The Talking Dog

October 22, 2016, Future Schlock

We'll start with this Gizmodo piece noting the potentially "bleak future" assuming the ever-more-regular event of massive hacks and denial-of-service attacks of intermediate/wholesale internet operators, such as this week's attack on a company called "Dyn" that took down quite a number of popular internet sites.

I note that as recently as today, I myself received notification (presumably as did 46 million other people) of a data breach associated with a company I never heard of called "Modern Business Solutions," which, unbeknownst to me or anyone else, is some kind of "leaky bucket of the internet," that our data seems to be poured into by entities beyond our control.

And breaches of internet security are a significant issue in the current presidential campaign (even today, for example, Wikileaks-- whose very name tells you that the term "internet security" does not mean what you think it means-- released hacked emails purporting to show that the Clinton Foundation paid women less than men for comparable functions [the article, of course, is from an anti-Clinton partisan-- which is fine-- but, drilling down, the alleged "disparity" is relatively small-beer... just sayin']...)

Alrightie then. I'm going to quickly go meta- and give you this broad-based piece from one of my favorite thinkers (that would be John Michael Greer) concerning a recent Pentagon report on future planning (circa twenty years from now), in which JMG observes that the Pentagon seems to "predict" a future that looks remarkably like the present-- as Greer notes, a dubious, if not utterly ridiculous proposition. The piece goes on to make a number of potentially grim predictions (particularly if the normalcy bias that grips our Establishment does not permit sufficient anything but group-think, thereby allowing the antecedents of the grim predictions to fester, and the bad stuff to come true.) But among the observations JMG makes are that American strategic rivals (that would be Russia and China for starters) have every incentive to support what amount to assisting in the marginalizing of American power (for one, they are much more rational-- as compared with American "exceptionalism" making our nation's foreign entanglements less rational if not messianic in comparison), by, among other things, supporting "monkeywrenching" of things like our military infrastructure that is shockingly complex yet not particularly resilient if anything goes wrong (and lots of things go wrong), or even supporting "warband culture"-- easily thought of perhaps in a "mad Max" concept, but more likely to be simply opportunistic thugs (think Yeltsin's Russia) operating in a suddenly more "fluid" environment able to challenge ever weaker state institutions... And these, of course, don't account for affirmative stupidity on our part, such as anyone (both Hillary Clinton and Mike Pence, for example-- though, interestingly not Trumpolini) publicly suggesting that they could implement a no-fly-zone in Syria and thereby potentially start a direct shooting war involving Russia. As our nation's greatest philosopher (that would be Yogi Berra) once said, "Predictions are hard. Especially about the future."

Anyway, as the future rolls toward us... we won't even discuss our absurd dependency on diesel fuel and trucks, or a continually-operating-electric grid, each of which is shockingly vulnerable, be it to failures just from not performing basic maintenance (many of our infrastructure systems--such as the electrical grid and many municipal water systems-- have elements that are well over a century old now), or our dangerous vulnerability to seemingly mundane things like crop failures (say, from drought, whether or not exacerbated by climate change, or disease, whether or not exacerbated by our insistence on dumping unproven GMOs into the environment), or just plain "weather events."

Here's the thing: a certain technology has been perfected. It's just not the technology you think. It's what the man considered the father of modern public relations Edward Bernays (perhaps not coincidentally Sigmund Freud's nephew) called "engineered consent." In this case, that is the widely held belief that all [scientific and technical] progress is not only inevitable but an affirmative good, as if ordained by the Divine. So, that said, as people basically see the strings holding modern life together fraying in front of them, they nonetheless go back into their bubble of talking to each other on mobile phones rather than face-to-face and spending their lives watching electronic images bounce around rather than, oh, living, and... yes, we have seen what our betters in Silicon Valley have done, and it was good.

Well, maybe... but whatever it is seems highly vulnerable, and it is not clear that we are not looking at a "bleak future" by any means... my advice, as usual, is to "grow your own garden"-- I suggest literally-- I for example have raised-bed container with a variety of vegetables on our urban roof and in our back yard, "cultivate" your relations with other people-- loved ones, friends, perhaps neighbors, try to rebuild the civic pride (via churches/synagogues/mosques, or civic clubs or freaking bowling leagues)... in short, try to live the way people did in the 1950's and 60's (preferably without the overt racism, sexism, etc.), but, you know... with a sense of community and grounding. Because I don't enjoy living in a world involving people walking around in their own zombie apolcalypses buried in their electronic apparatuses... I think this world is already lonely and unpleasant... think how much worse it will be when--not if-- those things go dark too, and the basic skills of human interaction (not to mention, human survival)... have not been learned.