Re: Really sorry for myself.

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No idea, really, so take this with more than a grain of salt, but my wife experienced something similar after the birth of our first child. And her doctor thought it was the re-tightening of the ligaments and tendons and whatnot that get much looser late in pregnancy.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 6:16 PM
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Not arthritis - that's a a joint thing not a muscle thing. If I had to bet, I'd put my money on aftereffects of pregnancy making you a little more prone to seizing up. Most likely it will pass as your body adjusts to a new equilibrium.

Either that or body thetans.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 6:16 PM
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Got s/b got. And I meant to mention the thetans. My bad.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 6:19 PM
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Wow, I'm such a superstar at this commenting thing.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 6:19 PM
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We should all point out the words in our comments that we want to keep exactly as they are.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 6:21 PM
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It probably is pregnancy-related, then. Pregnancy really does one hell of a number on your body.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 6:22 PM
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Relevant video for any discussion of health care and Texas.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 6:22 PM
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holy fuck

Maybe Politico should invest in comment moderation, and maybe, just maybe, ask themselves what they've done to attract that sort of crowd.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 6:27 PM
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Not arthritis - that's a a joint thing not a muscle thing.

It's probably not arthritis, but arthritis can easily manifest itself via muscle issues. The involvement in my knee first showed up as what I assumed was muscle tightness/inflammation (only to find out it was actually fluid in the joint), and I found out I had neck problems after I went to go see my orthopedist because the muscles in my shoulder hurt.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 6:27 PM
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I wonder how many Democrats voted for the Stupak amendment to get it into the bill as the compromise that would make it possible to pass the bill and then voted against the bill anyway.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 6:34 PM
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9 - good point. My neck injury manifests as shoulder and upper back pain.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 6:34 PM
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8: Their commenters are loony racist bottom feeders and I imagine that they leave the comments on because a significant amount of traffic comes from those fools.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 6:37 PM
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HG: Find a friendly doctor to write you a scrip for some cyc/obenzapr/ne, aka F/exeri/. It's good for what ails you.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 7:21 PM
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10: The answers you seek are here. There were 26.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 7:22 PM
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Thanks. I started to count them up myself and then figured other people had already done the work and stopped.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 7:27 PM
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14: Including my Blue Dog piece of shit. I fired off an intemperate response to a recent fund raising message in my Inbox this morning. Not even sure what I said, I know there was something about "spineless" and "Jell-O" and "never e-mail this account again". I'm sure he's crushed ...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 8:08 PM
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13: One -- why oughtn't I type out the name of the drug??? -- Flexer/l knocked me on my ass for a full 24 hrs. I am not sure heebie could work such a thing into her 4-games/week schedule.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 8:11 PM
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Looking at that made me realize that I didn't know who my representative was. Turns out it's Frank Pallone, who voted yes despite receiving the second-highest amount of money from the health industry (after Charlie Rangel). Seems like a pretty decent guy.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 8:14 PM
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Drug names might get spam filtered.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 8:16 PM
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what they've done to attract that sort of crowd

Eh, it's pretty much the same thing at any newspaper website with comments.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 8:37 PM
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A good hip stretch:

Sit on the floor with your left leg in front of you, bent to the right at a 90-degree angle. Position your right leg so your thigh is parallel to the left leg's shin, with the right knee also bent at a 90-degree angle (sort of like a half-swastika altogether). Then gently push the right hip open into the stretch. Do this for a few minutes, then repeat with the right leg in front, bent to the left, etc.

I get tight hips sometimes, and that seems to help!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 8:58 PM
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Fucking arthritis. My spouse needs a hip replacement. At 48.


Posted by: Dwight Eisenhower | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 9:24 PM
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YOU'RE STEALING MY MATERIAL!


Posted by: OPINIONATED TYLER BURGE | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 9:54 PM
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Completely OT, but I don't know where else to discuss this:

The finale of Mad Men had, from a lawyer's perspective, a plot that was just laughably stupid. It turned me into annoyingly-unable-to-suspend-disbelief-guy, drafting the complaint in my mind as I watched. Totally unforgivable in a TV show that purports to be, and usually is, smart about business.

(I guess if you really squint hard you could see a situation very specific to Hollywood where something like that might happen, but only for very entertainment industry specific reasons).

And, not only was the "getting the gang back together" device completely implausible, it was also aesthetically lame. Arrgh.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 10:16 PM
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I don't know where else to discuss this

You could try here.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 11:06 PM
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Maybe lawyers during the Mad Men time period really did whatever it was that happened on the episode, but not so obviously and this is all part of the show's commentary on the past.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 11:09 PM
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||

I still have 40 pages left to read in the book I was going to try to finish before going to bed, but I think I'll just go to bed and finish it in the morning. I was intending to devote tomorrow entirely to writing the paper based largely on this book that's due Tuesday, but it's probably best to read the rest of it when I'm not so tired.

|>


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 8-09 11:22 PM
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21:
Holy crap. I'm not sure if the stretch improved anything, but it certainly felt weird/good.


Posted by: salacious | Link to this comment | 11- 9-09 1:21 AM
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I've suffered from these sorts of muscle/joint issues for years. Not sure what works, really. Regular exercise, definitely -- as it seems to make one much more prone to injury if one has any kind of lay-off -- and the usual dynamic stretching, static/passive stretching, glucosamine/fish-oil all seem to help.

There are lots of good on-line resources for stretching, so I can probably recommend some if you need 'em. Also the usual books [Thomas Kurz, etc].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 9-09 4:32 AM
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21 is similar to the yoga pose pigeon, in which the front leg is the same and the back leg goes straight out behind you, with the top of your leg on the ground.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11- 9-09 5:02 AM
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My guess is that Ari's got it in 1. All your tendons and ligaments loosen way the hell up in late pregnancy, and take a while to retighten - I bet there's something going on like your groin/hip muscles needing to be super-tensed up to stabilize you when you're playing, because your ligaments and such aren't doing their normal amount of work.

That doesn't give me any treatment ideas, but if that's it, this too shall pass. Give it another couple of months.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 9-09 5:06 AM
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My guess is that Ari's got it in 1. All your tendons and ligaments loosen way the hell up in late pregnancy, and take a while to retighten - I bet there's something going on like your groin/hip muscles needing to be super-tensed up to stabilize you when you're playing, because your ligaments and such aren't doing their normal amount of work.

That doesn't give me any treatment ideas, but if that's it, this too shall pass. Give it another couple of months.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 9-09 5:06 AM
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18: Really? It's not whatsisface the physicist, um, Rush Holt? He's from Princeton -- which is much closer to you than the part of Pallone's district that I grew up in. He's really very good on healthcare stuff and an all-around nice guy.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11- 9-09 6:04 AM
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You should get an exercise bike on the sidelines like they have in the NFL. Because NFL players are probably suffering from pregnancy-related issues too.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11- 9-09 7:10 AM
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After soccer today I kind of cried walking from the car to the house.

Remorse after pulling someone's ponytail?


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 11- 9-09 11:48 AM
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I just determined that my longtime, reliable, labor-liberal rep voted for the Stupak amendment. Goddamnit.

Did anyone catch this morning on MPR how the Bishops are all about health care, which is why, when they told congress to keep abortion out of HCR, congress asked "How thoroughly?" And then about how the Bishops are all about allowing illegal immigrants to access HCR, and congress said "..."?

I hate this fucking country.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 9-09 12:31 PM
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Remorse after pulling someone's ponytail?

I missed that thread, but this anecdote is brand-new: at lunch today, we were in a coffee shop-type place (Isaly's West View) and this video was, for some reason, on the local news. Sure enough, lots of comments from the men: "Wouldn't want to marry her"; [to cop]"Aren't you glad you don't have to arrest her?" Etc. I'm glad someone made and disseminated that video so that people would have something to focus their misogyny on.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 9-09 12:34 PM
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Yeah, I like the comments that are like "God help her boyfriend (or girlfriend)." I wonder if people feel concern for Albert Haynesworth's girlfriend when they see Albert Haynesworth body-slam a guy and then scream in his face.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 9-09 12:39 PM
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Did anyone else do the math and note that the 26 Dems who voted Yea/Nay on Stupak/HCR were the margin for passing on Stupak?*

Fuck those fucking fuckers.

* On further consideration, that's simple math/logic, since we know that HCR passed with 2 votes to spare and that every R save one voted Yea/Nay


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 9-09 12:40 PM
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33: Yeah, the districts are drawn in a very odd manner. More info here.

Sorry to respond so late, but I had a paper to write. Which I did, successfully. Woo!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 9-09 11:21 PM
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That WaPo visualisation is pretty impressive; especially as a sort of "Profiles in Bastardy". Pete Sessions comes out of it especially badly - really high campaign contributions, really high non-insured population, voted no. Not that this was surprising.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 6:10 AM
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wonder if people feel concern for Albert Haynesworth's girlfriend when they see Albert Haynesworth body-slam a guy and then scream in his face.

They probably should.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 6:33 AM
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"Wouldn't want to marry her"

I am amazed, just flat-out amazed, that people say this out loud. The amount of masculine entitlement it takes to say that, as any random guy in the universe, it's an insult to deny hypothetical marriage to some woman in the media just baffles me. Yup, random dude in a diner, you win. How will she go on?

Sorry this is obvious and shrill. I very clearly remember dudes in college saying this about (especially beautiful and tough) women professors. When it comes down to it, the one thing you've got that makes you better than a powerful woman is the right to deny her your gift of matrimony? So weird.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 7:03 AM
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43:

I feel the same way about the oft-made statement of "Yep, I'd do her."

Almost without fail, my thought is "Yea, right......she is WAY above your pay grade."


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 7:06 AM
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Yes, because what's really important is knowing your place.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 7:09 AM
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Well, relying on a superior position of power to attack someone from does make you look kind of stupid when you haven't got that position. So, knowing your place, in a realistic sense, is important to avoid deluded absurdity, yes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 7:20 AM
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44-46: Yes, the examples are stupid, but the "above your pay grade" locution is utterly f**ed up. Like we need the constant reminder that we all are little status-drenched organisms groveling around in the mire.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:03 AM
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Eh, I see what you mean. But if pointing out someone's low status is ever appropriate, it's when they've tried to put someone else down by falsely claiming high status themselves. Being better than that is nice, but not IMO mandatory.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:10 AM
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Yes. It's much more appropriate to phrase it in terms of people's stock value. Who is worth more on the exchange?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:11 AM
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I shorted heebie.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:13 AM
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The thing I just don't get is status competition by judging strangers on a TV screen. There are times when personal insult is satisfying; but basically, every time insults are delivered publicly, they weaken the insulter. Cutting and unkind words are whispered, not shouted.

