Archive for December, 2016

Surviving Winter Aboard


Life aboard can be perfectly pleasant when it’s warm outside, but when the weather turns cold a number of unpleasant factors conspire to make most sailboats, power boats and houseboats uncomfortable. This article attacks the problem from three directions. First is an explanation of all the factors that make overwintering aboard a typical commercially built recreational boat rather unpleasant. Next, I describe how those intrepid souls who do overwinter aboard in northern climates cope with these factors. Last, I describe how all of these factors are carefully avoided in the design of QUIDNON, “a houseboat that sails.”

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Interview on Ecotopia


Our guest was Dmitry Orlov, author of Shrinking the Technosphere: Getting a Grip on Technologies that Limit Our Autonomy, Self-Sufficiency, and Freedom, published by New Society. He writes about the \”technosphere,\” the world of technology that claims to make our lives simpler and more efficient, from microwaves to cell phones, from radios to satellite TV. He says that the technosophere (which he contrasts to the more natural \”bisophere\”) has a mind of its own that seeks to homogenize Homo sapiens with an amoral focus on growth, control, \”progress,\” and obedience and conformity. His solutions principally involve downsizing and simplifying, stepping outside oneself to break the control of technology in our lives.

Listen to the interview.

A Tiny House that Floats—and Sails!


Tiny houses are great, but there are a few problems. One is zoning: it’s hard to find places where you are allowed to put one, especially if it’s anywhere near the bigger cities where the good jobs are. Another is flooding: more and more places are subject to flooding everywhere. Yet another is various local regulations that restrict what and how you can build.

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Is Obama a Russian Agent?


Sometimes a case looks weak because there is no “smoking gun”—no obvious, direct evidence of conspiracy, malfeasance or evil intent—but once you tally up all the evidence it forms a coherent and damning picture. And so it is with the Obama administration vis à vis Russia: by feigning hostile intent it did everything possible to further Russia’s agenda. And although it is always possible to claim that all of Obama’s failures stem from mere incompetence, at some point this claim begins to ring hollow; how can he possibly be so utterly competent… at being incompetent? Perhaps he just used incompetence as a veil to cover his true intent, which was always to bolster Russia while rendering the US maximally irrelevant in world affairs. Let’s examine Obama’s major foreign policy initiatives from this angle.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of his eight years has been the destruction of Libya. Under the false pretense of a humanitarian intervention what was once the most prosperous and stable country in the entire North Africa has been reduced to a rubble-strewn haven for Islamic terrorists and a transit point for economic migrants streaming into the European Union. This had the effect of pushing Russia and China together, prompting them to start voting against the US together as a block in the UN Security Council. In a single blow, Obama assured an important element of his legacy as a Russian agent: no longer will the US be able to further its agenda through this very important international body.

Next, Obama presided over the violent overthrow of the constitutional government in the Ukraine and the installation of an American puppet regime there. When Crimea then voted to rejoin Russia, Obama imposed sanctions on the Russian Federation. These moves may seem like they were designed to hurt Russia, but let’s look at the results instead of the intentions. First, Russia regained control of an important, strategic region. Second, the sanctions and the countersanctions allowed Russia to concentrate on import replacement, building up the domestic economy. This was especially impressive in agriculture, and Russia now earns more export revenue from foodstuffs than from weapons. Third, the severing of economic ties with the Ukraine allowed Russia to eliminate a major economic competitor. Fourth, over a million Ukrainians decided to move to Russia, either temporarily or permanently, giving Russia a major demographic boost and giving it access to a pool of Russian-speaking skilled labor. (Most Ukrainians are barely distinguishable from the general Russian population.) Fifth, whereas before the Ukraine was in a position to extort concessions from Russia by playing games with the natural gas pipelines that lead from Russia to the European Union, now Russia’s hands have been untied, resulting in new pipeline deals with Turkey and Germany. In effect, Russia reaped all the benefits from the Ukrainian stalemate, while the US gained an unsavory, embarrassing dependent.

