Prepare Yourself to travel the road less traveled, and prepare for that road to be long. Prepare for a second wave of infection, economic, political and social chaos.
We are a part of a physical universe, one determined by cause and effect. As causes go, COVID-19 has been the mother-load and will go on to reaping unprecedented effects on our development as a species. This might sound dramatic, I hope so, but the truth is even more extensive and frightening. The road we chose as individuals and as societies will determine the future of humanity.
A greater than 20 per cent reduction in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at it’s most basic, means that there’s 20 per cent less cash, an economist will try telling you it’s more complicated than that, and I know they’re right, but they will agree it it means that we’ve all got a shed lot less money. This in turn might lead to societies losing confidence in the value of their money, causing either hyper-inflation or deflation, and the economic collapse of some currencies.
It’s difficult to explain how profound a 20% drop in GDP is, but let’s give it a try anyway. Less money for people to buy things equals less tax revenue, this results in a degradation of society’s infrastructure and services. Meanwhile causing a dramatic increase in unemployment, (In the United States unemployment through march and April, has been at 14%, a total of 21 million people, but here’s the catch, 15 million of these are recorded as short term unemployed. Meaning that when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, they should be returning to their old jobs. Entertaining the idea that everyone will return to their old job is infantile at best. A percentage of those 15 million will return to their old jobs. That percentage is a critical variable, because it’s unemployment that is the key to how long this depression lasts.
Unemployment will be the engine that fuels this economic collapse. Unemployed people go from tax paying citizens contributing financially to the state, to citizens on welfare taking money out of the state. Looked at as a number on a spreadsheet, an unemployed person goes from being an asset to the state, to an economic liability. The reduction in wages being paid, leads to less money being spent on goods, services and taxes, is, likely to drive the prices of things down, based on the simple premise that demand will be so low in non essential items. Essential items, i.e. food and medicines, could see dramatic inflation as supply lines have been so disrupted that demand will come close to, and in some cases might, out strip supply. So things you don’t need, luxury items, will become cheaper. Things you need to live will become more expensive. So, from what I can tell ,,in the future millions will die of starvation whilst immersed in an alternative universe projected by their iPhone X50 Deluxe. This leads to a rabbit hole question scenario:
If I die of starvation in the four dimensional reality I’ve lived in thus far, does my avatar go on living as meaningless an existence as I did?
How the West Was Lost
Why are western countries finding it much more difficult to get COVID-19 under control, compared to the majority of the world, and particularly East Asian countries? The amount of UV is a scientific hypothesis under review, but I’m well aware of fundamental societal issues that are having an impact.
I’ve lived in Southeast Asia for almost twenty years. I’m acutely aware of how western, and by western I’m referring to European and North American countries, have approached handling COVID_19 when compared with countries like South Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam and Thailand.
The most obvious difference with the Asian countries is their capacity to mobolise their citizens at a moments notice. In Thailand, the government often declares that its people should wear a black shirt the following day in respect of someone significant having just died. That order could come late on in the day, but I can assure you that the next day 80% of people will be wearing black shirts.
This mentality to follow orders is out of respect of the hierachal structure; right down from village communities with the headsman, up to Kings, presidents, or prime ministers. Conformity is respected. It’s regarded as having respect for others and foments a strong sense of community. Wearing face-masks, social distancing, isolation, shutdown, and implementing systems of contact tracing, has been easy in these countries where the community is regarded as more important than the individual.
During COVID-19, I’ve seen Western leaders repeating themselves with the same requests. Eventually their message attains a critical mass within the consciousness of the population, but this doesn’t result in compliance. The next stage of public reaction is to start asserting your individual liberties, a perception that your government can’t demand that you do anything. Hence we’ve seen the most bizarre reaction to governments asking their citizens to adopt wearing face-masks.
The contrast between western ideology of liberty, and eastern collectivism has gone unnoticed since the collapse of communism. But the United States, which is predicated on an ideology of liberty, individual freedom, has struggled to get its citizens unified to fight the common viral threat. In many of these countries when a leader tells their people to do something the people ask, why?
