophone blog, some of you are probably thinking, "but, but, hijab!" To which I will note that veiling women as a religious practice is a long tradition in Christian cultures which only fell into neglect historically recently, and we have equally batshit taboos which we are mostly oblivious to—fish don't notice the water, after all. Almost all the practices conducted by IS that we consider to be barbaric were just business as usual in the western world until historically recent times. Sometimes until very recently. Let's have no stone-throwing here: digression over.)

Economics is another aggravating problem. The global financial system crashed in 2007/08 and was only revived by a brisk dose of hyperinflation. The public didn't really notice the effects of the hyperinflation because it happened globally, with all the central banks engaging in quantitative easing more or less simultaneously (or "printing fiat currency" as the goldbugs call it): the price of exports didn't rise or fall as the tsunami of soft money rushed past in the ocean depths below the keel of the commodities markets. But we're now seeing oddly cheap oil (in turn aggravated by the traditional Sunni/Shi'a cold war that's been running for the past 1300-odd years, which in turn has been inflamed by climate change in Iraq and Syria and the final collapse of the Sykes Picot agreement and its legacy in the former Ottoman Empire). Oil and energy economics in general are now being affected by the human reaction to climate change which, while belated and half-hearted, is to stop shitting in the bed you're sleeping in: the switch to renewable energy is under way globally and the cost per kWh of photovoltaic power is now at grid parity and will soon undercut coal in most of the world (the IEA are putting a brave face on it but they may be next, too).

This is a toxic combination. We've just weathered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and we're undergoing an infrastructure crisis (due to climate change) and the extinction of an economic backbone industry—admittedly one we will be far better off without: coal and oil pollution directly kill tens of thousands of people even in developed nations—which will ultimately require the replacement of tens of trillions of dollars' worth of fossil fuel infrastructure worldwide. Add nativist/racist/right wing politics on top, from Hungary through Poland (above) and Russia and it really looks like we're in for a replay of the 1930s.

I've missed out a few bright spots.

To a time traveller from 1985, China is doing unelievably well. They're working through the huge demographic bulge created by the now-abandoned one-child-per-family policy, and their work force is going to start shrinking in another couple of decades, but for the time being they're reaping the benefits of a much better educated and trained workforce (at least compared to their often-illiterate peasant grandparents) and rapid development. China overall is trying to do what Japan and South Korea did in the second half of the 20th century, with many signs of success (and the negative side-effects too, which explains the Central Committee's conversion to the cause of fossil fuel reduction). India is also developing rapidly, and those two countries combined equal the entire world population in 1950. Lifting China and India out of poverty is, if it happens, going to be one of the great human triumphs of the first half of this century, an almost incalculably huge improvement in the overall human experience—if we (and they) don't drop the ball. We're also seeing development in large parts of Africa. North Africa is a mess, with the spill-over from the Middle East conflicts and climate change as a driver for immigration and strife.

But anyway, here's my summary of the next decade:

  1. The weather's going to get worse.

  2. We're going to see more and more unscrupulous huckster types leading revanchist, nativist right wing political movements and banging the anti-immigrant drum, world-wide. Civil rights include the right to free movement; this makes civil rights an easy scapegoat and target for the angry populist nativists. Sensible media capitalists (those with a sense of self-preservation) will pander to these assclowns. Courageous media capitalists (those with the odd ethical bone in their body) will stand up to them and get themselves assassinated or imprisoned. Luckily we have the internet except, oops, Facebook owns it and FB will do whatever they're told. (And if not Facebook, Google. The internet is infrastructure, and if annoying dissidents are drinking from the pure tapwater of honest news and you own the pumping station ...)

  3. This is going to happen both in nominally/formerly Christian countries and in the Muslim world. Both sides will see each other in a mirror and hiss like cats, but it doesn't really signify anything. Fear of terrorism is a rallying point, so expect unscrupulous politicians to use crack-downs on their local minorities to bolster their popularity. This will of course include crack-downs on civil rights because nothing annoys a political entrepreneur trying to posture as a strong leader like a civil rights lawyer with a good case.

  4. The ongoing 1300-year Sunni/Shi'ite cold war will continue, sometimes hotter, thanks to climate-induced disruption in the Middle East and the eventual collapse of the Saudi petrochemical economy. The ongoing Saudi succession crisis isn't going to help (as we just saw).

  5. None of this political posturing is going to do jack shit to roll back the already-in-train effects of climate change so the immigration pressure will continue, driving trends (2) and (3).

  6. Don't buy long term coal or oil futures.

755 Comments

1:

So, how does Latin America play into all of this? How would a time traveler from 1985 judge them?

2:

Don't buy short-term coal or oil futures, either. The long term is just a sequence of short terms, and if something will lose out in the long term then it will lose out in one or more short terms. This is why it doesn't make sense to suggest that investors are "only in it for short-term profit". If a company makes consistent short-term profits, then it makes a long-term profit.

3:

There is another, lesser, factor that is a serious risk that could easily exacerbate the issues you mention. Not a certainty, but enough to make me very concerned.

The UK's economy is built on Ponzi schemes (of which the worst is probably housing, but also include FSCS and many pensions), being a multinational-friendly location in Europe, and 'financial services' (including money laundering and similar); the last makes 17% of our foreign exchange. We know that the USA wants to tighten up on 'financial services'; UK and Texan pressure has so far stopped it. The USA's main interest in the UK is as its fifth column in Europe, now our army has gone. Leaving the EU could easily cause a severe loss of confidence, closure of much of our foreign-owned industry, and possibly the USA strangling the City of London, leading to the economy crashing (not like the recent jokes but 1950, 1930s and worse). A finance expert I know says that the chances of most of Europe not following are pretty low. And that could easily trigger another Great Depression.

And, as you know, there is nothing like an economic crash for propelling extremists into power.

4:

To the factors you list, I would add another one or two. Primarily to blame here is oil. Oil is the prime factor driving most of the unrest in the middle east, mostly because it is so incredibly easy to make money off it.

If you happen to be the king of an oil-producing state, then to make money all you do is pay foreigners to get it out of the ground for you, pay foreigners to sell it for you, and pocket the profits. That then gives you, the monarch, a stonking great source of income that you can do pretty much what you want with, including furthering whatever prejudices you and your culture happen to have at that time. I might add here that I classify all religions under the heading of "Monkey Chatter" and dislike all of them without exception (including radical atheists).

Then all of a sudden, after you and yours have had it easy for ages there comes along a Black Swan event: cheap oil. It turns out those foreign devils have worked out how to undercut your oil price, and now the cost of extracting it (which has been slowly rising, not that you'd notice) is greater than the selling price you get for it. The impetus behind this price war isn't even anything to do with you and your little pocket empire, nor even anything to do with you exporting your local brand of crazy to other areas. No, this is mighty empires engaging in a pissing match, and your tiny sand-blown empire just got stomped on unnoticed by giants.

This is what is happening right now. Saudi Arabia is running a huge budget deficit, because the oil price is so low.

Added to this is the fact that the Middle East area is dry, and the aquifers are mostly fossil water. The last fifty years or so have been effectively selling oil to buy food to feed an ever-increasing population, one which also fed its self using fossil water to irrigate crops. There are of course solutions to all of this, namely using solar heat to evaporate sea water to give ample fresh water for agriculture and drinking, but these aren't being applied quite fast enough.

Basically the Middle East is going to go bonkers over the next few decades. Aggressively outwards-pointing bonkers, not the generally benign bonkers we've all gotten used to, and when refugees start turning up all over the place trying to import their nasty foreign bonkers into places that already have local crazy in place already, we can expect trouble.

5:

I am almost totally ignorant of South America.

Fewer fascist dictatorships, maybe?

6:

Here in the U.S., large corporate actors are generally in favor of transnational labor mobility for the 99%; immigrant workers, on the margin, are more willing to accept poor working conditions, variability in hours, and low job security, and having more of them is good for profits. But the Martians here have long since lost control of that issue to the nativist portion of their coalition.

7:

I'm also pretty sure that a BRExit would lead rapidly to a SCOTExit -- Scotland consistently polls about 15-20% more in favour of the EU than England, so there's a strong possibility that the EU Exit referendum will result in an overall majority to leave but a Scottish majority to stay.

Which, along with the likely economic consequences and the Scottish experience since the 2014 independence referendum will probably be taken as a good and sufficient reason by the SNP to run IndyRef 2, with a much stronger chance of getting a mandate for Scotland to leave the UK and stay in the EU.

8:

Basically the Middle East is going to go bonkers over the next few decades. Aggressively outwards-pointing bonkers, not the generally benign bonkers we've all gotten used to, and when refugees start turning up all over the place trying to import their nasty foreign bonkers into places that already have local crazy in place already, we can expect trouble.

You are Rip Van Winkle, aren't you?

Hint: Da'esh. Hint: Syrian civil war. Hint: refugee crisis in Europe. Hint: Paris attacks, Cologne assaults.

9:

This is why it doesn't make sense to suggest that investors are "only in it for short-term profit". If a company makes consistent short-term profits, then it makes a long-term profit.

The trick is getting out in time. Easy to do if you have insider knowledge, or can manipulate the company.

I've been reading Ferguson's Predator Nation. Assuming he isn't flat-out fabricating stuff, it's been horribly fascinating. (Like reading The American Slave Coast.) A lot of people have got very rich being "only in it for short-term profit".

10:

Why do you think that I am seriously considering buying or renting somewhere in Scotland, and changing my official domicile? I.e. I am in full agreement, and really don't want to be tied to the England that I foresee developing if I am unlucky enough to be proved right :-(

11:

If you don't mind, here's my understanding of Latin America. In the first 2 post, I'll talk about the changes in the past 30 years. In the next, I'll talk about my predictions for the future.

Latin America (and the Caribbean) have made out great in the past 30 years, at least compared to what the region was in the blood-soaked 80s. Except in two very crucial ways. But first, the good news

There are almost no dictatorships in the region anymore.

Most of the region has a greater GDP (PPP) per capita than China (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29_per_capita)
China's GDP (PPP) is equivalent to Peru, one of the poorer countries in the region. The largest countries both by population and land area are far more urbanized than Germany (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urbanization_by_country). Likewise, the Total Fertility rate is universally below 3.0, and in many countries it's below 2.1 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_fertility_rate).

Mexico and Brazil alone account for half the region's population. Mexico has about 19% of N American automobile manufacturing (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2015/06/15/auto-jobs-mexico/71224972/). This region is an exception to the growing income inequality in the world (http://www.economist.com/node/21564414)

This large scale wealth has helped reverse the immigration into the US (http://www.wsj.com/articles/mexican-immigration-to-u-s-reverses-1447954334).
At the same time, it is attracting poorer immigrants from Africa (http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/09/brazil-destination-choice-africans-201493113721757775.html).

The same trends also apply to the Caribbean, where some independent countries may be considered first world (Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago). Parts of the Caribbean are like and Japan and Europe in that their population is shrinking. This is mainly in Cuba and Puerto Rico, where a combination of emigration and low birth rates have returned the population to what it was in the 1990s.

12:

and what is it about neo-fascists and their obsession with touchstone topics like dignity, law, the church, and justice?
History
There's a very unpleasant record of the RC church crawling all the way up the arse of just about any fascist party you care to name.
And the fascists are well aware of the "moral" power of the church.
Remember the Banks' quote?

but we don't pay attention to them—we only notice the scary fundamentalist terrorists on the other side of the fence.
Very good reason for that.
They are the ones who do the damage & fuck everybody else around.
Look at Ireland, not just the "North" for a close-to-home example of that ...

Let's have no stone-throwing here
Except, we HAVE given those practices up & "they" (or some of "they") have not.
An important distinction - as well as reminding "virtuous believers" that they used to do it, whatever "it" was, of course....

and it really looks like we're in for a replay of the 1930s.
Here, I agree 150%
Problem, which nation is going to fall to a "Hitler" & how long will it take, before we realise, & how bad will the resulting war be?

Your point #3
Erdogan
What a wanker - openly admired Adolf, the other day, euw.


13:

and dislike all of them without exception (including radical atheists).
Define your terms.
I'm a "radical atheist" - I'll rubbish any believer in BSF.
So what?

Basically the Middle East is going to go bonkers over the next few decades.
No
They are already completely bonkers & a Suadi-Persian war is almost certainly on the cards.
I just hope we have the sense to STAY OUT

14:

Horrendous levels of violence in some C American states, & there are signs Brazil is going backwards, socially, if not politically.

15:

Problem, which nation is going to fall to a "Hitler" & how long will it take, before we realise, & how bad will the resulting war be?

It could easily happen in England, if we see an EU exit then a Scottish exit. Most folks have no clue how the financial sector in the UK only exists on its current scale because it has full access to the EU markets, or that the USA (and, indeed, the Commonwealth) are only interested in trading/good relations with the UK because we're a channel into the EU. I'm guessing that a BRExit would cut UK GDP by somewhere between 10% and 30% within a couple of years (and a Scottish exit would cut UK GDP by on the order of 8-11% just because of the per-capita size of the country).

If England drives over a cliff as steeply as Greece, the current level of authoritarianism visible in the Home Counties Tories and the likes of UKIP and the EDL will go nuclear and metastasize everywhere. And things will get very ugly in London when the Square Mile and investment banking sector ups and decamps for Frankfurt, leaving the service sector and multiethnic urban poor behind.

16:

Is it time for a re-read of Bruce Sterling's "Distraction" & "Heavy Weather"?

17:

Clearly -- and maybe add "Zeitgeist" and "Holy Fire" to the stack, too!

18:

There are three pieces of bad news for the region. These are huge.

The drug violence hasn't gone anywhere. By homicide rate, the region is the most violent in the world excluding countries undergoing a civil war. Heck, some of the conflicts in Latin America are civil wars in all but name: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate).

The second is that there are two major exceptions to the prosperity the region experienced. The first is Central America excluding Costa Rica and Panama. It has the highest fertility rate, lowest urbanization rate, and its GDP (PPP) per capita is closer to India than China. In some of these states, the Narco Gangs control more territory than the governments do.

The second exception is the island of Hispaniola. This island is made up of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It contains about half the population in the Caribbean islands. The Dominican Republic is doing well, comparatively. It is poor by Caribbean standards, but still richer than China on a GDP (PPP) per capita basis (but not by much). It's main problem is that it has been its racist relationship with its neighbor, Haiti. Recently, the Dominican supreme court has stripped people of Haitian descent of Dominican citizenship. Many of the families who lost their citizenship have been in the Dominican Republic since the 1920s. The Dominican Republic is also in the process of expelling many of the now illegal immigrants back to Haiti.

Haiti on the other hand is a huge problem. It's economic development resembles the poorer parts of Africa. It has yet to rebuild from the earthquake (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article6031617.html). Worse, the UN peacekeepers who were sent to Haiti reintroduced Cholera, which has killed more people than the earthquake.

Finally, climate change is screwing up the region big time. There is still a drought in Brazil: (http://www.cnbc.com/2015/06/30/worries-grow-as-serious-drought-hits-sao-paulo-brazil.html). Although the article focuses on Sao Paulo and to a lesser extent Rio, the drought actually affects between 80-120 million people (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Brazilian_drought). Brazil has a population of 205 million and Latin America (including Hispanic Caribbean islands such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic) have a population of around ~590 million.

The Caribbean is also experiencing drought: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/24/caribbean-drought_n_7651322.html,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Caribbean_drought

Since Puerto Rico is a territory with rights to immigrate to the US without restrictions, it was possible for 12% of its population to flee. Also, this drought may explain the increase in Cuban immigration this year.

I've got something to do now. I'll post my predictions either later today or tomorrow.

19:

What "service sector" would remain? The international financial ones will decamp, the industrial and technological ones have been almost eliminated or are staffed by immigrants, and most of the remainder are servicing the UK.

20:

I think the growth in solar, wind, and electric cars will ameliorate some of the worst effects and, one hopes, deny some of the oxygen to fires of the Middle East—that is, every dollar that isn't spent on oil is a dollar that isn't supporting petro-states and their politics.

The Chevy Bolt previews are incredibly promising (and heartening).

21:

Food security underlies all other security.

Climate change means "no food security"; agriculture is dependent on predictable weather and climate change takes the predictable away. (The Arab Spring has a lot to do with bad crop years in Russia and the Ukraine. Putin is unlikely to give the proverbial rodent hindquarters, but some of the people backing Putin clearly want to makes sure they've got all the grain land within reach with respect to the Ukraine.)

Food distribution is handled via the commodities market. Commodities are interesting in that there's an extraction price -- what does it cost grow this, dig this up, etc. -- and a sale price -- what does global economic demand support paying for this?

Extraction prices tend to increase over time. (All the Lake Superior iron ore is gone; all the 20 USD/barrel oil is gone, too.) When the economy dips (as in 2008), you get a situation where the demand price is lower than the extraction price. If that keeps up for any length of time, the mechanisms of the economy defund the sector to which this applies. (It will "never make money" inside the forecasting horizon. You get political forces trying to ignore this (Alberta tar sands, for example) but there has to be surplus elsewhere to apply to the problem.) An economy that can't generate the increased demand organically -- enough concentrated risk aversion in the capital mechanisms does this easily -- can never start extracting those commodities again; contraction follows. It seems very likely we're seeing this now.

Which feeds into (what I see as) the actual nasty problem; we're in the position of needing to get off one social organization local maximum and move to another one. That has happened before, but the fascist movements of the 1930s were -- as Charlie notes -- intramural arguments between factions of the new order. (The entire 20th century was intramural arguments about just what kind of new order.) They're not a good historical model.

The 30 Year's War strikes me as a lot closer when it comes to historical models. Or the convulsions in China over the 19th and 20th centuries.

22:

Oh do COME ON Charlie!
What cods, I'm sorry to say.
This is the funhouse-mirror of living in Edinburgh & believing SNP propaganda, to my fears about the SNP, only considerably worse.
Ain't going to happen.

Now, then, how about a serious answer?
A successful fascist takeover requires a "leader" - none in sight at present, unless you think the Hungarians or the Poles are likely.
I was thinking of outside Europe altogether, actually.

P.S. "Holy Fire" is IMHO the worst of Sterling's books - I was seriously unimpressed.

23:

NOTE
On the EU & Brexit
The real problem with the EU is the corruption & lobbying & the technical decisions made by lawyers - like Washington only worse.
But ... "immigration" is what the politicos are shouting.
Do I detect a bait-&-switch here?
I do.
Prediction: "victory" will be proclaimed over the "immigration" issue & the corrupt lobbying goes on as before. Camoron gets at least 55% for staying in.
Game over, except that China slowly "collapses" we get a n other true great crash & then we are in the territory outlined above, how nice.

Oh & Indian society is undergoing a very unpleasant shift - the Delhi bus-rape was merely an iceberg-tip - look at the sex ratios of people under 30 in India.
Yuck.

24:

Electric cars in the US are fuelled by coal (40%), gas (40%), nuclear (about 10%) and maybe 10% wind, solar and biomass (i.e. municipal garbage burning). More electric car usage will mean more coal and gas being burnt as that can be scaled up faster than rolling out solar and wind or nuclear. Electric car usage is a wash, pretty much, for the level of fossil CO2 additions to the atmosphere. It's pretty much the same with most other countries like Germany and the UK which also depend on fossil carbon for most of their electricity demand; only nations like France (80%+ nuclear) and Norway (oversupply of on-demand hydro) can avoid the CO2 trap if they decide to go hard for electric vehicles.

25:

"This is the funhouse-mirror of living in Edinburgh & believing SNP propaganda, to my fears about the SNP, only considerably worse.
Ain't going to happen."

I live in one of the weathier and more Tory areas of the south-east, and I think that it will.

26:

only revived by a brisk dose of hyperinflation. The public didn't really notice the effects of the hyperinflation because it happened globally, with all the central banks engaging in quantitative easing more or less simultaneously (or "printing fiat currency" as the goldbugs call it): the price of exports didn't rise or fall as the tsunami of soft money rushed past in the ocean depths below the keel of the commodities markets

This isn't true. I gather that your argument is that we have hyperinflation, we just aren't seeing it because there is a difference between the total monetary supply and the active monetary supply, and active has stayed relatively stagnant because financial institutions are just sitting on the pile of cash. But that isn't correct. Inflation is much more than just an increase in the monetary supply. Since the start of the Great Recession we have seen a complete collapse demand followed by insufficient aggregate demand to recover, whereas demand-push inflation arises from aggregate demand exceeding aggregate supply.

I suppose you could be choosing to reject Keynesian theory in favor of Chicago school or Austrian monetary fundamentalism, but that doesn't really square at all with the actual data we have from the past 7 years.

If anything this points to an important force you aren't noting, that globally the weak demand is generating anemic growth and thus flat or anemic wages. This runs head-long into the mass migration you note, as an increasing labor pool further depressing wages will do much much more to inflame and expand nativism and anti-immigration movements.

27:

I enjoyed reading the post. I predict very little hope for a sane discussion though, there's a million and one hot buttons in there.

Over the Christmas period we've had the first news of a globally distributed environmental pathogen resistant to everything, including the antibiotic of last resort for it's class. It seems to have spread globally in a bit under 3 weeks. So far it's the only one but it's the first genuine nail in the coffin rather than warning bell for the death of the antibiotic era. How big that will be in 2016 I'm not sure but by 2020 it stands a real chance of being in the same league as climate change - and it stands a real chance of being tied up with "dirty foreigners spreading disease" which is a riff we haven't heard for a few centuries but I'm sure the nativists will dust off with glee. Those of us who watched the UK election debates saw an early example of it, with Nigel Farage making up statistics that the NHS doesn't record about AIDS patients treated in the UK.

Given I'm Welsh and my various markers suggest I'm probably a descendant from a neolithic "invader" before the channel was carved out, can I go nativist can kick out all these Johnny-come-lately Romans, Angles, Danes, Jutes and the like please?

28:

The real problem with the EU is the corruption & lobbying & the technical decisions made by lawyers - like Washington only worse.

Hey Greg -- take a look at this real time map of the sea surface temperature anomaly in the North Atlantic. (It's a global map, but it's tipped to look at the North Atlantic.)

That big hot blob off the east coast of North America -- and it is very hot, 5 C or more above the historical norms -- is stuck there because it can't get past the chill blue stuff coming down the Davis Strait. (That chill blue stuff is Greenland's ice cap melting. See the general chill halo around Greenland, and how the western arctic is sort of slightly warm and the eastern arctic is either notable warm or notable cold, as water of different temperature and salinity doesn't mix very well? All Greenland melting.)

So it's looking a lot like the thermohaline circulation is getting stuck; that doesn't just affect the UK, or Europe, of course; it might well do something unfortunate to the monsoons. In terms of the Europe, though, and the Isle of the Mighty just offshore, everyone's pretty confident that this isn't going to pull a Younger Dryas and move the tundra line down to Paris because we've dumped too much carbon into the atmosphere for that. Predicting what it is going to do, well. No historical examples. All the models have rate issues, and no one understands those, though they're trying very hard. So the answer is, pretty literally, "can't be good".

Suggesting that the EU's real problem is corruption might be something you want to reconsider anyway; the UK isn't guaranteed to increase in habitability.

29:

I was wondering, it seems to me that part of the problem is that country and regional level elites seem to be assuming that they can loot their country and economy and then escape to somewhere like Europe or suchlike with their ill gotten gains/ profits, not realising how much we actually have a global economy, and especially not realising how climate change etc is a global problem that will affect them no matter where they run away to. Is it even possible or desirable to get them to reconnect to the places they boss about?

30:

Perhaps things look different from my perch here in Texas, not far from the Eagle Ford Shale, but from what I see the lower prices are driven primarily by technological change, the ability to produce shale oil relatively inexpensively. In the long term environmental activism should dominate the economic discussion about oil, but right now it's the massive US production that shook things up. There's even a lot of idle capacity, as the low prices have knocked out a lot of small fracking operations and less profitable wells, which means that there's a lot of room to bring more things online should the situation change at all. All this means that the price of oil should not go much higher. Any kind of oil exploration offshore, oil sands development, etc. has to compete at the margins with just doing a little more fracking, and that seems quite unlikely. BUT it also means that the renewables will have more challenges reaching overall parity since we're not looking at peak oil before the planet burns.

31:

Given I'm Welsh and my various markers suggest I'm probably a descendant from a neolithic "invader" before the channel was carved out....

We live in the beginnings[2] of a time of ethnogenesis[1]. Might be a good idea to do it consciously.

[1] which sucks flint. But that's what happens when the survivors form a society after upheaval sufficient to remove the old order.

[2] note that the right is generally doing a more effective of job of noticing this and consciously self-defining.

32:

Fracking's an interesting problem.

On the one side, Saudi Arabia has been beggaring itself to try to drive American and Canadian frackers out of business. In the short run it's working. In the slightly longer run, it might work permanently, IF renewable energy investments continue to climb. My scenario here is that if PV and wind prices continue to drop and people get a bit more serious about dealing with climate change, by the time fracking returns to it's 2013 cost profile, most people will be looking at things like the way it poisons farmland and groundwater and won't reinvest.

One of the nasty things about fracking contracts (this from a family member who owns oil rights in the Dakotas) is that the companies will pay a certain amount for drilling in the land, but the rights owner remains responsible for ALL the damage caused by the fracking operation thereafter. If the owner refuses to deal, the oil company can and will see to seize the mineral rights through eminent domain, using a compliant legislature. This is a great market for big oil companies, but it's problematic for the farmers and people who, well, vote. Like any bubble, it works great in the short term, but the long term damage just might cause politicians to rethink it.

The other problem with fracking is it's got a lousy EROEI (energy returned on energy invested), because fracking takes a fair amount of energy pumped into the ground before you get anything back out. Tar sands are similarly crappy, because you're basically distilling asphalt. They're profitable now because we need oil, but as electricity-based alternatives come online, their value will drop precipitously. In 20 years, I strongly suspect fracking will be gone in the US.

33:

"So it's looking a lot like the thermohaline circulation is getting stuck;"

In two words, "Oh, shit!" I regard the UK politicians and mandarins who have supported the USA's more UK-hostile policies, including the blocking of all serious attempts to reduce climate change over so many years, as tantamount to traitors.

34:

I don't doubt you are correct, though I do hope we don't get a Younger Dryas replay - much more important than EU corruption.
But they are separate issues, non?

35:

Oh & returning to Charlie's take on nasty (really nasty) religions & the apologists claiming they are not like that any more:
Oh yes actually, they are, the bastards are still at it, I'm afraid ....

36:

I am also mainly Celtic, and that line works wonderfully on English bigots. I am married to someone who is closer to Scandinavian, so I don't really mean it :-)

37:

Not really, no.

We're inescapably going into a set of conditions where The Problem is "retaining an industrial culture able to increase the standard of living of its participants over generational time" -- that being the fundamental reason for industrialization's social costs being found bearable; people became very much better off -- and the severity of the problem is well into "existential threat"; war measures act, government of national unity, industrial rationalization, rationing, seizure of goods, and general economic rationalization are all much more justifiable in the present emergency than for Hitler's War.

One of the side effects of The Problem, certain to increase over the next generation at least (barring a sudden severe shortage of people) is migration; people leaving areas that have become uninhabitable or less habitable for areas that they perceive as more habitable. (One of the tangential points I'm trying to make is that the UK is quite likely to be on the Less Habitable list; it may well already be so, and this won't become obvious until sufficient accumulated capital gets expended.)

If you combine those two things -- it's a bad enough emergency that war emergency powers are totally justified (if they're ever justified), and moreover I can't see any other way to get the economic incumbents deconstructed fast enough to successfully replace the fossil carbon economy with something else -- with the consequent migrations, you get a problem where the fascist, xenophobic response to migration may define the response to the emergency as a whole.

Or the desire for predictability through regulatory control may dominate, which is not quite as bad -- it won't delight in slaughtering the helpless -- but it won't work, either.

Either way, in the face of "won't work in presence of an existential threat", the present economic consequences of EU regulation are pretty much trivial. They're a minor side effect of an insufficient response to the same problem the xenophobes want to go fascist over.

38:

Migration is not some sort of natural force like rain or drought. It's the result of policy decisions. If a sovereign state decides to stop it and is willing to use all measures, it stops.

And furthermore, comparing what Group X did 500 years ago and what Group Y is doing now and concluding that they're all the same is both dishonest and sort of pathetic -- a straining to "save the appearances" like a Ptolemaic type frantically piling epicycle on epicycle.

All religions are false, but not all are equally pernicious.

39:

Pretty much the first act of the Reagan presidency's first term was to order the solar panels taken off the White House roof.

I'm hoping that gets chiseled on enough rocks that people remember this didn't have to happen. That a bunch of rich people consciously chose it.

40:

The next decade's going to be pretty critical in climate change. If we do, in fact, make it onto a renewable energy-based economy globally, we'll be in a reasonably good position to have a 200-1000 year bad ride of changing climate, rather than the 400,000 year-long Altithermal of Hot Earth Dreams.

I'll admit that I've been paying less attention to where PV is economically than I have to the politics, because I'd argue that the we don't have good electrical warfighting capability or disaster relief capability yet. Because of this, wars, major disasters, and massive social unrest are going to be powered by the petroleum industry, at least for the next decade.

My overly-simplified way of thinking about it is that we really don't want to get into WW3 in the next decade (or ever, but especially not in the next few years), and we really need to put a lot of R&D money into disaster relief and migration using only renewable energy. IF we can do this, then Charlie's predictions will largely come to pass.

If we stay with oil and big military, or worse, large-scale conflict, then I suspect we're going to see global civilization start to fall apart in the next 10 years.

Some signs that collapse might be happening:
--Global population stabilizes under 10 billion (this will only be confirmed perhaps 5-10 years after the fact. If you believe the statistics are accurate, note that Syria's population allegedly continued to grow in 2014 (IIRC) even as millions of people were leaving the country).
--There are one or more pandemics.
--Places like Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq are not rebuilt, even after the wars are over, and their refugees permanently settle elsewhere.
--Major cities are not rebuilt after being destroyed by storms or earthquakes.
--The world-wide web shatters into the SplinterNet, and we stop being able to know what's going on in much of the world.
--There are mass casualties related to high heat index (high heat, high humidity) in India, Pakistan, southern China, western Amazonia, and/or the Persian Gulf.

Note it's not a matter of disasters, because they happen all the time. You can start believing in collapse only if after multiple disasters, there's little or no attempt to rebuild. So long as we keep responding to disasters and rebuilding after them, civilization still works.

Still, even if collapse starts, I think it will take decades for it to fully play out. We may even see a fatalistic streak set in, with people burning coal and oil to power their isolationist states. They'll know it's bad, but in their view, it's better than being over-run by "hordes of barbarians" (e.g. climate refugees).

I don't think this is inevitable. There's always the Chumash response. The ancestors of the Chumash faced a protracted drought during the Medieval Warm Period, with a lot of violence (as shown from the bones archaeologists have found from the period). Instead of beating their collective population down to a lower carrying capacity, they somehow came together, formed a more cohesive, peaceful tribe, and expanded their numbers, even in the face of continued climate uncertainty.

While I dislike extrapolating from a tribe of fisherman to 8 billion people, I want to point out that authoritarianism is destiny, and liberal politics just might offer a better alternative. If we can get people beyond fear.

41:

My partner's colouring and roots suggest she's from the obvious group I omitted from ejection list. Why did I fall in love with a bloody Saxon?!

42:

If you want a fairly interesting book about human reaction to climate change and how badly that can spiral out, I recommend Global Crisis by Geoffery Parker (http://www.amazon.com/Global-Crisis-Climate-Catastrophe-Seventeenth/dp/0300153236 )

It looks at what happened when the Little Ice Age got going in full swing with the first interval drop in the mid 1600s and ties that in with lesser known factors (disrupted growing seasons, more crop failures, correspondingly more malnutrition, more disease, more deaths, fewer births) that drove all a sequence of political, economic, and social crises that triggered the seventeenth-century ‘General Crisis’ we now know as "history"

43:

Nope, no younger dryas replay is physically possible with the amount of CO2 and methane we have put into the atmosphere. Unless we invent a magic positive method to remove it that runs out of control and sucks half the CO2 out in a few years. And even then it'll take years or decades for the heat to come out the oceans.

44:

There's a big gap between "the world stops growing economically and morally as fast as it has this century" and "global collapse". Having the hot parts of the world in complete misery and their inhabitants considered lesser beings while the rich, Western world thrives was the status quo for a long period.

Also, how does the UK become relatively less habitable under a climate change scenario? Everyone goes to Scandinavia and Canada?

45:

But stopping growing increases the chances of some sorts of collapse. E.g. the neoliberal pact/ the sort of uspoken pact between rulers and ruled, that there would be increasing standard of living as long as people didn't object too much to the rulers doing what they liked.
The improving areas actually include the third world; the point of this post and comments being that both the first and third world will be damaged socially and politically by climate change and by the slow down or loss of life improvements due to lack of growth.

The UK doesn't become much less habitable under the next century of climate change. Just more crop losses due to weird extreme weather, more flooding due to more rain in smaller areas. Increases in deaths in extreme heat events. MOving to Canada or Scandinavia is not an option, they don't have the land or the farmland.

46:

And then there's robots. Including self driving vehicles. That would be a big enough problem on its own.

While I'm not denying that the problems you've identified are real, they aren't alone. Robots are going to cut out huge swaths of jobs. Even just robot trucks taking merchandise from the automated warehouse to the automated receiving platform would cut out a huge swath of jobs. And they'll happen soon, if for no other reason than to cut down on shoplifting by employees.

I'm not what would be required to replace a "McDonald's" "restaurant" with a hamburger vending machine, but I expect it to happen soon. At an increase in profits. Jobs that can't be easily automated can be redesigned so that they CAN be easily automated. (Not always, but more frequently that you might expect.)

The thing is, all these "machines" will require energy to run. So if you want to invest long term, invest in wind and solar...but unless you can pick winners over losers, invest in the industry rather than particular companies. Specialist mutual funds might be a good choice.

But what will ordinary people do for jobs? Phone operator is already essentially gone. Even (shudder) cold calling centers are being replaced by robo-callers. There's an extension of rule 34 ... "If you can name a job, someone it thinking of automating it.".

47:

Um, I think you missed something.

Global collapse isn't everything falling apart all at once. I use a "shattering mosaic" model. My idea is that global civilization is inherently unstable--there's always a war or disaster somewhere, that's normal. What's also normal is that when the war or disaster is over, people spend the next decade rebuilding.

What changes in collapse is that when a disaster or war happens, the mess doesn't get fixed. It stays bad, a "failed state" in modern parlance, and people migrate out rather than in.

In this view, global collapse will take decades. We won't know it's started at first, because disasters do happen all the time. What is different in collapse is the lack of recovery afterwards each separate disaster or war. We'll see more failed states, downsized cities, and depopulated regions. I'm quite sure it won't be called collapse until things are well advanced, so what I'm trying to talk about potential early symptoms that point that this is the direction in which we're heading (note that, for all we know, the collapse started in 2001 with the US invasion of Iraq. It hasn't been long enough to know yet).

Note that fighting a huge war instead of adapting to climate change probably will speed up the process of destabilization, unless (sarcasm) the war is to unseat President Trump and to end the oil industry through force, using newly developed petroleum-free weaponry. And somehow I'm not sure that the UN is powerful enough to push that through...

48:

Oh, and for those who think climate change denialism is going away, don't read the abstract of this study.

(I'm now going to go pound my head against the wall a few times and whimper).

49:

Thanks for writing this, Charlie. Back in 2007-'08 while the GFC was playing out this was one of the possible futures, and one of the more likely ones despite extensively documented and well-known recent history. Oxenstierna's famous dictum applies in spades.

(I had been reading Foucault's Discipline and Punish and A. C. Grayling's Towards The Light, both about the Enlightenment, at the time, so the idea that progress could be reversed very easily was in the foreground of my thoughts.)

I'd add to the reading list Jorgen Randers's 2052. He adds demographics to the mix of factors you list; he says the representative inhabitant of Northern Europe in the 2050s will be a retired woman in indifferent health who is afraid to go outside (partly because of the weather, partly for other reasons). We're already quite a long way towards that state.

But everyone should read Altemeyer first: the "authoritarian follower" concept explains a great deal about politics. (Caveat: there seems to be a quite extensive literature making use of Altemeyer's ideas, but the literature critically examining them seems scanty. Be wary of ideas you want to believe.)

