August

In the middle of August, the summer of 2016, northern hemisphere edition.

  • Trump and Clinton are our choices for president, media want Hill.
  • US Fed debt at an all time high, $20,000,000,000,000.
  • Most big economy sovereign debt at or below zero.
  • Inflation non-existent.
  • PokemonGo occupies anyone under 30.
  • 94,000,000 people of working age NOT looking for/in work in US
  • Oil still under $45, US production steady.
  • Middle East still screwed based on Obama/Clinton/Kerry mess.
  • Obama pays $400,000,000 in CASH for hostages in Iran.

That’s all too depressing to continue.

Pommy Surprise

The shifting we feel is pieces of the crust of the earth grinding against each other a little. Not the real earth – it does this kind of thing all the time – but the earth of our minds, the abstract earth.

Again, we, the people out-witted the elites and the punditocracy. The UK wants out of the EU for the simplicity of freedom. The EU is about conformity and alignment, both of which are fine in their place, but not the way most of us want to describe them. We like our own ideas of doing what’s right and imposing our own personal alignments without imposition from above.

Freedom is a code-word for the ability to impose rules best suited to specific groups or regions. It’s one of the brilliant ideas behind the US constitution, that the states are paramount in recognition of the differences between them. It’s the single greatest failure of the EU that it seeks to force Greece to be like Germany, or Italy like Poland. Let’s examine for a moment just how that’s working.

I think what most of the left misses in this is that chaos is a good thing. A little of it that is, not because it is inherently good of itself, but because of the way imagination and spirit are by-products.

States should be reflections of their people. People expressing themselves en masse works up to a point, and that point should determine the maximum extent of both state power and the size of that state. Somewhere between one world order and each individual lies a sweet-spot of community, and it seems that the British want to express an idea of a smaller community than their political class fetishizes.

In the end it becomes a tribal decision. Tribes can be big, and they can be small; they can be inclusive or warlike; they can disband or rise in strength. What all tribes need is agreement on who is in and who is out of the tribe for now and the foreseeable future. Failing to act on breaches of tribal boundaries will irrevocably change that tribe, the outcome of which is sometimes clear, and sometimes not. We shall see.

They Took My Fingers

His words will return to me for a long time. I first heard them a week ago, when Luis recounted his experience at the accident site. Trapped inside the wrecked car, bleeding from his face, air-bags still inflated, Steven held up his mangled, bloody right hand and said: My hand. Look at my hand. They took my fingers.

I heard them for myself a week later at Blake Hospital, room 477B. We were visiting Steven a week after the accident, more out of obligation than friendship, but we were there nonetheless. His face was still bruised and swollen. He sat on the edge of the bed, a partially-eaten meal on the tray in front of him. His right eye was closed, the left open but still full of blood. It looked shiny, alien-like.

Then his right arm. We’d heard that they couldn’t save the fingers. From Luis’s first-hand description, we guessed there were no fingers.

“I could only see from the wrist down. Everything else was gone. A finger was hanging by a piece of skin. The bone was exposed. He was bleeding heavily.”

“He was still trapped by the seat-belt and the fact that the doors were jammed. He held up his arm and said, My hand? Where’s my hand?”

First-responders requested a helicopter, and their first choice of hospital was Tampa General or Bayfront in St Pete. Thunderstorms in Tampa prevented that, so he was taken by road to Blake. Helicopters tell me how unwell he was, and so it turned out. Steven was resuscitated at least twice after he’d been extricated from the wreck. My guess is that blood-loss was a big factor, but the impact of stopping in a few feet from 60 mph to zero gives the body a lot of reasons to quit.

One week later, last Thursday, we walked into that room. His first question was “What happened?”

We were unable to say anything. You ran into the back of a semi-trailer. There were no signs of braking. Somehow you survived. Your hand and right forearm were brutally traumatized. What words are there?

He expected the car to save him. That’s a misunderstanding of the system, which leads to a wider question of whether we all have a false sense of security about the level of safety in these cars. The cruise-control was on, he said, set at 60. The truck had no side-running lights but the reverse lights worked. One wonders how he remembered such specific detail.

And then there was his arm. The forearm was pared diagonally from below the elbow to where his palm would have been. It was partially dressed in surgical gauze, partially in cling-wrap. A line emerged from near the elbow to drain fluid. At the end was a thumb. His thumb, the only digit the surgeons could save.

It wasn’t as shocking as I’d thought, probably because I’d knew the story. He held his right bicep with his left hand across his body, rocking back anf forth. It hurt. Bad. They took my fingers, he said.

Later, I wondered who “they” were. Luis tells me he meant the surgical staff, but I think it was a more general blame. He was vaguely articulating “the world” or “the universe” or “the bastards”. Someone who wasn’t looking out for him.

But someone was looking out for him, because he was alive: maimed and with an altered life ahead, but alive.

Wall of Workers

The machines are coming. The machines will take your job, and then what? What will we do with ourselves?

This is a problem that will affect us all. Even if you are self-employed, nimble, creative, resourceful and hard-working, the rest of us will drag you down. Thank decades of creeping socialism for seeding us with the stink of entitlement.

It will affect us all because we’re mostly unable to find new ways to create valuable jobs. Making things will not require industrial revolution-style hordes any more, which leads to the inevitable: a wall of unemployed workers is a-building.

While fewer and fewer people will be needed for manual and manual/intelligent input to make stuff, there is no matching demand elsewhere. Designing new cellphones and devices won’t employ 1,2oo people from the Chrysler plant that just closed. Is there truly a pent-up demand for high-end handbag purveyors, or fancy Italian suits? Or re-modeling shows on the teev? When you’re not finding that few thou in your checking account each month, what then?

The wall of workers is coming.