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End Globalism, Restore Sovereignty Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Post Globalism" journal:

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September 1st, 2012
12:35 pm


Oxford and Davis
From what I understand, Oxford isn't A college. Its a collection of colleges. It was formed by students who wanted specific educations coming together, in a union, to hire teachers of those subjects. Teachers eventually banded together to form colleges, dozens of them, in Oxford. So its not a University so much as a whole bunch of them.

University of California at Davis is a single university, containing many departments. Due to it taking over about 1/3 of the town itself, physically, and most of the population there are students, with surrounding homes and apartments for student housing, and it being utterly flat is very popular for bicycling. Potentially, Davis could be a huge long term sustainable town. Unfortunately, the UC system is all about MONEY, and it grades on a curve, so its graduates are largely groupthink fools, failures of mediocrity thanks to the quirk of statistics that lets them graduate by agreeing with everyone else. This is a big part of why Davis isn't producing ground breaking science so much as administrators that are strangling the science organizations in California. Its very sad. I have to think that if Davis broke up into Colleges like Oxford, with specialties and competition they could both cut their costs and change their grading system so they got quality students actually interested in science instead of catered meetings at crappy companies that are little more than Ponzi Schemes continuously seeking "investors". I've seen that first hand, and this is what Davis graduates do. Dilution through mediocrity.

Considering that Davis is organized around huge classes and professors who sometimes lecture but never teach in rooms of hundreds where you need opera glasses to see the board... well, now that attendence is a $40-200K cost per degree, Davis is a bad deal. Real wages are fallen to just above Minimum, which in the PRK is $8.25/hr. Imagine trying to make a living when you've got a $200K student loan to pay off. Davis is financial suicide. Their rates need to drop and they need to fire their clearly incompetent teachers. The only way I can see that happening is seeing the various departments split off from the UC system and operate private colleges, cheaply, in Davis, the town. Authorizing the bankruptcy of UC Davis and selling off the buildings to private colleges would probably work best. Make it cheap. Davis is nothing to be proud of anymore. Turning it into Oxford could save it.

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August 27th, 2012
12:09 pm


Pakistan, Iran, and Natural Gas
The U.S. military are in Pakistan because it enables access into Afghanistan, home of the Taliban and Al Qaeda training camps. Afghanistan also has a route for a natural gas pipeline from Iran to India and would provide Iran a means to pay for nuclear weapons. Natural gas sales would offer a hard currency supply that will support the economically troubled regime in Iran, now with 16% inflation and 24% unemployment. Iran's oil is nearly out but they have significant reserves of natural gas. Exporting it by ship is dangerous and expensive and nations generally avoid getting ports due to historical safety concerns. Natural gas is usually exported via pipeline because they're safer to operate and offer a secure means for trade.

The U.S. started a war in Afghanistan to contain and eradicate terrorist training camps run by the Taliban. Pundits from the international energy field say it was to covertly blow up the gas pipeline and prevent Iran from getting money from India. Iran states they want the money so they can use nuclear power to advance their national interests in the Persian Gulf and Israel. Iran has also stated it is opposed to ruling parties in nearly every nation in the Gulf except Syria and by extension Lebanon, which is heavily influenced by its neighbor Syria. Once Iran gains the infrastructure to manufacture and maintain nuclear weapons, they can negiotiate favorable conditions for their own national interests. Speculation by international experts that Israel will attack Iran's nuclear facilities, similar to their attack in 1981 on Iraq's nuclear power plant near Baghdad. The Saudi Arabian government has also expressed concern over a nuclear armed Iran.

Present U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan over Iran's pipeline through the region has been costly. Ongoing operating costs requires payment of $1B/month to various persons, departments and associated agencies in Pakistan, which pundits refer to as "bribes" to allow U.S. military operations in the area. "At some point the dollar will devaluate until it is no longer a sufficient means of payment and Pakistan is going to demand weapons we don't want to give them, or gold. And then its over," state international experts familiar with the situation.

Some argue that there are minerals in Afghanistan that justify Western national interests. Others state that there's humanitarian reasons to convince the population to support a modernization of the region. Primary business in Afghanistan is growing opium poppies for export, fuelling world heroin demand and associated crimes.

Pundits state that a U.S. withdrawal from South Asia could start a bigger war in the area. They also point out that the last decade hunting Osama Bin Laden turned him up in Pakistan, an alleged "ally" in the war on terror since 9/11/01.

