Wednesday, May 12, 2021

A Cozy Sort of Disaster

 As I am writing this right now, the world is quietly coming apart.

I can sit here in my newly acquired sitting chair that The Ravishing Mrs. TB decreed we needed as our furniture was years old (to be fair, it was and it is comfortable) and watch, as if I were watching a video game, pictures from Israel of missiles falling and missiles rising - sort of live action "Missile Command" (if you are old enough to remember such things).  They appear like giant fireflies rising and falling; with the sound off, it really is almost like a video game or fan fiction movie.

I take a sip from my lime flavored unsweetened Sparkling water (Yes, I know, regular water does the same thing.  We all allow ourselves certain little luxuries in life).  I read of gas lines stretching out or fuel simply being unavailable in some locations.  I take another sip.

The news is like that now, as I sit and sip.  A death or two here on the Russian/Ukrainian border complete with shelling (yet no-one knows who it is); death tolls rising in India from The Plague while Baja Canada's government wrings its hands about falling vaccination rates and starts offering free "things" to entice people; reports of growing homelessness and poverty while job creation was at an apparent low and colloquially millions of jobs go wanting for people to do them while millions of others cannot apparently be bothered to find a job when provision of income from the government is present.

All filled with disasters, all incongruously highlighting stark different realities almost existing side by side.  And all of this, seemingly unreal for many people.

There is a subcategory of dystopian novels known as The Cozy Disaster Novel.  The context of such things is that there is a disaster that causes a dystopia but is a quiet, understated sort of thing.  John Christopher (the pen name of Samuel Youd) wrote a number of these as young adult novels (looking back, this was probably one of my first introductions to the concept of end of the world scenarios and dystopian futures).  They make for quiet reading, good for rainy days or for quiet ponderings about what ifs.

The problem, of course, is that in the real world disasters are not nearly so cozy.

This is the danger of disasters such as these, of course:  they are just as dangerous and deadly and disruptive as the less cozy variety, or perhaps even more so by virtue of the fact that for most, as they seem unreal, they are less likely to believe that it will ever impact them or create in them a need to actually take action to mitigate such things.

I am aware that this is not the first time this has happened nor, most likely (and hopefully) the last, and that more likely than not I will sit here in some future time, at the same chair with the same water, and think the same.

But this I hold as a difference:  I can at least recognize a matter of concern, even from my chair and water, and take some sort of action.  For millions of others, it will simply seem another television show or video game or online article - right until the time, as it has always been said in legends, that the sun rises and suddenly all are turned to stone.


  1. Between what's happening in our nation and globally, methinks we are in a time that should be of great concern to everyone.

    1. Sbrgirl, I have often been accused of seeing the worst in everything and predicting the end of times for many years (over 40, apparently). That said, there is a touch in the air that feels different this time - not that it could be "The Time", but that whatever happens after this will remake the world even more differently.

  2. I suppose it borders on politics... but look at the kind of people we elect. And the hell of that is that they are reflections of ourselves. I wonder: the greatest civilizations rise when there is something to build. They make sacrifices, they invest in futures and hold themselves and their kids and communities to higher standards. Today in many areas there is nothing to build. We have no common morals or ethics, no shared vision of the future... and maybe without that, people get angry, unfulfilled... and start destroying things?

    The reason people aren't working is because there is no point to it. For me - I can probably get a crappy job at Walmart or some retail bolthole - and be worked like a dog. I will make ten bucks a week more than being on the dole - and be taxed on it... or sit back and look for better work. It's a no brainer - why be punished for working and putting money into someone else's pocket? I am not trying to be rude or pick on anyone... but what is the difference between what I am doing - and you sitting back in your fine chair sipping an adult beverage? Or the preppers studiously tending to their gardens, and steadfastly ignoring the world that burns around them? Go Galt? Go "grey"? Is that any better? I struggle: the term I heard is "acceerationist". It's a guy busily smashing and grabbing what he can, because he knows everyone else is doing the same and he better do his before some other simian moron does it first and cuts him out on the spoils. Perhaps I am an accelerationist of sorts. The sooner this mess is burned to the ground, the better?