Obama’s next “achievement” was in carefully shepherding the Syrian conflict into a cul de sac. (Some insist on calling it a civil war, although virtually all of the fighting there has between the entire Syrian nation and foreign-funded outside mercenaries). To this end, Obama deployed an array of tactics. He simultaneously supported, armed, trained and fought various terrorist groups, making a joke of the usual US technique of using “terrorism by proxy.” He made ridiculous claims that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its own people, which immediately reminded everyone of similarly hollow claims about Saddam’s WMDs while offering Russia a legitimate role to play in resolving the Syrian conflict. He made endless promises to separate “moderate opposition” from dyed-in-the-wool terrorists, but repeatedly failed to do so, thus giving the Russians ample scope to take care of the situation as they saw fit. He negotiated several cease fires, then violated them.

There have been other achievements as well. By constantly talking up the nonexistent “Russian threat” and scaremongering about “Russian aggression” and “Russian invasion” (of which no evidence existed), and by holding futile military exercises in Eastern Europe and especially in the geopolitically irrelevant Baltics, Obama managed to deprive NATO of any residual legitimacy it once might have had, turning it into a sad joke.

But perhaps Obama’s most significant service on behalf of the Russian nation was in throwing the election to Donald Trump. This he did by throwing his support behind the ridiculously inept and corrupt Hillary Clinton. She outspent Trump by a factor of two, but apparently no amount of money could buy her the presidency. As a result of Obama’s steadfast efforts, the US will now have a Russia-friendly president who is eager to make deals with Russia, but will have to do so from a significantly weakened negotiating position.

As I have been arguing for the last decade, it is a foregone conclusion that the United States is going to slide from its position of global dominance. But it was certainly helpful to have Obama grease the skids, and now it’s up to Donald Trump to finish the job. And since Obama’s contribution was especially helpful to Russia, I propose that he be awarded the Russian Federation’s Order of Friendship, to go with his Nobel Peace Prize.

Brain Parasite Gonna Eatcha!


I’ve been experiencing some difficulties with commenting on the current political situation in the US, because it’s been a little too funny, whereas this is a very serious blog. But I have decided that I must try my best. Now, these are serious matters, so as you read this, please refrain from any and all levity and mirth.

You may have heard by now that the Russians stole the US presidential election; if it wasn’t for them, Hillary Clinton would have been president-elect, but because of their meddling we are now stuck with Donald Trump and his 1001 oligarchs running the federal government for the next four years.

There are two ways to approach this question. One is to take the accusation of Russian hacking of the US elections at face value, and we will certainly do that. But first let’s try another way, because it’s quicker. Let’s consider the accusation itself as a symptom of some unrelated disorder. This is often the best way forward. Suppose a person walks into a doctor’s office, and says, “Doctor, I believe I have schizophrenium poisoning.” Should the doctor summon the hazmat team, or check for schizophrenia first?

And so let’s first consider that this “Russians did it” refrain we keep hearing is a symptom of something else, of which Russians are not the cause. My working hypothesis is that this behavior is being caused by a brain parasite. Yes, this may seem outlandish at first, but as we’ll see later the theory that the Russians stole the election is no less outlandish.

Brain parasites are known to alter the behavior of the organisms they infest in a variety of subtle ways. For instance, Toxicoplasma gondii alters the behavior of rodents, causing them to lose fear of cats and to become attracted to the smell of cat urine, making it easy for the cats to catch them. It also alters the behavior of humans, causing them to lavish excessive affection on cats and to compulsively download photographs of cute kittens playing with yarn.

My hypothesis is that this particular brain parasite was specifically bioengineered by the US to make those it infects hate Russia. I suspect that the neurological trigger it uses is Putin’s face, which the parasite somehow wires into the visual cortex. This virus was first unleashed on the unsuspecting Ukrainians, where its effect was plain to see. This historically Russian, majority Russian-speaking, culturally Russian and religiously Russian Orthodox region suddenly erupted in an epidemic of Russophobia. The Ukraine cut economic ties with Russia, sending its economy into a tailspin, and started a war with its eastern regions, which were quite recently part of Russia and wish to become part of Russia again.