(edited in the AP style just to see if I could pull it off)

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August 26th, 2012
11:15 am


The Value of Speculation
Naysayers to Peak Oil and Economic Collapse love to pooh-pooh survivalists preppers speculating on the future and how to prepare for reasonable eventualities. These same naysayers adore Star Trek because its a utopia (actually a dystopia) with unlimited energy, unlimited materialism, and clothes without pockets. Gene Roddenberry was a tard. Most Commies are. I think that speculating about the future is a wonderful exercise and helps people realize the many dependencies in our civilization, some of which we can work around, others we can't without giving something up.

It is possible that SOME DAY in the future, we'll have a viable battery for electric cars, we aren't there yet and probably won't be for decades, not merely years. It takes 17 years for a scientific discovery to become a product for sale off the shelf. We still don't have cheap spidersilk for use in vehicles (including bicycles) and bulletproof vests for our police and military, despite its discovery in 1990. It's not even hard to make, and costs a lot less than aramid (carbon fiber). We also haven't seen any serious manufacturing of the Selenium-Arsenide solar panels on mylar, a roll printing method with a highly efficient solar cell receptor which would seriously revolutionize solar power and uses commonly available elements found in the San Joaquin River and valley deposits. I mean, this could solve our domestic energy issues AND its cheap and easy to scale up. Factory? Nope. Solyndra was using rare earths (Osmium and Tantalum if I remember correctly) from China that was poisoning its employees during manufacturing. If they hadn't shut down, there would be deaths. The Chinese stopped exporting it just to kill that company. And people wonder why I keep saying we're in economic war with China. We are. Have been for 20 years and we're LOSING. That's HISTORY, not speculation. These panels, using common elements available in California from agricultural wastewater runoff (no really, its in the soil of all those fields), would make for jobs manufacturing and installing, employing lots of electricians put out of work by the Housing Bubble crash, and a generation of youth unable to find jobs in the last half-decade.

Until these things happen, we can only hope that Ras Tanura doesn't get bombed, that the Persian Gulf isn't blown up or Mexico fall into revolution that shuts down the oil, that the refinery fire damage in Richmond is easily repaired, that hurricanes in the Caribbean don't destroy more oil platforms and refineries... yeah, many things have to go right just to avoid making things worse. Some will, by chance. Others won't. That's how life is.

Reasonable speculation is important because you can use those ideas to do some planning and purchases against likely events. People who live in the South are going to get hurricane related storms and lightning. People in the MidWest are going to get tornadoes and blizzards. People in the NorthEast get the blizzards and ice storms and severe weather coming off the ocean. People in the Northwest get ice storms, rain, and power outages. People here in California get wildfires and rare floods in the Spring. Snow melt can overtop our rivers. Happens. Its rational to plan to deal with these events we know we face from time to time. Alien invaders? No. Just, no. Fuel shortages? Yes! Lots of options there. Learn to ride a scooter and store some stabilized fuel. You can ride for a month on a few gallons during a shortage. Stock your pantry with food? Sure. If there's shortages, you will eat. Might give/sell some on to neighbors to keep them from starving to death, but that gets into a bad area, imho. If they're starving, the pitchforks and torches aren't far behind. This is why White Flight has so many moving to the boonies to hide. After they go bankrupt, they come back to the city poorer and humiliated. This is why I'm a fan of working, and living near your job if you can. If the job stays open during a fuel crisis, you can bicycle there, worst case. If it closes down, you're no worse off than anyone else.

Just make sure your speculation is reasonable. No tinfoil hat paranoia. Reasonable, likely events are far more likely to happen and be worth spending your hard earned cash prepping for. Don't waste your money. Cash is a resource too.