It begs the question of western democracy, why elect a representative who you will only go on to ignore?
The Ship of State – Demagogues, Democracy, and Socrates
In his book, The Republic, Plato defends the virtues of democracy to his teacher, Socrates, through what has become known as, The Parable of the Ship.
Plato describes society as a ship, with the electorate being represented by the ship’s owner who must decide who captain’s the ship. Each of the able seamen lobby the owner, making their case for why they should captain the ship. Plato even acknowledges the fact that it’s reasonable to expect the candidates to get the owner drunk, or offer bribes. But one of these men must be chosen by the ship’s owner. As the people in a democracy, the people must chose a leader.
Socrates disliked both the idea of democracy and his student’s analogy. Socrates feared that such a system leads to demagoguery:
As with the economy, change doesn’t mean polar opposite, but to make different. There are many things that are perfect with democracy, it’s just that as times change, so do means.
COVID-19 is likely to necessitate changes to our economy, such a moment in history makes it only obvious that we reappraise our democracies. Many countries have seen the standards onboard their ships of democracy degenerate, and start to resemble the conditions of , The Raft of Medusa.
Economic Recovery or Renaissance
If you say that today’s economic system is unjust, what some people hear is, “I’m a Marxist, wealth is evil and can only be achieved through exploitation and the theft of other people’s hard work.” but there is a middle ground. There are ways to make our economies work more justly for everyone. (As soon as you use the words ‘economy’ and, ‘everyone’ in the same sentence, somewhere, somebody’s Marxist alarm gets triggered.)
While I do say that today’s system is unjust, I’m more opposed to Marxist philosophy solving the problem. We can’t be so black and white, so absolutist in our rhetoric. The former Soviet Union and numerous eastern European countries provided us with categorical evidence that communism is an economic system that doesn’t work. Meanwhile, the 2008 global financial crisis made it pretty clear that capitalism has its failings too. Think of adjustments as opposed to complete change, or reversal.
At the very start of Part I, I asked myself a question about these challenging times:
Am I changing for the better, or worse?
We’re being asked to confront challenges of a nature no human has ever had to confront. Don’t rely on others to deal with those changes for you. Don’t expect someone else to come to rescue you. You alone are responsible for yourself and your dependents. It’s your duty to protect them. Ask yourself, are you changing for the better, or worse?
You will get through COVID-19, but the question is how will you get through it? Remember, Noah didn’t begin building the arc when it started to rain. Be smart, consider situations, be critical about the information you receive. There will be suffering, but how much you suffer is down to you. Are you changing for the better, or worse.
These are trying times, and they’re likely to be time of great social change. It’s when things are most difficult that change and progress happen. When we are tried, we become inventive. Adversity often brings out the best in us.
Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.
These days will pass, what we become might not be what we were, but that can be a positive. Although change comes with feelings of uncertainty, it always has the potential to be change can be for the good. But don’t look to others to make your changes for you. You are your own work of art, and you are the sculptor. How you change, and what you become; you decide.
Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.
I’ve written a blog now for maybe a couple of years.
Much of what I choose to write about is irreverent, and never meant to be taken seriously.
This week I was going to continue with my rants on the apparent rise of fascism across Europe and the United States. Then the British Prime Minister, Theresa (I haven’t got a mandate) May – a woman who has only won the right to represent her constituency of 74,000 people, but has found herself leading the 64 million people of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland through the countries most delicate period of time since the end of World War II – announces a “snap” election.
I was going to write about this, this “snap” election. Something that a piece of legislation passed in 2011 called “The Fixed Terms Parliament Act” was supposed to have brought an end to. But no, the woman with no mandate to even lead the U.K in the first place was now defecating over the final shreds of our democratic dignity. I was incensed, and this was to be my theme.
