Friday, August 19, 2011

No shirt, no shoes, no problem


Though we’ve had Transition Voice for almost a year now, last month was the first time I talked to Russian-American peak oil and economic analyst Dmitry Orlov, whose popular website, Club Orlov, offers both his own thoughts, and a vigorous community of like-minded readers.
Because Orlov takes a more skeptical, less forgiving look at collapse, I think I might have been tuning him out to a degree, considering myself not doomer enough for his club. Or maybe I had Panglossia when it came to him.

But my prejudices were upended when I took the time to read his book Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Experience and American Prospects. Erik Curren just reviewed the book for us, but I have my own take, too, in fewer words; it’s awesome.

If you can call reading about peak oil and collapse “awesome.”

Infinitely readable — a page turner even — Orlov’s direct experience with Soviet collapse translates into an excellent historical perspective supported by research and a clear context. Yes, he’s pretty blunt, and doesn’t candy-coat things, but at the same time he’s efficient and even somewhat elegant in his writing. It’s a quick yet informative read and I highly recommend it.

Soon after I spoke with him and, still nervous about my perception of his intensity, I went into the interview not knowing what this guy would be like.

But like most tough guys, he turned out to be a big pussycat. Very nice, very approachable, funny, insightful, easy to talk to. Rather than finding a stodgy analyst of intellectual information — though he is quite sharp — I’d describe his approach as “moving with, rather than against, collapse.” That was one reason for the title for this article, “No shirt, no shoes, no problem.” Orlov’s is a view seasoned by experience, not just theoretical predictions. So there’s an insightful depth there that takes things seriously, while also operating from a deep sense that it’s “just life.”

Oh, and it was my first shirtless interview. Orlov, that is. He was shirtless. It was a very hot day and I interviewed him via Skype. He was on his boat. It was hot here, too. The heat wave of ’11. My shirt stayed on.



Raye said...

Thanks for continuing to try to help people understand and anticipate what we are headed toward. It reminds me of hospice in a way. I appreciate your patience, having to say the same things again and again. Each time I read a review or interview, I feel a little more aware, a little more willing to deal with things as they are.

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

Hi again Dmitry, Greetings!

I notice that you have a smallish solar array on your vessel, and I wanted to ask a technical question:

I have none on my boat yet, but I was talking recently with another skipper who has an array of four panels of about the same size as the ones you seem to have, together with a set of eight 12-volt deep-cycle (leisure) batteries. Interestingly, there was NO attempt to make his collector-array follow the sun, and they were all mounted horizontally on his cabin roof. Yet even so, he reckoned that, year-round, cloud or shine, they collected enough power to keep his battery of batteries always topped up pretty-well full. I think he said that he rotated the draw on the batteries, so that one was in use whilst the others were charging.

He drove a set of small-demand electrical appliances with this. Mostly led-lights, electronics, internet wi-fi, and such, I think. Nothing heavy of course.

How does that match with your experience? Could you offer a short account, please?

Thanks Dmitry, as ever, for all your great work. Solidarity tovaritch!

Ric said...

The Zen master of collapse without the stink of Zen.

Was struck by how you say when speaking to Russions about collapse: "Well, the best reaction you hope for is, “Oh, hmm, very interesting.” Why is this? Is it because a drowning person's farthest interest is talking about drowning? Or it's bad form? Or completely off the radar?

Recently chatted with the brilliant Nicole Foss at a Transition Town meeting--and was struck by the complete lack of humor in those responding to her graceful presentation. I've friends who served in VietNam--and listening to those responses, was reminded of the earnest fear of Vietnam recruits. How different from the dignity of my friends who survived--who's souls were destroyed, but found new life on the other side as simple people for whom each second is a gift.

One of the best things we can do when talking about overshoot is provide perspective that it's not all about losing. Great work.

Jerry McManus said...

This is interesting:

America's financial doomsday

A bit on the hyperbolic side, but he makes a good case that we are indeed in the midst of a financial collapse.

Which, as I recall, is stage one of the "five stages of collapse". Can commercial and political collapse be far behind?


escapefromwisconsin said...

Bachmann warns of Soviet rise

From USA today: "What people recognize is that there's a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline. They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward," Bachmann said on Jay Sekulow's radio show.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Warning: All further comments on Stupid American Politicians, Teletubbies, Smurfs or Purple Dinosaurs will be deleted to save everyone time.

michigan native said...

Thank you, Dmitry. Aside from its value as comedy, people thinking the voting will make a difference aside or worry about ways to save their wealth or even profit from this adversity without getting lynched (and rightfully so, I sometimes think). Apparently this Bachmann clown has not yet realized that the USSR collapsed, and it totally ignorant/oblivious to the fact that it did for the same reasons the US is about to collapse. Does she also realize the third reich and the Ottaman empire vanished as well? She should be a comedian, Palin an airline stewardess, and the rest of the two party circus clowns be the whores and high stakes gamblers and debt addicts they have been for many decades, if not from the beginning, selling us, "we the people", down the drain time after time. It should be clear to all why this JOKE of a political system is a major ingredient in this toxic, collapse soup. Runaway military budgets, ballooning foregn debt, massive trade imbalances, a reliance on imports (oil), and a corrupt and unresponsive out of control government that no longer pretends to represent the best interests of the people.....toss in unwinnable wars in Afghanistan (with Libya and Syria next on the list to force feed the dollar and our "superior democracy and way of treating people" and other such BS), toss in some BP oil disasters and a few hurricane Katrinas along with alot of other toxins (the foreclosure crisis, the latest stats that tell us that 1 in 5 children live at or below the poverty level, based on a ridiculously low rate of $22,500/household....if the real figures that our ever so benevolent government creates reflected reality, so an income of 40,000 per household, than make that more like 3 out of every 5 children, with few if any jobs awaiting them but trillions of dollars of debt and nuclear waste that they will have to deal with) and is not at all to see why worrying about Russia, China, or India will be the last things on our minds

This statement about the "USSR" stands up there with that son of a Bush before Obummer yapping about the nation of Africa.

ghpacific said...

Some innovative sailboat tech from South Africa here and here Hoping for the return of ferro-cement tech without the problems.