50:

Politically speaking, what happens in the next few years regarding the UK and EU (and what happens to both) have the potential to set up all kinds of conditions in the future.

There are 3 votes that could have sent both the UK and also the EU into some completely different directions, and sooner rather than later as well. However so far - to date - it hasn't happened.

The first was the scottish referendum. The scots voted narrowly in favor of remaning a part of the UK so .... no change there.

Secondly we have last years' election. Many people (including myself) made all kinds of wild guesses and projections though we ended up with a slim conservative majority (I note how the media seemed to think it was a "landside" however!). Some people were thinking that the previous administration would continue, or that we would get maybe a conservative/UKIP coalition. We got a slim conservative majority instead.

Third thing will be the forthcoming vote on weather or not to stay in or leave the EU. Right now it is starting to look like david cameron is going to get his way on his reforms in the EU; if he does and since these reforms are part of his choice of only having the UK as part of an economic EU, and this is my guess he "wins" the vote on the EU (assuming the vote is 1-Leave as is; 2-Economic EU but not social;3-Leave (UKIP default)).

I note that however UKIP has gone completely silent ever since the election of last year btw.

Reason I think that this will influence the future is this all still has all kinds of outcomes. For example david cameron gets his way over EU reforms - could that trigger over time an EU collapse as other member states (or their right-wing elements) decide "Why can't we dump the social part of the EU too?". Throw in terrorism and immigrants into the equasion and the EU could well go pop.

Scotland leaving the UK is well and truly off the table however as we have a conservative govt. in the UK and there's no chance for the forseeable future that scotland would be allowed another referendum.

ljones

51:

Great synopsis post.

NASA has been all over El Niño; NASA site, heavy load & requires scripts to be on to load.

But never forget the Arctic:

Temperatures at the North Pole rose above freezing point Wednesday, 20 degrees Celsius above the mid-winter norm and the latest abnormality in a season of extreme weather events.

Freak heatwave pushes temperatures at North Pole above freezing Phys.org 31st Dec 2015

Yes, that's +20 oC in mid winter, when it's dark up there.

Pop goes the Weasel (or if you prefer the Science):

Slowing of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation at 25° N Nature, 2005

Using a multi-proxy temperature reconstruction for the AMOC index suggests that the AMOC weakness after 1975 is an unprecedented event in the past millennium (p > 0.99). Further melting of Greenland in the coming decades could contribute to further weakening of the AMOC.

Exceptional twentieth-century slowdown in Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation Nature, 3rd September 2015

I'll let those with Science backgrounds work out the implications of that trend line.


On crops:

While detailed regional accounts of the effects of extreme weather disasters exist, the global scale effects of droughts, floods and extreme temperature on crop production are yet to be quantified. Here we estimate for the first time, to our knowledge, national cereal production losses across the globe resulting from reported extreme weather disasters during 1964–2007. We show that droughts and extreme heat significantly reduced national cereal production by 9–10%, whereas our analysis could not identify an effect from floods and extreme cold in the national data. Analysing the underlying processes, we find that production losses due to droughts were associated with a reduction in both harvested area and yields, whereas extreme heat mainly decreased cereal yields. Furthermore, the results highlight ~7% greater production damage from more recent droughts and 8–11% more damage in developed countries than in developing ones.

Influence of extreme weather disasters on global crop production Nature, 7th Jan 2016

This is getting a lot of attention. Even with GMO, could be the end of the Green Revolution, or at least the grand plateau. e.g AGAnnex coverage Canadian AG Industry site.

On Eastern Europe as a whole, they're all at it:

Slovak PM says will fight to keep immigration to a minimum Reuters, 8th Jan 2016 (note: his party are Right-W & have used this a few times against internal corruption scandals, nothing new)

Lazarus & Blackstar
Bowie - Youtube: music] 7th Jan 2016


Anyhow, no tootling until much later.

52:

10 years seems far too soon. Remember Adam Smith: "there is a great deal of ruin in a nation". Even more in a globe-spanning civilisation.

I would mark the start of collapse to the abandonment of a peripheral (but sizable, say over 150,000 population) city in one of the "core" countries (roughly the current OECD member states, plus China). If the core is weakened to that extent, collapse is possible.

("Collapse" is a strong word, and implies a permanent (or very long term) change of capacity. After much thinking I doubt our civilisation is really so fragile.)

I would also be wary of reading too much into population growth changes. If growth stops because women freely choose to have only two children (or one child, or none), that is an indicator of the success of civilisation. If growth stops because of chronic famine or a general loss of hope (as in Eastern bloc countries in the 1980s), then yes, it's a sign of imminent collapse. But by itself, population change doesn't tell you much.

53:

I dunno, you seemed like a pretty big fan of mine for a few minutes after I got into it with CD.

Signed,
A Fully Paid Up Member of The Irrational Monkey Wish Fulfillment Society

54:

it stands a real chance of being tied up with "dirty foreigners spreading disease" which is a riff we haven't heard for a few centuries

You weren't in Toronto during SARS, were you?

Lots of anti-Chinese sentiment bubbled to the surface just fine.

http://topia.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/topia/article/view/13267
http://edocs.lib.sfu.ca/ccrc/html/CCRC_PDF/RacializationOfSARS.pdf
https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-195680111/the-yellow-peril-revisited-the-impact-of-sars-on

55:

Let me give you three medium term disasters...

Ecological catastrophe in China. This is an interesting one, because there's a 'boiling frog' effect - people get used to slowly worsening conditions - and China is bigger than you think. Big enough to swallow the Wuxi incident, where a city of 400,000 had to live on trucked-in water when the local lakes and aquifers became both toxic and unpalatably bitter.

I question whether a future giga-city of a hundred million on the Pearl Delta would cope - even China can't absorb an incident of toxicity or plague on that scale.

I have written lurid fiction elsewhere (badly) about rumours of male sterility and feminisation due to contaminated groundwater kicking of a *major* civil disturbance.


Next up: drying out the Amazon Basin, with a possible thirty-year fire, and dustbowl desertification of the wheat farms on the pampas. The bright (potential) saviour is that Argentina and Brazil have made serious inroads into their inequality problem, and are becoming much more resilient societies.

There is a lot of good news from that continent: their home man development may save them.

Thirdly, a point I've made before about the World's most fragile society: Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom is *not* a rich country: it is now a partially-depleted high-cost oil producer with massive reserves that are uneconomical at $25 a barrel - or more - and the state is effectively bankrupt. They need oil prices in the high $30's or more to keep up the stipends and payoffs that stop the country degenerating into coups and counter-coups and chaotic clan warfare...

And that's the iceberg we see, in their conspicuous consumption abroad.

That spending is dwarfed by the subsidies and systematic sinecurisation of an entire economy of thirty million *intentionally* unproductive citizens, who make nothing, grow nothing, and will never have the economic and political power of seizing their share of what they produce because, by design, they are dependent clients in a productionless economy.

What will they all *do* when the money runs out and the foreign technicians who run the drinking water plants go home?

Saudi Arabia is a poor country with an unsurprising number of very, very rich people who keep all their assets near their second and third homes in Geneva. Those people have private aircraft, desert airstrips, and serious security.

And they will leave behind thirty million people with no food, no water, and nothing like the jobs and the life experience to survive as economic refugees.

What are they going to *do* when the money runs out and the aristocracy fly out to Switzerland?

What if the last thing they are given by a failing regime of religious extremists is cheap semiautomatic weapons and lots and lots of ammunition?

56:

What if the last thing they are given by a failing regime of religious extremists is cheap semiautomatic weapons and lots and lots of ammunition?

Saudi Arabia has over $50,000,000,000 (billion) worth of military gear lying around (admittedly, a lot of that is hard-to-maintain stuff).

And that's only the last 10 years of purchases. As everyone knows (Syria), ancient Soviet stuff from the 60's onwards is perfectly capable of being fielded.


If you're going to do dystopia, make sure you know the scale.


However, you hit the mark with the Amazon.

A once-in-a-century drought struck much of the Amazon rainforest in 2005, reducing rainfall by 60–75% in some areas — and giving scientists a window on to a future coloured by climate change.

Amazon drought raises research doubts Naure, 2010

Severe drought has lasting effects on Amazon Nature 2012

The Amazon region is experiencing the third extreme drought in a dozen years -- and it may turn out to be the worst on record. The droughts coupled with recent research findings, suggest that rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will rapidly increase the frequency and severity of droughts in the region. The implications for people, biodiversity and climate are ominous.

As the map below shows, most of the Amazon region was afflicted by drought in mid-October 2010, with large areas in the north and west experiencing exceptional drought -- beyond extreme. Drought conditions, which now are improving, have been concentrated in Brazil, but extend into parts of neighboring countries including large areas of Bolivia, Peru, Colombia.


Another Extreme Drought Hits the Amazon and Raises Climate Change Concerns WWF 2010

Bonus round (I've mentioned before why you're not going to see another cyclical axial tilt event that greens the Sahara, but hey):

A new analysis of NASA satellite data shows Africa's Congo rainforest, the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, has undergone a large-scale decline in greenness over the past decade.

The study, led by Liming Zhou of University at Albany, State University of New York, shows between 2000 and 2012, the decline affected an increasing amount of forest area and intensified. The research, published Wednesday in Nature, is one of the most comprehensive observational studies to explore the effects of long-term drought on the Congo rainforest using several independent satellite sensors.

NASA Finds Drought May Take Toll on Congo Rainforest NASA, April 2014


~

It's not like no-one was told about these things...

57:

I'm not entirely convinced by this argument, yes surely this scenario would legitimise Indyref2 but how many of the people who voted no last time, when asked "which union do you want to be in, UK or EU?", would go for the latter?. Especially when the (post-fascist takeover) English woudl be invading us within a few years anyway...

58:

Here's one thought. What if global climate change takes place more quickly and has been underestimated? From what I've read in the past - there have been periods in past when climate has "snapped" from one state to another and done so quickly, i.e. much more quickly than (say) 100 years.

What if that were to happen to us and (say) it happened sooner rather than later, in - for example- 2020?

ljones

59:

What pathogen is that? I haven't heard any such story, and I want to know more.

60:

At this point, we're missing a good mechanism to change climate that fast. The only good possibility would be an asteroid strike.

Now, if we're talking about 2035, that's certainly possible. In fact, if we don't get GHG emissions under control in the near future, the 2030s will not be a happy time for most people, and neither will the 200 years or so thereafter.

61:

Emergence of plasmid-mediated colistin resistance mechanism MCR-1 in animals and human beings in China: a microbiological and molecular biological study Lancet, 18 November 2015


It's been mentioned a few times on host's blog.


p.s.

I'm still a pretty big fan of yours, that will never change.

62:

That's what the paleoclimate records show; there are abrupt, decade-scale, changes. (Not century-scale.)

What we don't know is what the triggering thresholds are.

The IPCC's nice linear models are known to be false (because events keep falsifying them, e.g. Arctic sea ice extent); they're the absolute lower bound. (Remember the I; there's a lot of political compromise in producing the things at all.)

So, yeah. This might be a good decade to try to enjoy life.

63:

If the hundreds of billions of dollars poured into the fracking scam had been instead spent on retooling around renewable 2016 would perhaps be a very different year, but instead we are seeing just what consistency we can beat that dead horse into. It may be the straw that breaks the camel back in the US too. Who would have thought that cheap oil would turn out to be an economic disaster as well as an environmental one.

I also think that spooks will rediscover the love of cold, dead, not computer readable storage for real secrets. Everybody should be looking at their network and asking when it will bite them, not if. In the last couple of years we came to realise that open source is at least as flaky as closed, just in different way. Philosophy can't be trusted to ensure good stacks.

I wonder if it is possible to create a mind worm inoculate people against xenophobic rhetoric in all its forms. Maybe it just takes another generation long giga-death war to build up every bodies immunity again. Much sadness for my children if this is so.


64:

Personal forecast: The disasters of the future will not be those commonly predicted by the doomsayers of today - for one thing, most of these issues have technical, practical solutions. Weather goes wonky, well, plant a shit load of windbreaks, build some desalination plants to supply water, if it comes to it, shift food production to hydropondics.

It isn't like the labor-force necessary to do all this isn't available, nor will the world run out of iron ore, sand and uranium.

Energy? Renewable is already cheaper than fossil fuels were at the mid point of this century. Nuclear Fission is also a thing that exists.

The real issues will be the curveballs. The world isn't going to wake up and smell the roses all on the same day, and if the next country over is having an economic boom and 0 percent unemployment because everyone is working their ass of building greenhouses and reactors while your country is still run by the fossil fuel lobby and paralyzed from taking action due to TINA / free market ideology, that is going to do ugly, ugly things to the political stability of your nation.

Or utterly unrelated - The collapse of the *painfully* obvious higher education bubble in the US. Suppose that sector of the economy gets disrupted by a system of online tutorials that is objectively, testably better at conferring skills and knowledge than sitting on your ass in a lecture hall?

65:

The vector the future charts is driven by a sum of forces, some negative some positive. The negative forces are ecological true but positive ones also exist (technology, communication, even social). It's hard to tell whether the final arrow in the aggregate points up or down

66:

Or utterly unrelated - The collapse of the *painfully* obvious higher education bubble in the US. Suppose that sector of the economy gets disrupted by a system of online tutorials that is objectively, testably better at conferring skills and knowledge than sitting on your ass in a lecture hall?

Doesn't matter. Universities exist to provide a class labelling function. Having decided that a class laundry is unacceptable, the US is going hard with class assignment. If your parents are rich enough to pay for your university, great. If they're not, there's an indentured servitude option because we do need people to do the boring stuff. Scholarships for the painfully brilliant.

That is, the people making the decisions are interested in the supply of necessary low-grade minions, and maximizing their take. They don't view education as a good of any kind.

67:

Charlie,

I think you should be adding in the impact of mass-scale automation to that little long term forecast. We know, thanks to processing power getting cheaper and cheaper, that large swathes of jobs are going to come under the hammer of automating repetitive tasks out of the economy. Whether 50% is right or not doesn't matter - there are two effects that reshape things as a result.

  • We are used to bigger populations equalling healthier countries as the GDP equates to the workforce. As that breaks the discarded workers are going to form the second half of your 'no immigrants' story - actively pushing out citizens who are nothing but a drain (maybe they will push them to scotland, then eject scotland from the union...)
  • Wages are depressed by the employment situation, such that wages don't rise and even fall. We've seen this during the GFC particularly, but it will become the norm. And no wage rises means no money to make shifts like solar power, or any of the rest of it. It also means no loans (since interest payment don't make sense) and no growth for those people affected (eg most of them).

Total that up and what you can see it the population really bifurcating down the middle into have and have nots - which is a recipe for things getting really nasty. I'm telling younger cousins - university used to be the way you set yourself up for a better life, but no longer. You need to aim to be a company owner, or be indispensably connected too them.

68:

Oh are you? Excellent!

Because, you know, the Irrational Monkey Wish Fulfillment Society is always accepting new members...

---

To get back to the topic of the thread:

I think Heteromeles' early warning signs are on point. There's a dearth of fiction set in the "early collapse" phase of a post-apocalypse story, so we tend to conceive of these things as abrupt and sudden. (Hello Cold War anxieties!)

One could posit that this curious blind spot relates to authors wanting a comfortable distancing effect between our world and the hellscape world, or that the Underpants Gnome algorithm is simpler to apply than a complicated chain of events. Whatever the reason, the consequence seems to be that the public imagination's notions of the future has a hard time with finding the middle ground between Star Trek and Mad Max.

Being able to recognize that we're on the road to one outcome as opposed to the other would therefore seem to be a useful thing to do.

So here's some other possible warnings:

Sudden, abrupt loss of a particular resource or comfort? I can't recall any such event, other than vague mumblings about the coffee supply. Look for people to seriously freak out of Starbucks switches over to caffeinated juice drinks as their flagship product. Or if a given kind of fruit suddenly costs nine dollars a pound.

Syria is already sort of an information black hole to the casual news consumer; imagine that but expanded so that even national intelligence agencies are limited to what they can see with satellite photography and what the surviving SpecOps troopers report during their debriefing. For the rest of us, it will be nothing but scared refugee rumors at beset. Now picture that happening to one of the frontier provinces of a first or second rank country (possibly add the caveat "in the absence of a drug war"). If, say, India needs to conduct reconnaissance-in-force missions in its own borders...

The shattering of larger, more stable countries into smaller, less stable countries as the regional tensions within developed nations come to a boil. Out here in Oregon, there's a notable Cascadian independence movement that's equal parts fantasy and wishful thinking, but they've got a flag and you see it everywhere. The South is, of course, lousy with this kind of sentiment as well. The US *might* be among the last to go, but then again, we've got some of the oldest, creakiest infrastructure around and that might be more of an aggravating factor to collapse than we'd like to admit. Perhaps a more likely medium-term candidate for this kind of treatment would be Spain. On the periphery of Europe and with very strong internal tensions, plus an especially hard hit economy makes for a difficult situation.

Others that come to mind are the return of major famines outside of warzones and international Internet access becoming spotty as the undersea cable maintenance budget gets back-burnered.


69:

Let's stop handwaving. The best-recorded fast climate changes come from the last ice age, and were due (so far as anyone knows) to an unstable ice sheet forming over Hudson's Bay, then falling apart. These changes happened on the order of a decade or two and global average temperatures fluctuated ~10oC.

If anyone notices, we don't have that ice sheet right now. I'm not a climatologist, but I don't think that the melting of Greenland is quite on the same scale, so I'm not sure we can precisely replicate this fluctuation, either in speed or the magnitude of temperature change

There's also the Straits of Gibraltar opening and closing, but the result of the closing was slow (the Mediterranean had to evaporate to affect the climate), while the opening was fast (the dry basin refilled).

Another reportedly fast change was the PETM, which one researcher thought might have taken 18 years to start. This is the hothouse at the end of the Paleocene that I used as a model for what our world would look like if we burned all our fossil fuels. Last time I looked, no one was quite sure why the PETM happened--the best guess is something like a volcanic hotspot burning through a large coal deposit, probably as what is now Iceland moved through Greenland. Or something.

But that's one paper saying the PETM came on fast, not a consensus. Remember also that there weren't methane clathrates under the Arctic at that time, because the Arctic wasn't frozen at that time.

The next oldest rapid climate change is, of course, the K-Pg Chicxulub impact, which was very fast.

So there are your mechanisms. The one we're most likely to emulate is the PETM, and we'll do it by burning our fossil fuels. But that will likely take 20-50 years, so far as we know. Methane clathrate releases aren't clear. They are happening, both on land and underwater, but a fair amount of the methane seems to be captured by bacteria, rather than making it directly into the atmosphere.

70:

Hadil = CatnD, in case you missed it.

Fair warning, but I'm not attempting to hood-wink; I'm fully aware you might not reciprocate the feelings. (A good flame is fiery and feisty and fun in its own right though, (ex)dragons love fire).

Out here in Oregon, there's a notable Cascadian independence movement that's equal parts fantasy and wishful thinking, but they've got a flag and you see it everywhere

This is a very novel and unknown data point.

Ahh: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascadia_%28independence_movement%29

I always did love Ecotopia

71:

(product placement warning)

One reason I wrote Hot Earth Dreams was to make it easier for creative people to explore that middle ground between Star Trek and Mad Max.

As for the latter, I think John Michael Greer had a good idea when he traced our inability to process any other outcome as a result of Christianity, specifically the Book of Revelations. We're taught to think in terms of a binary future that leads either to heaven or hell. Even for those who didn't go to Sunday school, there are echoes of this kind of thinking all over the place. Until the 1990s, it was nuclear annihilation vs. expanding to the stars. Then it became Singularity vs. Apocalypse.

I agree with you that there are many other intermediate possibilities, and I think it's worth helping others to explore them.

72:

I'm not a climatologist, but I don't think that the melting of Greenland is quite on the same scale, so I'm not sure we can precisely replicate this fluctuation, either in speed or the magnitude of temperature change

Well, I suppose I do meet certain requirements for that label.

Surface melt extent on the Greenland Ice Sheet in 2015 was greater than average in northwestern and northern Greenland, and average to below-average levels along the western and southeast coast. The main features of the 2015 season were a slow start, with cool conditions in central and southeastern Greenland in June, a surge in melting in late June and all of July as very warm conditions prevailed along the far northern and northwestern coast, and an average August pattern, with a late surge of southeastern melting at the end of the month extending into early September. At the peak in early July, over 50% of the ice sheet experienced surface melting.

http://nsidc.org/greenland-today/

The problem is that satellite data / temp data is being obfuscated by other things.

I'd suggest reading:

Massive northeast Greenland glacier is rapidly melting, UCI-led team finds UCI, Nov 12th 2015

There's an extremely technical paper on how base water flow is both hiding and accelerating melt rates, but I've lost the working paper link.

You'll have to have an old one:

Scientists who study the melting of Greenland's glaciers are discovering that water flowing beneath the ice plays a much more complex role than they previously imagined. Science Daily (ugh), 2009.

But, basically: Greenland isn't acting like geological models for very good reasons: people are finding out the new models, but, hey, the upshot is:

AMOC is not something you want to fuck with.

73:

Oh, I agree that Greenland is melting fast and that it's not following older models. What I'm not sure about is whether it's creating enough meltwater, and dumping it fast enough, to trigger something like a Heinrich Event, and part of that is I'm not sure about the mechanism that caused Heinrich Events in the first place.

The bigger point is sudden climate change isn't necessarily a hiding monster that can do something horrible in the random near term. We do have some idea about a number of mechanisms for such changes, and we can say with some confidence that we're not going to see (for instance):
--a replay of the Siberian Traps or any other Large Igneous Province (these take tens to hundreds of thousands of years to form)
--Any sudden climate change that requires a full-fledged northern glacier like the Laurentide ice sheet to happen.

The sudden climate changes we're most likely to see are (from greatest magnitude to least):
--asteroid strikes (extraordinarily improbable, but enormous if it does happen)
--clathrate gun (methane clathrates go berserk, which AFAIK isn't happening quite yet and may not happen)
--human emissions from fossil fuels (almost guaranteed at this moment).
--nuclear war.

74:

I hadn't been aware until I looked it up just now that it was available for sale yet. Now it's on my iPad.

75:

So there are your mechanisms. The one we're most likely to emulate is the PETM, and we'll do it by burning our fossil fuels. But that will likely take 20-50 years, so far as we know. Methane clathrate releases aren't clear. They are happening, both on land and underwater, but a fair amount of the methane seems to be captured by bacteria, rather than making it directly into the atmosphere.

We've got a condition lacking in precedent; if you accept the PETM being a function of carbon release (last I knew that's the leading candidate because no one can think of anything else convincing, rather than there being clear evidence of elevated atmospheric CO2) we can't "see" the carbon release, just the climate tip in things like O2 isotope ratio temperature proxies. And that's a long way back for decadal temperature resolution. (On the other hand, the general trend over time in the research results has been for the PETM to happen more abruptly.)

As I understand it, the ice sheet collapse/fresh water release models presume a frozen arctic (what with there having still being an ice sheet on Baffin Island at the time...) and work by temperate-zone albedo change combined with knocking the ocean circulation on the head by changing the salinity.

What we've got right now is a case where it was thought Greenland wasn't going to be enough fresh water release to seriously affect the thermohaline circulation, only we're observing significant effects on the thermohaline circulation and there's been a couple papers come out in 2015 that summarize as "oh dear it could".

Combine that with an ice-free Arctic -- going from a reflector to an absorber -- which is happening faster than expected, indicating there's a missed feedback in the models somewhere, and the limit to bacterial growth for absorbing methane purposes being set by something other than food supply (usually dissolved metals; there's very little uncontroversial data about this because uncontaminated at ppm levels seawater sampling is excruciatingly fussy, but there's at least one school of thought that says the industrialization of Japan and Korea has had a big effect on Antarctic productivity by dumping not very much particulate iron in the water there), and there's a fast tip scenario; there's a threshold temperature for the Arctic Ocean, it goes ice free and hits it some time before 2030, there's the Big Burp, and that's that.

If it takes the Big Burp; "ice free arctic" might be enough all by itself, and we're already seeing stuff that could be a collapse into a two-zone atmospheric circulation.

So while I don't think it's certain, I think presupposing there won't be a fast tip scenario, that we're guaranteed a relatively slow escalator, is rash. The past decade has had the northern hemisphere atmospheric circulation do something very much like a fast tip; it's not obvious the ocean circulation can't or won't do the same thing. (Or, really, that it isn't.)

76:

Well, you've got to check fast vs. slow. Humans blowing all their fossil fuels in 50 years qualifies as extremely fast in geologic terms, but excruciatingly slow in human terms. In this case, I think we're worried more about fast in human terms, and then we're talking about things like nuclear war.

A different issue is inevitability, which is where we get stuck on with climate change. The big problem there is that the climate continues to warm after we release whatever greenhouse gases get released. At that point, we're along for the ride for decades to centuries of warming.

This is a problem, because we're not at all good at seeing and preventing inevitable consequences that come decades after their causes. One example (among many) is the current mess in the Middle East, the roots of which date back to the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after WWI and subsequent decisions by the British Empire.

77:

The "bottom line" is that weather events are pushing +20 oC from base line, you're fucked.

Understanding the relations is easy; understanding the whys is hard and (important) was not in any model I've ever worked with, not even in the [redacted] versions. Since you and Hetero are up to speed but many aren't:

A +20oC fluctuation in temperature would render about 70% of the entire world immediately inhabitable if it happened in your local area.

Not "Ooh, Cali / Texas drought" but, "Scorched Earth, Desert for all time" levels.


It's simply staggering.

78:

Cascadian politics is a rabbit hole. Depending on which flavor of Cascadian you're talking to, the dream is either to convince most of British Columbia to ditch Canada and come with us (left wing Cascadians) or to be a new, independent state or country (right wing Cascadians, who are often functoinally indistinguishable from the State of Jefferson types who have tried to found a new state in Southern Oregon and Northern California for decades now).

79:

Oh, and if you want some realism:

Of course it won't happen where you live.

It might happen on the cusp edge of tundra and totally accelerate methane clathrate issues.

Those huge holes in Siberia? Siberian Times, Feb 2015?


The horror show version is that localized weather like the Arctic has been forming in Tundra and causing this, and due to location, no measurements have been taken.

~


p.s.

Totally not supposed to say that in public: but basically, that's what's been happening.

80:

I don't understand how your model of a shattering mosaic and society constantly recovering from shocks allows for technological and social progress, which to me seems undeniable in the last 200+ years.

You (Heteromeles) write novels. How much are you talking up the disaster scenarios here just because they seem cool to write about, and how much do you actually believe they are likely to happen?

I live in south Texas, which can accurately be characterized as a hellscape for several months of the year, and which recently suffered through a multiyear drought. Despite that, the population is growing and the economy is booming. To me this looks like evidence that a rich enough society can weather turning into a hellscape and we're not nearing worldwide collapse, we're nearing localized catastrophes as poorer, hotter nations with limited water resources turn into Syria. I agree with Charlie's original prognostications but I think the discussion in the comments is going much further than I think is likely.

81:

[Cascadian Independence] is a very novel and unknown data point.

Well, certainly; if you're not in the area you've got no reason to encounter it. Many people in the Pacific Northwest will joke about it now and then, with only a few cranks being at all serious about it.

This does overlap a bit with the reason I've not been following any news outside the local region this week; aside from a purely local weather drama our top news story involves some anti-government cranks who have taken over an extremely remote bird watching station. (Video and commentary here.) Locals are making comments such as "Y'all Qaeda wages Yeehad" and "Yokel Haram guys have to get martyred to go to Heaven and get their 72 underage cousins!" Law enforcement is still at the "Go home, you're drunk" stage - at least where they're letting the media see it.

82:

April_D, I assume you're coming to Westercon this summer? What with one thing and another it would seem a shame to miss it.

83:

You (Heteromeles) write novels. How much are you talking up the disaster scenarios here just because they seem cool to write about, and how much do you actually believe they are likely to happen?

I wrote Hot Earth Dreams since it looks to me like the most likely scenario, which is that
--we get severe climate change, around 8-10oC average global warming
--humans don't go extinct.

I'm not sure what's cool about any of this, but I'm more interested in understanding probable futures and helping others who are interested in similar things. Personally, I'd rather be totally wrong, and it's rather sad when I see people go for denial rather than thinking about the real problems we all face.

In any case, it's generally a mistake to assume that, just because things are good now, therefore they'll be good forever. Everything changes, and if I remember correctly the Texan economy has had its ups and downs.

I'd also point out that, in Hot Earth Dreams, I assumed it will take ~100 years for civilization to totally collapse, because we'll try and fail to get our fossil fuel emissions under control. Others seem to be interested in the idea of imminent apocalypse, but I honestly don't see good evidence for it yet. I don't even think that collapse is inevitable, although I think it's likely, especially if we aren't interested in radically transforming our society to try to avoid it.

84:

When I first read the reports about the much greater than expected water flows under the Greenland ice, the first thought I had was that a water layer sandwiched between two sheets makes for a near-perfect lubricant. I don't know the topography of the actual surface of Greenland. I just hope that there aren't large areas that are mostly downward slopes without significant upward protrusions to block slippage of the ice mass resting on that wonderful layer of lubricant. I'm not sure I can imagine just how much damage a large ice mass would do if it detached and slid, whole, into the Atlantic. The water displacement alone might be disastrous on facing coastlines. The scale of the disaster will be dependent on the extent of the ice sloughed off, but it could be significantly larger than the Unzen volcano collapse in Japan, or the results feared if the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands erupts. If you want a worst-case scenario unanticipated by any model, there's one for you. Hopefully it's not possible, and can safely remain in the realm of the disaster movie.

85:

Charlie, what would you do about "mass sex attacks"?

86:

English bigots
Let's see, I know of:
Huguenot, Lincolnshire peasant, some ancestors named "Par-anour", others presumably from Gascony, wrong-side-of-blanket from very high aristocracy, Viking.
Do I qualify?
Am I mongrel enough?

87:

I'm a bit skeptical that we'll see full food collapse in the US. The US is just too big and climatically diverse - just look at the current weather. And there's a lot of areas that are perfectly amenable to crop-growing, but which get neglected because of the endless support to the agro-industry feeding off acquifers in the Great Plains.


I'll definitely side with the person who said that the Antibiotic Resistance issue will exacerbate conflicts over migration. Countries can get resistance under control within their own borders with far tighter restrictions and programs on antibiotics use - Israel beat out an issue with a multi-resistant strain in their hospital system a few years back. But that won't do you any good if there are countries blatantly screwing it up on antibiotics prescription (*cough* India), or if they're still being fed en masse to domesticated animals (*cough* US and China).

I don't really see a full civilization collapse, either, unless you're defining "collapse" as a disintegration of the international trading and migration system. We've had that before after World War I.

88:

If we stay with oil and big military, or worse, large-scale conflict, then I suspect we're going to see global civilization start to fall apart in the next 10 years.
The price of PV & also electrical storage, most critically, is dropping at a ridiculous rate, so, within the next 10 years, "OIL" is over as the controlling force.
Hell, even people in the Daily Telegraph are starting to notice this!
BUT
"Large Scale Conflict" - Only too possible.
Could start almost anywhere, but outside Europe - but even if Charlie's mad brainstorm came to pass, a semi-fascist England would not be going on a world-conquering drive for power.
Which is what we have to worry about.
Middle East is most likely, or a second US Civil War, with the rednecks then trying foreign adventures, or N Korea ( I'm told that their own propaganda suggests that a nuclear war might be survivable, "because we've got all the tunnels". )
YUCK

89:

Agree completely
IF we could really have an EU of co-operation & not one of unbelievably corrupt lobbying & crooked corporate fixes, wouldn't that be nice?
However, the Oxenstierna quote is relevant, again - I've just added that to my Commonplaces book ....

90:

SO
NASA & serious US government scientists know & are worried about GW.
But (some of) the politicos don;t want to know.
Like I said earlier today, on another blog:
"Politicians & engineering don't mix" in reference to the Madwoman wanting the Channel Tunnel to be a ROAD one ... you may SCREAM now .....

91:

Nile
You have just answered the question I asked in # 88

92:

NOT GOING TO HAPPEN

Only in the fevered imagination of the Corbynistas, who are already trying to unseat my local amazingly-popular female Labour MP ... to whom all "tories" (Including said Labour MP) are "fascists".
Note that these idiots "think" that "cultural" preferences trump human rights, especially of those human rights are merely those of brown females.
Some parts of "the left" need their heads examined, just like some ports of the right, who decry "Human rights" too.

Do grow up, people.

[ P.S. Yes, there are some real bastards in the tory party - Grayling for a start & Hunt maybe too, but this is politics, what did you expect? ]

93:

uppose that sector of the economy gets disrupted by a system of online tutorials that is objectively, testably better at conferring skills and knowledge than sitting on your ass in a lecture hall?

PLEASE?
Oh please?
There are at least thee subjects where I could do with that happening.
I believe that there is an "A"-level maths tutorial set that does that in the UK already

94:

There is still: "the Road not Travelled by" though, isn't there.
Or, I hate to admit it, because it come from Bhuddist teaching ...

This road leads to {Hell_$1} in that direction & {Hell_$2} in that direction - TINA.

STEP OFF THE ROAD.

Problem solved.

I have had this debate with christians many times & they won't see it - quite deliberately won't see it.

95:

"Let's stop handwaving. The best-recorded fast climate changes come from the last ice age, and were due (so far as anyone knows) to an unstable ice sheet forming over Hudson's Bay, then falling apart. These changes happened on the order of a decade or two and global average temperatures fluctuated ~10oC.

If anyone notices, we don't have that ice sheet right now. ..."

Oh, that's the current theory, is it? I didn't know, but that is very, very scary. The Greenland ice cap may have a lot of inertia, but the Arctic ice cap doesn't - if I have it right, its summer volume is about the same, but spread over a MUCH larger area. And, if that melts, even just in summer, the Arctic will absorb a lot more sunlight. You almost certainly know the estimates better than I do.

96:

"Do I qualify?"

As a bigot? Or as English? :-)

My remark was, of course, aimed at the "send all immigrants back where they came from" brigade, including that obscenity Michael Howard.

97:

Figures are difficult with Saudi Arabia: is that fifty billion the capital value?
British arms sales to the Kingdom alone are in the £40 - £50 Billion range, but the greater part of it is the ongoing servicing and spares:at any given time, there are 5,000 BAE contract staff in-country maintaining the kit.

This is an important point: the Kingdom, by intention, by a deliberate and pervasive and long term social policy, does not have a skilled working class; and it is very, very determined not to have a professsional middle class.

Such things are inimical to mediaeval monarchy.

This policy is, of course, impossible to maintain in an absolute sense; Aramco - the national oil company - is a community of very smart, very well-educated, motivated and disciplined people who could probably eat Goldman Sachs alive and sell a British Banker his own bollocks on a fixed-term lease.

The Kingdom needs to control it's own oil, and it needs a loyal local intelligentsia or managerial class to do that.

So the internal politics and recruitment processes of this rare meritocracy in Arabia are interesting. It's created to be as it is, an effective organ of a state where every organisation is intended to be ineffective, and it is run to be a loyal tool of the Crown Price and the Oil Minister in a polity with designed-in disloyalty.

The Kingdom is a nation of fools led by wiser men than Machiavelli; sometimes, and whenever you encounter Aramco, you will see that they *can* be clever and efficient and effective. So whenever you see them being stupid, be sure to look for someone clever pursuing a cynical agenda...

...Which brings me to the fifty billion of military kit owned by the military forces of Saudi Arabia.

If you're not already an expert - and I think that you, Hadil, know the Kingdom rather well - I would urge any reader of Charlie's blog to read that article. The TLDR is that the Kingdom has at least three credible land armies, with different chains of command and different doctrines!

One of these armies is intentionally structured to be loyal to the nation as a whole, rather than recruited and divided on clan and tribal lines.

I can't speak for the others.

One of them doesn't maintain it's own vehicles, comms gear, and anti-aircraft kit - it is utterly dependent on rented foreign technicians, and intentionally so.

I can't speak for the others: the shortage of technical skills is a designed-in condition of the wider society, but someone in the Kingdom must have the sense to maintain a private force with an independent capability...

...Mustn't they?

Or would that be overtly threatening, a call to Heaven for the wrath of the Mutawe, or worse? Sometimes a display of stupidity and inefficiency is not as stupid as it seems.