But, it was then I had an epiphany. It was as if the sky was torn asunder and a heavenly light, shone down on me. And the almighty asked me a question “what right do you have to spread your ill informed, personal opinions using technology that can reach almost anyone on the planet, I mean who the fuck do you think you are, some kind of god or something?”
In less biblical terms what happened was, I lost my internet connection for 12 hours and was hit by the realization that I was free from its limitless bullshit. The seemingly infinite and boundless “reckonings” of half brained people passing on their opinions of the things that they rarely half understand.
What Happens When Advanced Technology for Communication is Supported by Stone Age Reasoning?
An apocalyptic explosion of bullshit. When mankind’s understandable passion to protect their unalienable right to the freedom of expression, is combined with the kind of rapid improvements in the technology of communication that we have seen over the past 20 years, this facilitates, an apocalyptic explosion of bullshit. Or, what I’m choosing to call the information, communication, technology paradox.
As our capability to communicate has risen to the levels of what only a generation ago the authors of science fiction could only have dreamt about, the information that the masses have to communicate using this technology, is founded upon the same logical principles of thought as those people who lived during the dark ages. And I don’t wish to come across as being rude, but the majority of us have about the same degree of scientific understanding as a person that lived in the dark ages. Yes many of us know the term DNA, I’d even be brave enough to suggest that over half of us can spell DNA, but few of us actually understand it. The gulf between knowledge and understanding has never been greater, as is our lack of awareness of this gulf. I’ll prove through the use of theoretical anecdote.
Imagine you are transported in space and time to Mainz, Germany and the year 1439. You are standing in a room with Johannes Guttenberg and his workers, who over a great deal of time, have painstakingly developed the concept of, movable type. They have empowered themselves to reproduce the written word at a speed, and in volumes, that were hitherto unthinkable. This was a time when the only book that existed was essentially the Bible, and its reproduction was overseen by being copied out, by hand, by very dull, antisocial men, living in monasteries. But, here was Guttenberg, with the power to spread new ideas, and there’s you standing there, nearly 600 years from the future stood next to him. Aside from adopting the mantle of some type of Nostradamus figure using your knowledge of future events, what knowledge would you encourage Guttenberg to disseminate? Could you contribute to stopping the spread of diseases like the plague? Could you introduce them to, and provide them with electricity? Could you improve on the abacus that was still being used, or Blaise Pascal’s adding machine that wouldn’t be invented for another 150 years? You could describe television and radio, but how many of you could describe the design and engineering necessary in order to make one? You could describe what a far simpler device like a calculator looks like and does, but again few of us could make one. You could describe an electric torch, but again, how many of us understand it well enough to actually tell someone how to make one? In all eventuality few of us would be able to engineer a simple toothbrush that resembles anything similar to what a toothbrush looks like today.
My point is simple; while we are surrounded today, by what is a wealth of technology that allows us to do things that a person 600 years ago would be more likely to assume came from another planet, than resulting from the processes of rigorous scientific reasoning and refined techniques of engineering, that allowed the development of such technology. While this technology has been made for the use of almost anybody with opposable thumbs, it doesn’t acvtually make us any smarter. We can all use a television, a smartphone, a computer and a calculator, but I would hazard a guess that less than 1% of us have anything more than a very rudimentary understanding of how any of this technology actually works. Just because we have calculators to help us do sums faster doesn’t necessarily make all of us better mathematicians than the man using the abacus. For some of us the calculator is a tool that we learn to master and that allows us to do very advanced mathematical calculations. Calculations that are used in architecture and engineering, these are examples of when a tool like a calculator or a computer can further our understanding, but it is only a very small minority of people that actually utilize modern technology as a means to develop more advanced technology. For the vast majority of us technology is synonymous with communication, and what we communicate are ideas that are scarcely more evolved or complex than were entertained by the minds of the average inhabitant during the dark ages.
