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Apocalypse Pretty Soon?

From The Day After Tomorrow

From The Day After Tomorrow

Some of you may have noticed that I have a fondness for conspiracy theories and end-of-the-world scenarios. I don’t know why that is, but it’s probably for the same reason that I enjoy horror movies and post-apocalyptic novels like A Canticle for Liebowitz. Maybe it had something to do with growing up in the fifties in the shadow of “The Bomb.”

Anyway, instead of accomplishing something useful yesterday, I spent quite a bit of time reading this blog by Dmitry Orlov. Orlov was born in the USSR and emigrated to the US at the age of 12. During several trips back to the USSR, he had a close up view of the collapse of the Soviet empire. Orlov is the author of Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects. He described himself and his “comparative theory of superpower collapse” in a talk he gave in San Francisco on February 13.

For now, it remains just a theory, although it is currently being quite thoroughly tested. The theory states that the United States and the Soviet Union will have collapsed for the same reasons, namely: a severe and chronic shortfall in the production of crude oil (that magic addictive elixir of industrial economies), a severe and worsening foreign trade deficit, a runaway military budget, and ballooning foreign debt. I call this particular list of ingredients “The Superpower Collapse Soup.” Other factors, such as the inability to provide an acceptable quality of life for its citizens, or a systemically corrupt political system incapable of reform, are certainly not helpful, but they do not automatically lead to collapse, because they do not put the country on a collision course with reality. Please don’t be too concerned, though, because, as I mentioned, this is just a theory. My theory.

I’ve been working on this theory since about 1995, when it occurred to me that the US is retracing the same trajectory as the USSR….I was very well positioned to have this realization because I grew up straddling the two worlds – the USSR and the US. I grew up in Russia, and moved to the US when I was twelve, and so I am fluent in Russian, and I understand Russian history and Russian culture the way only a native Russian can. But I went through high school and university in the US .I had careers in several industries here, I traveled widely around the country, and so I also have a very good understanding of the US with all of its quirks and idiosyncrasies. I traveled back to Russia in 1989, when things there still seemed more or less in line with the Soviet norm, and again in 1990, when the economy was at a standstill, and big changes were clearly on the way. I went back there 3 more times in the 1990s, and observed the various stages of Soviet collapse first-hand.

By the mid-1990s I started to see Soviet/American Superpowerdom as a sort of disease that strives for world dominance but in effect eviscerates its host country, eventually leaving behind an empty shell: an impoverished population, an economy in ruins, a legacy of social problems, and a tremendous burden of debt. The symmetries between the two global superpowers were then already too numerous to mention, and they have been growing more obvious ever since.

Orlov mentions two “key insights” about collapse:

1. The old ways of doing things don’t work any more, the old assumptions are all invalidated, conventional goals and measures of success become irrelevant. But a different set of goals, techniques, and measures of success can be brought to bear immediately, and the sooner the better.

2. there are very few things that are positives or negatives per se. Just about everything is a matter of context. Now, it just so happens that most things that are positives prior to collapse turn out to be negatives once collapse occurs, and vice versa. For instance, prior to collapse having high inventory in a business is bad, because the businesses have to store it and finance it, so they try to have just-in-time inventory. After collapse, high inventory turns out to be very useful, because they can barter it for the things they need, and they can’t easily get more because they don’t have any credit. Prior to collapse, it’s good for a business to have the right level of staffing and an efficient organization. After collapse, what you want is a gigantic, sluggish bureaucracy that can’t unwind operations or lay people off fast enough through sheer bureaucratic foot-dragging. Prior to collapse, what you want is an effective retail segment and good customer service. After collapse, you regret not having an unreliable retail segment, with shortages and long bread lines, because then people would have been forced to learn to shift for themselves instead of standing around waiting for somebody to come and feed them.

As you can see, Orlov thinks the sluggish Soviet system provided a kind of soft landing for the Russian people during and after the collapse, and he thinks the US situation may be worse. He thinks we aren’t prepared for the kinds of things we are going to have to do after the collapse, like plant Obama gardens and forage for food and other necessities. I think he is underestimating our resilience as a people, but nevertheless, his insights are valuable.

