Island Living Down Under, During SARS-CoV-2 and Collapse
When I first visited in 2005 there were roughly 40 million sheep in New Zealand; that's now down to 27 million, meaning about five sheep for every person (image via Tumblr)

Island Living Down Under, During SARS-CoV-2 and Collapse

Living on either of two particular islands can come with benefits, but also with benefits

Who would have thought?

So there I was, taking a break on Sunday night from a so-far 10,000-word post that was inspired by one of Nate Hagens' Great Simplification Frankly episodes that I'd listened to during a previous Sunday night break. What did this Sunday night break amount to? Like the aforementioned, putting together a doubled-up Quinoa and Chick Pea salad while listening to Hagens' latest Frankly episode. And once again, while this time listening to episode #19, I found myself laughing out loud while simultaneously thinking to myself "I've gotta write a response to this!"

So here I am throwing together a quasi-response of a post to another Frankly episode, this one more of a quickly-composed rant as opposed to a more research-involved post (the latter of which will be up in either a week or so or in the first week of January and which to a certain extent will be even more Aussie-centric).

Anyway, the title of this recent Frankly episode of Hagens' was "Islands", focusing predominantly on two particular islands.

Islands | Frankly #19
There are some pretty amazing things that can be tracked via analytics on Youtube and other podcast servers – including from where the people tuning into a podcast are watching.

Hagens started the episode by describing his recent discovery of being able to use his analytics software "to see the geography of the followers of this podcast". At that point he didn't really need to say any more because I knew exactly where he was going with this and pretty much exactly what he was going to say.

[G]enerally, of the top 15 cities in the world with people following this podcast,

– yup, here it comes –

...seven of them are in

– I know, I'm in one of them, heading to the other shortly –

...New Zealand and Australia,

– including the city I'm currently in and the one I'll be initially landing in in a few months time –

...Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth.

On top of all that,

If you expand that to the top 25 cities, a town called Nelson, New Zealand has more followers of this podcast than Chicago, or Atlanta, or Dallas, or Paris.

That one I didn't predict in the slightest. I've spent only a few hours in Nelson (on January 25th, 2006, if I'm not mistaken) while seeing if apple harvesting season had begun and if pickers were needed, which it hadn't, and which they weren't. Other than that, the only thing I know about Nelson is that Bill Gates has property there, although I don't see why that would suggest some kind of reason for a large amount of Great Simplification listeners.

Nelson aside, Hagens wondered "What's up with that?" in regards to New Zealand and Australia in general. As he answered,

I think the reason that The Great Simplification is consumed, and discussed, and followed is because these places are island nations. And anyone listening to this can follow the cognitive intellectual arc of energy, human behaviour, money, climate change, and the systems ecology of it. But emotionally, I think people living in islands recognise this is their lives. They see the ships offloading products. They know they're at the end of the supply chain. And so the concepts discussed on this podcast about the coming unwind of complexity due to higher cost energy and decomplexification of our global system are acutely felt by people living in islands.

Yes, although I'll add that I think there's more to the reach of The Great Simplification in Australia and New Zealand than the mere understanding of various concepts, coming from a Canadian expat that since a fateful trip to New Zealand in 2005 has spent most of his time in the lands Down Under (the term encapsulting both New Zealand and Australia in case you didn't know) and who has lived in and/or visited six of those seven aforementioned cities.

But before I elaborate on that, it's worth wondering whether or not denial could be playing a part in lower listener numbers outside of New Zealand and Australia. That is, if you're living in a city that's an ice box for a large part of the year (Chicago), or where a fair amount of the people around you can and are carrying guns (Dallas and Atlanta), you might not be very willing and/or as prepared to psychologically accept the kinds of topics and possibilities that The Great Simplification touches on, seeing how the logical outcomes of those topics could imply rather dire situations for the environmental and social conditions of the place you live in. On the other hand, if you live in Australia or New Zealand, both rather warm countries that are more amenable to life without climatic conditions controlled by fossil fuels and where every Nth person around you isn't carrying a gun, the more genial environmental and social conditions may predispose you to be more willing to psychologically accept a downturn of the creature comforts that cheap and plentiful concentrated energy have increasingly allowed for for the past 200 years or so.