Quantum physicist Richard Feynman, considered by most as only second to Albert Einstein, and considered by a few as superior, tells us the difference between knowing the names things and understanding the nature of things. Go on you can do it, it’s only 2 minutes long, and it involves moving pictures and sounds.
The year of the invention of the Guttenberg press, is probably the invention that draws the most parallels to the internet. In my earlier, theoretical anecdote, I tried to argue the point that very few of us actually understand much that we could have persuaded it was worthwhile for Guttenberg to consider printing. Indeed much of the printing done by Guttenberg’s presses was just to reproduce more and more copies of the Bible. It must be said however that it Guttenberg’s printing press facilitated the Bible to be translated out of Latin, thus replacing it as the Lingua Franca, and enabled the development of the vernacular of the European Languages we know today. And here we see a parallel, hasn’t the Internet done a similar thing for language with its use of emoticons, emojis, netlingo and chat acronyms.
The Internet can’t Create Knowledge, Communication Leads to the Decay of Knowledge
The internet can’t create information, it can’t create knowledge. Two scientists sharing ideas and data do use the Internet to create new findings and formulate new hypotheses, but this constitutes such an infinitesimally small amount of the actual communication that takes place over the Internet; the majority is half brained idiots treating us to “what they reckon”.
In essence the Internet is being predominantly used as a machine that enables us to play the classic children’s party game “Chinese Whispers”, on a global level. Does this mean the game should no longer be called Chinese whispers? Or, does it covertly tell us about the Chinese aim for global domination? Why not write to me and tell me what you reckon?
The internet draws us all together so closely, it’s probable that it reduces Milgram’s hypothesis of the 7 degrees of separation down to 4 or 5. In today’s game of Chinese whispers, when the child passes on the half understood, garbled reckoning they received from their friend, who they themselves only half understood the message that they received, a process that we could trace back ad nauseum, but I’m sure you get the point. Inevitably the further down the line you are of this convoluted, twisted chain, of what people reckon means that you’re the recipient of a piece of information, that’s of about as much use as an electric cucumber toothbrush.
But the problem gets compounded further. This misinformation is no longer timidly whispered into the ear of the person next in line. If it’s true, that in space nobody hears you scream, on the internet nobody hears you whisper, instead half understood, distorted reckonings are relayed from one friend/acquaintance to another, constantly being molded to fit the reckonings of the new disseminator, and spread around the globe at nigh on the speed of light, or at the very least to their 5,000 or so Facebook friends. You can’t play Chinese whispers on the internet. On the internet nobody hears your whispers, on the internet there are no whispers, just whirlpools and maelstroms of misinformation and a digital universe comprised nearly 100% pure, bullshit reckonings.
I used to believe that the internet marked the democratization of information. Today I’m left feeling like I must have been somewhat of a naive twat. How completely ignorant I was to have worn the rose tinted spectacles through which I first viewed the technological marvel of the Internet. you see there’s nothing wrong with the Internet itself. As a tool it retains the enormous potential to educate and inform almost every single person on the planet. So how can I claim there is a paradox and that it is actually contributing to the dumbing down of the majority of us?
Simple, any tool is only as good as the person that operates it, and the majority of mankind are just utter ass hats, that believe, just because we can use hi-tech equipment that we ourselves must be more advanced. Well here’s a clip of monkeys using an iPad, there’s a load more on YouTube, this is by no means a one off:
What should have become quite apparent from this short video is that whilst monkeys are an intelligent primate, the fact that they can use an iPad should confirm that using this advanced technology doesn’t require a highly developed mind. Indeed, the technology of today is designed to be as intuitive to use as possible, hence we see a monkey using it.
There may be no greater evidence that supports the intuitive ease with which we can use this most advanced technology than the fact that a method of schooling called Waldorf Schools, is the education of choice for the children of employees in the Silicon Valley. What makes Waldorf education unique, is that it deprives its students the use of all forms of technology, no tablets, mobile phones, computers or calculators are allowed. They claim “it’s out with technology and in with imagination”. As mantras go I found this to be quite underwhelming, unimaginative, and well, frankly shit. But, there can be no greater endorsement of this anti technological form of education, than the fact that it’s highly endorsed by those who are at the cutting edge of developing such technology.
