Friday, July 22, 2016


The various schools of thought associated with the word bushcraft continue to widen as the realities of contemporary life, at least in the Modern World, alter the meaning of the word.  Let it suffice to say that aside from the extreme few who claim to have spent months isolated in the boondocks dressed in skins and living a “paleo” life, most contemporary bushcrafters drive to a site, set up their modern gear and then sit around fiddling with bow-drills or carving spoons and the like.  In fact for many, bushcraft has become a form of recreation where occasionally people envision scenarios where they’re cast into the wilderness and forced to survive with nothing more than a knife and a smattering of skills.  How many YouTube videos have you seen where people say they need robust knives in case they are ever thrown into a desperate “survival situation.”  Our YouTube friends will baton a branch, make feather sticks, spark a fire, do a little whittling, eat a couple of wild berries, and then walk back to the house (some are videotaping in their backyard) or they’ll return to their car via a public trail and then drive to their casa all the while dreaming of the day when they’ll be free of the chaos and insanity of today’s world.  Who can blame them?  It’s not as if they’re hunting mastodons or battling saber tooth cats, but instead busy indulging in freeway sign language or enduring the propaganda and associated distortions generated by cable news networks, plutocrats and the entrenched oligarchy.  It’s a mad world indeed.

Of course, the reality of paleo life said you’d most likely be dead before the age of thirty-five if you were a man, and if you were a woman your chances of getting past your first pregnancy were fifty-fifty.  Regardless, you’d be pretty much blind by the age of forty with rotting teeth, arthritic joints and any number of other ailments.  Alas it seems though that the current fascinations with a “survival situation” stem mostly from underlying depressions doused with free-floating anxiety and an ever increasing sense of hopelessness about the course this world is going.  After all, for a lot of people today’s world seems to make less and less sense.  It turns out that the mantra of endless “growth and development” invented by some pallid and infinitely tunneled-visioned economist was not without its unintended consequences.  Amid this contemporary milieu modern humans are already enduring a frightful “survival situation.”  It’s intriguing (and simultaneously disgusting) to hear politicians and business moguls speak endlessly of more growth and more development and more fracking and more people and more and more and more.  All the while, those of us who long for a respite in the wilds are forced into ever decreasing places.  I think often of those of you who long for a quiet spot to sit and make a fire and perhaps carve a spoon or bake some bread or maybe just do nothing at all but simply live in the moment…free of noise and pollution and the interminable ramblings of those who have no interest in nature or bushcraft or quiet or perhaps even peace.

Our world population is growing so rapidly that it is indeed frightening.  I would give you a number but within less than one minute that number would have already climbed significantly.  It will not suffice for me to say that we are at 7.5 billion humans worldwide because that number will be archaic in a few months.  Don’t believe me?  Then please look here:

Population ecologists have concluded that the world reached its maximum carrying capacity at about four billion people.  We have therefore overshot that mark and are speeding into what some claim will be oblivion.  This reality is nothing new to the scientists and mathematicians who have studied these facts for decades.  But today, at least in some circles, there is a war on science.  People are encouraged to ignore data, facts, proof and the like.  Meanwhile the wood-be bushcrafter and naturalist is left to suffer an ever increasing population density with deforested lands and vanishing creeks and lakes as well as the encroaching sounds of bulldozers, fracking rigs, chainsaws, pneumatic hammers and that jet stream of autos shooting down highways at all hours.  Yes, I think about many of you who must live in the chaos and yet who dream just for a few hours in a quiet spot somewhere, perhaps once a week if nothing else.

So what does bushcraft mean today in this world where unfettered industrialism is sacrosanct?  Are you to simply grin and bear it?  Ultimately, each one of you will be the judge of that, but if the emails I receive weekly are any indication of the mood of many fellow woods roamers then for a lot of people the boiling point has been reached.  Please notice the number of YouTube videos on “stealth camping.”  It seems that for many a decision has been reached to hang it all and go into the woods and camp out regardless of whom might say different.  Paradoxically, the accompanying attitude is to “leave no trace,” and make invisibility the object that accompanies the silence.  Compare this ethic to those YouTube videos of hobo camps and druggy enclaves where refuse is left as if it were a landfill.  But not the bushcrafter or naturalist (they should be one and the same) who enters without leaving a trace, who camps in thickets and forests like a phantom never seen or heard.  No trace, no sign, no smells, no colors, no sounds.  The modern bushcrafter has become a minimalist who abhors impacting nature near or far.  The idea is to disappear beyond the trails noiselessly as if nothing more than a tiny breeze blowing through the brush.  I received an email from someone recently who said, “I’m getting old and [I’ve] been shut out all my life.  At home the noise of trucks and sirens everything else drives me nuts.”  So he sneaks into the woods nearby on Friday and if possible doesn’t come out until after dark on Sunday.  During the week he distracts himself with bushcraft and wilderness videos.  “I’ll be retiring in December,” he said.  He plans to spend as much of his time as possible camping ghostlike in the nearby woods.

