It All Ends In Chickens

Some years ago, at breakfast, my younger kid looked up, stared at me with bleery eyes and said, “I’ve seen the apocalypse.  It all ends in chickens.”

To understand he’s not completely insane you have to see that he was probably still asleep and dreaming.  He’s one of those people who can be dragged out of bed at the normal time the same as everyone else, but he’s not awake.  He looks awake, insofar as his eyes are open, but he’s still dreaming and somewhere else.  When I asked him what he meant, he just looked at me blankly and said “WHAT?” as though I were crazy.  (And yes, Kate gleefully stole the prophecy for the con books.  We writers are despicable beings.  We not only steal from each other’s books, we steal from each other’s LIVES.)

This morning I woke up with the memory of his saying that, and the tone of voice, and the utter horror on his face.  And out of that deeper mind, the idea came “Yep, it all ends in chickens.”

The world usually does.

Let me explain.  This all comes from reading Dave Freer’s post on his visit to Zimbabwe.  Zimbabwe for us could be substituted in a sentence with the words “hell on Earth” and it would work just the same way.  We know of Mugabe’s violation of property rights; we know of the incredible inflation that made the Weimar republic look stable.  Those of us like me, from far-wandering families, have cousins who fled when Rhodesia first became Zimbabwe and cousins who fled much later, in the oughts, when it was said it was not safe to be white in Zimbabwe.

But Dave’s son married a girl from Zimbabwe who fits the parameters of “an English rose.”  And they attended the wedding there, with clearly a lot of her white relatives.

And Dave says things are getting better.  For a given definition of better.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, that this country is in for a very rough time, maybe the roughest time we’ve ever endured, simply because what can go on won’t, and because in a time when technological change is pushing is towards greater individual choice, responsibility and freedom (yes, I can expand on it) our exquisitely trained “managing” class (not just in government, companies, churches, charitable societies are all on the same boat) has been TRAINED to hate our foundational principles and to idolize Europe’s centralized system which was moribund back in the seventies, and which is now completely at odds with the direction of the technology.  (No?  France invested tons in this video communication system, which never fully got off the ground and which has been lapped by the haphazard frontier that is the internet.)

However, in the United States we tend to take everything as all or nothing, our rough times and our happy times and… everything in between.

One of the first things that struck me about America was how seriously we take our history, our habits, our–  By which I don’t mean we know it exquisitely well, because, particularly recently, we simply haven’t been taught – I mean that every American I know obsesses about whatever his source of interest it, whether it’s something like scrapbooking, or something like reenacting the civil war.

No, this is not common.  Not in Europe.  Perhaps it is the longest weight of history that lends all of it a sort of “shrug, it will pass.”  Or perhaps it is that we are (or were, at least) a people of law, and of all being equal before the law.  What was written in the constitution and the declaration mattered.  It made us who we were.

Other countries in the world pay less attention to their founding documents.  Their citizenship is a matter of people and history and blood.

I can’t fully tell you all the ways in which America is different – or how little the rest of the world “gets” us.  I just can’t.  I can’t even explain it to them.  My brother, for instance who likes reading history (though mostly historical fiction) was once telling me about this history book he found and how it was probably something I couldn’t get here, so he’d send it to me when he was done reading.  This is when I sighed and informed him that back then (pre-Amazon which changed my buying methods) I belonged to the history book club, and I’d read that book a year ago, and by the way there was also this, this and this.

See, in Portugal they have this idea of the US as “futuristic” which to them means that nothing that isn’t as new as tomorrow matters here.  The idea of oh, my plumber, who is a civil war reenactor and can tell you what a soldier ate for breakfast on any given day of any given year of the war (perhaps a very slight exaggeration, but very slight, trust me) and who spends his time, money and considerable skull sweat studying the civil war, doesn’t fit into their idea of America.

Because they don’t get us.  And we don’t get that the rest of the world isn’t like us.  Even I tend to forget that, anymore.

It is perhaps easier if I tell you that US is like someone with borderline Aspergers, compared to a normal person.  Lacking a long history and the organic understanding of how history works – having experienced a break with the past that comes from many of our citizens not speaking their parents’ language – and being, further more, a people created by words, we attach great importance to laws, regulations and words.

In the kindergarten of nations, we’re the kid with thick glasses and a book, the kid who grew up surrounded by adults and never really had a childhood.  Periodically we have to wade in and tell them they can’t play that way, because it’s against the rules and this is how it will end – and they resent us, of course, PARTICULARLY when we’re right.

(In that sense, btw, what we’re going through now is our attempt to act like the other kids, so they will like us.  It won’t work.  And it will end in tears.  And frankly, we’re starting to worry the other kids.  We’re too big and responsible to act like them.)

Anyway, part of what that affects is how people are looking towards the coming rough times.  Americans tend to follow from the principles and “where this leads” and so most of the people I know are expecting some sort of Mad Max future.  They’re looking up recipes for “Neighbor au squirrel.”

But as Dave hints – and as I’ve experienced – that’s not the way the world ends.  And this time, it really might not be the way the world ends because you have to throw the tech in.

Yes, some areas will go Mad Max.  I was telling a friend shortly after Sandy that he really must have a backup plan in case NYC goes all “Escape from NY” because I don’t have enough guns to go in and rescue him.  (Will NYC be one of the areas that goes Mad Max?  I don’t know.  Actually I think they’re first on the list of “most likely to glow with radioactive light” – but that’s another aspect.)

In law and on paper, yeah, we’re headed to a total collapse that would lead to that sort of thing…  But the US, never having experienced that sort of collapse doesn’t know, bone deep, that collapses are never that absolute.  Having watched collapses – Zimbabwe – at a distance, we see them as absolute.

But humans are humans.  Humans are no more law abiding when society falls apart than they are when it’s whole – in fact, they’re less.  Even in a country as law abiding as the US (we are.  Truly) we’re each of us already violating three laws before breakfast because the d*mn things have multiplied to the point to obey one you have to violate the other.

When laws and rulers (yes, I know they’re supposed to be administrators, but most of them, right now, from corporate managers to the president, are under the misguided impression they’re rulers and acting as such) are suicidal, the normal person still chooses NOT to commit suicide.  And contrary to the Marxist view of society which has influenced many of us whether we know it or not (having it shoved down your throat for seventy years does that) humans are not in general “everyone’s hand against everyone else” unless a kindly government prevents their killing each other.  Humans, in general, are social animals who cooperate for mutual benefit.

Take the internet.  Yes, you have hackers and scammers.  But they’re a minority and easily avoided.  Most of the internet is a good place to: learn; find like minded people; engage in mutually beneficial business.

So the government falling apart doesn’t mean society will fall apart – particularly not if we have the internet.  It just means a lot of the stupid laws and regulations get ignored, and people go about the business of surviving in the best possible way.

And it’s likely to end in chickens, because they’re the easiest and cheapest to keep of the domestic animals (well, the city chicken movement does it bizarrely, with special fodder and all, but you can keep them cheaply – trust me – on leftovers and cooked rice and such.)  In Portugal in the seventies every suburban backyard became a chicken farm.  We ate a lot of chicken.

But you know, when you eat chicken you don’t starve.  People traded and survived and some of them (inventive enough) even thrived.

It worries me but only a little, since my skills – the advanced ones – are of the word kind, which is harder to trade on the side.  OTOH, in the seventies we didn’t have the internet.  And my guess is people will find a way to buy stories, and I’ll find a way to sell them the stories… even if it all falls apart.  It’s not like out tech will magically go back to the 19th century.  It won’t.

If the currency is worth nothing, then we work with another currency and in ultimate instance with weight in gold.  If the government is not trustworthy, someone will issue bonds.  If the laws are stupid, we ignore them.  People do what they have to do to survive, and I expect pragmatic, sensible Americans will keep surviving.

Not saying that for some places and some people, it won’t be hell on Earth.  Not  saying some states won’t be in serious trouble and turmoil.

Just saying that in some sense, the tough times will burn away the dross, that life will go on, that the new tech will become even more important – and that there’s life at the other side of this and, given how much faster things move these days, even people my age might get to see it.

This is not cheery talk.  I said it before, and I’ll say it again: the central government has important functions, which it’s neglecting to go sticking its nose in things that don’t belong in its sphere.  One of them is “To provide for common defense.”

