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Happy Nihilist

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About Happy Nihilist

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  1. Happy Nihilist

    Fukushima I: four reactors in trouble.

    From NY Times: Forecast for Plume's Path Is a Function of Wind and Weather The Troy Incident
  2. Happy Nihilist

    FSN Interview with STRATFOR's George Friedman

    Agreed! Excellent podcast that outlines a (refreshing?) alternative to the usual doom and gloom meme's doing the rounds currently. Although he by no means paints a rosy picture, I think he does a good job of putting many of our current fears in a historical context.
  3. Happy Nihilist

    Fukushima I: four reactors in trouble.

  4. Happy Nihilist

    Fukushima I: four reactors in trouble.

    Nice summary here: http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110312-red-alert-nuclear-meltdown-quake-damaged-japanese-plant
  5. Happy Nihilist

    Fukushima I: four reactors in trouble.

    Yes, fingers crossed. Will have to wait and see how this develops. That shockwave didn't look too pretty though :|
  6. Happy Nihilist

    UK House prices: News & Views

    Australian home prices the world's most overvalued: The Economist
  7. Happy Nihilist

    Dollar bounce due...

    The subtitle of this thread suggests we may see more than just a bounce ? It certainly represents an important line, but it is striking that the Dollar has been making a series of higher lows for almost 3 years now, yet negative sentiment persists!
  8. Happy Nihilist

    UK House prices: News & Views

    Indeed! I imagine it might look something like this: Before After
  9. Happy Nihilist

    UK House prices: News & Views

    Interview by Motley Fool w/ Steve Keen on Australian Housing Bubble HERE http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/wp-cont...ceInterview.pdf
  10. Happy Nihilist

    UK House prices: News & Views

    From NZ Herald Could be the first cracks in the antipodean dyke ? At long last . . . perhaps
  11. Perhaps the attempt to "avoid" ostracism outright is somewhat futile. It seems to be a human all-too-human trait that we re-assert arbitrary in/out groups when things get tough. A renewed sense of community (herd) provides comfort in a time people are growing increasingly anxious and uncertain. But yes, I think if we pre-empt these feelings of anger and anxiety, we might be able to inoculate ourselves from some of the nastier possible outcomes. Well, bearing in mind that I'm taking the liberty to be a bit "mystical" I'm not sure how one would actually go about a "mournful suffering" in a meaningful way. But I think there is something to this angle. Staying with the airiness theme, maybe another way to look at it, is not to focus so much on material accumulation per se, but our attitude towards material things. For example, I've long been fascinated with the idea of potlatch. The term "potlatch" refers to a Native American ritual that involves a gratuitous feast, and often involves destroying valuable items like pottery etc. To a Westerner, much of the practice would appear wasteful. E.g., from WIKI: Potlatching was made illegal in Canada in 1885 and the United States in the late nineteenth century, largely at the urging of missionaries and government agents who considered it "a worse than useless custom" that was seen as wasteful, unproductive, and contrary to "civilized" values. Marcel Mauss analyses the "logic" behind these rituals in his book The Gift, and suggests they point to a "gift economy." While on the surface these feasts appear to be selfless acts of generosity that nourish the least fortunate in the community, perhaps more meaningfully they also help establish a hierarchy in the community. The basic idea being that the person who is able to give the most is deemed most powerful (e.g., in terms of Mana). Mauss suggests there is an agonistic element to gift exchange. In other words, there is an obligation to reciprocate the gift, but there is also an obligation to receive the gift. The failure to reciprocate a gift of equal or greater "symbolic value" represents ones (implicit) inferiority. Interestingly, the failure to receive a gift represents an act of hostility! However, it need not be quite so mystical. A very mundane example: if I invite some people over for a dinner party and they bring a bottle of wine with them as a gift … the next time I'm invited at their place, I have this feeling that a) I should really bring something with me as well, and it should at least be a bottle of wine of roughly the same quality … but ideally, if I brought a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates, then I've established my (implicit) superiority, and the onus is back on them the next time I invite them, and so on. Conversely, if I don't bring anything, then I would feel a bit "cheap" (inferior). Obviously its a very petty example, but I think it taps into something very real. I think the Eastern concept of "face" comes very close to this kind of dynamic. Anyway, so what has all of this potlatch stuff to do with "mournful suffering"? In order for things to change (bearing in mind that I'm still up in that hot air balloon ), things first need to get tougher so that a large part of generation i-pod becomes "receptive" to other things than Reality TV, Celebrity Gossip and what not. As long as people remain comfortable enough to be absorbed by the Pop Culture bubble, they will not be responsive to new role models. However, with a renewed focus on community, perhaps there is potential for something of a pseudo-potlatch to evolve … thereby establishing a social hierarchy in a community (which no doubt is problematic in itself), that provokes others to respond, thereby benefitting the less fortunate in the community, but also unifying the community through a new hierarchy that shifts the focus from the Pop Culture bubble? The idea being that the act of potlatch provides structure to the mourning process and gives people the opportunity to represent their symbolic loss in a way that also establishes their status in the community (and is therefore not an empty gesture). Perhaps this is still too fanciful, but if generation i-pod becomes increasingly reliant on their local community, then they may also become increasingly concerned about losing "face" in this community, and as a result the influence of current role models may fade. After all, keeping up with the latest celebrity gossip is not going to advance ones social status in this new, more community oriented future ??? Who knows. Obviously the same kind of logic can work on a bigger scale (i.e., between communities, between counties, between states, nations and so on …) On that note, the ancient concept of a debt jubilee most likely taps into something similar, because after all, it is the King that "forgives" the debt, thereby starting the economy afresh, but also re-establishing his status as King (?) Fat chance that is going to happen on an international scale (although I guess China bailing out dodgy European debt fits into this picture). Anyway … back to carpooling
  12. Happy Nihilist

