Podcast

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John Michael Greer: The God Of Technological Progress May Well Be Dead

But society is unwilling to consider that
Sunday, April 12, 2015, 2:49 PM

As we often state here at Peak Prosperity, the narratives we hold are immensely important. The stories running our heads influence everything from our beliefs to our values to our actions.

Which is why it's so dangerous when a society clings onto a narrative that is no longer serving it well, a narrative divorced from reality.

This week, Chris and John Michael Greer address the global faith in inexorable technological advancement as a cure-all to every predicament we face. In many ways, it's become the dominant religion of the 21st century. Sadly, there are a growing number of threats for which 'improved' technologies actually exacerbate the risks (particularly in regards to depleting critical resources) -- but society refuses to acknowledge this, as it runs counter to the tech-as-savoir meme so many are pinning their hopes on:

The problem comes when people have invested in a set of beliefs that work for a while, and then they stop working. That is the situation we are in now. From basically the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to the 1970s or maybe a little later, the narrative of progress worked. During all that time, there was a steady increase in the availability of energy per capita. By White’s Law, which is one of the basic principles of human ecology, economic development is function of energy per capita. As the energy curve rose and as we broke into one after another of the planet’s cookie jars and stole the fossil carbon there, progress actually did happen.

The problem is that we started running into the limits to resource extraction. The cost of resource extraction started rising. The cost of dealing with the downsides of burning all that carbon started to rise and everything else. All of a sudden, it does not work. But everybody is emotionally committed to the myth of progress. They are so great a target and it has such a religious quality to us, progress is that which will save us. Progress promises us this glorious Star Trek destiny metastasizing across the galaxy or what have you. To let that go, again it is trying to get a medieval peasant to look up and notice that Heaven with God, the saints, and angels is not up there anymore. People are wigging out. One of the most common ways to wig out in a situation like that is to cling to the dysfunctional belief system – the beliefs that do not work anymore – ever more tightly, even if they drag you down. That is what we have going on in the modern industrial world. People are going through the motions of a belief system that had stopped working, but they cannot let themselves admit that it stopped working. If that is the case, then God is dead. 

I think people desperately want to stop thinking. If they think, they are going to notice what is going on. They are going to notice the gap between the reality that they are experiencing and the reality that they have convinced themselves that they should experience. Everyone needs this progress onward and upward, blah, blah, blah. Okay, for most people in the United States, standards of living have been contracting steadily since 1972. It's White’s Law: economic development is a function of energy per capita. As your energy production declines, so does your prosperity.

When I was young, a working class family with one income could buy a house, could own a car, could go on vacation every so often, could keep paid up on all their bills, and led a pretty good lifestyle. These days, a working class family with one income in many places cannot stay off the street. That is a huge transformation and everyone is pretending that it does not matter. Almost everyone is pretending that it does not matter and we are still on track.

The United States can no longer afford to maintain its road system. State and county road maintenance budgets have been cut so far that in a lot of western states now, entire sections of the road system are being allowed to return to gravel because nobody can afford to keep them up. Our national bridges are a disgrace. They are falling down. What happened? We could afford to maintain our bridges up until a certain point. What happened? Nobody wants to talk about that. America is in decline. It has been declining rapidly, ever more rapidly, for decades now. Nobody wants to admit it. We dress up our emperor in ever more elaborate imaginary clothing.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with John Michael Greer (64m:13s)

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson:    Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host Chris Martenson. The world is anything but a calm oasis of steadily rising stock prices. Despite what the central banks would love to have us all believe, everything that was a predicament in 2008 is an even larger predicament today. The biggest problem we face in my estimation is this: We are running the wrong stories in our heads. Sometimes they are laughably untethered from reality, such as the story that plucky American ingenuity has it on track to be the next Saudi Arabia. What makes that one so spectacularly wrong is that under no circumstances ever does even the most rabid proponent of that narrative believe that the US will ever again be any sort of net exporter of oil. Saudi Arabia, of course, exports eight million barrels a day. It is apples and pineapples. There is just no comparison between the two stories there. We need to back up and rather dispassionately take stock of where we are. Really know what reality has to tell us. I can think of nobody better to do that with than John Michael Greer, who we welcome back to the program today.

John is the proprietor of the website, of course, The Arch Druid Report. It is must reading. I read it all the time. He writes about environmental depletion and social dissent from a really non-traditional and very note-worthy perspective. He is also a man of varied and complex interests. He is an American author, independent scholar, historian of ideas, cultural critic, neo-druid leader, hermeticist, environmentalist, blogger, novelist, occultist, esotericist, you name it. He currently resides in Cumberland, Maryland. Who better than this man to help us discuss the belief systems that are likely going to lead us to empire failure, such as a widespread in blind faith that technology will swoop in and solve our ever growing energy in environmental imbalances. Welcome, John. I am really looking forward to this.

John:  Thank you. It is a pleasure to be on again.

Chris Martenson:    I have a lot of conversations with people. Among the alert people, they have this feeling that something is wrong. They say so even though they cannot quite put their finger on it. Are they right? Is something wrong?

John:  Oh yeah. It would be hard to point—in the broad picture, various people have various good things going on in their lives of course just on individual terms. But in the broader social, political, economic, ecological sense it is hard to find anything that is going right just now.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah, you know here is an anecdote around that. I read probably one of the more dispiriting articles I have read in a long time. It says that there is a class of investors in China who are buying rare animal parts, banking on the idea that those animals will go extinct. Then of course their investments will perform fantastically. I do not know how to do anything but be depressed by a story like that.

John:  It is a depressing story. It is a very depressing story.

Chris Martenson:    That is where we are in this narrative. It is not just the US, but in China. The idea is that if I can make money at this, it is a good thing so I will do that.

John:  No matter what other consequences there are, if I make money— exactly.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah, that is everything. Another I thought was a reasonably depressing story was in Oklahoma. They went from an average of two earthquakes a year to we are on track this year to have 865. This is mostly centered on where they are doing the fracking waste fluid injection wells.

John:  Yes.

Chris Martenson:    The people whose houses are falling down are saying "we would like to be protected. You should have to buy insurance." The fracking companies’ argument is this: "If we had to buy insurance, we would not be able to afford to do what we do. Therefore, that is a non-starter. We are not going to do it. We cannot make money by preventing earthquakes."

John:  Of course, they are right to make money at the expense of people’s houses falling down. It is somehow guaranteed. I really think if a bunch of aliens were to swoop in from a distant planet and say "we want to buy all the earth’s air, but we will pay you 100 quadrillion dollars for it," there would be people who would say "sure. I can learn to breathe something else."

Chris Martenson:    You might be right. They might say "I am going to invest in scuba tanks. This will all work out."

John:  There you go. It is really quite bizarre. The thing that I would point out is that all of this resembles nothing so much as—if you have ever met people who belonged to – I will use the usual pejorative term "cult" – some kind of strange religious system that was at about a 35 degree angle from reality. You try to talk to them about anything. Pretty soon you get this thousand mild stare and you get this series of thought-stopping clichés. "Our holy prophet is... It is Gu’s grace that this is happening." It does not matter what it is. It always comes back to the thought stoppers. People are doing the same thing now around everything that has to do with progress, with economic growth, and with technology. It is right back to the thought stoppers and the thousand mile stares. This is one of the reasons my latest book is arguing that belief in progress is a surrogate religion. Literally people put the same kind of faith in progress that medieval peasants put in the wonder working bones of St. Ethelthryth or what have you. They believe in it absolutely and implicitly. They cannot think outside that box.

It is leading them straight to destruction in this case. At least, revering the bones of St. Ethelthryth was not going to do you any particular harm. It might not ward off the Black Death, but these things happen. In this case, as you pointed out, we have a set of narratives that are completely detached from the real world. Yet everyone has convinced themselves this is the real world. If reality knocks on the door saying I am sorry, reality can go away. We know what is real. Progress is real. The great god progress will save us all.

Chris Martenson:    It seems so obvious to me that any technology has a pro and has a con. You get something and you lose something. Whether you lose that languorous sense of space and time because we can cram every minute of our day with these beautiful little smart phone planner devices, or whether it is the loss of social interaction that you get when you have to deal with a human face to face, or the wonderful miracle of food technology that quite obviously is poisoning the bejesus out of our population.

John:  Yeah, there we go. Or it is having a stable climate or having a breathable atmosphere. There are little things like houses that do not fall down. They are little things like that.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah, now whether it was the wandering bones of the saint or it is our myth of progress, is it just that humans are predisposed towards believing in things that are fundamentally, obviously, demonstrably not true? Is that a fate that we are going to have to contend with forever?

John:  Certainly human beings under certain circumstances will convince themselves of things that are not true. We know that. The bones of the saint, by the way, given the power of the placebo effect – who knows, maybe the saint was actually blessing a few people now and again. That was actually functional in some ways, although again that would not keep off the Black Death. The problem comes when people have invested in a set of beliefs that work for a while, and then they stop working. That is the situation we are in now. From basically the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to the 1970s or maybe a little later, the narrative of progress worked. During all that time, there was a steady increase in the availability of energy per capita. By White’s Law, which is one of the basic principles of human ecology, economic development is a function of energy per capita. As the energy curve rose and as we broke into one after another of the planet’s cookie jars and stole the fossil carbon there, progress actually did happen.

The problem is that we started running into the limits to resource extraction. The cost of resource extraction started rising. The cost of dealing with the downsides of burning all that carbon started to rise and everything else. All of a sudden, it does not work. But everybody is emotionally committed to the myth of progress. They are so great a target and it has such a religious quality to us, progress is that which will save us. Progress promises us this glorious Star Trek destiny metastasizing across the galaxy or what have you. To let that go, again it is trying to get a medieval peasant to look up and notice that Heaven with God, the saints, and angels is not up there anymore. So people are wigging out. One of the most common ways to wig out in a situation like that is to cling to the dysfunctional belief system – the beliefs that do not work anymore – ever more tightly, even if they drag you down. That is what we have going on in the modern industrial world. People are going through the motions of a belief system that had stopped working, but they cannot let themselves admit that it stopped working. If that is the case, then God is dead. Niche is standing there saying "hahaha."

Chris Martenson:    Do you know how I know I am dealing with a belief system? It is when I question it, I get an emotional response.

John:  Bingo, yes.

Chris Martenson:    I get this all the time. Adam and I call it the iPhone moment. We will do our whole song and dance. We will put up all this data. We will say look, oil discovery peaked 50 years ago. That is just reality. Guess what is going to happen sometime after a peak in discovery? There will be a peak in output. People will inevitably one, but several more times, will literally hold up their phone and go I think you are forgetting about these. It is their little progress talisman. How can you deny that we are making leaps and bounds? The minute I say that is fascinating. Technology can help us use energy more effectively and efficiently. But what it cannot do is it cannot create energy. I am talking about an energy source. You are talking about how we use it. Those are fundamental. I have lost them by the first time I started talking.

John:  Of course.

Chris Martenson:    I lost them minutes ago in that diatribe.

John:  Yeah, and that is just the thing. "What about these iPhones?" Okay, what about them? We have this complicated little toy. It is a more complex toy than the last generation. So what? This is what I mean when I call these things thought stoppers. They are ways to stop thinking. I think people desperately want to stop thinking. If they think, they are going to notice what is going on. They are going to notice the gap between the reality that they are experiencing and the reality that they have convinced themselves that they should experience. Everyone needs this progress onward and upward, blah, blah, blah. Okay, for most people in the United States, standards of living have been contracting steadily since 1972. This is for most Americans.

Chris Martenson:    By the way, this is coincidentally when energy per capita peaked in this country.

John:  Coincidentally, yeah sure.

Chris Martenson:    I just want to point that out. I do not know if it is coincidence, but I gather them.

John:  Again, it is White’s Law. Economic development is a function of energy per capita. As your energy production declines, so does your prosperity. When I was young, your dinosaur did not quite walk the earth in those days although it feels that way sometimes. When I was young, a working class family with one income could buy a house, could own a car, could go on vacation every so often, could keep paid up on all their bills, and led a pretty good lifestyle. These days, a working class family with one income in many places cannot stay off the street. That is a huge transformation and everyone is pretending that it does not matter. Almost everyone is pretending that it does not matter and we are still on track.

The United States can no longer afford to maintain its road system. State and county road maintenance budgets have been cut so far that in a lot of western states now, entire sections of the road system are being allowed to return to gravel because nobody can afford to keep them up. Our national bridges are a disgrace. They are falling down. What happened? We could afford to maintain our bridges up until a certain point. What happened? Nobody wants to talk about that. America is in decline. It has been declining rapidly, ever more rapidly, for decades now. Nobody wants to admit it. We dress up our emperor in ever more elaborate imaginary clothing. Most people again use the thought stoppers, so they do not notice what is actually going on.

Chris Martenson:    It is emotionally painful to have to notice these things. Deconstructing a belief system is an emotionally painful process for people who were trained that those are to be avoided. I am of a maturity level now that I understand that. There is no such thing as avoiding emotional pain. You can stuff it, and then it comes out in the most awkward ways. Later on when you least expect it or want it, it comes out sideways. Shadows are like that. More importantly, to really face and master our emotional responses is actually an incredibly exciting and worthy challenge. As I go back and look through all different cultures and generations in times past, people got that. But we really in this country in the United States in particular, we say "are you having an emotional response? If it is too much, we are going to have to drug you for that." It is either way. Are you too manic? Are you too depressive? You are too high or you are too low. We have drugs for both.

John:  No matter what, everything benefits the pharmaceutical industry at this point. The Onion, which at this point has to run full speed to stay ahead of reality, it's satirical—The Onion had a piece a little while back announcing that a study had proved that drugs and therapy were equally effective at monetizing depression.

[Laughter]

Chris Martenson:    Every so often I will read a headline, and I have to check to make sure it is not The Onion.

John:  I know! I know.

Chris Martenson:    They are having a hard time keeping up.

John:  It impresses me that they are still able to keep on writing satire.

Chris Martenson:    Let us burst this tech bubble in a very concrete way. Let us talk about the shale revolution.

John:  Oh, you mean the fracking bubble. Yes, go ahead.

Chris Martenson:    It is the fracking bubble. This drives me nuts because I read about it in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and Bloomberg. Except Bloomberg has one or two sides. I believe they are contract journalists who were actually nipping at the edges of this thing. Generally, their center mass follows the main narrative, which is...

