and now, even more work to do

Wednesday 2012.10.31

Over many months, a couple of years now at this point, I’ve been trying my best to point out, fairly often, how much work to do we have on our hands, and how badly too many people are not only missing it, not taking proper notice of what’s happening around us, but getting lost in rather severe misdirections of attention and general confusion. This has been a pretty severe problem for quite a long time now, and it just got way more serious.

As Hurricane Sandy worked its way up the east coast, heading for the weather systems up over the northeastern region of the country and over the north Atlantic that were about to turn it into a “superstorm” that weather people were calling “unprecedented”, something that had no historical frame of reference, I saw a predicted estimate saying that something like 60 million people would be directly affected, almost one fifth of the population of the United States. We’re into tricky territory here in just trying to assess and describe this situation.

Where do you start? The scope and scale of this situation is beyond large, the complexity is immense, with all that’s involved and the sheer number of people involved in the most densely populated area of the country. It almost feels like almost any attempt to make any kind of brief summarizing comment has a high probability to come off as trite and stupid. I mean, something like “boy, this sure is a big mess!” just doesn’t quite get it, does it? Talking about it being a huge mess and something that will be a “big cleanup” is dancing on a borderline of ridiculously understating things. Those kinds of descriptions just don’t encompass the full picture of what we have here.

There are all the cases of what happened to people’s homes and lives, huge numbers of people having nearly everything wiped out except their own physical existence, all the businesses damaged and destroyed, all the kinds of stories that can never quite be called normal, but happen in large scale disasters. It goes beyond even all that, into all the aspects of public infrastructure and function, and even the landscape itself being ravaged.

As we are able to view glimpses from elsewhere and see just small glimpses of all the destruction, it’s apparent how much more there is than the obvious physical damage of specific places that can be seen. It prompts, for any thinking people, anyway, thoughts that go into areas beyond what might be considered “normal” in this kind of dramatic and abnormal circumstance.

How many people never quite grasped, or even considered, the notion of the southern part of the island of Manahattan being covered in a flood of seawater?

In a new installment of Ugo Bardi’s blog, he poses the question related to something he wrote very recently, asking what might be a major shock of a moment when people finally face the fact that the planet has finally suffered enough abuse that things are now seriously unsettled and biting us back. Even with an overwhelming major drama of the kind we are now having, I wonder how many people are still going to be living with their heads lodged firmly up their asses and denying reality as it smacks us in the head.

 

It’s really tiresome and irritating to watch political dysfunction shoving its ugly face into the problems, difficulties, and challenges we have already, and facing in the near and more distant future. It’s a running theme, because the stuff just is not going away.

As the northeast region of the United States staggers from the thousand mile wide smack of Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy, press reporters following Willard Romney around asked the Republican candidate and shapeshifter whether he would eliminate the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). That was a reasonable question about practical reality for a man who wants us to make him president, especially given his past public statements on television saying that his general notion of principles in anything is that as much as possible should be taken from the domain of the federal government and handed over to the states, and better yet, the “private sector”.

Romney completely ignored the questions asking him “would you shut down FEMA?”. Typical of the man, apparently he said that he thought disaster situations should be handled in a way that, as it happens, is exactly the way it already is now. It’s no surprise, to anybody paying attention to this character and the extraordinary efforts required to sort out the confusion generated by the completely fluid and detached relationship to reality that is the normal mode of operation for Mr. Romney.

I’m extremely tired of even talking about it, but this constant shapeshifting pattern of lying and general reality distortion of candidate Romney makes it just absolutely unbelievable to hear the chatter in the election-as-sports news coverage about it being “a close race”. How can anybody seriously consider this man worthy of the office?

More and more, things are shaping up as some kind of adversarial contest between reality versus American politics, and there isn’t even any possibility of discussion or debate about how that is going to turn out. Reality wins. Always. There is a simple word that covers beliefs that it can ever work out otherwise, a word that I’ve found myself using very frequently, and that word is delusion.

In an extraordinarily complex world in extraordinarily complex times, this much is dead simple.

Even raising the subject of Romney’s steady and endless barrage of reality warpage and sheer blatant dishonesty gets into bottomless pit territory. Among other things, added to the blatant deception of Romney and associates’ statements and advertisements related to the American auto manufacturing industry, more comes from GM, related to Romney’s mendacity as it relates specifically to them. His 2008 editorial in the New York Times still exists, as much as he denies that he ever said what he said and obfuscates about the whole subject.

I’ve said this before, and it should be said again. The very idea that anyone in America could even think about voting for such a continuously and blatantly dishonest character to be president of the nation is just staggering, and deeply disturbing in its implications and repercussions beyond the question of who will be in the White House for the next four years.

It’s a basic question of dealing with the present and future, about whether we have a general public concensus based in reality, or in delusions and lying.

A massive event like Superstorm Sandy is a serious kick in the ass to dissuade ideas that the latter can ever work out well, as events of reality make it extremely clear that bullshitting our way through this will accomplish exactly nothing.

 

One item that struck me as noteable in all of the stories coming from this disaster was a comment in the midday radio news show Here and Now on public radio, saying that a note had come in via Twitter from somebody working in a hospital in Alabama, which said that their computer system was down, as it was based on servers running in a facility somewhere in New Jersey. Oops.

This might be a lesson in a few aspects, one being about how much of what we do and depend upon to function revolves around overinvestments in complexity, while, at the same time, often setting things up without proper regard for reliable function. Combine complexity where somebody thinks things are awfully clever with somebody’s notions of “cost cutting”, and we have potential problems, or already do have problems.

It’s a subject of its own to examine and consider how much we have around us in terms of overcomplexity that somebody thinks is very clever and advanced, with a great deal then set up to depend on these things, that don’t actually work well, and sometimes don’t work at all, even when general circumstances are normal.

These things need some serious rethinking, or, in some cases, need some serious thought for maybe the first time. In any case, what we have spread out over a large area of the northeastern United States right now is a gigantic amount of work to do, added to what we already had on our plates being ignored, neglected, or just plain denied. There is a huge amount of rebuilding and repair work to be done, not only for people’s homes and a large collection of business enterprises, including all manner of daily function of living, but all we label “public infrastructure”.

We are in, shall we say, interesting times, and added to what we already have on our hands, we have this massive event, and we can also be sure that Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy is not the last bit of challenging problems and trouble we are going to have.

We can only hope that a rather large number of people who have been operating outside the fold decide pretty fucking soon to rejoin the club of reality-based humanity.

 

 

 

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