November 1. We've all seen the comparisons between Bush's America and Nazi Germany, and they're accurate as far as they go, but here's a great NY Times piece comparing the Bush regime and the French Revolution!
November 3-5. The most important thing to remember about Ron Paul is that he will never be president. It's been speculated that They want him to be president because he's right wing on certain issues, but the system is not right wing, left wing, Christian, libertarian, or even capitalist. It is a collection of interests and habits that has become so bulky and rigid that it cannot stand any deep change. Even its most harmful and wasteful elements, like the "war on drugs," or the holy crusade in Asia, or junk food agricultural subsidies, or the medical insurance industry, now have so many careers and egos depending on them that anyone who threatens to end them will be neutralized by any means necessary. Elections are a show, and sometimes the pale hand of the real rulers reaches onto the stage and yanks someone off, and the audience just sees enough to feel sad and not know why. I don't think they'll have to kill Ron Paul -- my best guess is that they'll Howard Dean him: let him go for a few more months, get everyone to invest their money and hopes in him, and then wait for a minor gaffe and play it over and over on TV.
November 7-8. So the dollar is in free fall, global oil extraction has peaked, and the deflating housing bubble is bringing down half the banking industry. A hundred years from now, they'll file 2007 with 1929. The crash is not close -- we are in the crash. This is what the crash looks like -- not roving gangs storming your house to steal canned food, but gasoline and milk prices rising twenty cents, and another vacant house on your street, and your credit card sending you a few pages of fine print about some new ways they can charge you 29%. The crash looks like trains breaking down and roofs leaking and unemployed people moving in with family and employed people cynically going through the motions. Every day will look almost exactly like the day before, but in a few years you will find yourself eating dandelions and sorting out your pre-1982 pennies to sell the copper.
We fantasize about the Road Warrior crash scenario because it would make life simple and raw -- the winners would have a fun time and the losers would not have to suffer long. In the real crash, you'll still have to go to your job and pay bills and get stuck in traffic, but everything will be a little crummier, a little less predictable. You will see more depressed people and rambling crazies and potholes and buses that never come and long lines and important phone numbers where nobody answers. Your whole city will not be wiped out by a biowar super-plague, but here and there someone you know will die of cancer or MRSA. Even when oil is $200 a barrel, I predict that more people will die of car crashes than starvation.
Of course I could be wrong. It's prudent to prepare for worse than you're expecting, which is why I bought land with drinkable water and planted fruit trees and bought good tools. If you haven't bought land, don't worry -- the land isn't going anywhere... but you might not be buying it exactly. Maybe you'll buy 200 gallons of high fructose corn syrup while it's still subsidized to keep poor people sick, and ferment and distill it into 120 proof alcohol, and trade seven kegs for five acres of clearcut. Or you'll get a job in the "fell off a truck" economy to save money to buy a farm at a foreclosure auction, or you'll know someone who already has land and needs helpers, or you'll squat an abandoned house with a quarter acre lawn, turn it into gardens, and when the owning bank notices you and threatens to call in Blackwater, you'll slip out in the night and do the same thing somewhere else.
Everybody is talking about preparations. Land and tools and stored food won't hurt, and social connections will help, but I really think if you're healthy and adaptable, you can make zero preparations and do better than the most prepared person who is not adaptable. Many doors will close, but if you know how to look, and how to change your ways, you will find the doors that are opening.
November 12. Patricia sends this page on Edward Bernays, the father of corporate propaganda and one of the most harmful people who ever lived. Dan and Randy add that Adam Curtis, the same guy who made "The Power of Nightmares," made a brilliant four part documentary about Freud and Bernays, "The Century of the Self." The whole thing is online: The Century of the Self on YouTube.
November 13. On the list of the scariest places in America to be in the collapse, Phoenix is near the top. Here's a report from a reader who owns a business there:
I've been invited to many a-list parties here. I deal with the paycheck-to-paycheck people as well as multimillionaires. I also have customers and friends who are among the "illegal" immigrants from Latin America. Here is what I am seeing: Working class people, the middle class and even the upper middle class are worried about the future as they never have been before and they are all taking a hit. The immigrants who have established themselves are the most worried, while the mobile immigrants don't care because they will just move to another state or they will go back to their own countries. The incredibly wealthy are having a blast and are enjoying these times. I've had people tell me that they are putting their money into gold, New Zealand dollars and euros, commodities futures and are waiting for the real estate crash to buy up large swaths of property. It's amazing for me to hear people sing the praises of George Bush, but when you are concerned with your own bottom line you will credit the guy in the White House.