So far so good: the American bioengineers who created this virus achieved the effect they wanted, turning a Russian region into an anti-Russian region. But as happens so often with biological agents, it turned out to be hard to keep under control. Its next victims turned out to be NATO and the Pentagon, whose leadership started compulsively uttering the phrase “Russian aggression” in a manner suggestive of Tourette‘s Syndrome, entirely undeterred by the complete absence of evidence of any such aggression that they could present for objective analysis. They, along with the by now fit-to-be-tied Ukrainians, kept prattling on about “Russian invasion,” waving about decades-old pictures of Russian tanks they downloaded from their friends on Facebook.

From there the brain parasite spread to the White House, the Clinton presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and its attendant press corps, who are now all chattering away about “Russian hacking.” The few knowledgeable voices who point out that there is absolutely no hard evidence of any such “Russian hacking” are being drowned out by the Bedlam din of the rest.

This, to me, seems like the simplest explanation that fits the facts. But to be fair and balanced, let us also examine the other perspective: that claims of “Russian hacking” should be taken at face value. The first difficulty we encounter is that what is being termed “Russian hacking” is not hacks but leaks. Hacks occur where some unauthorized party breaks into a server and steals data. Leaks occur where an insider—a “whistleblower”—violates rules of secrecy and/or confidentiality in order to release into the public domain evidence of wrongdoing. In this case, evidence of leaking is prima facie: Was the data in question evidence of wrongdoing? Yes. Was it released into the public domain? Yes. Has the identity of said leaker or leakers remained secret? Yes, with good reason.

But this does not rule out hacking, because what a leaker can do, a hacker can also do, although with difficulty. Leakers have it easy: you see evidence of wrongdoing, take umbrage at it, copy it onto a thumb drive, smuggle it off premises, and upload it to Wikileaks through a public wifi hotspot from an old laptop you bought off Craislist and then smashed. But what’s a poor hacker to do? You hack into server after server, running the risk of getting caught each time, only to find that the servers contain minutes of public meetings, old press releases, backups of public web sites and—incriminating evidence!—a mother lode of pictures of fluffy kittens playing with yarn downloaded by a secretary afflicted with Toxicoplasma gondii.

The solution, of course, is to create something that’s worth hacking, or leaking, but this is a much harder problem. What the Russians had to do, then, was take the incorruptible, squeaky-clean goody-two-shoes faithful public servant Hillary Clinton, infiltrate the Clinton Foundation, Hillary’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and somehow manipulate them all into doing things that, when leaked (or hacked) would reliably turn the electorate against Clinton. Yes Sir, Tovarishch Putin!

Those Russians sure are clever! They managed to turn the DNC into an anti-Bernie Sanders operation, depriving him of electoral votes through a variety of underhanded practices while appealing to anti-Semitic sentiments in certain parts of the country. They managed to manipulate Donna Brazile into handing presidential debate questions to the Clinton campaign. They even managed to convince certain Ukrainian oligarchs and Saudi princes to bestow millions upon the Clinton foundation in exchange for certain future foreign policy concessions. The list of these leak-worthy Russian subterfuges goes on and on… But who can stop them?

And so clearly the Russians had to first corrupt the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee, just in order to render them hackworthy. But here we have a problem. You see, if you can hack into a server, so can everyone else. Suppose you leave your front door unlocked and swinging in the breeze, and long thereafter stuff goes missing. Of course you can blame the neighbor you happen to like least, but then why would anyone believe you? Anybody could have walked through that door and taken your shit. And so it is hard to do anything beyond lobbing empty accusations at Russia as far as hacking is concerned; but the charge of corrupting the incorruptible Hillary Clinton is another matter entirely.

Because here the ultimate Russian achievement was in getting Hillary Clinton to refer to over half of her electorate as “a basket of deplorables,” and this was no mean feat. It takes a superpower to orchestrate a political blunder of this magnitude. This she did in front of an LGBT audience in New York. Now, Hillary is no spring chicken when it comes to national politics: she’s been through quite a few federal elections, and she has enough experience to know that pissing off over half of your electorate in one fell swoop is not a particularly smart thing to do. Obviously, she was somehow hypnotized into uttering these words… no doubt by a hyperintelligent space-based Russian operative.