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August 16th, 2012
12:30 pm


Full Employment
I've been reading articles on Cracked.com, including some which had some intriguing points, but then fail at the end thanks to liberal bias and ignorance. I'm a Libertarian, which is kinda like a Republican who actually values Civil Rights and Ethics. Not a Rand-ist either. I've read Ayn Rand... a bit old fashioned and naive. Anyway, I read a recent article that was making good points until it suddenly supported Globalism, completely ignoring that said Globalism has completely destroyed the US economy and caused massive unemployment in the name of cheaper consumer goods made somewhere else. This only really benefits the companies that contract these goods, as they're often poorly made by slave labor in China and SE asia. Certain shoe and cell phone factories are famous for this. The practice of outsourcing what should be US jobs really ought to be expensive and regulated to the point that its unaffordable. Unfortunately, the world is run by Rand-ists and their resulting Oligarchy (inherited wealth) closely resembles the sort of artistocratic nonsense which caused the American revolution in the first place. Which eventually lead to democracy... which no longer exists due to indifference and the welfare culture of entitlement that's pretty well caused the demand for cheap consumer goods, debt, and unemployment we have now. Thus is the circle of poverty!

Its frustrating when you get into an article that's doing well and then it goes off into crazyland. Glen Beck? Sometimes he would work with evidence then he's off into looneyworld a few minutes later. Fox news? Pro oligarchy mouthpiece. Global Warming? Nobody wants to hear about the facts because they make Al Gore look even stupider, kinda like the destructive environmental costs of building a Prius. Haven't you clowns heard of biodiesel? Its sustainble and scalable and does NOT require invading foreign countries and getting into boondoggle wars. If Honda, Suzuki, Subaru, and the various EU manufacturers were allowed to sell their (unsafe) vehicles here and we lowered the speed limits back to 55 mph, we'd all benefit and be that much less dependent on the damn Arabs.

I look forward to the bankruptcy of the oligarchy financing Bad Ideas (like foreign wars and buying oil from OPEC) so we can focus on either having that revolution or admitting full employment is the smarter goal since it keeps people busy, gives them valid reason for pride, and ends most of the violence people are afraid of. Full employment. Its not hard to see the benefits.

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July 31st, 2012
11:33 am


Warehouse 13 Steampunk and Yesterday's Tomorrows
Steampunk. The first example of it that I knew it under that name was The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Not really an awesome book. It needed more editing so the prose would flow. But it led somewhere and the genre took off with the energy applied, particularly when Neal Stephenson did his own take on it, Diamond Age in particular. I suspect that in 20 years the Edwardian/Victorian clothing from Steampunk might be the dominant high culture in America and Europe. We're definitely tired of Teeshirts and bluejeans and sneakers. There's appeal to wearing clothes that FIT and are of proper quality. This said while I myself am wearing track pants and a teeshirt. Go, hypocrisy!

It is worth pointing out that there's been plenty of pseudo-steam in the various riffs off 19th Century scifi, like Jules Verne. Ripoff shows like Wild Wild West was a sort of western-scifi steampunk setting, with gadgets out of time, etc. Make has been awesome about building ornate housings for technology, and mass produced plastic covers for iPhones in the shape of a cassette tape is a bit less retro but a similar idea. Steampunk is all brass, soot, vacuum tubes, steam power, coal, fragile and complex mechanical structures, girders, black iron, lightning bolts, and a surge of anticipation towards a tomorrow that didn't come the way they expected. Yesterday's Tomorrows is a legitimate field of study in modern culture and history.

The Star Trek series mutated to match viewers tastes so the moral choices matched the mores of the times it was on TV. Polyester stretch pants, spandex singlets, the character's clothes are just as artificial and plastic as their acting often was. Blame the director and writers for that. Scifi since 1900 has been a strange series of Modernist Romantic, where science conquers superstition and make the world Utopian. Then the 1960's happened and we saw the flower children beaten and shot during protests that turned into riots and tragedy. The flower children turned into deadly murdering cultists and the whole innocent vibe disappeared. The Baby Boomers turned greedy, got divorces, snorted cocaine, went psychotic, voted for nuclear armegeddon, raised children badly, and we saw the end of the Cold War, aka World War 3. It is important to note that that WAS WW3. It just happened that WW3 was mostly fought via proxies and posturing, in places like Vietnam, Ethiopia, Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and countless skirmishes in the air and at sea. 40 years minutes away from MAD. And then it was over.

The debris of the end of WW3 was all that bestial architecture, built ugly to withstand nukes and weather, mostly abandoned. There's nothing ornate since the Art Deco period. Just ugliness. Steampunk is a return to Ornate and that means craftsmanship and the value of labor, of pride in workmanship. For the last 80 years we've been tearing down what doesn't suit us, and we've lost all sense of art and respect for each other. I think this is a big part of why Steampunk appeals to modern people. It's a rejection of pure function, and a demand for pleasing appearance. The Paramount theater in Oakland CA is a fine example of Art Deco, complete with sculptures and rugs. It is a palace of craftsmanship pride. If all theaters were like that they probably wouldn't tear them down every 10 years.

