Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Wherefore Goes Germany?

About a year ago, in of a mood of despair and a sense of looming danger, I wrote an article, which Dmitry was kind enough to publish on his blog, titled Exit Strategy for Traitors. This article is an update. Nothing has changed fundamentally, but a lot has happened, and the situation has improved in just one single respect.

Monday, January 09, 2017

North Carolina Book Tour

Later this month I'll be appearing at the following bookstores to give a talk and to sign copies of Shrinking the Technosphere:

Tuesday, January 24, 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Firestorm
Asheville, NC

Wednesday, January 25, 7pm to 8pm
Flyleaf
Chapel Hill, NC

Thu, January 26, 19:00 – 20:15
Quail Ridge Books
Raleigh, NC 27609

Hope to see you there!

If you are interested in inviting me for a talk and a book signing, please email EJ at newsociety.com.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

How to Make America Great Again with Other People’s Money

A lot of the sharper-minded commentators have recently started pointing out a problem with Donald Trump’s plan to “make America great again”: lack of funds. The US is bankrupt: sinking ever-further into unrepayable debt, unable to achieve a rate of economic growth that could ever catch up with its growing debt burden. It is in the midst of a giant financial bubble that is propped up by various scams and rackets, from car loans whose term exceeds the useful lifetime of the car, to retirement fund shortfalls caused by effectively negative interest rates, to educational debt that condemns ever more young people to a lifetime of indentured servitude, to the medical racket which is now eating up over 20% of the economy while delivering some of the worst levels of well-being in the entire developed world… Attempts to fix any of these problems would inevitably run into long-standing, intractable political conflicts and contradictions and go nowhere while also bursting the financial bubble and turning the political realm into one very large and angry poop party. Better not even go there!

And so Trump’s plan to “make America great again” through infrastructure spending, repatriating manufacturing jobs and other great quests will have to wait, possibly forever. All of these things would require taking on even more debt, even as around the world everyone tries to unload US debt as fast as possible, leaving the Federal Reserve as the debt-buyer of last resort. This would have the effect of turning US sovereign debt into a pure Ponzi scheme, and Ponzi schemes don’t go on for too long. But if the requirement to “make America great again” is nonnegotiable, what alternatives are there?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Surviving Winter Aboard

Life aboard can be perfectly pleasant when it’s warm outside, but when the weather turns cold a number of unpleasant factors conspire to make most sailboats, power boats and houseboats uncomfortable. This article attacks the problem from three directions. First is an explanation of all the factors that make overwintering aboard a typical commercially built recreational boat rather unpleasant. Next, I describe how those intrepid souls who do overwinter aboard in northern climates cope with these factors. Last, I describe how all of these factors are carefully avoided in the design of QUIDNON, “a houseboat that sails.”

Read more...

Interview on Ecotopia

Our guest was Dmitry Orlov, author of Shrinking the Technosphere: Getting a Grip on Technologies that Limit Our Autonomy, Self-Sufficiency, and Freedom, published by New Society. He writes about the "technosphere," the world of technology that claims to make our lives simpler and more efficient, from microwaves to cell phones, from radios to satellite TV. He says that the technosophere (which he contrasts to the more natural "bisophere") has a mind of its own that seeks to homogenize Homo sapiens with an amoral focus on growth, control, "progress," and obedience and conformity. His solutions principally involve downsizing and simplifying, stepping outside oneself to break the control of technology in our lives.

Listen to the interview.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Tiny House that Floats—and Sails!

Tiny houses are great, but there are a few problems. One is zoning: it’s hard to find places where you are allowed to put one, especially if it’s anywhere near the bigger cities where the good jobs are. Another is flooding: more and more places are subject to flooding everywhere. Yet another is various local regulations that restrict what and how you can build.

Read more...

Is Obama a Russian Agent?

Sometimes a case looks weak because there is no “smoking gun”—no obvious, direct evidence of conspiracy, malfeasance or evil intent—but once you tally up all the evidence it forms a coherent and damning picture. And so it is with the Obama administration vis à vis Russia: by feigning hostile intent it did everything possible to further Russia’s agenda. And although it is always possible to claim that all of Obama’s failures stem from mere incompetence, at some point this claim begins to ring hollow; how can he possibly be so utterly competent… at being incompetent? Perhaps he just used incompetence as a veil to cover his true intent, which was always to bolster Russia while rendering the US maximally irrelevant in world affairs. Let’s examine Obama’s major foreign policy initiatives from this angle.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Brain Parasite Gonna Eatcha!

I’ve been experiencing some difficulties with commenting on the current political situation in the US, because it’s been a little too funny, whereas this is a very serious blog. But I have decided that I must try my best. Now, these are serious matters, so as you read this, please refrain from any and all levity and mirth.

You may have heard by now that the Russians stole the US presidential election; if it wasn’t for them, Hillary Clinton would have been president-elect, but because of their meddling we are now stuck with Donald Trump and his 1001 oligarchs running the federal government for the next four years.

There are two ways to approach this question. One is to take the accusation of Russian hacking of the US elections at face value, and we will certainly do that. But first let’s try another way, because it’s quicker. Let’s consider the accusation itself as a symptom of some unrelated disorder. This is often the best way forward. Suppose a person walks into a doctor’s office, and says, “Doctor, I believe I have schizophrenium poisoning.” Should the doctor summon the hazmat team, or check for schizophrenia first?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Room for a Pony

When I first setting out to buy my current boat (forced to do so because my family got larger and no longer fit aboard) I discussed the various offerings available in the commercially-built sailboat world with my friend Capt. Ray Jason. He asked me what I was looking for in a sailboat, and among other things I listed “a sauna, and room for a pony.” (I didn’t mention that I also want to be able to ride a bicycle around the deck, or hang a hammock on deck while the boat was under way, but I do.) And then the pony became a running joke between us. When I complained that, for instance, it was hard to plot a reasonable, traffic-free coastwise course that would allow me to sleep because there were always radar contacts bleeping away at me, Ray would helpfully suggest that I ask the pony to keep watch while I sleep. And so on.

But now I am happy to report that we have finally succeeded in designing a sailboat with “a sauna, and room for a pony”—and much else besides. Nor is it a huge boat: it’s half a foot shorter than my current one. Nor did I have to sacrifice much to achieve this effect: various tests, in software simulation and using a physical scale model, have shown that it will be just as fast and just as stable as my current boat. It will also be reasonably cheap to build and to maintain.

To achieve these results I followed a certain recipe.

Read more...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Hello, Russia!

Over the past week, Google's Blogger has been reporting an excessive number of visits to this blog coming from Russia. This data is not corroborated by other web traffic monitoring sources, including Revolver Maps or Google's own Google Analytics. Looking at the structure of the “Russian” traffic, it looks very much like random noise. What could this possibly be? “Evidence of Russian hacking,” anyone? Well, here it is, finally! Let's not forget, Google founder Sergei Brin is a Russian... And here we were thinking that “Russian hacking” is as real as “Iraqi WMDs”! Shame on us!

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