Thursday, I had to head over to the Nearby Small City for a chiropractor appointment and a Walmart run. The drive over for the most part can be characterized as “winding my way through the byways of America”. It’s pretty rural. Driving along, I happened on something on the road. Swerving to straddle it, I saw it was box turtle. After a quick glance in the rear view, I hit the brakes hard, then backed up and flipped on my hazard lights. Sitting in the middle of the eastbound lane was the biggest box turtle I’ve ever seen.
I’ve thought box turtles were cool since my Dad brought the first one home for me. I’d keep them a day or two and turn them loose in the woods behind our house. Neither of us realized we were not doing Mr. Turtle any favors.
These days you can search the Intertubz and get a million hits for what to do with a box turtle in the middle of a road. You pick him/her up and walk them to a safe spot on the side of the road they were heading for and turn them loose. This way Mr. Turtle doesn’t get squished by some redneck asshole who thinks running over something is “fun”. Yeah, that happens a lot around here. No love for our state reptile from the mouth-breathers.
As I said, this was the biggest box turtle I’ve ever seen. Walking up I thought it might be a small snapping turtle it was so big. It took both hands to pick it up and carry it over to the grass on the other side of the road. I’m not sure how old he was, but I know they can live a century in captivity. I set it down and wished it continued happiness–whatever happiness is for a box turtle.
I have no idea why the turtle was trying to cross the road (“Why did the libertarian box turtle cross the road? None of your damn business. Am I being detained?”). Outside of its immediate need–I need to be over there–I doubt the turtle had any long-range plan in mind.
Musing on this as I drove down the road, it struck me as being the same as many of the people I see on an average day. While they know that they’re heading to work, the grocery store or the chiropractor, most don’t seem to have any plans past this weekend. As long as there is beer and sportsball, they’re good.
In good times, you can get away with this, sometimes for years. In bad times, you’d better be thinking ahead. You need to pay attention to your surroundings, otherwise known as “maintaining situational awareness”.
You should have a “newsfeed” of sorts. A set of sources that you visit regularly, and a larger set you visit as needs dictate. If you’ve been doing this, I think it’s difficult to miss a global trend toward totalitarianism. Putin in Russia may be the poster boy, but Orban in Hungary, Lopez-Obrador in Mexico, Xi in China and whoever’s running the space cadet in the White House are trying hard to catch up. So is every two-bit strongman in every other country in the world. They want power and it looks like a good time to try and grab it. The World’s Policeman is drooling in the corner, so there’s no one to stop them.
Every government in the world wants to control the news you see and hear. Every. Government. China and Russia are ahead on this, but the US is catching up fast. Various European countries are pushing to catch up as well. Various Third World countries (looking at the Arab states here) turn information access on and off like a 3-year-old who has just discovered the function of a light switch. What’s your plan to get accurate information when the US of A has succumbed to censorship and the Intertubz is now your highly curated and monitored window to the world?
Every country thinks they’re immune to the consequences of its actions. Russia acts as if it can hemorrhage an entire generation (or two, maybe 3) of men in a war without suffering dire demographic consequences 20 years down the road. Canada’s government has been acting as if they’re going to re-institute serfdom in their population since 2021. Japan is arming up for a Pacific war with a population that has been in negative growth for the last 13 years. Perhaps they have an army of Asimoes hidden somewhere. China wants to forcefully “reunify” Taiwan and seems to believe that they have made enough preparations that the consequences that will be visited on them by other nations won’t matter. The US acts as if Bretton Woods is still a thing and the world, especially our “allies”, simply have to go along with our weaponizing of the dollar and our economic system. Here’s a hint–they don’t. Countries ranging from China to Brazil are beginning to conduct trade in currencies other than the dollar. Funny what happens when the global reserve currency is weaponized. It won’t be funny when the dollar is displaced from 30-40% of global trading. It really won’t be funny if it loses that reserve currency status. Want stuff from other countries? You might want to buy it now.
