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Slogging Into Chaos in Seattle
September 10, 2019
by William P. Meyers

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Convergence Zone thoughts

This morning I got up around 6:30 AM, Pacific Time, as usual. I was expecting good weather. So were the weather forecasters. But it started raining. So I checked my weather app. No, it said partly cloudy. So I expected the rain to stop quickly. It turned into a downpour. The gully outside my home turned into a stream. I checked the radar map. There was rain from the north end of Seattle up to about Everett. From experience, I knew we were in what is called a convergence zone. These happen around Puget sound quite a bit because of the nearby mountains.

We (my wife and I) usually walk ourselves and the dog no later than 9 AM, when the traffic calms down. But Hugo tends to be a refusenik when it is raining. At 9:15 I decided it had slowed down enough to give it a try. But Hugo refused to walk and refused to pee near the house. I went for a walk without him. It is nice to take a walk without having to manage a dog. I thought many thoughts, about the economy, and food supplies, the political races I am involved in, and the possible outcomes of various decisions I could make.

I have been reading Charles Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle. I just read the part about his observations of turtles, birds, lizards and plants on the Galapagos Islands. In retrospect you can see how this (as well as his other observations on the voyage) should have led to his Theory of Evolution. Reading books like this is time consuming, but fortunately I am retired, so I have the time now.

I see a lot of people who look older than me working. I think, did they get bored, or is it their economic circumstances? I am not totally out of the woods yet, myself. I lived through the Stagflation when I was young, and worried quite a bit during the Great Recession because my freelance business took a nosedive that it never fully recovered from. My main economic strategy is belt tightening.

So I am as ready to slog into the apocalypse, or more fairly the chaos, as anyone. Nothing guaranteed. The Greeks thought the world originated with chaos, which gave birth to Gaia and the Titans. I doubt many of the people of the Bahamas thought they would be among those hit sooner rather than later. I might argue that disasters have happened throughout history, and even in my lifetime. When I was a child, everyone thought the world would end in nuclear war. It still could. Conventional wars have been bad enough, with the United States government directing most of the killing in my lifetime. Which reminds me there was yet another example of an American committing crimes against humanity this last week, in addition to the usual ongoing war crimes the U.S. commits in Afghanistan. But what stuck in my mind was old news, in the World War II novel The Naked and The Dead by Norman Mailer. The casual reminder, towards the end of the book, about how, during the Pacific campaign against the Japanese, American soldiers casually murdered uncounted numbers of Japanese soldiers who had surrendered or were wounded and captured.

You never know when you will get an early taste of the apocalypse by being in a convergence zone. It could be wind or a flood. It could be someone trying to set a new record for a single mass shooting in the U.S. It could be a work accident or traffic accident or cancer or being layed off. It could be another recession, or some version of a national or global collapse. The internet or the electrical system dying both are becoming high probability scenarios.

So be prepared. Don't buy things you don't need. Stock up on things you might need, like cash. If you owe money, make more than the minimum payment (doing that allowed me to retire at age 64). If you see an opportunity, grab it. Be friendly to people, because friends provide resilience in emergencies.

Don't be fooled by simplistic memes, no matter the source.

Probably the single most important thing we can do, collectively, is to elect a better government. For me that means getting Trump out, getting Democrats in. But not just any Democrats. For local seats and Congress, we have to look at what is possible given where people are within a district. Being realistic is particularly important when reality starts getting gnarly.

Keep in mind that timing is hard to predict. The industrial global economy likely has years or decades left in it. But it might be gone far more quickly, and in any case individual circumstance within it will vary greatly. As anyone of Seattle's 10,000 or so homeless people, or its dozen or so billionaires, can tell you.

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