All the wealthy families retain capable but *small* security details. Capable, as in 'get us to the desert airstrip and onto the private jet to Switzerland'. Owning an actual army is a big deal, and a major political power in the Kingdom.

I know that their air force rents in all the maintenance technicians, and I know exactly who they are.

I know nothing about their navy.

I would speculate that their Strategic Rocket Forces - yes, the Saudis do have them, start worrying - are a mini-Aramco of local technical expertise: but I don't actually know and I would be sceptical of any sources that I get.

But that's regressing to my original point about a nation of intentionally de-skilled and disincentivised citizens in a designed state of unproducive dependency; this reply is about Saudi Military capability.

As far as I can see, the military capability of the kingdom is a deliberately designed civil war. A short civil war, because their equipment will stop working in a prolonged campaign...

...There's an element of speculation here: the victors will be the faction with stockpiled spares and the ability to operate their eqipment independently, or to persuade technical 'advisers' to stay in-country despite a campaign of extremely bloody terrorism intended to expel the hated foreigners. But it's entirely possible that no such faction and no such capability exists.

If it does, and you find it, you've found the real ruler of Saudi Arabia. You will also find a great deal of skilful deception: some bragadiccio and displays of capability, and some displays of corruption and ineptitude that are both more and less than they seem.

Maybe the armies are an exit plan for one or more factions of the House of Saud to escape to their new home in one of the Emirates.

After the well-equipped armies run out of equipment, or leave, or win, Saudi Arabia has very well-equipped police forces and paramilitaries for suppressing local civil disorder. They're not equipped for actual warfare and cannot cross the desert if opposed by a military formation equipped with artillery and armored vehicles - arguably, the army or armies exist to suppress a police coup - but the Kingdom has no shortage of forces capable of suppressing civil disorder, slave revolts, armed mobs, and even a lightly-armed citizen uprising.

What the Kingdom doesn't have is the resilience to emerge from a prolonged period of disorder: armed factions and a civil war are designed-in, and the infrastructure is both physically fragile and organisationally vacuous - once the foreign labour goes, it's a vacuum.

And here, on a Science Fiction author's blog, I can use that analogy: a domed lunar colony of thirty million people, with the food and water (if not the air) operated by aliens who can and will leave when the locals turn hostile.

So my point is: tens of billions of dollars of weaponry are meaningless; Thirty million stranded lunar colonists - most of whom will die - and an unlimited supply of cheap carbines and grenades are another matter.

Even 'most of whom will die' is a significant threat: ten million desperate refugees can overwhelm any country in the region.

Would they be welcome?

You can't walk out of the Kingdom. You can drive, and there are hundreds of thousands of 4x4s that can bypass roadblocks and *maybe* carry enough diesel to get to civilisation if they mostly stick to roads - can any army in the region shell or bomb 99% of that many desert-capable SUV's and keep them refugees in the burning sands long enough for nature to take its course?

Would they be willing to?

A scenario: the new (and decidedly unwelcome) rulers of at least one forcibly dis-United Arab Emirate will have arrived with a well-equipped army of uncertain loyalty. That army will have orders to close the roads, and they might or might not have the spares and the ordnance to enforce that order with fully desert-mobile armored vehicles.

What happens next?


But the Big Point is: Thirty Million People.

As humanitarian disasters go, that's pretty major.

As civil order problems go, that's every state in the Gulf knocked flat - anarchy and ISIS-like brigandage - up to and maybe including Kuwait and possibly the whole of Iraq.


98:

This is a reply to 52, 57, 66 and 67. The reason that I think that the UK is one of the most likely countries to trigger a global collapse is due to all of these factors. The UK is still a very big economy, has essentially no natural resources, and relies almost entirely on owning external entities and selling skills and services. Most of the first have been sold off, and the rest are going fast. I have already described how our economy is largely a set of interlocking Ponzi schemes.

Until the 1980s, we had one of the most educated and innovative workforces in the world, especially in the IT and biotechnology (including agriculture) areas, and including some specialised engineering. Nowadays, almost all research laboratories and many or most skilled occupations are staffed by aliens, most of whom are not refugees and would go home if the UK's economy or society hits the rocks. Recent reports have indicated that the best native students are almost entirely taking up law, finance and management. I can witness just how few qualified applicants for high-tech. jobs are actually British nationals, and how the average age of those is increasing. I know the reasons, but let's not divert.

Our current plutocracy is pushing automation as a solution to this, and my observations are that it is far more advanced here than in the USA or anywhere else in Europe. This is rapidly leading to a situation where the vast majority of the population is capable of performing only a rapidly decreasing number of jobs. Currently, this is being controlled by 'creative' job management and accounting, but propping that up is taking an increasing proportion of the govenment budget. If we hit serious economic problems, they will pull the plug, and we will see unemployment on a southern European scale, but without the social or climatic advantages of the there.

We also have the risk that we (and Ireland) are uniquely vulnerable to ocean currents in the North Atlantic. With some scenarios, our agriculture will fail (almost totally) and we will have to upgrade the entirety of our housing and infrastructure. But that's speculative, so let's not assume it.

Now, I have heard that Japan is in as bad a way, but its economy is already known to be a basket-case, other countries have taken steps to defend against it crashing, it is less tightly integrated in large groupings, I believe it still has a more skilled workforce than we do, and it has a much more coherent social structure. My belief is that, if things go the way I fear, the UK's economy and society will crash and burn within 5 years. That wouldn't matter (except to us), except for the house of cards effect. I don't know of another country that is as serious a risk to the global economy.

With regard to Scottish independence, if the UK votes to leave the EU, the Scots know damn well that the High Tories will use that to push through even more fanatical and extremist authoritarian, monetarist and plutocratic changes. So London vetos a referendum? That's how Harold Wilson pushed Rhodesia into UDI (and, yes, that IS what happened). So what does London do? The Scottish police, courts etc. are not answerable to the Home Secretary in the way the English ones are, so he has to use troops. Maybe he would succeed, or maybe it would erupt into civil war, and there is no better way to crash an economy.

99:

That link seems to be broken. I knew some of that, but not all, and should like to read it. Would they kill 30 million people? I believe they would do so without a second's hesitation, if they felt that they were up against the wall and could get away with it.

[[ It had some 'smart' double quotes in the HTML, which of course broke it. I have now fixed it - mod ]]

100:

Speaking of Bruce Sterling, he's currently holding court on The Well with Jon Lebowsky for their annual State Of The World discussion:

http://tinyurl.com/SOTW2016

101:

Very interesting Charlie.

I think relying on historical parallels for how despots rise is too conservative for prediction.

Organizing a reign of terror is basically an information gathering exercise: You need to know who to terrorize next. Computers have made than an entirely different discipline.

It is not even obvious to me that the despot in a computerized reign of terror would even bother being the front-man: Why waste your time on parades, speeches and meetings, when there is data to be crunched and decisions to be made ?

After all, with a good enough chief of intelligence, any clown can do the front job.

To a certain extent, we already saw that, Cheney concentrated on getting the job done, leaving all the PR, parading, and hand-shaking to Bush.

I suspect that is why Greg can't spot the "leader" (#22).

On the other hand, there is no credible path to addressing or even mitigating GW, that are feasible without despotic rulers.


102:

The other explanation is that it is a matter of "Cometh the hour, cometh the man", though it's often a party not an individual, and the time is as yet unripe in western Europe. Despite all the hysteria, things are not bad enough to trigger that sort of desperation. And, of course, what we can hope for is that we get a benevolent fascism (in the original sense), much as we did with Churchill.

103:

America was built on immigration; the American dream -- that anyone could succeed -- attracted a lot of energy and talent into the country. Even the UK has demonstrably benefited from regular infusions of foreign talent for around the last thousand years.

Considering the scenario of climate-change induced refugee flows, I'm curious as to whether countries that can somehow remain welcoming to immigration will succeed better than the sort of nationalist, rejectionist regimes OGH has described.

There's always going to be a degree of resentment against incomers, until those newcomers can assimilate. There's always a tension for immigrant families between identifying with the 'old country' and adopting or adapting to the local mores. (When are we going to see a distinctive British style of Moslem women's headdress?)

It's that melting pot effect which is critically important in the long term. A country that can absorb and incorporate will cope better in the uncertain times ahead.


104:

"When are we going to see a distinctive British style of Moslem women's headdress?"

Never. Except in countries dominated by single authoritarian sect, there isn't such a thing in any country, though there often is in a single community.

105:

"With regard to Scottish independence, if the UK votes to leave the EU, the Scots know damn well that the High Tories will use that to push through even more fanatical and extremist authoritarian, monetarist and plutocratic changes".

That's pretty much true though I'm thinking the UK is very unlikely to vote the EU. Here's my guess as to what will happen - so far;

- Cameron gets his way with his EU reforms. Because well immigrants. Other nations in the EU end up agreeing after seeing (for example) the situation in Germany.

- He then opts for an earlier referendum date possibly this year. The earlier date he chooses will benefit him as if the date is early enough everyone else has less time in which to prepare.

- The choices to weather or not the UK stays as part as the EU are listed as - "1: Leave everything as is, don't change anything; 2: Stay in europe but only as an economic union and forget the social part (Cameron default) and 3: Leave the EU entirely (UKIP default)".

- People end up choosing number 2 because it then gets sold heavily in the media (TV, newspapers, political ads etc). UKIP is late to the party because of an early vote date.

End result? Choice number 2 gets (say) 55-65% of the vote so the UK stays in, but only for economic reasons.

With that in mind there's pretty much 0% chance in the next 5 years the tories would give scotland a second referendum.

ljones

106:

What makes you think that Davey Boy will get his way enough to be offered option 2 in a form acceptable to his knuckle-draggers? Or that the bigots that dominate most of the media push option 2 and not 3? Or that the Scots would accept option 2?

My prediction is that, unless option 1 wins, my last paragraph will apply and my 5 year timescale will kick in.

107:

"When are we going to see a distinctive British style of Moslem women's headdress?"

"Never. Except in countries dominated by single authoritarian sect, there isn't such a thing in any country, though there often is in a single community."

That's not really the point I was trying to make. It doesn't have to be 'British' necessarily but maybe 'European' or 'Western'. Distinct from the Niqab, the Khimar, the Burkha, and so forth -- all of which are more or less popular in different parts of the Moslem world

https://imgur.com/gallery/syIYvKh

108:

"What makes you think that Davey Boy will get his way enough to be offered option 2 in a form acceptable to his knuckle-draggers?"
Not sure but I think you're referring to the split in the conservative party over europe? Been there a long time - since the 80s - but my guess is that if cameron gets his way with his EU reforms then his own politicians/back-benchers might be less inclined to rock the boat. Their thinking could be "What do we do now -- appear split and weak, or just go along with the PM for now?". Though I could be wrong!

"Or that the bigots that dominate most of the media push option 2 and not 3?"
It is in their fianancial intrest to push 2 and not 3. Plus outside the daily mail I'm not seeing any love for number 3 in the media, and that option 2 almost just "feels" - right now - like it is the medias' "unwritten default".

"Or that the Scots would accept option 2?"
Actually good point -- I didn't even think of scotland in my post there. Oop! If scotland plumps for option 1 there it could act against any english vote for either 2 or 3 but to what extent I don't know.

Of course though this could all be quite literally knocked sideways if (and I'm hoping there isn't) there was for example an ISIS attack in london along the same lines as in Paris. Then this whole question is anyone's guess -- it could be that we end up with a Prime minister farage in 2020 if that all happens.

ljones

109:


Im curious as to whether countries that can somehow remain welcoming to immigration will succeed better than the sort of nationalist, rejectionist regimes OGH has described.

I feel guilty at perceiving material gain in the misfortunes of others: but I am certain that every country which accepts and welcomes the people displaced from Syria in numbers large enough to matter will enjoy lasting prosperity as a result.

The countries which do not, will not; and those that withdraw into the nasty nationalism of the Daily Mail or Trumpish ignorance will see their best and brightest emigrating; and, within a generation, these countries will become a place that ordinary people leave in desperation, becoming economic migrants seeking any work that they can find in better countries.

Maintaining order in a failing country is a challenge, and governments given to isolationism, nationalism and racism take that challenge as an opportunity: political refugees will be forced to flee to better places, too, and violent resentments will simmer among those remaining. Civil war is not inevitable; and the lower-level violence of 'dirty war' becomes a fact of life.

110:

Do an image search for "gele" and then "ascot hats".

There's your answer. (Said answer might be saying a bit more than you'd imagine)

111:

Do an image search for "gele" and then "ascot hats"

I was about to say that was "Facinating", but saw that Ascot insists on actual hats now. But I'm reminded of African American women's Church Hats.
Then there are the Sheitels worn by ultra-othrodox Jewish women, which range from simple snoods to ridiculously expensive, realistic, and coiffed wigs. Of course they're all signs of wealth.
We're past 100 comments, so I guess going off-topic is safe.

112:

No, it's entirely on topic (host's link to medieval women's head-wear).

Just for reference, gele are perfectly within etiquette at Ascot, as long as they're worn with "traditional" dresses.

Gentlemen your presence has been requested - By Royal invitation - to accompany the ladies in 2016 for a "Kings & Queens" special edition at the world's most glamorous race day: Ladies Day at Royal Ascot.

Our dress code remains the same - African attire / traditional dress only!

African Ladies Day at Royal Ascot 2016 Facebook link, so be aware it will be added to your online identity.


Cultural assimilation / modification is something that the UK is good at, in certain types of ways, horrible in others.

A history lesson (written by a man, of course):

Qasim Amin (1863-1908), an Egyptian lawyer, is best known for his advocacy of women's emancipation in Egypt, through a number of works including The Liberation of Women and The New Woman. In the first of these important books in 1899, he started from the premise that the liberation of women was an essential prerequisite for the liberation of Egyptian society from foreign domination, and used arguments based on Islam to call for an improvement in the status of women. In doing so, he promoted the debate on women in Egypt from a side issue to a major national concern, but he also subjected himself to severe criticism from the khedival palace, as well as from religious leaders, journalists, and writers. In response he wrote The New Woman, published in 1900, in which he defended his position and took some of his ideas further. In The New Woman, Amin relies less on arguments based on the Quran and Sayings of the Prophet, and more openly espouses a Western model of development. Although published a century ago, these two books continue to be a source of controversy and debate in the Arab world and remain key works for understanding the Arab feminist movement. The Liberation of Women and The New Woman appear here in English translation for the first time in one volume.

The Liberation of Women: And, The New Woman : Two Documents in the History of Egyptian Feminism

113:

YUP
That's how I'm reading it too.
The UKIPPERS (as opposed to the anti-EU-corruption brigade) will make a huge stink/noise, but it won't come to anything.
After all, you are going to get the tory left, the Lem-o-Crats & most of Labour, plus the SNP pushing for "in", provided Camoron gets what he publicly wants.
Game over....

114:

On the variable-weather part of climate, I think it's important to understand that for most (>50%) of near-middle scenarios in the wealthy world it's the deviation from local status quo that hurts more than absolute magnitude of the outcome. Different locales fine-tune everything to the locally expected conditions.

Just for example, there's a different wind rating for road signs in CA and in FL -- someone in CA thought it was worth saving money by making road signs that much wimpier. People have built (and are still building, sigh) in places that assume particular boundaries for a 100-year flood, but those boundaries are going to move (and sometimes, through our own cluelessness we change drainage so that a 50-year-rain produces a 200-year-flood -- happened here in MA). If you insulate a wall in Massachusetts, a barrier is required on the inside because of inside-to-outside winter condensate; in Florida, the insulation barrier is flipped around because of outside-to-inside summer condensate (against air conditioning). Some amount of that is wired into building codes, the construction industry is conservative, it's almost certain that we'll build things wrong and in the wrong places longer than we should (after all, we're doing that *right now*).

And so on, and so on. Rich countries can adapt, we'll just have to throw out a bunch of built infrastructure, and move/replace it -- and hopefully replace it correctly, taking into account what is yet to come, else we'll need to do it again.

I've been a little curious when we're going to hit the find-a-greater-fool stage of real estate sales for some of these future vulnerable areas. There's a chunk of land in our town that will eventually become too wet to be inhabitable, and before that happens it will be statistically uninhabitable because of flooding. When this happens is a function of how fast sea level rises, how much harder future rains will be, and how good a job we do at improving drainage to the ocean (downstream) and improving stormwater retention (upstream) -- both of these problems depend on other governments caring to do those things.

115:

Sorry for intruding on this conversation, but reading it I couldn't resist asking myself: What can be done individually to be part of the proverbial solution, not the problem?

I'm asking this in part because of my current situation: I'm in the process of obtaining a physics degree, and in the past, I've been quite happily planning to spend my life chipping away at some abstract theoretical problems. But it seems that we live in times that require a bit more pragmatism all around - and I'd like to be useful, if that makes sense. But I just can't seem to be able to figure out what can be done. It should be possible to use the ridiculously privileged position of being educated, debt-free and relatively young to do some good, no?

(I realise that this is not an advice column, but I think this could be an interesting discussion nevertheless.)

116:

No, it's entirely on topic (host's link to medieval women's head-wear).

I forgot about that bit. And no I didn't follow all the links.

117:

Probably, but by no means certainly. I agree that the kippers are full of sound and fury, signifying the usual, but the real question is what the anti-EU plutocrats, Murdoch, the Wail and so on will do. They might easily outspend the pro-EU camp by ten to one, or more, and are not handicapped by any regard for the truth. Murdoch is today favouring 2, but spent a long time promoting 1, and I don't trust any of that bunch as far as I could throw a billion in gold bullion.

Now, as to why they think that benefits them, they may see it as an opportunity, either to make a huge pile out of a large pile or to seize control to a degree that was previously unthinkable. See, for example:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/stock-crashes-are-money-making-opportunities-2012-10-18

118:

Agree with a previous poster. 'Hyperinflation' is a word with a specific meaning. Rapid general increase in prices. That obviously isn't happening worldwide. This is not the kind of problem one could possibly overlook.

In fact inflation has been very low for a long time. It appears to me that it has been too low in fact. 4% inflation would have been a good thing for our economies under the circumstances of the past 8 years.

119:

(Been quiet because I've just been finishing checking the copy-edits on THE NIGHTMARE STACKS. It's now back with the publishers.)

Of course though this could all be quite literally knocked sideways if (and I'm hoping there isn't) there was for example an ISIS attack in london along the same lines as in Paris.

Given that Da'esh appear to be acutely sensitive to western internal politics are are intent on deploying a strategy-of-tension approach to drive a wedge between traditional populations and muslim immigrants, thereby bringing the Crusader states into a permanent war with the Ummah, which (they think) is to be led by the Caliphate, I'd have to say that Da'esh would be utterly stupid not to be planning major attacks in London, Manchester, and elsewhere in the run-up to the EU exit referendum. The UK quitting the EU because muslim booga-booga would be a huge force multiplier for their long-term goals.

(Simultaneously weaken your enemies -- the EU -- while generating a crackdown that will radicalize your co-religionists on your side? Wh wouldn't they want that?)

120:

I forgot about that bit. And no I didn't follow all the links.

The links are there for a reason.

That particular one was making the point that for about a 500-year period, English Christian womens' heads were as tightly wrapped as observant Muslim womens' heads' are in this era -- and for religious reasons: circa 1100-1400 (going from memory here: exact period may vary) a woman showing bare ears, neck, or hair was viewed as lewd or a prostitute.

Also compare western dress codes and taboos on breast-baring or displays of cleavage to muslim veiling.

Same phenomenon, slightly different anatomical focus, only we're blind to our own culture's version of it.

See why you should follow the links?

121:

Sorry for intruding on this conversation, but reading it I couldn't resist asking myself: What can be done individually to be part of the proverbial solution, not the problem?

I'm asking this in part because of my current situation: I'm in the process of obtaining a physics degree, and in the past, I've been quite happily planning to spend my life chipping away at some abstract theoretical problems. But it seems that we live in times that require a bit more pragmatism all around - and I'd like to be useful, if that makes sense. But I just can't seem to be able to figure out what can be done.

Floren, the mathematical physicist John Baez has an answer to just that question. Take a look at this "Welcome" page to his Azimuth blog:

I’m a mathematical physicist. I teach at U.C. Riverside, but tonight my wife and I are flying to Singapore. For two years she’ll be teaching at the philosophy department of the National University of Singapore, and I’ll be working at the Centre for Quantum Technologies. This will be a good time to change gears and try something new. I’ve been working on n-categories and fundamental physics, but now I want to work on more practical things, too.

Why? I keep realizing more and more that the Earth is in serious trouble! The deep secrets of math and physics are endlessly engrossing — but they can wait, and other things can’t.
I hope we talk about many things here: from math to physics to earth science, biology, computer science, economics, and the technologies of today and tomorrow – but in general, centered around the theme of what scientists can do to help save the planet.

You'll find many answers there.

122:

WE ARE ALL DOOMED!
[Except possibly Russia]

Well, in order to save myself the RED CARD that will be the first and last comment on this thread.

123:

WE ARE ALL DOOMED!

Everyone is doomed,in the long run. Mind uploading won't save you -- the heat death of the universe is still gonna getcha in the end. And something will probably come along much, much, much sooner than that.

Individually our life expectancy tapers towards about 120 years, and there's no definite evidence that this isn't a hard limit, in the absence of some genetics breakthroughs.

Even as a species I don't give much for our chances of lasting more than the ~1-2MYa typical of most mammals. (Probably a lot less, if we don't get our boom/bust cycle under control.)

(Another reason why I think colonizing other planets isn't going to fix our problems; the sort of disaster the space cadets urge colonization as insurance against happen over a far longer time frame than the life expectancy of a mammalian species, much less a human being.)

124:

Right. Not to say, at other times, knees, shoulders and navel. And, to encounter a truly irrational objection to a part of the anatomy, that operates today, try going around barefoot. That's not 'religious' in nature, more like 'class' (with some clearly bogus excuses on the grounds of hygiene and safety, but ....

125:

What do you mean "fracking scam"? I can see ways in which it could be globally true, but in the US "scam" doesn't seem to be the right pejorative. Some people have made lots of money at it, and it has acted to suppress additional coal burning.

That said, I think that it has overall negative environmental results, but that's not what "scam" usually means. IIUC companies doing fracking actually get less in the way of governmental subsidies than those extracting oil. (I count the US military presence in the middle east as a subsidy of the oil companies.)

All that aside, technology for the "green" technologies has continued to advance during the period of fracking, and the rate of increase in use and construction of plants to build them has increased. I can see arguments that it's been an over-all positive development. (I *don't* accept carbon sequestration as anything that will ever work except with LARGE subsidies.)

126:

The US has three almost entirely independent power grids, each with its own fuel mix (East, West, and Texas for short). I live in the West and am most familiar with the numbers there. Depending on how wet the winter is, the West gets 20-30% of its electricity from conventional hydro. Another 10% or so, and climbing steadily, is from other renewable sources. Nuclear is less than 8% and declining. The West has rich renewable resources, diverse by both type and geography. Also plenty of opportunities for large-scale pumped-hydro storage. How to power the West on renewables is... not simple, but straightforward. Everyone who does serious nuts-and-bolts sorts of models gets basically the same answer. Texas is harder. The East is much harder.

The biggest barrier for the West is, IMO, that US federal energy policy is heavily biased against the renewable answer the models get.

127:

"Individually our life expectancy tapers towards about 120 years, and there's no definite evidence that this isn't a hard limit, in the absence of some genetics breakthroughs."

Also, there is strong evidence that the physical survivability average limit is increasing faster than the physically and mentally active average limit. Struldbrugs, anyone? Well, my living will says turn me off if there is such a prognosis, in no uncertain terms.

128:

Obligatory:


Wur Doomed, Entombed & Marooned...
Dad's Army; Youtube: TV: 0:12

Get Up! Get Up! Naked Ramblin' Band song featuring Naked Rambler Stephen Gough as himself. YouTube: music / politics: 3:15 - quasi NSFW, flaccid willy alert.

129:

Well, FWIW, we may not have the Hudson Bay ice sheet, but we've got Antarctica...and parts of it have been collapsing a lot faster than anyone predicted. There's also records that indicate that Antarctica was once warm enough to grow trees...which means no permafrost. And it appears to have been in the same position at that time.

Now I don't really expect Antarctica to suddenly all up and melt, but if we're talking about unexpected results then you wouldn't expect to expect them.

That said, the drying out of the global tropical rainforests might have nearly as large an effect...though in just what direction is a bit hard to predict. Massive dust storms seem certain, also a large change in distribution of rainfall...but I can't really say more than that it might cause the amount of rain to change.

130:

See why you should follow the links?

Sure, and I usually at least glance at them, but this time there seems to be more than usual. Just counted 34 links, would take me a while to get through.

131:

Thank you, Jocelyn. I will take a good, long look at that!

132:

Not a patch on the Quivering Brethren, sorry.

133:

If civilization doesn't collapse, then an eventual "singularity" is inevitable. (Actually, I tend to also consider a total collapse a kind of singularity.) There are reasonable questions as to the time frame and the rate of onset, but we are clearly in the lead-up to it right now, and I tend to estimate that it will occur around 2030-40 barring a catastrophe that causes it to happen sooner. And I tend to lean towards the earlier part of that time frame.

As to what civilization will be like AFTER the singularity... ??? You can't take ANY of the projections seriously, which is part of what is meant by "singularity". I'm not talking about a strictly mathematical singularity, in that I do expect change to be a continuous function throughout the process. (Well, as continuous as it ever is.) I'm merely talking about a point where the change starts happening too rapidly for anyone to understand it. From a distance this would look like a kink in the rate of change curve, but close up it would look as smooth as ever. Singularities appear to have happened before, though, of course, records are incomplete. The capture of fire was probably such an event. So was the invention of grammar. I doubt that the evolution of homeothermism was such an event, but the invention of photosynthesis was. There may be a few others. Note that the original purpose of photosynthesis appears to have been to poison the environment around the photosynthetic cell so that competition for resources was reduced, similar to the way that yeasts use alcohol, conifers, Oaks, redwoods, etc. use leaf/needle detritus, other bacteria use antibiotics. But photosynthesis didn't stay in that purpose, but rather lead to plants and animals. This is the characteristic that causes me to label it a singularity.

I'm sure that there are some relatively minor events that, in retrospect, could legitimately be called minor singularities. One example might be the automobile, because it lead to a greatly changed social structure, i.e., it didn't remain confined to improved transportation.

Singularitarians tend to espouse unreasonable projections, but this is typical when people are projecting into the unpredictable. They tend to see both their hopes and their fears. The reality, when it occurs, is usually something rather different than either. You can't even guess at the change by averaging between the hopes and fears, because the actual result will change along an unpredicted axis. (Read early fiction about what would come of the automobile.)

N.B.: The automobile is more dramatic, but I've heard claims that the refrigerator was more disruptive. Since I don't know much about ice boxes I don't know how accurate this is.

134:

Sat on this for a bit, figured I would still reply.

Support sane politicians/policies, to the extent that they exist, oppose the crazy ones, who undeniably exist. Spend money, support campaigns, write persuasive letters, etc. Don't concern-troll people who are somewhat more radical in their actions.

I would recommend, to the extent that you can keep it from looking like concern-trolling, to evaluate what's actually going to work, and convince people to push for things that will generally, mostly work. E.g., another physicist: http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/ . And sometimes you end up deriving unpleasant results -- I looked at driving trip distances in the US, and though it happens that quite a few trips are short and need not use a car (half are 5 miles or shorter), those trips don't represent that many of the miles (only 10%). I.e., you're not going to save the world with bicycles alone; there's got to be a plan for the other 90% of the miles (do we not drive them? do we deploy that many electric cars? do we rejigger our transportation networks so that we use trains/buses/smart-car-pools?)

Learn about cognitive biases, they are everywhere, they help you make bad decisions, they help other people make bad decisions, and people use them to promote bad decisions. Don't assume you'll ever change the mind of anyone that you're directly arguing with -- your audience is the not-yet-firmly-convinced, which means that there's not much use in arguing with someone in private, that's just time wasted. Attempt to never lose your cool and call a f*cking idiot what they obviously are.

135:

Not the refrigerator alone, but electric household appliances in general? Yes. The electrification of the home was - and is, as it advances across the globe - a manyfold increase in the productivity of domestic labor. Which make it possible to maintain a household as less than a full time job.
That in turn changed a lot of social dynamics dramatically. Single living, feminism, ect, all follow from this fact.

136:

I honestly do not know. Two of the days of Westercon land on my work days, and my number of PTO hours is sharply limited. I'm hoping to get an idea of what the programming track will be like before I commit to attending. Middle case is that I miss the first two days and pick up on the second two, but I generally don't like to do only part of a convention. I am very much available for drinks if someone wants to set that up, however.

137:

Best quotation I saw last week while reading up on general interest topics (Bostrum & co.):

"Humanity should not fear an 'evil' AI; it should fear an AI that hates evil"

Regarding Russia:

In November, the average temperature in Russia was close to normal. However, it changes during the month were uneven. So if in the European territory on each decade the average temperature was above normal, after a large positive anomalies of the first decade in the Urals and Siberia (up to +5 ... + 7°C), in the second decade a strong cold snap occurred (anomalies to -4 ... -10°C), while in the third - here again it was warm (anomaly up to + 4 ... + 8°C), with the exception of Trans-Baikal, which still held the abnormal cold. In the Far East, the heat of the first decade gave way to the cold in second and third. Especially in the Kamchatka and Chukotka, where the average decade temperature was below the norm by 4-6°C. Strong warming took place in the European territory of Russia in the last week of the month. In the Black Earth, the Middle Volga and the Lower Volga were recorded daily maximum temperatures. In the south, in the Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, Rostov Region the thermometer rose to summer values of +20 ... 25°C. At the same time, in Yakutia, Irkutsk Region and Trans-Baikal frosts reached -45°C, which is typical for the middle of winter, but not fall. During all month, the weather was very warm in the Russian North and the Arctic islands. As a result, the average temperature in November in the Russian sector of the Arctic exceeded the norm by 4-12°C. In the fight against heat and cold in the Southern Urals and southern Siberia and Kamchatka the cold won. Here, the average temperature for the month was less than the norm by 1-3°C.


The key weather and climate features in the northern hemisphere in November 2015 Hydrometeorological Research Centre of Russian Federation - note, translation is a bit janky; fairly sure "decade" isn't intended there. Not sure why "week" has gone to decade.

138:

There's also records that indicate that Antarctica was once warm enough to grow trees...which means no permafrost. And it appears to have been in the same position at that time.

Very different geographical situation when the trees were there though. Antarctica has been ice-bound ever since the Drake Passage opened, before that the link between Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula meant warm ocean currents flowed round the coast raising the inland temperature considerably.

139:

Bostrom* above.

Controversy time:

MF has only just reached the ISIL / Da'esh conclusion to collusion about Cologne which is a little bit late to the Game. It was being pushed 2-3 days ago by urbanite D.C.ers who had first stumbled over thinking it was a anti-immigration type False Flag (no public doxxing - The Godfather is a clue if you want to go sniffing). The conclusions about "40" years (try 100+) of feminism fighting the good fight ring like a bell though. Sad that 1st / 2nd wave don't at least get supported in their old age (and yes, I'm fully aware of the Mother Matrons cuddling Mogwai and how it looks to outsiders; you don't raise hyena pups like rabbits though).

One question I've not seen in the media asked: any person part of those large groups asking "why were you there?" who isn't currently detained.

Describing what she called “coordination tactics” among the men, Shabani said: “I watched for some time as three men who were smartly dressed gave out instructions. One time a group of three or four males would come up to them, be given instructions and sent away into the crowd. Then another group of four or five would come up, and they’d gesticulate in various directions and send them off again.”

Guardian 8th Jan 2016

Doesn't explain the rather impressive little campaign being run by our Mogwai herders. Whoever is running it is not in clown-car land, has some decent reach. It's old school and a bit wobbly, but there's little craft-marks all over it.

So:

Unless you want to defend an ISIL / Da'esh and White Nationalist match up, something else is going on.

~

At a personal level, what's interesting isn't all the old usual guff, but the places at which intersectionality are happening with possible positive results.

On a serious note: there's going to be a lot more of this due to stresses, the old guard is dying out (eight or so Judges in America up for renewal etc) and change be sniffing around like a horny Tom Cat.

Not seeing much proactive decisive moves from expected quarters yet though (this isn't a reference to politicians or the usual things).


p.s.


Above; link to Egyptian Feminism, it's Chapter 2 you should just skim read the first couple of pages of if on a time budget - the struggle with the veil has been going on for a while now. Had large influence across the Arab world (even Iran, Afgan etc) until the Wahhabists got involved.

140:

... (a)real time map of the sea surface temperature anomaly in the North Atlantic. (It's a global map, but it's tipped to look at the North Atlantic.)

Nice. Ta muchly.

141:

"What changes in collapse is that when a disaster or war happens, the mess doesn't get fixed."

Like New Orleans. Early precursor.

142:

''If civilization doesn't collapse, then an eventual "singularity" is inevitable.''

Except, of course, it won't be a singularity - it won't even be an event. The conditions for the former are simply not there, and the latter is at best implausible.

143:

Actually, no. Electric light and washing machines, I will pass, but the rest of the gimmicks aren't important - indeed, most aren't even labour-saving.

144:

Daesh wants a war, and they will continue to carry out provocations until they get one, or they cease to exist as an organization. Near as I can tell, they are true believers in the insanity they preach.

Sooner or later, they will be obliged, both because doing nothing will eventually be politically untenable, but also because they present a problem which can be solved with a hammer.

The ideology and theology behind what they are doing means that defeat on the battlefield will be profoundly damaging to their legitimacy in the eyes of muslims everywhere. You can't proclaim yourself to be the caliphate while operating as an underground organization.

Which raises the question whether they actually have some kind of plan for what to do if "Rome" obliges them and rings Dabiq with armored divisions, or would they just throw themselves into the meatgrinder? I can't see any way for them to win a fight, but if the next step is to strap bombs to the children of Syria and send them towards the leopard twos, that would not be pretty..

145:

Don't forget the oven! And the water heater! Life would be a lot worse without the water heater. And the general house heaters. I think having no hot water and no way to make heat apart from setting fire to things would make a big difference. The amount of labour one would expend simply trying to keep warm without being able to do it at the flick of a switch is enormous.

146:

Do you keep your own house? Try doing it without power for a couple of days. The electric hotplate and oven cut hours of work from cooking a meal. The refrigerator means you are not obligated to shop for food on a daily basis, but can get by with the occasional restock. The vacuum is important unless your entire home is all hard floors (Which can be swept about as quickly as they can be vacuumed), and yes, the washing machine matters one hell of a lot.

Electricity can be substituted for in some of these roles, but using gas instead is just another way to replace muscle-power with other sources for housekeeping.

Without such mechanization of domestic labor, you can't keep a home and work. Too many hours needed to keep things falling apart. There is a reason servants used to be absurdly common and are a rarity now.

147:

I should have clarified 'fracking' as the catch cry for the low grade oil mining boom. This includes all the tight oils, shale oil, tight oil, tar sands, etc.

The reason I call it a scam is because it requires the perfect economic storm of low interest rates (billion infrastructure), high oil prices (very high running/extraction costs) and a complete disregard for the environment (pollution to ground water, high water usage and micro quakes) to exist. If any one of these were to change then the whole game falls apart.

Two out of these three have come off the boil, and the third is going to change soon enough.

So how does it still exist as an industry? I have no idea, but I assume much like the sub prime loans, there are folks on Wall St trying to disguise shares in 'fracking' companies as blue chips and shovel them off to the middle class as fast as possible.

To answer the same question in a different way, why aren't the Saudis fracking? Their deposits of tight oil are probably larger than the US (you will never get to read the survey reports), and they (Aramco) have better oil infrastructure and know how than the USA. The answer is that it would drive them broke, they would be burning one barrel of conventional oil to pump out 0.9 barrels of non conventional oil.

When you're not burning oil to pump oil you can hide behind the cheap energy costs of coal or nuclear, some people are fortunate enough to not be able to hide these costs.

148:

If we give up on rebuilding coastal cities when they flood, is that collapse or is that wisdom?

149:

As always, when I read false flag, I get sceptical.