Otherwise, and to convey a few observations from my time(s) Down Under, although I spent several weeks visiting Perth and Melbourne in 2000/01 and 2003 respectively, it wasn't until 2005 that I made my way from Toronto to New Zealand in order to spend a year predominantly WWOOFing while occasionally working on monocultural "farms" in order to gain some first-hand experience and learn as much as I could about various agricultural endeavours.

(If you aren't familiar with WWOOF, the acronym stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms. Independent WWOOF organisations exist in countries all around the world, the idea being that a WWOOFer stays with a WWOOF host for a set amount of days/weeks/months, does around 4 hours of work a day with whatever it is the WWOOF host does and needs doing, in exchange for meals and a bed [as well as a bike, canoe, fishing rod, or whatever else the host might be kind enough to lend their WWOOFers].)

Anyway, on that first trip to New Zealand I quickly noticed how much more of a land-based society New Zealand is compared to Canada. There's of course some bias there as I was spending most of my time in rural areas as opposed to my suburban/urban upbringing in Canada, but nonetheless it was ridiculous how many times that the person that picked me up when I was hitch-hiking from one WWOOF host to another knew the place or even the person that I was on my way to spend some time at, and so drove me straight to their front door/gate. Networks are strong in New Zealand, and the people are kind.

On top of that, it might not be so much that Australians and New Zealanders "see the ships offloading products" (if I recall correctly I've only seen this once in all my time in Australia and New Zealand, which is when I went to pick up a crate I had shipped to me from Toronto to Melbourne), but that foreign-derived products cost more (be it due to shipping costs, exchange values, or whatever else). As I noticed over the years, CDs, DVDs, computers, vehicles, etc., all cost much more.

As I said to an older man on the Auckland to Maungakaramea "bus" trip (having hitch-hiked from Taupo to Auckland earlier that morning, in which I somewhat got ripped off on), it seemed to me that because New Zealanders had to pay more for all these overseas-sourced products it was possible that they did what they could to reduce expenses where possible (do their own handyman/woman work, grow a bit of food, be there for each other, etc.) in order to preserve their money for those items that can't be produced locally. I don't know if it was because I'd offered biscuits to the man and a young teenager also in the van, because the man felt sorry for me for kinda getting ripped off, or if it was because he simply liked what I'd said, but when the man got out on an earlier stop than I, and without saying a word, he slipped what turned out to be a twenty dollar bill in my breast pocket and gave me no more than a nod when I waved an astonished thank you from behind the window.

Kiwis can be something else, I tell ya, and with the lack of hard division between them that can be found between people in other countries I again wonder about the possibility that they'd be more amenable to believing and accepting Great Simplification topics due to a stronger knowledge that fellow Kiwis might have their back.

Nice little stories and theories aside, another interesting point to ponder over is the amount of WWOOF hosts per capita one finds in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.

  • New Zealand: 5.1 million people / 1,300 hosts = 1 host for every 3.9k Kiwis
  • Australia: 25.7 million people / 683 hosts = 1 host for every 37.6k Aussies
  • United States: 331.9 million people / 1,459 hosts = 1 host for every 227.5k Americans

Per capita, Australia has six times as many WWOOF hosts as the United States does, while New Zealand has 58.3 times as many WWOOF hosts as the United States. Might this suggest that New Zealanders and/or Australians are more community-oriented than Americans and/or that they're more land-based than them? If so, such attitudes and lifestyles might very well predispose them to being more ecologically-oriented and so more open-minded to limits and other concepts discussed on The Great Simplification. Similarly, it could be that the overall warmer weather in both countries makes voluntarily attempting a more land-based way of life more viable, particularly for prospective urbanites/suburbanites quite used to the care-free conditions that industrial civilisation allows for. On the other hand, the aforementioned attitudes and lifestyles could be simply indicating that many Aussies and Kiwis, living on far away islands, feel isolated from the rest of the world and so are more keen to invite foreigners (in this case WWOOFers) into their homes and gardens.

