Three things I learned last week

“It would be irresponsible not to speculate.” – Peggy Noonan

No doubt there were more important things to be learned; but here are three things that I learned. Maybe one thing I’ll learn this coming week is not to play the magpie and collect bright shiny objects!

Fedco Seeds is incredibly cool. (It’s a worker-owned co-op, like Mondragon.) I got their catalog because I want to think about planting some fruit trees, and it has fantastic, Whole Earth Catalog-style front matter, which includes (besides much else) this important information on seed-saving:

Seed Saving Organizations
The Seed Savers Exchange, 3094 N Winn Rd, Decorah, IA 52101, (563) 382-5990, A grassroots network of gardeners and plant collectors who maintain and distribute rare varieties of food crops. Their 2011 Yearbook lists 694 members who maintain a total of 13,876 different vegetable varieties. The SSE houses their larger collection at their 890-acre Heritage Farm. Annual membership is $40. The Flower and Herb Exchange is at the same address. Annual membership in FHE is $10.

The Scatterseed Project, 39 Bailey Rd, Industry, ME 04938. A project for conserving genetic diversity. No catalog, but all varieties are available through SSE. Scatterseed maintains ~1100 varieties of peas and 700 of potatoes among its over 3000 plant varieties.

Seeds of Diversity Canada, PO Box 36, Station Q, Toronto, ON M4T 2L7, Canada, (866) 509-7333, Dedicated to the conservation, documentation and use of plants with Canadian significance. Promotes a pollinator observation program. Publishes Seeds of Diversity Magazine plus a 2,900-variety seed exchange directory. Annual membership $40.

The Farmington (ME) Seed Savers Group. A local group of gardeners and small farmers whose focus is on education and on preserving vegetable varieties suited to our region. Monthly meetings on the third Thursday. Offer three open-to-the-public educational programs during the winter. Contact or or David King at (207) 639-4302.

So, if you want to make sure humanity has a back-up plan in case Monsanto and corporate agriculture turn out as we all hope it won’t, these organizations would be a good place to start. Also, seed saving is fun. (Note that “Fedco does not knowingly carry genetically engineered seeds.”)

This year’s front matter also includes a section FDR’s Fireside Chats (text; audio), and quotes from FDR are scattered throughout the catalog. FedCo’s David Shipman:

Depending on your economic class [dread word], we either just came through or are mired in the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression. The puerility and vapidness of the current political discourse only adds to the sense of foreboding [see below: “I think I’m getting the fear”] and overall discomfort. Even our president, for all his eloquence, hasn’t been able to rally the country with his inspiring speeches.

Learning that the Fireside apple [here] was named in honor of Roosevelt, I started reading FDR’s Fireside Chats. His rhetoric, clarity of vision, and reasoning were breath-taking. Most inspiring is his vision of the role of government. As he said in October 1933, we are “constructing the edifice of recovery—the temple, which, when completed, will no longer be a temple of money-changers or of beggars, but rather a temple dedicated to and maintained for a greater social justice, a greater welfare for America—the habitation of a sound economic life…” Compare his vision of government as the architect of a more secure life, with Ronald Reagan’s vision of government as the problem, not the solution. As FDR said in his talk in May 1940, “there are a few among us who have deliberately and consciously closed their eyes because they are determined to be opposed to their government, its foreign policy and every other policy, to be partisan, and to believe that anything that the government did was wholly wrong.”

For those folks, and for all the rest of us who keep an open mind, we’ve sprinkled quotes from his Fireside Chats throughout the catalog. Read them, think about how much of what he said then applies today. We couldn’t begin to include all we would like. Seek out the full texts; they are easy to find online. We can find fault with any president. FDR shows us that we can find hope and inspiration as well. Perhaps the Occupy Wall Street movement could take inspiration from Roosevelt’s words: “We had a bad banking situation. Some of our bankers had shown themselves either incompetent or dishonest in the handling of the people’s funds.” March 1933. “We insist that labor is entitled to as much respect as property.” Sept 1936. As Woody Guthrie wrote in his song Dear Mrs. Roosevelt, “This world was lucky to see him born.”