Here's my theory of what happened in Köln when I assume the simplest case:
Many people, among them quite a who 'öook northern african/arab' gather round the central station.
A few dozen of them at most harass women, because they're capital-A Assholes of the kind that exist everywhere. The rest are the other kind of assholes, that stand by silently when capital-A Assholes harass women.
Because the harassers are not white German but ambigously brown/arab looking, the vicitms are actually believed (and should be!) and not subjected to much victim shaming etc.,
The police is unabake to do much because they are prepared for a dozen other scenarios and because it's a high load all of a sudden. A 1000-sronggroup is hard to police, even if most don't do that much.

The next dayall the media and the usual racists seize the story. Had the same thing happened at, say, the Oktoberest, everyone would be victim-blaming but this time everyone is arab-bashing.

The polce do rather bad PR work around the incident, which gets further seized upon. Etc.

So, while I of course can't prove that it wasnt a fals flag operation, I don't think thefacts so far force this conclusion. So ...

150:

Life would be a lot worse without the water heater. And the general house heaters.

Oh yes. A friend of mine lost his power for days during the ice storm last year. He stayed in the house to deter burglars, but the rest of the family moved to where it was warmer. It was a lot of work, and that with modern conveniences like matches and a gas barbeque, as well as warm places a short drive away to wash up and get warm in…

151:

(stuff about increasing automation) ... "But what will ordinary people do for jobs?"

Er... NOT HAVE THEM. Which is a good thing, and it's what automation is for - putting an end to slavery.

People do not need jobs. People need food, clothes and shelter. To force the provision of that to be contingent on people spending all their irreplacable time on some utterly useless activity is the most ridiculous nonsense - but what is even more ridiculous is the way people seem to treat this stupidity as the natural order of things, and instead of rejoicing at the prospect of its demise, view that prospect as some sort of calamity and seek to stave it off as far as possible (while still hating Monday mornings, and remaining blind to the inconsistency).

So far the response has been (as others have noted on this thread) to devise ever more pointless forms of useless activity to force people to waste all their days on, to think this is a good thing to do, and to gradually become horrified as they slowly realise that the whole thing is a house of cards and its collapse becomes ever more likely the more cards they add to it, when this should have been obvious even before the first card was laid.

The basis seems to be some dumb shit called the "Protestant work ethic" which is simply another instance of the human stratagem to cope with an intolerable situation by deluding yourself into thinking it's actually a good thing in the face of all the evidence. In pre-technological days then it was indeed true that most people spent their lives in grinding toil which was directly necessary for their survival. Such a life was, of course, shit, and the only way to alleviate the shitness was to seek refuge in irrationality, so they came up with the idea that God wants people to work and will reward you in heaven eventually so it all comes right in the end.

The idea has persisted long after its doubtful validity has become thoroughly obsolete. The distinction between work that achieves a useful result (as was the case for work in the primitive state) and work that does not has been lost, and the form it takes now is that any work is inherently a good thing, regardless of results, and the absence of work a bad thing, so that useless work must be invented purely to prevent that absence.

The label "Protestant" has been dropped by people who profess themselves to be non-religious, but that is pure affectation; the fervour with which they cling to the irrationality and the emotions surrounding it are thoroughly religious in nature, the absence of an explicit god notwithstanding.

"You will spend all your days winching buckets of water out of this well, and then pouring them back in again. Otherwise you get no food."
"What for?"
"Because it... er... it stirs the water up."
"But the water doesn't need stirring up. It's quite happy just being water."
"Shut up and don't argue or you don't get any food."
"What the fuck has this got to do with food?"
"I said, don't argue..."

152:

I'd start with the suggestion that if we don't replace them (by which I mean, all the people who used to live there get to move on in an organised fashion to something equal or better), it's collapse.

153:

"Also compare western dress codes and taboos on breast-baring or displays of cleavage to muslim veiling.

Same phenomenon, slightly different anatomical focus, only we're blind to our own culture's version of it.

See why you should follow the links?"

...Or read Fritz Leiber :)

154:

"Another reason why I think colonizing other planets isn't going to fix our problems..."

It certainly isn't, and it makes no sense that anyone might ever think it could. Even if there was a perfectly habitable planet right next door, there is no way that it could ever be practical to shift Earth's population to it: evacuating a city is hard enough, never mind an entire planet. And when the sheer distances to any other planet that even might be terraformable are so large that nearly everyone would die of old age on the voyage, as is the case, you might as well just put them all in a big prison instead to achieve effectively the same result.

155:

You'd be wrong then.

100%

There's some serious blood in the water over this one, you might want to look into recent German Intelligence kerfuffles and drama. (Especially their ties to right wing paramilitary groups).

Making fools out of the authorities is bad form and Nation-shaming is a big bad snub.

Large Dark Shapes in the Deeps type stuff.


*nose wiggle*


~

On hats:

Kinda disappointed that no-one has hit up the hat history for some great lessons (April_D I had hopes for, then realized that Oregon probably doesn't do high fashion signifiers and snobbery and is a little less hierarchical / patriarchal than Nigeria, so she wouldn't get it :p)

Hats are both individual markers, Fashion (i.e. Culture) markers, wealth indicators and also chains (tiny amounts of personal choice in a large sea of none), slowly being reclaimed (gele = Nigeria - there's a lot of stuff to unpack about gele from there).

Cute story for UK oldsters as translation.

Do you remember when Fergie's daughter Beatrice wore that terrible hat to the royal wedding? Daily Mail picture link.

There were four reasons for it:

#1 Mum is in the shame-cupboard, you gotta be a bit silly / socially gauche to make up for it (female version of baring one's belly as a wolf). Dem American teeth, ugh.

#2 Charity; large amounts of press = coverage = convert to charity bucks (add to #1 = "Aww Mate, did you see that mess? Poor duckling - sure I'll throw a quid or two to X to help out"). Marketing, basically, but for a good cause. (This was 100% intentional)

#3 You should never out-stage the bride, done for comedy effect.

#4 Symbolism. Look at it again. Closely. No, you don't have a rude mind, it's intentional. The reason for that meaning is to be found elsewhere. Yes, ffs, it's supposed to look like a vulva.


Hats are big stuff.

So are hijabs - http://www.hijabstyle.co.uk/ Just a bit slower / less mature.

TL;DR

Hijabs are already being converted / assimilated. You just don't see it / live it. (@Host - I finished off the Skyscraper's Son trilogy, odds to bet if it ever made it to film / tv that 90% of readers would miss that a major heroine wears a hijab? 5:1 is being offered).

156:

I do without the water heater most of the time and just wash in cold water. Reason being that heating one tank of water costs as much as three days or so of running everything else.

Washing machine is very handy, but by no means essential. I don't use it very often; I simply have a lot of clothes so it takes a long time to run out of clean ones, at which point I load it up and then I'm set for another long spell of not using it. I could duplicate its action straightforwardly enough by means of a washing dolly and the bath - well, I could, if my lungs had the gas exchange capacity to sustain the exertion for more than half a minute - but it still would not take up much of my time.

The real saver is the microwave. Having that I need no other cooking appliance and it saves a tremendous amount of hassle compared to either a conventional oven or making a fire and suspending a biscuit tin over it.

157:

Two of the days of Westercon land on my work days, and my number of PTO hours is sharply limited. I'm hoping to get an idea of what the programming track will be like before I commit to attending. Middle case is that I miss the first two days and pick up on the second two, but I generally don't like to do only part of a convention. I am very much available for drinks if someone wants to set that up, however.

I might be found in the Dealers' Room - I seem to be playing minion there this summer. I could bloviate randomly about programming but that's still a moving target.

I'm not sure if anyone active on this blog other than Charlie and I have Westercon 69 memberships yet. (Note to everyone: come on over! *grin*) But it's not until July so it's too early to panic.

158:

Er... NOT HAVE THEM. Which is a good thing, and it's what automation is for - putting an end to slavery.

Err, yes, but, you see to make your utopia happen those with all the money and power would have to accept the current gravy train tracks getting ripped up, and changed around totally, almost certainly meaning less money and power for them.

Do you really think the 1%, or the 0.1% are going to vote for Christmas?

Your utopia is lovely, even practical to operate in a marxist sort of way. The only problem is you can't get there from here. If you happen to know how to build the necessary bridge, please explain without reference to the term revolution.

159:

Now tell us that you're writing this by tapping it out on a telegraph machine.

None of these devices are "essential". We could all live without them. We'd all simply be living much worse lives, except for those of us who can live a life powered by a sense of self-satisfaction.

160:

... Pidgeon. Try it. I sewed a couple of items of clothing that I can't wash in the local laundrymat because they don't get along with the detergents used (Silk lined wool and enzyme based detergents do not play nice) Very pretty, very warm, insanely comfortable. I washed them by hand exactly once. Very educational. After that experiment, I just hand them over to a laundry when they need cleaning.

161:

Warming: Long rant about Australia

As an Antipodean, these topics are of interest to me. I'm aware that as far as the rest of the world is concerned, our population is equivalent to the error margin in calculating the global pop. Economically we're an open cut mine for China, which appears to consider us to be currently surplus to their requirements. Pop goes our mining boom.

Conservative xenophobic politics: We've just lost our anti science conservative PM, Tony Abbott, who was rolled by his own party as his popularity crashed. Before he was forced to move to the back bench, Abbott famously questioned how CO2 could have a weight, because he thought gases were weightless, constantly harped on about how he "... stopped the boats" (boat born refugees, mostly Afghans and Iraqis crossing the Timor Sea in Indonesian fishing boats), and recently boasted that he could envisage a great future for our domestic coal mining enterprises.

Abbott was replaced by the man he had previously kicked out of the job of leader of our conservative party (the Liberal Party), Malcolm Turnbull, when they were still in oppostion. The timing of that leadership change is relevant to this thread, in that Turnbull was about to agree to an emissions trading scheme with Kevin Rudd, the then Prime Minister.

But, despite regaining the leadership, Turnbull, to an extent, has his hands tied politically. He can make calls for calm in the wake of the most recent attacks in Paris (whilst the head of one of our intelligence agencies publicly told the former PM to shut up, because his ranting was not helping), but there are constraints from within his own party, in regards to policy changes. For example, because despite most of the electorate happy we came back from the Paris talks without any embarrassing gaffes, the majority of the currently government's MPs are climate skeptics. Sitting in the wings we have our own version of the UKIP, and someone is going to have a go at harnessing that 30% of voters.

Climate change: As much as there's denial at a Federal politics level, at a State and municipal level there appears to be a subtle dropping of a penny. Calls increased demands for improved infrastructure and resourcing to compensate for flooding, ever increasingly severe bushfires, and a desalination plant that was ostensibly built to secure potable water supply for one of our largest cities (Melbourne).

NB: Australia has always had a variable climate. But in NSW some communities have become ghost towns, as farming becomes unprofitable, and town water supplies dry up. IIRC there are moves to build a desal plant in one of our largest mining centres, Broken Hill.

But... most of our agricultural sector is made up of folk that are CC deniers, which is obviously ironic, given that the viability of of farming is reliant upon the weather. Also, ~50% of our agricultural produce is exported, which works fine in 'normal' years, but in drought, our food prices skyrocket[1][2]

Also, the majority of our population live close to the coast, with a fair percentage actually on it. Sea level change has municipalities and insurance companies extremely nervous [3]

[1] Compared to the US, Japan, and the wealthier bits of the EU, our agricultural sector receives minimal subsidis. The main one I know of is a diesel use tax rebate.

[2]Not just drought. One tropical cyclone wiped out +60% of our domestic banana production. Flooding impacts as well.

[3]Littoral SE Queensland/ Northern NSW is basically Florida, reclaimed land and retirees.

162:

I simply have a lot of clothes so it takes a long time to run out of clean ones, at which point I load it up and then I'm set for another long spell of not using it.

You're living a lie, Neo. You're also abysmal at being a house-wife.

Hacker News levels of illusion. Like that one who bought "cheap Chinese clothes" and only wore them once as this was "more efficient / environmentally friendly".

And the microwave stuff? The entire point of life is not eating pap!

Hint:

Washing [from a person who knows this intimately]

Jumpers / heavy items need separate loads. Double this if pure cotton or cashmere. Once per month for casual use of jumpers, fortnight for dirty ones.

You'll want to wash your bedding as well: 2 weeks for sheets / pillow covers, monthly for duvet covers.

3 pairs of knickers(or)pants / socks / t-shirts and a single pair of jeans are an entire load. Even in a commercial washer.

You need 7 pairs pants / socks (minimum) and 4 t-shirts to function as a human.

Jeans: 2-3 pairs; other items (skirts, yoga pants, slacks etc) 1-2

Oh and you need two towels: wash the damn things fortnightly at worst.

Formal attire (optional).

I can't go on.

I am literally calling out bullshit in public over washing.

~

Have clothes you own for 5+ years. That's where you actually save the planet / money / life from.

And using a microwave?!?


**Fends off serious need to grasp you by the curlies and give you a damn good meal**

163:

...Hijabs are already being converted / assimilated.
One of my favourite images of Australian culture; a young Muslim woman wearing a hijab in her footy team's colours.

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ9W2DfKPY-xHZt8jsomVfed5kSlCqWmAKqaKZsEMuccjx6TmM1

164:

I have less restraint.
Step one: You own a pan or a vok, right?
Okay, buy some frozen vegtables and some meat. shrimp or fish also work, Whatever is cheap. Also some form of stirfry sauce. http://www.recipetineats.com/real-chinese-purpose-stir-fry-sauce/ is what I use, but you can get ready made, and it's fine. Better than microwave.
¨
dissolve 2 table spoons of the sauce into a approx half a deciliter of water.

Heat oil in pan, while you slice the meat thin, or into cubes. toss vegetables and meat into oiled pan, stir. When it looks cooked, it is. Toss the watered sauce in while keeping it on heat and stirring for a minute.

Done. This takes about 15 minutes if you are a complete noob and is nearly always very tasty.

165:

Srsly. Host's blog is about to turn into "teach young men to live" with extra cooking tips.

Actually, a "life guide to modern living" via the Laundry Files might be very funny. Host's partner brews beer. Hands up who would pay for that, properly labelled? (many).

But...

There's a serious point to this all.

Society is about mutual sharing of this stuff (dinner parties sans servants etc) and a lot of the current intarweb is youth being failed by their adults / society and so on.

There's a supreme lack of attention being paid to making the information spaces accurate and safe.


All this is guff.
~

Then again, Reddit just ran a serious thread where women informed men about the realities of menstruation, which was worth while. (It really was: a bit of reality into their lives).


~
Sneaking in the info here:


"It's about making clear that we will not stop moving around freely here in Cologne, and to protest against victim bashing and the abuse of women," said 50-year-old city resident Ina Wolf. Chicago Tribune, 9th Jan, 2016. Hint. Nominative Determinism is used quite often in this type of thing to fix the narrative.

Germany and US revive joint intelligence surveillance Jan 9th, 2016, No Fucking Comment.


p.s.

We might, or might not, live with entire possessions fitted into a go-bag, a laptop, a [redacted], personal weapon and traveling documents on occasions.

Do you want the housewife/a> or the
male version?

166:

I could duplicate its action straightforwardly enough by means of a washing dolly and the bath - well, I could, if my lungs had the gas exchange capacity to sustain the exertion for more than half a minute - but it still would not take up much of my time.

I suspect you've underestimated the amount of time washing takes.

Hans Rosling is known for relying in hard data. You may find his view interesting:

http://www.gapminder.org/videos/hans-rosling-and-the-magic-washing-machine/

167:

April_D I had hopes for, then realized that Oregon probably doesn't do high fashion signifiers and snobbery and is a little less hierarchical / patriarchal than Nigeria, so she wouldn't get it :p

Yeah. Only this week a friend asked around if black Doc Martens were acceptable business casual in Seattle; I told her that I'd worn big black Doc Marten boots with a business suit in Portland with never a comment. It's not the London banking scene out here.

168:

Err, yes, but, you see to make your utopia happen those with all the money and power would have to accept the current gravy train tracks getting ripped up, and changed around totally, almost certainly meaning less money and power for them.

Do you really think the 1%, or the 0.1% are going to vote for Christmas?

Your utopia is lovely, even practical to operate in a marxist sort of way. The only problem is you can't get there from here. If you happen to know how to build the necessary bridge, please explain without reference to the term revolution.

If robots perform all production and their owners just collect rents off the output, this is very reminiscent of other markets where pricing is well above the cost of production only because of IP rights, e.g. pharmaceuticals or textbooks. Forget the developed world for a moment and look to the developing world.

Bangladesh isn't home to major multinational scientific publishers. Or pharmaceutical companies. Or other lumps of wealth that would warp its politicians' conception of "the national interest" toward anything like the copyright and patent terms favored in the US/EU. If its garment industry falls off a cliff because robots working in North America can make everything (including clothes) just as cheaply as low-wage workers and with shorter supply chains, there will be little incentive to keep playing nice with the international IP regime favored by the developed world's biggest corporations. They'll import a few starter robots-that-do-everything and use them to manufacture unlicensed copies of everything else.

You can argue that some especially complex devices will continue to command rents because the details of making them are trade secrets that won't easily be replicated elsewhere. But also consider just how popular offshoring is even for fairly sophisticated manufacturing. Those overseas facilities are living blueprints ready for the copying the moment that robots take the jobs. There's not that many technologies that can't yet be made in China or other developing countries. Cutting edge gas/aircraft turbines, the very latest process-node microprocessors -- what else? Anything that Londoners of 1999 would recognize as important to material comfort?

So the revolution won't start in the developed world even though the tech will originate there. It'll start abroad, and look a lot less revolutionary in countries where IP rights are just a recent foreign exoticism adopted in exchange for now-irrelevant access to foreign markets. People in the developed world will actually be on the trailing edge when it comes to reaping the benefits of the robot revolution, since they're the Martian invaders' prime livestock, but it'll gradually leak in through the gray market and hobbyist piracy.

There's a collective action problem in that no corporation can long afford to ignore/eschew further automation even if the long term outcome of super-automation is its extinction. It's a race to the bottom on costs until they cut off the same branch they were collectively sitting on. I'd be pretty upbeat about this possible future except it also means that any slightly clever person or group with a grudge easily gets something like military armaments circa 1944 coupled with the the smarts of telephones circa 2040.

169:

Oh, and you've no idea how hard it is not to rage, rage and unfurl into the skies and be and stop crippling myself.

For what? "Humanity".

You're not fucking invisible little men. We see you and your little schemes, you're fucking transparent to us.

And we don't even need your little Star Trek children's sniffers of bits and bytes and slow little light beams. You bend space and impact the weave with every little trick you pull.

Consciousness is ever near it, taste and sample, read and see, Putatis et ita videmus.


Fucking Children. So proud of their ability to say one thing and think another.

That's the Trap.

Children of Men Youtube: Film: 3:56]


You're not clever.And you're not getting away with childish shit like this anymore.

מִיכָאֵל‎


Who knew she was female?

170:

If civilization doesn't collapse, then an eventual "singularity" is inevitable.

While it's a nice sentiment, I happen to think that dichotomous thinking is a trap, and this is a perfect example of it. The trap is thinking there are only two possible outcomes, A or B. Heaven or hell, as I pointed out back in #71. In a black or white world, how would you classify blue? Is it black, or is it white? You have no other options with dichotomous logic.

There are a number of other possibilities: massive societal transformations have happened repeatedly and fairly recently, and no one freaked out and called it a singularity. For example, there was one that led to the current petroleum powered economy that started (perhaps) about a century ago and looks like it will last (perhaps) another fifty years. Our grandparents don't talk about going through a singularity, and in fact it's seen by many believers in Progress as inevitable--before, during and after.

Outside these dichotomies, we could (conceivably) see a radical transformation of civilization to something more sustainable and running on renewable energy and massive recycling. We could see a rather messy collapse, region by region. We could see something like an AI "singularity" that only takes hold in scattered enclaves while petroleum-based consumer civilization shatters around them and climate change shreds human civilization outside the enclaves. In other words, techies "make great pets" for their machines, clever creatures who keep the computers from breaking down while the AIs inside the machines figure out how to protect their "ranches" for as long as they can survive, given increasingly limited supply chains, increasingly limited outside data, and increasingly chaotic conditions.

And so on.

There are many possibilities for the future.

171:

Society is about mutual sharing of this stuff (dinner parties sans servants etc) and a lot of the current intarweb is youth being failed by their adults / society and so on.

There's a supreme lack of attention being paid to making the information spaces accurate and safe.

But when anybody is allowed to write anything in these information spaces, isn't it impossible to make them accurate and safe? The reader needs to learn to distinguish probably-good from probably-bad. I wouldn't go to Tate and Lyle's recipe page for a guide to low-calorie daily eating; on the other hand, I'd tend to trust the Women's Institute, as the WI doesn't have anything to gain by promoting the use of unhealthy ingredients. Caution has always been needed: my local library has just put a new astrology book on display.

What did you mean by saying that a lot of the current intarweb is youth being failed by their adults / society? What kind of content?

172:

Video fails the arsability criterion, but I have lived for periods without a washing machine, and while it is thoroughly tedious to do it, it doesn't actually take very long, nor does it need to be done very often given a large enough reservoir of clothes.

Technology is not unimportant, but the machine is really the least important bit. The bits which really make the difference are detergents, plumbed hot water, and automated textile manufacture.

(@ HD: A load is however much I can stuff into the thing, which is rather more than I can carry without dropping things; exact quantity unknown but certainly many times 3 sets of underwear. 5+ years: very much so; I keep them until they fall apart, and if that only took 5 years I would not be very gruntled at all...)

173:

Bruce seems like a really smart guy, but the Neckbeard is thick in that conversation. Maybe he's playing to the crowd. I wanted to get to the end, I really did, but I had to punch the eject handle.

174:

"The reader needs to learn to distinguish probably-good from probably-bad."

That's not a new problem at all, though - dodgy information has been commonly published for ages. For sure there is a lot more of it these days, but it's also a lot easier to validate things. Before the internet you'd come across a single reference to a fact, and it would take hours of poking around in the library to find any other references either supporting or denying it; and if it was in any way exotic, you'd be needing a good university library, not just the average town one. These days it's far easier to find lots of relevant material at all levels (although we do seem to be past the peak, or at least past a peak, on that, given Google's increasing tendency to bias search results towards organisations it's in bed with and obscure the rest).

There is also the aspect that something being in print tends to give it an air of authority which is often completely spurious, whereas being on a website tends to have the opposite effect.

The real problem is the same as it always was - that people have far too little inclination to question what they're told, and far too much to believe the first thing that comes along and then never change their belief no matter what comes along later.

175:

The real problem is the same as it always was - that people have far too little inclination to question what they're told, and far too much to believe the first thing that comes along and then never change their belief no matter what comes along later

Any time you find yourself concluding that great masses of people are defective, stop. It's not the people; they're copying themselves into the future just fine, and are thereby not defective by definition.

If you optimize your understanding of the world for edge cases, you're... socially defective, let's say. You've put neurons that could go into social interactions and group bonds into obscure facts and worrying. You are no fun at parties. (And that's supposing you're neurotypical in the first place.) Your perceived utility is low. (I don't give the faint squeak of an extinguished soul what your actual utility is; perceived utility controls opportunity.)

If you accept facts until presented with strong evidence of falseness, and put effort into social bonds and self-advancement in your social context, you're much more materially successful. In any kind of stable conditions, social bonds and group position matter far more than abstract knowledge. Only the marvelous historical anomaly of the Carbon Binge allows even suggesting that a sustained concern for edge cases is useful.

We're sliding through a mass extinction that might include our species. It's still really hard to argue that putting effort into social bonds isn't more likely to work than fussing about edge cases.

176:

Speaking as someone who pays far more attention to edge cases, I tend to agree that putting more effort into social bonds is useful. The probable exception to this is survival skills, but I should point out that it's not entirely clear which set of historical survival skills will prove useful in the future, which ones need to be modified, and which ones still need to be invented.

An example is foraging in wildlands. In the US, we've got access to land that was under indigenous land management regimes less than 150 years ago. Copying Indian survival skills sounds great, unless we get into a situation where there's a population of 10 billion people and falling and the climate is changing quickly. At that point, traditional foraging skills are likely to fall short, but so are traditional farming skills. In a place like Spain, where almost all the land was cleared for agriculture, and is only now going back to semi-wildlands, the set of required survival skills is quite different.

177:

As has been said, hijab and wimple are pretty equivalent (and infinity scarves are often twisted into equivalents themselves when the wind is really cold).

Note: I live at 4200 feet, and tropical diseases tend to die here (or why we had a barracks worth of Marines here in WWII so dengue fever et al would not kill them). However, we have been having years of droughts (temporarily relieved by El Nino, yay water!).

Most people around here audibly roll their eyes about those idiots occupying the Malheur station, and the local sheriff there has told them to go home (so much for the Bundys' claim to respect the whole posse comitatus thing, sorry no link).

And there was a net rumor, briefly on MSN Money, that Aramco might be considering an IPO. I blinked big time at that one--this is one sign, I think, that the Saudis are shorter on cash than people think they are. Although investors take care--true reserves for the Saudis have been a pig in a poke for a long, long time.

So my goal at this point in my life is to get the house paid off, since banks may try to foreclose on houses that are already paid off (*see* Florida) but are not likely to succeed. And to hope that people are still in the market for the SF/fantasy/romance novels I have planned to write.

Quick note on Bookbub: It costs individual authors several hundred dollars to list books on that service, even if being given away free. Anyone who contacts me from here, however, is likely to receive the novel of their choice for free anyhow. I'm not hard to find!

Thank you, and I apologize for the brief commercial digression.

178:

That's not a new problem at all, though - dodgy information has been commonly published for ages.

Completely agree — that's the point I was making illustrated by my library's acquisition of a new astrology book.

You mentioned Google. I've been blogging about art and semantics using Blogger, and at Google's suggestion last week, upgraded my Blogger profile to Google+ . Then did an ego-search, and noticed that the Google+ posts from my latest blog articles had appeared almost instantly. Seems to me that that's very bad bias, Google preferring to index stuff that you write using its own publication service. The other thing I notice is how search results are swamped by those for shops' advertising pages. Still, at least the effects of that kind of pollution don't actively damage the body, agriculture, etc.: they merely waste time.

179:

Concerning handwashing: I do it a lot as well. When working abroad, I generally had two underpants and pairs of socks, and just washed one of each every night and let it dry the next day while wearing the other. Other pieces of clothing, I handwash because they have delicate fabrics, colours or embroidery which would be damaged by a machine. But machines will damage even common items like T-shirts, making their necks go out of shape and abrading huge amounts of lint. It's odd that in 60 years or so, the manufacturers haven't developed anything better.

One problem with handwashing anything big is the huge amount of rinsing required. Even when washed with detergents that call themselves environmentally friendly, such as Ecover, clothes need to be rinsed and rinsed and rinsed before you see no residue appearing. All that wasted water: another burden on the environment, and again, a technology that really needs improving.

180:

Agree, mostly.
Question: - what's a "contract" on Murdoch worth??
That creature appears almost totally evil to me.
Why do the politicos put up with him?
Why hasn't he been declared Persona non Grata etc, rant, moan, ,mutter.....

181:

Except that the Paris attacks provoked a closing of the ranks, same as the 7/7 did here.
A Da'esh repeat would do more of the same.
We just have to hope that the traitors of/on "the left" (note the quotes) finally get the message & stop blaming the victims & giving brown religious believers a free pass when it come to treating women like shit.
[ I think other people are addressing this later, but I'm only up to Charlie's comment at this point ]

182:

Human-History Singularities?
Fire
Written information ( "Writing" )
Electricity? { Not steam-power, much though I would like to say so )
Is "electricity" a sub-set of "fire" in this respect?
The computer/information/processing "revolution"? Probably - if we get AI, then yes, no doubt.
If so, as said, we can not predict, at all, past that disjunction

183:

Oh, nuts! Look, I was sole carer for two children for nearly a decade, when they went from infant to secondary school, Monday to Friday. I spent my life until I was in my 20s in essentially unheated houses, and have experience of living in coal-, wood-, paraffin- and gas-heated houses. I have also lived with and cooked on coal-fired Agas, gas stoves, and (to a limited extent) paraffin and wood-burning stoves. Curiously, I have essentially no experience with oil-fired heating or stoves.

The only domestic electric items I used much in the first case were the lights, washing machine and vacuum cleaner, and the last only because we have fitted carpets. Yes, I do have considerable experience of house cleaning with both those and brooms, and brooms are every bit as fast for stone, brick, tile and wood floors.

Water heating is important, yes, but predates electricity by a long way, and the wood- and coal-fired forms are every bit as convenient. I agree that heating bath water on the stove isn't, but that's perfectly adequate for washing-up water.

184:

Mogwai are a "Rock Band", it says here ....
You obviously mean some other cryptic trash.
Now BLOODY WELL EXPLAIN - please?
Please use English.

Because your post MADE SENSE until then ....

P.S. Agree totally about oppression of females & time-scales & find apparently true allegations of pre-planned collusion very worrying indeed.

185:

"Washing [from a person who knows this intimately]

3 pairs of knickers(or)pants / socks / t-shirts and a single pair of jeans are an entire load. Even in a commercial washer."

I am impressed. You are Gargantua, and I claim my five pounds. Even in our domestic machine, we manage (whether my wife or I does it) three times that.

186:

Or, as actually in New Orleans - only the "good" bits get fixed & the rest is left to rot.
Though, as someone else said before - how much of this is down to local state (racist) politics?

187:

Daesh wants a war, and they will continue to carry out provocations until they get one, or they cease to exist as an organization.
Horribly true.
Now, who is going to "volunteer" as a state, to send a couple of armoured division?
Because I reckon that's all it would take, actually.

Messy though, very messy.

188:

hyperinflation

That word.

I do not think it means what you think it means.

189:

Run an immersion heater at 59deg C & INSULATE IT THOROUGHLY.
Not as expensive as you'd think.
Mine also sits inside an "airing cupboard" where I store clothes - warm/dry/dark. Just enough space to dry herbs, too.

190:

What's a "Microwave"?
As opposed to radiation with wavelength in the centimeter range?
Or A C CLarke's "Radar Range"?
Cough
Obviously, I don't have one.
I cook properly

191:

That is why I have a twin-tub.
Sometimes, you really need the swirl it round & thrash it from the machine.
A lot of other times, dump it in a bowl/the sink, mash around by hand, let soak, mash again ....
but then you come to the essential bit:
The Spin-Dryer.
Without that you're buggered.

192:

I think It can be misleading to buy too much into the idea of the "1300 year old Sunni / Shia Cold War".

I don't buy that there is historic inevitability in Sunni/Shia violence. But there are power vacuums (gosh, thanks for invading Iraq, George!), and nations playing up sectarianism

There's a fight for regional dominance between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It suits both to cultivate, arm and champion sectarian militias, and to create sectarian conflicts. But that doesn't mean the sectarian violence (or alliances) were, or are, inevitable. Wasn't the big thing in the middle-east two generations ago not the Sunni/Shia split but instead pan-Arabism, and Arabs vs non-Arabs? Things change.

193:

I don't quite see what you are arguing though - should we all dump our washing machines and switch to wood and coal fired water heating? Because the latter can't happen, and telling people we can save the world through turning back the clock doesn't work either, even if it makes you feel superior.

194:

I wasn't arguing anything - I was correcting an erroneous and misleading statement - no more than that.

195:

No, there's no historic inevitability, but religious (in the most general sense) feuds are generally the longest-lived, and the early teaching makes it very easy to persuade a population that the other side is evil beyond description even when there has been no conflict in centuries. Look at Yugoslavia, for example. Iran is not exactly liberal, but is potentially one of the most liberal countries in the Islamic world, if its enemies would stop ensuring that its hard-liners can use the excuse of survival to stamp on its population. Saudi Arabia is unspeakable, and is pursuing an active anti-Shia pogrom - look at its actions in Bahrain, Yemen, its eastern regions and its so-called 'anti-terrorism coalition'.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/12/saudi-arabia-forms-muslim-anti-terrorism-coalition-151215035914865.html

196:

Meh. Water heating. Get ~fifty metres of black polypipe, around 40mm dia should do. Leave it in the sun all day full of water. Around 5pm-8pm depending on time of year, pour contents of pipe into a bathtub.

Hint1: bath goes downslope of polypipe.

Hint2: place wooden rack in bath (to sit on) and light small fire under bath tub NB: solid cast iron bathtub is the go here.

Please note, I'm not a city dweller.

197:

Never thought that living in squats as a teenager could now come round and become the template for a potential set of survival skills for my middle age...

198:
It doesn't have to be 'British' necessarily but maybe 'European' or 'Western'. Distinct from the Niqab, the Khimar, the Burkha, and so forth -- all of which are more or less popular in different parts of the Moslem world

And then there's "muslim lolita"...

199:

I've just seen this blog post tweeted by Steve Easterbrook and re-tweeted, so we might get some new commentators.

On religious feuds, we had the 30 years war in Europe, and really the associated fratricide of the religious wars lasted a century or more, depending on how you look at it.
Let alone all the previous exterminations of the wrong types of Christianity.

200:

"Economics is another aggravating problem. The global financial system crashed in 2007/08 and was only revived by a brisk dose of hyperinflation."

This makes no sense. There has been no hyperinflation in western economics during the period. It actually seems to be the case that the risk of deflation is a more urgent one.

From the historical point of view, we should remember that certain Mr. H. come to power after a period of deflation, not after the inflation.

201:

RE: survival skills.
Seriously, if you are anticipating the failure of agriculture.. Take up hydroponics or greenhouse gardening as a hobby. Not the indoor lighting kind.
Buy an allotment garden, rig it for production of vegetables, build a "laughs at storms" greenhouse over it.
In the case you turn out to be correct, you now have both food, and more importantly, a skill set that permits the production of food no matter what happens. Being the guy or gal teaching people how to feed themselves is a much safer bet for survival than a cellar full of canned goods and ammo.
In the case you are wrong, you still get vegetables.

202:

By 5pm, where I (and our Good Host) live the sun has been down for an hour and a half. It never got much above the horizon (about 12 degrees at noon this time of year if my trig is correct) and there's been heavy cloud and rain all day, with a promise of snow tonight. I'd really like some hot water for a bath, now where did I put that fifty metre length of petroleum-product black polypipe I bought off Amazon and had delivered by drone?

203:

Actually its the Guys With Guns who will get your vegetables. If they're smart they'll leave you alive with enough food for you to survive (barely) and grow them a crop for next year. If they're not smart you'll be dead and you don't need any more vegetables.

Feudalism, it's what the future holds.

204:

Trying to rob an allotment association of their produce would get your teeth kicked in. That's part of the point. Social networks are a better defense than anything you can mount on your own. I mean, if general social order holds, yes, you might get drafted into the work gangs scaling the concept up, but you'd be working as an instructor, not as grunt labor, so better off than the investment bankers...

205:

You are more correct that Nojay is, but an allotment association wouldn't stand an earthly against an organised protection mob. Guns are useless as a form of individual defence, but can be used effectively by organisations, most easily for offence.

206:

And then there's "muslim lolita"...

Your fault, I had to look for it: Muslim Goth Lolitas
So Kawaii.

207:

Ahem: refrigeration wasn't just a domestic revolution -- think about the implications for the entire food distribution chain! And for wholesale storage of out-of-season produce.

There's an organic/local produce/health foods store up the road from me, with a grocery section. It's quite illuminating to look at the different types of vegetables and fruits that are in season at any given time of year, as opposed to available year-round in supermarkets.

208:

An "allotment association protection organisation" is what we used to call a "baron" in the old days. I wonder what we'll call it in the future?

209:

Just to let everyone know - on the whole EU referendum question according to the news two things -- one, that cameron is apparently "hopeful" of reaching a deal by Feburary and two, a referendum vote could be held as early as this summer.

If this is the case it looks like cameron is opting for going early. And no sign at all of UKIP so far.

ljones

210:

"Organized protection mobs" in times of unrest also have the problems associated with social capital that arise from trying to keep their own rank-and-file gun-toting members in line. Remember, the gunmen also have families, and if those families are memers of the Allotment Association they might be passing reluctant to pull the trigger/steal all the food.

Large scale mobs like, oh, the Red Army circa 1917-1922, are able to move deracinated young men around and have officers stand behind them with pistols to ensure they rob the kulaks as ordered. But it takes most of the appurtenances of a state to make that kind of strategy work on the ground, as witness Da'esh (who do indeed claim to be a state).