The Russian covert operation into subverting American democracy started with the Russians sending an agent into the hitherto unexplored hinter regions of America, to see what they are like. Hunched over his desk, Putin whipped out a map of the US and a crayon, and lightly shaded in an area south of the Mason-Dixon line, west of New York and Pennsylvania, and east of the Rockies.

Let me come clean. I have split loyalties. I have spent most of my life hobnobbing with transnational elites on the East Coast, but I have also spent quite a few years working for a very large midwestern agricultural equipment company, and a very large midwestern printing company, so I know the culture of the land quite well. I am sure that what this Russian agent reported back is that the land is thickly settled with white people of Anglo-Irish, Scottish, German and Slavic extraction, that they are macho, that their women (for it is quite a male-centric culture) tend to vote same way as the men for the sake of domestic tranquility, that they don’t much like dark-skinned people or gays, and that plenty of them view the East Coast and California as dens of iniquity and corruption, if not modern-day Sodoms and Gomorras.

And what if Vladimir Putin read this report, and issued this order: “Get Clinton to piss them all off.” And so it was done: unbeknownst to her, using nefarious means, Hillary was programmed, under hypnosis, to utter the phrase “a basket of deplorables.” A Russian operative hiding in the audience of LGBT activists flashed a sign triggering the program in Hillary’s overworked brain, and the rest is history. If that’s what actually happened, then Putin should be pronounced Special Ops Officer of the Year, while all the other “world leaders” should quietly sneak out the back entrance, sit down on the ground in the garden and eat some dirt, then puke it up into their hands and rub it into their eyes while wailing, because how on earth can they possibly ever hope to beat that?

Or we can just go back to my brain parasite theory. Doesn’t it seem a whole lot more sane now? Not only is it much simpler and more believable, but it also has certain predictive merits that the “Russian hacking” theory lacks. You see, when there is parasitism involved, there is rarely just one symptom. Usually, there is a whole cluster of symptoms. And so, just for the sake of comparison, let’s look at what has happened to the Ukraine since it was infected with the Ukrainian Brain Parasite, and compare that to what is happening to the US now that the parasite has spread here too.

1. The Ukraine is ruled by an oligarch—Petro Poroshenko, the “candy king”—along with a clique of other oligarchs who have been handed regional governorships and government ministries. And now the US is about to be ruled by an oligarch—Trump, the “casino king”—along with a clique of other oligarchs, from ExxonMobile to Goldman Sachs.

2. The Ukraine has repudiated its trade agreements with Russia, sending its economy into free-fall. And now Trump is promising to repudiate, and perhaps renegotiate, a variety of trade agreements. For a country that has run huge structural trade deficits for decades and pays for them by constantly issuing debt this is not going to be easy or safe.

3. The Ukraine has been subjected to not one but two Color Revolutions, promoted by none other than that odious oligarch George Soros. The US is now facing its own Color Revolution—the Purple Revolution—paid for by that same Soros, with the goal of overturning the results of the presidential election and derailing the inauguration of Donald Trump through a variety of increasingly desperate ploys including paid-for demonstrations, vote recounts and attempts to manipulate the Electoral College.

4. For a couple of years now the Ukraine has been mired in a bloody and futile civil war. To this day the Ukrainian troops (with NATO support) are lobbing missiles into civilian districts in the east of the country, and getting decimated in return. So far, Trump’s victory seems to have appeased the “deplorables,” but should the Purple Revolution succeed, the US may also see major social unrest, possibly escalating into a civil war.

The Ukrainian Brain Parasite has devastated the Ukraine. It is by now too far gone for much of anything to be done about it. All of the best people have left, mostly for Russia, and all that’s left is a rotten, hollow shell. But does it have to end this way for the US? I hope not!

There are, as I see it, two possibilities. One is to view those who are pushing the “Russian hacking” or “Russian aggression” story as political adversaries. Another is to view them as temporarily mentally ill. Yes, their brains are infected with the Ukrainian Brain Parasite, but that just means that their opinions are to be disregarded—until they feel better. And since this particular brain parasite specifically influences social behavior, if we refuse to reward that behavior with positive reinforcement—by acknowledging it—we will suppress its most debilitating symptoms, eventually forcing the parasite to evolve toward a more benign form. As with many infectious diseases, the fight against them starts with improved hygiene—in this case, mental hygiene. And so that is my prescription: when you see someone going on about “Russian hacking” or “Russian aggression” be merciful and charitable toward them as individuals, because they are temporarily incapacitated, but do not acknowledge their mad ranting, and instead try to coax them into learning to control it.

