You Can’t Eat Silicon

Even the New York Times is feeling apocalyptic, with a nice piece about folks learning primitive skills. There’s an air of novelty about the article, but shouldn’t be. The back-to-the-land counterculture didn’t all turn into Yuppies, and there have been intentional communities, some maintaining older traditions, for centuries. That diversity is good and useful; someone has to remember how to make things.

As Shane Hobel said when No. 1 Daughter and I took his survival course for Girl Scouts, we once were a sophisticated people in a primitive world; now we are a primitive people in a sophisticated world.

How to Prepare Now for the Complete End of the World, The New York Times, March 8, 2020

“One day I was like, ‘This is crap. We live month to month. We spend all our money on booze and coffee. We can’t save like this. We can’t live like this. We all talk about getting back to earth, but we didn’t know anything about it.’”

Don’t Panic

It may be this is the End of Days, or it may not. We shall see, though it has certainly looked like this century has been rhyming with the last since at least 2008. Nevertheless, it’s a good time to recall the wise words on the cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Or, as it was written in the days when Men were Men and Small Furry Creatures from Alpha Centauri were Small Furry Creatures from Alpha Centauri,

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

If—,” Rudyard Kipling (1910)

(Come to think of it, it’s no surprise that the Scout motto is Be Prepared. Baden-Powell and Kipling came out of the same mileau.)