Now, an anarchist would would find a lot to disagree with in that passage: Why is property entitled to any respect at all? And the Marxians have been complaining for generations that FDR saved capitalism. And as for the right… “Let’s go to the Trans-Luxe and his Roosevelt.” For myself, I find the return to FDR, and the writer’s connection of FDR to Occupy, heartening, but some of the language — “our President,” “inspiring speeches,” and pulling out the “to be partisan” passage — almost heart-breaking in its trustfulness (I almost wrote “capacity to be deceived”). The Ninth Circle of Hell is reserved, if I recall correctly, for Betrayers.

Anybody read William Gibson’s Zero History? Here’s another Festo product (hat tip furzy mouse):

“Propulsion of a ballonett by means of peristaltic motion is hitherto unknown in the history of aviation.” Indeed!

“I hate to say this,” said my attorney as we sat down at the Merry—Go—Round Bar on the second balcony, “but this place is getting to me. I think I’m getting the Fear.”

“Nonsense,” I said. “We came out here to find the American Dream, and now that we’re right in the vortex you want to quit.” I grabbed his bicep and squeezed. “You must realize,”I said, “that we’ve found the main nerve.”

“I know,” he said. “That’s what gives me the Fear.”

— Hunter Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Just a little exercise in the phenology of the zeitgeist…. A couple of weeks ago, after learning a little bit about pruning fruit trees, I had a conversation with a friend about a sudden sense of foreboding and unease; one of those “I can’t put my finger on it” discussions. The sudden angst wasn’t because of President Spread ‘Em’s strip search order, because that hadn’t come down. Our conversation was in the middle of “Summer in March,” which gave a lot of people, me included, the willies, but I don’t think that was it either.

We couldn’t put a name to it, this new feeling, and we couldn’t figure out its source. It could be a new narrative [or fnord, as K Ackerman suggests] in our famously free press; our elites, after all, herd us like the animals they believe we are, and the Temple Grandin-like press is one of the main ways they do that; perhaps, for reasons of their own — fear drives consumption — they decided to start cracking the angst whip by injecting some new narratives into the discourse. Recovery! But the narrative seems much the same as usual to me.

My quite capable and resilient friend said: “I feel like I’ve got nowhere to run.”* And I agreed. I felt the same way. Another way of saying this is that we agreed our personal hedging strategies (for example, currency arbitrage via expatriation on retirement) were no longer as robust as they had at one point seemed.

Readers? Are my friend and I just statistical blips up here on the margins? Is it a class thing? My friend and I are way down in the 99%. (Up here in Maine, we have a joke: “Depression? What Depression? We’ve always been depressed!”) Tax time? Did anybody else get The Fear in the last two weeks? (NOTE: I’m looking for something time-bound, here, not the sort of angst that’s been going on since, oh, the year 2000 or so.)

NOTE * Perhaps, from some perspectives, this could turn out to be a good thing. If you’re in the “Worse is better” camp.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Nathanael

    I think you’re right about the Zeitgeist being “nowhere to run, no escape…” I’m not seeing it arriving in the last two weeks specifically, though; but then I’m bad with timing. Timing is hard. Perhaps the mood arrives in different places at different times; I saw this mood coming, but it seems to have taken a really long time to really arrive for the rest of the country.

    Anyway, this zeitgeist is spectacularly dangerous to the elites who are mismanaging the country (many countries!) with cavalier attitudes. After all, we can all fill in the phrase “_____ or flight”. It is unwise to back large numbers of people into a corner.

    I’ve been trying to warn the elites for years. They haven’t been listening.

  2. Linda J

    To me, it is more a feeling of avenues being closed down. I’ve been a resister (anti-war, counter-recruitment, etc.) but I just don’t know what to do these days. Feel stymied and stuck.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Temple Grandin wrote a wonderful book called How Animals Think. Professionally, she makes slaughterhouses that are more humane. The metaphor is that the 1%, through the press, is designing a slaughterhouse for those it considers on the level of animals (an attitude not unknown among elites throughout history). This is not a knock on Grandin, if it came across that way.

