Friday, October 17, 2014

Solar Blast Shielding - DO NOT REMOVE



         Solar Blast Shielding - DO NOT REMOVE

          Once the weather was hot and humid here at the College of San Hemlock. What’s worse, the room that I teach in has big south-facing windows letting in scalding-hot sunlight. Fortunately some of the lower windows open up; and there are big white curtains to roll down, which blocks most of the light and heat. But not all; and when all the way down, the curtains block the open windows.
I had a dilemma. Shall I open the windows and roll up the curtains enough for ventilation, but also let in some sun-blast; or instead roll the curtains all the way down and block both sunlight and ventilation?
On Monday I tried a technical fix. I brought in some tape and a roll of aluminum foil, and taped the foil (shiny side outwards) to the lower windows. That way I could open the windows, then raise the curtains just enough, and so get both shade (better than the curtains!) and breeze.
It worked fine; but on Tuesday all the foil was gone. Someone (probably custodial staff) took it down. Heaven forbid that the faculty display initiative! The College of San Hemlock’s philosophy of climate control is the same as their philosophy of anything-control: centralized!
Thursday, I retried that technical fix, augmented by political spin. To wit: after taping up the foil, I taped to the foil some signs saying:
          Solar Blast Shielding
          DO NOT REMOVE
“Solar blast” meant hot sunlight, but I like how it also sounds like a supernova. Don’t worry if the sun detonates, because there’s aluminum foil on the lower windows! This trumps duck-and-cover by many orders of magnitude.
Friday I saw, to my delight, that the foil was still up. The ploy worked! So now I know a way to survive in a technocratic corporate bureaucracy; give orders in technobabble. Sound like Starfleet, and the minions will obey.
I owe this knowledge to the College of San Hemlock, which can be a highly educational institution, despite itself.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How Hitler, then Communism, Won in Spirit



          How Hitler, then Communism, Won in Spirit


          I say that Hitler won World War Two, in spirit; for how else are we to describe nuclear deterrence? After Hitler, the threat of genocide was accepted as a political norm, indeed as the foundation of world order, even though it was a crime against humanity. We who survived that system called it, fittingly, MAD, meaning Mutual Assured Destruction. In what way was the Cold War not Hitlerian?
          In this way only; the superpowers preferred to threaten all with the genocide that Hitler did to some. Jews, Roma, homosexuals, Communists and dissidents were the test subjects; the experiment was a success, and the program was updated and adopted by the nominal winners of the war.
Those nominal winners added two reforms; to use atomic fission rather than poison gas for genocide; and to advertise the city-death threat but not do it (except twice), rather than murder millions but in secret (mostly). They improved upon Hitler by upgrading the energy to nuclear and the terror to psychological. Force plus guile equals power.
          Thus Hitler was defeated in body but victorious in spirit. The Hitlerian spirit of genocide ruled the world; but in the end Hitler’s dybbuk was exorcised by the end of the Cold War, and the nominal victory of Capitalism over Communism.
          Like World War Two, the Cold War had an outcome split between body and soul. Communism was defeated in material terms; but now its spirit rules the planet. I cite as proof of this the global surveillance state, socialism-for-the-rich, the suppression of dissent and small business, and the lawlessness of authority.
Another more positive victory of the Communist way is the ruling technology of the age; namely, the Internet upon which I publish this essay; for the Internet is Communist in spirit.
          That was inevitable, given the technological problem that the Internet solved. Any spiritually Hitlerian polity must have a command-and-control system. How can that system maintain internal communications during thermonuclear attack? That’s a project as mad as MAD itself; yet the technologists succeeded!
          The miracle came at a price; the technological abolition of intellectual property. For if a C&C system is to survive thermonuclear war, in which any one communications node can be vaporized instantly, then no one node can be central. None can hoard information, all must share and share alike. The collectivity of the Internet is what makes it work.
          Anything on the Web tends to become the common property of all humankind, sure as rivers flow down to the sea. Therefore the Web interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. The same applies to ownership. Private property is an absurdity on the Web, and so is money.
          That’s the Communist dream come true, built into the wiring of the Web! But with the dream comes a nightmare; Communism’s inherent inefficiency. How to profit from what is owned by none or all? What incentive to create is there beyond altruism?
          We have already lost the music industry, book publishing, and newspapers; TV and movies are under siege; and many more industries will go broke soon.
          Information wants to be free; yet information also wants to be paid; therefore information is broke! How Communist!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Parasitology



I read a book about tropical diseases, and the history of their treatment; “Who gave the Pinta to the Santa Maria?” by Robert Desowitz. One chapter is about hookworms; a nasty hemophagic parasite.
John D. Rockefeller and the United Fruit Company united against them, for this most self-supporting of reasons: healthy workers are more productive. According to the author, they had, in effect, been sharing their profits with the hookworm; therefore they eradicated it.
Doing well by doing good? Here’s another way to put it:
Don’t suck blood; Rockefeller...






... wait for it ...









... HATES COMPETITION!