Uncategorized

Republicans Versus Democrats: A Story of Childhood

 

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Children grow up to become either rebels or subservient followers.  They trail behind or renounce their parents’ worldviews, sometimes arguing and other times accepting whatever it is they have to say on how the world is.  Of course it is hardly that simple, belief itself being a far more complicated thing than simple acceptance and refusal.  Various nuggets simmer down into the unconscious, forming ideologies that, regardless of the outcome, resemble their parents’ tone.

 

Here is how most people remember childhood these days (and perhaps always) in this current era of victim hood:

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Now before we take an obvious side, I want you to reflect for a moment and be absolutely serious with yourself as your privately and quietly read this: which side were you on?

 

Personally I was a little bit of both, certainly the asshole making another person feel like shit.  I never actually descended into physical violence except as a method of self-defense, but surely I had a cruel wit and would occasionally harass those I did not like for fun (we all regret our youth).  But my targets were less specific, not focusing on the awkward or the shy or the weak.  I thought myself a warrior, a delusion that my comic book reading helped to inspire, fighting for justice of the oppressed.  I would bully the bullies and this would occasionally lead to my getting my ass kicked.  Sometimes with satisfaction I could make them cry, or even get their friends, too, to laugh at them.  Of course most of my efforts were failures, not taken seriously.

 

It is very hard to be indifferent to the endless taunts and lying whisper campaigns that ruthless individuals start about someone.  You tend to either believe or deny the allegations, whether they are true or not, based upon whatever partisanship you share with others.  If your friend is getting bullied you tend to stand up for them.  (Unless you think you are fearfully outmatched:)

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But bullies learn it from somewhere, don’t they?

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And the parents are often forced to endure this too, everyday, all day long:

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How does this impact their children?

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What sort of monsters do nearly all of us create?

 

But I wanted to talk about politics, as some of the above metaphors hopefully allude.  The Democrats and Republicans, each featuring their own bullying victim hood.  Let’s look at some cliches first:

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And yet, deep within the partisans there are opposing ideas.  The left is domineering and demanding, in favor of social engineering and control, according to some:

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And liberal perspectives of the right?

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Which side is bashing the other harder?   Does it even matter?

 

Here is a more moderate opinion:

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It seems pretty fair, rather accurate.  But then the partisans get a hold of the idea, get offended, and try to prove the morality of their own views:

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and

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And fringe groups arise, inflaming society and denying the actual reality of people on every side:

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They says stupid things like

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and

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And people feel bullied and bully the opposition right back, like the children such small-minded people are.  Those who try to avoid such tactics tend to fall victim to the echo chamber of nastiness and victimization that seems somehow instinctual.  “Did you hear what they said?” someone asks.  “How can those idiots believe such things?

 

The truth–and I state this based upon listening to the policies being expounded by party leaders from far left to far right and those handful of lingering moderates in between (or at least those with a rational understanding of different opinions)–the truth narrows down to a handful of things.

 

The Republican Party is obsessed with money.  They are overwhelmed by personal greed.  Believing themselves to be in favor of something that within such a corporately controlled society no longer exists–“self-determination–“, the party squawks about every little thing that might impact whatever selfish, personal goal the individual has, the nation itself be damned!  They refuse to fund important things–“protecting the climate is too expensive;” “universal health care is too expensive;” “protecting your job is too expensive;” “giving you more freedom is too expensive.”  This seems to be the bottom line with the Republican Party (and this does not incorporate every person who declares themselves Republican or Conservative, of course, but only those running the corporation that their side of politics has become).  Can we afford anything if we want to keep all the money for ourselves?

 

The Democrats are every bit as selfish (again, in their corporate structure), although their agenda pretends to be something that it really isn’t, or at least not successfully.  They want to be social justice warriors (now a pejorative terms to describe some douchebag in college always shrieking about whatever cause of the moment has inspired their ire), protecting every person regardless of how worthwhile.  They generalize all people into classes, based upon race, religion, economic status, and whatever other categorization that keeps people apart instead of bringing them together.  The Democrats fire up their base every bit as much as the politics of rage on the right.  They even employ many of the same tactics–the outrage, both real and invented.  They scream about how nothing is fair, that they are being cheated, and that the bullies on the other side are the reason everything is wrong.

 

Look, we all side with our personal beliefs.  We either share or have our separate moralities.   Everyone has an idea on how the world could be a better place, regardless of whether they think it possible or not.  And so we play victims.  We either follow along or rebel, like frustrated children listening to their parents scream.  Do we nod our heads and refuse to think for ourselves, or blindly reject everything we have been told is true?

