Friday, November 26, 2010

Blackest Friday

   As my regular readers have noticed, I've taken a few days break between postings.  The holiday season can be distracting sometimes, of course, but my absence has more to do with the desire just to stop looking into the abyss for a time than anything to do with family, cooking, traveling or any of the dozen or so other things we find ourselves doing this time of year.

   I've always enjoyed the Twilight Zone both as an entertainment experience and a metaphor for when things seem normal, but there are little signs that they are really, really wrong.  I pulled up Drudge today and saw that on one hand, there were several links about more apocalyptic economic news on one side, and on the other were links about violence, stabbing, near-riots during "Black Friday" sales.  These little Twilight-Zone style signs show disconnect between the reality of a shrinking global economy on one hand and the orgy of spending on the other hand, and convinces me that most people, outside of perhaps the "99ers" really just don't get it. 

   The world, and America, in particular, has really become the embodiment of the grasshopper in the fable of the "ant and the grasshopper."  The ant knew winter was coming and prepared for it, while the grasshopper "partied on," so to speak, and didn't put a thought to tomorrow's troubles.  Right now, the grasshoppers are spending, spending, spending on electronic gadgets that will be useless without a stable power grid, cheaply made clothing that risks falling apart in the wash, much less being worn during hard manual labor and plastic toys that will probably end up being turned into a toxic smoke cloud as people try to burn them to stay warm.

   The people who know me in person know that I'm the person who is probably first to find shelter when a storm is coming, who takes a warm jacket, gloves and hat with me even when it's sunny and mild out, the person who has a water bottle and couple of energy bars stuffed in a pocket even when just going to the park.  Why?  Because I know that we don't always have the luxury of being able to adjust our circumstances to us.  We can't change the weather or much of what other people around us do.  And, we surely to God cannot right an economy which was built on quicksand and is now starting to sink. 

   It's one thing to be caught napping when it's been sunny all day.  It's quite another thing to see it raining outside and not bother to take an umbrella.  All the crowds running around at the malls and big box stores today, even when they are looking straight into the maw of a Category 5 economic hurricane, tell me that there is not much hope for seeing a return to responsibility and preparation for the downsizing about to hit America. 


  1. One of the most important preparations we can do is to mentally prepare for a economic/societal collapse to some degree at some point in time in the future. If more people did this, than I wouldn't "fear the future" so much. The cognitive dissonance that the unprepared will suffer will be unprecedented in modern history, and will lead to a lot of unnessecary suffering and violence.
    Oh, well ... this blog and others are an attempt, but most people don't want to hear it.
    They are too busy spending money they don't have on cheap junk that they don't need. And the band plays on ...

    Scott in Bucks County

  2. I tend to agree. I'm amazed at the irrational behavior people display sometimes, but I think it's simply a consequence of the time/place they have grown up in where thinking on a daily basis about survival isn't necessary.

    To use an analogy of plants, it's very energy-intensive for a plant to produce a flower and reproduce. Plants have to divert nutrients for something that would otherwise go to growing roots and leaves, in an effort to create a new plant, something which serves little benefit for the originating plant (maybe outside of something eating the new plant instead of it). In the meantime, the plant loses some competitive advantage with the environment as other plants which do not make the effort to reproduce can keep growing and competing for resources.

    Likewise, in modern society, if people divert time and resources to a little preparation for a not-so-rosy future, are they losing out to people who focus still on their careers, building social connections, etc? What is valuable in terms of building a life in the modern world system is not what would be necessary for building a life if the modern world system vanished, but people are not going to shift priorities until it is too late to do so.

    Outside of that, I am still surprised at the crappy survival instincts people display sometimes. Not too long ago, we had a severe windstorm in this region which knocked out power to millions of people. I went to the store to pick up some food and supplies so I didn't have to dip into my emergency stocks. The power was out for almost everyone, and no one knew how quickly it would be prepared, but people were buying fresh food right and left -- and no one at all was in the canned food aisle. That should speak for itself as to the mindset of most people.