Thursday, 1 November 2018

What I've Been Reading, October 2018




  • Technofantasia in action, by Tim Watkins, The Consciousness of Sheep
  • Scientists Warn the UN of Capitalism’s Imminent Demise, by Nafeez Ahmed, Medium—Insurge Intelligence
    A climate change-fueled switch away from fossil fuels means the worldwide economy will fundamentally need to change
  • Is America at Rock Bottom Yet? By Umair Haque, Medium— Eudaimonia
    "If the Rise of Political Violence Doesn’t Make Society Reject Authoritarianism — What Will?"
    Sadly, if all the problems Umair points out were corrected, we'd still face the effects of declining surplus energy, for which there is no solution.

Responding to Collapse,

A Paradise built in Hell, The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster
I'm borrowing the title of Rebecca Solnit's book for this section of links. There is a deep human need to come together in crises to take care of each other. And contrary to the horrific picture of typical reactions to disaster painted by the "disaster mythology", in fact communities often do come together to help themselves in the most extraordinarily positive ways.

A transcript is included with each of these podcasts.

Peak Oil

Climate Change

  • Global heatwave is symptom of early stage cycle of civilisational collapse, by Nafeez Ahmed, Medium—Insurge Intelligence
    "Collapse does not arrive in this scenario as a singular point of terminal completion. Rather, collapse occurs as a a series of discrete but consecutive and interconnected amplifying feedback processes by which these dynamics interact and worsen one another."
    "It is not a final process, and it is not set-in-stone. At each point, the possibility of intervening at critical points to mitigate, ameliorate, adapt, or subvert still exists. But it gets harder and harder to do so effectively the deeper into the collapse cycle we go."
  • We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal, by Peter Forbes, Aeon

Economic Contraction

  • Our Bonus Decade , by Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute
    "As a shorthand way of speaking about these four related factors, we at PCI have begun speaking of the “E4 crisis” (energy, environment, economy, and equity). It’s no longer helpful to focus on one factor to the exclusion of the others; it’s far more informative to look for ways in which all four are interacting in real time."


Emergency Preparation

Agriculture and Food

  • Farm Babe: My story: Why I advocate for agriculture, by Michelle Miller, Farm Babe
    "The reason I share my story with you; the reason I am so passionate about this, is because I want people to know I get it. I was once very misinformed and wasted a lot of money. I see how crazy and confusing it can be to only want what’s best for your family, the planet, and the animals. I want people to understand that farmers are real people who just want to connect with you. Behind the corporate face of “big ag” are real family farmers. Good people who want you to understand what we do and why."
  • Is Organic Really Better? 4 Food Myths Debunked By Science, by Victor Tangermann, Futurism

Practical Skills

Genetic Engineering

Before jumping to the erroneous conclusion that this section was paid for by Monsanto, stop for a moment and understand that organic agriculture/food is a multi-billion dollar per year industry that relies on fear to get people to buy its product. Millions of dollars are spent to convince you that non-organic food is dangerous. In fact both conventionally grown and organic foods are equally safe. Sadly neither method of agriculture is even remotely substainable.


Free Speech

Lacking an Owner's Manual

The human body/mind/spirit doesn't come with an owner's manual, and we continually struggle to figure out how best to operate them.

  • How To Make A Relationship Last, by Kris Gage, Medium—Relationships
    As a guy who has been married over 41 years, I'd say this is pretty much spot on. Although after you've done it, the work doesn't seem like such a big deal. It's the work that remains to be done that's the big deal.
  • Six science-backed techniques to help you make hard decisions, by Aytekin Tank, Medium—The Startup
    There is a lot of the "business speak" that I find so irritating in this one, but the techniques it presents are solid.

There is No God, and Thou Shall Have No Other Gods

I don't think I've made any secret of the fact that I am an atheist, but I may not have made it clear that I think any sort of worship is a bad thing and that believing in things is to be avoid whenever possible. Indeed, I do not believe in belief itself. That's what the "Thou shall have no other gods" is about—it's not enough to quit believing in whatever God or Gods you were raised to believe in, but also we must avoid other gods, including material wealth, power and fame.


