Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tomorrow has been canceled due to lack of interest

Unlike most people that regularly haunt and espouse a position on the strange computer-driven ether called the internet, I pray that the opinions I hold are very wrong.  In many ways I have the same attitude about my observations that the great Groucho Marx did about a club that would accept him as a member in that I frankly would not associate with a person who believes my often depressing notions. Now you good readers might be wondering what in the hell I am talking about and for the most part since I am without any beer at the moment to lubricate the rusty wheels that constitute the inner workings of my brain so do I, but I will attempt to sum it as neatly as possible.

In short, when I look at the current societal, cultural, and intellectual structure that makes up the United States of America today I see no evidence that our people or government have a clue about how we are to be successful in the twenty-first century. Now, as always, exceptions do exist in the form of isolated private citizens, businesses, and politicians who see the flaws in how we conduct ourselves but they can be compared to the mythological Cassandra who despite the gift of prophesy is condemned to be ignored by an oblivious majority.

In general, those of us who do not like the way the country is operating see the American mindset as a dulled and closed thing that is comfortably secure in its own mighty awesomeness and that no other nation or people cannot touch us. Any nation foolish enough to try will see a rain of death and destruction strong enough to kill off the leaders and cower the rest of the population into dark corners seeking to forever hide from our wrath.  It’s a neat delusion and at this moment largely correct but it has a lot in common with similar notions held by the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Spartans, and Romans, along with other empires who are now nothing but footnotes in some dusty history book.

Now this sense of American global entitlement and outright arrogance just did not pop out of nothingness. Much to the detriment of the Native American population, our section of the North American continent was taken and settled allowing the construction of a nation that honored science and innovation and was not scared to try new things even though they did not work very well at first. This brings me to the tipping point of what caused this seditious rant.

As always, I was minding my own business this morning listening to the radio as I drove home from work, surfing the airwaves when I happened upon the Mike Church conservative talk radio show. Feeling slightly masochistic for some reason I decided to listen to what the man had to say. While it has been an overwhelmingly futile endeavor for many years, I do search for reasonable people who promote a different political view than mine so I can try to understand where they are coming from.

This morning Church was making the case that American oil companies are abused entities only thinking of purely patriotic ways to serve the nation. Even worse, despite their altruistic intentions Church made the case that they are regularly assaulted by nasty communistic leaning liberals and radical environmentalists out to force everyone to abandon their SUV’s for unmanly itty-bitty cars designed by the envious French out to emasculate American manhood. Frankly, the case he was making was so insane I thought it was satire for several minutes. Of course, they traced the nefarious conspiracy back to President Obama, who with his Islamic/atheistic/socialistic minions are out to corrupt the Jesus believing folks of the United States turning them into NPR listening, rainbow worshipping, tofu eating vegans.

To Church and his less than technically advanced callers, all research into alternate forms of power are utterly stupid and doomed to failure since mighty oil will continue to be the primary energy source for all properly God fearing and capitalistic peoples. Their ridicule was aimed at the usual suspects of wind and solar power, electric cars, and the new favorite for those without any science education, fuels derived from algae. I find this last one outrageously funny since ExxonMobil recently invested 600 million dollars to develop bio-fuels. For the other sources of alternate energy, the Chinese are madly rushing to dominate the technology in a blatant attempt to control the industry.

It does not take a rocket scientist to see the that most conservative-based opposition to alternate energy comes from both an instinctive knee-jerk reaction to oppose anything the liberals support and the desire to protect the sugar daddy relationship they have with some corporations. I would be delinquent not to add that Taliban-like Christians who believe the Rapture is imminent and that all science is just something Satan created to confuse people makes the situation far more difficult. The one exception to this rule is when it comes to killing and blowing things up. A lot of good Christians change their minds and love science when it comes to things like advanced cruise missiles, faster jet fighters, and increased firing rates on assault rifles and machine guns. It surreal to hear a believer in the teachings of Jesus joke about “kill them all and let God sort them out” and “turn the other cheek so you can aim with your good eye.”

