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.


How To Know When The US Deficit Is Actually A Problem


And Iran Retaliates For the Embassy Attack


  1. Willy

    I saw an interesting take about the demise of Mayan cities in the 9th century. The suggestion was the collapse wasn’t because the Yucatan had been overtaxed by overpopulations overconsuming. It wasn’t a famine or series of hurricanes. It wasn’t even Mel Gibson’s take, that the crops were failing because the Spanish priests hadn’t arrived yet.

    Instead, it was the same old story different civilization days. A once viable and meritocritocratic leadership gradually lost so much control over their own greed, that the resulting rigged system of living on the backs of the citizenry became untenable for the average Joetzel. Nobody wanted to “go to the city” anymore, when all the cities were offering was a dystopian dysfunctional lifestyle of living as serfs or slaves to so-called elites.

    And so they all just left the cities to give simple country living a whirl.

  2. bruce wilder

    Is there ever recovery from a group mistake? Is there any way to dig out from the political hole created by pervasive corruption?

    As the “collective west” lumbers toward WW3, the inability of governments or leaders recognize or correct any error at any level would puzzle me except for the ready explanation of pervasive corruption driving reckless irresponsibility and incompetence. No information or argument has to be engaged on substance, because no one in charge really cares about the substance. And we among the hoi polloi are helpless to influence even which lesser evil is to be judged lesser.

  3. Ian Welsh


    well that does suggest they didn’t have very strong coercion outside the cities, which is interesting. After all, people COULD leave.

  4. different clue

    Part of an ability to flee from the city is having a non-city countryside eco-productive enough to be able to flee into and survive there. One would make oneself part of that eco-productivity system by having or getting enough countryside survival knowledge to be able to survive there while keeping it survival-viable enough for oneself and others to survive there.

    Albert Bates has written some things about that. He was one of the original hippies who fled from San Francisco with Stephen Gaskin and wound up co-founding and operationalizing The Farm near Summertown, Tennessee. Here is an article he wrote about the Maya Food Forest concept. Mayas couuld realistically flee the city if they had a food forest to flee into.

    How is this relevant for internal American refugees in flight from the city? Perhaps an Americacentric version of the ” food forest” might be the “food savannah”. Commercial scale permaculture farmer Mark Shepard has suggested that much of America before the age of European Colonial Settler States was an evershifting mosaic of savannah grasslands and savannah woodlands and shrublands with many foodbearing species of plant. He has modeled his farm on a Western Civ version of this foodbearing savannahform concept.

    How was savannah maintained over so much of mid-contintent America before the age of Indian managed-cultural burning? I have seen very supportable theories that the ever-shifting savannah in mid-continent America was maintained the same way that the ever-shifting savannah is still maintained in Africa . . . by herds of elephants and other huge animals numbering in the collective millions pushing and tearing down trees big enough to be worth the effort for eating the leaves off the torn-down trees. After the herds had trashed out a treescape, they moved on the the next treescape, and the next, and the next. The first trashed-out treescape had time to grown a whole new crop of trees worth trashing-out to eat the leaves by the time the elephants got back to it.
    Here is a you tube video of an African elephant knocking down a tree it has decided is worth the effort to knock down.
    Now imagine 20-30 million of these animals roaming over America knocking down trees as they went. And remember that some of yesterday’s mammoths were bigger than today’s elephants.

    ( I have read lately that some clever scientists think they can tweak the genes of today’s Indian elephant to get it covered with woolly heat-retaining hair. It wouldn’t be a mammoth. It would be a woolly elephant. But it might be an interesting animal useful for re-savannahforming large areas of non-tropical tree/shrub covered land.)

    How might some of this knowledge and approaches be relevant to survival in tomorrow’s America after the last long decline?

  5. different clue

    And here’s an even better elephant knocks down a tree video.

  6. bruce wilder

    Mayan civilization in the Yucatán was (and is in a sense) a peculiar variation on “hydraulic” civilization. The local topography and climate necessitate a complex system for storing and distributing fresh water. “Simple country living” in that same vicinity without that complex system is not on offer, at least not for as large a population as the Yucatán could support when climate and political conditions permitted such a system to function well.