…if you listen to the hot air coming out of Washington at the moment? First: growth, of course! Getting the economy going. We learned nothing from the last huge spike in commodity prices, so let’s just try it again. That calls for economic stimulus, a.k.a. printing money. Let’s see how high the prices go up this time. Maybe this time around we will achieve hyperinflation. Second: Stabilizing financial institutions: getting banks lending – that’s important too. You see, we are just not in enough debt yet, that’s our problem. We need more debt, and quickly! Third: jobs! We need to create jobs. Low-wage jobs, of course, to replace all the high-wage manufacturing jobs we’ve been shedding for decades now, and replacing them with low-wage service sector jobs, mainly ones without any job security or benefits. Right now, a lot of people could slow down the rate at which they are sinking further into debt if they quit their jobs. That is, their job is a net loss for them as individuals as well as for the economy as a whole. But, of course, we need much more of that, and quickly!

So that’s what we have now. The ship is on the rocks, water is rising, and the captain is shouting “Full steam ahead! We are sailing to Afghanistan!” Do you listen to Ahab up on the bridge, or do you desert your post in the engine room and go help deploy the lifeboats? If you thought that the previous episode of uncontrolled debt expansion, globalized Ponzi schemes, and economic hollowing-out was silly, then I predict that you will find this next episode of feckless grasping at macroeconomic straws even sillier. Except that it won’t be funny: what is crashing now is our life support system: all the systems and institutions that are keeping us alive. And so I don’t recommend passively standing around and watching the show – unless you happen to have a death wish.

If you have time, read the whole thing. Orlov has a very interesting take on our situation, and he’s also smart and has a sense of humor, which is nice after listening to humorless incompetents like like Barack Obama and Tim Geithner.

I also highly recommend this essay, The Five Stages of Collapse. It’s very apocalyptic, but yet somehow hopeful in overall tone.

Here is Orlov’s summary of the stages (modeled on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief). It appears we are currently in stage 2 and possibly headed into early stage 3.

Stage 1: Financial collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost. The future is no longer assumed resemble the past in any way that allows risk to be assessed and financial assets to be guaranteed. Financial institutions become insolvent; savings are wiped out, and access to capital is lost.

Stage 2: Commercial collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost. Money is devalued and/or becomes scarce, commodities are hoarded, import and retail chains break down, and widespread shortages of survival necessities become the norm.

Stage 3: Political collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost. As official attempts to mitigate widespread loss of access to commercial sources of survival necessities fail to make a difference, the political establishment loses legitimacy and relevance.

Stage 4: Social collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost, as local social institutions, be they charities or other groups that rush in to fill the power vacuum run out of resources or fail through internal conflict.

Stage 5: Cultural collapse. Faith in the goodness of humanity is lost. People lose their capacity for “kindness, generosity, consideration, affection, honesty, hospitality, compassion, charity” (Turnbull, The Mountain People). Families disband and compete as individuals for scarce resources. The new motto becomes “May you die today so that I die tomorrow” (Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago). There may even be some cannibalism.

Personally, I’ll be returning to Orlov’s blog often for more of his perspective on our the fall of the American Empire. I know, I know, I’m nuts. But it works for me.

115 Responses

  1. Is it tin foil hat tuesday already?

  2. RD’s thread was less worrisome to me.

  3. Hey BB. I apologize because this has nothing to do with your post, but I love the stills from the movie. I used to Live in LA, and in particular I lived right about where that huge tornado is about to hit…LOL. I was always amazed at how hollywood moviemakers loved nothing better than destroying their hometown on film. Volcano, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and even classics like the 70’s disaster genre movies. As a psych expert, kind of mental illness is that a sign of 🙂

  4. What just happened to RD’s post about routing? Did she pull it or did someone else? I’m buying reynolds wrap on the way home tonight.

  5. I think the deletion took many conflucians with them. they are caught in the dead zone somewhere.

  6. staunchwoman — RD took it down (I think!)