If the opposition to science and technology only came from folks who love to wallow in ignorance or those out to protect their pockets books at all costs things would not be so bad. Except that here in America there is a pervasive apathy about the future and our place in it that crosses all boundaries. Science education in this country lags so far behind other industrial countries that we have become a laughing stock to many of our commercial and military adversaries. The news media and late night comedians will occasionally conduct random surveys with people on the street in which very simple science questions are asked with answers that are at best nonsensical to outright embarrassing. Consistency is a minor talent but similar surveys, which ask questions of history and current events usually produces the same results. This coming from a country that prides itself on being the most advanced.

Culturally it is even worse, cable channels originally developed to provide an intelligent alternative to the broadcast networks have largely devolved into airing reality shows devoted to the lowest common dominator of human behavior. The bizarre spectrum of reality shows that examines such things as “Real Housewives”, desperate failed celebrities, paranormal activities, to talk shows featuring human scum make the national broadcast channels look like a bastions of intelligence and sophistication.

If reality shows were not bad enough, some of the fanatical video gamers I have had the misfortune to talk with seem to live in a far more delusional world than any nerdy Trekkie could ever hope to match. After attending a Star Trek convention several years ago I was stunned at how fanatically serious some of the people there took the show. It is one thing not to miss an episode of one of the Star Trek series which on occasion can be quite good. However, when you walk around in a 400-dollar Starfleet costume and introduce yourself as an admiral with years of experience exploring space it is time to reassess your grip on the real world. Hey, I know the very concept of reality can be an extreme bummer but there is such a thing as going too far.

Anyway, Trekkies are nothing to how some gamers live their lives through their gaming systems. When I learned some gamers actually spend significant amounts of real money to purchase items that exist only as part of the “World of Warcraft” online universe and others like it I felt a sudden urge to apologize to those silly high-ranking Trekkies I silently laughed at during that convention.

Overarching all these developments is a general worldview expressed by far too many Americans that say everything of significance has been created and that our way of life will go on forever. I am not just picking on addled conservatives who are perfectly happy as long as the 52-inch widescreen television in front of them is showing a NASCAR race and they have cold beer in the fridge. Hell, I like to sit back and watch one from time to time myself and drink a few.

But I have to include many liberals and independents who cannot think beyond immediate concerns inside their comfy suburban residences. In a weird counter to conservatives who love to play ostrich and ignore the world by sticking their heads in the sand, liberals do have an unsettling tendency to think utopia can not just be be achieved but done overnight. As for many middle and working class families struggling to keep their heads above financial waters in this current socio-economic era making ends meet from day to day is bad enough. So there isn't any time to worry about what tomorrow might bring, which only makes things that much worse in the long run.

Simply put our lack of contemplating any type of future is an amazingly narrow minded perspective that is corrosive and ultimately self-destructive. Because no matter how much Americans may want to sit back and believe we are the pinnacle of human civilization, much of the world in the twenty-first century has already matched our nation and surpassed it.

Unless we pull our heads out of asses and recognize the world is rapidly changing we will join the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and others who could not adapt to that fact. Once comfortably on top they did not think about tomorrow or plan for the changes the future brings and look what happened to them. Like I said at the beginning, I do not enjoy these sober thoughts and have a habit of discounting them, until someone with real credentials like Neil deGrasse Tyson comes along saying something very similar:


Sherry said...


I just posted a link to this in Twitter where 1 or 2 of my thousand followers might actually read it.

One thing the state of our world has done for me lately is reawaken my desire to read great works of fiction. At least some of those have happy endings.

Sarge said...

Tree-mendos post! Thank you! I have a dear friend (we fight over politics all the time - even over a beer at Hooters yesterday) who hates everything progressive - green energy is bullshit to hear Charlie. Yet he is a gadget freak and loves science. Had to have the Iphone 4S as soon as it came out!
Former flight engineer on a C-5.
Yet, a Limbaugh and FUX devotee.
Go figure...


Randal Graves said...

You're fooling no one, BB, you just want to be King of Mars, and this is only step one of your diabolically fiendish, 386-phase plan.

Collin Hinds said...

Ah, the fanatical scourge of American Exceptionalism. Instead of being realistic, and owning up to our shortcomings, we stick our heads in the sand and call ourselves infallible.

goatman said...

As long as we have missles which will blow your ass away from half a mile off, or more, we will always be on top.
But what an example to set.

Life As I Know It Now said...

