Archive for June, 2007

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So what do you think?

June 24, 2007

How’s this; this blog has Village in it’s title because it’s supposed to be about starting up a village but instead of any postings about how that might be happening it’s mostly been about coping with not being in a village. And most of that  stuff has been about coping with not living in a village while we raise our children.I’ve recently come to the conclusion that at this stage of our lives we just don’t have the energy to do something like starting an ecovillage – even if it would be a better place for us in the long run. Taking on non-coecive parenting in a world that has no time for it and no models of how you might do it seems to be even harder than the usual nuclear family situation that most people are struggling with (probably because we don’t really know what we’re doing!)

At the moment (as previously mentioned) we’d just like to be able to find families doing homeschooling so that our five year old has someone to play with, and my most ambitious dream is to do something farmlet style with one other homeschooling family either on the same piece of land or right next door.

Even that is looking quite difficult to acheive though, there’s only a couple of families that we know who would be candidates, only one of them is up here in Northland where we’re looking at property and they aren’t in a position to do anything about it right now for financial reasons.

So we’re contemplating starting something by ourselves and getting people on later but we may not have enough money to do that and stay debt free. Plus I am discovering that I can’t stand being isolated.

While Karen could live in the middle of the wops with no one else visible I find that I prefer to be in a busier setting. I don’t mean a city though, just a small place like Raglan (pop 3000) where we have been for the last couple of years. Failing that though I could probably handle living in a rural area if there were plenty of people going by and I could see a number of farms down a valley. I really am very civilised:-)

I also have a real hankering to be able to see the sea but even in the far north of New Zealand we may not be able to afford that. In fact the problem is that most people in New Zealand live near the coast and it is that land that has really skyrocketed in price in the last few years.

There is also the issue of post crash security to think about.  I heard a story last night of a cow being butchered on a farm in the dead of the night nera here, with only the intestines left in the field for the farmer to find the next day. If that’s already happening then there will be good cause to be hidden away in the coming years. How people will cope around here will be partially dependant on the speed of the crash but really it’s crystal ball gazing and I don’t want to have to bet the house on what will happen.

So, since I have no one to bounce ideas of in my physical world I thought I’d ask you guys in my virutal community (what an apalling phrase) what your thoughts are and what you are doing or trying to do about this issue? And if there are any Kiwis reading at the moment I’d especially be interested to hear from you.

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I said it once but I think I got away with it

June 21, 2007

This has been on my mind ever since I started this blog but somehow I’ve never got to it until now. A Thursday a while back I had two interviews lined up on my radio show. The first was of a member of the NZ Green party and the second was of regular interviewee Jon Eisen (editor of Uncensored magazine). The first interview was my big splash, first time coverage of peak oil intended to bring an IMPORTANT SUBJECT to the attention of my listeners.So I did that and then came Jon. I think the interview was supposed to be about free energy but Jon soon got on to rusbbishing Peakniks for being a bunch of unwitting suckers in a conspiracy to raise oil prices. I was a bit pissed about having my show hijacked and Jon is from New York so we were soon involved in a heated debate at the end of which I ended up saying something along the lines of; so we’ll probably never know whether peak oil is a scam or not but either we it’s going to happen to us.

Jon rounded it off by telling everyone to go to their computer and google ‘abiotic oil’. I myself found several sites, (including Ran’s, so it was definitely worth it!). Of specific interest were the Campaign for an Informed America run by a guy called Dave who had intersting stuff but who kept going off on tangents about a fued he was having with Mike Ruppert, leading me worry a bit about his judgement.

  Far more credible was this site by J F Kenney who explained in great detail that the abiotic oil theory had been developed by the Russians a few decades ago and that the science had gone through a long periof of debate and was now considered to be accepted fact in the Russian scientific community. He also said that they had been drilling for oil very successfully using this theory for some time. My problem with this site was that it was very heavy on the science and I just didn’t have the time to wade through it all.

Now if you mention that you’ve been reading about abiotic oil to peak oilers they’re inclined to laugh at you in the same way that a rationalist will if you admit to believing in god. I’ve seen people’s entire credibility destroyed on peak oil lists with the simple but devastating “…but then he believes in abiotic oil”. Typical of the rebuttals of abiotic oil is this one by Richard Heinberg where he claims that only a small proportion of Russian scientists support the abiotic oil theory, he makes no attempt to explain how he came by this information, nor does he appear to speak Russian (unlike JF Kenney) so I’m kind of concerned about his biases too.