It will be sad for me to give up the store at the end of my lease, but the store is no longer justifiable given the astronomical rent and the state of the local economy, which will only get worse. On my 2.5 mile journey from my apartment to my store, there are four abandoned commercial buildings and 16 store fronts for rent. These are businesses that have been around for 40+ years. I am seeing more and more people haggling with me, just browsing, or just not showing up. I can have a better run of this if I operated it from home. For the Christmas season I will announce to my customers that I will trade fresh fruits and vegetables for merchandise to supplement the little vegetable garden in containers on the balcony of my condo.
As businesses are slowing down here people are already making choices to leave. The delivery driver for the flower shop next door told me that she's not worried if she loses her job because she can always return to her reservation and help with the sheep and grow food. In fact, her family would be happy to have her back. A woman and I were discussing this in the store this afternoon -- the housing market, the illegals leaving, etc. -- and she said she is optimistic about the future because the changes she sees are going to be good for everyone. I agree. There will be opportunities for a better life.
Even when in the minority, robots can modulate the collective decision-making process and produce a global pattern not observed in their absence. These results demonstrate the possibility of using intelligent autonomous devices to study and control self-organized behavioral patterns in group-living animals.
I was about to say, in a few years they'll be doing it with humans... but they're already doing it with humans, and I don't mean television -- they're doing exactly the same thing with human children, integrating mechanical robots into groups to study and control their behavior. Patricia sends this article from a week ago, Could robots become your toddler's new best friend?
The scariest thing is that cockroaches, over tens of millions of years, have evolved an egalitarian cooperative society, and yet they can still be controlled by shadowy powers without their knowledge. Even if humans, say in a million years, catch up to cockroaches and learn deep resistance to hierarchy, we still have to learn resistance to subtle manipulation of collective decision-making. But Patricia is is oddly optimistic:
As cool as cockroaches are, they are not very high on the individual consciousness scale. I think many humans are quite capable of out-evolving this type of control. If we were not, we'd all be sending large checks to anonymous Nigerian bankers, right? In short, cockroaches lack the ability to assume the worst, to withhold their trust or belief. They are innocents, pre-Fall, in the Edenic eternal now -- until they get squished.
November 17. In the context of a post I decided not to archive, I worked out a good narrow definition of fascism: "A complex society in which repression at home and conquest abroad are taken to extremes by an alliance of government and corporations manipulating citizens with propaganda about an external enemy."
November 20-21. One of the repeating themes of this website is that top-down control is self-defeating, and top-down control with positive feedback is aggressively self-defeating. The elephant in the parlor, the giant control/feedback mechanism that no one sees, is the concept of "owning" something that you don't use. When someone owns something that they don't use, their attention is focused not on how to use it better, but on how to own more. You do it with the stuff in your basement, and banks do it with your life. If you've ever taken out a loan, the bank owned the money that you were using, and you were required to use it in such a way that the bank's realm of ownership increased. You probably live in a place that a bank or landlord owns, and you have to pay mortgage or rent, through which the owner gets richer and is able to own more. Interest and mortgage and rent are simply social customs that say, "Those who have less must give to those who have more, so that power can be concentrated and control can increase" until the whole thing becomes unstable and collapses.
The latest collapse phase has begun. The takers are now so rich, and the givers so poor, that the givers can no longer afford to pay the monthly tribute that our culture requires you to pay to merely occupy space. This appears in the physical world as more and more homeless people and abandoned houses. We have homeless people and abandoned houses because our culture is psychotic. In five or ten years, the situation will become so absurd and desperate that our individual habits of docility and submission will break down, and ordinary people will have a strange and radical thought that was completely obvious to all their ancestors from the first land animal until the first fence: the only person who "owns" a piece of land is the person who is actually occupying it. And since we all occupy land, we are all owners, and therefore we can factor out the whole concept of "owning," and just say, "we live on this land."
Even merging land occupation with land "ownership" does not guarantee that the land will be used respectfully, although it does make it more likely. And if I'm careful with language, we shouldn't "use" land any more than we should use people -- I'm stuck with that word because English does not have a word for an equal relation between people and places/things. Even "stewardship" is patronizing. To make my point as carefully as possible: In a healthy society, the right to occupy a place, or carry an item, is derived from the ability to relate to that place or item as a friend. And someone who is not occupying the place or carrying the item has no right to influence it at all.
