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« What is the Universe Up To? | Main | Watching the Financial System »

July 08, 2012


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binary options brokers

People feel rarely concerned about what is going on around them , as far as they are not concerned personally. It is so obvious, look what happens when somebody is attacked in the subway or in some other crowded place, is there anybody to interfere ?
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i agree that the usual reaction of our non-sapient humanity to any kind of stress is violence. Lately there have been examples here in the states that the oppressively hot weather paralleled a spike in murders (, so as temperatures continue to rise globally i expect this behavior will only increase. Meanwhile the militarization and brutality of police and armies the world over is on the rise (innumerable examples all over the internet) as nation-states clamp down on populations in an attempt to control them. Once food scarcity hits (possibly as soon as this fall) we'll see pandemonium and chaos rather than calm organization and a reasoned response. As you pointed out - we're just not built for it (brain wise).

Thanks for another well-reasoned essay on what's coming. Though we can't predict with absolute certainty, we probably don't need to be all that accurate as to rates of violence.


The end is neigh?? I read this whole thing looking for a horse and didn't find it.

Gregg Matson

Great article. We humans are just smart enough to get ourselves into real trouble, aren't we?


Real wages and salaries after debt service costs and energy as a share of disposable income dipped into recession territory in late Q1 and early Q2 to date. By the time the NBER gets around a year from now to dating a recession commencing, it will likely indicate that we are in a new cyclical recession now (we never really emerged from a recession in real, per-capita terms).

Note that the unemployment (U) rate historically rises 50-60% to 100% during recessions, implying the risk that the U rate could hit 12-13% to 16% by '13-'14 (U-6 could reach 25-30%).

Corporate profits after tax as a share of GDP are at a record high, whereas wages to GDP are at a record low. Profits to GDP are nearly 11%, whereas the historical average is 6% and 4.6% at recessionary troughs. Were profits to decline to a typical recessionary trough as a share of GDP, the hit to GDP will be 6% (as in '08-'09) or an equivalent of nearly $1 trillion.

At the ratio of profits to fixed investment and industrial production, a 6% hit to profits would mean an additional net decline of 1-2% for GDP or a total hit to GDP of 7-8%.

Another 6-8% hit to GDP implies the risk of a federal deficit approaching 100% of receipts or a deficit approaching $2 trillion and 3-4% charge-offs for bank loans.

Cities and counties are going bankrupt in increasing numbers of late, implying that tens of thousands of public sector workers will see their jobs, pay, pensions, and benefits slashed by 30-50% over the next 10-20 years. Local gov'ts will not be able to raise money from the financial markets at serviceable rates (as in the case of Greece, Spain, etc.) and thus will be forced to slash spending, jobs, raise taxes dramatically, or a combination. Exponential mathematics and demographics guarantee that this will happen.

The local, state, and eventually federal fiscal drag from forced "austerity" will combine with the Boomer demographic drag on the private sector, especially housing, autos, and discretionary consumer spending.

Business leaders, politicians, banksters, Wall St., Silly-Con Valley, and the financial media influentials have not yet begun to discount these emerging factors.

To George's reference about recycling waste and ag run-off, I'll reiterate that there is one resource that is not in short supply on the planet: human flesh and bone. The human body in surplus would provide cheap food and fertilizer indefinitely for the small fraction of the planet's evolutionarily self-selected remnant population.

At 7 billion of us and counting and at, say, 140-150 lbs. per capita, that's about 1 trillion pounds and 16 trillion ounces' worth supply of human flesh and bone.

To sell the idea, it needs to be sexy and promote an exclusive, upscale lifestyle choice. Given the state of capitalism today, it would help if the federal gov't were to heavily subsidize it.

One might suggest ads with Angelina Jolie advocating green veganism and consuming Soylent Green.

Or perhaps James Garner or Toby Keith advocating eating a hunk of Soylent Green steak for the real man, the kind Angelina really gets hot about.

Soylent Green by, for, and of the people.

Soylent Green is for those who love people.

Make Soylent Green, not war!

Obesity is not an epidemic, it's just good business.

Soylent Green: The other white meat.

To show that I'm not the misanthrope, I'll be the first to sell my flesh and bone to the cause for the going rate per lb.

Mark N

I really look forward to your observations as industrial civilization continues its collapse.

I have the feeling that the most imminent threat of a fast collapse is in the economic realm. Like you I think peak oil per capita, though seldom mentioned, was a turning point for industrial civilization. Peak oil per capita was in 1979 and ever since then industrial civilization has been adding debt as the new driver for economic growth. We now find the global economy teetering on the edge of collapse; a large sovereign default or a to big to fail bank could cause a cascading default in the 700 trillion dollar derivatives market that makes 2008 look like a picnic.

