Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Retrotopia: A Cab Ride in Toledo

This is the third installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. Our narrator arrives in the capital of the Lakeland Republic, and further surprises are in store. 
The train pulled into the Toledo station something like ten minutes late—we’d had to wait for another train to clear the bridge over Sandusky Harbor, and then rolled along the Lake Erie shoreline for half an hour, past little lakeside towns and open country dotted with shore pines, before finally veering inland toward the Lakeland Republic’s capital. All the way along the shore, I watched big two- and three-masted schooners catching a ride from the wind, some obviously heading out from the Toledo lakefront, some just as obviously heading toward it. The sailing ship I’d spotted outside Sandusky was clearly nothing unusual here.

Once the train swung due west toward downtown Toledo, it was more farm country—the twentieth century kind with tractors and pickups rather than the nineteenth century kind with draft horses and wagons. Then the same sequence I’d watched around other Lakeland cities followed: houses became more frequent, fields gave way to truck gardens, and not too far after that the train was rolling past residential neighborhoods dotted with schools, parks, and little clusters of shops, striped at intervals with the omnipresent streetcar tracks and, here and there, crossed by the streetcars themselves. The houses gave way eventually to the warehouses and factories of an industrial district, and then to the dark waters of the Maumee River, swirling and rushing past the feet of a dozen bridges.

“Toledo,” the conductor called out from behind me. “End of the line, ladies and gentlemen. Please make sure you have your luggage and belongings before you leave, and thank you for riding with us.”

As the car I was in reached the far shore, I got a brief glimpse of tree-lined streetscapes, and then brick walls blotted out the view. Some of the other passengers got their luggage down from the overhead racks. Me, I had other things on my mind; it had finally occurred to me that unless I could get a veepad signal, I had no way to call the people who were supposed to meet me and make sure we didn’t miss each other, and I’d checked my veepad one last time and gotten the same dark field as before. I shrugged mentally, decided to wait and see what happened.

The train slowed to a crawl. The immigrant family across from me had apparently spotted somebody waiting for them on the platform, and were waving at the window. They already had their plastic-bag luggage in hand, and the moment the train stopped they hefted the bags and headed for the exit. I got my suitcase down from the rack; the boy who’d been sitting next to me went back to help his parents with their luggage, and I stepped into the aisle and followed the people in front of me up to the front of the car and out onto the platform.

A brightly painted sign said THIS WAY TO THE STATION. I followed that and the flow of people. Partway along I passed the immigrant family standing there with half a dozen other people in what looked like Victorian clothing out of a history vid—the wife’s family from Ann Arbor, I guessed—all talking a mile a minute. The wife was teary-eyed and beaming, and the two kids looked for the first time since I’d seen them as though they might get around to smiling one of these days. I thought about the conversation I’d had with the husband, wondered if things really were that much better at the bottom end of the income scale here.

I went through a big double door of glass and metal into what had to be the main room of the station, a huge open space under a vaulted ceiling, with benches in long rows on one side, ticket counters on the other, and what looked like half a dozen restaurants and a bar ahead in the middle distance. Okay, I said to myself, here’s where I try to find someone who has a clue about how to locate people and get around in this bizarre country.

I’d almost finished thinking that when a woman and a man in what I’d come to think of as Bogart clothing got up off one of the nearby benches and came over toward me. “Mr. Carr?”

Well, that was easy, I thought, and turned toward them. She was tall for a woman, with red-brown curls spilling out from under a broad-brimmed hat; he was a couple of inches shorter than she was, with the kind of forgettable face you look for when you’re hiring spies or administrative assistants.

“I’m Melissa Berger,” the woman said, shaking my hand, “and this is Fred Vanich.” I shook his hand as well. “I hope your trip this morning wasn’t too disconcerting,” she went on.

That last word was unexpected enough that I laughed. “Not quite,” I said. “Though there were a few surprises.”

“I can imagine. If you’ll come this way?”

“Can I take that for you?” Vanich said, and I handed over my suitcase and followed them.

“I’m afraid we’ve had to do some rescheduling,” Berger said as we headed for the doors. “The President was hoping to meet with you this afternoon, after you have time to get settled in at the hotel, but he’s got a minor crisis on his hands.  One of the Restorationist parties in our coalition is breathing fire and brimstone over a line item in an appropriations bill. It’ll blow over in a day or so, but—well, I’m sure you know how it goes.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Ellen’s been having to deal with that sort of thing every other day or so since the election.”

“That was quite an upset,” she said.

I nodded. “We were pretty happy with the way it turned out.”

Outside the air was blustery and crisp, with the first taste of approaching winter on it. The trees lining the street still clung to a few brown and crumpled leaves. Just past the trees, where I’d expected to see cabs waiting for passengers in a cloud of exhaust, horses stood placidly in front of brightly colored—buggies? Carriages? Whatever they were called, they looked like boxes with big windows, some with four wheels supporting them and some with two, and a seat up top for the driver.

I blinked, and almost stopped. Berger gave me an amused look. “I know,” she said. “We do a lot of things differently here.”

“I’ve noticed that,” I replied.

She led the way to one of the four-wheeled buggies, or whatever they were. Obviously things had been arranged in advance; she said “Good afternoon, Earl,” to the driver, he said “Good afternoon, ma’am” in response, and without another word being said my suitcase found its way into the trunk in back and the three of us were settling into place in comfortable leather seats inside, Berger and I facing forward and Vanich across from us facing backward.

The buggy swung out into traffic and headed down the street. “Is this standard here?” I asked, indicating the vehicle with a gesture.

“The cab? More or less,” said Berger. “There are a few towns with electric cabs and a fair number with pedal cabs, but you’ll find horse cabs everywhere there’s taxi service at all. The others don’t produce methane feedstock.”

I considered that. “But no gasoline or diesel cabs.”

“Not since Partition, no.”

That made a certain amount of sense to me. “I’m guessing the embargo had a lot to do with that.”

“Well, to some extent. There was quite a bit of smuggling, of course—Chicago being right on our border.”

I snorted. “And Chicago being Chicago.”  The Free City of Chicago was the smallest of the nations that came out of Partition, and made up for that by being far and away the most gaudily corrupt.

“Well, yes.  But there wasn’t that much of a market for petroleum products,” she went on. “There’s the tailpipe tax, of course, and we also lost most of the necessary infrastructure during the war—highways, pipelines, all of it.”

“I’m surprised your government didn’t subsidize rebuilding.”

“We don’t do things that way here,” she said.

I gave her a long startled look. “Obviously I have a lot to learn,” I said finally.

She nodded. “Outsiders generally do.”

I filed away the word outsider for future reference. “One thing I’ve been wondering since I crossed the border,” I said then. “Or rather two. You really don’t have metanet service in the Lakeland Republic?”

“That’s correct,” she replied at once. “We actually have jamming stations along the borders, though it’s been fifteen or sixteen years since we last had to use them.”

“Hold it,” I said. “Jamming stations?”

“Mr. Carr,” Berger said, “since Partition we’ve fought off three attempts at regime change and one full-blown military invasion. All the regime change campaigns were one hundred per cent coordinated via the metanet— saturation propaganda via social media, flashmobs, swarming attacks, you know the drill. The third one fizzled because we’d rigged a kill switch in what little metanet infrastructure we had by then and shut it down, and after that the legislature voted to scrap what was left. Then when Brazil and the Confederacy invaded in ‘49, one reason they pulled back a bloody stump was that military doctrine these days—theirs, yours, everybody else’s—is fixated on disrupting network infrastructure and realtime comm-comm, and we don’t have those, so they literally had no clue how to fight us. So, yes, we have jamming stations. If you’d like to visit one I can arrange that.”

I took that in. “That won’t be necessary,” I said then. “Just out of curiosity, do you jam anything else?”

“Not any more. We used to jam radio broadcasts from the Confederacy, but that’s because they jammed ours. We got that settled three years ago.”


“Waste of time. Only about three per cent of the Republic’s within range of a ground station, and the satellite situation—well, I’m sure you know at least as much about that as I do.”

I was by no means sure of that, but let it pass. “Okay, and that leads to my second question. How on earth do you take notes when you don’t have veepads?”

Instead of answering, she directed a rueful look at Vanich, who nodded once, as though my words had settled something.

“I’m guessing,” I said then, “that somebody just won a bet.”

“And it wasn’t me,” Berger said. “There are four questions that outsiders always ask, and there’s always a certain amount of speculation, shall we say, about which one gets asked first.” She held up one finger. “How do you take notes?” A second. “How do you find out what’s happening in the world?” A third. “What do you do to contact people?” A fourth. “And how do you pay your bar tab?”

I laughed. “I’ve got a fifth,” I said. “How do you look up facts without Metapedia?”

“That’s an uncommon one, Mr. Carr,” Vanich said. His voice was as bland and featureless as his face. If he wasn’t a spy, I decided, the Lakeland Republic was misusing his talents. “I’ve heard it now and then, but it’s uncommon.”

“To answer your question,” Berger said then, “most people use paper notebooks.” She pulled a flat rectangular shape out of her purse, fanned it open to show pages with neat angular handwriting on them, put it away again. “Available at any stationery store, but you won’t have to worry about that.  There’s one waiting at your hotel room.”

“Thank you,” I said, trying to wrap my head around writing down notes on sheets of paper. It sounded about as primitive as carving them with a chisel on stone. “Just out of curiosity, what about the others? I was planning on asking those sometime soon.”

“Fair enough,” she said. “You find out what’s happening by reading a newspaper or listening to the radio. You contact people by phone, if you’re in a county with phone service, or by writing a letter or sending a radiogram anywhere. You pay your bar tab with cash, and any larger purchases with a check—we’ve got all that set up for you; you’ll just have to visit a bank, and there’s one a block and a half from the hotel. You look up facts in books—your own, if you’ve got them, or a public library’s if you don’t. There’s a branch five blocks from your hotel.”

“Not as convenient as accessing the metanet,” I noted.

“True, but there are more important things than convenience.”

“Like national survival?”

I’d meant the words as an olive branch of sorts, and she took them that way. “Among other things.”

She looked out the window, then, and turned in her seat to face me. “We’re almost to your hotel. I’m going to have to go back to the Capitol right away and see if I can shake some sense into the Restos, and Fred has his own work to get done.  One way or another, there’ll be someone to take you around tomorrow. If you like, after you’ve settled in and had some lunch, I can have somebody come out and show you the tourist sights, or whatever else you’d like to see.”

“Thank you,” I said, “but I’d like to suggest something different. I hear your streets are pretty safe.”

She nodded. “I know the kind of thing you have to deal with in Philadelphia. We don’t have that sort of trouble here.”

“In that case, I’d like to wander around a bit on my own, check out the landscape—maybe visit the public library you mentioned.”

It was a long shot; I figured the Lakeland government would want me under the watchful eye of a handler the whole time I was in the country. To my surprise, she looked relieved. “If that works for you, it works for us,” she said. “I’ll have somebody call you first thing tomorrow—eight o’clock, if that’s not too early.”

“That’ll be fine.”

“With any luck this whole business will have blown over by then and President Meeker can see you right away.”

“Here’s hoping,” I said.

The cab came to a halt. A moment later, the driver opened the door. I shook both their hands, climbed down to the sidewalk.


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Max Osman said...

All is not well in Arcadia it seems. What could the restorationists be restoring though? The Lower and Upper classes are both in favor of the current national program it seems. Unless you have something else to reveal?

James Fauxnom said...

Oooh, this just keeps getting better and better. You've certainly got me hooked.

Joe Roberts said...

I hope JMG won't mind me trying to describe to non-Americans and non-Midwesterners a bit what Sandusky and Toledo and other parts of northwestern Ohio are like today, in 2015, to give contrast to this rather utopian vision of 50 years in the future. I don't live in Ohio, but I have feel like I have enough experience with the state to give my impressions. I just want people unfamiliar with the area to get a sense of how different these descriptions of future Ohio are from the reality of today.

Both Sandusky and Toledo have lost population in every census since the 1970s. They are Rust Belt cities, with tracts of open land where houses once stood (though nothing on the scale of Detroit) and some boarded-up buildings. They are car-dominated (as, granted, most places in the US are). Toledo and Sandusky do both have Amtrak stations, but each sees a grand total of four trains (frequently late) per day, and Toledo is a city of about 285,000 people (down from 383,000 in 1970). Imagine a European city of nearly 300,000 people with a total of just four passengers trains per day. In fiscal year 2013, Sandusky had a grand total of 9,591 Amtrak boardings and alightings for the entire fiscal year. These are not places where most people take passenger trains today.

The median household income for Sandusky city in 2010 was about $36,000, and in the city of Toledo $33,317 -- both quite a bit lower than the national average. (And again, that's for the entire household, not individual income). I could go on with the stats, but I won't. In short, this region of the country in 2015 is less prosperous, more economically depressed, and less desirable than many other regions. I want to point that out for readers unfamiliar with the area, to highlight the drastic differences between 2015 and JMG's future vision. Gripping reading from JMG, and I want to see how we got from now to then, particularly with the general decline that's coming.

Patricia Mathews said...

Mr Carr expected to be under the eyes of a handler at all times, did he? He IS from "Back in the USSR", isn't he?

Tidlösa said...

Still no bicycles...? ;-)

There´s a certain element of satire in your story, methinks, directed against the Western World circa, let´s say, 2015.

Nobody knows "Treasure Island", people are addicted to i-phones and Wiki, nobody pays cash and I´m sure Mr Carr will feel like an alien when he visits a well-stacked public library (with very old encylopaedias á la 1950´s). He´ll be less surprised if a crazy guy on a bicycle crashes with him - they are everywhere in 2015, including here in Sweden!

The Atlantic Republic R Us.

Dan Mollo said...

Look up a library? That you might have to walk to? Next thing you'll tell me is that I have to use a (gasp!) card catalog? If that's the future I have to look forward to, I want no part of it! ;)

John Roth said...

Nice third installment. Carr, of course, is a government functionary of some kind. Hansom cabs, interesting. I got the impression that the election was recent, with the note that the other candidate had just given his concession speech, while this suggests that the new administration has been in business for long enough to be dealing with intra-party spats. This brings up a question: does Carr know how to write? Is it even taught in schools back where he’s from? (Blanking on the name, sigh.)

A note on phone service: these days, the exchange to exchange phone network is the same infrastructure as the internet; without the internet infrastructure, there will be no non-local phone service. Copper wire connections from the exchange to customer premises are begin left to rot by at least one of the major phone companies; by 1929 I’d imagine they would no longer exist, so that entire infrastructure would have to be rebuilt.

Helix said...

Very enjoyable. I look forward to the next installment!

Kevin Warner said...

JMG's descriptions of the failed invasions of the Lakeland Republic due to the over reliance of technology rings true. Back in '02 the Americans held an exercise called Millennium Challenge 2002 ( to prove the superiority of network-centric warfare with all its bells and whistles.
Unfortunately for them, the bloke that they put in charge of the oppo force was a Lt. General Paul Van Riper - a no-bullshit Marine combat vet who had done multiple tours of Vietnam. He was retired then and so was not worried about his career anymore.
Using motorcycle messengers, World-War-II-style light signals and the like - none of which showed up on the electronic surveillance network of course, he achieved total surprise with an attack that in a real war would have led to the loss of an aircraft carrier, ten cruisers and five of six amphibious ship plus 20,000 dead Americans.
I suppose in this story then that using electronic warfare has limited value when fighting the Amish.

Edde said...

Greetings John Michael,

A good read!

I'll be fascinated to learn how "methane feedstock" is collected here since it was a public health issue in pre-auto cities of the past...

Write on!


James M. Jensen II (badocelot/shiningwhiffle) said...

Curiouser and curiouser… I genuinely wasn't expecting jamming stations for the metanet. My Internet-addled brain certainly reeled at that revelation.

I truly hope things don't get so bad that the next couple of generations forget that you can take notes with pen and paper! With so many tablet computers aimed at young children, though, I shouldn't be too surprised if it does happen.

Unknown said...

You sir, have a deft hand with fiction; I'm glad non-fiction is your preferred medium, but I really do enjoy your fiction.

Ceworthe said...

So Mr Carr is some sort of diplomat, and perhaps a spy (noting his commentary on the stone-faced person) and his comment about expecting "handlers". Fearing he's up to no good, hoping he sees the benefit of the Lakeland's worldview. Looking forward to seeing what he's really up to.
Speculating that the reason there is variety in clothing is that each region in the Lakeland Republic has decided on a different "retro" focus, whether religious or secular, much like the differences in farming, and modes of transportation.

John Michael Greer said...

Max, there's much more to reveal. Stay tuned!

James, thank you.

Joe, I've never had the chance to spend time in either city -- though I've caught a train at the Toledo station -- but the Rust Belt's getting to be familiar territory these days. You're quite right that things have improved sharply in this fictive 2065, and as the story proceeds, the reasons for the improvements should become clear.

Patricia, or back from today's USA.

Tidlösa, excellent! Every utopian fiction is always partly a satire at the existing order of society; in this case, I've just fast-forwarded some of the more idiotic trends in contemporary culture and applied them to the Atlantic Republic, for the sake of contrast. As for bicycles, though, I was sufficiently annoyed by the tone of a good many of the bikophile comments I fielded (most of which got deleted out of hand) that I don't think they'll have much presence in the Lakeland Republic at all; if it keeps up, I'll leave 'em out completely.

Dan, bwahahaha! It's going to be much, much worse than that... ;-)

John, the election was quite recent -- about a week before the story opens -- but the old prewar parties fragmented, and a president (or president-elect) has to put together a legislative coalition out of various more or less supportive parties in order to get anything done at all. As for the phone service, it had to be rebuilt from scratch -- very little infrastructure survived the Second Civil War in the Midwest.

Helix, thank you.

Kevin, yes, I had that exercise in mind -- also the futility of US counterinsurgency activities for the last half century or so. The Lakeland Republic has a quirky solution to the problem of staying independent while pursuing a less complex technology; we'll be discussing that at length a little later on.

Edde, it's amazing how many resources get mislabeled as problems...

James, a wireless internet signal would be a very easy thing to jam, too!

Unknown, thank you.

Ceworthe, stay tuned... ;-)

Sara said...

Expanding on what John Roth said: Writing is something that must be practiced. I don't have to do large amounts of handwriting, and I'm very aware of the way my handwriting is degrading. I've seen the handwriting of grade school kids today. It's not good. Chances of Mr. Carr being able to write in a quick and legible way seem slim.

Meanwhile, he'll be completely unable to read, or even recognize for what it is, the shorthand that Lakeland note takers favor.

Dan Miner said...

Nice work, John Michael. You're obviously familiar with Ernest Callenbach's 1975 novel "Ecotopia." Forty years later, here's a new take on that premise. With all due respect to Jim Kunstler's "World Made By Hand" series, I appreciate that your vision anticipates a wider range of technological and social possibilities. Looking forward to next posts in the series.

Glenn said...

John Michael Greer said...

"Edde, it's amazing how many resources get mislabeled as problems..."

Up until the 1930's sailing barges carried grain and hay into London and nice fresh horse manure back out to the farms of Essex, Kent and Sussex.


in the Bramblepatch
Marrowstone Island
Salish Sea

Chic Noir said...

*does happy dance*

Part three was one of the major highlights of my week. Thanks again for sharing with us.

Bob Patterson said...

Your story brought up an interesting point. With a book, there is a reasonable chance the publisher has done fact checking and is fairly sure he will not be sued for plagiarism, falsehoods, inaccuracies, and defamatory or libelous statements. Just the opposite is true of the Internet of today. People feel they can say anything with no resposibility for truth or accuracy.

Maxine Rogers said...

I made myself a cup of cocoa and sat down with my honey to read this week's installment. What a pleasure it is to be caught up in this series!

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

@John Roth--Mr. Carr almost certainly never learned to write cursive and may have difficulty reading it. He probably was taught to print, though he's out of practice. One wonders whether he knows how to hold whatever kinds of pens they have in the Lakeland Republic--he's probably never seen anyone write with a fountain pen, let alone a dip pen, nor seen a pencil being sharpened. Mr. Carr does not seem to have been coached on these little details of daily life in Retropia; either the trip was arranged hastily or Mr. Carr's sponsors were not able to call on someone who had traveled to the LR recently for advice. I'm a bit concerned that no one warned Mr. Carr about banker's hours; presumably he can put lunch on his hotel bill, but if doesn't make a bank visit his first errand, he'll be out of pocket money. Perhaps the locals have seen other visitors floundering and will help him out.

I was required to turn in handwritten homework at least through the sixth grade, but my penmanship was never good even when I was copying out an edited draft. At speed my handwriting is illegible to me. Consequently as an adult I gave up cursive in favor of hand printing anything other than condolence notes. I've gotten pretty fast at it.

hapibeli said...

The elites are learning to fear.

Their "work" that is unravelling, is the very "work" that is helping to destroy that world in which they live. :-)

Ray Wharton said...

I would beg some clues about what is happening in the inner west. I imagine that the area is much less populated than it is today, what with the drought triggered disporia back in the late 20's. Is there enough left there to having a political influence on the Lakelanders to the East.

Lee said...

I was really excited about reading this 3 rd part and it delivered as expected.
Yes, manure is pretty valuable stuff!
I just covered the part in Decline and Fall about lower tech armies being smart. It was good timing.

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

Since we are likely to be visiting Retropia for awhile, I'll venture an OT comment on electoral politics in 2015 America. The cable news station I watch has been giving extensive coverage of the speeches of the current Republican front runner, Mr. Donald Trump. Rather than having emotional reactions to what he says and does, I'm trying to observe and analyze. The kinds of speeches Trump is making, in the issues he raises, the way he frames them, the promises he makes and the enemies he identifies, seem to be textbook examples of how to run a Fascist candidate of the kind JMG wrote about. I don't know whether this comes across in print journalism and we know JMG does not watch TV.

