Decentralization = Relocalization

Just dropping a link in here to an article on Decentralization, which is just relocalization by another name.

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Brr… Usually 17 degrees is a fairly comfortable winter temperature around here. But, with cloudy skies, the humidity staying unnaturally high, and winds swooping down from Ontario, today’s walk home was a chilly one.

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Stabilizing and Destabilizing Elections

The previous post about Steve King started out as a much longer post that talked about several concepts. In the end I decided it rambled and was weird and, unfortunately, didn’t think to save the 2/3’s of the post I cut out to make new post from. Stabilizing and destabilizing elections is a concept from the King post that I want to do some research on and post more about. I’m dropping this in here as a reference point.

In a nutshell, I think the 2016 election was a destabilizing election and the 2018 election was a stabilizing election.

The Trump campaign was successful in 2016 by running a campaign of destabilization. Once elected the Trump people, with the help of most of the Republican Party, continued destabilization as policy goals. Two of most heard terms about the Trump Presidency are lies and chaos. Lies destabilize and chaos is a synonym for destabilization. 😉

Cue the 2018 election. Who won? Mothers. Or at least people that could be mothers. Mothers are a symbol of stability. When you’re feeling insecure and unstable you want your mom. These moms won on bread and butter issues. Family security was addressed by taking on the Trump admin’s family separation polices and reaffirming support for gay marriage. Most of the rest were traditional issues of the left: wages, gun control, healthcare, education, transportation and the like. The people who won were the normal, professional people that usually run for office. They spoke the normal, educated, language that people who get elected to Congress speak, and they ran on the normal issues that people on the left run on. This was a return to the known. A return to stability.

The election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could be seen as a force for the destabilization of the left, but I don’t think it is. AOC’s polices are largely the same as Bernie Sanders, Jim McDermott, Dennis Kucinich, and others on the left have advocated for. AOC’s election, at most, was an acknowledgement that stability is not stasis. The little bit of her campaign I saw seemed to revolve around traditional issues of the left including gun control, better funding for schools and college, and ending private prisons. AOC’s “green new deal” is an effort to address climate change and climate change is the destabilization of the global climate. Hey, look at that more stability. Raising the rates on a graduated income tax is a traditional way for the left (and others) to pay for things and The New Deal is often used as a trop by the left. So, again, traditional and stability seeking.

I also need to address the idea that stability is stasis more in future posts.

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Steve King and Destabilization

Connie Schultz did a good job summing up Steve King and the Republican Party’s response to him.

I’m sharing this here because I see King as a destabilizer and when you’re already Living In Tumultous Times the last thing in the world you/we need is a destabilizer causing more tumult.

King, and others like him, bill themselves as traditionalists, as stabilizers. The truth is that the “traditional values” and histories they claim to be upholding are fictions and change is ever-present. Building  your history on a lie, as King has done, makes it impossible to have a degree of control over how things change as you have to respond to the lie you created instead of the reality you live in (fascist Italy and Germany and the Soviet Union are recent examples of this).

Change is a constant, it is ever-present. When people like King, by claims of tradition or traditional values, try to stop change from occurring at all they force change to occur in large, untested, destabilizing jumps. By denying the evolutionary process you get the revolutionary process instead. When the world is already tumultuous, already destabilized, a big glop of untested, revolutionary change is just fuel for the fire (see: the end of Czarist Russia, Iraq post 2003). Also see: punctuated equilibrium.

Tradition and traditional societal values, properly applied, do not stop change. They guide it. They slow the revolution and inject the tried and true into untried tumult. Tradition and traditional societal values are forces of stability that value the real, the true, the functional, and recognize that stable mean slow, not stasis.

I hope that the actions taken against congressman King mark an end to the destabilizations being pushed by the Republican Party. I hope that the Republican’s can return tradition to its proper place as a guide and tool for shaping change and the future. I doubt they will.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

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Pocket Knives

fullsizeoutput_6ba9There’s not that much to say here, but a good pocket knife or three ranks as indispensable kit for living well in tumultuous times.

