Seems to be a frequent conversation here at the ranch, lately.

Should we pick up stakes and move as a team; to set our sights on a distant shore, pursuit of a fresher dream?

Damn hard one to answer – and since it is Sunday – a day of supposed rest and re-creation in theory – it seems like a proper question to ask.

Fundamentally, we each have a choice: We can live in a “community” or we can “live apart.”

Strong arguments are make by community-sellers:  They propose that a community is more robust, more able to care, and a lot more equal, than living the life apart.

But I’ve sensed for a long time that city-dwellers live in a special “Illusion Bubble” thinking that they are any safer than those in the wilds.  The catastrophic CenturyLink internet failure and the serial collapse of 9-1-1 call centers gets us to remembering a few facts about living apart with a few stored foods and an independent water source.

We’re sure the “coop-dwellers” with their misshapen concepts of climate change and whatnot will be reassured that the “FCC Investigates Widespread CenturyLink Outage That Disrupted 911 Service.”  Not that it restores anything, but it will give warm and fuzzies to people unwilling to think the “unthinkable.”

Which would be what, exactly?

Well, a little noticed item on the website caught our eye since any good hacking scheme designed to message power would be timed to “go off” long after the perps had logged out:

“On December 20, 2018, the U.S. Government announced that a group of Chinese cyber actors associated with the Chinese government have carried out a campaign of cyber-enabled theft targeting global information technology (IT) service providers and their customers. Over the past four years, these actors have gained access to multiple U.S. and global IT service providers and their customers. For more information related to this activity, go to”

This is NOT to claim the Chinese did it, although with trade talks and rising economic tensions, they are one suspect nation.  But, so is Iran, and Russia, and North Korea, and.. well, you know the list.

But the REAL point of mulling this a bit is that in modern society, we gloss over the much more comprehensive risks facing society and pretend that they can be “managed.”

A number of books have made the assertion.  Nassim Taleb made it in “Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder” but, as we’ve alluded to on the Peoplenomics side of things, disorder also breaks a lot of things.  Big ones, too:  Governments, food chains, economics orders, and oh, yeah…what happens when the power goes down or the very networks that support city-dweller high-density existence are the very networks that bring the enemy’s coders into our infrastructure?

Been a while since I read Taleb – several years.  But I remember when reading it thinking “Wait!  The world is a hell of a lot more fragile that Taleb’s simplifications suggest.

Because while it’s true at a kind of inter-locking directorship level – where many aspects of modern management and so forth are interchangeable, at a fundamental level there are “hard stops” all over the place.

Mass casualty terrorism,

EMP attack.  Massive Internet collapse.

Oh, yeah and this fellow:

Chris Tyreman (The Chronicle Project and author of a pending book on human delusions called Prestige) summed Arkhipov’s life up this way:  “None of us would be here were it not for him.”

And, he’s right.

On October 27, 1962, this one Russian submarine officer was the lone dissenting vote among three on a Russian sub that almost started World War III.

The entire account (here in Wikipedia) is short but that’s how close America and the World came to collapse.

We don’t often chide city-dwellers for their near blind faith in “things working out” but the point is history is more than full of coups, conspiracies, revolutions, immigrations, pestilence, and pandemics that the Hitler’s and Khan’s and yes, Hadrian’s too, are single characters – not life-ending changes.

Ancestral Pueblo People seem a reason case to study, if massive cultural change is the focus.  A key part of Joseph Tainter’s  “Collapse of Complex Societies” is that a combination that included climate change was the reason for collapse.

So there’s a lot of ground to debate between the “technology will save us” crowd with heavy math people like Taleb and an echo in Rebecca Costa’s On the Verge that sounds like cheerleading for Big Data.

What many people miss, however, is the ONE ITEM in this week’s news flow that warns more starkly than anything of our dubious future.

It came in a call from my consigliere.  “You see where the Supreme Court is going to secret hearings as part of the Mueller probe?”

For the next several minutes he explained that as much as liberal causes may be distasteful, in the end it may be George H.W. Bush and Dick Cheney who set America on the path to self destruction.

Because it was their plan to allow for “secret trials” without the daylight of press coverage and I have to say, from a civil libertarian viewpoint, it is inexcusable.  In the Ure family, we’d likely hold that secret trials are a poor substitute for good police work.

The point is?  Facial recognition is everywhere.  License plate readers are everywhere.  Voice recordings in your home by Google and Amazon’s Alexa are widespread.  And yes, those chilling Chilean-like Secret Tribunals are now running in America. And it will be worse in a year and then again after that.

Toss in how close we’ve been to nuclear war – just one highly integrious officer, how close to Internet collapse this week may have brought us, and then realize that while terms like “incerto” are bandied about by those who sincerely believe we have a shared future ahead, its only a speculation.

It’s one hell of a wager, isn’t it?

As we head into the New Year, it’s a fine question to ask yourself every day:  “Are we feeling lucky for another year?

And will luck more likely hold in a big city – or out here in the boonies?  Remember that in the nuclear and internet age, civilian populations are not workforces as much as they are bargaining chips.

You are the ante.

Write when you get rich,

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