John:  Of course it does.

Chris Martenson:    ...shale oil flooded the world and this is a permanent revolution.

John:  That is going to become louder and louder for exactly the same reason. You will remember this very well. In the final days of the housing bubble, the rhetoric around the endlessly rising real estate prices just got louder. Do you remember that?

Chris Martenson:    I do.

John:  Do you remember in 2007 and 2008 just how frantic it got just before the bottom dropped out? We are in that Wile E Coyote moment right now with the fracking bubble.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah, and let us be clear. The reason it gets frantic is because there are people who have product they want to move.

John:  They have to move it, yeah.

Chris Martenson:    They have to dump it into some unwary portfolios.

John:  Got it in one. At this point right now, the banks are stuck with tens of millions of dollars of fracking loans that they have packaged that they are having trouble selling. That was in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago. People are backing away from these smoking craters soon to appear here. They are backing away from the fracking thing. Dozens of fracking firms have either declared bankruptcy or are consulting with the reorganization specialists and things like that. It is shaping up to be a world-class speculative crash, but everyone in the mainstream media is doing their best not to say that. Who wants to start the run?

Chris Martenson:    I know. Here is how simple it is to get your arms around this. I was looking at Whiting Petroleum – one of the largest operators producing 180,000 barrels a day out of the Bakken. They made a really unfortunately timed purchased a year and a half ago with Kodiak, so they have a lot of debt. They have $5.3 billion on the books. This took me five minutes in a spreadsheet. I said okay, 186,000 barrels a day. Okay, it declines at 85% over three years. There is some vintage aging, so I will dial that back a little bit. Let us say that that is going to decline 70% over the next three years. Here is the average price of oil. Hey, they cannot even pay back the $5.3 billion if they stop drilling.

John:  Yeah, exactly. Even if they stop all operations and just sell, there is no way they can ever pay it back. I forget—company after company. I am trying to remember one that I saw. They reported they had negative cash flow every single year since they entered the whole fracking thing. They have been spending billions of dollars and getting millions back. They are making up the difference with loans. Again, it is the housing bubble. It is the tech stock bubble. I mean this is Pets.com all over again.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah and here is how you know that you are late in the game. It is when they start changing the measurement stick.

John:  Oh yeah.

Chris Martenson:    About a year and a half ago the EIA started saying "look at per rig productivity." Who cares how productive a rig is? It is the wells. People confused it. I have people saying "my God, we are getting 300% more out of the wells than we used to." I am like no we are not, no. We are getting exactly the same amount out of each well that we used to get. There is no change in that. That is with longer multilateral drillings, more frack stages, and more use of prop. We are dumping more and more down the holes, and we are getting just about the same amount out. That is geology fighting technology. They fought themselves to a standstill for the moment. That is the reality.

John:  That is the reality.

Chris Martenson:    But again, the eyes glaze over.

John:  Exactly, but again you will remember in the days of the housing bubble. I lived in Ashland, Oregon when the housing bubble was at full roar. It is kind of a yuppie enclave. There are a lot of people with a fair amount of more dollars than sense, as my grandparents used to say. There were a lot of people who were deeply into the sort of bottom feeding new age stuff like The Secret—convince yourself that you are destined to be rich and money will seek you out. It is that kind of thinking. The number of people I knew who were just literally clinically irrational about real estate prices, that they had to go up. You tried telling them. Look at these... No, the eyes glaze over instantly. You get the thousand mile stare and the mantras come out. To some extent, it is simply the usual reaction of suckers who have been hooked by their own greed.

A book that I recommend to everybody who is trying to stay sane in these times is John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Great Crash, 1929. It is to start with the most rip-roaringly hilarious book of serious economic history you will ever read. The thing that Galbraith does is he walks you through all the rhetoric of the bubble—the new economic era that has dawned. How many new economic eras have we had so far? It is always the same thing. He literally walks through all of the rhetoric and all of the ways that people suckered themselves into believing that stocks in 1929 could rise forever. Once you follow that, you will see the same rhetoric appearing again and again and again. It has been all over the fracking bubble. It is all over the fracking bubble. "It is a new era for the American energy industry." "The old rules do not apply," blah, blah, blah. It is complete to the proclamations that US oil production is reaching a permanently high plateau.

Chris Martenson:    It is that famous geologist, Irving Fisher.

John:  Yeah, exactly. But it is always the same thing. The only variation is what the subject is for the bubble. In this case, it happens to be fracking. I mean the fracking thing is not about energy. It is not about petroleum. It is about selling worthless paper to chumps. An awful lot of paper has been sold to an awful lot of chumps.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah, that is absolutely true. Here is the thing. I just read this piece this morning by this Stanford professor who said it looks like oil prices are going to stay down for 20 years. He cited the fracking revolution. I am like, he is a Stanford professor. He should know that even the EIA says the shale revolution is over in 2020 when we run out of drill spots and it goes into terminal perpetual decline. That is only five years from now. I am wondering where his calculations for the next 15 years came from.

John:  He is a Stanford professor of what? Do you remember?

Chris Martenson:    I believe it is some form of economics, but I do not know.

John:  Oh, that explains it. That explains it. Do you know what you call an economist who makes a prediction?

Chris Martenson:    Wrong?

John:  Wrong, yeah. [laughter] It is by definition. If an economist says the sky is blue, I am going to go look.

Chris Martenson:    Here is the thing though. You can look at this. The data is there. You take the world’s oil output, X the US, and X Canada. It has been going down slightly since 2005. This is with three and a half trillion dollars poured into making sure it went up and geology is winning again. I look at that. Then I wander over and I look at the people who bought Spanish 50-year bonds for 3.8%. I just go, what is the story you have to tell yourself to say, you know I like these at 3.8%? I am going to buy a fistful of these Spanish bonds here. [laughter] It is 50 years. That is the year 2065 that they mature. Come on people. Think this through.

John:  No, we cannot think this through. If we think this through, we realize just how deep up to our eyeballs in alligators we are at this point. That is one of the temptations that makes just going through the motions and pretending that nothing has changed so tempting. You do not have to deal with the stress. As you say, sooner or later you can repress something that will come back out. It is just that people are very good at saying "I just do not want to deal with it now." Unfortunately, they are going to deal with it in a much harder form down the road.

The thing that I find really interesting is that you mentioned the production X the tar sands and shale oil bubbles. Production has been trending down since 2005. As I recall from shortly after that, I think it was 2006, consumption has been trending not drastically down. But it is certainly in some areas quite steadily down. I think it was US gasoline consumption for example that has been ratcheting unevenly downwards since then. A range of other energy measurements have. This is crucial because one of the things that is central to the “discredited” peak oil theory is that if you have to put more and more resources and more and more real wealth into energy production – into energy extraction, let us use the correct term here – you do not have those resources available for other economic activities. The dreaded phrase "zero sum game" comes to mind here.

As we throw more and more of our total available real wealth into the process of extracting tar from tar sands, oil from shale, oil from super deep wells in the Gulf of Mexico, or what have you; the fact that this stuff is really expensive to product is a good proxy for the fact that it takes immense resource inputs. Those inputs are not available for other economic uses. It is very much as though – to put it in microeconomic terms – you have your product that you are selling, but your cost of getting the product is ratcheting upward. Your profit margins are being squeezed so your lifestyle is being squeezed. To my mind, that is the big story right now. It is the fact that as I noted earlier, the US cannot afford its road system anymore.

Chris Martenson:    There you have it. We are putting all this extra energy, effort, and capital or however you want to measure it. We are pouring it into these innumerable shafts into the ground in North Dakota and other places. The next thing we know we turn around and are like "why did that bridge fall down?"

John:  Why did the bridge fall down? Exactly.

Chris Martenson:    "That seems so unrelated."

John:  As long as you do not think in whole systems you can go on with the pretense. Thinking in whole systems is practically taboo these days.

Chris Martenson:    It is because it is challenging. It is really challenging. Here is the thing, John. I know more and more people who have both had thousand yard stares, but they got a little of the deer in the headlights thing too. They are scared. There is just this general discomfort right now that is palpable. I know it because I recently gave talks in Peru and in Mexico City. In Latin America, there are very different sorts of discussions. They know things going pear shaped.

John:  Oh yeah.

Chris Martenson:    That is why you go to Peru. There is the Nuevo sol to replace the old sol, which replaced the one before that. They have been through a bunch of currency and complete flame out disasters. There is no convincing. You know sometimes leaders overdo it and your currency goes wonky on you. You have to start over. They get that.

John:  They get that, right. They get that, exactly. They do not stick to the pretense.

Chris Martenson:    No, so it is a very different discussion to have. I found it very liberating and freeing. When I come back to the United States in particular, it is like we have some thought bubble that has been clamped down over things. It is very clear that there are subjects that are off limits because they make people uncomfortable. It happens all the time.

John:  The one thing that I will say though is you mentioned the sense of freedom, of liberation. I have talked to so many people here in America who have gotten to the point where they actually are saying "hold it. Something is really wrong. This is not working." They talk about it. They find in the community people to talk about it. All of a sudden this immense weight has gone off them. The country is still careening down the slopes into history’s compost bin. All of the aspects of our predicament are still there, but they do not have the burden of pretense anymore. It is an immense liberation.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah, we hold a few seminars. We have one coming up at Rowe in three weeks now. Adam, my wife Becca, and I present. Honestly, we could go to sleep for the whole weekend and people would just have a grand old time meeting in an intimate setting, a natural and beautiful intimate setting where they get to just talk about these things.

John:  Yeah, it is where nobody is going to shut you down for saying "it is going pear shaped, guys."

Chris Martenson:    Exactly, that is so relieving. I agree with you. More and more people are getting this. I just did a presentation for a class at Berkeley via Skype. I did one down in Charleston, South Carolina. The 20-year-olds are like "dude, do not even bother telling me about how messed up it is. We know this stuff." They know this, so I am going to narrow this down. I think that the class of people who are most heavily blinkered are basically the boomers.

John:  Oh yeah.

Chris Martenson:    They are the ones that have the most to lose if this does go pear shaped. They are the ones who seem rigid and incapable of understanding the dimensions of this. I think younger people, in my estimate they just grew up with it. Oh yeah, that is the world we live in.

John:  The teens and twenty-somethings that I have talked to are totally on. Either they are totally on top of it or they are totally oblivious.

Chris Martenson:    That is correct.

John:  It is one or the other. They are either glued to their iBrain – their surrogate minds, and are just slurping at the media tit. They have no clue. Or they know completely what is going on. They have no illusions about the situation.

Chris Martenson:    Right.

John:  The boomers, I think it is partly that they have the most to lose. But there is of course the other factor that I have written about. It is that the boomer generation was the generation that was really coming into public life at the time that America turned its back on the prospect of transitioning to a sustainable future. An awful lot of boomers sold out. I mean the hippie generation, the people who were saying we will never put on business suits; we are going to do peace, love, and community. It is solar panels, windmills, geodesic domes in the countryside. Now all of a sudden they are going to work for Fortunte500 corporations with a nice short haircut and a tie. The boomers, generally speaking, were one of the most idealistic generations in American history. They were also one of the most privileged and one of the most convinced of their own entitlement. They faced over and over again the confrontation between their ideals and their privilege.

Over and over again with certain noble exceptions, over and over again most of them chose the privilege and spent the next ten years insisting at the top of their lungs that they have not cashed in their ideals. You have situations now where people who were vocal environmentalists in the 1970s are now out there pimping for the nuclear industry. They cannot possibly—we have to have a future with enough power and electricity to power our iPhones. If that means loading the planet with waste that remain lethally dangerous for a quarter of a million years, hey that is fine. We have our iPhones. That kind of betrayal of ideals, that kind of copping out, and of selling out leaves immense psychological scars. I really think that modern American history cannot be understood unless you remember just how many people are now either the boomer generation or they are in positions of power. They are largely running the country at this point. These are the people who sold out at the end of the sixties and again with the coming of the Raegan era.

Chris Martenson:    I am not sure that the millennials would have done any better if we put them back 30 or 40 years.

John:  Quite possibly not. Quite possibly not, but they did not go through that transformation. I am not saying the boomers are uniquely evil. I am saying they were the ones who were put in this situation or put themselves into that situation and they are dealing with the psychological scar tissue. By the time the millennials or whoever came along, or the so-called greatest generation – there have been many great generations. It happened to land on the boomers to make that choice one way or the other. We know what choice they made. I think that the psychological scarring that resulted from that is an immense although almost unmentionable factor at this point.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah, I mean we might call it guilt. But for me, that selling out is easy in the short-term but the loss of integrity over the long-term is a real blow.

John:  It is huge. Especially in the situations that we have seen over the last 40 to 50 years, they have had to double down over and over again. It was never enough. They could give up the long hair and the headbands. Okay, that is one thing. Okay, now Raegan is running for office. Are you going to give up on the sustainable energy? Are you going to give up on green lifestyles? Yeah, because we want our middle class jobs. Then it is another thing. Then it is another thing. Then it is another thing. If at any point you just say "no I am not going to do that," it casts all of your previous choices into question. If you just keep on doubling down on it until now you are out there with Stuart Brand trying to sell GMOs and nuclear power, it is not just the one betrayal. It is the whole sequence heading down that road paved with good intentions leading you know where. Yeah, that is an immense factor in our collective psychology right now.

Chris Martenson:    This is a perfect place. This is where I see. I see us locked into a narrative that is failing us. All you have to do is open the newspaper and be marginally curious. You can see all the ways it is failing us. This is whether it is soil loss, droughts where there did not used to be, lack of snow to run your dogsled races on, or record breaking snows in other places. It is just getting weird and wonky environmentally. The world has tacked on an additional $56 trillion of debt since the crisis began. Presumably that would be lovely if that could be paid back. All of that is predicated on this idea of endless growth. Then of course there is maybe not the energy to grow endlessly. Maybe it is even not that much longer. We put all that into a spot and we have this collective denial, which I understand at heart. I get that. I can even have compassion for it if I really remove myself and look at it. Where does that take us in your mind? You have done a great job of prognosticating about how this plays out. What is the kind of future you think we can actually expect out of all of this?