  7. BB: Did you attend The New Agenda meeting in Cambridge yesterday? I wanted to go, but couldn’t.

  8. Gary,

    I loved The Day After Tomorrow. The plot was silly, but the special effects were really fun. I almost used the final scene from Planet of the Apes (which I love), but I went with this instead.

  9. Nell,

    I didn’t know about it. I’m not a member.

  10. Taggles,

    Sorry I had to delete the whole thing. I didn’t know how to save it with the comments. RD asked me to take it down for now while she does more research. I don’t blame her for being shaken by it though.

  11. Mmmm…”A Canticle for Leibowitz”…
    Ar for Orlov’s particular perspective – I got some of it too, and I’ve been screaming deja vu for the past 9 years…Don’t want to go any further.
    I can say I agree with the soft landing that the inefficient socialist regime provided for the crash, but adding that, in the same time, it was very much the cause of said crash

  12. Myiq,

    Silly! It’s President’s Day. This is information to help us ready ourselves for the collapse.

  13. BB, I was trying, but obviously failed, to make a teeny joke about the posters possibly being trapped by the deletion of the thread and couldn’t make there way back here. you know trying to be tin foily.

    Guess it didn’t work though. Sorry.

  14. BB: I’m not a member either, but read about the meeting on the TNA blog. As I understand it, it was an informational meeting open to anyone interested. These meetings are being held in cities throughout the country over the next several months.

  15. I got the joke taggles. What did I say? It worked for me. I guess I should have included that in my comment. Sometimes, I LOL and then I just type a nonfunny comments. No offense intended.

  16. Silly! It’s President’s Day

    Whew! I thought I overslept.

  17. I wish I had known about it, Nell. But we are going to have a PUMA meet up around here sometime, so keep checking for that. I think Taggles and Murphy are going to organize something.

  18. I didn’t take any offense.

    Again, I was trying even in my second post to make fun of my self. i am a failure in that regard.

    Catch everyone later.

  19. So we are somewhere around stage 3. I hope I’m not around for stage 5. I really don’t want to be around when people start deciding whether me or my family would taste better with a red or white wine.

  20. If you read those five stages, we are definitely in Stage 2, and Stage 3, political collapse could follow if the stimulus efforts are of no avail and Obama keeps insisting on pouring money into more wars and weapons and the military buildup in the US. Just look at Iceland. Yesterday, Roubini said “we are all Swedes now.” We need to nationalize the banks and as Krugman pointed out the only excuse they are giving for not doing it is our “culture.” We are in deep doo doo with no leadership.

  21. Taggles, you are not a failure! Now I feel like a failure. I love you, Taggles!

  22. cwaltz,

    The Soviets stopped after Stage 3, but they still had to go through a lot of hardship. I don’t think there is any doubt that we are going to go through some hard times too. The only way the political system here could collapse (I think) is if the financial system really goes completely off the rails and everything grinds to a halt so people can’t get food.

    It could happen though, and the government is obviously preparing for riots just in case (Northcom, army/law enforcement maneuvers in large urban centers like NO). I’m frankly a lot more worried about a dictatorship than I am about lawless anarchy.

  23. What happened in the USSR was devastating, and sad to say the US did nothing to help, beyond cramming Capitalism, and new (corrupt ex KGB) millionaires, down The Russian people’s throats.

    There has been wave upon wave of (ex soviet union) mothers coming over here to find work. In many cases they live in perfect solitude with the elderly person they are hired to take care of (at 1/3 the price an Italian would do it for)-24hours a day, 61/2 days a week. This so they can send money home to maintain their families (kids, teenagers, parentsetc).

    However I do not think that will happen in the US. That’s because the US is the world’s granary. Despite ethanol (which Obama supports), agriculture in the US is not failing.

  24. Another thing that Orlov is concerned about is our national debt and trade imbalance. The Soviets didn’t have those problems. If our currency collapses, we could have foreign governments coming in here and taking over corporations institutions that they own huge parts of and using our workforce to get their money back.

  25. Boomer — now you went and undid all the good my massage therapist did this morning. I haven’t been for a massage since prior to the primaries and my neck and shoulders were like concrete…

    felt pretty good until I saw your post and wondered who would be hungrier and get the idea first — my dogs or me.