It’s likely we’ll lose a city, maybe more to enemy action.  It’s likely we’ll see foreign troops land and our own troops too unorganized to mount a proper defense (which is why a well armed populace is important.  Assault rifles h*ll.  I think we should have shoulder-mounted rocket launchers.)  The rest of the world can’t survive without us, and in many places “let’s attack them” is the logical response.  And don’t come back and tell me that an armed populace can’t face an army.  No, of course it can’t, in the battle field, etc.  BUT it can d*mn well make an area too hot to hold.  Look at what the Afghans did to the Soviet occupiers.

It’s possible even that our own government will make things more difficult for states trying to survive (no?  Look at preventing border states from defending their borders.)

But in the long run, the technology itself, the way life is going is running against the centralized ideas of government.  In the long run, everything is pointing to a future that’s geographically decentralized and d*mn hard to govern from a central place.

In the long run the dysfunctional managers in the centralized organizations become more and more irrelevant, and individuals take over.  And let’s face it, we, the odder elements of society, are perfectly suited for that future.  Provided we don’t panic and assume the worst will happen, and neglect the tools of civilization.  Provided we keep our heads down and work – for the mutual benefit of ourselves, of society, of civilization.  In our own inimitable way.

When the dust settles, then we’ll see what functions of government we can’t do without.  I’m betting very few.  Mutual defense.  Territorial integrity.  Keeping the peace between the States.

For the rest we’ll have to go back to learning that individual humans are not some sort of monsters, needing a boot on their necks to behave like decent beings.

And we will.

 

257 responses to “It All Ends In Chickens

  1. … we are (or were, at least) a people of law, and of all being equal before the law.

    The bolded part makes me sad, but all I can say is “David Gregory” and nod my head in agreement.

    And don’t come back and tell me that an armed populace can’t face an army. No, of course it can’t, in the battle field, etc.

    Which is why, in the TV movie about the Battle of Athens in 1946, the veterans wanted the whole thing wrapped up before the National Guard got there. Don’t know how historically accurate that part was, but the rest of the movie’s portrayal seemed pretty accurate according to Wikipedia (I know, I know, but the article hasn’t had an edit war, so it seems pretty accurate).

    What’s that? You haven’t heard of the Battle of Athens? (Actually, Sarah, I’d be more surprised if you *hadn’t* than if you had — this is addressed at many of the commenters here). Well, go watch this video and then read the Wikipedia article. The video is 10 minutes from a made-for-TV movie based on the events, and shows the most historically important parts.

    • Oh neat. All I did was just copy and paste a Youtube link, and WordPress turned it into proper Youtube embed codes. Handy!

    • BTW, the Battle of Athens is now my go-to talking point when discussing the original purpose of the Second Amendment. If someone tries to pooh-pooh the possibility of tyranny (“It can’t happen here” — yeah, tell that to the Germans) in America, I no longer have to mention Germany and risk them talking nonsense about Godwin’s Law at me. Instead, I can say, “Actually, the Second Amendment’s original purpose did come into play once in America’s history. It enabled people to lead a rebellion against a tyrannical government. Care to guess when?” If they make the apparently-obvious guess and say “the Civil War,” I’ll say “Nope, the Civil War was just that — a war between two governments, in which the victor conquered the loser and imposed its terms on it. No, I’m talking about Athens, TN, in 1946.” And when they haven’t heard of it, I get to explain the whole thing.

      • You know, I just learned about the Battle of Athens not long ago, and had somehow already forgotten about it. I believe it was someone here who mentioned it, but it may have been one of Tam’s commentariat. Thank you for the reminder. I will have to use the argument you described the next time it comes up. Can anyone recommend a good book on the story?

        • The Wikipedia article doesn’t have anything (and since I’m currently WAY outside the U.S., I can’t pop down to my local library to do any better research). However, I did find this in the discussion of the Wikipedia article:

          The ONE book that I’ve been able to find, that documents this part of Tennessee History deals with 1st hand accounts by a native of McMinn county and is an excellent read. “The battle of Athens” by C. Stephen Byrum, gives account from both points of view and so far as I’ve read, proves the adage that “you cannot rule a free man, nor chain him. the best you can do is kill him”.

          I haven’t read that book myself, but looking it up on Amazon, I see that its two reviews both gave it five stars. Hopefully you’ll be able to find it at a local library (or arrange an inter-library loan), as the prices quoted on Amazon are insane at the moment. But this should give you a place to start looking.

        • I recall learning about this a year or two back, probably from a Glenn Reynolds link, possibly one of Powerline’s bloggers.

          There are other instances as well, mostly in the American West, such as the Gunfight @ The OK Corral. The function of ACW veterans as peacekeepers is also a recurring theme in L’Amour’s novels.

      • Ahh, the battle of Athens. Thank you for the reminder. Yes, that is pretty much the whole purpose of an armed citizenry. Armed men are no ones slaves.

      • The one problem I see with the movie is none of the veterans grab any AMMUNITION, when they grab the guns to march on the jail.

        • As it’s a movie rather than a documentary, I’m willing to give it a pass based on dramatic necessity here. I mean, they also don’t show the veterans actually marching on the jail either, they just cut to them arriving. I think we can take it as understood that they grabbed ammo. But spending an extra 2-3 minutes showing the ammo being handed out after the rifles were getting handed out would have undercut the dramatic tension of the scene.

    • Another and more recent example might be the NRA’s arming and training of 1950s Southern Civil Rights activists. Apparently the Triple-K was far less interested in shooting up the houses of people able to return fire.

      People can debate whether or not the Klan represented an oppressive government, but reported members and political office holders include Warren G. Harding, Woodrow Wilson, William McKinley, Calvin Coolidge, Harry S. Truman, Hugo Black and Robert Byrd.

  2. Robert’s world can end in chickens. I’m raising rabbits instead.

    Which only goes to prove that sweeping generalizations and centralized authority will break down quickly when you let people go do their own thing… and whether it’s in US dollars or in bitcoins, the internet will find a way for me to convert rabbit into trade goods for your stories, without having to move to your state.

    • A guy I met at a dinner party once, who was working in third-world development work, explained to me that rabbits were a great source of protein for many developing countries. As long as the people didn’t have a cultural prejudice against eating cute, fluffy bunnies (this is a sticking point for many, though not all, Americans), a family with a single breeding pair of rabbits can feed them plants that humans can’t eat (so there’s no loss in the family’s caloric intake by feeding the animals), and end up with more meat by the end of the year than they would have gotten out of an entire cow. And rabbits are SO much cheaper than cows.

      • Being hungry can overcome most cultural prejudices. I’d guess for parents the risk of your children going hungry might work even better…

        But I think I’d stick with chickens. I like eggs. Very nutritious.

        • A long while back Beloved Spouse & I tuned into a Julia Childs’ cooking show which began with her delivering a harangue at the audience for their letters objecting to an earlier show about preparing rabbits. Julia was quite bracing on the facts of life, that not only are cute fluffy bunnies good eats but so are cute fluffy lambs and cute doe-eyed calves. A wonderful lecture delivered in Julia’s typically bloody-minded realist style.

          My only question is based on the rumour that rabbits are too lean, so that you could starve to death on a diet of them, especially in winter … but I guess that primarily relates to wild rabbits?

          • I will be blunt. If it looks like it’s headed that way, I WILL secure a breeding pair of rabbits. HOWEVER I’d never eat the original pair. Best way to get them is to adopt them and I will never eat an animal who has been encouraged to think of himself as human. To ME that feels wrong. The cubs, however, would be fair game. (My grandmother had laying hens who were pets and who were also never eaten. When they stopped laying eggs, they were allowed honorable retirement.) Dot’s comment made me think if it comes to that, I’ll do better with rabbits than with chickens. I’m allergic to feathers…

            • Not having lived in the USA in the 1960s, is it possible you have never seen The Case of the Pillow episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show? If so, [SEARCHENGINE] the episode title.

          • It’s not that rabbit will suck the nutrients out of your body, like that tuber the “Into the Wild” guy ate exclusively, you just don’t want to eat NOTHING but rabbit. It’s not poisonous, it’s just nutritionally incomplete. Through in an assortment of veggies in the stew and you’re cool.

