Tuesday, October 18, 2016

For Purely Technical Reasons

Cedric Sacilotto
It is tempting for us to think that our technological choices—whether we choose to live in a city, a suburb or out in the country; whether we want to drive a pick-up truck, a gasoline-electric hybrid or ride a bicycle; whether we take a train, drive long distances or fly—are determined by our tastes. We may flatter ourselves that we are in control, and that our choices are reflective of our enlightened, environmentally conscious values. This view rests on a foundation of circular reasoning: we behave in enlightened ways because we are enlightened, and we are enlightened because, to wit, we behave in enlightened ways. As to why what we consider enlightened is in fact enlightened rather than a question of possibly questionable personal taste—that is not to be discussed: de gustibus non est disputandum.

But there is an alternative viewpoint, which seems more realistic in many ways, because it rests on a foundation of physical, technical specifics rather than fickle and arbitrary consumer preference, whim or taste. From this viewpoint, our technology and associated lifestyle choices are dictated by the technical requirements of their underlying technologies, both physical (the operation of the energy industry, the transportation industry, etc.) and political (the operation of political machines that segregate society by net worth and income, relegating wage-earners to a global disenfranchised underclass).

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Safe Space for Survivors

In spite of nature’s best efforts to derail my plans, in the form of Hurricane Matthew, they are proceeding apace, including the plan to design QUIDNON—the houseboat that sails. The hurricane provided a teachable moment on surviving hurricanes aboard boats, confirming many of my intuitions about what makes QUIDNON a safe design for any situation, hurricanes included.

We were in a mandatory evacuation zone, and although we could have sheltered in place, I decided to avoid subjecting my family to such an ordeal. And so we jumped in a rental car, drove away from the coast and sat out the hurricane in a motel room. When we got back, picking our way between piles of debris that were littering the roads, we found that the boat had suffered zero damage, but that the entire marina came within a foot or so of being annihilated: another foot of storm surge, and only some concrete pilings would have been left, with the rest of the marina, boats included, washed up on shore, with the boats crushed underneath the floating docks. In fact, this is what happened to many of the other marinas in the area. Since the height of the pilings was set a long time ago, when ocean levels weren’t rising as quickly and catastrophic storms were less frequent, this is going to be happening more and more frequently. Everyone here considers the fact that the marina survived something of a miracle.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

“Oops!”—A World War!

Over the past week or so I’ve been receiving a steady stream of emails demanding to know whether an all-out nuclear war is about to erupt between the US and Russia. I’ve been watching the situation develop more or less carefully, and have been offering my opinion, briefly, one on one, to a few people’s great relief, and now I will attempt to spread the cheer far and wide. In short, on the one hand, all-out nuclear annihilation remains quite unlikely, barring an accident. But, on the other hand, such an accident is by no means impossible, because when it comes to US foreign policy “Oops!” seems to be the operative term.

One reason to be cheerful is that any plan to attack Russia is bound to become mired in bureaucracy. Battle plans are developed by mid-rank people within the US military establishment, approved and forwarded up the chain of command by higher-rank people and finally signed off on by the Pentagon’s top brass and their civilian political accomplices. The top brass and the politicians may be delusional, megalomaniacal and inadvertently suicidal, but the mid-rank people who develop the battle plans are rarely suicidal. If a particular plan has no conceivable chance of victory but is quite likely to lead to them and their families and friends becoming vaporized in a nuclear blast, they are unlikely to recommend it.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Women on the Verge of Societal Breakdown

I am very happy to announce the latest release from my diminutive but thriving publishing house, Club Orlov Press: the publication in English of Piero San Giorgio's international bestseller that addresses the problem of preparing to survive the spreading disorder and unrest specifically from the viewpoint of women. This remarkable book fills a major gap in the available literature on this subject, most of which is written by men and infused with a male-centric perspective. This gap is a major disservice to women and causes a major problem for men when they attempt to explain the nature of unfolding developments to their partner and to get her involved in preparing for them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Shrinking the Technosphere—Video Trailer

My next book has cleared galley proof stage and is scheduled for release in November. Please add your email to the list in the right-hand column to be notified as soon as it comes out. Meanwhile, here is the video trailer.

Video credit: Rick Siegenthaler

Interview on Extinction Radio

Covers many topics including my rather skeptical take on near-term human extinction. Listen to it here. (My segment is just the first 30 minutes).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

KunstlerCast Transcript

Transcript of James H. Kunstler’s Podcast 280: Kunstler talks with Dmitry Orlov about Rob O’Grady’s book 150 Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future

Kunstler: Hello and welcome to the KunstlerCast. Thanks for listening in. If you'd like to support this podcast, you can become a patron of the show by making a small monthly contribution through my Patreon page. To do that, you can either search for me on Patreon.com or use the link in the upper right hand corner of my website, kunstler.com. My guest today is Dmitry Orlov, an old friend of the podcast. He's been here many times. He's the author of Reinventing Collapse and many other books. He's also become a publisher lately. One of the books that he's published we shall be talking about today, 150-Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future by Rob O'Grady. I'm a long-time fan of Dmitry Orlov. He brings a clear eyed worldview and mordant sense of humor to the rather confusing and confounding events of our time. Listen up now. There will be a quiz as we discuss 150-Strong by Rob O'Grady. Tell the listeners, if you would, why I'm interviewing you about it and not Rob O'Grady.

Orlov: Well, Rob has sort of indicated that he's perfectly comfortable with having me do interviews on his behalf and I'm happy to do it. I'm not only his publisher, I'm also his publicist. That's suits both of us fine.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016


This blog is on hiatus until October, when it will blow your mind once and for all. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

KunstlerCast 280: 150 Strong with Dmitry Orlov

Jim Kunstler and I talk about Rob O'Grady's book, then spend some time trying to put it all into perspective.

Link to podcast

And here is a write-up that Rob O'Grady just sent in, responding to some questions Jim asked, which I didn't answer as fully as I should have during the podcast.

Self-organizing Systems – Reflections on 150 Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future

Nature is one great network of self-organizing systems. Always there is a tendency towards equilibrium. The antelopes that are slow and dull-witted are culled by the lions while the quick and sharp-witted ones survive to propagate the species. Bare rock erupted from volcanoes can become densely forested in less than a thousand years.

We might fret about climate change, but in a few million years the oceans and the organisms they contain will absorb the excess carbon we are venting into the atmosphere and plate tectonics will once again sequester it in the Earth’s crust.

There is beauty in these systems. They are efficient, and in this respect Nature, with its dynamic, constant rebalancing, serves as a model.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Thousand Balls of Flame

Russia is ready to respond to any provocation, but the last thing the Russians want is another war. And that, if you like good news, is the best news you are going to hear.

A whiff of World War III hangs in the air. In the US, Cold War 2.0 is on, and the anti-Russian rhetoric emanating from the Clinton campaign, echoed by the mass media, hearkens back to McCarthyism and the red scare. In response, many people are starting to think that Armageddon might be nigh—an all-out nuclear exchange, followed by nuclear winter and human extinction. It seems that many people in the US like to think that way. Goodness gracious!