Public insults among kids are as much a rallying cry for the audience, an invitation to take sides. Maybe that's the point with superficial judgements of strangers, and it's worked even at an attenuated remove here.

Also, there is definitely an interpersonal economy, with clearly definable values, though the medium of value is attention, which fails as a medium of exchange.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:32 AM
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Will should have gone with "way out of your league", to remind people that if they had any value, they'd be stupendous natural athletes.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:38 AM
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re: feeling sorry for myself. Just found out I didn't get short-listed for a job. Apparently 150+ applicants.

Which is insane, and basically leaves me completely stuffed as I've no chance in that climate.

>


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:38 AM
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"I'd do her" and "Wouldn't want to marry her" strike me as just a lesser form of the phenomenon manifested in street harassment, catcalls, etc. -- or a t-shirt I saw the other day: "Enjoy my Cock" with "Cock" done in the Coca-Cola script. Wearing that shirt has about the same chance of getting you laid as does shouting "I'd do her" at the TV in a bar.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:39 AM
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53: Boo. That sucks.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:41 AM
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53: Oh, man. This must be such an awful year to be a new PhD. Apparently the University of Queensland is hiring if you're an economist, but that doesn't help you much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:41 AM
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re: 56

Yeah. I have a job, but not teaching [the imaging/IT thing I do]. Bugger. With smaller numbers I might get an interview and then a chance, but with 150 there are going to be loads of people with fat publication records.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:57 AM
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43 Sort of. Like so many forms of sexual objectification of women by men, the problem isn't that it occurs but that it becomes the dominant prism. Everybody, regardless of gender or orientation will at times think of a person as sexual objects of desire, it's when that becomes the only way a whole class of people are seen that you get the problem.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:02 AM
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A test of the Propaganda Model: If anyone sees mention of this rather terrifying story in U.S. media, let me know?

|>


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:06 AM
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And that sucks, ttaM. Are you okay with staying in your current job for another year?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:07 AM
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59: Kevin Drum espouses a wait and see attitude.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:11 AM
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61: What are the odds.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:21 AM
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re: 60

Not sure. I like the people, but the job is not very interesting. I certainly have time to look for other things, I don't have to rush to leave or anything.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:25 AM
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This is obviously not advice, given that I don't know anything relevant, just curiosity -- is banging out a couple of publications (like, rewriting your dissertation as a couple of articles or something) a possible strategy, or one that would be likely to help much?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:30 AM
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re: 64

That is the actual strategy, yeah. I actually have a few things that are nearly ready to get submitted to a few places. Prob. a month or two of work. Not just for career reasons, I'd quite like to get them out there so even if I don't stay in the academic world, I've at least done my bit.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:33 AM
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Which is insane, and basically leaves me completely stuffed as I've no chance in that climate.

You and me both, my friend.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 10:16 AM
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61, 62: Word.

I must say, it's almost impossible to find a clear course between "I don't know, I don't know I don't know!" and "Please, remain calm" and "Oh, cut it with the conspiracy-mongering." Denial is the rule of the day, and it comes half out of habit and half out of a sheer failure to know. Adjust your proportions according to will or inclination. Drum adheres to a certain line, but he also has to reset like 16 clocks every time the seasons change, so, you know.

I was surprised to see so-called "peak oil" mentioned by someone on this blog not too long ago as one of the conspiracy-nut types of bugaboos. Huh? I think we know that we will reach peak oil production and may already have done so.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 11:55 AM
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Even the "Peak Oil Debunked" blog agrees that petroleum is a finite commodity and could someday run out. Which strains the meaning of the word "debunked" to an inordinate degree.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:05 PM
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Well, there's 'peak oil' and there's 'the inevitable collapse of civilization caused by peak oil -- have you bought a solar dryer yet so that you can preserve your own food?' Peak oil seems like something that's obviously going to happen real soon now, and if it doesn't it's because something unexpected happened. Civilization collapsing over it? I don't really know how to assess the odds, but I'd be surprised.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:06 PM
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Right. The consequences of reaching the peak in worldwide oil production are likely somewhere on the severity scale between business as usual and the collapse of civilization. It gets scary when you start to think of all the aspects of our cushy lives that depend on cheap oil, even scarier if you reflect that the capitalist world-system demands growth and has until now required ever-increasing levels of natural resources as inputs. It gets a little less scary if you think of it in terms of a fairly gradual increase in oil prices that gives everyone time to adjust to using less.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:16 PM
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I have certainly mentioned before that I took a five week seminar with the peak oil proselytizer Richard Heinberg. It was an interesting melange of rational number crunching argument and apocalyptic dreaming.

I'm pretty well convinced by the core argument that we have already passed the peak of global oil production or will pass it soon. The arguments for that thesis are very cogent, and the arguments from the other side are transparent sophistry.

When you jump from there to "oh god, oh god, we're all going to die" things get weird. First of all, Heinberg is pretty up front about the fact that he really wants civilization to collapse. He also freely admits that before he was a peak oil prophet, he was a PR person for what he called "a relatively harmless apocalyptic cult."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:19 PM
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69: People are always surprised when civilization collapses.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:20 PM
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72: I certainly expect to be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:22 PM
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73: It does make quite a loud noise. Lots of dust, too.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:26 PM
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It's funny being a committed urbanite and talking about this stuff -- while city living is generally environmentally preferable and all that, there's a little weirdness from the fact that Manhattan absolutely requires a well-functioning industrial civilization to keep going. If anything describable as a collapse of civilization happened at all suddenly, pretty much everyone in NYC would be dead in a week or so, when the water stopped running and the grocery stores weren't restocked.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:30 PM
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72: Oh, I think the Romans saw it coming pretty well. It's all right there in The Satyricon, if you care to look.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:31 PM
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I hope civilization doesn't happen before next summer. I didn't put a winter garden in this year.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:32 PM
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And yet the Roman Empire still existed over a thousand years later. Not in Rome itself of course, but there was still a Roman emperor ruling a political entity historically continuous with the old empire.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:35 PM
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75: Well that's certainly the canonical (cannibalical?) SM Stir/ing view of things. I remain unconvinced though. Reading Collapse, one of the things that stands out is that most societies that actually collapse, to the degree of not existing in any recognizable form, are relatively small and geographically isolated. Even the Black Death didn't really do for any whole countries (directly).


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:36 PM
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78: Yes, I was being silly.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:36 PM
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76: Well, by that standard, we certainly see it coming too. Still, I think there would be some surprised people if it actually happens.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:37 PM
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75 is worth thinking about.

How is urban living environmentally preferable again?

Those are rhetorical questions, don't worry. I don't really want to revive the question, because we surely all know: people in highly urban environments are screwed if anything goes wrong at all.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:39 PM
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Well, yeah, as I said above, I'd be surprised if civilization collapsed suddenly, or at all. It's just weird thinking that where I live, it's imperatively necessary for the wheels to keep turning continuously -- if stuff (waving generally at industrial civilization) shut down, NYC would become a very bad place to be very fast.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:39 PM
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75: imagining that everything powered by oil suddenly disappears is the exact wrong way to look at things. With migration patterns, specifically, it gets everything reversed. The peak oilers in upstate NY were imagining that when peak oil hit, all of Manhattan would come streaming up to them. But the collapse of the economy has lead to the exact opposite. Upstate NY--basically the suddenly famous 23rd congressional district--is being emptied because there are no jobs.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:41 PM
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How is urban living environmentally preferable again?

Urbanites use fewer natural resources than people with a comparable standard of living who don't live in urban environments. I think that's it. Our smugness isn't really a net gain for Mother Earth.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:42 PM
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82: Less energy use. My domicile doesn't lose heat to the outside world through four out of six of its sides. Because I live in a high density region, I can get to work and run errands on mass transit. My domicile occupies a literally much smaller area than an equivalent one family house -- the footprint of my eighty-unit building wouldn't be extravagant for one house with a yard in the suburbs -- allowing for more open land to remain wild or be used for agriculture. And so on.

None of this makes me virtuous, of course, I live in the city because I like it. But if everyone on the planet not working in agriculture moved into densely packed urban housing, we'd be a lot better off energy-use and habitat-preservation wise.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:43 PM
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84: Yeah: To paraphrase Marc Reisner, oil flows uphill towards money.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:43 PM
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84: Well, that's the thing -- there's no reason for 'peak oil' to mean 'head for the woods' unless you're literally talking about civilization ceasing to function. Anything short of that, moving to Queens is a better option.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:45 PM
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83: NY-23 is freakishly large. Somehow I hadn't cottoned to that and it freaked me out that Watertown and Saranac Lake shared a rep.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:47 PM
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Snake Plissken would defeat the gangs dressed as clowns and baseball players.

Rapid collapse is not at all likely in my opinion-- electricity from coal will not run out for a long time, and expensive oil will concentrate attention that is now directed elsewhere. More unemployment, maybe, but even Detroit or Youngstown are still preferable to say Merida or Guayaquil.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:47 PM
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86: LB, sweetheart, I know! It really was a rhetorical question, because I was impatient. The problem with that densely packed environment is that y'all can't feed yourselves.

I don't think this kind of division of labor is wise in the end. I really don't want to see a continent, or a planet, on which people are densely packed in ant colonies fed by the rest of the land. (I mean, it might serve us right, it might be the best way to contain ourselves, except that we're exploiting resources left and right in order to make it happen, so it's really not working.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:50 PM
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91: Seriously? You think it's a problem that not every person raises their own food? Man, that seems weird to me -- I like the whole 'civilization in which non-manual labor jobs exist' thing. If you're not talking about everyone growing their own food, what's the difference between living in the country and buying your food from a grocery store, and living in the city and doing the same?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:54 PM
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on which people are densely packed in ant colonies fed by the rest of the land.

