Things Pile Up   (2016Oct22)

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Thursday, October 20, 2016                                             8:33 PM

The recordings pile up—so the graphics I create for the videos piles up too. So, the YouTube upload count ticks upward. Meanwhile, I’m writing this stuff—and posting it—so the WordPress blog-posts tick upward and these documents keep piling up essay-titles. And, with all the PC activity, my files and folders get longer, bigger, and more numerous.

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The books get bought and, sometimes, read—and while I no longer create a pile of actual books, my Kindle is getting severely crowded. And if you though it was hard to remember what you had already read, when they were actual books—forget about the Kindle’s ‘Library’ listing. Plus, there’s the incessant stream of new TV shows and new movies to keep track of.

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The point is—I’m retired, disabled—I do nothing all day—and yet my life is a steady stream of data, too much, and too fast, to keep track of. I can’t remember what it was like when I had a busy, complex job on top of all that—and a social life, once upon a time.

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So don’t think I’m complaining—I’m just stating a fact—I would not be surprised if your life is far more complex, and your firehose of data is choking you even worse. There may be an internet-access gap that separates the human race into digital haves and have-nots, but the digital haves are not without their share of problems.

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Businesses and governments will find ways to dump a lot of data processing in our laps—there’re insurance forms, tax returns, bill-paying, car registration, subscriber services, cable-package options, and wyfy-speeds to choose from (and pay for). There’re school applications and job applications and loan applications and grant applications and business plans and budgets. There’s chores and meals and shopping and laundry and the kitchen sink (I threw that in too).

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When you get down to it (and if you leave out the suffering and deprivation) the poor really have much better lives than we do. A poor person would have to work awfully hard to hurt as many people as a corporate executive can with a simple paperwork mistake. The more power one has, the greater the damage one’s mistakes can do. And it is far simpler to live life without a nice house full of comfortable things, than to spend every waking hour worrying about losing a nice house full of comfortable things. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve had occasion to be poor, hungry, cold, and tired—and that’s no bargain either—but it is simpler.

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Of course, I’m just being foolish—having had occasion to be short on funds, I’m well aware of the high cost of being poor—the piecemeal existence demands more man-hours and more cost per reward. And the complexities of stretching a dollar are, in truth, more, not less, than those of maintaining a high-income lifestyle. But the grass is always greener, isn’t it?

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I’m starting to wonder what I’m going to do when the election is finally over and done with. I’ve been blogging about the presidential race for two years, pretty near, and it’s time for me to find a new subject. I’m thinking the guaranteed minimum revenue idea deserves at least as much thought and analysis as I’ve given to this lopsided popularity-contest-cum-constitutional-crisis.

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It doesn’t fully address the far future, but it is a reasonable idea to begin the transition from a labor-based economy to a labor-free one. Trying to reform capitalism, in one fell swoop, into something completely different, would be like throwing the transmission of an ocean liner into reverse at full revs—you’d tear the engine apart. But a guaranteed minimum revenue for the unemployed, without conditions, would provide consumers in areas without jobs and, more importantly, give people some financial security outside of the job market.

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It would also serve as a de facto minimum wage—the higher the guaranteed minimum revenue, the more employers would have to offer to get a person to come to work. Politically, you can call it socialism if you want—I can’t deny it.

But you tell me—if manufacturers and business owners produce more goods with less labor (an ongoing trend with a potential zero-sum result) then we must ask, “Do the people that own things become the only people with any revenue?” If the answer is ‘yes’ then we must further ask, “Who are they going to sell this stuff to?”

Henry Ford only paid his workers generous wages because he wanted them to be customers, too. He didn’t do it out of the goodness of his heart—he wanted to sell a lot of cars. No one ever got rich selling stuff no one can afford—and without jobs, people can’t afford anything. Okay, dead horse well-beaten—I think you get my point by now.

In a world without jobs, you have to give people money. They buy the stuff, the businesses make a profit, the businesses pay taxes, the taxes pay the guaranteed minimum revenue to the people, so they can buy more stuff—and round and round it goes. The only difference is that computers and robots do the actual work—the salaries once paid to workers now take the form of taxes paid to Big Brother. The taxes are disbursed more uniformly than the salaries ever were, so it’s actually a much fairer system in some ways. We just have to get past our conditioning—our belief that a man makes his bread by the sweat of his brow—we can still do work, but we will not have to have jobs.