Friday, July 8, 2016


As I write this I’m surrounded by my three blue heelers.  It’s 106 degrees outside with a heat index at 111 degrees.  I’ll let my dogs out in the evening when I also go to my little shop adjacent to the barn.  I’ll work into the early morning hours as it’s the only time when temps are tolerable.  Note: It was still 86 degrees at 2AM last night.  My songbirds and quail have to eat during the heat of the day but I’m doing what I can to provide them with water and grain.  I keep the woods close all around my cabin to give cover for the birds and because the trees provide abundant shade.  It’s strange how people in the area have cleared almost every inch of foliage around them.  No shade, no wildlife, no beauty.  By the way, this past winter never arrived.  But it seems that, for the most part, any sort of winter in Deep South Texas has been nearly non-existent for the past twenty years at least.  I figure there’ll be brownouts or even blackouts this summer as temperatures spike into dangerous levels across the country.  We already know that many places, both here and around the world, are suffering from severe droughts and that sea levels are rising.  Of course, in this country there’s a massive attempt to discredit any empirically derived evidence to suggest that these negative trends are attributable to human behavior.  This rampant denialism is being funded by the polluting industries that see logic, reason and science as a threat to their power and wealth.  But what’s interesting is to witness how people with no vested interest in living in heat-plagued regions, or who are suffering from droughts and crop failures, or who have been forced to experience the ill-effects of significant levels of air and water pollution are so quick to side with the corporatists who could not care less about the masses and who are themselves already preparing their safe-houses in far-off countries where they believe they’ll be safe when everything falls apart.  In the meanwhile the easily duped will be forced to melt away in inhospitable lands void of water, and suffering what will be akin to a perpetual blast furnace.  It wasn’t until I started reading about the phenomenon of denialism that I discovered there is a deep psychological (some might suggest, psychiatric) reason for people to bury their heads in the sand and ignore overwhelming data.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In the psychology of human behaviordenialism is a person's choice to deny reality, as a way to avoid a psychologically uncomfortable truth. Denialism is an essentially irrational action that withholds the validation of an historical experience or event, by the person refusing to accept an empirically verifiable reality. In the sciences, denialism is the rejection of basic facts and concepts that are undisputed, well-supported parts of the scientific consensus on a subject, in favor of radical and controversial ideas.[3] The terms Holocaust denialism and AIDS denialism describe the denial of the facts and the reality of the subject matters, and the term climate change denialist is applied to people who argue against the scientific consensus that the global warming of planet Earth is a real and occurring event primarily caused by human activity. The forms of denialism present the common feature of the person rejecting overwhelming evidence and the generation of political controversy with attempts to deny the existence of consensus. The motivations and causes of denialism include religion and self-interest (economic, political, financial) and defense mechanisms meant to protect the psyche of the denialist against mentally disturbing facts and ideas.

I talked to someone this past week that got quite upset and then almost panicky when I mentioned that we all need to adopt responsible behaviors in regards to protecting the land.  I kept hearing an insistence that none of this is real; and there seemed a constant reliance on the disinformation provided by radio spin-doctors, partisan news networks, and various other corporate and plutocratic manipulators. Indeed, it seems that brainwashing is an easy thing to accomplish when tethered to people’s anxieties and phobias.  After that conversation it occurred to me that I’d heard a fascinating reference to this kind of behavior back in the days when I read extensively in subjects related to biblical history, philosophy, the Axial Age, and other topics related to pivotal events in ancient times.  The attribution comes partly from a New Testament text in the book of 2nd Timothy.  Biblical scholars are at odds as to who wrote the books of Timothy but it is commonly acknowledged that six of the epistles credited to Paul (formerly known as Saul) are pseudo-epigraphical, that is to say, forgeries.  I’m not here to argue the issue, so please debate that subject on other forums.  Regardless, the specific text I am referring to is 2nd Timothy 4:3 that says: “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching.  They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.”—New Living Translation.  Said another way from the New American Standard Bible, “For a time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.”  Amazing, that fellow was talking about denialism way back then.  On another note, let’s not forget the politicians and journalists who don’t even know the difference between climate and weather.  Meanwhile wild fires rage in the Western US and are arriving at earlier dates each year.  Simultaneously, rising temperatures continue depleting reservoirs, destroying crops, contributing to new dust bowls, threatening electrical grids, and in some areas have driven people, like me, to become nocturnal.

You often hear politicians and corporatists complain about “too much regulation.”  I accept that reason and logic are in short supply these days (after all, the idea is to keep the people avariciously obese and logically anorexic) but the truth is that regulation is already running its course.  As much as our bought-and-paid-for politicians want to fantasize otherwise, the world has already initiated its own regulatory protocol.  And chasing all the unsound doctrines in the world won’t stop the fact that nature will eventually sort things out.  It would be a lot better if people used common sense and divested themselves from their greed and instead began programs to lessen the effects of our ever increasing global temperatures.  Unfortunately, that seems more and more unlikely.  Either way, it really doesn’t matter because as for as the world sees things, regulation is coming.  We’ll see droughts that will rival every drought ever experienced; massive crop failures; plummeting water supplies; poisoned ground water (does the word fracking ring a bell?); deadly air quality; tropical diseases continuing to drift northward; and “fires will roam the earth.”  So for now I am nocturnal though in time not even that will work.  Just imagine living on a super-heated earth with no means towards air conditioning and without enough water to go around and the air over you either choked with smoke or filled with industrial toxins that won’t go away.  Yesterday, I had my yearly eye exam and my ophthalmologist complained that this year saw some of the worst smoke pollution from agricultural fires in southern Mexico and Central America.  That smoke is still drifting as far north as Oklahoma and Missouri.  The 2.5 micron counts have reached dangerous levels in some regions.  I have no doubt that as our global population shoots higher and higher and industrial pollution rises we will see even greater smoke events.  Not even the doomsday-loving preppers will be able to get past that scenario.  But there you have it: Cancer of any sort eventually kills its host if unregulated.  Why would anyone ever think that the same principle doesn’t apply to a system of economics and government that pushes unregulated growth with its accompanying pollution and endless population expansion and interminable greed and consumption?

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The supportive data is overwhelming…unless you’ve got itching ears.