The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Open Thread

Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


Britain’s Bare Produce Shelves


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 12, 2023


  1. Mark Level

    This is Yuuuuuuge, as a certain tubby ex-Pres would say. Multipolarity is coming to the world. Someone could write a song like Leonard Cohen’s “Democracy is coming to the USA”– which may never happen! But it looks like the Saudis and Iran are reconciling, establishing diplomatic relations, etc., hopefully ending centuries of Shi’a– Sunni internecine warring. Unless someone throws a gigantic wrench into this at the last minute, this is as big as the collapse of the USSR c. 1990-91– major losers will be Israel, USA, etc. Major winners include China, Turkey, the poor Houthis, quite likely the Palestinians who are currently being murdered in pogroms, etc.– This is big!! I literally feel like I woke up in a New timeline/ world, & it is the first time I’ve felt actual hope in quite awhile!

  2. marku52

    JM Greer comments:
    “Want to know what collapse looks like? Look around…..”

  3. Willy

    I once managed small teams in an engineering environment. My nemesis, my dread, was the nepotistic hire. Impossible to motivate, to light a fire under, to get any kind of timely quality work from… I determined that the nepotistic hire isn’t merely some percentage less profitable than the typical employee who constantly worries about getting fired for some incompetency, but is a major revenue suck from the company.
    Because of protection from daddy. They’re like the old Ma Bell joke: we don’t care because we don’t have to.

    I’m seeing strong evidence that nepotism/cronyism runs rampant in the conservative evangelical world. I’m pretty tolerant, for a typical stressed-out blue-collar worker.
    But whenever I encounter gross incompetency I always do my homework to try and understand why. And the above is a very common theme.

    I always wondered why these people believed in idiocy. I’m coming to realize that it’s probably because they don’t. They virtue signal the proper terms and conditions, solely for the sake of easy money. And almost all of them are MAGAs. Is anybody else experiencing this?

  4. Mary Bennett

    Willy, I think that a part of what is fueling MAGA rage is precisely that the easy money is drying up. People are going to be expected to be productive and the MAGA crowd are used to skating on the work of others.

  5. NR

    Texas Republicans are pushing plans to curb renewable energy and subsidize natural gas:

    Another bill, Senate Bill 607, would force wind and solar power generators to pay a sort of credit to guarantee they can deliver power, something that would increase the cost of renewable energy in Texas.

    Still another bill, Senate Bill 2015, would require at least 50% of new power generators built to be “dispatchable” generators.

    State lawmakers often use the term “dispatchable” to refer to fossil fuel and nuclear generators, which can be turned off and on, and are not dependent on the wind or sun to generate power.

    Senate Bill 2015 would also direct state regulators to encourage the marketing of gas-generated electricity as “green” energy.

    Federal policy “certainly incents more and more solar, more and more wind,” said Rep. Schwertner, pointing out that every year more renewable energy is flowing over the Texas grid.

    “Over time, we’ll turn the dial back.”

  6. different clue


    I live in a Liberal College Town bubble, so I don’t see any of this particular form of nepotism-vectored reveneu-time suck.

    I have a question. In your experience of the MAGAvangelical nepotoids, do you find any of them to have viable hard-times survival knowledge . . . . the kind of surviving bad-times knowledge that Ian Welsh offered us a thread for sharing what we know on?

  7. Chuck Mire

    A Prediction by Chris Hedges: Ukraine’s Death by Proxy:

  8. mago

    Day light saving time anyone?
    Saving what and whom from what?

    When informed about the concept a North American indigenous man(commonly referred to as an Indian) observed that’s like cutting one end off a blanket and sewing it onto the other.

    Whatcha gonna do with these cara blanca locos?

    Suffer defeat or at least scrambled biorhythms. . .

  9. VietnamVet

    Yesterday two huge tremors splint the very foundations of the western empire apart.

    As a direct result of the first energy crises, The Carter Doctrine proclaimed by Jimmy Carter in his State of the Union Address on January 23, 1980, stated that the United States would use military force, if necessary, to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf. This led to the Gulf Wars and the current US occupations of Iraq and Syria. With China’s peace deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the US position in the Gulf is untenable. Middle East Oil and LNG will go to those who have a sound currency and can afford to purchase the energy, the United Kingdom can’t. “Ding Dong the hegemon is dead.”