 

The times in which we live are an age of terminal childhood, both words being very important.  “Childhood” is obvious, and the general direction of this commentary.  But “terminal?”  Yes, this partisan absolutism or outright, cynical indifference, is the poison that is killing us.  Nations are no longer nations and people are hardly people.  Here, in the United States, I wonder about the value of that first word any longer.  “United.”  As in “United We Stand.”  And yet we seem to forget about the other half of this once inspiring phrase.  Remember it?

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Wrapping a Few Things Up

 

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Sometimes you lose interest in a project.  Sometimes you run out of time, leaving the work unfinished.  These are ultimately inevitable consequences of the active and often brutal world we live in.  I mean, how many of you were absolutely giddy when undertaking something with passion only to be bogged down by the grind, realizing that what you were aiming for simply isn’t worth it?

 

With this in mind I would like to wrap up a number of lingering serieses that have long been stamped as the very definition of Recording Editorial History:

 

The first one to mention is a very long and dedicatedly researched project that has not appeared on this site for quite some time.  It is entitled Recording Presidential Editorial History.  Numerous rough drafts of pieces appeared early on in my efforts on this site (might I direct you to those on Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, William G. Harding, and FDR in particular, although in the form they were published here they are somewhat incomplete).  But I later withdrew publishing these studies (and thoroughly revised many of them after much more research).  The reason for this is that I have decided to turn it into a book.

 

The basic premise is a historical essay for every President in the history of the United States (including revolutionaries like Sam Houston and traitors like Jefferson Davis).  The study itself is partially biographical, but deals primarily with both their contemporary and transformative public views as major figures towards the development of not just our nation, but the entire world.  Contrasting opinions, rumors, hero worshipping tall tales, and generational reconsiderations of certain ideas and actions dominate the stories.  As an author I attempt to withhold my own opinions (sometimes more difficult than others) and focus exclusively on the “editorial history” of how these world leaders have been painted.  This is a major project of mine and I have gotten up to Eisenhower.  Once we get to Kennedy the crazy rumors, the divided partisan animus, and endless suggestions of conspiracies (and I have no doubt that he was killed by more than just Lee Harvey Oswald), overwhelm historical discussion all the way up to the present, the swinging division of opinions becoming a shattering picture of patriotism and national pride collapsing.

 

Next we can look upon Elsewhere, an extremely important series to me.  This is a wide-ranging and densely researched historical study of numerous places throughout the world that are not my own.  As with everything I do, these narratives tend to focus on the darker shades of reality, discussing the barbarism of the past and how our views of such history have changed with every following generation, concepts of pride often devolving into deepest shame.

 

I happen to love the Elsewhere series.  They are the most joyful pieces I have written on this site.  They are endlessly fascinating to me, discovering all of these things that I did not know.  From discussions of prehistorical speculation all the way up to contested elections from the week before the narrative was written, there is so much one could learn by paying attention to others places that operate in unfamiliar or parallel ways.

 

Series 4 of Elsewhere kind of ended abruptly, a twice promised final study of Greenland being prepared.  Of course I became occupied with other things, other ideas, and decided to put this on hold while I studied, once more, the politics of my home country, the social atmosphere of paranoia and rage sweeping the world, the cruelty of people towards one another and, my personal passion, a defense of animals in a world of violence and indifference, lamenting and mourning the destruction some people commit from entirely selfish motives.

 

Elsewhere Series 5 will come along eventually, hopefully starting with Greenland (with the strange effort of President Trump to “buy” the nation adding another twist to this curious history), and then continuing to tour the northern most populated parts of the globe.

 

Finally there are the continuing journalistic-styled editorials on the Democratic Presidential Primaries, which is an often torturous study, listening to the same things coming out of sometimes indistinguishable candidates, all covered in the cynical nothingness of professional politics.  With the recent climate change town halls I had planned to write a comprehensive study on the different ideas and opposing views each candidate has on the issue (another important topic for me, repeated numerous times as an occasional weekly theme).

 

But I just couldn’t . . .

