Unexpected Consequences

In addition to apocalyptic scenarios, I also enjoy teasing out the possibilities of action/reaction in society’s macro behaviors. Like Freakonomics taught us, what are the implications to what we’re experiencing and how we’re reacting? Here are a few I’ve heard of and some I’ve dreamed up myself. My favorite is Goldie’s “there’s gonna be a rash of December babies born this year due to the work-from-home mandate.”

Close the borders and…

  • Migrant workers cannot come in to perform the agricultural work needed by 1/3 of the industry.
  • They won’t be there to pick, pack, and purvey the produce we need directly, and the food industry needs to create our canned, bottled and frozen foods.
  • Those same workers won’t be there to perform the planting that will result in crops in four to six months.
  • Close the borders and we eventually starve.

Close the schools and after school programs the daycare facilities and…

  • All the kids now need parents to stay home.
  • Many of those parents are critical service workers: police, healthcare, emergency responders, infrastructure repair.
  • And the kids won’t be staying home, or alone, or away from the elders who live with them. They’ll be out mixing it up with other neighborhood kids, perhaps more so that had they just stayed in school.

Shut down the hospitality industry and…

  • Fifteen million low to medium wage people lose work if not their jobs.
  • Another eight million in the airline industry lose work if not their jobs.

* Suppress spending across the entertainment, sports and restaurant industries and the velocity of money drops through the floor — ending up in a massive recession — one we’ve been expecting for three years.

* Drive the price of oil down below $30/barrel and the booming U.S. shale oil and fracking industry collapses throwing another million workers into the pit.

@ On the bright side, fewer cars on the road means fewer traffic accidents; less air pollution; quicker response to emergency calls (to save an elderly person with COVID symptoms).

* Force everyone to work from home and the homeless go WTF?

@ Fortunately, it’s already second nature to remain socially distant from the homeless.

@ Is there going to be a resurgence of home cooking where millennials learn to make more than Mac-a-cheese and Ramen?

* Too bad Grandma won’t be allowed in the kitchen with those asymptomatic carriers.

* Millions were forced from their homes to live at the whims of the rentier society during the last Great Recession.

@ Although thousands more will end up being force to foreclose during this calamity, at least we know that the rich are just as susceptible to this scourge — so there’s hope a proportionate number will die along with the rest of us.

* Is this the end of the Farmer’s market? Craft fairs? Concerts in the park?

No doubt the unintended and unexpected consequences from this pandemic will continue to play out. How many more can we come up with? I’m sure there are dozens just waiting to be exposed.

  • More marijuana smoking/eating?
  • More alcohol binging?
  • More reviews on movie venues, book venues, products?
  • More online psychologist sessions?
  • More facetime calls with estranged family?
  • More Amazon Prime memberships?
  • More neighbor altercations?
  • More house cleaning?
  • More nookie?
  • More?

Dear Mole, Six Bills

sasquatch

It’s funny, but every time I think I’ve given up hope for our species, something happens that makes me feel even more hopeless, proving that I had not yet reached a nihilistic point of no return.  This week, as I’m sure you’re aware, a bevy of credible witnesses laid out for Congress in no uncertain terms the unprecedented and proven crimes of the pretend POTUS.  Most dramatically, an ambassador named Dr. Fiona Hill utilized her opening statement to eloquently eviscerate the GOP members of the chamber for propagating long-debunked Russian-originated conspiracy theories in their ridiculous questions.  And then…to a man, every single GOP member proceeded to double down on propagating long-debunked Russian-originated conspiracy theories in their ridiculous questions.  This, of course, was to be expected, but after the public hearings wrapped up and everyone in the nation had heard from extremely reliable sources that Trump is an imminent danger to the country and the world, SUPPORT FOR TRUMP AND AGAINST THE INQUIRY WENT UP!!!!

