Pockets and Islands…

After writing the Labor Day blog and on my way to sleep for the night Will & I got into a discussion that wrapped itself around the latest events of Harvey, Irma and the fact that the West was on fire. Maria hadn’t even happened yet.

There are good reasons for my choice of wording behind this post; Pockets and Islands: the ongoing economic decline has a face. One of the authors we regularly read pointed out it will be individuals left behind by today’s circumstances, and then, forgotten by the larger distracted populations, that will mark the theme of the US downward spiral – in the larger picture of Limits to Growth.

That stuck with me.

Probably because at one point in the not too distant past I felt as if the Nation voted to elect me as the poster child for how an individual could fail: spectacularly. When incidents like this occur it’s hard not to feel completely alone in one’s status as a spectacular fail. After going through the ugly affair I secretly asked a friend to buy Frank Ahern’s  book “how to disappear” and asked her to send it to me using my cat’s name – not mine. I then read it and followed through. Nobody likes to get 18 calls per day from ‘creditors’. Most individuals really don’t want to volunteer for more grand harassment even after the event is over – the scales of which – cause low level PTSD. There’s got to be more to life than a credit score.

In permaculture, biomimicry, biointensive gardening, regenerative agriculture (or whatever they’re calling it these days) there’s a coveted concept called Microclimate which is a geek way of saying pockets. Although our 21 acre property – from a google shot – generally looks flat topographically, certain smaller factors (elements) say it’s not so. The property does have a gradual SE to NW slope and sits on the bank of a long gone temporary river (Lake Missoula flood) so it’s not unusual to see fog laying itself out in the early morning as if the river still existed. On the south end of this property some former ‘crazy’ dug up the top soil horizons on 4 acres until hitting caliche and then commenced to build a motocross track, which still stands and can be seen, like some ancient serpent burial mound from google earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slight variances in terrain called pockets get frost easier than others, some pockets get more shade and wind protection, and some have different soil composites. This causes the plants and animals within the tiny zones of microclimates to respond and behave differently than those outside the pockets.

This same property could be said to act like an Island of plant and animal material not found in the larger setting – the vast sea of monocrop farming that surrounds it. The geological definition of an Island is: a body of land surrounded by sea and size dependent – to be counted as an Island and not a Continent. Those elements that surround an Island can act as barriers or carriers of energy into and out of the land area.

 

 

As the tsunami of ’08 started punching holes in the nation’s ship, individuals like myself were most likely having one sort of aha moment or another as we attempted to problem solve our way around the fact that life boats were in short supply. Depending upon how much ‘plug’ anyone of us possessed those attempts at problem solving were short stints or very long hauls. I’m damn tenacious, mine lasted four years. Most of my renters dropped anchor and took off for parts positive and left me deeper in the hole. That’s when I received my award for poster child. Ditto for asking the question what kind of game our we playing here? I’m not good at playing games, detest board games, so naturally I would suck at Monopoly.

Whoopeeee I Win!!!!

 Awareness Time

Hmmm…..how do I say this diplomatically? In the aftermath of my individual swamping I began to understand a critical point. Most persons possess the self-awareness of lemmings glibly following the edicts of customary cultures and very few can survive that swamping long enough to raise their heads and ask critical questions who, what, where, & why? My part? I was seeking advice from them.

Why?

Let’s ‘just’ say there are certain cultures whom would like certain questions never to be raised – you know – the one’s about; limits to growth, eternal progress & growth, fiat currencies, a fake two party system, and why are we all doing this? How do we find self-determinate value in the face of all this?

It’s a fact Jack that Awareness through deep observation and critical thinking are common practices in permaculture. Any person bouncing back and forth between distraction and social media entertainment is going to find it much more difficult to perceive the nuanced changes taking place in their immediate environment relative to pockets and islands –  much less the bigger picture.

Time in relation to change provides a referential framework which is invaluable. But we have to slow down to really get the high hanging fruit. That’ll happen (not) – when we’re constantly told to speed it up! Addiction to goo gaa technologies is like living your whole life inside a speeding car; most of the detailed landscape is a blur; at best, the occupant can only hope to catch snippets of scenery as the landscape flies by. Speed and mobility, by the way, is one of the basic tenets in the Industrial Age Religion of Progress.

