The third factor, which relates to the second one, unfolds from the historical tragedy of the Baby Boom generation, which is massively overrepresented in apocalypse fandom just now. The Boomers were among the most idealistic generations in US history, but they were also far and away the most privileged, and the conflict between those two influences has defined much of their trajectory through time. Starting when the Sixties youth culture crashed and burned, the Boomers have repeatedly faced forced choices between their ideals and their privileges. Each time, the majority of Boomers—there have always been noble exceptions—chose to cling to their privileges, and then spent the next decade or so insisting at the top of their lungs that their ideals hadn’t been compromised by that choice.
I am beginning to see a trend in the folks that I read everyday.
Now that I have seen it, I am thinking how silly the whole thing is.
As a group, us bloggers seem to sneer at “short-term solutions” and posit our words of genius as the only possible long term solution.
The trouble is, no one is interested in our solutions, as they really don’t address the problem, they just seem to make us certain of our omniscience.
I am coming to the conclusion that all “solutions” are expedient and consist of holding things together that really don’t want to stay that way. Finance, politics, military, personal, it is all the same. Solutions change day to day and the problems themselves morph and adapt to the changes and become something else entirely.
Now, would someone please pass me the duct tape.
I have a tendency toward this little bit of bad taste.
Part of it is part and parcel of my paranoia and generalized distrust of the human condition and its followers.
I am getting over it though.
The vehicle for my recovery is an odd one. The NSA and Windows 8.
Now, I am absolutely certain that the NSA can, should they wish, extract everything from my writings and even go into my “private files” to discover what the hell it s about the aging, fat, and cynical being that writes as “Degringolade”. Well, they will find out that I have a libertarian bent, don’t think that the American empire will stand, and have an unhealthy obsession with big boobs.
The Windows 8 system probably has backdoors written all over the place so that the NSA can peek. Hell, my guess is that the NSA can figure out a way to get into an air-gapped computer should they choose. The recent revelations about the possibility of a low level jump into a air gapped computer using microphones and speakers makes me certain of this.
So, what is an operating system?
A convenient service is all. The operating system should be judged on its convenience and the way you relate to it. If you like Mac’s splurge and make yourself happy. If you are a control freak, download Linux and go to town. If you are lazy, fire up Windows and go for it. Now, these aren’t the only reasons to use these systems. Artists seem to flow better with Macs. Windows is business. Nerd-dom loves its Linux.
But truth be told, they all work just dandy. If you claim otherwise, you are as silly as the “Buick Men” of the ‘50s and the morons with stupid sayings, disparaging other makes of trucks, plastered across the back of their pickup.
I am again getting close to being content and relaxed with my station in life and how things are proceeding in the small sphere of my day to day existence.
I am considering starting up the screed. It seems to flow better if I am content and things are working reasonably well.
Things in the big world haven't changed much. The targets for my venom are still standing. The oddity that is our culture and civilization still loom above us in all their madness.
Keep an eye out, posts may start dropping here occasionally.
Now the greatest heresy, that education makes you better.
Nope, in nearly every case here in the good old USA all an education does is make you status oriented. Even the meanest "commercial rec" graduate seems to have it in his head that his "education" puts him ahead of the pack.
My Eldest is seventeen now, taking classes over at the local community college instead of being subjected to the vagaries of a high school indoctrination. I am trying desperately to keep his eyes on getting an education rather than getting a job. Now, this is harder than one would think. It is basically a way of approaching the college experience in a manner not tainted by the capitalist system that has hijacked the sector.
I am not having him keep his "eye on the ball" where the education that he so needs is defined by the diploma that will grant him the right to a job. I am trying to get him to take classes that teach him about the world that surrounds and enfolds him. History is good, English allows for an ability to communicate effectively, math teaches him complex thought. I am trying to convince him that taking classes in subjects like geography and geology, will serve him as well as classes in psychology and sociology.
But he will also need classes like Psych and Soc in order to be able to parse the world around him. It isn't that these disciplines hold any great portion of the "truth", but they will allow him to ask the questions leading to better a understanding the people who inhabit the world around him. So those should probably be on the table. I am also hoping that he manages to get into some of the trades oriented classes so that he can find something to do with his hands. That is a much tougher sell.
But I have to recognize the idea that eventually he will have to enter one of the "programs" in order to get the ability to pay for his food, drink, and respite. But because a major part of education is to find a way to get by in a strange land, and everything has become a function of the peculiar guilds that run the world today: You have to check off the boxes that they set up for their new apprentices.
But the idea that a college education is the sole, noble means of achieving a means of support has run its course. The colleges today are diploma mills of the internet and a vulgar means of slipping small amounts of money to barely qualified Adjunct Professors and large amounts of money to the administrators. The overall business plan is to keep the "status" filter going by parroting on television commercials the idea that only college will provide. The "colleges" then convince the young and stupid(1) to take out massive amounts of student loans. The college administrators then pay themselves handsomely for the service that they render to the financial industry delivering the debt-slaves to the market.
