Sam Aurelius Milam III
In 1968, in Chariots of the Gods?, Erich von Däniken wrote that the world population was predicted to be 8.7 billion by 2050 and 50 billion by 2250. He wrote that “world food production does not keep pace with the growth of population, in spite of the most modern technical aids and the large-scale use of chemical fertilizers.” He wrote that “food production could draw level with the population increase only if it were possible to halve the birth rate in ten years, i.e., by 1980.” He asked, “But what use are they [birth control products] if the women in underdeveloped countries do not use them?” He wrote that the world of the future will be “hopelessly and irremediably overpopulated.”
It isn’t taking as long as was predicted. DW News recently reported that 25% of the people on the planet lack adequate access to clean drinking water. UNHCR has reported that more than one person out of every hundred is homeless or a refugee. The UN recently announced that the world population has exceeded 8 billion, and it’s only 2023, not 2050. DW News recently reported that “agriculture accounts for 70% of the world’s fresh water use and the demand for agricultural products is expected to grow by 50% over the next 25 years.” Naho Mirumachi, Professor for Environmental Politics at King’s College London, recently reported that “we’re due to hit over 9 billion people in just a couple of years.” Erich von Däniken predicted that, even with our very best efforts, we could put off the “evil day”, as he called it, for only about a hundred years. I believe that his “evil day” will arrive sooner than that but that it won’t be a world population of 50 billion. It will be a collapse of the entire worldwide human society and its associated infrastructure.
Around the world, increasing numbers of displaced people are trying to escape from various disasters, hardships, and overcrowding, and go someplace better. People in the better places are objecting to the influx, and complaining that their own situations are deteriorating. Economies are increasingly stressed. Governments are imposing sanctions on one another, further stressing the economies and increasing the hardships. Resources are being depleted, and getting more expensive. Those that remain are being squandered in wars and other conflicts that are creating additional destruction, poverty, and pollution. Our activities are damaging the biological environment of the planet, increasing the incidence and severity of droughts, floods, famines, starvation, pestilences, desertification, destruction of habitat, and extinctions of species. Conditions appear to be growing more hostile to human life, and some people believe that the changes are irreversible. I don’t know if the survivors of previous collapses had to deal with the kinds of Earth changes that seem to be developing this time. Our species has done this kind of thing before, and survived, but maybe those people didn’t have to deal with the degradation of the planet, in addition to the collapse of their technological infrastructure. Maybe our species will survive anyway. Maybe not. I don’t know.
In 1974, in Milam’s Notes, I wrote “The longer we wait to solve an environmental problem, the fewer choices we will have. If we wait long enough, then we probably won’t have to make any choices at all. However, the resulting environment might be one in which we’re not included.” In July 2004, in Terminal Condition, I wrote that unending growth is inherently impossible. In 1974, I was concerned. In 2004, I was apprehensive. In 2023, I’m afraid. My warnings might seem alarmist, but I’ve presented the facts as they are. Overpopulation is the unsolved problem that’s causing all of the others. It isn’t causing just a collapse of our society. It’s corrupting the planetary environment, thereby jeopardizing our ability to survive after the collapse. I don’t know of any way to fix it. We’re running out of choices and we’re running out of time. In the real world, survival is never a foregone conclusion.
Sam Aurelius Milam III
On Saturday, April 16, 2022, a family member and I were out early, preparing the trailer that she owned at the time. It was a gardener’s trailer, with a metal mesh floor. In order to protect the floor from damage by heavy things with legs, like furniture for example, I’d built a plywood floor to cover the metal mesh floor. We didn’t leave the plywood in the trailer unless we were actually going to use it. That protected the plywood from exposure to the weather, and prevented moisture from accumulating between the plywood and the metal mesh. So, in preparation to use the trailer, we were installing the plywood floor.