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We will have to accept that doing almost anything by hand is pure therapy—that it would be easier and quicker to have a machine do it. Human life once included defending ourselves against wild beasts—it was so much a part of how we defined ourselves that men still hunt and fish today—for things they could more easily get at the supermarket. Soon, labor will be equally vestigial—like running on a treadmill to stay in shape, instead of fleeing from a mountain lion or a pack of wolves.

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Who knows? Perhaps, at some future date, we’ll even need some artificial form of stress, just to keep us mentally fit—in the same way we exercise to stay physically fit, in a world without walking, lifting, or carrying. You know, most people don’t work in busy offices resembling zoos because they have to—they do it on purpose because they get off on the energy of it. Without stressful jobs, we’ll be desperate for challenging activities to match that energy—especially the younger people.

But I digress.

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I’m starting to feel sorry for Trump. I still need him to lose the election—nothing about that has changed, only intensified. But this guy really has issues—once he is without Secret Service protection, I hope his loved ones can stage some sort of intervention and get him the help he so clearly needs. Did you know he has numerous siblings? But forget the eerie absence of his kin—let’s talk about his mother. What political candidate has ever failed to dote on his or her mother, to harken back to her sure, steady raising—that made them the person they are today?

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Where is the love? Is that the true purpose of his presidential run—to be loved? Is Trump crying out for attention, much like an abandoned child? It’s kinda startin to look that way. His fear and mistrust of women is readily apparent. His avoidance of babies and children is publicly documented. Trump has intimacy issues. The poor guy—no wonder he’s this close to pulling the whole country down around his ears—and doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. Melania, give that poor bastard a hug, wouldya?

Losing this election isn’t going to help him any—but self-destruction and self-loathing go hand-in-hand, so it’s inevitable that it should come to this. Still, I’m really starting to feel sorry for the guy.

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Cruel Spring   (2016Apr04)

Monday, April 04, 2016                                                    11:40 AM

April cruel? Well, yeah—in the midst of summer we feast among bountiful greenery—but in early spring, we wrest new life from the dank, chill mud—it’s a challenge. And life is challenge—without resistance to entropy, it is a meaningless Mandelbrot pattern—without struggle, there is no need to keep pumping that blood through the veins, that sap through the roots. Anger can be a lifesaver. Want creates wealth.

That’s the basic, natural principle. But we live in what we are pleased to call a civilization—dare I claim a society?—and in such, we give nothing a free pass simply because it is natural. We legislate against certain natural urges, we pressure our peers to respect civility over instinct. And civilization seeks to minimize struggle. If strength were our only criteria, we’d elect a chimp to be emperor of the world.

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But what if we look at it differently? Perhaps we have merely traded physical struggles for mental struggles. Our mental struggles have given us strength undreamed of by our cave-dwelling forebears—but our society is plagued by stress. We invent competitions to simulate natural selection—and those competitions are as much, if not more, about mental strength as physical ability. We begin with school grades, then advanced degrees, then job interviews—these are all competitions entirely of our own invention. And they all lead into the main event—the acquisition of money. That too is an invented competition that we choose to maintain—it is an agreed-upon, imaginary method of gauging strength and gaining power.

What we call Capitalism is just the collected agreements governing the sport of money-getting—whenever we wish to call a time-out on the game, and give something to someone for free, out of simple humanity, this is called Charity. Now, charity is cheating—why play the game if you’re going to break the rules whenever your feelings tell you to? But that is a valid question even without conditions—why play the game? Well, as with every game, the ones who are winning want to keep playing—the ones who don’t stand a chance are tired of the game. The odd thing about Capitalism is that it is a game that only a few thousand people are really enjoying—while literally billions of people would rather play something more enjoyable.