John:  Prognosticating—Yogi Berra commented that prediction is really difficult, especially about the future. My model all along, and I have not seen any recent change, is that of a sort of fractal collapse. Instead of either one big lump – we all wake up in the ashes, those of us who wake up at all – or the smooth slope of decline. It is a matter of just the total number of crises, of catastrophes, of natural and unnatural disasters, of economic downturns, of economic contraction, of political failure, and of war. All of these just keep on ramping steadily upwards. When exactly your number comes up to take part in the general process of decline in any given way, it is going to vary by factors that are very difficult to predict. They are happening right now to many people. I mean right now if you live in Greece, you have collapsed. Your standard of living has dropped to the floor. Right now if you live in California, you are facing the transformation of what was one of America’s wealthiest states into the combination dust bowl and rust belt of the twenty-first century.

People who lose their job and do not ever get a new one is increasingly common in America these days. The total number of people we do not report as unemployed because they are permanently unemployed just keeps on ratcheting upwards. So you have this bizarre situation where people can pretend that everything is fine. It is business as usual. We are on our way to the stars. This is until something happens to them. Then they are kind of edited out of the picture. That said, I expect some fairly large jolts in the near future. When the fracking bubble implodes, I think we have a pretty fair likelihood of at least a massive crisis here in America. It is probably a massive financial crisis worldwide. I have seen figures—I do not know how well documented and what the kind of documentation is beneath them—that the total amount of dubious credit that has been manufactured in the course of funding the fracking bubble is about twice what was produced to fund the housing bubble. That is going to leave some gaping holes in a lot of balance sheets as that goes pear shaped.

We are looking at a major economic crisis in the United States, and possibly more broadly, in the very near future. We are looking at the likelihood of major wars. If the situation in Yemen right now spins much further out of control, we probably have World War III in the Middle East between the Sunni and the Shia. It could become a complete blood bath. That is the one thing I could think of that could make fracking profitable again. If the Persian Gulf is aflame with war and people are blowing up each other's oil installations, there is going to be a shortage of oil and prices will go back up. We may actually have a chance to continue fracking out until 2020. That is something for your listeners to keep an eye on. If that does not happen, it is complicated.

We are looking at a situation where the international order that has been in place since the second World War is cracking. It is going to break completely as the United States falls out of its position as superpower. Exactly who will replace it is an interesting question. The Chinese are certainly trying to position themselves. It will be interesting to see how they deal with their own looming economic crisis, their huge overhang of unpayable debt, and so on. What I am seeing for the future and what I have been seeing all this time is one crisis after another, one catastrophe after another, one war after another and one recession and depression. Okay, let us use the D-word. There is one depression after another. There is ratcheting downwards as the energy supply decreases. Again, it is White’s Law. Economic development is a function of energy per capita. As energy per capita declines, economic development goes into reverse. That is one of the things you cannot say in public.

Chris Martenson:    No. I have one of these things called an iPhone. I think you should know about it.

John:  Yeah, and that iPhone is going to produce limitless amounts of energy.

Chris Martenson:    Yes [laughter]. I agree with your backdrop that what I see are just steadily increasing pressures, which are going to call on either our best efforts or will bring our worst efforts and reap what we sow in that regard. This is a little bit like reading Guns of August about the buildup to World War I. There were just a lot of pressures, some failed empires, some inbred leadership literally in some cases, and all these sorts of things that just basically became a tinder pile. I am looking at the world as having a lot of pressures on it at this point in time. I am mystified to this day by what the United States is up to in the Ukraine.

John:  That is just mad.

Chris Martenson:    We are poking the bear. This was one of my – is this an Onion moment? It turned out it is not. ABC reported that the United States is sending in a bunch of paratroopers to train with the “National Guard” in the Ukraine. We are sending them in to train with the Azov battalion, which is one of the privately funded battalions that is famous for having the Waffen SS insignia and doing all of that.

John:  Yeah, exactly.

Chris Martenson:    We are doing all that. We are sending them in on April 20th. A little Googling revealed to me it is Hitler’s birthday.

John:  It is his birthday, yes.

Chris Martenson:    Is anybody thinking this through in the Pentagon? If they are, was that on purpose? I cannot make sense of how you could either be that tone deaf or that obvious. I do not know which of those two things to be more outraged about.

John:  This is unless they are hoping to elicit a violent response from Russia. That is the one. The thing is United States foreign policy has been stark staring nuts. Drooling idiocy barely covers it. Strategy 101 is in the aftermath of the collapse of Soviet Union, the US had one absolute top strategic requirement, which was to make sure that Russia and China remained on opposite sides of some kind of line of hostility. This was to drive them apart. The most sensible thing would have been to basically do something like a Marshall Plan for Russia. Establish a US-Russian alliance and use that to counter the rising power of China. That would have been a brilliant move. It would have been a very smart—it might have saved the US Empire for another century.

We could alternatively have gone and done an alliance with China. We could have followed up on Nixon’s original idea. That is very clearly what Nixon was trying to do. It was to try to drive the largest possible wedge between the two big communist powers. At that time he succeeded brilliantly. Instead, what do we do? We have gone out of our way to take the two other large nuclear powers in the world and drive them into alliance. To create a Eurasian power block that has more resources, more people, more weapons, and at this point better technology than we do. We have created our own nemesis. We are adding to it day by day. I have no idea what is going through the heads of the people who think they are running US foreign policy. For 20 years, we have been pursuing an utterly self-defeating and utterly self-destructing agenda. I am convinced it is going to lead to disaster for the United States.

Chris Martenson:    I think it will. One of the things I have been talking about is that a lot of it is perception. Perception rules a lot in life. In the United States, people say the United States is the world’s reserve currency. Of course, it is backed by having the most powerful military in the world. That is the perception.

John:  That is the perception.

Chris Martenson:    That is true if and only if you can project that power. How do we do that? We do that with this thing called a blue water Navy. We have all these ships out there. One of the things I keep telling people is you have to go onto Live Leak. You have to look at these anti-ship missiles – the Acon800 and other similar things, and the Sunburns the Russians have. They completely teach you that a Navy is no longer a useful thing. We still have the perception that it is.

I do not know if you caught this, but I love this incident. The USS Donald Cook sailed into the Black Sea last April to show the Russians a lesson. This is one of our—this is an Aegis Class Destroyer. It is packed with the most brilliant electronics in the whole world. This thing has 50 anti-aircraft missiles. It is like its own little island of death. The Russians sent one SU-24 Sukhoi jet, flew it over this thing, and jammed every electronic thing on board—just shut it down with some technology that they have. Then they proceeded to fly back and forth in mock bombing runs. They would have just taken the ship out. This is our most advanced ship in the world. It was taken out by a single jet and just shut down. To me, that was a huge warning sign. I would have thought that our response to that would have been something like maybe we do not really want to poke that bear. If we lose the perception of having this indomitable military, we lose a lot, possibly including reserve currency status.

John:  Among other things. My most recent novel – I have three novels out. My most recent one is a near future novel called Twilight’s Last Gleaming. It actually focuses on the consequences of the United States getting itself into a situation where it actually suffers a serious military defeat. Yes, the effective destruction of a carrier task force is a central part of that.

Did you catch the story? I think it was last year. The Chinese had a submarine come up in the middle of a US military naval exercise.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah, they came up and they waved.

John:  They came up. They waved. They went down. Nobody had detected them. They could have carried out torpedo runs against the carrier and everything else in sight. The Chinese are turning out one after another—they are turning out these first rate very silent subs. They are turning out these light catamaran missile boats, which I think are probably going to be the prototype of the navies in the age of the cruise missile. They are small. They are disposable. They are very fast. Their basic purpose is to get within range to launch cruise missiles at something. But we are still fixated on our aircraft carriers.

The thing is this happens. You mentioned 1914. In the run up toward 1914, everybody was convinced in Britain that Britain’s survival depends on battleships. They put an immense amount of money into building and upgrading their battleship fleet. The battleships did absolutely nothing during the war. There was a Battle of Jutland, which was completely inconclusive. After this, everybody’s fleets just went home and sat out the war. Then in the run up to World War II, the British did exactly the same thing. They put all their money into battleships when smart money was going into aircraft carriers. Among other things, that is why Britain had most of its holdings in Southeast Asia and Indonesia scooped by the Japanese. The British had battleships and cruisers down there, and the Japanese simply bombed them into oblivion from the air. We are facing exactly the same situation with our aircraft carriers. At some point soon, I do not know what soon amounts to here, but at some point the US is going to send a carrier group into some situation. There is going to be a flurry of missiles from the shore. And the age of the aircraft carrier is going to end. The reputation for invincibility that the United States has is going to end too. The consequences of that are immense. Those are things that I was trying to sketch out in this novel of mine, Twilight’s Last Gleaming.

Chris Martenson:    I cannot wait to read that. I love thinking things through from that. I think we have to think through the scenarios. But it has been completely obvious to me ever since an aging A4 aircraft using a French exocet missile sank the HMS Sheffield in the Falklands War. When was that – 1983 or something?

John:  Yeah.

Chris Martenson:    I mean that taught me a couple decades ago. Oh yeah, ships are done. Still there is this perception that the United States has this very powerful military. It is true. But it is true only because we have not gone up against somebody who knows how to sink ships yet. We beat up on Noriega. We did a little Grenada action. We did a little Saddam action. It is really like an NFL team that has gone up against three pee-wee leagues and has decided it cannot be beat.

John:  Yeah, that is exactly it. I mean we sent our bombers against the Serbs and the Serbs shot down one of our stealth planes. Do you remember that one?

Chris Martenson:    Oh that is right, they did. They did.

John:  The remains of the plane were then quickly shipped off to Russia. All of a sudden, they have first rate stealth fighters and we are stuck with the F35. We could have a long conversation about that dog.

Chris Martenson:    That is just a trillion dollar program that does nothing.

John:  No, it has performed brilliantly at its mission which is to completely destroy the US Treasury [laughter]. It has been enormously successful as a money sink.

Chris Martenson:    It has bombed the Treasury successfully. The hit rate is 100%.

John:  Exactly, it has a hit rate of 100%. It just does not do anything else well. Then nobody else thinks that there is ever going to be a hot war where the United States actually has to scramble serious planes. If that ever happens, we are in up to our eyeballs in alligators as I said.

Chris Martenson:    This is what is mysterious to me. I see this mostly being driven by the State Department and a bunch of neocons. You look at Victoria Nuland and understand that her husband is one of the signatories on the project for a New American Century, which is that document that just magically managed to predict another Pearl Harbor striking the United States in a couple of years that would galvanize our Mid-East response. She is really in bed literally and figuratively with the neocons. These people frighten me because I do not think they are grounded in reality at all. I am wondering, where is the military on this? They have to be aware of these issues. They are very level-headed on these things.

John:  It depends. It depends on who you talk to. The US military is huge. There are vast numbers of people. Many of the people in the upper echelons, especially in things like purchasing, they are looking at their seven figure civilian contracts that they are going to get as soon as they finish their 20 years. The thing is there is a lot of corruption in the US military. There is a lot of corruption. I do not know if you follow the War Nerd.

Chris Martenson:    No.

John:  He is a columnist. I forget the guy’s actual name, but he writes under the War Nerd. He is highly worth reading. He is extremely well-informed. He did a piece on the F35 where he argues that this shows the US Air Force has now won the prize as the most corrupt branch of the US military. Everybody is kind of playing along and insisting that the F35 really is this marvelous new plane, even though it cannot fly faithfully and the software that will enable it to actually hit a target has not been finished yet.

Chris Martenson:    It does not even put oxygen in the masks of the pilots sometimes. It has a few things going on.

John:  Yeah. I think one of the problems here is that with that kind of money and that kind of culture of "it does not really matter," the people I know in the military who are out there on the cutting edge, the people who are actually going to be flying the planes, who are actually in harm’s way are great people. I know a fair number of them. I respect them deeply. There was a term in the 'nam years, REMF – real ecolon – I will let you figure out yourself what MF stood for in soldier slang. That was because you get people who will never see combat. They are sitting behind LSD – large sealed desk commanders. A lot of money flows through their hands. There is a lot of opportunity for graft, and some people have taken them.

You have a situation where we have on paper the most powerful military in the world. We certainly have the most expensive military in the world. We have a military that is unfortunately riddled with graft, that is riddled with technology that does not work, and strategies and vast strategic doctrines that have been generated to justify preferred technologies rather than because they will actually be of any use. The centrality of the aircraft carrier to current American – the air-sea battle. I think they have changed the name again. Current American strategic doctrine still relies on aircraft carriers. It is not because carriers are useful, but it is because we have this huge investment in them. It is because it is very prestigious to be a carrier commander. All the people who have a personal financial or emotional investment in the carriers are coming up with all these scenarios where carriers are the salvation. It is just as their equivalents in Britain in the 1920s came up with all these scenarios where battleships were going to save Britain.

Chris Martenson:    It is fascinating with this level of delusion that exists out there. It has happened at every major turning point and for different sets of reasons. This one is really interesting to me. There are times I bemoan our current state. There are other times I go, you know, this is honestly one of the most fascinating times to be alive ever.

John:  Yeah.

Chris Martenson:    It is for all sorts of reasons, but not least of which is this is when I think—a guy that I trained under to learn how to do trading helped me spot what a bubble really is. He said bubbles always have a final blow off parabolic spike. That is the last act. You get to recognize when you are getting towards the end of something. I think we are having that last gasp parabolic blow off spike in denial. It is just reaching of fever pitch.

John:  Peak denial! Oh I hope.

Chris Martenson:    The gap between the stories we are telling ourselves and what reality is trying to inform us on is really profound. I do not know how people live with the cognitive dissonance, so they do not. They check out in a variety of ways. They drink too much.

John:  Exactly.

Chris Martenson:    They watch too much Kardashians, this or that. They spend too much time worrying about sports scores, trivia, or whatever the preferred thing is.

John:  Exactly. Have you noticed? I do not know if this is true where you live. Everywhere I have been of late just over the last few years, the restaurants and the bars have gone from having one or two screens to having five or six televisions. There is literally not a wall that does not have a television talking at you.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah.

John:  That, I think, is the best measurement. Oh my God, help me stop thinking. Help me not notice. Help me drown out reality with a chorus of media babble so that I do not have to notice just how much cognitive dissonance I am facing.

Chris Martenson:    Sometimes they are tuned to different stations.

John:  Yeah, they are all tuned to different stations. They are all chattering constantly. It is that or look around. It is that or that long silent moment before everyone starts talking loudly.