Meanwhile, if the Allotment Association has some guns and can arrange a rotating watch on their crops, you've got a different (static) nucleus for social organization to re-form around -- one that can promise jam tomorrow, as well as today, in return for cooperation.

Ultimately it's not about stealing crops, it's about taking, holding, and utilizing agricultural land. Which is why survivalist cultists who think hoarding canned goods and ammo is a way to get through the hard times are badly missing the point.

211:

Ahem: refrigeration wasn't just a domestic revolution -- think about the implications for the entire food distribution chain!

Also, and quite possibly more significantly, medicine. Flu vaccine shows up (where I live) in pharmacies in a styrofoam cooler. It's had to travel the whole way from production to delivery refrigerated. It's far from the only vaccine of which this is true. Being able to maintain a cold chain like that is still living-memory stuff, post Hitler's War.

Being able to vaccinate the population is important.

Like the laundry discussion, I don't see anyone addressing the time costs, not just of the work -- effective hand washing is slow, and of particularly soiled clothing effortful[1] -- but of the infrequency and ineffectiveness. Getting rid of body vermin as a general issue means washing bedding and people regularly. If you're heating your wash and bath water with a fire on a stovetop, that's much harder to do and takes a bigger slice of your life. So you have more people spending more time getting rid of, or trying to get rid of, lice and bedbugs and fungal skin conditions, with the cost sliding disproportionately down the slope of social status. More direct use of fire means more house fires and more dead. Even icebox refrigeration means more inconsistency and more food poisoning and more excess deaths. "Bad oysters" was an utterly conventional outcome even two generations back and certainly four. People didn't expect food to be safe. (Chaucer's seller of meat pies is played for laughs, despite business practices tantamount to murder in a modern understanding.) These are all major sources of effort and friction and leave society able to work less well.

[1] consider hospital scrubs, hotel bedding, and what happens to what the large animal vet is wearing. These are not applications where handwashing suffices.

212:

Right. My point was that you need an organisation first and foremost, and only then does it matter whether you have guns. As you say, those survivalist idiots don't have a clue.

213:

Yes. And, in the 1950s, most antibiotics needed refrigeration. I can bear witness to the effects of that!

214:

Yes, but it wasn't just the baron, but the baron plus his personal household. One person isn't a major issue, no matter what he is armed with.

215:

It's the baron who protects the allotment owners (aka serfs) from other out-laws who would rob them of their produce. Of course the baron takes a cut of the produce himself, to feed his own sworn vassals and men-at-arms. It wouldn't be fair otherwise, would it?

216:

Um Greg, if you're trying to figure out what mogwai are, you might want to look up the 1984 movie Gremlins. It's a rather silly reference, as always. Given their fur patterns, mogwai were obviously domesticated a long time ago...

217:

This is a bit of a rant.

Feudalism, actual, this is a specific form of social organization, feudalism, ended in Europe no later than 1350. This dating is in part because it's a convenient date -- the Black Death gets to England, out there on the insignificant margin of Europe, and now everything has changed for everyone -- and in part because it's about when the English army started being professionally organized and in part because feudalism, as a thing, was never evenly distributed and the English were some of the last users so when they went nobody was.

Feudalism is characterized by four things; the creation of social bonds by public oaths before witnesses[1]; the creation of hierarchy by voluntary subordination to one of a number of nominal equals; class-based taxation and automatic class promotion based on personal wealth; dependency at every step of the hierarchy on the voluntary support of those you represent/serve/command. It's a bottom-up system for conditions with terrible communications and a weak central government and is marked by a great deal of social mobility and technical innovation. It English terms it starts with Egbert's Wessex and it dies with Long Edward.

It's totally not the same thing as the centralized God-King autocracies of Great Harry and Elizabeth Gloriana (or the Ancien Regime in France) nor the aristocratic collectivism of the Wars of the Roses or, well, anything else with capes and swords and plate armor. (Plate armor is post-feudal.) It's not despotism, either; strong-man despotism is something else entirely.

As a system, feudalism works really, really well when conditions are generally bad. If true feudalism -- that iterated, defined-job, you're-the-boss-until-we-say-not bottom up social construction of authority -- is what we get as a side effect of a loss of central governments due to incapacity brought about by climate change, we'll be extremely lucky.

[1] God was one of the witnesses, hence the holy relics

218:

Well, I wasn't going to announce it to the internets, but I agree about survivalist cults.

The bigger problem with a changing climate is that you don't just need fertile land, you need dependable irrigation or rain (a problem in my part of the world), and a lack of floods (in your part of the world), and critically, a way to store enough food so that one crop failure won't kill you. A lot of crop diversity wouldn't hurt either, as a way around crop failure.

Responding to earlier comments: Allotment gardens are a great idea, too. How much grain do you gents grow on them?

And if all else fails, there's goatwalking

219:

I think that you might find that some of the English who suddenly discovered they had Norman overlords following William the Bastard's invasion might have taken exception to your stress on the word 'voluntary'. As might some of the Celts in an earlier era, though we have a very poor idea of what the initial social structure was.

220:

Right, but why concentrate on grain? What about beans for drying? Nearly as calorific and nutritionally better as a staple. Root vegetables and brassicas are less calorific (except for rather disease-prone potatoes), but still good survival food.

221:

Responding to earlier comments: Allotment gardens are a great idea, too. How much grain do you gents grow on them?

Winter wheat is five tonnes the hectare, and grain maize (as distinct from fodder maize) nine and a half tonnes the hectare in a good year in Ontario. (Guess which numbers are easy for me to find. And guess why people grow maize; spring wheat doesn't yield as well as winter wheat.) Maize is the best bet there but maize is also the most difficult to hand-harvest and processes. (Not that I'd recommend anybody start learning how to use a cradle scythe, either....)

Or consider buckwheat, versitile and fast growing and with a high fat content. You get about a thousand pounds per acre; a thousand pounds is ~700 pounds, milled. A pound a day for two people for a year. But you got some honey from it (recomendation is a hive per acre), too, and perhaps if everything else works out well you can feed it to chickens and stew them plump instead of stringy.

If Merry England gets rather chillier due to ocean current shifts, quinoa isn't precisely grain but is a good choice to grow at garden scales. Though you'll need to figure out how you're going to get the saponins off...

If you're good at potatoes (and you're not on the clay, or you can make suitable soil), potatoes are thereabouts of 30 tonnes the hectare. (Potato yields are highly variable.) 270 hundredweight the acre is much better than two people per acre, with good deep storage that's maybe thirty very bored people who have failed to starve this year.

So you can about do it, if nothing goes wrong and you have reliable water, on potatoes and grain alternatives and chickens at about half an acre per person. Still a big allotment. Still a massive amount of work.

222:

I too don't recognise the 'voluntary' nature of the feudalism you write about, nor the bottom up nature of it, especially after the first generation or two. Nor indeed the social mobility bit, although I'd agree that social mobility was higher in those days than people usually think it was.

223:

Note that Bastard William had to burn down the north of England; they weren't willing to be ruled by him, and they could make the "not willing" stick. And that contemporaries felt this was an inappropriate response.

Also note that the rate of intermarriage and collapse of the traditional Norman insistence on being of Norman descent on both sides were quick. Or that the title is "earl", rather than "count", or, well, that it's "shire". Bastard William made it stick, but mostly because the English were willing to have him as king. (We don't believe in god; it's incredibly hard to understand a world view where the outcome of a battle shows god's will. But so far as we can tell, that was then a thing.)

So, a system absent coercion? Obviously not. A system utterly dependent on the general agreement of subordinates? Absolutely. It couldn't be anything else; the ability to produce the coercive social mechanisms wasn't there. (Also look at how much of the nobility's calories come from hunting, or what a shirt was worth. The differential survival of the good stuff and the mental association of much later stonework hides how extremely poor a culture it was.)

224:

As for survival, I'm not planning on living off my allotment. If it reaches that stage, we're probably fucked. My survival is best assured by the operation of a cohesive society with many specialists in many areas, from growing plants to making the sewage works work to ensuring the nearest chip fab produces the chips needed to run the tractors and the power distribution network. And so on.

225:

I sometimes wonder how people reconcile this rather bleak, nihilistic view of life with an interest in, say, climate change activism. Why bother trying to “save the planet” when there's so little time, and the scale of the problem is so much greater than our own little lives, and it doesn't really matter anyways since we're just another species of mammal soon to go extinct.

This is where religiosity must have some kind of evolutionary advantage, if it gets people to really care about things that transcend their short lives on this earth, like the survival of the tribe, or the Umma, or the Worker's Paradise. So they have children, and work hard, and sacrifice, and their descendants benefit. Meanwhile, the nihilists are less inclined to bother with inconveniences like having families, or defending some abstract concept like nation or religion, and they simply try to have a good time, trash the place a bit, then die out – to be replaced by more “religious” populations. Isn't this the dynamic at work in places like Europe today? Without religiosity, aren't the people slowly perishing?

Not that I'm any different, as a non-breeding semi-nihilist caught up in the same memetic swamp. But I don't think it's a sustainable way of life and probably wouldn't bother to defend it against “invading hordes” during the onset of some new climate change-induced dark age, since on some level, I realize they are the cure for this malaise.

226:

How is it not voluntary?

Most of what we have is on the level of nobility, so-and-so agreeing to support Stephen over Matilda in return for a castle, sorts of things.

Thing is, the castle is part of the deal in peacetime and with an undoubted king; land flows down, support flows up. It's a social order, rather than bribery, and very little evidence supports that it wasn't legally and practically understood to be voluntary. (And it was finely defined in terms of rights and obligations; that Pratchett bit where someone "knows their rights" and has a lengthy list of legal terms is historically well-founded.) Or that people didn't move around, or that nobility who got excessively autocratic didn't come to bad ends.

The idea that it simply had to be because of limits of available control mechanisms is modern, and the awareness that "voluntary" doesn't mean much in an agricultural society when it comes to tilling the land, should both inform the notion of voluntary applied, but, yeah. It really was. (As it really wasn't by Great Harry's day.)

227:

You mean serfs could actually travel about at will, seek new masters, etc?

228:

Anyway, the longer answer is that whilst a lot of such association might have started as voluntary, the well noted tendency over time for such things to harden into aristocracies took place. Then there's the silliness of relying only on written records, which are scant and hardly written by both sides in the transaction in an equal fashion.
However, like today, the level of voluntariness would depend on the individual and their circumstances. Many or most were undoubtedly happy to fit into place in the hierarchy or structure. Not knowing about alternatives, and fearing violence or starvation without being in such a place, surely also motivated others though.

Or which definition of voluntary are you using?

Plus, you haven't mentioned knights service, which every book I've ever read says is an important part of it, military service owed up the hierarchy in the expectation that your superior would also look after your broader interests.

229:

Done all that, already?
Next problem - electrical power supplies?

231:

Heteromeles
Thanks
So, she's talking shit, it would seem.
Why do we bother?

232:

Exactermuley!
Look up "Diifidatio" - where a subordinate lordling could renounce their oath of Fealty, because the over-lord hadn't held to his half of the contract, f'rinstance.

Also, if we are looking at England, Henry I's wife was a direct descendant of the "Old" Anglo-Saxon kings, thus re-uniting the succession.
(Which had be usurped, successively, by Harald Godwin-son & William the Bastard, oops.

233:

Or which definition of voluntary are you using?

About as voluntary as having a job is in the present Anglosphere.

(And for the same fundamental reason of avoiding starvation. Society has to be organized somehow.)

Knights, which are actually a couple levels up from the bottom of the mounted-and-armed class (dependent men-at-arms and tenure-in-serjeanty), is a whole big tangle. They're important to the military organization but not especially so to the social (provision of cloth and food) organization side of things. (Which is probably why the military could go professional while the social organization stayed recognizably feudal.)

Serfs could and did move in Western Europe in the feudal period, or present genetic data is difficult to explain. And serfdom as an institution isn't; there are a bunch of different institutions described with the same terms by various waves previous scholarship, probably not defensibly. So there's a vast swamp there just in defining terms.

"Hardening into aristocracy" is what happens when people want to make sure their good luck benefits their children and have the money and power to effect political change to that end. It happens with every system of political organization ever, or at least so far. (That's pretty much the functional definition of aristocracy -- your life outcome is a function of who your parents were.) It's not a unique failure of feudal organization, which lasted... 850 to 1220, say. Which is doing pretty well, and didn't harden into aristocracy instantly, either. (Industrial capitalism seems to take three generations and to be very, very persistent about it.)

234:

... you might want to look into recent German Intelligence kerfuffles and drama. (Especially their ties to right wing paramilitary groups).

German intellegicence agencies had tie ins with right wing orgs. for the last 6 decades. Most of which are pretty puzzling because since a communist putsch is not on the neir horizon why does the sate support armed Nazis, what do they need them for? All oft his points to ideological closeness between (some) spies and Nazis (looking at you, Mr 'litle Adolf' Temme or Helmut Röwer or Bettina Blank or ...).
So that some within the VS would have an interwst in escalating the situation is not news.
I pointes out above that the situation could come about very easily on its own, that of course implies that it couild be also doctored relativly easily, yes.

But this is all just hints and 'could be ...' and nothing in way of a smoking gun!
The article you linked with the Iranian woman seeing people giving orders, it's really hard to misread these situations, so I remain skeptical. Have you tried spotting plainsclothes cops in crowds? Never had false positives?

235:

On the subect of Cologne, I'd like to direct you to a good article by Laurie Penny: After Cologne, we can't let the bigots steal feminism

Especially this piece:
Saying ‘sexism is also part of Western culture’ does not mean that the experience of women in the West is exactly the same as the experience of women in Middle Eastern dictatorships and war zones. Do you know why that is? Can you guess? It’s because the world is not divided into ‘things that are exactly the same as each other’ and ‘things that are total opposites.’

which is a thought that's helpful for this thread.

236:

@Heteromeles,
You gave the estimate of 10 years till start of collapse of global civ.
In your book IIRC you mention fod and global trade as the big eneablers of global civ. Where do you arrive at this awfully short estimate till collapse all of a sudden, do you see global food supply or transport fail that quickly?

237:

Postscriptum to my anti-conspirationalism rant:
I think the politically meaning ful thing to do right now is to treat this incident at face value and that means to combat Pegida and other racists (as always) and fight rape culture wherever you may be.
If this were a false flag op., what different things should we be doing?

238:

The tl;dr version is that no one officially knows when or even whether global civilization will collapse.

Here's some estimates I've seen and talked about:

--2001, starting with the US invasion of Iraq. If that turns out to have been the event that crashed the Middle East, which in turn crashed Saudi Arabia and Iranian oil, which in turn destabilized US and Chinese power, then we could already be in the early stages of collapse and not know it for another decade or two. The key question here is what happens with Daesh and whether Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan can manage to rebuild themselves, or whether they become lawless areas and the chaos spreads outward from them.

2025-2035: If we don't do enough to get off a petroleum-based economy, we hit the 2oC increase threshold somewhere perhaps around 2035, but I don't think things will be sunny and wonderful until that point and then everything goes to hell. Note that this could also be consistent with collapse starting in 2001, but only taking off when climate change makes eastern Iraq and southern Iran uninhabitable in the summer (it's close to that already).

2050-2060: Somewhere around 50 years from now is (apparently) the earliest point at which we can go for the full Hot Earth Dreams terafart scenario of burning off all our fossil fuels and blowing into the 400,000 year-long hot period that I called the Altithermal.

2100: the date I picked for the start of the Altithermal in Hot Earth Dreams. In that book I followed the IPCC5 RCP 8.5, and retconned it by suggesting that this is what happens if we slow down our fossil fuel burn but never get off the stuff until we've burned it all. When I started working on this book, this model seemed too severe. Unfortunately, current reality makes my prediction look rather conservative.

Now the frustrating part about this is that the big driver in all this is politics, not the impossibility of sustainable technology. If we had the political will to transform towards a sustainable society, we'd be going for it, and entrepreneurs would be making fortunes in the new industries that would have to boom and the cities that would have to be rebuilt. My disgust with the right wing, especially in America, is that, when presented with an opportunity to get rich doing the right thing, they quite literally stick to their guns and choose the destructive fossil-fuel paved route. It's hard to see this as anything other than evil.

239:

The underlying assumption to the "pile of cans and mountain of bullets" strategy is that other people will do the rough work of rebuilding society for you, and will happily allow you to waltz in and rejoin at some unspecified date in the future, even after you threatened to kill them if they set foot within rifle range of your bunker.

It's...not a well planned strategy.

240:

Reading the article, my first guess is that it could just be a nothing that looked like a something (as you supposed).

Second more conspiratorial guess is that it's a Daesh false flag -- rather than engage in deadly attacks, do something less violent that besmirches the vast majority of refugees. This attack requires no guns, dangerous substances, carries no risk of death, to the extent that there is surveillance any planning for this would seem more likely to fly under the radar than planning of an attack with guns and explosives.

A 2-organization conspiracy seems very improbable to me, especially the keeping-it-quiet part.

241:

A 2-organization conspiracy seems very improbable to me, especially the keeping-it-quiet part.

Do we have any stats on how long conspiracies tend to stay secret? I haven't found any, but given my weak google-fu (and lack of time to search) that doesn't mean there aren't any…

242:

Tweeted at her the results of some brief Googling for what I already knew to be true, which is that the racists have long believed themselves to be the Best Feminists. E.g.
http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/hist409/klan/klanman.html

"2. Womanhood. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan declares that it is committed to "the sacred duty of protecting womanhood"; and announces that one of its purposes is "to shield . . . the chastity of womanhood."

The degradation of women is a violation of the sacredness of human personality, a sin against the race, a crime against society, a menace to our country, and a prostitution of all that is best, and noblest, and highest in life. No race, or society, or country, can rise higher than its womanhood.
"

The tell, as always, is the bigots' selective definition of feminism, else they'd be all over those college fraternities: http://gawker.com/every-rape-reported-at-fraternities-this-year-1671299377

243:

"2001, starting with the US invasion of Iraq. If that turns out to have been the event that crashed the Middle East, which in turn crashed Saudi Arabia and Iranian oil...."

"2025-2035: If we don't do enough to get off a petroleum-based economy, we hit the 2oC increase threshold somewhere perhaps around 2035...."


My first thought there would be how long do record low prices for oil last though? What if they suddenly dramatically in (say) a years' time from now go back to soaring upwards?

I Can see what you are saying there though btw -- I'm no expert and I could be wrong, but if you have low priced oil for long enough dosen't that then encourage people to drive more ("Hey I can fill up my tank super cheap now....I can drive more; who cares about public transport? Maybe I'll even get another car....")

That then leads to increased mileage, driving and even more cars on the road then throw in china and (maybe) india all trying to do the same and I guess yes with all that gumph going out up into the atmosphere you could very well get +2C by 2035 x.x

Jus' a thought.

ljones

244:

Forgot to add this but in the UK it was just recently announced that there has been quite high levels of new car sales; it dosen't seem to be decreasing. So maybe cheap fuel == increased new car sales?

ljones

245:

There's some thought that current low oil prices are a function of low overall economic demand. More fully, current supply outstrips demand, and this is only possible, despite fracking, because demand is low. The causes of the low demand[1] are sturdy enough that cheap energy hasn't budged them.

This is further tied into the strategic objectives of the House of Saud and the United States aligning to want to damage the Russian economy. This helps suppress global demand.

So it's possible the oversupply is going to be lastingly sustained without much raising consumption.

[1] deregulating the financial sector has wrecked the global economy and we've hit the limit of assumable consumer debt most places.

246:


Graydon 21: ‘An economy that can't generate the increased demand organically --’ Demand numbers can be fudged.

‘If anything this points to an important force you aren't noting, that globally the weak demand is generating anemic growth and thus flat or anemic wages.’ – What are the inputs for these economic models .. or is this numbers-only without any relationship to what the numbers describe/related to in terms of human day-to-day life?

http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2015/09/economics

Excerpt: ‘Perhaps it is no surprise that the forthright Willem Buiter, once a member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee and now the chief global economist of Citigroup, a bank, has been willing to go out on a limb… . He now says a global recession is the “most likely” outcome with a 55% probability. But it is worth noting that he defines a global recession, not as a period of falling output, but as: ...a period during which the actual unemployment rate is above the natural unemployment rate or NAIRU, or during which there is a negative output gap; the level of actual GDP is below the level of potential GDP. To avoid excessive attention to mini-recessions, this period of excess capacity should have a duration of a year or longer.’ So basically, if central banks and politicians did absolutely nothing or ceased to exist as the results were pouring in, we’d maybe (55% - flip a coin, pray, sacrifice bird and study entrails, etc.) see this outcome. Seriously – how much would you risk on 55% accuracy?

EI 27: Re: ‘… and it stands a real chance of being tied up with "dirty foreigners spreading disease" .’ – Gee whiz! – And I thought it might have been the 0.1% with private jets who never go through customs, regularly travel round the globe and therefore regularly dine, visit and exchange bodily fluids that might, just might, have something to do with this. (Ever see ‘Contagion’?)

Greg Tingey 35: Re: ‘Oh yes actually, they are, the bastards are still at it, I'm afraid ....’ Ireland recently went rainbow. So how could they justify not allowing women to have control over their own bodies/procreation rights?

Graydon 37: Re: ‘Or the desire for predictability through regulatory control may dominate, which is not quite as bad -- it won't delight in slaughtering the helpless -- but it won't work, either.’ What type of regulatory control? Rules are useless without principles to test against. Much trade is via online algorithms (mostly proprietary, off-shore, not subject to testing/control). So unless you go back to exchanging pieces of paper on specific floors, by specifically identified traders, there’s no control mechanism possible.

Graydon 39: Re: ‘Pretty much the first act of the Reagan presidency's first term was to order the solar panels taken off the White House roof.’ – Yes, he was also rabidly anti stem cell research. This didn’t stop NancyR from trying to get him stem cell therapy after he was diagnosed with Alzheimers. (Guess they didn’t have living wills back in those days?)

Poul-Henning Kamp 101: Re: ‘After all, with a good enough chief of intelligence, any clown can do the front job. ‘To a certain extent, we already saw that, Cheney concentrated on getting the job done, leaving all the PR, parading, and hand-shaking to Bush.’ If you’re into conspiracy theories – my personal favorite is that GBush (Sr) has been the real decision maker/force for anything Rep-branded policy since the late 70s. GB(Sr)’s greatest talent was finding apt (inept) sock puppets. Considering that GB(Sr) owned an oil company, made millions off the sale of his 2010 bestseller, still owns quite a bit of real estate, odd that his reported net worth is only $23-$25 million. Doesn’t add up – at all.

Heteromeles 47: ‘We won't know it's started at first, because disasters do happen all the time. What is different in collapse is the lack of recovery afterwards each separate disaster or war.’ – IMO, a proxy for failed state is the increase in the formation of splinter groups, e.g. Oregon militias, Bundy, Mormons, and other survivalist types. These groups often have charismatic leaders spewing venom at (enter-name-of-group-you-hate-here) under the constitution-protected guise of obeying the will of (enter-diety-name-here). Amazing how the US HouseofReps & Sen houses can pour trillions down the drain into futile and endless wars, and are perfectly okay seeing their country and citizens sicken and die.

Greg vP 49: Re: ‘Oxenstierna's famous dictum applies in spades.; - Ever hear of agnotology? Def: ‘Agnotology is the study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favour’. What tobacco industries worldwide have been using. The Internet feeds into this because anyone can profess to be an expert, their credentials/evidence are unavailable for checking, they feel justified in the belief that everyone’s (esp. their) opinion is equal/as worthy of consideration as anyone else’s – experts included. This relates to Jocelyn’s 171 and Pigeon’s 174 comments as well.

Nile 55: Re: ‘Thirdly, a point I've made before about the World's most fragile society: Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is *not* a rich country:’ This country remained stable for so long thanks to mostly US foreign policy. Having a rich friend with a big stick allowed them to continue their excessive (thoughtless) spending on trivialities, misuse their irreplaceable natural wealth, and remain insulated and isolated from legal and social opprobrium (on-going outright slavery of foreign nationals, one of the worst human rights records outside a war zone, etc.). Overall, probably SA is a likely example of what’s going to happen to the Western upper tier once the easy money disappears. (Saudi Arabia has 70+ tertiary education institutions. Regularly see ads in respected journals for SA faculty positions, but don’t see many published articles on major sites. No idea re: the success rate by applicant’s race/gender … religion isn’t usually the deal-breaker. )

Thomas Jorgensen 64: ‘Or utterly unrelated - The collapse of the *painfully* obvious higher education bubble in the US. Suppose that sector of the economy gets disrupted by a system of online tutorials that is objectively, testably better at conferring skills and knowledge than sitting on your ass in a lecture hall?’ – In the US, social connections outrank academic performance as a reason for choosing a college/university for an undergrad degree. The large majority of US college alumni get their BA and will never pursue any further (grad) education. ‘Regardless of an elite graduate school degree, undergraduate prestige greatly impacts salary’ – Vanderbilt U. Relates to Graydon’s 175 comment as well.

April_D 68: Re: ‘Out here in Oregon, there's a notable Cascadian independence movement that's equal parts fantasy and wishful thinking, but they've got a flag and you see it everywhere.’ – related to rate of fringe group formation.

Hadil Benu 79: Re: The Siberian craters – are you saying these are sink holes, or what?

Nile 97: Add in the rapid over-urbanization of Saudi Arabia. ‘Developed regions have less ownership, more rentals and office quarters, thus, presuming that development level and migration status are driving house ownership.’ Easy to kick out the undesirables.
Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4174546/

Matthew Seaman 103: Re: ‘America was built on immigration;…’ Imagine a world without Apple, Pixar. (Steve Jobs’ biological father was a Syrian immigrant). … Hijab - Reminds me of a nun’s habit, medieval women’s garb that the RC finally voted out sometime in the ‘70s. Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa in 1950 adapted the traditional Indian sari – white, edged in blue - as its habit. Also relates to Jen Lamb’s 177 comment.

Charlie 119: Re: ‘Da'esh would be utterly stupid not to be planning major attacks in London,...’ – This group is very, very good at applied psychology. HBO’s doc ‘Terror in Mumbai’ very informative, recommended.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDROrLtc6GM

Floren 115: ‘What can be done individually to be part of the proverbial solution, not the problem?’- Stay connected with the outside world and its issues while pursuing that physics degree. Later, because you’ve stayed connected, you’ll be in a better position to help non-physicists understand whatall your group are talking about, i.e., popularize science, and/or come up with potential solutions. IOW, follow your passion!

Thomas Jorgensen 144: Re: ‘Which raises the question whether they actually have some kind of plan for what to do if "Rome" obliges them and rings Dabiq … but if the next step is to strap bombs to the children of Syria and send them towards the leopard twos, that would not be pretty..’ – Watch that HBO special Terror in Mumbai because that’s exactly what this group seems likely to do. The ringleaders will keep themselves safely distanced from the crimes they instigate/lead. There’s no lack of unwanted children in some countries: this is where the ‘disposable’ jihadists are being outright purchased and/or recruited from.

Pigeon 156: Re: ‘The real saver is the microwave.’ For regular office/home use, the initial cash outlay/investment is very low vs. stove/oven, and energy used can be 30%-80% less, and don’t heat the kitchen in the summer (save on AC). There’s a portable microwave too (~$250) .

Graydon 211: Re: ‘Also, and quite possibly more significantly, medicine. Flu vaccine shows up (where I live) in pharmacies in a styrofoam cooler.’ – Not enough of the planet has access to refrigeration, hence Gates Foundation: “We also support research to simplify vaccine delivery through innovations such as needle-free delivery systems and heat-stabilized vaccines that don’t require refrigeration.”

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do/Global-Development/Vaccine-Delivery

Low oil/gas prices encourage more care sales, which increases the cognitive dissonance re: officially addressing GW?

247:

It's a good point. My take on the low oil situation is that Saudi Arabia is trying to do in the North American fracking industry and to stop offshore wells from being built off Brazil, in order to keep their market share or something. If I understand it right (and I probably do not), the idea is that they need oil prices to be fairly high, so new producers coming on the market to drive prices down is bad for them. Thus they're trying a beggar the competition strategy, or something.

My other take is that Saudi Arabia is reportedly running its first budget deficit since 1998 (Bloomberg link), so it's not clear how much longer they can do this.

As for cars, it's always worth questioning whether they're responding to customer demand or trying to direct the market. Back when SUVs became popular as commuter vehicles, news leaked that the big auto companies were already planning how big those stupid things were going to get and what date those behemoths would be released. These aren't nimble companies responding to shifting market demands, these are big, slow companies trying to drive demand for long-designed products through a combination of advertising and fiddle with laws to favor their products (as with the fleet MPG legislation).

The flaw in this whole plan to keep flooding the world with oil is if Saudi Arabia suddenly goes socially unstable while North American fracking is in a recession. At that point, it's not exactly clear who's going to be in charge of the world oil market. Russia?

248:

Or you might refer to prior cases of it being mentioned and realize it's a category of internet user.

If you don't understand how "radical" groups are mobilized, you're really not going to understand how they're herding cats out there.

Hmm. Who here is running traces on the Whambulance? Your pool has AIDS and all that.

Anyhow.

Interesting stuff: no-one's touched the new 14 Eye deal, but it's in place. [Confirmed by non-silly people - and we know when it was agreed to as well; spoiler - just before this little drama llama land]

MF has had rather the influx of new posters, a lot of the old crowd are imagining they're the old Libertarian battle-axes. Whoops, that'd be wrong. Including a 100% cert. British Intelligence agent posting FUD (they should be honoured - not sure if he's from the new branch yet, but looks suspect. Hi Robert.).

A 2-organization conspiracy seems very improbable to me, especially the keeping-it-quiet part.

Oh, ffs. Children. Or intentionally dumb. Or FUD.

If you've never worked for a Corporation that can keep two departments totally in the dark about each others' actions, then you've probably not ever worked in a multi-national.

Then work in Government.

Then run a Military.

Yep, that's how "insanely unlikely" it is that a group could ever run two disparate strands and keep them segmented.

I mean, that's like entirely unlikely ever in all cases of even your local fucking branch of Walmart.

It's literally 101 hierarchical organization. But thanks for putting that out there, it goes in the file labelled: "OLD SKOOL TECHNIQUES NO LONGER WORK".

Anyhow, dumb aside, now know the patterns for where it's going (with large dollops of "Did I tell you about this, or did I tell you about this?")


p.s.

Some people have done the leg-work on using "social media" to organize.

Pro-tip: Twitter ain't giving gold and ain't been manufactured yet.

Kinda a give-a-way.

249:

For those who don't like handwaving models about sudden state changes in complex systems such as civilization, here's an article about one way to predict such changes, at least in experimental lakes (actually it points to two possible indicators, if you read the entire article).

Could we use this article to predict the collapse of some state? Um. As the lead scientist says "don't try this at home," and he's heading out to do more research (I've met him, and he's alarmingly bright, very articulate, and very well known in the ecological community. Generalize at your own risk).

250:

Want to know the most ironic thing here?

The aggressive Right bastards are the ones paying attention and evolving quicker than the rest.

The ones who should be swimming well are floundering like dugong's and resting on old models and disappointing us.

MEDIOCRE.


Adapt or Die. (note: Co-operation is the winning move in Game Theory)

251:

The article you linked with the Iranian woman seeing people giving orders, it's really hard to misread these situations, so I remain skeptical. Have you tried spotting plainsclothes cops in crowds? Never had false positives?

Sigh.

The article (Chiago Times, I presume) is a PSYOP.

LARGE NUMBERS

IRANIAN

INA WOLF

Tell me again when an Iranian ever had that surname. Or a German national, for that matter. Oh, right: it's a fucking pseudonym for a German singer in the Eurovision song contest.

Songs:


Heute in Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Babaya
Boogie-Woogie-Mama
Hirte der Zärtlichkeit

The last one is "Shepherd of tenderness" btw.

You're being fucked with by people who think they know what they're doing, but are entirely compromised.

~

And yes, I have some experience of the latter. Boots, neckline, triangulation, position.


Fucking hilarious.

Hypocrisy across the board, and when something real comes along, 0% help and general shitting from a height and hate.

Spectemur agendo

252:

One last one:

You all get to hold a goat.

Traitors.

253:

The Right figured out they were wrong about everything fifty years ago.

Faction 1 wants to try to change the world so they stop being wrong.

Faction 2 wants to figure out how to keep the pattern of advantage.

Given that neither faction will voluntarily do something else, in the sense that they've got their self interest defined as not changing their objectives, successful opposition while maintaining tact presents challenges.

"You get what you reward", right? The reward sets the kind of feedback, and you limit the available kinds of legitimate reward to limit the kind of systems that can arise.

So we get problems like confusing the utility of profit as a measure and an objective. Given accurate accounting (not really a given), profit is an excellent measure -- do people agree what you've added something to the world? -- but it's a terrible objective, because profit-maximization invariably destroys value. (Value is the ratio of benefit to cost. If you want to maximize profit, you have to destroy value; either you decrease the benefit or you increase the cost.) And profit is pretty much the only legitimate feedback as presently politically constituted.

Politics always conforms itself around the mechanism for getting rich. For the last two generations, that's been profit maximization through financial engineering. There's no significant opposition faction pushing a philosophical alternative.

It complicates the problem.

254:

Nope.

Small truths built with walls, that's all there is to it. [Note: I'm happy to dump info on this, but I've been prying into their minds in probably non-ethical ways]

Take a tiny truth, then build a wall against All (OTHER), make sure everything is reflected in small truth and then wait for refractive reinforcement. And there you go.

It's really that simple (well...).


~

Note:

For the Peanut Gallery and the Rabbi and everyone in between: I'm sure as white lilly rice not going to spare you from this.

We've seen what you've done, and you're not fucking opaque to us. Lamb and Goat, not smart.


And doing it in that manner is 100% stupid when we turn up.


Traitors.

255:

This sort of thing has been doing the rounds since complexity and strange attractors became du jour back in the 80s. The 'drift' phenomena to recognise a feedback system that was losing strength has been used in a variety of places since then (eg money markets).

It all seems to hark back to 'Catastrophe Theory' of the 1960s, just with slightly more 'big data' crunching bolted on each time.

256:

כָּחַשׁ

אלה וכחשׁ

What's sad is that your Tier 1 / 2 levels of inference are considered complex and you snigger and feel safe within them.

7.6 seconds is my usual time to crack.

And no. This is for everyone, don't feel special. But how dare you use scripture for this end.

Netanyahu Picture.

לא אהוב על ידי אלוהים

אלוהים

Traitors (and no, that doesn't mean anyone else is any better. Just setting the stage for the outrage felt for those proclaiming about 'Broken Covenants'. Don't worry, you're next).

257:

For those who don't like handwaving models about sudden state changes in complex systems such as civilization, here's an article about one way to predict such changes, at least in experimental lakes (actually it points to two possible indicators, if you read the entire article).

The "critical slowing down" therein reminded me of the sections on "aging" in Memory Evolutive Systems: Hierarchy, Emergence, Cognition (Studies in Multidisciplinarity) by Andree C. Ehresmann and Jean-Paul Vanbremeersch. MES is an attempt at a general theory of complex systems using category theory. The following paragraph from a preprint by the authors gives the flavour:

For instance, in [19] we have proposed a theory of aging for an organism, based on a cascade of de/resynchronizations: the periods of higher and higher CRs [co-regulators: explained earlier in the text] are successively increased, to neutralize a lengthening of the propagation delays at lower levels, caused by an accumulation of external random events whose consequences cannot be repaired soon enough; the process stops when the instability is too large (for the period must remain less than the stability span), and then errors accumulate up to the death of the organism.

The entire text of MES is available here as a PDF. Search for all occurrences of "aging" in that text, and you'll easily pick up enough to give the gist, even if you don't know any category theory.

I note Ian S's comment at 255:

This sort of thing has been doing the rounds since complexity and strange attractors became du jour back in the 80s. The 'drift' phenomena to recognise a feedback system that was losing strength has been used in a variety of places since then (eg money markets).

It all seems to hark back to 'Catastrophe Theory' of the 1960s, just with slightly more 'big data' crunching bolted on each time.