November 25-27. In the same way that we can get sexually frustrated, I think industrial civilization is full of people who are technically frustrated. The other day I made a few offhand comments about hauling shipping containers and cutting up girders and finding uses for abandoned steel-framed towers, and I got a small flood of technical advice about biodiesel trucks and DIY oxy-acetylene and pulley systems to raise dirt up buildings. I have no doubt that readers of this site have the knowledge and inventiveness to turn the Sears Tower into a greenhouse with mobile ballistas to fight off invaders, constructed from rails left over from converting railroads into bike paths... or more likely you could all think of even better uses for old railroads and buildings. And yet here we are sitting at computers we didn't make, on chairs and in buildings we didn't make, doing jobs nobody likes to buy food we didn't grow. This is actually good news! As the dominant system breaks down, all this creative energy will be breaking out all over, and it will get harder for the jealous haters of life to crush it.
My father was an engineer and I grew up taking radios and TV's apart and building Heathkits. My technical interest guided me all the way through college and into Silicon Valley. I could exercise my mind designing microprocessors and bigger computers. I worked there until I got thoroughly burned out. Since then, I have been having fun pushing the state of the art of vacuum tube audio and radio electronics. I love to strip down old TV sets and military radios for the parts for my projects. I also make a little money consulting for people who still make tube audio equipment.
I've found an outlet, but I find a lot of my engineering friends in the high-tech world quite frustrated. They find (like I did) that 90% of the job is BS and ass-kissing. These are smart, talented people who would love to design and make things, but are stuck in the rat race due to wife, kids, house payments, inertia, whatever. The high-tech industry is a meat grinder that chews up people and spits them out as suicides, alcoholics, mental cases, or hard-ball skeptics. The point is that there are a lot of talented people who would love to do something satisfying with their technical frustration, but since we are becoming de-industrialized, there are no longer opportunities for technical people, and the kids don't know how to make or fix anything, since that doesn't happen here anymore.
I've been traveling a lot in Asia, especially Thailand and Vietnam, and see a whole generation of kids there who are learning to do stuff with basic technology that I don't see kids here even dreaming of. Things like welding, fixing TV sets and computers, programming industrial controllers, and other things that are needed to make the stuff that we buy over here. There is a tremendous talent pool of people in Asia who know how to make and fix things, while here we have a nation of consumers and discarders. I'm building my house and family connections in Vietnam, and plan to be there if things get too ugly here.
November 27. Wonderful article about how, until very recently, Europeans slept all winter.
"Seven months of winter, five months of hell," they said in the Alps. When the "hell" of unremitting toil was over, the human beings settled in with their cows and pigs.
In Burgundy, after the wine harvest, the workers burned the vine stocks, repaired their tools and left the land to the wolves. A civil servant who investigated the region's economic activity in 1844 found that he was almost the only living presence in the landscape: "These vigorous men will now spend their days in bed, packing their bodies tightly together in order to stay warm and to eat less food."
December 1. There's a lot of buzz about the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. According to the script, we're supposed to respond, "Unthinkable! Outrage! Constitution! Fight through usual channels! Oh no, usual channels not working! American reality different from American ideal! Protest! Ow, stop hitting me!"
If we respond this way, we are going along with the abuse ritual. To an abuser, there is nothing sexier than when the victim expresses shock and outrage and fights back in a way that's totally ineffective. The next sexiest thing is to grovel in submission, and next after that is total numb defeat. These strategies not only don't work -- they actually feed a demon that inhabits the collective consciousness and many individuals, and they encourage more abuse.
So what can we do about it? As Thaddeus Golas said, "A great deal, if our heads are clear." The common mistakes of abuse victims and political dissidents correspond exactly to the first four of the five stages of grief. It's time to stop fucking around and get to the fifth stage.
America has passed from Republic to Empire, and will not go back. We are living in an authoritarian state in rapid decline. The federal government will pass more and more repressive laws, because that is what declining empires do. By all means, we should pay attention to hostile moves by government and business, the same way you would pay attention to rising floodwaters. You don't get angry at the water. You don't say "the Constitution forbids water getting this high." It is not a good idea to march through the water holding signs demanding that it recede. But you might be able to channel the water to where it will do less harm, or pile up sandbags to protect critical areas, or at least evacuate to higher ground.