The very nature of a paradox tends to make them a bitter pill to swallow. Paradoxes tend to have a habit of promising us one thing while in actual fact leaving us with something totally unexpected, and usually unpleasant. The information, communication, technology paradox might just be the paradox that will go onto destroy the hubris of mankind. This is a significant statement that deserves to be thoroughly explained, but if I CBB G2G & FAP @ JAV pron.
To me the damage that the Internet is doing to the knowledge and understanding of the average person is ineffable, so I’ll leave you with my favourite ever video on YouTube, 4 dwarfs racing a camel, which to some extent proves my point better than I ever could:
Some quotes from history that might have foreshadowed our slough of despond:
“He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.” Thomas Jefferson
“I know one thing; that I know nothing” – Sometimes referred to as the Socratic paradox
Gay marriage, recreational drug use and euthanasia are just three sensitive topics where the perceived liberty of an individual often conflicts with the morality of a society. But when all parties involved in a way of life are adults and consenting, does society have a right to intervene? And if so who are the people that determine what is right or wrong in society? These are questions I have been wrestling with after reading the following news headline:
Dwarf stripper gets bride pregnant on her hen night
Spanish woman admits she slept with a dwarf stripper on her hen night after giving birth to a baby with dwarfism.
Initially my thoughts were with the unfortunate groom. Imagine his excitement over the previous nine months, getting married and then becoming a father, halcyon days en route to complete social conformity, I should imagine a 40 year mortgage was also included.
Then when the proud moment arrived and his eyes fell upon his son for the first time, there appeared to be something, a little different, somehow he expected him to look, bigger, with bigger features, in fact nearly everything should have been a little larger. With confusion marauding through his brain, like a Frenchman making his way down the wine aisle of a supermarket, his tearful wife tells him the truth of how she slept with the dwarf stripper at her hen party. From there, in which direction does a marriage go? Anger, loathing, resentment, separation, bitterness and divorce, or maybe if the husband is so inclined exotic dwarf love on a regular basis. One thing is for sure social conformity, even acceptance now looks to be a distant prospect.
Slowly the true depth of the perversity of this story broke over me like a wave of sewage. I realized the only reason for this story being reported was that it involved a dwarf. If in the headline, you were to replace the word dwarf with black man, Mexican, Asian, all hell would have broken loose and rightly so because that would be unacceptably racist. But dwarfs are not a race, a fact that can easily be forgotten following the Lord of the Rings movies. Many dwarfs do not even consider themselves disabled and choose to live their own lives and make their own decisions. After all isn’t it the duty of liberty to protect the rights of minorities? If a dwarf wants tossing and someones willing to pay to do it, what sort of sick society would stand in the way of this fun?
Western society promotes itself as having values of equality and respect, but dwarfs have nimbly side stepped this and have made themselves fair game for the entertainment of the public. Skillfully they have maneuvered their way under the radar of political correctness and because of this dwarfs always have a profession they can fall back on (not very far back).
The life of a dwarf entertainer, sounds like it requires talent and it does, but to a dwarf that that talent comes naturally, by virtue of their diminutive stature. People like to laugh at and abuse dwarfs, and they can. Dwarfs do not ask for people’s pity, and just like anyone else dwarfs are free to seek out methods of abuse and public humiliation, but how humiliating is it when your getting $400 an hour for being thrown across a room?
In short (as it so often is with dwarfs) they are provocative, a thorn in the side of the moralistic, conservative do-gooders, that believe themselves to be endowed with the power to tell everyone else what is right or wrong. Dwarfs stand at the front line in the battle of free speech against these oppressive forces of political correctness.
