Monday, June 16, 2014


Well, things have changed over the last year and at the moment I'm up in British Columbia having gotten married at the first of the year. All is well, life is good, and I'm using the moment to gather my thoughts and reflect on what has been learned over the last 7 years homesteading on the Big Island. It's been quite the adventure, some of the experiences wonderful, some quite difficult. While I'm here away from the Hawaii project, I'm going to make an attempt to put my thoughts together in a coherent fashion before they get lost. You'll find me mostly on my Youtube channel, I hope you find my contributions helpful.

Facing Reality Episode I

Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Post!

Yeah, I'm not dead.

Started writing it today and felt I should gather my thoughts a bit. . .pretty soon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Where do we go from here?

Someone asks-- and sure, that is the pertinent question.

Having thought about this a great deal over the last few months, let me share what I feel I've learned by the experiment. This is going to sound really heavy. It is. All in all, remember, I'm a pretty robust guy that usually wears a grin and generally enjoys a good time--and I play to continue doing that regardless, and I guess I'd like to pretend that that's what one might call courage-- but the lessons learned here are tough. I am not certain in anyway what the next step for myself really ought to be, but it's useful to have a frame around the basic problem.

So, I'll share with you what I've learned that's most important: It has nothing to do with growing food or trivial stuff like that. That's easy. Here's the real dirt.

1) Sustainability isn't primarily about consumption, it's about contribution.  It wouldn't matter one bit what one consumed if the return to the systemic whole was of higher value(in a very complicated global sense) than the net cost. We evade this conversation primarily of our baggage of cultural metaphysics-- a giant obstacle-- that a good person is more defined by what one "doesn't" do than what one does. Hey, stable ecosystems don't work that way-- the relative positional stability against the encroaching entropic wave is held by everything hustling to give back. We don't like to think this way because the immediate discovery is that few of us return anything whatsoever of value, and are quite comfortable in that. But for sure, as a complete maxim--always, sustainability will require real, measurable compromises with one's short term benefit for the greater long term systemic good. There's never any way around it.

1b) Obviously, it's a hell of a lot easier to a return a positive good if one doesn't consume a great deal, but simply being simple by itself does not contribute a positive good. It's still consumption, just smaller scale, sometimes, and with a different fashion sense.

1c) Still, it's wholly possible to live a life that does in fact give back, and not in a airy-fairy feel good about it kind of way-- but one that matters, measurably. It requires talent, integrity, and the willingness to compromise for the greater good--just about the three rarest attributes of all anymore.

2) The problem of "sustainability" thus is largely an ethical issue, rather than a technical one. We've all the means necessary to forestall the complete destruction of the biosphere, but we're going to shit-can it because we can't be bothered otherwise, we don't give a damn, and it hardly bothers most people. This is an evil culture--a word not used lightly by this atheist--one that has chosen to seek destruction for its own sake. I can't hardly wrap my head around that fact-- it's kinda the tough one to stomach -- but we're all goosestepping along nicely sending the whole she-bang to the gas chambers. . .there's no hyperbole here, at all.

2a) Technofabulous "solutions" are in no way steps in the right direction unless they both aid us to cut consumption and return more value. More often than not, unfortunately they're purely ways of exploiting this crisis for personal profiteering.

3) The "ethics" required to solve this issue aren't going to come from a primitive culture or a historical worldview, because, of course, they never faced anything like this. The path forward, is only forward. This also is a tough one to stomach for many people. Hey! I get it. I understand the primitive desire to look to the otherworldly for guidance, to the holy books, to all that, to the indigenous wisdom-- just like I understand the primitive desire to hate, to fear, for violence, all the rest of that stuck there in the vastly ancient collective memories, instincts and tendencies from untold generations of survival. And it's not that all that's wholly without value either-- when Moses the Fish came down the beach with his Two Commandments for Fishes-- which fishes still follow today, that: 1) thou shalt eat all that fitteth within thy mouth and 2) thou shalt swim away from those mouths in which thou fitteth -- well, that was pretty good advice for fish. And since we share some DNA there it shouldn't surprise us that we still largely think those two commandments are probably good ideas-- more the second than the first, as the world changed some and there's plenty of things we find that we shouldn't stick in our mouth now(big big big biting mouths are still nearly universally bad, and worth running from). When Moses the Israelite came down from the mountain with his updated version of now 10 commandments, reflecting a slightly more complicated existence  some of that stuff was probably good advice too-- but we must admit a lot of it seems pretty dated. . . Menstrual huts, anyone? Come on! We must move forward. Unfortunately, even a back to the land neo-primitivism is just as flawed a model as is any other-- we must move forward. There are many folk I know here who will, at this point-- especially in Puna -- with with their smug entitled enlightenment discard my point here, as I obviously don't have enough respect for the "ancient wisdoms." Ohm Shanti, baby. Well, that could hardly be further from the truth actually, and I have respect especially for wisdom of unspeakably ancient, primordial, archetypal type-- like the tendency of animals to return to a quiet familiar place when they know they're about to die.

