Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Just Who Is the Crazy One?

Still some good stuff left over from Christmas.... homemade cannoli!

... and Brie is starting out right with new tennis balls for Christmas. Can't really see it, but there is one in her mouth.

By Murph

Finally the Christmas season is over. Now that my computer is back up and working right again, I can get back to the doomer reading and speculation.

Every once in a while I run into someone who wildly explains that I am crazy to believe or look seriously at some issue. Had an acquaintance not too long ago that declared, in a loud voice for all in the immediate area, that peak oil was a bunch of garbage, intimating of course that I had to be crazy to even consider it. It was pointed out to me that the huge reserves that have been found in the last few years would keep the U.S. running for the next 500 years or so, completely forgetting that domestic oil production is sold on the open market for whatever the market will pay. The most usual thing that is put in my face is the Baakan oil reserves in the U.S. The last time that was used, I asked what their source of information on that reserve was. I was told to just Google Baakan reserves and I would get all the info I needed. So, one more time I decided to see what the information was. The very first entry from Google was a forum where some guy wrote in wildly exclaiming that there was no shortage of oil in the U.S. because of the shale oil in the Baakan reserves, would feed the U.S. oil habit for the next 200 years. Then I found a bunch of states, mostly from the Oil Drum web site, but verified it from some other sites also. It seems that the recent USGS study, if they are to be believed, say that the recoverable oil from that site is 3.4 to 4.3 billion barrels. Frankly, that doesn’t even qualify as a super site. In fact, all the larger discoveries in the last 10 years have been in that range, or somewhat larger, but not a super site.

Some stats for your information; The U.S. has been using from 18-25 million barrels per day for the last 5 years. The 18 million barrels is from the last year stats. That works out to 6.8 BILLION barrels per year. Current U.S. oil production is around 5 million barrels per day. This means that the Baakan reserves if pulled out right now, would last the U.S. about 300 days at last years usage. Long way from 200 years plentiful and cheap supply. In fact, the total world oil production is around 3 billion barrels per year, Considering that they are trying to extract oil from more and more expensive and hard to maintain regions (like deep sea and shale and sands) it sure doesn’t appear that our usage is sustainable for much longer. Hmmm. And oil is now over $90/barrel and gas is over $3.00 per gallon.

So who is the crazy one here?

A very good friend of mine once suggested that one way of defining a crazy or insane person is that their brain processes information different than most of us. Of course, the popular idea is that a crazy person is not dealing with reality, not including just what in hell reality really is and if it even can be identified. When I read through history it often touches on the insane among the population. Interestingly, the insane can be right just enough to make a mockery of the “not dealing with reality’ crowd. Of course those really primitive people often revered the “crazy ones” among them for having communication with god or gods. But of course, we can’t take them primitive folks seriously now can we. We know better now, and you would have to be crazy to look at that seriously. By our present paradigm on the subject, the Old Testament prophets were flat out crazy, talking to god and such schizophrenic behavior.

Freeacre wants me to include my/our predictions for the next year and beyond. I’ve never offered something like this before but here goes.

Employment; won’t get better; in fact I predict unemployment is going to keep going up. I expect it to exceed 1930 levels of 20% in the next year. Only so much government hiring will take place and I figure we have just about reached the limit at this time. Lower level manufacturing jobs are not going to be coming back anywhere in the near future. College degrees, that used to insure high paying jobs, are going to be shown as having less of an impact on individual lives compared to our past. More and more hi tech jobs are going to be shipped somewhere else and the demand for degrees will go way down in this country. The few stats on this show it is already happening.

U.S. and world finances; they are going to get worse too. Dollar will eventually be devalued. Our business as usual paradigm is going to take some serious hits. What will result is pure speculation. The un-capitalized hedge funds are going to have to be absorbed one way or another. See next entry.

