Societal death spasms
Neighbor kills neighbor. Don’t worry, though. They will pay for what they’ve done. Especially if they hate the inconvenience of annoying paperwork, attending a couple of hearings and paying a fine. That’s more than sufficient punishment for killing a fellow human being, right?
What is a society? My definition is a system where people make decisions that impact the safety of others. More and more it seems like that’s the only definition that matters.
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Halloween: Scary and Tragic
This is an acrimonious post. It’s not well written. It’s basically just a stream of consciousness. Pointless, really. I advise you to move along. –Ed.
Do you have happy memories of Halloween nights when you were a kid? Counting and sorting your loot? Secretly getting away with eating too much until you got sick?
If yes, then congratulations. You lived through the experience.
I know of at least four young people from Halloween 2014 that will never get the same chance.
What do you call it when the people who are supposed to save the day, the so-called “experts,” fail to perform when the chips are down? There has got to be a terminology for that. For now, I’m going to go with the phrase “expert failure” or EF.
Example: “Yup. Things certainly went to shit. They EF’d up.”
In the excellent book Jurassic Park the character Ian Malcolm, a mathematician specializing in “chaos theory,” correctly predicts the failed hubris of the undertaking. (Also in the book the character John Hammond, the visionary, is ironically eaten by his creations. That tasty tidbit didn’t make it into the movie.) The genius of Michael Crichton’s book has nothing to do with dinosaurs. As Wikipedia puts it, the story is a “metaphor of collapse.”
Expert failure works like this:
- Only we are brilliant enough to design and breed dinosaurs. You are not brilliant by a long shot. Oops. The dinosaurs got out. Bad shit happens. Our bad.
- A virus enters the country. The hospitals and specialists we depend on for our very lives fail to follow basic protocols. (In unrelated news, studies have shown that 10 to 80 percent of ICU doctors fail to engage in sanitary hand washing as directed. Because, of course, they know better.)
- A politician says, “Doing ABC will lead to XYZ.” When that doesn’t happen, he adds, “Obviously we need a lot more of ABC. We have to give my policies a chance to work.”
- Your financial consultant advises you to invest heavily in Guru Of Negativity (ticker: GON) holdings and you lose your shirt.
- A baseball teams spends $50 million on a single player (cutting other players from the team to make this possible). Later, in game seven of the World Series, bottom of ninth, two outs, full count, bases loaded, trailing by one run the fellow whiffs flailingly at three straight pitches in the dirt and strikes out.
That last example is my personal favorite because I could have easily matched that performance for at least half price. Show me the money!
What else have experts gotten wrong? FEMA? Vietnam? The financial crisis? Mortgage-backed securities? Bridges? Stampedes at religious gatherings? Platforms at state fairs? Fires in disco clubs? Interfering in the civil wars of other countries?
The list is long and distinguished.
So now we look to experts to clean up the messes that were created by the same and/or previous experts. I’m no expert but I say that sucks. When you’re stuck on your the tippy-top of your roof and the water is lapping at your toes, just remember this: There is no expert correction fairy who will swoop in and save your bacon.
Ultimately, no matter what the experts would like you to believe, you’re on your own.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to change into my baseball uniform. You can depend on me.
Things fall apart. The center does not hold. –Yeats
Gone To The Dogs, Baby, Gone
I’m back in office (or, as I like to call it The Love Den) after a weekend of travel. Maybe I’ll do a travel post. Or maybe, like always, I’ll plan on it and never get it done. Anyway, this is my first post in a few days that wasn’t written by breaking my fingers on a tiny electronic keyboard on an iPad. As such, I’m pretty happy. -Ed.
Are things getting better or worse? My personal theory is that things have always been shitty and it’s a remarkably consistent thing. Were people more “evil” in medieval times or in present day? My guess is that both were about the same. The only difference is that we think things should be better today and when they’re not our brains incorrectly interpret the difference between reality and perception expectations as some kind of disconnect.
Our helpless brains then think things like, “Things are going to hell.” Only they’re not. The more things change the more they remain the same.
I remember when I was a kid. A service dog was something limited to blind and deaf people. These were highly trained animals that were rarely seen in public. And when they were nobody questioned their legitimacy. Why would we? What kind of freaking asshole would you have to be to take advantage of laws for disabled just because you want your pet to tag along when you go shopping or out to eat?
We also used words like “please” and “thank you” and held open doors for other people.
In today’s world an amazing number of us have no such ethical quandaries. We want something ergo the ends justifies the means. Period. The only criteria that must be met is that we want it. And, let’s be honest, that’s a pretty darn low standard to meet.
Park in a disabled parking space? I’ve never done it once in my life. A few months back I fell out of a boat and smashed my ankle on a rock while whitewater rafting. The damn thing still hurts like hell. I could have asked my doctor (if I had one) to fill out the paperwork for a temporary permit. Why the hell would I? I can limp the extra 20-50 feet just fine. What kind of an amazing prick must you be to think you are entitled to take a parking space from someone who really needs it.
I recently spoke with a person who freely admitted to doing it. And why wouldn’t they? In their mind there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. No recognition of ethical boundaries translated into no reticence about freely admitting what they had done. Their brain literally couldn’t comprehend their might be something wrong with such behavior. It would conflict with The Want.
This same person, though, had a major issue about people touching her dog. The dog is high strung and has a lot of anxiety. It doesn’t like to be touched except on its own terms. But when she took the dog out in public, like grower’s markets, strangers would pet the dog without asking and without permission. This was greatly upsetting to her.
Later, she took us to a public park where there were signs posted that said, “No dogs allowed.” It never crossed her mind that her dog shouldn’t be there. Run loose, doggie. Be free!
Her mind was literally incapable of discerning the reality of her beliefs and actions. Under one set of mores people were rude assholes for breaking rules and in the other she saw nothing wrong with her behavior. Both were able to sit comfortably in her brain at the same time and she never noticed anything wrong about it.
When I lived in San Diego I had a daughter who was deathly afraid of dogs. They would make her scream, shiver and become emotionally withdrawn. The fear may not have been realistic or logical but it existed nevertheless. As such, we didn’t take her to public spaces like dog parks. We’d search out public parks where dogs were prohibited. There was one of these near the ocean where we liked to go to fly kites.
There were other dog-friendly places. They even had their own beach. But invariably someone would show up and unload their dogs and let them run free. The dogs would rapidly approach us and the owners would say things like, “Don’t mind Fluffy. He would never hurt anyone.” Well I guess we have your word on that, don’t we? The word of a known criminal. Meanwhile the day was ruined, for us, with my young daughter back at the car and wetting her pants.
Well played. You get your dog area for backup and our space as your primary. You probably didn’t want to go there because there were too many dogs, right?
So are we bigger assholes to each other today or does it only seem that way? We certainly seem more narcissistic and masturbatory. But back then there less rule of law and other things in abundance like slavery, racism, gender oppression, genocide and more. Maybe as a society all we’ve done is redistribute the evil in new and interesting ways? Maybe the amount always must remain constant?