Saturday, December 08, 2018


Waiting for Christmas is nothing compared to waiting for Mueller.  Maybe it's the same thing: waiting for something profoundly hoped for, some world-changing thing that will save us all, and the worry that we might not deserve it.  Coal is what Trump wants.  He doesn't care about the stocking.

The threats have piled up.  Worries about the economy and the stark reality of less money but more need for it are pinching us all.  The big overriding tsunami of global climate change is real in agricultural places, so real we can't really bear to talk about it.  Don't say "tariff". 

Talking abstractly about famine as war is far less tormenting than the sight of wizened babies who can barely move their eyes.  In the Seventies when working at animal control I invited scientists from the Oregon Primate Center to tell us about their work.  One of the women was deliberately starving baby monkeys to the edge of death so that she could treat them in recovery to see how to do it.  It seemed immeasurably cruel, esp. to her.  But now we see the point.  The trouble is that there is no access or protocol that gets to the Yemen children.  Once I read about a woman being punished who was deliberately put in a cage just out of reach of her newborn long enough to let it starve to death while she watched.  Humans are so resourceful at harm, so reluctant to heal.

The climate change that gave us agriculture ten thousand years ago may be taking it away again, without even a shrug.  Without even nostalgia for the little farms that were supposed to be our ideal even on the Star Wars planets because they were home for the small families that are today rejecting their children.  People surge across the continents to get away from war and drought and flooding and fires.  There's no escape.

Politics are sold out to oligarchs and person-less corporations that ironically pretend to be people.  And all this time we were worrying about robots without wondering where they were going to come from, who was going to make them, and who would teach them what to do.

We worried about the pandas and sage grouse while all the time the bugs were dying.  We worried about the sperm counts of American men and the rise of compulsive friction-sex based on domination, we worried about staying alive, but only while the babies were inside women.  Once they were out, it was all a matter of ownership, even if we only owned little corpses.  Men owned women and rich men owned everybody else, not with chains but with short-sheet paychecks.

Science has expanded its horizons to the point of hearing the Big Bang and creating little 6-chromosome "cells" that can make molecules, just like the molecules that make us.  But they still can't cure AIDS.  Alongside expanding the galaxies, science erases boundaries between genders, species, territories, planets.  All our assumptions about reality get challenged until we agree that there ARE no boundaries, there IS no reality, it's all constructed in our heads and agreed upon by eggheads with fMRI's.

Satellites and the Internet are invaluable and support our lives, but now we have the obligation of maintaining and understanding them.  We aren't there yet.  They could self-destruct tomorrow.  A universal hack that made all satellites fall out of the sky would paralyze the world.  A regional hack of the Internet means no one can pump gas or make change.  Big and little, these things are indispensable.  Or so we think.  We look at their end-objects, not their sources and infrastructure, and don't realize what they do to us.  Electronic systems power our emergency responses and the power grid.  Huge areas have suffered blackouts for unknown reasons.

Some people think that religion should address all this.  I do, too, but my idea of what religion "is" has developed into something very different and I'm inclined to leave much of what the world knows behind.  First of all, most people think a religion is an institution, either a standalone like most protestant congregations and denominations or quasi-governmental like the Roman Catholics who were energized by Roman emperors but lost their authority when new inventions like Democracy arose.  We may be at one of those culture-turning/burning points right now.  Some Luther somewhere is nailing a list of crimes to a big door and will be napalmed for it.

Institutions are only one aspect.  Dogma is a thought-castle that is challenged by the new insights.  "Mighty leaders" are falling out of fashion.  We prefer the Court Jester.  Maybe songs bring us together better than armies or rhetoric.  We talk about the revolutions of the Sixties and Seventies, but maybe the real comparison ought to be with much earlier and more universal culture waves.  This much pain and new awareness has in the past produced new Worlds, not because a committee invented them, but because they were the only way to go.

So now Mueller -- who is a symbol and signifier for a whole body of people on his team and backing up the effort -- has begun to lay down the law.  He is making a choice of realities, the one described in the Rule of Law.  The sentencing guide for Manafort describes him as a liar who lies so much that he loses track of what he said, so that he has to invent new lies to protect the old ones.  It's likely that his brain structure is addled so that Actuality is not possible, but not quite bonkers enough for him to plead insanity.

So what is the balding Trump going to do?  Part of the Rule of Law is restraint and refraining from excessive punishment.  Many people just want him out of there but his inner parents taught him nothing about repentance.  His usefulness is over.  He's in danger from his former friends.

What's scariest to me -- but the clearest evidence that this is a world-changing universal culture wave -- is that all nations are seeing both sides of it.  Crime and corruption aren't visible until the rest of us wake up.  We're barely yawning now.  Even the arrogant who thought they were too good to deal with dirty old politics are realizing that they can't go about their business without getting greed and cruelty out of the way.

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