High-Tech Hell Begins When Fools Turn Visionary

A young man who came out to treat my place for yellow-jackets (which chewed me up pretty well a couple of weeks ago) and scorpions (which haven’t bitten anyone yet—and aren’t going to get a fair chance from me) made a fascinating comment as he busied himself about windows and corners.  His father, he said, had retired from working for a power company when he was posted out west to windmill land.  Seems that Dad soon noticed a rash of unusual cancer cases (I think lymphoma was mentioned).  Everybody who worked around the wind rigs appeared to contract this cancer sooner or later.  The phrase, “a weird kind of static electricity,” was used.

Well… why don’t we start assigning numbers to incidents where a technology supposed to save us or vault us up the next step of the utopian staircase turns out to introduce new miseries?  This would be… what?  Surprise #8, or 9, or 25?  Or 587?  But we can’t really number them, because most instances are never acknowledged—are, indeed, suppressed.  Consider the effects of “devices” on Generation Omega.  The official word is that everything’s looking up, of course: even as our children morph into vegetables whose brain has been shifted to an exoskeleton via their iPhone, the “smartphone” remains a high-tech superhero.  My squash are smart enough to know that some among them are male and some female; but the professors who teach your and my children are so cerebro-nullified as to preach that gender is inculcated by culture and parental pressure.  So, squash of the world, please accept my apology for equating human intelligence to a vegetable’s.

(And vegetables have a keener sense of proportion, too: they won’t demand that I attend re-education camp for my “offense”.)

Now, I want the Internet revolution and its supporting cast to succeed.  Here I sit pecking on an iPad… and my publishing adventure with Amazon has so far produced almost entirely positive results for me.  My son is probably on track to land a very respectable job after his intensive course in Java script (completed a year after his B.A. in Business Administration, which yielded nothing but a series of dead-end gigs hawking dubious services).

The problem, as I see it, isn’t with “progress” per se: it’s with the reckless, even insane abuse of progress by progressive ideologues whose behavior smacks strongly of cultism.  We’re not ready to colonize Mars, yet hundreds (maybe thousands) of young people are volunteering for an Elon Musk suicide mission, or at best a one-way trip which would leave their parents without so much as a grave to visit.  Intergalactic Fleet Commander Jerry Brown, when not waging war on straws, is decreeing that sources of energy like the windmill become our exclusive dynamos by a particular date he’s circled (or nailed with a dart) on his calendar.  Such zealots are demanding that the technological fix evince an efficiency for solving timeless human problems of which it’s simply incapable.  Their play’s script—their religion’s credo—requires a miracle… so, by God (by Jobs, by Musk), what we see here is a miracle!  Miracle-deniers will be prosecuted.  Pretty soon they’ll be burned at the stake.

Meanwhile, our petty lives—I mean those of us in Nobody Land, where the toxic fumes of the Mars booster settle—fight almost daily to make “old” technology (whatever that means now) do what it should.  My wife made three trips to the Verizon store—physical trips—before she could load more minutes onto her Mesozoic not-so-smart phone.  Our power bill last month was $0.19 (as in nineteen pennies) because Georgia Power’s system had overcharged us the previous month; but GP agreed to shift that exiguous tally to this month without penalty because, otherwise, our bank’s automated nerve center would carve a dollar out of our account for having to mess with a sum so close to nothing.

And so it goes, as we prepare to populate Mars with genetically enhanced movie stars.  My own techno-fencing matches have lately involved trying to secure the site of The Center for Literate Values (a defunct organization whose archive I strive to maintain) from ruinous hacking.  I was at first just shrugging off the daily notices of failed attempts to log in to the dashboard… but then the notices arrived three and four times a day.  I decided that changing my password from a Gaelic proverb to a 30-digit string of random letters and numbers would be advisable.  Yet yesterday the log-in (or login, as we now must write) records showed that some gremlin had successfully come a-visiting at 2 a.m.  Inexplicably, no evidence of vandalism appeared.  (Maybe the pixie was tired… or maybe the break-in was done by automation and the Master had not yet noticed its achievement.)  I quickly changed the password yet again to something even more random and nonsensical, though by no means convinced that the alarming record was not itself a mere glitch.

How is one to construct a utopia around the results of an ongoing crap shoot?  How many times are we going to be required to ignore that our feet are on fire as we scale to infinity and beyond?  Some feet, of course, will be much better insulated than others.