      1. Skylark

        Thanks for the clarification, because the reference stopped me in my tracks. She is an amazing person in my book.

  3. Billy-Bob

    The elites haven’t been listening because they don’t have to. I’m depressed and anxious because it has become increasingly clear that there will be no respite from the 1:99% polarization anywhere on the globe. This is it. The computers and weapons are good enough to strangle resistance in the cradle. The barricades are broken. A distracted and shrinking middle class can’t mute the TV long enough to wonder where their neighbors went. Liberals not willfully in thrall to Hopey bet on trustifarian anarchists playing dress-up in drum circles. I’m not seeing a happy ending here.

    1. MB

      “The elites haven’t been listening because they don’t have to.” Ah, but they do. They depend on US! It is a symbiotic system. The problem is the generals, majors, lieutenants, wannabes who are the well-paid aspirants. Whether carried out because they, too, crave the life and the control, or because they follow the political ideology, in the end, they usually come to realize that they, too are the 99%.

      Ask any of the recently deposed leaders; Mr. Kaddaffi, Mr. Musharef, soon, Mr. Assad ~ the day comes for reckoning. And our leaders love them until that day, and they pay them well and allow all kinds of atrocities, complicit in turning their backs, “that’s their business, their country”, unless, of course, it has to do with offshore banking and the money. They are OK with helping with that. Then the day comes where the populace can take no more, and our leaders bravely praise those “freedom fighters” for “DEMOCRACY”. And the revolution occurs, the spring arrives, the new regime installed and the payback begins. People disappear, are beaten, interrogated, raped. The new, better, more responsive government is in place.

      The problem now is we cannot put down the cell phones that transmit our every thought and conversation, and to identify the social networks you operate in. They are fast becoming the accepted tool for all transactions! Talk about owning the casino! And we have satellites, capable of vaporizing the dissenters, and we have drones, becoming ubiquitous for all occasions – weather, spying, killing. As small as a bug. And we have wiretapping, and “neutralizing” (assassinatation) that is now made legal And we can have implanted chips, of course, the better to read your health history – so we don’t cut off the wrong leg! Or to find your missing child! And those chips will be able to be remotely reprogrammed I guess, if needed. Christ, haven’t we all seen Minority Report? Don’t we recall the interviews done by Spielberg and Cruise, fawning over all this future technology they were privy to (and used to introduce these concepts in a safe and thrilling way?) Haven’t we been introduced to the technologies planned for the next 50-100 years, incrementally rolled out so that the boiling frog does not jump out of the pot?

      So yes, I am disquieted. So much so that we are supposed to prepare for that apocalyptic future and grow some food, or we are to carry on as usual. Typically, neither choice is that appealing. Signed, Kermit

      1. MB

        And the link posted on NC makes my point.

        At the risk of being a recalcitrant dinosaur, with all of the innovation we have experienced in the past upteen years, have human rights progressed? Have our legal constraints held firm? Are we progressing in the supposed ideal of peace and justice? I know that that so many would laugh at these quaint notions, but as the hokey pokey says; “that’s what it’s all about”. Unless.. it’s really about money, extracting tolls from you, every moment of your life. Capisch?

        1. Rotter

          That religious-like faith in science,gadgetry and “human progress”.. im just not seeing it happen..and shouldnt it be happening? After all, God is Dead, History is over and everything sucks worse than ever..hmmmmmmmmm

  4. Billy-Bob

    “The Temple Grandin-like press”, yeah. I was diagnosed as autistic in 1969, (fortunately my parents didn’t tell me) and I don’t find this funny.

    1. albrt

      Her job is to help corporations heard animals into slaughterhouses without upsetting the animals too much.

      I think that’s what Lambert was referring to.

      I don’t know whether Lambert intended the autism to be part of the analogy, although it seems to me that mild Asperger’s is becoming a more and more adaptive trait.

        1. Aquifer

          Don’t be so sure – from what i understand, which is admittedly very little, some folks on that spectrum have problems with human social skills to the point where they may not have the opportunity given to them to develop the skills that Grandin has, or are shunned even though they have them ….