 

  This is all a bit worrying, there seems far too much expectant excitement amongst peak oilers at the prospect of consumer culture and it’s consumers getting what they deserve. Aside from the dubious nature of this excitement it also seems to blind people to other things that are going on.I’ve seen people rattling off lists of all the countries whose oil production is in the process of peaking without the slightest sign of awareness that the odds of that are actually quite small and that the peak refers to a global peak only and that it won’t necessarily coincide with any one country or field’s peak.

Coinciding with this first coincidence however we also have two more peaks. One in world wide natural gas production and another in world wide food production. Yes, that’s right; peak food.

On top of all that it would also appear that the US economy is also being being deliberately driven over a cliff by an apparently blind and incompetent  US administration.

  I don’t claim expertise in any of these specific areas, and I’m open to having my mind changed but I do wonder just how unlikely the coincidences are and I especially wonder why hardly anyone is prepared to say it our loud. The only site I’ve noticed asking questions about what might be behind this is Cryptogon. Peakoilers are kind of scary, sometimes I even find them more scary than peak oil itself.

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Torn

June 18, 2007

This is a really strange time in my life. We spent the first 6 years of our marriage attempting to become debt free so that we would be able to do whatever we wanted with our lives except now that we have achieved that goal are a few problems. Apart from the fact that we don’t really know what we want to do there’s the added dilemma that we may not be mortgage free as we first thought.

Six months ago, after selling our house we went on a bus trip around New Zealand. During that time there the pre-existing property boom in our town went into over drive and we got back to discover that houses in our price range had gone up by about 30%! While the money in our bank account had not. We could go somewhere else, downscale or do another house renovation to get back where we were but mentally I am at a point where I thought I wouldn’t have to do that anymore.

Naturally readers who don’t own their own home (and possible never will) are laughing at this terrible predicament, but that’s what having money does to you – gives you new things to worry about – like what would become of you if you lost it.

The answer of course is that we’d only be back where we had been previously but somehow this goes against the myth of perpetual progress that underpins much of our value sytem.

Our next problem is what I will do to make a living – I can’t even begin to answer this question. There are a few options, most of which I don’t feel very excited about and most of which don’t meet a criteria that I have set myself: That I should work with people instead of by myself because that suits my personality type and I tend to go a bit crazy when I’m by myself.

Next is where we are going to live. We spent that entire 6 months of our bus trip trying to decide between the areas of Nelson and Northland.

In Nelson we have my extended family (my parents, who currently live near us were both born there and would move back if we went there) and close friends who raise their kids the same way as us and have been very supportive in the past.

In Northland we have my wife’s family and other friends who are very close to us and who are homseschooling their kids as we plan to do.

We decided we couldn’t chose either because then one of us would be permanently seperated from their family and ended up deciding we should stay where we were. Except we can’t do that because no one is homeschooling in Raglan, and the two families who might have are our two sets of friends who moved (one to Nelson and one to Northland) so we thought we’d move to the nearest large town (where my parents live) Hamilton. But then we tried and…

This must be a problem at a kind of spiritual level, I have this theory that Raglan (which could be described as being alternative) exists because of Hamilton, which is to say that Hamilton is so conservative that Raglan was forced into existence to kind of balance it out. Anyway the end result is that we’d rather die than live near Hamilton. So….

Now we’re up north staying at my in-laws for a week while we try to find a piece of land where we can build a mud house, grow a food forest and maybe have a few animals. Except….

I have found that I am severly attached to Raglan. My parents shifted about every 3 years while I was growing up so I’m really surprised to find that the thought of leaving town really really hurts. Yes, I have immersed myself in the community there but our best friends no longer live there and I though this would be easy to do. To make matter worse moving up here would take me even further away from my extended family to whom I am also greatly attached. I have already mentioned my uncle who is important to me but I also have become very attached to my cousins now that they are all adults and it tears at me that I will see even less of them. I’d quite like to move down to where they are except….

Karen would never be able to live away from her family (especially one sister in particular) so I couldn’t ask that of her so here we are with everyone important to us scattered to the four winds (my brother is in Japan too) and we don’t have a good answer.

I don’t know why this affects us so badly when it clearly isn’t affecting anyone else. Both my parents and Karen’s fourth sister (also in Hamilton) said we shouldn’t stick around just because of them and that we had to ‘live our own’ lives but they don’t understand that they are our lives.

I have at least worked out that whatever I do with my life in the future it should have people and community as it’s first priority but moving away from family and places where I have put down roots in order to do that seems to be something of a contradiction.

Lastly, I hope this post hasn’t bored everyone senseless, I tend to find writing like this helps clarify things for me but right now I’m along way from knowing what that right answer is.

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So tell us about your childhood

June 15, 2007

A couple of comments about my last post, this from ‘an elder’

I’m almost 60, and the dynamic you describe could have easily applied in my case, and for many of my contemporaries. …. It seems like there is a little too much stereotyping going on between the generations

This is perfectly true, and it is important to remember that the baby boomers were themselves products of their own parents but the argument that they distanced themselves from their children still stands and I think has a lot do with my generation’s antipathy towards them. And yes that is stereotyping but I’ve received a lot of pointless grief from family members, teachers, bosses and anyone else who saw fit over the years so it feels like a pretty safe one to make.

And this from Ran who points out that:

kids have been raised better and better throughout history, so our parents look bad to us, but compared to their parents, they were probably doing pretty good.

Alice Miller says that while this may be true it doesn’t undo the fact that our parents used a bad parenting pedagogy on us and that we need an opportunity to recover from it. She says that while we are saying these things about our parents we can’t begin to heal. So even if our parents were raised by the devil himself, feeling angry at our own treatment is still appropriate. To offer excuses merely prolongs the damaged state.

I’m not making a big deal about this because I think someone is trying to downplay my own situation (which isn’t bad at all by comparative standards). I’m making a big deal because we need to hear that it’s OK to feel angry about how we were treated as a child – as often as possible. I mean, even though I’ve just written what I think is a sound argument I can still hear the old voice in my head telling me that I have nothing to complain about and not to be so silly. It’s pretty hard to shut it up.

As for the reality of this, it’s pretty hard, I actually like my parents, if they ever read this stuff on my blog they’d be pretty sad and I actually feel sorry for them just thinking about it so it’s confusing to live with to say the least.

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I’ve branched out into different areas than Ran was talking about because I think it’s stuff that needs to be said but as for his take on each generation being better than the next I’d like to see more nuance in that. I have yet to read up on deMause but I’m pretty sure that severe trauma can set a generation back a bit. For instance, what about the two generations who went through successive world wars?

There’s a big difference between my generation and my grandparent’s, if we were to track that rate of change backwards I think we’d quickly get back to people who were completely incapable of raising children so I’m sure the wars made a difference. There are many traditions that refer to the seventh generation as being a significant one so I’m going to nominate that as the period of time it takes for trauma to wear off.

It’s undoubtedly more complicated than that though because the implication is that the human race could get back to being perfectly well adjusted in the space of seven generations and that just doesn’t sound right. It feels like there is something pushing us in the opposite direction from our natural inclination to improve so perhaps I might suggest a good versus evil situation contributing to a constant rise and fall in the quality of human behaviour and experience. It’s hardly an original idea but I like that it fits outside our culture’s myth of perpetual improvement.

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He said I said

June 14, 2007

Ran has a quote from me on his site about how my generation dislikes the baby boomers. Along with correcting several spelling mistakes he’s also edited the quote which  has changed the original meaning a little. I’m not complaining though because a) there is obviously something in Ran’s edit  that makes sense to his discussion and b) it was a fairly incoherent throwaway comment in the first place and frankly I’m not sure even I was aware of what I was trying to say. 

Here’s the entire quote with the deleted portion highlighted; 

I think the reason boomers think the following generation will hate them is because their children’s generation does hate them for being so selfish as well as being such awful parents. Most wouldn’t articulate is that way but I always have this lingering feeling that I’m not doing enough whenever I hang round older people – that I might be lazy. 

So what was my subconscious pushing up to the surface? Apart from the fact that the baby-boom generation thinks they will be hated in the future because they sense how much they are hated now I also think my generation is expecting them to be hated for the same reason. 

It’s about what’s been repressed and the key thing there is what bad parents this generation has made. Doubtless their poor performance has been highlighted by their own lack of maturity but basically we hate them for way they have treated us. 

We tend to make excuses for them like ‘they did their best’ and ‘it wasn’t easy for them’ and while it’s true our generation isn’t doing any better the fact remains that we’re disconnected from our elders and that there is good reason for the current rapid growth in retirement villages. 

Our relationship with our parents is always complicated but there is definitely a part of us that doesn’t want to know these people. Here’s a quote from a book I’m going to buy as soon as possible, Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Nuefield. 

“…tools of behaviour modification are recycled forms of shunning…they help create conditions that increase children’s susceptibility to peer orientation.  The withdrawal of closeness (or threatening its loss) is such an effective means of behaviour control because it triggers the child’s worst fear–that of being abandoned.”
…”In effect, we are inducing the child to seek his attachment needs elsewhere…we are effectively throwing our children to their peers.” 

The quote is addressing the issue of peer-pressure but from it we can see how western parents end up shunning their children and breaking the bonds of attachment at an early age – and it stands to reason that we might not like our parents much or care for them when our experience (as small children) is of them not caring for us. 

I think most of us are not fully aware of this and tend to project other issues like how the boomer’s voracious consumerism is bad for the environment, onto our hate. Admittedly it’s a good reason to dislike them but not the main one I think. 

The other part of my quote that needs looking at is the “lingering feeling that I’m not doing enough whenever I hang round older people – that I might be lazy”. 

All this is on my mind at the moment because of an experience of ours during the trip. We visited relatives of mine down south where I got to spend a lot of time with a favourite uncle of mine. During the trip my respect for him rose even more than it had been as I started to figure out what was different about him. Essentially he’s not judgmental and he’s listens.  

How many over 50 year olds (men especially) do you know like that? 

Normally around the older generation (and I’m not just talking about my parents here) I’m getting vibes that I’m not quite measuring up, that I’m a bit lazy and need to try harder. Or perhaps I’m getting actual words to that effect. Around this particular uncle however there are no heavy vibes and no ‘you shoulds’, only a ready set of ears. It was this vibe-void, like silence after a loud engine has stopped, that made me sit up and think. 

Around him I am able to feel entirely comfortable and accepted, it’s an unusual situation but an extremely pleasant one. It was great to be able to bask in his company and sad to have to leave. 

He’s also the sort of person you feel sure you can rely on. Maybe it’s because having listened to me I felt confident he would actually have some idea of what my needs might be. 

These days I feel like there is no one around who I can really, really rely on, and that while I might be support for a lot of people there is no around who can take over when I need a rest – and man am I tired. I feel like I’m the last port of call except when he’s in the room – at which point I can relax because there is finally a proper elder in the house. It’s the only time in my life when I’ve really felt like this and now that I’ve had it I realise it’s not only something I need but in fact is something I am supposed to have. 

The only thing now is how I turn him into a role model for myself. Aside from his mother being a great woman a major advantage he has over me is that he was the last of 4 children and was probably left to his own devices as a child. This effect has been mirrored in his own 4th child who is possibly the maturest 18 year old I have ever met. On the surface it seems odd, she grew up in a very loving family with 5 people older than her for support but her mother says she can barely remember this child’s childhood. 

It seems to me that the less we try do for our kids the better off they might be and I don’t like to think what this implies for me as a first born child having received the full force of my parent’s good intentions. 

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It’s funny how writing these posts helps clarify issues for me, having written all of this it’s pretty plain to see the deep unmet need for unconditional love that is lurking in me, and for that matter, everyone else in our society. It’s no wonder it’s such a fight to do the right thing for my kids.

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For Sale: Used House Bus

June 13, 2007

Yes we’re back from our summer road trip, we ended up taking 3 months longer than we originally planned because it seemed a bit crazy to screw up the whole experience by rushing everywhere. By the end though the strength of the cold and the rain meant we were looking forward to settling down again.Actually we’ve been back a week and a half but the whole adjustment process has been far too weird for me to think about posting anything here right away. For the first 48 hours, every time (and I do mean every time) I thought of the bus I got a big emotional hit with a feeling in my chest that I can’t describe. It wasn’t nostalgia or anything else I recognise. Of course I’m not that great at feelings but really that just makes it all the more significant. I’m guessing the change in lifestyle must be pretty significant.

One thing we’ve really noticed is how much time can be wasted living in a big house (bigger than a bus anyway) simply keeping the whole thing operating and just shuffling our material assets around.

I was going to call this post Last of the Summer Wine because I realised during the trip that this was probably one of our last chances to enjoy the travel aspect of living in civilisation. Never again will we be able to pack the facilities of a house into a self propelled carriage and move it up and down the countryside at will like this and I’m glad I had the chance to explore New Zealand before the opportunity dissapears.

For those who aren’t aware New Zealand is a stunningly beautiful country and many’s the night we would park up next to a beach (or on it) with a stunning piece of scenery waiting outside our window for the morning sun to bring it to life. I’m glad I did it.

The weirdness is set to continue though, I have no strong idea about how I am going to make a living and even where we we are going to live right now so – I’m feeling anything but settled but I’ll save that for another post.

In the meantime can anyone tell me what happened to Casemeau? I’m going to miss not having his blog around.