Of those of us who actually have the courage to act, it this not what our instinctive reaction to the impending crisis largely is?

It is not enough.

3a) This isn't to say we've got to throw all that heritage away-- no panics! But we must recognize that just like the world view of fish is necessarily incomplete to the current condition of human life, so are the musings and values of primitive cultures with vastly less comprehensive world views and much simpler systemic issues to face. In fact, as I see it, as in order to make the change successfully to the world coming-- our values would have to change so radically it's hard to even recognize them as what we've historically called human-- though undoubtedly they must be vastly more humane.

3b) We must also realize that regardless of one's personal revelatory truth that one may have personally and exclusively received from the galactic overmind--it's poor taste, even a basic act of violence-- to expect anyone else to regard that message with any importance. To insist on the validity of stuff like that only drives fundamental wedges of discord between us-- and in fact prevents us from cooperatively addressing the concerns that face us--and they must and will only be solved cooperatively. Stuff that gets in the way of our evolving humanity and enforces the trend of our destruction sounds remarkably diabolical, does it not?

4) One is completely incapable of understanding the sustainability issue as a whole, and one's contribution for good or ill to the situation unless one has the personal integrity to actually do the math. Those that do the math, for sure, end up often being quite pessimistic-- but that's primarily because most people absolutely refuse to do the math. Again, it's not that our problems can't be solved-- it's that they won't be solved. It's an especially crummy problem if you've got some backbone to be honest about the issue-- because you'll get labeled "negative"--oh sure, negative-- chicks don't go for negative. If you cheer lead for abundance, thriving(new hot term), neo-consciousness, all that very popular, undefinable but salable nonsense you'll snicker all the way to the bank-- and you'll actually be thanked for your scam as what you're actually providing is a very valuable service-- allowing people to go along without recognizing (2).

Now how's that for depressing? Best I can offer up. When I get done I'm back to the guitar. Have a couple of parties coming up that ought to be rowdy and a lot of fun.

Oh yeah, the question:

So what can we do?

Well, if history is our guide as far as I can see the best those of us left can do is "bear witness" to the depravity of the moment. There's no way we're changing anything at this late date. Bear witness. Document. Don't let people forget what was said, and done, and by whom. As small as this is, that's not unimportant-- in fact it may be very critically important as the reckoning comes to be able to testify a) we knew what we were doing was wrong b) we did it anyway c) we enjoyed it.  Again, actually, no small thing. It's not a bad thing to jam a stick in the eye of those exploiting to moment, sure, but there's a bigger issue too. See, as it goes along, with the ensuing horrors and scarcity, decisions will have to be made-- very very difficult ones. These testimonies are of some value. They may inform the conversation-- they may allow us to preserve a humane existence a little longer than otherwise. If anything multi-cellular survives this century, and that's a big if, it would be nice that at least something was learned from the grand experiment.

Unless a drastic and unthinkable intervention occurs by those factions that might still have the means to do so-- a few horribly crude remedies do exist--nothing human will survive. We will either perish, or evolve to something unrecognizable in a very different world. Likely a very harsh one. Perhaps beauty there too, especially as beauty and sadness are Siamese twins. . .certainly from our perspective here, theirs then-- utterly incomprehensible. . .

Good luck.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Objectivity vs. Permaculture.