Right now there seems to be a push towards “tactical” and expensive bespoke knives. A tactic being: an action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end, I’m not even sure what a tactical knife is. Maybe it’s a knife that you put a lot of thought into how you’d end up using? As for the bespoke versions: they’re great. But, what we’re looking it here is something that you’d have on you all the time, and if you’re like me, that means you’re going to lose it occasionally or have to give it up at a TSA or federal building checkpoint and losing a $100 knife would suck.

The most expensive knife in the photo above cost about $25 and for day to day use will do you just fine. I tend to go for the more traditional style knives the idea being if they’ve been around forever they must work well. I’ve found the idea proves out with use.

While we’re on the subject, you’re going to want to keep your knife sharpened. I favor the flat style, pocketable sharpeners like the one at the top of the photo from DMT. This style of sharpener typically has two grits and runs $35-50. As for the actual sharpening, there are tons guides to knife sharpening  online, but all you need to do is keep the knife at a consistent shallow angle and give at a few swipes across the sharpener. It’s not rocket science and the goal, as least as far as this blog goes, is to quickly get your knife sharp enough to complete the task at hand.

As with everything, there’s a ton of in-depth info available about knives and sharpening them on the web if you want more info. But, really, if you just grab a $15 knife from Opinel (like the second from the bottom in the photo) and start carting it around and using it you’ll probably be fine. Our great grandparents had pocket knives, did have the web, and they did great.

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Coffee Outside Take Two

I decided today was a good day to give #coffeeoutside another try and so gathered up my gear, bundled up against the cold, and trundled off on my bike. And this time everything worked like a charm. At 25 degrees outside it does take a little longer to get water to boil with an isobutane stove, but it’s not a big deal.

The pot in the picture is a combo pot/mug thing that seemed like a good idea when I saw it in the store, but I’ve just never dug it in use. I’d never used it with my pocket rocket stove, so I decided to give it a whirl today, and yeah, it’s too skinny for the stove, a bit wobbly, and I didn’t dig it. It’s back to an actual pot and a double walled tumbler to drink out of. The stove’s an MSR Pocket Rocket which I do highly recommend.

As always the biking was wonderful and it was nice to have a warm up at the mid point in the ride even if it wasn’t that cold and I wasn’t going very far today.

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Through The Storm

Through The StomNot really what I think of when I think of Norman Rockwell, but I came across this on Cold Antler Farm and dug it. And since part of the whole deal here is Living Well In Tumultuous times I thought it was a good fit for my site. The full title is Through The Storm He Silently Glided Along in Front of Her While the Woods Sheltered Them and it was painted in 1915.

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Russia’s been in the news a lot lately and is wound up in our Tumultuous Times, so I thought I’d collect my thoughts on the subject and put them on the blog.

(I’m an amateur at this, but the pro’s seem to have completely blown it)

Russia’s a Kleptocracy. It’s run by Putin and his Oligarchy, his super wealthy organized crime buddies, who are stripping assets as fast as they can and running the country into the ground.

The official HIV rate in Russia is 1.2%, the real rate is much higher. HIV in Russia is also seen throughout the population, not just isolated groups like IV drug users, which is a huge problem as well. The Russian state seems to be doing right about zero about this.

The Russian birth rate is currently 1.75 births per woman and has been well below replacement rate (2.1-2.2 depending on who you’re talking too) for the entire post-Soviet era. Drug and alcohol issues are rampant. It’s hard to get good numbers on the number of addicts in Russia because the Russians straight up lie about it. As with HIV the Russian government isn’t doing much to combat this. The overall picture is one of a population that’s set to collapse.

Russian infrastructure is collapsing. 22% of Russians live in poverty (that’s the official number, the real number is bound to be higher). And so on and so forth. Everything in Russia looks bad. Everything looks like a collapsing empire to me.

Which brings up a few questions like:

1. What do the Russians want? Seems to me they want to be left alone. Putin and his buddies want to continue to be some of the richest people on the planet and the rest of the country seems to want peace, and stability, a roof over their heads, and food to eat.

2. Why are the Russian beating the war drum? It keeps the population in line on the home front, keeps Putin and his buddies in power, and it keeps the neighbors and the U.S., who have been poking and prodding and looking for soft spots off balance and off their backs. Or at least that seem to be their thinking. I think it would go better for them if they stopped threatening the world.