Moving from metaphor to reality, we can fight big domination systems with little systems that are still democratic. Your vote for president is now worth less than your vote on Reddit, but you could make a huge difference by starting a group to run a candidate for city council, or to connect responsible squatters with vacant houses, or to fix and give away old bikes, or to turn an abandoned parking lot into a garden.
Another thing we have to understand is that the law is a distraction. The highest and lowest classes already know this in their bones: the only thing that matters is what you can get away with. The police will invade your house if you run a perfectly legal website that scrutinizes the police too closely. But you can flagrantly violate the law by occupying an empty house, raising chickens in your back yard, and providing unlicenced medical care, as long as you maintain good relations with everyone who knows you're doing it.
December 3. I tried and failed to find a really good critique of microwave ovens. Here's one with only a little bit of bad science, Radiation Ovens: The Proven Dangers of Microwaves. It would be better if they just presented the results of the studies, that eating microwaved food damages your body, without trying to explain the mechanism. Sadly, in our mechanistic culture, most people will not accept any idea, even one supported by evidence, if they can't tell a story or draw a picture of how it could work that way. It reminds me of Carl Sagan's rejection of astrology: "How could it work?" That kind of thinking is not science but religion, excluding avenues of investigation that don't fit existing mental models. The duty of the priest is to put people at ease that the world is completely understood. The duty of the scientist is to expand our understanding by seeking experience that we cannot yet explain.
December 10. Excellent piece by Malcolm Gladwell on IQ and the Flynn effect. Basically, IQ scores have been steadily rising, and the implications of that fact demolish the social Darwinist position on intelligence. It turns out that IQ doesn't measure how intelligent we are, but how modern we are:
The psychologist Michael Cole and some colleagues once gave members of the Kpelle tribe, in Liberia, a version of the WISC similarities test: they took a basket of food, tools, containers, and clothing and asked the tribesmen to sort them into appropriate categories. To the frustration of the researchers, the Kpelle chose functional pairings. They put a potato and a knife together because a knife is used to cut a potato. "A wise man could only do such-and-such," they explained. Finally, the researchers asked, "How would a fool do it?" The tribesmen immediately re-sorted the items into the "right" categories.
This raises the question: Is there any use for modern "intelligence"? Is it going somewhere, or is it a total dead end?
December 11. Here's a long 2005 Hakim Bey interview with some grumpy-old-man parts and some other parts that are totally brilliant. He talks about the collapse of industrial civilization, peak oil, cars, television, the internet, the uselessness of the left, organic food, Canada, anarchism, homeschooling, protests, climate change, Russia, secession, and how capitalism ruins everything.
December 12. Human evolution is speeding up! The new research is focusing completely on physical changes, like blue eyes and malaria resistance and the ability to digest milk, but I wonder if we're also changing mentally, not just on a cultural level but on a biological level. And mentally, the great new threat to humans over the last 5000 years -- indeed, the only new threat -- has been Empire, Leviathan, giant repressive centralized systems. I don't want to get my hopes up too much, but it is possible that deep human resistance to Empire has been growing, while innovations in repression and mind control have been masking this resistance by always staying one step ahead -- but repression is expensive and resistance is cheap, so if we run out of energy and resources, the world might get a lot better.
December 14. It's taken me more than a month, but I've finally finished Fredy Perlman's Against His-story, Against Leviathan. To my knowledge, the book is unique, a full history of western civilization from the ideological perspective of the resistance. The whole book is online here, and it's still in print from Black and Red Books, but I don't recommend it to everyone, because it's damned hard to read. For example, from page 84:
Darius the Persian must know that the Greeks are far ahead of his Canaanite subjects on the Levant who actually worship the abstraction of Leviathan, but who treat this abstaction as if it were a Sumerian god and make their actual Leviathan subservient to it. These Canaanites even persecute Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Samaritans, Phoenicians and other Canaanites who do not worship the abstraction in their Temple.
But if you can make it through stuff like that, you are treated to a mind-blowing historical landscape, with insights that have not been integrated into anti-civ visions of the future, let alone the dominant vision.
First, resistance movements always succeed. Sure, they're repeatedly crushed -- but they can survive anything! They go underground, take a new form, and come back stronger, while the repressive systems they fight get more and more riddled with internal weaknesses. Inevitably, the revolution topples the Empire, sweeps away hierarchy, and we rebuild free communities living close to the Earth.