Over the last few years I've found a great deal of hope and solace in studying permaculture and have made quite the progress in building my own ecosystem here in the previously degraded forest. Things look great, and the promises of the joyful danger of "falling food" are in fact real. There is, however, a problem with whole strategy-- "permanent" agriculture has only limited means of remaining viable within a "transient" climate-- sure -- but a couple of years ago to the best of my knowledge I thought I'd be dealing with perhaps 3 degrees centigrade of warming over my lifetime-- dire for certain, but I felt with proper strategic preparations manageable. The problem is that according to the current research, to expect only 3 degrees of warming, say by 2050, is wholly unrealistically optimistic-- we've now lit off several feedback effects that promise to propel us to 16 degrees of warming -- a completely unsurvivable world by any normal means. And this will be fast, too. If this data and these projections prove reliable-- which we should know by seeing continuing heat records set-- more Sandy's and Bophas, immediately-- well, that's tits up folks, and we're headed for a terminal planet by mid century. And a really tough one before that.

Sorry, but no amount of hippy self reliance is going to protect you from this.

Unfortunately for the permaculture vision-- it began to be hipster only about 50 years too late. If we had adopted intelligent strategies a generation back-- when it was first discovered it was important to do so, well, we'd have a chance. Today, not so. No amount of composting will make up the difference. No amount organic this or that. See, we've got much bigger fish to fry-- as CO2 levels continue spinning up and up there comes a point not that far off where the ocean becomes so acidic that all of the phytoplankton dies-- and with it goes 60 percent or so of all the oxygen generated-- it's tough to mulch your way out of that one. Unfortunately as it's shaping up, the whole neo-"back to the land" movement is a complete blind alley-- to have a chance at survival you're not going to need nifty eco-shacks built of bamboo and lots of wheatgrass but rather a titanium bombshelter that can provide you with enough oxygen to breathe, keep you cool enough to not broil, and therein you'll be able to enjoy the various ways you can prepare GMO algae sludge for breakfast. It could probably be done, and there are those with lots of money who are trying. The budget versions of the "survival shell" may be a little grimmer than what the Walton family is working on-- but some of you with the technical skill to try may pull some extra years out. I've been mulling over such strategies for the last couple of weeks but in fact I have a hard time answering the whole "is it worth it?" question.

Sorry, this is pretty grim. I've mixed feelings about even discussing the issue anymore. Here's why I've raised the issue today.

I guess people have a right to know, in the same sense that your doctor has an obligation to tell you that the big blob on your x-ray probably can't and/or shouldn't be operated on. You can get second opinions, of course, and there's always going to be a doctor who is more than willing to take your money to give 'er a go.Or sell you some homeopathic cure. . .or a even a new Prius. What to do in circumstances such as this are among the most difficult-- or easiest -- decisions to make. A lot of it depends on perspective. For many people they'll find this sort of stuff impossibly depressing as the party is over-- and will continue to operate in their default mode of denial. For some of us, however, who have been aware and striving for years at great personal expense for a better world-- well, some of us will feel a bit of relief, in fact, as we're pretty well absolved of our responsibilities now-- really. I guess for us it means the party is just getting started.

What am I going to do? Heck, I don't know. Take up cigarette smoking? Well, considering there can only be a very few years left of relative normalcy I figure I'm going to spend a lot less time mucking around with chicken shit and more time dinking around with big guitar amplifiers. Go MESA. If I were able to get a few bucks ahead and received proper encouragement I might be tempted to weld up some bizarro complex underground bunker just for the hell of it-- the living accommodations would be a great deal like boat living frankly and few have the experience of confined space to make it work. Going outside for a stroll won't be too practical most of the time, so a lot of thought will need to be put into making things comfy and sane there in a dark tube in the dirt. Maybe I'll write a book about it called "bummersteading" or some such. . .In reality I'd encourage people not to do too much-- much drawing  on the "terminal illness"' model as there isn't much one can do-- hang in there, keep as cheerful as possible. . .treasure each remaining day. That won't come easy, and we're not accustomed to doing that-- precisely why we're in this mess-- but as far as I can see, that's all we've got left.