    Have we seen our best years? God I hope not. My hubby and I were just looking forward to our new empty nest phase.


  26. From your Orlov quote:

    ” …a sort of disease that strives for world dominance but in effect eviscerates its host country, eventually leaving behind an empty shell: an impoverished population, an economy in ruins, a legacy of social problems, and a tremendous burden of debt.”

    Holy. Roman. Empire.

  27. Laurie,

    Orlov points out that agriculture in the US is now largely dependent on heavy machinery, and with concentrated ownership. People in urban centers are dependent on transportation systems to get food and other necessities. If our sources of oil dry up because of financial collapse or we have hyperinflation, those systems of supply will be in trouble.

  28. SOD,

    It will all work itself out somehow. Truthfully, I wouldn’t be sorry to see the end of the US as an empire. I would love to have life be slower and simpler. And I don’t like the way the government is headed right now–totalitarianism.

  29. I just bought a nice Henckels carving set; still in the manner of replacing stuff from Katrina. Not their best, but good.

    I would say I’d be worried about what I might be carving, except that I saw a segment on a nola teevee station that feral hogs are tearing into the newly restored/repaired levees. So, I guess it will be a lot of hawg we’ll be having.

    I wonder if the shotgun will do the trick on the hawgs? If not, may have to get larger firepower.

    BTW Angie, you named your gun Lulu. I chose Clotile after the Zephyrs’ mascot.

  30. Speaking of cannibalism, try the priest.

  31. Fredster,

    I hear tell those feral hawgs are mighty tough customers. You might have to marinate the meat for awhile before eating too–lots of muscle on those critters.

  32. There has been wave upon wave of (ex soviet union) mothers coming over here to find work. In many cases they live in perfect solitude with the elderly person they are hired to take care of (at 1/3 the price an Italian would do it for)-24hours a day, 61/2 days a week. This so they can send money home to maintain their families (kids, teenagers, parentsetc).

    Really??? That may solve my respite care issues for me! There are times I could really use a break from the caregiver routine. I was looking at this place, for when we get back home, to maybe take the momster for a week or so:


    They do respite care for the families, but I bet the waiting list is a mile long.

  33. Priest?? Mawm, what do you mean? Please elaborate.

  34. BB: prior to the storm, there was a guy in our subdivision that went to his backyard shed to get something and surprise! One of those damned things got in the shed! I seem to recall the guy got torn up badly.

    (sigh) I might be able to shoot one of the damned things but then it comes to dressing them. Ugh. I might have to arrange a road trip for Capt. Spaulding to handle that part. 😉

  35. MRS. LOVETT:
    Seems a downright shame…
    TODD: Shame?
    Seems an awful waste…
    Such a nice, plump frame
    Wot’s ‘is name has…
    Nor it can’t be traced…
    Bus’ness needs a lift,
    Debts to be erased…
    Think of it as thrift,
    As a gift,
    If you get my drift!


    Seems an awful waste…
    I mean, with the price of meat
    What it is,
    When you get it,
    If you get it…

    TODD: HAH!
    Good, you got it!

    Take, for instance, Mrs. Mooney and her pie shop!
    Bus’ness never better using only pussycats and toast!
    And a pussy’s good for maybe six or seven at the most!
    And I’m sure they can’t compare as far as taste!

  36. Oh sh!t. I didn’t close an italic. 😦

  37. Times is Hard

  38. LOVETT:
    It’s priest. Have a little priest.
    Is it really good?
    Sir, it’s too good, at least!
    Then again, they don’t commit sins of the flesh,
    So it’s pretty fresh.
    Awful lot of fat.
    Only where it sat.
    Haven’t you got poet, or something like that?
    No, y’see, the trouble with poet is
    ‘Ow do you know it’s deceased?
    Try the priest!