            • I think I’m asleep, at work. THROW.

            • The problem with rabbit-only diet is that it’s too lean. Same problem with uninspected starved-horse meat, which will become popular again. The solution to that is LARD. Bunny cooked with some lard will be fatty enough to digest. Vegetables (green leafy veg) are not famous for their fat content, you have to get seeds and maybe even press them to get some decent amount of oil to make a fatty bunny meal.

              Olive oil is nice with bunny steaks, but expensive. Stores for a long time in the freezer without getting rancid. Butter from cows or goats will also serve as a fine source of digestible fat. Cows require lotsa space, lotsa feed, armed guards and security dogs. Goats only need a little more effort than chickens and bunnies.

              Chickens seem to make enough fat just by eating everything they find, and whatever you bring. Viva Chickens!

              Cheers.

      • I grew up with rabbit. Heck, I grew up with guinea pig.

      • Gah. I mixed up my past and present tenses so badly in that comment, you’d think I was a time traveler heading forward to the past (you know, the opposite direction from “back to the future”), and unsure of whether I’d arrived yet or not.

        BTW, Sarah, in case this reaches you in time to do something about it: on February 7, 2009, do NOT eat that last egg in your fridge. I can’t tell you why — I’m bending the rules enough as it is.

        Oh, and if the Time Patrol shows up at your door asking about me, do me a favor and tell them I mentioned Napoleon, will you? That should throw them off the scent long enough for me to get clear. Thanks!

      • The one hazard with rabbits is the lack of vitamin content. They’re so lean you can end up “starving” to death while stuffing yourself every day. Do a search for ‘rabbit starvation’ for more info.

        • Most domesticated rabbits are fat enough. And if you’re eating other things as well, not going to ever be a problem.

          • You could probably swap rabbit meat and yarn for chicken meat and eggs on occasion, and make everyone happy.

            • or even rabbit fecal matter– for good vegetable gardens

            • I once checked the nutrient contents of most common foods, including avocados because I like them, and avocados – very good fat too – and eggs seemed to be among the best if you are talking about single foods with which you could get the most complete nutrient profile. I think you could subsist only on eggs and avocados for quite a while. So if anybody lives in a place where you could grow avocado trees, do (well, seems they require tropical or near tropical, they can’t handle freezing), and keep hens. Or keep both hens and rabbits.

              In the northern climes most wild berries are good, pick as many as you can when they ripen and then dry them if it’s a situation where you might worry about the reliability of refrigeration. I sometimes fry blueberries in the oven, lowest heat setting seems to work pretty well.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          What’s immensely funny to me is that just last night, my older son and I got on the subject of not being able to subsist on rabbit alone, though his point was “protein poisoning” rather than simple malnutrition.

          Ok, just looked it up, and it’s the same thing. Still a funny coincidence of subjects, huh (for those who believe in coincidence, of course)?

      • The nice thing about rabbits is that you can put their poop right on the plants without the plants burning (cow pies can burn plants if put on fresh). And other uses– rabbits are great–

        • I have been advised, by an acquaintance who raised rabbits as a sideline, that they can be trained to use a litter box, making it much easier to harvest their fecal matter (if “poop” offends some sensibilities, think of it as
          “organically processed plant matter.”)

          • Yes– I have heard that too– Plus if you have angora rabbits, you can process their fur (without killing them) for knitting — good stuff too–

    • It’s Marshall’s world, but yes! :) And I agree with you.

  3. ah, Zimbabwe. where they got hyperinflation by running the presses

    Meanwhile, here in the US, we can no longer get China to buy our bonds. So Treasury “buys” them. Which is to say, runs the presses.

    • Oh, but you Americans are so much more sophisticated, because it’s all electronic. So it’s not running real presses, which means, like, it doesn’t count or something. Just like how in the New Economy of 1998, a company didn’t actually have to sell anything to be worth billions.

      You recall the story about the early computer translation program that translated ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ into the Russian phrase meaning ‘blind idiot’? This is popularly believed to be an inaccurate translation. It isn’t.

      • The version I heard had it as “invisible idiot”. It also had “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” turned into “the vodka is good, but the meat is rotten”.

        • Good vodka can make the lack of edible meat bearable. ;)

        • The version I heard had it as “invisible idiot”.

          I’ve heard the story told both ways, but ‘blind idiot’ is clearly the correct translation. The idiot only thinks he’s invisible.

    • The good news is that the (mal)administration has declined to build a Death Star, thus cutting anticipated government spending by some 850 Quadrillion dollars. This budget savings, coupled with the savings from discontinuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, promise a budget surplus in coming years.

      • Or to retell an old Soviet joke “Next year’s potato harvest shall reach the knees of G-d.”
        “Comrade! G-d doesn’t exist.”
        “That’s convenient. Neither does the potato production.”

    • Robin Roberts

      In case anyone thinks Mary is exaggerating, last week the amount of US Treas securities held by the Federal Reserve? 1,676,307 Millions of Dollars ie., 1.6 trillion.

      Fed Res numbers here, almost all bought in the last two years. And that’s a bit under 2/3rd the last two years worth of deficits. All bought with “money” the Federal Reserve created.

      • Oh, I know. buying out own securities is like trying to survive by eating your own boogers…

        • Robin Roberts

          That gives me an idea for a political cartoon involving Ben Bernanke …

          (Even if one didn’t already know it, its obvious you’ve raised two sons …)

          • The family run heavily to boys, anyway. I wasn’t EXACTLY raised as a boy, but let’s say all my cousins acted really embarrassed when I started wearing makeup and they realized I wasn’t going to get over this being a girl thing.

    • Zimbabwe was run by people so inept that they DIDN’T run their presses, they farmed out printing currency to a European firm. The funny part was when the company wouldn’t accept the worthless currency for delivery and demanded Euro’s/Dollars or some decent tradable fiat currency.

      Once a country starts printing Billion Dollar notes, there is a problem with putting the zeros all on the face of the bill in a big-enough font. My solution would be scientific notation, but that wouldn’t increase confidence in the gov’t.

      Eventually, ZimBucks went to a multiplier of zero, and necessity allowed Euro/Dollar/Gold to circulate as “official currency” that a person could do legal business in. That’s when things turned the corner and payment could be asked and paid with less insanity.

      Dr. Gono has been giving private lectures to the Federal Reserve Bank Board of Governors on the advantages of “plenty of money”.

      Cheers.

  4. It’ll all end in chickens? That’s an improvement given that under current conditions I figured it would all end in chicken*!#+@. At least you can make some pretty good soup out of chickens….chicken*!#+@ not so much.

    By the way why do so many people figure NYC’ll get nuclear bombed and then come here as tourists? What are these people thinking? Or are they forward observers?

    • They’re thinking that it can’t happen to them. Unless they’ve faced either: a) combat, b) REALLY serious illness (cancer, etc.), or c) old age, most people don’t truly believe in their own mortality. They may know it intellectually (and many don’t even know that much), but their hindbrains aren’t convinced. Hence all kinds of stupid behavior like what you describe.

      • One of my friends in NYC thinks that LA is more likely to get it. Of course I have friends in LA too….

        • I actually think it will be something like Akron, Topeka or Baltimore. Something big enough to show you’re serious but with at least room for further escalation or negotiation. I was also thinking Detroit but how would you tell?

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Ah, but I truly think that the rest of the world is so far behind on their understanding of us that they still think Detroit is the center of our auto industry, and destroying that would cripple us.

          • Detroit, maybe. The others? NOT a chance. Why? Because abroad those cities don’t exist. And this is all about making a splash. So, NYC, LA, Chicago, MAYBE Detroit (people’s mental map abroad is WAY outdated.) MAYBE nowadays Denver??? I don’t know. Possibly San Francisco. Below that? Not a chance. (If they hit Detroit can we send them a thank you from the slum clearance league?)

            • Houston. OPEC member know about Houston.

              • Yes, but man on the street DOESN’T. Besides, they confuse it with Austin. (TRUST ME. I only figured out it was two cities, not one about ten years ago. Don’t hit me.)

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  You are talking about “man on the street” in other countries, right? If so, that’s doesn’t matter to what Pam said, because the ones making the decisions would be the political/religious leaders if we’re talking about terror nuking. And I believe Pam’s right, the OPEC countries would consider that a huge blow to us.