On other notes: see you there!

Monday, November 12, 2012


Years ago  I briefly sailed with a guy on a tall ship-- this fellow follower of Osho-- deadbeat dad with 7 kids which he'd never contributed a dime towards, a completely alienated guy whose divinely enlightened utterly irresponsible selfish behavior had alienated him from nearly everyone he knew. . .and the crew nearly immediately. And boy, he hated being "judged"-- whatever that means, by those behind and below him on his spiritual path. . .I mean if this guy was any more "in touch" with himself he'd be arrested for public indecency.  And boy howdy we didn't get it, as he was convinced he was the Bodhisattva himself where we all thought he was just a garden variety prick-- anyway I was roped into philosophical discussions with him on occasion and the subject of "objectivity vs. subjectivity" came up often. He'd spout a bunch of pithy baloney and when he finally figured out I'd basically heard his party line before and wasn't much interested-- he'd bless me(nice!) and inform me that I had a good soul and somewhere along my journey I'd develop the ability to see the world with "more balance."

And indeed I have, as I wouldn't give him the time of day anymore.

Subjectivity: Balance? Surely we don't have our eyes set so close together in our foreheads not to realize that the nature of human existence is utterly, oppressively, relentlessly subjective? And that in fact our weak attempts to wrestle free of the prison of our own narrow perceptual set-- by a process we call objective thinking-- is in fact the attempt to restore balance? Hey, don't get me wrong-- there's nothing inherently "bad" about subjective experience-- it's just that it's personal, exclusive, and as such divisive-- and without a counterbalancing agent tends to destruction and violence. Currently, in our culture, which, go figure, is a pretty dang destructive and violent one, we disproportionally claim to value subjective experience. Which, ironically, in spite of all the silly books about "living in the now" or whatever-- as if there's an option about that-- we really go completely out of our way to avoid doing. See, most of us really hate subjective experience all the time-- stuff like going to work, worrying about insurance costs, grumpy people, all the rest-- and rather than the balanced strategy of "objectively" attempting to better our "subjective" experience we try to bury one subjective state with another-- but a cool, funky, often intoxicated one. And it works for a bit, subjectively. And that's fine, but not balance, and there's hardly any path to enlightenment in it, and once one figures out that the Ashram is the analog of a hospital. . .well, better to chop wood and carry water.

The purpose of living is really very simple: it's to live a life of purpose. The way to do that is to find something that one finds valuable and objectively measurably enriching and do the hell out of if. Don't be surprised if that thing you find you need to do is pretty uncomfortable. That's probably necessary to make it meaningful. . .Hey, I basically hate sailing, you know. . . it's more important that you find it meaningful. A lot of people aren't up for taking on such a task. We're pretty soft after all-- bummer, as it's the only game in town. Don't miss out: don't be misled by the hucksters selling you an easy way out-- You see, all those folks out there telling you they know what the meaning of life is are really cowards running from what life really means.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Big Mitt the Taker

So on the topic of taking. . .

Where "BIG MITT" really pisses me off is the smug, self-righteous way he takes credit. . .

For being born on third base being proud he can hit a single.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Objectivity vs. Mitt Romney

Now, first off, let's be clear: Obama was Goldman-Sachs' pick for president last time-- he's proven to be a fraud, now the big banks are running against his record supporting an even more vile candidate, and it's looking more and more like Romney will win. Watching the debates it's pretty clear why. Both men are running on platforms mostly comprised of fantasy and mythology, and the voters are choosing on the basis of which dream they'd rather dream rather than any basis of choice rooted in objective reality. Of the two delusional visions to choose from I find Romney's much more vile-- and it's worthy to point out some of the reasons his delusions are much more dangerous, at least in the near term.