  39. I just refuse to believe things could get that bad here. Maybe I am in Khulber-Ross’s denial phase.

  40. Jeez Mawm, I don’t recall that from the movie.

  41. Mawm,

    I don’t think it will come to that either, but we could have either hyperinflation, out-of-control deflation, or complete collapse of the dollar. I think we’re all in denial, but we actually are at the edge of a precipice. And we are dependent on what Obama and his cronies do. That doesn’t make me feel all that hopeful.

  42. I think I am staying away from NC if times get bad.

  43. You’re a wonder, Mrs. Lovett.

  44. Fredster, I just watched the movie this weekend and loved it. I had a mental block about watching it since it came out. I think because I loved the Angela Lansbury/George Hearn version they used to play over and over on Showtime.

    If we do end up going towards what Orlov is talking about, I think the Sweeny Todd vision of industrial London could have a lot of parallels.

  45. Two subs (French and English) collided in the Atlantic.

  46. fredster, what’s the punchline?

  47. If we do end up going towards what Orlov is talking about, I think the Sweeny Todd vision of industrial London could have a lot of parallels.

    If it gets really bad and ugly I’m putting the momster and me to sleep.

  48. I think Americans would attack their government before it got as bad as described. But hmmm. I really don’t have much to attack with, maybe I need to get my weaponry in order. If for no other reason than hunting dinner.

  49. LOL! Gary I really couldn’t come up with one. Just a blurb that was on Fox news.

  50. Constance, I read that gun sales are way up.

  51. Gary: The limeys and the frogs can never agree on anything; even which way to swerve in a nuclear sub?

  52. LOL…I guess they both thought the other was “driving on the wrong side of the road” 🙂

  53. Fredster,

    I heard that too, but I think it happened about a month ago so the world probably isn’t going to blow up.

  54. A pair of rabbits would be nice.

  55. Mawm, not only gun sales but ammo. I read some thing about where they want to encode (?) the ammo and limit sales.

  56. Constance,

    I don’t even have a pitchfork. I guess I could use a snowshovel.

  57. BB-yep:

    Neither France nor Britain would confirm the exact date of the collision, but said it took place earlier this month. France issued a brief statement Feb. 6 saying the Le Triomphant had struck “a submerged object” that was probably a shipping container.

    Naval experts were amazed by the collision.

    “This really shouldn’t have happened at all,” said Stephen Saunders, a retired British Royal Navy commodore and the editor of Jane’s Fighting Ships. “It’s a very serious incident, and I find it quite extraordinary.”

  58. I do think that the food delivery system could break down rather easily, or at least rather quickly if it happens.

  59. Has anyone here read a book that was out in the late 60s or early 70s called Alas Babylon by Pat Frank?
    It is based on the premise of an atomic war and the aftermath.

    I tried to post a thank you to riverdaughter and the posters and commenters here. My computer ADAM( a damn aggravating machine) and I could not get the address right.
    If any can find the power point presentation
    Who Packs Your Parachute it expresses my gratitude for all of you during this trying year



  60. Isn’t it a “good” thing they ran into each other? I mean isn’t that the point, that they are all but invisible?

  61. I can see the “commodore” with the monacle and an arched eyebrow: “Tut, tut, I find it quite extraordinary.” 😆

  62. Laurie, on February 16th, 2009 at 2:58 pm Said:
    “However I do not think that will happen in the US. That’s because the US is the world’s granary. Despite ethanol (which Obama supports), agriculture in the US is not failing.”

    Not yet. But the government has been attempting to put a plan in place that would almost certainly drive small farmers out of business. It’s called the National Animal Identification System. NAIS is being touted as a way to quickly alert farmers to animal “disease outbreaks”. That’s a crock of sh*t.

    What NAIS really does is register names, addresses, property locations and animal populations into a national database. Farmers have to pay to have their flocks and herds tagged with ID numbers. So I would have to pay to have each of my 8 chickens numbered and accounted for. Meanwhile, a corporation like Tyson could have flocks of tens of thousands of birds under a single ID number. Small farmers who are already operating on a shoestring could be driven out of business by this.

    Remember – if you control the food supply, you control the populace.

  63. Gary I would think not. The idea of the boomers is “not” being able to be seen so they can get to a point somewhere undetected and the be able to fire off their missiles.