This may finally represent the straw that collapsed the proverbial dromedary for me.   Here we are, as a species, at the height of our potential, able to contemplate incredible possibilities for the future of mankind thanks to our increased knowledge and technological capabilities.  War, pestilence and preventable death are at historic lows.  And yet, I believe we’re doomed.  We’re doomed because we CHOOSE to be doomed.  All of that manufactured “meaning” has become so important to people that proven facts and the evidence of the senses are dismissed out of hand if the reality they reveal is incompatible with our imaginary “purpose”.  We don’t even care if our “purpose” is good, bad or neutral anymore, as long as we have one.  We will, in the very near future, assure our own extinction.

Thank god for that.

In his novel “Gallapagos”, Kurt Vonnegut beautifully illustrated your point about our intellectual capacity actually serving as the biggest threat to our survival.  He dreamed of a process of de-evolution to dispense of the self-destructive potential of overthought culminating in a dumber, slightly furrier version of ourselves with a much greater capacity for happiness.

Out here in Albuquerque, we have all sorts of ancient petroglyphs etched into the volcanic rock on the outskirts of the city.  The residue of the first examples of human self-importance, but no less fascinating for being so.

You make a good point about the weight of a vehicle crushing the organic majority of Colonel Austin’s body.  Here’s another good point about The Six Million Dollar Man: it’s established right in the title that in 1970s dollars, it cost $6 million to give Steve a bionic arm, eye and leg(?).  A few seasons into the show, we’re introduced to Sasquatch, who is also, curiously, bionically endowed.  Who in the fuck decided to spend several million dollars to enhance the limbs of a mythical forest-dwelling primate?  Think on that one.

Fantasy, in whatever form each of us find most pleasing, is essential, for exactly the reasons I delineated in the body of this letter.  Having washed my hands of silly sociopolitical concerns and even hope for my own species, I still largely enjoy the act of existing and this is largely due to my ability to suspend disbelief, with the understanding that I’m doing so, and enjoy the work of other people’s imaginations.

But if even fantasy gets stale, is there anything else?  Believe it or not, I think there is.  Kindness to others, just for the sake of it.  I’m not so good at that, admittedly, but if a challenge is what’s called for in my life of extreme leisure, perhaps this is it.  Do you agree?  Might I not enjoy myself immensely if I fashioned myself into some kind of self-styled modern day Robin Hood?  Or should I just cut my losses and check when the next episode of iCarly is airing on TeenNick?

Again,

‘Mudge

Panem et circenses: 21st century style

Panem et circenses — bread and circuses — that’s what kind of world we live in today.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Apple, Amazon, Google, Alibaba, Tencent, and all the rest of the social/consumer apps and companies dedicated to feeding and filling the populace with useless, nutritionally empty, profoundly vacant nonsense — we deserve such inane creations.

We have returned to an era of bread and circuses.

While the planet’s ecosystems literally melt, burn, boil and die, we get fed a constant stream of vapid, utterly empty crap. CRAP! A billion+ humans creating media crap everyday to feed to each other, hoping their crap is better than his crap, than her drivel, than their banal, vomitous effluent.

That is our legacy. That is our heritage. Instead of lifting humanity into the transcendent elevations of kindness, forbearance, forgiveness and understanding we voted in a cadre of capitalistic masters. Today’s “corporations” gorge themselves on the monetary leakage of humanity’s insipid predilection for self-indulgence.

We deserve what we get. Which, in the end, will be destruction.

*** Peanuts, popcorn $15.00 a bag. Bagels $10. There’s an app for that! ***

I give you ONE wish

Here are the rules:

You get one wish.

It will come true the moment you utter the sealing spell “that is my wish.”

It must be specific, that is, enactable by an omnipotent being (me). Meaning, it cannot be vague, “I wish for world peace.” (What would that mean? And how would any omniscient, omnipotent being apply that to the Universe?)

It can apply to any era in the history of the Universe; to any aspect of existence, any land, sea, creature, peoples or culture.

Go.