          • The problem is symbolism. There’s not much symbolism in bombing Akron compared to taking out NYC or the heart of all Western Decadence, L.A. Which cities are well known to the rest of the world? That plays a big role, from what I understand of how the Islamists chose (and choose) their targets.

          • A refugee from — Iran, I think was told they were sending to him to Boise. His reaction was “Where’s Boise?” So they told him it was in Iowa.

            “Where’s Iowa?”

            • Those members of this community whose tastes run so low as to read plays should try Tom Stoppard’s New-Found-Land. A short piece performed as a sort of intermezzo to his Dirty Linen,

              An evening of two one-act plays by Tom Stoppard. In Dirty Linen, a Parliamentary committee meets to deal with a sex scandal. In New-Found-Land, two men take over the meeting room during the lunch break, and one satirizes a tourist’s description of a trip across America.

              the jumbled impression of America thus presented is hilarious and indescribable in a way that only Tom Stoppard can be.

        • Getting something nasty into LA would be much easier than NYC, just because of the lay of the land – no real river/bridge/tunnel chokepoints in LA, multiple high capacity routes into town with lots of heavier traffic to mix into, plus it’s only a short drive from several large container ports, not to mention the close and porous international border.

          OTOH I’d think NYC would be a higher value target.

          I’m guessing we’ll actually lose a big second tier city – we can’t strongly defend everywhere, so any defenses will concentrate on the really large population centers unless the intel folks get lucky.

          • A major attack on LA might take out a major disseminator of propaganda for the enemy’s thesis that America (and Capitalism) are the source of all evil in this world; why would they do that?

            • Perhaps because they disapprove of its other propaganda, for hedonism. It is very unlike that it will be taken out by fellow hedonists, it’s too much like work.

          • Hopefully not Dallas! Although some people might think that JR Ewing is still alive.

            My hubby and I are betting that it’ll all end in squirrels. Many squirrels in our area. If the oil holds out, and we keep getting enough rain, and there isn’t a Big Freeze, and we continue to elect sensible Governors and mayors, we might be ok. There are agricultural areas near Dallas. I like to think that TX has its act together enough that we’ll mostly survive. knock wood. I hope that none of Texas is on anyone’s strategic bombing plan.

            My sister and brother live in New York City. I can assume that my BIL and brother are sensible enough to extract themselves & their families when SHTF happens? I don’t want to have them in my daily life but I don’t want them to die. Forgive my incoherency.

            • Well, I don’t know about *Dallas*, but isn’t there that nuclear weapons factory out by Amarillo? Pantex? That had to be on at least the soviets list.

              • It occurs to me y’all are WEIRD out there. It’s like all the Texans are offended at my saying the evil guys won’t want to bomb them. (Shakes head. Smiles bemusedly.) I love you guys, you know that?

                • If the enemy understood Texans the attack would hit San Antonio at a certain mission site. Going after Austin, OTOH, would probably eliminate the largest center of support for their complaints against Western Imperialism.

                • Well – some of those people do know about Fort Hood. There ya go– ya Texans ;-)

                • Weelllll, it’s not so much that we’re attracted to being bombed or attacked per se, it’s that to make their enemy list means you’re doing something right. And, I mean, you know Texans, we have to do everything bigger than everyone else, so…

                • I Don’t want anyone bombing TX. I like my state just the way it is!

                  • Would you object terribly to a bio engineered plague that kills the lizards, to make it safe for Sarah?

                    • You must have had some experience with those lizards, Sarah. :) Is that a story we’ve heard before, or have I just forgotten it?

                    • Not sure how, but while staying with a friend, there was a gecko on my bed. I have a phobia of touching cold-blooded things. (Shuddup.)

                      So… After my friend peeled me from the ceiling, while her cat cooly ate the lizard, I informed my husband we could never move to TX, it was too lizardy.

                    • That’ll do it all right. I think they’re tolerably cute little things outdoors, but once they get inside, the gloves come off and the broom comes out.

                    • the only good lizard is a dead lizard. BOOM! puts the shotgun away.

                    • It’s the armadillos that are the real problem.

                    • Not sure how, but while staying with a friend, there was a gecko on my bed. I have a phobia of touching cold-blooded things. (Shuddup.)

                      So… After my friend peeled me from the ceiling, while her cat cooly ate the lizard, I informed my husband we could never move to TX, it was too lizardy.
                      Just make sure to have lots of cats living with you, and you won’t have a lizard problem. ;)

                    • We had a pet gecko in the house who ate the bugs– I have a thing against bugs (esp. spiders). I don’t have a problem with lizardy things ;-). We used to chase and catch horned-toads when I was a child.

                    • *shrugs* The bug-eating thing *is* nice, yeah. My main sticking-point is the way they drop their tails. I mean, you’re trying to shoo the thing out the door without hurting it, and all of a sudden it’s tail just falls off. I do guess they wouldn’t do that if I weren’t trying to shoo them out the door, though. Ah, well.

                    • Portugal. Our brand of lizards does this AND the tail is poisonous. I had a siamese cat who became addicted to lizard tails. He’d chase them and eat the tail and trip out. He became skinny and had the tremors, and then we locked him up and made him go cold turkey. When we let him out, he never touched another lizard tail…

                    • Ha. Poor cat. Methinks that’s a bit of a misfire in the defense mechanism department, even if kitty rehab did work in the end. Dunno if the ones we have down here have that or not.

                    • They don’t drop their tails unless they think you are trying to eat them. ;-)

                    • Hm. Anyone know how to say “I come in peace, now get out of my kitchen” in gecko?

                    • And BTW that same cat loved to bring me the rest of the lizard to play with — and plop it on me while I was asleep. This despite the fact I left my window open for him, though he was NOT allowed in the bedrooms. Sigh. That’s gratitude for you, that is.

                      I miss that b*stard. Siamese cats were crazy expensive in Portugal at the time, but one of my dad’s colleagues was a breeder and had a queen die giving birth. My mom who held the “no pet” line — otherwise dad would end up with seventeen plus cats like grandma — pretty well, caved before “newborn and helpless.” She made him BIBS so he wouldn’t get milk on his fur when we bottle (actually dropper) fed him.

                      Something must have gone wrong in that cat’s brain. Since he was the only Siamese I knew, I assumed Siamese were SILENT cats. It wasn’t until I’d read about them and met a few others that I found out Calimero was WEIRD. He never meowed. Not once. Though he lamented three times in his life, so it couldn’t be vocal cords.

                      Anyway, dad, who had always owned the village part-ferals (and also because at the time not only didn’t you castrate cats, but finding a vet to do it would be a chore. Kind of like finding someone to castrate your hamster in the US. It just wasn’t done. Cats were disposable pets and part vermin) anyway dad wouldn’t fix him and mom wouldn’t let him be indoor only.

                      Calimero killed all the toms he couldn’t run off in a ten mile radius. To this day half of the cats in the village have Siamese coloring.

                      BUT to me he was a lovey dovey, insanely devoted dog like cat (me and dad. Dad came first. Mom he was afraid of. Alvarim he ignored.) My friends learned not to raise voices to me in his presence, if they didn’t want a face full of claws.

                      He was a thorough b*stard and I miss him.

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      She mentioned something about it a few weeks ago, but I don’t remember details.

                    • How about a bounty on the lizards? they’d be exterminated and no worries about bioengineering. otoh if if that’s what you want it’s ok by me.

                    • yes I would..they help control the goddamn cockroaches. and I HATE cockroaches…we have them even in the middle of winter

                    • But they’re so cute! The green ones sit on the screen door and eat bugs all day, the white one love the windows and glass doors at night, as the bugs come to the lights. And then when you walk outside too fast they fall off the door and land on your head.

                      Mind you, I wouldn’t ordinarily tell Sarah that, but as much as I’d love to have her in Houston, I think we’re too humid and moldy for her health.

                    • But I like Hornfrogs! Sib and sib’s spouse are both hornfrogs and . . . oh. *adjusts bifocals* Sorry, but I still like lizards. Arachnids, on the other hand, could be dispensed with. There’s nothing like discovering an orb weaver’s work by walking into it as you go out the door to get the newspaper.