  64. Ugh, mawm – I hope it doesn’t come to that.

    And they eat a lot of meat pies down here in Oz. Wonder what’s in them?

  65. I don’t know how we could ever recover any semblance of trade balance. We don’t manufacture/produce enough of anything that anyone wants to buy.
    We are already living on credit and borrowing to pay “interest only” with more borrowed money. Foreign entities are buying up land, businesses, stocks, whatever at a fire sale price.
    Not only that ,we are exporting the jobs that we have . other than ones here we’ve already written off as jobs that Americans won’t do. The next step is to open the border even wider so that we increase that worker pool.
    Our intention seems to be to level the playing field for the New World Order. We’ll all be poor and hungry. Well, maybe not all of us; some will be in entitled positions.
    (My hat isn’t tin,either)

  66. And I am in moderatin again.

  67. Scrubs! I axed in another thread: how’s the situation with all the fires down there?

    Meat pies in Oz = lots of ‘roo!

  68. fredster, that’s what I’m saying. the fact that they collided means that they were successful in avoiding detection…each one from the other.

  69. OH dud! Yeah, Gary, except you’d think sonar would have given them an inkling *something* was out there.

  70. scrubs,

    Years ago a co-worker told me that her father had been in a German POW camp during WWII. They were starving and they used to get packages of food sent to them from home. Needless to say it was old before they got it. They would turn out the lights before eating so they wouldn’t see the maggots. One of the foods mentioned was cottage cheese. I’ve never forgotten that story.

  71. I can’t type! dud=duh!

  72. Oh Gawd BB!

  73. I once had a boss who was a survivor of the Bataan Death March and then spent several years in a concentration camp. Human endurance is amazing.

  74. Plainjane,

    Just wait until the Chinese arrive for their pound of flesh. We’ll all be making little doo-dads in sweatshops.

  75. HelenK,

    I haven’t heard of Alas Babylon, but if you like that kind of thing try A Canticle for Liebowitz. It’s very good. I’ve been meaning to re-read it.

  76. I have already started saving jars for canning. I think most of us are survivors on this site.

  77. I’m going to stock up on dried beans, Kim.

  78. bb — ew! My grandfather didn’t have those gross food stories from the war (he didn’t really talk much about it). He was in the Navy in the Pacific & he would never, ever eat sardines or green jello — wouldn’t even let my grandmother have them in the house because those things were always part of the food supply they would get on board, but no one liked them. BUT when supplies ran low sardines & green jello is all they would have for breakfast, lunch & dinner for weeks until the next supply came in.

    My grandmother happened to love sardines — so she & mom would “sneak them” whenever they came over to our house.

  79. I still have flour and sugar ration stamps that my grammy had in her bible.

  80. Angie,

    Sorry I grossed everyone out. My point is that I think we Americans have the grit to survive. After all my parents survived the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, and WWII, not to mention Reagan and Bush.

  81. I made 6 quarts of apple butter this weekend. For some readon all this gloom and doom has made me feel extremely domestic.

  82. I’ve got some good recipes for potato and cabbage casseroles.

  83. Sorry, 6 pints of apple butter.

  84. Or, “hot dish” as we North Dakotans call it.

  85. bostonboomer, on February 16th, 2009 at 3:52 pm Said: Plainjane,
    BB, we may have jobs giving pedicures in NYC to rich Chinese matrons

  86. bb — I agree we do. A few maggots are just a little more protein! LOL When we were little (around 4 or so) one of the neighbor kids used to eat those little doodle bugs (aka rolly-polly bugs). My mom said to his mom one day “Doesn’t that worry you that he eats those bugs.” His mom replied “I’ve tried to stop him. I asked the doctor & the doctor told me not to worry about it. It was just a little more protein in his diet.” 🙂 We still laugh over that story.

  87. TheRealKim, on February 16th, 2009 at 3:58 pm Said:
    I still have flour and sugar ration stamps that my grammy had in her bible.
    I recently found one red token left over from rationing. I also have a pound of sour grapes! Do you think that’ll tide me over?

  88. We had spaghetti for dinner last night and my daughter in law looked at me like I was insane when I said keep the jars.