    2011 Predictions

    Excellent stuff. Thanks Dr. Solar! A very nice roadmap imho
  13. Again, this is probably just a matter of emphasis. Although it is important to envision new dreams, I think in a way we should be more worried about the (implicit or explicit) mourning process of the dying American dream. Whether or not people are justified in holding unsustainable beliefs is in a way is beside the point. The fact (and the problem) is that many people do. In my view, the process of letting go of this dream is a very delicate process. To many people the world as they know it is coming to an end. As such, I think it is important for the populace to have the chance to vent their righteous anger … and thereby avoid the danger of incorporating any latent anger into the new dream. Or, making sense of the anger in such a way that it doesn't by itself inspire a new ideology. In my view, the process of thinking up new dreams should involve a type of collective funeral rite where our collective consciousness has the opportunity to mourn the death of a way of life. E.g., LINK Anyway, on a (slightly) more constructive note I think the challenge will be to introduce a new value system that places more emphasis on something intangible (e.g., Mana) rather than the accumulation and consumption of tangible goods. It is one thing to think up sustainable living arrangements, and quite another for most people to be happy to adopt such new living arrangements and aspire to a new value system. While there is a growing movement towards sustainability / permaculture etc., this only represents a minority. Besides, I don't think it is feasible to expect the majority to "see the light," recognise the error of their ways and "convert" to the new ideology. Nor do I think such a moralistic path is desirable. Although I remain very sceptical, in my view, such a transition would only become feasible after trust in our current institutions has eroded to a large extent, and, by means of powerful role models that exemplify the new "good." The difficulty I see is that in such a transition period, there will be many other "charismatic types" that may tap into other unresolved emotions, and take things in quite a different direction. Again, this is why I emphasise the need to manage the inevitable anger that will erupt. There will be (and should be) negative emotions. However, if they are not addressed, then reactionary ideologies become all the more attractive and satisfying.
  14. Yes, I think we are mostly in agreement. The Ancients discussed various political cycles (Kyklos), their generation and inevitable degeneration. "According to Polybius, who has the most fully developed version of the cycle, it rotates through the three basic forms of government, democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy and the three degenerate forms of each of these governments ochlocracy, oligarchy, and tyranny. Originally society is in anarchy but the strongest figure emerges and sets up a monarchy. The monarch's descendants, who because of their family's power lack virtue, become despots and the monarchy degenerates into a tyranny. Because of the excesses of the ruler the tyranny is overthrown by the leading citizens of the state who set up an aristocracy. They too quickly forget about virtue and the state becomes an oligarchy. These oligarchs are overthrown by the people who set up a democracy. Democracy soon becomes corrupt and degenerates into mob rule, beginning the cycle anew." According to this version of the cycle, we already find ourselves in a state of ochlocracy (mob rule) and are sliding towards a state of anarchy ... waiting for the inevitable strong man to arise. Again, I think we are largely in agreement. Maybe it is just a difference in emphasis. I think it is great if people and communities take initiative and move towards a sustainable and democratic future. However, I think the problem is that sadly this is the exception that proves the (mob) rule. The problem with the death of the American Dream is precisely that a HUGE number of people subscribe to it and feel entitled to it. Once this illusion starts to fade we will get inevitable feelings of denial and anger etc. Because so many people subscribe to this view there is great potential for things to get disruptive. That is why I think it is important to accept the anger the populace is feeling ... and try to find a way to express this anger in the least disruptive way. (Let's not kid ourselves, things will get disruptive). Perhaps this is overly pessimistic, but I think the populace should get angry, and has every right to get angry. In the bigger picture this would be a positive sign that we are letting go of the American dream and moving towards a different dream. The delicate moment involves defining the new dream. Politically this seems especially delicate as our current state of ochlocracy, that we refer to as "democracy," is itself unsustainable.