  5. CM

    Steve Solomon argues that seed savers are over-rated, since you have no idea as to the quality of their seed – for instance, did they have sufficient distance between crops to prevent cross-pollination?

    That said, I like FedCo, Johnny’s, Uprising Seeds, Sand Hill, Horizon Herbs, Adaptive Seeds, and if all else fails, Territorial.

    Everyone here should have a long-term plan for food, presumably either wealthy enough to purchase (read up on Weimar) or growing your own.

  6. mmckinl

    ~”Did anybody else get The Fear in the last two weeks?”

    ~”“I feel like I’ve got nowhere to run.””

    Indeed I feel it ever more so than ever …

    “The Top Short-Term Threat to Humanity: The Fuel Pools of Fukushima”

    “This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced. ….. Such a catastrophe would affect us all for centuries.”

    Have a Nice Day … but … stay tuned to your radio …

    1. ambrit

      Dear mmckinl;
      I for one did indeed read that post. It scared the s— out of me, for, it’s the kind of preventable disaster that there is no recourse from. After all, a huge water filled pool up in the air? A swimming pool on top of a high rise I can see. If it leaks out, people get wet, that’s all. If this one leaks out, Japan ceases to be a nation, and the Northern Hemisphere enters a neo-Dark Ages.
      Perhaps there is something to the Jungian racial consciousness, and it’s trying to warn us all.

  7. Jesse

    “Did anybody else get The Fear in the last two weeks?”

    Nope (though I’m sure you’ll get lots of “now that you mention it” comments). For me, it’s been a steadily increasing unease for about the past 1.5 years or so. If I had to put my finger on it, I’d say it started with the Bradley Manning mistreatment incident (and the general war on Wikileaks), but it’s possible it was before that.

  8. Max424

    “I feel like I’ve got nowhere to run.”

    We feel like there is nowhere to run, because there is nowhere to run.

    The neo-liberal globalists have effectively shrunk the planet, Lambert. The poisons they harvest and spew can now get at you no matter where you go.

    Hell, our new, tiny neo-liberal globe could fit inside an Auschwitz shower.

    Note: That ain’t ice-water running through the neo-liberals veins, it’s Zyklon B.

    1. D

      Right, just awful. “Nowhere to run” does seem to sum up the general mood pretty well. But hey, look on the bright side! We can thank global capitalism (well maybe not too earnestly) for spreading itself universally and in such a consistent, monolithically soulless form that if it is rejected, it has a chance of being rejected universally and simultaneously, seeing as how well we can communicate with each other now (or so I want to think).

      Like a globule of phlegm washing down the drain, we could only hope that global neoliberal capitalism and its many sickly tendrils will carry themselves in one solid quivering piece down into the abyss. And then perhaps the inverted values that emerge as a result of this rejection would be relatively consistent, making for some nice global cooperation no? That is of course if we don’t have another resurgence of reactionary forces, which taking a look around, is possible…

  9. F. Beard

    “I feel like I’ve got nowhere to run.”

    Life is designed to drive one to his knees at least once, don’t you think?

    And I prefer what Rorschach said in the “Watchmen”:

    “I’m not trapped in here with you; you’re trapped in here with me!”

  10. F. Beard

    And the Marxians have been complaining for generations that FDR saved capitalism. Lambert Strether

    FDR saved banking as did Keynes. Capitalism does not even require usury, much less counterfeiting – so-called “credit creation”.

    But live and learn, eh?

  11. M.InTheCity

    The fear is also occuring over here in the UK. I was talking to someone very much NOT in the 1% before the long weekend (4 day easter holiday) and he said all his friends were exhausted. The whole country seems to be on its knees emotionally and looking forward to the 4 day weekend. I went out with mates, got drunk and ate lots of yummy food Friday. This weekend feels like the last hurrah…

  12. brian t

    Did any of you listen to the latest “Common Sense” podcast by Dan Carlin? Not only does he also talk about his feeling that something is changing or about to happen, he even descrives that same song as capturing the feeling. You’re not alone. My personal feeling is that people everywhere are in denial. There are several elephants in the room, but no-one wants to look at them.

