“When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized God doesn’t work that way, so I stole one and prayed for forgiveness.” – Emo Philips
Another week jetted by, another dozen half-formed blog posts in my head. I’ve been told there’s a lot of half-formed stuff in my head before, but that’s better than what’s in so many people’s heads I suppose. Maybe it’s unfair, but a lot of people seem to be just a collection of habits they have picked up from friends and family as a youth, and opinions they get from the media. Not a whole lot of introspection or critical analysis going on. And this has little or nothing to do with intelligence, age, nationality, religion, gender, etc. I’m not the first to notice this, the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers maintained that most men went through life in a “waking dream.” At least I think I’m talking about the same thing.
Which leads to todays’ random line of thought, the idea of control. I think most people, especially in positions of power, think they have more control over their surroundings than they do. An analogy I would make is to compare a head of state to an aeroplane pilot. Yes, an aeroplane pilot has complete control of his aircraft, and by extension to the passengers and crew of the plane. He can take them anywhere he wants, he can even end their lives if he wants. However, ands it’s a big however, this control is based on a whole host of complicated devices and machines working together in good order. A wing falls off the plane and the pilot’s control of the situation drops to zero pretty much instantaneously.
By the same token a head of state is like our doomed pilot, he may enjoy absolute power and complete control, but it is all enabled by social structures vastly more complicated and less understood than an aeroplane. Like our pilot, as long as things are going well, lots of control. But when things go wrong, control may be lost in an instant. And the pilot/President may not even know it. This is why I think President Obama’s situation is pretty hopeless. In terms of the economy because no one really understands how economies work, but there’s no doubt that the world economy is seriously seriously broken. And it doesn’t matter what the people in charge do, the situation has gotten way too far out of our usual habits for the usual answers to work. And no one even knows if there even are answers that will work.
In terms of defence/foreign policy the USA (and Israel) are both screwed because we made one of the biggest classic military blunders of all. As Frederick II put it: “He who defends everything defends nothing.” There’s no such thing as complete security, and trying to attain that goal we have extended ourselves way beyond our reach and eroded our security in countless ways. Israel by walling themselves of from their neighbours and being at constant war with them, the USA by building a breathtaking world wide military empire. In fact the America military is so over-extended in any classical sense that we risk disaster on an unprecedented scale in American history. There are perfectly plausible scenarios that will result in the loss of either or both our far flung expeditionary forces.
In any event world events are unfolding at a rapid pace now. And at least I’m not the only one making dire predictions. The flurry of events makes it hard to keep blog posts current though. Speaking of which, I am in the process of writing the CEO psychopath post, and the mutant chicken post. I apologize for the delay, it’s been a hard week here, one of my cats is on her deathlap so to speak, so I’ve not had the spirit to write.
I hope everyone had a great weekend.
(The above image is of German soldiers tat surrenered at Stalingrad. Of the 91,000 Germans captured at Stalingrad, only about 5,000 ever returned home. Most died in Soviet labour camps. If you’d told any of these fellows in 1939 that three years later they would be surrendering to almost certain death at the hands of the Russians in a city more than a thousand miles from Berlin, they would have told you you were nuts. The quote, well, it made me smile. Lastly, the used to call the 1873 depression, which lasted for 5-25 years, the “Great Depression.” After the 1930s depression they started calling that one the “Long Depression” to keep them straight. Now what are we going to do? My suggestion: We’ll call this one the “Long Great Depression.”)