The fact of the matter is the waste based industrial system does not pay for itself; now that growth is stalled the central banks of the world can only delay the financial reckoning. The central banks are running low on options as they can only create DEBT, not money and there are no credit worthy entities to loan to.

It is my opinion that the economic system could have a major shock at anytime; I feel the 2008 shock was like a stroke that leaves the patient near death and on life support. I think that debt is the life support system for the patient (industrial civilization) pull the plug and the patient dies.

Dave Kimble

> The reason is that the economy is governed by laws neither of the candidates understand or are even aware of.

> Watching the political process in this country is like watching the clown act in a circus.

Sounds like you think they don't know what they are doing. But these people are as smart as the best, because they have hired the best to advise them. So they are surely aware of everything you have so eloquently said.

They must have decided to something, and since they get to do whatever they like, it follows that what you see now is what they think is the best thing to do under the circumstances.

Lots of economists could foresee the financial crash of 2008, so presumably Bernanke and the rest could foresee it too, and devised the only solution to keeping the show on the road for a bit longer. Bigger bubbles and more fiat money.

But that will only work for a bit longer, and then there will be another crash, probably MUCH bigger than the last. So what then ?

Well, there is always the option of starting WW3, and it's not hard to see how it could be sparked off in Syria, spreading to Iran, Pakistan and Lebanon, with Egypt and Turkey and Israel not far behind. NATO's involvement would bring in most of Europe, and Canada and Australia are never far behind.

WW3 would need tremendous amounts of money, but would have the benefit of being "a life or death struggle" and therefore requiring a much greater sacrifice from the people in the form of conscription and austerity at home. And the huge money-printing exercise would be "above politics". Conscription would have the additional bonus factors of reducing unemployment amongst the young, and a feeling of patriotic duty done by every household in the land.

The need for tighter security at home in war-time is obvious, which is when all the Homeland Security regulations would come into play. Internet censorship is already flexing its muscles, ready for the need to crack down on spies and unpatriotic dissent.

I reckon that will keep the show on the road for a few more years at least. What more could you ask of a plan than that ?

Steven Salmony

What we know about biological evolution as well as the finite and frangible physical world we are blessed to inhabit would lead sensible people to conclude that there is nothing or precious little that can be done to change the human 'trajectory'. So powerful is the force of evolution that we will "do what comes naturally" by continuing to overpopulate the planet and await the next phase of the evolutionary process. Even so, still hope resides within that somehow humankind will make use of its singular intelligence and other unique attributes so as to escape the fate that appears 'as if through a glass darkly' in the offing, the seemingly certain fate evolution appears to have in store for us. Come what may. In the face of all that we can see now and here, I continue to believe and to hope that we find adequate ways of consciously, deliberately and effectively doing the right things, according the lights and knowledge we possess, the things which serve to confront and overcome the 'evolutionary trend' which seems so irresistible.


We desperately need a new "Sun god" religion to replace Christianity, the competing violent tribal desert sky god religions of Judaism and Islam, and their rationalizations for empire to justify plundering the planet.

The new non-hierarchical, techno-scientific religion should properly deify the Sun for its live-giving energy and devise a system of accounting that recognizes and efficiently allocates net solar energy surplus per capita.

That the earthly realm is finite in its capacity to utilize solar energy in a sustainable manner for humans' purposes, the religion would also recognize that there are natural limits to the Earth's capacity for population, resource extraction and consumption, and waste processing and recycling.

The Christian Sun god religion symbolizes, albeit does not explicitly recognize, "the Anointed One" as symbolic of the Sun, its "halo" (of solar energy), "sun cross", Twelve Disciples (12 signs of the cycle of the Zodiac), the Sun's death and resurrection during the Winter Solstice, birth during the Spring Equinox, and so on.

Satan, or Lucifer, "Prince of Darkness" and the "Morning Star" or commonly known as Venus, is symbolic of the feminine force in opposition/balance with the masculine force in Nature.

It is said that Satan is symbolic of "evil", yet the word "evil" means "up from under" or that state of consciousness that perceives one above another or the oppositional superior-inferior perspective. (In this sense, self-identifying psychologically with the male and female physical forms risks identifying with one or the other form in opposition or out of balance with Nature.)

One can infer from the Sun god motifs that when one force is out of balance with the other equalizing force that energy is transferred in the form of conflict or re-creation. The Sun is the unifying source from which balance and re-creation emerges and resolves.

Thus, we need a religion that recognizes scientifically and values properly the source of life-creating and -transforming energy such that a civilization and economic system can be devised that is in sustainable balance with the source of life.

Granted, this notion is not new and is probably as ancient as human consciousness. But consider the difficulty in conditioning such "religious" thinking among the overwhelming majority of the planet's human population.

We need the Pentagon to design a holographic false-flag op that entails aliens from the Rings of Uranus invading Earth, annihilating 90% of us, and giving a remnant population the choice of similar oblivion or a new techno-scientific Sun god religion to "save the planet" from Utter Darkness.