Government; it will become less and less important to individual lives and just plain become irrelevant, even if very dangerous. At every level of government, and particularly at state and local levels, look for some pretty shitty and unique ways they are going to try and skim even more money out of your pocket as the financial situation worsens, in the form of increased fees and more tickets etc. I don’t know how much longer we can expect government to take any action that maintains the safety nets and entitlements that are in place. If the government prints the money for distribution for these entitlements, we can expect run-away inflation which would just negate the value of the entitlements anyway. I do not expect the PTB to back off of the business as usual paradigm in the next year, they are going to defend it savagely down to the bitter end.

Education: going to continue to degrade, graduating even more really uninformed stupid people. Colleges and Universities will begin shutting down because lack of students, cost are out of reach except for the wealthy and jobs are scarce anyway. Plus we can expect next year big defaults on student loans. There will be a continuation of degrees being just another name for job training, having not much or nothing to do with being educated. Consequence will be an even more rapid decrease in logical thinking among the general population, and the inability to see consequences of actions taken and belief systems upheld.

Politics; it is already apparent that political parties have no relevance to the general population, but only to the elite power struggles. I expect that to become even more evident and the consequence to the general population is going to be even more negative. I also expect that the political infighting will become increasingly savage, disappearing or plain old assassinations of opponents more common, and excuse me on this, but more nut cases like Palin coming on line.

Food, shelter, and water; are going to become more expensive to obtain or maintain. Water is already becoming a problem and I expect food to be an even bigger problem than it already is this next year, expect a tightening of all kinds of silly shit, like the making illegal to collect rain water for your home. While housing purchases are much lower than in 2006, maintenance costs are going up with inflation. Some necessities for life are going to become out of reach for a lot of people, even more than it already is.

Travel; I expect travel to become ever more difficult and/or odious for most people, ie, the air travel screening. I expect to see more restrictions and stops on the roads, making travel even by auto more odious. Expect to see air travel screening applied to most bus and rail services also. Better learn to stay at home to have a life.

Standard of living; will be going down for most of the population. Get used to it now and avoid the rush.

Religion; is going to also become more radicalized and have less relevance to most people. Conflicts between sects and believers and unbelievers will increase. I expect some of these conflicts to become savage and violent.

Medical and health care; I expect higher prices and decreasing services except for the wealthy despite the new health care bill. Big up tick in non allopathic medicine I expect, more natural and herbal remedies, more practitioners of Chinese and related medicine. I also expect more incurable (probably genetically engineered) diseases coming at us. Less people will be kept artificially alive. I don’t expect a big surge in death rates, not this year anyway and in this country. The rest of the world is open to speculation.

Weather; I expect more violent and unusual weather world wide. Exact causes are being debated, as well as the nature of what to expect.

From freeacre:

I would add a couple of predictions:

The internet will be more regulated and under surveillance for "domestic terrorists." Anyone not supporting the corporate paradigm, including the resource wars, will be suspect. We may decide that keeping a blogsite is too dangerous for us and as a vehicle for our tribe.

If it looks like the sheeple are becoming restless in any big way, we may see an outbreak of war or some space based disclosures, such as alien bases on the moon or Mars, space battles, alien DNA in our genetic code, and whatnot.

I think that the consequences of the contamination of the Gulf of Mexico and the seafood from that area will be awful. The sicknesses that people are experiencing will become obvious even to the lamestream media.

It may be confirmed that the Gulf Stream has been interrupted and that is contributing to the unusually cold weather in Europe. We may not have much of a summer this year, and have to start building greenhouses in a big way. We should stock up on seeds that can be sprouted in that case.

Wilder and wilder speculations on "The End of the Mayan Calendar" and associated doom scenarios will be featured on cable TV and other popular sites. The magnetic pole keeps moving towards Moscow, and more and more near-miss asteroids may head our way, since our solar system actually is entering the galactic center.

Scalar weaponry and military uses of "new energy" might be rolled out as Peak Oil production can not be denied much longer. The Pentagon has already acknowledged it, so it's only a matter of time.

Fear and loathing are going to be fostered by all these fear tactics, and snitches and squid minions will be on the prowl. Our challenge will be to keep cool and try to remind people of the fact that the American Dream has been based on freedom, inclusion, justice, fair play, tolerance, and helping one's neighbors.

