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Monday, October 10, 2016

opportunistic predators 1 of 4


OPPORTUNISTIC PREDATORS

I have always loved history since I was a small lad.  My dad had dozens upon dozens of illustrated Civil War books and scores upon scores of periodicals of the same ( from college ).  And my mom loved to take road trips to the coastal Spanish Missions ( this was in California in the ‘70’s before all the roads turned into parking lots and race tracks ) and other historical sites.  I accepted the other social sciences as a Better Than Nothing when there were no more history classes I could take in public school.  While psychology could be interesting, for instance, it had too much technical mumbo jumbo to really satisfy my curiosity of how things happen.  Not mechanical things.  I have never cared about how machines work.  But the intangible systems and how they functioned.  Society ( sociology could have been interesting but the field is too in love with its own terminology and the practitioners memorization of same-just like the military officer corps [ or, if you are Obammy and English is a second language to you, it is spelled “corpse” ] ) and culture and systems.

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I was aware of anthropology but never thought I’d be interested in it because all the adherents of said study do is go live with Bush Bitches and study Bush Bitches and talk about Bush Bitches.  It is like that history teacher that supposedly teaches history but all he does is vomit dates.  That is not history, nor are Bush Bitches anthropology.  The specialist anthropologist ruins the field for all of us.  The few generalists that can also write for a broad audience ( not for text books that are designed and written and sold at $150 each to be a perfect example of how a book should NOT be-kind of like a James Patterson novel ) can bring the study of how humans live with each other, and why they behave the way they do, to life ( highly recommended: “Cannibals And Kings“ for an introductory text ).  After many years, I finally fell in love with anthropology, despite my earlier exposure to Bush Bitch Studies which might have ruined me for life ( the problem with Bush Bitches is that the presentation is anti-primitive theatre and is pre-Industrial centric whereas it should have been non-era specific .  It is also techno apologetic ).  And all it was, was one sentence.  “It is all about the food”.  From there, it has been a fascinating journey.  I’d like to introduce another Headliner.  It isn’t as basic or as all encompassing but it comes close.  “Humans are opportunistic predators”. 

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Whenever you are wondering why somebody did something, and it wasn’t survival substance specific, refer to the Opportunistic Predator clause.  It explains a lot about human behavior.   It also outlines rather well, along with aforementioned All About Da Food, how and why people will act during and after the Die-Off.  First off, it explains that we are at heart Lazy Bastards.  That is cute and sarcastic and caustic, but it is also a descriptive statement rather than a judgmental one.  Lazy saves calories-it isn’t too much more involved than that.  Through human history, the default setting has been food scarcity.  That is what happens when you are at the top of the food chain and need dead animal flesh for optimum performance.  If you sat and ate leaves all day, like gorillas, absent Agent Orange or a asteroid induced Perpetual Winter, you would have a hard time starving.  When you are the Apex Predator, there isn’t always bloody meaty num-nums available.

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Man, through the superior traits of adaptation,  culture as the premier tool, opposable thumbs and language ability, has done a lot of things to circumvent this difficulty, but that default setting has been hardwired throughout our evolution and isn’t going away.  And before you start keening about the superiority of asparagus growing over hunter/gatherers, I would stipulate to you that the Agricultural Revolution was merely a survival adaptation rather than an improvement.  Agriculture led to agriculture empires which are incapable of anything other than the Growth Paradigm.  Growth is survival.

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( even today with seven billion of us, the group that grows survives-as witnessed by Muslims in Europe, Mexicans in the US, Mormons in Utah, etc.  Nine thousand years ago there was seven million globally.  That is even too much for the Earths carry capacity as witnessed by the Mega-Fauna extinction and the need to switch to farming.  Growth is survival, not just in an Agricultural Age, but the elephant in the room is that it is growth in a zero sum game.  Only one group survives, by destroying the other, and in the end the winning group dies also, from resource depletion.  The problem with agricultural growth is the same with hunting growth, grazing growth, or any other kind of growth.  Grow to survive, but growing uses resources.  It is a race to the bottom with the winner dying last.  Agriculture is no worse than hunting, except for both the scale and speed of destruction.  The Industrial Revolution fed with carbon fuel stocks exponentially increases THAT exponential growth.  Remember the parable of the wise man and the king, with the doubling rice grain on a chess board?  By the 64th square, more rice than has EVER been grown in total is needed.  Exponential is bad  ).

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Lazy saves calories, and that is good.  But it is also surviving today and to hell with tomorrow.  It isn’t that man is incapable of long term planning.  He certainly is.  It is that the plans are never implemented.  That is the down side of being opportunistic.  You can make the worlds best laid plans and they all go to crap out of necessity and out of greed and out of humans simply being hard pressed to sacrifice for tomorrow ( and please be aware that I’m trying to avoid the techno centric viewpoint here.  I’m speaking of life outside of the Oil Age.  When you live in a society with material and resource abundance,  of course you can splurge on long term planning and short term sacrifice.  But historically, that has never been possible except in exceptional circumstances ).  More tomorrow.