The plywood floor consisted of three pieces of plywood, cut specifically to fit the trailer, with holes located so as to line up with the holes in the mesh. We attached the plywood to the mesh with bolts, washers, and wing nuts. The procedure involved several trips back and forth between the trailer and the location where I stored the plywood and the hardware. We were just finishing when she stopped and picked up a small object from the ground. She commented that we had another hyperspace event. See Back from Hyperspace, which appeared a couple of weeks before this event, in the April 2022 issue. She handed the object to me. It was the end of a garden hose. I sat it aside while we completed the job.
Later, I looked more carefully at the object. From the location of dried mud, I could see that it had been laying on a dirt surface, not on grass, and that it had been on the surface, not below the surface. Since it was partly covered with dried mud, not dirt, it had occasionally been exposed to water. From the location of the mud, it seemed most likely to have been rain, not flooding. She found it on top of the grass in a location that I regularly cut when I mow the yard, and across which I regularly walk. While we were preparing the trailer, we’d repeatedly walked across that location, without seeing the object. That suggests to me that it hadn’t been there before she found it.
The event has caused me to ponder. I occasionally find bits of debris on top of the grass that weren’t there earlier but that are there when I find them. I find broken pieces of old plastic parts, nails, bolts, gaskets, and even rocks without any dirt on them. They’re just laying on the surface of the grass, without any clue about how they got there. So, I’m wondering. I know that we’ve turned our entire planet, from the ocean deeps to low earth orbit, into a garbage dump. I’ve speculated in some of my other writing about things slipping into hyperspace, and then slipping back out again. Are we also polluting hyperspace? Are bits of our trash slipping into hyperspace and, occasionally, slipping back out again?
Enslaved by Ignorance
Sam Aurelius Milam III
All of those people who keep referring to the Confederate flag as a slave flag are very much in need of an education.
The U.S. constitution declares that a citizen is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The dictionaries inform us that jurisdiction means power and control. So, a citizen is subject to the power and control of the United States, just like a slave is subject to the power and control of his master.
There are three kinds of behavior in the United States: required behavior, prohibited behavior, and regulated behavior. If the government of the United States catches a citizen failing to engage in required behavior, then it will punish him. If it catches him engaging in prohibited behavior, then it will punish him. If it catches him engaging in regulated behavior contrary to the regulations, then it will punish him. That’s exactly the attitude of a master toward his slave.
If a citizen refuses to submit to the punishment, then the government will initiate the use of force against him. If he resists, then the government will escalate the use of force. It will continue to do so until either the citizen submits to the punishment, or the citizen is dead. That’s exactly the way that a master deals with a rebellious slave.
The Confederate flag isn’t a slave flag. The flag flying in front of the Post Office is the slave flag. The people who keep whining about the Confederate flag are slaves themselves, and are unaware of it because of their own willful and stubborn ignorance.
Christlike to the Very End
As Retold by Sam Aurelius Milam III
A priest, laying on his death bed, requested the presence of a banker and a lawyer. The people who were taking care of him found a banker and a lawyer, and brought them to the priest. The dying priest asked that they be seated beside his bed, one on each side. His helpers found some chairs and did as he asked.
His helpers eventually yielded to curiosity, and asked him why he wanted such an arrangement. The priest sighed, looked satisfied, and replied, “I want to die the same as Christ did, between two thieves.”
Letter to the Editor
I’ve recently come up with a new definition of freedom, which I would like to share. Here goes:
“Freedom is the happiness inspired by the belief that one is able to experience what one wants, without fear of interference or punishment by other human beings.”
Obviously, this is a subjective, emotional definition. I think it has value, because more abstract, theoretical definitions of freedom never mention why a person might want freedom.
Your thoughts about this would be much appreciated.