    The Silicon Valley Bank failed. Depositors after much hassle and gashing of teeth will get $250,000 federal deposit insurance. Unless there is a buyer to take the loses, a too big to fail bank just collapsed. People and businesses with larger deposits will bite the dust. Good luck to them in bankruptcy court. This is what triggered the Great Depression.

    The USSR fell for no other reason than their propaganda no longer reflected reality and state managers saw the opportunity to become wealthy oligarchs. The USA is in a worse condition today, thanks to the Reagan/Thatcher neoliberal counter revolt and the endless wars. US public institutions have been privatized and no longer function. 1.1 million Americans died with COVID. 23 million have long COVID.

    Without energy, resources, good government, and a healthy labor force, there is nothing left to recover.

  10. mago

    And another thing.

    As a life long foodie and chef since my seminal twenties when I had the great good fortune to gravitate towards the nascent natural food movement and meet my sensei the inimitable Hiroshi Hayashi who cleaned Augean stables and turned Michio Kushi’s Boston restaurant the 7th Inn in Park Square and Sanae on Newbury street into viable food operations, I have studied and practiced sustainable food cultivation from growing, harvesting, preserving and cooking.

    And that’s one of my better run on sentences.

    Drive less, simplify, grow and vote local.
    Be kind with an open heart.

    That’s all I’ve got. . .

  11. anon y'mouse

    being kind quickly gets you eaten by those who are not kind.

    even worse when they develop multiple means to -pretend- that they are truly kind and benevolent.

    the kind will become slaves to the unkind. then the kind, constantly living under the rules and structures and incentives of the unkind, become unkind themselves and yet still convinced that they are kind because of how loudly and visibly they proclaim it, and the small little moral battles they’ve managed to win with themselves about all of the unkind stuff they do for a living day in and day out (aka rationalization: “if i don’t, someone else will” or “at the end of the day, i still have to feed my family”).

    sounds like our society in a nutshell.

  12. anon y'mouse

    while people keep touting “multi polarity” as some kind of revolution, guess what will be adopted in all of those multi junctions? rampant industrial capitalism!

    so, while i am in utter accord with the idea of sovereignty and the end of the dominance of US money/MIC and their undercutting everyone else around the world with destabilization and coups, perhaps the larger question should be asked: is this also a Devil’s Bargain?

    what if the natural world was only being non-preserved to the extent that it currently is because the only ones truly living a mass industrial, technofied “culture” were the “golden billion”?

    the earth can barely survive that many living at that level. what’s going to happen when the rest of the world strives (as they seem all too likely to do, with China and Russia’s help) to industrialize and technof(r)y their populations?

    i am not saying it was a Noble White Man’s burden, this exploitative system, but thinking that it will all be “over” just because a new trade currency is being developed is pure fancy. it will just allow the elites in each country to figure out how best to do what our elites do to us. and even though the perception of “alternate models arising” is there, Marxist materialist analysis knows better and the key to forcing the world to do as you want is by making them adopt your economic system.

    i don’t see too much difference between the globalist aspirations of our own overlords and those of China’s, except for in whose name they are supposedly carrying it out. of course the mass population has to have some benefit, or there’d be no buy-in (see US in the 1950s).

    long ago, while looking at a map of Germany i wondered how they could ever maintain industrialization long term, when they have very little in the way of energy sources nearby. seems like an artifact of being on a giant waterway, and possibly medieval waterwheels running their society at one time. maybe we shouldn’t keep making factories where there’s nothing to run them on?

    i think all of this hooplah is cover for the idea that has been long prevalent about the “worldwide agreements” on climate. the other countries say “we should have the right to exploit the environment just as much as you have since you industrialized” while the “Garden” simultaneously wants to keep oppressing them, yet also serves as an illustration of what a mistake that path was.

    a lot of PR is active about it all, so you know it’s not going to be as advertised. especially when they want to adopt gold as their “external” currency because of some outdated idea that “gold is intrinsically valuable” when that’s just been a long held perception. gold is only as valuable as what you can make out of it, like all commodities. the very fact that the world can go on doing everything it does while gold is piled in a dark vault unused shows that its inherent value is not considerable. all “money things” are fiat, even if we choose to represent them with some physical token. but people can’t grok that the gold thing means only what you can get for it, and in a pinch why would i give up any of my bread for your useless gold?

  13. Willy

    Mary Bennett,
    I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head. At some deeper unconscious level and in spite of all the self-rationalizations (such as Jesus blesses me but punishes thee), these people know what’s up.