Room for a Pony


When I first setting out to buy my current boat (forced to do so because my family got larger and no longer fit aboard) I discussed the various offerings available in the commercially-built sailboat world with my friend Capt. Ray Jason. He asked me what I was looking for in a sailboat, and among other things I listed “a sauna, and room for a pony.” (I didn’t mention that I also want to be able to ride a bicycle around the deck, or hang a hammock on deck while the boat was under way, but I do.) And then the pony became a running joke between us. When I complained that, for instance, it was hard to plot a reasonable, traffic-free coastwise course that would allow me to sleep because there were always radar contacts bleeping away at me, Ray would helpfully suggest that I ask the pony to keep watch while I sleep. And so on.

But now I am happy to report that we have finally succeeded in designing a sailboat with “a sauna, and room for a pony”—and much else besides. Nor is it a huge boat: it’s half a foot shorter than my current one. Nor did I have to sacrifice much to achieve this effect: various tests, in software simulation and using a physical scale model, have shown that it will be just as fast and just as stable as my current boat. It will also be reasonably cheap to build and to maintain.

To achieve these results I followed a certain recipe.

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Hello, Russia!


Over the past week, Google\’s Blogger has been reporting an excessive number of visits to this blog coming from Russia. This data is not corroborated by other web traffic monitoring sources, including Revolver Maps or Google\’s own Google Analytics. Looking at the structure of the “Russian” traffic, it looks very much like random noise. What could this possibly be? “Evidence of Russian hacking,” anyone? Well, here it is, finally! Let\’s not forget, Google founder Sergei Brin is a Russian… And here we were thinking that “Russian hacking” is as real as “Iraqi WMDs”! Shame on us!

Today\’s page hits by country:

"It\'s, you know, for the kids!"


That\’s a line from the movie “The Hudsucker Proxy,” and it\’s a good one, because in a very obvious sense it is all for the kids. And I mean, all of it—all that\’s left after we adults get done trashing the planet and finally kick the bucket. Yes, a few people will insist that having children, given the state of the planet, is unconscionable (“What sort of world would we be bringing them into?”) but the rest of us will faithfully follow our genetic programming and procreate regardless of the condition the universe happens to be in.

This is not an opinion; it is a prediction—made decades ago, and still right on target.

Here is the Club of Rome WORLD3 model, which has stood the test of time as a particularly prescient crystal ball.

Look at both birth rate and death rate shooting up later this century. Of course, this can happen sooner than later because, as I heard directly from Dennis Meadows, one of the authors of Club of Rome\’s study Limits to Growth, predictions as to timing become worthless once collapse occurs, and collapse can occur at any time. And so it is safe to assume that those of us who survive collapse will be up to our necks in both corpses in urgent need of burial and babies (not necessarily our own—but whose fault would that be?) in urgent need of being brought up. And the obvious question is, How do we bring them up? What do we tell them about the future, and the present, that won\’t depress them but instead equip them for what lies ahead, and give them a fighting chance? Luckily, Jason Heppenstall has come up with an answer, based on his own experience.

As it happens, I just published his novel, Seat of Mars, through Club Orlov Press. It was by far the most fun I\’ve had editing a book (fiction is a lot more fun to work on than nonfiction). It is dystopian, but in a particularly life-affirming, uplifting way. And it is just a step or two removed from reality. The premise is that the UK government, faced with a dire economic situation and looming energy shortfalls, decides to preserve the privileges of the few by shutting off electricity for the underprivileged multitudes. If you think that this is pure fiction, then read this. The plot follows several characters, including the sad (yet strangely uplifting) story of a Goth girl astrophysics prodigy who ends up starting a new religion, the formation of a makeshift commune by an autodidact farm hand who clearly had read Rob O\’Grady\’s 150-Strong, a demonically possessed psychopath in charge of overseeing this controlled demolition of UK\’s society who pretty much rolled off the pages of Sean Kerrigan\’s Bureaucratic Insanity and an entire cast of criminal oligarchs who hide in a posh doomstead deep under the frozen Arctic—and perish there forthwith. Yes, nonfiction is important, but fiction is so much more fun! And it can impart much of the same information. Jason intends to make this the first book in a series, and I look forward to publishing all of it.