I’m glad that I have recoiled somewhat from the lunacy of the “progress” cult to fight yellow-jackets and scorpions; but I also realize, and realize more clearly every day, that the drawbridge isn’t going to pull up behind me.  WiFi has pursued us into our stronghold, and no spray, powder, or trap will chase away its nags and demands.  My son is “out there”, as well, where the schemes of the lunatic zealots rage like the wildfires whose real-world causes they refuse to perceive.  No, it’s not really technology that poses the danger… but how to separate technology from the fantasists who insist on ratcheting it up to sci-fi levels before the keyboard’s battery is checked?

You know… maybe the replacement of humans with robots wouldn’t be such a very bad thing.  To a robot, I could talk sense.

The Dark Elite (Part Three)

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk… Werner von Braun, Karl Heisenberg, Ferdinand Porsche… Andrei Sakharov, Aleksandr Prokhorov, Sergei Korolev… from where does the Dark Elite draw the genius that ultimately drives the progressivist vision? It has been said ad infinitum that capitalism causes genius to rise to the top like cream because our economic system so handsomely rewards innovation. Yet this argument, let it be repeated ever so lyrically, often suffers contradiction in practice. The names offered just above, in fact, show that a totalitarian regime can exploit its best brains at least as well as a free society. Indeed, the Soviets could make life very nice for their top-tier minds, pooling them together in idyllic communities abounding in all the existential comforts so woefully deficient elsewhere in the nation. These privileged few might not be allowed to leave their Shangri-La, or not for long… but within its confines, they were treated as princes. Capitalism doesn’t necessarily make the going so smooth for its most brilliant citizens. There have been all too many cases, unfortunately, of revolutionary patents being bought up and buried by producers who want to keep the chain of manufacture and consumption moving just the way it presently moves.

If the Dark Elite, then, were seeking the best of the best to create a “brainwash ray” (say) or an assassin’s bullet that could travel one hundred miles disguised as a happy little bee, recruitment would not necessarily target private industry that extended tentacles into such areas. There’s actually a long history of the government’s raiding academe for its magicians and alchemists: e.g., Robert Oppenheimer and Einstein himself. The “private industry” connection might have the advantage of turning up people who had already forged ties with influential figures in government–such as Gates; but the academic connection promises the equal or superior advantage of mentalities nourished in a progressive/utopian political atmosphere, such that a recruiter’s well-delivered pitch for a one-world government with energies focused on interplanetary exploration would likely fall on sympathetic ears.

Let’s not forget, either, that money makes the scientific world go round, however idealistic its ivory-impregnated air… and the Dark Elite can offer its prospects virtually unlimited funding. The private-sector wizard, in contrast, has to produce something at the end of the day that appeals to the plodding intelligence of John Q. Consumer. The case of Elon Musk is in fact quite instructive here: though ostensibly a producer of futuristic vehicles marketed to the general public, Musk would never stay afloat without immense infusions of government subsidy.

Nevertheless, as they have been at every stage of this discussion, the lines can get very blurry if we grope with too much persistence for a clear distinction between public and private–between Werner von Braun and Henry Ford. Sometimes the arcane fiddling of white coats working in the labs of Security can create a private-sector growth industry, as has happened so often with the space program.

Or take “climate change” and its impact on the energy industry. Wind and solar power have so far proved impractical boondoggles, profitable to a select few only because politicians engineer subsidies for certain corporations (whose execs invariably counter with generous donations). Yet something really innovative might come along, such as tapping into coastal wave energy, that Security would wish to exploit in a covert way. And, indeed, are we very, very sure that Security has not manufactured “climate change” (i.e., irregular weather patterns, which is what most citizens understand by the term) from its quiver of top-secret arrows? We know that programs to weaponize weather systems have been dithering about in Earth’s stratosphere at least since the advent of HAARP in the early Nineties (though the Department of Defense only acknowledged the endeavor ten years later to say that it had been discontinued: yeah, okay). Wouldn’t Defense be quite capable of creating destructive weather patterns just to gin up popular support for a “save the climate” governmental crusade upon the private sector, which in turn would generate more tax dollars and more abysmal bureaucracies for the development of more “mass-control tech”? To those who say, “No, our public servants wouldn’t do that,” I would ask, “Please tell me why not. Are you going to use a word like ‘conscience’ or ‘legality’? Are you really?”

Academe, I think, probably remains the favored hunting ground for locating the miracle-workers who will transform our Dark Elite into the gods they already imagine themselves to be.