That all being said, while there are in fact some WWOOF hosts in cities (which are the places that Hagens' analytics were pointing to), the vast majority of them are however in rural areas, implying that Hagens' seven aforementioned cities and the places where most WWOOF hosts are don't exactly line up. Nonetheless, things such as Permaculture (which originated in Australia) are very large (as far as these things go) in both Australia and New Zealand, and with ecologically-oriented activities being a significant-enough part of the social fabric of rural areas the spillover into urban areas via visiting family members, workshops, etc., can't be discounted.

In short: environmental and social conditions allow for less denial; more amenable climates allow for a greater amount of those less afflicted by denial to move away from the trappings of industrial civilisation to more ecologically-oriented activities and lifestyles; said activities and lifestyles undertaken in rural areas spill over into urban areas.

Maybe.

Au revoir, Canada

As Hagens also stated,

I would hypothesise that some people living on islands or remote places will want to leave. They'll be want to closer to the source of goods and services and the benefits of modern civilisation. But I think unexpectedly, some people are going to move purposefully to these places from the centre of complexity towards a simple life, towards communities that focus on people and not stuff, and belonging rather than belongings. And I think you're going to see some very interesting phase shifts in demographics in [the] coming decade.

Done.

Well, on my end that is, as I know of plenty of Australians that have left to the bright lights of New York City to seek their fame and fortune, some, absurdly enough, having left during the onset of SARS-CoV-2, just before New York City went into lockdown.

"Would you like this nice Big Apple? I swear it isn't doused in SARS-CoV-2. And I swear there's absolutely no way a nuke will ever be dropped on this nice, delicious, Big Apple"

Many more migrations as such will undoubtedly continue to occur, the siren calls of Instagram influencers and the like – bearing promises of access to unlimited modern extravagances – proving too irresistible for status-seekers and the die-hards unwilling to adapt to a different way of living.

(image via Mel Magazine)

I, on the other hand, left Canada years ago, and although I'll likely visit at some point down the road you'll never find me living there again. There's various reasons for having left, the only one I want to elaborate on at the moment being that the opportunities for growing various fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs are significantly limited in the Great White Frozen North, and the few that can be coaxed to grow in the short window of warm summer months generally die over winter. Seeing how inter-cropping (or polycultures or mixed-farming or whatever you want to call it) fascinates me (while turnip soup doesn't), striving for a piece of land in Australia over Canada is a no-brainer, particularly when I've never had any affinity to the land in Canada and otherwise have no strong ties there.

Purposeful moves towards a simpler life indeed, and the more the merrier.

(Yes, I've been living in Melbourne and other cities for some time now, albeit biding my time. As I haven't eaten at a restaurant in... seven years?... and haven't once in my life ordered via Uber Eats or the like, it's safe to say that I'm very much not a Melburnian.)

Assisting Canada, from Australia

There's one last thing I want to touch on from Hagens' recent Frankly episode, that being the plausibility of broaching these topics with people generally unfamiliar with them. There's two passages in particular I want to refer to, which I'll quote sequentially and then respond to them interchangeably.

First:

I talked to this guru yesterday, one of Daniel Schmachtenberger's friends, and I may have him on a podcast in the future. And he told me, “In some ways, Nate, you're doing a disservice to humanity.” Because if the delta of what someone knows and how they're living their life is too wide, which someone just coming across my podcast, that may be the case, it creates this internal dissonance and possible [sic] for adverse behaviour like drinking, or self-medicating, or anxiety, or depression. I never thought about it that way before. But that's one reason I don't go on television or the large podcasts. People who want to hear this story and a wider and deeper unpacking of the human predicament, self-select to listen to this program. So I'm not foisting this on other people. I'm trying to set the table so that more people are at the table having this conversation.