    Besides playing with guns, no. I have known a few who spoke of being raptured. And so maybe the guns are to keep the wokes from preventing them and theirs from being raptured.

    My own latest episode in survival angst involves a “middleman company” which simply won’t do the job they’ve signed up to do. I need a specific product for a customer which adds-on-matches the customer’s existing. But I must go through this “middleman company” to even get a price. For two weeks all m.c. has had to do is press the “forward” button on their email machine to send my design to the product maker. But for whatever reason, they’re refusing to do so. And no, they don’t know me. I have to deal with yet another “middleman company” which has outsourced their own middleman activities to these clowns. And so I, my client, and the product maker’s “Sorry, I’m just an employee” representative who’s been assigned to me, all sit and wait deeply frustrated for our middleman to do something.

    So I looked up m.c. to try and get a clue as to WTF?!, before I take the next steps. This “middleman company” has a website. On their bio a father and son brag about their high school wrestling activities, military experiences, and Christian colleges. There are many Zig Ziglar quotes. As if a customer such as my client will be interested in high school wrestling activities, military experiences, Christian colleges, and Zig Ziglar quotes, when all they want is a deck stairway railing system so their kids can safely go down to their backyard.

    I’m dealing with the son. My current assumptions:

    1. This company just plain sucks at what they do yet remains in business because of “relationships” with people who value high school wrestling activities, military experiences, Christian colleges, and Zig Ziglar quotes.

    2. People who advertise/dogwhistle themselves as conservative evangelical will ignore customers who do not. And so now the rest of us must be cautious.

  14. Mark Level

    Hi, anon’ymouse– so I do not disagree with your major points at all, I completely agree as the first to post on this thread regarding Multipolarity!! Yes, these people in Russia, China, etc. are the same kind of predators who rule our society. Be that as it may, it is up to their own populaces to get their overlords’ foot off of their necks, just as it is MY job to get my Overlords’ boot off mine! The US rampages around committing open wars of aggression (Iraq WMD “mistake” anyone?), genocide, resource extraction (we’re stealing resources from about 1/3 of Syria right now, oh and making sure they get NO international support or aid (well, as much as we can block) after the devastating earthquake with 1,000s dead recently, etc!) 2 decades after killing over a million Iraqis (mostly civilians, clearly) & displacing 2.5 million more, spending about $7.5 Trillion (current tab) in 2 failed Mideast wars, li’l Bushy runs around advertising his “Master Class” in genocide, war and despoiling the less connected with proclamations about “Mah faith inspired me”, he will die comfortable in a bed and be lauded by all the oligarchs while his millions of victims die or suffer without hope or any access to justice or even revenge. So, I think having some people run their OWN societies is the best solution, everyone in the world (apart from some brainwashed idiots in Europe, Canada, Australia and the “developed world”, oh also some local PMC yuppie scum wanna-bes in the majority of the world (Global South) knows the U$ hegemon is entirely evil and simply imposes Neolib Austerity, privatizes everything and sows economic precarity for majorities of the people wherever it installs “free (sic) market democracy (sic, sick). I’m glad the US power is in obvious decline as is the majority of the rest of the world who are basically sentient. Rome destroyed itself, so did the Spanish New World Empire, the goofy Brits, etc!! Our time is here to exit (stage Left would be nice, but left is considered evil wherever Mammon is worshiped as here), it may be delusional to think that others will do better, but to my mind it is a safe bet that nobody is going to do WORSE than “US” & be more shallow, fat, stupid, venal, hypocritical & thoroughly corrupt for quite some time!!

  15. Art

    First, there isn’t going to be any massive collapse. The fall of Rome, according to more modern analyses, was more a non-event. Over a few decades the systems just stopped working and people adapted.

    People pushing the idea that this-that-or-the-other event will happen and then, suddenly, it’s ‘a world of shit’ fail to understand history, and human nature. Sure thousands die but millions live on and adapt. History follows a path similar to the simplistic explanation of orbital mechanics: ‘You fall toward the earth and death. But you miss’.

    We move through time running headlong toward certain annihilation, but miss. Most of us make it and, when viewed from sufficient distance, things are getting better. The numbers of people, in total numbers but particularly in proportion to population, continues to go down. Average income and life expectancy way up as a long-term trend.

    There is also this:

    Humans, as kept animals, don’t thrive in your typical authoritarian regime. The tighter it is the less well they do. This may be the X-factor and saving grace of liberal, democratic regimes. People are less stressed, and happier.

