Is it possible that we Americans only pretend not to notice the conditions that produce an epidemic of school shootings, or is the public just too dumbed-down to connect the dots?
Look at the schools themselves. We called them “facilities” because they hardly qualify as buildings: sprawling, one-story, tilt-up, flat-roofed boxes isolated among the parking lagoons out on the six-lane highway strip, disconnected from anything civic, isolated archipelagoes where inchoate teenage emotion festers and rules while the few adults on the scene are regarded as impotent clowns representing a bewildering clown culture wrapped in a Potemkin economy that has nothing to offer young people except a lifetime of debt and “bullshit jobs” — to borrow a phrase from David Graeber.
Santa Fe, Texas, High School
The world of teens has been exquisitely engineered to steal every opportunity for colonizing the chemical reward centers of their brains to provoke endorphin hits, especially the cell-phone realm of social media, which is almost entirely about status competition, much of which revolves around the wild hormonal promptings of teen sexual development — at the same time they are bombarded with commercial messages designed to prey on their fantasies, longings, and perceived inadequacies. All of this produces immersive and incessant melodrama along with untold grievance, envy, frustration, confusion, and rage. And, of course, where the cell-phone universe leaves off, the world of video games begins, so that boys (especially) get to act-out in “play” the extermination of their competitors and foes.
As a younger man, I truly believed that those individuals who didn’t have the drive and intellect to hack it in the world of free enterprise were relegated to low-paying, boring jobs in government. Whether city, state, or federal, I figured the dullest among us would wind up with a direct-deposit paycheck from some bureaucracy and just slum their lives away with a steady diet of paperwork, fast food, and watching tee-vee at night.
How wrong I was! The City of Palo Alto makes clear that it’s ME who is the moron and the clerks in city hall that are banking coin! What a fool I was.
And I know we’re all supposed to get misty-eyed at these “civil servants”, especially police officers and firefighters, who hang out at the station house risk their lives every day on our behalf, but I’m sorry, when a fuckin’ firefighter is getting a third of a million bucks a year, the world’s gone wrong.
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[biiwii comment: sometimes we swing politically to the right, sometimes to the left, and other times to the Kunstler :-) ]
In that long ago yesteryear of 1979, before blogging, tweeting, twerking, hacking, posting, ghosting, doxing, and all the other Internet-enabled compulsions of the present day, a gang of inflamed young men, said to be students, invaded the US embassy compound in Teheran and took fifty-two American embassy personnel hostage — crossing an age-old line of geopolitical conduct that kicked off the epic conflict between global Islam and a USA-led West, still on-going as you read.
I followed the Iran Hostage Crisis avidly… the gibbering mullahs, the blindfolded captives, the rotating cast of double-taking prime ministers who lectured Jimmy Carter on the Nightly News, the rescue attempt fiasco that killed eight American soldiers out in the Persian desert. Oddly, what I remember most after all these years was the fact that the hostages ran out of dental floss and had to swap around between them the same recycled last strand for weeks on end — a ticket to periodontal hell, if ever there was one.
It was refreshing to read the response of Federal Judge T. S. Ellis III to a squad of prosecutors from Robert Mueller’s office who came into his Alexandria, Virginia, court to open the case against Paul Manafort, erstwhile Trump campaign manager, for money-laundering shenanigans dating as far back as 2005. Said response by the judge being: “You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud. You really care about getting information that Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment or whatever.”
Judge Ellis’s concise summation was like a spring zephyr clearing out a long winter’s fog of unreality in our national politics — the idea that Mueller’s mission has been anything but the Deep State’s ongoing crusade to nullify the 2016 election. In the meantime of the past year, Mueller has been additionally burdened by obvious misconduct in the FBI and its parent agency, the Department of Justice, which makes Mueller himself look like the instrument of a cover-up, or at least a massive organized distraction from the misdeeds of the Deep State itself.
You can see where this Mueller thing is going: to the moment when the Golden Golem of Greatness finally swats down the political horsefly that has orbited his glittering brainpan for a whole year, and says, “There! It’s done.”