To be clear, I don't believe Donald Trump is a fascist; I can't discern any fixed political convictions in him. His political program amounts to "Trust me to fix things". I do think most of the people who turn out to his rallies would be very susceptible to an actual fascist candidate, based on what they say when asked about why they are Trump supporters. Whether it's intentional or not, Donald Trump's campaign seems to be a dry run for a serious fascist Presidential campaign in 2020.

By then whichever party is holding the White House will be unpopular and the independents will be up for grabs. I fear for my country when I reflect that God is just.

Zachary Braverman said...

This article is one I wanted to share with Mr. Greer and others here. It describes a woman and her husband who are incredibly dedicated to living their life in a Victorian manner:

Here's one quote that's extremely evocative and mirrors what JMG has written: "When cheap modern things in our lives inevitably broke, we replaced them with sturdy historic equivalents instead of more disposable modern trash."

What is interesting, and kinda sad, is her description of the response they've gotten from their community:

"We have been called "freaks," "bizarre," and an endless slew of far worse insults. We've received hate mail telling us to get out of town and repeating the word "kill ... kill ... kill." Every time I leave home I have to constantly be on guard against people who try to paw at and grope me. Dealing with all these things and not being ground down by them, not letting other people's hostile ignorance rob us of the joy we find in this life — that is the hard part. By comparison, wearing a Victorian corset is the easiest thing in the world."

Dan Stoian said...

Somehow,I find the story convincing, but maybe it's what I already want to believe. I like the idea of a society using as much as possible from the available resources, while also having "real" people, as opposed to the intentional communities that try to organize as if all of a sudden people would stop being as they have evolved to be and start behaving just for the sake of it.

Anyway @Joe Roberts your comments are appreciated, some of us know what it's like in the US today from media alone, which leaves areas covered in this story blank.

John Michael Greer said...

Sara, I expect the best Carr can do is print, slowly, and more or less legibly. You're right that he'll have no clue about shorthand -- and you get tonight's gold star for realizing that yes, a lot of people in the Lakeland Republic will know and use shorthand, as a fast effective way to make notes and copy down someone's words as fast as they're spoken. I'm pretty sure it's taught in most schools.

Dan, thank you. Yes, this project is very much influenced by Callenbach's frankly brilliant reworking of the utopian-narrative genre -- though of course my imagined society has a lot less Bay Area cannabls-scented hippiedom and a lot more Rust Belt retro in it!

Glenn, true enough -- and in this case the manure, horse and other, doesn't need to go anything like so far. (Many thanks, btw, for the ship notes; I've already arrange to publish Retrotopia as a novel once it's finished, and those will be most useful. Yes, btw, the Lakeland Republic has a navy -- more precisely, a competent armed coast guard that's capable of functioning as a navy within the limits of the Great Lakes when that's needed.)

Chic Noir, thank you!

Bob, no argument there. That's one of the main reasons I do most of my research in libraries rather than on the internet.

Maxine, that's high praise. Thank you!

Hapibeli, I suspect we ain't seen nothin' yet...

Ray, the Lakeland Republic's westernmost regions are what's now the states of Illinois (minus greater Chicago) and Wisconsin; it doesn't extend west of the Mississippi River. There's another republic that includes Iowa, Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Nebraska, and then there's the dilapidated and chaotic Rocky Mountain republic, not quite a failed state, that sprawls from Colorado to Montana, with its capital at Cheyenne. Utah and most of Idaho have become the Republic of Deseret, of course, which is not quite a Mormon theocracy, but close. Oregon and Washington, with the northern end of Idaho, are the Cascadian Republic, which is basically a Chinese client state. California declared its independence and then almost immediately collapsed into its own civil war, and is one of the 21st century's most intractable failed states. Oh, and let's not forget the Republic of Texas, which has absorbed Oklahoma and New Mexico and has tested its own nuclear weapons. How's that for a basic tour?

Lee, thank you!

Unknown Deborah, I'll be posting essays from time to time as well -- right now I'm enjoying the opportunity to think of something less ghastly than current affairs, is all.

Zachary, that's fascinating, but not surprising. Remember that faith in progress really is a religion. To believers in that religion, people like the couple in the article are the equivalent of devil worshippers.

John Michael Greer said...

Dan, I find the notion that people will behave like angels if they live under the right system just as tiresome as you do! As we'll see, the Lakeland Republic is far from perfect by anybody's standards; it's got problems, political squabbles, rich people who arguably have too much wealth (though orders of magnitude less than in our society) and winos who live in flophouses and guzzle cheap bourbon; it's just solved some of the problems that beset our society by making some choices most people these days haven't thought of.

Scotlyn said...

I'm enjoying the story and very much caught up in it. But since things that jar Carr's sensibilities is a key narrative device here, I was struck by a thing that jarred me (but NOT him) - the single word "Ma'am" uttered by the taxi driver. When I thought about why this should jar me, ("ma'am" is common courtesy in American parlance, after all, when dealing with an unknown woman) I realised it was because she called him by name, he called her "ma'am" - suggesting a relationship that is asymmetrical in structure... Now I'm much more curious about the social relations being revealed, and if new hierarchies are not only developing, but being reproduced, and if so how and how willingly or reluctantly. Thanks for a great read!

colin henley said...

Very much enjoying this new serial- thank you!
Carr being able to identify a three masted schooner as well as use the phrase "from stem to stern" doesn't make sense to me. The most famous schooner, being the Bluenose, is two masted. Although a three masted vessel would be able to spread its canvas on shorter spars, which would make sense in the context of the setting. As to bikes, thank you for your tolerance. Some interesting discussion. Me, after 20 years of being a bike courier, I'm ok with them being gone.

gjh42 said...

I note the comments about elections and parties, with what seems like confusion about where they refer to. The recent election was in the Atlantic Republic, but there is no mention of any party coalition juggling at the moment; the Lakeland Republic appears to have its administration in place with the constituent parties of the ruling coalition jostling for influence, presumably in the legislature.

MigrantWorker said...

Good morning mr Greer,

I too initially thought of mr Vanich as a North Korea-style permanent guide. But then it occurred to me: in a trading nation, such close surveillance of outsiders cannot be made to work without killing the trade links with other countries. It is no longer just about monitoring a handful of visitors, who may not even be allowed in in the first place; trade implies that your own citizens are in regular contact with the outside world, possibly even venturing into it - and bringing in their own stories and, God forbid, even smuggling some items (which come to be seen as extremely valuable, well beyond their actual merits, due to their scarcity back home).

This last dynamic I have witnessed first hand. I have spent my childhood in communist Poland, which was of course nowhere near as isolated as North Korea but nevertheless quite comprehensively separated from the capitalist economy. But my mother was a French lecturer, and apparently her skills were in such high demand that the university has sent her on several training courses to France. From one of those courses she brought back a Lego set, which was then used as payment for having our bathroom refurbished, including rearranging the pipework, and tiled on top of that - and all this ahead of the official queue! Mind you, it was a big set as far as Lego sets go.

And an alternative narrative which becomes associated with something desirable but lacking - is an autarkic regime's kryptonite.

But then, what sort of stories would Lakelandish (?) sailors bring back home from their trading trips? And just as importantly, what sort of stories would they leave behind in their destination ports?

And given that Lakeland Republic does indeed trade with surrounding nations which are quite reliably hostile towards it, would it not use a more traditional, more clandestine sort of surveillance towards high-profile outsiders such as mr Carr?


Brian Kaller said...

Expanding on an earlier comment, it wouldn’t surprise me that the Lakeland Republic would experience political turmoil, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that all is not well. Quite the contrary, one thing I always hated in fiction is the way that dictatorships are portrayed as having unending conflict, whereas democracies are peaceful and harmonious.

Real life is often the other way around; I prefer democracies, but they are by their nature arenas of constant (hopefully polite) struggle. A minor political crisis is often a healthy sign, as is the fact that people are talking about it openly.

Thanks for the run-down of your future USA, but what about my native Missouri? It would seem to be between all these other regional nations.

I wonder how expensive paper would be there – it certainly was more tedious to make before fossil fuels, and Ohio today wouldn’t have as many trees to cut.

I liked the fact that there are actually more bridges over the Maumee in your future than there are today, if I’m not mistaken. :-)

ed boyle said...

The internet has certainly destabilized the political landscape recently. Information control, propaganda very importantt. People abandoning mainstream sources 10% annually in germany. Soon the atlanticist broadsheets will bebankrupt, only govt. supported tv, radio will exist. Blogs and internet papers right, left have readers plus small altrnatives. This consensus politics with mind control is stifling. National Endowment for Democracy, i.e. CIA , Soros funded, planned soft regime changes caught on toby all now. Why no regime change in Washington? No US Embassy,goes the old joke. RT seeks to redress this gap. See reverse regime change in UK labour party to retro corbyn. Speaking of bikes. My kid's bike was stolen. This would be 3rd purchase this year, so I, not wanting to shell out 300 Euros for a new one, went on ebay ads for my area and found a 70€ bikd from ca.1970. The lamp didn't work so Ibought batterypowered LED. The salesman seeing my bike saib wor retro. So I have a mixed tech bike. This is how you could creatively introduce a few bikes. Amazing how they have changed, mine is so simple, primitive, delicious. This to disspell your dislike. Millions of these old things must be filling up backyards,baseme ts and garages. What a scrap,mechanics boon between oil stop and renewed horse breeding for transport of goods, etc. Functioning democracies, what a surprise.

Seb Ze Frog said...

Good Morning.

An enjoyable journey, indeed. As I was watching through the train window I got wondering about why people clothing look like they are out of a history book. Unless it is a quite recent trend, I find this puzzling, for I have always thought that even retro-fashion has a way to reshape the "old style" into something new. Maybe it is that my eyes, like Carr's, don't see the differences. Or is it because there is a strong social fashion movement towards old times ? My gut feeling make me lean towards the later, but we shall see. In any case, I'll keep an eye out for hair and clothes fashions that strike me as new.

And while we Français tend to make lots of them, I know that American's usually don't that much... There is no way that your story driving Carr into an almost petrol free country could be a pun, couldn't it ?


Nathaniel Ott said...

Good stuff JMG. Speculating on Mr. Carrs identity and purpose for being in the Lakeland Republic:

Its seems pretty clear that he's a low to maybe (but probably not) mid level government lackey back home. Where he higher up he would likely already know many of the things he's surprised about seeing and were he a spy like some on here think he at least would have been briefed and prepared before being sent there. The Guy wasn't even aware that there was no Metanet and he had to actually wright things down physically. Even if the Republic has been very secretive since Partition, which it seems like they haven't been, at least no more than any country who's had rebellions and wars on a regular basis and may be surrounded by enemies, the Coastal Republic around Philly (not sure what your calling it or where its centered) should have at least some idea about life there by now. Especially if there as paranoid and dystopian as they seem.

Also the fact that Carr was clueless about the lower classes horrible lifestyle points out that he is probably from money and higher class since childhood, and may have gotten his position through family influence. Speaking of which his position is probably that of a low level diplomat who was likely sent there because he was expendable in case the LLR's president decides he wants to string somebody up. Or maybe if something like that did happen it would give the Coastal region a "good" reason to invade... Oh the possibilities!

Or I could have totally got it wrong. Looking forward to seeing Carr's story unfold either way.


Nathaniel Ott said...

JMG also: I've noticed that the Coastal region Mr. Carr is from seems to be very much modeled off of the cyberpunk genre. Ie: high tech at the cost of destroying the environment, low quality of life for most citizens and oppressive, dystopian conditions controlled by big corporate and/or government interests. I know you hate the genre so maybe this wasn't intentional or maybe it was and its a sort of well thought out take that at the whole Techno Geek future. Either way, I like it, good job.


Spanish fly said...

Joe: 'Both Sandusky and Toledo have lost population in every census since the 1970s. They are Rust Belt cities, with tracts of open land where houses once stood (though nothing on the scale of Detroit) and some boarded-up buildings. They are car-dominated'

It looks like the village where I commute to work everyday, though your cities are of much bigger than this hole where I'm trying to do my job.
This spanish mini-Rust Belt is a zone where there awas some sugar factories a century ago. Sugar beet fever ended up 50 years ago; now, warehouses and chimnneys are falling in pieces...Streets are unsafe and there is everyday thefts. Bus and train transportation are crappy, so we are car-dominated.

JMG: I'm very surprised that Brazil would try to invade Lakeland coallied with eastern ex-USA... I suppose that in half century thing could change from nowadays. However, news from "ordem e progresso" country are not good now. According to a Brazilian friend, there is a lot of social unrest and unemployed people there...Samba miracle is finishing.
Nonetheless, in absence of bigger powers in the zone, maybe Brazilians would say "America for (South)Americans".
Another question. In a previous chapters, you wrote that inmigrant family had been sponsorized by relatives in Lakeland Republic. Do you think that sponsoring is a good and civilised way for limiting massive inmmigration?(we are coping with the ongoing crisis in Europe...). I'm a bit tired with binarian stereotyped "responses" of it from leftists (foreigners are our saviors against our sins) and rightists (muslim zombies are going to eat our brains). you think taht massive migrations are really unstoppable?(it doesn't matter ways to trying stop them)

DiSc said...

It might be my personal taste, but I much preferred the non-fiction posts. I cannot get past paragraph 2 of these SF.

jean-vivien said...

Since a lot of the moral values have been inverted in the industrial West over the course of the last dacades, is the fiction going to brush the topics of social values ? It already hints at that. I suppose Mr Carr will have to face a set of values pretty different from where he comes from, and his reaction, or choices, would be interesting to contemplate.

daniel said...

Hi JMG, a small amount of constructive criticism if I may on what is otherwise a deep and well detailed world. I imagine a good editor will get these before publishing; however for now many of the points you want to make could be a little lighter with less exposition (and/or less precision). The 100 acre quibbles last week were an example of this, another is the speech about the Metanet. It is jarring in its detail and reads like a (classified?) briefing paper rather than conversation between newly introduced individuals. The whole Brazil sentence could be dropped and the same point would be evident, with the invasion detail left hanging and explained later if appropriate.

That said, I look forward to the next installment thank you!

Ervino Cus said...

Bob Patterson said...
"(...) With a book, there is a reasonable chance the publisher has done fact checking and is fairly sure he will not be sued for plagiarism, falsehoods, inaccuracies, and defamatory or libelous statements. Just the opposite is true of the Internet of today. People feel they can say anything with no resposibility for truth or accuracy."

JMG said...
"Bob, no argument there. That's one of the main reasons I do most of my research in libraries rather than on the internet."

Dear JMG.
sorry, but this "paper books vs pad/net research/reading/writing" seems ripe with contraddictions to me. We are reading and writing in a non-mainstream blog. How many chances do you really think you will have to conduct the kind of dicussions we are having here (and with so many people from all over the world, etc.) in a local, paper-based only publishing economy? You come, if I remember well, from the '70 USA alternative culture, so you should know it very well.
Moreover, sure, in a perfect world, a book/newspaper should be better researched/reasoned that a blog post/comment. But, in the real world, it could as well be, as very frequently happened in human history, the ONLY form of *propaganda* available, because of, between other things, its costs of production/distribution.
You parodied Carr as a... terminal (hahaha, pun intended... :-) case of moronic net-dependency (but, between other things, you didn't explain why he is unable to write/store his notes locally on its vpad... :-), but this all he is: a shallow parody of the *sensate* use of a digital storage/retrival data instrument/infrastructure, the kind problem that an IT guy will call PEBCAK (Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard) or ID-10T error (idiot error)! :-D
Seriously: my impression, in this case, is that, as frequently happens in you posts, you are mixing up the *politically/economically distorted* use of a technology with the total possibilities of the said technology itself, throwing out the baby with the bath water "demonizing" it *a priori*.

Wiborg13 said...

To Edde,

In Bruges (Belgium)and in Sintra (Portugal) horse drawn carriages are still very common (mainly for tourist use). However there isn't a single drop of manure in the streets. They use a leather colector that is a part of the carriage to colect every bit of manure and deal with it when the horse return to the stables. You can see the pics here

gwyn edwards said...


This is a such a fun read, definitely comfort food of the highest order for fans of appropriate technology.

As a librarian I'm excited by the place that books and public libraries will have in lakeland!
Meanwhile, though I'm very comfortable with the concept of cellular and even local wireless networks being jammed, I can't help but think that the presence of low-powered local computer networks (albeit salvaged and run on open source software of course :-)) would still exist in this relatively near future scenario?

Denys said...

@Zachary Braverman We are preparing today to do re-enactment of 1780 - 1820's America for the weekend. People who visit the site where we are have the weirdest questions and I give my teens credit for answering adults with respect. The kids visiting the site are curious and think it is cool to try "new" things. Here's some questions from adults - I'll save you the sarcastic answers I give in my head.
"Are you really wearing these clothes the whole weekend?"
"Did people really dress like this?"
"Why would anyone want to do that much work?"
"I could never live like this. Its barbaric."


Mister Roboto said...

One thing I hope this work of fiction will cover is healthcare in The Lakeland Republic. For the past four months, I have been in the process of trying to get the profoundly dysfunctional US healthcare system to treat my sleep apnea (which basically means the amount and quality of sleep I get is very lousy), and this system simply isn't doing that despite the fact that the means for doing so are well within reach. Not only does institutional US healthcare hurt at least as many people as it helps, the system is so clogged and choked by a vast and tottering bureaucracy that it is increasingly unable to even make the attempt at helping people. And now Obamacare is going to make things better by slapping a whole new layer of complexity on top of a system that is already failing people on account of its vast and recursive overcomplexity? Give me a break, Democratic Party Kool Aid drinkers!

donalfagan said...

How does Lakeland stop the current weapon of choice: unmanned aerial combat vehicles? I'm guessing there isn't the close air support to handle signaling anymore, but that supposes that Lakeland supports an air force. Without domestic control of the air, it should be easy for tech-advanced neighbors to send in drones to take out leaders, or even just bombers to take out critical infrastructure. Even if jets and prop planes are no longer feasible, dirigibles and drones should be possible for a nation with veepads.

BTW, with apologies to GG Marquez, I posted a few thoughts about the no-bike thang:

Martin B said...

The only people these days who carry little notebooks and make notes are the military men surrounding Kim Jong-un. So Lakeland is like North Korea, only nicer. (Joke!)

I'm suspicious of the anonymous-looking Mr. Vanich. There's no way I would buy a second-hand horse from the man.

If we can't have bicyclists, we'll need bio-cyclists, or whatever you call the people who manage the horse droppings and keep Lakeland clean. I bet they are all informers in the pay of Mr. Vanich. Without video cameras and the metanet, spooks will have to fall back on the Mark I Eyeball, and who would you least suspect than the humble person sweeping up the manure?

Speaking of which... at some point Mr. Carr will feel the call of nature. What horrors await him in the Gents' Toilet -- humanure containers?

Cherokee Organics said...


The Confederacy I sort of understand, but I'm interested and curious as to why you also chose Brazil? Also I was wondering whether the narrative had meant that Brazil had allied with the Confederacy in that attempted invasion? There are certainly a lot of grudges and history involved.

Certainly people can confuse police work and military activities with the sort of high tech data mining activities, when hitting the streets and getting to know thy enemy is perhaps the more pressing task? But I'm a bit old school in my outlook on such matters.

Incidentally, I just had the awful realisation today that the big banks here have implemented a reasonably unpleasant legislative reform which has required me to undertake additional education - at my expense - and additional certification - oh yeah, again at my expense - otherwise I will stand to lose a goodly chunk of my meagre income to them. And oh yeah, I probably won't stand to get any further income from all of this expense in time and resources. And there have been some accusations in the media that when it comes to them, the people at the banks have been possibly cheating their exams and making a joke of it called the Penske file (after Seinfeld). Oh yeah, I was angry about it for a while this afternoon, now I’m merely smouldering. Tainter’s theory has been rolling around in my thoughts today as well as the well-earned fate of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.



PS: This week’s blog Give bees a chance looks at the construction of an entirely new design (my own, thanks very much) for a bee hive. Well worth checking out and hopefully it will be finished over the next few days. I also discuss the reasons behind the new design in plain and simple English. All good stuff, plus I discover a previously unknown wombat hole just beyond the orchard.

weedananda said...


I so enjoy your narrative fiction...very pleased to hear it's becoming more financially rewarding. I'm hoping you'll just be presenting the just the first section of the new book here (unlike Twilight's Last Gleaming where the whole story was posted, then fleshed out and expanded in the book)and save some surprises for the whole novel. In any case, write on!

I'm hoping you don't mind if I post this feeler for a W. MA ADR meet up again this week and possibly next...hoping to hear from more folks.

Western MA area ADR readers:

I've been inspired by others' efforts recently to put out a feeler about a possible meet up of Western MA area ADR readers/Green Wizards...I imagine there are quite a few of you out there. It would be such a pleasure to connect face to face.

If you're interested please send me an email at:

I live in the Northampton area so the venue will likely be near there (I would make every effort to arrange for a location on the bus route). Hope to hear from you soon.


Patricia Mathews said...

@Sara - the wife of one of my nephews asked me to get a handwriting kit for 3rd grade, sold at a local high-end toy shop my daughter shops at, to improve his handwriting. My grandniece, 8, just sent me a very clearly printed thank-you note in her own hand, in pencil. I have offered my dust-gathering calligraphy set to the nieces and nephews for their kids, though I thinks it's above the age level of most of them.

@JMG - too true about the bicycles, and ready to second the guy who called a halt, saying we'd thrashed out the matter completely. But having Texas absorb New Mexico is cruel and unusual punishment, however likely.

And, yes, I, too, was taught handwriting, with a nib pen, no less. It was a continuing ed calligraphy class, taken after the age of 50, using great big lined paper sheets and felt-tipped pens, that cleared up my handwriting - when I'm thinking about it and not in a hurry. Needlework helped my hand-eye coordination some, but the skills don't seem to transfer.

