The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for May 29th, 2019

where goeth

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Prognostication is a specialty.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One considers himself able to not just look backward into history, but forward as well. I can make a reasonably good bet about a few subjects I know a bit about, and that have some historical context which instructs and informs. As an example of my thought process in this dimension, when I board a train or a plane I tend not to check the time too often while onboard. “Are we there yet” indicates that you didn’t think your journey through. You’ll know when you’re there, since the thing you’re riding in will stop and it’s operators will tell you to leave. Intervals are absolute, it seems, and you’re often disappointed if you don’t acknowledge that some things take time.

There are few, if any, moving sidewalks. No personal jet packs, or highways weaving around skyscrapers twenty stories up, and there is not a geodesic dome covering NYC. This is the 21st century, and none of that stuff exists in our daily lives, despite the promises of futurists from times gone by. We do possess computers, in our phones, that we can talk to, however. That’s pretty cool, but this ain’t the future we were supposed to get. Instead it’s kind of a pedantic and boring one, but, there you are. As the aphorism offers – wherever you go, there you are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Self driving vehicles got you worried? The futurists and engineers haven’t really figured that out for trains that operate on tracks yet, or for cargo ships guided by actual satellites, so my guess is that whereas the driverless car is certainly a fascinating experiment – it ain’t happening quite yet. As soon as it does, though, porn will be shot in them while the car is driving down highways and the AI is pretending it doesn’t know what’s happening inside the passenger cabin. That’s two prognostications for the price of one, right there.

Additionally, even if some form of ultra clean “Star Trek” style energy production technology were to emerge tomorrow, we’d still be using petroleum for fuel for at least another century. I know this because we’re still using coal and gas, which are centuries old technologies. There’s a technological concept called “installed base,” which governs such matters. In layman terms, you ain’t changing the furnace in your basement out until you have to, and the old Buick still runs pretty good. Saying that, I’m all for lurching blindly forward and declaring one of our futile and very American “wars” on Climate Change. The one on drugs worked out great, right? What could go wrong?

I’d recommend creating a non variable zoning regulation instead, demanding all new construction include a green roof, for our cities. Activation of the 4H club and the various Scouting organizations in pursuance of tree planting along highways in rural areas would also be a plus. Reforestation seems to part of the answer, but it’s probably best to ask the farmers what they’d do. The religious zealots? Tell ’em that God wants ‘Murica to recreate Eden, and they’ll burn litterers on the stake.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Warfare is the cheap harlot of history, with its pageant and tragedy. It’s also the substance of what most of “the powers that be” would want you to build the shelves of your mental bookcase with. Even the Real Estate guys use it, selling “pre war” apartments at significant markups. “Pre War”? Which war? Are we never not at war in the United States? There’s a cognitive dissidence often encountered which somehow equates the far more important cultural, economic, and industrial history of the nation state as being encapsulated by “eras” defined either by conflict or the coarse and often bellicose personalities of various politicians and their regimes. It wasn’t the “Reagan era,” or the “Vietnam era” that you should be building those shelves out of.

Can you imagine what the historians of the future will call our time? They’ll focus in on foreign war and bombastic politics (both of which provide an excess of documentation, making the job of piecing together a narrative easy) but I think they’ll miss the particular mood of our time. That weird “us” versus “them” mentality which needs to be torn out of the body politic root and stem. As mentioned at the start, one often looks backwards to understand the tyranny of the now.

Americans aren’t much different from the Ancient Egyptians, or more recently the citizenry of the late Roman Republic. Like the Egyptians, we’re obsessed with death and honor, deeply superstitious, and willing to tolerate a lot of nonsense in the name of not offending the gods, and we also have a well founded belief that we can beat the snot out of anyone who messes with us. The Egyptians weren’t all that different from the late in the game Republic of Rome, but the Romans are a bit more familiar in outlook. They saw warfare as a business opportunity, just like us. I read about Rome a lot. There’s a lot to read.

The “blues and the greens” of Constantinople come to mind, but that’s really just a political analogy that sits nicely into our left/right narrative. Instead, I’m thinking about Caesar, and how the Liberators had absolutely no plan whatsoever in place to rule after those twenty seven stabbings in the Senate House happened. If you’re going to kill Caesar, you should have a really good plan for a post Caesar future. If you don’t, the Republic you were trying to save from a tyrant just might collapse, and give rise to a penultimate tyrant.

Interpret that last prognostication as you may. A smart auger leaves things a bit vague.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

May 29, 2019 at 11:00 am

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