Chris Martenson:    You know it was interesting when I was down in Peru. It took me two trips to two restaurants to figure out there were no screens anywhere.

John:  There were no screens, yeah.

Chris Martenson:    For them, that would be a cultural faux pas of the grandest order to somehow interrupt your moment to be with people and have a real conversation and meal.

John:  In the United States not that long ago, that was also the case. I see this as evidence of just how stressed we are.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah. If I can give any young parent any piece of advice, it is this: Do not have a TV in your house. They are extremely sophisticated devices for shaping thought and desires. They operate—they use the latest in neural linguistic programming, the latest in understanding of psychological things, colors, tones, textures, the way things are put in, subliminal, you name it. It is really sophisticated what they do to distract and shape opinion.

John:  I am going to say that more generally. I think that the most useful thing that all of our listeners can do, whether they are young parents or not, is get rid of your TV. Just ditch it. You do not need to spend four to six hours a night with drool puddling in your lap being programmed. People constantly ask me. How do you find time to write so many books, play music, take long walks, do this, do that, and do the other? My answer is very simple. I do not own a television. I have not owned one in my adult life. I actually have time to do things.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah.

John:  It really is that simple. Ditch your TV. You will have all the time in the world.

Chris Martenson:    It is amazing. It was the best thing I ever did. We have not had one in over a decade.

John:  I am delighted to hear that.

Chris Martenson:    It has been great. We have great kids to show for it too.

John:  There you go, yeah.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah. I watch this level of sophistication in how memes, ideas, and other things get planted and put out there. Then people regurgitate them to me. They say no, it was technology that unlocked the shale. No, it was price and price is about to lock it back up again. You will see.

John:  Yeah, it was price on the one hand and speculative delusion on the other. It is very straightforward.

Chris Martenson:    It is straightforward.

John:  The fact is that so many of the big fracking firms have never made a quarterly profit at all ever in the course of the bubble.

Chris Martenson:    Maybe if they just drilled faster –

John:  No doubt [laughter].

Chris Martenson:    They are going to make it down on volume. The faster we drill, the more we lose. Obviously we need to drill more. I do not know how else to put that.

John:  Exactly.

Chris Martenson:    This has been a fascinating conversation. Really, I could trawl through the data but the data is irrelevant at this point for the most part. It is really down to psychological issues. It is around denial. It is around our inability to face facts. It is around wanting to cling to a narrative that is not working, but it is so much easier than having to come up with one on our own. By the way, there has been a bunch of programming in this country to convince people that it is not appropriate to talk about things unless they have been pre-approved by the State, as it were.

John:  Of course.

Chris Martenson:    It is still not appropriate to this day to mention anything really about what might have happened to Kennedy, seeing as how he was shot from the front right there on film. That is still somehow considered a little edgy for people. I am like, dude it was 50 years ago and it was on film. What do you want me to do? He was shot from the front. I cannot help it. I am a scientist. Force equals mass times acceleration. Still it is not okay to talk about that.

John:  The thing is it is very much as though—this first struck me with the changes in the media since the Berlin Wall went down. I came to the conclusion at that point or some point thereafter, all those guys who used to come up with propaganda for Pravda and various communist organs all went to work for the US media. If you watch whether it is Faux news or one of the pseudo news on the other side of the spectrum, it is so propagandistic. There are so many ways in which our American society increasingly resembles a non-democratic state and an autocratic society in which you have to be careful what you say. We do not talk about that. It is one of those things.

Chris Martenson:    Yeah, we can talk forever on that. I mean there are so many topics that need to be opened up and discussed. We are going to have to save that for another time because I have taken up plenty of your time. I do not want this to run too long for our listeners. I really want to continue this conversation because we still have to talk about the black box voting situation. We still have to talk—there is so much out there.

John:  There is a lot to talk about. It is a target rich environment.

Chris Martenson:    It certainly is. And I think it is about to become very interesting. That is my personal prediction. It is that 2015-16 or somewhere in there, we take another one of those fractal jumps down to the next level.

John:  I expect it. I would be really surprised to get through the end of this year without massive economic crisis. It could happen, but I would be very surprised.

Chris Martenson:    I am somewhere in the zone here. They have surprised me with their printing efforts so far and what they have been able to accomplish. I agree. We are just one small spark away from a conflagration on this tinder pile.

John:  Yeah.

Chris Martenson:    With that, your website is thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com.

John:  That is correct.

Chris Martenson:    Your book is Twilight’s Last Gleaming.

John:  It is Twilight’s Last Gleaming.

Chris Martenson:    How do people get that?

John:  You can get it—it is available everywhere. You can get it from your local full service bookstore or from your preferred online source. It is readily available. The other book I mentioned was the non-fiction one, After Progress: Reason and Religion at the End of the Industrial Age. We can talk about that at some point.

Chris Martenson:    That is fascinating. Reason and Religion at the End of the Industrial Age. As long as people do not get that thousand yard stare –

John:  Oh, they will. They will.

[Laughter]

Chris Martenson:    We will have you back on and we will talk about that one. Twilight’s Last Gleaming I think is a great place to start. Listen, the chance of some sort of hot contest is not small. It is a high chance. I think people should be aware of how that might unfold. It sounds like your book would be a good way to explore that. Thanks for that.

John:  You are welcome.

Chris Martenson:    All right, thank you so much for your time. We will do this again soon I hope.

John:  Thank you very much for having me on.

About the guest

John Michael Greer

John Michael Greer is the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America and the author of more than twenty books on a wide range of subjects, including The Long Descent: A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial Age, The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World, and The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered. He lives in Cumberland, MD, an old red brick mill town in the north central Appalachians, with his wife Sara.

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68 Comments

gillbilly's picture
gillbilly
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 22 2012
Posts: 423
A Wild Ride

Well that was a wild ride! I tried to keep my hands up throughout all the twists and turns and upside-downs.

One of my favorite quotes from JK Galbraith's "The Great Crash of 1929"...

The time had come, as in all periods of speculation, when men sought not to be persuaded of the reality of things but to find excuses for escaping into the new world of fantasy.

We do seem to be living on Fantasy island, but "da plane" has been shot down by anti-aircraft fire, Tattoo has taken to drinking, and Mr. Rork has his head buried under his Monte Carlo and he's yelling "look what they've done to my car."

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
Ragnarok.

Did you notice how the conversation dwelt lovingly on war? I am sure Jung would have something to say about that. Ragnarok resonates. 

It sates itself on the life-blood of fated men,

paints red the powers' homes with crimson gore.

Black become the sun's beams in the summers that follow,

weathers all treacherous.

Do you still seek to know? And what?

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragnar%C3%B6k

I have my copies of the "Last Whole Earth Catalog" as evidence of my status as a fully paid up member of the Boomers. (By the noted Stewart Brand)

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_Earth_Catalog

I also have my Limits to Growth. Once the curves are digested, is there any wonder why we just do not go there.? 

The immediate problem is energy. 

http://coldfusionnow.org/

There is no way that I am going to join this Pity Party.

Tim Ladson's picture
Tim Ladson
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 22 2012
Posts: 67
So many great insights.

So many important subjects covered with just an incredible amount of insight and perspective. Thankyou John and Chris.

The thought that resonated with me in this interview is how utterly responsible we baby boomers are for driving the world to the brink of the disaster that we now see on the horizon, it is something I have lamented for a while. I fear history will not judge my generation kindly. 

    

Nate's picture
Nate
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: May 6 2009
Posts: 554
Masters of War
Arthur Robey wrote:

Did you notice how the conversation dwelt lovingly on war? I am sure Jung would have something to say about that.

Arthur,

Bob also has something to say about that.  A Dylan classic.  Nothing has changed.

 

 
thatchmo's picture
thatchmo
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 14 2008
Posts: 407
Firm grasp of the obvious...

I don't know, I just came away from this podcast feeling.....disappointed.  With all of his "varied and complex interests", JMG's comments were, to me, little more than color commentary to Chris' usual "state of the world" framework of discussion, which all of us here are familiar with.  I relish hearing folks that help me think out of the box, and I expected such from Mr. Greer.  Boomers to blame- tell me something new (if you want to play the blame game....).  20-somethings either "get it" or are oblivious.  Duh.  Still, I'd let John buy me a wee dram in a quiet bar without TV for a nice chat....Aloha, Steve.

AndyB's picture
AndyB
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 12 2008
Posts: 26
Why do we need to listen to a

Why do we need to listen to a druid to understand our situation? Maybe Chris is running out of sensible guests to invite?

Petey1's picture
Petey1
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 13 2012
Posts: 50
A moment to relax

I found this podcast fun and relaxing. It was good to hear two people talk about very serious problems yet stay calm and have a few laughs. I find it very easy to become overloaded with the doom and gloom data. We all know the challenges ahead and this was a breath of fresh air! 

Yoxa's picture
Yoxa
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 21 2011
Posts: 244
Sensible guests
Quote:

 Why do we need to listen to a druid to understand our situation? Maybe Chris is running out of sensible guests to invite?

Among other things, this particular Druid is one of the deepest historical thinkers to come along in quite a while. There is much to be learned from him.


Quote:

 With all of his "varied and complex interests", JMG's comments were, to me, little more than color commentary to Chris' usual "state of the world" framework

I shared that feeling. It was two guys shooting the breeze who already agreed about everything. I'd have liked to come away with something new to think about.

That said, it was fun to hear John speak after reading his blog for quite a while (which I highly, highly recommend).

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Who is Going to Clean it Up?

I drove through the heart of the Permian Basin Shale Play a few days ago.  I wanted to document it in pictures.  After pulling over 6 or 7 times, my co-pilot threatened to slide into the drivers seat and leave me on the side of the road, so I only have a few pictures.  In her defense, we were traveling over 1,800 miles.

Anyway, the pictures wouldn't tell the story.  There are so many work trucks and semis in the area that traffic jams match, at times, very large urban area jams.  There are temporary RV parks everywhere to house workers.  You have to queue up at gas pumps and wait.  Lines at counters in fast food restaurants are deep.  Rooms in 2 star hotels start at over $200 per night.  The sides of the roads are endless businesses selling anything the industry might need.  This is what it looks like for 150 miles or more on either side of Midland/Odessa.  I have no idea how large it is North and South.

Look in the background on this one.  There is a grid of power lines everywhere supporting the new wells.

On our way West in January there were active drilling rigs dotting the skyline.  On our way back, there were dozens if not hundreds of drilling rigs sitting in Midland/Odessa waiting to be leased.  They parked the rigs with the structures vertical, giving the scene of an industrial/carnival air.

Granted, West Texas was only beautiful to people who can appreciate the Great Plains Dessert, but what we have now is an industrial wasteland hundreds of miles wide.

BTW, the Subject question is rhetorical.  I know who will (actually won't) clean it up.

 

 

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Why a Druid?

I certainly rather listen to a Druid talk about this than any flavour of priest,imam,rabbi or guru!

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Hi AndyB, Why does John being a druid reduce his credibility in your eyes?  Is it possible for you to see past that and judge him instead for his words and his insights?  If so I suspect that you will find his views are very much inline with the theme of this site and that he brings valuable insights to the conversation. 

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Thetallestmanonearth
Thetallestmanonearth wrote:

Hi AndyB, Why does John being a druid reduce his credibility in your eyes?

He was introduced as an occultist. For me this is not a reference. Occultists tend to have ties with evil, even if they are not aware of it. I don't think we need an occultists to analyze the situation properly.

On top of that - it looked like if Chris was in the lead in this interview, he was raising interesting points, why Mr. Greer agreed and underlined how dumb people are who don't share their views. While I can resonate with their frustration it is of very little value.

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I really enjoyed this

I really enjoyed this conversation.  It occurred to me when television came up that in America we pay them for the tools they use to placate us.  Big brother is beating us up with our own arms, "stop hitting yourself, why are you hitting yourself".  TV's, prescriptions, illicit drugs, long commutes and especially debt bondage.  All things that limit our potential to live authentic happy free lives. 

As to the conversation about the boomers selling out, I can empathize with that directly.  My biggest emotional struggle is that I work for a company that imports and sells chemicals.  In my personal life I have a small permaculture homestead, and follow much of the advise on this site and others like it to reduce my impact on the planet and prepare for a disorganized downward spiral of western society.  In my professional life my edict is to sell millions of pounds of chemicals to anyone who will buy them.  Obviously this doesn't align with my moral compass.  But, I sold out before I knew what I was doing or understood what was happening in the world.  I went to school and saddled myself with nearly six figures of non-dischargable student debt.  Since then I have been running on a treadmill to keep from falling off.  I want to make a change, but selling organic produce just won't pay my bills and I can't allow my family to suffer because of my moral conflict.  They understand my position and we're working on alternatives that can hopefully pay the bills while doing something more inline with my values, but for the time being I feel stuck.  I don't want to compromise my ethics, but I'm not prepared to deal with the consequences of dropping out.  So yes, the boomers had an epic opportunity to do something good for this world decades ago and they didn't, but I don't believe that they had a real choice.  We're all controlled by a system that starts with bad education, continues through media saturation and societal pressure to "make something" of ourselves.  As soon as we play with their cards we're stuck and there is no going back.  Someday the house will crumble and daylight will shine through again.  If we're not crushed in the collapse there will be an opportunity for those paying attention to rebuild something better, but until then you'd better ante up because the mortgage will come due every month.

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re: AndyB, I disagree

I guess I disagree with your contention that "Occultists tend to have ties with evil, even if they are not aware of it."  Or rather, I think that the inclusion of occultists in the camp of evil unfairly implies the exclusion of other groups.  For example Christians (of which I am one), have been responsible for countless wars, discrimination, subjugation of other groups and all other manner of evil that humans are capable of.  The American military acting on orders of the American government routinely commits acts that I consider evil.  Jews, Muslims, Hindi, Atheists, Humanists, Pagans and any other group you care to name are all capable of evil.  So are Druids evil?  Probably some more than others and probably all of them at some point in their lives.  But as the term is subjective and we can all apply our own definition to what and who evil is I will allow you your view point.  I just hope you can also allow mine.  To me, evil is just one extreme on the continuum of human potential opposite good.  I judge it by the actions of the human in question.  Some people tend more towards one side of the continuum than others, but all are capable of the entire spectrum of human behavior.  Although I don't know JMG personally, from his actions available to me for analysis I put him more in the camp of "good".  He is working to raise awareness of the impending crisis of our times that has gone largely ignored by the people in it's path.  He does so at the expense of profit which he could surely make if he dedicated his extraordinary brain power to a more culturally acceptable path.  He is causing no harm and making sacrifices to improve the quality of the conversation surrounding the three E's.  I see very little evil in the man from the data available to me.

