The juxtaposition between where I am now and where I came from is so marked. Juxtaposition is the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect. Its synonyms are: comparison, contrast nearness, closeness. It is a rainy dismal day here in the Hampshires, I am in bed looking out at a peaceful village. This wooden structure was built in the 1550s. While back in California? It is apparently not raining, fires are either raging or leaving ashes where houses and buildings used to stand. Nothing of any history remains. Living in San Francisco I would not be in danger of the apartment where I live burning down but power outages would effect me. I looked at evacuation maps and realized I knew people in the wake of the fire. Hurriedly I email them seeking reassurance. It is absolutely bizarre to be away when a catastrophe strikes. The fires certainly fulfil the definition of the word: an event causing great and usually sudden damage or suffering; a disaster. Its synonyms being calamity, cataclysm, crisis, holocaust, ruin, ruination, tragedy, blow, shock; adversity, blight, trouble, trial, tribulation, mishap, misfortune, mischance, misadventure, accident, failure, reverse, woe, affliction, distress; informal meltdown, whammy;
But a brilliant article, featured in the Atlantis made matters even worse. I was aware that the infrastructure in the United States was decaying but it pointed out how truly cataclysm, ruination and blight that will continue to face those of us who reside in the United States.
It seems as if The Sky Is Falling.
“There are several Western versions of the story, of which the best-known concerns a chick that believes the sky is falling when an acorn falls on its head. The chick decides to tell the king and on its journey meets other animals (mostly other fowl) which join it in the quest.
The story is listed as Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 20C, which includes international examples of folktales that make light of paranoia and mass hysteria. There are several Western versions of the story, of which the best-known concerns a chick that believes the sky is falling when an acorn falls on its head. The chick decides to tell the king and on its journey meets other animals (mostly other fowl) which join it in the quest. After this point, there are many endings. In the most familiar, a fox invites them to its lair and then eats them all. Alternatively, the last one, usually Cocky Lockey, survives long enough to warn the chick, who escapes. In others all are rescued and finally speak to the king.In most retellings, the animals have rhyming names, commonly Chicken Licken or Chicken Little, Henny Penny or Hen-Len, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky or Ducky Daddles, Drakey Lakey, Goosey Loosey or Goosey Poosey, Gander Lander, Turkey Lurkey and Foxy Loxy or Foxy Woxy.
The moral to be drawn changes, depending on the version. Where there is a “happy ending”, the moral is not to be a “Chicken” but to have courage. In other versions where the birds are eaten by the fox, the fable is interpreted as a warning not to believe everything one is told.
In the United States, the most common name for the story is “Chicken Little”, as attested by illustrated books for children dating from the early 19th century. In Britain and its other former colonies, it is best known as “Henny Penny” and “Chicken Licken”, titles by which it also went in the United States.”
Here it all is, according to the well researched Atlantis piece. It begins by blaming the fires on PG&E’s dreadful maintenance of its power lines. But then it dismally points out that it is not just California and the infrastructure all over these United States is failing. The work is quoted.
“PG&E’s balance sheets are now fully on view, thanks to the company’s massive liabilities from recent fires, which have landed it in bankruptcy court. Pressed by new climatic conditions, PG&E’s system has entered a new era. Utility officials have admitted that large-scale power shutoffs—during which tens or hundreds of thousands of people lose power for days—will be a regular feature of fall life for a decade. Seeing as the company is in bankruptcy, it will probably keep asking for o raise rates. So it’s likely that PG&E customers will be living with higher rates, rolling blackouts, and the possibility of power lines starting new fires. And that’s the optimistic scenario, which assumes that the company can actually scrape together enough money to upgrade its system. No matter what decisions anyone makes now, everyone hooked up to the grid in Northern California is likely going to receive worse service even as we all collectively pay more to harden the system against fire. This is what runaway technical debt looks like.
“Almost everywhere you look in the built environment, toxic technical-debt bubbles are growing and growing and growing. This is true of privately maintained systems such as PG&E’s and publicly maintained systems such as that of Chicago’s Department of Water Management. It’s extremely true of roads: Soon, perhaps 50 percent of Bay Area roads will be in some state of disrepair, not to mention the deeper work that must occur to secure the roadbeds, not just the asphalt on top.
Then there are the sewers and the wastewater plants. Stormwater drains. Levees. And just regular old drinking water. Per capita federal funding for water infrastructure has fallen precipitously since the 1970s. Cities are forced to make impossible decisions between funding different services. And even when they do have the money they need, officials make bad or corrupt decisions. So, water systems in the United States have built up a $1 trillion technical debt, which must be paid over the next 25 years. The problem is particularly acute in the Great Lakes states. One investigation, by American Public Media, found that from 2007 to 2018 Chicago residents’ water bills tripled, and Cleveland residents’ doubled. In Detroit, a city with a median income of less than $27,000, the average family paid $1,151 for water. At these rates, poor residents are far more likely to have their water shut off, and the systems still aren’t keeping up with the maintenance they need. Runaway technical debt makes it nearly impossible to pay the “interest,” which is just keeping the system running, let alone to start paying down the principal or start new capital projects.
A kind of toxic debt is embedded in much of the infrastructure that America built during the 20th century. For decades, corporate executives, as well as city, county, state, and federal officials, not to mention voters, have decided against doing the routine maintenance and deeper upgrades to ensure that electrical systems, roads, bridges, dams, and other infrastructure can function properly under a range of conditions. Kicking the can down the road like this is often seen as the profit-maximizing or politically expedient option. But it’s really borrowing against the future, without putting that debt on the books.
In software development, engineers have long noted that taking the easy way out of coding problems builds up what they call “technical debt,” as the tech journalist Quinn Norton has written.
Like other kinds of debt, this debt compounds if you don’t deal with it, and it can distort the true cost of decisions. If you ignore it, the status quo looks cheaper than it is. At least until the off-the-books debt comes to light.”
So what is a girl to do? My beloved Internist predicts that I will live for twenty-five more years. The USA will be crumbling, Canada was tried and it failed. Using logic there appears to be two alternatives: either Iceland of Malaysia.
More. From London as that is where I am at the moment staying in my most favourite of all hotels and being welcomed back with great enthusiasm.
The photograph is from the Inn, a peaceful breakfast in front of the fire.