Nullus Deus ex Machina
Sam Aurelius Milam III
I frequently click around the TV channels, looking for something to watch. Thus, I see a lot of short pieces of a lot of different shows. I recently came across what appeared to be some kind of a promotional thing. Two people were happily proclaiming how modern building codes require new houses to include hi-tech, computerized systems to manage heating and cooling within the house. I got disgusted and continued clicking.
The two people in the program appeared to believe that such hi-tech gizmos will increase the energy efficiency of houses, resulting in less energy being used, and thereby solving our energy problems. One fallacy in their plan is the idea that a more efficient use of energy will result in less energy being used. That isn’t true. We won’t reduce total energy used merely by being more efficient. A more important fallacy is their false belief that the increasing use of energy is the actual problem. The increasing use of energy is merely a consequence of the actual problem. The two technofools didn’t even acknowledge the actual problem. Instead, they pretended that it doesn’t exist.
The increasing use of energy is only one such consequence of the actual problem. Consider the Ogallala Aquifer. If we stopped pumping water out of it this very day, then it would take 6000 years for its water level to return to what it was 100 or so years ago. The truth is that we don’t have a shortage of water in the aquifer. We have an excess of people who want to use it. Similarly, we don’t have a shortage of energy. We have an excess of people who want to use it. Whether it’s water, energy, space, or anything else, the problem isn’t a shortage of something. The problem is that there are too many people who want to use it. Increased efficiency in our use of things won’t solve the actual problem because the actual problem is human overpopulation.
One measure of the degree of human overpopulation is the number of people who can’t find places for themselves, anywhere on the planet. According to a recent UNHCR estimate, there are more than 100,000,000 of them. Some of them live in refugee camps that are the size of towns. They rely for their survival on resources that are diverted to them from other people. They don’t seem to do much except have more children, which only exacerbates the problem. Some of those children have spent their entire lives in the camps, learning how to be refugees. Today, more than 1.3% of the entire human population is homeless. According to that measure alone, we’ve exceeded the capacity of the planet to sustain us.
The population growth curve is nearly vertical at this end. It’s obvious to me that the population is going to crash. We have a few years remaining, maybe a few decades, if we’re lucky. After that, most technology will fail, including most sources of energy. The hi-tech gizmos will stop working. The initial survivors probably won’t have the means to build new houses. They’ll need to use houses that already exist. The hi-tech gizmos in those houses aren’t going to work without electricity. The house in which I’m staying, for now, is old. I open or close the windows, ignite or extinguish the pilot light in the propane heater, and plug or unplug the window air conditioner, all according to the weather. Of course, most such low-tech things won’t work, either, after the crash, but at least someone in such a house will still be able to open or close the windows himself, and lock the doors. If he’s lucky enough to have a working fireplace, then he can demolish nearby hi-tech houses, for fuel.
I don’t know of any way to solve our problem except for what I mentioned in Problem One, in the July 2021 issue. Other than that, I doubt that we’ll be saved by a deus ex gizmo.
| Letters to the Editor
sorry to hear that your hosting service is throwing in the towel. I sincerely wish that I had a good recommendation for you, but I don’t. I had a couple of websites (many) years ago, but that hosting service also went away. I don’t remember the company behind it; Yahoo! perhaps?
Today, many folks just use Farcebook™ or one of the other (anti)social apps. While FB would very likely censor your content, there are a few other newer, similar sites that have started to spring up here and there. The newest one I’m trying is called Gab. It’s free. They supposedly “promise” not to moderate or ban content. Unfortunately, you cannot format how your content appears to other users (fonts/boldface/italic, etc.)
—B. H., El Dorado Hills, California
Your observations about the censorship and control of content in the internet and in the social media are correct. See The Battle of the Internet, in the January 2012 issue. Benign content doesn’t need to be defended. The defense of content, by definition, involves the defense of content that is the most objectionable to the kinds of evangelists who want to run everybody else’s lives for them. Lately, those meddlers have added fake news to their list of excuses. When I consider who it is that gets to declare what is and what isn’t fake news, then I suspect that we should all try to find as much fake news as we can.
Another cloud looms on the horizon. I heard that the reformers are going to require websites to provide access for disabled people. What’s next? Will they require every other page in every book to be in braille? I regard such things as instances of do-gooders finding more excuses to improve everybody’s behavior but their own.
It’s good to be helpful toward handicapped people but it’s bad for it to be mandatory. Help is offered. Servitude is imposed. If a handicapped person wants access to my website, and if I can even figure out what that means, then maybe I’ll provide it. Maybe I won’t. If I don’t, then it’s his problem to acquire access, not my responsibility to provide it. Every time that the government imposes another such requirement, it strengthens the chains by which we’re all bound.
I hear pundits wondering in perplexity about why people are so angry. People are angry because their lives are being forcibly micromanaged, and any noncooperation is being punished, by intrusive busybodies who ought to learn to mind their own business.
I was wondering if you could please print my [document identity omitted] and you send a copy of “Frontiersman” to the Director of ADC and send a copy to the Dept. of Health....
—Howie in the Max
I don’t send the Frontiersman to anybody unless he requests it himself. You’re free to make a copy of yours, and send that.
Legacy on Tape
Sam Aurelius Milam III
I sometimes mutter to myself, and occasionally mention to someone else, that PBS isn’t the station that it was 30 years ago. I have a copy, on videocassette, of Legacy With Michael Wood. I recorded it from PBS along about 1991 or 1992. In May of this year, I watched it again, many years after I’d most recently done so. I was sitting there, watching it, amazed at how prescient Michael Wood had been in the documentary, so long ago, when I had a sudden realization.