Time in relation to money has all but slaughtered any real notion of Value. It was pointed out recently by Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity that if we air lifted every last human off the planet the algorithmic computers would continue to bid the stock market higher as long as the Central Bank computers kept pumping and dumping money into the game. What we (the global we) now consider money; coinage, plastic, or virtual has come utterly derailed from the necessary reality on the ground to get things done, make things, exchange things. And in many ways this relationship – when applied to owning a home – takes on a farcical nature because in practice the way it’s always been done here in the good ol US of A, very much resembles a casino – not a structure for community stability. When we’re penalized for paying off our mortgages (and you will find NO ONE in the google financial consulting community that advises this idea) you come to understand that even if and when you pay off the banks to go away, you’ll be running from the tax man, and God Help you if your home happens to wind up in one of the speculative bubble pockets. Speculation will out-tax any hope of keeping the very property you’ve tended to. For home owners it’s a choice of sell and capture the profit before the taxes soar much higher, choose a new location and down size. For renters who find themselves swamped by the tsunami of debt, and living within local Islands of low paying jobs the choice is much the same, move on to another geographical pocket that, for the moment, is booming financially in hopes of finding a better job and affording the rent.  It’s a sort of forced migration with a cherry on top.

Time in relation to Place is another matter altogether – and in the last 120 years courtesy of the Industrial Revolution – has gotten an especially bad rap. Manifest destiny was replaced by “see the world!” most likely, over time, so those of us who didn’t want to hear the ugly truth about Native displacement could relax in petroleum based comfort and not think about those poor people. True, that sort of thing (displacement) has been going on as long as humans have gotten into groups too large to receive support from resources immediately at hand. For as long as large societies have existed – so have empires. For as long as urban centers have existed, someone somewhere else (their rural counterparts?) have paid the price. It’s called a dissipative structure and in order to exist; must suck the life out of any and all resource rich (or poor) outliers in order to infuse the core with energy, in order to evade entropy (we call it kick the can in the states), in order to survive collapse. (Gail Tverberg) https://ourfiniteworld.com/2016/02/08/the-physics-of-energy-and-the-economy/

Dang.

When selecting a place you’d like to call home for more than 7 years, it’s best to choose a place that may not be targeted by the speculative crowd; the view seekers, the café late drinkers, in short, a place that when others drive by make the comment “who’d want to live here?”. If that fresh dressed realtor is tinkering in your ear about investment or hot new neighborhood, smile and get the map out again.

I know at least 10 people who were unfortunate enough to have to relinquish their homes when the tax bill came due in their appreciating bubble of a location. Persons who had already paid off their mortgages. Vagabond has a new name: Mobility. Get used to it, because it was designed a very long time ago by Nobility just re-branded by way of whatever boob tube technology most people have their faces plastered to these days.

It’s pretty hard to feel glib when the latest hurricane or fire has flattened your home in the pocket or island you reside in – financial or weather initiated – the stark reality sets in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At that point; No one really gives a snappy flying fuck about a person’s ability to get Siri or Alexa or Bixby (like so many stripper names) to call up Zillow on Tom Tom and provide a GPS Google shot while commanding Amazon’s Alexa (what is it with the strippers?)  to turn the heat up and lower the blinds and provide you the recipe for Possum Kumquat Sliders. On the flip side, when an individual goes down, it’s hardly noticed because there’s millions of  other suckers standing in line to be joyously hooked by all the hype. Get in line.

Historically this isn’t new. 150 years ago The US government used to hand out ‘free’ land, all you had to do was farm it. The idea was to get it to be worth something to fund the government that paid the army to eradicate those pesky Indians so you (having left your own war torn land ravaged country) would work for free to bring it value.

The question that kicked off our nighttime conversation was; in the face of hurricanes & fires (weather & financials) what will all this US Limits to Growth look like and what are the possible variables that will stair step it towards decline?

Unfortunately, most of our countrymen are so hooked to MSM infotainment, the rote  jibber jabber response is assured; Russia, Iran, North Korea, Gender Politics, Confederate Statues, Safe Spaces, Racism, financial inequality, Hollywood scandals, but doesn’t include Energy or the Financialization of Everything. The US has become so idiotic in its focus, it insists upon using obsolete maps to chart its way through increasingly unfamiliar territory.