This just seems like such a weird description of a city. If we're not talking about reverting to being preindustrial peasants (which, you know, I'm not up for), most people are going to be fed by a small percentage of the population who work as farmers, regardless of whether they live in the city or in the country.

You might find city life esthetically displeasing (just because I like it doesn't mean you have to), but it's not exploiting any more resources than non-city life in our society. Less, in fact. By quite a bit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:57 PM
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And of course, if you want everyone to revert to being preindustrial peasants, that's cool. I think it'll be a hard sell, but follow your bliss. But thinking of the biggest change that will entail as shutting down the cities seems shortsighted.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 12:59 PM
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92: Also, the potential of urban farming hasn't really been explored yet. For too many environmentalists, intensive agriculture is synonymous with unsustainable factory farming. But it really doesn't have to be, if by "intensive" you merely mean high yield for low land use.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:01 PM
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The problem with that densely packed environment is that y'all can't feed yourselves.

Right. Because, historically, the life of a farmer has been one of unending plenty.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:01 PM
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You think it's a problem that not every person raises their own food?

Did I say that?

You've got an entire rather large city there (I'm not beating up on NY in particular, but it's an available example) which can't feed itself even remotely. It's a question of degree, no?

This shouldn't be hard: I would argue for smaller, more plausibly self-sustaining communities. No, I don't object to any and all division of labor whatsoever. It's absurd to suggest that I've done so.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:03 PM
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95: Indeed. I just read something fascinating about Parisian market gardeners in the 19th and early 20th century -- they turned out an amazing amount of food on urban lots. Raised beds, a lot of horse manure providing both fertilizer and heat, glass cloches... I can't remember where I read it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:03 PM
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The problem with civilization is that you depend on other people.

Not only did I not grow what I ate today, I didn't make the clothes that I wore, or the contact lenses that I'm wearing, or the computer that I'm typing this on, or the series of tubes that connects my computer to your computer.

And we're all the poorer for that.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:05 PM
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94: And of course, if you want everyone to revert to being preindustrial peasants, that's cool. I think it'll be a hard sell, but follow your bliss.

Eh. I find this insulting, and I don't want to insult you in return, so I'm off for a bit, I think.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:07 PM
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It's a question of degree, no?

Well, if what you're worried about is resource use, big cities aren't slightly worse than rural sprawl, they're much better on a per capita basis. If you're worried about the collapse of civilization, you're right, I'm going to die much faster than someone in the country with a backyard garden. If you have a belief that it's better for an individual who can't feed themself directly to buy their food from someone who's in the same 'community' even if it means they're using more resources, I have to say that I don't see the practical gain.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:07 PM
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100: Sorry about that -- it was snippy, and there wasn't any justification for it. I'm just completely confused by the substance of your concern; I don't understand at all what metric you're using that makes non-urban life preferable to urban life. (I can totally see personally preferring non-urban life. But I have the impression that you're talking about something practical, and I don't understand what.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:10 PM
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Jammies made his own computer in elementary school. I don't see why the rest of you can't make your own as well.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:10 PM
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The answer is to 102 is: people in highly urban environments are screwed if anything goes wrong at all. Kind of like people in airplanes. Or cars.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:13 PM
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I would argue for smaller, more plausibly self-sustaining communities.

So at what point in the past would we find communities that fit your criteria?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:17 PM
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101: I think Parsimon is suggesting that we'd be better off if we didn't have so many people on the planet that dense ant-colonies were required in order to sustainably support ourselves. (Which, if we don't already have that many people, we likely will soon.) I read "I really don't want to see a continent, or a planet, on which people are densely packed in ant colonies fed by the rest of the land" as "it sucks that we're heading there, because it sounds dreary. It would be nice if there were, say, maybe no more than one or two billion people on earth, instead."


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:18 PM
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104: But that's not remotely true. Lots of things can go wrong, resource-scarcity-wise, that will make life difficult for a rural dweller before it makes life difficult for me. City people have problems if industrial civilization stops working. While there's a functioning civilization allocating resources, on the other hand, the fact that I need less is going to mean I stay comfortable longer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:19 PM
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106: Oh, I can see that. If it didn't always lead to discussions of how oppressive and awful any way of getting there would inevitably be, I'd be wistful about a much smaller population myself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:21 PM
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I agree that the planet and humanity would be better off with fewer people. But given a global population of 1 or 2 billion (or whatever), we'd use fewer resources, including open space/wilderness, if most of that population lived in dense urban areas.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:21 PM
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The reason people make such a big deal about Peak Oil is that unlike most prophets of doom, Hubbert was right. His model correctly predicted the peak year for US domestic oil production, which I believe was 1969 or thereabouts. His later model of the whole world turned out to not be right, which people often attribute to things like the 1970s oil embargoes which he couldn't have predicted. In any case, my understanding of the situation is that we likely have passed the global peak already or will soon (the exact year of the peak can only be determined in retrospect, once a downward trend is apparent), and that it does not spell catastrophe. Oil will get more expensive, but gradually, and even if we run out of oil we will never run out of energy (at least on a plausible human timescale). We can mine and burn coal forever, and it would only take a small amount of ingenuity to replace all of the oil we currently use with other energy sources. Of course, switching to coal would still be disastrous from a global-warming perspective, but that's a separate issue.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:23 PM
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We can mine and burn coal forever,

Not literally, of course. I actually thought that the coal stock didn't look nearly so impressive once you assumed that it had to replace all our oil-based energy use. But I'd have to look up the numbers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:25 PM
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Fertility rates are rapidly declining worldwide, you know. It's likely that world population will peak around 2050 and then decline.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:26 PM
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Living in Manhattan is awesome. I had no idea ants had it so good.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:26 PM
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I actually thought that the coal stock didn't look nearly so impressive once you assumed that it had to replace all our oil-based energy use. But I'd have to look up the numbers.

I don't know the numbers offhand either, but while it is of course literally finite there's definitely enough to buy us a lot of time in which to figure out what else to do.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:27 PM
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This is specific to Appalachia, but it links to a USGS document on US coal resources more generally.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:33 PM
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Jesus, teo, how many blogs do you have?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:33 PM
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Four, although only three are active right now.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:34 PM
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Thirty goddam blogs.

He's also nine feet tall and made of radiation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:34 PM
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Haven't you heard? Niche blogs are the wave of the future.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:35 PM
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117: Is that counting Targhandism?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:37 PM
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120: No, that wasn't really a blog and it wasn't just mine.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:39 PM
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121: Is it because you're embarrassed of it?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:41 PM
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||

This must mean something: MY wrote something so egregiously opposite of his intended meaning that he actually added a correction to the post. Progress.

Maybe I've been too pessimistic lately.

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:45 PM
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122: No.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:47 PM
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123: Maybe he just realized he'll never top "Ryan M. Powers is typing" and is giving up.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:49 PM
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If it were possible, I think we should find the maxim number of human beings the planet can sustain and stay about 10% below that number (just for a margin of error.) I like people. People are a source of value.

In fact, I think we should maximize the cognitive capacity of every object in the universe.

Talking about population makes me sound more like a gee-wiz techno-positive posthumanist than an environmentalist.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:49 PM
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I think we should sustain about 10% of each person. No more knees. Or maybe each person gets to pick.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:51 PM
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People are a source of value.

If we'd just accept that people are a source of *food*, we'd be able to support more of them.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:53 PM
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I once read that, if you housed everyone on the planet at Hong Kong (Beijing? Whatever) densities, we'd all fit in Kansas.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:53 PM
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I want to emphasize that I know that 126 makes me sound like a dork. However, it follows directly from principles I embrace.

Actually, that may be the pattern behind all my blog comments.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:55 PM
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126: Don't you have to have a 'standard of living' factor in there? I mean, once you get up to the hard limits, you've got a big swing in terms of calorie requirements if you're willing to accept being malnourished -- are 20 billion people sleeping in bunks with their ribs showing twice as good as 10 billion well-fed people? (This is taking it to a ridiculous extreme, of course. Just identifying the issue.) I'd rather a world with a few rich happy people than many poor suffering people, if you leave all considerations of how you get there to one side. (That is, Europe was in many ways a nicer place to live after the Black Death than before. The Black Death still sucked.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:56 PM
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129: Stand on Zanzibar. That was back in the 70s, so it probably wouldn't work anymore, but I believe the claim was that the world population could all stand on the island of Zanzibar.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:57 PM
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Mouse orgasms all round!


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:59 PM
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If you're worried about the collapse of civilization, you're right, I'm going to die much faster than someone in the country with a backyard garden.

I don't even buy this much of the claim, at least not if "I" means the generic urbanite. Without civilization, you're a lot likelier to be secure as a member of an organized polity that can go forth and plunder the local farmers than as one of those farmers. Which is not to say that either the generic urbanite or the generic farmer has much chance.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 1:59 PM
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In fact, I think we should maximize the cognitive capacity of every object in the universe.

Does that mean you think we should be showing baby einstein videos to squirrels?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:00 PM
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a member of an organized polity

Unfortunately, like Will Rogers I'm a Democrat.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:01 PM
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In fact, I think we should maximize the cognitive capacity of every object in the universe.

Squirrels? I'm thinking too conventionally aren't I?
We have to help the acorns reach their intellectual potentail!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:04 PM
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132: Just about my favorite SF novel.


Posted by: Chad C. Mulligan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:04 PM
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Isn't it great? I love Brunner a lot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:05 PM
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At Manhattan densities, everyone right now would fit in Oregon.

It was definitely not Hong Kong - could have been Taipei or Beijing. Mumbai is the densest city, at just 8% higher than Manhattan (NYC as a whole is 1/15 as dense as Mumbai, but have you ever been to Staten Island?).

Everyone in the world would fit in Michigan at Mumbai density, with 5000 square miles to spare.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:06 PM
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Without civilization, you're a lot likelier to be secure as a member of an organized polity that can go forth and plunder the local farmers than as one of those farmers.

This is true, but you're still going to die faster. Preindustrial cities were deathtraps.

Incidentally, it's important to distinguish between "civilization" and "industrial civilization." Cities had existed for thousands of years when the Industrial Revolution started.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:08 PM
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Everyone in the world would fit in Michigan at Mumbai density, with 5000 square miles to spare.