    Over-population of the planet is one: not the simplistic “running out of space” idea, but in terms of resources, and the poor quality of life it causes. You could easily fit the entire population of the world in to Texas, but they would have no clean water to drink. Fit them all in the USA, they would survive, but life would hardly be worth living. Every envionmental problem we face can be traced back to overpopulation, directly or indirectly.

    Another is the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. I’m not just talking about the USA’s “1%” – it’s a global problem. Measures such as increased tax rates can only do so much, since they act primarily on income, not on hoarded wealth. You could take 50% of every billionaire’s income as tax, and they would remain billionaires unless they “went Carnegie” and decided to use their wealth for good before they died. At least Gates and Buffet are making an effort, but most billionaires aren’t. (Mitt Romney’s tithes don’t count – the LDS hangs on to what he gives them.)

    I am not in favour of governments taking away wealth by force, just to squander it. If the 1% really are the elite of the world, perhaps it’s time they started leading by example. If they want to be gods, they need to get good at it and fast, or give up the title. In My Humble Opinion, of course.

    1. LucyLulu

      The U.S. doesn’t have a wealth tax but many other countries do. I know that many of the European countries at least tax wealth over a certain level, somewhere around a million euros or so. Who knows if they pay it though, or if they park their money in offshore tax havens like the Grand Caymans.

  13. Linda R.

    Any chance it’s the time change? It came earlier this year. To someone who tells time casually by the sun, it’s terribly unsettling. It’s a metaphor for all the ways we’ve lost our connection to the rhythms of nature.

    Feeling boxed in between the 1% and the lunatic fringe, my moments of utopian thoughts are becoming more and more rare. Every hopeful sign seems to be counter-balanced by some horrible reminder. NDAA. Trayvon. “Personhood” whether for corporations or zygotes. More fear in the eurozone, dropping Treasury rates, oil prices, job creation. Meanwhile our President continues to talk, albeit more softly, about a Grand Bargain that will devastate us all. The acceptance of Romney as the inevitable candidate means the beginning of a campaign that promises to be long, ugly, and cannot end in joy, no matter who wins.

    For those in desert/southwest climates there’s Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson. Of course, when you live in a condo or an apartment, growing one’s own food is never going to be realistic.

    1. Susan the other

      On the roof of your building. Now in Brooklyn, the roof of an old building in a Navy yard, with another nearby planned. Hydroponics. One roof is enormous and will produce what sounded like the equivalent of a small farm.

  14. rafael bolero

    By far the weirdest post/article, and responses, I’ve ever read here. Are all of you off your meds at once? Thought this was a finance blog. No offense, but is this some kind of Easter breakdown? The Humpty Dumpty school of econ? On the other hand, I have many large, organic, blue potatoes that I grew in my back yard. What will you give me for one? A loaf of bread makes no sense: I can eat the potato. A gallon of gas probably means you are very hungry but have extra gas. And, if you will trade sex for food, well, a man’s house is his cave, I guess. So who needs Magna Carta. Walk softly and carry a potato rake.

    1. MB

      When the Magna Carta came to town last year, I felt so sad seeing this relic. To think that the Magna Carta – words on paper – changed the course of human history.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Remember Greenspan lying in his tub, thinking about ammonia shipment? (Not to say anything about the quality of his thinking). These are the equivalent, in the zeitgeist, of ammonia shipments. And no doubt there is a play in it somewhere….

      UPDATE Adding… It would be your view, then, that “animal spirits” are only relevant at the 1% level?

    3. patricia

      These days, too much economics discussion leads to meds. But once off my meds, I traded that crooked old potato rake for a pitchfork. Although I still walk softly. :-}

  15. Recourse 2 Rebellion

    The fear and confusion dissipate at once when you stop attributing benign motivations to the state. This is a regime that has chosen to substitute lawless coercion for lost legitimacy. The state has gone to war against the humans here and abroad. It’s going to be bad, but whatever it takes, this state has got to go.