 

God were the discussions monotonous.  This is not to say that many of these people had nothing worthwhile to say, no.  But the format, the gruesome display of variant showmanship drooling out of each candidate’s mouths started to bog me down and eventually drowned me.  I mean, how many of you actually watched these things?  All of them?  I watched all of them.  Eventually it became far more interesting to contrast the CNN moderators and how they questioned the people instead of what response anyone had.  It was fun to figure out which person in the audience asking a question was a plant, either of the candidate talking or someone else looking to trap them.  Most of the speakers even went off topic, returning to their regular platforms, winking at the already forgotten Jay Inslee for his dedication to our environment, and then suggesting, alongside dollar signs, what they intended to do about the problem wrapped up in the dollar store ribbon of a proposed solution.

 

Also, with another debate (I believe with the same ten candidates) coming up later this week, I decided to incorporate whatever comments and analysis I have into that barb-throwing shit storm that all of these goddamn things have become.  The cynicism of the candidates–and most especially of President Trump himself–has created such a skewed atmosphere of politics that it is no wonder people fear the outside world, and the dawn of dictatorial tyranny on the horizon.  Books like 1984 (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780452284234&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used) and, perhaps more relevant to the United States’ current aloof indifference, Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780451525826&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used) continue to sell all these many years after their publication, giving people a picture of what the future might be.  And we stop watching, stop listening to what anyone different from us have to say.

 

I have gotten comments that the fact that I number the pieces (“Previewing the Democratic Primaries (Part Seven), for example, and “Evaluating the Democratic Primaries (Part Nine Hundred-Four)) telling me that such a thing is part of the problem.  The fact that so many people say so many things when most of us have already made up our minds not so much on who we support, but who we will vote against should give you an idea of just how exhausted with the decline of social discourse we have become.

 

Yes, I will continue with the analysis (those pieces earn me the most money of any of the others, much to my horror), and I will do my best to merely comment and predict.  But it is getting hard–harder–and there are times I do not want to do it anymore.

 

And so, prior to the preparation and discussion of the next debate, I think I will write about less tense issues.  There are other things to talk about after all.  Tomorrow–tomorrow let us talk about parents and their children . . .

 

 

Discussions of, without radicalism, of various beliefs and belief systems, Politics, Religion, social interaction, Uncategorized

Is American Football a Religion? (Revised and Republished from11/4/2018 and 2/2/2019)

 

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For the second time I choose to reprint this piece because nothing has changed.  When it was first written last year’s Football season was underway.  The same thing now, our first major religious gathering coming tomorrow.  Football season consumes a great deal of many people’s energies, transforming themselves from their everyday lives into radical followers of sects of truth.  There are saints and demons in these faiths.  There are prayers and alters to kneel down upon.  There is hatred–true, genuine hatred–of those following different gods, worshipping blasphemous lords.  There are even high holy days.  The first revision of this piece was made on the eve of last year’s Super Bowl.  Once again, I believe it is something to think about.


 

This essay originally appeared on 11/4/2018, as the 2018-2019 American Football season was still young.  It was a thought I had had about Sunday–formerly the day when people went to church (regardless of the fact that this is supposed to be God’s day off–why does he want to hear about how you masturbated to a picture of your aunt when she was young, much less forgive this?)  And it seems like we can make a case for this–football as religion.  Since we can proclaim our political parties and even pop cultural obsessions newfangled faiths, football certainly has a more organized system to follow.  We even drink beer from a chalice, and celebrate the body of our lord by consuming its spicy wings.

 

Tomorrow is the Religion of Football’s high holy day–the Super Bowl, where an annual messiah is named and we spend the off-season either worshiping or denouncing the Lord, impatient until the bloody revolution next fall.  (As an aside, the fact that the New England Patriots eventually went on to win the title yet again last year, there are plenty of people who write this off as Lord Tom Brady returning yet again.  This season there is great anticipation that with the abscence of Saint Gronk and the growing animus between the Lord and the likely betrayal of Julian “Judas” Edelman, the Reformation might just be upon us)–(a subsequent addition to this metaphor relates to the treasonous Antonio Brown joining the Patriots.  Let us presume him a Satanesque figure capable of using his cancerous influence to finally end the empire.)

 

We have a long religious tradition here in America.  In fact, the Pilgrims who started arriving in the 1600s were settling not so much to establish a new paradise, but a land they declared the New Jerusalem.  They were religious fanatics and nobody liked them back home at in England.  They came to the new land and demanded loyalty to their faith, which was suddenly free to be practiced.

 

Religion has always been important here, more often as an excuse for savagery and cruel oppression, than as anything resembling faith or a better way of living, or hope, or forgiveness of your sins.  Church has traditionally been harsh and corrupt every place in the world.  But in America we were allowed to follow any faith, or at least on paper.  Religious bigotry and prejudice were thus allowed to flourish unsanctioned.  Holy war occasionally broke out in pockets, justified by the winner’s victory over whichever sort of infidels they were battling.