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Socialism began as an attempt to make Charity the prevailing game and restrict Capitalism to a few places, under tight controls, wherever it made sense to use it. This was thought up out of a desire for fairness—like the abolition of monarchial government, it was meant to prevent rich people from supplanting monarchy with wealth, and to give all people a fair say and a fair chance. Socialism is an attempt to make life, as well as government—of the people, by the people, and for the people. Money is power—but like the monarchy, that is only so because we choose to agree that it’s so. And Humanity isn’t power—it’s just a feeling. It’s a powerful feeling, as Christ, Gandhi, Dr. King, and others have demonstrated—but its power only manifests in unity—a single person’s humanity is just a feeling.

Still, an innate feeling has more staying power than any imaginary social construct—no matter how long Capitalism remains, the feeling of its wrongness will persist in the hearts of people. We allow for the least of ourselves—the weakest, the slowest, the least able—because they are one of us. We don’t compete with them—we cooperate with them, we include them. Capitalism is unfair because it puts competition ahead of humanity—naming the winners and losers, by law, is more important than what happens to the competitors—it enforces mandatory inhumanity—it makes us bad people.

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Socialism for fairness’s sake has gotten more traction in Europe than here in America—here we think of Capitalism as the supreme ideology, the giant that slew the Communist menace, the bulwark that upholds the champions of democracy and freedom. But it has never been that. Communism was an ideal—and attempts to practice it ignored human nature. The Soviet Union was a paranoid, corrupt regime that had no resemblance to Communism the idea—and the dysfunction of that regime destroyed itself, while we out-competed them on the global stage. I concede that Capitalism was more efficient than the Soviet nightmare—but that doesn’t make it good, just better than the worst idea ever.

Capitalism is straightforward—Socialism is more complex a system. But Socialism’s time has come—we are approaching a productivity ‘singularity’, a day when we have the production capacity of billions, yet only require the employment of thousands to do it. When there are no more jobs that need doing, the cracks in Capitalism’s façade will start to peek through—how can we call it competition when the field of play has evaporated? How can we say that only workers deserve rewards when there is no work to be done?

Ironically, this future conundrum doesn’t work for Capitalism’s winners, either—in a world of 99% unemployment, where are your customers? The rise of smart systems, robotics, and automation will require us to abandon Capitalism—it’s not an if, it’s a when. On the way there, while the super-wealthy cling to their unimaginable power and the rest of us become more displaced, chaos looms. I don’t advocate Socialism out of a hatred of Capitalism, but for safety’s sake—we see the future coming and I’d prefer, for my children’s and grandchildren’s sake, that we don’t freeze up like a deer in the headlights.

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As a child I watched Star Trek TOS, where, like much of science fiction, I saw a world without money—we always assume that humanity will one day achieve that Peaceable Kingdom, but we’ve never really thought about the transition phase from where we are now to that far-off, dream-like future. I think we leave that part blank because it’s a tough nut to crack—how can we ever switch gears from a roaring global economy to a thriving global village? One thing it will certainly involve is the confiscation of great power from those who presently hold it. That has always meant war in the past, and there’s little reason to suppose we could avoid it in this instance. So, how do the rest of us declare war on the only people with any power? Good luck with that one.

I suppose we could take a page from their book—the wealthy and their lobbyists have been slowly transforming our democracy, decade after decade, infusing it with special privileges and protections for the wealthy and the big corporations. Perhaps we could initiate a similar ‘frog in a sauce-pan’ strategy, where we legislate higher and higher taxes, greater public-services commitments, tighter regulations, and mandatory transparency. With a little luck we could bring them back down to our level without them ever noticing the water has begun to boil. But that would require a grass-roots political awakening that would make Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign look like a disaffected chess club meeting. Plus, there’s the problem of legislation being limited by jurisdiction, where cash is unhindered by borders or flags—it wouldn’t do us much good to socialize America by alienating all the wealth and power to foreign lands.

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And now that I think about it—Nationalism is as spurious and divisive an influence on humanity as Capitalism. The European Union illustrates, as did the United States, that divisions between regions and cultures should find their own levels and not be closed borders separating neighbors at the point of a gun. The more advanced a society becomes, the more obvious this fact appears—that’s probably why we all dream of ‘world peace’ someday, in spite of all evidence that this will never happen—we know that it should happen.

So, easy-peasy—we end Capitalism and Nationalism and we all live happily ever after. What a relief. Enjoy the sleet on this chilly April afternoon.