It suggests that Civil War Two will end up looking a whole lot more like the French Revolution than Civil War One. The latter unfurled as a solemn tragedy; the former as a Coen Brothers style opéra bouffe bloodbath. Having executed the presidential swat to said orbiting horsefly, Trump will try to turn his attention to the affairs of the nation, only to find that it is insolvent and teetering on the most destructive workout of bad debt the world has ever seen. And then his enemies will really go to work. In the process, they’ll probably wreck the institutional infrastructure needed to run a republic in constitutional democracy mode.
[biiwii comment: I own a gun, but stupid is stupid no matter what side of the aisle it’s sitting on]
Donald Trump is getting set to travel to Dallas this week to address the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting, which is something of a ritual for him — this will be the fourth consecutive NRA convention at which Trump has spoken. It’s also the first one he’s addressed since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, after which Trump caused great wailing and gnashing of teeth among gun-humpers when he briefly floated the idea of raising the age for all firearms purchases to 21 and encouraged lawmakers not to fear the NRA in crafting gun legislation. He even speculated that people accused of doing bad things should have their guns taken away first, and then authorities could “go through due process second.” We’re sure he only said that because in Trump’s head, “due process” is a thing only liberal pussies care about, not tough on crime guys like Trump, but then someone explained the only acceptable position on guns is that they have to be taken from your cold dead perfectly-normal-sized hands.
I had a fellow on my latest podcast, released Sunday, who insists that the world population will crash 90-plus percent from the current 7.6 billion to 600 million by the end of this century. Jack Alpert heads an outfit called the Stanford Knowledge Integration Lab (SKIL) which he started at Stanford University in 1978 and now runs as a private research foundation. Alpert is primarily an engineer.
At 600 million, the living standard in the USA would be on a level with the post-Roman peasantry of Fifth century Europe, but without the charm, since many of the planet’s linked systems — soils, oceans, climate, mineral resources — will be in much greater disarray than was the case 1,500 years ago. Anyway, that state-of-life may be a way-station so something more dire. Alpert’s optimal case would be a world human population of 50 million, deployed in three “city-states,” in the Pacific Northwest, the Uruguay / Paraguay border region, and China, that could support something close to today’s living standards for a tiny population, along with science and advanced technology, run on hydropower. The rest of world, he says, would just go back to nature, or what’s left of it. Alpert’s project aims to engineer a path to that optimal outcome.
America has become Alzheimer Nation. Nothing is remembered for more than a few minutes. The news media, which used to function as a sort of collective brain, is a memory hole that events are shoved down and extinguished in. An attack in Syria, you ask? What was that about? Facebook stole your…what? Four lives snuffed out in a… a what? Something about waffles? Trump said… what? Let’s pause today and make an assessment of where things stand in this country as Winter finally coils into Spring.
As you might expect, a nation overrun with lawyers has litigated itself into a cul-de-sac of charges, arrests, suits, countersuits, and allegations that will rack up billable hours until the Rockies tumble. The best outcome may be that half the lawyers in this land will put the other half in jail, and then, finally, there will be space for the rest of us to re-connect with reality.
What does that reality consist of? Troublingly, an economy that can’t go on as we would like it to: a machine that spews out ever more stuff for ever more people. We really have reached limits for an industrial economy based on cheap, potent energy supplies. The energy, oil especially, isn’t cheap anymore. The fantasy that we can easily replace it with wind turbines, solar panels, and as-yet-unseen science projects is going to leave a lot of people not just disappointed but bereft, floundering, and probably dead, unless we make some pretty severe readjustments in daily life.
[biiwii comment: very pleased to welcome Wonkette to our author lineup as Biiwii travels far afield and expands its scope]
Raise your hand if you’re surprised that Sean Hannity owns $90 million worth of rental properties. Are you fainting that Fox News’s man of the people, who rails against Hollywood elites before hopping on his private jet, has extensive investments? Were you shocked to read in The Guardian that he snapped up dozens of these properties at fire sale prices after they’d been foreclosed on by banks?
NO, OF COURSE YOU’RE NOT. The Hannity Hypocrisy Hour has been on teevee for eleventy years, and we’ve all developed antibodies by now.