  • The elephant as a person, by Don Ross, Aeon
    "Elephants might have the necessary capacities for personhood – we just need to help them acquire the cognitive scaffolding"

Refugees and Migration

Poverty, Homeless People, Minimum Wage, UBI

  • Dunkin' Donuts Employees Just Got Involved in Another Disgraceful Incident. This One Could Be the Worst, by Chris Matyszczyk,
  • How to Be a Better Neighbor to Homeless People, by Matthew Gerring, Medium—Better Humans
    " my home city of San Francisco, about 70% of people experiencing homelessness were housed residents of San Francisco before becoming homeless. They worked and paid rent just like everybody else before some catastrophic event, like a job loss or an eviction or a natural disaster, led to the loss of their home."
    "It’s one thing to call the police when someone is in danger, or causing danger to others. It’s another thing to call the police (or to vote to give new powers to the police) just because someone is doing something that annoys you."

Autonomous Vehicles and Artificial Intelligence


  • Why it’s so Hard to Help With Your Kid’s Math Homework, by Jessica Lahey, Medium/Washington Post
    This is why parents get frustrated with their kids’ math homework, and why kids may end up thinking they are not “math people”
    This one was almost amusing to read. Apparently, Canada, or at least Ontario, went down another road from the US, and tried to give kids "math sense" while largely eliminating the rote learning of number facts and basic procedures. The results, I can assure you, are just as bad. Somehow, in elementary school in the 1960s, I was forced to do the rote learn and also managed to develop a strong math sense. Both are needed. And a large part of having math sense is having those number facts memorized so well that it feels like intuition when you use them. You'll never get math sense without that foundation to to base it on.
    When discussing these issues with friends I am frequently given examples of supposedly hard math problems that I can do in my head in a matter of seconds. I am no rocket scientist, I just have a pretty good grasp of the basics.
  • You Have to Adapt, or Die Trying, by Jessica Wildfire, Medium
    "Nobody succeeds at anything without adapting. In order to adapt, you have to realize what’s missing. In short, identify why you currently suck."
    I could just as easily have put this in the "Lacking a Manual" or "Responding to Collapse" section, but since it's from the viewpoint of a teacher, I'll leave it here.
  • Flawed thinking has hijacked early childhood education, by Kendra Bell-Hayes, Medium—Education
    This one got included because the same points could be made in any situation where adversaries try to communicate. That's something we all need help with.






Don Hayward said...

Thanks for the Orangeville Banner link. Every exposé is good.
As you know, I agree with the community approach to collapse, both in prepping and response and that was partly based on experience within communities with some sort of crisis (The Dufferin tornadoes of 1985 for example. Anything that encourages that, even what I think the ill thought out intentional communities is still good. Those envisioning going it alone are writing their own death sentence.
I differ somewhat on the spiritual question but for sure, not about religion and theism.
There is a human need that somehow extends beyond the physical, more emotional and perhaps necessary for mental health in our incompletely evolved brains. It is perhaps this need that leads to mysticism and theism which are ritualistic responses to that. As you know in After, and if you have read The Seventh Path, it is an area of humanity that my characters feel important but has no explanations. In any event. mysticism and theism represent a response to claim power in the face of natural forces that, pre-science, had no explanations and seemed overpowering. Sadly, taking action on incomplete science may not look much different than ritualistic mystical and theistic religious responses. After all, that is what has us in this climate mess and suggests we should have followed and should follow the precautionary principle, but profit motive prevents that. Something we can talk more about next Wednesday.

Anonymous said...

It's not that it's genetically modified it's what it's modified for.

It's the glyphosate asshole.

Congratulations, you're not a paid shill. Just an unintentional one through ignorance of what really matters health wise.

Many of your pro gmo authors have obvious industry links or 'conflicts of intrest'. You can look it up for yourself.

BTW, I've seen your picture and you don't appear to be healthy at all, so why are you preaching like you are an expert?

You might want to look into some of the research on the importance of dental health to overall health. You worked for Hydro One so you were among one of the top employment dental plans in Canada. No excuse.