—Sir Donald the Elusive
The differences between the meanings of different words can be just as important as the meanings themselves. In his explanation of contracts, in his 1889 law dictionary, John Bouvier wrote, “No two synonyms convey precisely the same idea. Most of them have minute distinctions.... If two are entirely equivalent, it will soon be determined by accident which shall remain in use and which shall become obsolete. To one who has no knowledge of a language, it is impossible to define any abstract idea. But to one who understands a language, an abstraction is defined by a synonym properly qualified. By pointing out distinctions and mutual relations between synonyms, the object of definition is answered.” [Volume 1, page 393]
When I gave Mere Keep its name, I intended for it to be a place for the discovery, exploration, and protection of the differences between the meanings of words, and of the ideas that those words represent. I had in mind the differences between such ideas as freedom and slavery, rights and privileges, sin and crime, currency and money, legislation and law, religion and God, diversity and complexity, brainwashing and education, and chaos and anarchy. A failure to understand the differences between the meanings of the words indicates a failure to understand the differences between the ideas. When words that represent two different ideas become synonyms, then one of the ideas disappears. In 1984 (the book, not the year), Orwell wrote, “How could you have a slogan like ‘freedom is slavery’ when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking— not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
During the 1980s, I believed that the legitimate function of a dictionary wasn’t to define proper usage, but to record current usage. Partly because of that belief, I compiled a list of the definitions of specific words, arranged in chronological order according to the publication dates of the dictionaries from which I took them. The more that I noticed the widespread misuse of the language, the more I began to wonder if I was taking the wrong position about the legitimate function of dictionaries. Eventually, I began to write Milam’s Dictionary of Distinctions, Differences, and Other Odds and Ends. I still tinker with it from time to time. Both documents are available in The Sovereign’s Library. One thing that I accomplished was to understand and formulate the necessary qualities of a good definition. A good definition must be general, concise, and unambiguous.
I noticed that your definition defines freedom not in terms of the condition itself, but in terms of somebody’s response to the condition. That’s an interesting approach, but it’s tricky. Something that causes happiness for Vladimir Putin will be different from something that causes happiness for me, but they’re both freedom, according to the definition. I suppose that it’s good that the definition is nonjudgmental but it might help scoundrels to claim bad behavior as legitimate freedom just because it makes them happy. Of course, they already do that anyway, so maybe that doesn’t matter. Another thing to consider is that being free might make you happy but being happy doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re free. I was happier after my first marriage than I was before, but I was less free. Here’s something else to ponder. Thinking about your definition, I looked up some definitions of freedom in my old dictionaries. Some definitions were better than others, but I was reminded of a statement by Edgar Pangborn. In 1972, in Angel’s Egg, he wrote, “One who can define kindness only as the absence of cruelty has surely not begun to understand the nature of either.” Human behavior, as I see it, suggests that maybe we don’t understand freedom well enough to be able to define it. You’ve set for yourself a difficult task to do so, a task that recalls to my mind the legacy of Mere Keep. It’s an interesting definition. Thank you for sending it to me.
Sam Aurelius Milam III
•Any society or community that’s too large for its members to gather in one place, all at the same time, and vote by a show of hands, is too large to be a democracy.
•If you say something over and over again, enough times, then eventually people will begin to hear it. They might not understand it or believe it but, at least, they’ll hear it.
My thanks to the following: El Dorado Bob; Betty; Eric, of Stockton, California; and Sir Donald the Elusive.
Signs That You’re a Hillbilly
Original Source Unknown. Forwarded by Don G.
• Every electrical outlet in your house is a fire hazard.
• Your dog and your wallet are both on chains.
• Your Junior/Senior Prom had day care.
Original Source Unknown. Forwarded by Don G.
• If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a fool about it.
• If you can’t get your work done in the first 24 hours, then work nights.
• After any salary raise, you’ll have less pay at the end of the month than you did before.
• If you’re good, then you’ll be assigned all of the work. If you’re really good, then you’ll get out of it.
• You’re always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk.
• The people who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.
• Keep your boss's boss off your boss's back.
• When you don't know what to do, walk fast and look worried.
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— Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor