Monday, December 18, 2017


It is a truism and a scientific principle that for every force there forms an opposite force, possibly equal but maybe not.  The consequence can be evolution to something new, a merging into one or the other, something totally and unexpectedly new appearing from the unknown.  We appear to be politically caught in the middle of this kind of crunch.

It’s revealing to think in terms of generations, with the oldest generations holding out for sameness and the youngest generations having left all those assumptions and perceptions of the world behind.  For instance, the insistence on forcing fossil fuels to be given advantages and priorities — despite the growing bad consequences and diminishing supplies — has prompted all sorts of research — even venture capital — into alternatives.  

Wind, tide, solar sources and even small ingenious sources, like these examples in mashable: small, renewable, household lights.  Some of these devices have been handed out in Puerto Rico where the power is still not on for many people.  In Africa they make a huge difference, not least because kids can do homework, an investment in the future that is a different kind of power.   It won’t take long before we’ve all got these gizmos instead of a flashlight drawer or a shelf of candles.  In the parts of the world that are still not wired and the parts of the world where grids can fail (like American airports), these ingenious gizmos can even convert sea water to drinkable water.

A major advantage of youngsters is an ability to “play”, one of the keys to creativity and success.  Chemical light sticks that glow because of reactions when their container is bent are so popular that people wear them to parties as decoration on dark dance floors. 

This way of thinking and our ever-deepening understanding of the ordinary potential of the world around us also apply to high computer technology.  Two that I’m trying to figure out are responses to juggernauts of the internet world that are either failing or choked or taking up too much room — depending on monopoly for profit.  One of them is an original founder of Wikipedia, who is now developing a better version, “the online encyclopedia reinvented for the modern age.”

“Everipedia is the next generation encyclopedia rebuilt for the modern age. With over 6 million articles and counting, it's already the world's largest English encyclopedia by content. Everipedia is free from ads and free to use for everyone under creative commons.”  Blockchain based.

The other major event is also a block chain-based internet reiteration.  “What if we use all those phones to build a massive network? We use my compression algorithm to make everything small, efficient, move things around. And if we could do it, we could build a completely decentralized version of our current internet with no firewalls, no tolls, no government regulation, no spying. Information would be totally free in every sense of the word.”   I still don’t “get” blockchain, but no doubt I’ll figure it out.  Or just use it without knowing how it works, which already is my main practice online.

Here’s another alternative beginning to develop along the same lines.: 

These technological movements are like the historic reactions to oppression.  When swords were used against disarmed poor people in Asia, they developed the strategies of judo and karate.  When the writing of rebellious and dissenting people was punished by dictators in South America, the authors went to magic realism, fiction within fiction that couldn’t be deciphered by outsiders with rigid mindsets.

Ridicule is always at hand.  The cartoons against the present situation in the US are wonderfully outrageous.  And porn is always peeking in from the wings: Trump’s lascivious mind, his fleshy grimaces, are a perfect fit (slash) with a man who demonstrates his manliness by riding a bear “bare”-chested.  The obscenity is part of the fun.

Republicans who barely graduated high school English have the idea they can control people’s thinking by restricting their vocabulary.  This little strategy made George Carlin a hero, which Repubs didn’t know, because it’s something you learn in college.  The words are shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.  (Frat boys might add fart, barf, and stoned.)  All the things your mom wouldn't let you say at home.

What anthropologists do when describing the surprising indigenous people do (things that Victorians never discussed in public but DID in private) was to translate their notes into Latin, which was assumed to be known only to post-grads.  So Carlin’s words in Latin become:  Excrement, urine, coitus, vulva, Narcissus, Oedipus, quod mammilae.  Alice Kehoe caused a bit of a stir when she translated some Plains Indian ceremony descriptions back in plain English, revealing that the crux of the event was ritual coitus.  (Show those buffalo what they should do!)

It’s not necessary to go that far to evade Trump’s mind control.  After all, he’s a man of shrinking vocabulary.  So I suggest sensible workarounds as follow.  (Actually, this list of forbidden words is not known to vulgarians anyway, since they are still using animal metaphors like “pussy.”)

fetus — Not a person yet
vulnerable — endangered
transgender — gender fluid
entitlement — protection-based
science-based — researched by experts
evidence based — best opinion so far
diversity — reality

Sometimes I fondly remember a complaint that came in when I was working at Animal Control.  A big hulk of a man, a little past middle-aged, came in to report the dog next door, which . . . he couldn’t find the words.  “The dog kept coming over and . . .  

We tried to help but the man plainly could not bring himself to find the words.  Finally, he burst out,  “this dog comes over and tinkles!”  Trying not to giggle, we didn’t seem sympathetic enough.  He added,  “On my PORCH.”  And then, with mounting indignation, “It’s a St. Bernard!”  We finally got it.  

For the rest of the week, if one of us had to use the rest room, we said we were taking “a tinkle break.”  But vocabulary is a serious problem.  The unspeakable can become the unbearable and the unjust.

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