Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Please Place Your Order for The Five Stages of Collapse

This book has been five years in the making, and now I am finally in a position to finish the job and put a copy directly in your hands. I will even sign it. I have contracted with a fulfillment center to promptly ship out copies of The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors' Toolkit as soon as they come off the press in early May. By popular demand, I have also added an option to let you order an autographed, numbered copy, for a little extra. The book will eventually filter out to various online bookstores and maybe even a few actual real ones, but it will take a few months for that to happen, and half a year or so until a few of your dollars trickle down to me. But if you pre-order the book directly from me, then I get paid first, and in return I will personally see to it that your copy is included in the very first print run and that you get it in May. Your direct support is very important: it is what will allow me to continue blogging and writing books. Thank you.

Please note: Although the order is placed through PayPal, you don't need to have a PayPal account; just click "Don't have a PayPal Account?" during check-out and enter a credit or debit card number. Also, please make extra-double-sure that the shipping address associated with your PayPal account is up-to-date and correct, and will remain that way through May. If you do submit an order with an incorrect address, write to me and I will issue a refund so you that can resubmit it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Announcement: The Five Stages of Collapse

Starting next Tuesday and for the next three months this book will be available for pre-order right on this blog. (It will also be available elsewhere, but on terms that don't come close to making book-writing a sustainable proposition, so if you want me to keep writing you should get the book directly from me.) As the publication date nears, I will also be publishing some excerpts. [Minor note: there has been some confusion regarding the book's subtitle; please ignore it.]

This book is based on the identically titled article I published on this blog in February of 2008, just as financial collapse was starting to gather steam. Since then, this article has been read nearly 100,000 times on this blog alone (it has been reposted on many other web sites) and it is its enduring popularity that has convinced me to write a book-length treatment.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Ecology of Hell

The End of Fun
A few days ago I went to the St. Petersburg State Hermitage, again, this time to see a rather extraordinary exhibit. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a work by Jake and Dinos Chapman, two English artists. Titled The End of Fun, it is an elaborate tableau of hell, carved up into nine rectangular sub-tableaux, each piece placed in a glass case. (It is a recreation of a previous work, titled Hell, which was lost in a warehouse fire.) The glass cases are, in turn, arranged in the shape of a swastika. The effect of viewing each one is like that of peering into a terrarium in some sort of menagerie where the animals—at the time the clock stopped—were busy torturing and killing each other in maximally cruel and unusual, highly ritualized and choreographed ways.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Interview on Business Matters

In this interview, recorded late last year, I discuss the differences in orientation between Russia, which is changing perhaps too swiftly, and the US, which remains stuck in the past. I also talk about community, and about lack of it, and what it means to live among people who insist on their right to remain strangers and who expect nothing from each other or their public officials. I also mention the force behind American political and social stasis: the desperate wish for a future that resembles the past—the American equivalent of Soviet nostalgia.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Image of the Enemy

During my brief winter sojourn in Russia a tiny cold war has erupted between Russia and the USA. First, Mitt Romney calls Russia “our number one enemy” during the presidential election campaign. Then, after the election, the US passes the “Magnitsky Act” which promises to arrest funds and deny visas to certain Russian officials based on a secret list. The Russian legislature then responds with the “Dima Yakovlev Bill,” named after a Russian boy who died of heat stroke after his American adoptive parents left him locked in a car for nine hours. In addition to vaguely symmetric retaliatory measures, this bill bans Americans from adopting Russian orphans. This last little add-on may initially seem rather daft as state policy, but it has some interesting properties as Russian propaganda, of which you may not be aware. Although from the US perspective this move has an inane “...or I will shoot my dog” element to it, spun around the other way it makes it look as if valiant Russian politicians are trying to stop American fiends from torturing and killing innocent Russian orphans.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Out of Ideas

It's the first of the year, which is a traditional time for prognosticators to do some prognosticating. Since I have already explained at length why it is quite possible to accurately predict that something will eventually happen, but near-impossible to predict when it will happen (due to total lack of relevant data on which to base such predictions) I won't repeat myself here. Nor will I offer any predictions as to the timing of various stages of collapse. (I know that the USA will collapse politically, financially and commercially, but I don't know when; nor does anyone else.) Instead, I would like to point out what I think is unlikely to happen in 2013: I find it unlikely that this will be the year when the various elites running the show here (elected and unelected officials, academic authorities, corporations, think-tanks, mass media, etc.) will admit defeat: “The financial collapse of 2008 was the end of an era. What came before cannot be brought back. We have been pretending that it can be brought back for half a decade, but now we give up. Let's let the whole house of cards fall down, so that we can start over.” Do you see any of them rising up and saying something like that? I don't.