Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Coming Storm

So, like my friend Tim, I'm going about the business of living and enjoying life in the 21st Century, but with one eye on the horizon for a significant crisis which could be looming in our future. When world events turn, they can turn fast - see Serbia, 1914 and Poland, 1939 - or they can turn slow, like temperature rising under the allegorical frog in a beaker of water. So to prepare for the next global storm, even a potential storm, one has to imagine what forces could come into play. From my perspective, I'm imagining not a sweeping conflict or acute economic crisis, but a ratcheting of economic pressure on all the world's inhabitants except the very wealthy. Perhaps during my lifetime I can only expect to see a doubling of gasoline prices, food prices, housing prices...but perhaps it could be a quick snap that suddenly means no transportation, no food delivery, and no electricity.

So if anything like that happened, it would be good, I think, to have some land and a little house that is as close to self sufficient as can be. Like a little 1910 farm plot, I think. Horses for plow power, chickens for food, wells for water, tallow candles for light, trees and tools to build furniture and musical instruments.... This is a huge topic, and I have to get off to work in the cube farm, but today I have been researching the cheapest building methods I can find, and I just sent for some pricing on a hand-operated press that produces Compressed Earthen Blocks for construction of walls. You can see what I mean at, or look up CEB construction. Most use 5 to 10 percent cement, but I think with a good supply of clay that wouldn't be necessary, especially if cement is not available. Todays CEBs are made to interlock so that mortar is only needed on the courses close ot he ground for waterproofing. Inside a structure would be stuccoed and whitewashed or similarly treated for a southwestern look, but with compressed blocks, even the wet climate in Oregon would be no problem.

More on this later...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Reality Olympics

Tim mentioned on his blog recently that the Olympics are a bit farcical since it is basically the richest countries in the world showing off what they can do with massive leisure time. I agree, and to even the field, I propose we include events that third-world countries are great at. Like the Survive on 150 Calories Per-Day for 10 Years event. Or the Endure 200 years of Colonization Marathon. The Skating on the Brink of Starvation would be a crowd favorite and the African Biathalon, where lucky participants will drag a plastic jug of dirty water for 15 miles while shooting a Kalashnikov at marauding bands of Arab murderers.

Why can't these countries just pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and play the capitalism game like the rest of us? Sure, we or other countries colonized and demoralized them for decades if not centuries, and sure, we plundered their resources, discouraged their language and religion, supported nasty dictators and corrupt regimes, but why can't they just stand up when our foot is still on their necks? Maybe they need to rely on human bondage and exploitation like we did to rise to be the foremost economic engine on the planet?