Pat, wondering what Robert Heinlein's ghost is making of the modern security state. I'm sure stopped cussing a long time ago and washed his hands of us.

Odin's Raven said...

With a recent bloody history of civil war and invasion, how is it that there is no mention of damaged or recently repaired buildings and crippled ex-servicemen and beggars and refugees, or even shortages and rationing and lack of maintenance and shoddy railway equipment worn out from wartime overuse and under repair? The people seem happy and prosperous rather than gaunt, grim and war-hardened. Were they very lucky?

Horse drawn transport may be faster than automobiles in cities. I don't know how this was measured, but I recall reading that in 2000 the average pace of a journey in London was 9mph, although in 1900 it had been 12mph! However, in 1900 they had a lot of people sweeping the streets of horse manure so people could cross them more comfortably, and to keep down the flies and the smell.

hapibeli said...

Mr. Carr is the foot soldier for the elites, who just as their current day ancestors, are terrified of anyone who would rock their boat.

Hubertus Hauger said...

I get so enthusiastic about means of transportation. Here thats the horse driven cab. Well, immediately, when there came in talk about manure too, I remembered one thing. I saw several times in real (?) and in an film, in that cabs to hire had collection gadgets for the horses manure. I just check ... Vienna, Austria, Europe it is. Today they do so mainly out of one reason. Historicaly because of another too. Reason today, keeping the street tidy. Reason history, colleting fertilizer for ones vegetable garden. Isn´t that wonderful!?

RPC said...

I'll start with some practical matters...
-I'd move the passenger cars to the front of the train. They can get power (or at least heat) from the locomotive, but just as importantly won't be subject to the slack action of 40-50 freight cars.
-Is Toledo really the "end of the line" or just the "last stop?" I'd guess tracks pretty much extend throughout the Republic. Also, it's going to be pretty hard to avoid the tracks going through Chicago - plenty of room for issues there!
-Are the streetcars electric? Are there interurbans?
-I noticed the pedal cabs. The camel has his nose under the tent!

(I don't know if your misspent youth included television, but do you remember the little guy with the mustache at the end of "Fractured Fairy Tales?" I wonder how many kids in the sixties realized what he was sweeping up and how funny it was that he dove into the barrel at the end!)

Eric S. said...

Re: Your response to Ray on the political demarcations of this particular future history. So, the Dakotas are part of the Great Plains republic, and the Southwest is divided between Texas, the Rockies, and Deseret. I'm surprised the Navajo and Lakota didn't take advantage of partition to declare their sovereignty. Or did they try, fail to get recognized, and become another group of insurgents?

Troy Jones said...

Fun story so far... although I am a bit sad that the Confederates seem to have more in common with the Atlantic people (Atlanteans?) than the Lakelanders. Also, resurrecting the "Confederacy" name was probably not the best PR move for them, haha. On the other hand, having a ready-made national identity of sorts that people (well, some people) can rally around may have had more legitimacy in many people's eyes than scrambling to create a national identity from scratch, as most of the other Partitioned countries would have had to. Especially since Partition seems to have been imposed by foreigners (or at least enforced by foreign peacekeepers).

Thomas Mazanec said...

I may end up living close to the Capitol...I plan to move to Port Clinton in a year or two.
I still can't figure out how this fits into your Long Descent scenario...the Lakeland Republic seems to be doing good economically, and the rump United States seems to be doing good technologically and it is the second half of the century. I look forward to how this turns out.

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

Jeepers, this is fun.

Today I'd like to fire off at JMG two questions about the minutiae of life in Lakeland.

(1) All through my Canadian Estonian-diaspora childhood in the 1950s and 1960s, and indeed later, through the 1970s and 1980s, the Reader's Digest magazine was ubiquitous. You would see it on the coffee tables of living rooms. You would see in the dentist's waiting room. You would see it on the newsagent racks in the pharmacy. Reader's Digest in those days struck a middle-brow, politically rather conservative, line, from time to time coloured with a mild degree of moral uplift in the hortatory tones of that Norman Rockwell of the typewriter, Dr Norman Vincent Peale. Sometimes there would be pieces to make you think: "Should the zoogle-zoggle be a flim-flam?" the editors would earnestly ask, and there would be two or three pages arguing "Yes" and two or three pages arguing "No". The Norman-Rockwellian hortatory uplift could come from some nicely argued piece under some such title as "The Power of Prayer". Or, alternatively, it could come from a much-repeated feature, always about some one particular person, actually one of the best things in the magazine, under the title "The Most Unforgettable Character I Have Ever Met".

In 2015, as I noted from yesterday's tooth filling, Reader's Digest is still kept the dentist's waiting room. However, today's Digest is unsubstantial. In place of the 1960s offerings of 10 or so meaty articles per issue, there are only 4 or so. The writing now seems to require oddly little thinking - as in the kind of writing I am inclined to offer when making fun of Hemingway: "I like to write with SHORT words. Tough guys like short words. Short words pack a big punch. Our world needs more short words. It needs then bad, and it needs them now. Short. Words. Yes."

So my question for JMG is: What are magazines like in Lakeland?

(2) When one recalls one's 1960s childhood, or - perhaps still better, because these days more vivid, and more accessible to the very young - one looks at those TechniColored YouTube vids of air or rail travel from the 1960s, one is struck by the way people dressed up. Men would board in jacket and tie. Women would be in skirts with matching jackets (what in Estonian is called a kostüüm), and I think carrying matching handbags. Hats were common, except on children. A time traveller jerked from a 1960s departure lounge into 2015 would think - correctly - that some social decline had occurred, ominously reflected not only in big political terms but also in something as humble as tailoring.

My question for JMG is: Do the normal native Lakelanders, as opposed to the foreigners we saw on the 5:10 Pittsburgh-to-Toledo run, dress in public in 1960s-careful or in 2015-casual style?

Toomas (Tom) Karmo

near Toronto

www dot metascientia dot com

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

PS to my posting from a moment ago: Still on haberdashery: I think I am not the first commentator to sense that something is going on in this narrative with hats. It is notable that at one point in past weeks all men, and most women, have been described as wearing head coverings, and that the naive Mr Carr is met in Toledo this week by a duly hatted lady. What can this mean? I hope we find out.

PPS: One or two readers have already commented on the fact that Lakeland economic-technological arrangements are liable to vary, as seen from the train window, when one crosses a county line. I am hoping here that the explanation is a political one, involving devolution of powers from national government to municipality. (This, like the dignity of small-enterprise private ownership defended by Leo XIII and his successors, is connected with formal Catholic social teaching. Under the principle of "subsidiarity" - admittedly more honoured, in the period from Paul VI to Benedict's resignation, by what the Vatican has preached than in what it has had the courage to practice - decisions get taken at the most local possible level. "Subsidiarity" in governance, like small-enterprise private ownership in economics, is supposed to defend the little guy.)

Tom in Toronto

wisdomchaser said...

I'm really getting into this story. It is really excellent writing. The only bad part is I'm impatient and want to read it all now. I need to slow down and practice waiting.

Linda Hug

patriciaormsby said...

I'm enjoying this quite a bit, and I also love the details you bring forth in the comments, necessitating even more time spent in front of a screen. The Cascadian Republic as a Chinese client state--interesting!
Our K-Dog left a comment over on Kunstler's blog, saying folks in Washington are feeling a bit overwhelmed with the oriental immigrants, mostly Chinese. That got me thinking, and I'd have posted my thoughts over there instead, but last Monday is just so history by now.
I'm not there to really get a sense of it, but the immigrants are probably mostly folks who know that the Chinese system is extremely fragile, and have a touchingly naive degree of faith in America instead. America has had a big influx of orientals before, with dire warnings about the "Yellow Peril." I find it likely that this time too, they'll be the victims when our system falls apart.
On the Chinese not bothering to speak the local language, I was down in Malaysia, which has a large Chinese population that have been there for many generations. Some among them did not speak Malaysian, and barely enough English to conduct business with tourists. They seem to get along fine nonetheless.
These are resourceful people. If I were in Seattle, I'd be learning Mandarin or Cantonese, whichever was more prevalent. Start with proper greetings, thanks, apologies, numbers, what time is it, where is the restroom. That alone is not much to learn, but enough to start opening hearts.
Be there when they are let out of the relocation camps, and help them rebuild.

Patricia Mathews said...

@Tidlosa: No, nobody in Carr's country pays cash. The elite don't have to, and people like the immigrant family use it, but are well aware that it will be taken away from them as "must be drug money" along with everything else that might be considered "connected with drugs" - today, peoples' cars, cellphones, etc.

For attitudes about the harmless use of cash even today, I give you the very enlightening (especially in the writers' attitudes) Albuquerque Journal article "Unbanked" from Monday.

Patricia Mathews said...

Re: Retropia, from someone who caught the tail end of the original: one of the great changes of the 20th century was the automation of housework, to the point that anyone could live alone and do the chores essential to staying alive, even a bright 10-year-old. Which may be part of the reason today's culture has so firmly set its face against letting kids do or themselves in the smallest things, and making them do chores; because otherwise, kids on their own fall into very bad trouble indeed, since, unlike the heroes of earlier kidlit, they cannot get any sort of work except the outlawed sort. OK - that's one consequence.

The second is that, since housework, cooking, and laundry must be done, under retro conditions it will eat up far more woman-hours than today's people can even imagine. Therefore women who want a professional career that is incompatible with the demands of housework (and child-rearing) will either be single, have servants, or live in communal arrangements. The latter, BTW, is one thing Marion Zimmer Bradley got completely right - under nonindustrial conditions.

Leading to consequence #3: the return of dormitories, boarding houses, and residence hotels. Even Sherlock Holmes had a landlady who doubled as his housekeeper. Students today read period novels (if they do) and marvel that students in period put up with the regimentation and rigors of dormitory life - they wouldn't. They'd just get an apartment of their own. With a dishwasher, a washer-dryer hookup, a microwave .... the automation listed above. One very good picture of dormitory life back in the day is Josephine Tey's MISS PYM DISPOSES. Bells at 5:30 am etc.

And consequence #4 - since servants will be so helpful, and with poor relations trickling in from the east, they will certainly be impressed into service just as Star Reach's Trey and his mother were in Auntie Dell's tavern. Of course, the traditional Midwestern farm custom was that the hired help ate with the family, IIRC (it's been two-thirds of a century since I was last there.)

OH, and with housework some thing all women were expected to know and do, just as repairs and strong-arm work are something all men were expected to know and do - except dedicated pencil-pushers - it will be vital, but devalued, noted only when done badly, undone, or overdone, except for cooking and craftwork. Instead, such jobs will become "The LEAST you can do!" Whether that's good or bad depends on one's attitude. I remember resenting it because the person saying it had overtones of "basically you're a parasite -try to make up for it in these pitiful little ways" in his own attitude. Or why we've both been single since 1990. Leading to --

Divorce will become a lot more difficult, simply because he'll need a housekeeper, and she will need other means of support, since everybody else has the skills she does. Expect the rate of domestic murder to go up.

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

On looking into my shelves, I find that I mangled the old Reader's Digest header in my posting here a few minutes ago, in fact falsely attributing rather bad English to the magazine. The old Digest printed not "The Must Unforgettable Character I Have Ever Met", but, rather (putting in more punch by reaching for a contraction, and additionally dropping that silly "ever"), "The Most Unforgettable Character I've Met".

I will herewith quote the first few lines from the "Unforgettable" piece of February 1946, headlined "The Most Unforgettable Character I've Met: Red Cap No. 42". From this, much can be reconstructed, comprising a mixture of (predominantly) good and (to a lesser extent) bad. I am herewith inviting readers to proceed in the manner of Cuvier, or some such, reconstructing at their desks, in a process of duly skilled conjecture, full-scale dinosaur from diminutive vertebra:


The tiny, silver-haired woman is crying. Beside her wheel chair, Station Porter No. 42 ruefully watches his suffering customer. As the elevator dawdles down from the balcony of Grand Central, he man takes off his red cap and, closing his eyes, seems to listen. Presently he bends over and whispers:

"Lady, that is a sure-enough pretty hat you're wearing this morning!"

In utter astonishment, she looks up into the Negro face.



Toomas (Tom) Karmo, near Toronto

Nastarana said...

I shall walk out on a small twig and state that I believe Mr. Carr is in Lakeland to set up negotiations for a commercial treaty. If his initial contacts are successful, diplomats with aids and entourage will follow. I further, stepping onto an even smaller twiglet, suggest that while he may be ostensibly a personal representative of the new Antlantican president, his real employers are a consortium of business interests looking for new markets. Carr Enterprises may have installed one of its' dumber scions in govt.

Note how he is checking out farm sizes. 200 acre farms don't buy huge farm equipment. The variety of fashions and infrastructure means that govt. tax and economic policies favor regional economies; there is no mass market into which a clever Atlantican guy or gal can sell excess production from the home factories.

pygmycory said...

Enjoying this story.

I can understand Mr. Carr being used to taking notes on his veepad, but really, to not think he can use paper and pen!

I've never used anything else when I'm away from home. A small notepad and a pen is far lighter than my laptop and I think a smartphone or tablet wouldn't be worth the extra money, and if I lose it it's no big deal to get another. I spend too much time on the internet to think I should do it away from home. And without a decent keyboard, tablets are less comfortable to use than paper. Why bother?

My handwriting and printing are fine except when I'm taking notes at top speed in university lectures. It can't have been too bad even then, given the number or people asking to photocopy my notes. Don't know shorthand - I wonder if they have a specifically biology version. If not, it would have been of reduced use to me. I ended up developing some of my own short forms in order to keep up without wrecking my hands completely. A laptop might have been useful, but I didn't have one at the time. And these days I rarely have to take extensive notes.

KW said...

Re Bob Patterson:

"With a book, there is a reasonable chance the publisher has done fact checking and is fairly sure he will not be sued for plagiarism, falsehoods, inaccuracies, and defamatory or libelous statements. Just the opposite is true of the Internet of today. People feel they can say anything with no resposibility for truth or accuracy."

I also find the other side of that coin extremely frustrating: even when online writers do research, check facts, and supply source information to readers to support arguments and enable independent fact-checking, many readers have lost the capacity to appreciate the difference between unsupported bloviating and coherent, data-supported critiques and policy proposals, so they ignore both.

For the past 10 years, I've done a lot of basic investigative reporting work on the local level - primarily distributing the information through my website and email newsletters. And I'm everyday astonished anew at the ability of municipal officials especially to maintain that cognitive dissonance between their obligation to make decisions on behalf of the public's wellbeing, and their utter disinterest in personally absorbing the facts that would enable them to do so in a sound way.

Not only that, but because my local newspaper (the Centre Daily Times) no longer allocates any resources to investigative, factual reporting on complex issues like water use, land use, energy system planning and so forth, op-ed writers have nothing on which to hang policy arguments.

In response, I started writing op-eds that contain more verifiable facts - with referrals to the sources - than opinions.

Most recently, a piece was rejected by the editor because it doesn't fit his notion of an op-ed. Because it has too many facts.

RPC said...

Fascinating details! I'm seeing the Distributist principle of subsidiarity at work here - will we hear from solidarity as well?
So Carr's going to be staying long enough and spending enough money that the LR is setting him up a with a checking account? Hmmm. (And they're pretty cavalier about which bank he visits - is the banking system state-controlled or otherwise centralized?)
It sounds like radiograms are available even in areas that otherwise have rejected 20th century tech? Is this by central government decree or are the radiogram operators just considered too valuable to reject?
I assume Ms. Berger chose a limo (they know the driver) for privacy; it would be absurd not to have streetcar service between the train station and the hotel district.
And everyone knows the heads of state of the two republics well enough to refer to them familiarly, and everyone's being very careful to be polite to each other. I get the sense that Mr. Carr has been sent to investigate the potential for rapprochement between these states.

Glenn said...

Street Cars.

JMG, you have mentioned these frequently. Are they horse drawn, electric or motorized? All have been used historically.


in the Bramblepatch
Marrowstone Island
Salish Sea

Zach said...

This story brings me home, almost, quite literally. I'm a Fulton County native (next county west of Lucas County/Toledo). When visiting from Michigan, the historical marker for the Battle of Phillips Corners is on the way to the family farm. A reminder that the Toledo War was fought anticipating the central role Toledo would play in the future Republic.

A relevant anecdote: Speaking with an older woman who could remember when Pettisville, Ohio (2000 census population of the entire school district, not the village, was 2134 souls) rated a passenger rail stop, she told how much easier it was for her to get to Toledo as a child vs. as a senior citizen needing to drive.


Clay Dennis said...

I am going to make a another wild swing at the narrative direction of this story. Utilizing some of the past discussions of the rise of war bands in post collapse society and the theme of the comment section here that many bicyclists are dangerous and antisocial I would postulate that in the near future after a collapse ( 40 years or so while roads, tires and chains are still availible) many of the warbands while find the bicycle to be an advantageous and usefull transportation technology. Just as Genghis Khan and his hords had a powerfull advantage in the mastery of horse mounted warfare so will the bicycle enabled warbands in a period when horses are not yet plentiful and fossil fueled transport has been brought to a standstill. There are already bands of disaffected youth in both LA and New York who roam the night on fixed gear bikes avoiding the cost and police intervention that go with car transport for such folks.
Perhaps in a future time before the civil war the Lakeland Republic was ravaged by such war bands sweeping through the countryside with more mobility than any other group and pillaging the citizenry. The memory of violence and plunder of these warbands has given the the Lakelanders a bad image of bicycles and bicyclists in general so they have tended to avoid them in favor of other transportation solutions.

S.Treimel said...

Good narrative ! What I am having difficulty imagining is how so many people, across such a vast geographic area, came to adopt such a radically different choice for lifestyle and socio-political arrangements. Granted, the reality of resource scarcity would make new arrangements necessary. And you have suggested the possibility of emigration and immigration. But so many people seem rooted to their place of birth. Are you suggesting that people's attitudes about lifestyle and politics are malleable, or is it that the immense political and cultural upheaval that precedes this story makes people more adaptable to the changes, and thus accepting of their current circumstances?
Perhaps future installments of this story will showcase some of the holdouts and cranks who chose not to emigrate, but still refuse to accept their new circumstances, worshipping their dead iPhones as relics of a glorious past. ;)

Patricia Mathews said...

@ Clay Dennis: Steve Stirling's Emberverse series made very good use of that observation in his first 3 books especially, and the other day the news online ( which I scan to get the original sources if they ever say anything I care to read) had a brief article about gangsters on bicycles.

@JMG - following logically from what I said before - I am willing to bet that Ms. Berger is the daughter or widow of one of the local elite. I was about to say aristocracy, but I do not see Midwesterners accepting the term or the idea, whatever exists in practice. So OK - the daughter or some such connection of the local Bossman. Or Boss Lady as the case may be.

Glenn said...

Clay Dennis said...

"Perhaps in a future time before the civil war the Lakeland Republic was ravaged by such war bands sweeping through the countryside with more mobility than any other group and pillaging the citizenry. The memory of violence and plunder of these warbands has given the the Lakelanders a bad image of bicycles and bicyclists in general so they have tended to avoid them in favor of other transportation solutions."

Or, perhaps as the Chinese eventually did with cavalry to deal with their neighbors, the Lakelanders could have Bicycle Dragoons in their army and local militias; in which case they would be both common, but out of Mr. Carr's sight.


in the Bramblepatch
Marrowstone Island
Salish Sea

Ing said...

Every time "veepad" appears in your story and "vpad" in the comments I see the word vapid. Thanks for another good read, the anticipation builds!

Shane Wilson said...

I noticed in your response you described the other Republics some, minus the Confederacy & New England & Maritimes. We know that Atlantica basically follows BAU, but will you flesh out the MO's much of the other republics? Have you clear ideas of what they're like? When you say the Confederacy & Brazil invaded, I have no idea what kind of people or their MO you are talking about. Just wondering how far you've thought out the rest of the map, and the other countries of the former US.

Iuval Clejan said...

JMG, this is a pleasant surprise, you of all people engaging in Utopian fiction.

I wanted to comment on all the people who have used the word "lifestyle" to describe the choices made by Lakeland Republic folks. The use of the word has annoyed me for a while in other contexts as well. The reason is that it was probably invented by marketers in order to sell stuff, and misses two important reasons for people's choices that go beyond marketing. The first is that people have values that transcend trying to impress people, or look cool and those values in fact clash with the predominant de-facto value of the global industrial market economy (efficiency and comfort). The second is that sometimes these choices are about survival and necessity, thus not really "choices" in the standard marketing sense at all.

Robert Mathiesen said...

Writing memories! I was a boy in a small-town elementary school in the 1940s. We sat in rows of wooden desks bolted in place, and each desktop had a round hole in its far right corner to hold an inkwell full of black ink. When we were old enough (2nd grade, I think) to learn to use ink, we were issued a single dip pen, consisting of a holder with a simple steel nib. (We were told to bring blotting paper and pen-wipers from home. The blotting paper was bought from a stationary store; the pen wipers were sewn from old rags at home.) And so we learned to write in ink, with many a blot and drip on the paper, the desk and even our clothes. It was messy, but also fun, as new manual skills always are. From time to time we pressed too hard, and wrecked a nib; but the teacher had a box of fresh nibs against that eventuality. -- Ball-point pens became widely available, I think, when I was in 5th grade; but we weren't supposed to use them in school ever, so as not to lose the ability to use dip pens. Every morning one child was chosen to take the large bottle of black ink with a spout and carefully top up the small inkwell in each child's desk. The teacher had a larger glass inkwell with two reservoirs, for red as well as black ink, that also needed filling, and two dip pens, one for each color of ink. Red ink seemed really special, exemplifying the teacher's power!

Joe Roberts said...