The current incarnation of TV broadcast steampunk is Warehouse 13, which is repeated variations of Clarke's Law operated by the warehouse from the original Raiders of the Lost Arc "a very safe place". The characters are cliches, but that's what people want in TV. It has many props built with the steampunk approach, brass, vacuum tubes, ornate designs. Metal, wood, no plastics. Its pretty. Warehouse 13 is about the pretty props for the show. The characters are largely post-modern nihilists, seeking self destruction rather than building a better future, but that's the structure of the show. After WW3, we entered WW4 almost immediately with the first Gulf War, a post soviet resource war arguing for local control vs global demand. Inevitably, if Lithium remains valuable, we'll see a similar war in Bolivia, and later in Venezuela over the oil fields near the Colombian border. The collapse of cheap oil and the rise of expensive oil has resulted in a global shift in power, and WW4 will shift from the WW3 combatants to the newly reformed BRIC nations, all of which have been through major economic turmoil and reset themselves to a new brutality that the Old World (the West) isn't ready for yet. The West is still sliding through Cultural Inertia, still trying to retain its 1950's outlook of endless wealth, peace, and talking things over. The world isn't like that anymore. The real world is more like a Bayonet, a stabby thing you use on a person to kill them because you're either out of ammunition or they aren't worth a bullet. Wars today are fought with money through economics and ownership and trade. It's a lot like the Robber Barons of the 1880's. Wage slavery, brutal working conditions, carefully limited economic development, union busting, bribery, coercion, the gamut of unethical behavior because today there are no consequences for unethical behavior, other than losing if you have any. We have become Hobbesian.

We are heading into a future without the Flying Cars most scifi fans wanted, and the unlimited energy and teleportation of Star Trek, yet something other than Road Warrior, a place in between. We're heading to a sort of 1910 with laptops and solar panels and cell phones, we may find ourselves living very strange lives. Most of us will be riding bicycles when we need to go somewhere, but its a fraction as expensive in energy to use the internet for conversations. We will likely see the side roads and back streets reverting to gravel and overgrown if not frequently traveled. We will probably see people in the midwest with sufficient pasture going back to horse and buggy travel, since it is less work than a bicycle and far less expensive than an electric car, thanks to the batteries coming from ever decreasing supplies of lithium, an element rare on the surface of the Earth. We will watch our lifestyles decline, consistently, and go hungry from time to time. We'll see our health challenged and people will die that used to just get some meds and take a couple days off. We're going to become so poor we'll finally understand what the 3rd world was whining about all this time.

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July 30th, 2012
12:31 pm


Living in the Aftermath of the Economic War We Lost
America does two things well. Agriculture, which is our largest non-military export, is going to end up our biggest source of hard currency. The trick to that is other nations are getting so poor they can't pay much, and thus ramp up their own agriculture, die back their populations until they're mostly growing their own food again, meaning exporting agriculture won't have much point.

The other thing America does well is Tourism. That's a good source of currency, though the catch is we have to bring in foreigners who are rich enough to matter doing tours here, seeing things they want to see. I can't see African tourists being positively impressed touring nasty black-american hellholes like Oakland, the Chicago Projects, East St. Louis, the ruins of New Orleans or the slums of Atlanta. South Central LA Tours? Not so much. Africans, just like everyone else, come to New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Hollywood. They go to our national parks, and see the vistas of the American West because its pretty and very safe. I've never felt endangered in any US desert. I can't say the same of Oakland. Big safe empty places where there's zero chance of being held up and slaughtered on your tour bus, that's what America offers compared to most everywhere else. Solo travel is safe enough if you aren't stupid enough to drive badly and hurt yourself. America is a theme park compared to the rest of the world, and rich tourists come here because of that reputation. I suppose the primary jobs here are hospitality associated with all that Americana theme park-ism. Keep the tourists coming.

Where does that leave the rest of us? Maintenance men fixing up the theme park, keeping the roads smooth and the bathrooms clean, making sure the tractors work properly and the food tastes good at the restaurants all the tourists visit. That's our hard currency, long term.

