A Laundry List for Tomorrow

Unless you have been living under a rock, you may have noticed that America runs through the quadrennial escapade known as the ‘Presidential Election’ in the coming year.  On the surface, it seems that this would give citizens of the United States the chance to vote and, therefore, have a voice in selecting a temporary leader.  Careful observers know that the average voter has little, if any, but a two-choice list of carefully selected individuals both of whom, for the most part, represent the same interests.  Conservatives who thought Ronald Reagan was a wonderful president dig their heads in the sand whenever it’s pointed out that he has a rich liberal legacy:

“Federal government expanded on his watch. The conservative desire to outlaw abortion was never seriously pursued. Reagan broke with the hardliners in his administration and compromised with the Soviets on arms control. His assault on entitlements never materialized; instead he saved Social Security in 1983. And he repeatedly ignored the fundamental conservative dogma that taxes should never be raised.” Source: Washington Monthly

Meanwhile, Democrats who thought current President, Barry Obama was going to issue in a    new era of progressiveness have been sorely disappointed.  The Fiscal Times published a litany of tell-tale signs that Obama has actually governed, in policy, as a conservative:

  • His stimulus bill was half the size that his advisers thought necessary;
  • He continued Bush’s war and national security policies without change and even retained Bush’s defense secretary;
  • He put forward a health plan almost identical to those that had been supported by Republicans such as Mitt Romney in the recent past, pointedly rejecting the single-payer option favored by liberals;
  • He caved to conservative demands that the Bush tax cuts be extended without getting any quid pro quo whatsoever;
  • And he has supported deficit reductions that go far beyond those offered by Republicans. Source:  Fiscal Times

Clearly, voters are not getting the product they think they are buying when they go to the voting booth.  On top of this are a host of other problems that the current ‘democratic’ process does not seem to have any method of addressing not the least of which include corrupt financial institutions and corrupt politicians.

So what can be done?  We at Swatting At Flies have a short ‘laundry list’ of sensible solutions:

1. Kill Citizens United.  For those unaware, the Supreme Court, at the beginning of 2010, decided, effectively, that there is nothing wrong with corporations spending unlimited sums of money to influence elections.  As reported in the Christian Science Monitor, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his dissenting opinion:

“The court’s opinion is a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt.”

2.  Restore the Glass-Steagall Act.  In 1999, a sixty-six year old concept in banking was uprooted.  That concept was simple: there is a big difference between being a steward of someone else’s money (as in a bank) and taking that same money and risking it on investments.  First, it must be said, that, regardless of the investment, there is risk.  So, mixing these two types of financial services (banks and investments) are, by nature, incompatible.  There should be no risk involved in money of which you are merely a steward. But, two Congressman (one of which is deceased and one who is no longer in office), thought differently.  They introduced the repeal of Glass-Steagall, enough of their colleagues agreed and President Bill Clinton signed the repeal into law.  Some say the end result was the economic collapse of 2008.  Whether this is true or not makes no difference.  The fundamental concept behind Glass-Steagall are sound and should be reinstated in some form or another.

3. Kill Delaware.  Look on the map and you will see no smaller ‘state’ than Delaware.  Oops – Rhode Island is smaller – oh well.  Regardless, it could be said that if it were not for the immense power of the Du Pont family, Delaware would not exist today.  One family’s influence should not hold enough bearing on the rest of the nation to make a 30-mile wide plot of land a state.  Add this to the fact that this tiny ‘state’ is nothing more than a tax haven for corporations and corrupt politicians and you have an even more compelling argument.  If you want a nice round 50 states, add Puerto Rico

Editors note: OK… maybe we shouldn’t get rid of little ol’ Delaware as a state.  And maybe it’s unfair to blame the aristocratic hold-over Du Pont family for the ethical lapses of all of Congress.  However, something smells fishy when over half of all U.S. Corporations are incorporated in one state.  That doesn’t seem like a symptom of a healthy capitalist democracy.

So, for this 3rd sensible solution, there are really two things: 1) federalize all business incorporation so that all corporations can benefit from the tax break offered by Delaware 2) bolster the ethics rules of Congress by making it illegal for members to write laws that personally enrich themselves.

These are just a few ideas, none of which are necessarily original.  Nor are they ‘non-negotiable’ in practical terms.  The concepts behind these solutions are fundamental, but there is flexibility in their execution.  Regardless of how it is achieved, we believe we must restore the ideal of the ‘consent of the governed’ in America.

IN THE FUTURE

Visionary writers from Jules Verne to H.G. Wells to George Orwell to Philip K. Dick have surmised to some success what ‘the future’ may look like for society.  From my childhood on, I have read science fiction literature (known to ‘true’ aficionados as ‘speculative’ fiction) and count these authors as some of my all-time favorites.  It’s good to see the Science Channel feature a show devoted to the subject.

But now, here, for the first time, I will present my own look into the great beyond and tell you, Dear Reader, what will be coming for our world IN THE FUTURE:

1) Designer Babies.  How tall do you want your kid to be? How smart? Do you want a girl? Do you want a boy?  Beyond simply weeding out disease-causing genes, fertility clinics will replace maternity wards as fashionistas bring about the age of the designer baby.  The low cost, budget baby will come with few options – sex, hair color, eye color.  But, the more upwardly mobile couple (or single parent) will be able to order those options in addition to height, optimum weight, and general personality/temperament.  And for those who have a pretty penny to spend on their truly designer baby, there will be options created especially by Cesar De Revucci, Claude Nova, Suzette Bandecroft, and other famous designer geneticists.

2) Choose Your Own Adventure Films.  As digital technology takes hold in the 21st Century movie theater, new interactive options will evolve, leading to several different moments in films where each sitting audience is left to choose the direction of the film.  For romance: The audience will decide if he kiss should her at this stage in the film. Do they get back together at the end? The audience will click their voting buttons to determine the couple’s fate.  For action/adventure: Is a car chase in order? Maybe a fantastic rooftop chase on foot? Or how about a James Bond style shoot-out down the slopes of a high-end ski resort? All will be decided by the happy voting fingers of the audience.  For horror:  how much blood is too much? Should this victim get her throat slashed or how about this hapless sap – should he be hacked to pieces with a chainsaw or maybe thrown into a boiling vat of turkey fat (in true holiday tradition)?  Only the current crowd in the movie theater will decide.

3) True ‘Smart’ Cars. Yeah, I know.  There is tiny thing on four wheels they’re calling a ‘Smart’ car that you can now purchase from the same company that makes Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner trucks. What I see in the future are cars of all makes and models equipped with sensors that will do the following: maintain posted speed, keep safe driving distance from the car directly in front, and, of course, automatically navigate to a destination.  Only navigation would be subject to override.

Toyota, Volkswagen, and BMW already have some version of technology allowing automatic parallel parking. The advance of GPS and sensor technology along with traffic safety concerns make the true smart automobile inevitable.

4) One World Currency. To a large degree, this has already happened. The U.S. dollar is the world’s “reserve currency”.  I won’t go into a long financial/economics lesson explaining what this means.  However, the upshot is that everyone recognizes the U.S. dollar as possessing value. Never mind arguments about how the Federal Reserve is a “private” corporation with little oversight by the United States government.  Suffice to say that, IN THE FUTURE, one world currency will be more convenient and easier for everybody and so, like all things cheap and convenient, inertia brings us to them unless we go out of our way to avoid.  Will the U.S. dollar be this currency?  That remains to be seen.

 

Electricita Mumbo Jumbo

Here is a nice playlist… You can even click a few of them and listen at your leisure…

1. The Orb – Blue Room – Blue Room CD1 – 1992 (39:58)
2. Kraftwerk – Kohoutek-Kometenmelodie (Parts 1+2) – (Philips 7″) -1973 (8:38)
3. Radiohead – Chernobyl 2 – The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time – 2004 (2:16)
4. Day Jobs – Subterfuge – Unreleased – 2011 (2:57)
5. Knotted Cord – When You Next Materialize – Polyphonic Beasts Expanded In Parallel – 2011 (4:27)
6. The Art of Noise – Information – Reduction – 2000 (5:35)
7. The Silence Bureau – The Absurd – Unreleased – 2011 (4:04)
8. Brian Eno – Beta Recall – Curiosities, Volume II – 2004 (4:21)
9. Bjork – Dark Matter – Biophilia – 2011 (3:22)
10. Brigitte Fontaine – B. Les beaux animaux – Le goudron – 1969 (3:13)
11. Joy Division – Leaders Of Men – An Ideal For Living – 1977 (2:38)
12. Praxis – Giant Robot/Machines in the Modern City/Godzilla – Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis) – 1992 (6:36)
13. The Flaming Lips – In Our Bodies, In Our Heads – Gummy Skull E.P. – 2011 (4:43)
14. The Fall – The Littlest Rebel – Extricate [Bonus Disc] Disc 1 – 1990 (3:36)
15. Ursula 1000 – (You Can’t Control) The Spectrum Soul – Mondo Beyondo – 2011  (3:27)
16. The Aphex Twin – Polynomial-C – The Classics – 1994 (4:46)
17. Battles – Wall Street – Gloss Drop – 2011 (5:24)
18. 808 State – Olympic [Word Production Mix] – Blueprint – The Best Of 808 State – 2011 (4:54)

A Fantastic Tale of a Breakfast Gone Wrong…

Dissolution
by J.S. Fowler

It was a small pot of boiling water.  The electric stove’s left front burner glowed red beneath it. One by one, he carefully placed the eggs.  Five of them.  He set the timer.

The coffee was already brewing.  He poured a bit of grape juice in the bottom of a glass.  He added a small amount of pure cranberry juice.  Then, the remainder of the glass he filled with freshly squeezed orange.

He waited a bit as his bread slowly became toast.  He moved the dial of the stove to the half-way mark, picked a butter knife from the drawer, pulled a can of blackberry preserves from the refrigerator. The reddish glow faded from the burner.  Then he heard a crack.

“What the—“ he said aloud.  He looked into the small pot.  The mass of the eggs caused the water to come less than half a centimeter from the rim.  Some of the water spilled over causing a sizzling sound as it hit the hot coil of the burner.

Still, the cracking sound.

He looked up at the ceiling where a small bit of paint had been peeling off ever since he and his wife had moved in.  He had patched it once and ignored the problem.  In the back of his mind, there was a latent idea that at some point it would need more work.  There was nothing new.

He opened the freezer.  Ice breaking into the bin from the ice maker.  It only sounded like the eggs since he was thinking about the eggs, he told himself.  A brief trick of acoustics in the kitchen.  Still, it was a strange cracking.  And he heard it again.

This time he noticed what it was.  One of the eggs clearly had a crack emanating from the smaller of its two convex sides.

Had he dropped it too hard into the pot?  He thought that he would have noticed the oozing white of the egg yolk as it escaped through the slivery crack and instantly cooked into a wisp of smokish mist clouding the water.

No.  There was no mist.  Just more cracking.  The egg was… hatching?

The thought was stupid.  These were regular eggs.  They came from hens.  Chickens.  He had purchased them from the farmer down at the market.  True, it was one of the new farmers, a beneficiary of one of the government’s new agriculture programs.  So what if they had not met before?  He had barely noticed and quickly discounted a somewhat eager gleam in the farmer’s eye as he had taken the credits and handed him the delicate bundle of eggs.  He had counted it as a quiet desperation, an almost radiant hunger for sustenance, a product of momentary gratitude in the face of the recent economic uncertainty.  That was all.  Even so, suppose there was something diabolical about this egg.  This was boiling water.  Surely, anything in the water would be killed.  He knew of nothing on Earth that hatched this way.

The egg’s shell splintered further.  He felt compelled to watch, amazed yet somewhat horrified as this newborn chick was to be boiled alive.  Could it be saved?

No sooner than he had began to think of the safety of the small chick, there was a stick-like spindle evident, poking out of one of the cracks, like a small spider’s leg.  He thought that now would be the time to fish the hatching chick from certain doom, but as strong as he felt the need to aid the chick, he felt a more compelling need to watch its death unfold.  What would he do with the chick anyway?  Sell it back to the farmer perhaps?

Bit by bit, the egg split open.  Stranger parts began to emerge that had no resemblance to any fowl he had ever seen.  It seemed insectoid, mutant.  He began to think it was a good thing he had yet not acted to save this… creature.

With no other warning, the egg burst open.  The egg timer began to chime.  The insect creature’s legs extended out over the pot.  It’s mouth far larger than what seemed possible for emerging from such a small vessel.  The creature’s entire body, amorphous, with strange hairs and antennae seemed to expand exponentially.  It was growing.

He let the egg timer alarm ring on.  He went to grab his phone, to snap a picture, but the clip wasn’t on his belt.  It was still upstairs from where he left it in the bedroom the night before.  He turned and made his way out of the kitchen.

He made it three feet before he felt a sharp sting in the back of his neck.  A pair of pincers sunk into soft flesh and folded itself firmly around the nervous tissue surrounding his spine.  In one, viciously elegant motion, the now gigantic mouth of the creature engulfed the top of his skull and was sucking him into to its growing gullet.  Rubbery expanding flesh in a thin coat of visceral moisture slid down his head.  He could suddently see nothing nor could he move.  His feet flailed momentarily.  He could feel the crushing force of its jaws clamp like a vice as he let out a brief muffled moaning scream.

The immense pain that he expected to immediately experience subsided quickly as he became aware that he was now completely inside the creature.  His first thoughts upon being attacked was, of course, the pain and then the speed-of-light images of sounds and visions – of his family, his life, the overwhelming cascade of the last moments of a life not quite yet wholly lived.  There were flashes of childhood moments, of familiar scents, of recent joys, of recent losses.  All this gradually faded.  His thoughts.  His memories.  The pain.  Even the memory of the crushing pain.  All feeling.  All movement.  All heartbeat.  All flutter of the eyelash.  Stopped.

There was no true feeling as we know it.  He was no longer alive in the sense that he possessed this jumble of thoughts and ideas that we call identity.  It was as if he had merged with a denser, more coherent whole.  There was no longer a life before.  Only a life to become.  For him, now, there was only one impulse, one compulsion to follow…

He never did see just how large the creature had grown in its first nanoseconds of life on our planet.  As the creature quickly assimilated the adult human male and crawled though the broken kitchen window, onto the patio and out into the wooded backyard, there was one mandate, one mission…

Lay more eggs.