                    • See, bugs of any kind don’t bother me. Which is why when my men find one, they shriek like little girls till I come and take it outside.

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      Spiderweb – the thing that instantly turns anyone into a karate master simply by walking into it. :-)

                  • TX– my life with arachnids– at three I was bit by a black widow spider and almost died. After that I had problems with the eight-legged ones.

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      And the parallels between you and my wife just keep coming. At one, she was bitten by a Brown Recluse. Supposedly, the hospital where they sent the tissue culture for testing was amazed she survived.

                    • She from one of the Scandinavian kinglines, Wayne? ;-)

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      Heh. Dunno, but she’s awfully fair-skinned. She claims mostly Scots-Irish ancestry, though, through some guy named Sir James Hume.

                    • I am extremely fair-skinned too– but come from mostly Dane and Norwegian lines– some English too. (Course the Scots have some Viking blood in them– so there could be intersection there). Say hi from me… Even if we are not related– we must have some connection if we have many of the same experiences.

      • “I will continue to get away with it – I’ve been able to so far!” explains a lot of behaviors, including the current state of the Great State of California.

        • In spite of all the Californios outside the big cities (and quite a few in them, too) warning them “No, you can’t…hey, what’s this basket we’re in, and where did you say it was stopping?”

          • I’ve Got The You Don’t Know The Half Of It Dearie Blues [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C8QgF5u7Vs ]

            From the Powerline blog:

            California could easily match North Dakota’s economic and fiscal success. Fuel Fix.com recently estimated that California could edge out Texas as the nation’s leading oil producing state if it wanted to open up some of its land. My pal (and one of the top energy minds around) Mark Mills observed in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that California could collect a gusher of revenue and economic growth:
            California collects about $15 billion in tax revenues for every billion barrels of state oil production, according to research conducted last year by the University of Wyoming’s Timothy Considine and Edward Manderson. If that is accurate, then simply by opening up Monterey oil development—no incentives, grants or state funds required—tax receipts could total $250 billion over the coming two decades. Economists Robert Hahn and Peter Passell, at the American Enterprise and Milken Institutes respectively, point to another $30 billion to $80 billion in broad economic and social benefits that ripple through an economy for every billion barrels of oil production.

            Do the math: The overall economic benefits of opening up the Monterey shale field could reach $1 trillion. One can only imagine the impact on California’s education system, social programs, infrastructure, and even energy-tech R&D. Moreover, with that kind of revenue, Sacramento tax collections could wipe out debt and deficits.

            Then there’s this:

            A savvy politician might also point out the promise of Silicon Valley developing still more advanced hydrocarbon tech. One can foresee a growing array of software, sensor, materials and big-data startups that underpin the smart controls and data processing central to modern oil production.

            http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/01/california-still-dreaming.php

      • I suggest they read Heinlein’s story relating to that.

    • I had been contemplating the metastization of a profusion of regulatory nonsense and considered that the title of this blog post was three letters short: -hit.

  5. Wayne Blackburn

    It’s not like out(sic) tech will magically go back to the 19th century. It won’t.

    This is one of my main complaints about dystopic stories, especially the ones that assume that we’ll go back to a near-hunter/gatherer state if there’s a big (particularly atomic) war. Not. Gonna. Happen. Unless, of course, after a fully-devastating war, some Pol Pot-like dictator arises who kills everyone who might know anything about technology, and has enough tech left himself to seek them all out.

    Other than that, there are plenty of people who can rebuild a whole lot from memory, and if there are reference books, we could be nearly back to normal, tech-wise, in 20-30 years.

    • Okay. So my typing sucks in the morning….

    • Yeah, there were a couple of “after the atomic war” stories that had the fatal mistake of having one society surviving without gun powder even though a neighboring society had gun powder. [Frown]

    • My main problem with a lot of “after the atomic war” stories is that they completely leave out the rest of the war. The image we are given is: Nukes fall, almost everyone dies, the world is over and all that is left are refugees fighting over scraps. It’s very far from what would actually occur, and engenders a sort of fatalism and nihilism that would probably do more damage in the event of a conflict between major air/space powers than the nukes.

      A nuclear first strike is only that – a first strike. Even at the levels of arms we had in the cold war, the first strike being intended to seriously screw up the infrastructure of the other side, there is no way either Russia or the US could completely cripple each other. Other aspects that are completely distorted in games like Fallout of books like Canticle of Liebowitz are the length of time you are supposed to spend in fallout shelters (about a week, not hundreds of years), or the futility of duck and cover (what, keeping flying glass out of your face is pointless?) – or the degree or seriousness of fallout contamination (pretty much within the total destruction radius – anything in sealed packages is fine).

      Anyway – while a nuclear war is far from a pleasant prospect, it seems to have been built into an apocalyptic prospect for people to ensure no one fights back, either against the threat, or against an actual first strike.

      As someone I was talking with said to me (after exclaiming that I was Dr. Strangelove): “The earth is *finished*, after any war. No one can win a nuclear war. Even if it were possible, and who would want to carry on?, we wouldn’t even deserve to survive after such an event!”

      • Well, the USSR put what money it had into agitprop, so…

        • Yup – I always thought the TV miniseries “The Day After” should have had a producers credit listed for the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

      • I could go on all day about that. Needless to say, our country, after a brief period of actually preparing for that sort of war (during the reign of the SAC bomber generals in the Air Force), seems to have spent the last few decades aggressively *not thinking* about what they would need to do to prepare for such an attack.

        While we are lucky that the USSR has collapsed, and China’s interests are against such a war right now, it is something that people need to deal with eventually.

        The US seems to have a favorite sequence of preparing for a major world war: 1. Get it’s ass kicked in the first stages of the conflict. 2. Use the distance that our oceans afford us, and our industrial base to build up an unstoppable logistics column. 3. Eventually get into the fight and win.

        The problem is that in a nuclear/aerospace war 1 can be decisive, and everything moves so fast that 2 needs to already be done ahead of time.

      • … we wouldn’t even deserve to survive after such an event!

        Some people need to stop trying to impose their outdated superstition-based morality on the rest of us. As if “deserve” has anything to do with it!

        A world that allowed the Holocaust (the Western powers knew about it and did nothing to impede it) all the way back to the Baal-worshipers in ancient Mesopotamia forfeits any right to talk about whether or not we “deserve” to survive.

        Survival has little to do with “deserve” — it has to do with surviving.

      • Robin Roberts

        Its dry as heck and dated by its fifty years ago, but Hermann Kahn’s On Thermonuclear War discusses that. And Kahn was the inspiration for Dr. Strangelove.

        • Thanks. One more for the endless reading list. :D

          Anyway, America seems able to afford unpreparedness right now. The worst the Islamist nutjobs can do is nuke a single city or so. But given the rate that governments and borders turn over (they are far from the eternal and unanswerable institutions they would like to be), it may only be a matter of a few decades before we face another nuclear-armed threat that can only be met with hard-power aerospace assets (rockets, bombers, missile interceptors, etc).

    • No but life is gonna suck zombified donkey dong without computers if it’s nuclear or god forbid an EMP blast big enough.

  6. ” He’s one of those people who can be dragged out of bed at the normal time the same as everyone else, but he’s not awake. He looks awake, insofar as his eyes are open, but he’s still dreaming and somewhere else. ”

    My brother does that! In his case probably induced by getting far too little sleep in any case. He could hold full conversations with you, then go off on some random hallucinatory tangent prompting you to realize he never really woke up.

  7. “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There will be a rifle behind every blade of grass.” Admiral Yamamoto. The anti-gun propaganda is delibrately worded to confuse semi auto and full auto fire, but experienced soldiers rarely or never use the automatic setting anyway.
    Was your plumber in “Gettysburg?” The fullscale reinactment of Pickett’s Charge is on You Tube, all 25 minute of it. The only way they could do it was for nearly all the Civil War re-enactors in the nation to show up at the real battlefield and restage it for no or almost no pay. At about the same time, the film “Zulu Dawn” restaged the battle of Isandlwana by asking for Zulu volunteers and they got pretty much the 20k warriors they needed. Ah, the days before CGI. I’m waiting for a bluray of Zulu Dawn, it has been promised for a while.