I will say however that I wish sometimes he would ghost write under another name.  What he writes is often of great importance and should be shared with a larger audience.  It's hard enough to get my friends and family to read an article about the collapse of our civilization, let alone one written by an Arch Druid.  But that doesn't reduce the value of what he writes even if it does reduce his audience.  And perhaps that is his intention.  To have a discussion without subjecting his ideas to the slings and arrows of the mainstream of our culture.  To educate others and help many find their voices instead of being the apex and thus the target of a cultural movement to adapt to a changing world.

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Dear Andy, AndyB wrote: Why

Dear Andy,

AndyB wrote:

Why do we need to listen to a druid to understand our situation? Maybe Chris is running out of sensible guests to invite?

Perhaps you are confused. Either that or you are a simple bigot. You must be one or the other since you equate one's sensibility to one's religion. I can now no longer listen to any opinion you might share due to your bigotry. Or lack of clear thought. Either one, doesn't matter. By the way, JMGs druidism does not detract from his acute knowledge of history and how it may logically play in the future vs the currently popular extreme beliefs of how the future will play out. Will it be off a cliff or will it be saved by progress? Perhaps something else. Read a little JMG and you might find come clarity.

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Chris, Great Discussion.

Chris,

Great Discussion. Thanks for that. Please invite Mr. Greer back for the additional two conversations that you both wanted to have at the end of the podcast. I would like to hear them.

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Why a Druid?

Or listen to yet another banker or financial wizard.

 

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Calling Out Stewart Brand

It was great to hear JMG call out that energy turncoat Stewart Brand too.  

Long overdue.

 

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Bigotry is self limiting

I second the comments of Tycer,   Andy B's dismissal  of John Michael Greer as a Druid and Occultist, is ignorant bigotry.     

I have read all of Greer's writing on the fate and foibles of Industrial society and peak oil, and I found his depth and breadth of knowledge truly profound.  

His grasp of history  coupled with an understanding of  the possibilities and limitations of science have been instrumental in helping me understand and  frame our predicament in ways that I had not considered.

 I liked his writing so much on these subjects,  that I have explored some of his other writings, on subjects that are outside my normal interests.   Magic, Druidry etc.

Again do to his erudition and scholarly analysis I came away with a respect for things in that domain that I would have dismissed out of hand previously.

Most of this what falls outside the mainstream paradigms is misunderstood due to peoples rigid thinking and misconceptions. 

For example the definition of magic: What most people mistakenly understand as magic ie.  some stunt that claims to defy the laws of nature is incorrect.  The actual definition is more akin to changing perception/emotional state through use of ritual and other techniques.     By this more accurate definition the high priest of black magic would probably be Edward Bernays, and the advertising industry he birthed.

I would also add that throughout all his writings, he shows a deep respect for all religions and spiritual undertakings. 

Granted  this particular conversation was more entertaining than groundbreaking, but that was a function of the subjects chosen, and the free exchange. Not a reflection of the depth or capabilities of the guest.

Dismissing this guest because of a label that makes you uncomfortable has all the moral and intellectual courage of a Harry Potter Book Burning.

 

mememonkey

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Thumbs up for that!
mememonkey wrote:

(...)

Dismissing this guest because of a label that makes you uncomfortable has all the moral and intellectual courage of a Harry Potter Book Burning.

Yes, and this is why we do not "do religion" around here because an unfortunate number of people use religion as a means of dismissing, if not demonizing, others for the beliefs they hold rather than the content of their offerings to the world.

Beliefs and rational, calm discussions are a bad mix.  Usually.

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do or do not do

Chris

Don't you mean do not "do religion"...?

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Mr. Greer

It was a really long time between Mr. Greer's interviews, please don't wait so long for the next one!  Thoroughly enjoyed this one and listened to it twice.  Loved the definition of cell phones as being complicated toys and "thought stoppers".

This kind of podcast helps my husband and I to feel like we really are not crazy.  We see and live in a world in decline but few share our perspective.  So when we listen to these podcasts we breath a sigh of relief as people who are more in-tune than we are describing what they see and they too see a world in decline.  So we are not just crazy old curmudgeons.  Thank you for sharing your insights, they help us to not feel that we are the pariah's in society.

AK GrannyWGrit

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Emergent behaviors

What I enjoyed most of what Chris and John Michael doing in this talk was allowing themselves to peer inside of their gating mechanisms for analysis as they approached their emotional responses to some very challenging data sets. I didn't hear the usual, fear, contempt, anger, disregard, ect....

I heard the opposite.

Just as musicians pay attention to sound to modulate, so can we with feelings. This is not your average western trait. 

There is a non-linear quality that comes into being at the moment of synchronicity. This is a place where your feelings are more important than your rational mind. Practice, practice, practice. Emergent behaviors are on the loose. Only at the edge of chaos can complex systems flourish.

Rose

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Distractions

I concur with what both JMG and Chris said about the barrage (and pursuit) of 'distractions' in modern-day America.  What I find especially insidious and frustrating is that many of these distractions are pushed on us in daily life even when we don't seek them out and try to ignore them.  The mention of TV's in every corner of many US restaurants is a perfect example... it takes extra effort to ignore and not glance at them because there's always bright colors and graphics flashing around as if to say "look at me! look at me!".  And it's even more irritating when it is an actual person that is trying to bring me into their distractions.... at least the restaurant TV's won't follow me out the door.  wink

I like my distractions with an on-off switch in my control; unfortunately once outside of the house and off to work/school/errands it's really hard to insulate oneself from them.  I think that is why I liked my time in Mongolia... even in the capital city it wasn't nearly the barrage of random trivial distractions as it is in most 'civilized' places in the US.  Much of the time in the US I find am in a perpetual slightly stressed state because nothing will give me more than five consecutive frickin' minutes for me to be alone with my thoughts! 

 

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Huh?

Chris - can you or John source your information that leads you to conclude that a single incident with a SONG class submarine - albeit an operational blunder and embarrassment - is indicative of how a sustained undersea conflict with China would unfold?  For the record, she surfaced 9 miles from the battlegroup and given her height of eye, probably couldn't see the KITTY HAWK, much less wave to them.

I'll save you some time....your conclusion is erroneous.  As is John's implication that the Chinese are rolling out "first rate very silent subs" - they are neither first rate or very silent.  They aren't bad platforms, but you've both blurred the very real distinction between a blue water submarine warfare capability - which requires a large number of hulls to pose a threat to carrier battle groups (numbers they don't have) - and submarines designed for littoral operations.  They are not the same.

Not sure where you got your information about the FENCER and DONALD COOK interaction, but that too is in error.  The FENCER did not "shut off the AEGIS algorithm".  And given that flying an attack profile (probably) meets the rules of engagement, you can be certain that the FENCER did not conduct simulated attack runs.  I say probably, because I don't know for certain the exact ROE guidelines COOK was operating under.  The reason why there wasn't any apparent reaction, is because there wasn't anything to react to.

I've had the YAKHONTS/SUNBURN discussion with DamntheMatrix numerous times in the past.  I'll offer this....the maximum employment range of a SUNBURN is around 150 nautical miles.  The maximum strike range of an F-18 SUPERHORNET is over 800 nautical miles (with substantial loiter time).  Where would you position your CVBG to conduct such operations? 

Are there vulnerabilities?  You bet.  But there are operational profiles that can mitigate the threats that may present.  Your assertion that the age of blue water ship operations is over because of a single, almost 9 year old submarine incident is incorrect.

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Yep. Fixed
Doug wrote:

Chris Don't you mean do not "do religion"...?

Fixed.  thanks.

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My information...
Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

Chris - can you or John source your information that leads you to conclude that a single incident with a SONG class submarine - albeit an operational blunder and embarrassment - is indicative of how a sustained undersea conflict with China would unfold?  For the record, she surfaced 9 miles from the battlegroup and given her height of eye, probably couldn't see the KITTY HAWK, much less wave to them.

Oh, I don't know, perhaps it was all the news reports like this one:

American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast U.S.S. Kitty Hawk - a 1,000ft supercarrier with 4,500 personnel on board.

By the time it surfaced the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine is understood to have sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier. According to senior Nato officials the incident caused consternation in the U.S. Navy.

The Americans had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication, or that it posed such a threat. One Nato figure said the effect was "as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik" - a reference to the Soviet Union's first orbiting satellite in 1957 which marked the start of the space age. 

(Source)

Yeah, I consider that to be close enough for government work...within firing range.  Since diesel subs are also pretty effective and quiet, and I assume that the Russians have even better stuff than the Chinese (who have 59 diesel and 9 nuclear subs currently and growing), I have to guess that my strategy for fighting carrier groups would include parking some of them on the ocean floor in strategic spots and then waiting.

But maybe you could even just sail right into the middle of a carrier group that's on high war-games alert and line up your kill shots and everything:

US supercarrier ‘sunk’ by French submarine in wargames

Mar 6, 2015

WITH a good submarine, a navy can do amazing things. Ask the French. They’ve just managed to “sink” a nuclear-powered US super carrier — and half its battle group.

The French Ministry of Defence has revealed one of its attack submarines pulled of an astounding upset during recent war-games in the North Atlantic.

The Aviationist blog spotted an article on the French defence force’s website — quickly withdrawn — which told how one of their submarines, the “Saphir” tackled the might of the United States’ navy off the coast of Florida.

At the core of the surface force was the enormous aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its powerful strike wing of 90 combat aircraft and helicopters.

Clustered protectively about it was several advanced cruisers and destroyers, and its own guardian submarine.

In one element of the war games, the Saphir was tasked with the role of being the “bad guy”.

It’s mission: To seek, locate and exterminate the US naval force.

The exact details of how it achieved this embarrassing outcome is not known

Somehow, the French submarine must have been able to slip between the defensive sensor patchwork of patrol aircraft, helicopters, warships and submarines to line up a shot on the $13 billion monstrosity.

There she lurked as a fictitious political crisis evolved in the world above.

On the final day of the exercise, the order finally came.

Sink the Theodore Roosevelt.

This 30-year-old Saphir proceeded to do. Along with most of the escorting warships.

Just a war game and all, but it seems to me that carrier groups are an anachronism, and stand a very good chance of being proved to be relics of an another age, like horse calvary in WWI.  That's my view, and it's one that Hyman Rickover held a long time ago, even before the advent of the current amazing missile and torpedo technology:

About thirty years ago, my first boss, Senator Robert Taft Jr. of Ohio, asked Admiral Hyman Rickover how long he thought the U.S. aircraft carriers would last in the war with the Soviet navy, which was largely a submarine navy. Rickover’s answer, on the record in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was, "About two days." The Committee, needless to say, went on to approve buying more carriers.

(Source

How would I use the Yakhont with it's tiny 150 nm range?  Like this:

Those 150 nm diameter circles pretty much cover the two important gulfs in one of the most important bodies of water in the world...where the carrier CVN-71 Theodore Roosevelt is currently located, having just replaced the Carl Vinson.

Or I might just mount a few on very small, hard to track boats, or try flying close to the deck because the super hornets cannot be everywhere at once.  Who knows?

What I do know is that the US Navy has not gone up against a serious foe with advanced weaponry for a long time.  I suspect there would be quite a few "findings" if or when we do.

As to the Donald Cook incident, we know that out of a pair of SU-24s one took 12 passes at the ship, one within a 1,000 meters and only 500 meters up.  The story about the jamming equipment comes to us from a less-than reliable source, but potentially interesting, from Major General Pavel Zolotarev, Deputy Director, Institute of USA and Canada, a Moscow think tank. 

One thing I know for sure about these things is that nobody reports the truth.  Not the US, not Russia, nobody.  I take every report about such incidents with huge grains of salt because both sides have very large interests in stretching, bending and hiding the truth.

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Black Swan

Maybe both the Russo-Chinese subs and US ships will dissolve in the acidic waters and nobody will win.  (Yeah-yeah, I know, the water's not that acidic).

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More clarification.....

Thanks for the reply Chris, here's some more info.  Hope it helps.

Quote:

Oh, I don't know, perhaps it was all the news reports like this one:

American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast U.S.S. Kitty Hawk - a 1,000ft supercarrier with 4,500 personnel on board.

By the time it surfaced the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine is understood to have sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier. According to senior Nato officials the incident caused consternation in the U.S. Navy.

The Americans had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication, or that it posed such a threat. One Nato figure said the effect was "as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik" - a reference to the Soviet Union's first orbiting satellite in 1957 which marked the start of the space age. 

(Source)

Yeah, I consider that to be close enough for government work...within firing range.  Since diesel subs are also pretty effective and quiet, and I assume that the Russians have even better stuff than the Chinese (who have 59 diesel and 9 nuclear subs currently and growing), I have to guess that my strategy for fighting carrier groups would include parking some of them on the ocean floor in strategic spots and then waiting.

Great.  You cited Daily Mail.  A top tier tactical assessment rag, with unnamed contributing NATO officials who don't have a Pac centric presence or experience........

I wouldn't call it "dumbstruck" (they were SERIOUSLY PISSED) or "consternation".  It was more like a wire brush, ass chewing.  Lessons were learned.  You can count the number of similar events since 2006 on one hand.  With no fingers.

68 hulls means little.  Quantity does not mean quality and it certainly does not mean capability.  You may consider something to be "close enough for government work" regarding effective weapons employment range vs. maximum theoretical employment range - but that's rather dismissive as you have ZERO understanding of submarine anti-surface warfare geometries.  Which, admittedly is a dismissive statement as well, but I'll put my 34 years of experience up against your 0.  That is not intended to be snarky, it is what it is.

I'm not sure how many deployments you've made to the East China or South China Sea, but you can't "park some of them on the ocean floor in strategic spots and wait."  I take that back.  You can park them on the bottom.  Once.  The depth in "strategic" spots like the Luzon Strait, Miyako Strait or Bashi Channel far exceeds test depth of submarine pressure hulls.  So while you are fervently descending to the bottom to wait, your hull will implode.  And then a big pile of useless steel will settle on the bottom.  And wait.  For a long time.  Good luck getting a platform east of Taiwan where the CVBGs will be.

