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1949 – USSR detonates the first Hydrogen Bomb in the world
1966 – The Beatles perform their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
2010 – Glenn Beck celebrates his 1,780,000 fans before whom he preached about how he is just like MLK.
FROM THE CHURCH OF INEFFABLE STUPIDITY:
So, what happened yesterday? Some here complain about the insult to MLK, others crow about Beck not meeting his numbers. A few say we should ignore it all, because there are so few Tea Baggers in this world. Still others suggest that the Beck fan base is simply a misguided, doddering, pale-faced, slow-witted group of befuddled conservative christians.
I suggest that all of the above may be true, just as all of the above completely miss the point.
There is something far more important and critical going on here. There is a broad, deep, and growing discontentment in America. Frankly, it exists throughout the world. Today, we learned of even greater instability within China, of right wing groups protesting in Japan, even of riots organized by the right wing English Defense League in the UK last night. Europe, Asia, Africa, hell, everywhere change is coming, and it is being met with resistance and fear.
What is happening? Simply put, our global society is on a collision course with something else – the explosive growth of technological change. Not with just computers, Frankenfood, or material science, but in each and every aspect of technology, in every facet of our lives.
In his seminal book, “The Singularity is Near,” Ray Kurzwell describes what he calls The Six Epochs, essentially describing the history of the universe, and how complexity in forms, starting with basic Chemistry after the big bang, to Biology & DNA, followed by Brains, Technology, to the Merger of Technology with Human Intelligence, leading finally to the scariest thought of all, “The Universe Wakes Up.” Kurzwell measures human progress and repeatedly notes that growth in systems is always misread and underpredicted – by experts, at least. I strongly suggest this book. It makes the Tea Bagger scenario so obvious, in retrospect.
“Another error that prognosticators make is to consider the transformations that will result from a single trend in today’s world, as though nothing else will change. A good example is the concern that radical life extension will result in overpopulation and and the exhaustion of limited material resources to sustain human life, which ignores comparably radical wealth creation from nanotechnology and strong AI. For example, nano-based manufacturing devices in the 2020s will be capable of creating almost any physical product from inexpensive raw materials and information.
“I emphasize the exponential versus linear perspective because it’s the most important failure that prognosticators make in considering future trends. Most technology forecasts and forecasters ignore altogether this historical exponential view of technological progress. Indeed, almost everyone I meethas a linear view of the future. That’s why people tend to overestimate what can be achieve in the short term (because we tend to leave out necessary details) but underestimate what can be achieved in the long term (Because exponential growth is ignored).”
It is not that the Tea Baggers are idiots, morons, and sheeple, easily led by knaves. It is precisely because they sense what we sense – there is a rapidly increasing change to our society, and the leaps and bounds taken by technology have a huge impact on our lives, each and every day. It is the ever accelerating pace of change that scares them silly.
You don’t believe it? Think about this: It took 14 years from the development of the first commercial PC to the birth of the World Wide Web. When the “Internet” finally reached 1,000 nodes, people were actually worried about the Web coming to a crawl, because of a lack of capacity. Today, there are
billions of e-mails
transmitted each day. Every day. Cell phones are now the norm, not a unique, rather ineffective, heavy box that you would lug around. Photos, music, video, are now sent from one user to another, without either party thinking about how new and powerful this technology has become.
Artificial intelligence is now the norm, even if it is in in infancy. Banks, credit card companies, Wall Street all live or die on AI, and it will not be long before every part of our lives are improved with AI, computer interfaces, and more. Should we join the Tea Baggers being afraid. Probably.
Tea Baggers (being more technologically impaired, and frightened off by Microsoft’s hideous OS systems of the past, Vista included), were and are rightly afraid of change, because they have not had the chance, or more likely, do not believe that they possess the capacity to accept and involve themselves with the changes we see each day.
For the most part, their past brushes with technology proved them right. Trying to reboot after yet another blue screen of death caused an emotional response to technology, one that is extremely hard to remove. To your Tea Bagger, seeing even more advances means only one thing, they are being “left behind,” and not just in the warped sense contained in some end of times, christian novel written by a couple of christian charlatans.
If you actually sit down and have the chance interview a Tea Bagger, (any close family member will do) you will find that much of what is driving their actions, ideas and thoughts, is fear. Fear of the future. Fear of change. And the Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins of this world cravenly combine forces to control that fear, even to instill more, directing it against their political targets, for their own personal and professional gain. Throwing fuel on the fire is precisely what they do, because the time is right for them to do it – and to get away with it.