How’s that for doomer predictions? Lol

On the more optimistic front, I expect a whole lot more self reliance coming up next year, probably more communal living is in the works just for self preservation. I expect to see a turning away from the religiously organized con jobs that have been prolific for so many years. Probably a turning to more internal spiritual concerns by many. Not that I expect it to do much good in the immediate future to alleviate social distress and the physical demands of continuing on in this life but may allow people to exit graciously. I also see a good possibility of some of the older social organizations come back to life as our society gets mired down in all of the shit that is being heaped upon them. More groups will be formed for self protection and survival.

Overall, I am not optimistic about the near future but some good things may come out of it yet. For you and yours, we wish you all the very best. The more we cultivate our own lifestyles, the happier we will be.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

State Crimes Against Democracy - The Evolution of Conspiracy Theory

Picture taken by Hot Springs Wizard - seems to exemplify "fragile connections" to me.

Many thanks to our dear Spirit Across the Sea (AKA from Belgium) for this new posting..
from Belgium

Document Provenance:
This is a précis of a paper by Lance deHaven-Smith which first appeared in the February 2010 edition of American Behavioural Science and was reproduced in WikiSpooks December 2010. Owing to length restrictions this present offering has been reduced to about 20% of the original which has necessitated many omissions. For those interested in reading the original it can be found here:


This post seamlessly interweaves sections of the above article with personal comment.

NOTE: the terms Elite or Political Elites refers to those at the highest level of governance and the military and not to the highest strata of international bankers sometimes called TPTB.

The Problem with Conspiracy Theory

When major political events take place in which the involvement of high governance is suspected, such as 9/11; Watergate or the JFK assassination, then each event attracts its followers and researchers which try to analyse all available information but they limit their inquiry to that specific event.
Until recently, social scientists have focused, on graft, bribery, embezzlement, and other forms of government corruption where the aim is personal enrichment rather than social control, partisan advantage, or political power. Conspiracy theory, since the 1960s, has been associated with paranoia and harebrained speculation. Considered as a label, the phrase conspiracy theory does a poor job of characterizing speculations about political intrigue, yet the label remains popular because it functions normatively to protect political elites from mass doubts about their motives and tactics Although not immediately apparent, this function becomes evident when the label’s surface meaning is compared to its meaning in use. On the surface, the term conspiracy theory refers to a suspicion that some troubling event was the result of a secret plot, but the term’s usage implies something else.

Not every theory that alleges a secret plot qualifies as a conspiracy theory in the common sense of the term. The official account of 9/11 claims that the Twin Towers were brought down by a team of Muslims who conspired to highjack planes and fly them into buildings. The theory posits a conspiracy, but the theory is not what most people would call a “conspiracy theory.” Conspiracy theories of 9/11 claim more than that the attacks were secretly planned and executed by an organized team. Most conspiracy theories of 9/11 allege that the U.S. government itself carried out the attacks or that officials knew the attacks were coming and allowed them to succeed. Thus, the conspiracy theory label, as it is applied in public discourse, does not disparage conspiratorial thinking or analysis in general, even though this is what the term suggests. Rather, the broad-brush “conspiracy theory” disparages inquiry and questioning that challenge official accounts of troubling political events in which public officials themselves may have had a hand. Deployed in public discourse to discredit and silence those who express suspicions of elite criminality, the label functions, rhetorically, to shield political elites from public interrogation. Moreover, there is often dissatisfaction when public opinion is attempted to be assuaged by an official enquiry since sometimes members of the enquiry are seen to be compromised. For instance, The Warren Commission which investigated the JFK assassination was appointed by Lyndon Johnson who was one of the main beneficiaries. Allan Dulles, a former CIA Chief who was sacked by JFK and was a political enemy, sat on the enquiry. More or less the entire 9/11 enquiry was manned by Bush cronies or at least players who were not unsympathetic to Bush’s motives.

Conspiracy theorists have contributed to this disjunctive dispute because they have focused on each suspicious event in isolation. Amateur investigators have developed a large popular literature on the assassination of President Kennedy and a number of other political crimes in which state complicity is suspected or alleged. The research has discredited official accounts of many incidents, thus casting suspicion on the government. But such ad hoc research has failed to actually solve the crimes under analysis or even to identify the agencies and officials most likely to have been the perpetrators.
Clearly a new approach to assessing such events is necessary.