Tomorrow We’ll All Be Okies    (2015Sep09)

Wednesday, September 09, 2015                                                       1:23 PM

The nation’s founders were agrarian—to them, independence and liberty seemed a simple enough thing—a farm for everyone and everyone on their own farm. And for our first century, there were few indications that America would ever be anything other than a bunch of farmers.

But with industrialization came factories—and with factories came two enemies of liberty—men with hitherto unimagined wealth and power—and a labor pool ripe for abuse and persecution. With slavery still part of our culture, it was easy to mistake any large work-force as ‘owned’ and devoid of privilege—and early factory workers saw working conditions not much different from slavery—even the children worked a full day (but without, of course, full pay) and no one got reasonable hours, time off, or safe working conditions.

We have spent more than a century now, beating back these persecutions with legislation—trying to get owners and business leaders to see their labor pool as human beings, while they scream about the only thing that matters to them—profits. But even that is just an excuse, since productivity often increases when employees are treated with the respect any human being deserves. We killed each other in stacks, like cordwood, over some of us still wanting to be slave-owners—it’s no surprise that we still struggle with the relationship between workers and owners. And our migrant workers (or, as the media likes to tag them—the ‘immigration problem’) only come here because those who employ them can’t resist an employee who works for almost nothing and has no civil rights to speak of.

This ideal we all have—that a person must earn their way in this world—made perfect sense in an agrarian culture—cows don’t milk themselves and farming, in general, is pretty demanding of the farmer. If a person went hungry, it was most likely because they neglected their chores. In modern life, we still see an approximation of this—but the complexity of modern life has people working for institutions, rather than for themselves. The industrial age made the common run into a labor pool—and owners have used that labor pool without having any sense of responsibility for their employees. It is up to the workers to find their own place, to prepare themselves with the required skillset, to locate themselves where the jobs are, etc.

We have even interpreted this condition as ‘independence’—we are all free to work where we want, for whomever we want. We imagine that there is an element of competition there—that owners will have to make allowances for their employees needs or those people will go work for someone else—leaving the owner without labor—but this is an imaginary condition. There are always more-needy workers who will take the place of any employees who object to being treated like slaves. Owners, by virtue of being employers, can even claim that they support the work force—that everyone in America makes a living through their beneficence.

While that is true, in a sense, it is also just one way of looking at the situation—I see it as owners taking labor for granted, using what they need and letting the rest go to hell, for all they care. If we look at the entire citizenry as ‘a labor force’, then we see that owners are actually very irresponsible and careless about those they rely on to get done the work that keeps owners rich and powerful. When government tries to intervene, to create programs to care for the ‘outsiders’, those who don’t fit into business’s plans or who are unable to work, owners band together, complain about ‘big government’, and insist that it is un-American to support anyone who doesn’t slave for them, like they’re supposed to.

At the same time, modern businesses are rushing to increase that ‘outsider’ group through digital tech and robotics. While they want any laborers that aren’t specifically working for them to live in poverty, they also seek to increase profits by putting more people into the street. With the speedy growth of AI and robotics, it won’t be long before we are all out on the street—will it be wrong of government to help us then? Imagine how heavily the government will have to tax those business-owners to feed a nation of unemployed. But if the government doesn’t support us, how will we become customers for the business-owners to enrich themselves through?

Henry Ford (a horrible fascist and anti-Semite) did have one important insight—he paid his workers so well that they were able to become his customers. Work out the profit on that, today’s small-minded CEO. Somewhere along the way, business-owners have forgotten that America’s workers are also America’s consumers—and the less they make, the less they spend. By greedily straining after every last penny of profit, Business has actually constricted itself into a depressed economy—at a time when America should be virtually exploding with innovation and commerce. Still, that’s old news.

The new problem is the disappearance of work—underpaid workers don’t spend much, but unemployed workers replaced by robots don’t make a dime. When every factory in America becomes automated, who is going to buy their stuff? This already happened once—everyone in the country used to be a farmer. With the dawn of the Industrial Age, powered farm equipment made most crowd-sourced farming chores into a job done by one guy sitting on a tractor, plow, seeder, or harvester. Had industry not also spawned cities, and factory jobs, we would have had a country of idle indigents—‘Okies’ from coast to coast, with nowhere to go for new jobs.

