striking but little discussed element about the new Netflix Washington
political drama series, House of Cards, is that every time a character
picks up a cell phone, something bad happens. The character's phones shadow
them at every turn like evil twins, giving the impression that the US
government, and everything in its orbit, is run not by human beings but by cell
phones. The people attached
are merely puppets of the
don't think this is a sign of the rumored "singularity," the point
at which human and machine intelligence supposedly meld into a shimmering
synthesis of silicon masturbation fantasies. Rather it's just another
demonstration of the diminishing returns of technology -- or how thinking
you're so smart actually makes you stupider. Surely we are a stupider nation
politically than we were before the age of texting, drones, and high
have no predictions about what exact effects the so-called Sequester
might bring about when its dreaded hammer rings down on Friday. But something
that works as a bitch-slap upside this nation's tattooed head is apt to be
salutary, if only to demonstrate to the apathetic masses and its grifter leaders that anything which can't go on forever,
disturbs me, a non-right-winger politically, is that
the US government should not try to replace a functioning real economy of
volitional exchanges, especially if necessity compels that economy to change.
That is what our government has been attempting by stealthy increments for
decades and now with reckless abandon in the new era of a permanent
contraction that no political figure can fathom. Lately, this trend has been
ramped up under the wishful hypothesis that some magical new technology or
financial "secret sauce," will eventually bring back a return to
the nirvana of techno-industrial boom times, if only we can be "smart"
enough. The wishing is evident in such con-jobs as the shale gas bubble
("We'll soon be energy independent") and the idea that a few new
Apple fabrication factories, staffed largely by robots, will save the remnant
American blue collar class from their fate as tattooed convenience store layabouts.
course there is plenty of real work to do around the USA in transitioning to
the next phase of history, but we're not interested because it might violate
our narrow comfort zone. We need more people to start working at local
farming. When agri-biz fails it will happen hard
and fast because of its seasonal nature, and the familiar distribution
networks (supermarkets) will fail with it. American political leadership
won't inform its citizen-subjects about this beforehand, or shift policy
supports away from their ag-industrial
client-patrons. To be fair, American citizens can't see themselves working in
the crop rows, either. They will choose to starve rather than do what they've
seen Mexican migrants do for a couple of generations -- and they will starve,
eventually, too, even with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
playing on the flat screen in the background.
we weren't such a stupid people in thrall to our "smart" phones,
we'd be rebuilding the US passenger railroad system for the day, not far off,
when the grand entitlement of Happy Motoring rather suddenly vaporizes for a
significant chunk of the population. The lack of interest in that project is
really something to behold. Politicians who systematically "de-fund"
the rail corridors, which is the case here in the
Northeast, do it because they are as clueless as their constituents about
what's really coming down. Rather, both the politicians and the public place
their bets on "self-driving cars" powered by an as-yet-to-be
announced sovereign replacement for liquid hydrocarbon fuel. The net effect
of that stupidity is that your children and grandchildren will lead lives in
which they rarely travel more than ten miles from home.
also gets me about the aptly-named tele-drama House
of Cards is the way all the leading politician characters are seamlessly
conveyed around Washington D.C. by chauffeured limousines, even two-bit
congressmen from states where people don't eat with knives and forks.
Cossetted in their air-cooled back seats, they relentlessly romance their
smart phones, making more trouble for themselves and for everyone in this
sad-ass feckless country. What a tragic conceit for the nation of dunces we
have actually made of ourselves.