That's one way to revive the Detroit housing market.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:12 PM
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Really, we have nothing to worry about because civilization collapsed a while ago. Think of all the women going around with exposed ankles! People eating ice cream cones in public!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:12 PM
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Preindustrial cities were deathtraps.

Also preindustrial countryside, no?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:13 PM
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It seems to me that while technological progress will allow everybody to achieve a certain amount of comfort that the amount of meaningful lives that can be lived at one time is in fixed supply. If as people get richer they begin to develop goals like "make a positive contribution", then the more people there are, the harder it gets. The world needs only so many politicians, artists, scientists, comedians. Philosophers.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:13 PM
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126: In fact, I think we should maximize the cognitive capacity of every object in the universe.

I'll go with this if you integrate it over time across plausible futures. Diversity becomes a value then (don't kill all the cockroaches for instance). Unwilling to put all the eggs into this social mammal's basket (to strain a metaphor) just because we're "ahead" at this moment in time.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:13 PM
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145 pwned by the Dead Kennedys.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:14 PM
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145: Thus the invention of blogging.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:15 PM
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Also preindustrial countryside, no?

By modern standards, yes, but my understanding is that rural populations were generally a lot healthier than urban ones. The countryside just sucked in every other way.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:15 PM
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Preindustrial cities were death-traps entirely because we were such ignorant fuckers who didn't understand sophisticated concepts such as "sanitation". The preindustrial countryside was less dangerous than preindustrial cities for that reason.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:16 PM
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It would take 4281 Manhattans to house the whole world, but just 837 NYCs, and 316 New York Combined Statistical Areas. Given that much of the NYCSA is actually pleasant and even green (not to mention that parts that are not green are underutilized, viz. Jersey City), this wouldn't be the worst fate for mankind - a few hundred megacities with wilderness just an hour's drive away.

But I doubt that the whole thing is efficient enough that you could actually support the whole world in that kind of comfort sustainably. I dunno - maybe you could.

[Incidentally, looking more closely at the numbers for NYC reveals that the chart I was looking at for densities in 140 is wack (I think it used the NYCSA as the basis?). So, grain of salt on that]


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:16 PM
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147: Is it really? What song?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:17 PM
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150 is right. The collapse of industrial civilization, assuming it doesn't also involve the loss of all the knowledge acquired in the course of the development of that civilization, wouldn't necessarily entail a return to preindustrial conditions.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:17 PM
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Sorry to beat the horse's cadaver a bit more, but one of the nice features of a more modern urban/agricultural system is not needing to rely on rainfall, lack of potato blight, whatever right in my little locale. A bit of geographical buffering is nice.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:18 PM
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152: No, not really. I was thinking of "Kill the Poor," but only because I'm sick and grumpy and my head hurts.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:19 PM
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Thus bringing the thread full circle.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:21 PM
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149: I'm actually not totally sure about preindustrial cities, other than on the infectious disease front. Early industrial cities -- 19th century or so, were very very unhealthy: it's a commonplace that you could distinguish big healthy country people from scuttling little urbanites, which was a combination of more disease, worse food, and worse air quality. Probably the same was true of preindustrial cities, but I'm not actually sure -- it might have been impossible for them to get dense enough that, e.g., fresh food wasn't practical.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:21 PM
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70: if you reflect that the capitalist world-system demands growth and has until now required ever-increasing levels of natural resources as inputs.

In my view this is the angle to work; changing these equations. Also how to deal with the cognitive surplus per 145, 148. Alternative to 148: Build Wikipedia per Clay Shirky.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:21 PM
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70: It gets scary when you start to think of all the aspects of our cushy lives that depend on cheap oil, even scarier if you reflect that the capitalist world-system demands growth and has until now required ever-increasing levels of natural resources as inputs.

But the cushy parts of our lives that depend on oil and for which there is no substitute is actually pretty small. Plastics, lubricants and fertilizer, and the latter is not neccessarily an oil-dependent situation. We burn way too much oil in cars and we use way too much disposable plastic. And the fields we have may be peaking, making any new fields much more expensive.

Basically we should stop that before it causes ourselves hardship. But even a bad-case scenario doesn't cause the collapse of civilization. If you start counting out (big) civilizational collapses like Rome or Mykenae or China or whatever, it's always war that does it. What else causes massive destruction of capital goods and population, in turn forcing a rapid downward plunge that turns into a vicious circle?

To get that effect, you need war, which means nukes, or you need something like nukes. An asteroid strike, or a really BIG volcano, or an awesome level of eviromental disaster (runaway global warming), or you go the direct route and burn so much coal (shot into the stratosphere with 18-mile long plastic tubes) that you blot out the sun, or an enourmous solar flare, or space aliens.

A country might collapse, but that's only happened a few times in the modern era, always due to losing a war. The likeliest outcome is being really poor and living under a dictatorship of some sort that totally digs massive enviromental degredation. (First you're poor, then you're oppressed and then you die of something horrible from the 13th century.) And economic collapse is problematic... due to (eventual) war.

Peak oil just doesn't rate, because you have to build a lot of cascade effects that depend on low-probability events (almost all apocalypse scenarios are like that) into your scenario to make the world go bang. ('If I was made of cheese, and if there was a dedicated cheese addict who loved eating cheese humans, and if they were really psycho or like muslim or a even a muslim psycho, then someone might break into my house and turn me into a million little halal cheese sandwiches! With those little toothpicks and everything!')('Relax, man. In that case, you probably need to worry about spoilage more than anything.')

max
['THE GRILLED CHEESE STANDS ALONE']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:23 PM
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If you start counting out (big) civilizational collapses like Rome or Mykenae or China or whatever, it's always war that does it. What else causes massive destruction of capital goods and population, in turn forcing a rapid downward plunge that turns into a vicious circle? To get that effect, you need war, which means nukes, or you need something like nukes.

Scarcity, leading to war, right?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:26 PM
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Apropos of the turn the thread has taken: part of an ongoing review of Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Discipline.

This quote from Brand, in particular, stands out:

"In the village, all there is for a woman is to obey her husband and relatives, pound millet, and sing. If she moves to town, she can get a job, start a business, and get education for her children." That remark at a conference in 2001 exploded my Gandhiesque romanticism about villages. The speaker was Kavita Ramdas, head of the Global Fund for Women....


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:28 PM
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Yep, like the Great Water Wars of 2030, when the parched masses of Southern California start marching north. Or something like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:28 PM
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162: That's why we need to start mining the Siskiyous now.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:30 PM
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You guys are baiting me, right?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:31 PM
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It's OK, Megan, we'll give you the password. Probably.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:37 PM
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Yes.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:37 PM
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161: All too many people who praise small town/village life either don't have direct experience of it or like it in part because it provides much more effective means of social control.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:46 PM
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161: Is there any inherent reason that villagers have to be troglodytic? I mean, I know that's the norm, and always has been, but there's never before been the means to expose villagers to cosmopolitan culture (I don't think books count - Wilde may have been witty, but I don't think his writing was changing any minds back on the farm).

Look at it this way: rural Americans may be ultra-conservative by modern urbanite standards, but they're radically to the left of just about everyone alive in 1750. That suggests to me that, someday, country dwellers could be other-than reactionary. But I'm not sure I really understand the causal dynamic.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:52 PM
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much more effective means of social control.

Is that the answer to my 168? Is it simply that, in a village, nobody can say "fuck you" and walk away because you always have to see that person (and his/her social circle, which overlaps enormously with yours) the next day?

Is the ability to say "fuck you" (without being top dog) the very foundation of cosmopolitan life?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:54 PM
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Is the ability to say "fuck you" (without being top dog) the very foundation of cosmopolitan life?

Here in NY, we think so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:55 PM
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Boy, that Clay Shirky thing is interesting.

I can't tell whether I should really take him seriously, or if he's just a guy that internet people like because he's one of them.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:57 PM
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But I'm not sure I really understand the causal dynamic.

Fewer people--->fewer people with the ability and inclination to change things--->CHANGEBAD?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:58 PM
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161: Is there any inherent reason that villagers have to be troglodytic?

It doesn't seem like there should be, and yet... I don't know. I think there may actually be something crucially salutary about the frequent exposure to others, room for diversification, and potential for anonymity that arise from urban conditions.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 2:59 PM
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170: Oh sure, but if I said it....


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:01 PM
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168: Must villagers be troglodytes? No, but if you take away industrial civilization, *someone* has to do the work that we currently rely on it for, and women are going to be that someone. (And if you don't take away industrial civilization, then you're not reaping the benefits parsimon seems to want.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:02 PM
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I'm actually not totally sure about preindustrial cities, other than on the infectious disease front. Early industrial cities -- 19th century or so, were very very unhealthy

London was a death trap by the seventeenth century.

rural Americans may be ultra-conservative by modern urbanite standards, but they're radically to the left of just about everyone alive in 1750. That suggests to me that, someday, country dwellers could be other-than reactionary.

The liberal values that informed much Revolutionary writing stemmed from the country party of England. (Granted, they were elites, and many urban dwellers, but still, that's what they called themselves.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:02 PM
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169 makes sense. There's also the surveillance of everyone by everyone else in villages; in big cities, you see a freedom born of anonymity that allows people to live "alternative lifestyles."


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:03 PM
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173: Well there's definitely a lot to be said for anonymity - that's what has always struck me about memoirs and such from people who grew up in small towns and fled to big cities: the sense in the small town that everyone always knows everything about you, except for your darkest secrets (which therefore must be dark and secret).

It'll be interesting to see, as the internet becomes more ubiquitous and cross-generational in villages, whether the anti-village aspects of it (no one knows you're a dog; whatever your personal weirdness, there's a community) will enable people to feel less oppressed in villages.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:05 PM
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169: Hmmm. Maybe. When I was talking to people about the small town of Los Osos imploding when they tried to put in a wastewater plant, the (savvy, conscious-thinking) participants all felt that there was a size threshold below which it was too hard to do anything but go along to get along. They thought their town (15,000 people) was below that threshold, which was why something farsighted but expensive failed.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:06 PM
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179: And because they bickered about that thing for pretty much my entire life. The damn Los Osos sewers were a feature of nearly everything gathering of adults of my childhood.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:09 PM
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I was super interested in that for a couple years, vowed I would write a book, did a bunch of interviews, and then fizzled out. If you ever want to talk Los Osos sewers, we can re-create your childhood.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:16 PM
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On the virtues of cities, note that while preindustrial cities were death traps, they also tended to maintain their overall populations. Although deaths virtually always exceeded births, there were always plenty of peasants streaming in from the countryside to take advantage of the freedom offered by cities. Preindustrial urbanites had short lives, but they also had a lot of advantages. Stadtluft macht frei.