State Crimes Against Democracy (SCADs)

By delineating a specific form of political criminality, the SCAD concept allows inquiry to move beyond incident-specific theories of government plots and to examine, instead, the general phenomenon of elite political criminality. Similar to research on white-collar crime, domestic violence, serial murder, and other crime categories, SCAD research seeks to identify patterns in SCAD victims, tactics, timing, those who benefit, and other SCAD characteristics. These patterns offer clues about the motives, institutional location, skills, and resources of SCAD perpetrators. In turn, as SCAD research brings SCAD perpetrators into focus, it provides a basis for understanding and mitigating the criminogenic circumstances in which SCADs arise.

For research purposes, the universe of SCADs must include not only those that have been officially investigated and confirmed but also suspected SCADs corroborated by evidence that is credible but unofficial. Although including the latter brings some risk of error, excluding them would mean accepting the judgment of individuals and institutions whose rectitude and culpability are at issue. Public officials are usually quite reluctant to allow independent investigations into questions about their own actions or those of their close associates. For over a year after 9/11, the Bush–Cheney administration resisted and dodged demands for a 9/11 Commission before finally acceding to pressures from the victims’ families, at which point the administration gave the commission a very small budget and placed it under unrealistic deadlines.

Conflicts of interest also plague agencies that are typically charged with assisting investigations into suspected SCADs. Such agencies usually bear some blame or have some connection to the events in question. Hence, personnel in these agencies are inevitably tempted to conceal evidence that would implicate or embarrass the agencies or their top managers. Both the FBI and the CIA concealed evidence of their contacts with Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. Likewise, the Department of Defence appears to have withheld from the 9/11 Commission evidence that military intelligence agents had uncovered the 9/11 hijackers’ activities well in advance of September 2001.

Now we are considering such activities as a criminal class instead of a group of isolated incidents, let us look at a number of major events which have occurred in recent history and see what conclusions can be drawn.

[editorial note: the graph didn't transfer to blogspot properly, so I made some changes to facilitate reading - apologies if I have mangled it, Belgium]


Event: McCarthayism Fabricating evidence of Soviet infiltration
Years: 1950-1955
False Info re Defence Purge of leftists from government and business
Political opportunism

Assassination of JFK LBJ’s escalation of Vietnam War
1963 Control of war policy
Assassination CIA/ FBI/ SS
Possibly LBJ RN

Assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald Connection between CIA & Oswald concealed Medium
1963 Trial Avoided
Assassination Conceal Crime

Gulf of Tonkin Incident
Escalation of Vietnam conflict
Planned International Event Control War Policy

Assassination of Robert Kennedy
Election of Nixon stop JFK investigation Escalate Vietnam War
1968 Control War Policy

Burglary of Office Daniel Elsberg‘s Psychiatrist
Discredit Elsberg Control War policy
Richard Nixon CIA Burglary

Attempted Assassination of George Wallace
Wallace taken out of 1972 election, Nixon Re elected
Political Opportunism Assassination

Watergate Break in
Re Election of Nixon
RN CIA Political Opportunism Burglary

Attempted Assassination Ronald Reagan
VP WH Bush’s position strengthened
1981 Control War Policy Assassination

Iran Contra Hostage release
/Civil war Nicaragua
1984 – 1986 Pres Reagan VP Bush CIA Military
False info re Defence Control War Policy

Disputed 2000 Election
Legally mandated recount blocked by US Supreme Court
Election Tampering Political Opportunism

9/11 2001 Terrorist Attacks
Bush popularity up Defence spending up Invasion of Afghanistan leading to invasion of Iraq
Planned International Event

Attempted Assassinations of Senators Daschle & Leahy 2001 by Anthrax spores If successful would have given Republicans control of Senate Medium
Assassination Control War policy

Assassination of Senator Wellstone
Republicans regain Senate
Assassination Control War Policy

Iraq-gate US gains control of Iraq oil
Iran surrounded other Mid East nations intimidated Control War policy
False info re Defence

Disputed election
Result Bush wins Ohio and US Presidency
Election Tampering Political Opportunism

In the list of SCADs above, several patterns stand out. First, many SCADs are associated with foreign policy and international conflict. Such SCADs include the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the burglary of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office, Iran-Contra, 9/11, Iraq-gate, the assassinations of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, and the attempted assassinations of Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle. All of these SCADs contributed to the initiation or continuation of military conflicts.