    No prejudice to the investigations of historians and archaeologists intended.

  7. Z

    Seems pretty CIA-ish (doing this video is probably part of his contract) …


  8. Z

    Well, our rulers were hellbent on testing the fortitude, resolve, and unity of BRICS and here we are …

    I’d imagine that China and/or North Korea are going to have to enter the fray eventually, but maybe, for now, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, Yemen, and Iraq will be enough to make Israel and their rabid attack Rottweiler, the U.S., back off.


  9. mago

    Lots of theories about the Mayan decline.
    Back in the 70’s as a twenty year old I took a deep dive into the subject, reading all the studies then extant.

    Then I traveled Guatemala high and low, hiking to remote villages and traveling by bus. I stayed with families and ate their food and imbibed what I could of the culture. Met village elders. Started speaking Spanish with a cachiquel accent.

    Not that it matters. I believe it was drought that brought them down just as it did with the Anazasi further north, but lacking credentials and factual details I’ll concede ignorance.

    I like the idea of the peasantry saying screw you to their overlords and heading into the veldt to cultivate their corn and beans and live happily ever after, but I’m skeptical. It’s usually the water.

    Just as an afterthought, there was so much wrong with The Farm from its inception that I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll leave it here.

  10. mago

    From Tikal down to Xela, I must have played them all.
    But I’ve never seen anyone him like him in any genocidal hall
    That multi plumaged quetzal sure plays a mean pinball.

  11. Willy

    Since the wet season in the Yucatan coincides with the primary growing season, abandoning cities could have been seen as a hardship preferrable to the urban slumlife. Or maybe, the average Joetzel saw fresh new starts at the bottom within neighboring Mexica cultures as preferable. BTW, Cahokia underwent a similar rise and fall. What’s up with that?

    I say we need more and better KomKom vases.

  12. Mel

    One of the themes of David Graeber and David Wengrow’s book _The Dawn of Everything_ is the “incompressible” nature of the people in America (pre-European.) Their reading of the archaeology of Cahokia is that it flourishedas a heavily-populated organized state for a couple of hundred years, then the people got sick of it, left, and never came back.

    There’s an anecdote in Samuel Hearn’s account of his trip to the Coppermine River. One day they met up with a woman who had been seized in a bride raid and taken away to be the wife of one of the raiders. After a while she had decided she didn’t like it and left to go home. They met her beside a lake where she was making a canoe to cross the lake and go on her way.

  13. @ Willy

    A civilization typically collapses for a variety of interconnected reasons. I read some research detailing about how the Mayan’s began using mercury based pain on all their dwellings and buildings. The conclusions were that a part of the reason the Mayan’s collapsed was that all their people were being intellectually and physically impaired by heavy metals.
    The Romans used lead in their water system and poisoned themselves as well.
    In a testament to how everything changes but nothing does, current society injects every child 70+ times with Aluminum and/or mercury. That’s on top of dumping all kinds of chemicals, hormones and pesticides in and on our water, food and air.

  14. Willy


    I think people like us become ignored by the PTB. It may not start out that way, within whatever societal age, but things seem to usually degrade into ending up that way. In the ascent of whatever PTB, their technocrats, logicians, innovators, wizards, honest debaters, or just guys who actually read the instructions… are valued as resources for that PTB whose only real focus is their own acquisition of wealth and power. The PTB know they’re piggybacking atop (what would be in a better world) superior competency for whom the acquisition of wealth and power is secondary.

    After some generations, or maybe even after a while inside of a generation, the PTB lose that acknowledgment and come to prefer blindly-loyal sycophancy for tactical reasons and become oblivious that the competency of the society they’ve been ‘directing’ is eroding. Psychological defenses are a bitch. The PTB ignore their ‘rational superiors’ and come to ingest mercury and lead while their subjects wonder if Mel Gibson’s priests wouldn’t be a nice change of pace away from all the dysfunctional nonsense, which they did allow to happen but didn’t know how to prevent.