Quote:

But maybe you could even just sail right into the middle of a carrier group that's on high war-games alert and line up your kill shots and everything:

US supercarrier ‘sunk’ by French submarine in wargames

Mar 6, 2015

WITH a good submarine, a navy can do amazing things. Ask the French. They’ve just managed to “sink” a nuclear-powered US super carrier — and half its battle group.

The French Ministry of Defence has revealed one of its attack submarines pulled of an astounding upset during recent war-games in the North Atlantic.

The Aviationist blog spotted an article on the French defence force’s website — quickly withdrawn — which told how one of their submarines, the “Saphir” tackled the might of the United States’ navy off the coast of Florida.

At the core of the surface force was the enormous aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its powerful strike wing of 90 combat aircraft and helicopters.

Clustered protectively about it was several advanced cruisers and destroyers, and its own guardian submarine.

In one element of the war games, the Saphir was tasked with the role of being the “bad guy”.

It’s mission: To seek, locate and exterminate the US naval force.

The exact details of how it achieved this embarrassing outcome is not known

Somehow, the French submarine must have been able to slip between the defensive sensor patchwork of patrol aircraft, helicopters, warships and submarines to line up a shot on the $13 billion monstrosity.

There she lurked as a fictitious political crisis evolved in the world above.

On the final day of the exercise, the order finally came.

Sink the Theodore Roosevelt.

This 30-year-old Saphir proceeded to do. Along with most of the escorting warships.

Just a war game and all, but it seems to me that carrier groups are an anachronism, and stand a very good chance of being proved to be relics of an another age, like horse calvary in WWI.  That's my view, and it's one that Hyman Rickover held a long time ago, even before the advent of the current amazing missile and torpedo technology:

About thirty years ago, my first boss, Senator Robert Taft Jr. of Ohio, asked Admiral Hyman Rickover how long he thought the U.S. aircraft carriers would last in the war with the Soviet navy, which was largely a submarine navy. Rickover’s answer, on the record in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was, "About two days." The Committee, needless to say, went on to approve buying more carriers.

(Source

Not sure if you saw my post over in the "Is it time to prepare for war" thread addressing the artificiality of a very constrained and contrived exercise scenario.  SAPHIR is a pretty decent platform - despite being 39 years old, but the level of opposing ASW (anti-submarine warfare) prosecution was nothing like what would be occurring in a hot scenario.  Not to mention that the CVBG wouldn't be constrained in speed.  For CVBGs, speed is life.  And while it is possible for a submarine to reposition at high speed to attain a favorable firing geometry, they are 1. Blind at high speed and 2. Very detectable at high speed.

Glad you mentioned Rickover's testimony.  Rickover (God love him) was notorious for saying a lot of things.  Some were more accurate than others.  'Two days', while it resonates with the pro submarine lobby in DoD, is a bit off.  My accession interview into the Navy Nuclear program was about as unpleasant an experience as I've ever had.  I'd rather pull my kneecap off with a salad fork.

Will the carrier battle group be obsolete someday?  I hope so.  (No one hates the business of war more than a soldier or sailor who has actually been in one.  Or two.  It pained me to write "business", but as you know, I'll call a spade a spade)

That day is not as close as you have lead readers to believe.

Quote:

How would I use the Yakhont with it's tiny 150 nm range?  Like this:

Those 150 nm diameter circles pretty much cover the two important gulfs in one of the most important bodies of water in the world...where the carrier CVN-71 Theodore Roosevelt is currently located, having just replaced the Carl Vinson.

Or I might just mount a few on very small, hard to track boats, or try flying close to the deck because the super hornets cannot be everywhere at once.  Who knows?

We can ignore the violation of territorial air and water space, but your point is made.  Minor issue, but back the centerpoints up to land.  Iranian YAKHONTS are land launched, although the probably have some air to surface, and shipborne surface to surface variants.  That said, what makes you think a CVBG would be inside the Strait of Hormuz as hostilities ramped up?  Sure a bolt from the blue is possible, but there are some very observable events that precede use, and would afford the CVBG to either leave the area entirely or change operation footing.  Not to mention that YAKHONTS launch sites are observable and therefore pretargetable.  Likely the first thing to go when things go south.  Also, don't forget that these are not discriminatory missiles.  A ship is a ship, so any tanker or merchant in the Strait will present as a valid target.  If they happen to be between the CVBG and the launch site.......There are any number of air bases on the Arabian Peninsula that would preclude the need for a CVBG in the Gulf in an active hostile scenario. 

Quote:

What I do know is that the US Navy has not gone up against a serious foe with advanced weaponry for a long time.  I suspect there would be quite a few "findings" if or when we do.

This is indeed true.  I'll point out that export variants of YAKHONTS and SUNBURN are 15-20 year old airframes with guidance sets that are just as old.  Absent a robust flight reliability test program, these things don't get better with age.  The simple truth is that Iranian military technology lags the west by at least 10 years.  Their submarine fleet (such as it is) is even farther behind in both platform and weapons technology, but more importantly from a tactics development and operations perspective.

You always learn something following an engagement.  The third law of conflict is that the elaborate battle plan is only good until the first shot is fired.

Quote:

As to the Donald Cook incident, we know that out of a pair of SU-24s one took 12 passes at the ship, one within a 1,000 meters and only 500 meters up.  The story about the jamming equipment comes to us from a less-than reliable source, but potentially interesting, from Major General Pavel Zolotarev, Deputy Director, Institute of USA and Canada, a Moscow think tank. 

Skip the grain of salt here.  You don't need that much sodium.  General Zolotarev is woefully uninformed.  But I agree, it did make for interesting reading.  Of fiction. 

A 3000 foot fly-by at 1500 feet altitude would be classified as "routine and professional".  They happen all the time.  We do them too.  Sometime the pilots on both sides wave to each other.  The Chinese are usually very professional with their shadowing flights.  The EP-3 collision with a very unprofessional (and very dead) Chinese J-8 FINBACK pilot notwithstanding.  Go figure, the interceptee takes out the interceptor.... (I wonder if they painted a J-8 silhouette on the side of the EP-3 fuselage after the Chinese gave it back to us?) 

Quote:

One thing I know for sure about these things is that nobody reports the truth.  Not the US, not Russia, nobody.  I take every report about such incidents with huge grains of salt because both sides have very large interests in stretching, bending and hiding the truth.

I think there's a distinction between divulging the 'truth' and the 'full story'.  The full story would likely give away classified information from the standpoint of capability and performance as well as the capability of collection platform(s) to gather the info to tell the story.  To varying degrees, I'm okay with stretching, bending and hiding the truth when it comes to divulging full operational capabilities.

Do, have and will people lie to protect rice bowls?  You bet.  But when we go out to try some new tactic or weapons system and it doesn't work or it's unsafe, there are any number of methods to stab that in the heart.  Not that that works all the time.  Politicians are masters at saying "Yes General/Admiral, I understand that this program really sucks and if we use it our people may die, but I have lots of registered voters in my constituency who can be employed building this shitty program so we're going to do it anyway."

A very interesting discussion.....it's good to be back.

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If he's making sense on the

If he's making sense on the topic at hand, does it matter if he's a druid?

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Good call
mmortal03 wrote:

If he's making sense on the topic at hand, does it matter if he's a druid?

Even when he's not making sense on the topic at hand it doesn't matter if he's a druid.

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A quick rebuttal and continuance
Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

We can ignore the violation of territorial air and water space, but your point is made.  Minor issue, but back the center points up to land.  Iranian YAKHONTS are land launched, although the probably have some air to surface, and ship borne surface to surface variants.  

First minor point, because I love clarity.  I said 150 nm diameter circles.  To put the center points on land requires us to use radiii.  Here's that image:

Not a substantially different picture.

While you say the Yakhonts launch sites are observable I will note that you can launch them from trucks that can be moved easily and concealed with a large-ish tarp, and even mocked up with old trucks and cardboard  to confuse your foes.

I would personally consider them something of a very concerning nightmare to detect and remove (given that one of them could ruin your day...just one).

I would also welcome you citing and providing better and more trustworthy sources than the sources I cited because simply saying mine are bad but yours (un-cited) are better, is not good enough around here.

We go with what we've got and if I am providing something and you are providing nothing, well, that's a DIV/0 error.

I am truly fascinated by this area, and I think that the next war will shatter a lot of preconceived notions including the idea of American military superiority.  There will not be Israeli style 10-1 win/loss ratios...they will probably be closer to 1:1 and that's not something I think out political, military or citizen classes are mentally prepared for.

Unless things go nuclear, then I have no ratio assessments to provide.

Do, have and will people lie to protect rice bowls?  You bet.  But when we go out to try some new tactic or weapons system and it doesn't work or it's unsafe, there are any number of methods to stab that in the heart.  Not that that works all the time.  Politicians are masters at saying "Yes General/Admiral, I understand that this program really sucks and if we use it our people may die, but I have lots of registered voters in my constituency who can be employed building this shitty program so we're going to do it anyway."

My only response to that bit of truth is "F-35"

 

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Seduction

(No one hates the business of war more than a soldier or sailor who has actually been in one. 

Dogs
 
True. Pension after a full life in barracks was my plan.
My naivety makes makes me laugh out loud now.
However, have you experienced the sexual throb of a 7.62, that dealer of death, in your shoulder?
Death gives Meaning to life. Satan's seduction.

Have you exchanged a leading role in a war, for a walk on part in a cage? The Floyd. (A variation)

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here:

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The definitive word.

Mr. Abbott described the F-35 as the most advanced fighter in production anywhere in the world. “The F-35 will provide a major boost to the Australian Defence Force’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance,” he said.

And there you have it. From no less a knowledgeable fellow than our dear leader.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/f35-joint-strike-fighter-purchase-a-great...

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I could tell you, but.............

An interesting choice of post title.....

Quote:

First minor point, because I love clarity.  I said 150 nm diameter circles.  To put the center points on land requires us to use radiii.  Here's that image:

Not a substantially different picture.

While you say the Yakhonts launch sites are observable I will note that you can launch them from trucks that can be moved easily and concealed with a large-ish tarp, and even mocked up with old trucks and cardboard  to confuse your foes.

I would personally consider them something of a very concerning nightmare to detect and remove (given that one of them could ruin your day...just one).

Concerning?  Yes.  Nightmare?  No.  A CVBG has an impressive array of both electronic and kinetic countermeasures.  100% effective?  Certainly not, but neither is a 20+ year old missile system.  You have presented the argument in the past along the lines of "What makes you think that the PHALANX CIWS will operate as advertised" while conveniently not applying the same rule set to YAKHONTS/SUNBURN.

The point is moot if you are operating in the Arabian Sea greater than 200 nautical miles from Iran, your primary concern would be an air launched variant, but those aircraft can be engaged beyond effective range of a YAKHONTS.

Quote:

I would also welcome you citing and providing better and more trustworthy sources than the sources I cited because simply saying mine are bad but yours (un-cited) are better, is not good enough around here.

We go with what we've got and if I am providing something and you are providing nothing, well, that's a DIV/0 error.

You can start here:  http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/new_pubs/jointpub.htm

Pubs 3, 4 and 5. 

The devil is in the details so you can appreciate that specifics are in source material that is classified.  Employment Manuals, OPLANS, Tactical Guidelines, etc.  Even if I cited them you wouldn't be able to read them.  You had to know that was coming.  Call it whatever you want.

As far as you providing something and me providing nothing, I'll flip it around.  I'm providing my operational experience AND expertise gained over 34 years of continuous (and current) learning and use.  From that perspective it is you who are providing nothing. 

Chris you do a fantastic job of collating information from multiple sources in most areas you address on PP.com.  Military systems and operations is not one of those areas. 

At the risk of sounding like a pretentious wanker, regarding military operations - in this case, submarine ops and battle group ops - you don't know what you don't know, but I know what you don't know.  I've done what you don't know.  Perhaps a better way to say that is when you draw a conclusion based on flawed input material, you don't know it's flawed.  Not only do I know it's flawed, but I know why it's flawed.  You source something (like the Daily Mail article) that sounds good to a layman, and passes the smell check, but you have no experience with which to make an accurate assessment of validity on.  You then draw conclusions on flawed, erroneous and/or inaccurate information.  My experience affords me the luxury of reading something and relatively quickly coming to a conclusion about the validity of the content.  You don't have that. 

With the diverse membership here at PP.com, you need to accept that there are topics where there will be members have far more experience and knowledge than you will attain in your lifetime.  You do your readers who don't know otherwise a great disservice by claiming victory with a simple "I cited more sources than you, so I win" approach.

Well played with the Hegelian Dialectic though.....

Quote:

I am truly fascinated by this area, and I think that the next war will shatter a lot of preconceived notions including the idea of American military superiority.  There will not be Israeli style 10-1 win/loss ratios...they will probably be closer to 1:1 and that's not something I think out political, military or citizen classes are mentally prepared for.

Unless things go nuclear, then I have no ratio assessments to provide.

Do, have and will people lie to protect rice bowls?  You bet.  But when we go out to try some new tactic or weapons system and it doesn't work or it's unsafe, there are any number of methods to stab that in the heart.  Not that that works all the time.  Politicians are masters at saying "Yes General/Admiral, I understand that this program really sucks and if we use it our people may die, but I have lots of registered voters in my constituency who can be employed building this shitty program so we're going to do it anyway."

No doubt.  We will certainly learn something if we ever go hot.  We will learn that some systems work as advertised, some work better and some work worse.  We'll learn that certain tactics work better than others, while others don't work at all.  As to your estimate of exchange ratios?  Let's just say it won't be 10:1 and it won't be 1:1.  But you can trust that there is a full COE assessment (consequence of execution) built into just about every scenario.  There isn't a commander out there who does not fully understand COE as it applies to his or her command's function in the larger whole. 

Politicians however, certainly don't think about it, and the citizen class is too absorbed with Kim Kardashian's ass (her 'ass' ass, not her Kanye West ass, I dunno, maybe him too) to be concerned.

Quote:

My only response to that bit of truth is "F-35"

That garnered a real laugh out loud.  As I was writing my previous response, I actually had the F-35, the V-22 OSPREY, DDG-1000 and the SEAWOLF class submarines listed as examples.

