Feb 22 2010
I don’t know if you got peanut butter on my chocolate, or if I got chocolate in your peanut butter, but two things strike me as natural conjunction in our civic evolution. America, here’s a very tasty idea to win the war on terror and generate jobs.
Let’s face it: the long war is here to stay. You can’t protest it away. Sternly worded letters have failed. And take my word for it, voting the bastards out or failing to pay your taxes has no discernible effect on the American juggernaut. This sucker [economy] could go down, but until that happens, we will continue to borrow money into oblivion to fund the damned war machine.
Plus, the war is not going well. We need more troops, but Americans hate big American body counts.
At the same time we have massive long-term unemployment that is eating away at the social fabric and services to which we’ve grown accustomed. Wouldn’t it totally suck if you were foreclosed on and lost your Naugahyde Barcalounger and TV remote? Yes, but it need not be. And is there anyone better at electronic distractions in the comfort of our living rooms? Some may be competitive on remotes and joysticks, but we’ve got the pioneer spirit and the eagerness to work, and our patriotism pretty much ices that cake.
So, let’s kill two or fifty birds with one stone.
Have government hire us to conduct remote-controlled warfare in the nether regions of the world. Sure, we’ll have to kill people half-way around the world we know nothing about, but we’re doing that anyway, and part of the beauty of remote control is that it is completely a one-sided fight, with no chance of your being killed. Think about the on-the-job training: a little hand-eye coordination, Three, Two, One, Rifle! Moments after: Splash! You just earned a paycheck. Salaries, commissions, whatever free-market solution tickles you. You can do it while you’re making dinner!
Plus, we nail outsourcing and Keynsian stimulus in one fell swoop. And talk about getting everyone on the same national page. Hell, it would be difficult and unpopular for government to stop the damned wars! I smell electoral victories into the foreseeable future. That’s a plan with a lot of plusses.
Nov 21 2009
Some bad news from underwater in the Caribbean. Indo-Pacific Lionfish have apparently been spotted on the Mayan Riviera, the stretch of coast from Cancun in the north to Tulum in the south, of Quintana Roo, Mexico, and throughout much of the rest of the Caribbean. These fish don’t belong there. It’s not their natural habitat, and they’re predators to most other reef species. They are voracious. And to top it off, their spines are also toxic to humans.
Let’s go for a swim.
Oct 22 2009
Would you like to see a symbolic self-portrait of America, circa 2009. Here it is. I give you the Predator:
Ugly, isn’t it? But it wasn’t designed to be pretty. It was designed to kill without warning – cheaply, efficiently, and at no risk to the operator. That’s a Hellfire missile under the wing. It can destroy any armored vehicle or demolish a small building. The little sensor globe under the nose allows the remote pilot, sitting in a cubicle somewhere in the good old USA, to deliver sudden death to America’s enemies on command. There is no defense against the predator, and no warning.
This is who we are now. This is our new national bird. We thrill at the killing of victims who never know what hit them. Aggressive violence has become a perfected perversion in America, and its ultimate expression is the ability to kill with absolute impunity. American industry and ingenuity have supplied this perfect remote killing device, and for this they have the thanks of a grateful, bloodthirsty nation.
Predators and predation are terms used increasingly to describe the miscreants of Wall Street, but these are only the best-paid of America’s predators. The whole “success” culture of America has morphed from a value-based model to a smash-and-grab, quick kill paradigm that equates to predation.
This transformation is perfectly represented in our mass culture. The measure of progress in the American popular cinema is the intensity of stylized violence in our beloved “action films.” Each new Batman movie, for example, shows the (progressively “darker”) costumed protagonist unleashing sudden, unexpected violence on the villains. He strikes with overwhelming force, out of nowhere, then vanishes completely.
So what’s so bad about predation? After all, nature is full of predators and prey. It’s a jungle out there. The problem is that civilization is based on value exchange. Giving fair measure in return for fair payment is the foundation of all commerce, and, arguably all human relations. When we adopt predation as our model for living, we regress from the civilized state to animalistic behavior. When predation becomes a society’s behavioral paradigm, businessmen become gangsters, government becomes brutal, and trust vanishes.
If you want to experience cognitive whiplash, ask any young adult what they think of Goldman Sachs, then ask them if they would take a job there. The fast hit to make a killing is now the American Dream. We are now a nation of predators.