And now, here\’s Jason on what to tell children.

One topic that is often glossed over by Kollapsniks is the topic of how to talk to children about the future. Perhaps it\’s because, as humans, we tend to place our hopes for the future in our children, and if all we can see is a bleak future then why bother telling them about it at all?

I have two daughters—aged 11 and 13. They are bright and beautiful, clever and compassionate. I\’ll admit that sometimes I worry about the world they will inhabit when they become adults. It\’s likely to be a world that very few people are preparing their kids for—and that\’s putting it mildly. Given what we know about how climate systems are becoming chaotic, how energy that was once as concentrated as a bottle of whisky is rapidly turning into a glass of shandy, about mass extinctions, overpopulation, the creeping corporate takeover of society, the dumbing down of culture, the pollution and destruction of the biosphere, mass refugee movements, resource wars, nuclear meltdowns and so on and so forth… is it any wonder that so few of us want to broach the topic?

Despite all of these threats hanging over us what message, if any, is society sending to kids about the future? Are the cultural engineers who shape these young minds preparing them for a world in which the above drawbacks of industrial civilisation are honestly discussed? Or are they, instead, doubling down on the failures of the past and hammering into them the idea that what may kill us will also be our saviour? I think you already know the answer to that.

As a parent, I often get to unwillingly overhear/see children\’s TV programmes in the form of CBBC (Children\’s BBC). There are no commercials on CBBC but that doesn\’t mean it doesn\’t contain plenty of social programming and, by now, my kids are well used to hearing me howl in disagreement at something that was said—especially when Newsround is on.

Newsround—and pretty much every other programme on CBBC—propagates the narrative that we are heading towards a shiny future living on Mars, and that robots will do all the drudge work. Everything will be solar powered and there will be all sorts of consumer gadgets and devices, such as jetpacks and flying skateboards, and instead of dying we will be able to upload our minds into \”the cloud\” and live in virtual reality worlds that will be even more awesomer than living on Mars with robots.

These little techno utopian skits are punctuated with other \”news\” items about reality TV shows, sports and the lives of celebrities, and—needless to say—everything is very PC and \”right on\” with a perfect mix along lines of gender/race/ability.

If this little window onto the cultural programming of infants is in any way reflective of the wider world then I hate to think what will be the effect on the state of mind of our youngsters as they approach maturity and find out what the real world is like. What\’s a concerned elder to do?

So, reaching over and turning off the mind-warp machine for a moment, what are reality-aware parents supposed to do to prepare their offspring for the future they\’ll likely get? Well, I can\’t speak for everyone, but my strategy is revealed in the 18 tips that follow:

1 – Teach them how to be aware of when someone is trying to con them. Adverts are a great place to start. Teach them how to strip an ad down to its basic components: what\’s it trying to do? Make it funny. My kids can laugh at any ad they see and tell you what emotion/fear/desire they are using to get you to buy their product.

2 – Get them interested in making things that are useful. I\’m not very crafty, but my wife is, and she has taught them how to sew and crochet. They can now make their own clothes—and they enjoy doing it immensely. And you\’re doing any DIY get them to watch and hand you the tools. There is nothing more lamentable than adults who don\’t know how to change a lightbulb or fix a leaky tap.

3 – Don\’t give them everything they want. Being denied something that you really, really want, is good for you. Growing up and getting everything you want all the time creates adults that are selfish and unhappy. They will be forever craving material possessions and will be mentally unable to process not getting what they want. They end up unhappy and have unfulfilled and unfulfilling lives. In the future people will not be able to get what they want—the best time to practice for that is now.