 

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Navy Rant

Spent some quality vacation time in the Gulf back in the day. 

The jellyfish were so thick that they kept clogging up the intake filters for the evaps. Machinist's Mates would come up from the Hole with red welts covering their arms from jelly stings keeping the filters clear.  What to do? Best secure the showers (for the enlisted crew, of course) to spare water for more "important" stuff. The XO (Executive Officer, #2) sure looks fresh and dapper this morning.

115F (46C) in the shade up on deck. Dead calm and not a wisp of breeze. AC keeps going in and out because of the stress. Days turn into weeks.

General Quarters.  General Quarters. All hands man your battle stations.  All hands proceed up and forward starboard side, down and aft portside.  This is/is not a drill.  Why must the enemy always simulate their attack at 3 am?

Weeks turn into months. The chicken and beef and fish all taste the same now. 

One day I'm thirsty. "Try the bug juice."  24/7 on a ship, bug juice and coffee. Become a fan of bug juice...kinda like a really tart Tang with some "je ne sais quoi". A few weeks later I'm on brass duty. Damn this brass cleaner sucks. Been rubbing at this for hours. "Hey Chief, how the hell do I clean this brass?" "Just soak it in bug juice."  A ten minute soak and the brass is shiny spotless. Worried, I set off to find out the ingredients in bug juice. 

The scuttlebutt reeks of diesel, some chap forgot to clear the lines after a fuel transfer.  Scuttlebutt has it that our previous Suppo (Supply Officer) burst into flames and was airlifted to Bahrain after smoking too close to a scuttlebutt. The smoking lamp is lit on the fantail for a reason fellas.

Flight Quarters. Flight Quarters. All hands man your flight quarters stations.  Away the standby rescue craft away.  Oh dear, he must be new at this...main rotor came within a few feet of pretty much everything on that pass.

Land Ho!  My first foray into the exotic Middle East.  Walking down a street in UAE...a smile and "Hello!" at a gentleman passing by.  "YANKEE PIG BASTARD!" (no joke). "I'm not a friggin's Yankee, I'm from Texas!"

Violently ill from the "restaurant" the next day. Talking to the Corpsman, "Here's some antibiotics."  "Kinda nifty having antibiotics onboard, huh?"  "Oh, we always keep LOTS of antibiotics on board."  Seems we ran low a few months later after two port visits in Thailand.

Back out in the Gulf. Probably safer here anyway. A month passes. Nav (the Navigation Officer) comes into the berthing (that's where we sleep, in "racks") for inspection.  Porn goes off.  Inspection complete, "Good job, shipmates!".  Nav leaves. Porn gets turned back on. Getting "lonely". Where can I find a place on this tin can for some "private" time?

Back in port, this time "on duty".  0345 (3:45 am) - The curtain to my rack is violently pulled back and a flashlight shoved in my face. WTH! "Stevens! Your going to be late for watch!" "Dude, Steven's rack is below mine." "Oh, sorry about that, shipmate." I drift back off and for some odd reason I dream of the burning Gulf sun.

A personal favorite...it's been a week without showers (down to one evap, AC is in the crapper).  Grudgingly you make your way to the fantail. You lower the bucket by rope into the Gulf and pull up your bath. Have to strain it best you can (ruined several white T-shirts this way, you can't ever get the shirt clean again afterwards). You pour half on and the stinging starts (did I mention strain it?).  Lather up, and rinse. More stinging. Wears off after a while.  Have a pink hue to you for a while longer.

White t-shirts. You always wear a white t-shirt under your uniform. To this day I cannot wear any upper body garment without a white t-shirt underneath. I feel naked without one.

Taps. Taps. All hands turn into your bunks. Maintain silence about the decks. Now taps. (pre-DADT)

Taps. Taps. All hands turn into your OWN bunks. Maintain silence about the decks. Now taps. (DADT).

"Join the Navy and see the world".  What a party.

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carrier issues

Dogs-

First, I had (for some reason) the biggest laugh when I read:

The EP-3 collision with a very unprofessional (and very dead) Chinese J-8 FINBACK pilot notwithstanding.  Go figure, the interceptee takes out the interceptor.... (I wonder if they painted a J-8 silhouette on the side of the EP-3 fuselage after the Chinese gave it back to us?)

Just the thought of seeing a fighter plane painted on the side of that patrol craft was just so absurd.

But I digress.

About those diesel boats: routinely, what percentage of them are in port at any given time, and how long can they remain at sea?  I'd just be guessing, but I suspect the Navy would become suddenly interested if the fraction of the Chinese sub fleet in port suddenly decided to leave port all at once.

Along those lines - if you wanted to string out a bunch of subs along a likely line of approach, assuming they were all diesel boats, how many would you need per 100 miles to effectively provide a high percentage shot at a carrier that happened to wander into your ambush area?  Assume the subs want to remain mostly undetectible during their maneuver.  I'm guessing this is just a physics & trigonometry problem and I'm too lazy to solve it myself - that and I have no clue as to how slow the diesel boat must go to remain undetectible nor do I have a clue as to chinese torpedo ranges.  So tell me "roughly" and I'll be happy.  :-)

My biggest worry are those hypersonic antiship ballistic missiles.  I don't get the sense that our kill rates with our terminal phase ballistic missile defense (forget what system that is) is high enough to give comfort to the commander of the carrier that his ship will survive a reasonably enthusiastic missile attack.  I'm not sure where the Chinese are in terms of accuracy/terminal guidance on a moving target - one hopes the carrier would be maneuvering to avoid the incoming missiles.  I suspect locating the carrier's general area isn't all that tough with satellites.  Range is perhaps 2000 miles, flight time - 6-10 minutes, maybe.  Carrier maybe moves 8 miles during the time of flight.  Chinese supposedly have 60 of them.  Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DF-21

Just the presence of such a missile causes a whole cascade of things to happen.

I'm sure you already know all this, given we seemed to have built an entire class of ship (the LCS) that is now apparently not needed (uh, I mean, "less useful") because of a change in strategy due to the potential threat from this missile.

Tell me this doesn't keep carrier captains awake at night?  The big carriers are massive gas tanks and ammo dumps just waiting to wreak havoc even without a missile hitting them.

Long term, I think the trend towards smarter and smaller/automated attack systems will doom the carrier.  I just don't know if that time has arrived, or it is still 5-10 years away.  It only takes one or two getting through and best case, no more flight operations while the crew fights fires and explosions.

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My weakness is my strength...
Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

(...)

As far as you providing something and me providing nothing, I'll flip it around.  I'm providing my operational experience AND expertise gained over 34 years of continuous (and current) learning and use.  From that perspective it is you who are providing nothing. 

Chris you do a fantastic job of collating information from multiple sources in most areas you address on PP.com.  Military systems and operations is not one of those areas. 

At the risk of sounding like a pretentious wanker, regarding military operations - in this case, submarine ops and battle group ops - you don't know what you don't know, but I know what you don't know.  I've done what you don't know.  Perhaps a better way to say that is when you draw a conclusion based on flawed input material, you don't know it's flawed.  Not only do I know it's flawed, but I know why it's flawed.  

(...)

That quoted part made me chuckle.  A huge part of what I do is simply observe, think and decide.  I have found that the so-called experts on a lot of things may, or may not, be the right people to listen to, especially when paradigms are shifting.  I have managed to have economists, oil men, population researchers, and (now) military folks tell me I am completely out of my range and have no clue (or right) to think and decide anything about their area of expertise. 

I'm on record here saying that gigantic Navy ships are anachronisms.  They are massive steel boxes looking for a reason to sink.  

Offensive anti-ship technologies are far cheaper and advancing far faster than defensive technologies.

So my prediction is that when modern navies, of any origin, go up against a quality foe, there will be a lot of learnings and those learnings will consist of a lot of formerly floating steel resting on the bottom of the ocean.

Whether it's China's new hypersonic missiles, the Yahkont, the DF-21D (with a range of 900 nm) or the Russian KH-22, (320 nm), what I see are hard to detect, difficult to defend against missiles that can be swarm launched and cost 1/10,000 the price of a carrier.  You can have all the operational manuals and procedures you want, but I see these as game changers and a math problem.

Offense is a fractional cost of defense and/or the cost of the platform being defended.

That's how I assess that situation and I'm certain enough of it that I would dissuade any young person for signing up for a career on one of these big boxes looking for a reason to sink.  Why?  Because I have every faith that when the next big economic crisis hits that the political class will seek to blame China or Russia and we'll get to see what happens after 10th, or 30th missile and/or torpedo swarm triangulates in on a carrier group that has run out of replacement Phalanx barrels, is war stressed, and is having trouble reloading SeaRAMs fast enough.

Again, none of these offensive and defensive weapons have yet squared off in combat, so we'll just have to wait and see, but my simple analysis is that offense is way cheaper than defense, and offense can be effective with a success ratio of 1/100 while defense is only successful with 100% effectiveness.

As was the case with the Fukushima situation, I trust my abilities to assess the data and draw conclusions.  Remember that situation?  Based on a tiny section of flyover video I found a 'crack of doom' glowing brightly on Reactor #1  and concluded that the containment vessel had been breached and the reactor was in full meltdown.  I was told then, too, by some that I was jumping to conclusions, irresponsibly at that, and that I was not a reactor engineer and had no right to be analyzing or concluding anything.

Now we all know that my conclusions were spot on and this brings me to the title of this post.  Yes, it is a great shortcoming that I feel qualified to analyze and dissect complex systems and then draw simple conclusions.  

But it is what I do in life.  That 'weakness' is my strength.  It has served me very well over the years, although it does earn me the occasional scolding from various experts.

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I submit this Zach King Vine stream

for your amusement. I fear some young people who watch this video magician may believe deep down that you can get orange juice from an iPhone.

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Even with the best laid offensive / defensive plans...

 ...there's always holes.

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You win as experience counts for naught.......
Quote:

That quoted part made me chuckle.  A huge part of what I do is simply observe, think and decide.  I have found that the so-called experts on a lot of things may, or may not, be the right people to listen to, especially when paradigms are shifting.  I have managed to have economists, oil men, population researchers, and (now) military folks tell me I am completely out of my range and have no clue (or right) to think and decide anything about their area of expertise. 

 

Chris - you have once again overestimated your abilities.  No amount of "observe, think and decide" will trump real life experience.  Keep telling yourself that though.  Run off and quote me some more Jane's Defence Weekly articles, or maybe get FoodBabe to offer her expert opinion on submarine operations, but understand that at the end of the day, two people had a conversation about submarine and carrier battle group operations.  One person had no experience with either, but has read articles.  One person had 34 years (and counting) of experience and read the same articles.  One person drew conclusions from no experience and a few articles, one person offered clarifying and amplifying information based on first hand knowledge and over three decades of experience to question the accuracy of the conclusions.  Two people had a discussion.  One had a more accurate picture of truth.  They both know who that was.
 

Quote:

As was the case with the Fukushima situation, I trust my abilities to assess the data and draw conclusions.  Remember that situation?  Based on a tiny section of flyover video I found a 'crack of doom' glowing brightly on Reactor #1  and concluded that the containment vessel had been breached and the reactor was in full meltdown.  I was told then, too, by some that I was jumping to conclusions, irresponsibly at that, and that I was not a reactor engineer and had no right to be analyzing or concluding anything.

Now we all know that my conclusions were spot on and this brings me to the title of this post.  Yes, it is a great shortcoming that I feel qualified to analyze and dissect complex systems and then draw simple conclusions.  

But it is what I do in life.  That 'weakness' is my strength.  It has served me very well over the years, although it does earn me the occasional scolding from various experts.

Of course I remember Fukushima.  You were the first off the blocks with an "if it bleeds, it leads" approach.  Your 'crack of doom' was a fire, and yes, while the containment boundary had been breached, the reactor pressure vessel had not.  You were not witnessing a full meltdown.  Your conclusions were largely in error and even to this day you refuse to acknowledge that.  Chris, you flat out blew it on Fukushima.  Abysmally and utterly.  You need to own that.

Plus you got more thumbs up on your comments than I did, so you get to be Prom King.

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Meh...

Seems we are well past being objective and into Ego territory here.  Either way, no way in hell I'd sign up for tin can duty in the Gulf knowing what I do now. Seen enough software snafus to know that I would not want to be looking at a few dozen vampires inbound, let alone a hundred.  Either way this is going to play out, I'm sure we'll all know soon enough.

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."

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Belief systems and facts
Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

Of course I remember Fukushima.  You were the first off the blocks with an "if it bleeds, it leads" approach.  Your 'crack of doom' was a fire, and yes, while the containment boundary had been breached, the reactor pressure vessel had not.  You were not witnessing a full meltdown.  Your conclusions were largely in error and even to this day you refuse to acknowledge that.  Chris, you flat out blew it on Fukushima.  Abysmally and utterly.  You need to own that.

I'm detecting a belief system has been activated,since there are clearly emotions involved.  

Feel free to swing away, but you do not get to make up your own facts to support an alternate reality:

Muon scans confirm complete reactor meltdown at Fukushima Reactor #1

Mar 20, 2015

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has announced that its muon tomography scanning efforts at Fukushima have borne fruit, and confirmed that nuclear plant’s Reactor #1 suffered a complete meltdown following the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.

What today’s findings confirm is that nuclear fuel rods inside the reactor underwent complete meltdown. The image below shows a before-and-after shot of what a reactor looks like in normal operation and then after partial meltdown has begun. Note that the water level inside the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) has dropped and the rods are melting as a result. This began to happen in Reactor #1 within hours of the tsunami. Subsequent analysis over the past few years has confirmed that there seemed to be very little nuclear fuel remaining inside the RPV.

No, I did not blow it.  I got it exactly right.  You of all people should be aware of what it means that there's very little fuel in the Reactor Pressure Vessel.

Not sure what's driving you here, but it's not facts.

 

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T2H

Seems we had similar experiences in the Persian Gulf, although mine was a few decades before yours.  The keel of the ship I was on was laid during WWII.  We carried the Commander Middle East Forces and his staff.  Our little ship carried only about 250 personnel including command staff.  In fact, we were the fleet at the time.  The nearest CV was a long way away.  Johnson was President and the hot war was in SE Asia.

I never developed a taste for bug juice and didn't drink coffee.  Fortunately, and I didn't think much about it at the time, we always had milk.  That was my beverage of choice except for a little scotch I kept hidden away.  The ship's water was terrible and when the evaps were down we took salt water showers, although we didn't have to drop buckets off the fantail.  They just diverted salt water to the showers.  It was cold of course.