    • My biggest problem with what is going on, especially regarding attitudes to guns, in my country, is that we are fast turning ourselves into a nation of people most of whom have no damn idea how to fight. We could prevail against Soviet Union last century in great part because most men knew how to shoot and how to move in the forests, you didn’t have to train them to do that. Now, most don’t. And the current estimates seem to be that our military would be able to withstand a full scale invasion only for a few days, or possibly only a few hours (no wonder when you consider such recent moronic decisions as getting rid of landmines). The only real deterrent would probably be the thought of facing extended guerrilla war, that ‘a gun behind every blade of grass’, and while there still is a part of the population who are either gun enthusiasts and/or hunters, the drive towards making everybody ‘safe’ means that having and using guns is now both expensive and difficult (and the hunters are now mostly old men, who knows what that situation will be in a few decades) so fewer and fewer people even of those who might want to shoot and own guns have been willing to jump through all the hoops necessary. So there is a good risk we might start to look like a very tempting and soft target should something happen in our scary neighbor which might make them start thinking in terms of widening their territory again (or some fraction of the current one, if it were to happen that they splinter a bit more first).

      Useful idiots indeed. Far too many of those around. And a country the size of mine bloody well can’t afford them, so I’m afraid I have doubts as to our long term existence. Up to luck, probably.

      • Robin Roberts

        The shift is from people who primarily owned rifles and shotguns for hunting to people who primarily own pistols for self-defense.

      • Don’t count us out. As for the landmines and such…there are manuals on how to scratch build among other things…quietly and not so quietly being shared around the web.

  8. Do you know that there’s an area of North Carolina in which volunteers have been playing insurgents for Special Forces training for decades? There is no official list of who they are, and no one outside of SF knows who Moses is, the leader of the mock insurgents. I would not want to be among the troops assigned for a hostile takeover of that county, they know everything there is to know about guerilla warfare.

    • I wouldn’t recommend they take on the Cajuns down Louisiana way, neither. As far as that goes, Humphrey Bogart’s advise to Major Strasser still holds true, “Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.”

      • Just talked to a Cajun lady who was impressed by all the deer you could see walking out in the open in other states. Asked her why. She said that in her part of Louisiana, the deer knew that if humans saw them, they’d be dinner, so you don’t see them. :)

  9. “So the government falling apart doesn’t mean society will fall apart – particularly not if we have the internet. It just means a lot of the stupid laws and regulations get ignored, and people go about the business of surviving in the best possible way.”

    One thing that bugs me is that, while the internet is certainly empowering for the individual, and all the *content* servers are decentralized, it is still quite vulnerable to centralized destruction and control at this point. All the routers are usually owned and maintained by a small number of internet service providers – the structure is hierarchical. If the government were to capture the Isps, they could shut it down or put blocks in place to find and shut down objectionable content. (Many countries have their political firewalls and monitoring at this level. China goes deeper with spyware installed directly on each PC, and 10,000 strong internet police forces for each prefecture)

    One possible way to get around this is to create a decentralized routing network (ethernet over radio, or something similar, since owning tons of cable would make you a target), but I don’t think there are incentives for it to happen until the hierarchical one is throttled somehow.

    • I ma fortunate that my home is served by a neighborhood ISP. Granted, that connection goes through a big corporate pipe further upstream, but if that gets cut off we have all the stored data (we have ebooks, documents, and other media stored on the central servers) and our local connectivity still intact. Heck, we could set up a local VoIP system if the cell systems were down. So I might be cut off from you all (woe and lamentation!), but we would have a local net that could be expanded to form the seed of a new wide area network. Now we just need more local power – the city has a hydro plant, but I want this neighborhood to be capable of going solo! :)

    • The show JERICHO addressed that very point. Blow up enough cities, and eventually the infrastructure falls apart. 500 tons of wheat is useless if it can’t reach the flour mills, or can’t reach the consumers. And a router is just a dust collector if the HUBS are down. A little damages, and the system adapts (MId-East 2-3 years ago, after a dredge cut the cable). Too much, and it can’t cope.

    • There are a lot of benefits in having a separate alt-internet for disatsters and the like, but IMHO worrying abotu gov’t control probably isn’t one of them.

      There are probably about 1000 (rough order of magnitude guess) people who would need to be co-opted to get the internet to shut down. I know some of them and they aren’t, in general, the CxOs of large corporations they are the heads of various Network Operations Centers etc. I doubt you could get many of them to shut things down just because the president/DHS said so (and as it happens some of the other requireed peopla are in DHS and other 3 letter .gov organizations and are the sorts of people who wouldn’t obey unconstitutuinal orders either).

  10. In my experience, the term “city chicken” refers to pigeons. The idea of special feed for pigeons leaves me boggled — so I’ll assume you’re referring to raising chickens in a dense urban area.

  11. Actually, at least part way to the end (a la Zimbabawe)… it ends in maize… planted on the side-walk, maize planted in the parks. And no livestock at all. The best grazing I have seen in Africa… growing between the shacks, around the maize patches. No cows. No sheep. Not even goats (this is barely imaginable in Africa, guys). No chickens. All been eaten. And no ‘middle class’, (there are wealthy people flourishing in Zimbabwe, and lots of poor people surviving against the odds – $4 a day is a good, acceptable wage for unskilled labor there, and costs for food and fuel are much the same as Australia -as it is all imported and the importers are getting wealthy) and a level of brutality to the poor that decent American folk cannot imagine. This may not be the way of the US because the ordinary black people of Zimbabwe are, well, very pacifist, and very very repressed… okay, supine, by way of their culture.

    • okay, supine, by way of their culture

      I have long pondered what aspects of culture and character apparently rendered Blacks so amenable to slavery. Nobody with an ounce of awareness of Colonial American culture can doubt that, had they been able, they would have used Amerindians as slaves.

      Certainly the ease of identification by melanin content facilitated use of Africans as slaves, and the travails of the ocean-crossing probably served to both crush their spirits and render return home hopeless,but it yet seems likely that there were specific aspects of their tribal culture that rendered some groups more susceptible to enslavement.

      Probably a good topic to avoid, frankly. A way likely to open the blog to trolls and troglodytes. Forget I’ve said anything.

      • They did use them as slaves. They just were more prone to disease and had it easier when they tried to escape.

        I recommend Slavery In Indian Country by Christina Snyder. Though it does cover the Indians holding white and black slaves, too.

        • “A Man Called Horse” was based on a short-story about an Irish wanderer held as a slave by a Plains Indian tribe and winning their respect. And all the captivity stories, the Indians knew their practical genetics, and took captives to bring fresh blood into their tribes. They were held against their will, but often after a number of years, the white Indians would stay with their tribes if given a chance to leave.

      • I’ve been contemplating a post on “the Guilt That Destroyed Africa” — but it’s about European attitudes towards Africa… and the truly bizarre ideologies we’ve imposed on the poor continent.

        • “A True And Accurate History Of Africa” would probably guarantee your being blacklisted at every “proper” outlet in the world … and being sold by all the wrong sorts of groups. Your name would be anathema to all the proper people, compelling them to *spit* after uttering it.

          • ““A True And Accurate History Of Africa” would probably guarantee your being blacklisted at every “proper” outlet in the world … and being sold by all the wrong sorts of groups. Your name would be anathema to all the proper people, compelling them to *spit* after uttering it.”

            Invariably the truth hurts like hell sometimes.

  12. Guinea pigs are still raised in Peru for food. They were the only animal domesticated in the Americas as a food source other than the turkey. Looks rather like baked rat on a stick when properly prepared. Would most definitely not work in a house full of cats, at least the way the Peruvians raise them, which is to just turn them loose on the kitchen floor.

    I actually have a place picked out for my chicken coop, and I’m considering converting my pond from goldfish to talapia. Cheese production starts this week, and I have almost enough bottles cleaned and sterilized to start the home brewery. Don’t wait, people! Every process takes time to master. You don’t want to be making mistakes when crunch-time hits.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Ooh, I’ve been thinking of building a pond and growing tilapia. I have to figure out a good way to keep the water condition right, though.

      • Why not trout (rainbow trout in particular)? They taste better and are found in the US.

        • Best in streams, not ponds. Need cold water.