    Maybe there is something to all that ‘Of, for, and by the people’ stuff.

    Unfortunately, true to form, the powers that be are going to try every other form and structure before ‘doing the right thing’ and taking advantage of the obvious.

  16. mago

    Agreed on some levels anon ‘y mouse.
    Nice guys finish last and cheaters never lose.
    I think Big Daddy Roth of rat fink fame back in the SoCal customized car days said that.

    Pero, I wanted to clarify and apologize for my comment (s).

    My culinary bio blurb was meant to establish creds for a planned riff on sustainable food alternatives to the dominant corporate model, but I got distracted, and upon returning to the topic I lost the thread and fell back on wishes for paz y amor.
    What’s the alternative?
    Margaret Thatcher’s body is gone but her spirit lives on. She of “There Is No Alternative” fame.
    How is it that toxic hate hags ascend to positions of power?
    Another rhetorical question, another random observation about the mundane world.

    Hey! I hear it’s Oscar time.

    To quote one of the Marleys: don’t give up the fight.

  17. different clue

    For those who are too young to have known Rat Fink, here are a bunch of images of Rat Fink.;_ylt=AwrFSZVpdg9kY3cQ8ENXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZANMT0NVSTA4OV8xBHNlYwNzYw–?p=rat+fink+image&fr=sfp

    I remember reading somewhere that Ed Roth’s revulsion for Mickey Mouse ( Mickey Mouse Club) is what lead Ed Roth to create Rat Fink as a counterpoint and as an antidote.

  18. Willy

    I vaguely remember Ed Roth from Hot Wheels days. And that Revell model of his far out car design.

    Speaking of the fall of Rome, the eastern half lived on for another millennia. While the west limped along until Rome’s aqueducts were cut, the final nails in that coffin are seen by many as being caused by wars which the Eastern Empire itself started, after which, much of Rome’s riches got carted back to Constantinople and the economy had been laid waste. Many historians say the primary reason for the Empire division wasn’t economic practicality but that the newly Christianized Constantinople wanted to build his own religious city far from all the paganism of Rome.

    One man with too much power on his hands.

    Ed Roth seemed to have gone a similar personal route as Constantinople, that of an ambitious asshole who built a personal empire then got religion after the assholes he’d surrounded himself with turned on him.

    Which begs the question: Is there any way to speed up this process for our current crop of powerful assholes? (Yeah I know a lot of them pretend Christian values, but we need them to go full religious)

  19. mago

    Yeah, looks like Big Daddy was a baddie.
    Stewart Brand turned into an asshole as well.
    Whatcha gonna do?

  20. anon y'mouse

    recently got this in the grapevine:

    we shall see. we can greenwash better than anybody except perhaps China (to come). there’s no such thing as a Green City, regardless what Portland OR used to tout about itself. but there are more feasible ways to make a city.

  21. Curt Kastens

    It has been reported for many years now that Saudi Arabia has badly damaged its own oil fields because of the fracking that was employed to increase production in the past.
    Whether or not these reports are true I of course can not say.
    Anyways can a Saudi be trusted anymore than the Israeli who stands behind him. Or the American who stands behind the Israeli?
    I was born and raised in America. I have a life time of experience to teach me how treacherous Americans are capable of being.

  22. different clue


    Well . . . at least Ed Roth gave us Rat Fink.

    and Stewart Brand gave us the Whole Earth Catalogs and the CoEvolution Quarterly Magazines.

  23. mago

    @different clue, quite so.
    I have a box in a storage locker filled with co-ev quarterlies along with at least 2 Whole Earth catalogs.
    Still a firm believer.
    Stewart went off the rails in the 90’s or early oughts. Don’t know what happened.
    Prophets and icons with feet of clay up to their A holes.
    Sad, but there it is.
    I got disabused a long time ago.
    The Secret Life of Plants a fabrication.
    Richard Alpert or Ram Dass if you will with BeHereNow.
    Watching spiritual teachers of all stripes seducing students and vice verse.
    I became inured in my early 20’s and am glad for that.
    People being people
    I just go on my way
    The future’s uncertain . . .

  24. different clue

    I just saw the most interesting homemade device for keeping birds away from newly planted seeds and since this is an open thread, why not post it here? The short video is so clear that anyone could make one after a few-couple tries.

    The video is titled . . .This gadget keeps birds away from newly planted seeds.

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