I was at the gym yesterday and one of the four, yes FOUR, big screen televisions was on FOX news. Hey dumb asses, I wanted to shout, you are here to work out the body, not dumb down the mind. But such outbursts would be wasted and not make me safe I suspect so I kept that outburst to myself.

I love science by the way. I think Americans are overwhelmed with the stupid and really can not think of the future. I think Christians don't believe in a future for this country. They will be gone in the rapture so they could care less about the future that their grandchildren will be forced to endure.

Beach Bum said...

Sherry: Thanks!

Since I bought my Kindle I've started reading a bunch of no-name authors. I do need to read some more classics but I just don't have teh urge right now.

Sarge: I know the feeling very well, have members of my family who act the same way.

Randal: The Dark Side is strong in me, I want the entire galaxy. That way I will have my pick of the smoking hot green skin alien chicks Kirk liked to bag.

Collin: God Bless America! Sticking our heads in the sand is one of our few remaining talents.

Goatman: Peace through superior firepower only lasts until a new dog with more smarts, fight, and bucks comes along. Even with some big internal troubles China maybe that new dog.

Life As We Know It: Absolutely! While there are a few exceptions most Christians believe Jesus is returning very soon so why try and solve any problems or keep the planet healthy.

Pixel Peeper said...

I guess I'd never heard of Neil deGrasse Tyson, but I'll have to read up on him now. What a great phrase - ‘invention of tomorrow’ - it describes it so well. Also love his quote about science being being true, no matter what you believe.

It really gets dangerous when religion or ignorance tries to interfere with science. One of my friends in South Carolina had to find a new doctor once (it was at the time when the Terri Schiavo case was on the daily news), and during that first "get to know each other" appointment, my friend told his new doctor, "Now remember, I want you to treat me according to what you learned in medical school, not according to what you learned in Sunday school!"

Suzan said...

I think what we did with "tomorrow" yesterday killed it.

Building a huge defense establishment that would then invade and bomb any countries that didn't kowtow to our every whim killed it.

No one wants to know what tomorrow means anymore because they are scared to death that tomorrow in the hands of the Pentagon is a very bad thing.

Of course, I could be wrong and people could just hate science and planners.

But not without someone with an agenda telling them to think that.

I love Neil. Did you see my essay with the video of him and Richard Dawkins, et al., I published yesterday?

Great stuff!

Love ya and HE!


Nance said...

Sometimes I hesitate to voice my worry and outrage about our national course, thinking that there are others who are paid and trained to do it so much better than I could. In fact, my break from blogging has a lot to do with my ambivalence about saying the most pressing things on my mind today as I watch America play the utter fool for all the world to see. I'm hung up, wondering what good one more liberal diatribe could do.

And, yet, I applauded this righteous rant loudly as I read. Maybe we, the common folk, should all be posting like this. Maybe we must.

Beach Bum said...

Pixel: Yeah, Dr. Tyson is pretty damn cool! As a huge supporter of manned space flight he has said a few things against it that I do not agree with but as someone who helps the public understand science he is almost as good as the late Carl Sagan.

Suzan: I agree, the defense industry sucks up a lot of the research money. Whats funny is how some scientists frame their research requests with military overtones so it sails by idiot politicians. I read one guy framed subatomic particle research as an attempt to increase the yields of nuclear weapons and got it by a senator who before said it was a pork barrel project.

Nance: Thanks for your kind words. I really have little optimism about the United States until a bunch of the old dinosaurs in power and holding societal influence passes away. It's a reoccurring theme for me but this country really is mired in 1950's thinking with Frothy Rick being the head of the infectious pimple.

Sue H said...

You have your fair share of oddballs over there but here in the UK it's not so different. We have idiots running the country with one hand while the other is helping itself from the till; mass unemployment and feeling of helplessness that no one with power seems bothered about.

However - I haven't come across a complacency about the future within Christian circles, as had been stated in this post and various comments. Maybe we have a different view of end-times politics/religion.

Personally, I get the feeling revolution is not that far away!

deafmutes said...

While you have this train of thought, here are some quotes for you to digest, enjoy.

From C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters
(Think of all the mediocrity in Govt and Mega Corps. today!)
I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of "Admin." The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern.