First-- Romney's claim to fame, his resume, if you will-- is all based on the notion that he's some kind of businessman. He's got the talent for "making money" -- that's American, that's business oriented, that's practical. The fact is, however, he's no talent for making money at all. Now, sure as shit he's got a prime set of sticky fingers and he's pretty fine at taking it. . .but as far as I can see he's never, ever, created any real value on his own. This is an important distinction, and I'm surprised that more "pro-business" folk can't figure that out-- in fact Romney is very anti-business-- at least of the "creating value" kind, which, of course, is the only kind we of average non-richer-that-god sorts have available to us. Leveraged buyouts, offshore accounts, special access to legislators--ability to buy off regulators--key to Mitt's wealth. . .this is exactly the kind of behavior that has crushed small business: it's destroyed the economy, it's destroyed access to credit, it's increased costs of doing business(and promoted regulatory burdens--stuff the Mitts can ignore, but the little guy can't)-- and most dangerously and importantly, it's destroyed to competitive marketplace. You can't compete with Mitt. He's a taker, and he'll pay a buddy to write a law so he can buy you out, saddle you with debt, steal the companies value, bankrupt you, and personally claim the loss against his profits.

Let's be clear-- if you're a creator of value-- you're screwed in this economy-- and while the Mitts run the show(think big grabby hands when you think Mitt, it's a useful image) forget getting ahead. You could do something unbelievable amazing, like create a pill that magical cured cancer, aging, and loss of libido in one shot-- and you still couldn't make the kind of money Mitt's got. Why? 'Cause you're not going to get to go to school to learn the skills unless you pay off Mitt. You'll need to do your research at Mitt's company. Mitt will own the rights to your research anyway--as you're working for him, of course. Even if you could figure a way around that he'll just steal the research from you-- you can't afford to sue against him-- out of luck once again. Even if you got a Lesser Mitt to back you you'll still lose, as you'll pay more taxes, be forced to deal with more oversight, and eventually the Big Mitt will run you underground. No offense, nothin' personal, just business, right? Hardly. . .Mitt's business plan is no more brilliant than that of the average carjacker-- and that's written large in his life and his campaign-- from avoiding military service, to tax evasion and offshore accounts, to his double dipping business practices, his scammy relationship with politics all the way along, his sleazy peer-group--to now how he's run his campaign-- bullshit, deception, and expediency all the way through.

So, with that skillset, how you figure he'll handle the reins of the US economy?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

By the way. . .

So a friend the other day called:

"Hey Jay, enjoy your recent posts, but don't you think you're really being a bit hard and extreme in your judgements about personal culpability? I mean, you're making some pretty heavy comparisons there. . ."

Well, I don't know. Let's look at it:

Frankly, it really doesn't matter a great deal what my judgements are. No one really cares and my opinions don't matter very much-- unless -- unless -- they're in some sense prescient of the attitudes of future generations. Then they may matter a great deal. I think, in fact, they are. Personally, I expect-- looking at the mess we're handing the future that my attitudes are actually pretty moderate and I try to keep a responsible level of objectivity with them. In fact, I'd suggest that forty or so years from now a guy like me struggling to survive in a poisoned, dying, brutal world will have a lot harder time having any sense of justice or moderation in his judgements at all. . .and frankly I anticipate--fear even--simple blind vengeful rage. Those people are going to wonder how the hell, how the hell, we made the choices we did. They're going to wonder where our courage was, and how we allowed events to unfold as they are. Those of us left are mostly going to try to plead ignorance('cept me, nah, it was obvious) but that's going to be a pretty weak defense especially falling on ears listening for a damn good explanation. And it will have to be a good one indeed, as the expectation from the historic evidence will be clear-- we were just too busy feeling smug about ourselves, stuffing our faces, indulging in wishes, and not giving a shit. So yeah, I think there's a very good reason to think about how our actions right now might be judged by future folk. . .

And no, and in that context, I don't think my positions are that radical at all.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pants on fire. . .

So, tell me.

When is the last time in a presidential election where the "biggest liar" lost?

Just askin'

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tao of the Ninja Mennonite: VI-- continued.

So, yeah, authenticity. . .