  16. Furzy Mouse

    Yes, I have the willies almost every day. Feel withdrawn for no reason. Something in the pit of my tummy…biting my nails over nothing…..might hedge my continued existence with a gaggle of chickens, maybe a cow…thanks for spreading the seeds…=:)

    I propose an Evolutionary Party. You know right off the bat if you belong or not. Only for those who want to go forward. If you want to live in the past, I have a cup of tea, but no sympathy, for you.

    From the I Ching, Hexagram 23 “Splitting Apart””:The image is a house whose roof collapses..’Evil encroaches on the righteous…The fruit must decay before the new seed can develop…The light principle is represented as invincible because in its sinking, it creates new life….Evil is not destructive to the good alone, but inevitably destroys itself as well.”

  17. patricia

    For me the feeling is like Linda R’s complaint about time change. “Terribly unsettled.” It always takes me two weeks to shift to the time switch, twice a year. But I can’t find a way to shift out of this, to adjust, to find new passages in which to walk.

    Something about that freakishly harsh weather combined with the increasing flood of corruption and power-mongering. Also, reality settling in after last fall’s elation over Occupy. The required change is going to be grueling, violent and slow, and we didn’t start nearly early enough. The earth itself seems against us because of what we’ve allowed to happen.

    It’s not something I can think about every day but it remains always underneath. I relish the joys of my days with an intensity similar to when it looked like I had cancer.

  18. René

    I got The Fear after reading BNW and 1984, four years ago.

    It hasn’t left.

    I can’t stand the fact that people present themselves as intelligent, educated etc. but can’t or won’t connect the dots.

    Dots that are presented by writers, philosophers, artists and musicians through the ages but DO NOT WANT TO RECOGNISE THE FACT THAT political economic history is one big conspiracy.

    Drives me batty :-)

    1. René

      “It seems to me that the nature of the ULTIMATE revolution with which we are NOW faced is precisely this: That we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably will always exist to get people to love their servitude.”

      – Aldous Huxley, Berkeley 1962 Speech

  19. tom allen

    “And everything really follows the Fives’ law?” Joe asked.

    “More than you guess,” Dillinger remarked blandly.

    “Even when you’re dealing with social fields,” Simon added. “We’ve run studies of cultures where the Illuminati were not in control, and they still follow Weishaupt’s five-stage pattern: Verwirrung, Zweitracht, Unordnung, Beamtenherrschaft and Grummet. That is: chaos, discord, confusion,
    bureaucracy, and aftermath. America right now is between the fourth and fifth stages. Or you might say that the older generation is mostly in Beamtenherrschaft and the younger generation is moving into Grummet rapidly.”

    — The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson (1975)

    [Of course, that was forty years ago. Now we’re in an era of Grummet (aftermath) and moving into Verwirrung (chaos). Which can actually be a very good thing, a renewal.]

    “The fifth stage, Grummet or aftermath, represents the transition back to chaos. Bureaucracy chokes in its own paperwork; mind is at the end of its tether…”

    “The age of Grummet begins with an upsurge of magicians, hoaxers, Yippies, Kabouters, shamans, clowns, and other Eristic forces.”

      1. René

        Okay guys, it is difficult to set the right tone, well, at least for me. And I should have phrased it differently…

        But there was a smiley face and a link that some of you might have found “entertaining.” And I should have used that link in a more appropriate context :-)

  20. jay moses

    Fedco and seedsavers are cool indeed, but don’t forget other outstanding warriors in this fight: St. Laurence Nurseries, Baker Creek, Victory seeds Trees of Antiquity and plent more.

  21. JerryDemim

    First I would like to agree that things are bad. Bad, terrible, getting worse, bleak, black even. But, that being said I think there are a lot of people on this blog who really need to lighten up and most likely take a break from the internet. As a person who has been consumed by news and all things conspiracy slanted with apocalyptic undertones since childhood I know what I’m talking about. Dwelling nonstop on this stuff will make you miserable and will cost you dearly. You will bum out friends and loved ones and people will start to avoid your company, and that’s not even considering what it does to your health.