I was going to make the comment that we normally see fewer changes in the space of 50 years than we think we will. Think of all those mid-20th-century sci-fi stories about the incredible planetary colonies and flying cars of 2000. Or even the 1970s TV series Space: 1999, where we evidently were supposed to have moon bases by that date.

I was going to say "Look at how relatively little has changed in the last 50 years. Is it truly realistic that a place that in 2015 is beset by poverty, a lack of employment opportunities, racial tensions, insufficient or decayed infrastructure, and -- perhaps above all -- low educational standards is going to be able to reinvent itself in 50 years as a prosperous, cohesive community with a sort of upbeat twenties steampunk vibe, especially with the coming slow collapse that's ahead of all of us?"

But then I thought more deeply about what the Rust Belt was like 50 years ago, in 1965. Far from perfect and about to enter a long slide (with riots just a few years off), Toledo in 1965 was still an industrial powerhouse, with a population of about 400,000, six or seven Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the city, and a strong middle-class blue-collar community -- the kind of place where you could, for a little while longer at least, expect to graduate from high school and make a decent living with a factory job. Most families were stable. And so forth. This is a very good article that addresses this exact topic, to the extent you want to get micro regarding Toledo specifically since the 1960s.

So I guess things really can change a lot in 50 years!

Ozark Chinquapin said...

What has become of Missouri in this scenario? Just wondering, because you've accounted for just about everywhere else but not Missouri.

beneaththesurface said...

I eagerly await the scene when Mr. Carr checks out the public library. Let me guess what he'll find: A library dense with a great diversity of books, unlike spacious modern ones. Many older books in the collection, not just recently published ones. No silly rules about weeding books that haven't circulated in a few years. Librarians who are deeply knowledgeable about literature and various subject matters. A quiet library -- no electronic noise to worry about and people who only talk in whispers. Children who are excited to browse the stacks, no computers or video games to distract them. Card catalogs. Architecture that pleases the soul, not ugly glass modernist architecture. In other words, a library I'd rather work at than the one I do now!

Another reminder to DC area AR readers:

I would like to organize an informal gathering of AR readers/Green Wizards in the Washington, DC area.

If you are interested, please send an email to me at rwhite at fastmail dot fm

I'm thinking sometime in October at a place in the DC area that is easily accessible without a car.

SLClaire said...

As one of the older folks commenting in this forum (I was a child in the 1960s), it amuses me that some of you seem to be so surprised about the everyday technology of 2065 LR. Libraries with card catalogs? I used card catalogs for years and still kind of miss them. I might use them over the catalog search of my public library's website if the card catalogs were still in existence. Cash and paper checks? Still use both. I have a credit card and use it too, but writing a check makes the money I'm spending more real for me. I don't do online banking at all; I balance my checkbook on paper (I use a calculator now but could easily go back to adding and subtracting on paper, or I could have my husband teach me how to use our abacus.) Landline phone? Check, still use, though it's now tied in to the household server, with the server sending the signal over the wires inside the house. Paper and pen? Check. I keep my diaries and all my garden notes on paper, looseleaf or spiral notebooks depending on my preference. We have two file cabinets filled with file folders. That's because paper is longer lasting than electronic media and I want my writings to last. When I was working for pay I used computers that had 8 inch and 5 3/4 inch floppy drives. All that data is unreadable now. All the 3 1/2 inch floppies I used for previous home computer data storage are unreadable now. However, I can read all my data that's on paper; some of it is approaching 50 years old. Photos? Any photo I want to keep is printed out and kept in a photo album. And so on. The LR feels like my childhood! (except for the lack of cars and prominence of horses, that is)

Why hats? We found out in this installment that it's late fall, almost winter, when Carr visits; mid to late November, most likely. As someone who lived in Ann Arbor as a child (an hour or two's drive from today's Toledo), I can tell you that it is *cold* at that time of year. Lakelanders clearly walk a lot. Of course they are wearing hats!! They *need* hats to stay warm when they are walking and taking horse-drawn cabs, many if not most of which may be open to airflow. Even here in Missouri winter is cold enough and I walk enough to wear a hat when I am outside walking any distance at that time of year. In fact, at that time of year I usually wear at least one hat, if not two hats, *inside* the house because we don't heat it much.

One other thing that amuses me is that Toledo is the capital of 2065's LR. It's probably not widely known that Ohio and Michigan almost came to war back when they were in the process of gaining statehood. The object of that war was Toledo, and both proto-states wanted it. Eventually a compromise was worked out: Ohio got Toledo, while Michigan got the Upper Peninsula. By the 1960s Michiganders widely viewed themselves as the winners of that war. Toledo was already seen as going downhill. Some of the old animosity between the states was still evident in other ways. In the 1970s, on one of our trips back to Ann Arbor to visit relatives, we drove by a billboard just to the Ohio side of the border which read, "Keep Ohio beautiful; dump your trash in Michigan."

LewisLucanBooks said...

To the folks asking about Brazil ... After the American Civil War, 10,000 to 20,000 Southerners left the U.S. for Brazil. They were called "Confederados." Lew

Emmanuel Goldstein said...

JMG, Lakeland republic reminds me a lot of the living conditions I saw on a two-week visit to rural NorthWest Romania in 1996-- This was just a few years after the dictator Ceaucescu was publicly hanged, and the "Party of National Salvation" came in to replace them and pick up the pieces.
It was late August, and the residents of the town were nearly done laying in the cords of firewood that they would use to heat their homes in the winter. Many, even most, town residents had some sort of cottage industry going on. There was a furniture factory in the town, but it mostly stayed closed. Older women sat in the sunshine making doilies by hand. They guy I stayed with tanned lambskins in his back yard, and made them into winter coats. When it came time to paint the orphanage we were helping to build, the locals made their own paint by grinding up white powdery rock and mixing it with other stuff. I hoped it didn't have lead in it, but no way to confirm.
At night, pigs were turned out into the streets to forage for trash. I guess they were smart enough to find their way home by dawn. Streetlights were few and far between, but not much problem. Most people planned to be indoors by nightfall--although one night, I did share the street with several Romanians stumbling home in the starlit darkness without flashlights. The power was on for 20 hours most days, voltage varying between 200-260V, but could be off for 8 hours or more at a time.
Every week, there was a market day on Thursday. I awoke at 5 AM to the sounds of jingling, clopping hoofs, and horses and men muttering in the darkness. Mountain people and farmers brought their goods to stalls in the town square. Many used horse-drawn carts with worn pneumatic truck tires on them. Also, a lot of trade was barter, using jugs of locally-made apricot moonshine.
It was a fascinating experience then--Not sure if Rural Romania still has those conditions, but it was a glimpse at how the technology rolls back when modern resources are not available. People made do, and seemed to be leading relatively happy lives.

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

@Cherokee Organics: The story of your European honeybee colonies is wrenching. Dad (Endel Karmo, 1912-1991; initially trained at Tartu University, Estonia, at Raadi Experimental Station) was from his March 1948 arrival in Nova Scotia until his retirement heavily involved with the provincial government's apiculture outreach. He served for most of this period as provincial apiarist. I should now perhaps try, for the most part in Dad's memory, to make a few amateurish comments on your situation.

(1) Innovative hive designs, such as you have documented on your own blog and adverted to here on the JMG "ADR" blog, are of interest. North American practice has for decades standardized on Langstroth, with standardized factory-made comb foundation. A competitor of Langstroth is Warré, in which the bees are provided not with foundation in frames but with mere top bars (from which they themselves construct dangling hexagon-cell comb, following their own architectural whims without guidance from the mathematically uniform hexagonal-tiling pattern impressed on the comb foundation sheet at the factory). It occurs to me that in your circumstances, you might contemplate an experiment - supply the bees with some Langstroth-style frames, but only partially fill the hive; and then add some top bars in the spirit of Warré. It would be interesting to see which of the two proffered alternatives your bees then prefer.

It is true that Warré makes it impossible to use a centrifugal extractor, in which standard-sized frames are placed into a whirling rack. But your operation is small, and you are quite likely already resigned to the prospect of pre-industrial extraction methods, should you get a honey crop (for example, to the prospect of grinding up your late-autumn comb over a wire mesh and letting the honey trickle through into a collection vessel).

Warré has one small commercial advantage, in that it provides a yield of light-coloured wax every autumn. In Langstroth, by contrast, combs get re-used, as the whirling centrifuge empties out the cells from autumn to autumn. What one finally gets under Langstroth is years-old broken-down combs, with the wax now an unattractive brown. I notice that in Ontario, wax commands a high price in those silly stores where the affluent buy "organic food" and "natural products" - a modest block of wax, with a mass of perhaps 500 grams, in none too good a colour, already commanding at retail something around 5.00 EUR or 7.00 EUR. ////posting continued////

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

@Cherokee Organics (continued):

(2) Since your beehive already has a wonderful perspex viewport (cf on this also the results of a Google search under ((STRING))observation hive((/STRING)), or alternatively under ((STRING))"observation hive"((/STRING)) ), it would be perhaps easy enough to use your drill and add a thermometer port. I have found it easy to buy from now-defunct Toronto retailer "EfstonScience" an immersion thermometer, for around 8.00 EUR, which attains the for-your-purposes sufficient accuracy of plusminus 1oC. Melbourne may have some retailer similar to EfstonScience. Alternatively, normal school-laboratory supply houses will sell this item. A thermometer port might be a hole one centimetre or so in diameter, normally stoppered in some waterproof manner. If the thermometer port was in the roof rather than in a side wall, one even could lower the thermometer bulb to various heights above the hive floor, and thereby get some sense of the vertical temperature gradient.

The whole topic of beekeeping in a cruelly hot climate, such as in the State of Victoria, as opposed to a cruelly variable-and-cool climate, such as in Nova Scotia, is interesting, and to me novel! :-)

This brings me to my final point:

(3) If thermometer inserted into temperature port indicates dangerous temp (and in the State of Victoria this might happen, as I imagine it, even when hive is kept at all times in deep shade), then SOME relief might potentially be had by splashing water on outside of hive, or (better?) wrapping hive in burlap wick, with lower end of burlap in a water bath. Even if the water is at a terrible 40oC, equal to terrible air temp of 40oC, there will be some cooling effect, since the water will absorb heat from the hive in evaporating. It is an advantage that the State of Victoria, as I well remember from my years at Monash Uni, tends to combine 40oC heat with low humidity, thereby rendering evaporation efficient. In Africa, dry heat is used to great effect in evaporation cooling (as one sees from Googling under ((STRING)) ceramic refrigerator evaporative cooling ((/STRING)) ).

Hastily, cheerfully,
trying to be constructive here while having only really helped Dad
with autumnal honey-extraction operations,

Toomas (Tom) Karmo, near Toronto

David Veale said...

Lakeland is exactly the place I've been trying to create for the last 7 years since moving to the portion of Lakeland formerly known as SW Michigan 8^). So I certainly enjoy reading about your vision. I can attest to the fact that farming with horses, as well as travel by horse drawn buggy is not only quite acceptable but rewarding and enjoyable in ways I'd never previously imagined. I keep looking for them, but have yet to find many folks working in the same direction yet, as most in the Lakeland of 2015 are still enamored with Iphones, Escalades, big-screen TVs, cheap industrial food, and the cancer charities which go hand-in-hand with these fascinations.

SamuraiArtGuy said...

One of the things that I am enjoying seeing a vision of the notion that Collapse is, and will be complicated, and uneven. Humans can be a resourceful and adaptable folk at times. But it's perfectly plausible that some regions will cling to a modern technological civilization, while other regions will adapt to mid or early twentieth century, or even nineteenth century tech. In many discussions it us kind of an unsaid assumption that collapse will be catastrophic, and once mighty America will swiftly descend to a universal "Mad Max" lawless dystopia. That does not necessarily need to be the case. But I do note that the future did feature several conflicts and at least one fractious war as part of the backstory.

Ursachi Alexandru said...

Emmanuel Goldstein,

I'm a native of Romania, and I can confirm that such conditions are still to be found in many rural parts of this country, especially in remote mountain regions.

Ursachi Alexandru said...

@Emmanuel Goldstein

"Happy lives..." In the almost 20 years since your visit, 2 million Romanians have left the country, and many if not most of them were from rural areas. That is why you see half-empty villages where only the very old and the very young remain.

I, for one, love our simple villages and their traditions. I've spent many summers of my childhood visiting relatives who lived there. Hopefully we'll still have people living in them by the time the deindustrial age really kicks in.

John Michael Greer said...

Scotlyn, Melissa Berger's a well-connected political figure, the sort of person who arranges meetings with the president of a country; Earl the cab driver is a cab driver. You bet there's a difference in social status, which is reflected in the way they address each other. That's true in every human society, and indeed in every group of social primates -- watch the way baboons of different status interact sometime, and you'll see exactly the same thing expressed in nonverbal form.

Colin, three-masted schooners are extremely common -- type those words into your favorite search engine and see what you get -- and in particular, they were the most common cargo vessels on the Great Lakes during the late 19th century. As far as "from stem to stern," that's become an American idiom; I've heard it from people who have no idea it refers to ships.

Gjh42, no confusion at all -- it's just that politics are a bit different. In both republics, there's an elected presidency and quite a few parties in the legislature, and so the first job of any president-elect is to put together a legislative coalition that will enable him or her to get policies enacted.

MigrantWorker, there's doubtless some of that, but it cuts both ways -- there are things the Lakeland Republic produces that aren't available in the Atlantic Republic, and have been smuggled across the border all along in various ways.

Brian, I'm not at all sure about Missouri and Kansas -- it's possible that they're a republic of their own. I'd welcome comments from residents! As for paper, industrial hemp is a major crop in the Lakeland Republic, and that makes excellent paper as well as cloth and cordage. And the bridges -- why, yes, there are more bridges in 2065 than today; between the streetcar system, the railroads, and the fact that it's the capital of a nation and thus has attracted more population than before, Toledo's quite the happening town.

Ed, I don't greatly dislike bicycles; I had one when I was a kid, and enjoyed it. My irritation isn't with bicycles but with some of their riders, and more particularly with the people who come rushing in, whenever I write fiction, to insist that there have to bicycles in it. I'm quite certain that when my Lovecraftian fantasy gets published, I'll field hate mail because Nyarlathotep doesn't toddle around on a bike!

Seb, it's a little of both. Carr's comments about the clothes are that they remind him of history vids -- he's not a specialist in antique clothing, so would miss a lot of small variations -- but as will be explained further on, there's a definite and very conscious orientation toward retro culture. As for puns, I didn't intend that one, but yes, it's funny.

Nate, with regard to Mr. Carr, stay tuned! ;-) As for cyberpunk, good. Yes, in fact, I've modeled the Atlantic Republic on the sort of generic future you get in so much mediocre SF these days, lots of poverty, a small rich elite, armed guards, etc. -- though even there, it hasn't quite worked out the way the conventional wisdom would have it. (I didn't like cyberpunk, btw, because when it first started coming out I was living in Seattle, and I was already surrounded by, and bored to death with, the sort of hacker-and-slacker culture the cyberpunk authors lionized.)

Spanish Fly, 2049 (the year of the Brazilian-Confederate invasion) is rather a long time from now, and conditions have changed considerably. In this future history, Brazil went through a decade or so of turmoil and then came out the other side as a major regional power. The Brazilian-Confederate alliance is the most important power bloc in the western hemisphere in 2065.

DiSc, fair enough. I learned a long time ago, though, that -- well, how does the song go? "You can't please everyone so you got to please yourself." I write what I want to write, and people who want to read it are welcome to do so.

jean-vivien said...

@Ervino :
- regarding the control of paper-printed media by the govt, it would not be very feasible if the government is decentralized, and if a lot of people get involved in local, small-scale printing. Of course it presupposes that folks would willingly not adopt the attitude of least effort, but instead choose to maintain, care for, and use at their own pain, the technology of the printing press on a small scale.
That implies a very different set of values on their society from what you USA folks must be used to.
There could be a lot of local amateur radio, but Mr Carr's veepad is not programmed to catch the right frequencies...
- regarding the veepad, the answer may be that hard disk storage with enough miniaturization has become too expensive to embed into veepads, more expensive than the enrgy required to fuel all the airwaves traffic.
Of course, it supposes the use of data centers, which might be more expensive overall than having dedicated disk storage on every (less miniaturized) device. But it could be a collective mistake made by Carr's homeland, and one of the reasons why they are less prosperous than the LLR.

@DiSc :
I believe Mr Greer's motivation for posting fiction instead of an essay is not just distraction from the current grizzly state of world affairs.
For he knows very well that fiction is more subject to personal tastes than essays on world affairs.
But the fiction posted on this blog usually aims at more than entertaining readers : it is a tool enabling us to perceive some conceptual realities in ways that would be impossible through the usual essays.
Have you ever tried to explain a map to a person ? At some point, you have to either show them the actual map, or draw one yourself.
The use of narrative fiction involves the subjectivity of the reader, to get some particular points across. Think of it as a ritual, which helps an individual experience realities that are routinely explained by psychology but with less impact when they are only explained, and not experienced directly.
To peruse occult terminilogy, after developping your ideas in an essay, receiving them through narrative fiction is kind of like performing an initiation - a revelatory ritual.
I would not be surprised if some schools in the LLR require their pupils to use narrative fiction as a rite of passage, or for educational purposes.

jean-vivien said...

Overall, the spy theme is a cool angle in a universe without all the cool technologies featured in James Bond movies : even if there is no cool tech involved, then involving powers on a national/historical scale makes up in coolness.
The challenge with a spy story based in Retropia is that there might not be either cool tech nor a centralized enough power to be cool enough...
But I would be very interested to see how military warfare is conducted or taught in military schools. To comply with the philosophy pervading the fiction, my guess is a sort of warfare akin to what Iran has built up, as explained in the latest instalment of the War College podcast :
That "Defense In Depht" strategy in particular reminded me of the spirit of the Lakeland Republic, since it shares with Iran the context of a broken up region with embargoes and geopolitical split-ups :
An entertaining spy story functionning within such a framework would represent a challenge to write in itself !

@Spanish Fly :
As John is usually fond of saying - and he might be an exception in millions of the USA - the last thing the world needs is another clueless American sentencing uninformed statements about the rest of the world's affairs.
However, in the context of the USA, which has a LOT of geographical space and "gaps", sponsored immigration would be a good way to ensure a smooth settlement of people, since they would find land available, and existing communities to bind to, when they arrive.
As for Europe, I also live there, and I really don't know. The country where the economic dependance of retired people upon the working class is the highest, way above Europe's average, is Germany, which also happens to be the sole nation encouraging immigrants to come to its territory. I heard they would even provide immigrants with pocket money !
But for the rest of the nations out here, it is gonna be a tough ride. Maybe JMG's general advice could apply here : L.E.S.S., build local community and ties... and immigrants will do the same, and if we all do that together, it may alleviate some of the bumps on the road ahead.

John Michael Greer said...

Jean-Vivien, why yes. Stay tuned... ;-)

Daniel, I'm surprised you've never encountered anyone who talks like that when they're trying to hammer home a point.

Ervino, yes, I figured I'd get pushback from the nethead contingent. The flaw in your argument, of course, is that it's always easy to insist that the internet would be perfect if it didn't have to deal with human beings -- but if the whole point of the technology is to meet human needs, and it consistently fails to do so in predictable ways, blaming that on human "idiots" (that is to say, people who don't conform to the expectations of technology) is simply a dodge.

Gwyn, nah, the fad for computers passed off years ago. How many young men do you know today who spend all day tinkering with their hot rods?

Mister R., yes, we will indeed get to that. The US sickness industry (it doesn't provide health or care these days) is dystopian enough that coming up with something better is a bit of a fish-in-a-barrel project; still, I hope to surprise at least a few readers.

Donalfagan, good! That's already been worked out; down the road a bit we'll be accompanying Mr. Carr to the annual Drone Shoot, which should be quite a lively spectacle.

Martin, every horsedrawn vehicle I've ridden in (and that's a two digit number, btw) had a neat little leather contraption behind the horse that caught the manure on the way out and kept it off the street. Those are standard in the Lakeland Republic. As for the toilets, why, yes, human manure is just as good a methane source as the equine product, and there's more of it, so toilets have been designed with that in mind. (They also divert urine, which is much in demand as fertilizer.)

Cherokee, one of the basic constraints of this future is that the republics of the former US are all having to deal with the economic consequences of today's moronic US policies, and so an invasion of the Lakeland Republic pretty much had to be backed by a foreign power. I chose Brazil because despite its current troubles, it's got the potential to be a dominant regional power, and because it has longstanding historical links with the American South, due among other things to the migration of Confederate refugees there after the Civil War.

Weedananda, I haven't decided how much of the narrative will be appearing here, but you'll notice this isn't just a schematic scenario like "How It Could Happen." I may be posting the whole thing over the next year or so, interspersed with nonfiction essays.

Patricia, hey, I never said history was fair. Nor, of course, is Texas. ;-)

Raven, the invasion was sixteen years back and the civil war more than thirty. I suspect you'll still see some damage from the invasion in Paducah and Cairo, but it never got to Ohio! Nor has the last thirty years been all privation and strife by any means...

Myriad said...

For now, Mr. Carr's status and mission remain as mysterious as ever.

A big new clue in this installment, though. Do you know who can refer to the current President by her first name only, when speaking to officials of a different government on official business, without it being thought peculiar? Practically nobody, that's who. Even close associates like cabinet members who could call her "Ellen" in person in a private meeting wouldn't refer to her that way when speaking in public, or to officials of another government. Former Presidents can first-name other former Presidents, but not sitting Presidents. (Etiquette could have changed, of course.)

There's been no elaborate secrecy (such as passwords or disguises) but clearly the visit hasn't been announced publicly either. Otherwise no matter who Carr is, reporters for those Lakeland print and radio news outlets would have been there. There's no other security either. However, "Carr" might be an assumed name. That would at least be prudent.