Now we face the disappearance of city jobs, factory jobs—even truck drivers are less than a generation away from going the way of the buggy whip. It’s time we started to look at all of us as ‘the labor force’. It’s time we started to imagine a world where there is no work to be paid for—how will we live in a world where the living is too easy?

Augmentation, but In a Bad Way

Get back to me on that.

Get back to me on that.

 

Augmentation, but In a Bad Way

2nd consecutive rant–I can do this all winter….

Our Dog Is Getting On

Our President can’t reason with unreasonable people.

Our Dog Is Getting On

My most recent rant–enjoy!

The Dragon Lady (2013July15)

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Monday, July 15, 2013             10:31 PM

Finally—something new to write about. Long ago, when I worked for a living, I noticed something that is a universal constant—the Dragon Lady. Every job has one, every business has a Grand High one; no matter what you do or where you go, she is always there. Newbies are her favorite prey—the poor things still expect rational behavior in the workplace—but she is their best teacher. Once you have learned to defend yourself against your own Dragon Lady, nothing else will present a greater challenge—you’re set for life (or until you switch jobs).

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There are some free-floating ones out there, just ‘public-service’ Dragon Ladies who make life miserable for every person that crosses her path. Most of those are phenomena of neighborhoods and communities—but I’ve just come across a new type—the online Dragon Lady! I’ve been out of work so long, I actually enjoyed crossing swords with her (I tried to send her a friend request on FB, but she isn’t listed.)

Well, nothing gets the literary juices flowing like a bee in my bonnet—and, boy-howdy!—this one’s a doozy. Check out our ‘conversation’ from today:

[And please note: the graphic image being discussed is no longer the first pic in my blog entry—I replaced it, immediately upon receiving this first comment, with some other ‘kaleidescopic’ image.]

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Joy McKenzie       Submitted on 2013/07/15 at 5:22 pm

Please Cease and Desist using MY copyrighted image on your page: XperDunn is Here  -Post: Essay “Kaleidoscope”

If it is not removed within 24 hours, WordPress will receive a DMCA take down notice.

The cost of usage of my image is $500.00 per day and I assume it has been up since at least May 2012

signed: Joy McKenzie

Opnamedatum: 2012-08-31

XperDunn    Submitted on 2013/07/15 at 6:07 pm | In reply to Joy McKenzie.

I took your stupid old picture down and replaced it with someone else’s.

You couldn’t get $500.00 per day for a stupid old picture if you were Da Vinci himself–so cease and desist all your blatherings.

Why do you have a whole page of downloadable images if you don’t want anyone to look at them?

Please do not ‘sign:’ your WordPress comments–it doesn’t make it any more official than a regular comment and it only reflects negatively on your personality.

Opnamedatum: 2012-06-28

Joy McKenzie         Submitted on 2013/07/15 at 8:47 pm | In reply to XperDunn.

My images are posted on Fine Art America and ALL are copyrighted.

It’s people like you who think artists do their work for free and for everyone’s use.

It’s people like you who get slapped with DMCA notices.

You’re obviously very ignorant about copyright…just because an image is on the internet, it doesn’t mean you can steal it for your own use. I am contacting WordPress regarding this matter since you were childishly rude to me.

You have no idea what my giclee prints sell for! Most likely you have MANY copyrighted images on your pages here and it is against WordPress’s Terms of Service.

Go read them. Talk about reflecting negatively…you STEAL people’s art.

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XperDunn    Submitted on 2013/07/16 at 1:05 am | In reply to Joy McKenzie.

You sound like a horrible person.

I use plenty of my own art–and if you want to use it for YOUR blog, I could care less.

Most people enjoy getting exposure outside of their own little circle of friends, but if it’s a pet peeve of yours I have no intention of bothering you ever again.

I do so know what your prints are worth and I can only say that the energy you use with this negative head-game could be of much more benefit put to some other use….

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XperDunn    Submitted on 2013/07/16 at 1:33 am | In reply to Joy McKenzie.

OK I get it now–I just checked out your ‘fine arts’ website and I understand what you are doing here–you are being a professional, and you’re running a business.