(Note that when people talk about these issues in general terms they are usually talking about medieval and early modern Europe. Cultural practices make a big difference when it comes to things like sanitation, so it's not necessarily the case that all cities everywhere before 1750 were deathtraps.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:16 PM
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I'd agree with Max, peak oil is more of an inconvenience than disaster. Given that we have the technology to adapt to a radically lower oil consumption level than we currently have, and that it's a curve, it's not that big a deal. Hell, even most synthetics can be produced from non fossil fuel sources, it's just a lot more expensive. Climate change on the other hand...

A question for Megan: My impression was that the large majority of water use in the Southwest is for agriculture and that that could be significantly reduced through more efficient irrigation and substituting less thirsty crops, is this true?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:29 PM
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Dawn Powell wrote both about small-town life ( Dance Night) and about literary Manhattan, novels set in the 1930s-1950s.

Being stuck with the same people over and over is great if you are unscrupulous and entrenched. Many academic disciplines are a scattered village (set of warring valleys, whatever) in just this way.

Roman cities were built with an understanding of sanitation-- the loss of the ability to build viaducts and sewers, a willingness to live in accumulated waste, is really one of the most striking changes with the collapse of the empire. I have been pretty curious about how Baghdad and Firuzabad handled water, but not curious enough to keep looking after a few dry strikes in google books.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:30 PM
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Oh dear, teraz kurwa my...someone is soon going to accuse you of having read a book called "Cadillac Desert".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:31 PM
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The big shift in urban mortality came courtesy of modern sanitation and medicine. Once that happened the industrial cities actual became healthier than the countryside. So we're talking mid to late nineteenth century tech and knowledge.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:33 PM
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Roman cities were built with an understanding of sanitation-- the loss of the ability to build viaducts and sewers, a willingness to live in accumulated waste, is really one of the most striking changes with the collapse of the empire.

I've wondered, but don't know, if their sanitation was good enough to make Roman cities as healthy as the countryside. Or at least healthier than medieval/early modern cities.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:36 PM
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185 And they'd be wrong, my non fiction book reading is overwhelmingly concentrated on Europe. I've read at least a thousand, and probably more than double that on nineteenth and twentieth century Europe, and only dozens on the US.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:37 PM
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And food. Don't underestimate the importance of a stable food supply. (At least a few demographers think the agricultural revolutions of the late 19th and 20th century - fertilizers, etc. - made more of a difference than antibiotics.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:38 PM
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I have been pretty curious about how Baghdad and Firuzabad handled water, but not curious enough to keep looking after a few dry strikes in google books.

My impression is that they handled it pretty well, and certainly much better than contemporary European cities, but I haven't really looked into the issue.

I've wondered, but don't know, if their sanitation was good enough to make Roman cities as healthy as the countryside. Or at least healthier than medieval/early modern cities.

Definitely the latter. I don't know for sure about the former, but probably not. Roman cities had effective sanitation, but their air pollution was atrocious. Every household in the city burned wood for fuel. That's a lot of smoke.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:41 PM
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In the premodern era supporting cities was much more difficult due to lower food productivity and higher transport costs. They were simultaneously the product of empire and only sustainable by one.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:42 PM
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the potential of urban farming hasn't really been explored yet.

Urban farming probably isn't that great of an idea, at least on any kind of large scale. The cool-looking schematic drawings of skyscraper farms are impressive, but if you have to make a choice it's better to have people in cities and the farms on open land outside of them than the other way around. Now, if there's actual vacant land in a city, go nuts with the community gardens, but displacing people for agriculture in an urban setting is counterproductive.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:44 PM
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lw: "Many academic disciplines are a scattered village (set of warring valleys, whatever) in just this way."

And they all speak mutually unintelligible dialects, just like the Alps.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:45 PM
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In the premodern era supporting cities was much more difficult due to lower food productivity and higher transport costs. They were simultaneously the product of empire and only sustainable by one.

The first sentence is definitely true. The second is more debatable. It's probably true for really big cities like Rome, but many preindustrial societies consisted of competing city-states with nary an empire in sight.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:51 PM
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tkm, if you want a painfully long answer, I spent a two weeks last December talking about a big report by a think tank called the Pacific Institute that said just about that.

Short answer, which is my opinion:

Ag uses a lot of water, but because it gets used on one farm and then re-used on the next and next, I don't think you could squeeze a lot of water out of agriculture by efficiency gains and crop switching.

Because, see, if you make the top farm more efficient, the next field down that used to use their run-off water would have to go get more. Maybe you want to leave water in the river for fish up until the very last second, which is a good goal, or you are worried about the water quality concerns from re-use (it picks up salts with every pass-through), but those are different reasons to make irrigation more efficient, not "for water for cities".

I think you could stop irrigating a bunch of land (I have a list of where you should start) and get a fair amount of water for cities, but I don't think there are big free gains from efficiency improvements. Some gains, for sure, but in the big ag valleys, I think a lot of those were already claimed in the past decade.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:54 PM
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Megan, you should totally write a book on Los Osos. The world needs to know about the horrors of my childhood. Really, though, it would make a great sociological/environmental study on civic improvements.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 3:58 PM
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I tried for a while, but then I stopped trying. Turns out that writing a book is hard.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:06 PM
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And now I've started watching Buffy with a friend, so I don't expect to have any more achievements.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:07 PM
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194 It depends what you mean by 'city'. What I meant was places with at least a couple hundred thousand inhabitants. Many of the cities in those city states were in the low five figures, virtually none reached one hundred thousand.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:07 PM
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Megan's planned-but-unpublished Los Osos book is actually a brilliant meta-commentary on the whole process.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:09 PM
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199: Right, if you're defining "city" that way only the very largest imperial capitals count. And there are certainly a lot of people who study ancient cities who define them that way. But that ends up at the conclusion that there were very few cities in the premodern world, which seems like an odd conclusion to me. YMMV.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:10 PM
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Lingua france is grant applications, control of department space and tenure slots.

Take the material you have, sandwich between covers, and sell it on Lulu.

Recognizing achievement in any collaborative field is dicey-- on the one hand, any single individual is fungible almost always on a big project.

On the other hand, most projects fail, so anything one is involved in that does not crash is a success that reflects on you, especially if you refrained from a frank exchange of world views with that one guy and found a way to limp forward despite his presence.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:12 PM
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Where (and how) to draw the lines between "village" and "town" and between "town" and "city" is another issue.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:12 PM
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Turns out that writing a book is hard.

That's why people hire ghostwriters.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:14 PM
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Did you know the people involved, Parenthetical? (Did you think that Jul/e T*cker is TOTALLY Sarah Palin?)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:14 PM
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But I can write! Just not, like, a whole book in order, apparently.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:16 PM
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between "town" and "city" is another issue.

Presence of a professional sports franchise seems like the most rigorous approach.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:16 PM
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201: Obviously it depends on your goals for discussing "cities," but I think it makes sense, when you're talking about the infrastructure thresholds for big cities, to use modern scales - no one today would call 20k a major city, even if that would constitute a major polity in pre-Alexandrian Greece. In terms of power politics and the like, it's all relative, but when you're talking about how to feed and keep sanitary a big population, absolute numbers (and density) are what matter.

Was Periclean Athens dense by industrial standards, but small in footprint, or was it simply a small city/big town on the scale of, say, Ithaca, NY?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:21 PM
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preemptively pwned by Jroth


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:22 PM
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It would be interesting - but possibly useless - to see if "degrees of separation" gets you anywhere in terms of defining village/town/city. Certainly 1 degree of separation (everyone literally knows everyone else) seems to define "village" pretty well. Does 2 degrees get you to small town? Does 3 degrees skip over large town to small city?

The trouble with this idea - which I find enormously appealing - is that your upper limit is 6, and that gets you the entire planet, or at least something at that scale. Which suggests that everyone in, say, Chicago is at less than 6 degrees, and doesn't leave a lot of room to distinguish between "really big city" and "small town."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:26 PM
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BTW, this website popped up a pretty cool applet window with mapping - hover over for population of polities.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:27 PM
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I think it makes sense, when you're talking about the infrastructure thresholds for big cities, to use modern scales - no one today would call 20k a major city, even if that would constitute a major polity in pre-Alexandrian Greece. In terms of power politics and the like, it's all relative, but when you're talking about how to feed and keep sanitary a big population, absolute numbers (and density) are what matter.

Yeah, in this context it makes sense to define cities based on absolute size with a high threshold, but the problem is that if you do that you end up with a really small data set. Which could be okay, depending on what you want to do.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:32 PM
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212: For instance it was not until 1840 the US got its second 100K city. New Orleans and Baltimore went over that census, Philly and Boston close behind. (Although if you include Philly "suburbs" that are now part of the city it had been over 100K for a while. Still.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:39 PM
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192: but displacing people for agriculture in an urban setting is counterproductive

Well, that's another definitional problem, isn't it? If you concentrated the urban/suburban population of an "urban setting" like the Twin Cities into the area occupied by Minneapolis, it wouldn't be very hard to feed everyone in from intensively-gardened (with mixed small livestock) plots spread over the correspondingly emptied sprawl. And you'd still be at only 76% of Mumbai density.

But the capitalists would never stand for any of that.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:41 PM
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"Knows everyone" is pretty flexible, and graph degree depends very much on the number of edges of the most connected individuals, who will be politicians. Maybe this is some kind of sociological proxy for resource mobilization, but ability to concentrate resources seems like the direct measure. So sports teams, armies, market days, port isze....

When does an abbey or fort, which depends on the existence of some nonlocal political entity, become a town?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 4:47 PM
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Where (and how) to draw the lines between "village" and "town" and between "town" and "city" is another issue.