Unlike your experience, I never ran into an impolite Arab while I was there.  Even when one guy accused me of killing one of the citizens he did it politely.  (fortunately, it was a case of mistaken identity)

As far as the discussion between Chris and Dogs, I admit to a decided bias.  Dogs is an officer in the Nuclear Navy.  There are few disciplines anywhere that are better trained and experienced than those guys.  Its my understanding that every one of them has to be able to assume command of a ship if the need occurs, no matter what their specialty.  I'm guessing here, but it sounds like Dogs has a lot more training, perhaps at a war college where he learned strategy, tactics and weapons systems, than he would necessarily need serving on a submarine.  Having been through a number of schools in the Navy, I concluded they are among the best when it comes to training.  And that training is constantly reinforced and updated through drilling and more advanced schooling.

Plus, it has been my experience, in areas I had reason to know about, that civilian commentary, particularly by those who never served, is usually ill-informed if not totally off base.  And, due to security requirements, civilians never know the whole story like a command level officer would.  The military doesn't respond much to outside commentary because saying anything could give information by inference to those who shouldn't have it.

So, in this discussion, my confidence is decidedly with Dogs.

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Time2help
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Jun 9 2011
Posts: 2620
Doug
Doug wrote:

So, in this discussion, my confidence is decidedly with Dogs.

Good for you man.

I've seen some really great decisions, and some really awful ones, on the bridge in my day. I've seen officers crack under pressure. Seen a CO do the stuff of legend. A lot of it comes down to individual people.

And the more complex a system is the exponential opportunity for unintended consequences. Portside R2D2 is jammed/OOC (lots of electronics and moving parts in that one). Uh-oh, fire control is down (more that once it's happened ;-). Better hope that chaff works as advertised.

Shit happens and things go sideways. Especially when you throw a crew into a high stress situation.  I'd call a bunch of vampires inbound a "high stress" situation.

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 4 2009
Posts: 2603
Signal Detection Theory Bias
cmartenson wrote:
Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

Of course I remember Fukushima.  You were the first off the blocks with an "if it bleeds, it leads" approach.  Your 'crack of doom' was a fire, and yes, while the containment boundary had been breached, the reactor pressure vessel had not.  You were not witnessing a full meltdown.  Your conclusions were largely in error and even to this day you refuse to acknowledge that.  Chris, you flat out blew it on Fukushima.  Abysmally and utterly.  You need to own that.

I'm detecting a belief system has been activated,since there are clearly emotions involved.  

Feel free to swing away, but you do not get to make up your own facts to support an alternate reality:

Muon scans confirm complete reactor meltdown at Fukushima Reactor #1

Mar 20, 2015

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has announced that its muon tomography scanning efforts at Fukushima have borne fruit, and confirmed that nuclear plant’s Reactor #1 suffered a complete meltdown following the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.

What today’s findings confirm is that nuclear fuel rods inside the reactor underwent complete meltdown. The image below shows a before-and-after shot of what a reactor looks like in normal operation and then after partial meltdown has begun. Note that the water level inside the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) has dropped and the rods are melting as a result. This began to happen in Reactor #1 within hours of the tsunami. Subsequent analysis over the past few years has confirmed that there seemed to be very little nuclear fuel remaining inside the RPV.

No, I did not blow it.  I got it exactly right.  You of all people should be aware of what it means that there's very little fuel in the Reactor Pressure Vessel.

Not sure what's driving you here, but it's not facts.

Twist away Chris.  Nobody is disputing a meltdown within the FD Unit #1 RPV.  My statement still stands.  You simply didn't witness it from a three second helicopter flyover.  Beliefs indeed.  "Crack of doom" sure was a headline attention grabber though.

From your article, my emphasis in bold.  (I have to admit, I have never read an article where they managed to pull an ad hominem, passive-aggressive, appeal to authority AND a Hegelian dialectic on themselves within the same article.  I guess I need to get out more.) 

"This means that molten corium flowed completely through the RPV and into the PCV before being stopped by the several meters of concrete within the base. This wasn’t an entirely settled question, however, since radiation measurements and water testing have not found the isotope levels that would be expected if the majority of the corium were in direct contact with the concrete layer beneath the PCV.  One alternate theory is that the seawater that was pumped into Reactor #1 after the disaster may have cooled the corium before it finished burning through the reactor pressure vessel."

Have you considered that a muon scan looking for intact fuel geometry images won't find any if it's pooled and cooled at the bottom of the RPV?  We may very well find out that it did melt through the bottom of the RPV, and is in/on the concrete floor of the containment building, but until that is confirmed, you'd be better served - as would your members - by tightening up your observation to a more conservative set of signal detection criteria.  You are (seemingly) demonstrating classic liberal bias in what constitutes a "successful" signal detection to support a desired conclusion.  (Warning to any readers who may be train - wrecking on the terms liberal vs. conservative - they don't mean what you think they mean.  Forewarned is forearmed.)

"The correct detections of signals by observers also “depend on non-perceptual factors, including their detection goals, their expectations about the nature and occurrence of the stimuli, and the anticipated consequences of correct and incorrect responses. Such factors influence observers’ willingness to respond rather than their ability to perceive the stimuli” (See, J.E., Howe, S.R., Warm, J.S., & Dember, W.N. (1995). A meta-analysis of the sensitivity decrement in vigilance.  Psychological Bulletin, 117, 230-249.)

Maybe, just maybe, you were leaning too far forward in the foxhole?

Is laughter an emotion? 

We can be done now I think.  Because we certainly agree on more things than we disagree on.

Did I mention I finally pulled the trigger on a new Martin HD-28 dreadnought?  Rings like a bell from top to bottom, loud with a sweet, full bottom end, a real banjo killer.  Cat then convinced me to order a custom Martin J-40 12 string.

 

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5239
Sorry Dogs, Can't be that way

Well, since you are now accusing me of liberal signal bias, which attacks my very integrity, I'm going to have to have my own last post.

This is important.  With Fukushima we were working very fast with pathetically little information.  You are now suggesting that anything less than complete certainty with proofs was a disservice to this community.  In the heat of the moment, with little sleep, we did a fantastic job of getting it right.  Better in the moment than any other public news service I know of.  Perhaps the NRC had better info, but they weren't sharing it with us.

  • Did reactor #1 melt down?  Yes.  
  • Does a meltdown create very high temperatures?  Yes.
  • Did we detect very high temperatures using our own analysis?  Yes.

And here's exactly what was said at the time accompanying the crack of doom photos.  Please feel free to point out the disservice to the community (I've bolded a few parts here for emphasis):

http://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/fukushima-update-very-bad-situation/5...

Okay folks, that looks very much like a hot spot. A very hot spot. If we knew what it was made out of, we could probably identify it to within a few degrees of its actual heat value, but we don't know what it is (besides a fissure that is glowing at an orange-white temperature).

But I am disinclined to believe it is a normal fire burning up normal materials, because there have been no reports or videos or photos showing smoke emanating from this reactor. Still, it remains one possibility.

Another less-desirable but not dismissible possibility is that it is coming from some sort of nuclear reaction, be it residual decay heat or even a meltdown-driven process. We just don't have enough information to tell, and the authorities have been less than forthcoming with this bit of information.

A seat-of-the-pants analysis, which borders on the irresponsible because we don't know anything about the camera, its settings, or what is emitting the light, allows us to speculate that the temperature of the hot spot is well over 1,000 degrees Celsius. If it were metal, say iron, glowing that color, our guess would be in the vicinity of 5,000 degrees Celsius.

Here are several views of the glowing spot against a black-body temperature chart (note that a Kelvin is the same thing as a Celsius but they start at different place…zero for Celsius is freezing water and for Kelvin it is absolute zero. To convert, just subtract -273 from the Kelvin scale and you've got Celsius).

Of course, we have no idea about what is glowing down there, so it is impossible to say anything for sure, besides, "That's a very hot spot."

It is not yet time to turn our attention off of this situation. Yes, it is good news that nothing else seems to have exploded or gone much worse in a few days, and for that I am grateful and hopeful. But the utter lack of information leaves me concerned that something is being hidden from our view.

As it turns out, we now have a reasonable understanding of what the 'crack of doom' probably was: the heat signature from a melting core.  The title of the piece quoted above is "Japanese Reactor Situation Far Worse Than Admitted," and I guess we can now say that the admissions are finally catching up with what we already knew.

As always, trusting our own abilities to know what we are looking at and make reasonable guesses turns out to be the right course of action, especially during times when official sources have conflicts of interest in being truly open and honest.

I use the term "official sources" loosely because it is also true that it was not just TEPCO that had access to the heat signature data detected above. It must also be true that the US, which conducted numerous fly-overs with sophisticated detection packages, had this information as well.

That's just solid, reasoned analysis and it was careful to note the various possibilities and then settled on the most likely which turned out to be true.  What made the most sense to me creating that heat signature was a complete meltdown and that's what happened.  End of story. {Note also that TEPCO itself believe the corium has flowed out of the RPV, which maybe helps explain why the radiation hardened robot sent there died promptly after encountering levels of over 10 Sieverts}

But even if it hadn't melted down, the method of weighing evidence and drawing conclusions works great and should not be scrapped because sometimes it doesn't work.  The world is complex and having to be engineer-certain about everything is not an option.

You want 'conservative signal sets' that's fine, but it's a luxury in a world moving this fast that I don't believe we have.

So I'm willing to gather up loose bits of data and assemble them into the most-likely scenario that fits and then keep moving...My signal sets tell me that we are:

  • Ecologically ruining oceans from the bottom up
  • Using up ground water at rates that will leave whole regions uninhabitable
  • Going to hit peak oil with no plan B for anything from operating the global economy to feeding everyone
  • Going to create more debt and print more money until everything blows up financially rather than face the music.  
  • Someday the music will stop and people everywhere will wonder how we missed the signs.

Of course, not everyone will have missed the signs...espcially those burdened with classic liberal bias.  ;)

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robie robinson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 1116
Dogs, my collection

includes a HD-28P circa 1987. it is clearly better than any other acoustic played or heard by this...

I believe Olive Oil Guy gave it a whirl while in town a while back.

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 4 2009
Posts: 2603
"Dixon to carrier...scratch one flattop. In a few years."
Quote:

Dogs-

First, I had (for some reason) the biggest laugh when I read:

The EP-3 collision with a very unprofessional (and very dead) Chinese J-8 FINBACK pilot notwithstanding.  Go figure, the interceptee takes out the interceptor.... (I wonder if they painted a J-8 silhouette on the side of the EP-3 fuselage after the Chinese gave it back to us?)

Just the thought of seeing a fighter plane painted on the side of that patrol craft was just so absurd.

But I digress.

Digression is a great pressure relief.  As is snarky meta-commentary.  But still, I wonder...........

Quote:

About those diesel boats: routinely, what percentage of them are in port at any given time, and how long can they remain at sea?  I'd just be guessing, but I suspect the Navy would become suddenly interested if the fraction of the Chinese sub fleet in port suddenly decided to leave port all at once.

I can't directly answer your question, but unless there's a typhoon sortie, there are generally more submarines in port than underway at any given time.  Many are in various stages of readiness due to  routine and emergent maintenance upkeeps, training cycles, etc.  Just like our boats.  A full port sortie is a very observable event, and seeing one would kick off a chain of assessing, planning and decision-making.

Quote:

Along those lines - if you wanted to string out a bunch of subs along a likely line of approach, assuming they were all diesel boats, how many would you need per 100 miles to effectively provide a high percentage shot at a carrier that happened to wander into your ambush area?  Assume the subs want to remain mostly undetectible during their maneuver.  I'm guessing this is just a physics & trigonometry problem and I'm too lazy to solve it myself - that and I have no clue as to how slow the diesel boat must go to remain undetectible nor do I have a clue as to chinese torpedo ranges.  So tell me "roughly" and I'll be happy.  :-)

"Roughly".  wink  Don't worry, be happy.

Quote:

My biggest worry are those hypersonic antiship ballistic missiles.  I don't get the sense that our kill rates with our terminal phase ballistic missile defense (forget what system that is) is high enough to give comfort to the commander of the carrier that his ship will survive a reasonably enthusiastic missile attack.  I'm not sure where the Chinese are in terms of accuracy/terminal guidance on a moving target - one hopes the carrier would be maneuvering to avoid the incoming missiles.  I suspect locating the carrier's general area isn't all that tough with satellites.  Range is perhaps 2000 miles, flight time - 6-10 minutes, maybe.  Carrier maybe moves 8 miles during the time of flight.  Chinese supposedly have 60 of them.  Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DF-21

Just the presence of such a missile causes a whole cascade of things to happen.

The missiles Chris and I have been discussing are cruise missiles, not ballistic, so the Navy's AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System (ABMD) would not come into play.

Quote:

I'm sure you already know all this, given we seemed to have built an entire class of ship (the LCS) that is now apparently not needed (uh, I mean, "less useful") because of a change in strategy due to the potential threat from this missile.

Tell me this doesn't keep carrier captains awake at night?  The big carriers are massive gas tanks and ammo dumps just waiting to wreak havoc even without a missile hitting them.

Long term, I think the trend towards smarter and smaller/automated attack systems will doom the carrier.  I just don't know if that time has arrived, or it is still 5-10 years away.  It only takes one or two getting through and best case, no more flight operations while the crew fights fires and explosions.

LCS.....Bwahahahahahahahaha.  See the exchange above where Chris and I were in full agreement on the F-35.  Come to think of it, if LCS, destroyers and frigates all act as bullet catchers, the flat tops don't get hit?!?!?

Cruise missiles, and to a lesser degree torpedoes (for entirely different reasons) are the things that keep carrier COs and CVBG commanders awake, alert and prematurely grey.  My contention is with Chris' conclusion that that time is upon us.  It is not.  Yet.

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cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5239
In other news...

My HD-28, bought in 1996, needed a bunch of work.  Two loose internal braces, a lifting bridge, and a set of cracks on either side of the neck/body join.

Major surgery.

Much to my immense surprise, it turned out that I must have filled out that warranty card back then and even mailed it because I was in the Martin system and nearly all of the work was done, for free, under warranty.

Knock me over with a feather.

I am being much better with the humidifier as a take-away.

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