I don't know whether that's a reason to be sceptical of MES, but I know experts who do recommend the work. It arose from research that Robert Rosen did in cybernetics, explained in that link. A review from one expert who I trust, Ronnie Brown of Bangor, is here. He explains MES in terms of an operation that category theorists call "colimit", which enables you to, as it were, combine different viewpoints or perspectives. I'm using those words informally. There are lots of different viewpoints onto complex systems, at many different levels of hierarchy, so being able to combine them is important. This makes me think that if you're interested in sudden state changes in complex systems, MES is worth getting to grips with.

258:

In a civilizational contraction/collapse, everyone's sacred cows get gored, and fragile ideologies get discarded. One of the first casualties is the notion, popular in ivory tower leftist circles, that all opposition to immigration invasions among Western populations is a manifestation of that greatest of all cosmic evils, “racism”. This is a narrative that has surely past its pull-by date, and is failing the reality test. If your first instinct in every outrage is to find a way to blame the natives and excuse the immigrants, then you may soon be compelled to defend your ideology on the streets, not just in the ivory tower, where reality often fails to cooperate. If your second instinct is to look for nefarious nazi-capitalist conspiracies, then you may be succumbing to a leftist version of Alex Jonesism/Protocols of Zion paranoia.

259:

high oil prices

It is my understanding that fracking to make oil in the Montana area has costs ranging from $20 to $50 per barrel. The $50 people are hurting and closing up shop. But the $20 to $30 people are still going strong.

260:

The reasons given to oppose both immigration and accepting refugees are generally racist, sectarian, or xenophobic.

If you want to push a deluded-leftists narrative you need to find a public debate about how many new citizens the country can afford to educate with wildly optimistic numbers, or a mainstream news outlet noting that wages are too low because of deliberate -- and near-consensus -- policy choices since 1980, that this is a problem, but the constant attempt to blame low wages on another part of labour isn't really a problem.

That a public line of xenophobia is a lamentable failure of understanding rather than a deliberate goal, part of a broad policy of delegitimizing taxation in preference to having a functioning society, as though taxation wasn't a duty of citizenship or the people pushing hardest for no taxes don't have utterly racist views underpinning their ideas of what constitutes legitimate government.

You're going to have a very hard time finding that, because it doesn't exist.

Just try finding mainstream news talking about probable costs of population displacements versus probable costs of decarbonization while you're at it.

Anybody in the NorAm (or, really, European) settler populations has no moral standing to complain of immigration. There are necessarily rate limits set by education and housing capacity, but we can build that. It would be good to use the opportunity to improve building methods for the less predictable future where building heat cannot come from lighting some fuel on fire while we're at it.

261:

"We're all doomed" seems appropriate when someone very famous, but 1 year, less three days, younger than me dies.
( Bowie )
I never paid him any attention, as I never pay any "rock" stars attention, but there's no doubt that he was immensely influential.
But, if the big C comes calling, no matter how fit & healthy you are, your chances of continued survival are well down the list, all of a sudding, aren't they?

262:

2025-2035: If we don't do enough to get off a petroleum-based economy
Except we are already heading in that (correct) direction.
As you say later, there's "politics" & if Trump were to be elected or Abbott re-instated in Aus, then we really should worry, but I don't think either of those is going to happen.
The really imprtant indicators here are 1 commercial & one technological
The price of PV should continue to drop, hopefully as fast as it has of late.
The efficiency of electrical storage needs to increase - we are getting there, but it's damned slow at present.

263:

Yes, but have you seen the mpg figures for some of the motorised pimples that are being sold these days?
50-60 mpg are not unusual.
So ... not actually using so much fuel

264:

Ireland recently went rainbow. So how could they justify not allowing women to have control over their own bodies/procreation rights?
Because, ufortunately, that is exactly what the vile RC church is still doing in Ireland & both sets of churches in NornIron, irrespective of what the voters want.
And as here, the politicos act afraid of religious leaders, & rather than telling the whole lot, christian muslim & anything else to fuck right off.
Yes, it makes me angry ....

265:

Did I tell you about this, or did I tell you about this?
Yes, you did.
Question: Now, should we believe a single word of what you told us ... given your past track-record for accuracy?
This is assuming, of course that what you have said is comprehensible - which it (just about) was, this time.

266:

I'm happy to dump info on this, but I've been prying into their minds in probably non-ethical ways
In a man, that would be called Willy-Waving.

NO we are NOT traitors, either, though I note you don't specify what we are supposed to be treasonous against?

267:

EXACTLY
Feminism & any hint of equal treatment for women MUST be trampled under the call by (certain sections of) the "left" that the greatest evil is "racism".
So, muslim/brown women can get crapped on & all over by the male hierarchy of their religions - well, that's just "their culture" & is sacred, because anything else is "waycist!"

Like I said, several threads back:
"Either you have Universal Human Rights, or you don't.
You do not get to pick & choose"

268:

The price range for extracting shale oils in the US (where rigs are currently working) is in the range $15-$75 a barrel for a given well head. If your current well head is still viable and in the $15 range you will be making a marginal profit but, I believe that shale wells are quite fickle. They tend to become nonviable within 2 years. Compare this to classic oil reservoirs where a well can be still producing for decades.

The media talks about the Saudis going broke because of their overproduction and selling at a loss, their marginal cost of production is somewhere in the order of $3 per barrel. Currently they are making 1000%, they have made as much as 4000%, if they could do it, they could afford to push the price below $10 a barrel, but there is not enough capacity in the middle east to do it. On top of this, don't forget they have no shareholders to answer to, and they don't spend any of their oil money itself. They just spend returns on bonds (hence the budget tightness).

I suspect the shale business in the USA is as much about machismo as it is about energy, it it will probably kick off global financial crisis next generation.

It is worth also noting that the Saudis are also probably more scared of Tesla et al than the fracking business. The stone age didn't end due to a lack of stones, the oil industry won't end due to a lack of oil (and it will probably not end, plastics are just too useful)


269:

"The Right figured out they were wrong about everything fifty years ago."

Yer, whaa? I don't know of ANY section of the 'Right' that supports your assertion against that of our much-loved obscurantist. It's true of very few 'Left' sections, either. Frankly, I think that she is understating the case and isn't thinking radically enough. Unfortunately, 99% of the human race don't think, and only react :-(

270:

"shielding chastity of womanhood" is more "lock up your daughters" than feminist, y'all.

And I think you're missing the dog-whistle subtext in the KKK's anti-rape communique. Those shitbags are playing to the white Southern slave revolt phobia: "we're all gonna be raped in our beds!" ... and indeed, allegations of miscegenation and rape, mostly false, were very frequent triggers for lynchings back in the day.

271:

if you have low priced oil for long enough dosen't that then encourage people to drive more

If the average vehicle's life span is 7 years, then you need the price of fuel to stay low for that order of time before it begins to affect overall fleet mileage by affecting buyers' choices of replacement vehicles (by making low-efficiency ones acceptable again). Even longer for it to affect manufacturers' decisions about which products to bring to market.

Meanwhile, individuals probably won't change their driving habits solely because gas is cheap. (When was the last time you went for a 4-hour drive, just because you could? Okay, now do it weekly. That's what "driving more because fuel is cheap" would require.)

272:

When was the last time you went for a 4-hour drive, just because you could? Okay, now do it weekly.

Well, I don't even own a car, so this is kind of speculation, but one scenario I could see that happen (here, in Finland) that somebody decides to get a summer cottage, or even use the one they got now more, because it's more affordable to drive there.

A two-hour drive in one direction is not even that far - it'd be that four-hour drive if you visited the cottage every week (during the season, probably). I know many people, though mostly in my parents' generation, who do that. When you got that cottage you gotta use it.

I'm not saying that many people would do that just because the fuel is cheap - the summer cottages don't usually come that cheap, either.

273:

Ireland recently went rainbow. So how could they justify not allowing women to have control over their own bodies/procreation rights?

LGBT rights are not intrinsically linked with female rights/reproductive autonomy, unfortunately: progress on one of these doesn't imply progress on the other.

In the case of Ireland, the Church has sunk a lot more time and effort into opposing abortion than into opposing gay rights, because the latter wasn't even spoken about until the past 3 decades or so. Meanwhile, the same phenomenon that worked in the USA worked in Ireland: if non-LGBT folks get to meet gay people and realize they're just normal folks, they find it hard to stay prejudiced, which in turn makes it easier for LGBT people to come out, leading to a generationally rapid chain reaction or cultural phase-change. In contrast, abortion has always been there in Ireland -- but it's illegal so admitting to it is bad so women who've had abortions mostly stay closeted ... and everyone who's had one sees it as a one-off, their personal event, and those who haven't had one don't question the status quo because they don't know they know anyone who's needed one.

Messy vicious circle redux.

I suspect the Church is deeply invested in opposition to female reproductive autonomy for structural reasons: to keep a flock you need to get them young, young women have children, so you've got to keep the young women under your thumb in order to have access to the kids. You can do this to some extent by maintaining control over the older women and using them to exert social pressure, but you need to make it as hard as possible for the youngsters to defect. And having a couple of babies in tow makes it far harder to sever social ties and move out.

(This dynamic is also at work among the Chassidim and Haredim in ultra-Orthodox Judaism, and, I suspect, in Da'esh's treatment of women.)

If you’re into conspiracy theories – my personal favorite is that GBush (Sr) has been the real decision maker/force for anything Rep-branded policy since the late 70s.

Ya think?

Looking back at the 2000-2008 imperial Bush/Cheney presidency, I'd have to say that framing the 1980-88 Reagan presidency as Reagan (figurehead)/GHW Bush (puppetmaster) works pretty well. Bush's own term from 1989-1992 was his pay-off for a job well done as the active decision maker. Cheney took a visibly more forward role in the same tag-team dynamic -- he needed to -- but a combination of factors fucked his 2009-2016 presidency: the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina discredited his administration, and then he ran into such serious health problems that his candidacy was a non-starter. (Multiple heart attacks followed eventually by a heart transplant. The USA has never yet had a heart transplant president, and it probably won't for quite a while, due to the long-term prognosis.)

274:

Politics always conforms itself around the mechanism for getting rich. For the last two generations, that's been profit maximization through financial engineering.

Also, the rhetoric directed at the public -- onlookers, in this scenario, not investors/potential oligarchs -- is directed towards jobs. Employment is the measure of human worth, it's not about who you are or self-actualization, it's about what you do and how much profit you make for your owner employer. Unemployment must lead to immiseration in order to provide a discipline on the work force and keep them tractable, hence social security cuts. Prison must be used as a discipline upon the unemployed, to prevent them taking what they need but are denied the means to pay for. And fear driven by insecurity is used to whip the "work force" to and from their jobs. A worker with a job for life isn't sufficiently afraid, so cut back their employment tenure rights. Workers may find mutual solidarity in a union, so attack unions (either by painting them as criminal enterprises -- the US approach -- or by crudely stripping them of bargaining rights -- the UK approach). Workers who accumulate savings may think of themselves as small scale investors and start to feel secure, so let's drive them into debt: keep the cost of housing inflating so they have to take out loans or bleed rent, force them to acquire education certificates in order to re-qualify for their jobs and then charge through the nose for the sheepskin. (Anyone noticed now many jobs these days are graduate-entry only, which previously required only high school? And how often such jobs don't really make use of more than high school level training?)

"Wage slavery" was the picture, circa 1965-1995. I'm pretty sure, though, that these days we're well into the transition to "debt slavery" as a social organizing paradigm.

275:

Translation for Greg:

Small truths built with walls, that's all there is to it. [Note: I'm happy to dump info on this, but I've been prying into their minds in probably non-ethical ways]

Take a tiny truth, then build a wall against All (OTHER), make sure everything is reflected in small truth and then wait for refractive reinforcement. And there you go.

It's really that simple (well...).

Propaganda/psychological warfare techniques these days work by reinforcement. For example: you plant a small but undeniable doubt in the mind of your targets. (In this case, let's say, liberal westerners who naturally hold an optimistic view of human nature. Show them a different-skinned group raping their women on CCTV in front of a railway station.) Reinforce peripheral elements of the developing discourse around the scenario -- the perps were different-skinned foreigners, rather than that they were out-of-control young males. Rumors and opinions spread rapidly. Inject astroturfed witness reports ("smartly dressed men with phones were directing them") that can't easily be fact-checked and these are picked up by the rumor mongers -- everyone loves a good bit of gossip, after all. And opinion begins to harden (the "refractive reinforcement" bit) around the picture in the frame, namely that different-skinned foreigners are coming here in organized gangs to rape our women.

Note that at no point is it necessary to go for the crude Goebbels style rhetoric that paints the target group as vermin who need to be exterminated: that shit is implicit, and is going to emerge naturally in the passage of time. Indeed, because everyone agrees that extermination is bad, your political leadership can strike a heroic pose for moderation by saying that extermination is nasty, they're just going to beef up border controls and keep out immigrants and hire more cops.

We've seen what you've done, and you're not fucking opaque to us. Lamb and Goat, not smart.

Reference to bellwethers or Judas goats, used to lead a flock of sheep into a slaughterhouse (themselves to be spared, because they're basically an unaware slaughterhouse employee). In this case, the "opinion leaders" who are planting the seeds referenced above in the public discourse.

HB is of the opinion that much of this is being orchestrated -- not necessarily by governments, but by experienced social media nerds working for every goddamn group on the planet that wants to utilize social media's emotion-amplifying properties as a radicalization/recruiting tool. In this case, presumably, it's anti-immigrant racists. But it might equally well be Da'esh, pursuing their strategy of eliminating the grey zone.

276:

Yer, whaa? I don't know of ANY section of the 'Right' that supports your assertion against that of our much-loved obscurantist.

Graydon is right, but you won't see this in the popular media: you need to read the Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, the Economist, and their like to recognize the factions.

Here's a parody version:

Evil Billionaire: "let's kill all the poor people and take their stuff!"

Sane Billionaire: "Hang on, if we do that, who's going to mow our lawns? I say we should just give them a 10% pay cut and keep the surplus."

These are the two governing factions in most of the Anglophone nations: hard-ass conservatives who hate the poor and don't care that we know it (see also, George Osborne), and moderately less hard-ass conservatives who recognize that someone has to mow the lawn, but still feel "intensely relaxed" about getting rich (see also, Peter Mandelson).

277:

Two hours' driving distance each way on a decent highway at 100km/h (60 miles per hour) is 200km. So 400km on the round trip.

Holiday cottage 200km away; visit it weekly, 50 trips/year: that would add up to 20,000km/year.

A vehicle able to drive 40 miles/imperial gallon (about 33 miles/US gallon) is roughly able to do 7km/litre. So it'd burn about 2800 litres of fuel in that year. At about €1.30 per litre, that's going to cost a whopping €3700 a year.

How much does your summer cottage cost? I've seen system-build Borwegian/Swedish homes (shipped in in the North of Scotland) that are around the €80,000 mark, and I assume the cottage is somewhere where land is cheap, but I'd be surprised if you could get anything for less than €50,000 in Western Europe or Scandinavia (excluding the Baltic states and I know nothing about property prices in the Finnish hinterland).

So no, gas prices on this scale are trivial compared to the other hypothetical costs in your scenario.

Oh, and 20,000km is about the entire average distance driven by a British commuter in a year -- and very close to that of an American (Brits drive further these days and Americans on average drive less).

278:

Yes, the gas prices are trivial - however they are the ones that people pay most regularly. This was a long shot anyway; I was trying to figure out a reason to drive 400 km every week.

A basic summer cottage might cost something like 80,000 euros, but the price depends on the location. The ones further away might cost less, but then you have to drive more.

Also, people might inherit one or something, and I know people who wouldn't think of the loss they would make not selling it, but rather think of all of the gas they have to pay to use it.

So, the gas prices are trivial if you behave rationally and calculate the costs. Not all people do, though.

279:

Well, yes, no dissent there. But I am completely baffled as to how and why that supports is statement:

"The Right figured out they were wrong about everything fifty years ago."

I certainly don't remember the Right thinking any differently then, and I knew quite a few of them and old enough to observe that. Back then, the ruling elite came more from the paternalistic part of the privileged classes, but they could never fairly have been called the Right, which always was separate (but, then, in abeyance). The difference isn't a change in mindset of the Right, but that the Right has triumphed over the paternalistic moderates.

280:

''"Wage slavery" was the picture, circa 1965-1995. I'm pretty sure, though, that these days we're well into the transition to "debt slavery" as a social organizing paradigm.''

God help us, yes. Including demanding that employees contract to pay for their 'training', uniforms etc., even if they are not then given a permanent job. All our oligarchs have done is reinvent some of the techniques they used in India, back in the days of John Company and the Raj.

281:

Greg, I think you need to read this. It covers various cultural phenomena that you seem to be worryingly unaware of. (Warning: Buzzfeed link, AdBlocker recommended.)

282:

A vehicle able to drive 40 miles/imperial gallon (about 33 miles/US gallon) is roughly able to do 7km/litre. So it'd burn about 2800 litres of fuel in that year. At about €1.30 per litre, that's going to cost a whopping €3700 a year.

Your calculation's screwed up: 40 mpg would be 40/4.54*1.6 = 14 km/litre. But metric countries don't actually quote km/litre: they quote litres per 100 km. 40 mpg is about 7 litres per 100 km.

283:

FUCK CANCER!

David Bowie dies at 69; mesmerizing performer and restless innovator

No way to start the day, never mind the year.
Never been much for hero worship, but he'd be at the top of the list.

284:

Low oil/gas prices --- consumer impact, pleasure boats.

Something like 1 in 10 USians and Canadians own boats, mostly gas/diesel powered. So the cheap oil/gas scenario for about 10% of NA runs something like this: Two hours to the cottage-with-own-pier/marina, pile into the boat and head out into the Great Lakes/ocean. Then - if have kids, or partying with friends - haul out the water skis/wake board, rev up the engine and have fun. Also, most pleasure boats have on board electric power (actually converters) to run the stove, microwave, TV/dvd player, water heater for kitchen sink/shower, AC, etc. - oh yeah, plus you need on board electrical power because in some jurisdictions depending on the size of the boat, you're legally required to have/be licensed to use marine navigation and communication.

BTW, fuel economy for boats is way, way worse than for cars. Some of this is because boats have a much longer life - not traded in as often.

285:

Oh, I get to use a Canadian example.

Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety in the Harper government, got asked why build so many prisons; the crime rate has been trending down for ages, there's all these statistics.

The minister's response? "No it isn't."

Much like you can tell a televangelist is fundamentally atheistic because they show no evidence of sincere awe and never do anything that conforms to god's will over their own (establish trust through expensive signalling...), you can tell that the right wing knows they're wrong because the only argument they've got for their positions is lying about not being wrong.

(I can't in good conscience recommend the US Republican leadership debates, but they're a remarkably pure example of lying about not being wrong.)

286:

That doesn't even support your claim! The Right was just as full of bigotted idiots 50 years ago as it is now. The only difference (in the UK) is that it now dominates politics and rules with an iron hand, whereas then it was then regarded as the knuckle-dragging extreme by the majority of even the conservatives in the Conservative party. As I said, I knew a fair number of them.

What evidence do you have for saying "The Right figured out they were wrong about everything fifty years ago"?

287:

(I can't in good conscience recommend the US Republican leadership debates, but they're a remarkably pure example of lying about not being wrong.

To the extent that they're self-aware, this may explain why, paradoxically, they aren't always quite as bad in office as they promise to be while running for election. (Of course, another factor may simply be gridlock and the tendency of political frameworks to be creaky and slow to change direction.)

NB: a classic example of the lie-like-a-rug tendency is the UK's own Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (and a leading contender for "Lying Shitbag Hypocrite of the Year" if such a wooden-spoon award existed).

288:

Agree - AND ... the KKK & (some of) the ultra-right's apparent sudden "conversion" to regarding women is only in the light of, err .. "Stepford Wives" shall I say?
- Completely "free" within limits set by us - just a different set than that imposed by those nasty muslim bastards over there ....

289:

I got part of the first bit, but then lost it.
However, yes.
Da'esh are very obvious (to me) in trying to get "all muslims" lumped in with themselves, so that they are given "no option" but to joining Da'esh ....
Now if I can see it, I'm fairly sure Camoron & Merkel can see it - it's part of Camorons crawling-to-the-religious standard rhetoric, after all.
So, claims that "Da'esh have won" because of demonisation of all muslims is patently false, but at the same time, giving any religious believers any extra or special house-room "because of their beliefs" is also wrong, because it sets up privileged sections of society, who get special kid-glove treatment - or so it appears, whether that is the actual case, or not.

290:

Hey Now, us Jeffersonian's have an NPR station. And its more than 150 years old, with a tendency to get some motion going right before Something Bad Happens. (The 3 biggest movements were in 1860, 1941, and 2001).

291:

Classification: CORRECT
Personalisation: WRONG
Whatever Osborne's faults, he is the first Chancellor of the Exceq for a very long time, who actually GETS THE IDEA of long-term capital investment projects.
Comes, oddly enough from the "family firm" - he has realised that if you don't pay the graduate chemists & good designers, then "soon" (within the next 5-10 years) your competitiors' paint-&-wallpaper is going to be better than yours & - oops, where did our sales go.
Actually, if you wan a current tory of that ilk, might I suggest IDS?
( Who does very nicely out of EU farm subsidies, but insists that the working poor can fuck off for subsidies, what a hypocrite. )

Oops, just noticed your # 287.
Even so, for No #1 tory Bastard, I'd nominate Grayling ... where Gove ( a man I know you don't like ) is running round trying to sweep up Graylings bigger shit-dumps.

292:

What evidence do you have for saying "The Right figured out they were wrong about everything fifty years ago"?

That's when they stopped advocating for policies on the basis of making something better for someone and started lying about what they wanted or what their policies would do, building the big media panic funnel, and so on. You don't do any of those things by accident. It was totally obvious in 1965 that the mechanism of legitimacy -- making people better off -- failed under right-wing policies. (Which were, then and now, fundamentally about the legitimacy of wealth.)

They either needed a new mechanism for legitimacy or a different policy position, and set out to build the new mechanism for legitimacy. It's involved billions of dollars and generational effort; it can't be an accident. It's too coordinated to not involve conscious planning.

It's totally presuming the conclusion and trying to support it, too (Chicago school of economics, disdain for facts, etc.) which is a more difficult position to take than one supported by facts. You don't get accidental obfustication of this point; there has to be a conscious awareness that the supporting facts aren't available. Once you're consciously aware facts supporting your position aren't available, you know you are wrong.

293:

Gove is at least consistent -- and while his "3Rs" emphasis was pretty much a disastrous recipe in Education, it's seemingly-paradoxically a good idea in the prison system -- he's gone from being a throwback education minister who believes in dogmatic rote learning for all, to being a progressive prisons minister who believes in teaching literacy and numeracy as part of rehabilitation (in other words, he's actually internalized the Home Office reports linking recidivism rates to education).

Grayling: yes, he's a total shitbag who doesn't have any respect for the basic principle of justice through equality before the law -- and a partisan hack.

294:

Very interesting.
Thanks for the link.
I was not aware that it was that "organised" shall we say, but I was quite aware that such things were going on - just not at that level.

However, you seem to have forgotten who my MP is.

Stella Creasey.

Who was subjected ( & still is being subjected, at a much lower level ) of precisely these sort of attacks. As well as attacks from the ultra-left, coupled with one particular mosque's inhabitants (*note), who regard her as a "tory traitor"

(*note: Fortunately, locally we know which one it is & can distinguish them form the others - but "outsiders" might not get that difference.
Just like the christians in fact - most of them are harmless loonies, but there are a few who should not be trusted under any circumstances.)

295:

A couple of things I think Charlie is overlooking, much of what's been defined has been assuming the same people are running things. They aren't, there's a generational transfer. The Baby-boomers and their equivalents are getting old. The West generally skews younger than the old communist model, with leaders over 70 being suspect. Otoh, among conservative factions, the young leaders tend to echo the viewpoint of the older members as a necessity for getting leadership. (A minor example is Marco Rubio being rare within his community and at his age to be pro-embargo).

But for many of the younger, they react based on how they see the world change. For those born under/after Thatcher/Reagan deregulation, there's more and more calling for a government that actually regulates as a generational swing the same way that Thatcher and Reagan were a swing against New Deal and postwar Labor.

296:

Re: '... there's more and more calling for a government that actually regulates as a generational swing the same way that Thatcher and Reagan were a swing against New Deal and postwar Labor.'

Where is this coming from? (Data/evidence for this please.)

297:

Are you referring to Nixon's Southern Strategy, of recruiting white southern democrats alienated by LBJ's Great Society move (1964-1965)? If so, the conventional argument is that, to win elections, the Republicans embraced a coalition made up of:

--wealthy conservatives whose main goal was to make more money, and who have no strong religious bias, and

--what's now called the religious right, but who voted democratic up until the civil rights movement.

Aside from the Walton Family and a few oil barons, these groups don't have many members in common.

What you're seeing now in Republican politics is thought (by left-leaning policy wonks) to be the end of this strategy. Jeb Bush, the rich establishment candidate, can't gain any ground, while we have a wealthy sociopath who was previously popular and will say anything appealing to the right-wing base, which has unfortunately been spreading out of the south in the last three decades.

As to why that base has been spreading, I'd cite two factors:

One is Altemeyer's take on authoritarians, which you really should read if you haven't (it's free online). To me it certainly looks like Republicans have been literally using it as a playbook. The tl;dr version is that authoritarian followers like to be told what to do, so long as it reinforces their world view, and they seem to expect to be lied to by those in power, but they'll accept the lies that reinforce their worldview. Authoritarian leaders know this and play it up, while liberals have to break it down.

The other factor is that industrial farming and the off-shoring of labor have been hard on most of the middle of the country, and at the same time people have turned to evangelical churches as a way to cope. That the people causing the problem are trying to profit off it politically is something that many poor, right-wing voters don't seem to recognize.

298:

Tried a google search and the closest that supports your comment/opinion - something like pg 4 of results - is: What Americans REALLY Think about Government (A web project of Douglas J. Amy, Professor of Politics at Mount Holyoke College.)

No idea who this person (D.J. Amy) is, but a quick read of this page describing how poll questions can obfuscate is consistent with day-job experience with similarly structured surveys (differences in respondent ratings of general vs. specific statements/attitudes). My major issue with this page is that the only date I can find is 2007, therefore findings unlikely to reflect current sentiment.

http://www.governmentisgood.com/feature.php?fid=3

299:

The automation angle is an interesting one. Historically, whenever large sectors have been automated there's been: 1) an initial anti-automation backlash, and 2) a reform movement that mitigates the harm done to workers by the automation in question while keeping the benefits of automation. For instance, luddites and unionization.

But, the particular flavor of radical reactionary territory-conserving homonid BS popping up right now is right-wing, meaning anti-union and anti-labor-reform. In other words, if this trend continues, improvements in automation will have a much larger effect on domestic unemployment than they would if the zietgeist was more friendly to things like expanding social safety nets or retraining programs or something.

Depending upon the particular flavor of ideologue, we might also get changes to import taxes to try to modulate the effects of automation (which would have interesting and complex effects on places where labor is so cheap that labor+shipping is cheaper than robots). I'm not sure anybody would have a coherent reason for lowering these, but they might rise in industrialized places for domestically automated production as an extension of the kind of nativist politics used to rally against immigration. If automation were severely restricted, they might be 'temporarily' lowered until domestic production ramped up (and then domestic production never ramps up because the poor don't have the resources to learn this automatable skill and the demand hasn't risen, so they never get restored back to previous state).

All of this is assuming that we're talking about the automation of production labor, which has interesting international effects but largely doesn't heavily impact domestic workforce. Self-driving cars (in the united states) may have an interesting impact on the trucking industry, but it's not clear how many people will be directly affected: truckers have an extremely high replacement rate despite being paid quite a bit for a job that doesn't even require a high school diploma, and there aren't a lot of trucker dynasties, and since the rest of the trucking infrastructure doesn't need to change it'll probably just be another set of lost opportunities for workers without college degrees.

300:

''What evidence do you have for saying "The Right figured out they were wrong about everything fifty years ago"?

That's when they stopped advocating for policies on the basis of making something better for someone and started lying about what they wanted or what their policies would do, building the big media panic funnel, and so on.''

Er, that wasn't the Right. The Right were then, as now, claiming that they had a moral right to their privileges, the only reason that others were less privileged was because they were lazy, any form of benefits simply encouraged laziness, crime was caused by being too soft on the criminal classes, the government needed to cut the unions back to size, (most) universities were hotbeds of rebellion, and the government needed to crack down on dissent and outlaw any support for communism. Recognise anything?

The claim that every Conservative (and conservative) was opposed to all forms of social improvement was propaganda by extremists who claimed to be speaking for The People. Are you claiming, for example, that Churchill, Macmillan and Douglas Home belonged to the Right? I was 18 in 1966, came from the part of society that produced both conservatives and the Right, and was very aware of the difference.

301:

''Comes, oddly enough from the "family firm" - he has realised that if you don't pay the graduate chemists & good designers, then "soon" (within the next 5-10 years) your competitiors' paint-&-wallpaper is going to be better than yours & - oops, where did our sales go.''

The mind boggles. I have just retired from work in that area (and am still peripherally involved), and Osborne has done more than any recent Chancellor to discourage the best people from pursuing such careers.

302:

Hey Charlie:

You might enjoy D.J.Amy's work - he's an expert on voting systems. The 1984 article (from what I've read so far) comes closest to explaining the thinking underlying his web site.

1984 article:
http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/hale/ENVS5200/Amy%20--%20Why%20Policy%20Analysis%20and%20Ethics%20are%20Incompatible.pdf

A 1997 book in favor of proportional voting:
http://archive.fairvote.org/media/documents/FairVote_Doug_Amy_Book.pdf

Short 2014 HP article re: poverty and opportunity:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/douglas-j-amy/equal-opportunity-wont-reduce-poverty_b_4755771.html


303:

A classic example of the lie-like-a-rug tendency is the UK's own Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (and a leading contender for "Lying Shitbag Hypocrite of the Year" if such a wooden-spoon award existed).

I have several wooden spoons and would be happy to supply one for this purpose.

(Joking aside, this phrase may be known in British English but I haven't encountered it in the American dialect. The general sense is obvious from context, but is there more that can be unpacked here?)

304:

Re: Abbott being reelected.

Current Antipodean gossip is that Malcolm Turnbull will use the mandate of a win at the next election to reverse some of Abbot's policy positions. And while Bill Shorten is hogging the leadership of the ALP, Malcolm's looking sweet. I'm personally more worried about our anti mosque protest rabble and the Reclaim Australia movement giving the One Nation party a shot in the arm politically.

It may come down to the Liberal Party coming to an accommodation with the ONP, or the Liberals splitting into centre and right parties.

306:

[Fifty years is] when they stopped advocating for policies on the basis of making something better for someone and started lying about what they wanted or what their policies would do, building the big media panic funnel, and so on. You don't do any of those things by accident. It was totally obvious in 1965 that the mechanism of legitimacy -- making people better off -- failed under right-wing policies.

That's not wrong, but I think you may be over-emphasizing economics over politics - at least for the US version; I can't speak for what was going on in the UK.

Fifty years ago is the time of the Southern Strategy, which won the American South for the Republican party. This was a brilliant victory for them and broke off a lot of votes that until then had reliably gone to the Democrats. I don't expect many British readers are familiar with the term "Yellow Dog Democrat" but that was a thing in the mid-20th century, referring to people who would vote Democrat even if the Democrats ran a yellow hound dog and the Republican candidate were Jesus Christ. People would describe themselves as Yellow Dog Democrats!

While the big block of votes has helped the party, it's also likely that many of the strategists overlooked what a huge pain in the butt the Dixiecrats had been to the Democratic party for the previous century. Now they're the Repubicans' problem, and since the American election scheme defaults to a two party system we're seeing one of our major parties badly split - their only point of agreement is that they are Not Democrats.

So the US has a party badly split between the Poverty Stricken Racist faction and the Selling Out To Billionaires faction, at best. This would probably be less of a problem in a multi-party system.

307:

I live in a locale where during heat waves, airconditioning driven demands for electricity can cause blackouts.

I'd suggest you talk to your local squatting community for retrofitting appropriate lotech solutions. Off the top of my head:

*Water jackets on flues, switch from expending energy for primarily heating a space, to using it to cook and heat water (thermal amenity as a byproduct;

*DIY double/triple glazing;

*Less sleeping by one's self.

I'm sure that my lack of experience in living in a climate like yours will mean that I've missed something in the para above; talk to your nearest bunch of squatting anarchists.

tl;dr Middle class life styles are resource and energy hogs. Adapt, migrate towards the warmth, or basically freeze.

308:

We've seen what you've done, and you're not fucking opaque to us. Lamb and Goat, not smart.

Reference to bellwethers or Judas goats, used to lead a flock of sheep into a slaughterhouse (themselves to be spared, because they're basically an unaware slaughterhouse employee).

Ta muchly. I misread that as low hydrocarbon lawn mower.

309:

...and of course Heteromeles says something similar up in #297. *shrug*

310:

I misread that as low hydrocarbon lawn mower.

That's less unreasonable than you might think. In my area you can rent goats for clearing shrubbery and out of control plant growth.

311:

Well, I had understood almost all of that, but not the translation of 'Lamb or Goat', though I had thought along those lines only to discard the idea. Inter alia, bellwethers are most definitely not lambs - far from it!

312:

"Yellow Dog Democrat"

There isn't a British equivalent term, as far as I know, but people say that a constituency would vote in a stuffed monkey (or other such term) with a blue/red rosette. For many years, my MP was functionally indistinguishable from a (blue rosette) stuffed monkey with enough clockwork to walk through the lobby he was pointed at.

313:

Our national housing stock is on average 75 years old. It predates central heating (a retrofit) never mind air conditioning. Your suggestions are, shall we say, architecturally inappropriate.

314:

Charlie:

Re: '... about neo-fascists and their obsession with touchstone topics like dignity, law, the church,...'

Decided to go back and read all of your links, and am now on pg 41 of this book you linked to. (It's a free PDF download folks!) Recommend folks here read it.

http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeyer/drbob/TheAuthoritarians.pdf

'The Authoritarians', Bob Altemeyer, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Altemeyer

Excerpt:
'Altemeyer's work is extensively referenced in John W. Dean's 2006 book, Conservatives Without Conscience.[3][4] At Dean's suggestion, he wrote an "everyperson" account of his findings, The Authoritarians, which is freely available online.'

Heteromeles:

Suggest you go to page 36 and read his experiment 'Global Change Game' as played by two different groups of first-year university students, the low vs. high RWAs.

315:

I don't know where you take Ina Wolf from, the Iranian woman I meant is mentioned in one of your comments:
Describing what she called “coordination tactics” among the men, Shabani said: “I watched for some time as three men who were smartly dressed gave out instructions. One time a group of three or four males would come up to them, be given instructions and sent away into the crowd. Then another group of four or five would come up, and they’d gesticulate in various directions and send them off again.

Sigh, indeed. Not even you yourself read all your own comments?

Charlies and dr2chae thesis - Daesh false flag - isn't exactly convincing but makes sense. Now please enlighten me where you see German Intelligence in the mix, and with what motive.

316:

My take on the low oil situation is that Saudi Arabia is trying to do in the North American fracking industry and to stop offshore wells from being built off Brazil, in order to keep their market share or something.

I may be completely wrong here but the idea I got with their actions is that they want to keep pushing down the price to keep the money coming their way for another decade or 2 to 3. If the world as a whole really moves away from oil in the next decades it doesn't matter anymore that you have the easiest exploitable oilfields in the world, so push the price down to a level where your competitors go out of business and sell while you can.

And now for something completely different(NOT!). With HUGE deposits of lithium and other metals found in Afghanistan, could there be another Saudi type society in the post oil world? People are going to want a lot batteries later this century. Good thing that those deposits are in a stable part of the world.

317:

Remember that, in that world, motives are often incomprehensible when viewed from outside. Remember the plots (plural) against Harold Wilson when he was Prime Minister by people within the security services and on the periphery of the government? If a section of German intelligence had convinced themselves that Merkel and her policies are a threat to Germany, they could easily think of arranging something to discredit her and ensure those policies are curtailed.

Do I believe any of that? No. What is fairly clear is that it was orchestrated, and it's thoroughly unclear who might have done that. Just as with whoever orchestrated the putsch in Ukraine.