Second, SCADs are fairly limited in their modus operandi (MO). The most common SCAD MOs are assassinations (six) and mass deceptions related to foreign policy (three). Other MOs include election tampering (two), planned international conflict events (two), and burglaries (two). With the possible exception of election tampering, all of these MOs are indicative of groups with expertise in the skills of espionage and covert, paramilitary operations.

Third, many SCADs in the post-WWII era indicate direct and nested connections to two presidents: Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. Not only was Nixon responsible for Watergate and the illegal surveillance of Daniel Ellsberg, he also alone benefited from all three of the suspicious attacks on political candidates in the 1960s and 1970s: the assassinations of John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy and the attempted assassination of George Wallace. If JFK and RFK had not been killed, Nixon would not have been elected president in 1968, and if Wallace had not been shot, Nixon would probably not have been re-elected in 1972. The SCADs that benefited Bush include the election-administration problems in 2000, the defence failures on 9/11, the (U.S. defence grade) anthrax attacks on top Senate Democrats in October 2001, Iraqgate, and the multiple and specious terror alerts that rallied support for Bush before the 2004 presidential election.

Since assassinations form the largest category of MO’s let us consider these as typical in order to see the benefit that the SCAD analysis brings over conventional conspiracy theory.

Several patterns contradict the conclusion from official inquiries that political assassinations in the United States have been random, with no connections to one another and no involvement of political elites. First, the range of officials targeted for assassination is limited to those most directly associated with foreign policy: presidents and senators. Most other high-ranking officials in the federal government have seldom been murdered, even though many have attracted widespread hostility and opposition. No vice presidents have been assassinated, nor have any members of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Supreme Court. If lone gunmen have been roaming the country in search of political victims, it is difficult to understand why they have not struck more widely, especially given that most officials receive no Secret Service protection. Why did no assassins go after Joe McCarthy when he became notorious for his accusations about communists, or Earle Warren after the Supreme Court’s decisions requiring school desegregation, or Spiro Agnew after he attacked the motives of antiwar protestors, or Janet Reno after she authorized the FBI’s raid on the Branch Davidians in Waco?

A second pattern has to do with the particular presidents and senators who have been targeted for elimination, as opposed to the many who have not. Presidents and senators have been targeted only when their elimination would benefit military and pro-war interests. Because a president who is killed or dies in office is automatically succeeded by the vice president, a presidential assassination would benefit military interests only if the vice president’s background or policy positions were dramatically better for the military than the president’s. This situation has existed only twice since 1960—during the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Unlike Kennedy, who was trying to end the cold war, Lyndon Johnson was a well-known hawk and pentagon supporter. Similarly, although Reagan and George H. W. Bush had similar positions on the cold war, Bush’s background as former director of the CIA gave him much closer ties than Reagan to the military establishment. This type of analysis could benefit potential Presidents in their choice of Vice Presidents and could have influenced GH Bush in his own choice of VP.

These patterns in assassinations, as well as the patterns across SCADs in general, point to likely suspects and criminogenic circumstances. SCADs frequently involve presidents as either victims or principals, benefit military and military-industrial elites, and employ the skills of intelligence and paramilitary operatives. Conditions conducive to SCADs include periods of warfare or heightened international tensions, administrations with prowar vice presidents, and Senates closely divided along partisan lines. SCADs often appear where presidential politics and foreign policy intersect. This policy locus could mean that the nation’s civilian leadership is being targeted by military and intelligence elites or that military and intelligence assets and capabilities are being politicized by the civilian leadership, or both.