Even in Taibibi’s article, he goes on about how in law offices even the runners need four year degrees. Well, who the fuck wants to be a runner in an Atlanta law firm? The answer is, folks who are seeking status. To be around the big people is worth any effort, because you might get invited to eat their leftovers one day.
If you are going to make it in this world, you had better figure out how to live outside of the rain shadow of the rich. A plumber is well paid, an electrician is an excellent job, soldiering has always been honorable. The vast bulk of college graduates merely run Excel spreadsheets as a tiny part in a play for the benefit of the rich.
- Yes, stupidity is a state that the young often inhabit, but rest assured, it is curable through being kicked repeatedly in the teeth by an uncaring world
I'll be somewhere else. This one has served it's purpose. It has been an honor to have you as my guests.
If it intrigues you, send me a comment with your e-mail and I'll tell you where I am (if it so suits me and you haven't been a dick in the past). I'll be closing down the comments and mothballing this experiment later this month. I'll kill the comment section at the end of August.
Money becomes insane, and people with it.
At night the place is almost dark, economizing light. Economy, economy, economy - that too becomes an insanity. Luckily the government keeps bread fairly cheap.
But at night you feel strange things stirring in the darkness, strange feelings stirring out of this still-unconquered Black Forest. You stiffen your backbone and you listen to the night. There is a sense of danger. It is not the people. They don't seem dangerous. Out of the very air comes a sense of danger, a queer, bristling feeling of uncanny danger.
Something has happened. Something has happened which has not yet eventuated. The old spell of the old world has broken, and the old, bristling, savage spirit has set in. The war did not break the old peace-and-production hope of the world, though it gave it a severe wrench. Yet the old peace-and-production hope still governs, at least the consciousness. Even in Germany it has not quite gone.
But it feels as if, virtually, it were gone. The last two years have done it. The hope in peace-and-production is broken. The old flow, the old adherence is ruptured. And a still older flow has set in. Back, back to the savage polarity of Tartary, and away from the polarity of civilized Christian Europe. This, it seems to me, has already happened. And it is a happening of far more profound import than any actual event. It is the father of the next phase of events.
And the feeling never relaxes. As you travel up the Rhine valley, still the same latent sense of danger, of silence, of suspension. Not that the people are actually planning or plotting or preparing. I don't believe it for a minute. But something has happened to the human soul, beyond all help. The human soul recoiling now from unison, and making itself strong elsewhere.
Now I am an old man and I just shake my head.
I think that maybe Skinner was right about a lot of things, but a lot of the wrong type of people got hold of his idea and used them to create the monstrosity that passes for our culture.
We have been pressing at the bar created for us by our government and corporations for forty years now. The theories and predictions of Skinner are proven by looking at the society around us, created by flickering images of a Hollywood-scripted Utopia in our living rooms as a stimulus and free things handed out by the government as a reward.
Lawrence traveled through Germany in 1924. Hitler was nothing then. In a sense, Hitler was never anything, just an opportunist who rode the will of a people who had become something more primitive.
Again from the letter:
Heidelberg full of people. Students the same, youths with rucksacks the same, boys and maidens in gangs come down from the hills. The same, and not the same. These queer gangs of young Socialists, youths and girls, with their non-materialistic professions, their half-mystic assertions, they strike one as strange. Something primitive, like loose, roving gangs of broken, scattered tribes, so they affect one. And the swarms of people somehow produce an impression of silence, of secrecy, of stealth. It is as if everything and everybody recoiled away from the old unison, as barbarians lurking in a wood recoil out of sight. The old habits remain. But the bulk of the people have no money. And the whole stream of feeling is reversed
And it all looks as if the years were wheeling swiftly backwards, no more onwards. Like a spring that is broken, and whirls swiftly back, so time seems to be whirling with mysterious swiftness to a sort of death. Whirlingto the ghost of the Middle Ages of Germany, then to the Roman days, then to the days of the silent forest and the dangerous, lurking barbarians.
Something about the Germanic races is unalterable. White-skinned, elemental, and dangerous. Our civilization has come from the fusion of the dark-eyes with the blue. The meeting and mixing and mingling of the two races has been the joy of our ages. And the Celt has been there, alien, but necessary as some chemical re-agent to the fusion. So the civilization of Europe rose up. So these cathedrals and these thoughts.
But now the Celt is the disintegrating agent. And the Latin and southern races are falling out of association with the northern races, the northern Germanic impulse is recoiling towards Tartary, the destructive vortex of Tartary.It is fate; nobody now can alter it. It is a fate. The very blood changes. Within the last three years, the very constituency of the blood has changed, in European veins. But particularly in Germanic veins.Walk out in the streets of your city. The feeling is there. Oh, there will be folk who will scoff at you, who will decry your senses as paranoia, but something has changed in our world.
Something newer is stirring here. The seeds of something have been laid by the last forty years of human experimentation. The mores and cultural brakes have been disabled by the wealthy to better transfer the wealth of the country to their redoubts. The die has been cast, we are waiting for the change.