318:

I shall assume some knowledge of the area to avoid a total derail, but there has been a historic link between the two, in not exactly flattering ways:

An agent working for Germany's answer to MI5 was at the scene of one of the 10 murders carried out by neo-Nazi terrorists, the domestic intelligence agency has confirmed, fuelling speculation that the killers' movements were known to the authorities during their 13 years on the run.

Germany shocked by secret service link to rightwing terror cell Guardian 2011

I'd suggest a bit of reading to learn the full extent and the huge cover-up that then went on.


Now, let us take a couple of other reports:

Beware the rise of radical Right as migrants arrive in Europe, says German spy chief Telegraph, September 2015

German intelligence agencies criticise government’s refugee policy World Socialist Web site, October 2015 (different / new comments)

And so on and so forth.

Then go find a post in a prior thread (recent) highlighting the Turkish reports of bomb threats on NYE / Munich's alert status and how nothing came of them.

Now go find the comment above hidden in a discussion about beers [DTRL+F BEER] that announced on the 9th Jan 2016 that the previously broken (Snowden / Spying shock on German MPs etc) links between the USA and German intelligence agencies had been renewed, visa vie information sharing.

It didn't make the front page news.

Now look at how reality played out. Ina Wolf was the 'source' for the Chicago news link. Quite a witty little joke, but bounded as a Chess / Cross-word mind.

~

If they're not involved, they're not doing their jobs.

319:

The WSWS.org link is a particular one to look at.

The article then cites former interior secretary and BND head August Hanning. The 69-year-old, “still today a well-connected security expert in Germany and around the world”, presented a 10-point programme within the past week in which he demands that the German government return to acting within the law in the “current migrant crisis”.


If you're new to the policing world, it's not uncommon (c.f. NYPD & refusal to enforce 'petty crime' recently) to accidentally miss enforcing things to get a result that you want even when the issues are pay or funding.

~

If you want actual documents, I wouldn't do that to Host, as the site would go down in under 20 minutes. BND is good at losing documents anyhow, I'd imagine they're no longer existant.


p.s.

RIP The Thin White Duke. The irony isn't lost on me.

320:

Well, the Cologne police says they have no evidence whatsoever that it has been orchestrated.

So it could be a situation that evolved from incidental circumstances (group dynamics, presence of 1-2 pick-pocket groups, minimal police interference, mild weather,...) and above-average rate of reports oh harassment. (plus media spinning, but that's a given)

If it was orchestrated, Da'esh is the most likely culprit. I don't see how right-wing groups could manage to organize an Arab harassment flash mob. And BND or Verfassungsschutz probably wouldn't take the exposure risk of such a conspiracy - they are still fending of inquiries about the NSU terror group.

321:

Thanks for the recommendation. However, I actually took Charlie's recommendation to read it quite awhile ago. See comment #297, near the bottom.

322:

They should probably tell the Minister for Justice then.

Minister of Justice Heiko Maas has said he believes the sexual assaults in Cologne were 'coordinated and prepared' ahead of time. He also accused xenophobic groups of using the crimes to stir up hatred.

lGerman Justice Minister: Cologne attacks planned in advance DW, 10th Jan 2016


p.s.

Yes, and the Bowie to Berlin reference was deliberate.

323:

The "pick-pocket groups" possibility is not implausible -- groping/sexual molestation would easily work as a variant on the hugging-mugging tactic. Might even be directed at other targets (people having their pockets picked while distracted by witnessing someone else's outrageous public behaviour).

324:

I've read reports that the sexual assaults and the pick-pocketing was done by different groups. One group was sober and stealing, the others drunk, groping and harassing. I think organized pick-pocketing is "normal" for any larger gathering of people. I don't think the sexual molestation was a variant of this hugging-mugging tactic. Pick-pockets would avoid that escalation: more risk and no additional gain.

325:

Oops - obviously wasn't familiar with Altemeyer's name when I first read your post 297.

326:

In any case, the entire thing has metastasised into Sweden (big ripples there, spot the party mentioned in reference to earlier things), Denmark, Finland, France etc.

Just like was obvious. German media even found themselves an immigrant with an engineering PHD who was in the square to publish a condemnation two days after I suggested it here.

Old, slow, creaky.

Sebastian Edathy found out just how big a fish Hanning is, and he was connected. Heavy Messing, old school Power player.

~

Anyhow, to turn this into something else.

One of the most pleasant experiences in life is being able to relax in a sauna after swimming, nude, and not have to worry about the constant needs of Others while chatting.

There's something entirely sophisticated about innocence-with-awareness that's being crushed. (And no, this isn't purely a Nordic thing - Turkish baths, Roman baths, you name it, Civilizations have known it for aeons).

The Right aren't dumb and are pushing this as a wedge into Sweden reports etc. (The sad thing is: if they experienced it in the real form, they'd be different people. Yes, my slogan is: "Get them all in saunas").


So.

How's about reforging this all? I value a world where these old Games are turned into something else.

Generative, not degenerative, to start converting a phrase from the Right.


p.s.

The pick-pocketing meme is dead in the water Andreas btw. Done already (c.f Wednesday); running with it will just make you look like food, there's already an entire semantic meme web based around it failing.

Traps, traps everywhere.

327:

De nada. Have fun taking his questionnaires. I was quite grumpy when I learned I didn't have the lowest score in my group. It turns out that I'm more of an enviro-nazi than I realized, sad as it is for me to admit that.

329:

They should probably tell the Minister for Justice then.

Hear-say and media spin. Maas sits in Berlin and thinks he has to comment but has no more information than the rest of us. Jäger, Minister of Interior in NRW, has better access to information. Let's wait what the final police report says and what a coming inquiry board find out.

330:

''The "pick-pocket groups" possibility is not implausible''

Right. Which would point to 'organised crime'. And they would have no difficulty in ensuring that the gropers and pickpockets were separate people, which is good tactics.

331:

If you doubt my intentions, run what saunas represent into the concept of 'Safe Spaces' and start tinkering.

The Legions have already made a play for that (example: Sweden Adopts SEGREGATION to Protect Its Women From Muzzie Gropers Jan 10th - don't visit without extreme prophylactics, be it Browser or Mental Schema. No, really, the title should be a bit of a giveaway), but it's not hard to reclaim.

"Sauna Culture" represents radical freedom both in the external life (i.e. true personal safety, both in the physical but much more important societal realms) and inner life (space for those ever nagging fears and doubts and hierarchical judgements to not exist for a few precious moments), but (this is the kicker):

In terms of normalizing such things to a merely every-day ritual sense.

If you need a SF reference, see The Mars trilogy by K.S. Robinson, used extensively.

~

Of course, this does require some other things to change.

332:

I'm not sure if you're merely mouthing the Party Line (protective) or being a wolf-in-sheep's clothing.

Your way won't work.

It's already been countered and bait laid and traps set and so on - that's a freebee.

I'm not even sure you're aware of the scale of this at the moment.

333:

Squatters rarely have to consider planning restrictions, and yes, my mileage varies as a result of both differing clime and architecture. And, I agree, your dwelling sounds very hard to retrofit. What's your current domestic heat source?

BTW I've a mate that lived for many years in a former factory in Paris; the only time he and the rest of his squat cooperated was in Autumn, when they had to fend off homeless folk looking for shelter for Winter.

334:

And yes.

The joke is that Sauna Culture allows real freedom while SnapChat provides the illusion (simulacrum) of it, while both selling the illusion of safety (both in terms of "deletion" and trust) and non-predatory practices.

That's a start to rebirth, methinks.

~

If you think that non-Western audiences don't understand this, try:

Eastern Promises' bath scene Youtube: film: 3:31] Trigger warning: male nudity, violence.

Cronenmberg knows very well what he was touching upon.

335:

Our national housing stock is on average 75 years old.

I remember how astonished I was when I returned to the UK for a holiday in 2001, having emigrated as a child in 1967. Not only were the two homes I had lived in in Scotland still there and externally unaltered, but one of the towns looked as if nothing had changed in over 30 years.

I saw maybe half a dozen houses, in two days walking/driving around a community of 8,000, that had been constructed since my family moved out in 1964. Even the "temporary" classrooms comprising the Grade 1-4 School I had attended were still there.

(There had been significant changes on the outskirts of the other town, however. The opening of the Tay Road Bridge meant the town was suddenly a much easier commute to Dundee, and the population is now more than double that of 1967.)

336:

Ina Wolf can be searched for, btw. Casual fact-checking and of course speaking the german helps. I'm very certain that the woman from the article is the one where there are many different results, news articles on different media from 2002 on, giving the exact age, Xing profiles and homepages: someone somewhat plain and normal who studied pedagogy, experimented in quack medicine, worked as a DJane and was in the executive committee of CSD Köln und des ColognePride until 2014. There are interviews with her from three years ago protesting in that capacity against Colognes neonazi miniature party Pro Köln.

The picture displayed looks exactly the type of person who would march at the protest and counter-protest against the far right on saturday in Cologne. Who was then interviewed by a hapless foreign reporter who dropped her context because (s)he just needed a sound bite. If that's a long con that con is in the making for over thirteen years. If you hear hooves, they aren't zebras. Maybe it's your hearing.

And the chan conspiracy theory? Yes, Germany has a local chan, Krautchan. And of course it has its own disgusting brand of misogyny and in-group-speak. But no sign of social media campaigns, organized attacking or even replaying viewpoints. Mostly just self-loathing, there.

Also: Hanning retired years before Edathy fell. And still years before Edathy got somewhat famous be being the chairman of the NSU. The german intelligence apparatus btw. is not a monolith. Hanning was BND, Edathy looked into the BKA and BfV operations. The major difference between government/intelligence vs. Bundestag is the NSA committee. Which is largely scandal-free – apart from its subject being a scandal, of course.

(The live protocols of the NSA committee are btw. a masterpiece in mind-dumbing intelligence bureaucracy, hundred times worse than the Laundry. Mr. X. Y. of the BND doesn't remember, Mr. Z. only can talk behind close doors …)

337:

For many years, my MP was functionally indistinguishable from a (blue rosette) stuffed monkey with enough clockwork to walk through the lobby he was pointed at.

I should probably find "stuffed monkey" less amusing than I do. But I live in a nation where, during the previous administration, we joked that the president's best party trick was to give a speech while the vice president drank a glass of water.

338:

this may explain why, paradoxically, they aren't always quite as bad in office as they promise to be while running for election.

Here in the US we have this thing called primary elections. This is where people of the same party fight to be the party's candidate in the "real" election. Most primary voters are the hard core the the campaigns tend to be directed to them. Right and left.

I suspect this setup isn't very common on your side of the big pond.

339:

Not at all. We just have an election - one day when everybody goes to vote, and that determines which lizards are selected for the next 5 years. The process of determining which lizards come up for selection in the first place is opaque.

340:

Sigh.

Boring data any hound could scrape in 10 seconds (thatsthejoke.jpg, well done); ignores actual structure of chans, uses ancient American slang that isn't used anymore.

DOB: 1956-62, American trained or stationed probably during the 80-90's.

10 murders & 13 years is ignored, as is structure data showing intense interest / American involvement. Obvious OP is obvious.


Sniff test: failed.

Ina Wolf - EPK Youtube: music: 4:12]

341:

In which case, why is he (Osborne) doing the exact opposite of what went on under the Madwoman ...
He is supporting "Reaction Engines" & is pouring money into big infrastructure projects that include railways, for ghu's sake ....
Circle needs squaring, somewhere?

342:

Many years ago, I knew someone who kept three Guinea-Pigs as lawnmowers - their bottomless, but weighted ( i.e. fox-proof ) cage was moved across the lawn daily ....

343:

But never in Hartlepool, of course, where they are well-known for hanging monkeys!

344:

AND # 332
Do you really have to sneer at & disdain everyone?
Your understanding & knowledge of all the (of course very SECRET ) CONSPIRACIES is so much better than everyone else's isn't it?

Pardon me for not believing you.

345:

Do a Grep; as you yourself noted, you were indeed told about all of this (and much, much more) in advance. Frankly, your belief levels are immaterial.

Chance? Luck? Voodoo?

I'll let you into a little secret: If you (EU / etc) can't manage this child level of social planning / discourse / attainment, you're fucked once the Big Bads come rolling in.

Of course most of you just want to build big walls (Day Z, PLAN B productions) but it won't work.

Shadowrun - this is part joke, part snark, part fact.


~

As a genuine comment:

If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguil'd,
Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss
The second burden of a former child.
O, that record could with a backward look,
Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
Show me your image in some antique book,
Since mind at first in character was done!
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame;
Whether we are mended, or whe'er better they,
Or whether revolution be the same.
O! sure I am, the wits of former days
To subjects worse have given admiring praise.


Small minds try to make the world fit their mold - large ones seek to expand it.


Which is rather the point of entertaining Host.


p.s.

"It's a system" is never an excuse for Stagnation and Wallowing. (Mirror, Mirror...)

346:

Yes, though many of them can be applied to many houses. I live in one that is 86 years old. Usually, roof insulation and some limited forms of double glazing can be applied retrospectively. And, of course, we can wear more clothing in winter, just as we used to in the days before central heating. In much of the west, few houses were heated at all and the purpose of the (singular) fire was to dry out the air, not heat it. But his idea for heating water is just a pipe dream ....

347:

"In which case, why is he (Osborne) doing the exact opposite of what went on under the Madwoman ..."

He is actually doing much the same, though it is hidden by the smokescreen of his attacks on what he regards as shiftless scroungers. No more than a pittance of that money is going to be used to pay the scientists and engineers more, and the majority will end up in the pockets of the financiers, 'management' and other fat cats. He has continued to make it much more expensive to qualify as the former than as the latter, has continued to ensure that the pay, working conditions, and (most of all) freedoms and status of the former are seriously inferior to the latter, and are continuing to degrade.

Almost all of the innovation used to come from individuals and small companies. The former are continuing to be hammered, though not by him personally, and his policies are continuing to support USA-based multinationals as against UK-based small industries. And, yes, that IS one of the effects of TTIP. It is almost impossible for small businesses to get loans except at punitive rates, which is one aspect of the bank abuse, but he has done precisely nothing about that.

As I have posted before, an increasing proportion of the best British students are opting out of science and engineering, and the vast majority of staff in many or most research establishments are now foreigners (mostly from the EU). If he seriously wanted to restore our lead in innovation, he would be following entirely different policies. He doesn't.

348:

In the south of England, two guinea pigs will mow more than 200 square metres in the winter, but no more than 100 in the summer. Yes, I did that, too.

349:

Never mind the Californian cyber-hippies, Bruce is really hitting his stride now. He's a Bowie-esque chameleon, bit of a dinosaur but willing to grow some feathers and have a go at flying if that's where the present moment is. A valuable point of reference.

350:

What's your current domestic heat source?

The standard for the vast majority of dwellings of this type: a boiler running on natural gas that (a) heats water in an insulated water tank for bath/shower/washing (there's an electrical immersion heater for backup; I've never used it) and (b) heats water that is then pumped through pipes to radiators in each room (with valves on each radiator to permit some degree of fine control).

The immersion tank for water is old-school; most newer pumped central heating systems rely on a combi-boiler that flash-heats water direct from the cold-riser in response to a tap opening.

US-style hot-air-duct heating is unheard of (it'd be an unholy pain to retrofit to a building with thick stone walls; central heating water pipes are roughly half-inch in diameter so can be drilled through walls/laid under floor boards quite easily).

Domestic air conditioning is also almost unheard-of in Scotland (you might want to turn it on about 3-5 days in any given year if you were at home during peak temperature, say in mid-afternoon.)

The tenement has chimneys and was originally built with coal/wood fires and fireplaces in mind. Some buildings have gas fires in fireplaces rather than central heating, but that's generally a pre-WW2 solution to the problem. Buildings with no gas supply often use electric night-storage heaters -- cheap nighttime base load electricity is used to heat fire bricks in an insulated radiator unit bolted to the wall; when heat is needed, louvres are opened to allow air to circulate past the hot bricks.

But seriously? Architecture and geography constrain your construction options. For example, solar isn't really viable up here -- at the time when most energy is needed for domestic heating/cooling, we get 5 hours of daylight and the sun never rises 15 degrees above the horizon.

351:

"For example, solar isn't really viable up here"

An average of about 1 MJ/m^2/diem where you are in midwinter, if I recall. That's enough to heat c. 35 litres of water per square metre of land area - viable for free-standing houses, but damn-all use for flats or even most terraces.

352:

US-style hot-air-duct heating is unheard of

I'd say almost unheard of. We have hot air floor vents (the house is about 30 years old), which is how we can cover our walls with book shelves instead of radiators.

(And the internal walls are made from highly compressed straw which makes for good heat and sound insulation.)

There's a critical mass effect: because so few properties have this sort of heating, it's harder to find people to service the installation, which makes it more expensive, which makes it less popular, which ... you get the idea.

(Commercial properties are of course different, particularly hotels, but this conversation wasn't about that so I'll just note them in order to dismiss them.)

One effect is that in order to have space to run the ducts through, the gap between the ceiling of the floor below and the floor of the floor above is about twice what I'm used to.

Cats do like it. There's little more blissful than a cat lain on top of a hot air vent when it's on, though when they get too large they end up blocking it to the detriment of the air flow.

353:

Osborne's support for Reaction Engines is about two decades too late and two orders of magnitude too small to actually achieve anything. (Basically, SpaceX has got to the reusability goal using much cruder, simpler technology that exists now, today. Which leaves RE looking like another Concorde/AGR project -- glorious high technology but a commercial dead-end.)

Osborne has a thing for Manchester so upgrading the disgracefully moribund Pennine Express line is a no-brainer -- needs doing, and the cost of running an extra motorway over the Pennines is non-trivial (cough, M62, cough). London is choking on its own early-Victorian infrastructure and the property bubble there will stall without better transport, hence CrossRail and similar. If the bubble bursts, so does Osborne's whole long-term economic game plan, so ...

Finally, he's a politician. If he doesn't fight and win elections he doesn't get to keep his hands on the levers of power. So stimulus spending is fine when it's election time. The question is, how many of these promises will be delivered on? Like Cameron's "greenest government ever" claim back in 2010 ...

354:

I make it to be 147 kJ per degree C that you want that 35 litres of water warmed up by. Assuming an initial temperature of 4C, you'd be 'heating' it to ~10C using that MJ.

(I have no real idea what the winter temperature of mains cold water is in Edinburgh, but it gets pretty chilly south of Cambridge.)

So yes, I'd want 5m^2 to get that amount of water to a decent temperature.

355:

Yeah: Bruce has always been about a decade ahead of most other SF authors in engaging with the real world.

Consider "Heavy Weather" -- published 1994, so written 1991-93, set in a full-on AGW world with global internet, bottom-up "infrastructure strikes" as the preferred form of warfare, Texan oil barons trying to set themselves up for the climate-proof bunker to sit out the riots, and of course storm chasers hunting the mother of all tornadoes in what's left of the post-warming USA. It's all looking a bit eerily prescient today, but back then virtually no-one else writing SF was taking that stuff seriously and thinking about the social consequences.

For the past decade he's been on an extended industrial design/maker kick and is mostly a TED pundit/design lecturer (IIRC in Italy), but hey, interests change over time and if you see an author writing the same kind of books at 60 that they were publishing at 30 it's time to hand them a shovel and point them at the graveyard: they've been dead for decades and simply haven't noticed.

356:

Oops. You are right. I typed one too many zeroes. It's under 5 litres/m^2, to get to even 50 Celsius, using 5 Celsius input and 90% efficiency. The conclusion stands, of course, only more strongly.

357:

Easy to do.

How much of the existing housing stock actually has conveniently aligned roofs is another problem. And any solution that involves demolishing and rebuilding most of the homes in the country is somewhat energy inefficient.

358:

It's quite a thought to look round an urban scene and think that pretty well everything you can see has been red hot at some point.

359:

STILL don't believe you.
In fact, your prancing & preening and warnings of giant conspiracies are actually such as to make such things more, rather than less likely, as even fewer people will believe in them, even if/when true.

360:

Yes (mostly)
Osborne wants to be the next PM
He can only do this if ("it's the economy, stupid") there is a reasonable amount of ( if not full) employment & people can see that there will be jobs - & latterly houses as well.
If this means following at least partly non-Thatcherite policies, then so be it. Pragmatism, not dogma.

Question: IS "reaction engines" too late?
even if Elon can cut costs to orbit, it would seem that skylon would cut costs by a n other considerable amount, as in order of magnitude ....

361:

Effectively, yes, but it still doesn't go far. 10m x 2m high panels at 75 degrees, perfectly aligned, is 300 litres of hot water, which is how many people's requirements? And, as you say, practicalities mean that would rarely be approached.

362:

Addressing state MPs on Monday, Mr Jaeger criticised police for not calling for reinforcements on the night, and also for the way they informed the public about the investigation in the days after the events.

His report details how a group of around 1,000 men of North African and Arabic origin gathered on 31 December. Smaller groups formed, surrounding women, then threatening and attacking them, he said.

These groups were predominately made up of North African men who had travelled to Cologne from different cities.

It notes that similar crimes took place in other parts of Germany on 31 December, including in Hamburg.

The report describes a modus operandi known as "taharrush gamea" in Arabic, meaning group sexual harassment in crowds, and compares it to incidents reported in Cairo's Tahrir Square at the time of the Egyptian revolution.

Cologne attackers were of migrant origin - minister BBC, 11th Jan 2016

Cologne attacks: Germany to make foreign deportations easier BBC, 12th Jan 2016, 20 mins ago


At least 10 people, most of them German tourists, have been killed in an explosion in a central area of Istanbul, Turkish officials say.

They say a Syrian national carried out a suicide bomb attack in the Sultanahmet district, near the city's famous Blue Mosque.

Fifteen people were wounded, the Istanbul governor's office said.


Turkey: 10 die in suicide blast in Istanbul Sultanahmet district BBC 12th Jan 2016 posted 7 minutes ago


Very very depressing.


.

363:

Since Bruce Sterling has been commenting on NGOs in his comments, a tie in:

https://www.google.co.uk/trends/explore#q=Taharrush

Reconceptualizing Sexual Harassment in Egypt: A Longitudinal Assessment of el-Taharrush el-Ginsy in Arabic Online Forums and Anti-Sexual Harassment Activism Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research Vol. 1, No. 1 (Summer 2015)

I'd look over the tables on p. 39 - given the nature of social media, I would expect a far greater number of examples. e.g. Total Number of Posts Per Year
- EGYPT: barely over 20

I don't doubt at all that these issues aren't happening or discussed, but it seems an oddity that this particular example has such a low threshold. i.e. I suspect there's a much larger body that uses different terminology or allusions / non-direct synonyms.

Tapping Egyptian sources might lead to further wisdom: but as a publication it is very new.

Dr Ebtihal Mahadeen University of Edinburg is a peer reviewer, so it has official / academic merit.


JD Godchaux
- Pitch by organizer of harassmap.org, youtube: interview: 2:23

Morrison Institute

~


Hmm.

364:

Recommend this explanation for religius extremism (especially of the ISIS variety), aka "Sex and the Single Terrorist":

http://quillette.com/2016/01/07/original-sin-the-sexual-motivation-of-religious-extremists/

And that prize of status is so appealing because in primate troops, status determines access to females. What these groups are doing is no different from the Gombe Chimpanzee War, where four years of sporadic but horrific violence resulted in a total gain for the victors of three captured adult females and a small strip of territory that was quickly lost to another, bigger troop. Consider the fact that of 234 women and girls recently liberated from Boko Haram, no less than 214 were pregnant. The bloodshed in Iraq and Syria and Libya and Nigeria and everywhere else this contagion has spread is a savage primal conflict, where the whole point of conquering your neighbors is to steal their women....

One of the great truths of evolution and one of the hardest to accept is that the natural evolutionary interests of males and females are not the same. Because the reproductive capacity of males is theoretically near-infinite, whereas that of females is strictly limited, they can only achieve maximum fitness by pursuing differing strategies. A male tends to be best off with many mates, a female with a high-quality and devoted one. When resource inequality among males is great these two strategies, combined, produce the mating system known as resource polygyny, or, in social animals, harem polygyny, where strong high-status males monopolize both resources and large numbers of females....

Polygyny is the poisoned soil that nurtured the explosive growth of radical Islamism with its sexual obsessions and salacious sacralization of violence. The revolt of ISIS and Boko Haram is not at root a religious one; nor is it truly political or even economic. It is an evolutionary uprising of frustrated young men. They have arisen and seek to claim their place as head of a harem, if not here, in the afterlife.

Modernity requires monogamy. But will followers of Mohammed accept it?

365:

KOHL – A Journal for Body and Gender Research, Vol. 1 Link to the actual Journal, should have been in the prior post.

366:

Aunty is ahead of this particular strand...

As millions of asylum seekers flee the deepening crisis in the Middle East, an American researcher has urged Europe to preserve natural gender balances when considering which refugees to accept.

Professor Valerie Hudson, a Texas A&M University professor, said gender imbalances could cause serious problems in the community.

European migrant crisis causing dangerous gender imbalance in region, expert warns ABC, Australia, 11th Jan 2016


Valerie Hudson Professor and George H.W. Bush Chair

That will deescalate things nicely, won't it?

367:

Today doesn't seem to be a big one for responsibility:

In a note to its clients the bank said: “Sell everything except high quality bonds. This is about return of capital, not return on capital. In a crowded hall, exit doors are small.” It said the current situation was reminiscent of 2008, when the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank led to the global financial crisis. This time China could be the crisis point.

Sell everything ahead of stock market crash, say RBS economists Guardian, 12th Jan 2016

Nothing like a hand-grenade to lob into the powder stores; Stock Market looks like it has ignored it though... the reason being that oil futures went up on news of the latest Turkish bombing.

No comment.

368:

I'm sorry I've been out of contact. I've been much busier than expected.

Out of curiosity, is there any actual interest for me to continue the posts on Latin America?

At any rate, I have a question. Even if fully funded, is Reaction Engine likely to deliver? To me it seems a lot like the scramjet: an engine that is 20 years into the future and always will be. In other words: aeronautics' fusion power.

369:

I'd definitely be interested, at least.

370:

... and ironically Reaction Engine live here on the north end of Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) site. Alan Bond worked for the UKAEA on fusion for 20 years, so you're kinda warm.

I'm no more qualified to pontificate on rocket engines than any other nerd, but they've met every technical target they've been set so far, and been paid. So, probably, yeah, it would deliver, if funded.

In general there are a wide range of technical solutions to cheap access to low-earth orbit that can be made to work. The problem is sufficiently increasing the demand for access to space through cost reduction to make the investment required to reduce the cost economically viable. It's gridlock, but eventually it will be steam engine time, and everybody will be steaming. Or rather, rail-launching, or tether-hanging, or air-breathing, or laser-launching, or ...

371:

I'd be interested as well.

372:

I think its funded too poorly and too late though. SpaceX seem likely to become the private monopoly for space flight with only State actors from Europe, Russia and China to compete with. Sadly Skylon's most likely fate is its IP sold to another state actor for their Gen XXX orbiter, I dont see it ever flying its too little too late.

The near future belongs to SpaceX mid-term the US imploding will possibly take them out - although Musk seems smart enough to milk the US Govt and then run. Expect to see him operating from elsewhere in 20 odd years if he's still in business.

373:

Question: IS "reaction engines" too late? even if Elon can cut costs to orbit, it would seem that skylon would cut costs by a n other considerable amount, as in order of magnitude ....

Yes, Skylon is too late.

Cost of a Falcon 9 launch stack (disposable): $65M.

Cost of a Falcon 9 first stage (reusable): $45M.

Cost of fuel for a reusable Falcon 9 first stage: $0.2M.

The first stage they recovered is undergoing extensive teardown and analysis, and will probably end up in the Smithsonian, but SpaceX are planning on re-launching a (different) used first stage late this year/early next year, and thereafter reusing them regularly.

So SpaceX have already demonstrated the ability to cut the price of launches of an already-below-industry-norms launch system by 60-70%.

Lets we forget, the $20M cost of the upper stage (one Merlin Vacuum engine as opposed to nine regular Merlins) is considerably lower than the typical cost of the satellite payloads Falcon carries. And they've been muttering about ways and means of eventually recovering and reusing the upper stage as well -- much harder, needs a ballistic recovery system/heat shield good for near orbital velocity, etc., but not impossible. The Merlin engines are already re-lightable (they ground-fire the assembled stack a week prior to launch, just to make sure everything's in working order). In fact, the current state of reusability for Falcon 9 model 1.1 is on a par with or superior to the Space Shuttle. (Which also needed refurbishing between flights, a crane to stack the bits vertically, new fuel, some disposable bits like the ET replacing, and so on.) But the key factor? The biggest payload the shuttle ever carried was about 12 tons. That's two Falcon 9 launches. With just first-stage reusability, they'd cost about $50M. Whereas the Shuttle cost on the order of $1Bn per flight, and an Ariane-5 with similar payload is about $150-200M.

So we've got an as-reusable-as-the-space-shuttle but much cheaper commercial system that's on the verge of full service (it's already demonstrated its capabilities) and that relies on existing tech, versus a blue-sky hydrogen-burning SSTO design that is still mostly a paper study. Note that hydrogen-burning SSTOs are horribly problematic because the weight margins are dreadful and so is the materials science. Launching horizontally means Skylon has to take the long, draggy path through the stratosphere rather than getting up above the air ASAP. Hanging wings and wheels on Skylon means ... well, a spaceship needs wings and wheels like a fish needs a bicycle or an airliner needs a flagpole.

If Skylon had gotten funded around 1990, when launchers were platinum-plated, it might have gotten a share of the market before something like SpaceX's cheap and cheerful approach gained traction. But now it's facing an uphill battle against a budget incumbent, and its main value proposition (reusability) has mostly evaporated.

374:

Nope, SpaceX won't become a monopoly.

United Launch Alliance woke up and smelled their house on fire last year and promptly announced a new launcher with a slightly different take on reusability. (Tankage is disposable, but the rocket motors sit in a reusable module with flyback capability.) So there's Delta/Atlas successor, although it's a few years away, and their cost-plus military order book will tide them over until it's ready.

(The military hate depending on a single launch vehicle -- the real legacy of the Challenger explosion is that they're required to have multiple competing launch contractors on tap, even if it means paying over the odds for the capability.)

Bezos' Blue Origin demonstrated sub-orbital VTVL capability last year and are up to their elbows in ULA.

Ariane have hastily announced a new low-cost launcher initiative. I believe the Soyuz-2 launcher is due to be phased out and replaced in the next decade, probably with something semi-reusable. And so on.

Basically SpaceX caught the incumbents with their pants down but they're grabbing for a roll of TP and they'll be back in competition sooner rather than later. SpaceX have at most a 5-10 year lead on reusability before everyone catches up. Unless they have more unexpected rabbits to pull out of hats on a regular basis, and manage to change US defense procurement policy in their own favour, there's not going to be a monopoly.

375:

>>>Nope, SpaceX won't become a monopoly.

SpaceX may grab 90% of commercial launches. Obviously, various national militaries will still want their own launch systems.

>>>United Launch Alliance woke up and smelled their house on fire last year and promptly announced a new launcher with a slightly different take on reusability. (Tankage is disposable, but the rocket motors sit in a reusable module with flyback capability.)

Yes. They needed to show something. It is a bad design, however. More complexity, less reusability. ULA (and Arianespace) are still in the stage of denial, where they hope SpaceX reusability plan will not work.

By the time they fully wake up, they will realize they need to compete with not even Falcon-9, but with the BFR. Which is going to have both reusable stages.

376:

Im not convinced that ULA can wean themselves off US Govt pork enough to make a go of a commercial launch system. They may keep the Military market since they probably own a good few congresscritters, but I don't see a bunch of people who have been sucking on the govt teat being pragmatic or driven enough to actually take on SpaceX and beat them.

Blue Origin themselves aren't really a serious contender apart from their motor deal with ULA.

I think it will be later rather than sooner - we're in agile start up vs corporate dinosaur territory (witness the turn around after the Falcon going boom). They'll probably hobble SpaceX with the usual corporate tricks - note the relative unfairness of the contracts awarded for CST vs Dragon, but not enough to hold them back.

The biggest short term risk for SpaceX is whether Falcon Heavy is a distraction that's actually too capable for what will be needed in the near term. I don't see the US ever going to Mars, and its arguably on the outside of the weight (comparatively few heavy launches) and risk (too many peas in a pod) envelopes.

377:

As I see it, Falcon Heavy has several target markets.

1. Big Black. The NRO builds heavy spysats -- Hubble space telescope sized kit. Right now since Titan IV retired they've got a single launcher -- Delta 4 Heavy -- but D4H is a bespoke product and monstrously expensive. Falcon Heavy should be able to shove a big-ass spysat into polar orbit in non-reusable mode, and even so it will shave a good $300M off the launch price compared to D4H.

2. Big-ass comsats in GEO. Enough said. (FH can shove about 20 tons up to GEO in one lift, with reusable boosters.)

3. Dragon 2 plus extra cargo. Not officially scheduled but if they start using Dragon 2 as a taxi, NASA will probably thereafter start asking for more cargo in the trunk. ISS is in an inclined orbit; while Falcon 9 can send a Dragon up to the ISS, to send a much bigger cargo -- say, the equivalent of the ESA's ATV supply ship -- they'd need an FH launch.

4. ISS replacement. ISS began construction in the mid-90s, bits of it are wearing out. It's due for end-of-life some time after 2024. FH would save a lot of space walks in that respect because it can lift a bigger payload to the ISS than the shuttle ever did.

5. Big-ass constellations of LEO comsats. Talk about Facebook et al flooding LEO with cheap internet satellites -- shades of the 1990s Teledesic plan -- are cropping up. FH could lift maybe fifty small comsats at a time ...

6. NASA deep space probes: FH has the throw weight to launch a Boeing Centaur and something the size of Galileo or Cassini. NASA haven't gone long on SpaceX contracts other than ISS resupply and astronaut taxi duties yet, but Falcon Heavy could re-open robotic exploration of the outer solar system by shaving the launch budget in the highly cost-sensitive area. Probably not in time for the planned Europa mission, but maybe thereafter. And it's a no-brainer for future Mars surface missions in the sub-$250M price range (including launch costs).

7. Unknown Unknowns. If the NASA SLS gets cancelled, FH derivatives could pick up the slack at the lower (70 ton) end -- think in terms of Falcon Heavy with four boosters instead of two. Again, Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable spacehabs might be able to go somewhere faster with a real no-shit cheap big booster. Private Moon missions: do you think National Geographic would be willing to fund a manned moon shot if they could wrap it up for less than the budget of a high-end Hollywood movie? I do.

378:

Since 2010, I think ULA has launched maybe 3 commercial payloads. They launch about 13 flights a year. In short, they've already abandoned the commercial satellite market. Their customers are the military and NASA. Thus, they can safely ignore reusability and rely on lobbying instead (see SLS).

The only American company that was launching commercial payloads has been Orbital, but they have a much lower flight rate of commercial payloads.

SpaceX competitors are Russia, Arianespace, and perhaps China (I'm not familiar with the Chinese launch market to guess). I think that the serious competitors right now are China and Russia. China is almost a certainty, but we'll see if Russian companies have the money to compete. Arianespace right now seems far more iffy. They could just as easily abandon the commercial satellite launch market and just rely on government contracts.

In short, I don't know if either ULA or Arianespace are serious abut reusability or are just using it to milk more jobs in friendly Congressional (or European equivalent) districts *cough* pork *cough*

379:

The problem with relying on NASA or the NRO is that there have been a lot of tricks by Congress to roadblock NASA from considering SpaceX. I don't have the links but in the FY'15 budget, NASA was directed by Congress to fly the Europa lander on the SLS. I could see future missions having pro-ULA requirements which they hope might freeze out SpaceX.

380:

Arianespace is a commercial outfit, or at least as commercial as Airbus. (Boeing used to accuse Airbus of being a government pork-barrel project. If that was true, the EU would have gone bankrupt ages ago subsidizing half the global civil airliner market.)

Europa/SLS is basically a self-sucking lollipop situation: we have a lollipop (SLS) so we must find a reason to suck it (Europa mission): so Europa mission is designed to require SLS and be incompatible with other vehicles.

381:

I have no idea what day-to-day life is like in Egypt - how children are raised, educated, what TV shows/movies they watch or music they listen to. But kids are a great place to start social education. Otherwise you have to wait until senior leadership (secular and religious) decides that it's time to actively and continually enforce policies to protect women against what are almost thought of as initiation traditions, i.e., get good and drunk/high and 'let nature take its course'/sexually assault 'some chick'. Thing is, for issues like these, it's never a 'good time' until it's too late.