We've been in economic war with China and India for 15 years, and we've lost. What's more, they'll destroy each other trying to be top dog, fighting of the last resources, namely oil and rare earths and water supply so they can grow food. I wouldn't be surprised if contracts don't pop up to buy entire crops of rice and other foods for shipment to China, starving out Japan and India and the local Californians if we aren't growing our own supply or importing potatoes from Idaho, which is kind of likely. Potatoes and onions are tasty and they don't ship well overseas. I can see the Chinese funding our big water projects, but owning the water in question to get huge taxes sent back to China, leaving the Western USA a province of China with all that implies. The Chinese are meaner than the Americans and much more ruthless. They don't bother faking enthusiasm. They've begun enslaving Japan with the Yuan-Yen currency exchange that controls Japan's access to oil and will eventually have the entire country replaced by Koreans and Chinese rice farmers while the Japanese vanish thanks to their racism and national debt. It's still genocide, just in slow motion. We'll go through the same thing, given time and poverty to grind us down. The US Military isn't allowed to stop illegal migration, and the State Department seems to encourage it through non-enforcement of existing laws. That tells you a Great Deal about which side they're on in the conflict, in this war we're losing. Immigration is the majority of new population growth, and immigrants have half a dozen kids when they get settled here. Instead of leaving some resources for descendents, they're taking it all now, then demanding more through voting. This is how Democracy failed America. How we turned into Communists, or it became more obvious anyway. FDR shoulders a lot of the blame, the Fascist bastard. The distance between him and Hitler and Stalin was quite small.

Greece has $400B in debts they can't pay. They used gold to buy oil to keep the lights on another couple months, and the "bailouts" of Greece are more like trading jobs and a future for meals now. It won't work. Eventually Greece with either Default or its entire population will die. Its really that dire.

Spain owes 4x as much as Greece does, $1.2 Trillion in debts. Most of that derivatives LIBOR mess too. A bailout of Spain will be necessary. They've got nothing to sell. Its very very grim, in Europe. What's worse, the German bankers who made the NINJA loans knowing they couldn't possibly be repaid, are being bailed out under threat by their owned politician, Angela Merkel, who took big campaign contributions from those same banksters. They ought to be shot for that. There's a billion lives in the balance because they were greedy. When India was stealing jobs a few years ago, they refused to pay the contracted price for Wheat they'd agreed on previously. Some aid agency paid the difference to stop a 100 million people in India from starving to death. Personally, we'd be in less trouble if they had died, and that's what a Resource war is all about. Helping the other nation die. German bankers claim everybody owes them money, but they gave it to idiots with no collateral. The problem there is people are still listening to those bankers instead of shooting them and anyone who claims they own the prior debts. Just...no. Default is going to come down to bloodshed. That's just the future. It won't help being in the boonies. Really, you want to be where the food is. And a good way to stay warm while you work a quiet job and wait it out. Get used to Poverty. Rich people are going to be wearing targets, everywhere.

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July 20th, 2012
02:26 pm


Bicycles Again
I really do encourage you all to check out both Cycleexif and ADVRider for examples of bicycles that are pretty and classy, motorcycles showing they can cover amazing ground on very little fuel, and motor scooters proving their ability to travel great distances. Most people aren't going to get these except as toys, at least at first, but as the economy continues its trend into insolvency and despair, many are going to convert to these because they don't have much choice. Someday you'll either be riding these to work or to the market or both.

I also expect people to go "Yank-Tank" on the remaining used cars so long as there's fuel to be bought or made. We're all getting poorer thanks to our jobs going overseas to nations with slave-labor economies, sometimes literally. Most of us can't afford to pay civilized nation's labor prices and keep our vehicles running so we end up doing that ourselves. I suspect most of us are going to end up learning the maintenance requirements for our chosen hardware. And until such time as ultralight cars are both cheap and legal, modifying existing ones to use less gasoline, through hyper-mileing and "adding lightness" as Richard Hammond would say, is the way forward. That means cutting off fenders and replacing with fiberglass or plastic, replacing heavy glass windows with thin plastic ones, and adding structural support beams (aka scaffolding) so the car is still rigid enough to work. It's the future. With lighter cars, you can run narrower tires and somewhat higher pressure. The Cardboard Car on Wired was an amazing bit of kit. Picture that running on a 200cc lawnmower or Honda scooter engine. Yanmar makes a 6 HP diesel you could run on cooking oil you've turned into biodiesel. The cardboard and plywood car is pretty much what a Tuktuk is, only shorter. Tuktuks are still made in India and Japan, though they're famous for rolling over. Mini/Micro-trucks are safer and just as gutless, though largely illegal on roads due to how slow and unsafe they are. Again, if it's a choice between slow and starving to death, most people choose the inconvenience.