It never ceases to amaze me, looking back, at how much impact my sailing books have had. Hey, they're really shitty books. I didn't really expect anyone to read them. They're self-published, of course, as no nautical publisher would consider having them-- as there's absolutely no commercial appeal-- I wrote them largely for my own benefit as a means of gathering my own thoughts-- and in general they were waaaaay ahead of their time. I promise you, writing about the virtues of engine-less sailing in a world of .80 gasoline in the middle of the boom was lunatic fringe material. "Sailing with Purpose" was written by a 27 year old kid trying to figure out how to live a life of authenticity, full aware that the choice to take on such a project would cost dearly-- and of course it did. I've no regrets, and no apologies for the fact that, well, that's a book written by a kid, in a kinda flip style--albeit a very earnest one-- desperately trying to figure that game out. The others followed in their footsteps in a pretty dang unvarnished, minimally edited representation of my thoughts over that decade and some of sailing. This blog is pretty similar, in fact, as I've come to believe it's vastly more valuable to be real, even if that exposes one's defects-- than slick. It's vastly more persuasive as it's authentic-- or as follows alienating. Which is fine. There are people out there who chose values(or more accurately rejected them) that make them my enemies and they just didn't know it until they read my stuff. May as well make that all clear. In fact now, rather than "sailing"  I feel exactly the same way about my experiments in "sustainability" -- or more precisely our failure as a culture to achieve such in a necessarily timely manner-- I unapologetically intend to bear witness to our utter failure and absolute personal culpability for the destruction of planet earth. . .This also is waaaay ahead of its time-- people are still pretending it hasn't happened-- or are busy capitalizing on selling bogus solutions:  I intend to provide the generations of future with a very precious gift-- perspective. They, those kids of ours, are going to be forced by scarcity to make the most horrible of decisions and I fully intend to declare that they've every right to lay the blame where they need to, squarely on us-- squarely on me. I understand that this "bearing witness" will provide them very little comfort-- only justification for what actions they'll be forced to take. It's the best I can do. It's not enough for our crimes, of course. But it's something, I guess.

Ok, so objectivity-- or the complete lack of it-- and why it was so easy for us to murder our own children.

Just after graduating from college in the early 90's I had the lovely experience of working for the Juvenile Justice system in Boise-- and boy was that informative. I grew up in a reasonably sane, reasonably caring home and I really had no experience of the hell that so many kids start their lives in. I had no idea as to the pervasiveness of child abuse, sexual, physical, or mental-- or the full meal deal often-- but I learned a lot about it pretty quick. There's a lot that can be said about it, but for the purposes of this discussion I'll narrow it down to one hard, shocking, keen observation...

Child abusers "love" their kids.

No shit. They really do. At least from their "subjective" experience they do. They "feel" they do. They "feel" good about it. They very often feel that their abuse is even morally justified, and their abusive behavior in the best interest of the child. The obvious real objective evidence of a busted up kid bears not at all on their "perspective." Why should it? As a culture we value our subjective states of being ahead of our objective experience-- pedophilia and child abuse are just another manifestation of that indulgence. If you feel that that you're behaving in a moral fashion, well that's good enough, right? No reason to investigate the actual real practical ramifications of one's actions-- certainly no reason to hypothesize about the unknowable unintended consequences either. And what you see is what you get-- not just a culture full of child abuse but spousal abuse, abuse in our workplaces, environmental abuse-- exploitation, domination, tyranny in every kind of human relationships, violence everywhere-- notably excepting the kind where you get punched back-- well, of course getting punched back subjectively sucks...

And ultimately you get a dead planet...

You get a miserable one long before that...

Why should we be surprised? Demanding others accept the validity of our subjective experience above the knowable, observable practical reality is violence-- and why there is not, cannot be, and never will be such a thing as a peaceful religion...

Clearly, if we can demand ourselves to be "objective" for a moment, the act of choosing for our own momentary "subjective experience" ahead of the objective, real, measurable greater good always tends to a future of conflict. In a world with more space, and more abundance, the immediate nature of that conflict can seem subjectively remote-- but the trend is relentlessly reinforced. As time progresses, it becomes more difficult, costly, and even fatal for those who value humanity to choose against the societal "suicide pact" as time progresses, many who try fail, and the trend is yet again reinforced. Eventually it's only the most heroic that can stand against such values-- and they are beset even by those who would publicly claim to share their core values-- subjectively, of course, rather than objectively--

This is why it is so critical today to declare-- an action is good if and only if it is in fact good... and this good is always a measurable quantity. 

to be contined as well, as I've wrenches to spin. . .