    Two years ago I took a traveling sabbatical and consciously decided not to read this site, the news or any other news related or political blogs and I only allowed myself to read non-fiction. Non-fiction of the non-William Gibson type, and at the end of the six months I was a new man with a new outlook and a much sunnier personality. Old habits die hard of course and with a return to work and my normal routine stateside I crept back into my old ways of cruising the blogosphere for tales of corruption and impending doom, but with the awareness I gained during my detox period I feel I learned how to monitor my own mental and spiritual well-being and adjust the flow of depressing information accordingly. Anyone feeling as depressed and doomed as the person who wrote this post should probably make a real effort to detoxify themselves from depressing information for a few months and take stock of their mental and spiritual state afterwards.

    Regarding Roosevelt, I find him to be a remarkable man and an inspiring President. I’ve been reading one of his biographies: “Traitor to His Class…” by H.W. Brands. I am just getting to the Depression era, Presidency part of his life, but I have been struck by how Roosevelt didn’t immediately fashion himself as an enemy of bankers and Champion of the people. He came very slowly to this persona as his more conservative efforts, and deferential treatment of power and privilege failed. There was a Winston Churchill quote in the book that was meant to reflect on the Roosevelt Presidency but it was originally in the context of WW2, I am paraphrasing, “Americans can be counted on to always do the right thing, but only after they have exhausted each and every other option first”

    Maybe there’s hope yet, maybe, but in the meantime there are a lot of people out there who should unplug, go outside and enjoy spring.

  22. DWDeLuca

    Love this, I too felt more of The Fear last week, and for the very reasons cited.

    But I have been feeling The Fear for a number of years. It started with the GWB election fiasco, but then it eased after GWB looked fully incompetent his first few months. But then after after 9/11/2001, The Fear really took off. I started saying “The forces of evil are now on the ascendant. And by this I didn’t mean Al Queda, which I knew was a small group of (very determined and sometimes very competent) nut jobs. I meant Cheney and the rest of ’em. (Note — I live in NYC and was two blocks away walking to the ferry when the second tower got hit, so I understand very well the threat the nut jobs pose.)

    Last week The Fear definitely grew for me. First, the strip seach thing. Seems like raw intimidation to me, just license for anyone in Authority to be as big of a pr*ck as they want.

    Second, my own personal hedging plan was excactly the example given above, “currency arbitrage via expatriation on retirement”. But last week I read that Argentina a year or two ago made the financial requirements for residency much higher. So my planned escape hatch appeared to close.

    But, eh, if the world is screwed, it’s always been screwed, I ain’t gonna change it. So like JerryDemim suggested, I got outside and took a couple nice long bike rides in the sun this weekend. I highly recommend his advice.

  23. F. Beard

    “It would be irresponsible not to speculate.” – Peggy Noonan Lambert Strether

    I’m speculating you’re mocking Peggy?

    I quit reading her years ago. I have a vague memory of her being a shill for the Republicans.

  24. JerryDemim

    P.S. Thanks Lambert for the link to the Festo flying mylar ballon animals. I love Gibson btw. I don’t remember any flying jellyfish in “Spook Country” but “Zero History” had Milgram and his love interest, Fiona, the motorcycle courier piloting numerous Festo creations around London. Don’t miss the flying penguin video! I figured Gibson just used someone’s idea that was kind of close to this technology as an inspiration for his book. I had no idea that a German company named Festo was actually building flying mylar penguins and manta-rays! I want one.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks, fixed. The crazy thing is that I looked the book up to make sure I got the right title. And then typed the wrong one. Must have been distracted by thoughts of Anabaptists, I guess….