From Mere Christianity
(Why many so called Christians will be surprised)
Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger — according to the way you react to it. (for further research see Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor, because Inquisitors are everywhere nowadays.)

Beach Bum said...

Sue H: Yeah, I would have to say that there is a difference in Christians from the UK and those here in the southern United States. On my last vacation my wife and I met a really terrific Christian couple from Birmingham. They were open and very friendly with what would be liberal attitudes here in the States even though they are members on the Conservative Party on your side of the pond.

Christianity here in the South has gotten mixed up in the race relations situation making it messy.

Deafmute: Great quotes! I tend to get in trouble with both the religious and non-religious because while I am very cynical about people who wrap themselves up with a holier-than-thou cloak or righteousness I have met some totally awesome people who truly strive to live my the teachings of Jesus.

And I have met some non-religious people who I would not piss on if they were on fire screaming for help.

All things being equal I do avoid the majority of Christian folks I live around namely because of the quotes I mentioned in the post. Christianity, from my observations, is largely dead among white Americans. They go through the motions but know nothing of substance about the faith and crouch their ignorance with a corporate republican/Ayn Rand ideology that turns my stomach.

Cloudia said...

faith and science are not opposed

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral



Cloudia said...

great post

Akelamalu said...

Interesting post Beach, you talk a lot of sense.

Ranch Chimp said...

Thanx for the read Bum ... thing's will actually improve as well in time, we are in a transitionary period, which is why I covered so much of that. The past civilisation's that you spoke of are just that, and they eventually collapsed during transistion's ... and this system we have now will also ... in time ... it's on the way out the door as we speak. As far as faith vs. science ... it's just a temp thing ... eventually what is called "faith" and "belief's" will change as well and have their own transition ... science alwayz remain's dominant because it is a lifeforce of the species existence, the new faith's will incorporate themselves into science's ... so you can say we are about to enter a evolutionary transition as well. The entities that are in control of the masses currently, we dont have to worry much if they will need us to tear them down, because eventually at the rate their going, like those of the past ... they will self destruct anywayz. I'll just leave it there and shut up ... enough from me ... take care Bum

Ranch Chimp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marja said...

Interesting to say at the least. Reading this makes me feel very much of an outsider though as my live and place is so different

John Myste said...

This was uncharacteristically ranting of you, but I like it.

I believe that no matter what we do, the American Empire will crumble.

First, we are an empire without many explicit colonies. Secondly, we rose largely on the failure of others, and we called this American Talent.

The great giant is awakening, China, and India is threatening to wake up also.

Additionally, the whole Continent of Africa could easily fall behind them, though much more slowly.

America is not as talented as she thinks she is. Her talent is not in what she does, but what she doesn't do. She allows capitalism to thrive.

There is a whole big world out there that is just figuring it out, and we have not colonized it.

We are a sorry excuse for an Empire. When the British Empire shrunk, American rose to fill the void and stopped the fall of the Western World.

The global economy will destroy the American Empire and this will happen, not over the course of centuries, but much faster. Technology and progress in this modern age moves very rapidly. There is no place for empires anymore.

Robert the Skeptic said...

my recent post: Empty Space I included both Dr. Tyson's testimony before the Senate Science Committee and a clip of and interview with Isaac Asimov done in 1988 where both men warned that our country cannot depend on the momentum from our past greatness to sustain us into the future.

I actually fear the cause is lost. Some 30 years ago I attended a lecture by "Star Trek" produced Gene Roddenberry; entertaining as the Kirk and Spock 'bloopers' were, Roddenberry explained that all civilizations on earth have risen and fallen, Etruscan, Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Aztec, Toltec, all the great European colonial... ALL have fallen into rubbel. Roddenberry suggested that the rise and demise of our's is just a natural and Inevitable course. He said that even if there were total global nuclear annihilation, some people would survive and a civilization would grow... and probaby eventually die as well.

What troubles me is that THIS country has (or did have) the potential to break that cycle. But no, as you say, we pursue short-sighted corporate interests, squander limited resources and fritter away what could have been the most advanced, educated and literate species to have ever graced the globe.

In my blog I often state that I believe that our generation (Boomers) has lived in the best times Man has, and ever will have, on this planet.

Great post. Thanks. RtS