Tea Baggers see no difference between a smooth speaking, calm Obama explaining the intricacies of financial reform, or a smooth speaking Wall Street bank exec explaining why the Bush Tax Cuts must continue. So what happens? They fear and hate both, because of their own lack of understanding and lack of knowledge. Even worse, they lack the technical means to even begin to learn about what either or both really mean.
When they sense that increases and gains technology (and the related societal changes) are accelerating, that ratchets up their fear even more. They are truly becoming desperate. The world is speeding up, and leaving them behind. They sense no security, no semblance of stability, nothing that they can grab and hang on to.
The seductive quality of Glenn Beck cannot be ignored. He panders to the lowest common denominator, and in doing so, he makes those slightly smarter feel, well, slightly smarter. He provides easily identified villains (liberals, democrats, progressives, social nets, Obama, and anyone who reads a lot of books) and constantly harps on their foibles, true or false. He scares people non-stop, and willingly plays the fool, because by being foolish, he gives his listeners and viewers an excuse – the excuse not to think, not to take responsibility, and the excuse not to work on working on our new society. Religion, that old time religion, banning evolution, teaching older values, changing history to erroneously call our Founding Fathers christians, these are all deliberate, planned means of controlling the sheeple who fear our world the most.
With many exceptions, especially here, generally, the older people are, the less they like technology, and the less they like how our world is changing.
There are several solutions, only one of which will benefit me personally, so I raise it first. Send me money. Lots of money. If I deem it enough, and if you pass the Church of Ineffable Stupidity worksheets, quizzes and exams, you will be awarded Divinity Degree in the Church of Ineffable Stupidity. Diplomas will follow through snail mail.
Another solution is less obvious, but more powerful. It is best described as self-correction. When there is a need, somehow, humanity finds a way to fill the gap, either with direct or indirect action. Often, over the longer term, the indirect action is the most beneficial, and provides the best fit.
Take the iPad, for example. I have a father who hates computers, cell phones, even voice mail. Yet, he still practices law, and has been forced to use technology, despite his hatred, even self-described fear of it. (“But, I can’t, I am afraid I’ll break it.”) But, when I got him to finally try the iPad, he took to it like a fertile, pregnant, Snakehead Carp has taken to Lake Michigan, far happier than a clam in today’s Gulf. Not only did technology create the problem (hideous human – technology interfaces), technology became so advanced that it solved them.
Many here are immune to Glenn’s attraction. For myself, I cannot stand more than three minutes, before I want to tear my eyes out, and stuff lit firecrackers in my ears. But, we have to take note of the movement that is driving his popularity. It is real. It is substantial. It is scared as hell, mostly because they see just how fast the change is accelerating. To make things worse, Obama ran on “Change” which is precisely what they fear most.
No matter how corrosive and destructive Beck and Palin are to America, they will fail. The juggernaut of technological growth has a life of its own. Its growth is exponential. If you look back to the past and try to measure the future, you will fail, just as Kurzwell described. It is incredibly hard to focus on the future. For one thing, it is too high up the slope. For another, we concentrate on failures and errors, on roadblocks, just as other means and methods, other systems and discoveries lead to leapfrogging over the spot where we thought we were stuck.
That is why I view this idea of net neutrality is a false issue. Technologies are growing so fast, that should a company or three decide to limit access and charge more for archaic ”premium” internet access, they will have created the very means of their own destruction. By pressing on technology in one place, (by monopolizing the internet), technology will pop up and skip that blockage elsewhere. What will replace the internet, I do not know. But the days of wired connectivity will soon be at an end. Much like the singing telegram, cables, and semaphore from ship to shore, we live in a very unbrave new world.
So, sign up for my classes and earn your degree in your spare time! Send a check for 19.95 by February 30, 2011, and you will get a free surprise gift!
THE CHURCH OF INEFFABLE STUPIDITY:
DIVINITY CLASS – 1.01
- Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Sir Adams)
- The Singularity is Near (Kurzwell)
Read these bibles carefully. There will be a test next week on content, imagery, and philosophical impact of each.
List three ineffable stupid things that belong in a church sermon, that you personally viewed or experienced. (Personal experiences earn extra credit!)
Write down two ways that Tea Baggers’ faith can be used to keep them non-violent.
Boycott your local Target, if you have more spare time.