 

Football in America is without a doubt a very powerful faith.  We prepare for Sunday.  We often dress up, or even go further than that, painting our faces and bodies the colors of the Lord we choose to worship.  And there are rituals; complicated, nervous expressions of devotion, where belief is internalized, as though without performing this sequence of prayers you are betraying your God.

 

And it is not only on Sunday.  On Saturday many people declare themselves followers of their favorite messianic college team, seeking to discover the new Jesus who will save their own faltering NFL team in the future while maintaining a cultish loyalty to whichever school they attended sometimes in the increasingly distant past.  (By the way, if you have not seen it, there was a drunken stooge in Philadelphia who vowed that he would eat shit if the Eagles won the Superbowl.  When the Eagles finally won, this fool scooped up a handful of horseshit lying in a mound on the street, which was filled with a Mardi Gras-like celebration of joy, and he smeared it all over his mouth to the rhapsodic, almost spoken in tongues encouragement of his fellow worshipers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9bhrp-9k-Y).  If this is not religious devotion than nothing is.)

 

College Football, in many ways, prepares the true believer for the NFL.  It is a different sect of the same religion (the gospel of Penn State, or Ohio State, or Notre Dame, et cetera).  And then there is Friday night, the high school game.  Sometimes this is every bit as popular and fundamentalist as all of the others, usually in small towns where there is nothing else to do on the weekend.  These communities are similar to those quiet, eerie burgs where everywhere you look you see a another church.

 

At high school Football games, fights often break out, mostly between the adults sitting on the sidelines.  Sometimes these parents are so loud and domineering that they distract their child on the field, and the kid gets knocked over or passed by.  This leads to the parent screaming in rage–“What the fuck was that?”  Sometimes the father even runs on the field to shove their son, humiliating them with the shouts of a frustrated football fan.  They may even call the child ‘worthless,’ picking apart their teenage (sometimes even younger) self-doubt, and turning their child into an ugly, angry mess very likely to bully others the same way their father bullies them, and that they will someday bully their own children.

 

Football also has additional holy days.  The NFL for many years has declared Monday nights yet another holiday.  It used to be only on Thanksgiving that we could all watch the Cowboys and the Lions play, to give the awkward family get together something to talk about and unify over, making the silence of disinterest in one another a little more tolerable.  But now there are games every Thursday, a further expansion of the church of American Football.

 

I am not condemning American Football by any means.  I’m a fan too.  I suppose I go to my own church every Sunday (as with everything, I am not especially religious.  I do not go to every service.  I will not wear a costume.  I don’t even have a favorite team, more of a mild interest in the parallels to real life I imagine through the brutality of a game taken far too seriously.)  I even play in a fantasy Football league, which is another style of worship, best left to another commentary on the impact of this nonsense on the actual professional world of sports (it grows year after year in the guise of so-called sabermetric gurus, transforming the way that the games are played in reality when a player, let’s say in baseball, becomes more interested in a meaningless stat like WAR–and I will not explain what this is to make my point–over the basic need for an RBI!)  I even won a fantasy championship one year, and a few hundred dollars, out of the many years I have been doing this with old friends I rarely see anymore in person.  And the truth is, our obsession with aligning our teams in order to win takes up even more time, time to watch replays and study on the days there are no games being played.  This whole expansion of Football into the realm of everyday life further justifies my belief in American Football as a very deep religion, complete with the judgment of the true believers, and the Heaven and Hell in the afterlife of a season.

 

Uncategorized

A Beginning and An End: A Visual Narrative (Revised and Republished from 4/14/2019)

 

Staying on theme this week in anticipation of completing a rather long analysis of the recent Democratic Presidential town halls on climate change, I reprint a piece from this past April.  It feels relevant under our ongoing discussions on the fate of humanity and our planet itself.  The study of the town halls will likely appear on Sunday.  Watching those seven hours of cynical politics combined with the deadly earnestness of shifting tones is absolutely exhausting.  In the meantime, please consider this.  Tomorrow I expect to revise and reprint a piece on American football as a religion.

 

Once

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then

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until

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But

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and

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and even

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Eventually

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with

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feeding this

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Finally, on earth

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and then

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until, eventually

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and they reigned

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Time passed

and life grew harder

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until the end finally came

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But life has a way of moving on.