Although I have concentrated on assassinations which are the largest group, similar type of conclusions can be drawn for other SCAD MO’s.

The first step toward SCAD detection and prevention is facing up to the nature and magnitude of the threat. Recently, many mainstream scholars and journalists have concluded that American democracy is becoming increasingly corporatist, imperialistic, and undemocratic. However, mainstream authors have seldom considered the possibility that authoritarian tendencies in American politics are being systemically engineered by top-ranking civilian and military officials. Rather than thinking in terms of high crimes, their diagnoses have blamed abstract institutional weaknesses or isolated failures of leadership.

In contrast, the upshot of the foregoing analysis is that SCADs are surface indications of a deeper, invisible level of politics in which officials at the highest levels of government use deception, conspiracy, and violence to shape national policies and priorities. This sub-rosa manipulation of domestic politics is an extension of America’s duplicity in foreign affairs and draws on the nation’s well-developed skills in covert operations. Through its experience with covert actions, the National Security Apparatus has developed a wide range of skills and tactics for subverting and overthrowing regimes, manipulating international tensions, and disrupting ideological movements. The United States, or more specifically presidential administrations, uses these skills in combination with visible foreign policies to maximize the impact of both the visible and invisible sides of their efforts.

U.S. capabilities for covert operations enter the nation’s domestic politics as SCADs in at least two ways. Sometimes, the process is rather haphazard. In Watergate, for example, the Nixon administration was using covert-action skills domestically in legitimate matters of national security when it diverted these skills, first, to attack Daniel Ellsberg and perhaps other political enemies and, subsequently, to gain advantage in the 1972 presidential election. Generalizing from this example, covert-action capabilities can end up being exploited for SCADs because the officials who control these capabilities are operating in an intensely political environment, and they occasionally succumb to temptations to use their national security powers for personal or partisan advantage. The idea that SCADs are opportunistic gambits in presidential politics was the conclusion reached in the official investigations of both Watergate and Iran-Contra.

On the other hand, several SCADs for which evidence of government involvement is unofficial but nevertheless credible point to elaborate planning by enduring networks of strategically placed insiders pursuing a combination of bureaucratic, ideological, and economic objectives. The assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, and the attempted assassination of George Wallace, all benefited Richard Nixon and served the interests of military and military-industrial elites. Furthermore, arranging these shootings and pinning them on patsies would have required many operatives, extensive resources, and a variety of skills. Similarly, if the attacks of 9/11 were executed or somehow facilitated by U.S. public officials—as much evidence suggests—a number of agencies would have had to have been involved, including elements of the Department of Defence, the CIA, and the FBI

As it stands, events with profound implications for the nation and the world are left to be investigated on an ad hoc basis; procedures for controlling crime scenes, inventorying evidence, interviewing suspects, interpreting evidence, overseeing the investigative process, and reporting findings are developed on the spot in the aftermath of the tragedies, when the nation is in shock and the perpetrators may be covering their trail. Public officials or their agents lost, discarded, or destroyed critical evidence in the World Trade Centre destruction, the anthrax mailings in October 2001, the disputed presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, the assassinations of JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King, and the attempted assassination of George Wallace.

SCADs can become an important tool for political analysts to link and categorise seemingly isolated or random politically or military motivated events. However with Representatives and Senators becoming increasingly linked to corporate and military interests there could well be apathy towards them outing higher level wrong doing. The fact that the top political and military personnel are having their seemingly unrelated actions coordinated could make them wary of being so cavalier in their contempt for those below them. At least it could make them tread more carefully so that not too many pieces of the jigsaw are connected together. Let us hope that this method of analysis can shine enough light into the dark corners of history that the crimes against democracy can be redressed and democracy can once again be restored to its former pride.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Season of Twilight

Homemade goodies from the Grange market

Wonderful soaps made by ras

by freeacre

With the comments from the last post reaching into the 80's, I am feeling compelled to put up another post, just to keep it from getting stale and unwieldy. It's a little more difficult, as I have had to put the mouse on the left of the keyboard, as I have spent so much time at the computer lately that I'm starting to experience carpal tunnel. But, that's just me.

