Saturday, January 21, 2012

Some Scattered Thoughts

So I watched Castaway last weekend. I love survival movies, and though they say no one but Tom Hanks could have pulled that movie off, I don't care, I'd have watched it anyways. Not huge action like The Edge, but I love the Man vs Nature motif, in film and books.

But I've been wondering: if you're thought dead for over four years, what is your legal status? Do any loans or debts you have go away? Sure, banks keep that stuff for a while, but how long? And, if you're dead, do they expedite the destruction of said documents? What about your house? I suppose it gets sold or foreclosed. Your car is likely sold. All your stuff. I guess you come back to nothing, and are supposed to just be glad to be alive and "home," even when home probably means on someone's couch somewhere.

I wonder if there's any legal redress. If your family sold your car, do they owe you money? If the bank foreclosed your house, do they owe you a new one? Are you gonna get busted for not paying your taxes the year you disappeared? I wonder what the legal precedent in this is...

On another topic, I came across this in a comment on this article talking about the drumbeat to war with Iran:

The Prisoner’s Dilemma provides the logical foundation of why civilization must always continue to grow. Each society faces a choice: do we continue to intensify production, adopt greater complexity, and increase the size or scale of our society, or do we happily accept the level we’re already at? If you choose not to intensify, you will be out-competed by those who do–and your lower level of intensity and complexity will become a resource they can absorb to fuel their further acceleration, whether by outright conquest or more subtle forms of economic or cultural exploitation.

This is the underlying logic of Joseph Tainter’s argument concerning collapse in peer polities in The Collapse of Complex Societies. If one peer polity does choose to collapse, that region becomes a resource that can be exploited by its neighbors. Whoever conquers it first will have an advantage over the others in the continuing race of escalation.

(Link to commenter's source: Click [#12]) 

Which is interesting, not to say discouraging, in an environmental context (obviously, the political context is disheartening enough). How can any society attain to sustainability if we have neighbors who are going to see your stability as stagnation and eventually outcompete and absorb you? Are we doomed to the cancer of the growth economy until we reach the catastrophic tipping point (which we may already have reached: large systems can fall slowly)? Are we completely slaves to the systems we have created, such that we no longer really control them?

Is the economy alive? Is it going to eat us until it falls dead for having no food left? I know I talk a bit on here about individual choice, and that individuals are the only real part of a country that exists, the rest being abstract ideas like "society" "city" "nation" and so on. That's because I come at the world from a psychological angle; yet the sociologists have something to say too. Mob behavior is markedly different from that of individuals, systems are entities in their own right, and have their own emergent properties. The human body cannot be explained purely in terms of the molecules within it, and groups cannot be explained solely in terms of individual humans. Often it seems as if the power brokers of the world are sort of flailing about, caught in the current and merely reaping benefits but not really guiding anything. There is no captain at the helm, and it seems the storm is upon us.

So. What now?


  1. That we may have no choice but to keep revving the world economy up faster and faster, exploiting more intensively and on grander scales until some fundamental resource or process catastrophically breaks is not a pleasant subject to ponder. What the implications of that breakage means on a practical human level in a world with some 7 billion people in it is truly the stuff of nightmares.

    On the bright side, there might be a little snow this weekend where I live. Maybe I'll go back up on the mountain with the snowshoes and photograph the spruce trees and listen to the wind in the aspen and be glad that they haven't discovered shale gas or uranium here yet.

  2. Yeah, the words "die off" come to mind...

  3. I loved Castaway (although my husband was apalled that it took him such effort to make a fire.) Adn it was at least a coupole of years before I learned that it was NOT based on a true story, as some people thought.

  4. And...Gong xi fa cai, year of water dragon!

  5. Hehe I see that you are doing good buddy, lot’s of good articles. It would be good for you if you could invest in some ads you know, your Google rankings would be better probably. If your budget is tight, try to find other blog owners in similar niches and exchange links. Your blog looks like something that can do it big, it would be a shame if the people don’t see it ;) Have a nice day

  6. I've thought about the inserting ads thing, didn't know it would drive traffic here. Mostly I just don't want to force people to be sold shit while reading this blog, which is a little counter-establishment in its philosophy. Thanks though.

  7. Castaway is a great movie, one of the few having rewatchability.

    Don't have the energy to read that article right now, but maybe I'll be back later to throw in my two cents worth.

    Regarding the comment about ads. I've used them in the past, on a more popular blog I used to have, and it never brought me any extra traffic. Perhaps they mean Google Adwords, where you actually advertise your blog, pay to have your blog show up as one of those banner links on someone else's site.

    As far is it making you any money though, you really need a sizable amount of traffic for it to pay off. I'd say at least 1000 unique visitor's a day MINIMUM (but even that would still only bring in pocket change, or maybe buy you a few books on Amazon).

    Of course, you really have nothing to lose, and money is money, an extra twenty bucks here and there is nothing to complain about, but you have to ask yourself is it really worth it. I would suggest instead, that if you ever publish your book, or have something else to sell that you created yourself, advertise that.

    Otherwise, using Google Adsense, really only makes sense if you have a lot of traffic, or plan on having a lot traffic, aggressively promoting your blog, and turning it into a money making brand (which as you pointed out, is kind of antithetical to the types of things you write about here).

    I'd still read you if you did, but I probably wouldn't click on any of the Ads.