3. If the Russians are a collapsing empire why are we so worried about them? Why are we beating the war drum as well? Um… Maybe because having a boogie-man helps keep people in line on the home front and keeps profits flowing in from the 100% government dependent (ours and the other governments we sell arms to) military industrial complex. And stay tuned for more news after a word from our official corporate sponsor… It keeps us tuned into the corporate media.

4. What would happen if we left Russia alone? Looks to me like the areas of the map that were traditionally part of the Russian/Soviet sphere would be more aligned with the Russians and Putin and his buddies would consolidate power until some other group came along and knocked them off. Oligarchs have a tendency to get shot in basements and back-gardens, hung from lamp-posts etc. The Russian population is set to collapse, regardless. The Ukraine, Latvia, and some of the other former Eastern Block countries are also set for steep population declines. Things are bad in Russia and, at least in the near term, it doesn’t look like we can change/help that.

5. What should we really worry about then? From Russia and much of the former Eastern Block: failed states and anarchy. Leaking nuclear reactor and waste dumps. Bad actors of various kinds getting their hands on military grade weapons.

6. Given all this what should we be doing about Russia? Limiting our exposure. Currently the only thing that can really ding us from Russia is their oil sales going off line and spiking the price of oil. That means getting the U.S. off oil. No more 2,000 mile Cesar Salads and tomatoes shipped from the other side of the continent. Grapes from Chile? Forget it. Walking and biking for short trips. Stop expanding suburbia.

Putin and his cronies really are horrible and really have over-stepped in their fiddling in American affairs. To combat this we need to understand that the Russian Oligarchy needs access to American financial markets to launder/use their cash. Limiting access to our markets is the way to go. Not allowing anyone with a suitcase of Rubles to buy real estate in America would be a good start. Targeted sanctions are also the way to go and we should probably be more aggressive about it. But, remember, right now if the Russian pull oil off the market we get hurt. We need to look to ways to reduce our dependency on oil as we ramp up sanctions.

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Coffee, Not Outside

Having not made #coffeeoutside or used my isobutane backpacking stove for a few months I decided that I’d take advantage of today’s sunny and balmy 30 degree weather and make some #cofffeeoutside whilst out on a bike ride. Pre-ride I gathered all my things and gave the fuel canister I was taking a good shake to double check it had fuel in it and head out. My first stop was a bakery few miles away to pick up a cinnamon roll. Cinnamon roll in my possession I rode a couple more miles to a scenic little park by a lake to whip up my coffee.

At the park I took an extra couple extra seconds to pick out the table with the best view and have all my things nicely arranged. I screwed my fuel canister into my stove turned the valve to start the gas flowing, and… Nothing. I turned off the valve, unscrewed the canister, screwed the canister back in and… Nothing. Huh? I double checked that the valve on the stove that controls the flow of fuel was working properly. It was. Shook the stove, yes there was fuel in it, opened the valve again and…. Nothing. I unscrewed the fuel canister, got out the awl on my Swiss Army Knife and used the awl to depress the seal on the fuel canister and gas came jetting out. So, I’ve got a Canister with gas and pressure. A properly functioning stove, but not fire. Great. I screwed the canister back into the stove and have it one more try… Nothing. I ended up eating my cinnamon roll with cold water, which was a total let down, and headed back out on my bike, stopping at a coffee shop for #coffeeinside before heading home.

Weird deal. I’ve been using that same style of stove and fuel canister on a fairly regular basis for about 20 years and have NEVER had any kind of failure. The canister in question had been used before so while it was being stored something must of messed up the release valve on it to the point were the stove couldn’t depress it. Once I got home I attached a different canister to the stove and it worked just fine.

Next time I’ll make sure stove and canister are functioning before putting them in the bike, but at a once-in-20-years failure rate I don’t think I’m going to worry about it much.

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Catastrophic Power Outages

Another quick post just to drop a link in here about the latest governmental report on Catastrophic power outages. A quick perusal of the report leaves a good impression. They realize the seriousness of the problem, are on the lookout for cascading failures, and want to “war game” their ideas. However, the problems here are nothing new. We’ve had warning after warning about this stuff for at least the last 20 years and not much has been done about it. This time could be different, but I’m keeping my battery stash and my flashlights handy.

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