I bet it would yield more desirable results than the efforts to date by the Vatican, Evangelicals, Zionists, Radical Islam, or the public "education" system.


Jiddu Krishnamurti and the human mind (thought) having been programmed for millions of years to perceive conflict as natural and necessary for "progress".

U.G. Krishnamurti and "enlightenment", gurus selling desire, thought and the invention of spirit, soul, and the demand for permanence of thought, and dualistic conflict of pleasure-pain.

The physical body and its constituent elements are permanent (thought or conceptual "things" cannot create nor destroy it); however, the delusional individual mind is impermanent, i.e, Zen "no-mind" or "no-thingness", or "the Void".

Thus, thought cannot perceive of its own ending, i.e., thought perceiving itself as existing in invented time to perceive itself not perceiving itself perceiving not perceiving.

Descartes' "I think, therefore, I am." is "Thought thinks it is real, therefore, it thinks it can solve the problems thought perpetually creates."

There is no "way out" for thought for the problems it creates and thus only thought perceives itself as has having the solutions for the problems it creates but does not perceive it is creating that it cannot solve by applying "solutions" based on the desires of the problem creator. It is like hammering one's thumb to bits because the hammerer does not perceive that the nail flew across the room when first missed by the hammerer.

It is as if the human mind (and the illusory self, economy, civilization, and "future") has evolved beyond the biophysical and geophysical reality that is necessary to sustain the human being in its natural state of being.

U.G. Krishnamurti notes that "space" (in Zen, the fullness of "no-thingness", "emptiness", "no-mind", and "the Void" being the natural state of consciousness or being) cannot be experienced by thought because by the very nature of thought desiring to perpetuate itself in perpetuity into "the future" it cannot fill "the Void" with some-thing or that which is not "no-thing".

We in the West have created an uneconomic basis for a civilization that depends upon conditioning hundreds of millions of minds to be ignorant of, or to reject, the natural state of "no-mind", "no-thingness", and "the Void" in favor of desiring to fill up infinite psycho-emotional space that can never be filled up with "things" thought creates.


Arctic sea creatures.

Note the remarkable diversity of adaptations for cold water and limited sunlight.


Gray matter and altruism.


Bruce: you're on a roll!

Coupla comments.
i thought the "problem" of male/female was the manifestation of "duality" (that there is no duality - it's all one) but agree that it fits with or is the nuts and bolts of acting this out in the here and now - your "oppositional perspective" as well.

Great succinct analysis of the financial situation also. i think the environmental collapse will be ramping up significantly in the next few years (with methane spewing out now and being about 25 times as powerful as CO2 on the atmosphere) and that food shortages (which have already begun) will become the norm.

Dave Kimble: i agree that whoever is pulling the strings has no idea what they're getting themselves in to. Pandora's Box will be a birthday present in comparison.

Mark N.: right on - many of us feel that it really might be this year (like this fall) that the crumbling begins in earnest.

It's like riding up to the top of a roller coaster whose peak is in the clouds. Once we go over the top it'll be a long, scary, fast trip down.


I too thought there would not be much hope from my grandchildren, until I saw this video regarding thorium nuclear power.

It was invented in the 1960's at Oak Ridge. It was put on the back burner because thorium nuclear fission was a poor way to make nuclear weapons. But it was a great way to make nuclear power that produces only 1% of the nuclear waste of present day power plants and was magnitudes safer. Thorium is hundreds of times as abundant as uranium 235 the fuel we use for nuclear power and there is enough of it to last thousands of years at present power demands. Thorium nuclear power will change not only your view of nuclear power but your view of what the world could potentially be.


We discover an alternative for electricity that permits us to then produce many more times what we do today at a tiny fraction of the cost. Then what? Will it allow us to desalinate water to produce more food via vertical farming and hydroponics? If so, then what? Will that encourage an even larger population, requiring still more food and water?

Will it make automation of ag and goods production so inexpensive that billions of jobs will no longer be required? Then what?

Will it provide a social dividend for everyone so we don't have to work for wages, salaries, stipends, food, etc.?

Will it encourage even more tens of trillions of dollars of debt to make up for loss of wage and salary employment for billions of people?

Cheap or free energy is not a solution unless the culture, division of labor, and system of resource, income, and wealth distribution is completely transformed to provide economic security and psycho-emotional well-being for other than just the top 0.1-1% of the western world.

We are told that we have a problem of unemployment and underemployment; however, the real problem is ASTOUNDING waste, misallocation, and maldistribution resulting in "overemployment", i.e., far too many people working in order to earn enough to be able to afford to work at jobs to support lifestyles that ultimately are not self-sustaining.

A cheap, abundant supply of electricity is not the solution to resource depletion, waste accumulation, population overshoot, and EXTREME wealth and income inequality.

