Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chris Martenson interviews Joel Salatin

If you eat, this is worth your time.

Listen here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Texas drought update...

Like most Americans, I watched news of Hurricane Irene’s soiree along the East Coast. While I am sure there was damage done with her passing, I need not look further than out my front door to watch a much more devastating but less newsworthy catastrophe unfold. The drought I refer to is not as spectacular as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and the like, but I assure you, it has proved a more lethal, silent, and effective killer than any of the above this year.

As I type, an accurate thermometer registers 111 degrees from the shade of my front porch. We have suffered days, weeks, even months in sweltering heat with no rain. The ground is parched and cracked, the grass dead; desert termites encase the last of grass carcasses with mud tubes, adding insult to injury to those that might have saved a pasture for grazing.

While someone from Phoenix or Death Valley California may say this is an every-year occurrence, they do not live near large concentrations of beef and poultry farms like those near my home in South Central Texas. We raise more cattle than anywhere in these United States. Or we once did, anyway...

As I speak, broilers are dying by the droves while farm managers and workers watch helplessly. Cattle, horses, sheep, goats and pigs hide in what little shade they can find, panting. Some will die. Whole herds of cattle appear at overstrained livestock auctions around the state. Most ranchers have no hay to feed their animals; some no longer can provide water for them to drink.

Wildlife also suffers; who knows how many thousands will succumb and die today.

Trees are dying. It may be a while before you notice, but notice you will.

There was a catastrophe today, but it had nothing to do with Hurricane Irene.

Texas is burning.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Max Keiser, Richard Heinberg

Quantitative easing helps the rich and hurts the poor:

Friday, August 12, 2011

The drought turns deadly

Sabbath eve, August 12, 2011.

I walk outside into a night lit by an almost full moon. Dukes and Polly pad along behind. I see forms on the ground, scattered near the boundary of our property. I know what they are; I shouldn’t be out here, but then, I must. There’s a shoulder, a hind leg, skinned but still otherwise intact. I notice the hoof. Then a torso with a familiar head, remains of a cow I called Butterfat.

I sold the cow about six months ago to Martin, a hand that lives and works on another place my dad owns. I sold her bred; she soon calved, a beautiful pure-bred Jersey heifer. I did this as a favor to Martin, not because I wanted to get rid of her. I have several milk cows, he had none. She raised her own calf and two more, and even gave two gallons of additional milk per day. That is until the summer heat began taking its toll.

I’d drive by occasionally and see her lying under a lone shade tree, panting. She’d had difficulty with the heat last year as well, so I didn’t think much of it. Then, about two weeks ago Martin asked if I would like to buy her back, saying he didn’t have time to care for her properly.

She stepped off the trailer. I noticed she had lost a lot of weight. She staggered as she walked. I was disheartened but determined to restore her to health.

I fed her grain twice a day, gave her all the hay and alfalfa she could eat and treated her for mastitis. Two quarters were swollen; who knows how long she had been in trouble.

I noticed she was having a terrible time with the heat and not eating well. I began spraying her with water at least once, if not then twice every afternoon. Day after day after day, temperatures soared above the century mark, relentlessly scorching the ground and all living creatures below. Sometimes I would pull on her tail to help her gain her feet when she tried to stand. She’d spend days in the shade of a walk-in shelter and get up to eat only in the evenings and at night.

A couple of days ago, pulling the tail wasn’t enough. When she got to her feet she staggered and fell, again, and again, and again. Then she quit trying to get up. At one point I lost it and kicked her in anger. I immediately felt like shit and tried to offer an apology.

Yesterday I found Butterfat laid out in the sun in a daze, shivering and pawing in agony as the sun baked her. She couldn't make it back to the shade and I was unable to move her. I took a hose and bathed her body for a while until she seemed a bit more comfortable and gave her a drink from a bucket. Then I got a gun and shot her in the head. (Even ex-felons can have black powder muzzle loaders.)

I cut up her body and left it for the dogs and whatever wildlife that may take their chances with a pack of Pyrennes guard dogs.

Fuck your goddamned stock market, the price of gold or silver, or oil or corn or whatever else you have to sell. I don't give a shit about any of this right now. I don't care who's doing who or why.

The heat of this awful drought just killed Butterfat.

I tried to save her, but I couldn't.

Monday, August 8, 2011

20 billion more, down the tubes

At this rate, we'll bust the new debt ceiling before the end of next month.

Then what?

Concerning hay...

Drought continues to bake Texas. Hay is scarce; hay for sale almost non-existant. I have stopped selling hay from the barn and have been telling people to wait for the next cutting so they could buy from the field.

Due to overwhelming demand (my phone rings so much I can't get any work done), I am suspending all hay sales until the growing season is over.