And second:

Lastly, I do think this makes me more interested in helping New Zealand, Australia in acting as pilots for what's to come, because I don't think giant countries like China or the United States, this story is too counter to the national goal of consumption and growth.

First off, and to put it to the side, yes, the courteous thing to do is to let people self-select for these topics by leaving them with the choice of whether or not they'd like to consider and engage with the issues involved. That of course may mean that those who choose to ignore them will inevitably experience greater hardship later in the future, but whose right is it to force what could very well be years of grief on an individual (which won't necessarily benefit anybody) rather than years of ignorant bliss, followed by who knows what? (Perhaps a quick exit of sorts, or not.)

That being said, it's fantastic that such a quality podcast as The Great Simplification exists for those that are open to such info, although a hole exists when it comes to the written word. That's already been vaguely touched on in the nearly-completed Great Simplification-inspired post mentioned up top, so I'll leave elaboration on that for later.

Next up is the idea of helping New Zealand and Australia "as pilots for what's to come". Yes, 100%. As has been mentioned before on FF2F, I've completed a manuscript explaining why it is that Canada and Australia – the two countries with official multicultural policies – are not authentically multicultural and how they could theoretically become so (think Vandana Shiva, not Pauline Hanson, Nigel Farage, or Peter Thiel and David Sacks).

Although the manuscript was roughly "completed" in 2014, the fact that I was, and pretty much still am, a "nobody" is probably one of the larger reasons why it was never able to secure itself a publisher. Nonetheless, when I do get around to giving it a re-write and securing a publisher for it, I look forward to extensively touring around giving talks in small towns and the like, and likely large cities as well.

In Australia, that is, not Canada. Although I may very well give a talk or two in places like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, not only do I not want to spend large amounts of my time going from town to town in Canada, but the implications of the message(s) I'd be expounding upon would imply much more dire and drastic changes for a country that's almost entirely an ice box for a significant part of the year, a country whose various places would necessitate vastly different diets from what they currently partake in (to touch on just one aspect). And frankly, that's not exactly a message I want to be doling out to an unwary public, night after night.

But in Australia, as uncomfortable as it'd be, I do believe that the message(s) could go down a fair amount easier seeing how I wouldn't have to be saying things like "you ever been to Black Creek Pioneer Villagein the winter?" Life in Australia, like everywhere else, will of course become drastically different than what it is today. That being said, and although the vast majority of buildings and homes in Australia haven't been designed with passive solar principles any more than they have been in Canada, there's a big difference between not having fossil fuels to heat your home in Australia (yes, it does actually get very cold here in winter for those not aware) and not having fossil fuels to heat your home in Canada to not only keep you warm but to also keep the pipes from bursting.

Anyway, while it was Canada that set the example in 1971 via prime minister Pierre Trudeau's declaration in the House of Commons that (so-called) multiculturalism would be implemented in Canada, it wasn't until a few years later that Australia took Canada's cue and began implementing similar policies. This time, however, it's going to be Australia (or at least small, tiny, minuscule pockets of Australia) that will be "acting as pilot", showing what a more authentic multiculturalism would be. Be it for Canada, or anywhere else.

(For those interested in what an authentic multiculturalism would be, I've explained in the last three paragraphs in Addendum 1 of my investigation into the Aboriginal flag that I won't be elaborating on that until FF2F reaches 1,000 subscribers. Although come to think of it, perhaps I'd be willing to make an exception for a suitable podcast. We'll see.)

Flirting with zero-COVID Down Under

Worth mentioning is that proximity from other countries provides island nations with another inbuilt advantage besides that of allowing for different conceptual models to proliferate (however it is that that works).

The first of these is that there inherently isn't another country butting up right against you, a country which may very well end up eating more of your time than you'd like due to concerns about various extremist elements. (Along with being an ice box for a large part of the year, Toronto was also just too close to you-know-where for my tastes.) Secondly, not sharing a border with any other country means that drawbridges can be drawn up at the "flick of a switch", allowing for a degree of peace of mind thanks to the ability to confidently shut one's borders without fear of interlopers.