I’ll stick to images of my own, or the old masters, or the million other people online who don’t see art as a business–you are completely unnecessary to my illustrative and decorative needs.

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And that’s where things stand (until tomorrow?) I love a good argument, especially with someone so easily teased. But I think I know why this lady gets under my skin—it’s always been a pet-peeve of mine—I don’t hold with folks who do Euclidean geometry with lots of colors and call it ‘art’—and the idea of someone taking their spiro-graphs so seriously as to claim a copyright on them—well, she’s just lucky Euclid isn’t vigilantly guarding his Intellectual Property Rights, that’s all I’m saying.

It makes me wonder—just how complex and parti-colored do vertices and rays have to get before you can lay claim to them as your own Intellectual Property? When does a Mandala reach the point of personal creativity? Always? Never? It doesn’t seem like a safe business plan, having one’s assets resemble some tenth-grader’s homework.

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Talking Heads like to ‘address the issue’ of Intellectual Property Rights and how laxity about ownership poses a gigantic threat to the music, art, and entertainment industries. These businesses provide jobs for millions of people—what would happen if they all went bankrupt from piracy? It would be horrible! Until the next day, when we would realize that art and music haven’t been destroyed, they’ve just become poor investments. I don’t know what to say about the jobs lost—it would certainly hurt a lot of people.

But a lot of people are losing jobs and business because the war in Afghanistan is wrapping up—should we maintain our war-time footing when there is no war at the moment—just to help the economy? Major religions are losing their flocks in droves—should we start burning witches at the stake again, just to keep that industry healthy?

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I’m starting to wonder about that whole ‘losing jobs’ rationale. The ‘bought’ politicians are always waving that scarecrow at us, to maintain support for an otherwise execrable industry or banking sector. But it is a paper tiger—in the end, the money has to circulate, people need jobs and groceries, if one business has to suffer because it is polluting our environment or mistreating its employees or misleading its consumers—then so be it. This ‘terror’ business has got to stop. We can’t allow our fears to guide our choices—whether it’s traveling by airline or putting a good-sized gouge in a business that’s been asking for it for way too long.

And, as for Dragon Ladies—well, we all knew the internet was going to get all Eff’ed-Up by city-slickers and money-grubbers—why should we exclude the female component of that tribe?

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Unfortunate (Tuesday, December 18, 2012 8:37 PM)

For some pre-historic cultures, human sacrifice, even cannibalism, was an accepted part of the culture. In that context, being an overtly healthy and vital member of the community might have been considered unfortunate—for their being prime candidates for the rituals and feasts, etc. Even so, a slow-runner or a poor shot with a sling might just as easily die from starvation. At such a nadir of civilization one may suppose that all were equally unfortunate. Such is the perfect elegance of nature.

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The more civilization imposed on the human animal, the greater the possibility that some people might be better off than other people. The chiefs of the villages might get the best food, or the most food, or both. The villagers at the bottom of the pecking order were plagued by a concentration of fellow neighbors eager to criticize and ridicule.

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Some became unfortunate merely by being female—the absolute necessity of producing well-raised offspring was easily minimized by the breast-beating hunters and bullies. One of civilization’s worst aspects is its preferring of thoughtless categorization upon the individuals—both ignoring their special values—and assuming untrue attributes about anyone pigeonholed into any certain category.

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The development of rope, and later metal-working, allowed the practice of enslavement—an unfortunate predilection of ours that continues in the darker places of the world even today. This brought our ‘pecking order’ habits into the realm of law—and kept them there—arguably, until the American Revolution, but, in some matters, arguably, still clutching us in its grip today.

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The self-fulfilling philosophy of the older world’s elite—that they were bigger, better, and superior to those around them—was reinforced by the greater health and stature conferred by a superior diet, and the greater reasoning powers that some (but not all) people gain from a good education.

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With both women (and their children) and slaves under some form of control, civilization has already improved some people’s quality of life even more than the acquisition of dogs and horses. Imagine a living robot that does whatever you say—and lives in fear of execution if it questions its status. What a sweet ride for the old-boys club, huh?