At some point we're going to have to grow up and accept that life isn't safe. We're all going to die sometime. No mom thinks jogging in the Sierra's with her Ipod on is a life risking activity, but then again, they don't often think about the cougar waiting to pounce either. Considering it is in the best interests of the Democrat Party Socialist Imperium that runs the world now to kill off as many of us as possible, it is probably just a matter of time before all those safety laws are set aside for proper cars and "experimental vehicle" licenses let us ride Tuktuks for cheap. The Oligarchs will do what they want and run us over for fun. Ah, good times. I'm sure glad we live in Interesting Times.

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June 30th, 2012
01:22 pm


The grim future we're sliding into obliviously as we can possibly be will require tons of maintenance to keep the basic utilities going. Globalism and cheap energy means that few companies are doing this work and just shipping stuff great distances. I once visited a company that worked in serious level valves (18-30 inch) and turbines (12 foot wide) for dams and power plants. They would take them from their position and fix them up, then re-machine them to size so they'd work again. Normal wear and tear does that. Now expand that to other products. Like the gears of your bicycle, or the parts of a bicycle chain. To bearings of various kinds. To pistons and piston rings. And to building the machines to make these in a specialized way. Picture these in every city and even larger towns. Which means there's a huge field of job opportunities to do the relevant machining. Wish I knew how. Friend of mine is just finishing his degrees in machining. If you're thinking about college or a career change, machining is a very solid field. People will need you. And they'll pay for it.

So I did a search on Cheap CNC, which is a surprisingly fertile field in technology today. Maker Faires are the modern version of the Dot Com boom, really. Check out Boingboing.net if you don't believe me. Gizmodo too. Tons of news on new technologies that make the iPhone look really passez. Most of them are being built in kitchens and garages by the underemployed. And commented on by people like me. And they're being built with hand tools (some powered). Combine all those interesting machinists with electrical designers. There's all sorts of things they can fix or improve and make.

On a related note, eventually we're going to be dealing with synthetic algal-based biofuels to run our cars because we don't have a large enough source of lithium for car batteries for everyone, just the 1%. Maybe not even them. Anyway, synthetic fuels will have different costs. Synthetic biodiesel is around $30/gal. at current prices, assumed to be scaled up to every town and city. Synthetic gasoline made from that diesel needs refining (cracking) to convert, plus lots of additives. And then the labor costs, etc, gets you up to probably $40/gal for gasoline to run in a modern car. Turn that into E85 by thinning with ethanol, which isn't free either, and you'll probably see that one around $25/gal. Pure ethanol E100 is probably $15/gal but will wreck your engine so requires lots of maintenance, particularly pistons, rings, and probably sleeves and valves and valve guides too. These are NOT CHEAP parts. And you'll probably need to do this twice a year. Really, the diesel is going to run the longest and cheapest. Most modern engines are gasoline, but its possible to build a multifuel capable engine based on a diesel design with fuel injection and sensors to adjust the process so you can run various mixes, key for modern idiots to run. Take your Civic or Camry and swap the engine for a small diesel. Swap the transmission to take advantage of that and driving 50 mph in overdrive gear on our putative real world speed limit in a seriously fuel-poor future. Rich people will probably drive faster. Poor people will do it too, but get pulled over and beaten to death for resisting arrest or unpaid tickets or whatever. You choose. The Highway Patrol will likely change their stance on speeding and what constitutes reckless driving so they can get better funding through the rich people they stop and coerce into bribing them lawfully cite for vehicle violations. Ahem. You know, like in the real world. Some of these diesel engines won't exactly fit the model they're bought for, so the machinists and welders and electrical guys will get involved in the retrofit, which is lots more jobs. In every town. And then fixing those retrofits when they inevitably break down, that will require really good auto technicians who can do more than read a computer terminal and swap a part. They'll have to be proper diagnosticians, not the modern pansy crapholes most mechanics are today, hiding behind the law and the ignorance of their customers. Been there, done that, got the outrage. Anybody who can't afford these things? Enjoy bicycling. Or walking. Or starve in the darkness.