Bodhi Chefurka

Here's a subversive thought.

"There is no problem."

Thinking of "what is" in terms of "what should have been" is a sure recipe for suffering, for both individuals and societies. We are exactly where we are, we could not possibly be anywhere else. Things could not, in this moment, be any different than they are.

What makes our situation appear to be a problem or predicament is our fervent wish that things be different than they are (or will be).

We are, individually and collectively, engaged in a process, not a problem. The situation in which we find ourselves will evolve and change, and in the course of that change particular things may or may not happen. When the wave function collapses, we are left with what is.

Fretting over what might be or what might have been is just another form of the attachment the Buddha identified 2500 years ago. Anyone who has spent some time in self-inquiry knows exactly where attachment leads, and why such suffering has no virtue.

George Mobus


Thanks for all the comments and observations. I won't be able to respond to each individually, except for a few where I think some amplification is needed. But I do appreciate the participation.

As a number of you noted, the economy is probably front and center in this fiasco. By now you have probably seen my first "watching" post re: the financial subsystem, so I'll wait to see what kinds of follow up comments we get there.

Dave K.

Sounds like you think they don't know what they are doing. But these people are as smart as the best, because they have hired the best to advise them. So they are surely aware of everything you have so eloquently said.

I absolutely do think they do not know what they are doing! Please let me know what evidence you have that they have hired the "best" to advise them. The best at what????

Lots of economists could foresee the financial crash of 2008, so presumably Bernanke and the rest could foresee it too, and devised the only solution to keeping the show on the road for a bit longer. Bigger bubbles and more fiat money.

From what Paul Krugman and several other economists have stated the vast majority of economists did not realize what was about to happen. Some were even producing extremely rosy predictions. Only a small handful of economists seemed to have called it and mostly just because they thought the bubble was too big, not because the price of gasoline would burst the bubble.

Bernanke was not merely clueless, he (with Geithner and other Obama advisers) proceeded to do some of the worst things they could. It is true, as you say, they were just trying to keep the illusion going. But was that really what was best for the American people and the world, or just the bankers?

Steve S.

...doing the right things, according the lights and knowledge we possess, the things which serve to confront and overcome the 'evolutionary trend'...

Could you amplify this? I'm not sure what you mean by overcome. How do you overcome evolution????


We can hope. But it is a long way from principle to practice. Probably prudent not to hold one's breath.


Well said as always.


Steven Earl Salmony

Dear George,

In response to your question, let me refer you to a statement from above, "...humankind will make use of its singular intelligence and other unique attributes so as to escape the fate that appears 'as if through a glass darkly' in the offing, the seemingly certain fate EVOLUTION {caps added now for emphasis} appears to have in store for us."




Bodhi, well said.

But we (the British and Dutch) have built an imperial economy and civilization upon additive substances, e.g., sugar (rum initially), coffee, cocoa, nicotine, opiates (or now opiate-like pharmaceuticals and entertainment), and debt-money credit, to which we are conditioned 24/7 to become "attached" or dependent upon for our physical and psycho-emotional well-being and self-identity.

The mind or thought moving in illusory time (past, present, and future) seeks what it cannot have: release from the demise of the physical body, which thought perceives as mortal or impermanent.

However, it is that which thought constructs and projects that is impermanent and illusory, whereas the body exists eternally, not in its current form, but between the transitional forms consisting of its constituent elemental parts. Thought is not permanent or eternal no matter how much it wants to be or devises myriad illusory forms within which to reside and project itself.

The western consumer- and debt-based economy and system of miliarist-imperialist, rentier-financier hierarchical power relations and wealth and income distribution is the antithesis of the teaching of "The Enlightened One".

Therefore, one could infer that "the process" in which we are engaged and to which we are "attached" is "a problem" if one desires to experience "what is" and be released from the illusion of permanence of thought or the "I process" or "self".

But, of course, for Zen there is no "I" or "I process" to be released from any "thing"; rather, there is only "no-mind" or "the Void" or "no-thingness" in its natural state full "what is", i.e., all that is "no-thing".

So, to your point, "what is" is all that there is and can ever be in this moment or any moment or no moment. The mind that is in unity, or One, with the permanence of the wholeness of the body in its impermanent form but eternal essence is the only place/no place, i.e., "the Void", it can ever be.

Steven Earl Salmony

Dear George, Perhaps you would kindly devote one blog, just one, to sensibly 'watching' and tracking the extant scientific research on human population dynamics. A great deal of preternatural theory (eg, Demographic Transition Theory), politically convenient ideology (eg, Liberalism and Conservatism) and economically expedient theology (eg, Neoclassical Economics) falsely claim to have the sufficient support of science. Let us set aside these widely shared and generally accepted pseudoscientific branches of thought for a moment so that the best available scientific research of human population dynamics can be rigorously examined and meaningfully discussed. Thank you, Steve

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