    I’ve had people here tell me that Rome fell because of some unforeseen outside challenges which they couldn’t handle. Well yeah, there was that. But what about all the other unforeseen outside challenges which they did handle, and quite well, in previous ages?

  15. Curt Kastens

    This is a true story. Back when I was a kid I used to shoot Pigeons in my Grandfather’s barn with a BB gun. The Pigeons would sit on the rafters of the barn making stationary targets for me to shoot at.
    The behavior of the Pigeons was really quite bizzare. I would take aim and fire. Sometimes I would miss some times I would hit a bird in the butt or the wing. The thing that was funny if I hit the bird in the butt or the wing. That bird would not fly away. It would shake itself a bit but continue to sit there on its perch high above the barn floor. But eventually when I hit one it would simply fall to the barn floor, dead.
    When I examined these birds I would find that they usually had been hit with BBs three or four times before they fell off of their perch.
    At the time I figured that these birds needed 3 or 4 superficial hits with a bb gun to die.
    But yesterday I learned something that gave me an ephany. The BB hits that the birds suffered in the wing or butt or breast were not relevant at all to their deaths. What was relevent was the head shots. But the head shots were not directly responsible for their deaths either. What I realize now is that the head shots just knocked the birds out. The birds lost consciousness. They then fell to the barn floor and broke their necks when they landed. Well it was a long time ago. Maybe they were injured and I finished them off with a blow to the head.
    If you are wondering, no I did not clean them, to eat them My grandfather or uncle cleaned them.
    The really interesting thing about these pigeons is that they were really smart compared to the creatures that sit on high perches in our societies now.

    Just imagine if a group of pilots were flying their aircraft towards a target to release thier payloads and their planes were hit by a directed magnetic pulse sent out by a 40 foot seized trailer that could direct this magnetic pulse over an effective 80 kilometer range with a 10,000 foot effective altitude area. and the electric pulse would have a 200 or 250 miie range.
    My imagination tells me that not only would the electronics on the planes hit by this electromaagnetic pulse have their electronics fried the pilots would lose consciousness for somewhere between 5 and 30 seconds. This causes me to wonder if any of the planes would hit the ground before the pilot woke up.
    Surprise surprise.
    Infotainment is from Art ( )

  16. Curt Kastens

    This link is wild! Is what is reported by this link real? If so it is a Paranoid Person’s wet dream. If it were true, and it could be true, I would seriously have to not rule out the idea that the leadership of the US and China and the UK, if not the EU are seriously cooperating and conspiring to wiping out most of humanity. Otherwise how could the USDA trust anything let alone important research done by the Chinese and trust that the Chinese are not withholding important information from them?

  17. Curt Kastens

    What is the story behind the story about the USDA funding research at a Chinese Faciiltiy?? And how did the story come to light? Did a Congressional Critter bring it to light?
    I have a thought about why this story, true or not, might have been diliberately leaked.
    Truth is stranger than even the most manufactured friction.

    The end is in site. I doubt if anyone will see anyone else when we get therre. But who knows for sure.

  18. Curt Kastens

    I am seeing this article that 50 “traumatized” Israelis have committed suicide since the “Nova Festivile”. Yes these 50 people have no doubt been ashamed to the point of being traumatized by the way that Israeli society has behaved over the past 35 years, or 80 or 125 years.

  19. Curt Kastens

    Just recently this pro Palestinian Conference being held in Germany was shut down by the police. A speaker at the confernece a major pro Palestinian Greek Politiician was banned from Germany. And told that charges would be made against him if he tried to have his banned speech broadcast on the internet in Germany.
    i can not with a straight face complain about these actions taken by the German Government. Becuase if I had the power to, I would throw anyone who uttered a pro NATO or pro Israeli sentiment in to a deep freezing place, without 8 pints of blood to help keep them warm or proctect them from worms.

    I woulld call that the Godzilla Curtse

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