My best guess so far is that Carr has a close familial connection to President Montrose, and something like the same quasi-unofficial status that Presidential relatives have in the present day. He could be Montrose's brother or husband (or maybe ex).

John Michael Greer said...

Hapibeli, heh heh heh.

Hubertus, exactly! I've seen the same devices at work. Since manure for methane generation is a valued resource in the Lakeland Republic, you can bet that the taxi companies don't let any of it go to waste -- that's a significant part of their income stream.

RPC, I'll have to check on where passenger cars usually went on US railroads before the 1970s, when the law required rail lines to offer passenger service as their fee, in effect, for being allowed to run freight service. The conductor's comment wasn't a technical description of the state of the rail network, btw. Tracks don't go through Chicago because the tracks had to be rebuilt after the war and so the new lines ran south of Free City territory; yes, there are electric streetcars and interurbans; and I put in the pedicabs because that actually does make some sense in practice, unlike some of the more expansive notions of the bikophiles.

MawKernewek said...

Are these 'restorationists' a religious group? The various Restorationist movements believe that Christianity somehow lost its way after the first or second century, until their founder in the 19th century had some kind of spiritual experience which enabled them to restore true religion, and naturally that is only found in the one true church.
Perhaps those counties that adopt a 19th century style of dress and habits are doing this as part of a cultural package that goes along with a Restorationist religious affiliation, I'll leave it to JMG to specify which, or indeed if it is a new one that has developed since the present time.

sgage said...


"down the road a bit we'll be accompanying Mr. Carr to the annual Drone Shoot, which should be quite a lively spectacle. "

You know, several times a week you write something that makes me think 'JMG is a man after my own heart'. This is definitely one of those times! ;-) Did you know there is a town in Wyoming (I think - maybe Montana?) that actually issues bounties on shot-down drones? What a wonderful idea!

Anna said...

I can really see this as a miniseries . . . :)

Yucca Glauca said...

Regarding shorthand: Wait, do you think true shorthand is a skill that's likely to survive? I've been trying to figure that out for some time. I learned the basics of Gregg from my mother, who learned it in highschool. I have a major interest in it, but haven't been quite sure if it's likely to be something useful enough in a Green Wizarding repertoire to justify taking the time necessary to really learn it well and try to keep it alive, since interest is so low these days and it takes so long to learn. I'd love an excuse to get back to studying it.

Unknown said...

Nice third installment, JMG. It ended too soon! I wonder if Mr. Carr even learned how to write...I'll be interested to hear how his hands cramp up with his note taking (hah!).

Regarding the term "schooner", I'm a little surprised that Mr. Carr even knows the term, never mind ID such a vessel, seeing as he's from an inland district (or perhaps he's a coastie or laker himself?). The word is often lumped in with other sailing vessel terms, like "ship", when each in fact has a specific meaning. "Schooner" is a fore and aft rigged vessel with two or more masts and are an indigenous American rig from early colonial days; three masters (or "tern schooners" as the Nova Scotians would call them) did indeed become a standard type on the Lakes, the Gulf and both coasts of North America starting in the 1850s. By the early 20th century, size and economics increased the size of the vessels and number of masts. Four, five and even six masters were built (and one seven master). Somewhat ironically, the larger the vessels, the more they relied on steam "donkey" engines to raise sails and anchors, as well as tugs to get into and from port: steam made really big sailing vessels possible. Three masted schooners were an ideal type: with a balance between cargo capacity and the ability to operate with minimum crews, say eight men.

"Ship" is a three masted vessel, but with yards crossing each of the masts. They need larger crews and are better suited to long oceanic passages. Big square riggers also took advantage of steam and operated well into the 20th century as well, albeit in limited markets.

In terms of mast trees; "built" masts made of many sections and layers bolted together and bound with iron hoops were common by the 19th century. In the US, the opening of western North America to exploitation allowed the export of huge Douglas firs to shipyards in Maine, of all places. Even before the Civil War Maine shipyards were importing much of their timber for shipbuilding purposes.

By the way, my wife has a journal that belonged to her great great great grandfather detailing his journey by stage and "the cars" from Boston to Bangor, ME in the early 1840's. It is made of cardboard and cheap paper, not the "fine bookbinding" we'd expect from the period.

Anyway, that's my two cents from Maine, future member of NEAP-QMR (New England, Atlantic Provinces, Quebec Maritime Republic)

Anthony Romano said...

Damage from the invasion in Cairo? How would you be able to tell?

I went to graduate school in Carbondale, Illinois, a short drive from Cairo. It is far down the curve of decline already. The town is full of dilapidated and half-collapsed buildings. The economic situation there is dire.

If any thing, life will improve there dramatically as barge traffic on the Mississippi becomes a major means of moving goods once again.

That last sentence touches on a thought I've often had while reading your blog over the years. It seems to me that life, while still hard, will be much better after the decline has leveled out than it will be on the downward slope.

Those living several centuries from now will have adapted and new societies will have formed and much of the major global upheavals will have happened already. For now though, things are going to be rough in the decades ahead.

It will be a long time yet until landlords will accept anything other than cash in exchange for a roof over your head. It is a thought that fills me with dread. With no resources (land, property, money) to my name, a barely fledged career, and enough youth to see a good chunk of this process play out, I am increasingly anxious about my future.

Donald Hargraves said...

Let me put a wooden stake into the heart of the idea of Bicycles in your story. This is from personal experience:

Bikes are one of the few technologies, IMHO, where one can see the increase in costs as they're implemented. You work hard to ride them, they need well-kept roads, and they're not really useful in winter time. Add in the worry of securing them, and I can see them being casually tossed aside for horses in the future.

peakfuture said...

"Can't read yer post-peak future fiction without a map!"

More to come (additions and corrections), as the story develops, with some extra references on rail and canals.

abdinarg said...

I've been enjoying this story as well as your nonfiction posts. Keep up the good work.

Concerning the mysterious Mr. Carr:

“Yeah,” I said. “Ellen’s been having to deal with that sort of thing every other day or so since the election.”
“That was quite an upset,” she said.
I nodded. “We were pretty happy with the way it turned out.”

Since Ellen has been dealing with coalition problems every other day since the election I assume that Ellen is the new president of Atlantica. Mr. Carr refers to her as Ellen rather than President Montrose so it is likely that he is a relative. "We were pretty happy" supports this. My guess is that Mr. Carr is the president's husband, although the different last names could indicate a brother.

This sounds like a semi-official contact between Lakeland and Atlantica. Since the Lakeland president appears eager to meet Mr. Carr he is quite important.

Of course, I could be completely wrong.

latheChuck said...

Not relevant to the story (so far), but the topic of slide-rule calculation has popped up on TADR from time to time. I just discovered the "International Slide Rule Museum" (, which (of course) has photos and in some cases biographies of a vast array of archaic calculating devices. More importantly, it has an on-line "adoption" program for stray slide-rules that come their way, and the prices are very reasonable. The cheapest I saw was just $2, with most in the $5 to $20 range. Shipping on any order up to $100 is $10, so getting one for every wizard in your area may be feasible.

(I have no association with the museum.)

Thomas Prentice said...

Whoa, what superb writing and thinking. Looking forward to more.

Myosotis said...

I really love old beautiful handwriting. Several of the older men in my family can do lovely block printing like old blueprints have and I know lots of people who learned to write using the Palmer method. My own handwriting is better in cursive than print, but still nothing to brag about. I'd like to get better.

I will say that for right now, as a woman, I feel safer biking than walking in some circumstances. It can be good to be zippy and slightly less involved with the people.

John Michael Greer said...

Eric, good question. There are plenty of things I don't work out in advance -- I start writing, and things happen. I didn't expect Fred Vanich at all, for example.

Troy, Partition wasn't imposed from outside. After Washington DC fell and the Second Civil War ended, the various insurgent factions tried to put together a new national government and couldn't find enough common ground. A negotiated breakup brokered by a couple of the foreign powers that supported the rebel side was the outcome. The UN peacekeeping troops came in to guarantee the newly established borders and get all sides to stand down to a peacetime military. As for the Confederacy, based on my conversations with Southerners, even today that'd be more likely to provide a coherent national identity for the South than anything else.

Thomas, I'm not sure how many times I have to say "one to three hundred years" before people finally listen...

Toomas, excellent! Carr will be visiting a newsstant shortly, so we'll get a glimpse of the magazines -- yes, there are lots of them, as well as a bumper crop of daily and weekly newspapers. You can get the contents of foreign news websites in Toledo and other Lakeland cities, by the way -- they're printed daily or weekly on newsprint, even though the stories tend to be few, short, and dumbed down compared to the real newspapers. (I wonder how many of my readers have sat down and contrasted any of today's news websites with a real newspaper, especially one from the pre-internet era; the latter quite simply have much more information than the former, both in terms of article count and in terms of details per story.)

As for clothing, that's a complex question for cultural reasons. Stay tuned...

Wisdomchaser, I'm writing as fast as I can! ;-)

Patricia O., if I were still living on the left coast I'd be doing that, no question. The current stock market crash is no more a barrier to a China-centric global system fifty years from now than the stock market crash of 1929 kept the US from becoming a world power thereafter.

Patricia M., don't assume that older technology requires older social mores and gender roles. That sort of technological determinism is very popular these days, and I plan on having fun with readers' expectations along those lines!

Nastarana, heh heh heh...

Pygmycory, I'm basing Carr's technodependence on people I've met who belong to the well-to-do end of the geekoisie, and who I suspect can't wipe their own nose without a smartphone app to do it for them. You're fortunate not to belong to that class.

RPC, heh heh heh...

Glenn, I suspect it's a mix nationwide, but the ones in Toledo are electric, with the broomstick going to an overhead wire.

Auriel Ragmon said...

As to the libraries, I think all the actual card catalogues have been destroyed, wiped out, annihilated. My first job was as a page, at age 16 and I had to sign a loyalty oath that I would not try to overcome the gummint of the USA. Got me thinking. Now I'm almost 80 and I think some more.
Jim of Olym
PS some excellent posts on this blog as always. I might even migrate to Lakeland from WA State if they would let me in, but I like the beaches here.

Auriel Ragmon said...

Any ADR fans in the Tacoma, Olympia WA area?
I'm sure there are, and we should have a meet sometime.

John Michael Greer said...

Zach, I've heard the same thing here in Cumberland. There used to be streetcars and an interurban, and it was easy to get around; now there's a poorly funded bus system with very few routes and runs, and it's not. Progress, right?

Clay, funny! I'd come up with exactly that scenario to use in case the bike fans kept harassing me about having bikes all over the Lakeland Republic. Since they seem to have backed down, I shall relent, and allow a few bikes here and there, where they actually make practical and technological sense.

S. Treimel, I tend to think that a civil war, the collapse of the United States, a massive economic crisis, and then a thirty-year interval of closed borders and international embargo will explain a lot of social change! There's more, as it happens; it's been an eventful half century, and some of the events were pretty traumatic. More on this as we proceed.

Patricia, nope. She's an executive assistant in the Office of the Presidency of the Lakeland Republic, reporting directly to President Meeker's chief of staff. Her parents were midlevel business executives before the Second Civil War; her mother and her two older siblings were killed in a Federal air strike on Indianapolis, and her father never got over it and drank himself to death six years after Partition. Since the Lakeland Republic's a relatively new nation and a lot of the former corporate and government elite class didn't survive the Second Civil War and its aftermath -- we'll get to that -- status relationships haven't fossilized to the extent they have, for instance, in the US today.

Ing, nice! I didn't think of that, but there may be a Freudian slip there. ;-)

Shane, I'm still discovering things. Other than the fact that the Confederacy has a constitution based closely on the one from 1861, a close alliance with Brazil, and wanted its border with the Lakeland Republic adjusted north to the Ohio River, I don't know a great deal about it yet.

Iuval, I like surprises. I've actually discussed most of the things we'll see in the Lakeland Republic in previous blog posts, but a utopian novel is a much more effective way to communicate them.

Robert, interesting. I'll have to look into the history of pens a bit, and figure out just how difficult it will be for Carr to adapt to local writing technology!

Joe, exactly -- especially if many of those changes amount to reversing the changes of the last fifty years...

Ozark, yes, someone else pointed that out too. Do you think it would be more likely to go with the Confederacy or to pursue independence, perhaps with Kansas?

Beneath, somehow I don't think you'll be disappointed. I have a decided taste in libraries, and it's fairly similar to yours.

John Michael Greer said...

SLClaire, three good points in a row!

Emmanuel, it's partly that -- the normal conditions that occur when areas on the fringe of the industrial world have to (or get to) make do without "progress" -- and partly a more deliberate process, which will be discussed at length as we proceed.

David, all in good time. Based on the narrative, you've got a civil war, a cascade of political and economic crises, and thirty years of isolation from the global economy coming to help people change their minds.

Samurai, exactly. Exactly. Collapse is as complex, messy, uneven, and drawn out as every other human phenomenon.

Jean-Vivien, in a bit we'll be seeing more than a little of the Lakeland Republic military. It's got a strategy of its own, which I suspect would work very well. More as we proceed!

Myriad, heh heh heh...

MawKernewek, a good guess, but no, these Restorationists aren't religious -- they've got a lot of members who belong to the more traditional religions, but the movement itself is political and social in focus.

Sgage, that's very good news. I've also read that an ammunition company now makes shotgun shells optimized for taking out drones -- another hot new technology running into very old problems...

Anna, I'll be satisfied if it becomes a bestselling novel!

Yucca, it survived the fall of Rome, so yes, I think there's definitely a point to preserving it.

Unknown from Maine, yes, I cheated there a bit; we can suppose that Carr remembered the term from a history vid. Sometimes a naive narrator has to come up with a word or two to spare the reader a paragraph of unclear description.

Auriel Ragmon said...

As for paper, I have heard that kenaf is an interesting alternative to cutting down all our rees>

Rdr. James
Olympia WA

Pinku-Sensei said...

@Unknown Deborah, I was going to mention cursive, but you beat me to it. That written (pun intended), a revival of cursive in the Lakeland Republic would be a fitting response to the current and ongoing collapse of cursive, something my wife took as a sign of the end of civilization. I think we have bigger fish to fry, but she may be on to something. Politicians in several states have passed laws requiring the continue teaching of cursive to combat its decline. None of them, as far as I can tell, are within the boundaries of the Lakeland Republic.

John Michael Greer said...

Anthony, funny. Remember that by 2049, the Lakeland Republic has been independent for twenty years and a lot of malign neglect inflicted on the Midwest by a coast-centric society and an imperial tribute economy has been undone. As for your situation, may I recommend learning some useful skills, of the kind that produce goods and services people will need or want badly even in hard times? In other eras of chaos, that's been a good way to stay fed, housed, etc.

Donald, I suspect they'll have some niche markets, but in a nation that's been isolated from the global economy for thirty years and has no domestic sources of steel (and a lot better uses for farmland than Russian dandelion for rubber), yeah, my guess is they're not very common.

Peakfuture, good. Here are some more details. The Lakeland Republic also includes Kentucky and most of West Virginia, leaving out the eastern panhandle. That, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and the cratered salt marsh that used to be Washington DC are all the Atlantic Republic. New England from Connecticut and Rhode Island north to Maine, plus the Maritime Provinces of Canada, are the Republic of New England and the Maritimes. The old Confederacy minus Texas is the Confederate States of America. I'm still not sure which way Missouri and Kansas went, and Arizona and Nevada are basically abandoned zones -- I think Texas claims Arizona and California claims Nevada, but it's like those borders in the middle of the Arablan Peninsula that nobody's ever bothered to survey because it's too hot and dry to support life.

Abdinarg, heh heh heh...

Lathechuck, I knew about the museum, but not about the adoption program. Excellent! By the way, yes, slide rules and other non-electronic calculators are in common use in the Lakeland Republic; we'll see some of them in use.

Thomas, thank you.

Myosotis, would you feel safer on a well-trained horse?

Jim, yes, I'm pretty sure the card catalogs in the Toledo Public Library system had to be replaced from scratch, along with too many of the books. Fortunately, with hemp paper readily available and an economy oriented to encourage human labor rather than automation, there are plenty of publishers, printers, and bookbinders in the Lakeland Republic.

Glenn said...

Auriel Ragmon said...
"Any ADR fans in the Tacoma, Olympia WA area?
I'm sure there are, and we should have a meet sometime."

I'm up north, about 12 miles SE of Port Townsend. glennwoodbury(atsign)gmail(dot)com.


in the Brablepatch

HalFiore said...

My mother was an architectural draftsman back in the pre-autoCAD days. An immensely talented artist, she was mostly self-taught, but rose to the point of having a major role in the design of an important railroad bridge across Biloxi Bay. But what she was really known for, at least in the beginning, was her lettering skills. This was an important and valued skill in the profession at the time, combining technical knowledge with artistry.

I still have a few of her tools: finely crafted mechanical pencils, precision compasses, and the like. Fortunately, my brother was the main person to clean out the house a little while before she passed, and he never threw anything away in his life. Unfortunately, his house was only 14 feet above the ground and the water at that spot reached about 20 feet in Katrina.

I have nowhere near her drawing talent, and am not, at my age, going to learn to use those tools, but I also can't bring myself to get rid of them. If I can hold on till the age of 93, perhaps I can smuggle them into Retrotopia, along with some bicycles for those poor souls...

Scotlyn said...

Hierarchies certainly do develop everywhere humans gather, but reproducing them through time does involve going against "someone's" grain and takes effort to create deterrent consequences to "insubordination". That being the case, I suspect Earl is thinking plenty that isn't getting said out loud.

DiSc said...

@JMG and @jean-vivien, who took the time to reply to my measly comment:

I am a loyal follower of this blog and I am going to remain one through this series of blog posts. And I understand the pedagogical value of writing fiction instead of analysis: to US Americans, a lower-tech society must be hard to picture. Dramatization, they used to call this when I was at school.

However, I bet our lower-tech future is going to look an awful lot like the world my parents grew up in, in rural Italy of the '60s. Or my in-laws in rural Holland in the '50s. Or maybe a bit more violent, like what my grandparents went through during the War. Or my wife's grandfather in Indonesia in the '40s.

Or like how Albanians and Eastern Europeans lived until about 15 years ago. Or, of course, like Syrians, Iraqis and Somalis live today before washing ashore in Southern Europe.

In other words: I can relate perfectly well to a pre-oil (and possibly post-oil) world. And collapsing societies. And a lot of other people in my surroundings can. It is all around me. It is what we talk about at family reunions. It is what my neighbors from other continents are accustomed to.

And of course I have read my Tucidides, Manzoni, Camus.

So I dare say that I do not need to be "shown the map". I know the map pretty well and I find reality more interesting than literary experiments.

What makes this blog brilliant is that it shows how the processes that will take us there are taking place right now.

And I would like to read more of that.

Spanish fly said...

JMG: 'The Brazilian-Confederate alliance is the most important power bloc in the western hemisphere in 2065. '

(Gasp). So my nephew should learn Brazilian, er, I mean Portuguese as second foreign language when he grows up...

Historically, there has been continous migrations from Spain to Brazil, mainly from Galicia (maybe language "brotherhood" with Portuguese helped them to integrate there). Brazilian government wanted to...err..."whiten" the working population.

Nowadays, it's reverse way: we have here many "carioca" immigrants, you can see some Brazilian bars in big cities. I like "cariocas". They are usually more integrated with us than other countries people (very sociable people). Even I found once a "brasileira" woman in a small village, helping and old couple at home (she disliked our climate, of course).
Spanish people usually doesn'nt know about migrations to Brazil or has forgotten it, local rednecks here think about Brazilians only as pimps and bitches (shameful).
I suppose in the future stage proposed by you, that migrations could reactivate again. It's exciting!

Spanish fly said...

Jean Vivien:
'But for the rest of the nations out here, it is gonna be a tough ride.'

I agree...
Problem with migrations is not only inmigrant people themselves, but maximalist and dogmatic perspectives in reception countries...from (xtreme)left to (extreme)right. That's what I fear most than immigrants challenges against "national identities".

Ian R Orchard said...

I, too, was mildly puzzled by the absence of bicycles, considering how plentiful they were when i was a lad, back in the 40's & 50's. I'm wondering if that, despite their deceptive simplicity, modern bikes are actually remarkably high-tech. Could we produce robust bicycles using, say, only wood-working tools? Especially considering the roads would rarely be smooth tarmac.

Ashtead said...

Thanks for the interesting reading! I have been reading here for a while, and now that the saga of Mr Carr and the Lakeland Republic is unfolding, I will definitely continue reading!

That being outta the way -- here are some guesses and questions that I have been thinking of, about the electrical and electronic technology.

The streetcars run on electricity. There is presumably electrical lighting in the station building, maybe for electrical refrigeration? The importance of methane seems to suggest that there would be likely wide spread use of gas for cooking and heating.

The people still listen to the radio for information, maybe also for entertainment? Now, that makes me speculate on how the transmitters and receivers are constructed and what kinds of signal modulation is being used. I would make a guess at AM, since the receivers can be as simple as crystal sets.

I would not expect that the energy-intensive production of modern integrated circuits still be viable, but vacuum tubes and some kinds of transistors (alloyed ones for example) might remain likely. If there is industry there that is able to make light bulbs, then much of the technology needed for fabricating triodes, maybe even pentodes, is in place.

The presence of electric streetcars suggests that rotating machinery is possible with the techology of the day, and thus it might not be surprising if some of the radio-transmitters also had the carrier wave generated with a motor-generator combination, with the modulation done via controlling the magnetic field of the rotor with the incoming audio signal. However, some sort of amplification from the microphones that the radio announcers talk into will still be necessary.

Ian R Orchard said...