    I repeat, I am not picking on anyone, just thinking out loud. I am complicit and acknowledge my responsibility in all this. My only question is what I can do about it? Take a crappy job and basically trade four quarters for a dollar? Or go grey and let the loons run amok? I'd like to run a small business, but for every guy like me, there are 100 others that are doing the same. And for everyone of us, there are a thousand people in gov't that will do their level best to put us out of business with red tape, taxes, permits, inspections, and my personal favourite - the fake plague! That is up here in socialist Canada - your mileage may vary for you Yanks.

    I don't think there is any moral high ground these days. Probably because there are no morals left?

    Sorry to be a crank, folks. Perhaps I have had too much to think again... :)

    1. I don't think we elect anyone, and haven't in a long time, if ever. We don't share a common language or a common set of values, by design. This has been engineered to fail, and fail it will. Thinking long term, when it fails, where do you want to be? This is a values mission that we are on. What do you value? What are you willing to protect? Do you have a plan to protect the things you value? We all must ask ourselves these questions and are morally obligated to have an answer formed in our minds and in our actions.

    2. Yup. To be honest, JS... I haven’t thought much on it. Who in their right mind wants to? I just want to put my feet up, yarn on the TV and be entertained while I graze on junk food and drink beer... with all the other sheep. If people actually sat down and did all that, we’d probably have a revolution sooner rather than later. If sat down to do that, some pinhead would accuse us of bigotry, homophobia, sexism and fascism. They don’t WANT us to discuss these things. It really does make you wonder what’s coming... and I don’t like the answers I am coming up with.

    3. Glen, in reading (as I have been lately) histories of the later Athenian democracy and the pre-Principate Rome, one finds these sorts of cries to the past that you are referencing: the speakers look at their forebears who sacrificed to establish the society and its cultures and values and find (seemingly inevitably) that the current crop of citizenry is not up to those standards. There possibly is a tendency to always see the younger generation as less dedicated (Confucius complained about the same thing), but there is also a reality that societies and its cultural values and morals tend to decay. Entropy is not just a cool science project.

      That said - and the thought was just occurring to me as well today, perhaps a post on it - that we are going to start seeing a significant split in how Americans (and Canadians, I bet) will look at those who continue to live of the government largesse. I am not talking about those who cannot genuinely cannot find work, but those who could and choose not to because living off the dole/unemployment is just easier. The window of charitable feelings in this area is, I suspect, closing.

      We are responsible for whom we vote for (but not always who gets elected of course). That is a mixed bag, but we are also bound by the candidates we have. There are some who will vote for a candidate they know will not win or a party that will not go anywhere? Is that wrong? Not from the view of the sanctity of the vote; perhaps from the view of accomplishing something.

      The one thing I might - gently - quibble with you about is starting a business. You should. You are a tremendously skilled and talented artist (I see your stuff, remember). There are niches for everything thanks to the InterWeb, and you have already shown your financial resourcefulness - how much would have to make for it to be profitable.

      For what it is worth, I do not like the answers I am coming up with either.

    4. Just So - Interestingly enough, the one word I have not heard in a bit is Unity. It is if, after accomplishing the victory, the word was thrown into the memory hole. I question, even after what has been a short five months, whether any unity can ever be achieved again in this country.

      To your point about values: interestingly, politicians are looking at the results of their policies of discouraging law enforcement which has resulted in a rise in violence and are pondering or even starting to think about reversing some of those trends. The interesting thing will be to see if law enforcement is even interested at this point, or if the larger community of the quiet multitude is. I suspect even in the short period of time, people are not.

      We are one major issue away from shattering into a thousand pieces.

  3. Disaster sells commercials which is why the evening news is non-stop disaster stories, even if there is little basis to worry about them. If it was mandated that they have to tell one good story with every disaster story, our perceptions would change. If they were forced to tell them in proportion to occurrence, this world would be a much different place for the good.

    1. I respectfully disagree, Ed. Outside of our insulated geriatric bubbles, gated retirement villages, and rural kingdoms... stuff is starting to break. Unless something is done the wheels are coming off.