  89. Hey Fredster! We aren’t here at our usual times, huh?

    The fires are still burning. I flew over the area last Thursday and all I saw was the haze from all the smoke. There aren’t any new deaths but they are only finding parts of bodies now and are struggling with identification.

    The Red Cross bushfire appeal has now raised $100 million which I find particularly incredible in this day and age as people struggle with the economy.

    And BB – what a yucky story about the maggots. I cannot imagine it ever getting that bad.

  90. well if it all falls apart, look for the south to gain population. people can survive heat without electricity more easily than cold (and we’re still bitterly clinging to our guns and religion)

  91. LOL! Kim, if you don’t need them for canning you can always use them to get rid of your frustrations. I used to know a woman who after her husband left her with five kids and ran off with his secretary used to go down in the basement, wrap a glass jar in a towel and smash it with a hammer. She said it did wonders for her mood.

  92. eh eating maggots may not be that bad. after all the “fancy food” of today was yesterdays survival food (caviar anyone? escargot?)

  93. scrubs,

    That’s awful. With how bad things are there, you say it will never get “that bad?” Of course it can get that bad. Just look at Katrina. If we ended up with a lot of major cities in crisis like that things could get pretty hairy.

  94. Wow, I can’t imagine caviar ever being survivial food. They shouldn’t have spread the word about how good it was.

  95. I know, BB. Perhaps it is more that I just don’t WANT it to get that bad – and, if it was bad enough to eat maggots, I would hope and pray that there was some Frank’s hot sauce around! 🙂

  96. I LOVE this post BB. I too am a fan of apocalyptic and post- apocalyptic fiction. And I can’t help but wonder if what we’re seeing these days is the real-life edition.

  97. Whew. This one has so much in it. BostonBoomer –Just whew.

    So very relevant.

    News from where they just sent Hillary — very sad quality of life…

    Cars, czars, corporations …. and a worker’s life in contemporary Japan.

    Boycott corporate totalitarianism.

    Or any totalitarianism.

    Bboomer this is one of the strongest pieces yet……

    Confluence = DEPTH. Like I said.

  98. BB – I’ve always had a morose suspicion that I would live to see the end of the world. I truly appreciate your feeding my neurosis, LOL! Of course, I’m the one who watched “Apocalypse Week” on the History Channel rather than the Inauguration, so…

  99. OT — anyone seen this?


    Love that moron Arthur Stamoulis (God, another Greek Obot I have to be ashamed of) who said:

    “He made very clear promises, and he should live up to them,” said Arthur Stamoulis, director of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, which received an unqualified “yes” from Obama on a campaign questionnaire last year when the group asked if he would support “Buy American” requirements.

    Stamoulis you stupid malacha! Don’t you know Obama’s staff fills out those questionnaires & Obama hasn’t even seen it?

    I feel no pity for any of those fools now who feel “betrayed.” Obama didn’t betray them — they had their heads up their a$$es during the election & didn’t pay attention. He even said point blank that he hadn’t “moved on the issues [we] weren’t listening.”

  100. BB: It works much better with china, preferably bone china given to you by your in-laws. Stand at the top of the basement stairs and aim for the top of the brick or block wall. The sound makes a delightful !?BOOM!! when it hits the wall.

    I supposed I should have prefaced this with, “been there, done that”.

  101. Oh and because of the cement floor, clean up is a breeze.

  102. Federal investigators now want to talk with Roland Burris, the man appointed to the Senate by disgraced and impeached Governor Rod Blagojevich in Illinois. According to Burris’ lawyers, the wiretaps may have caught Burris chatting about the Senate opening with Blagojevich or his staff. Burris now has to fend off calls for his resignation by the legislature that has already expelled Blagojevich:

  103. In my cellar I found a supply of canning jars that I had planned on giving to some Amish people who live in the area, but …..should I reconsider?
    As someone above a said, people could move to the South where it is warmer- and- by the way, has longer growing seasons. What we need maybe is a return to an agrarian economy. We might have to wrestle that farmland back from the subsidized corporate farmers. though.