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The story of civilization, taken (I admit) from a certain point of view, is a journey away from our natural, balanced, primitive state and ever closer to a civilized state wherein we maintain what individualism we can whilst living within a ‘shared’ consensus of patterns and rules. As a simple example, take airplane travel—at first, it was thought impossible; then it was considered an unusual spectacle, then a military weapon, then a necessity, then a danger. When the skies became crowded enough, a regulatory system began to control the air-traffic in congested metro areas. At this point, we must all adhere to the consensus rules of air travel (and military flights) that keeps all the flying machines from crashing into each other all around the world.

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Many of our great technological enhancements require regulation, maintenance, infrastructure—all the rules and conventions and quality controls demanded by such industries as automotive, pharmaceutical, governmental finance, environmental protection, etc. We’re still getting used to shouldering the responsibility of the effects of our civilization on the natural world—keeping the water clean, keeping the air non-toxic—all those pesky details we did such a great job of ignoring for so long.

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We may have left it untended for too long already. The population boom that ecologists warned of since the 1960s has brought us to a total of seven billion people on our planet. Let’s experiment with the concept of scale, shall we? Pick one thousand places on the Earth where you can support seven million people in each place. Then look around and see what’s left for the additional billion people born in the next few years (and remember that seven billion people can make an awful lot of babies).

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But the schism between the high class and the low class is the most avoidable and irrational of our accommodations to civilization. We have gone from despising the mentally challenged, to imprisoning them, to trying to help them. They have made it into that exclusive club: the ‘unfortunate’.

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Single mothers faced similar challenges and only recently (historically-speaking) have we been open-minded enough to consider them (and all their children) worthy of our help or concern. The physically challenged, the maimed, the deaf, the blind, all the people whose presence once endangered our peace-of-mind—they are recognized today, by all right-thinking people, as ‘merely different’ rather than as someone to be shunned and shut out of society.

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We even have some legislation in place that tries to even the playing field between the upper class and the rest of us—but, when money is the root of all corruption, those laws are often side-stepped in a multitude of ways.

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Having recognized this pattern—the ‘why don’t we all just get along’ pattern of social progress—there’s little reason for putting each new hurdle through all the hoops that anti-Semitism, anti-integration, and women’s liberation from male chauvinism had to jump through. But we can’t seem to learn this lesson, as a society. We are trying to soothe our cultural constipation about homosexuality as homosexuals (et.al.) take a more exposed position in our society—and their would-be condemners are moved more towards the fringes of modern society with nearly every passing law—as it should be.

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And we gain also in the further refinement of our sensibilities (one of the many benefits of social progress) as when once, we lumped all these mentally challenged into one group. And, having accepted these benighted children as worthy as any other, we begin to perceive the various shades of what we once assumed was all the same, of Tourette’s Syndrome,  ADD, OCD, and the forms of Autism from high-functioning to low, and Asperger’s Syndrome. Not only do we then give more effective and customized support to these children—we also learn more about the human mind and, thus, about ourselves.

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Scratch any old prejudice or ostracization, and we will find the benefits of overcoming our primitive repulsion in both the more humane approach to treating with the unfortunate as equal in dignity, if not capability or appearance, and, ultimately, a larger benefit to society as a whole and, again thus, to ourselves. Put more simply, being sensitive is being sensible. It is not charity—it is an inclusion of everyone in society, which can only make our civilization a more balanced and stable organism.

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The problem of money, of rich and poor, shows no signs of changing in the near future. I have no suggestions on that score. However, I do have one thesis I’ve been incubating for a while now.

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The jobs of pure, physical labor shrink more and more, and even skilled jobs are being more and more done cybernetically, especially in the big-factory assembly lines. We are looking at an undeniable disconnect between people who want to work, who need to make a living, and the number of jobs our high-tech civilization requires to get the work done.

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With every step closer to the futuristic freedom from any labor or drudgery, we also draw nearer to the population of the existing employable. Before too long, we will simply have too few jobs and too many workers. And, on the face of it, we can’t really expect to create a support system (read ‘welfare-state-of-necessity’) with an open-ended population growth. Thus the specter of population control rears its ugly puss. But I am not clever enough to think of a proper way, an ethical paradigm, for controlling the birth rate—not to mention the inevitable loop-holes that young people will naturally create, out of desperation to have kids.

