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Abundance or Scarcity: Panic Buying and the Tin-Foil Story



How much is enough and for how long?

As virtually everyone is aware by now the second biggest story of the week (third?) has been the literal deluge of shopping crowds converging on grocery and big-box stores buying large quantities of water, paper products, disinfectants and, more recently, food staples and whatever else is not nailed down.

Interviews with company presidents that manufacture paper products have shown that this is truly panic buying as the apparent shortages are based not on a lack of supply or the ability to produce more, but on the logistical difficulty in getting the shelves stocked fast enough.

“There is not some big underground warehouse like in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ where there is all this toilet paper sitting around in case it is needed”

Dan Clarahan, president of United Converting, quoted in the NY Times

Instead people are literally filling their closets with excess paper, more than they can use in a year, all due to psychological reactions to the uncertainty of the overall situation. We as humans are notoriously bad at calculating needs and usage of supplies and making time based buying decisions.

Paper aisle of a discount store today in Los Angeles. Photo / Lynxotic

Case in point: the box of tin-foil above, which is admittedly a 500 ft roll meant for restaurant use (bought at Costco) is, for all intents and purposes, an antique. I bought it for around $15 in 2012. It’s not gone yet.

I am not, as you can see, an industrial grade user of tin-foil. However, this box has been used several times a week for various household refrigerator storage tasks for 8 Years!

Without getting into the fine mathematics of how long, per person, a roll of toilet paper should last (including all the minutia such as the length of the roll and how many “layers of comfort” are included) grabbing shopping carts full is likely not a necessity, even if practicing social distancing for a month or two.

“Empty” shelves at Los Angeles discount store – Photo / Lynxotic

And then what about food? This photo is of “shockingly empty” shelves in the meat section of a discount store in Los Angeles, today. What’s the first thing you see? What I see is just how many great things to eat are readily available, still, on these empty shelves.

So, all in all, I guess its called “panic” for a reason. Because it’s not about “reason” but rather that lack thereof. Just as with paper products food supplies are not in any huge danger of total collapse. You just might have to choose a different entrée for a time or two. Shelves are being restocked as fast as the stores can muster, but the speed, and in particular the amount per person, of the buying is making it impossible to physically get the goods into place soon enough.

Teleconferencing, Cloud apps, Work-from-home and the carbon conundrum

Click to Buy “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” and at the same time help Lynxotic and All Independent Local Bookstores. Also Available on Amazon.

And, while on the subject of what’s not-as-bad as it seems, interestingly many common behaviors that were considered necessary, up until the coronavirus became a danger when combined with those practices, such as the 4oz limit on liquids taken on to an aircraft are being phased out. When people were allowed, starting recently, to take 12oz bottles of hand sanitizer onto flights, literally nothing bad happened.

And what about working from home, as has been almost universally adopted by major tech companies such as Amazon, Twitter, Apple, etc. Many are saying this could, and should, be a permanent change and that the don’t think that the practice of commuting to work will ever be the norm again.

Wait… what? So, along with having oil shoved down our throats (or at lest into our gas tanks) by the fossil fuel industry for half a century longer than technologically necessary, we have been commuting and destroying the planet for no reason at all?

Surprisingly positive and even optimistic signs are already appearing like this everywhere – green shoots of the new season of change. Ands change, radical change, is the common denominator.

Electric cars were driving around London as early as 1884, but it took Elon Musk and Tesla to finally take the idea of owning one to the mainstream. A car with an internal combustion engine created in 1934 got over 30 MPG, could reach speeds upwards of 90 mph and could seat 11. It’s no accident that these technologies were stifled for all these years. Ask Putin and MBS.

Living in a Box might help us to think Outside the Box

So, without putting too fine a point on it, a lot of good things are already potentially coming out of the massive changes underfoot – not just our fight to escape the worst of the coronaviruses potential, but the economic fallout, which is only partially related, and the coming shift in thinking about, well, everything.

The reality is, from Climate Change and carbon overload to corruption in government and big business, the biggest changes needed are possible if the old ways just disappear, or are swept away, in order for existing technological potential to be realized. And what better time for that to happen than now?

Act as if ye have faith and faith shall be given to you

We are all so often lost. Feeling lost and wondering what to do. We run to the stores and try to race against one another for the chance to hoard things we don’t really need. But, perhaps, just as toilet paper won’t protect you from the novel coronavirus, even bigger issues such as climate change can only begin to be solved once we find a way to live in a totally different way.

”Well…You know, so much of the time we’re just lost. We say, “Please, God, tell us what is right. Tell us what is true.”

I mean there is no justice. The rich win; the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time we become dead, a little dead.

“The Verdict”

What way? That is unknown. Big changes are coming, like it or not. But changes don’t always mean worsening circumstances. We might have the solutions right under our noses. That tin-foil might last longer than we expected. Accepting, even embracing change might reveal a chance for better things to come. Learning not to burn fossilized plant matter to go to an office to work on a computer that you also have at home. Believing in our ability as humans to find solutions, and for those solutions to be brought into the light of day, without being obstructed or suppressed for greedy, stupid reasons.

…But today you are the law. You are the law, not some book, not the lawyers, not a marble statue, or the trappings of the court. See, those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are, in fact, a prayer, I mean a fervent and a frightened prayer.

The next big challenge, which we as a planet are clearly not yet prepared to face, is climate change and the environmental damage wrought by “man”. What if interconnected human communications, enhanced by software and the internet, can play a roll in changing the way we live – and by doing that changing the equation that has been a negative one for over a century? That could be a building block toward not just survival but to a new way to prevail and prosper.

In my religion, they say, “Act as if you had faith; faith will be given to you.”

If we are to have faith in justice we need only to believe in ourselves and act with justice. See, I believe there is justice in our hearts.”

Words by David Mamet – Performed by Paul Newman in Sidney Lumet’s, ‘The Verdict

Read more:

Saving Animals Saves Ourselves: Trump’s Covert Attacks on Endangered Species are Eco-Assaults on Humanity

Tesla Model Y Deliveries are Coming Soon: Here’s a Peek Inside

Capitalists to the Rescue?: Automakers follow Tesla in Race for Electric Car Dominance:

The Tipping Point is Behind us Now, It’s only a question of When EV’s Market Share will Overtake ICE 

The most talked about car in 2019 has been Tesla’s Model 3, an electric vehicle from Tesla that is sleek, modern looking, and highly desirable. In Tesla’s latest quarter alone, the company has sold nearly 80,000 Model 3s, sustaining it as the most popular EV on the market. This is not Tesla’s only achievement for the year. The company’s Cybertruck and Semi have received copious attention; its Model X and Model S continue to be popular; and consumers are eagerly awaiting 2020’s releases of the Model Y and Roadster.

Dark Towers” by David Enrich

Frankfurt Skyline where Deutsche HQ is located
Click to Buy “Dark Towers” and at the same time help Lynxotic and All Independent Local Bookstores. Also Available on Amazon .

Based on its title, David Enrich’s new book “Dark Towers” might sound like an appendix to the nine part horror-fantasy series that Stephen King wrote between 1982 and 2012. In reality, though, Enrich’s book is a true story of financial corruption, with the full title “Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and an Epic Trail of Destruction.”

Nevertheless, the tale is just as riveting as any novel, and is perhaps even darker than any work of fiction.

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Find books on Climate Change, Sustainable Energy, Elon Musk and many other topics at our sister site: Cherrybooks on

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