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June 29th, 2012
12:42 pm


Bike Locks
LA Times has an article about how poorly bike locks don't protect expensive bicycles from professional thieves armed with handheld battery powered saws or bolt cutters. The obvious solution to bike thieves? Cheap bikes not worth stealing. Typically, a thief goes after the expensive one, pretty, made from carbon fiber and worth selling for better money. An old rat bike? Not so much. They'll go after the highest dollar bike they spot first. That makes sense. Its worth more money and recoups the risk involved. Most bicycles sold at flea markets are stolen, and cops have better things to do than deal with a fence for stolen bicycles, even if it's easy. I've managed to avoid having my bicycles stolen over the years by only having cheap bikes, not showy enough for a Fence (seller of stolen goods) to offer much for them. So learn from this. Ride old bikes, ratty ones. You'll spend less, lose less if they're stolen, and its easier to replace them when needed. I suppose a truly evil bike thief would steal from the same person twice, since the new bike might be better. Or is that wrong?

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June 25th, 2012
02:28 pm


The Costs of Maintenance
I've been watching the Life After People videos on streaming Netflix. Its interesting in several ways, but not the obvious ones. Its a showcase for civil engineers, about the sorts of work they have to do. Its a good guide to maintenance in the Post Oil world, and highlights the costs involved with keeping up the remains of the material excesses of the Oil Age. Steel and glass high rises, likely to end up bought by China and emptied, with nobody responsible for their upkeep much like the half million abandoned homes in Detroit being overtaken by the climbing vines and trees that will gradually tear them apart. Highrises don't do well when their windows fall out, and without maintenance that's going to happen. The show details again and again how nature takes over very quickly. This is not exaggeration either. I've seen that personally. Grasses, legumes, brush, and eventually trees grow up and through a paved road if left uncleared. Someone has to clean that off. Else it is lost to nature's unwavering demands. The apocalypse is green.

Here in California (PRK), there are a thousand miles of dikes/levees in the San Joaquin and Sacramento river delta. These keep flood waters out of the wide swaths of land which are technically below sea level and would almost certainly be completely flooded swamp without them. The cost of maintaining dikes, even with people around to do it, is not small. And the consequences of slightly faster flowing water during less-well controlled flood events means that rivers naturally undercut the dikes and cause them to fail. Its ironic, since the creation of reservoirs upstream in the Sierra foothills actually makes the water more erosive while those same reservoirs fill in with silt and sand as the water slows, thus less able to hold up sediment. And body of water without a serious outflow and turbulence to maintain sediment carrying capacity eventually fills in. Lake Mead is a famous example. In a few decades it won't be a lake anymore, just a mud flat that will gradually grow grasses and trees. Nature wins.

The narrow river channels lined by levees means the water speeds up again, able to carry more silt and takes it from both the river bottom and the dikes and every turn leads to changing velocity and variation in sediment capacity from inside of the turn to outside, increasing the erosion. Civil engineers know this, and efforts to protect the dikes have been an expensive series of challenges. The former Governator had a bill put through to pay for the dike upkeep, but then the economic collapse hit and it was defunded under emergency rules. So now there's no way to pay for it. The Fedgov doesn't care because disasters are sexy photo ops where they announce, too late, how much they care about their suffering and money thrown at it which gets funnelled into favored campaign contributors (see Katrina reconstruction corruption scandals) but crews fixing dikes are expensive and bad photo ops. So they don't happen. The PRK could literally have its own Katrina level event in the Central Valley in one warm spring week following extra heavy snowfall and sufficient siltation of the reservoirs. Kinda like New Orleans. Also ironically, it would flood Stockton which is a truly awful slum these days filled with people who can't afford to live in Oakland anymore and has noteworthy crime. When the levees inevitably break some Spring flood day, the drowned orchards and the ruined dikes will be written off as their crops aren't actually that valuable compared to the insurance bailout costs. The real question I have is will it stay freshwater or will the tidewaters reach there? If it goes brackish or full salt marsh, certain types of plants and animals can live there, but others can't. Salmon and steelhead can manage fine in mixed waters, and the floods will greatly help their survival. Sea birds would be fine there too. If it stays freshwater and the tides remain in the bay rather than the delta, then the fresh water will be good for bass, catfish, and the many freshwater fish species until such time as siltation claims the basins and more typical curving oxbow lakes are created. These are good places for swamp, and the native cottonwood and willow trees will likely surge once soil is tall enough. The upside of this is swamps clean water. They also absorb floods and storm surges. They're good habitat for many migrant bird species, and if this territory is ceded back to nature will eventually fill in the sub-sea level and end the flood risk.