4 – Teach them to cook proper food from an early age. Let them be messy and let them create hideous concoctions, if that\’s what they want. Kids love preparing food and cooking, and the only way they\’ll learn about it is doing it for themselves. For your own sanity, also insist they clean up their mess afterwards.

5 – Tell them that school teaches you useful stuff but the real lessons come from life and what you learn yourself. I tell my kids that I don\’t care what grades they get as long as they do their best: that grading schemas are dreamed up by dull people in London as a way to get our kids to compete with Chinese kids and squeeze every bit of creativity out of the educational system. These days most children are put on a conveyor belt from early infancy which leads them through school and college and turns them into bonded debt slaves working in unfulfilling jobs. Impress upon them that this doesn\’t have to be the case and that alternative paths are open to them. Encourage them to follow their interests as long as this will likely lead to them being able to make a living for themselves that doesn\’t rely on massive amounts of fossil fuels or ponzi finance schemes. Guide them, in this respect. Impress upon them that the world doesn\’t owe them a living and that no job should be below them. To that end, don\’t give them pocket money unless they\’ve earned it doing chores.

6 – Show them how much fun can be had for free. My fondest memories from childhood involved tobogganing down a snowy hill on a plastic bin bag, building dens in bit of woodland at the edge of town, hunting for fossils for my collection, playing conkers, riding my bike with friends from dawn until dusk and bodyboarding on a cheap polystyrene surfboard. All of these activities were either free or very cheap—and very fun. I also had loads of toys and certainly suffered no lack of anything—but toys were things to be played with when all the other possibilities just mentioned had been exhausted. Today my kids, and many of the other kids in town, go down to the harbour in the summer and jump off the walls into the water, just as kids have done here for centuries. You can hear their cries of joy from afar.

7 – Get them interested in reading, because books open up all sorts of doors in the mind. If you want to be really devious occasionally forbid them from reading certain books. I forbade my 13-year-old daughter from reading 1984 recently (\”It\’s too grown up for you,\”) and—unsurprisingly—found a copy hidden under her bed with a bookmark placed well into it. There is nothing like forbidding something to make it attractive to curious minds. When they are young read them stories every night. All kids love being read stories and they love their parents to read them stories most of all. From a book. Made of paper.

8 – Teach them to question authority and not to blindly obey whatever instructions are given to them. By this I don\’t mean encourage them to be mouthy confrontationists, I mean tell them to trust their instincts and, if something doesn\’t feel right, discuss it openly with people they trust. At the top I mention CBBC—when I was a kid in the 1970s, many of the famous faces on TV (we now discover) were pedophiles, using their status to prey on young kids. We can only guess how extensive this network of kiddie fiddlers was/is (even the Prime Minister at the time, Edward Heath, is under suspicion of running a ring), but we know that the psychic vampires who populate it prey on people\’s blind obedience and unwillingness to question authority. Give your kids the equivalent of a silver crucifix and some garlic to ward off these monsters.

9 – Tell them about how the future is likely to be, but don\’t be a doomer. Show them documentaries. Talk to them about problems—and ask them if they have any good ideas about how to tackle them (you\’d be surprised). Nobody knows what the future will hold. It will certainly be turbulent, and turbulence means lots of potential and possibilities for those willing to engage with it.

10 – Teach them about growing plants for food. Just as with preparing food, kids love to grow plants—especially if they can eat them afterwards. Tomatoes are great to get started, as are potatoes, peppers and radishes. All are easy to grow. If you have the space, give them their own plot, raised bed or mini greenhouse. If not, then get them to grow some plants of a windowsill. Take them to a farm and show them where eggs and milk and meat comes from. Teach them what grows for free in nature.

11 – Allow them to be bored. Many kids today are over-stimulated and cannot figure out what to do with themselves if the entertainment gadgets are switched off. Periods of boredom allow the brain to slow down and—more importantly—develop a more reflective aspect. In the future there will likely be far fewer opportunities to be over-stimulated, but at the same time there will be a lot of boring drudge work that needs doing. A mind addicted to external stimulation would not be able to cope with—say—working in the fields for hours each day, whereas a mind that is able to be quietly contemplative and reflective will fare far better.