But these golden ages, or in the propaganda of Empire, "dark ages", last only a few decades, or at best a few centuries, before Leviathan emerges again. And normally it emerges out of the resistance movement itself. The ancient Persian empire started with Cyrus, a leader inspired by Zoroastrianism to sweep away the machinery of previous empires. The Roman empire started as a people's movement to eradicate the Etruscans. The modern nation-state began with the Moravians forming a defensive alliance against the Franks, who got stuck in warlike habits after centuries of resisting the Romans. And we all know the story of Christianity.
Strangely, even Perlman himself seems to miss this insight. It's embarrassing seeing him strain to argue that civilization was a fluke, that the present Empire will be the last, that we are on the verge of an enduring Utopia, even as he lists one resistance movement after another, all through history, that believed the same thing and was wrong, even as he writes in the last paragraph of the book, "The cycle has come round again."
December 15. Heritage and seedling apple varieties have more medicinal value than supermarket apples. The article emphasizes that we don't need scientific instruments to know what to eat. Healthful apples just taste better. Commercial apples could be selected and bred for flavor, but because our whole culture favors blandness and shallowness, commercial apples are selected and bred for beautiful skin, uniform size and shape, crispness, juiciness, and sugar content. Basically they're being bred toward cans of soda. Related: my big landblog apple post.
December 17. Synthetic DNA on the Brink of Yielding New Life Forms. I've written before that I think bioengineering has the potential to be totally cool. I would love to see ten thousand gene hackers in garages churning new critters into the biosphere. But the trend is something different:
"I see a cell as a chassis and power supply for the artificial systems we are putting together," said Tom Knight of MIT, who likes to compare the state of cell biology today to that of mechanical engineering in 1864. That is when the United States began to adopt standardized thread sizes for nuts and bolts, an advance that allowed the construction of complex devices from simple, interchangeable parts.
So far, synthetic biology is still semi-synthetic, involving single-cell organisms such as bacteria and yeast that have a blend of natural and synthetic DNA. The cells can reproduce, a defining trait of life. But in many cases that urge has been genetically suppressed, along with other "distracting" biological functions, to maximize productivity.
"Most cells go about life like we do, with the intention to make more of themselves after eating," said John Pierce, a vice president at DuPont. "But what we want them to do is make stuff we want."
Ultimately, this plan will fail for the same reason Linux beats Microsoft and grass beats pavement: Life has deeper roots than Control. Adam explains:
Successful gene insertions generally tax the organism's metabolic energy in ways useless outside of the controlled high input farm environment (for example, when every cell is pumping out excessive amounts of metabolically expensive proteins). Abandon a farm -- or convert it to low energy agriculture -- and the GMOs probably wouldn't survive long against heirloom varieties or the weeds nature throws up.
So even if biotech gets to the point where it's possible to make enduring new species, the big money will not be making them. It will be making species that are radically unsustainable because they put "making stuff we want" ahead of survival... just like this whole society!
December 18. Difficult multi-part essay, The Programmer's Stone. William summarizes:
Alan Garter tried to find a reason why some programmers are 10-25 times more productive than others. He stumbled across the answer, and made a team of super-programmers. Then the rest of the organization turned on his team! His theory is that people are literally addicted to stress. Stress releases dopamine in the brain, which gives a the stressee a good buzz. When two people accustomed to different levels of stress meet, they often don't like each other because one is getting overly stressed and the other isn't getting their dopamine hit. Stress also shuts off what he calls juxtapositional thinking, a holistic, comparative mode of thinking.
Basically there are two kinds of thinking and you need both, but under stress you're limited to thinking that is narrowly focused, methodical, and not at all intuitive. And to have a productive/unstressed programming team, you first need an unstressed organization around them. Clearly this goes way beyond programming. This whole civilization is driven by stress, and has been for thousands of years. Also, I think the negative reaction against unstressed people is about much more than dopamine. Repressed cultures murder free cultures because if they don't, they have to admit that they could have been free too, that all their suffering was for nothing, and they don't want to face the grief.
But here's a puzzle: Clearly civilized life is more stressful than tribal life... so why has civilization been so much more innovative and productive than tribal societies? I see two answers. First, most of the "productivity" of civilization is nothing like computer programming -- stressed-out slaves are slower programmers, but much faster at building pyramids and cutting down forests, because unstressed free people have no reason to do those jobs at all. Also, all the innovations of civilization have come from either elites or outsiders, people who had some way to get off the treadmill.
