Saturday, September 21, 2019

A Few Words From...Albert Camus

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."

(HT:  Survival Blog)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Collapse XXXII: A Slight Interruption Of Power

08 Sep 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

This letter represents the first of what I assume will eventually become a standard practice: it was first written out in a journal, and then transcribed to the computer.

When the power came back on.

Yes, you read that correctly. We had a power outage two days ago. It lasted for 5 or 6 hours, then came back. The same event followed the day after. Prior to actually sending this letter out, the power was off for the better part of the day.

The first time jolted me into a state of action – indeed, I had been expecting this for some period of time, but not quite so soon.

My two biggest risks, of course, remain water and refrigeration. Refrigeration, as you recall, I had seen falling off already and so my refrigerator was almost empty anyway. I left it closed the first day until it came back on, then checked into what I had left. My milk was almost consumed, as was my yogurt – so that became dinner. My frozen foods had been dropping off for some time, so I had little enough concern myself with there, except to use up the meat in the yesterday or work to turn into jerky as soon as the power came back on. The fruits and vegetables came back out onto the counter – One more round of dehydration happened as soon as the power came on, and then one more yesterday. At this rate, I shall unplug the refrigerator tomorrow, let it thaw, clean it up, and then shut it. I can always using for storing other things.

The other worry is water, of course – not that my pump is far away, or deep, but it is rather convenient to have it brought into the house. But, sadly, convenient or not, it seems likely that this will end a little sooner than I intended as well. (On the bright side, I suppose, I can drain the water from the non-essential pipes much earlier this year).

I have the manual attachment for pumping, so I made sure that was ready to go. I also made sure that the 5 gallon bottle I had for the convenience of drinking (As I had none on the refrigerator) was filled up, which will probably become the new mechanism of managing my water supply (with a hose, one can fill up a 5 gallon bottle without a great deal of effort. And one does not have to trudge outside quite as often). Watering the garden is going to be more troublesome of course, as I am not quite sure at the moment how I am going to take care of that – but we are entering Autumn right at the moment, so I will have some time to ponder the situation. Fortunately the bees take not water and the quail little, and the indoor rabbits can be managed along with me.

There are a host of problems that I am going to have to work out more fully – showering, of course, as well as simply flushing the toilet – if I can find some bricks, I can load the tank a bit more that way and reduce usage. Washing clothes – my fancy small clothes washer I bought myself will do me no good at all with neither power nor water.

Other things I have prepared for – light of course, and heat, and at least boiling water – but now have to be more fully laid out. I have started a list of what it will take as I begin to start to need to do these things in a more formal fashion.

But for now, the lights are on, the water is in the house and hot, and the toilet flushes. I treasure these items all the more because, all too soon, I fear they are going away.

Ice. Ice requires electricity and water in the summer. I shall perhaps miss it most of all in my drinks.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Going Grey: On Spending

One of the greatest challenges on going gray in the modern era is spending.

Essentially, we now live in an era where most of our spending - most of mine, anyway - is done via electronic cash, be it credit cards, bank cards, or electronic pay schemes such as Pay Buddy.  And if you track this spending, you have a pretty good idea of who you are and what you buy.

Think about it:  If you at all spend money on Amazonian and you check your purchase history, you will find a rather fascinating history on what you have purchased over the last years.  I say fascinating:  my history, for anyone that bothers to look, will confuse the heck out of them. But to be fair, even I have some books amongst my purchases that probably, on some list, qualify as "subversive"  (yay me).

On the one hand, there is not a great deal I can do about this - or maybe there is, but I am hardly qualified to comment on it in a meaningful way.  On the other hand, there are a few meaningful things that I can do.

1)  Pay cash:  I cannot emphasize that enough.  When I purchase certain things - ammunition, for example - I always pay cash.  When I am at the used book store, I always pay cash.  It is the only guarantee that I have that my purchases are not being tracked.

2)  Shop using unorthodox means:  By unorthodox I mean things like local online groups, thrift stores, bazaars, anything where you do not fit into a database.

3)  Barter:  I am not very good at this yet, but I recognize it as being a powerful tool.  If I exchange something with you, there are no records nor cash.  There are only things.

I think this is a difficult area to address, given our current society.  Suggestions?

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Age of Empires

We are - maybe - one generation away from the end of the world as we know it (no, not That end of the world, just the end of our world).  The end of the nation state is almost upon us - we are devolving back to the age of Empires.

Lest anyone think that this is a desired development, or some sort of historical "advance" - it is not.  Review the history of any Empire and you will find that while in fact they were able to accomplish incredible things, such as pyramids or cultural advancement or economic stability, it was all at the cost of the individual. 

In empires, citizens - if they are fortunate enough to be that (lots of empires had lots of inhabitants that were not) - existed only to serve the state and the ruling classes of that sate.  Their labor went to create things, their lives lived to to serve those that were in place above them.  They may have been described as having "rights", but these rights were only theirs on sufferance of the rulers and subject to revocation upon need or demand.

We now live in an age where such history is forgotten, where the needs of the State - be they economic, social, or environmental - outweigh the needs of the individual. Individuals, under the current modern view, are little more than rebels unless they conform to the "correct" social views.  At best individuals are only useful as supporters of the "greater good"; at worst, they are hindrance to be eventually removed.

You might think I am over-reacting on this.  But I have heard the baying of the masses, seen their "demands", watched the continued march of the loss of individual rights and the ability to act in the name of "the nation" or "the planet".

The Iron Age is coming.  I fear for the future.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Not Desiring A Consumer Economy

Individuals do not wish the economy that they claim to want.

The great weakness in the anti-consumer economy is that we are (almost totally) a consumer based economy.  Very few of us make or farm anymore.  We are largely involved in the selling of things to other people or the provision of services to sell things to other people.

But what happens if no-one wants those goods or services?

Take "Bob".  Bob works for an internationally known large coffee house.  He is a man of the anti-consumer movement.  He lives in an urban environment because it is hip, buys only organic food because is of "the earth", takes the bus or his bike to reduce his burden on the world, and fully believes the world is too much driven by corporations and their ways.

But then something happens - Bob's job goes away.  Why?  Millions of Bob's compatriots have stopped buying the coffee of the international coffee house since they have to cut back on their own expenses somewhere because people have stopped spending less money.  Suddenly Bob, arch-enemy of consumption, finds himself in the position as well as he is not competing for a job with millions of other people whose job depended on other people in turn spending their money on non-essential goods.

In the highest form of irony, a job that is available to Bob is at an international fulfillment center, where Bob can spend his time filling orders for consumers who have purchased goods, moving packages around in a large unconditioned warehouse.

For the clamor of folks who say we are too consumer based, there is a great risk that without consumers buying things, we are all quickly out of jobs.

Or, we can re-descend to a 90% farming economy.  I suspect Bob will find this work even less satisfying.