The question of salt in the water is especially ironic since the inlet for pumping 60% of LA's water supply is near Tracy, pulling from this same area of the delta. If the water goes brackish/salty and tidal flow runs all the way from Sacramento and Manteca and Stockton down to the Bay, and that's VERY complicated hydraulics even I can't predict, then LA may find itself under severe rationing. It may start making sense to either boot out the poor and middle class so they can live on that 11 inches a year they typically get in the LA Basin, or pay a fortune for sea water desalination, which is energy intensive and probably about the same cost as pumping from Tracy, depending on salinity.

The Mississippi floods are controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Thousands of miles of dikes, dams, pumps, flood control canals, a hugely complex mess of expensive and complicated infrastructure. Letting barges in and out of the river isn't easy either, and without sufficient compensation or standards, who is going to do this high pressure job? Without extensive maintenance, the same factors which make the California Delta finicky also impacts the Mississippi. Most engineers agree that eventually the river will break through into its alternate paths instead of the sea channel cutoff near New Orleans. Without lots of people working, it will fail.

When you stop and think about it, there's not that many jobs requiring US citizens to work in manufacturing. You only need so many things before you're satisfied, or at least the cost benefit analysis says enough is enough. Repeat with each new household, though many of those things can be had used from junk stores, so even those needs are pretty minimal. Compare that against the maintenance costs of keeping up roads, rust control on bridges and railroads, sewer systems and water systems, dams, power grids, phone networks. When you start adding things up, you end up with a LOT of maintenance jobs needing to be done, just to keep what we've got going as long as we can. And it will get less reliable anyway. Having machinists build replacement parts to keep that critical infrastructure going eventually leads to committees deciding whether that's critical after all. Some things get set aside to rot or rust or fail. Every ghost town is an example of this. Every abandoned public or private building. Without good reason to maintain or restore infrastructure, you end up with a rather grim math. How much of your cultural resources is it worth to keep this relic working? How many babies or new projects? Budgetary decisions are based on these things. And budgets result in taxes many households won't be able to pay in a post-industrial world with very few real jobs.

Now throw in the standing water that normally gets treated by mosquito abatement techs in every county. All that water is ideal for breeding billions of mosquitos. Mosquitos that carry diseases like malaria, bird flu, West Nile virus, and various strains of meningitis, which is endemic here in the PRK. Malaria was endemic in the Mississippi and Missouri river basins. You either get resistant to it or it kills you. I'm unaware of any real resistance to it, other than Sickle Cell Anemia. So those of us who lack that genetic disease will have to deal with Malaria using current medications which are effective though harsh. Tonic water sold in stores ISN'T the real quinine, btw. Real quinine is so medicinal as to be a capable purgative. Doctors and pharmacies will need to stock this regularly, and doctors will need to keep their costs down so people will be able to afford to see them or else see their wages mandated by govt. We have maintenance costs too. How can we afford to pay our population to maintain everything? Well, our currency is worthless, but you gotta eat. Gardening is good for veggies to flavor your main carb sources, things like rice, wheat, potatos, and corn are best grown en masse by experts, leaving you to do the more finicky stuff to make it taste good. Its easier for you to raise chickens in a pen at your place than pay an expert and transport them post oil. The cost of shipping feed is much lower than eggs themselves. Eggs will keep you alive, provided you've got carbs to eat and veggies for your vitamins.

It is worth noting that influence peddling suggests that should the levees eventually fail in the PRK, the state will be forced to bankrupt itself to handle the disaster and repair costs before the Fedgov steps in, too late as usual, to not fix the problems either, raising taxes on everyone but remaining PRK residents the most. This is how govt works. Its all about making you poorer. Accept this early and you'll adjust to reality sooner.

Oh, and buy a bicycle. And maybe some kind of water purification pump gizmo. Water is fuel when you ride a bike. Always remember that.

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