I mentioned demographics in relation to Russia and its war with Ukraine along with Japan and its rearmament. We all need to be aware that we are, in every country save a very few, in the middle of a demographic crash. Populations are shrinking and will shrink further and faster until they stabilize somewhere. Malthus can now safely be sent to the ash heap of history. Our problem is going to be having enough people to keep the society we know going in some fashion. If you think there are shortages of labor in the US now, wait about 20 or so years. It’s going to get so much better. Get used to checking yourself out at Walmart. Such things aren’t going away.
Hunger is coming. Probably not to every country, but to more than we’ve seen since I was a kid. Food and the inputs needed to grow it are also being weaponized. It’s still early in the spring–do some gardening. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, maybe just a flower pot or three on the balcony. But grow something edible. That practice is probably going to come in handy. We’re probably OK in the US, but as the global food supply gets shorter, the price of food will rise everywhere, including the US. You can free up some funds by raising some of your own. I have seeds starting as I write.
Speaking of rising food prices, the price of everything else is up and going up as well, with no sign of the end in sight. US interest rates have been forced up in an attempt to fight this (unless it’s your deposit in the bank, in which case they thank you for your contribution to their continued financial well-being), and we’re exporting that pain to the rest of the world. The world doesn’t care for this. Countries with both dollar-denominated debt and small economies, such as Sri Lanka, are suffering. Wait until enough of them are hurting but their militaries are still functional. The wars over resources will start. We may not be on the sidelines for these. We can be a meddlesome country.
Energy is prepared to make a break to the upside again. Do something, whatever you can, to ensure you have multiple ways to carry out the daily tasks of life, from heating in the winter, cooking, obtaining and purifying water and visiting the grocery store/food ration distribution centers. Controlling access to energy is a good way to control a population.
Violence, the old-fashioned local, home-grown stuff, is unsurprisingly getting worse. How about those Florida teens who murdered the other Florida teens over something that had gone sideways in their burglary ring? Or the Delaware mall shooting? Or the South Carolina beach shootings? Or the Tennessee legislators who led a mob during its attack on the same legislature? The years of no serious consequences for serious crimes are bearing bitter fruit. Know your neighborhood and surrounding areas in detail. Pay very close attention to the happenings in your larger but still local area. Chances are these are the first places where danger will appear.
Guard your health. It appears to me that we can no longer place great faith in our healthcare system. As with nearly everything in our lives, it isn’t run for our benefit. Consider that Big Pharma and the various “healthcare systems” around the country are mostly about providing treatment for, rather than curing, disease. As much as you can, do what you need to do to improve your health and get off of any drugs you currently take if possible. Trust me on this one if you trust me on no other. I’m a case study at this point.
Yeah, I’m a little less than sanguine about the next few years–or decades. I have no crystal ball that I can use to see the future. I take the past as my guide. For example, the history of Germany in the period between the World Wars. The decline and fall of the Roman Empire. The 1960s and 70s in the US and Europe, particularly revolving around the social dislocations of the time. Then there is African history in the post-colonial era and the Spanish conquest of Central and South America. All of those have scenarios to learn from.
At the same time, don’t let our situation get you down. Mankind has survived this before and it will again. The sun will still rise each morning and set each evening. There will still be joy to be found (among the ruins?) in daily life. It’s perfectly possible that things won’t be so bad, and all the stuff that’s crappy now is swept away and replaced with new shiny stuff that will carry us forward. Things may get hard, but they’ll get better again as the cycle repeats. “Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, weak men create hard times”.
Be ready to be and create strong men. Women too. This is an “all hands on deck” sort of thing.
2 thoughts on “Destination: Where?”
Nice picture. Very healthy looking male. Hopefully he’s looking for love, so we can have more box turtles for the next generation.
That’s not the one I picked up. That’s just a generic grabbed off the Intertubz picture. The one I picked up was 10″ or so nose to tail. And covered in mud. He may have just dug his way our of his winter home.