    2. Ed, I do not disagree with you per se, but that does raise another question: if in fact the media is contributing to perceptions that things are going much worse than they are, are they not in some manner morally complicit for the mood? And if so, by participating in it are the viewers not just perpetuating the problem?

    3. I do think the media is complicit but I don't know about the morality of it all. It is just human nature to want to focus on the bad things. Yes I wouldn't want to be on the Russia/Ukraine border right now but look at all the borders we can cross now almost freely that even 50 years ago we couldn't, especially in what was communist Asia.

      To Glen's point, the media has been focused on a few black killings by police officers while perhaps tens of thousands go unnoticed daily due to a happy ending. Millions of U.S. Asians are now worried about hate crimes against them when they are ten times more likely to die crossing the street before they ever see a hate crime. We've been focused on the corona virus for well over a year when in the same time things like heart disease, cancer and the common flu each kill more than Covid-19 annually. Last night I saw a report about 400 people who have died in mass shootings this year. In 2016, 500 people died from accidental shootings!

      The list could go on and on. I suspect a lot of it depends on disposition, glass half full or half empty, on what a particular person focuses on. As you might expect, I'm a glass half full kind of guy and notice all the stories that never get told mostly because they don't sell adds to pay salaries.

    4. Fair, Ed. All of the things you say are true. At the same time, there must be a reason that some narratives are pushed rather than others. Not implying some sort of super secret hidden agenda, although people do gain power based on fear or fear of.

      But, yes and tragically, good news does not sell.

  4. What I prepare for is the hidden flaw; that thing that was always there, just waiting for time and circumstance to catch up with it. The Middle East has been a war zone since BC. Technology is making it easier for both sides to inflict damage on each other. The Internet is reporting it in real time. This is polarizing the rest of the world. It's also teaching new generations how to building lethal devices "using common household items." How long, we wonder, before the right time, the right tech, the right motives, and the right actors come together and take things to a worldwide level? No one knows. How long will it be in the US before those who are being blamed for everything from police shootings to "climate change" push back, and how hard will that pushback be? No one knows. All I do know is that it's usually the hidden flaw that makes things come apart; something totally unanticipated; the "Black Swan." Titanic is a textbook analogy of what's going on now. History recorded that Titanic sank because it hit an iceberg. What actually did sink it though? Titanic was traveling WAY too fast in iceberg-strewn waters. The captain was trying to set a transatlantic speed record. Was this the captain's decision, or did the CEO of White Star Lines direct him to do this? This rivets used in the ship's hull were too hard. They sheared off during the collision, allowing the iceberg to do much more damage than it should have been able to do. Was this a cost-cutting measure, a supply line issue, or what? Whatever the reason though, someone made the decision to use them. The ship's rudder was too small for the size of the hull. Again; human error. The helmsman steered the ship in such a way that he actually steered the side of the ship right into the iceberg while still moving forward. This allowed the iceberg to tear a 300ft+ gash in the side of the ship. If the ship had hit the thing head on, it probably wouldn't have sunk, as only the forward watertight compartments would have been breached. Human error again. And let's not even get into who decided not to have sufficient lifeboats for all on board. Not ONE of these things, by itself, would have sunk Titanic and caused the tremendous loss of life, but the confluence of ALL of them. I don't need to know when that confluence will occur in our world. All I need to know is that it will eventually happen. Therefore, I prepare... Keep an eye on what's happening in YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, and work outward from there...

    1. Pete - What a great analogy. It is the Hidden Flaw that ultimately brings everything down, made worse by a series of events which all play out in precisely the logical - and wrong - way. Which is my big concern about the economy of course: it is such a complex system it will not take much to cause it to collapse.

      Perhaps what I find so disconcerting is the fact that I can literally watch war happening live now. Given the InterWeb and personal cameras that everyone carries around now (those phones), the war of the past - hidden behind government censors - will largely be a thing of the past. War is becoming simply one more thing we entertain ourselves with. The fact that everyone is seeing the technology worries me less, oddly enough: it is so available (again, on the InterWeb) that it is probably already found.

      And a good reminder to watch what happens locally. I am trying to do so more.


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