@Donald Hargraves
"Bikes are one of the few technologies, IMHO, where one can see the increase in costs as they're implemented. You work hard to ride them, they need well-kept roads, and they're not really useful in winter time. Add in the worry of securing them, and I can see them being casually tossed aside for horses in the future."
According to my mother, my grandfather used to enjoy a Sunday bike ride of 60-odd km with the local lads on iron framed fixed wheel single speed bikes, entirely on gravel roads. They breed-em tough back in the 30's.
True, they're less than comfortable in the winter, but not significantly less so than horses and they are no more difficult to secure than a horse. Plus they don't require regular inputs or carrots and hay.

(JMG, you may wish to merge this with my previous comment. Thanks.)

peakfuture said...

I updated the map; again, it is at:

Cherokee Organics said...


Thank you for your answer. That makes a great deal of sense. Don’t you think that it is funny how people have somehow learned to think that one incident is somehow divorced from that of another? I reckon that we carry our history into yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Honestly the whole bicycle thing last week bored me silly and I skipped over most - but not all - of those comments. I would have been far more impressed if those comment authors had stated that they were going to set out and actually construct a bicycle from scrap metal. A far more difficult and serious challenge than commenting on a blog! ;-)!

I do hope that you continue the Retrotopia story for a while yet? It is an enjoyable narrative. As a fun and provocative episode idea, you could have our journalist / correspondent being taught slowly how to think and reason by being confronted by a class of Lakeland 8th graders? You have to admit that it would be amusing wouldn't it? Children could get away with treating him like the dunderhead that he is, whilst adults generally are under an obligation to be a bit more polite.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Toomas,

Thank you very much for sharing your history with me. You have shared some fascinating and insightful thoughts and experiences.

Of course you are correct about the uniform cell size and it is not the bees preference at all as can be seen from a sampling of cells that they themselves draw out, but it is merely a reflection of our industrial capacity. I was fully intending to place the top part of a frame into the box with some melted wax foundation (as a starter) on the downward facing side and simply watch what the bees do with that. Hopefully, if all goes well, they will draw their own cell preferences from that point downwards. A truly excellent idea of yours too! The top bar bee hive people also follow this practice, but they have much difficulty in getting a purchased colony into a top bar hive in the first place because the standard commercial frames simply don't fit the top bar hives - thus I've reached for some middle ground.

Yes, the wax does get much darker as the years progress in my existing hives too and I will observe that process over time to see what happens with the new bee hive. Some bees are allocated to house cleaning duties, so it will be interesting to see exactly what they can achieve if given excellent conditions.

The thermometer is an outstanding idea which never would have occurred to me. Thanks for the excellent suggestion. I remember reading that the bees maintain the internal hive temperature to 35'C (I may be wrong in this belief and someone please correct me if so) and that is perhaps why the species are such a prolific harvester of pollen and nectar in the first place. Now that the hives are in the complete shade here they handle the 40'C+ summer days well - as long as they have access to water.

The interesting thing is that most standard bee books were written for cool to cold climates and not one of them mentioned the effect of extreme summer temperatures on the hives. The top bar hive people took many of their design ideas from African honey bee systems so they all mentioned the effect of extreme summer weather. I strongly suspect that the bees have a hard time in cool to cold climates when humans poke around too much in the hives - letting the heat out - and also over extracting their winter food stores.

You were very lucky even to have had that experience!

Cheers and thank you for the thoughtful response.


Susan Roberts, MDiv, OTR/L said...

I've been enjoying reading and recommending the blog for several months. Thanks for the great vision - looking forward to more.

I wanted to put in my two-cents about handwriting as I have been teaching it in schools for the past four decades as an occupational therapist. At the start of my career I refused to teach this subject unless students were physically, cognitively or visually-perceptually challenged. Like most of my colleagues I felt that handwriting was an academic subject not part of the therapeutic support for children mandated by federal law IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act). Now we teach it whenever we get the chance and many OTs have developed excellent handwriting curriculums.

AS a result of my front row seat on handwriting let me tell you that handwriting hasn't really been taught in schools for most of the time I have worked in them. It is demonstrated at ever younger ages so that now, what passes for handwriting instruction, is given primarily in preschool & kindergarten, which works for the roughly 15-30% of students who have better than average fine-motor skills for this age group of 3-5 year olds (few of them boys). As unstuctured outdoor recess has become a relic of by-gone days in education - few students have the opportunity to build the pre-requisite gross motor skills (core-strength, bilateral coordination, visual-motor coordination) that support learning fine-motor skills. This has made it harder and harder for the majority of students to learn handwriting - let alone sit still and listen to the other subjects being taught.

Kindergarten students are expected to be able to write full sentences in upper and lower case letters at the beginning of the school year. No help (aside from that provided by special education) is given beyond this point. Each letter and number is a motor sequence, therefore it requires practice and repetition to develop the concious to unconcious neural pathways necessary for quick, accurate (i.e. legible) performance. Most occupational therapists, pediatricians, psychologists and others who study human development will agree that the ability to learn and develop the fine-motor skills for legible handwriting naturally develop between 4-8 years of age. This means that roughly 50% of students mature enough to learn these skills, well after they are demonstrated (not taught by repetition) in preschool. This has been great for job opportunities in special ed, but very bad for children and literacy.

When I hear people lament cursive I laugh. We will be lucky to survive into another generation preserving printing. I'm happy to hear that literacy has survived in the Lakeland Republic!

Martin B said...

Like Robert, I learned to write with a dip pen, seated at a wooden desk with lift-up lid carved with a generation of schoolboy initials and an inkwell in a hole in the right-hand corner. Later I became an engineering draftsman, drawing with fine pencil on white paper, tracing onto tracing paper with India ink, and printing on coated paper in a smelly ammonia and UV light process.

Sounds positively Dickensian now.

Incidentally, without the metanet, a good postal service or delivery service is vital. Has the Pony Express been revived in lakeland?

donalfagan said...

In response to the comment about bikes not being useful in winter. First, I ride my bike unless there is snow on the roadway. Then I walk. Second, I suspect the idea that one must be able to travel no matter what the weather throws at you began with motor vehicles, and won't persist. Right now, Americans will hop in the SUV wearing a t-shirt and shorts to go get cigarettes and a pizza even if there's a blizzard outside. Back when horses were luxury transportation, even armies were reluctant to travel in really bad weather.

Unknown said...

Unknown from Maine here again: here's a great little book from the 19th century (reprinted by Dover) that has a lot of good "shippy" stuff in it:

The Seaman's Friend: A Treatise on Practical Seamanship (Dover Maritime): Richard Henry Dana Jr.: 9780486299181: Books.

I apologize for picking nautical nits; it's a fascinating area (and my personal and career specialty) so I know how hard it is to translate to a general audience sometimes.

BTW: how do I go from "known unknown" to Known Participant? I've put in my info but still only come up as "unknown".

Keep up the great work.

Tad (Unknown in Maine)

Dario Ruarte said...

Dear John:

Ten times your readers have recommended the work of Paolo Bacigalupi -I made the search and have the links-.

The first reference to Bacigalupi on your blog is yours (in March 2010) and refers two stories of the author.

But, after that, ten times your readers recommend you to read at least "The Windup Girl" (won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards ! wow) or "Pump Six and Other Stories" and believe me it's worth.

Do not put the links to avoid a long post but they are ten times referenced by your readers already.

I am the eleventh reader then reiterates the suggestion and, believe me, will enjoy both books. They are not to be missed!

Congratulations on your tireless work.

jean-vivien said...

I have always wondered, would a society valuing human labor more than technology still be able to develop very high-end technologies for some specific great collective achievements ? Like, astrophysics, the origins of life, understanding how the brain works, the origins of mankind... It wouldn't be pursuing technology for its own sake, but still subordinating it to a greater purpose.

And in such a society, would there be a notion of the supernatural as part of everyday life ? And if so, would fantastic litterature - ala Jean Ray - still exist ? Since that particular genre bases itself upon the sense of mystery in contrast with everyday's reality...

Myriad said...

All right, Mr. Snickering Archdruid. This time I'm really on to you. You have a mysterious man with a suitcase traveling by train. A man who, the other passengers note, doesn't know the territory. He arrives in a river city, where he's now making arrangements to tell the President they've got Trouble with a capital T. But first, he's heading for the library, obviously because he needs to trick the librarian into going along with his scheme. Which could be to sell marching band instruments, but I suspect you've switched it up on us, and he's actually selling these. He puts the crackers in a package, in a package, in an airtight sanitary package; makes the cracker barrel obsolete. Obsolete. Obsolete...

Patricia Mathews said...

@Myriad - that Carr refers to the president as "Ellen" may not imply any more intimacy than the entire world referring to one of our current major candidates as "Hillary."

Ed-M said...

Hello JMG, l'Archdruide barbarian, Your Grace, ect., etc.,

So there are bikes after all, since "[t]here are a few towns with electric cabs and a fair number with pedal cabs." After all, since there are pedal cabs and rubber-tyred cars, your little republic does have the technology to make a fair number of bikes. Not the fancy 21-speed bikes for helmeted cyclists on mental/emotional steroids in lycra, but the old 3-speed and even 1-speed functional Safety Cycles. Plus tricycles. I myself have used such bicycles, even a kid's bike when I was a preteen in White Lake / Milford MI in the early '70s, along rural dirt roads (I also took a ten-speed on one such road once and it proved quite fragile). Currently I have a mountain bike that frequently gets abused on City of New Orleans streets. So don't count bikes out yet!

Now on telephone service: what's all this then about telephone service being in some counties and not in others as if the service stopped at the county line? I doesn't make sense to me, especially since other non-highway infrastructure seems to be adopted on a more finely-grained scale, as you yourself have admitted last week. So I guess the telephone service is socialized, according to the counties that have adopted the technology?

pygmycory said...

Fair enough.

Shane Wilson said...

So are we to assume that the rest of the northern border survives intact minus the Maritimes, that the Maritimes/US border is the only northern border that's changed?

pygmycory said...

luval Clegan, the word 'lifestyle' drives me crazy, especially when applied to young people living cheaply on precarious employment, unemployment or disability. What part of being disabled is an (insert your choice of expletive) lifestyle choice? If good jobs were easily available, how many people would rather be unemployed? It made me see red when someone I knew did that, but she just didn't seem to get that tightening requirements will result in more people on the street causing problems that this person will then whine about. Assuming she doesn't discover the hard how wrong she is, of course. I try to avoid ill wishing people, but sometimes that takes a real effort of will. Having gone about 5 years having problems that wrecked my ability to support myself by working before I got accepted for disability... I often wonder what would have happened to me if I had had no help from family.

Michelle said...

A couple of thoughts from where I'm sitting: a math professor friend of mine who uses Lego bricks as teaching tools (and we're talking college-level math) obtained several obsolete card catalog units to sort his bricks. It's a lovely system, though I, too, miss the physical card catalog.

My 12-year-old daughter just entered 7th grade this fall. She brought home several sheets of course expectations that she and I both had to sign. She said she couldn't remember how to sign her name in cursive, because she hasn't used it since she learned it in 3rd grade. I was aghast. Oh, her school has abolished study hall periods this year. I don't know what their excuse is, but I don't support the decision! And the principal, whom I met for the first time yesterday, consistently uses "myself" incorrectly. I understand that using "myself" when either "me" or "I" should be used was introduced to (forgive the sweeping generalization) dumb jocks so that they wouldn't have to keep the subject and object forms separate, but this person is the principal! I weep for the future.

Myosotis said...

*I* wouldn't feel safer on a horse. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen a horse outside the county fair. And part of the help from the bike is that it's inconspicuous. I think the issue might be that some bike people are thinking of things that are expedient now and you are thinking of a much later time. But someone who'd grown up around horses and knew how to handle one? And in a setting where one wouldn't be a novelty? Almost certainly yes.

Also I looked down at my knitting project and remembered that the circular needles are all steel and belonged to my great-grandma. Barring just being lost or stolen, I expect to be able to pass them on someday down the road. The knitting is pure frippery but it's very fun and I think my mother deserves some lace.

Patricia- I think the custom was also common in the northwest for the family to eat with any hired hands. I had some distant relative who'd traveled in (then very British) Canada one summer and was deeply offended by the fact that families there would eat inside while farmhands ate outside.

Unknown said...

On the subject of bikes...

I don't use my bike enough. It is close to 20 years old and has been adapted for my older body by adding beach cruiser up-right handle bars and the baby seat on the back gave way a couple years ago (finally, the youngest was 10 then) to a plastic crate for better trips to the library or grocer's.

Locally, there's sort of a ruin-man's association for bikes:

They promote simpler, functional bikes by rebuilding clunkers and getting them back into use again, mostly for free, for the poor as basic, safe transportation. Being something of a poor clergyman, my kids have made pretty good use of this resource and I've spent not quite enough volunteer time with them. I continue to be amazed at the energy and vision of the founder of this group and the knowledge of the other volunteers.

RPC said...

Since some of us are getting fanciful about Mr. Carr's mission...he IS a relative of Ms. Montrose. He's in the LR to arrange the marriage of Mr. Meeker and Ms. Montrose, which will cement a new alliance of their respective countries. (Hey, it worked for Henry the Fifth!)

John Roth said...

Re: pens

I saw an interesting article recently which said the thing that is destroying cursive writing is the ball-point pen. It’s got a very different “feel” than a nib dip pen. With the nib pen, you pretty much have to write in cursive, connected characters, using a light touch and refilling the nib after each sequence. With a ball point, you need to exert a lot more pressure, and refilling after each sequence of characters isn’t an issue. The way you have to hold the two pens is, again, different, requiring slightly different muscle memory.

Hybrid pens, with a nib and disposable plastic ink cartridge, were a different beast again.

Re: Kansas

One problem with Kansas is that the 70th parallel of longitude runs through it. Looking at a map, the population density on the east is several times that on the west. I’ve seen occasional proposals that everything west of 70 degrees should simply be abandoned. In other words, it belongs to the lightly settled mountainous areas to the west. The eastern part of Kansas ought to go with the eastern part of Nebraska, for historical reasons, if nothing else.

re: Pony Express

The Pony Express gets more ink than it deserves. It lasted 19 months, being replaced by the telegraph. It took ten days to get a message from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. That, by the way, was not the terminus: I lived in Benicia, California in 2001 - there was a plaque on the waterfront where the courier waited for the ferry to San Francisco, which was the real western terminus.


At the risk of incurring the wrath of Muphrey’s Law, “myself” is the reflexive; it is neither the nominative (subjective) nor the accusative (objective).


You haven’t twigged yet to the notion that each county gets to set its own tech level? There are presumably some basic requirements that are set at the national level: I don’t expect to see any counties that maintain a foraging society.

Bruce E said...

Love this latest installment, can't wait for next week.

Something occurred to me while reading through the comments, trying to think what it might be like to be JMG writing this story down and sharing it in pieces as you write it rather than finishing the project and then throttling the content just in the name of suspense. A few of the comments -- for example those about Mr. Carr's most-probable non-ability to write with a pen and paper -- made me go, "oh, I hadn't thought about that when I was reading it!"

Now I'm not saying JMG didn't already have a strong idea about this and a prior plan to make that particular detail a comedic and instructive scene in the next installment, but in the case where he didn't consciously plan that out, those comments from the audience would really have given him such an "aha!" moment and a portion of the next chapter would have been co-written by the audience. Another example is this back-and-forth discussion about where all of the bicycles might be hiding. It's quite entertaining.

It's an interesting dynamic, a sort of communal co-creation of a story, if you will.

Unfortunately for those of us with limited time, discovering that there is "gold in dem dar hills" makes my task of fully enjoying JMG's fiction that much more time-consuming. :-)

Bruce E said...

All this talk about handwriting made me reflect that my handwriting isn't what it used to be, but I still use it for notes. I almost converted to taking notes on my iPad but (perhaps luckily for me) my company doesn't allow access to the cloud for that so I couldn't share across devices.

How my handwriting has degraded from less use over time made me think of other things I'm not as good at any longer. For example the other day I found myself knowing that the American Civil War ended in 1865 at a place called Appomattox, but couldn't remember the month and found that I was doubting my memory that it was in Virginia. A quick trip to Wikipedia yielded April 9th, the second "t" in the spelling of Appomattox (misspelled it the first time through), and the relief of my doubt that it was in fact Virginia and not some other state.

Before Wikipedia I did not ever let things like that bother me, and a lack of confidence in something like Virginia versus South Carolina would not have happened, and I'm not sure if this is an effect of simply growing old or a growing attitude of why-bother-memorizing-this-sort-of-trivia-when-it's-only-a-click-away cultivated by our modern way of going about our lives. Now I find myself doubting my memory of the color of my wife's eyes and the first thing I'll do when I get home is to look and see if I'm correct...

Fun stuff. Keep up the good work!

Aron Blue said...

I lived in Missouri for four years and believe strongly that they would go full confederacy, whereas Kansas may be more likely to join with the Iowa/Minnesota/Dakotas/Nebraska republic. Both states could also just be failed bloody battlegrounds with nothing but Hatfield/Mccoy style feudal warlordism, no matter who they belong to on paper. Bleeding Kansas, and all that.

First band on my Retrotopia playlist:
The Devil Makes Three
-Poison Trees
-40 Days

Phil Harris said...

I have not studied all the comments, so might have missed it, but United Nations? Now there's a thought; there still is one. Do they have a headquarters, forum and civil service somewhere?

Scotland seems to have survived somehow, which is good news where I sit. There is much interesting history concerning Scottish military over the centuries.

Phil H

peacegarden said...

@ Susan Roberts, MDiv, OTR/L

As a former Montessori 2-6 teacher, I observed how much easier it was for youngsters to learn cursive before manuscript printing…also called “ball and stick”.

We started with the child making ovals, anti-clockwise, as big as the child was tall, on a mirror covered with shaving cream, then progressing through chunky paint brush with water on a large upright chalkboard, then a piece of sidewalk (chunky) chalk, always modeling fluid motion and anti-clockwise direction. As the child became fluent, we modeled ever more refined motions.

Sandpaper cursive letters on wooden plaques were traced with forefinger and middle finger, while saying the sound the letter made, and eventually used to form words cuh, ahh, tih…cat. Only after much practice with these and other “works” did the pencil on paper writing begin. We made place cards with the child’s name in cursive to be used to reserve space at the snack table for two, and we would often take the time to trace over the name.

Most every child could write legible cursive by the age of 4-5, and were writing self-created stories (some with illustrations) and letters. Because the training went from large motor to fine motor skills at the child’s pace, it was seamless.

I believe it is the smooth, continuous motion of cursive writing that is what makes for easier learning…printing means picking your pencil tip up and re-registering it for the next section of the letter…not fluid at all. Easy, however, later when fine motor skills are honed. Then even calligraphy is within reach, with practice. (But only if the child is burning to learn that skill.)

My favorite teacher in elementary school was Mrs. Gagen, sixth grade, who not only had us practicing our palmer method daily, but teaching geography in such an interesting way that by mid-year, we were sent up to the board at the front of the room to “draw an outline of France (my favorite, but any country or state was fair game) then make a star and label the capitol city...and so on” We were all able to do this by that point in the year, and we absolutely loved it (and Mrs. G!).

Well, you can easily see what one of my pet peeves might be!



Hubertus Hauger said...

Ian R Orchard: "Could we produce robust bicycles using, say, only wood-working tools? Especially considering the roads would rarely be smooth tarmac."

Yes, we can! I mean, Germans can! Could ... to say so.

As a German i am proud to anounce, that a solution is at hand. Invented by a german inventor. Made of 96 % wood (renuable, regrowing) A bicycle even do-able by stone-age people. Voilá, the draisine! Look here:,_around_1820._Archetype_of_the_Bicycle._Pic_01.jpg#/media/File:Draisine_or_Laufmaschine,_around_1820._Archetype_of_the_Bicycle._Pic_01.jpg

DiSc: "to US Americans, a lower-tech society must be hard to picture. ... our lower-tech future is going to look an awful lot like the world ... like how Albanians and Eastern Europeans lived until about 15 years ago."

We all live and want to continue to do so forever. Yet we die in the end an accept that however grumblingly. So people will sort of easily adapt to that "abstinence for fittness" movement. We are allready on the way.

Even I am hesitating, leaving the comfy zone. Whatever future there will be, there will be a future. I will encounter it. Part of me already does welcome it.

Ozark Chinquapin said...

Which way would Missouri go? It's hard to say in a state that can't even agree on how to pronounce its name, and I could see different possibilities. There are some who would rather go with the Confederacy, but I suspect that just like in the 1860s, not enough to make that happen. The two big cities in Missouri are right on state borders, and I'd think St. Louis would rather be with Lakeland, but the rest of the state wouldn't let that happen. As far as cities go, Kansas City is held in higher regard in much of the rest of the state than St. Louis, and the western part of the state does have strong connections to Kansas, so it seems pretty likely that Missouri and Kansas would go the same way. I'd think it would be challenging for just Missouri and Kansas to be on their own surrounded by more populous countries, although if Chicago can make it on its own surrounded by Lakeland and dependent on importing most of it's calories (I'd assume that's be the case unless it's population was a lot lower than today and it's borders included some Farm country), Missouri/Kansas may be able to work too.

Something that surprises me is that Minnesota isn't in Lakeland, I'd suspect that they would go with the other lakes states. I could see Iowa going that way too, although it would be more of a wild card.

While I can imagine most of Arizona and Nevada being uninhabited, I'd think there would still some people living in certain spots, particularly around Arizona's Mogollon Rim. Flagstaff currently gets more annual precipitation than San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake City, Boise or Albuquerque, and from more different sources distributed across more of the year than many of those cities as well. I'd imagine many other places in the west that would turn to extreme desert before Flagstaff. I'd imagine the warbands would have authority over an area such as that, however, even if technically part of a republic.

peacegarden said...

@ Myriad

Thank you for the belly laugh! I had tears in my eyes as I read your comment out loud to my husband…he chuckled, too! Funny, funny stuff!