In all times kings, and persons of sovereign authority, because of their independency, are in continual jealousies, and in the state and posture of gladiators; having their weapons pointing, and their eyes fixed on one another; that is, their forts, garrisons, and guns upon the frontiers of their kingdoms; and continual spies upon their neighbors; which is a posture of war.
—HOBBES, LeviathanAdd on Note: You might want to read this
I have been spending time lately, thinking about the "revelation" that the NSA is spying on other governments. This will probably piss folks off in tin-foil-hat land, but I have come to the conclusion that this is a very good idea.
I don't have any preconceived notions about the ethical nature of government. Control of things is the government's raison d'etre. There are limits to what they should be allowed to do, and those are clearly defined in the constitution. The US government has spent the last 21 years (or more) patiently shaving the margin between what is the maximum activity allowed by the constitution and their actions. In quite a few cases, they have broken through into illegal actions and there has only been minimal outcry.
Maybe I am being paranoid about the other countries of the world, but my travels (and they aren't trivial) leads me to hold the opinion that a majority of the other countries in the world may well be run by bigger assholes than the assholes who run ours. I genuinely feel that keeping an eye on them is a great idea. They aren't really our friends.
This basic belief complicates my view on Mr. Snowden.
When he came out and informed the world that the US was running a large scale information harvesting program on its own citizens, I was outraged. In my opinion, this action was a massive governmental overreach, clearly unconstitutional and frightening in its implications.
Then he had to go and ruin it for me. He then went on to outline how our government spies on other governments. Idiot.
Look when it comes to peeking in on other governments, the NSA was doing what it was designed to to do.
The National Security Agency (NSA) is the central producer and manager of signals intelligence for the United States, operating under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense. Estimated to be the largest and costliest of all U.S. intelligence organizations, NSA is primarily tasked with collecting and analyzing information and data of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence value, including through clandestine means. The agency is also responsible for the protection of U.S. government communications and information systems, which involves information security and cryptanalysis/cryptography.I am not seeing anything that the NSA does in monitoring other governments as a bad thing. Keep it up lads. You are earning your nickels honestly.
So when Snowden informed the world of how we spy on other countries, he did in fact break the law and break faith with the rest of us.
The only thing funny in this whole charade is the way that Putin handled the issue. Masterful. When he uttered the statement I started chuckling
"If he wants to go somewhere and there are those who would take him, he is welcome to do that," Putin said. "If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: he must stop his activities aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, no matter how strange it may sound on my lips."Now, how to handle him is unclear. He did the country a huge favor for pointing out an incredible government overreach. He did the country a disservice reminding the world we try to have our fingers in every pie, taking the temperatures.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.I have been thinking about the American myth for some time now. I have also come to the conclusion that the fever-dreams of the left and the right concerning the erstwhile freedoms lost are not the grieving for the destruction of cherished freedoms. They are instead the sullen denial of the fact that we were all complicit in the charade that there were any particular freedoms there in the first place.
Look, writing on the internet is a nice release for frustration. This blog is a wonderful and convenient diary. I really doubt that I have any effect on my readers opinion. The usual reader usually scans my work for something that they agree with, and if that isn't readily available, they move on. The blog has no pretense of being private, just like any e-mail that I send.
We decry the lost privacy when the phone companies hand over metadata, and we find out that the good old Post Office has been doing the same thing for years. Hell, we hand over the same data all the time to companies like Google, for some reason, that doesn't bother us quite as much. Truth of the matter is, we don't really care about our privacy when it is more convenient for us to forget it. Especially if it gives us a good deal on our Cheetos.
The vast bulk of us don't give a rats ass about our military adventures overseas. We load our troops onto the airliners and forget about them until one of them comes back with a flag draped over them. Then there is some uncomfortable silence and we move on. We pay for our collective guilt with words like "heroes" and a fairly well-funded VA, but those are cheap. What is important is that we keep our beaks dipped into the declining pool of petroleum resources called "the Middle East".
Look, get over the idea that you, as 0.0000003% of the political corpus, have any real say in the deal. Maybe if you would spend more of your time organizing you might get up to the table, but I kinda doubt it. The internet offers you a chance to bitch easily at those with whom you disagree, to send messages and attaboys to those who agree with you. The Net really doesn't allow you to change anything, any more than a single frenetically vibrating atom can change the temperature of the solution of which it is a part.
I have recently come to the conclusion that nothing that is currently being done is particularly heinous. Trying to control a fractious populace and keep an eye on a world filled with actors more than willing to inadvertently leave cutlery in one's back is a bit of a juggling act. I have a feeling that the excesses that we are currently decrying are being ratcheted back by the twin acts of folks starting to take their privacy seriously and the government pulling back from an obvious overstep.
Look, this kind of stuff has come and gone before. What I am seeing in the blogs is the usual claptrap about hurt feelings, embarrassment when one realizes that writing something leaves tracks, and a cheerful misreading of an old planning document that has become a hardened scripture, viciously argued over by theologians.
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.