  104. Thanks, vbonnaire, but I didn’t write much. I do like Orlov’s writing though. The Russians are such good writers!

  105. Julie,

    LOL! I missed “Apocalypse Week.” That sounds like fun.

  106. BB – it was awesome! Seems Nostradamus, the I Ching and the Mayan Calendar all state that the world will end 12/21/12, which seems like a binary irony. Open the pod bay door, Hal!

    Plus I got some very entertaining looks of puzzlement when excited Obots asked if I had watched the Inauguration.

    “Are you kidding? It’s Apocalypse Week on the History Channel! I need to know what to expect so I can prepare!”

    And if y’all are coming down here we’d better put up a sign-up sheet. Angie, Kim, how many people can you fit at your place? ;o)

  107. I will probably be going to my daughter’s place in the event of gloom and doom. She is a restaurant manager and will probably lose her job first, since I rent, I could help her, but she is Florida, where it is much warmer. She has a huge Florida room and a very large garage. The back yard is about a half acre, with a fire pit, so tents would be okay. I dunno, maybe 3 or 4 families.

  108. Kim,

    My parents have about 3/4 of an acre in Indiana and a huge house with 5 bedrooms and 3 other usuable rooms. My mom and I were talking about this the other day. Our whole family (5 siblings, plus children, grandchildren, and one great grandchild) could all move in there and plow the backyard and plant corn and soybeans.

  109. I think there are several flaws in Orlov’s theories although he makes some interesting points. First and foremost the long histories of Russia and the US are not analogs but very much a history of how two national entities that modernized very much in the same time frame did so in fundamentally different ways. One can point to slavery and serfdom as touch points along with territorial expansion but so many other historical, cultural and social developments and institutions are so different as to likely make a strong case for two different outcomes.

    A better insight I think might go to two different sources. One would be the analogy of US and British empires and imperial ambitions—I think you could make a much stronger case for our likely development along the British experience than the Russian one. The second would be to study the work of Jared Diamond in his book, “Collapse”. He points out that almost all societies make mistakes in how they manage their environment and their resources. Some societies “collapse”; some don’t and in studying why some do and some don’t one can find that the capacity of the society to identify in time its mistakes and make change is key. The very size and populations of Russia, US and China speak to their continuing importance in world affairs. I for one would not think it a big disaster if our future was no longer coupled with the term “superpower”. Think of the role of the British in the world today. Is that such a bad place to be?

  110. I spent a chunk of my summer in Russia last year—along the Moscow/St. Petersburg ark and on out to Novosibirsk/Siberia. The US certainly has its economic issues but we are no where close to what the Russian people are living or have lived. To me Russia was like walking back in time to the 40s-50s economically.

  111. Jangles,

    I agree that the British Empire is a better analogy, although I don’t know if they were in the same boat as we are in terms of debt and deindustrialization. But many Orlov’s main arguments actually have to do with peak oil and environmental concerns.

  112. It’s time to live with less, and once we learn to live with less, learn to cut back and live with even less. I suggest we cut back to one meal a day and only vegetables. Dying of starvation won’t seem such a big leap.

  113. Actually I think the movie stills are more to the point-the real danger to civilization (not just the US, not just the west, but around the world) is catastrophic climate change, which the evidence suggests is considerably MORE of a threat than the IPCC models show.

    Compared to that, all our either undoubtedly serious problems are pocket change, but we keep treating it as if it is something we can maybe get to later. In fact, because of the feedback mechanisms involved, we may have very little time left, and anyone who plans to be alive in the second half of the century, or has loved ones who will be (not me in either case thank god) ought to be seriously terrified.

  114. Oops-“other” not “either” “undoubtedly serious problems.”

  115. The Soviet and USA situation is going to be similar because it is the same morons, using the same Chicago School economic philosophy (wealth transfer from common people to big corporations, accomplished in backroom deals between politicians and corporations), that is responsible for both economic breakdowns. These are same guys who are in charge now – Larry Summers et al. Have you read Shock Doctrine? The current USA situation is eerily similar to the early stages of financial disaster in various countries outlined in this book.

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