My thoughts in the last few days are revolving around opposing collapse scenarios and responses to the holiday gift-giving season. Happily, we took part in two craft fairs last week. One was a community Christmas craft fair that our Citizens' Action Group uses annually for a fund raiser. The other was at the Grange, which allows locals to secure a really inexpensive booth and sell their homemade or flea market items. We figure that both these events exemplify good ways to support the people in our community who are trying to make ends meet, are creative, and produce pleasing products that don't involve globalist commerce. There are several couples making a business out of homemade salsas and sauces, sauerkraut, apple and apricot butters, jams, and jellies – all canned at home. Then there were baked goods of every sort, from breads baked in a brick oven to scrumptious bascotti, muffins, cookies, fudge, and caramel corn. Knotted hats, scarves, booties, and holiday decorations, lovely soaps, wooden carvings, paintings, jewelry, and on and on. Not the Lexus or the diamonds featured in the television ads, but nice, unique and personal gifts as expressions of affection for family and friends. None of it goes on credit cards, so one won't have to suffer the New Year depression that so many people set themselves up for each January.

The more we can set up the infrastructure for local vendors, the easier it will be to transition into localized survival mode commerce when the dollar crashes or the wheels come off the cart as oil goes to a hundred bucks or more per barrel and life as most know it grinds to a halt.

Speaking of that, Alternet has a story up now entitled, “4 Scenarios for the Coming Collapse of the American Empire” by Alfred W. McCoy (Tomdispatch.com). It makes a pretty much iron-clad case for the demise of the privileged status the U.S. Has enjoyed and exploited since the end of WWII. He lists four possibilities, each more depressing than the last on what it would look like as peak oil is no longer deniable, the economy is gutted from military over-extension, the crippling effects of the great transfer of wealth, the wasting of money to save the banks while not supporting critical infrastructures like the railroad system, debilitating wars that we lose, and the rise of nation states like China, Russia, India and Brazil who come to dominate us. Well, it's not like we haven't talked about all this for years, but when you see it coming from places like the Council on Foreign Relations and given a time projection of something like fifteen years, it is sobering.

I was surprised that he didn't have anything positive to say. I guess that is because he was writing about the demise of the Empire. The Archdruid, on the other hand, has a good post up now as well. His is part of the Green Wizard series he's doing that offers tangible ideas to cope in the post collapse communities. This one is called “In the Wake of Victory.” He writes about the challenge that the peak oil and doomer collective has now that peak oil and impending bankruptcy and all the things that the doom-o-sphere has been warning about for years is actually at hand. It's “put up or shut up” time. It seems to me, at least, that if we can't come up with some good alternatives, we will be stuck with the dismal corporate reptilian response of control and ruthless fascism.

The challenge is great and there is a lot to do for the foreseeable future. Personally, however, I find myself getting tired. I am haunted by p's and Charles's comments on the last post about busy-ness being a form of violence and denial. Hummm... I don't know about violence, but feeling compelled to respond to every need out there is exhausting and, perhaps, damaging.

I feel lucky that we have been able to prepare and be a part of this transition for the last five to eight years. There is no doubt that it is a lot of work. But, most of us work hard anyway. So, at least we've been working for ourselves rather than working to feed the squids and further their agenda.

But, I feel like we need to shift gears. For one thing, we've had food stored up for so long that the expiration dates are coming due on a lot of it. Time to seriously start eating it and replacing it with fresh stuff, not just storing it. Also, the alarming escalation of the police state and it's surveillance of the internet and just about everything else (Homeland Security snitches at Wal-mart, even!) is making me wonder how vulnerable we want to be to the goon squads potentially threatening all those marching to a different mental drum.

At our advanced age, maybe it's time to haul out the bucket list and tick off some of the more fun goals that we have not accomplished yet. Or, maybe it's time to just relax and not feel like we have to do much of anything. Winter is the season to kick back after the harvest, take stock of things, and plan for the new year. We all need to take some time and mull things over while we sip our eggnog and, while they are still on, enjoy the colorful lights of the season.