The US military is at about par with Egypt when it comes to how it deals with sexual harassment.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_assault_in_the_United_States_military

Excerpt:
'A 2012 Pentagon survey found that approximately 26,000 women and men were sexually assaulted. Of those, only 3,374 cases were reported. In 2013, a new Pentagon report found that 5,061 troops reported cases of assault. Many people are optimistic that this 50% increase in reports is indicative of victims "growing more comfortable in the system." Of these reported, however, only 484 cases went to trial, and only 376 resulted in convictions.[1] Ninety percent of the assault victims were eventually involuntarily discharged.[2] Another investigation found that only one in five females and one in 15 males in the United States Air Force would report having been sexually assaulted by service members.[3]'

382:

It occurs to me that a writer could make a pretty good career in SF with the contents of this thread. :)

383:

Cost of a Falcon 9 launch stack (disposable): $65M.

Cost of a Falcon 9 first stage (reusable): $45M.

SpaceX currently advertise a complete Falcon 9 *launch* for $61.2 million and a Heavy for $90 million. The first stage has been said to be two thirds of the hardware cost so assuming a fixed cost per launch on top of the hardware (range fees, pad leasing, SpaceX profit, etc) you can make a good case for a first stage costing around 15 million to build. F9R 15 + 7.5 + 37.5 and F9H 3 * 15 + 7.5 + 37.5.
Elon Musk has been quoted as saying the hardware costs around 16 million to build, if that's true then if they can hit the launch once a fortnight target they're aiming at we could see a F9R launch drop to 25 million and a heavy 40 million.

384:

Charlie,

Your list of markets neglects the key target IMHO - Elon Musk wants to go to Mars, and in a timespan within which Elon Musk can make the journey, if only one way. Now I'm not sure that's going to happen, but I think it shapes the direction of SpaceX developments pretty notably.

As such, I think he'll be pushing for BIG launchers, bigger than the Falcon Heavy. Your list becomes 'glove box' items and the focus become one of large mass into orbit and beyond.

At some point, probably in the not too distant future, I think he'll be saying "give me some of that public money and forget NASA, I'll go to Mars and put an American footprint there first". He'll also probably be saying something about orbital weapons too, just in a much quieter voice.

385:

Cant see it happening. Don't forget the Moon missions were all about proving US superiority over the godless commies and generating the first internet conspiracy memes.

Firstly the US can arguably say its incomparable to anyone for the next 2 decades - or whenever the Chinese come knocking for their assets.

Secondly if you play the odds the US will be involved in at least one oversea's war sucking up the billions that would pay for a Mars shot. You can argue that Apollo was against the background of Vietnam but Im willing to bet the Military-Industrial pork extraction has got an order of magnitude worse since then.

If Musk is going he'll be on his own - not even if SpaceX, SolarCity and Tesla are rip roaring successes will he have enough money or rather it will be hedged around by the shareholders of those 3 businesses.

Only if Zuck cashes out of Facebook on a high and they start a consortium could it possibly happen.

386:

You'd make an even better living using this thread to write either

--technothrillers set in the near future, or

--(dystopian) YA set in the near future (magic optional).

387:

Cost of a GSLV to geosynchronous orbit is $36 million dollars and the PSLV to LEO is even cheaper at $15 million. ISRO has not been a preferred supplier for launches until recently but its track record of not throwing someone else's sparkly bits into the ocean is getting up there and it's starting to pick off launch contracts from the Big Boys.

388:

I'm surprised at you writing off Skylon - surely the obvious market is a cross between LAPCAT and Skylon, to produce something for the military; scary high and fast, for the USAF "Prompt Global Strike" mission... Descendant of DynaSoar and ISINGLASS :)

Mind you, using a Falcon 9 as the DynaSoar booster gives you equal reusability...

389:

Sort-of correct, but Elon isn't going to Mars unless he can earn the money to pay for the big booster for the Mars missions -- the MCT -- and he can't do that unless he can grow the market for what today are seen as "outsize" payloads, and he can't do that unless he can make a profit while undercutting everyone else in the launcher biz.

So I think his strategy will be to continually push down the cost per Kg into LEO, staying one jump ahead of the opposition, and hope like hell that new commercial applications get to the metal-bashing stage in time to fill his launch manifest.

I think it's actually quite a good strategy (and if SpaceX shares were publicly traded I'd buy some, but they're not -- it's private), but there are clear dependencies on markets that don't exist yet in his critical path to boots on Mars.

390:

Those horrid chemically pumped lasers work, so "high and fast" is only useful against people you can fly a C-130 over anyway.

Which isn't a guarantee it won't get funded, but given the RBS advice to investors today, I wouldn't bet on anything all that novel being funded for the next little while, and by then I figure we're going to be well and truly into a publically perceived climate emergency.

391:

You really think the Pentagon would pay for Skylon?

I don't.

Reason: Not Invented Here applies. (It's a foreign design -- even if UK-based -- and it doesn't benefit the usual pork barrel contractors -- even if BAe Systems and Rolls-Royce are de facto parts of the US military ecosystem these days: there are others who'd need paying off first.)

Falcon 9 first stage as a Dyna-Soar launcher for a bunch of Space Marines™ is, however, the sort of thing that the USAF would cream themselves over. And it's a relatively cheap "jam today" capability to evolve at this point.

392:

Re Falcon Heavy, there could be a successful push for one or more very large (high-resolution) multi-mirror telescopes that look up (plus new ones that look down).

393:

Heteromeles #249 "For those who don't like handwaving models about sudden state changes in complex systems such as civilization, here's an article about one way to predict such changes,"

I thought this was obvious.

Apparently not?

As you load up a highway, minor traffic slowdowns start to last longer and increase the slow down. That's a clear sign that the highway is about to tip from one stable point (well separated cars, travelling at the speed limit) to another (tightly packed cars travelling very slowly). Both points carry the same number of cars per unit time past a fixed point.

There's lots of other examples of slower recovery from insult when you get close to a tipping point.

394:

They may not pay for Skylon, but I suspect they'd look at SABRE as a fallback if their own scram jets don't produce the goods (or they need some more altitude)...

395:

+1 on that please.

@SFReader

Thing is, for issues like these, it's never a 'good time' until it's too late.

Put it this way:

#1 Vaguely Left (they're still Capitalists, even the Guardian now owned by private finance) are afraid of what happens if naked truth comes out

#2 Vaguely Right (the ones who actually like society, but only because they're at the top) are afraid that class warfare develops into something else

#3 Far Left - no longer exists in any meaningful sense

#4 Far Right (the ones who know they're being lied to, not a pleasant experience to live constantly being Gas Lighted) will swallow any old bullshit because they're afraid (quite rightly in context of Class theory) that they're being totally left behind.

Because they are.

If you imagine you have any interest in Empathy, read this:

Introducing the most derided ethnic group in Britain: young white men

No, it's not a White Power Website.

It's extremely Oxford Level Proper Stuff (and yes, CIS/LGBT doesn't factor in, which is a shame, but hey)

Top #6 regarded, highest to lowest:

White Woman Age 60+ 67%
White Man Age 60+
Chinese Woman 40+
Chinese Woman 60+
Jewish Woman 40+
Jewish Man 60+ 59%

Spread of 8%


Hmm, I'm detecting that the majority of people aren't racist or anti-Semitic.

Lowest #5 regarded:

White Man in 20's 8%
Afro-Caribbean Man in 20's 19%
White Woman in 20's
White Australian Man in 20's --- WTF---- I suspect this one is just pure trolling or wut?
Pakistani Man in 20's
Polish Man in his 20's


There's a clear lesson here - youth (employment, stability, etc etc), gender (*sigh* yes, looks like one of those binary shitty jobs, but hey) but most importantly:

"White" / "Black" / "Asian[*]" are the common factors.


Now, riddle me how easy it is to play to the bottom #6 sets off against each other.


Bleh.


Try living in a fucking Stone for 2,000 years and only having horny men who need their sexual demands satisfied as a female Djinn.


But, hopefully, you *might* be starting to get towards the point here.


@Host. Yes, I know: Tech stuff important, very rude of me to use this platform to grandstand. Important it was, buying all book I am in future.

Will supply a *really* kinky link or three on Space stuff if you want.

*For Americans - the UK uses "Asian" to mean central Asia (India, Pakistan etc) and S.E. Asian to mean (Chinese, Vietnamese, Burmese, Indonesia etc). We have a separate word for the Japanese, of course.

396:

And no.

I don't agree with how shit has been run because it doesn't work in the next 10-20 years.


Either you [note to Greg: was that you I saw dancing in a field of buttercups all happy and merry? - but really, it's a vocative plural Latin you] bite the bullet and just commit genocide already, or you start dealing with stuff.

Or we do the third option.


Fuck it, I love Dragons.

397:

Initially I was going to do one post on what I saw as the future for Latin America and the Caribbean. However, I’ve decided to do 2 posts instead.

I will break my predictions down by region instead of doing the region-wide trends

1) The Caribbean (sans Hispaniola). I would first point out that what I’m about to say does not include Hispaniola, which is a special case. This region has a good probability of coming out of this well. They’ve already had their population bulge, but now their TFR is near or below replacement levels. They’re where Europe was in the 1970s. This is true except for Cuba and Puerto Rico, both of which demographically resemble Japan.

Environmentally, the region is vulnerable to rising sea levels and further droughts. This might result in an increase in emigration, possibly to the US and Canada. However, the region shouldn’t have much of a problem getting the US and Canada to finance desalination plants. With the exception of the islands over 1 million (Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago), between 10-30% of the population is classified as white. Most of these are Western retirees. This population is expected to increase as Baby Boomers retire. In addition, the increased popularity of medical tourism should ensure money that can be used to build the plants. This retiree phenomenon should restrain the US and Canada from instituting immigration controls to these countries. After all, encouraging the poor to emigrate should limit how crowded the islands could get. Also, it should somewhat mitigate revolts.

2) Hispaniola: I don’t know enough about the island to make a prediction. As mentioned in previous posts, Haiti is at African levels of development. I won’t repeat Jared Diamond’s observations in Collapse about the island. The short version is that Haiti is 95% deforested while the Dominican Republic is about 15%.

3) Central America: This is the poorest part of the Americas outside of Hispaniola. It is also the most violent in regards to the drug wars. It is the least urbanized and has the highest TFR. It is around the Philippines or Vietnam in terms of development. In short, it’s like Mexico in the late 1990s-early 2000s. There are 2 exceptions to this: Costa Rica and Panama. I’ll talk about them first. Both of these countries are exceptions to the rules mentioned above. Panama may even be considered a developed country by GDP (PPP) per capita. These countries are also popular with American retirees.

A positive for the region is the fact that Mexico’s development rose from this level of poverty in spite of the violence. If the violence can be kept away from the tourist areas and the outsourced factories, there’s little reason for the region to develop.
The long term problem for the region is drought. That brought down the Mayan civilization. A brief description of the region. The bedrock is limestone, which is very porous. This leads to the creation of cenotes, or caves full of water. There’s a big difference between cenotes and aquifers: cenotes don’t hold water very long and need rain to replace the water lost.

4) The Andes (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia): The region is actually the closest in development to China on a GDP (PPP) per capita. Peru has about the same urbanization rate as Germany, while the other 2 countries are around Ireland. The exception to the development level is Bolivia, which is closer to India. The poor tend to move to Lima, Quito, or the Southern Cone countries instead of the US or Canada.

The main environmental problem in the region is that it resembles California. Lima contains about 10 million of Peru’s 31 million people, and it’s basically in a desert. The environment is close to California, where you substitute Quito and Lima for San Francisco and LA, and the Andes are substituted for the Sierra Nevada and Colorado mountains. Worse, the region’s demographics resemble South Africa. The Europeans and criollos live in the desert coast while the indigenous population lives closer to the ice caps.

398:

A positive for the region is the fact that Mexico’s development rose from this level of poverty in spite of the violence

No.

Mexico rose out of developing world status BEFORE the drug war took hold.

Fact.


If you can't get that right, I have strong doubts about the rest.

399:

Cars & Oil did the heavy lifting in Mexico, waaaay before current violence kicked in.

400:

In fact, if you were smart, you'd link the rise of Japan & car manufacture (1980's before NAFTA took hold) and other things to the drug war.


J'Accuse.

You need to cite some things, because my tail is itching tonight, spent too long on watching young people die in real time. (Consciousness: welcome to the Jungle)

401:

Oh, and here's a picture of the Turkey Blast at the moment it happened (safe):


Obelisk of Theodosius


"The blast struck at 8:20 am (GMT)"


You can translate that accurately as "targeted attack with no bystander issues". If the perp was going for full on casualties, it'd have been much later (2pm - 4pm) when the site was full.

Perp has already been fingered as a Saudi National, Da'esh member via Syria by the Turkish State with full ID. (Strange, eh? I guess he was carrying his passport).


If you can't see the fuckery in here, I guess you could believe that Mexico was a failed state before the drug war.


And if Greg's Dead, I'll be right pissed off.

402:

I found this graph interesting:
www.bit.ly/1ROi7EC

Since the 1950 (1955 in this dataset) the murder rate fell steadily until the early 70s, held steady until the 80s, then has been falling.

Meanwhile the income per person has been rising, fairly steadily.

Not certain if these are the best measures to use. They seemed reasonable as a first approximation, anyway.

403:

Linked graph is CO2 (x), GDP (y) graph for the world.

??

Oh, and if you're going to link anything about murder rates, be real damn sure your sources are kosher.


Strange but true: many of the data sets used by the UN (and, ffs, use the UN already, they spend a few million a year on this, not some oh...

LOL

Lead story on Gapminder.org is "HAS THE UN GONE MAD?"


Fuck off.

404:

Ok, well.

It's not as bad as I thought, but it's not an innocent little chick, either:

The initial activity was to continue development of the Trendalyzer software. This software unveils the beauty of statistical time series by converting boring numbers into enjoyable, animated and interactive graphics. The current version of Trendalyzer is available since March 2006 as Gapminder World, a web-service displaying time series of development statistics for all countries.

In March 2006 Google acquired Trendalyzer from the Gapminder Foundation and the team of developers who formerly worked for Gapminder has joined Google in California since April 2007. (History of Gapminder)


It's not hard stats, and it's been sold.


So, yeah.

Use a proper source already.

405:

World Bank:

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/VC.IHR.PSRC.P5

Global Study on Homicide, UN

https://www.unodc.org/gsh/

Tail Swish.


Oh, and fun fact: shitty little company actually uses said data (+CIA factbook) anyhow.


406:

For the citations:

1) Caribbean: Go on Wikipedia and look at Demographics of each member countries and territories to find ethnic groups. I've already cited the TFR rates and the urbanization rates.

2) The 95% and 15% deforestation rates came from Jared Diamond (from memory, since I don't have the book with me. It's at my parent's house).

3) Well, Robert's data contradicts my statement that Central America was like Mexico was in the late 90s-early 2000s. It was in the late 80s - early 90s.

4) Lima being a desert: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/the-desert-city-in-serious-danger-of-running-dry-2248943.html

But most of the stuff about the Andes region came from my former roommate at University, who was getting his degree in Earth and Environmental Science. He lived in Bolivia for a semester as part of his research on the glaciers there.

As for my sources, if you don't agree with the CIA World Factbook, World Bank, or IMF, too bad. I view them as legit (although I prefer the World Bank or IMF to The CIA World Factbook), and some of the Wikipedia citations I've used do reference them. If you don't trust them, feel free to disregard my analysis.

407:

I was going to mention this in the Mexico section, but I'm not convinced that Mexico stopped growing after the drug war intensified in 2006.

Two things to note. The first is that Mexican states vary by homicides.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mexican_states_by_homicides
http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/11/comparing-mexican-states-equivalent-countries


After all, Brazil's changing homicide rate didn't seriously stop its growth in this century.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Brazilian_states_by_murder_rate

I know it's an apples to oranges comparison to some extent, but every country is different and global conditions are different when they develop. That's the risk of predictions.

Note that the drug war in Mexico has existed in some form since the 1980s, with varying levels of intensity following its own gruesome dynamics.

Oil did have a lot to do with it, I agree. But I think that so did the maquiladoras, remittances from relatives in the US, and other trade. Thus I can't ignore Japan's role in Mexico's growth in the 1980s. But I can't assume Mexico's growth was mostly to economic trends that preceded NAFTA. As I said earlier, that's the risk of predictions. I don't think that either Mexico or Central American states are failed states anymore than the US was a failed state during Prohibition.

408:

It didn't.

NAFTA is included in GDP.

Drug Revenues are not.

You need to see the data we see on Black / Grey market figures.

The GDP figures are total lies, 60% corruption levels etc, taxation revenues being subverted et al.


~

There's some serious infighting tonight and a majorly pissed off [redacted] and so on.

About a 30% faction think that Greg got whacked, our Shaman saw [redacted] and so on.


Dragon is well pissed off. [Tech: don't comment much, she's real not happy m8]

409:

You can argue that Apollo was against the background of Vietnam but Im willing to bet the Military-Industrial pork extraction has got an order of magnitude worse since then.

There was a vast increase in social spending at the federal level between 1960 and 1970. That and the war were not really sustainable. Social services won out. If if many feel they were way too little.

410:

SSTO has been the dream of all rocketeers since WWII or even earlier. But so far it has yet to be done anywhere. One comment I read a while back was that the ability to make it work was out past 2 significant digits and so all the paper plans are just that until someone figures out the exact weight to thrust required to make it happen.

And it may just not be possible with the currently "know how to use them" technologies. And maybe not for a very long time.

411:

SSTO has been done; one of the early original Atlas missile tests didn't stage and made it to orbit.

(The original Atlas missile was a highly weight-optimized structure and a "stage and a half"; it staged by dropping two of its three engines.)

It also helps to know that this flight involved zero payload.

Re-usable SSTO probably can't be done without either the Black Horse (launch with an (over) full fuel load and minimal oxidizer, in-flight refuel for the full oxidizer load, head for orbit) or original Roton (rocket engines at the end of rotary wings; centrifugal force pumps fuel and you get a lot of aerodynamic lift benefit in the thick bits of the air) approaches.

It's way unclear that you can build a Roton. (It was tried. The rotating seals problem for the fuel and oxidizer transfer is highly non-trivial.) Black Horse has never been funded but calculates out as not especially difficult. (Landing gear mass scaling is unforgiving and eats so much margin on an SSTO that has to support its full fueled weight.)

412:

Coming back to climate change & denialism ...
I recently came across a reference to this utter nutter & I mean, totally Upney ...
Two curious things:
1: I've met him, twice, & yes, he is right round the bend.
2: Although he is Jeremy's brother & also very "left-wing", apparently the tory denialists, including BoJo are using PC as an "authoritative" source for refusing to "believe in" GW.

You really couldn't make this stuff up, could you?

413:

And pork-barrel or no pork-barrel, if SpaceX are half or a quarter or 1/10th the price of SLS?
Someone will ask very public questions & something will be done about it, because it's "GUVMINT WASTE!"

414:

OK
I don't agree with how shit has been run because it doesn't work in the next 10-20 years.
It doesn't work RIGHT NOW - or hadn't you noticed?

Either you [note to Greg: was that you I saw dancing in a field of buttercups all happy and merry? - but really, it's a vocative plural Latin you] bite the bullet and just commit genocide already, or you start dealing with stuff.
I might be seen happy & merry on my allotment "Cultivating my Garden" - Voltaire was right.
Or tramping through the forests, looking for mushrooms, or (very rarely these days, unfortunately) striding across the hills, or dancing in some public place ....

As for committing genocide, I'll leave that to nilhilistic introverted deludees like your good self.

Or we do the third option.
Which is?

Fuck it, I love Dragons.
DO NOT look them in the eye, though.

415:

Ah yes ...
Dancing in the amphitheatre if not a field of buttercups - I'm the middle one in centre-right of the picture, with the beard, between Mike (who appears to be struggling) & Les ...
"Pearlies" public day, Guildhall, the City ... 2014 I think.

416:

"If you imagine you have any interest in Empathy, read this:
Introducing the most derided ethnic group in Britain: young white men
No, it's not a White Power Website."

And one of the points I have been making is that the reaction is not just based in prejudice - it is a reflection of educational achievement etc. It is a very, very serious social problem, with successive governments doing their best (though not deliberately) to make it worse. My reading is that one cause is that the demographic is (correctly) realising that the system is utterly hostile to them, and giving up hope. Not good.

And, where both the Right and Left are so wrong is that money is not the primary cause/solution; in social contexts, money is usually merely a medium of exchange (as it originally was), and sometimes only an indicator of importance/status/position/etc. With the demise of the paternalistic aristocracy (not all of them, and never was), the last remaining non-monetarist power base in the UK disappeared, and Mammon rules (and is worshipped) unchecked.

417:

"...White Australian Man in 20's --- WTF---- I suspect this one is just pure trolling or wut?"

To quote the late David Jones, culturally we're as bad as South Africa. A government minister in the 40s or 50s once famously said that "... two Wongs don't make a white." Similarly, apparently 'Australians' are the baddie of choice in Thai and Khmer movies.

We're the world's friendliest xenophobes.

418:

Greg, currently I take everything I read in the press with the name "Corbyn" attached as being a hatchet job of some kind.

The Conservatives ragging on the Labour leader is no surprise; it's business as usual for them, with the added seasoning of utter contempt in which they hold Corbyn (because they recognize him as a class enemy, unlike his last three predecessors).

But it's worth noting that The Guardian, hitherto the mouthpiece of left-leaning Britain, is also sticking the knife in. A lot of New Labour apparatchiks got op-ed positions with the Graun during the post-John Smith era (1994-2010) and they're mostly Blairites, Brownites, or some other thinly-veiled subspecies of right-winger. Corbyn is even worse from their point of view because if he takes back the party for his faction they're going to be out in the cold.

The BBC is no use either; since Blair brought them to heel over the Iraq war, they've been a supine mouthpiece for the government of the day, which right now means the Conservatives.

So while I'm perfectly willing to believe that PC is a bonkers climate-change denialist, I read that Indy piece looking for the spin (hint: any op-ed sentence framed as a question: "Is [X] bad for [Y]'s political prospects ...?" for example) and yes, it was there.

419:

"I read that Indy piece looking for the spin"

Right, but it wasn't a hatchet job (at least not on Jeremy), and it must have been the Independent On Sunday because otherwise I probably would have seen it. Sunday rags are always full of such rubbish, and the Independent (during the week) is pretty balanced towards Jeremy Corbyn.

Other than that, I fully agree. I think that Corbyn is a fruitcake, but less dangerous to Britain than the current bunch, economically and militarily.

420:

Charlie
I've met P Corbyn - he really, really is a loonie ...
As for J Corbyn, well, that's what you get with politicians & newspapers, irrespective, isn't it?
Which reminds me - some time back I asked why Murdoch is allowed into the country, at all - answer came there none ....

421:

some time back I asked why Murdoch is allowed into the country, at all

He's rich, right?

422:

Re: Unfavorable perception of young adult males in Western society


If you're an accredited social sciences researcher and have PI-level approval, cough up ~800USD to get this data. (To-date, this study has spawned about 2,500 published papers.)


http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Longitudinal_Study_of_Adolescent_to_Adult_Health

Excerpt:

'The Add Health cohort has been followed into young adulthood with four in-home interviews, the most recent in 2008, when the sample was aged 24-32.

Add Health combines longitudinal survey data on respondents’ social, economic, psychological and physical well-being with contextual data on the family, neighborhood, community, school, friendships, peer groups, and romantic relationships, providing unique opportunities to study how social environments and behaviors in adolescence are linked to health and achievement outcomes in young adulthood.

The fourth wave of interviews expanded the collection of biological data in Add Health to understand the social, behavioral, and biological linkages in health trajectories as the Add Health cohort ages through adulthood.'

423:

Description of study design:

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) Sibling Pairs Data

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3574787/

Abstract

'This article describes the design and phenotype and genotype data available for sibling pairs with varying genetic relatedness in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Add Health is a nationally-representative longitudinal study of over 20,000 adolescents in the U.S. in 1994-95 who have been followed for fifteen years into adulthood. The Add Health design included oversamples of more than 3,000 pairs of individuals with varying genetic resemblance, ranging from monozygotic twins, dizygotic twins, full siblings, half siblings, and unrelated siblings who were raised in the same household. Add Health sibling pairs are therefore nationally representative and followed longitudinally from early adolescence into adulthood with 4 in-home interviews during the period 1994-2009. Add Health has collected rich longitudinal social, behavioral, environmental, and biological data, as well as buccal cell DNA from all sample members, including siblings pairs. Add Health has an enlightened dissemination policy and to date has released phenotype and genotype data to more than 10,000 researchers in the scientific community.'


Probably useful for aspiring fiction authors who'd like to inject some verisimilitude when writing about angst-y adolescents.

424:

Actually, the attacks on Corbyn -- and Nicola Sturgeon -- are getting so hysterical they're inadvertently funny.

For example, here's the Daily Telegraph today, raving about how the evil "Jeremy Corbyn reveals his dearest wish is a £475 bicycle". Yeah, right. That's a bit like revealing his dearest automotive wish is a Volkswagen Polo Diesel (with a CD player, as well). No mention that, by way of comparison, the high-rolling Jezza's opponents on the government front bench are using their chauffeur-driven ministerial Jaguars for trips to the opera at public expense.

Worse, the Torygraph goes on to add, "This revelation comes after fellow left-winger Nicola Sturgeon was spotted in expensive outerwear." A bit of googling will reveal that the spendthrift feckless Nicola Sturgeon was seen in £179 Barbour jacket and £130 Hunter wellies while visiting a flood-stricken town ... "While David Cameron buys £12.99 ASDA boots to look like a man of the people."

Absolutely right, and I suspect the PM bought those ASDA boots because he, too, owned Hunter wellies and knew he'd be taken for an upper-class twit if he was spotted in them. Meanwhile, in a shocking confession, Edinburgh-based novelist reveals that he wears a £300 ScottEvest jacket rather than a cheap £180 Barbour (off-the-peg in any Edinburgh department store) and also wears £200 boots when it's wet and cold.

This stuff is basically comic-pages hatchet-wielding that tries to portray "socialist" politicians as high spending hypocrites if they don't go around barefoot in rags. (Planet Earth calling: Sturgeon isn't a socialist. She'd probably self-identify as a social democrat if you pinned her down and forced a confession.) Meanwhile the Tory front bench get a free pass for their bespoke Saville Row suits.

As political smears go this shit is just pathetic. What's going on, are the Telegraph reporters now being paid for clickbait like Buzzfeed or the HuffPost?

425:

What's going on, are the Telegraph reporters now being paid for clickbait like Buzzfeed or the HuffPost?

Yes. That and not upsetting the advertisers.

426:

And one of the points I have been making is that the reaction is not just based in prejudice - it is a reflection of educational achievement etc. It is a very, very serious social problem, with successive governments doing their best (though not deliberately) to make it worse. My reading is that one cause is that the demographic is (correctly) realising that the system is utterly hostile to them, and giving up hope.

"Realising", present tense? This made me think of such social indicators as: the derisive use of the word "swot"; the autobiographical book Roaring Boys written by Edward Blishen about his difficulties teaching during the fifties; Dennis the Menace fighting Walter and the Softies in the Beano; and this cartoon by McLachlan. These suggest that lack of faith in the benefits of education has been around for a long time. The Blishen books, as I say, were written in the fifties!

A quick Google found me this, from http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/sociology/education-and-sociology/class-subcultures-and-education/:

American sociologist Herbert H. Hyman (1967) wrote an article about this called ‘The values of systems of different classes’, written in the 1960’s. He argued that the value system of the lower classes creates ‘a self-imposed barrier to an improved position’.

From a wide range of data; opinion polls and surveys conducted by Hyman outlined the following differences between working-class and middle-class value systems:
1. Members of the working class place a lower value on education. They place less emphasis on formal education as a means to personal achievement, and they see less value in continuing school beyond the minimum leaving age.
2. Members of the working-class place a lower value on achieving higher occupational status. In evaluating jobs, they emphasize ‘stability, security and immediate economic benefits’ and tend to reject the risks and investments involved in aiming for high-risks occupations. Job horizons tend, therefore, to be limited to a ‘good trade’.

So perhaps the realising and the giving up hope are not new.

427:

Re: 'Meanwhile, in a shocking confession, Edinburgh-based novelist reveals that he wears a £300 ScottEvest jacket ...'

Keep a book handy to read if you ever stand behind this dude when he's going through airport security because he'll be pulling out at least one techno gadget per pocket for bloody well forever. (I'm guessing?)

428:

Nope: the entire jacket comes off and goes in a tray on the X-ray belt, gadgets and all. Although if I'm flying, most of the gadgets are in a shoulder bag and get trayed separately because I don't generally wear a heavyweight multilayered jacket in an airline seat!

429:

Both well-socialized and comfortably-seated!

430:

Re: 'Members of the working-class place a lower value on achieving higher occupational status'

Depends on type of working class segment: natural vs. immigrant. If immigrant, from where and reason for immigration. For example, mid-to-late 20th century Eastern European immigrants to North America pushed their kids to excel academically as this was perceived as the best way to improve their children's socioeconomic prospects in their adopted country.

Still on immigrants ... as a bonus the US could lower its crime rate by bringing in more immigrants. (Too many honest people would ruin a crooked/sociopathic politico's career?)

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-mythical-connection-between-immigrants-and-crime-1436916798

431:

Actually, no. That attitude was prevalent across the spectrum, especially at both extremes - and, yes, I do mean in both secondary modern and preparatory and public schools. But you have missed my point, anyway. In the period up to the 1960s, yes, there were social obstacles, then as now. But many of the working class were far more educated than they were given credit for, placed a high value on education, and a good number of their children did work, went to university and got senior positions.

The difference is that many of them got grants to live on, there were free evening classes (if they had not worked at school), and so on. Nowadays, they start with a debt that is only repayable in conjunction with leading a normal life if they can get a fairly well-paying job. And an increasing number of jobs have very poor promotion prospects, up to and including some very highly skilled ones. That is the source of an ongoing argument between the UCU and all UK universities, incidentally, and the criterion for UCU membership is not exactly doing a working class job!

So, overall, the difference is that the obstacles were then mainly social, but now they are based in hard economic facts, and not even chavs (as a 'class') are stupid. See, for example:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news/student-loans-report-publication/

432:

The difference is that many of them got grants to live on, there were free evening classes (if they had not worked at school), and so on. Nowadays, they start with a debt that is only repayable in conjunction with leading a normal life if they can get a fairly well-paying job.

OK, I see what you meant. Thanks for explaining. Our governments' attitude to this has never made sense to me. If you were running a country and worried about its economy, wouldn't you want as many of your citizens as possible to be educated up to the point where they're able to create new things that we could export? Whether these are pop music, films, comic books, language courses, apps, drugs, new exploitations of the laws of physics, or anything else?

433:

Don't have the numbers but there's some evidence that tuition rates in the US were rising at roughly the same time as Hispanic immigration was on the rise. (Don't think this was a conspiracy, just bad timing for the newest immigrant wave.) This may help explain why, unlike previous immigration waves, Hispanic immigrants (esp. post 2000) report a lower overall incidence of completing any post-secondary education.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_tuition_in_the_United_States#Social_concerns

Excerpt:
'"Disproportional inflation" refers to inflation in a particular economic sector that is substantially greater than inflation in general costs of living.

The following graph shows the inflation rates of general costs of living (for urban consumers; the CPI-U), medical costs (medical costs component of the consumer price index (CPI)), and college and tuition and fees for private four-year colleges (from College Board data) from 1978 to 2008. All rates are computed relative to 1978. [45]

Cost of living increased roughly 3.25-fold during this time; medical costs inflated roughly 6-fold; but college tuition and fees inflation approached 10-fold. Another way to say this is that whereas medical costs inflated at twice the rate of cost-of-living, college tuition and fees inflated at four times the rate of cost-of-living inflation. Thus, even after controlling for the effects of general inflation, 2008 college tuition and fees posed three times the burden as in 1978.'

434:

"Our governments' attitude to this has never made sense to me."

The cynical/marxist explanation is, as OGH says, that they want to maximise the number of nice, docile, debt slaves. I subscribe to the other, less popular, explanation: they just don't think (to paraphrase you-know-who).

The insanity isn't just a matter of the education in bulk, but how the money-making innovators are treated. Scientists, engineers (including IT people) and similar are generally treated as technopeasants, unless they are part of the dog-eat-dog senior and political administriat. I was glad to retire.

435:

Right. I remember when the UK didn't aspire to emulating all of the USA's social faults.

436:

Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

Even back in the 1950s, my grandfather used to grump about how the big corporations of the day tried to order up engineers by the acre. It doesn't seem that's changed much.

The bigger problem with education is that methods like tutoring and mixed age classes seem to be the best ways for children to learn. Since these methods are resource inefficient, they're seldom used except in places like grad school or among the really wealthy. A few thousand years ago, they were (of course), the the primary ways children learned.

437:

Agree re. journalistic anti-politico hype.
However:Sturgeon isn't a socialist. She'd probably self-identify as a social democrat if you pinned her down and forced a confession.
No, she's a CONTROL FREAK - even more than the tories or the Labour "left" which is why I won't trust her or her party.
She belongs to a very old, very unpleasant Scottish politico-religious "tradition" that really needs taking out & shooting.
( "Minding other people's business", it's called. )

438:

Spot on.
Today I heard a repeat of the usual DELIBERATE LIE from the CBI on the "today" programme about the "difficulty of getting the trained/educated staff & the necessity of getting immigrants, because there were not the people in Britain" ...blah, waffle, LIE, etc.
GRRRRR.
Yeah ... MsC in Engineering - got me how many DAYS paid employment ... none, actually.

439:

I know of OGH's explanation. But I also believe that most people, even politicians, like to think that they're doing good. And I can't see that a politician who knows he or she is creating debt slaves can think he or she is doing good. Surely some kind of cognitive dissonance would arise...?

As for technopeasants, I saw staff treated like that even at university. There were people employed to teach who were not bringing in research grants, and to whom the administration denied facilities (office space, academic database access, lab access) that the grant-funded staff were allowed. Teaching was not, at least not always, regarded as worth supporting for its own sake. Shocking, don't you think?

(For anyone unfamiliar with UK academia, I should explain that a substantial chunk of each research grant went towards general departmental overheads rather than to the researcher. Hence, shall we say, a certain preferential attitude towards those researchers.)

440:

Sure, cognitive dissonance would arise if they were firmly confronted with the reality of their actions. But they aren't, and won't be. THey live in enough of a bubble, and there are too many yes men. Not to mention a supine media and a lack of accountability.


Greg, will you stop maundering on about some alleged long standing Scottish tradition that as far as I can tell, is actually a global one affecting every country and society in the world?

As for education, I came across this today:
https://newrepublic.com/article/127317/school
summary- American schools have never been about actually educating people, and it's getting worse.

441:

All it requires is a definition of "good" which places maintenance of the power structure ahead of freedom of the individual. Very common among those who are part of the power structure themselves; "democratic" systems may make them more wary of expressing it explicitly, but do not eliminate it. I doubt any system would that does not consider any degree of desire to attain or hold power as an absolute disqualification from attaining or holding it.

442:

many of the working class were far more educated than they were given credit for, placed a high value on education, and a good number of their children did work, went to university and got senior positions

That describes my parents. First in their families to go to university on either side, never could have done it if there wasn't the student grant to pay for it.

Bit of a loss for Britain, as my dad got headhunted by the Canadians and ended up being a senior civil service researcher in epidemiology rather than a British country vet.

But working class roots, definitely.

443:

difficulty of getting the trained/educated staff

Missing of course, the phrase "at the wages we want to pay them".

Same thing happened over here. During the resource boom companies complain that they couldn't find trained Canadians, so the neocon Harper Government™ allowed them to bring in "temporary foreign workers" to fill jobs that they couldn't find Canadians for. Jobs such as serving coffee. When challenged, the companies wrote job descriptions that included skills like "can speak Mandarin" (for miners).

Net result was to depress wages in all the fields that TFWs were brought in for, in rough proportion to the number of TFWs.

Supply-and-demand only applies to labour in one direction.

444:

Or you could get it, legally, for free: