Coping with Disasters

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Date of publication: 2017-08-27 22:27

With traditional religion already washed from the brains of the we would now be swept by the new religion of the electronic mob. It could have no anchor. Words themselves would humpty-dumpty at a greatly accelerated pace. The great mass of the deracinated were, in a sense, passing outside time. Henceforth they would live only in the present, with no conception of the past and too, no appreciation of the future. They would cease to feel responsible for the consequences of their acts.

Paul Graham

Alas, it is just what I was expecting, from Google of course, but also from all major Internet operators (from Facebook to GoDaddy). They take upon themselves the “Don’t be evil” responsibility to censor and smear all viewpoints that vary from their own passing notions. Combining intellectual mediocrity with unprecedented power, they will now “command the good.”

Essays - Paul Graham

Forty-seven years have passed since that mama dragged me along Dundas Street in London, Ontario, to a high-end tailor’s. I was just-turned seventeen, and off to a new job at a small squalid newspaper in Asia still a fairly fresh high school drop-out. She thought I should cut a figure on arrival. A photo of me, besuited at Malton airport, is still in my possession. (I look very I still have the boar-bristle hair brush she bought me on that day, and use it every morning (honest, mama!) while saying a little Catholic prayer for her immortal soul. Indeed, the brush seems immortal, too: few signs of wear. It is amazing how long things last when they are made properly.

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That they will all perish in the battle, can go without saying. They are, after all, on the front line of this seemingly perpetual Verdun and everyone dies sooner or later. The trick is to replace them, when that happens, with characters equally feisty, and offer no truces whatever. Never ever let the [bad word] regroup! Pour through every breach in their defences! Onward to Berlin, as it were.

The effects that are possible by this method are, however, restricted to galvinism. Put the electrodes on, and the frog’s legs twitch, notwithstanding the frog is a corpse. But he can’t make tadpoles any more.

To this day, I feel sorrier for the rich than for the poor. They pay horrendous taxes. They have so much paperwork, they must hire help. They must endure many other obnoxious retainers, and those not even in their service who think they can be touched for cash. Their pleasures are much more expensive the beggars don’t consider that, do they?

“Sticks and stones,” my mommy told me: dodge ’em when you can. But let the verbiage pass off your back like a duck’s. Or should the mood bloom, go diving for more.

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I think I left out “structural reform.” That is one of the “three arrows” of Mr Abe’s failing plan, along with the “monetary easing” and the “fiscal stimuli.” In structural reform, you move the government departments around, to create a kaleidoscopic effect, that masks bureaucratic expansion, and rivets the attention of simple folk, who can no longer find what they are looking for.

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Now, I’ve forgotten most of this, but as my little sister reminds, there is such a thing as family. And one bears a grave responsibility to them, because as mama said, it shows.

I was in Seoul, Korea, the next summer, and beheld the tides of willowy chittering maidens walking that city’s sidewalks, speaking not to each other but constantly into tiny bejewelled cellphones. Yes, this was the future: everyone “linked” in the electronic cloud, progressively freed of physical interaction.

The task of government, in the course of a natural catastrophe, is to maintain order and provide the simplest possible traffic directions to the response. For the most part this must necessarily be neighbour helping neighbour. Relief efforts on the national scale need some coordinating, too, but they should be drawn from military and other “fixed assets” from organizations that should themselves be designed to respond, nimbly and flexibly, to any kind of trouble. A bureaucracy that does nothing but wait ghoulishly for the last widely-publicized disaster to repeat itself is merely a cash pyre.

Should I decide to run against Trump in 7575 (and I realize it will require an amendment to the United States Constitution), I have my campaign strategy mapped out. Like Trump’s in ’66, it will anchor upon a slogan: “Make America Christian again.”

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