Nowadays, there’s a standard format for PBS. They run the introduction to a program, they show commercials, they run the program, they show commercials, and they run the closing credits of the program. I don’t care if the commercial doesn't have actors and a little skit. If it mentions a company that sells something, then it’s a commercial.
So, what was the big realization that I had, while I was watching Legacy With Michael Wood? It took me until episode 5 before I noticed it, but there it was. It was irrefutable. They presented the entire program without any commercials. After that, they offered to sell the program on videocassette and presented a summary of what they would be showing later, but there weren’t any commercials. They even noted that their commercial-free programming was provided by viewers like me. The announcer actually described the station as non-commercial. They started the next show.
Nowadays, PBS is commercial TV. Thirty years ago, it was non-commercial. I can prove it. I have it on tape.
Sam Aurelius Milam III
• Product warning labels and expiration dates are intended to protect producers and suppliers from liability, not to protect consumers from harm.
• If woman are so equal, then why do we keep giving them so much special treatment during wars and natural disasters?
And the Rest of the Story
Sam Aurelius Milam III
On Sunday, May 1, 2022, I watched a news segment about inflation, titled Paying the Cost, on PBS News Weekend. The news report featured the Bandy family, consisting of two parents, Scott and Lindsay, a ten-year-old girl named Hope, and a three-year-old girl named Haley. According to the news report, they live just outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Lindsay works at a retail job. Scott is a cable technician. Throughout the news report, Lindsay complained that the high costs of fuel and food are creating serious hardships for the family.
And now for the rest of the story. I noticed that, in their house as it was shown in the news report, every shelf was packed with possessions. Every counter top or table surface, and all of the floor space, was filled with possessions. The material wealth that was visible in the news report was impressive. It appeared to me to represent a significant expenditure of funds. I also noticed, during the sequence about the cost of fuel, that Lindsay was pumping gas into a huge pickup truck that was about a foot taller than she was. It was one of the big ones, the kind with two rows of seats, and four doors. Given their occupations and their situation, I think that a small economy car would have been sufficient. As she drove away from the pumps, she was carrying a huge, super-sized soft drink of some sort. While they were sitting at their table, eating pizza and complaining about the cost of food, I noticed two big take-out pizza boxes on the table, and several super-sized take-out beverage containers. Maybe sandwiches and iced tea would have been less expensive. Their house, as shown in the news report, appeared to be more than comfortable, and I couldn’t help but to notice a satellite dish on the roof. Broadcast TV, through an antenna, is free. In one scene, Lindsay was using an Apple computer for video conferencing. Is video conferencing really necessary? Isn’t a land line sufficient for communication, and a lot less expensive?
Henry David Thoreau commented, “Yet men have come to such a pass that they frequently starve, not for want of necessaries, but for want of luxuries....” In the report, Lindsay blamed corporate greed for her hardships. Maybe corporate greed and inflation are contributing factors, but I’m inclined to also blame Lindsay, et al, and human stupidity, ad infinitum.
And that’s the rest of the story.
Sam Aurelius Milam III
I’ve noticed on the news that even homeless people have cell phones. They can’t afford food, medicine, or a place to live, but they can still afford cell phones. Go figure.
About 10 years ago, I commented to a visiting family member that, after a certain number of people have cell phones, then having a cell phone will be effectively mandatory. Lately, I’ve seen the fulfillment of that prediction. It doesn’t matter that the requirement isn't legislatively imposed. What matters is that, if COVID requirements (for example) require you to have a cell phone before you can enter a restaurant, or a movie, or a concert, if you can’t update a security setting unless you can receive a confirmation code on a cell phone, when various other things require a cell phone, then having a cell phone is effectively mandatory.
I mentioned in Frexit, in the February issue, that when my cell phone expired, I was content to leave it expired. Actually, it didn’t expire. It became incompatible with the new forced obsolescence changes in cell phone technology. It was easier, in the article, to just say that it had expired. Anyway, AT&T wasn’t content to let me drop out of their network. Instead, an unsolicited replacement cell phone arrived in the mail. I took it out of the box, looked at it, put it back in the box, and put the box on a shelf.
Lately, I’ve occasionally received messages from various of the few internet services that I still use, warning me that, if I don’t upgrade something, then I might lose access to whatever service they’re providing. I’ve been ignoring such warnings, but a recent message from Google seemed to suggest that I might lose access to my Google email address if I neglected to do the security upgrade. It was a bit vague, but that’s what it seemed to say. I use that address a lot, and I don’t want to lose it. So I tried to do the upgrade. I got to a step in the process where I was required to provide a confirmation code that would be sent as a text message, but only to my cell phone.
So, I wandered around looking for the new cell phone. I finally found where I’d put the box. I took the cell phone out of the box, installed the battery, and charged it. I called somebody and had her call me back. The cell phone worked. It seems like another manipulation of my behavior but I was able to receive the confirmation code and save my email address.
The cell phone is turned off again, and its battery is removed. That way, it isn’t listening to everything that I say, revealing my location, or making itself available as a target for a missile strike.
My thanks to the following: El Dorado Bob; Betty; Eric, of Stockton, California; Sir Donald the Elusive; and Millie, of Superior, Arizona.
Signs That You're a Hillbilly
Original Source Unknown. Forwarded by Don G.
• You’ve refused to watch the Academy Awards since Smokey and the Bandit was snubbed for best picture.
• You think that Dom Pérignon is a mafia boss.
Reportedly, in 1500s England
Original Source Unknown. Forwarded by Steve S.
People who couldn’t afford slate had dirt floors, giving us the term dirt poor.
Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf. The family got the middle. Guests got the top, giving us the term upper crust.
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— Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor
Psychiatrists’ nurses wear Freudian slips.