          • True– still the best eating–

          • Tilapia are essentially a warm-water fish able to subsist on a largely vegetarian diet, and relatively soupy and lower Oxygen level water. Trout are an essentially cool water fish struggling to survive water over 20 C (they will survive up to 22 C for a short while, provided densities are low and feeding stops), they have a high dissolved oxygen demand, high-protein dietary requirement, and require clean (low ammonia – fish wee and low nutrient (NKP, basically, plants compete for oxygen) ) water. They do NOT require running water, except to spawn. Realistically Carp are the cold water alternative to Tilapia or African catfish (which are a banned menace, but good for aquaculture).

            • Robin Roberts

              Dude, cichlids are pets ;-)
              (I keep South American and African dwarf cichlids)

              • Dave is a doctor of fishology…

              • He calls it something fancier. Doctor of icky something or other. Fishology.

                • Eh– he knows his fish– I just know the taste. Tilapia doesn’t have the fresh yummy taste of rainbow trout. ;-) Oh yea, I’ll eat salmon over tuna any day– Range beef over grain-fed beef.

                  • I agree with range beef over grain-fed beef, but salmon over tuna? You gotta be outta your ever-lovin’ mind!

                    • Depends on the Tuna. If Tuna is from the Pacific, it’s better. Atlantic salmon is better than Atlantic tuna though. (Growing up in Portugal one does get a crash course in eating fish. Trust me. The entire country is a vast sea shore. I was telling my kids the other days that on Sunday drives, you’d stop by the side of the road and buy little boiled crabs in a twist of newspaper. They stared at me like I was nuts.)

                    • Nope– I have tasted various types of salmon yum and I was born in the Northwest so I had the freshest. Salmon is the best with rainbow trout as a close second. ;-)

                    • Just a note– I have eaten Ahi Tuna, but nothing– nothing– tastes as good to me as Salmon.

                    • If nothing tastes as good as salmon, I think I’ll just have nothing, please. ;-)

                      On Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 10:42 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                      > ** > Cyn Bagley commented: “Just a note– I have eaten Ahi Tuna, but > nothing– nothing– tastes as good to me as Salmon.” >

                    • Umm– nothing or Salmon??? Salmon wins– *snort

                    • Mahi Mahi is a great fish. I like grain fed beef. I can actually see some in my town. Every time we pass them on the way to the supermarket I exclaim: “Beef! Dinner on the Hoof!” Yes, I’m strange.

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      Around here, that comment would only get you looked at strangely because it’s so common to see cows in fields by the road. There’s even one cow pasture across the street from fancy-dancy houses in the $300k+ range on one road I drive weekly.

                    • Growing up into the Pacific Northwest, and living in Hawaii for the last six years (not as cool as it sounds, but kinda is) I’ve been fortunate to enjoy excellent icthyoids on a regular basis. Mahi is decent, ahi is excellent raw and very good seared, wild salmon – preferably sockeye, though coho will suffice in a pinch – is a somewhat regular occurence in the kilteDave household. Ahi raw with a little shoyu is one of my favorites. Salmon tends to get cooked, often broiled.

                    • Well, as Kitteh Dave (RUNS) of course you’d like fish. (RUNS FASTER)

                    • I thought he was kilte dave?

                    • it is. I misread it for months, and even answered some comments of his as “Kitteh” Head>desk. Besides, he has yet to post a picture of self in kilt… (No one LETS me have any fun…)

                    • Sturgeon is the very best fish, closely followed by halibut and lynn cod. Tuna (and to my knowledge I have only had Pacific tuna, I have had both Atlantic salmon, and all of the Pacific varieties) ranks alongside sea bass and several other white fish, just below catfish and above shark. Salmon, trout of all types, steelhead (actually a searun rainbow) and other pink fleshed fish rank signifigantly below sharkmeat.

                    • Of course I read that first line and thought “Theodore? Does not compute.”

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      I suppose you could consider Theodore a type of fish if you consider his writing equivalent to caviar… (hides)

                    • Sarah stated a while back that for the first few weeks that Dave posted she read his name as Kitteh Dave.

                      Apropos of nothing, my cats won’t eat fish, probably because it is something they have never seen before, but still I found it wierd that they would turn their nose up at fresh fish, and go eat stale bread that was being saved for pig food.

                    • if I LET them my cats would eat ONLY fish. They’re odd.

                    • My parents had a cat who LOVED shrimp. It got to the point that when the pot with the spices came to a boil he would RUN to the kitchen.

                      By the time the shrimp had cooked and cooled enough for him to be given a bit he had lost interest and would turn up his nose at their insulting offer after making him wait so long.

                    • And, no doubt, a bit of “put all those lovely shrimp in *water*? *Boiling* water? What’s wrong with you people?”

                    • Bearcat– our tastes in fish vary widely– I will eat halibut, but it is not my favorite. I have not eaten shark meat so I cannot compare it with anything. Cod– well haven’t tasted it either. I like the Pacific varieties of Salmon the best–

                • Icthyology?

        • Trout are too fragile, whereas tilapia can be raised in plastic tanks if necessary. You can literally grow them in a factory.

      • The only way we could grow anything in this house would be to put it in the garage. Ah well… I still can grow stories…

      • You might consider doing something with aquaponics, then. Water from pond circulates through plants’ soil, plants use fish waste, clean water returns to pond. (Of course, how well this works depends on number of plants, number of fish, and how much time you have to look after the system.http://gardenpool.org/ – gives an idea of what I mean.)

        I have squirrel brain syndrome. i started out just wondering if emersed plants would help my little tank need fewer water changes and ended up reading about hydroponics/ aquaponics for hours.

    • Sarah and family had Guinea Pigs as pets a while back. The cats would just surround their cages and glare at them.

      • Back when our household included cats I repeatedly tried to convince Beloved Spouse that we should add hamsters & habitrails to the menagerie. It seemed a logical way to ensure ample exercise for both.

        • When I was a kid the neighbor boy used to come down to my house to catch the schoolbus. One morning he was upset and explained that his guinea pig had gotten out of its cage and disappeared. The next morning when I stepped out on the porch, our cat had brought in a guinea pig :) He lived a half mile away, so I’m not sure who was doing the traveling, the guinea pig or the cat, but I had to make sure the guinea pig disappeared before he showed up to catch the bus.

          • Heh. I had mice when I was a kid (how many varied, since the first pair turned out to be girl and boy – I sometimes tried to keep the sexes in separate cages, but usually they managed to procreate anyway since I also let them run free, under supervision but guess how well that worked, from time to time. And my parents made it my job to cull the litters, which I usually did by using mom’s meat cleaver when they were newborn. Off with their heads… went on from when I was about twelve or thirteen until I turned fourteen. I’m probably very damaged because of that :D. Well, if it turned out be necessary to kill any of the adult ones my father usually took care of that, so I just killed babies).

            I also had a cat. Then mother and I went for a extended weekend trip to Leningrad (well, it was, then) and when we came back and mother called home once we were back on our side of the border, she later said the first sentence my father said to her was ‘the cat ate the mice’.

            A week or so later I found one dried up piece of skin with black and white hair on it underneath my bed. That was the end of me keeping mice as pets.

    • Cuy (Quecha for guinea pig) are not that different to rabbits in my experience. Mind you I only ate one once and sometime that day ate something that gave us (wife and I) the galloping gutrot for a few days. I think it may have been the veggies accompanying the cuy but I’m not sure, anyway it made flying back to Lima rather more interesting for our fellow travellers that they probably wanted. :)

      Something a bunch of you would have to think about in such a situation would be water. Here in Japan we got lots of it but parts of the US are distressingly arid despite lots of population. Lose a canal or pump station and you could be in big trouble

  13. Sarah,
    I really appreciated today’s topic. Since the election I’ve been gloomcasting death and despair, and expecting stormtroopers to kick down the doors in the middle of the night. And wondering what chance there would be of survival day by day. (Well, 5 stents and 3 balloon angioplasties will make anyone gloomy.)

    I’m fortunate enough to live in s pretty independent-minded state (Texas), and if things do go into the pot, I have a lot of neighbors with the means and inclination to stand the line. Heck, for all I know, some of them might have the shoulder-mounted weaponry. I don’t ask, and they don’t tell. And maybe, once I’ve recovered a bit more, I can even lend a hand if it’s needed.