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We are still struggling, in our present, with the ethics of willing, voluntary birth-control—so, the idea that we might allow governmental policy to control, in any way, our individual decisions concerning procreation seems total madness.

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I would hate to be any part of a population-controlled society. Still, there is one thing that bothers me—if we don’t restrict our own population growth voluntarily, poverty and starvation will continue to do that for us, only in huger numbers and in places much closer than the third world nations of today.

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That we in the USA already have starvation and malnutrition in depressed and remote areas is only one of the reasons for considering a National Minimum Policy—a program that ensures no one goes without food, clothes, shelter, transportation, online access, education, and medical care. I would suggest repurposing military installations as barracks and communities for any homeless or unemployed person—and their children.

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Now that technology threatens to force us from our own lives, perfectly healthy, fairly bright people will join the ranks of the unfortunate—their plight will be just as dire, merely by reason of a lack of jobs that need doing. They will have no discernible disability except for not-being-a-robot.

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If technology is making our lives easier, it must be making our jobs easier, too. And in many cases, here in the 21st century, we’ve made some jobs so easy that no one needs to do them. So what we gain in productivity, etc. we lose in job-security. In earlier times (like my childhood) there was no way to run a business without a crowd of people. Nowadays, five people with laptops and a hotspot can run nearly any business you can name.

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We look at unemployment numbers in an old-fashioned way—those numbers used to reflect the overall economy, because more business always required more workers. This is no longer the case. Jobs will evaporate almost as quickly as the polar ice caps are melting—and the people in charge do not want the rest of us taking a serious look at these glaring problems. So they choose up sides and start a fake fight over a tenth of a percentage point tax rate change (up or down, it doesn’t matter) and they manufacture the image they allow us to see on mass media.

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We are so blind. Changing one thing always leads to changing another thing—all things are connected, all people are interdependent. It is a truth that we ignore every time we insist that money is all that matters. All that really matters is what we can do with money—and what no amount of money can change. If we institutionalize money out of the survival equation, we make our lives better. Even if we have a good job, we will still feel better knowing that getting fired doesn’t mean we are cut loose from our communities, but rather that we are drawn closer by our neighbors and friends.

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Once we iron out the initial wrinkles, we can look into designing original ‘support communities’ with their own special functioning in mind. It isn’t as though we want to keep a swollen standing military—but those communities where bases get closed will have the purpose, the heart, removed from their communities. And the poor, and orphaned, and seniors, and homeless, and the unemployed all need a place to stay.

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Plus, of necessity, we will need to employ some of these people as day-care providers, free public-schooling teachers that don’t end at High School, but can offer Bachelors, Masters and PhD programs to anyone capable of doing the work, and administrators, care-givers, cooks and craftspeople. With the correct planning and support, these centers could easily become the cradle, not of a welfare state, but of a new renaissance of American progress, invention and know-how. And it will not all be the province of just the wealthy, ivy-league grads—it will be the new frontier for the whole population, a world without a death sentence binding us to the whims of those 1%, ‘Master-of-the-Universe’ A-holes.

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Just as starvation now serves as our ‘population control’, desperation likewise serves as our present ‘social incentive’. A highly fragile, highly complex global society does not need a large mob of desperate, angry, hungry people with no jobs or hope or escape.

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If we begin to tone down the competitiveness that has been our driving force ever since capitalism replaced monarchism, we can transition to a newer, post-capitalist ‘—ism’  that tries to impose a sounder stability than the rough and tumble of the global marketplace. Think of the International Space Station—those astronauts, men and women, are aware that violence and selfishness are completely out of place in an artificial environment. If they want to act out, they wait until after splashdown, when being sloppy or careless isn’t instantly fatal.

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Our global society is even more complex and fragile than the ISS, yet we cling to the notion that ‘market forces’ and ‘competing in a free-trade market’ are not yet too volatile for an interdependent global commerce. We have to remove competition and replace it with cooperation, or everything will just continue to fly off in all directions, until we collapse under our own fantasy of infinite time, infinite resources, and the ‘benefits’ of a ‘healthy’ antagonism.

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