Does it have boundaries? If not, it's a village (in Pennsylvania). (or a "hamlet" in New York)


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:16 PM
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But the capitalists would never stand for any of that.

I'm not sure what you mean by this, Natilo. Are you referring to industrialized agriculture, e.g. Big Ag?

It is true: if you control the food (also water, and energy source(s)), you control the people. My concern upthread with the vulnerability of big cities was just that: their vulnerability to supply lines being cut off. Granted, one answer to that is for urban residents to have some, in some cases significant, control over food suppliers in turn. They do. I doubt that the people who run Monsanto live in Peoria.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:18 PM
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My concern upthread with the vulnerability of big cities was just that: their vulnerability to supply lines being cut off.

News flash: we're ALL pretty damn vulnerable to having supply lines cut off. Complex civilization doesn't get any less complex when it's surrounded by fields rather than buildings.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:27 PM
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Okay.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:31 PM
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Seriously, question your assumptions a bit. We're pretty much in this together.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:33 PM
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But you'll still have mangoes, NPH, even when civilization on the mainland collapses. We will have to know that we'll probably never taste mangoes again in our short, brutish lives.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:38 PM
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Yeah, but the attraction of a diet of mangoes fades rapidly when there is no toilet paper.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:40 PM
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I can't even understand the words: "attraction of a diet of mangoes fades".


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:42 PM
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Has anyone noticed that Megan's approach to these issues tends to involve a lot of discussion of the availability of specific agricultural products?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:42 PM
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Once you've eaten twenty mangoes fades in a week, you never want to see a mangoes fade again.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:45 PM
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110

... We can mine and burn coal forever, and it would only take a small amount of ingenuity to replace all of the oil we currently use with other energy sources. ...

Coal will last longer than oil but hardly forever. Hubbert himself suggested moving to Uranium and Thorium (see 1956 paper (large pdf file see figure 30 p. 36)).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:45 PM
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I'm not really a generalist, teo. Plus, I'm always hungry.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:45 PM
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What's really disturbing is that there have been times in the recent past when Mexican mangoes were easier to come by around here than the local ones, which sort of causes one to get out of the habit of buying mangoes. But lately there have been more big, beautiful, juicy local ones that you eat standing in front of the kitchen sink with a paring knife in your hand and juice running down your chin.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:46 PM
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220: I know that. Really. I'm not an idiot.

All I mean is that in a short-term crisis, it seems better to have fresh running water and some arable land nearby than not. No, that's not going to suffice in the longer term.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:47 PM
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Anyone know anything about the energy content of Irish babies?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:47 PM
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When I visited Ali in the Caribbean this summer, just about the first thing I did was buy a couple pounds of mangoes and eat them right there, sitting on the curb. I was trying to decide what I would think if I saw someone scarfing down peach after peach while sitting on the sidewalk in Sacramento. I decided that I would be openminded and compassionate to that poor peach-deprived person.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:48 PM
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Big dense cities tend to be more vulnerable to water supply cut offs than food shortages. In a place like NYC you've got many different access points for food, both by land and sea, but if someone shut down the big water pipeline we'd be screwed.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:48 PM
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All I mean is that in a short-term crisis, it seems better to have fresh running water and some arable land nearby than not.

I'm still not seeing this. If the crisis lasts long enough that putting more land into production is going to make a difference, the effects of starting closer to that land seem likely to be swamped by other effects, and if it's shorter term than that I think I'd rather be close to a couple dozen supermarkets than a zillion acres of field corn and soybeans. What am I missing?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:53 PM
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231: Buying non-tropical soft fruit in the tropics is a very quick route to disappointment. I miss peaches and apricots. And really good apples. OTOH, I have several little volunteer avocado trees sprouting in the edge of my compost pile, which is kind of cool.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:56 PM
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Your crazed neighbors fighting a small war in the parking lot of the supermarkets.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:56 PM
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235: Yeah, but when they get done with that they're not going to just lie down and die. They're going to go pillage Parsimon's place, and "sorry, guys, I was here first" isn't likely to slow them down much.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 5:59 PM
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Bruce Sterling's latest has an appropriately short but nasty and brutish description of this sort of breakdown playing out in a tourist town along the Great Wall. In that world the collapse happens circa 2050, but is very uneven. Some areas keep up a very high tech level functioning society and thus quickly become the dominant world actors.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 6:11 PM
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233: What am I missing?

Well, in my own case, I live about 3 miles from an organic farm that's growing crops as we speak -- not a zillion acres of field corn and soybeans. It has a greenhouse, and seeds in store. You sure as hell wouldn't be eating grandly, but you'd be able to eat, and they could feed maybe 150 people in a pinch, right now. Just winter crops right now, but sweet potatoes and squashes and kale and chard aren't nothing. I could start cold-frames right now.

It just makes me feel better to know that the farm's there, and we have a relationship with them, and there's a reservoir and river system within 5 miles.

I really am remembering the food shortages in some parts of the globe just a year or so ago. That happened very fast, and was extremely difficult for many. Of course civilization survived; I have at no point been suggesting that a collapse of civilization was in the works. Just a lot of hardship.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 6:31 PM
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236 is correct. Bummer.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 6:36 PM
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Wait, parsimon, don't you live in Baltimore?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 6:38 PM
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Or am I missing something?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 6:38 PM
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Parsimon will live on crabs.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 6:40 PM
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It just makes me feel better to know that the farm's there, and we have a relationship with them, and there's a reservoir and river system within 5 miles.

I'm highly susceptible to the same sort of warm fuzzies, but I've never managed to come up with a coherent justification when I get more analytical about it.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 6:48 PM
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238: The problem with thinking that way is that in any disaster where there's still food in grocery stores, a nearby farm won't matter. In any disaster I can think of where there isn't food in grocery stores (which would be, like, the apocalypse--there aren't any realistic disasters short of the total collapse of civilization where food isn't being shipped to stores) an awful lot of people are going to show up at your farm wanting to get fed. I can't see that living nearby is likely to help your odds much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 6:49 PM
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I remain incredibly confused about the question that started all this, viz., "How is urban living environmentally preferable again?" The discussion you have in 238, parsimon, doesn't seem to be to have much to do with what is "environmentally preferable". Cities seem obviously environmentally preferable in almost every way. But maybe I miss the point.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 6:53 PM
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I can't see that living nearby is likely to help your odds much.

Well, you could get there first and maybe have a better shot at getting the stuff than the people who come later.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 6:53 PM
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Wait, parsimon, don't you live in Baltimore?

I live just outside the city proper. It's 15 minutes to get to a Taco Bell, and it's 10 minutes to get to the farm, in a different direction. It's 15 minutes north to get to wide streams with beavers and herons and such. Weird, eh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 7:30 PM
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So, it seems, "big city" and "close to farms and stuff" are not necessarily incompatible.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 7:36 PM
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Did you know the people involved, Parenthetical?

Not really; or rather, I'm pretty sure my parents' friends knew them but I have a child's understanding of the issue. We only lived in Los Osos for a brief period, but many of our family friends remained there. But now I want to know all about our very own home-grown maverick.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 7:39 PM
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But just think how a disaster is going to disrupt the flow of heroin into the city. Do the farms have any opium poppies?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 7:40 PM
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245: "How is urban living environmentally preferable again?"

That was a red herring, essear. I tried to say so way up in 91.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 7:41 PM
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250: I can just see it, a run on east european and middle eastern stores for their poppy seed supplies.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 7:46 PM
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248: Exactly. I don't think Manhattan works that way. Natilo's 214 is helpful.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 7:47 PM
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253: So you're saying Manhattan is unique?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 7:49 PM
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||

I'm torn over whether to lament that a forthcoming post-Thanksgiving Saturday trip to DC means I'm missing The Mountain Goats on Friday night or to celebrate the fact that They Might Be Giants are, serendipitously, playing on Saturday night.

|>


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 7:55 PM
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Except that what Natilo is saying that if you were to take a typical midsize US metro area and pack it in to Manhattan type densities then you could then use the now empty suburban areas to provide a lot of food. That's not too far from the type of scenario that high density mass transit based urban development a la Atrios or Yggy envisage. That is they don't necessarily say that you need to use the free space for food, but the flip side of building lots of big apartment buildings instead of detached single family home subdivisions means radically decreasing the amount of land devoted to residential (and commercial) use.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:04 PM
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I'm just stuck on the idea of a crisis where your local organic farm is going to stop selling food to city-folk and is going to save it for the neighbors. (A) Short of total apocalypse, I don't see it happening, and (B) being one of the small percentage of the population who lives near a farm might make you better off if such a disaster happened, but at our current population it's not practical for everyone to live near farms. So, good for you if you're in that small percentage, but it's not really a broad solution to anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:05 PM
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254: I'm saying Manhattan is vulnerable.

250: Heh. My housemate brought home poppy seeds (flower seeds) over the summer, and I was like: so are those just flowers or what? What kind of poppies are those supposed to be? Opium poppies?

'Yep', he says. I just laughed. Dude, do you know what to do with that, and why do you even want those, and are you really going to do what's needed? Anyway, they didn't pan out, and I don't know what he intended, but they wound up ignored in favor of the lettuce and cherry tomatoes.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:08 PM
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256: Right. One of the advantages of "smart growth"/walkable urbanism is that concentrating residential and commercial development into a smaller area frees up land that would otherwise be used for low-density sprawl, and one way to use that land is for agriculture. Indeed, the main reason there are farms so close to Baltimore today is that Maryland has been very aggressive in pursuing smart growth initiatives aimed at preserving farmland and concentrating development in existing cities. These programs have a mixed track record, but the Maryland one is among the more successful.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:10 PM
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I'm saying Manhattan is vulnerable.

How so, though? And why is it more vulnerable than Baltimore?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:10 PM
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258.1: And we're asking for an explanation that's a little more rigorous than "I get warm fuzzies from living near an organic farm."