Empires

Let’s face it:

Six countries have had their shot at world financial prominence in 550 years; Portugal, Spain, Holland, France, Britain, and now, the United States; each global reserve currency cycle lasting on average 94 years. Global reserve currencies began their kick-start 550 years ago when Portugal rose to unipolar dominance with sailing technology as an answer for continued commerce with Asia when the Ottoman Empire cock blocked that trade route. (map)

 

This saeculum represents all four seasons; spring, summer, fall, and winter.  In this country; I find it rather ironic that the persons shouting at the top of their lungs against ‘globalism’ (like it’s something new) are in actuality, descendants of the same globalist mechanisms of population dislocation from Place that deposited their ancestors here.  The British Empire put a new spin on the empire theme; being smart little fuckers; they know; if you can dislodge a people from their (rural) places and herd them into cities – or even better – if you can get them to fight with one another  – you got ‘em.

“Several deformed creatures stationed themselves along the street, and shouted after us in the most pitiful tones. Others ran beside the coach for half a mile, yelling in the most doleful manner for a” ha’penny,” promising us eternal life if we would but give them one…We observed that the Englishmen gave nothing, but looked at them and spoke in the most contemptuous manner… They were mere skeletons, wrapped up in the coarsest rags. Not one of them had on a decent garment…The Englishmen made some cold remarks about their indolence and worthlessness, and gave them, and gave them nothing.” – William Balch American Minister 1850 journal Ireland

As can be expected, from our well intentioned brethren, who haven’t sat through a history class, to scream Yes but this time is different! We’re fighting against corporate globalism!  You’re right, I stand corrected, corporate rise to power under a national flag; that’s never been done before; except by the Dutch Trading company in 1669.the VOC was the richest private company that the world had ever seen, with over 150 merchant ships, 40 warships, 50,000 employees, a private army of 10,000 soldiers, and a dividend payment of 40% on the original investment to shareholders.” (1)

 We keep going in circles but somehow suggest we are moving forward in a linear fashion of Progress. If ever there was a Dupe – this would be it.

 

 

 

 

 

I started writing Pockets and Islands before reading Kunstler’s essay, so I’m not the only one thinking about the possible variables that will stair step the US towards decline. Nature has a way of reminding us that life moves in cycles – not our beloved Holy Grail of unending linear progress or appreciating home prices. He suggests the combative forces between the pseudo concepts of coinage (value) and the processes of physical nature may hold the key. The term is: the Financialization of everything as it meets face to face with the weather and Cognitive Dissonance has a pretty accurate take on it.

http://twoicefloes.com/of-harvests-and-hurricanes/#more-15224

Barbuda and St. Martin took the full brunt of Irma’s Cat 5 force and both Islands have reported near total destruction. Houston neighborhoods were still under water and without basic services in many pockets around that not-fare city when Irma hit the Caribbean. At the time of this writing Maria had not yet decimated Puerto Rico already struggling with the Financialization of everything.  A common and natural theme we hear to uplift the populations and offer assurance is “we will rebuild” and while that’s true to an extent, not nearly in the same way. Insurance is costly if you can get it at all, and in most cases doesn’t have a pay-out.  Infrastructure, already on the decline for some decades now will have to be ‘rebuilt’. Resources don’t come cheap so exactly who (and how) will this all get put back together? The answer is: debt. The response from governments more and more will be “at some point, you will be on your own” as if that’s news to many already.

Debt is a human construct not unknown to Islanders, who for the last 550 years have borne the brunt of world expansion. Only in recent human history (the last 60 years) have they experienced the benefits of ‘world expansion’ visa vi fossil fuels, and the associated social equalities courtesy of cheap oil –  which has been the major funding sources for the social implementation of ideas like equality and prosperity. Prior to 1950 Human Resources, or HR as it’s called now in its shiny new antiseptic form, used to be simply called slavery.

In 2008 a lot of other Islanders found out the hard way – what havoc Financialization of everything feels like. It wipes out entire countries overnight, a lot like Cat 5 Hurricanes. Ireland with its collective low self-esteem and Catholic background opted to embrace huge amounts of debt, got their Rosaries out and got back to work, Iceland a much smaller country by population had better options; they said Fuck You to the Central run banks, nationalized their own banks, threw the central bankers in jail and pulled back their best and brightest minds from the financial sectors and put them to work in far better careers helping to build and strengthen their own country. There’s not much Greece could have done, they were already thin on options when 2008 hit. The one-two punch managed by the ensuing financial collapse and the Us-Israel-Saudi ‘plans’ to put a pipeline through Syria put an end to any hope for immediate recovery by flooding the Island with refugees. As an Island, they were unable to recover from the sea rise of the EU’s Central Banker Goons’ demands and the ensuing refugee crises arriving daily to their shores from parts ME/Africa by the thousands. Although I have to say – that was a good MSM story – that it was all entirely “their fault” in Greece for “taking on so much debt”.  Sound familiar? For millions of Americans, it should.