This also explains the cycles of Empire. In a young free society, everyone is adaptable and smart and full of energy. But cut loose from the customs of a stable society, they use that energy to systematically extend their power beyond their wisdom, which leads to a repressive conquering society, which adds more and more control and stress, until almost everyone is either zombified or a resister. And then a young free society sweeps it away, and the cycle repeats...
December 19. Just finished Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. The narrator is a 31 year old woman who grew up in what appears to be an exclusive private school in the country, but turns out to be something much darker, and we look on as she uncovers the secrets. But we're left with one more puzzle: that most of the book is not about the dark secrets at all, but instead goes into great depth in the relations between the characters -- hundreds of pages only connected by a thread to what the book is supposedly about. Ishiguro is a meticulous writer who doesn't do anything without a lot of thought, so what is he doing with two books in one?
Here's what I think: On one level, there is an unspeakable horror. The book doesn't say it, but I wonder if this is supposed to be an alternate history where the Nazis won WWII. Then, within that horror is a sheltered place where people can talk about literature and play games and make art, and not really understand what they're part of. So you've got a lie wrapped up in a nightmare, and the bulk of the book illustrates that when human beings are raised in a lie wrapped up in a nightmare, they become incredibly fucked up! Liars, manipulators, and inventors of ridiculous belief systems are rewarded, while seekers and honest people are mercilessly crushed. So, really, he's writing about our own world.
December 21. Good news from James:
When I first decided to squat, I put an ad in Craigslist asking if anyone knew of abandoned houses I could live in and fix up. I was hoping for friendly neighbors, but I got an owner of a four unit building who will let me stay in one unit for fixing up the rest! It's not quite squatting, but for now it will be warmer, safer, and legal. Plus there is a huge abandoned factory nearby, and many houses.
There you go! As the American economy continues to slide, there will be more abandoned buildings and competent people with no place to live, and more need and opportunity to make that kind of connection. It could even become a "squatter's market," where you won't even have to fix anything up, just keep the place from looking any worse and scare away the copper scavengers.
December 22. Lakota group declares secession from US. I changed the headline to "declares secession" because "secedes" is incorrect. The issue here is symbolic action vs real action. One faction of the Lakota have said "this land is ours," but that's logically no different from the European conquerors 200 years ago saying "this land is yours and we promise we won't invade."
There's a smart piece in the New Yorker this week, Twilight of the Books, about how reading and non-reading affect human consciousness. In ancient Greece, when reading was new, it was a kind of trance or possession -- people had trouble distinguishing between the reader and the text, the actor and the role. You can still see that today, when fans of TV shows treat the actors like their characters, or a cowardly president can be popular by swaggering like a "strong leader," or activists think protests and petitions can change anything.
One of the things we're going to have to do, before we get out of this ugly age of history, is to learn to navigate the symbolic and the real without losing our grip on which is which. George Bush is more spiritually evolved than his opponents when he says the Constitution is "just a piece of paper." Laws and treaties and money and other pieces of paper begin as agreements between people, but when the people no longer agree, they become meaningless, and the advantage goes to the first person to notice the loss of meaning.
I hope the Lakota secessionists know what they're doing. They say they're going to file liens to get property back, but I don't think a white South Dakota sheriff will evict white people from land even if the white courts say the Indians own it. What happens if a business owner in Rapid City stops paying taxes, and federal marshals show up? Will the secessionists just throw a statement of outrage into the toilet of symbol-space? Will they have enough foreign allies to force the American Empire to negotiate? Will they leverage the spectacle in the media to inspire secession movements to break out all over, until central command can no longer buy or bully the obedience of enough guards to put down the revolution?
"It's just a piece of paper" is a two-edged sword, and the edge we use is more powerful, because there are far more pieces of paper that take away freedom than grant freedom. Secession is the right path, both morally and strategically, because the human agreement that holds America together is coming undone. But I think this move is a bit early.
December 27. The Global Cooling Project. No, it's not about spraying aluminum out of airplanes or dumping iron into the ocean or building a giant orbiting sun umbrella. Apparently all we have to do is plant trees and conserve rainwater in dry areas, and the moistened earth will make clouds that reflect sunlight. And here's a link that doesn't mention cooling but describes a successful bottom-up greening project in India.