Auriel Ragmon said...

Why should any of the states' boundaries be sacrosanct? As the former USA coalesces into various configurations, wouldn't the current boundaries become irrelevant? Just wondering,and this is a fascinating trip both for Mr. Carr and for many of us!
Jim of Olym

Robert Mathiesen said...

John Roth wrote:

"I saw an interesting article recently which said the thing that is destroying cursive writing is the ball-point pen. It’s got a very different “feel” than a nib dip pen. With the nib pen, you pretty much have to write in cursive, connected characters, using a light touch and refilling the nib after each sequence. With a ball point, you need to exert a lot more pressure, and refilling after each sequence of characters isn’t an issue. The way you have to hold the two pens is, again, different, requiring slightly different muscle memory."

This is absolutely right. I grew up with dip pens, and continued to use them at home for the fun of it until I entered college in 1960, when I switched to the regular use of fountain pens. I think I got my first ballpoint pens for regular use in the later 1960s or the 1970s, when I was a;ready in my later 20s. There was a huge difference between the two, and a learning curve.

Incidentlly, the only part of a dip pen that is hard to make is the metal nib (made usually from steel during my lifetime). You can make a beutiful and functional nib-holder from almost any sort of hard wood or bone. I have a lovely old one carved from bone that once belonged to my great-grandmother; it's probably about a century old now, and still works perfectly. But you don't even have to go that route. Reeds or feathers will do for to make a complete pen, nib and handle; and the cutting and recutting of the nib in either material isn't hard at all. (That was the function of the ubiquitous pen-knife.)

Metal nibs don't have to be made of steel. I expect they could be stamped in large quantity from softer metal such as copper using suitable dies in a hand-operated press or a treadle press. Lever-arms and treadles are wonderful things to use ...

Ink is not hard to make at home, either. There are countless recipes that one could follow. Paper is trickier, and takes much longer, but it can be made from rags using equipment constructed of wood and wire. That's how they still made paper in small workshops in the 1400s and earlier.

whomever said...

Re: Kansas,
Just to echo John Roth's point, by this time the Ogallala Aquifer which waters western Kansas, eastern Colorado and a lot of Nebraska will be mostly gone. So they will likely be back to prairie like conditions. Not impossible to have settlement, but not a lot of farming density. I'd actually eventually posit nomadic steppe type inhabitants (like, ah, the people who lived there pre-European settlement), but maybe in another 50-100 years.

Re "the kids of today", I just want to point out that one of the most popular YA books recently was The Hunger Games, which is a somewhat more Dystopian version of the future that JHK is talking about. I think they get it. I actually think they are doing pretty well given the way they are being treated (eg, today's schools are run along the lines of prisons, with zero tolerance for infractions and a complete lack of any responsibility).

I've actually never used cursive since school even though I learned it (I'm in my 40s), but I have a mild learning disability and my handwriting is pretty bad to begin with. I can't even read my own cursive to be honest.

whomever said...

(sorry for the two posts):
Oops, forgot the point I was making re: cursive, which was, if I move to the Lakeland Republic, MY first purchase will be a nice manual typewriter, which I'm quite sure will be doable.

Robert Mathiesen said...

Cursive seems to be a fairly natural development in the history of writing. Cursive styles of writing arose several times independently of one another at different points within the history of different writing systems, and even within the history of Latin-alphabet writing. But always non-cursive writing continues in use alongside of cursive styles, for it, too, is better for some purposes. I like very much what Gail (peacegarden) posted about cursive.

Teaching reading (in a child's native language) is relatively easy, even in English where the relations between sounds are letters are complex. Before they ever started kindergarten, we would read to them from the small Peanuts cartoon books (the ones about 3" high x 6" wide), which they loved. With our older child, a little bribery was necessary at first to get him to go through the process of trying out possible pronunciations of a written word until he found the one that suited the context -- one potato chip for every ten words successfully identified and pronounced. (He loved potato chips, but hardly ever got them outside of this exercise.) The younger one, however, when he saw the older one reading on his own, just sat down and watched him do it, and within a month or two had figured out by himself how to turn the letters into meaningful speech, which also fit the cartoon.

Even English, notorious among European languages for its complex realtions between pronunciation and spelling, if fundamentally rule-governed, and the rules can be learned even by a child before he is old enough for kindergarten. Most consonants and consonant digraphs (strings of two consonants that have their own rules, like "th" or "sh" or "dg") have one pronunciation, and the others generally no more than two pronunciations; and the surrounding vowels go a long way to showing which of the two is the right one. With vowels, one has to distinguish between simple vowels and vowel digraphs (like "ea" or "oo" or "ie"), but each of them has only two common pronunciations (in a few cases, only one), and often the spelling of the next-door consonants indicate which one is right for that word. (I already knew what these rules are before we had children.) I didn't have to spend much time teaching them directly to our children; contrasting examples were easy to find, even in "Peanuts."

Note that the focus here is on reading aloud correctly, going from writing to speech in the child's native language. Thus our children could easily check their own conclusions about how the writing in "Peanuts" sounded against their own native speech (as well as the drawings).

The reverse task, turning spoken English into written English with correct spelling, is much harder: here the child has no *independent* way (at first) to know if his result is right. But the more he reads carefully and slowly, the more spellings of words he remembers seeing before. Eventually he unconsciously internalizes many of the rules that govern English spelling.

The important thing, I thought, was always to show the child why he had gotten a word or sentence right, and how to tell by himself whether he had done so. "It's right because I say or," or "because that's just the way it is" is pure poison, I think, to a child's learning: that rssponse paints a part of his world as a thing that he can't ever hope to make sense of, no matter how hard he tries. That way lies childhood despair, and eventually the child just gives up ...

latheChuck said...

not necessarily for posting, but I thought you'd like this:

One slide to rule them all
One slide to find them
Once slide to bring them all
And in the darkness bind them

(I don't know the original source.)

Donald Hargraves said...

@Ian R Orchard: fair points, although bikes don't fix themselves (the issue of horses' legs not withstanding) or bring more bikes into existence.

Of course, I also remember reading how cities in the late 1800s were so overwhelmed by animal excrement that they welcomed the car - nothing left in the street to clean up in a car's wake. So I guess that some forms of pedaled transport would be welcomed, if not made mandatory, by Toledo and some of the larger Lakeland cities to keep a modicum of cleanliness in those cities. Locally made vehicles, of course - as with bikes before the rise of Ford Motor and GM.

John Michael Greer said...

HalFiore, you might get some interest in the bikes if they have steel frames -- that's good metal, and will doubtless be repurposed into something useful! ;-)

Scotlyn, one thing you may not be aware of is that the US, despite its egalitarian propaganda, is an intensely class-conscious, caste-ridden society, in which people from the middle and upper middle classes routinely treat the working class people who wait on them or work for them with appalling callousness and inhumanity. I mean that quite seriously; the concept of noblesse oblige never got a foothold here, and a great many privileged Americans assume that if somebody's poor, it's their own fault and they should be maltreated accordingly. So Earl the cab driver isn't having to get used to a novel concept of hierarchy; if he was born in the former US, he grew up with it, and his response to Ms. Berger will be conditioned by the fact that she addresses him with some degree of courtesy and doesn't yell at him because he isn't fast enough to take Carr's suitcase or what have you.

DiSc, duly noted! I'll be weaving in some essays as well -- I've considered, in fact, going to alternate weeks once I've got the first burst of the narrative under way.

Spanish Fly, I suppose everyone likes the climate they grew up with. I'm not very familiar with the Spanish climate, but I suspect I'd like it much better than the equatorial Brazilian climate.

Ian, my take is that it really is more a matter of what's most useful, given very limited resources and a definite habit of decentralizing technology. More as we proceed!

Ashtead, there are modest amounts of electricity available, and quite a range of basic electronics -- I have a ham radio license and so have had the chance to look into what kind of electronics would be viable on a relatively low-tech basis. The answer is quite a surprisingly large amount -- a radio transceiver, for example, would have been well within the capacity of your ordinarily enterprising medieval European or Chinese alchemist, if they'd known the theory involved. (I've wondered more than once, in fact, if some of the symbolism of alchemy could be pointing to the use of electricity in various applications.) We'll be getting into this in some detail as the narrative proceeds.

Peakfuture, excellent. I'm still not quite sure what to do about Missouri, but there's one detail possibly worth including that's been left out: the Free City of Chicago, which is just the northeast corner of Illinois and is an independent country in its own right.

Cherokee, that's always been my response to the people who insist that of course we'll have computers in a deindustrial world; if they want to build one from raw materials, in their basement, with hand tools, I'll believe it. As for Lakeland eighth-graders, Carr will be visiting two schools that I'm sure of, and what he finds there will get me pilloried by quite a few people in the education industry!

Susan, that's fascinating. I had a horrible time with cursive writing in my childhood, being left-handed and with the motor coordination problems that so often accompany Aspergers syndrome; as a compensation I learned to print clearly and neatly, and that's the way I write by hand to this day (and I do a fair amount of that, and not just to keep my hand in). Maybe I'd have had an easier time of it if my teachers had used some of your methods!

Martin, no need for the Pony Express. Mail in 18th century London was delivered six times a day, for example. Postal services are old, reliable tech, and the Lakeland Republic has a thoroughly non-mondern (that is to say, reliable, safe, and timely) postal service.

John Michael Greer said...

Donalfagan, to each their own. As you've probably noticed, a very large number of people don't share your enthusiasm.

Unknown Tad, thanks for the recommendation! I have no idea how to get the "unknown" label lifted; some participants here have been "unknown" for years. You'll probably have to ask someone who speaks Blogger, which I don't really.

Dario, so noted; he's on the get-to list, though that's a very long list!

Jean-Vivien, I suspect that a society with a more human focus would have different goals. To a much greater extent than is often realized, we choose our goals because they fit the means we want to use. As for the supernatural, well, since every single human society known to have existed around the world and throughout time has believed in what today's science dismisses as "supernatural," why, yes, I tend to think they will.

Myriad, good! No doubt I should slip Balzac into some upcoming scene.

Ed-M, as noted above, I relented and allowed some bikes into the Lakeland Republic after the bike fans backed off a bit. Authors are allowed that sort of license! As for telephones, stay tuned. Heh heh heh...

Michelle, the US education industry (I think it deserves that label) is in an advanced state of decomposition, having choked to death some time ago on a sticky mix of legislative idiocy and excess technology. You probably need to assume that the school will not educate your daughter in any way that matters, and take on that job yourself.

Myosotis, my wife has knitting needles and crochet hooks from used-junk stores that were probably in use for a half century or longer by the time she got them, judging by when the brands stopped being made, and they're still going strong, so I suspect you're quite right.

Unknown Clergyman, that sounds like a good idea -- I'd like to see it applied to other hands-on technology!

RPC, funny. No, that certainly isn't the case!

John, most of what I know about Kansas and Nebraska is that their respective university football teams have a longstanding rivalry. That, by the way, is very nearly the only thing I know about college football; it's a long story.

Bruce, you're welcome. I do tend to pay attention to feedback -- that's one of the virtues of posting first drafts here -- but not always in a straightforward way. It's mostly a matter of details; I have, for example, the entire story arc of this narrative already worked out, I know the important characters and events and how it's all going to turn out, and I've also worked out a lot of individual scenes. It's the little details that sometimes find their way in.

Aron, thanks for that. Interesting.

John Michael Greer said...

Phil, yes, the UN still exists, though it's not based in New York City any more -- that city's having increasing trouble with flooding as the sea levels rise, and of course they'll have left once the US fell apart. I'm not sure where headquarters is these days. As for Scotland, in my fictive 2065 it's an independent nation with its own military, and like the Irish, its soldiers see a lot of service in peacekeeping duties.

Ozark, thanks for this. As for Arizona et al., oh, granted, there are little pockets of population here and there, and also in Nevada -- just not enough to maintain any kind of coherent government, public order, etc.

Auriel/Jim, because the US is set up as a federation of notionally self-governing states, it's easiest to splinter along state lines. You'll notice that a couple of states, Idaho and West Virginia, got cut in half; doubtless over the centuries ahead, the borders will morph further. Still, it's worth remembering that the border between England and Scotland still runs pretty close to where the Romans established it in the first century CE!

Whomever, a lot of the Great Plains are probably pretty desolate by 2065, given ongoing climate change. My guess is that settlement all along that region is heavily concentrated toward the eastern edge.

Robert, thanks for this. I hope that whatever language comes out of English is less troublesome; I make my living from the English language, but I'm actually not that fond of it.

LatheChuck, funny. "...In the land of Geekdom, where the figures lie."

Glenn said...

On Pens,

I used to do a fair amount of calligraphy with both dip pens and modern lever activated fountain pens with rubber reservoirs. They are both relatively simple to make, though the latter really benefits by industrial methods. Pen holders made of wood, bone or ivory with brass or bronze nibs were common from Roman times on, not sure about classical Greece. It'll take a very low level of technology, or a very high level of poverty before we have to resort to feather quills. I've made and used them, they're tricky to learn to make, take a very sharp knife (I believe I mentioned "pen knives" on this site a few years ago) and some practice; and don't last long in use. Anyone with a metal nibbed pen will be very motivated to hold on to it and take good care of it.


in the Bramblepatch
Marrowstone Island
Salish Sea

valekeeperx said...

JMG wrote, “…Arizona and Nevada are basically abandoned zones -- I think Texas claims Arizona and California claims Nevada, but it's like those borders in the middle of the Arabian Peninsula that nobody's ever bothered to survey because it's too hot and dry to support life.”

Not that it makes much difference for the story, but I’m not so sure I agree that Arizona and Nevada will be abandoned, well, not completely. I expect that the Colorado River watershed areas will still have significant water and the lower watershed (below Lake Mead) will still be able to support some agriculture (under the aegis of perhaps Mexico or a warlord?). IIRC, the distributary aqueducts (at least for Coachella and Imperial Valleys) are gravity feed. In addition, the region gets periodic cyclones dumping lots of water. Further, I expect that Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson will be sources of salvage materials that could be stripped and shipped as part of maybe China’s (?) imperial wealth pump. Maybe Ports of LA/Long Beach become fully export facilities. Though, I know you’ve indicated that California will be a terrible mess of a failed state. So, maybe in 2065, it’s still too chaotic, disorganized, and dangerous for any of this.

Anyway, great fun stuff as always, fascinating journey.

Peakfuture, as a fellow cartophile, I thank you. Excellent work. You get my vote for this year’s golden compass rose. ;-)

latefall said...

What is it with all the tech diversity speculation? Why not just assume they just have what they can locally sustain, and perhaps it ain't so much their focus anyway. Tech comes and goes. It may be viewed as a means to an end. I can see them discussing the color scheme of their window dressings with more passion than, ahem, who has the most gears or MPCal on their bike.

However I admit the bike thing last week was interesting. I did have to bite my lip. There sure is some emotional issue in there. My 2c on horses vs hobby horses (bikes, draisines, etc). If you live dense and have rail, there's often no point to bike. I speak from experience on this. If you don't live dense - you probably got (access to) a horse. There may be a ring in the middle where bikes make most sense. Maybe there ain't - probably depends on the soil, weather & paths a good bit as well as on the industry.

Re Futility of the US counter-insurgency
Here is your cannig soundtrack for today:
War nerd radio has a new bi-weekly podcast that is looking for patrons, and he touches on the topic in his last installment
If you are interested in a (not necessarily nationally correlated) EU perspective on geopolitics I recommend this (you may want to have a globe handy):
(@JMG: Scotland's navy bases are rather critical, @Jean Vivien: also features Iran a bit).

Re Taking notes: Someone totally missed making that point in my primary education! And now there's the trend to tablets, which I'd probably use as support for a piece of paper most of the time. I had to wait till late in Uni to find out that you DON'T put your notebook away when you leave class. But you also need slightly different stuff to do things effectively. This is especially true for us lefties. Latin really wan't made for us! I highly recommend notebooks with movable pages. Very, very worth the money (ideally with a sturdy hand operated punch). By the way they sell okay quality notebooks on every corner where a train stops in many places in Europe...

Re Jammers
In the security concerned part of the geekoise this slogan is currently making the rounds: Data is not an asset - data is a liability.

Phil Harris said...

All and @Gail
Not Montessori, but my brother was teaching First School outside London England in the mid 1960s, teaching cursive using kids standing and 'painting' curves in the air to music; ballet style in a kind of 'synchronised writing'. (I never saw it in action - wish I had.) England saw a few years about then of remarkable and creative teaching managing to include working class children otherwise competitively excluded by the'top-down' imposed school system.

Well, that is my interpretation now; brother was and has remained a 'natural conservative' but was highly innovative for the sake of children and improved on his own childhood experience. The creative output he obtained from often 'challenged' children was astonishing. People turned up at his retirement to tell him of sometimes astonishing careers they said they owed to him.

Phil H

daelach said...

@ JMG: I'd like to read something about the music scene in LR. Surely, Mr. Carr will go out in the evenings. There used to be piano players in the old saloons. Irish pubs often have people doing jam sessions.

So what is it like? What instruments are being played? Modern concert traverse flutes with their delicate mechanics may be rare. Irish flutes and tinwhistles and recorders come without attached mechanics. Acoustic guitars should also be viable, just as drums and bass. Basically anything from traditional folk music because that's what the people in the street could afford back then - as opposed to classic music which was some kind of luxury at the courts.

Concerning mobility:

The constant factor in commuting is not the distance, but the time. Roughly one hour per way seems acceptable. The covered distance is a function of the speed of the means of transportation. Cars made the distances explode. Without cars, they will go down. Without bicycles, they will go down further. The "need" for mobility is a consequence of the availability of the means, though our society treats it as a fetish in itself.

Michelle said...

To John Roth - yes, you're exactly right about the use of those pronouns. That's why I so loathe hearing "myself" used as the nominative and the accusative!

To the Archdruid - I had already realized that, and I do homeschool my older two children. I had to review 7th and 8th grade math for my then-9th grader when I realized she had no idea how to multiply three numbers by two numbers, nor how to set up a long division problem, let alone solve it. My younger two children haven't asked to be homeschooled (yet) but I'm standing ready. Meanwhile I think I'm going to start compelling my youngest to practice penmanship and spelling simultaneously on a daily basis.

Myriad said...

BALzac? You wouldn't dare. Next you'll be bringing up Rabelais and Chaucer!

Okay, I thought I was joking, but if that "good" implies The Music Man really was an influence (however minor) on Retrotopia, then... well, that makes a lot of sense, actually. Literary influence often comes in at odd angles. And mid-20th-century Americana (often referencing times a few decades earlier) is a rich resource for deindustrial fiction; all the more so when retro is the theme.

In this context, parts of "Rock Island" (the salesmen's song/chant on the train at the opening of The Music Man) become evocative in a new way. ("Gone, gone. Gone with the hogshead, cask, and demijohn, gone with the sugar barrel, pickle barrel, milk pan, gone with the tub and the pail and the tierce.")

In any case, the most essential characteristic of Mr. Carr so far is that he most definitely does not know the territory!

Regarding the charms of penmanship and cursive... I hope everyone spares a thought for us southpaws! Even with ball-point pens, smearing the ink when writing left to right is a problem left-handed. Real wet ink will just make a nasty mess. Avoidable by keeping the entire hand off the paper, but that makes for less stability when "neatness" is being graded. (And how long can you hold your entire arm an inch above a desk? Not for the duration of a school day, I'd wager.)

If I had to go back to using an ink pen, I'd resort to Leonardo da Vinci's solution and write backwards. It's not as hard as it sounds. (I thought I'd have to start over from scratch to learn it, but it turns out it's possible to do a sort of mental global reverse of all the left-and-right movements of handwriting, and get right into it.) All those biographers who think the reason for Leonardo's "mirror writing" is a big mystery have never tried to write left-handed with a quill and slow-drying ink. The only real drawback is that it's harder to learn to read it than to learn to write it. One can always use a mirror but it's not convenient to do so while in the process of writing.

@peacegarden, thanks!

@Patricia, that's a point. The context in this case struck me as a little different, though, where at best using "Ellen" (or "Hillary") would come across as smarmy name-dropping. Time will have to tell.

Kevin Warner said...

Guessing what life must be like in the Lakeland Republic, I'm gunna take a stab in the dark and say that typewriters are once again widely used. Yes, I know that at face value they seem to require high precision machinery to make but there must be millions of them in the continental United States that still can be quickly renovated and made useful again.
There was something else that I was wondering about and that is the state of education in the Republic. I have just been rereading a tract by the science fiction author Robert Heinlein deploring the rapid decline of education in his own lifetime which he noted and recorded - and this was from an article that was written some forty years ago. If the technology in the Republic has reverted to a more sustainable level from an earlier era, then perhaps educational standards there have also reverted to that of an earlier era.
On the face of it it sounds like I am talking about a hick education good only for raising bumpkins. This was not the situation at all. Far from it. Heinlein noted that his own father, who was taught in backwater late 19th century Missouri schools studied, among other subjects, "Latin, Greek, physics (natural philosophy), French, geometry, algebra, 1st year calculus, bookkeeping, American history, World history, chemistry, geology." Do any of your Missouri readers know how many of these subjects are still taught in modern rural high schools as part of a general education? What must the educational standards of the Lakeland Republic be like then?

peakfuture said...

The map has been updated, to reflect the free-wheeling and notoriously corrupt Free City Of Chicago:

This version of fractured America is ripe for other people to chime in on what could be, like Larry Niven's Man-Kzin Wars series. Stories set in the Abandoned Zone of Nevada, the Venice-like New Orleans, or the Republic of Deseret (have the Mormons brought back polygamy?) would be fascinating.

Alas, we probably won't have to wait too long for reality to show up on our doorstep.