Truth is, I (my animals) may need the hay more than I need the money. And you will need hay this winter more than you need it now, if forecasts of continuing drought come to pass.

A of today, E-Barr Feed in Gonzales still has a supply of square bales at reasonable prices.

Sorry for any inconvenience my waffling on this issue may have caused.

This a force majeure event we're dealing with.

Kunstler writes; I read

Over the weekend masses of "Christians" gathered in Houston, austensibly to pray for repentance, and while He's at it, to ask God to help continue the scam that American culture has become and also the flow of ammenities we enjoy due to the grand scam. Even Governor Rick (a.k.a. our next president) showed up to help save the day.

Comes a time when perhaps we should shut our mouths and listen for a minute.

You ain't saved. Not even fucking close.

Change you don't have to believe in.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The US used 60% of it's new debt limit in one day

$239 billion spike uses up 60% of funding OK’d on Tuesday.

And we still get a AA+ credit rating?

Good thing I'm not issuing that credit rating.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Welcome to the cliff

While I hesitate to make predictions concerning financial markets, a few respected voices have warned me that we stand at the precipice.

Check out what Ilargi has to say at the Automatic Earth.

Then take a stroll over to Zerohedge and smell the napalm.

Then there's Karl Denninger.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A silver lining to this mess?

It’s evident to me and many others that the lifestyles we are accustomed to living are unsustainable and therefore will cease to exist. That is the definition of unsustainable, by the way, that which cannot be sustained. While a subject that creates much fretting, wailing and gnashing of teeth, there could be a silver lining to our excessive living arrangements.

We (Americans) enjoy excesses, far more than necessary to provide essential needs, unlike some others on this planet. We can afford to do without some of this shit and still live meaningful lives.

This is a subject I often ponder as I watch people drive endlessly, as planes crisscross the sky above, people text and talk on phones or stare blankly into the glare of computer screens. How much of this is actually necessary to sustain life?

The answer is one few want to hear: Very little.

I came across a most excellent interview today that addresses these issues. Chris Martenson interviews Nate Hagens, one of the great minds of our time in my less than humble opinion. A few excerpts from the transcript:


We now use more corn to create ethanol than we do for food. And we produce about a million barrels of ethanol a year. Each of those barrels, of course, has, because of the BTU content, a lot less energy than a barrel of oil, around 70%. So we’re using half of our corn supply to produce one million barrels of ethanol, when we use nineteen million barrels a day of oil.

I know that you are also a student of E.F. Schumacher. In Small is Beautiful, he talks about what real wealth is: Wealth is our primary capital; our trees and our rivers. And secondary capital is what we do with that; turn things into lumber and tractors, etc. And then tertiary capital is stocks and bonds and derivatives of that. So I think we have focused too much on the tertiary measures of our wealth, when they’re really just markers. And these financial markers have far outpaced our real capital. And that is kind of the elephant in the room, in our conversations about the economy in the future, that people are ignoring. They just assume that the dollars are the real markers.

...Well, look, we consume, the average American, around 230,000 kilocalories a day of energy. The body itself consumes about 2,500 to 3,000 of those, endosmotically, within the body. So exosmotically, outside of the body, we consume 99% of our energy footprint. So if Peak Oil is upon us, or any issue with coal or natural gas, or the main fossil pixie dust that has subsidized our lifestyle for the last century, if that stuff declines twenty or thirty or even forty percent, it’s not like we’re literally out of calorie availability. It’s just that our system is built on all this decadence and industry and trade and cross border transfers; it has all been built on a model that can’t continue. What’s going to break first is people’s expectations of what they own, the digits in the bank, and all of the financial claims. But those are just digits, they’re abstract digits. The day that a financial system would be disrupted, nothing happens physically.

So I think if we drop our energy consumption quite a bit, nothing has to change other than our supply chains and the way that goods and medicine and water and sanitation and all that get to the cities and towns and states. That has to be deeply thought about on a national level. But I’m optimistic - if we were sitting here and the average American used 10,000 calories a day of total energy, and we needed 3,000 for our bodily functions to continue, that would be a real problem, because there wasn’t much extra. But we have a huge amount of energy relative to what we need.

There’s much more in the Hagens’ interview. Take the time to listen or read it if you can.

Distilled, it comes down to this: Energy supplies and other natural resources are diminishing. Our economic system is based on perpetual growth, an impossiblity, and will fail. Continuing to live as we now do therefore is impossible. But we misallocate and waste the majority of energy and resources we use, so there’s room to change and survive, if we find the will to do so before change is forced upon us.

