Monday, December 10, 2018

The End of the F***ing World

So, I'm wandering around the country with a living space the size of an outhouse, in which I do everything *except* what I would do in an outhouse.  I have almost no time, since I face a daily high quota of slave-wage Chinese translation which almost, but not quite, keeps me going. Beats working for Amazon (other than the pay) and being stuck in one place with all the other losers. 

I like the whole arrangement, apart from being isolated and alone at a time when the world is coming apart at the seams. I mean, I like being isolated and alone in general, since the alternative takes a lot out of me and hasn't had such good results overall. And I like doing the Chinese translation because I get this glimmer every once in a while that I might actually climb inside the language. I mean like when I watched a Netflix recently called Bright staring the profound oral poet Will Smith, whose language no way no how could be deciphered by any Chinese person. I'm not black, so I guess he wasn't talking black, since I understood his every utterance, but it was sheer poetry, damn the grammar!

Anyhow, point being that I've been at a State Park in South Carolina which miraculously has WiFi, which depending on the weather and humidity I can sometimes use, like now. And the real miracle is that I can sometimes hook up with Netflix late at night, perhaps after others are off the net and onto their portable satellite dishes.

I caught this youth-focused series called the End of the F***cking world (which is also how I'm required to translate such words from Chinese, so no sweat with that), which would no way be my particular cup of tea, but I'm on a pretty big tear of random, so what the hell?

A psychopath kid - by which I mean he likes to kill cats and dogs for fun - decides its time to kill a person, and hooks up (not that way yet - since the anticipation is what drives the series) with a fuck-it-all girl who is stunningly open about all those sexual things that are strangely utterly absent from what makes the story work.

And it hits me that as with Scheherazade of the thousand and one nights, she's fascinating this psychopath kid away from doing the dirty deed whose thought bubble is constantly flashed in front of you.  And by means of the same free association which makes it easy to understand Will Smith while a the same time making it hard to translate into English what I get perfectly well in Chinese, I'm reminded that psychopaths are standard issue as princes, so what's the big deal about Trump?  Same old same old really.

It clearly helps that this Netflix was derived from a graphic novel.

Then I catch this brilliant post on Quora by this self styled World Traveller Robin Daverman (see what the Internet does to a person? But I've sworn off Facebook, as all good citizenry must!), which I will quote from.  She was responding to the question, "Are Chinese communists the best capitalists? Is Communist China the most capitalist country in the world?"

Robin Daverman, World traveler

Are Chinese communists the best capitalists? Is Communist China the most capitalist country in the world? 
Yes and no. 
They are not capitalist in the sense that they explicitly reject the idea that Money should have the final say. Just because you have money doesn’t mean that math and physics doesn’t apply to you anymore, LOL! Ditto for the laws of economics and social science. So money is strictly kept out of politics, and the policy decisions are not made by those who can afford the most expensive lobbyists or the most expensive lawyers. Instead, almost all policies decisions have to be tested through a 20-year experiment cycle like the FDA.
They are also the best capitalists in the sense that they have a really good understanding of the laws of finance, economy and free market. So good, that they managed to build the best mouse-trap for the global capital. 
. . . They view capitalism not as a religion, but as a dispassionate tool for social engineering.
There you have it! Except somehow I'd still rather live here, and if China uses capitalism as a tool for dispassionate social engineering, then why is their social science so utterly devoid of science, or did I just answer my own question?

Anyhow, despite putting the lie to my claim to have no time, I also read this great New Yorker piece on how Estonia has solved all those things that make a guy like me crazy (like renewing life-saving drug prescriptions while on the move), by the simple expedient of an unhackable national identity token, and a block-chain constructed of all your personal data that you actually still own yourself (instead of ceding ownership to Facebook and the credit agencies) such that you can vote, and revise your vote, and get your prescriptions anywhere, and not necessarily let every doctor know about your pyschic breakdown. Even the courts are caught up there, according to this article.

But our religion prevents us from being pinned to an identity that the dread government might use against us.

Now I'm no big fan of blockchain money, since on the one hand it uses up so many freaking computing cycles to "mine" it, and on the other because it innately privileges the jet-set which is already privileged, but along with being less afraid of universal ids than you might be, I'm also less afraid of so-called "fiat currency," especially if the government denominator is prohibited from arbitrary coinage by the nature of the block-chain.

I had a point to all this when I started.

I guess my point is that we have the chance to take ownership back now of that thing that it's taken me so long to detach from; our country.  I don't mean the place about which you might build a wall, which the tech of Estonia has rendered obsolete. I mean that thing worth believing in that might be able to knit diverse peoples together rather than to force them into hoarding their own.

Not only is Trump a boorish wannabe prince, but he inhabits and stands for the same retro world that Scheherazade lived in.  Why in the world do we elect people who have so little imagination, never mind so little actual understanding??

At this time when it's never been more secure and effortless to be alive, out deep set sense that something is very wrong keeps getting coopted into fear of terrorists or global warming and other things we can't do anything about by those same people who live lavish lifestyles at our basic expense.

Something is very wrong, of course, and we know we can't go on this way for much longer.

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