Due to Canada's long-time agreement with the United States to allow mainland Americans to drive through to Alaska for work or to return home, it was stipulated in July of 2020 that Americans had to travel by the "most direct route" after many Americans were simply crossing the border to go holiday in Banff National Park, resulting in many Canadians with American plates getting their cars keyed by overly-zealous Canadians wary of SARS-CoV-2 entering from out of town, out of country.

But being island nations, and after much hardship and struggle, in late-2020 both New Zealand and Australia were able to achieve zero-COVID while the virus was still raging around most of the rest of the world, to the point that they opened up their borders to each other and nobody else. (And that was despite many traitorous elements within Australia and New Zealand working with extremist foreigners to try and "free" the lands Down Under. Long story that one.)

That being said, in the end all the accomplishments that Australians and New Zealanders had achieved to keep their people safe and healthy were ultimately thrown away, both federal and state politicians (I'm talking about Australia here) quite expectedly succumbing primarily to the demands of the major airlines (Qantas and Virgin Australia), but also of the tourism industry and other Chambers of Commerce-aligned interests. That is, with the growth imperative (due to private bank-created money and related interest charges) being the king of the hill in Australia and New Zealand (and everywhere else for that matter), the writing was on the wall long before the Omicron variant "accidentally" began its spread across Australia. Vaccines are apparently all we actually need, while Omicron was the "best Christmas present" and "it is necessary for it to spread" (said Australia's chief medical officer and Queensland's chief health officer John Gerrard, respectively).

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese has tested positive to SARS-CoV-2 for a second time, presumably vying with other world leaders to see who can continually get reinfected but by chance not be the first to be sidelined permanently by Long COVID, or worse (editorial cartoon by David Pope / The Canberra Times)

What this means is that were issues related to The Great Simplification and to establishing an authentic multiculturalism ever to gain much traction they'd undoubtedly encounter pushback from the status quo-oriented, no matter how much of a positive effect that have on Australia and no matter how much they bequeath increased health, safety and security upon Australians (and New Zealanders).

Being "pilots for what's to come" certainly won't end up being easy for anybody. Regardless, some place has to take up the mantle, and if indications are correct there's probably no two countries out there better able and better situated to pull it off than the antipodean lands of kangas and kiwis.

Sounds of SARS, with Fanfare Ciocărlia

This post wasn't exactly heavy on the SARS-CoV-2 content, although between us let's say there was just enough in there in order to qualify it for the latest edition of the "Sounds of SARS, with Fanfare Ciocărlia" series. Because for those who've seen Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and stuck around for the credits, you would have heard the latest song Sacha Baron Cohen commissioned Fanfare Ciocărlia to cover, following his previous commission for them to cover "Born to be Wild" for the credits of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

For those not aware, Fanfare Ciocărlia have a thing or two for taking a song and giving it a flavour that only they could even dream of concocting, to the point that one almost gets the idea that every song ever written was put together only for Fanfare Ciocărlia to one day cover it and transform it into the gem it was always meant to be.

That being said, here's the lead track to Fanfare Ciocărlia's recently-released 25th anniversary album, a cover of a little ditty sung by Bill Withers, "Just the Two of Us". In case you haven't caught on, in this case the "Two of Us" stands for none other than the two formerly zero-COVIDista countries Australia and New Zealand, a couple of islands embarking on their initial steps in following the paths spoken of in The Great Simplification while demonstrating to the rest of the world what an authentic multiculturalism would be.

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Fanfare Ciocărlia – Just the Two of Us
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"Just the Two of Us" can be found on the album "It Wasn't Hard To Love You", available on Bandcamp or wherever else you purchase and/or stream music from.

A former filmmaker, now jawboning on the collapse of industrial civili­s­a­tion and the renewal of culture. .

  ALLAN STROMFELDT CHRISTENSEN  2023