States will probably be intact, yes. I do wonder about upstate New York, though; north of Albany is different world (having spent a good amount of time there), and I wonder if the metanet extends that far.

KMO (who interviewed JMG earlier this year, of the C-Realm, had a podcast where he mentions his Internet going down for a day; he has some interesting commentary on it.

Yupped said...

I'm too busy setting up a new home and farm to be able to comment much these days. But I wanted to say how much I am enjoying this series, and thanks for it! If possible it would be interesting to see a little of what's going on with sports, popular music and cooking in the Lakeland Republic. I wonder if the Rolling Stones are still touring?

Patricia Mathews said...

Other enclaves possible in the west - Topanga Canyon, CA. It has natural water sources and is very defensible and IIRC, has access to the ocean for fishing. Add olives and suchlike crops, and it's good to go.

Klamath Falls, OR. Up in the mountains, and it has a lake, and geothermal energy since it's sitting on a volcanic hotspot. Again, quite defensible except (I've driven to it) from the east. But then, that's country where the jackrabbits have to carry canteens or die of thirst, as the desert folks brag.

Northern New Mexico. Brush up your Heritage Espanol. Probably end up with a Spanish/Pueblo mix. Meet Senor Gutierrez y Saskietewa.

This is a fun game to play.

SLClaire said...

I'll weigh in on Missouri and Kansas, having lived in suburban St. Louis for the past 31 years. Since I moved here as an adult, I don't know much of the Civil War history, but what little I know of it suggests things were in quite a muddle. Further, the Ozarks are a region unto themselves. Here are my thoughts on the situation in 2065.

The Bootheel (the southeastern corner of the state) is Confederate, no question. They grow rice and cotton there now and will likely be doing so in 2065. Plus ecologically it is part of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain which extends into the states to the south of them, and I think culturally it is much closer to the South than the rest of the state.

The Ozarks are, well, the Ozarks. Until quite late into the 20th century they were sparsely populated because the land is rocky, with thin soil, and thus difficult to farm. During the 21st century civil wars some folks fled to the Ozarks to escape the fighting. It was a harsh life and few made it, but those who banded together managed to scrape by - and with a jaundiced view of all sides, hence their current view of themselves as Ozarkians first and foremost. The Confederacy would really like to have the Ozarks, mostly for the oak and hickory trees, but they find it hard to get and stay in as most of the roads have disintegrated, making the Ozarks as remote as it was in the 1800s and early 1900s. There is some trade around the periphery, a degree of smuggling (the Ozarkians are poor and need the income), and occasionally an outbreak of active fighting when the Confederacy tries yet again to secure the region for itself, generally put down pretty quickly by the Ozarkians.

Meanwhile, Missouri north of the Ozarks and probably all of Kansas are part of the republic that includes the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, etc. in my view. Like Ozark, I don't think they can make it on their own, especially since it'll be hotter and drier than now, thus harder to keep the agriculture they'll need going. They share more of a cultural and ecological similarity with these states than they do with the states to the east, and the Mississippi River is a bigger barrier then than it is now (and it's not a small one now). They trade with the LR for agricultural goods like grain, probably supplying meat in return; I'd guess most of outstate Missouri and all of Kansas is ranching cattle or buffalo (northwest Missouri is ranch country now). As for their relations with the Ozarkians, I think this northern republic likes to have the Ozarks as a barrier between them and the Confederacy, plus the elites in St. Louis have summer homes on the northern flanks of the Ozarks to escape the summer heat. Thus they supply some discreet "aid" to the Ozarkians, in return for medicinal herbs that grow best in the still-forested lands of the Ozarks. Of course this riles the Confederacy no end, but by now the Ozarkians have gotten pretty good at playing off one side against the other.

Patricia Mathews said...

@ JMG - I was shocked, disgusted, and ashamed of my own nation when I read what you said, " people from the middle and upper middle classes routinely treat the working class people who wait on them or work for them with appalling callousness and inhumanity. I mean that quite seriously; the concept of noblesse oblige never got a foothold here, and a great many privileged Americans assume that if somebody's poor, it's their own fault and they should be maltreated accordingly."

If I had ever talked to anyone, adult or child, in any walk of life, like they were some kind of dog, my tailbone would have been stinging, and also my ears, with separate lectures from both parents on the subject of Rudeness, and "How could you, Patricia?" And Dad's lecture would have been longer than one of his sermons, though no less stinging.

Even we lived in Indianapolis, which between 1948 and 1952 was an extremely Southern city of the period, you simply were NOT rude to the cleaning woman or baggage handlers etc. Not where I could hear. And my parents dismissed local people who did so as ill-mannered and ill-taught.

And yet my brother, a gentle, kindly peacemaker by temperament and faith, was puzzled that, on his latest visit out here, I seemed to draw no social distinction between me and the woman who does my heavy housework. But she's a member of our pagan community, I meet her at events, sit next to her on someone's patio and talk ... and my brother found such - social jaywalking? - on my part incomprehensible. To him there was no difference between my friend JoAnn Lujan who also does work for me, and his Martha Sanchez or whatever the name is, who is an employee, and "friend" is simply not in the picture. And yet, he would never be anything but polite and decent.

Shakes head. Is it regional? Generational? Or what? Because I would be horrified to hear that sort of rudeness from any of the third generation in my family.

And BTW, the younger people I meet in everyday situations, and I do not look like anyone affluent, are the most helpful, polite, and well-spoken crop of young people I've seen for a long time.

Just my $0.02

Ozark Chinquapin said...

I've been thinking more about possible fates of Missouri given the rest of your scenario. If Missouri becomes independent (with or without Kansas) it won't be because of a strong identity but because not enough people liked the other options enough to align with them. So much after that would depend on what happened in the early, vulnerable years of the new nation. If the right things happened, a new identity could probably be forged during that time, location and climate wise it has potential.

However, I think there's quite a risk that wouldn't happen and the new nation wouldn't last until 2065. If things aren't going so well, absorption into the Confederacy could be a likely result, possibly just by electing a pro-Confederacy party, possibly through an invasion with a good deal of internal support. Just how much internal support may make the difference between a short war and a long one. Your description of the unsuccessful Kentucky invasion makes me think they'd probably have their eye on Missouri too.

I do wonder about the state of your Prairie Republic, I haven't heard a name for it yet, the one that is MN, IA, ND, SD, and NE. If they're doing OK, some may look to them if times are rough. I'm assuming that during Lakeland's 30 years of closed borders, Missourians don't know hardly anything of what's going on there. The ugliest possibility would be a Civil War with one side backed by the Confederacy and one by the Prairie Republic. I'd imagine the Prairie may have its own interest in controlling at least as far south as the Missouri River corridor for transportation reasons.

I can only hope that Missouri/Kansas could get its act together and avoid that fate, possibly making some of the same changes that Lakeland has but remaining more rough around the edges.

whomever said...

valekeeperx: Abandoned doesn't mean no one lives there, just no central government. Lots of historical precedent for that.

peakfuture: Lovely map, but it would be great to see Canada there as well. We know the Maritimes are part of New England. I'm guessing Quebec is independent and doing quite well (control of access to the great lakes, good port, plenty of Hydro power). One would figure BC could join the Cascadian Republic, Alberta the Rocky Mountain republic, and Manitoba/Saskatchewan the plains. But I'm guessing their ongoing resistance to the Great Migration of climate refugees north led to the Great Canadian Fence as well as a couple of unfortunate massacres by the RCMP, and they are still part of the Dominion of Canada, which as doing quite well as part of the (reduced) British Commonwealth, under King George VIII, along with the small part of Australia that's still inhabited (mostly with refugees from the Sunk Pacific Islands), the Polynesian Whenua of New Zealand et al. They are mostly a client state of China, but are having an ok time otherwise. Wonder what happens to Newfoundland?

The most interesting from the point of view of this story is Ontario, which obviously will engage in lots of trading with the Lakeland Republic one way or another. I'd guess greater Toronto is mostly intact? What does the Detroit-Windsor border look like? The two Sault St Maries? I'd presume lots of back and forth across the lakes by boat also.

HalFiore said...

"It won't be a stylish marriage,
I can't afford a carriage.
But you'll look sweet,
Upon the seat..."

Actually a fair amount of information packed into that little ditty, with respect to the relative economics of animal vs mechanical transportation in a pre-petroleum, but not pre-industrial era. Oh, what will the barbershop quartets sing?

Shane Wilson said...

Thanks, JMG, for clarifying more about the Republics. It's been hard for me to see beyond regional stereotypes and the ginned up red/blue divide when envisioning the new Republics, sans Atlantica & the Lakeland Republic, and I'm sure it'd be more interesting w/more twists involved. :)

Varun Bhaskar said...


Loving the story. Gotta ask though, as a point of personal pride, what's going on in Wisconsin?



Cherokee Organics said...


Ah well, I probably filed away your response as an outstanding reply to recall at a later time! It certainly takes a lot of the hot air out of an over inflated discussion. Didn't someone once quip that: "Talk does not cook the rice"! Wise words.

I look forward to reading your thoughts on the education system as I reckon the last thing that it sets out to do is to teach children how to think and reason. A bit sad really. It is a very lucrative feed trough though. Sometimes I see it in my minds eye as a series of hoops to jump over which is not a very useful end in and of itself.



M Smith said...

Myriad, I'm left-handed and began easily writing cursive backwards one day. I was surprised at how easy it was though as you point out, it's hard to read.

Patricia, meaning no disrespect, it sounds as if your brother simply has a different relationship with the person who does work for him than you do with yours. He's courteous to her and therefore respectful, and fulfills his end of the employment agreement. Not everyone can be friends, and there's nothing wrong with that.

patriciaormsby said...

@Patricia M,

Isn't that a ray of hope! The younger generation, our future, is turning away from the cruelty that seems to mark modern America. thank you for sharing that!

I can hope that one day I'll feel able to tiptoe back over to my Motherland. I have some rellies near you, not quite ready to accept the inevitability of collapse, but not rejecting my views. Eventually they will be happy to know others nearby are "collapsing ahead of the rush." I'll definitely try to meet you if I have a chance.

John Michael Greer said...

Glenn, worth noting; thank you.

Valekeeperx, of course they're not completely uninhabited. As already noted in a comment above, there are little communities scattered here and there where there's enough water to permit human survival. It's just that the population is so thinly scattered that there's no government and no economic organization beyond the subsistence level. Partly that's the war in California, which has shredded transport links and makes shipping anything (including salvage) west all but impossible. (A trickle of salvage does go north through the Cascadian Republic.)

Latefall, thank you. "Horses vs. hobby horses" is a keeper!

Daelach, we'll get there in due time. Carr's musical interests may be a bit highbrow for you -- or not; how are you for opera? -- but there's a lot that can be heard walking down a street full of nightclubs on your way to a surreptitious meeting.

Michelle, delighted to hear it. Not all parents are that far ahead of the curve.

Myriad, nah, my wife's a fan and caught the reference. As for pens, I know; I's left-handed and use the over-the-top grip for writing, but even so dip pens would be a nightmare for me. Fortunately typewriters are a mature technology -- see below.

Kevin, typewriters are indeed in common use in the Lakeland Republic. The first generally available typewriter went on the market in 1873, and typewriters that worked just like modern manual machines were available from 1895 on. Thus -- if I may mention something that will make absolutely no sense until later -- they're standard in third, fourth, and fifth-tier counties. More as we proceed!

Peakfuture, thank you! With the help of locals, I've figured out Missouri and Kansas. After a whole series of border disputes and a couple of failed attempts at an independent republic, the southeast third or so of Missouri (south of St. Louis and east of the Ozarks) went into the Confederacy, and the rest, along with Kansas, went into what had previously and somewhat awkwardly been known as the Missouri River Republic and now is simply the Missouri Republic, the prairie nation that includes the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa. That was the original subject of the negotiations that led to the Treaty of Richmond in 2062, though that ended up turning into a general settlement of issues left over from Partition.

Yupped, if the Rolling Stones are still touring in 2065 they'd pretty much have to have been replaced by robots!

Patricia M., Oregon's part of the Cascadian Republic so Klamath Falls isn't an enclave, it's a city in an independent nation, and the site of a large military base that keeps the war in California from spilling north. Topanga Canyon will be held by one of the various factions in the California war, but I'm not sure who occupies that bit of territory just at the moment.

SLClaire, many thanks for this info! As noted above, you've helped me settle the last outstanding detail of the map.

Patricia M., that's not an unreasonable reaction. I've felt it myself many times when I saw some privileged jerk maltreating restaurant waitstaff or clerks at a store.

Ozark, thanks for this! As noted above, you've helped me clarify the future of Missouri and Kansas, so the map's settled.

Hal, I'll let you know when I hear one!

Shane, stay tuned! It's going to get lively.

Varun, it's part of the Lakeland Republic, of course, and what Carr will be seeing as he tours parts of Ohio and southern Michigan will apply there too.

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

JMG: You write, "...a radio transceiver, for example, would have been well within the capacity of your ordinarily enterprising medieval European or Chinese alchemist, if they'd known the theory involved." One has to be a bit careful here. Coarse equipment, at a level historically achieved by 1912, comprising spark for (Morse code) transmitter and galena crystal (or indeed crude germanium diode?) for receiver could perhaps be made in the medieval European or Chinese atelier. But to use a properly TUNED circuit for transmission, one probably wants at least vacuum tubes, refined to a post-1912 level. Adequate tubes require a high vacuum, as became generally known a few years after 1912. A mere mechanical pump (what the vacuum professionals would call, a little dismissively, a "roughing pump") is useful only at the initial stage of pumping-down. The work is normally finished with a diffusion pump. Such a pump should no longer be considered medieval equipment.

I also have a small quibble about meters. Unless the radio work is very crude, one will want to be able to measure currents and voltages, as a step to measuring impedances and capacitances. Here a d'Arsonval movement, comprising a coil of fine wire, on a jewel pivot such as is found in a good-quality mechanical watch, is handy. Fine wire, and jewel pivots, are again a bit outside the ambit of a medieval atelier, though they count as less sophisticated than the diffusion pump.


Tom near Toronto


PS: I say here "1912" because the Titanic disaster, which occurred in that year, provides a reference point for state-of-art. The ill-fated vessel had a state-of-the-art transmitter, using spark rather than vacuum tubes. The distress radiograms were picked up in (inter alia) Ireland, on a set which has been preserved - a bulky box, again without tubes, but with a crystal. (Crystal itself constituted an advance over the horrid 1890s "coherers", which were perhaps still in maritime service in 1912. I cite Ireland as an instance of state-of-the-art onshore receiving; and the crystal employed there, if it was galena, would have been familiar to the medievals.)

PPS: It is perhaps worth adding, tangentially, that once one DOES have a diffusion pump, and consequently vacuum tubes, it is only a short step up from Morse code transceiver to a fully practical radiotelephone transceiver.

PPPS: Lakeland might find it easy enough to smuggle in mission-critical components, including even transistors, including integrated circuits. Someone must be manufacturing ICs somewhere, since the deplorable Mr Carr has a vee-pad. I am indeed imagining that 2065 fabrication is in Asia as at present. One recalls here that the late, unlamented 1970s/1980s USSR managed to bring in large amounts of gear from abroad - entire Digital Equipment Corp minicomputers ("departmental minis"), for instance, to support KGB recordkeeping.

Auriel Ragmon said...

Druid, I still have the Blickensderfer my grandfather owned, with a little tiny ink pad and two rollers one with cursive and the other with serif script. I think I'll keep them.
Jim of Olym

Gaianne said...

@ Myriad and all lefties--

Consider writing upside down. That is what I did when I was doing calligraphy--sadly some years lapsed now. My last calligraphy project was painting a sign and I did it the same way. I found reading and writing upside down easier than mirror-image--though that may be a personal quirk. But the big virtue is that there are no smears and it looks fine.


patriciaormsby said...

@Pinku-sensei, I learned to print very neatly in engineering school, and when I went to Japan, I basically quit using cursive, assuming my students would not understand it. I was wrong. They still teach kids in junior or senior high to read and write English in cursive.
It was when I spent time in Siberia that I revived my cursive, as they all still use it in letters, at least as of ten years ago, and Cyrillic and Roman cursive are quite similar. The contrast between a very successful, affluent country that has adopted technology to the max and one that even before its economic collapse was largely "made by hand" (to steal from Kunstler) was enlightening to say the least. Both had positive and negative aspects. I had a friend who took socially maladapted youths (hikikomori) from Japan to Siberia for the summer, where they would recover and become sociable. When they returned to Japan, however, they relapsed. The Siberians would laugh at us, saying, "Good grief! We have all this alcoholism over here! You think this is a paradise?" Even in Siberia, technological advancement is portrayed as something completely positive. The downsides are little discussed. The most recent photo I received earlier this year of a friend's daughter has a cell phone attached to her ear, and they are in a very small town, so I suspect they've chosen the same path--mistakes and all--as America.

John Michael Greer said...

Cherokee, at this point Carr is scheduled to visit two schools, a not-quite-a-church-run school in Toledo and a one-room public school in a rural township some distance away, and I promise you our current educational system will not come out well by comparison!

Toomas, I was thinking of a spark-gap transmitter and a crystal receiver, of course. Medieval European alchemists used moderate vacuums for some distillation work, but I don't think they could have produced a hard enough vacuum to manage a triode. On the other hand, that's easy to do with Lakeland Republic technology.

Auriel/Jim, keep that puppy! Better yet, learn how to use it, if you don't already know how.

yellopig said...

JMG: I'm loving this story!

I hope the borders haven't been finalized yet. I had my fingers crossed that Baja Arizona (that's the Gadsden part to you outlanders) had been reabsorbed back into Mexico. That'll reunite the tribes & other families, and get us out of the way of all those squabbles up north.

Denys said...

My left handed daughter writes in mirror writing when taking her own notes. We homeschool and occasionally take a class somewhere for a day or two. The adult teacher inevitably will glide around the room reading over students shoulders and commenting on what they see on the students' papers (note: we are trained that private thinking in classrooms is not permitted). The teacher will say some rote statement about my daughter's page like "nice work" and she makes a mental tally of yet another adult not paying attention. She has only done this with five adults so far and zero have caught the she is writing right the left and backwards.

Robert Mathiesen said...

Syriac is read on horizontal lines, but from right to left (like Hebrew). However, when a right-handed Medieval scribe was writing a page in Syriac, he would turn his page 90 degrees counter-clockwise, and write in vertical columns from top to bottom, leftmost column first, moving rightwards from each column to the next. When his work was done, the page was turned back from "scribe's position" to "reader's position" No smudging of the ink and no need to keep the arm high! -- A modern left-handed penman writing English could use a similar, appropriately reversed strategy to keep from smudging his work as he writes.

Cherokee Organics said...


I look forward to those stories of Carr's intellectual demise at the hands of eighth graders (or whomever).

Incidentally, I'm all for this departure from your hard edged weekly reality essays as it provides an important - and often neglected - possible path forward. Didn't you once write here: "What you contemplate, you imitate"?

Also I had a thought about Carr this afternoon - as the sun was producing some superb solar hot water, by the way and I was became slightly sunburned too - is Mr Carr whom he seems to be? How do we know he wasn't allowed to travel into the Lakeland Republic to insert ideas or foment trouble? Just saying...



Myriad said...


¡sןǝxıd pǝɹɐǝɯs ou ǝɹɐ ǝɹǝɥʇ -- ʞooן puɐ 'ʎsɐǝ sı uʍop ǝpısdn buıʇıɹʍ ؛ʇɥbıɹ ǝɹ,noʎ puɐ 'ɐǝpı ɹnoʎ ǝʞıן I

I do prefer to put the work upside-down when I'm doing anything with text that's done one letter at a time. Something I learned from making text panels for my science fair exhibits. Some of those required whole paragraphs of text spelled out with individual 3/4-inch self-adhesive letters, transferred from their backing sheets and positioned on the panel one at a time using the tip of a thin knife blade. They took hours! (No printers with 108-point text options then.) Manual typesetters in an earlier era must have done it in a similar way, upside-down to put gravity on their side. I'm not sure that would work for me when I'm composing the text in the first place, though. I'll have to give it a try.

siliconguy said...

"Arizona and Nevada are basically abandoned zones -- I think Texas claims Arizona and California claims Nevada, "

I can't speak to Arizona, but I used to live in northern Nevada. It's far more likely that that area would be in Deseret. It's already heavily LDS. Reno to Carson City could well end up in California, as well as Vegas, as they would chase the larger income stream. Of course if CA fell apart, that might prove an epic mistake. Or not, those who care only for money can usually find a way to proper in anarchy. The casinos can certainly support their own war bands at least to start.

siliconguy said...

In response to the list classes taught in rural high-schools in past; ""Latin, Greek, physics (natural philosophy), French, geometry, algebra, 1st year calculus, bookkeeping, American history, World history, chemistry, geology."

My daughter is in a rural high school in Eastern WA State. They even have a FFA branch (Future Farmer's of America). Except for the Latin and Greek, and substituting Spanish for French, she's done everything on the list. The graduation rate at this school is 90%. Of course, this is The High-School. You are going here. Solves all the segregation problems I hear about in other places very nicely.

Glenn said...

I picked up a portable typewriter in usable shape in a thrift store going out of business a few months ago. It only needs ribbons, which can still be purchased on line, I'll stock up a bit. I used a slightly different model by the same maker (Royal) all the way through middle and high school. Even now, I find typing addresses more convenient than formatting a computer printer to print on labels, and the sheet of labels is one more thing to buy.

Two things of note at the current (through today) Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival. One was a charming young lady of East Indian extraction typing poems to order an a beautiful little green portable. The other was a lecture on making traditional Northwest Adzes of various native wood crooks and scrap steel (The speaker teaches a hands on class through the Port Townsend School of Woodworking). Retrotech service economy and Salvage well represented.


in the Bramblepatch
Marrowstone Island
Salish Sea

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