    Thanks for the posts, even the gloomy ones,

    Doug

  14. Has Dave made a large post trip blog post anywhere? I saw the brief “back home” post he made on Finders Family Freer, and the posts he made while there on MGC but that’s it.

  15. Stockpile green coffee beans, I think they can last a while that way, learn how to roast them and get a hand grinder. Might make you popular in the neighborhood if coffee gets scarce (or very expensive).

    Okay, history reading. That came to mind because coffee was made illegal in these parts three times during the 16th century, and that, of course, started a thriving black market and all that fun. And those periods are popular with local historical romance writers who put their story in that century, there seems to be something irresistible in the image of a well-heeled bunch of respectable older women and all those other types who are usually depicted as the strictly law-abiding pillars of community trying to roast beans and make coffee – and then drink it – on the sly while worrying about getting caught, or scrambling to hide the evidence when somebody more law abiding suddenly pays a visit to the house.

    • On the subject of green coffee beans… A supervisor of mine years ago came from a Dutch family, at least partly settled in the east Indies. Which branch worked in coffee, among other exportable things.

      Most of them got out and came to America in late 1941, bringing whatever they could haul in their luggage. One item being a 10lb bag of green beans, which ended up in my friend’s father’s closet under the stairs.

      Fast forward to 1973 or so, and sorting through things after his father passed away, he pulled this sack out from the back of the closet.

      For a couple of years, he said he and his wife enjoyed the best coffee they’d ever tasted in their lives, roasting a handful of beans at a time just before grinding them and brewing up a cup or two. The green beans seem to keep pretty well if you’re careful.

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  17. “Assault rifles h*ll. I think we should have shoulder-mounted rocket launchers.) ”

    And the founders would have intended us to if they had known what a rocket launcher was. Something that is always ignored is that the MAIN purpose of the 2nd Amendment was not hunting, or self-defense, it was to provide the populace with a means of keeping the federal government (or any other government, for that matter) in check. Having just fought a revolutionary war, the founders intended for US citizens to always have the capability to successfully fight another one if it ever became necessary. This is something never mentioned in the ‘gun control debates, instead of argueing over how many bullets a gun should be allowed to hold we should be argueing over the right to own an Abrams and a Tomcat (provided of course that you have the means to pay for one. )

    • “Assault rifles h*ll. I think we should have shoulder-mounted rocket launchers.) ”

      For reasons of hygiene I decline to provide the link, but it is noteworthy that Thursday’s edition of the New York Times has an article by Times’ reporter Erica Goode (on the Nation page) reporting that there is no definition of what an “assault weapon” actually is: “Even Defining ‘Assault Rifles’ Is Complicated.”

      For the last month the NYT editorial page has been pushing for a ban on “assault rifles” and only NOW does their paper tell us that there ain’t no sech thang? Sadly, 30+ years of reading the NYTwits has long since convinced me that their editors don’t read the paper (probably being too familiar with what goes on in the process of filling its pages) so I have no expectations of a more informed editorial stance.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      The only things I’m on the fence about in weapon ownership are the so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction.

      I’m solidly against private stocks of biological weapons of the infectious micro-organism nature, because their potential to get out of hand is too high. On the other hand, here’s a question I have never been given a good answer to: Where is the line on what is or is not biological warfare? If you drop hornet’s nests, is that bio warfare? I grant it’s not particularly destructive, but it would certainly generate confusion. Then you can follow that train of thought all the way down to using trained animals in warfare, like dolphins, or even dogs.

      • Did you see Rio Bravo? In the opening scene the Confederate soldiers dropped hornets’ nests into the Union pay train clearing the soldiers out.

      • Well technically humans are biological weapons.

      • you should read the essay that John Ringo wrote about script kiddies and the coming zombie apocalypse. Gave me nightmares. Sleep was….an interesting thing for a couple nights

    • 2A is not the source of gun rights, it is “merely” an enumeration for The Union of American States of the rights given by God to every human. It’s up to us to enforce those rights.

      They meant for us to have modern infantry weapons, particularly “Light Infantry” weaponry, supplies, training. Families who can afford a Toyota Corolla can afford to equip at least one soldier completely, and they should. There should be a significant family tax credit for mustering a fit 18-45 year old man with a full kit to stand for inspection monthly.

      Whatever weapons a modern infantryman can use by himself should be available to be bought and trained for through the local militia company, meaning that an M2 .50BMG is not a personal weapon, but an anti-tank or anti-aircraft rocket is (fancy & expensive 1-shot or reloadable models). A man-packable mortar tube is. A suitcase atomic bomb is not (regardless that cost and maintenance requirement is large).

      The cost of maintaining and training to use an Abrams or Tomcat will frighten off all but the wealthiest and most determined. Strictly speaking, these are not individual militia weapons, but very wealthy patriotic militia units might have some in support of the State Military.

      So, what are we going to do with all of these young people coming home from the wars?

      Cheers.

      • “The cost of maintaining and training to use an Abrams or Tomcat will frighten off all but the wealthiest and most determined. Strictly speaking, these are not individual militia weapons, but very wealthy patriotic militia units might have some in support of the State Military.”

        So some wealthy Texans might buy a squadron of F-25s for the State Militia? I wonder if buying arms for the militia would cut down on your taxes? Sounds kind of medieval.

        • So some wealthy Texans might buy a squadron of F-25s for the State Militia? I wonder if buying arms for the militia would cut down on your taxes?

          It is a good question and one which would probably have to be adjudicated. I think it depends on whether the state militia is a recognized non-profit organization so that donations of in-kind assets would count as charitable.

          OTOH, if the Texas state militia organizes a separate organization as a charitable, non-profit (or even passes a law recognizing it as such for tax purposes) then such a donation would be reduce state income taxes, certainly. It might also be recognized through a favorable property tax valuation, although most states like to avoid too direct an appearance of quid pro quo.

          Should said wealthy Texan donate those F-25s to the Texas State Boy Scouts, OTOH, it would certainly meet all criteria for a charitable gift and allow a significant income tax deduction from state and Federal taxes. At least, I do not think there are any restrictions on the nature of a charitable gift for tax purposes, merely the valuation of it (typically current fair market value) and the amount deductible against income in any single year (the donor would have to employ a carry-over to derive any surplus benefit in later years and may be limited in the length of time they can claim that.)

          Recently somebody had up a link to a story Retropundit story about the heir to Col. John Jacob Astor IV donating machine guns to NY City Schools. Although the Federal Income Tax was not then in effect, I expect such a donation would be deductible as a charitable act:

          http://retropundit.wordpress.com/1913/01/07/guns-in-schools-new-york-high-school-students-allowed-to-use-machine-guns/

          • Drat. I thought I had slashed that blockquote and it appears I only stuttered.

          • Texas doesn’t have a state income tax. I was thinking more of business taxes.

            • I didn’t think Texas had a state income tax, but that is the only way a charitable tax credit would benefit (aside from the proposed improbable scenarios described above.) Unless Texas has a state business income tax, in which case a clever tax manager might use the donation as a reduction in business income for promotional expense (think a business donating a flight of A-25s — or better yet, A-10s — wouldn’t generate state-wide good will?)

              It all depends on what the authorities will allow, of course — and I doubt the current White House would encourage the IRS to view this as a reasonable expense for Federal business tax purposes.

        • The Constitution authorizes issuing letter of marque. Obviously, they thought private individuals could own anything the military did.

    • Robin Roberts

      A common refrain of gun control activists is “Do you think you should be able to own a nuclear weapon?” Its meant to be a question that either defeats us with its paradox or gets a stupid answer.

      The real answer is that does that person think that anyone who has the resources to obtain a nuclear weapon, and wants one, can’t? It only takes the resources of a medium sized nation. Or in other words, all of our billionaires put together.

      Its certainly not a legal “ban” that stops that kind of person from obtaining a nuclear weapon – ask the Iranians.

      So the answer is that the real question is what does the right to keep and bear arms actually mean? It means we have the same right a Greek hoplite had two millenia ago. The right to arm and train to effectively defend our community and our homes.

  18. The title made me think of an episode of “The Real Ghostbusters” written by J. Michael Strakzynski, about a guy who summoned Satan, but instead of selling his soul, for riches, he demanded that Satan take all the chickens in the world to hell. Because he hated chickens. This caused all kinds of problems, even for Satan.

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