 

New life arose

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then

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and

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and

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Finally, many years later

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and we know at least part of the story

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We disovered new things and came to thrive

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I suppose we learned

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Things changed rapidly after this

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It got even weirder:

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Finally,

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then

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years later

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This transformed the world:

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and on and on and on

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War continues, but perhaps even worse

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If

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then

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This leads not to

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but this

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Yet life, as always, continues to move on

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It is not the end of the earth

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And so take heart

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Because we don’t so much harm the planet

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It is only ourselves

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Uncategorized

Some Further Comments on the Weather (Updated and Revised From 6/22/2019)

 

The Democratic Presidential town halls on “the climate crisis” broadcast last night on CNN were seven hours long.  There was an additional about hour and a half of commentary by the anchors, blathering their opinions about what was said and how they said it; about meaning and, as with everything else on the news, chipped away at until it is little more than a game of who won.  My own commentary (hopefully a little different in tone, but every bit as judgmental, probably) will appear sometime this weekend.  I mean, I have a life outside of this after all.  I’m married.  I have children.  They just returned to school this week.  Time is rather short right now.  And watching the repetition of people trying to be as serious as possible no matter how seriously we might take them is something of a chore.  I recorded the whole damn thing.  I have, presently, gotten through three and I’ve taken plenty of notes.  I suspect my notebook might be entirely filled by the time I get through Cory Booker at the end and the wrap up.  So please, forgive me.  How many of you watched eight hours of the same thing being said over and over again in subtly different ways?

 

With that in mind, please enjoy a previous piece I wrote about climate change back at the beginning of the summer.  I give you “Some Further Comments About the Weather”:

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I have written numerous pieces here throughout the past year on the increasingly disruptive weather we are experiencing all over the world.  There are plenty of images I could display articulating this point, from grids and charts displaying statistics on the changes through the years, most especially in recent times.  We can look at before and after comparisons of ice caps, or view the endless parades of flood and fire, hurricanes and tornados.  These are frightening events, increasing almost daily, that it seems people see in one or two extreme ways: as apocalypse or fabrication, seeking to distract the world through fear, covering up the serious things, denying “what’s really going on.”

 

In response to the latter I give you this:

Avoiding the rants of doomsayers, does this not look like a version of how human civilization might actually end?

 

There are those that write things like this off as an anomaly, and I suppose examples so extreme are not yet part our everyday world.  But the fact remains that extreme weather events have been on a drastic rise, the rapidly advancing dark clouds and the sudden withdrawal of air from densely humid clouds, eventually causing the sky to literally crack open with angry-godlike bolts of lightning and the sort of thunder that causes every dog in town to shriek in horror:

So for those of you talking up the ideas about the many extinction events in earth’s past, I could say that you are telling the truth.  Yes, ice ages and drastic changes in climate have been, in fact, a genuine reality in the history of the planet.  And yet it is impossible to dispute that our advanced civilization has sped the process up into something none of us are looking forward too:

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We are experiencing this too:

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These are just a few examples, the narrative progression one of the many ways we can get from an Edenesque paradise into the thick, murky bog we dab at our foreheads and wipe burning sweat out of our eyes while huffing and puffing to endure.  I want you to think about how much more often it has rained, how chronologically off every season seems to be, either too hot or too cold or too wet or too dry, and the wind is harder and more piercing, and the trees are falling and power is being knocked out and we feel increasingly desperate and alone, hording our supplies, polishing our guns.  We are defending ourselves again Armageddon even if we do not believe in such a thing.

 

It will not come from zombies, nor even nuclear devastation (although that, too, could help speed the process along).  Robots might make the world more dangerous, but they are still mostly under our command.  It is the weather–the weather!  It is that very thing we discuss with one another when we have nothing else to say.  “Nice day outside, isn’t it?” or “Did you hear that storm last night?” or “The power is still out,” or “the power is still out,” or “the power is still out,” or tales of home owner’s insurance and just missed storms and “those poor people” and “at least it wasn’t me.”  This is the earth we now live on, and regardless of whether you believe that we have contributed to it with the drastic advancement of technology over the past 200 years, much faster and far more extreme than at any other time in the planet’s history, or maybe that some god-like entity is engineering the change out of anger, or even that the endless rotations and cycles of mother earth provide these circumstances every few million years or so (historically it has been about every 30 million years, give or take), regardless of what you think, it does not change the fact that it is happening.  It is our reckoning.  What do you want to do about it?