For thought fodder here are a few that you might consider. If multiple folks pick similar wishes then I’m sure they will eventually come true. (OK, this might not be possible, but, hey, we’re all living in a material, I mean, virtual world, right?)

  1. I wish that the physics of matter made it impossible for life to evolve.
  2. I wish that altruism balanced aggression in the natural order.
  3. I wish all planets that could harbor life, did harbor life.
  4. I wish that humanity was not alone in the universe and that we would discover this tomorrow.
  5. I wish that telekinetic power was possible.
  6. I wish unicorns existed today.
  7. And elves, flying dragons, 2nd law of thermodynamics defying physics existed too.

 

 

Do you love your slavery?

Aldous Huxley had to have been one of the most prophetic seers ever there was:

“Actually love his slavery… actually happy under the new regime.”

And here we are. The drugs and communication techniques — the internet being both — are controlling and placating us. Are we beginning to love our enslavement?

Here is evidence of how we will embrace our chains and shackles:
“In one 2015 [patent] application, Google, which also owns smart-home device maker Nest, described a smart-home system that could be configured to identify emotions through “audio signatures of crying, laughing, elevated voices, etc.,” or send an alert when a child who was home alone got up to “mischief” based on whether the child was unusually quiet or active.”

“Oh, yes please, monitor the sounds within my home to determine whether I or my loved ones are happy or undergoing stress of some sort.” (And when you do, pipe in soothing, mind-control music+ads, auto-spray a calming agent into the air and/or auto-drone deliver a set of pharmaceuticals so that we might reduce the angst in my household.)

A “safe” environment may be the last thing we really need in our lives.

We are our own worst enemy.

 

Country size: An interesting perspective

 

RelativeSizesOfCountries

Here’s a curious image.

I’m not sure I recall where I found the site on which I built that, but, what it allowed me to do is drag countries around to see their relative sizes. (Alaska is rotated to bolt to the US.)

I lined all the biggest along the equator, from largest on down. You’ll notice that those countries managed to fit along the equator just as you see — end to end — all the way around. Now, wouldn’t that be a curious world to live upon; with seas between each of nine continents, and oceans above and below and of course all of the remaining 190 odd countries stuck to the tops and bottoms of those nine (lots of Africa and South America to distribute.) But the tops and bottoms all being oceans — just two of them.

An interesting adjunct to this sequence would be to compare the populations for these countries, given their general shapes, and line them up according to that metric. Hmm, I may have to do exactly that (I’ll hunt around). (Of course there would be countries that show up here that are not shown, vis-a-vis population rank.

I’m struck by the comparatively equivalent sizes of Canada, USA, China, Brazil and Australia. Within 20-30%, they’re about the same land mass.

Just imagine if we could terraform Earth to look like this? Before we terraform Mars, maybe we should consider doing something about living on what we’re not using already…

 

On Monuments

[wikipedia]: A monument is a type of structure that was explicitly created to commemorate a person or event, or which has become important to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage, or as an example of historic architecture. The origin of the word “monument” comes from the Latin moneomonere, which means ‘to remind’, ‘to advise’ or ‘to warn’.


Perhaps, monuments, as we know them, should be elevated above the concept of commemorating people or events that are political or state oriented.

This means all war memorials, fight or battle memorials, democracy or communism memorials, religious, race or gender memorials — should be downplayed in our human consciousness. After all, every one of those types of monuments represents a divisive line between people.

Instead why not raise monuments to scientific and technological discovery and progress?

  • Where’s the monument to DNA?
  • I’d like to see a monument to Penicillin, the Polio vaccine, the eradication of smallpox.
  • How about a monument to the microscope, the telescope, the radio, the microwave, the x-ray, the rocket?
  • Ohm, Volt, Ampere, and all the other measurement names we get from the discoverers.

There are hundreds of discoveries and inventions — and the discoverers and inventors — who should be commemorated above and beyond those we currently hold in high esteem; those we currently have built monuments for.

Put Science on display as a monument.