Sunday, April 14, 2013

Frightened Pedestrians and Social Collapse

Well, things are returning to normal around here. I've done a couple of loads of laundry, took Olga on a long walk, and braved reopening my work e-mail after a couple of weeks off. Last night, I started rounding up substitute teachers for next week. Back on the horse, as they say.

Olga managed to terrify a woman (in complete head-to-toe Muslim hejab) and her little girl yesterday. It was so embarrassing. We were walking through a bunch of other pedestrians on Ladbroke Grove when Olga spotted a pigeon and shot toward it, diving between the woman and the girl. Olga then cut back toward me, wrapping her leash around the girl. Both of them were gasping and frantic. I untangled Olga and apologized profusely, pointing out that the dog was just going after the bird. The woman seemed to accept that, and I got the heck out of there. I'm glad the father wasn't around. (Muslims in general do not particularly like dogs, which they consider unclean. Olga isn't unclean, just impulsive!)

Dave and I watched a documentary last night called "Collapse," outlining the peak-oil, doomsday projections of a guy named Michael Ruppert. It was an interesting movie, though I'm a bit perplexed why Ruppert -- of all people -- deserves to be put in such a spotlight. I think some of what he's saying is being said by others with more credentials, in a more balanced way. (He argues that because we're running out of oil, the globe is headed for a period of sudden decline and starvation.) Listening to Ruppert is a little like listening to some old guy in a trailer park who's stocking up on bottled water and burying gold coins to offset the coming apocalypse.

I don't exactly disbelieve him, but I also don't think stockpiling gold and self-propagating seeds (as Ruppert recommends) and other goods is the answer. I don't see decline as such an immediate, rapid event. I think we'll have to adapt as it occurs, because who knows what will happen or when? Maybe we'll eat more locally, consume less, surrender our luxuries, lose access to high-level medical care, have fewer children. Farm in our backyards. (Or on our balconies -- ha!) After all, much of our energy use now is essentially waste. When that's scaled back -- inevitably as prices rise -- we ought to have time to adjust.

Big topic, I know. Interesting movie.

(Photo: A guy collecting discarded bread from a bakery in Hackney.)


  1. The idea of a sudden collapse, the apocalypse, is so appealing, but I agree with you that these things take time.

    Just yesterday I was thinking about how impatient we are for social change. I've seen great, dramatic changes in my life span, but in the moment, it never feels fast enough.

    We are a very impatient species, even when contemplating doomsday.

  2. Also - I just read yesterday that gold is declining in value, so poor Robert will be screwed. Oh well.

  3. I don't know -- I don't have the survivalist gene. I mean I'm as into life as the next person but the more extreme measures that some might take to keep it going (for oneself)seem absurd to me.

  4. Is he going through the trash bags to find the bread? Ugh.

    Bella and Olga have many things in common, like over-zealousism. Hmm... is that a word? If not, I just made it one!

    Ya know, it will be whatever it is, and there is really nothing we can do to stop it, prevent it, or plan for it.

  5. It's at once and amazing that the door of that bakery could just as well be down the street from me in the Mission, or Jackson Heights or a less elegant neighborhood in Barcelona. We are all connected, unique, and share a common history.