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:12 PM
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I feel like we're kind of picking on parsimon here. I don't mean for it to feel that way; I just still don't really get what she's trying to say.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:17 PM
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258 You don't need to do much to get a usable opiate. Back in the eighties Polish junkies used to take poppy stalks, boil them in an alcoholic solution, then reduce it and inject it. That or sell it as 'Polish coca-cola' as a bottom end heroin substitute in the East Bloc.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:18 PM
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For my own security, I'm looking into living in a cave that is high-up a cliff.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:18 PM
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264: Now there's a plan.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:20 PM
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262 I think it's just that ultra high density areas are more vulnerable to infrastructure or other supply disruptions. There's some truth to that, but the main reason is that getting everybody out relatively quickly is much more difficult than in a suburban environment. Rural areas are actually a lot less vulnerable, though in the modern developed world they're still nowhere near self-sufficient.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:22 PM
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265. And teo knows where there a bunch of these caves.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:23 PM
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267: Indeed.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:25 PM
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I don't think I can provide something more rigorous at this very moment.

257: So, good for you if you're in that small percentage, but it's not really a broad solution to anything.

I understand. I know. There are too many people? How about that?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:25 PM
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That was a red herring, essear. I tried to say so way up in 91.

Ah, ok. Thanks. I was reading the thread a bit too quickly to catch that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:25 PM
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I'm being a little pissy, because to the extent I understand what she's saying, it's pretty close to "Urban living may be less resource intensive, but if systems break down my farmer friends are going to feed me and let you starve." Which frankly seems both unrealistic (Parsimon - have you done the math on how many other people live near that farm you're counting on? Are you sure there's enough to go around?) and rather like an unpleasant kind of gloating.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:25 PM
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I think it's just that ultra high density areas are more vulnerable to infrastructure or other supply disruptions.

Okay, but why is this so much more of a problem for Manhattan than for Baltimore? Just the higher density? The fact that it's an island? Less nearby farmland?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:26 PM
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My housemate brought home poppy seeds (flower seeds) over the summer, and I was like: so are those just flowers or what?

There's a classic Harper's article about the weirdness of the laws around growing poppies. Basically, any poppy can be used to make opiates, but law enforcement and legislatures have been trying to promote the idea that you need special rare poppies, which led to the bizarre legal situation where it was illegal to grow poppies only if you knew that they could be used to make opiates.

The article also somehow involved the anarchist writer Bob Black, whom I mostly remember for having said "If the fetus is a person, how come it looks like a boiled shrimp."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:27 PM
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Parsimon needs food. Suddenly fuel-less farmers need pack animals. I see win-win.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:27 PM
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272 Higher densities mean more people likely to be affected. They're also less likely to own cars, meaning evacuation will need a lot more top down organization. Like I said in the comment you're replying to, it's not that big a deal, but there is a small difference.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:32 PM
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273: yeah, he got arrested for possession of dried poppy bulbs he bought at the craft store. That article inspired me to plant poppies in my (landlord's) backyard that year.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:32 PM
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I understand. I know. There are too many people? How about that?

I hadn't seen this when I posted my last. Sure, if that's the problem - that you want a small enough population that it's practical for everyone in the world to live walking distance from their food supply - that would make life more secure in the face of infrastructure disruption. But it's hard to imagine how we'd get there, and getting there doesn't have anything to do with not living incities.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:32 PM
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No Poles allowed to grow poppies in the American yards? I'm assuming every Pole knows that food poppies can be used as drugs since the traditional folk treatment for colicky babies was a form of poppyseed tea.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:35 PM
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So where's the optimal place to live if you want to survive once Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner begin to use their Super-Freaky royalties to unilaterally surround the Earth in a giant cloud of sulfur dioxide?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:35 PM
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264 to 279.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:36 PM
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Wherever the Levitt and Dubner types are concentrated - basically a gated high tech community with the military resources to provide security and resources.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:38 PM
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280: That's what I keep telling my wife and she keeps pointing out that if the world doesn't end, our current house is much closer to the office and school


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:38 PM
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Speaking of the SuperFreakonomists, though, I assume most of you have seen Elizabeth Kolbert's review, but if not definitely take a look. It's very good.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:39 PM
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I think you're overstating the University of Chicago's separation from Hyde Park just a little bit.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:39 PM
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284 to 281.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:39 PM
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282: But if the world does end, you won't need offices of schools.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:39 PM
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Or even offices or schools.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:40 PM
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279: In a large urban building.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:40 PM
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286: Apparently, she thinks the world has a better than even chance of not ending in the next 20 years. Optimism and all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:41 PM
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274: Parsimon needs food.

Moby got it right. I needed to eat, folks. Desperately.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:42 PM
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289: Well, if you do end up needing a cave, let me know.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:43 PM
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Wasn't thinking of Hyde Park, but as I remember it from visiting relatives in the crack years, the separation between Hyde Park and its neighbours was stark and very sudden. One block you're in a nice upper middle class neighbourhood, next one its all burnt out lots, bullet scared walls and no retail except for barricaded liquor stores and check cashing places.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:43 PM
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291: They didn't make you turn-in your keys?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:44 PM
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LB, AWB, Jackmormon, and Bave can sell bridges to Brooklyn. Teo will sell caves.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:49 PM
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How many bridges to Brooklyn does one need?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:50 PM
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I suppose a few extra would help speed up the evacuations come the collapse.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:51 PM
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Maybe just a couple hundred pounds of poppy seeds, a large Camelbak, and plenty of ammo?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:51 PM
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They didn't make you turn-in your keys?

What keys? It's just a matter of knowing where the finger-and-toe-holds are.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:53 PM
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LB will be selling the GWB and will be in much better position to get out of town than us Brooklynites, being within short walking distance of a couple crossings to the mainland.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:54 PM
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295, 296: I think in the event of a crash you'd want to be going away from Brooklyn. Then again, there are farms on Long Island, so maybe it would work.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:54 PM
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288. Boy that is an old photo. I'm guessing 1970s/80s from the buses on the right. That south elevation is very different now.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:55 PM
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Speaking of Brooklyn, is it part of Long Island? I mean, it is clearly on the same island geography-wise, but nobody ever seems to talk about Brooklyn on Long Island. (I have pretty much the same question about Queens.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:56 PM
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Brooklyn and Queens are both physically part of Long Island, and until they got all urbanized they were very similar to the rest of it culturally and economically as well, but since they urbanized (and especially since they became part of NYC) they've become so different from the rest of the island that it doesn't make much sense to group them with it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:58 PM
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277: But it's hard to imagine how we'd get there

LB, probably the major difference between us is that you are, quite sensibly, focused on what's plausible, while I tend to dream. You will repeatedly shoot down my dreams while acknowledging their desirability ("Yes, but", "But, evidence, metrics"), and I will repeatedly tell you that you're an accommodater who has shut down her vision. We need both kinds of us. Peace.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:58 PM
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There are two kind of Unfoggedtarians: dreamers and dreamkillers.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:59 PM
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||

The talk of NYC makes me almost on-topic. I've confirmed tonight that I'm quite possibly going to be in NYC playing a show at Arlene's Grocery on a Saturday night in mid-January. Huzzah!

|>


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 8:59 PM
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(There are a lot more dreamkillers than dreamers.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:00 PM
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When you put the question in those words, it's on LI. But if someone says they're from LI, they always mean "LI outside the city."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:00 PM
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Yes, but when people speak of Long Island they generally mean the 'burbs, i.e. Nassau and Suffolk. Speaking of which, those two combined have close to three million people, a bit much for living of what land is available, even forgetting about the four and a half million plus in Kings and Queens.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:00 PM
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306: Now I feel that our grocery stores are really inferior. We never have any sort of live music unless I run out of Fritos after I've started the 2nd six-pack.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:02 PM
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Long Island means Nassau and Suffolk counties.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:02 PM
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"LI outside the city."

Unless they mean Long Island City, paradoxically.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:02 PM
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Please take my 304 in the good humor with which it was intended.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:04 PM
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302: extreme pwnage.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:07 PM
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304: We're good. Once I understand that it's daydreaming, I don't mind backing off of the nitpicking. (Although this particular dream, if I'm correct in understanding that it's about there not being any cities, seems unattractive to me.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:08 PM
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314: Well, I appreciate the answers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:09 PM
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talking about Brooklyn, checking the Wiki page gives me the surprising information that Gore and Clinton '96 got a higher percentage of the vote than Obama, albeit by a tiny amount.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:11 PM
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My basic point in 214 was that most of the farmland that used to feed US cities was very near to those cities, especially pre-1860s (that's why New Jersey is "The Garden State - all the truck gardens that fed NYC up until quite recently). That ties into the larger point that our petroleum-based agricultural system is vulnerable to distribution crises precisely because it is an artifact of capitalist industrial culture. Another point is that, as Parsimon notes, you still don't have to go all that far outside of most cities to get to some very productive agricultural land (outlying situations like Phoenix and Vegas aside). I've hardly been on an airplane trip where you weren't looking down at farm fields before even getting up to cruising altitude.

TEOTWAWKI is one of my favorite things to think about when I walk to work every morning. Who would freak out? How would things reorganize? How much food could we grow if we tore up most of the streets and used the pavement as heat sinks in active-solar retrofits for existing housing stock? How much nutrition could you derive from maple seeds and pine bark? Would we pretty much exhaust the squirrel, gull, pigeon and sparrow supplies within the first month or two? How many people could be moved out to surrounding agricultural areas in time for it to do some good? How many pairs of binoculars would you find per square kilometer in this neighborhood? So many fun things to consider.

If the Pocky Lips came tomorrow, and Mr. Death was walkin' about, I think I'd do pretty well, 'cause my friends has the knowin' of many things.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:12 PM
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I kind of want to change my moniker to "teotwawki" now.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:14 PM
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If we're going back to talking about where to hide from disaster, I don't think I'm doing that bad where I am. I'm within a mile of a very big river, but at least 200 feet above it. I don't need to worry about floods, but if I had a canoe, I could get to St. Louis.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:14 PM
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TEOTWAWKI is one of my favorite things to think about when I walk to work every morning.

Boy, do I have a newly single roommate for you.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:15 PM
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There's still rather a lot of agriculture in NJ, although not so much in North Jersey near NYC, granted. The area around Phoenix was historically heavily agricultural too, btw, and to some extent still is.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:16 PM
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Maybe I just have a different vision of the nature of the apocalypse than the rest of you, but I would be much more concerned with finding a highly defensible location near productive farmland and a large enough number of people to settle it to deter attack.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:18 PM
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Not everyone is imagining "the apocalypse", many people prefer to imagine "the post-peak-oil equilibrium"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:19 PM
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Who would freak out? How would things reorganize?

