Thursday, February 09, 2017
I admit, when I heard that yesterday would have a high in the sixties, and then turn to ten inches of snow overnight—I thought the meteorologists were overexcited about the prospect of a winter storm—either that, or that a weather front so severe would bring winds strong enough to knock out our power-lines. But my pessimism has been reprimanded—by this beautiful snowy morning (after a yesterday hot enough to sweat in).
There is some wind, but no hurricane or anything. The snow is magical, as always—and Bear loves the snow—she went out shopping yesterday, happily preparing to be snowed in—and people call me an overgrown kid. Oh, there’s a heavy gust outside my window—I hope I didn’t jinx us, by saying we still had power….
I watched the FX premier of Legion last night—it was good—good enough for me to miss The Daily Show, which it overlapped. Legion is kind of a mix of X-Men Origins, Wanted, and The Philadelphia Experiment. I always admire cinematic creativity that can tackle themes as challenging as psychic powers, dream worlds mixing with reality, or telepathy. Such themes are just good fun for a writer—but to show this esoteric stuff visually requires a clever screenwriter—and a lot of CGI. I’ve never seen a show that so clearly indicates the double-edged sword ‘super powers’ would be, in real life.
It reminds me of a collection of essays, by sci-fi writers who obsessed about Superman—one essay pointed out that, if Superman and Lois Lane ever consummated their relationship, his super-strong, super-fast ejaculate would rip through poor Lois’ body and explode out the top of her skull. After reading that, I never quite thought of Superman in the same way. Likewise, in Legion, the protagonist, David, has Psi powers that he can’t control—he has the ability to kill everyone around him, just by becoming overly upset. Now, that’s a super power, by definition—but hardly one that kids would dream of having.
But super heroes make me sad these days—in my cynical old age I’ve come to realize that most of the world’s problems are the result of human nature. A super-powered champion of justice wouldn’t change things any more than having a superpower like the USA trying to be the global sheriff in town. A hero can stop violence easily enough—but violence is just the easily seen, easily interrupted aspect of the trouble in the world. Most of it is invisible corruption, religious extremism, and the manipulation of crowds with misinformation.
Evil, like Good, only exists in our minds. In nature, there is life and death, predator and prey—but that is nature’s horrible balance, it’s not a morality play. In fact, I see most of evil as being an imbalance—the result of someone wanting more than their fair share out of life. Humankind could easily work out a formula for keeping everyone healthy and comfortable—if we wanted to—if our society weren’t instead largely based on a complicated form of ‘king of the hill’—an unnatural scramble to take everything for oneself and leave nothing for others. So we end up with our ‘Society’, where Evil is re-cast as a hungry person stealing a loaf of bread—surely the most natural thing in the world—but a horrible crime against Capitalism.
Now we have a society where it is a crime to be good (and good to be a criminal—just look at our new president). We raise our children to be little angels—but as soon as they’re old enough, we start explaining to them that all of that horseshit was for fairy tales—and they better start cheating, lying, biting, and scratching with the rest of the adults. Money, perhaps the most wretched, worthless crap on earth, is prized as treasure—and Happiness is relegated to children’s songs and feel-good (fictional) movies.
Now I know I must sound hysterical—damning our entire social paradigm without offering any sensible path towards a better society. I don’t have solutions—I’m not even sure there are answers out there to be found. But if the illusions that populate our lives are both bullshit—and a cause of misery for 99.9% of us—then I feel obliged to point that out. I can’t snap my fingers and make life a sensible proposition—but neither can I sit around and pretend that what we are doing makes any sense.
Wednesday, February 08, 2017 11:06 AM
War, Money, Religion (2017Feb08)
What have we learned? Well, thousands of years ago, someone combined a philosophical life-approach with a very old religion. We still haven’t learned to separate the wheat from the chaff in that book. We’ve learned that, as an unled mob, we are dangerous—even to ourselves—but that we can’t trust anyone with leadership—especially those that want the job.
We’ve learned that money, once it really insinuates itself fully into our lives, is pretty cancerous stuff—it makes socialism a crime of sorts—although socialism, in some areas, properly administered, is mere humanitarianism. Socialist programs are also a boon to society as a whole. The apparent unfairness of having some of us work hard and others not work—is an illusion. Some of us are able to work harder and faster—but we all need to eat. The apparent unfairness of socialism is what keeps capitalism from paying different salaries for the same job. Getting paid the same as the guy next to you is pretty good, right? But it’s bad capitalism—capitalism says we should evaluate everything—fairness be damned.
Socialism is just the recognition that we are all here—some of us can’t afford the basics, some of us are unable to do a full day’s work—yet we all need to survive. Handing out money to hard-working people for a job well done—that’s a fine thing—but it’s no crime to spend money on those who haven’t ‘earned’ it. It’s called charity—and it works to everyone’s benefit, because the more you care for the underserved, the less they impact your own life, and the fewer of them there are. Even if you don’t give a damn about people in need, it still benefits you to look after them.
And that is true for nations as well as people—the happier and busier the rest of the world, the safer we are. America doesn’t police the world for fun or profit—we do it because a world full of nations in chaos is a dangerous world for us. Of course, we do enjoy throwing our weight around—and we do make substantial profits at times—but that is just human error—we can’t resist taking advantage of our power. The real benefit of our global military presence is to maintain stability out there, for safety here. Ironically, our military is at its most effective (and least efficient) when it is not in use. Use of military force is an admission that either you can’t figure things out, or you’ve let a bad situation become worse.
But all of that is theoretical—the hard fact is that a lot depends on who’s in charge—a lot of seriously messed-up stuff has happened just because the decision-maker was a fool or a coward. So I can blow smoke rings all day about social engineering and it doesn’t mean squat. Money is a problem not just because of the harm greed and selfishness can do—it is also a problem because it holds the reins of power. Government controls power, you say—and you are right—but Money controls power in its own insidious, unofficial way. Capitalism isn’t a philosophy—it’s the brand name of a type of power—a dark power that knows no constitution or bill of human rights.
We’ve come to think of America and Capitalism as almost synonymous, but they are not, and they never were—Money, like Religion, got a free PR ride during our Cold War against the moneyless, godless Soviets—but the Cold War is over, and terrorism isn’t the only new threat to emerge.