12 – Make sure they are good mannered. Manners are a form of currency that will open doors and make them pleasant to be around. Also teach them how to disagree with someone with an opposing viewpoint without being hostile and reactive. Being good-mannered in a disagreement doesn\’t mean being a pushover—it simply means that you can reject the other side\’s BS with good grace and move on without turning into a foamy-mouthed berserker.

13 – Impress upon them the importance of avoiding debt. Unless they are certain the debt is an investment, make sure they realise how it can trap them. If they want to buy something that is a consumer item they should save up for it.

14 – Teach them how to physically defend themselves from attackers. Getting them enrolled in martial arts classes or boxing will be good for them in many ways. Not only will it give them the ability to fight off an attacker, but it will boost their self-confidence and improve their physical fitness. What\’s more, many if not most would-be attackers already have some knowledge of their victims, and knowing that they are a black belt in karate or a kick boxing champ will make them think twice. In Europe we are already seeing a huge upsurge in domestic abuse and violent street crimes as law and order breaks down. Young women on the streets of some cities face the prospect of being raped by gangs of men, who can get away with it as observers stand idly by and the police turn a blind eye in the name of community relations. As the father of two girls I want them to be able to fend off an attacker—fighting dirty if need be.

15 – Tell them they ain\’t gonna live on Mars. No way. Never gonna happen.

16 – Teach them to be open minded but realistic. Get them to think logically and to seek out evidence. Once they have discovered the harsh truth about the Tooth Fairy and Santa, use this as an example of why you should never trust anything you hear. Being an open minded sceptic is the best way forward.

17 – Show them by example. There\’s no point in telling them to do stuff if you then go and break all the rules yourself. Admit that you\’re far from perfect. Tell them all the mistakes you have made along your path, and that you hope they\’ll avoid the same mistakes. Be ready for them to make the same mistakes.

18 – And finally—loosen up. Don\’t be one of those joyless parents who only allows their precious snowflakes to eat organic quinoa and listen to non-culturally appropriated fairy tales. Instead, allow them to drink Coca Cola, eat chocolate until they throw up, stay up all night during sleepovers, play with knives, hear rude jokes, encounter bullies, be in the same room as drunken adults talking nonsense, climb trees and run with scissors. Seriously. Because although there may be some minor risk involved in all of these things, there is an almost 100% probability that if you don\’t allow them this freedom you\’ll create a delicate little flower who won\’t be able to survive unless they are cocooned within a safe space and given trigger warnings every time they encounter mild peril. What\’s more they\’ll just end up rebelling against you and will turn into exactly the kind of person you didn\’t want them to be – and it\’ll all be your fault.

That\’s pretty much how I\’m raising my kids, mindful of the likely future they\’ll find themselves living in. Oh, I forgot one last thing—make sure you treat your kids well. Look after them, love them and treat them with respect. Foster within them joy, compassion and a sense of fairness. Those kids are not yours—you\’re just borrowing them. Because one day the boot will be on the other foot and, if you\’ve done your job right, you can only hope the favour will be repaid. And if the future turns out even harsher than all your preparations have allowed for, then at least they might help you to push that shopping trolley down The Road.

Women On The Verge Of Societal Breakdown


Carolyn and Dmitry discuss Piero San Giorgio\’s book Women On The Verge Of Societal Breakdown published by Club Orlov Press. Dmitry states that the book illustrates the crucial role which women need to play, as traditional keepers of home and hearth, to keep the family together and doing well during treacherous, turbulent times. But the book also recognizes the great difficulties women will face as the societies they depend on decay and fall apart, and the precariousness of the major gains women have made over the past century, which Piero rightly calls the Century of Women. While recent social progress has made women independent and men somewhat superfluous, these trends tend to quickly reverse as society begins to regress. Piero calls on men to start acting like men once again, and to once again become strong, reliable defenders of women and of their families.

Piero San Giorgio

The Final Sheeting Arrangement


One of the problems with Junk rigs is that they tend to twist: the upper panels end up sheeted in less tight than the lower ones. Since the direction of the wind is generally the same at every height (while its strength varies) what this means is that only part of the sail is able to perform at optimum efficiency; either the lower panels are pinching or the upper panels are luffing, or both.

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