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18 comments:

  1. convenience = opportunity = lazy

    Never heard the rice parable before (heard something similar with pennies) so I went and looked it up. Square 64 would warrant enough rice that, if the grains are placed end to end, will reach to Alpha Centauri, and BACK! Scary, eh? LOL

    http://mathforum.org/sanders/geometry/GP11Fable.html

    I think of the food chain as a ladder, with algae on the very bottom and humans on the very top rungs (LIEberals are about 3 rungs from the top LOL), and every other living thing in between. The diff between all the actors is the mental capacity and ability to use it. When you see a ladder actor become a victim of another actor lower on the ladder it is always because of the upper actor not using its mental capacity to the maximum. Chance or luck plays no part in reality here, if it did none of us would be here today. Just algae.

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    1. Roaches are complex critters. They are so tough and effective that they haven't needed to evolve.

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    2. But do they get to watch football on 500 channels? Humans rule!

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  2. Compounding interest is exponential in function too. It is the reason the bankers get to feast in the growing empire, and kill it off so quickly when it has to pause its growth...

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    1. Of course the central bankers serve a purpose and that is why they never die. They facilitate empire. Alas, all the little people pay the bill. Not that they didn't also benefit from the increased wealth-just that they were never given a vote.

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  3. The biggest input in producing food is labor. Much of this labor has been replaced, to a degree, by oil inputs(ie tractors and such) but only to a degree. This is why over crowded politically relatively stable regions in the world with low wages can become nett food exporters. Places such as China, India and Thailand can produce surpluse food mainly because wages are low. Historically food has never been so cheap, food could quadruple in price and it would still be cheap(yet there is still many people in the world that cant afford food and starve to death). Through most of history most of human effort was geared towards either producing food or producing goods and services that oould be traded mainly for food with a small surplus for other things like clothing etc. Today, at least in western nations so little of our collective labor goes into producing or procuring food.

    There is still room for a increased world population as well a decrease in oil production but it will mean that the world will need to revert back to a largely peasant type society were most of the populations efforts are geared towards subsistence farming with a small excess to maintain the elite rulling class. I really cant see this happening but it is a possibility. Intensive gardening with high labor input can produce a surprisingly large amount of food of a surprisingly small area. Peasants have a low life expectancy, live boring lives and frequently die in there droves when there is a drought or other calamity, most will fight to avoid such a life style and its fighting that causes most famines. So the greater probability is a huge sheeple die off rather than a mass sheeple conversion to a peasant life style.
    Aussie

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    1. Right now, with the remaining oil we have, we could easily transition to a comfortably poor peasant class using permaculture to make everyone secure and relatively happy ( continue subsidized Internet for streaming TV and other entertainment ). Alas, the infrastructure that pays the 1% is set up differently, so no change will be made. It isn't about the poor workers desires but the rich's.

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    2. Even on minimum wage or social security, we in the 1st world are nearly the rich, and have the opportunity to insulate ourselves from the collapse with a larger margin of comfort and surplus's. As you say Jim- calories first - we can buy a years worth in a month of disposable income, in a couple of years you can have a lifetimes worth. Vitamins next- again a couple months to years disposable income can take care of a lifetimes worth. Add in protein, an almost rent free shelter (property taxes minimized) and start prepping the green houses or live stock growing spaces so you can step down to the level of well-to-do peasant, with the easiest possible peasant lifestyle. Don't advertise it, and let everyone see your poverty early on to avoid being a target, and you should have the best of all worlds.

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    3. I don't know if I can do a book length, but surely that is a good number of articles worth of a subject.

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    4. To increase output of human-food from human-powered ag operations, pasture was used to feed work animals. This was "solar economy" where the farmer gets 5x the calories from the harvest as he needs to work the farm: low-tech/local "profit" that can support a 50% urban population to get some civilizational/organizational benefits going (like metal-weapon-weilding specialist-soldiers for wiping out the pesky hunter-gatherer not-us hippy/gypsy). With oil-powered tractor, ng-based phosphate fertilizer, and water projects, the pasture and the desert bloomed with cheap food that needs 10x external calorie input (no solar energy profit), leading to mass-population overshoot (and city-slackers who believe that they-got-a-right! to eat).

      Contraction hurts. What's the deal with Bureau of Land Management rioting and looting? Are they worried about getting their pensions? Damned Fed's should behave better.

      pdxr13

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    5. I'm not aware of the instance you speak about the Fed workers, but you and I know they are next on the chopping block-they must know it too. When a group realized their iron ricebowl is made of brle plastic, he tend to get disruptive.

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    6. Yes billions will die because there is no plan to transition to a low energy economy. There can only be 2 reason why there is no plan, either the powers that be are either stupid ignorant fools that cant see past the end of there noses, or the powers that be are greedy and evil. I think its a combination of the two. Either way they cant be trusted and we all must(or at least should if we got any brains) do what we can to prepare to weather the coming storm our foolish, ignorant, incompetent, evil, greedy overlords are about to subject us to.
      Aussie

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    7. Billions dying still won't be enough. Good times ahead.

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    8. Pdxr13 was making a joke...

      Bureau of Land Management = BLM = Black Lives Matter.

      ;)

      Idaho Homesteader

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    9. Wow. How did I miss that? I hope my minions don't read as quickly and unfocused as that.

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  4. vitamins degrade, so don't waste money by buying too many at once, please.
    meds degrade also and can become poisonous . exercise caution.

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    1. I need to do a bit of research on the true shelf life of vitamins.

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