Nate Hagens, Chris Martenson

Here's an excellent interview of Nate Hagens by Chris Martenson. I count Hagen's mind among the best and brightest of our times. Chris Martenson is no slouch either.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Read Kunstler

Kunstler says what I would, but in a more interesting fashion. I defer to the man:

Weimar meets Waterloo.

By James Howard Kunstler
on August 1, 2011 9:15 AM

The Sunday night news, scant as it is these days despite the grotesque exertions of over a thousand cable TV stations, showed the old familiar faces lit up with crocodile smiles. The Republic was saved, surprise, surprise, by a last-minute fugue of reasonableness, when all concerned decided that putting the business-end of a double-barreled 20-guage shotgun in America's pie-hole might not summon the spirits of Ronald Reagan, Santa Claus, Adam Smith, Chuck Norris, and the Holy Ghost after all.

Let's give thanks that it's over because now the USA can get on with its systemic collapse honestly and fairly. Even though the debt ceiling extravaganza ended in something like political failure, one point did seem to shine through: there's no more money. Anyway, no money for non-bankers, and pretty soon even the bankers will be out of money too, because their money is fantasy banking money (sssshhhh, don't tell them) consisting of hard-drives packed with digital slime trails of swindles and frauds. The public can live in straight-up unvarnished fear now that they are liable to lose everything they thought they had.

This new depression is way different from the hazily remembered one of grampy's boyhood. There was no money then, too, in 1934, but you didn't have to puzzle out the metaphysical workings of a collateralized debt obligation to know what the score was. Your pockets were just empty and the bank down the street was shuttered. The country had plenty of everything except money: lots of oil, good farmland, manpower, ores, timber, beeves-on-the-hoof, excellent railroads, dynamic cities, and factories just recently built (only the orders for goods stopped coming in). Yet something happened that still mystifies the viziers who call themselves economists.

Was it all that mischief on Wall Street with the "bucket shops" and the margin-gone-wild, and the shoeshine boys proffering stock tips to their customers? Or was it some remorseless cyclical exhalation of history? Or was it that plus the Keynesian monkey-business with interest rates and the issuance of currency? Or was it some fundamental flaw in the workings of industrial capitalism itself? These questions have never been adequately answered, though there is no shortage of "stories" cooked up to explain it - many of them elegantly entertaining.

My own guess is that the industrial experience itself was a peculiar experiment rife with treacherous self-amplifying feedbacks that the participants were not prepared for, such as the rapid saturation of markets via mass production at the colossal scale. Whoops. And meanwhile, everybody in China is living in the equivalent of the 12th century, so forget about selling them radios. (Globalization eventually fixed that...or did it?) To put a finer point on it, industrialism (and all its digital offshoots) may not be a permanent feature of the human condition, but an anomalous congruence of some historical events that had a beginning, a middle, and an end.

I happen to think we're at the end of this anomalous era because we've run through the material resource base. I know a lot of people eagerly await the nano-dawn of self-replicating bot Satori, where everything we need is literally conjured out of thin air. The Viziers would really love that because, at last, their models would work! Personally, I do not hold my breath waiting for Kurzweilian "Singularity." We'll be disappointed enough when Walmart fails to run on wind turbines.

So now we enter an economic terra incognita of the real post-industrial economy - not the Cinderella hoo-hah of digi-magic advertised in places like Wired Magazine, but more like a Foxfire world made by hand. We're out of cheap oil, cheap and good ores, ocean fish, good timber, and lots of other things. All the stuff we erected to live our lives in - the stupendous armature of highways, strip malls, suburban houses, skyscraper condos, sewer systems, electric grids - is beyond our power to repair now. We can only patch it, and that can only work for so long before things go dark. (Can you sharpen a saw blade?)

The money part is not so hard to understand. When the dynamism wanes in a hypertrophic system, money can no longer be created. Real money, that is. Money that means something, a trustworthy medium of exchange, in a system where borrowers reliably pay back loaned money. All the current money fiascos underway around the world, old and new, western and eastern, are just dumb-shows put on to conceal the fact that money is not being paid back. Real wealth is contracting - even as the smaller pool of remaining wealth moves magnetically to the centers of power.

We will never solve this American debt crisis. We're going broke fast and it will be like falling down a long staircase. The federal government will never recover. It will pretend to be in charge of things that continue to fall apart, and eventually its pretenses will be seen for what they are - and then it will be every community for itself. (The same can be said of the states, and even the counties.)

The troubles will mount more rapidly, too, from here, because nobody has been fooled by the machinations in congress the past month, except maybe the elected cravens at the center of it all, and many of them are in their final years of lofty, well-feathered splendor. A debt rating warning - if that's what it turns out to be - will be brushed aside, and for some good reasons, too, but it is really a dark sign that our Republic does not function anymore and is primed to break apart.