Guajataca dam in Puerto Rico after Maria

In 2007, just before the tsunami of Credit Default Swaps washed over the world, and the day Katrina hit New Orleans I held up a sign on the corner of the county courthouse in a smallish town on the west side of the mountains. It read: Our dumbass racist president is failing New Orleans, You’re next.

Ten years later that public reflection is spot on for many pockets of the US, regardless of who holds the Oval Office position.

In the United States there are pockets (microclimates) of decline and they seem to be growing which could be the reason for the election outcome in 2016. Pull out a map, oh excuse me, pull up a map on your I-phone and look at a map of the United States. The contiguous US has the same territoriality as it did in 1920.

In generality the US map lines look the same as they did 97 years ago; but when you look closer; certain smaller factors point to the fact that some pockets are subject to decline more than others, some pockets get more protection so there is more prosperity, and some have rock hard limitations to bump up against depending upon which way the winds of Financialization of everything and weather blows.

Trivia: in 2016 there were 10 million more jobs in administration than manufacturing in the United States. In 2017 10,000 brick and mortar stores closed.

Wow.

If you don’t count bombs or ‘ideas’ we make absolutely shit here in the United States these days. Shuffling paper isn’t ‘making’ something. The making of stuff got shipped overseas way back in the early 90’s, at a steady pace and rise to give the appearance of continued progress and prosperity to its indebted consumers, no longer citizens participating in the making of things. The actual labor of making things got foisted off on those persons who got paid a whole lot less money to make the things we wanted.

If you, dear reader, actually make something, congratulate yourself.

As of May 2018 there’ll be a new astrological sheriff in town for 7 years, Uranus is transiting into Taurus for 7 long years and talk is; this one’s going to upset the apple cart.  Taurus, an Earth Sign, governs what we value while Uranus always comes around to shake things up. This aspect will be asking all of us what do we value? Money? Nature? Earth? Profit? Beauty? One another? Hard Honest Work? A slower pace? Trust building? Stability? Uncontaminated food?

Sometimes the artist & the very people ‘advocating’ change have no idea what symbolism they’ve wandered into in our age of Energy & Economic Illiteracy. As per usual it caused quite a ‘gender-based’ kerfuffle. (link below)

Saturn in Sagittarius has been asking us to philosophically reflect for the last two years to “know your value” and in two weeks will enter Capricorn, the sign of structure and discipline. Saturn is the planet of limitations and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Pie in the sky thinking (or outright hallucinatory BS) will most likely be torn down if the Financialization of everything continues on its present platform (we can grow forever) . With these heavy hitters; Uranus/Taurus, Saturn Capricorn, Pluto Capricorn, joined by Jupiter Capricorn in December 2019 we’ll get to see ‘just’ how much our collective lip service to sustainability holds up as we continue to gobble up resources and pretend we’re not.

We’re entering a time when the hierarchical centralized constructs will be facing pressures, despite all the blather about globalization and progress.

We know that life in pockets responds especially well when supportive elements around the perimeters are introduced, and life within Islands thrives when interdependencies are strengthened within those systems.

In one of my next posts I’ll be talking about how we might respond to the impending shake up by redefining value for ourselves and implementing practical solutions – using the technologies that are already around us. Some technologies are waiting in the wings for us to reinvigorate, many can be mixed and matched at our disposal, and some we should dispose of altogether – unless we want them to use us.

We get to choose.

 

(1) http://www.economicreason.com/usdollarcollapse/world-reserve-currencies-what-happened-during-previous-periods-of-transition/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-27/fema-director-urges-americans-develop-true-culture-preparedness-no-one-listening

http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.com/2017/09/on-repairingrebuilding-100000-damaged.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/wildfire-season-western-us-2017-9

Gender – based distractions miss the point entirely

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/03/27/fearless-girl-statue-wall-street-charging-bull/99687078/

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/fearless-girl-reactions/523026/