According to Larry Niven, the Negro Hordes would swarm out of Los Angeles to fight a bunch of astronauts, rich dilettantes, and straight-shootin' country folk for the very soul of Western Civilization.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:19 PM
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I don't spend all that much time these days thinking about the end of the world, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:20 PM
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Not everyone is imagining "the apocalypse", many people prefer to imagine "the post-peak-oil equilibrium"

My vision extends far into the post-apocalyptic period. Civilizational collapse is an ugly, ugly business.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:21 PM
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My vision extends far into the post-apocalyptic period. Civilizational collapse is an ugly, ugly business.

Now that you mention ugly and long-term vision, I think my cliff-cave plan is based on a precedent that did not work so well in the long run.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:24 PM
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I kind of want to change my moniker to "teotwawki" now.

Me too. At least I was amused at how readily I understood what it meant. Fight!

But I haven't even read the most recent comments. Perhaps there's already been a fight about something.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:24 PM
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Personally come the apocalypse I'm much more concerned about things like industry than food.

Also! Farming is a branch of industry properly considered; if you think industry is going down, so too is farming. And that won't be fun.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:24 PM
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325 I don't know whether it's a good or bad thing that I read that novel at such a young age that I didn't notice the politics or racial stuff at all; it was just another blockbuster adventure story.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:25 PM
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Yeah, I know there's some ag around Phoenix, but by midwestern standards it still looks pretty bleak. Even just driving by those saguaro forests for 20 minutes they started to look like people.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:26 PM
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Personally come the apocalypse I'm most worried about dead.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:27 PM
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I think my cliff-cave plan is based on a precedent that did not work so well in the long run.

Depends on how you define the long run, I think. Cliff dwellings may have been an effective short-term response to collapse, even if they didn't end up lasting long, although it's hard to say because they were all eventually abandoned and we don't know exactly what happened to their inhabitants.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:28 PM
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I know there's some ag around Phoenix, but by midwestern standards it still looks pretty bleak.

Well, sure. You can do a lot with irrigation, though, even in a desert.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:29 PM
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335 See: Potamia, Meso and Nile: Valley of.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:31 PM
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There are two kind of Unfoggedtarians: dreamers and dreamkillers.

That's a nice kind of contrast more generally. My job seems to require both, and I'm far better at the dreamkilling aspect of it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:31 PM
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336: Also Kam, Hoho.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:32 PM
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321: No dice, we're full up again, as of tomorrow. Unless he or she wants to build a shed in the back yard and live there (this is quite popular in my neighborhood). Or, if it's a really nice shed like my cow orker lives in, I would live there and he or she could have my room.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:32 PM
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I'm definitely a dreamkiller, while most of the rest of the students in my program are dreamers. The contrast in attitude and approach is striking.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:33 PM
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I hate irrigation. And goats.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:33 PM
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TEOTWAWKI

Is that what happened to Teotihuacan?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:34 PM
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What's wrong with goats?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:34 PM
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But who will kill the dreamkillers?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:34 PM
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342: The resemblance to "Teotihuacan" is one of the things I like most about it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:35 PM
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341: My town used to have a goat raffle. This was a big seller.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:38 PM
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The winner would rip-out the still-beating heart of the goat and toss it down a steep pyramid.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:44 PM
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We are the music haters, and we are the killers of dreams.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:55 PM
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The takers of the last square of TP and the ones who sneeze and the doorknobs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 9:59 PM
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Personally come the apocalypse I'm most worried about dead.

Not me... I'm just blind and crippled! (And very, very itchy.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 10:03 PM
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Hate those doorknobs.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 10:04 PM
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Dream killing plus Brooklyn, whadya get: Requiem for a Dream, your perfect date movie.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 10:06 PM
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Come the apocalypse, some people can feed pets


Posted by: http://truelogic.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/second-coming-pet-foundation-only-christians-need-apply/ | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 10:08 PM
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353


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 10:09 PM
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353, 4: Dude, no worries. "There are no cats in America"!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 10:20 PM
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We are the music haters, and we are the killers of dreams.

Oh, but once we were the music lovers! Hear the people say: "they just didn't want it enough".

(Sorry. It's an obsession.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 10:32 PM
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Oops. There I go killing the dreamthread.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-10-09 11:18 PM
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I think we should all live in space colonies made from asteroids and leave the earth as a nature park. thats techno-optimist and enviro

urban ag seems reasonable alternative to airplane-shipped asparagus from honduras, but i haven't ever seen a good study convincing me that you don't have a problem with heavy metals/toxins from 20thc industrial pollution.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 12:13 AM
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This should be too obvious to need saying, but New York is where it is because it's a port with good inland waterways. Like most cities. Nothing beats ships in terms of energy per ton-mile; this is why huge (for the time) cities like Amsterdam grew up pretty much entirely on the basis of having a strategically located port for sailing ships. (Strangely, the Richard Heinberg brand of peakies seem to struggle with the notion that urban civilisation existed before about 1920. 1890s Londoners were eating bread containing Australian wheat that was about the last commodity to be traded under sail - it was important but cheap bulk cargo that didn't need to travel quickly, a bit like...oil.)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 2:45 AM
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Lots of California wheat similarly went by sail until the late 19th century. I think Liverpool might have been an important receiving point for a while for the California trade.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 2:52 AM
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re: 359

Strangely, the Richard Heinberg brand of peakies seem to struggle with the notion that urban civilisation existed before about 1920.

Yeah, there's a lot of that about. People seem to think, also, that just about everyone was a peasant farmer until the middle of the Industrial Revolution.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 4:03 AM
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359: Well, right. The only real vulnerability that NY has in relation to the conversation we've been having is that it'd be a bitch and a half to evacute quickly. If Katrina hit NY, getting people out would suck.

But worrying about NYC in terms of food security is insane. If there's enough of a civilization to ship food at all, there's no difficulty supplying NY, and if there isn't, it's not just the big cities that have problems.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 4:58 AM
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If there's enough of a civilization to ship food at all, there's no difficulty supplying NY, and if there isn't, it's not just the big cities that have problems.

Um! Not quite. The main problem with feeding New York is not the transport of food but the production of the food. I could imagine New York* being quite able to move what food is available around, but there not being that much food around. And I can imagine close-to-food-production places would survive these problems better, just on the trickle-down principle.

The idea that food transport is the big problem with food is a bit odd. You can get lamb to the UK from the Antipodes with 1880s technology, and that is getting close to the most difficult thing you can try and do, so.

* Actually, I am rather thinking of Mumbai/Calcutta/Beijing here, but the point is the same.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 6:26 AM
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210, 215 -- Knows anyone is pretty flexible, for degrees of separation purposes. Nine years ago, I met, and had my picture taken with, Bill Clinton. Does this mean I'm 2 degrees from half the population of Arkansas? Not to mention a good chunk of Indonesia?

Seems to me that a Katrina-like thing -- blizzard/nor'easter maybe -- is a whole lot more likely than the end of civilization, and, with power outages, potentially pretty rough on a place like NYC. Five days without power is a whole lot easier in an auto-based horizontal society, than in an elevator-based vertical one.

I understand the environmental arguments for concentration. I also experience the effects of concentration of pollution. I can imagine there being a critical mass-like issue with that: 100 persons together in one small place make enough of a mess to alter their ecosystem in a way that 10 people, in 10 different places, wouldn't.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 6:28 AM
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I could imagine New York* being quite able to move what food is available around, but there not being that much food around. And I can imagine close-to-food-production places would survive these problems better, just on the trickle-down principle.

I dunno -- so long as we've got a system involving money and political power, concentrations of people are going to be concentrations of money and political power. People who are literally farmers themselves are going to do better in times of food scarcity (say, wartime rationing in Britain), but the idea that Parsimon's organic farm is going to be turning down money from city people to sell food cheaper to people who happen to live nearby seems awfully farfetched. And of course most people who don't live in dense cities also don't live near farms (or at least not near enough farms to feed the people who live near them, if you see what I mean.)

I can imagine there being a critical mass-like issue with that: 100 persons together in one small place make enough of a mess to alter their ecosystem in a way that 10 people, in 10 different places, wouldn't.

If you're comparing 100 people in an apartment building with 10 Grizzly Adamses packing their food up trails to a cabin, I could see that. Once you're talking about people living in houses on paved roads, I don't think this works -- they're altering their ecosystem pretty severely by living there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 6:36 AM
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Yeah, I was mainly thinking about farmers and farming communities, not people who are close to farms.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 6:42 AM
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People who are literally farmers themselves are going to do better in times of food scarcity

Grandma and grandpa got through the Great Depression without having money or missing a meal. Of course, they got through the Dust Bowl by moving to the city and not coming back to the farm until the Depression started. It must have been a bit rough to have had electricity and indoor plumbing for a decade and then going back to spend fifteen years without them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 6:45 AM
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LB, giving 10 people each a cc of morphine isn't the same as giving one person 10 cc of morphine. Even if a cc is plenty for a single human being.

Red card, analogy. Bye, everyone.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 8:23 AM
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369

BTW, in honor of 291, etc., I've uploaded a picture of teo's biography.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 8:54 AM
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370

The thread's dead, but come to think of it there has been a modern industrial society that experienced some of the 'apocalypse' like conditions that we've been discussing: Germany at the end of WWII. Electricity, gas, and phone services gone; transportation network - both local and inter-city mostly gone as well, food production at a fraction of normal, ports destroyed, adult physically intact male population under forty dead or in prison camps. One third of the population homeless with another ten percent living in severely damaged homes. And most of the people who were alive at the end of the war survived; the basic services were restored fairly quickly.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 6:04 PM
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371

370: Yes, but the Germans were able to get food from the invaders, which seems to be a historical rarity. Or at least, able to get food in the non-Soviet zones. Mostly, as a great number of P.O.W.s were 'released' (kept in camps, but called something else) because there wasn't any food and they were last in line for what there was.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-11-09 6:09 PM
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