  25. Aquifer

    Not to add to your paranoia – but is that song you posted copyrighted? OOPs, indefinite detention, here we come …

  26. Aquifer

    And then, of course, after the spent fuel in the empty pools melts down, all those seeds will get irradiated … but maybe that will mean bigger organic veggies? I can see it now – the tomato that ate Brooklyn …

    All kidding aside, or overhead, or underneath, or whatever, I do not intend to go down without a fight – and as i have spent too long patching folks up to want to make more holes in them, my weapon of choice at this point is politics. We can do a lot with it we haven’t exhibited the courage to do in a very long time …(Jill) Stein calls our current practices “the politics of fear” and says “silence is not an option”. As she points out, by practicing that politics we have gotten everything we were afraid of …

    In the spirit of Roosevelt – “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” … or, if you prefer Frank Herbert (as in Dune), “fear is the mind killer”..

    Fear as an adaptive mechanism, is a motivator for prudence, but too big a dose causes paralysis, so where are we on that spectrum?

  27. Aquifer

    (Rats – I wish there was an edit button, so one could stick things all in one post …..)

    Maybe that peristaltic balloon is squirting a “fearomone” into the atmosphere – a lot of unpleasant stuff comes out as the result of peristalsis …:)

      1. Aquifer

        Yo! skippy,

        We have one, and it has a Pres. candidate, among others, and she is a pretty neat lady, but i guess you already know that as i have been pasting her name all over the place ….

        If you haven’t, check her out …

  28. freedomny

    OK…so I just bought a “disastor” kit from Sears. It’s got a reflective “sleeping bag”, lots of water, some purifying tablets and many nutrition bars. I also have a zippy little car that is almost paid off. I don’t have a mortgage on my apartment…but who knows if I can even sell it….to buy a small house on alot of land to plant the vegetable seeds I’ve been buying for the past year. Do seeds go bad?

    Apart from owning a gun…I think I’m pretty good if disaster strikes.

    And…only half kidding that I have googled “communes” a couple of times last/this year.

    But I feel so much better these days. Thank you Sears, for helping with my fears….

  29. Prairie Rose

    I’ve talked to a lot of women over the past few years and in my admittedly microscopic middle class sample, to a woman we’re all experiencing a visceral unease. Something in the world is akilter. Something, we know not what (nothing? everything?) is terribly, horribly wrong. And yet, we women know, we will be the ones to clean up the mess.

  30. Kansas City Phil

    The world is far more transparent now, and the levers of power are more easily discerned–at least by those interested in such things. The rest are merely distracted or preoccupied with their personal lives.

    When a critical plurality of the common people come to understand how their lives and fortunes have been manipulated by the few, for the benefit of an even more exclusive elite–well, that’s when it will turn ugly. People don’t like being lied to, manipulated, and used. This is the stuff of revolt.

    Some revolts are beneficent; others, horrific. The inchoate fear and distrust I sense in my peers is not the same stuff that propelled the Patriots of 1776.

    And so to my great apprehension: things will come to a head, there will be some sort of revolt, and it will either be crushed brutally, or, if the revolt is successful, will unleash something even more brutal.

  31. They didn't leave me a choice

    The Fear? Oh yes, also within the last two weeks. The source, I have no idea.

    I’ve known for years that all politicians are worthless traitor scum barely worth the flesh their sick and twisted minds inhabit.

    I’ve known for years that the entire economic system is fucked, though I didn’t know the sheer depths of it until I started reading this blog.

    I’ve known for months that the elites around the planet are doing their damnest to ensure that their power over us will be eternal.

    I’ve known for weeks that indeed there are alternatives and the system that we have is not the only one.

    I’ve known for days that time’s up.

    And yet I have no idea what changed, the sun shines on the sky all the same. The snow is slowly but surely melting out of springs way. People move about the same as they did before? Yet everything seems so different now.

    I never felt anything resembling fear of terrorism, the chances of getting into a traffic accident were astronomically higher.

    Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

  32. Mark Kane

    It all looks up to me. When do we start rising? I don’t know.

    After the OPEC oil embargo of ’73 with gas lines three blocks long, the same feeling of dread was in the air. I moved to the woods in Missouri (more or less the vicinity of the movie “Winter Bone”). Gardened, homesteaded, restored a wornout farm.

    Wouldn’t you know? Armageddon failed to arrive, I sold farm, house and garden and became an Iowan. Moral? The crystal ball is cloudy.

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