In the United States dwarfs enjoy the same liberties afforded to anybody else, and therefore Americans are free to enjoy dwarf tossing, dwarf bowling, dwarf wrestling, racing them against exotic animals, dwarf stripping, you can even have one impregnate your future wife. Nothing protects the dwarf from public indignity, because nothing needs to, a dwarf can embrace it, face up to it with his head held high (metaphorically speaking). For millenniums dwarfs have entranced and captivated the simple minded, with an air of mysticism, and while society’s curiosity in the bearded lady or Lobster Boy has long faded, a healthy interest in the dwarf endures.
Can I Toss a Dwarf?
Of course, dwarf tossing is a well established pastime that requires a tosser and a dwarf consenting to being tossed. Dwarf tossing actually dates back to the times of ancient Babylonia and is even made reference to in the Dead Sea Scrolls. In 1026 BC, King Nabu-shum-libur, whilst facing attack and ultimate destruction from the marauding nomadic tribesman of north west Babylonia sought solace and relaxation. With his city lying in ruins around him,and with nothing else at hand but his loyal troupe of dwarf entertainers, the King started to throw them around his burned out throne room to alleviate the stress of his impending doom.
The more conservative members of society might be questioning the morality and legality of such practices. In Florida during the 1980’s dwarf tossing became very popular in bars. Until Jeb Bush had a law passed enabling the revoking of liquor licenses of bars that continued to allow dwarfs to be tossed on their premises. Thankfully in October 2011, common sense prevailed when Ritch Workman introduced legislation that would overturn the ban on dwarf-tossing, claiming such a ban to be an “unnecessary burden on the freedom and liberties of people” and “an example of Big Brother government”. Although not a personal advocate of the activity, Workman stated “if a little person wants to make a fool out of themselves for money, they should have the same right to do so as any average sized person”.
While the United States are progressive in their approach to dwarf tossing, the EU is more draconian. In 2002 a French dwarf appealed to the UN against a ban on dwarf tossing, his appeal was thrown out as the UN said it was satisfied that the ban on dwarf-tossing should be upheld “in order to protect public order and considerations of human dignity”. Therefore this proves there is greater human dignity in France than Florida, and that if you’re French you will have to go to Miami to toss a dwarf. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2285348.stm
In The kingdom of the Little People
Kunming, China – A successful entrepreneur with a social conscience decided he wanted to give something back to society, and what better thing could he give back than a dwarf themed park? Costing $115 million dollars and situated in 13,000 acres of rural countryside, this is no small attraction. Amongst the props is a black BMW modified to resemble a UFO out of which dwarfs pour to commence their shows. Mr. Chen the entrepreneur with the vision for this spectacle proudly boasts that it was all his idea including the Dr. Seuss style homes with crooked chimneys.
But this LSD fueled, Roald Dahl nightmare is not without its detractors who claim it is little more than a freak show pandering to people’s morbid curiosity. Gary Arnold who is the spokesperson for Little People of America Inc, a dwarfism group based in California, said ” I think it’s horrible, how low can a society get? People always look down on us and this does nothing to raise our status.” Mr. Chen is quick to argue that the dwarfs are paid well and he always has a surplus of applicants. “My theme park is a step up for them, they are well looked after end their environment is built for their needs. The public might be motivated out of a morbid sense of curiosity, but why can’t the dwarfs make money from it? At the end of the day both parties go home happy.”
Dwarfs Taking Sport Seriously
Don’t let this tomfoolery deceive you, not all dwarf activities are organised for public amusement. This video shows a very proficient football team from Brazil.
Unique Dwarf Sporting Challenges
And who has the right to stop four dwarfs racing a camel?
Dwarfs push the boundaries, boundaries often placed there by others, by non-dwarfs. They challenge conservative values established by a society obsessed with political correctness. Dwarfs teach us determination, give us hope and inspire, because whilst being small has it’s difficulties, they’re not going to let it get them down further than it already has.
Dwarfs wherever you are, whether your racing camels, getting tossed or shagging a bride at her hen night, I salute you.